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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!!!!

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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.

Drunken Pasta

December 31, 2013 2 comments
Drunken Pasta

Drunken Pasta

Once again the end of a year is upon us.  Time to say goodbye to 2013 and hello to 2014. But before I usher in the new year, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect, like most others do this time of year.

Let me state that while 2013 had its share of bad moments (life is full of ups and downs),  I’m strictly going to focus on the positives (which was actually one of my resolutions for 2013).

  • I’m the healthiest I’ve been since my Navy days.  I’m doing a much better job of watching what I eat and have committed to an overall healthier lifestyle including exercising regularly.
  • I took up running back in April, and was able to run two 5-K races this past year, the second of which I ran in under 30 minutes.
  • My step-son was accepted to college and recently finished his first semester with a 3.40 grade point average.
  • My good friends Chuck and Josh finalized the adoption of a wonderful, precious boy, Thatcher.  He recently had his 1st birthday and boy does this kid light up a room.
  • My wife and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary.
  • I completed my 18th year with the same company.  In this day and age of uncertainty with employment,  I’m extremely happy for that.

I’m sure there were plenty more good moments, but those were a few that stood out.

So time to change the calendar and welcome in 2014.  I’ll do that with a few good friends, a couple bottles of wine, and a wonderful meal (Standing Rib Roast and Crab Legs in case you’re wondering).  Only one thing that remains missing….but I’ll save that for another day.

Hope you all had a wonderful 2013 and an even better New Year.

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For my last post of 2013, what better way to go than with a meal with “drunken” in the name. Like many recipes I try, I found this one on Pinterest.

At first I assumed it was named Drunken Pasta because its made with wine.   However, after reading further, I realized the author stated it was a play on the Thai dish “Drunken Noodles.” Or maybe its because her last name is Beer?

Since I like wine a lot, I’m sticking to my version and blaming the name on the wine.  Enjoy!

Source: Ingrid Beer.  The Cozy Apron – Italian Drunken Noodles, modified slightly

Ingredients:

  • Olive Oil
  • 2 Large Sweet Italian Sausage Links, removed from casing
  • 2 Large Hot Italian Sausage Links, removed from casing
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, julienne
  • 1 package of large, wide pasta noodles (Pappardelle)

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium high heat.
  2. Add sausage and cook, stirring occasionally until just browned.
  3. Remove sausage from pan and set aside.
  4. Add onion to pan with the sausage drippings and cook until just browned (about 5 minutes).
  5. Add salt, pepper and Italian seasoning, stir to combine
  6. Add peppers and saute with the onions for about 5 minutes, or until just slightly tender
  7. Add garlic and wine, cook to reduce.
  8. Add tomatoes and juice from can.
  9. Add the cooked sausage and fold to combine.
  10. Simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  11. Add parsley and 1/2 of the basil.
  12. While sauce is simmering, prepare the noodles according to directions.
  13. When noodles are completely cooked, drain, and toss gently with the sauce.
  14. Serve equal portions and top with a drizzle of olive oil and some of the remaining chopped basil.
Pasta and Wine - Always a great combo

Pasta and Wine – Always a great combo

Tuscan Beef Stew

December 15, 2013 1 comment
Tuscan Beef Stew

Tuscan Beef Stew

When I first started blogging I would write two, sometimes three entries a week.  If you follow, you know that its no where near that pace these days.  It’s got to the point where people ask why I don’t blog more often.  It’s a legit question and one I really don’t have an answer for.

So let me dive in to it a bit more and see what I can come up with.

1.  Its no longer my ‘flavor of the month’? My wife says that anytime I do something new, I obsess over it.  Sadly, she’s right (as most significant others are).  She can easily site numerous examples and I can’t disagree with any of them.

2. I haven’t been cooking anything good?  This isn’t entirely accurate. But for the most part I’m in a bit of a rut.  I’ve been cooking things I’m comfortable with instead of branching out.  Even though I’ve found a ton of recipes I want to try, I just haven’t made them as often as I would like.

3.  Work has been a bit demanding as of late?  Business has picked up lately that’s for sure and when I’m at work doing what it is I do there, one of the last things I want to do is write. I think I’d rather catch up on TV.

4.  My food photos look like garbage?  Garbage? I think they look like crap.  We eat with our eyes so the last thing a blog about food needs is unappealing photos of said food.

5.  There’s nothing to write about?  I can’t argue with this at all.  I mean, I just wrote a list detailing why I’m not writing.  If that doesn’t reek of uninteresting, I don’t know what does.

So there you go…..5 reasons why I’m not blogging nearly as much as you (mainly me) would like.

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This stew recipe is from the Cooking TV channel show Extra Virgin starring Ari Gold’s secretary (Entourage reference in case you’ve never seen the show) and her Italian (Tuscany region) husband.  If you’ve never watched, its on often so check it out while you’re making the stew….because while the recipe is simple and uses simple ingredients, you will have a couple hours to kill while its cooking.  The show has been my new favorite cooking show.

This flavorful stew is rich and hearty and has quickly become my new go-to stew recipe.  The slow braise makes the beef fork tender but the the veggies don’t turn to mush.  Make sure you serve it with a nice hunk of crusty bread so you can savor all of the juices.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red or yellow onion, rough chopped
  • 3 large peeled carrots cut in to 1/2 inch thick medallions
  • 3 stalks of celery, rough chopped
  • 2-3 lbs of stew meat – 1 inch cubes (to save money, buy a chuck roast and cut it yourself)
  • 2 1/2 cups dry red wine (such as Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 1 28oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme (wrapped in a bundle if possible)
  •  Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium high heat.
  2. Add onion, carrot and celery.  Saute about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until just browned.
  3. Add beef and cook until browned on all sides.
  4. Add wine and thyme. Stir to combine.
  5. Bring to a boil.
  6. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper.
  7. Lower heat to medium-low and cover.
  8. Cook for approximately 2 to hours or until beef is tender.
Big old Pot of Stew

Big old Pot of Stew

Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich

December 1, 2013 1 comment
Thanksgiving Sandwich

Thanksgiving Sandwich

Thanksgiving Twenty-Thirteen has come and gone.  Unfortunately, the added pounds and leftovers did not go with the change of the calendar.  However, I’m here to help you with one of those problems. Sadly, you’ll have to deal with the pounds yourself.

Last year, I blogged about the Thanksgiving Burrito. That monster is a good way to rid yourself of those Thanksgiving goodies.

The Thanksgiving sandwich, for all intents and purposes, is the same as the burrito, only in sandwich form.  And for my money, its my personal favorite way to eat the Thanksgiving leftovers.

For one, fresh baked bread (homemade or from your local bakery) out weighs a tortilla any day of the week (unless of course you’re eating a mexican style burrito which would be extremely difficult to eat between two slices of bread.  Then again…..hmmmm….).

A burrito might be easier to eat, but I believe that a properly constructed sandwich allows all of the ingredients to meld together and I don’t think you can get the same thing when its rolled up.

And lastly, its grilled.  With butter!!!

Winner by majority decision, the sandwich. (although you can’t go wrong with either).

While I am providing a detailed recipe, please use it very loosely, but I do think the order you assemble it is important.

Also, if you don’t like cranberry sauce, feel free to omit, but it really is, in my opinion, the essence of this sandwich.

Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 slices of freshly baked bread (homestyle or sour dough work well
  • 2 teaspoons cranberry sauce
  • 1/4 cup stuffing/dressing
  • 1/4 cup mashed potatoes
  • A few slices of turkey (thinner is better) (white or dark – your preference)
  • 2 teaspoons turkey gravy

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat a cast iron (or non-stick skillet) over medium-low heat
  2. Butter one side of each slice of bread
  3. Spread 1 teaspoon of cranberry sauce on each slice of bread (the non-buttered side)
  4. Add 2 slices of turkey and top with a teaspoon of gravy (on top of the cranberry sauced piece of bread)
  5. Next, layer the stuffing and potatoes (I spread it as best I can)
  6. Top with the remaining teaspoon of gravy
  7. Top with the remaining turkey
  8. Top with the 2nd piece of bread (which should be already spread with cranberry sauce)
  9. Heat in cast iron pan until all ingredients are warmed through and bread is grilled to your liking
This is another sandwich, but wanted to show the cast iron)

This is another sandwich, but wanted to show the cast iron pan

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

Roasted Vegetable and Hummus Wrap

March 17, 2013 1 comment
Roasted Vegetable and Hummus Wrap

Roasted Vegetable and Hummus Wrap

I pack my lunch every day (sans the occasional planned lunch outing) like a second-grader. Ok, I don’t include pudding snacks or goldfish crackers with my lunch, but you get the point.

But before you say to yourself “Man, ain’t nobody got time for that“, consider the benefits

The number one benefit, as you might suspect is cost.  Buying lunch every day would cost anywhere between $6 and $10 depending on what I get.  That’s a savings of roughly $1400 per year.  I’m going to Vegas in a few weeks and 2 round trip non-stop flights, a 4-Star hotel for 5 nights and a rental car cost me $1300.  Puts it in to perspective doesn’t it.

The next benefit is choice.  By packing my own lunch I know exactly what I’m getting and can really pay attention to what I eat.  I control it and I’m not tempted by the bad choices our cafeteria has to offer. A little planning ensures I have fruits, lean proteins, and a low-calorie yogurt to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Finally, packing is a time saver. Yes, it takes a few minutes to plan the night before (or morning of) work, but by having my lunch packed I don’t have to worry about heading to the cafeteria, which often has lines longer than Disney’s Space Mountain.  If I leave the building that’s often 30 minutes or more.  I’d rather use that time to relax, unwind a bit, get caught up on the days events, or unfortunately at times, use that time to stay ahead of the work I get paid to do.

The downside of packing every day is often getting trapped in to repetitive eating, which leads to boredom, which then turns in to bad choices, which turn in to weight gain.  However, packing your lunch doesn’t always have to be turkey sandwich on whole wheat.

That brings me to this wrap.

My co-worker and avid foodie Jon gave me this recipe.  It’s packed full of flavor, is extremely tasty, and very filling.  If you have this for lunch, you won’t need much else despite the low calories in this wrap.

It takes a bit of prep work to get them made, but if you do all the prep on Sunday, you have a weeks worth of wraps.  Well worth it if you ask me.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

For the Hummus:

  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 can of chick peas, drained and rinsed well
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt (or any course salt)
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)
  • 1 lemon, halved (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the top off of the garlic.
  3. Place garlic on aluminum foil and drizzle olive and salt.
  4. Wrap garlic in the foil, place on sheet pan, and roast for 45 minute.
  5. Set aside to cool.
  6. Add the chickpeas and the roasted garlic cloves (you should be able to squeeze each clove out of the ‘paper’) to a food processor.
  7. Begin to mix, slowing adding olive oil until hummus is at desired consistency.
  8. Add salt, pepper, and if you wish a squeeze of lemon.  Pulse to combine.
  9. Set aside.

For the Wraps (substitute any vegetables you like)

  • 4-5 carrots, peeled
  • 1 large or 2 small onions
  • 3-4 celery sticks
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1 head of cauliflower, halved
  • 1 head of broccoli, halved
  • 1 large zucchini or yellow squash (or both)
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Pinch of cumin
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pinch of Black Pepper
  • 6-8 large tortillas (or any wrap you wish – there are a variety on the market)
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Mix all of the spices in a small bowl, set aside.
  3. Cut all vegetables approximately (the same size for even cooking).
  4. Add all vegetable to a large bowl and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper.
  5. Lightly coat 2 large sheet pans with olive oil (to prevent sticking).
  6. Distribute the vegetables evenly to both sheet pans.
  7. Season the vegetables with the spice mixture (you may not use it all of the spice mixture).
  8. Roast the vegetables for approximately 40 minutes, turning half way through.
  9. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

To assemble the wraps:

  1. Spread a thin layer of hummus on the tortilla.
  2. Add a few heaping spoonfuls of vegetables in the center of the tortilla.
  3. Roll burrito style.
  4. Grill 1-2 minutes on a panini press, grill pan, or similar to add texture to the tortilla. (optional).
  5. Repeat until you’ve used all of the vegetables.

**You can make all of these ahead of time, wrap in parchment, plastic wrap, or foil and store in the refrigerator .  I prefer to make them each day**

Chicken Gyro

February 17, 2013 Leave a comment
Chicken Gyro

Chicken Gyro

Hi, are you looking for Digitally Dennis’ blog? Don’t worry you’re in the right place. I just made some minor enhancements based on a few suggestions from some of my readers.

First, and probably the biggest change, was the name of the blog itself. To be honest, when I launched last May, I wasn’t really ready to make this a full time hobby. I was however, eager to try it out so I rushed to pick a name. Needless to say, I got so much enjoyment out of sharing my stories and recipes that I ran with “Digitally Dennis” for the past 8 plus months. So when I decided to “get under the hood” so-to-speak to make my other changes, I figured I’d it was time to change the name too.  So welcome to “The Stained Cookbook.”

Your current bookmark should still get you here, but you may want to update it at some point because the redirect option will only be there for a year or so. Plenty of time.

In addition to the name change, I did two slight formatting changes.

First, you’ll now notice that the actual recipe is now in it’s own little “box”.  Some people come to the site just for the recipes so I wanted to call out the recipe to make it easier for those readers.

Secondly, the ingredients are bullet points and the steps numbered. This was something I started doing with my last couple of entries, but with this change, I went back and modified the past couple of months.

I just felt like these two changes gave the page a much cleaner look.

Finally, I added a “print and pdf” button in the “share this” section of each individual post (you can find it right beneath each entry). So for those that want to print the recipes or save it as a PDF. Just click that button and it will redirect you to a new page.  There you can decide how much of the blog entry you want to print.  Choose as much or as little of the entry as you would like.  Or if you prefer, save it as a PDF for viewing later (maybe on your eReader or tablet). You also have the option to remove the photos if you need to save on ink.  Previously printing any of my entries was just a mess so this is long overdue.

I’m sure this won’t be the last time I make changes, as I’m always looking for ways to improve the experience but I think these were some much needed immediate improvements.  Let me know what you think.  And if you have other recommendations, I’d really like to hear them.

Oh, and if you’re curious as to why I picked “The Stained Cookbook”, it’s pretty obvious…

Never claimed to be neat

Never claimed to be neat

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Pronounced “Yeer-Oh” , this chicken version is a take on the Greek Sandwich traditionally made with Lamb.

It’s served on Gyro Bread which is a thicker, fluffier, (and in my opinion tastier) cousin of the Pita.  I’m fortunate enough to live in a city where Gyro Bread is pretty easy to find (Pita Land or Stomolis for my Pittsburgh brethren) but if you can’t get your hands on some, pita will work just fine.

Finally it’s topped with a  Tzatziki sauce (cucumber sauce) made with Greek Yogurt.  Add lettuce, tomato, and a few slices of red onion and enjoy!

Ingredients:For the Tzatziki:

  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 of a large cucumber, peeled and seeds removed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced fine
  • 1 squeeze fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 drizzle olive oil
  1. Shred the cucumber and wrap in a clean dish towel.  Squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible.
  2. Combine cucumber with the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar and salt and pepper.  Mix well.
  3. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  4. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes but overnight is preferred.

For the chicken:

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Add all ingredients to a gallon sized ziplock bag (or large non-reactive bowl).
  2. Mix well to coat the chicken.
  3. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
  4. Cook chicken using desired method (grill or in a skillet).
  5. When chicken is cooked, remove and cut in to chunks, thin slices or shread.

Assembly:

  1. Add one piece of gyro bread to a dry skillet that has been heated over medium heat.  Heat each side 1-2 minutes or until warmed through.
  2. Add chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion to the center of gyro bread.
  3. Top with a few heaping teaspoons of tzatziki sauce.
  4. Wrap have of the folded gyro in foil or parchment paper and twist.
  5. Serve immediately.
Homemade and healthier "Yeer-Oh!"

Homemade and healthier “Yeer-Oh!”