Thursday, August 3, 2017

Yet Another Way to Make Pasta

I made this the other day and we loved it, but I forgot to take a photo of it! This recipe is simple, yet tasty. There are so many ways to make pasta and this is just another way to make it! If you're a computer "geek," you might get the joke.

12 oz Campanelle noodles
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup sweet onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1/2 c. white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)**
1/2 tsp-1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1 pint cherry tomatoes (I used the mixed variety)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
(pasta water -- up to 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade cut
Extra black pepper
Extra Parmesan Cheese

Cook noodles al dente, saving 1/2 cup of pasta water before draining it.

While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large frying pan with high sides. Saute' onion and garlic until soft and a little caramelized. Add wine, crushed red pepper, oregano, salt and pepper and simmer for about a minute. Add cherry tomatoes and cover. Turn heat to medium low and simmer until tomatoes are soft and skin begins to crack (about 10 minutes).

Once they are soft, you can smash the tomatoes (carefully) to pop them open. Stir until everything is mixed together. At this point, the sauce should be fairly thick, Add the warm pasta, cheese, and pasta water (start with a small amount of water and add up to 1/2 cup). The sauce should be a little thin, but creamy. Stir the pasta well to coat with the sauce.

You can add more cheese or pasta water to make the sauce as cheesy and creamy as you like. Simmer to thicken the sauce if you get too much water. The sauce should just coat the noodles with little sauce on the bottom of the pan. Top with fresh chiffonade basil, extra black pepper and adjust salt to taste. 

Serve with additional Parmesan cheese on top.

NOTE: To make this a whole meal, add grilled chicken, cut into strips You can also add mushrooms (slightly fried) and/or a fresh green vegetable like peas, zucchini, broccoli, (all pre-cooked or steamed slightly). You could also add spinach and let it wilt slightly just before adding the pasta and cheese.

**Variety: Add juice of 1/2 lemon with the wine and top with zest of one lemon just before serving.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

It's Not Hard Being Green Veggie Machine

2 medium to large zucchini, spiralized
10 oz. package fresh English peas (from Trader Joe's)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 cups broccoli (break into small tips and stems, if stems are peeled)
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Basil Sauce
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1/2 tsp salt
4 or 5 grinds of pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Make the basil sauce by placing all the ingredients into a food processor, except the olive oil. After everything is chopped, add the olive oil until incorporated. Remove from food processor. Should make about 1/2 cup. This can be made ahead.

Spiralize zucchini and set aside. You should have at least 6 cups of zucchini for this recipe.

Microwave peas until tender crisp (about 3-5 minutes), drain and set aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a wok. Stir-fry the broccoli until tender-crisp. Add peas and stir-fry about 3-4 more minutes. Add the zucchini noodles and stir until noodles are just heated, but still tender-crisp. Do not over cook or zucchini will become mushy.

Remove from heat and pour on the basil Sauce. Stir well and place into a large serving dish. Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Makes 5 generous helpings.

Zoodles with roasted tomatoes, garlic, onions, and mushrooms

3 medium zucchini, spiralized (if you don't have one, slice thinly)
10 oz. package of grape tomatoes (prefer heirloom)
3-4 medium garlic cloves, diced
1-2 Tbsp olive oil (or grapeseed oil)
1 medium onion, sliced in think wedges
12 oz box cremini mushrooms, sliced thinly
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp. oregano leaves, dried and crushed in your hand.
Salt and pepper to taste
10-12 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a small pan (I use a pampered chef mini bar pan), sprinkle about 1/2 Tbsp of oil on the tomatoes and garlic, salt and pepper and roast for about 10-15 minutes (until the tomatoes start to burst). Remove from oven to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a large pan. Add onions and mushrooms and cook until tender crisp. Add red pepper flakes, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the tomato-garlic mixture and give it a good stir, popping the tomatoes to make a bit of a sauce.

Add the zoodles (zucchini noodles) and mix together making sure the zucchini is heated. Do not overcook the zucchini or it will become mushy. You just want to heat them until they are warm and tender crisp (about 2-3 minutes). Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Remove from pan and place into a serving dish. Top with chiffonade basil. If desired, top with a teaspoon of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 3. If you add a protein, this is all you need for a filling meal.

Calories: 150 (without cheese)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Chicken and Asparagus Alfredo with Sun-dried Tomatoes

Once the chicken is grilled, this dish takes about half hour or less to pull together. I have my husband grill the chicken while I make the rest of the dish. He cuts it up once it has rested and cooled, which means this meal can be on the table from start to finish in under 30 minutes. Serve with a fresh garden salad and you have a completely gourmet meal to eat during the week or serve to guests (and, of course, pass the wine!)

1 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
1 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 tsp. Sunny Spain (Penzey's) OR
1 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp each of dried lemon peel, garlic powder and onion powder
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
3 oz. cream cheese, cut into pieces
12 oz penne pasta,
1 pound fresh asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 2-3 inch pieces
Reserve 1 cup pasta water
1/3 cup Pecorino-Romano cheese or Parmesan cheese, grated (plus more for serving)
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (not in oil)

Heat grill.
If not using Sunny Spain seasoning, mix together the black pepper, dried lemon peel, garlic powder and onion powder in a small bowl.  Cover chicken with olive oil and sprinkle seasoning (heavy) on both sides of the chicken. Grill chicken about 10-12 minutes or until cooked over medium high heat. Remove from grill and place on a plate to rest.

Cook pasta to al dente. During the last 2 minutes, add asparagus to boiling pasta. Before draining, remove 1 cup of pasta water and reserve for later. Drain pasta and asparagus and set aside.

In a large, deep skillet, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook a minute. Add garlic and cook another minute, stirring constantly so it doesn't burn. Slowly pour in the milk and half and half, whisking until flour is smooth. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly.

Once sauce begins to boil, reduce heat to medium low.  Add cream cheese and stir until it is completely incorporated into the sauce. Stir in Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese and sundried tomatoes.

Slowly add the pasta and asparagus, stirring until they are completely coated with the sauce. Add pasta water to pan to make it smooth and keep from being too thick. This could be up to 1 cup, although I used only about 3/4 of a cup, so add slowly and stir.

Cut chicken into strips. Place pasta mixture into a large serving dish, taking care to scrape all of the sauce over the pasta. Place cut chicken on top and top with additional Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese.

Serve immediately.

NOTE: For added flavor, you can crumble 5-6 pieces of crispy bacon on top and about 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, cut into thin strips.

NOTE: You can substitute broccoli for the aspargus -- use about 3 cups of broccoli florets. You can also add mushrooms or substitute sun-dried tomatoes for mushrooms. Be sure to saute the mushrooms ahead of time.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Greek Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken

16 oz Orecchiette pasta cooked al dente
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 small English cucumber, cut into half moons
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup Greek olives, cut in half
15.5 oz can chickpeas (Garbanzo beans), drained
2 cups (about 2 large handfuls) of greens, such as chopped romaine lettuce or spinach or a combination of both
8 oz. Feta cheese, crumbled

Greek-Style Dressing
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 glove garlic, pressed through garlic press or finely shopped
1 tsp. dried oregano (crumbled)
1 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Mix well or shake in a jar to combine

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, marinaded in Italian or Greek Dressing (make another batch of the dressing listed above for this) for at least 4-6 hours, but not more than 24 hours

Right after cooking the pasta, rinse pasta with cold water to stop it from cooking. Drain well and place in a very large serving bowl (this recipe will feed about 8 people) add the olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking together. Refrigerate pasta to cool it completely.

Stir the next 9 ingredients into the pasta, mixing well. These amounts are very forgiving, so it's fine if the amounts are more or less than listed above.

Add the Greek-style dressing to the pasta salad and you can either refrigerate until ready to serve or proceed to grill the chicken,

Pound raw chicken until about 1 inch thick. Grill chicken on high about 10 minutes or until juices run clear, discarding the marinade.

Cut chicken into strips or cubes. Add chicken to the pasta salad or you can serve it on the side and let each person add the chicken to their own salad. You can also add the chicken to the salad and refrigerate until ready to serve if you prefer your chicken cold rather than warm.

Serve pasta salad as a main dish or it can be a side dish. This will feed 8 people a main course or 12-15 people as a side dish. If you want to make it for a main course, you can complete the meal with a fruit salad and a tall glass of iced tea or lemonade.

This salad makes great leftovers too!


Friday, April 21, 2017

Cheesy (no soup) Hash Brown Potato Casserole

2-3 Tbsp butter
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
12 oz chicken broth
1 cup milk
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese (2 cups)
20 oz pkg Trader Joe's shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp butter
1-2 cups Panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a large pot. Cook onion until soft. Add salt, pepper and Thyme and then slowly stir in the flour until fully incorporated. Add broth and bring to a boil and stir until mixture is thickened. Add milk and stir thoroughly. Remove from burner and stir in the cheese until cheese is melted. Add shredded potatoes and mix well. Then stir in the sour cream until incorporated.

Spray a 9x11 inch glass pan with nonstick spray. Pour the potatoes into the pan and bake about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter and stir in panko breadcrumbs. Add crumbs to the top of the potatoes and continue baking until crumbs are browned and potatoes are bubbling (about 15 minutes). You might need to increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Check to make sure potatoes are tender. Allow potatoes to rest about 10 minutes and serve warm.

This dish goes well with ham. You can also reheat the potatoes adding leftover ham to make a delicious second meal.

These potatoes are very forgiving. You can add more shredded potatoes--up to 28 oz and they will still be moist. Just make sure you have enough sauce to keep them moist!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Poppyseed Dressing

This is a tangy sweet dressing. I use it for a spinach-strawberry salad, but it is great with any fruit salad.

1/4 c. white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1.3 oz granulated sugar
1/4 c. grapeseed oil
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 Tbsp poppyseeds

Mix together the vinegar, dry mustard, onion powder, salt and sugar until well mixed. combine the two oils together and mix. Slowly whisk the oil into the vinegar-sugar mixture until well combined. Stir in poppy seeds and chill until ready to serve.

You can use all olive oil or all grapeseed oil.