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Fettuccine with Sausage, Tomato, and Arugula

February 16, 2014 Leave a comment
Fettuccine  with Sausage, Tomato, and Arugula

Fettuccine with Sausage, Tomato, and Arugula

I’m sucked in to the Olympics.  Even though I admit that I like the Summer Olympic games more, I’m still all about getting my fill of curling, skiing, bobsledding, and of course hockey.

So far what I’ve watched has me entertained, but because of the time difference, I’m struggling to not know the outcome ahead of time.  If I truly want to be surprised, I would have to go completely dark (ie no Facebook, Twitter, or ANY Internet).  I’m sorry, but in this fully connected 24/7 world, that’s impossible.

That is why this weekends hockey was awesome.  7:30 am Eastern Time starts? Yes please. I could get used to that.  Maybe not full time but the occasional morning sporting event would be wonderful.

I woke up, made a pot a coffee and watched a spectacular hockey game in my pajama’s, in bed.  When it was over, I grabbed breakfast, a shower, and started my day.  Most of all, since I was able to watch live, no spoilers.

Seriously, what’s not to love?

So, NHL, NCAA, and NBA…throw us a bone every now and then and start a weekend game bright and early.  I’ll watch, and I’m sure lots of other people will too…..unless of course they have tickets to attend.  If that happened to be the case, that would just suck.

GO USA!!!!

************************************************************************************************

There are about a million, maybe a trillion ways to make pasta, so what’s one more?

I found this healthy recipe via Cooking Light.  It’s made with whole wheat pasta, fresh tomatoes, peppery arugula, and turkey sausage.

It’s tasty.  It’s quick.  It’s healthy. So feel do yourself a favor and add this to your repertoire. You’ll love it.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of whole wheat fettuccine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Italian-style turkey sausage links (turkey removed from casing)
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced (approximately 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • Pecorino Romano Cheese, shaved

Directions:

  1. Prepare fettuccine according to directions. Drain, reserving 2/3 cup of pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over over medium high heat.
  3. When heated add olive oil and sausage, heat until cooked through and golden brown ensuring to break up the sausage in to pieces.
  4. Once turkey is cooked, add garlic and stir (30 seconds).
  5. Add tomatoes and pepper.
  6. Cook approximately 2-4 minutes and begin to gently smash to tomatoes with back of wooden spoon to open and release juices.
  7. Cover pan and reduce heat.
  8. Cook additional 3-5 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat and add pasta, the pasta water.  Stir.
  10. Add arugula and toss with pasta until slightly wilted.
  11. Finish the dish by sprinkling the shaved cheese on top.
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Gnocchi with Mascarpone and Lemon

November 3, 2013 Leave a comment
Mascarpone and Lemon Gnocchi

Mascarpone and Lemon Gnocchi

For those in the United States (sans Arizona and Hawaii), today marks the end of Daylight Savings Time.

In the days leading up to today, we’re often reminded to turn back the clock and “enjoy that extra hour of sleep.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like I get anything extra.  As a matter of fact, I feel like I’m losing out in the deal.

My body decided that (new) 5:30 was a good time to be awake and as a result, I’ll be ready to be in bed by (new) 8:30.  If this holds true, I won’t even be awake to hear the jazz music during “Homeland’s” opening credits.  Sad!

Because of the time change, my stomach wants to eat all meals at its “normal” time so I find myself unnecessarily snacking while I await the real mealtime.  Fun-sized Kit-Kat anyone?

I get that it may light when I arrive at work tomorrow, but what good does that do me when I have to drive  home in the dark?

I understand the reasoning behind it and I’m all for helping our farmers, but somehow the rest of the world seems to manage without changing clocks.

Point being, I’m not getting anything extra here and you’re not either.

So I say, as a nation, lets rally around getting rid of Daylight Savings Time.  If not, I suppose I could move to Hawaii.  Now that would be something extra!

Since you received that extra hour of sleep today, why not take advantage of that energy and make this delicious Gnocchi recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis.  Enjoy!!

Ingredients:

  • 8oz Mascarpone Cheese (at room temperature)
  • 1 Whole Egg + 1 Egg yolk (at room temperature)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Zest of 2 Lemons
  • 1 Cup Parmesan, Grated
  • 1 Teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour (plus additional for forming the gnocchi)
  1. Combine both cheeses, the eggs, lemon zest and salt in a large bowl and mix with an electric hand mixer on medium speed until all ingredients are well incorporated is light and fluffy.  This will take about a minute or two.
  2. Slowly mix in the flour until a dough begins to form.
  3. Once mixed, sprinkle a large sheet pan with flour.
  4. Using 2 kitchen teaspoons, drop 1 teaspoonful-sized ball of dough on to the floured sheet pan.
  5. Repeat until all of the dough is used.
  6. Gently shake the sheet pan to cover each piece with flour.
  7. Then with floured hands, gently shape each piece in to an oval.
  8. Repeat until complete.
  9. At this point the Gnocchi are complete and can be frozen for future use or cooked immediately.

Your uncooked gnocchi should look similar to this:

Finished gnocchi before cooking

Finished gnocchi before cooking

To freeze:  Place entire sheet pan in freeze for approximately 30 minutes.  When gnocchi have hardened, transfer to freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

To cook immediately:  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  In batches of 6 to 8 pieces of gnocchi, carefully drop in to boiling water.  The gnocchi will float to the surface when they are done (typically 3-4 minutes).  Carefully remove with a slotted spoon and serve with your favorite sauce.

 

The sauce used for the pictured gnocchi is a brown butter and thyme. To make this sauce, simply melt a stick of butter with a teaspoon of salt in a skillet until it begins to brown. Remove from heat and stir in tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves. Pour over cooked gnocchi.

Gnocchi finished with a brown butter and thyme sauce

Gnocchi finished with a brown butter and thyme sauce

Penne alla Vodka

August 24, 2012 4 comments
Penne alla Vodka

Penne alla Vodka

Let me begin by stating this blog entry was very close to not ever being written.

Why you ask?  Well because the dish was almost ruined, along with my house during the process.

The recipe, which I’ll get to shortly, requires that you flambe’ part of it. For those not familiar, it is the cooking process where you essentially set your food on fire with alcohol.

Food and Fire – I’m in!

Since I’m a pretty decent cook AND I’ve seen the flambe’ process up close and personal at fancy restaurants where I ordered Banana’s Foster, I assumed I could do it without issue.

I’ll go on record and state…I can do it.  You can do it too. Because setting food on fire IS easy. But not done properly IT IS DANGEROUS.  Extremely dangerous. Dealing with the 3 foot high flame that ignites from this process will also scare crap out of you.

Now I’ve been known to exaggerate before (see my thunderstorm story here), but the height of the flame is no exaggeration. And once the flame was ignited, there was no turning back.

I really didn’t know what to do other than move it away from anything that would catch on fire and as low from the ceiling as possible. And since I’m over six-feet tall, I needed to crouch a bit as I waited for the alcohol to burn.  Not an easy task.

With no way for me to put out the flame  I needed to keep it out of harms way long enough to avoid a call to the insurance company.

The 60 second process seemed like an eternity and every time the flame got lower it grew again when I would move back towards the stove.  So I waited with the hot pan of fire in my hand until it was gone.

With the flame gone and my eyebrows still intact, I moved the pan back to the stove, wiped the moistness from my face (and perhaps changed my skivvies) and proceeded to make one kick-ass pasta dish.

So now I that I lived to tell my story, I did some research on how to properly do this technique.  Seems like I did it just fine, but my kitchen is too small and I should have avoided trying altogether.  I also found out afterwards that while flambe’ is the best way to infuse your dish with the vodka, you could do it without this process.

I sure wish I had known that ahead of time….but then I wouldn’t have had this great safety lesson to share.

If you want to try flambe’ go for it, just make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy.

For those not as adventurous (read:stupid), here is the flambe’ free version.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

This is the base for a good meal

Cooking with booze….yum!

  • 1 lb. dry penne pasta
  • 1 tbsp. of butter
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup vodka + 3/4 cup additional vodka
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce (I promise this recipe will be available in the fall)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Cook penne according to package.
  2. Meanwhile, in large skillet, melt butter over medium heat and add onion.  Cook 4-5 minutes.
  3. Next add 1/2 cup of vodka, pepper, and cook 4-5 minutes to reduce. (*here is where you would flambe’ instead of reduce*)
  4. When penne is cooked, add to skillet with the vodka and onion.  Stir.
  5. Add remaining 3/4 cup of vodka and stir.  Cook to reduce.
  6. Add pasta sauce and stir.
  7. Add cream and stir to combine.  Cook 3-5 minutes until nice and thick.
  8. Serve immediately topped with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
Bowl full of penne

Facile gustoso piatto di pasta (easy tasty pasta)

Pasta in Garlic Sauce

August 4, 2012 4 comments
Pasta in Garlic Sauce

Pasta in Garlic Sauce

If you run a food blog, love to cook, or you breath, then chances are you’ve heard of Pinterest.

If you’re unfamiliar, Pinterest is a site where registered users from all over the world “pin” just about anything they think of. Movies, books, fashion, photography, funny quotes, and of course, recipes.  Its an online bulletin board of sorts meant to peak your interest and inspire.

When I first heard of Pinterest I wasn’t sure what to make of it.  But then I started looking over my wife’s shoulder as she browsed the site.  Seeing all of the magnificent looking desserts she viewed, I decided to give it a whirl on my own.

I’m glad I did.

I mainly review the food and drink “pins” and I’ve been incredibly inspired by so many talented food bloggers that I discovered.  The blogs I found through Pinterest have given me tons of recipes of to try.  Pinterest may have even been the final piece of motivation I needed to start my own blog.

Most recipe “pins” are unique, but sometimes there will be one or two “pins” that keep showing up over and over again.  These recurring “pins” are known as a ‘repin’ and serves as a measure of popularity.

Such is the case with the recipe I’m about to share. I’ve seen this recipe pinned so many times that it was virtually impossible for me not to want to give it a try.

Pinned as “Spaghetti in Garlic Gravy with Herbs and Lemon Marinated Chicken and Cherry Tomatoes”, this recipe is a refreshing summer pasta dish that makes excellent use of fresh cherry tomatoes that are cropping up in backyard gardens all over the country.

I thought the name was too long, plus I omitted the chicken, so I simply call it Pasta in Garlic Sauce.  Enjoy!

Adapted from Godess of Scrumptiousness Blog

Ingredients:

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (box) pasta
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes

Cook pasta according to package.

Meanwhile, over medium heat, melt butter and olive oil.

Add garlic and saute approximately 1-2 minutes or until garlic is soft.

Add flour and stir.  Cook for approximately 1 minute.

Another Roux

The start of another roux: a recurring theme on my blog

Add chicken stock and simmer until thick.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add basil and drained pasta. Stir to combine.

Add tomatoes and cheese and gently toss.

Plate the dish and top with a small sprinkle of basil and a bit more cheese.

Summer Pasta

This is summer

Lower-Cal Alfredo

July 28, 2012 Leave a comment
Alfredo Main

Lower-Cal Alfredo

Years ago I went to a restaurant and and was looking over the menu. Unsure of what I wanted, I focused in on the Fettuccine Alfredo.

Pasta. Cream. Butter. Parmesan.  Sounded good to me.

The dish came, and it looked heavenly.  The pasta smelled wonderful and tasted equally as good.

The portion was decent but wasn’t huge, so I tackled the whole plate.

About an hour later things weren’t so good.  I felt like I ate a bag of cement.  It just sat there, filling my gut.  I was miserable.

A few days later I came across an article entitled “Worst Foods to Order When Dining Out”.  What do you think topped the list?  The article stated that Fettuccine Alfredo has more saturated fat than a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby.  YIKES!

After reading the article, this chubby hubby vowed never again to eat the gut-busting, artery clogging dish.

That is, of course, until one morning I was watching (yep, you guessed it) Food Network.  The show was “Healthy Appetite” with Ellie Krieger.  She made a version of Low-cal Fettuccine Alfredo that, if it tasted as good as it looked, would get me back in the Alfredo eating game.  One-third the calories and fat, I couldn’t wait to give it a try.

Thank you over-priced cable television.

I modified her recipe slightly by adding more cream cheese and less Parmesan and omitting parsley in the dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 Clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 Teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 Cup 2% milk
  • Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 4 Ounces low-fat cream cheese (1/2 block)
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Box spaghetti noodles (or any noodle you prefer  – or even homemade)

Cook pasta according to directions.

Meanwhile, over medium heat melt the butter.  Add the garlic and lemon zest and cook for about 1 minute.

Alfredo Step 1

Melting butter with garlic and lemon zest

Stir in the flour to make a roux. Stir for about 1 minute.

Alfredo Step 2

Don’t be afraid to make a roux

Whisk in the milk, salt, pepper and cook, stirring constantly….

Alfredo Step 3

1% milk could probably work, but skim won’t

….until the liquid coats the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes.

Alfredo Step 4

Thick enough

Add in the cream cheese and Parmesan and stir until melted.  Lower heat.

Alfredo Step 5

Parmesan screams Italian, right?

Drain pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.

Add pasta, along with half-cup of the pasta water to the cheese sauce and gently toss to combine.  If the mix appears too thick, add more pasta water at little at a time.

Alfredo Step 6

My favorite kitchen tongs that I use for almost every meal

Add to serving plate and top with another small sprinkle of Parmesan and top with parsley, oregano, or a combination of Italian spices.  Enjoy!

Alfredo Final

Bellissimo!

 

Pasta Carbonara

May 13, 2012 Leave a comment
Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara

I love pasta.  Who doesn’t?  Linguinie, fettuccine , rigatoni, ziti, and just about any other kind you can think of is okay by me.   While I love a good red sauce, sometimes I want to break out of the norm.    Carbonara is a nice choice when you’re feeling Italian but don’t want your mother’s hand me down sauce recipe to top it.  Plus, it has bacon!

I mentioned that my mom was a great Italian cook, but interestingly she never once (or at least I can’t recall) made this dish.  Considering how tasty, easy and authentically Italian it is, I’m actually quite surprised.  Then again maybe I shouldn’t be surprised considering I only recently made this for the first time.  Regardless, my family loved it, I loved it, and hopefully you’ll give it a try and you too will love it.  Did I mention it has bacon?

Ingredients:

Ingredients

Ingredients

1 pound spaghetti noodles
1/4 pound slab of Pancetta (Italian Bacon) – cut in to cubes or small dice (you can use regular thick cut bacon)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (or more depending on taste – not pictured)
3 eggs (beaten)
1/2 cup grated parmigiana-reggiano cheese (or Pecorino or Parmesan — just please don’t use the green can)

Cook spaghetti noodles (don’t drain)

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, begin to cook the diced pancetta, when browned, stir in garlic.  When pasta is cooked, remove directly from the water (using tongs or a pasta spoon) and add directly to the pan of pancetta.  (Don’t dump the pasta and all of the water)

Add in 1 or 2 ladles of pasta water, stir to combine.

Add 3 eggs and cheese, stir with tongs for 1-2 minutes.  The heat from the pasta and pancetta mixture will cook the eggs, but will not scramble them.

Serve with a sprinkle of cheese.

This is one of those recipes where it is okay to add a little more (or less) without detracting any significant flavor.  Jazz it up to your liking.

Enjoy!!

Pasta From Scratch

May 6, 2012 7 comments
Homemade Pasta

Homemade Pasta

Since my mom (don’t be confused if I make reference to her as Lucille from time to time) is my food inspiration, I’ve decided that my first blog post would be dedicated to her.

Lucille was born in a small city outside of Naples, Italy.  She met my dad, who was serving in the US Navy while he was on shore leave back in the 60’s. Navy sailor in port meets a local lady, 9 months later my older brother was born.  Now, this doesn’t make my mom a bad person, hey shit happens, but it is the basis of my roots, so I thought it was worth mentioning.

I’d venture to guess that since she didn’t know English during her early days in the U.S., she shared her ideas through food,  building on her own knowledge of cooking and passing it on to family and neighbors.  She cooked a LOT.  Italian food, Polish Food, American classics and tons of baked goods.  Sans liver and onions, there was nothing she made that I wouldn’t eat.

Eventually she would turn her love of cooking in to a full time job and became the head cook for the local chapter of “Meals on Wheels” cooking for the elderly.   While I never bothered to ask, I imagine one of the first things she made when she took over the program was  something from her heritage.  Lucille died a year ago but I hope through this blog, her love of all things food will live on.

Ingredients:

2 Eggs (lightly beaten)
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
4 Tablespoons Tap Water
Make a well with 2 cups of flour and pour in 2 slightly beaten eggs,  4 tablespoons of water and 2 teaspoons of salt. Slowly incorporate the egg in to the flour with a fork. When is just about mixed, get your hands dirty to knead the dough.

Egg well

the kneaded egg/flour mixture will look something like this. Cut this in half to work with a smaller portion for easier rolling. Of course if you have a pasta roller, you don’t need my tips.

Doughball

Pasta Dough Ball

With a rolling pin (my mom didn’t have a pasta maker) roll the dough until it is pretty thin (thicker if you’re making noodles for chicken noodle soup).  The dough should look like this when its thin enough. To test if its thin enough, bring the dough to the end of your work surface. Blow as hard as you can under it…if the dough flutters, its thin enough.

Rolled Dough

Rolled dough to desired thickness

Dust lightly with flour and roll the dough in to a “jelly roll”

Jelly roll dough

Dough rolled in to a “jelly roll”

Using a sharp knife, cut the roll in to the thickness you want. This size is roughly larger than linguine but thinner than pappardelle

Cut Dough

Cut to desired thickness

Unroll your strips and let dry for an hour or two (a pasta drying rack is recommended but I don’t have one so this worked)

Pasta Drying

Pasta drying

Bring water to a rapid boil, salt water generously and boil for 2 to 3 minutes.  Drain. Add your favorite sauce (I’ll have a future blog post that dives in to meatballs and sauce) top with some cheese and serve.

Buon Appetito!

Buon Appetito!