Showing posts with label pasta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pasta. Show all posts


Barefoot Contessa Capellini with Tomatoes and Basil

The Recovery Room. That's what our family room has been for the past 6 days. Started with Brooke's sinus surgery. Two days later, Stephen had his tonsils removed. Ouch. Lots of time together on the twin sofas. Loads of cold drinks, soft food, Kleenex, ice cream, movies, straws, visitors, Slurpees, Concretes and Rainbows (Btown treats). 
Now that I'm a pretend nurse, and a teacher (did I tell you Jake has been homeschooling since mid November??) cooking time is a bit more limited. Found this recipe in House Beautiful magazine and knew I would love it. Why?  It made the cut for ABK's "Seriously Simple" category. It takes about 10-15 minutes, pan to table. And it's absolutely delicious. 
Made this last night, for the second time in a week. 
New favorite dish: this is it. 

See this tool? It's called a microplane grater.
If you don't have one, you need one. Now.

Capellini with Tomatoes and Basil
adapted from Ina Garten
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Alton Brown's Baked Mac and Cheese

Alton Brown. Like most FN stars, you either love or hate him. I love his quirky show. He is kind of the Cooks Illustrated aka Test Kitchen of the FN. Does it bug you that I like to abbreviate? My friend KD likes it, I like it, it saves time, and causes you to think- "Why does she do this?" Or "What does FN stand for?"
So I'm going to keep doing it.
Anyway. I usually make the Foster Family version of Mac and cheese, but thought the panko topping on this recipe looked yummy, and gave it a try. I learned something while reading the notes on this recipe. Have we talked about this before? Warning! Long ramble on comments: When you get a recipe off of the WWW, always look to see if there are any comments from cooks who have tried the recipe. Some of the comments need to be taken with a grain of salt (haha just realized this is a pun on the following ramble) - you know, kind of like when you read reviews on Trip Advisor (love that site). Some comments are really helpful. If I read a recipe with multiple negative reviews, I steer clear. If you read over and over that a cube of butter can be left out with great results, prob true. So when I read a few pages of reviews on this recipe (there were over 1200), some readers stated the recipe was bland. Then I read a comment about salt in the water. This cook suggested that salting the water meant salting it to the point where it was like SEA water. Ok, well, I spent some time at the ocean recently, and got a little of that in my mouth. I can tell you this. I never salt my pasta water that much. So this time, I did. And it made a difference. Thanks commenter lady. You helped me become a better cook today.
Oh btw - you are going to love this dish. Creamy, cheesy (but not in a sick, processed cheese kind of way) and a little crunchy with the Panko topping.

Alton Brown's Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Food Network
print recipe

1/2 pound elbow macaroni (about 2 cups)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced*
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.

Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

For Topping:
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.


- *I minced the onion, bc I was making it for a family with younger kids, who I thought might not like onions, I could not detect the onions in the dish after baking.
-To learn how to temper an egg into hot liquid, click on this link for a nifty video tutorial.
or read this: When egg yolks are added into a hot mixture, to help ensure that they do not suddenly cook or scramble, a technique called tampering is used. With a ladle, gradually add about 1 cup of the hot mixture into egg yolks, mixture constantly. Then, add egg yolk mixture to mixture in pan and continue cooking according to the recipe.


Spinach, Chicken and Bowtie Pasta Salad

Loved reading all of your thoughts about Spring! Winner of the "Bliss" cookbook is Leanne, who said:

"My very favorite thing about Spring is the parallel it draws from Winter---Winter allows the rain and snow, for a couple of months, from dark, threatening clouds. Then, as if nothing ever happened, we rise to a perfectly sunny, cloudless day. A lovely, clean slate from the seemingly neverending cold. Forgiveness.It is my favorite time of year."

Beautifully said, Leann!

Spring always steers me in the direction of salad instead of soup. Found this recipe years ago in the cookbook "Favorites". It's another local cookbook, put together by the Ivory family. If you live in our neck of the woods, the Ivory Homes name is familiar. I talked to one of the authors right after she finished this book and she told me it was a compilation of family and friend recipes they had used and grown to love over the years. They originally printed the cookbook for giving to family, and quickly had requests for so many they decided to do a second printing. Ten years later, they are still printing and donating the proceeds to the Make A Wish Foundation. It's available here.
I made this salad last week, much to my son's dismay. Fruit in pasta salad? They hate it.
I love it.
They would, on the other hand, rather eat a frozen (breakfast) burrito (yes, for dinner). Personally, I would rather gnaw my hand off, than eat one of those burritos.

Happy Spring!

Spinach, Chicken and Bowtie Pasta Salad
adapted from Favorites, A Collection of Ivory Family Recipes

16 oz Bowtie pasta, cooked al dente

2/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
2/3 cup teriyaki sauce
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 bags fresh spinach (about 8 cups)
1- 6 oz bag craisins
3- 11 oz cans mandarin oranges, drained
2-8 oz cans sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped, green part only
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 small can honey roasted peanuts or cashews (about 2 cups)
2-3 cups cooked chicken, cut into slices

Blend dressing ingredients together in blender or food processor. Mix dressing and cooked pasta in medium bowl and marinate for two hours. Combine rest of salad dressing (except nuts) in large salad bowl, add pasta and dressing and toss gently.
Add nuts just before serving.

-I like to marinate the chicken in about 1 cup of teriyaki sauce overnight in the refrigerator. Drain the chicken and discard the sauce. Broil the chicken for about 7-10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before adding to salad.
-"Very Very Teriyaki" is my favorite sauce. If using this brand, reduce the amount of teriyaki sauce to 1/3 cup. Make sure to shake the bottle well before using.
_ I usually skip marinating the pasta after it is cooked, I like the pasta to be lighter in color, and the chicken to have a darker color.


Cook's Illustrated Baked Ziti

I've tried several recipes similar to this, and I believe the Cook's people got it right, again. Perfect Baked Ziti. If you haven't read the article, here it is.

"...Most versions seem like they went directly from the pantry into the oven, calling for little more than cooked pasta, jarred tomato sauce, a container of ricotta, and some preshredded cheese. The results—overcooked ziti in a dull, grainy sauce topped with a rubbery mass of mozzarella—more than earn the dish its reputation as mediocre church-supper fare."

YIKES. (My commentary)

The Goal
To make this dish the way it’s meant to be—with perfectly al dente pasta, a rich and flavorful sauce, and melted cheese in every bite.

The Solution
We didn’t want to spend all day hovering over a pot of stewing tomatoes, so we needed a sauce that was big on flavor and light on prep. Most “quick” tomato sauces call for sweating garlic in olive oil before adding some type of tomato product. Whole canned tomatoes and crushed tomatoes both had good flavor but took time to cook down. To speed things up, we added a can of diced tomatoes. Next, fresh basil added rich, aromatic savor, but more herbs were essential. In the test kitchen, we usually opt for fresh herbs, but for convenience and without sacrificing flavor, we chose dried oregano. Just when the tomato sauce seemed perfect, we added ricotta, and a familiar problem reared its head: Rather than baking up creamy and rich, the ricotta was grainy and dulled the sauce. A different dairy product was clearly in order.

First we tried cottage cheese, and, to our surprise, it was a success. Its pillowy curds have a texture similar to ricotta, but creamier and tangier. And since cottage cheese curds are bigger, they bake up with none of ricotta’s graininess. For our next batch, we boosted the flavor by combining the cottage cheese with eggs, Parmesan, and heavy cream thickened with a bit of cornstarch. Adding this milky, tangy mixture to the tomato sauce produced a sauce that was bright, rich, and creamy—all at the same time.

As for the pasta, most recipes cook the ziti in boiling water until al dente before tossing it with the sauce and baking. But pasta continues to absorb sauce as it bakes, with two drawbacks: overcooked pasta and sauce that has been robbed of moisture. We found that cooking the pasta for about half the cooking time that most recipes call for and with nearly twice the amount of sauce yielded perfectly al dente pasta in the baked dish with plenty of sauce left to keep the whole thing moist.

The remaining question was how to deal with the cheese. Grated cheese congeals into a mass that makes the dish unappetizing and difficult to portion. Instead of shredding the mozzarella, we cut it into small cubes—reasoning that they would melt into distinct but delectable little pockets of cheese—and mixed half of the cheese with the sauce just before adding it to the pasta, then sprinkled the rest over the top. This strategy yielded a hot, bubbly success. The cubes on top remained perfectly distributed, and the casserole below was dotted with gooey bits of cheese."

Me again. Absolutely delish. I loved it. Grant loved it. The boys loved it. Hardly any leftovers. That pretty much says it all.

Cook's Illustrated Baked Ziti

Note: The test kitchen prefers baked ziti made with heavy cream, but whole milk can be substituted by increasing the amount of cornstarch to 2 teaspoons and increasing the cooking time in step 3 by 1 to 2 minutes. Our preferred brand of mozzarella is Dragone Whole Milk Mozzarella. Part-skim mozzarella can also be used, but avoid preshredded cheese, as it does not melt well.

1 pound whole milk cottage cheese or 1 percent cottage cheese
2 large eggs , lightly beaten
3 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
Table salt
1 pound ziti or other short, tubular pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 medium garlic cloves , minced
1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
Ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella cheese , cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in medium bowl; set aside. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and pasta; cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain pasta and leave in colander (do not wash Dutch oven).

2. Meanwhile, heat oil and garlic in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until garlic is fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in ½ cup basil and sugar, then season with salt and pepper.

3. Stir cornstarch into heavy cream in small bowl; transfer mixture to now-empty Dutch oven set over medium heat. Bring to simmer and cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pot from heat and add cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup tomato sauce, and ¾ cup mozzarella, then stir to combine. Add pasta and stir to coat thoroughly with sauce.

4. Transfer pasta mixture to 13- by 9-inch baking dish and spread remaining tomato sauce evenly over pasta. Sprinkle remaining ¾ cup mozzarella and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan over top. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

5. Remove foil and continue to cook until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Cool for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve.

- Use fresh grated Parmesan.
-I used regular, not heavy cream.
-Not a huge garlic fan, so I only used about 1 clove.


Sheri's Greek Pasta Salad

Yum yum. Loved this pasta salad recipe from Sheri. Cook the pasta while chopping the veggies and mixing the dressing. Full of flavor and color. Takes about 1/2 hour tops-start to finish. I know you're gonna love it too.

Sheri's Greek Pasta Salad
print recipe

1 lb. small- shell shaped pasta
1 cup diced celery
1 lg can (small or medium) pitted olives, drained well
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
3 green onions, chopped
3 tomatoes seeded and chopped,
or 8 oz grape or cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, optional
8-10 oz. crumbled feta (reserve some for topping salad)

1 cup prepared Zesty Italian dressing
1 cup mayo
1 tablespoon oregano

Cook pasta according to package directions, taking care to not overcook. Rinse with cold water and drain well.
Add celery, olives, cucumber, green onions, and tomatoes to pasta in large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together dressing, mayo, oregano and pepper. Fold dressing and cheeses into pasta- vegetable mixture. Add tomatoes, folding in gently. Sprinkle reserved feta on top of salad before serving.

-I used about 2/3 of the dressing. I think next time I'll cut the mayo to 1/2 cup and try 1 1/4 cup Italian dressing.
-Best to make and let sit for a couple of hours in refridge.
-I used about 1 1/2 lbs pasta total.
-the large can of olives have "6 oz drained weight" label on front of can.


Sheri's Pesto Veggie Lasagna

A few weeks ago Sheri made this dish for a soccer team dinner. The girls on the team loved it. I figured if they loved it, maybe my boys would love it too. So I got to work on Saturday night, and made a pan for Sunday. You know, the day of rest. All of those veggies, layers of cheese, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan. Tomatoes. Pesto. Yum, the pesto totally sets this dish apart from other veggie pasta dishes. Gave the ricotta layer a nice flavor boost. As I was putting it together, I thought- am I going to hear crying from the boys (like they are girls) when they discover this is an all veggie lasagna? Arrrrrgh. So, being the perfect mother I am, and part psychic, I made half vegetablearian (I know, not a word) and half sausage. Sunday comes. I bake up the dish. What is this, they ask? I tell them. Uh. "NO MEAT?" They say.
"No, it's a veggie lasagna and you are going to love it" I say. They are all giving each other "the look". Finally I admit I hedged and made half with meat. I tell them if they would try the veggie side, they would love it! Grant looks at me and says (in his Neanderthal way):
"We like meat because we are Carnivores."
Oh, really. Wow. Revelation.

Sheri's Pesto Veggie Lasagna

1 sweet medium onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2-15 oz cans of tomato sauce
1- 6 oz can tomato paste
1- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons basil
2 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon sugar
6 drops hot pepper sauce, optional

Other filling ingredients:
8-10 mushrooms, medium, washed and sliced
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
3-4 cups fresh spinach, washed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 3/4 cups Ricotta cheese
1 egg
7-8 oz pesto (Sheri uses about 1 1/2 cups)*
1 lb fresh mozzarella, sliced
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan, grated
1 cup grated mozzarella, for top of lasagna
1 box no boil lasagna pasta

Combine olive oil and one chopped onion in large saucepan over medium high heat. Cook just until onion is softened about 5 minutes. Add rest of ingredients, turn down heat and simmer while preparing rest of dish.
In another skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat, add mushrooms, saute until lightly browned. Remove from pan and place in bowl. Saute chopped onion and red pepper until softened, about 5 minutes. Add onion back to skillet, and toss in spinach. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the spinach starts to lose shape, but is not completely wilted. The spinach will continue to cook in the oven. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a medium size bowl, whisk together the Ricotta cheese, egg, and pesto. Slice the fresh mozzarella and set aside.
Spray a 9x13 pan with Cooking spray. Cover the bottom of the pan with about 3/4 cup of the sauce. Spread around until sauce is covering the bottom of the pan. Place a layer of the lasagna noodles across the pan. Do not overlap the noodles, they will expand when baking. Place the pasta three across. There will be a little gap between the edge of the pasta and the pan. Layer the lasagna as follows:

1/2 of ricotta mixture
1/3 of remaining sauce
1/2 of vegetable mixture
1/2 of sliced cheese
3 more sheets of pasta
repeat layers and end with sauce layer on top

Cover pan with foil. Place in refrigerator overnight if using next day, or you may freeze at this point. When ready to bake, remove from refrigerator, and let sit on counter for 1/2 to 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes, remove foil. Bake an additional 15 minutes until hot and bubbly. Top with remaining 1 1/2 cups of combined grated Parmesan and mozzarella. Broil or set oven to convection bake until cheese on top is slightly golden.
Remove from oven, and let sit for 15 minutes before slicing.

-*Sheri uses pesto to give more flavor to the veggie based lasagna. I loved it. She buys the Costco pesto and uses about half of the container, which I love, but didn't have any in my fridge and didn't want to make another trip to COSTCO just for pesto, cause you know then it would have cost me $100 (at least) for that one jar of pesto, bc you can't buy just one item at Costco. Instead, I bought a 7 oz container of Butoni pesto in the refrigerated section at my local grocery.
-If you aren't into the no-bake pasta( I like it because it is thinner than the traditional style lasagna that needs boiling) you may use traditional style and boil the pasta. Assemble and bake the same.
-If freezing the dish for later baking, cover with plastic wrap and foil. Freeze. Remove from freezer when ready to bake. Remove plastic wrap and replace foil. Bake for about 1 hour 30 minutes. Remove foil about last 30 minutes of baking. Top with last layer of cheese just before broiling.


Orecchiette with Fresh Mozzarella, Pear Tomatoes and Garlic Chives

I took one look at this recipe and knew I had to make this salad. The only problem was - well two problems. One - no garden= no tomatoes. Especially no pear tomatoes. This is where great neighbors come in. A call to the Farr's. Beg their girls to go out into the garden and see if any of those cute little pear or cherry tomatoes are ripe. Problem solved. Second problem: Read the recipe and look at the ingredients really fast, and you might think this is a SALAD recipe. It looks like a salad in the pic in August Bon Appetit. Re-read the recipe. A little more carefully this time. Right before making dinner. This is not a salad, but is a hot dish. Oh well. I decided to go with my vision, and make it as a salad. Loved it. Hopefully, you have neighbors like the Farr's, or maybe you grow your own pear tomatoes. If not, you are missing out. Big time. This salad is so yummy. Fresh. Hurry summer is slipping away...

Orecchiette with Fresh Mozzarella, Pear Tomatoes and Garlic Chives

10 Oz Orecchiette (little ear shaped pasta, about 3 cups uncooked)
1 pound fresh mini mozzarella balls (found these at Costco)
1 pound grape or pear tomatoes, red and yellow if available
8-10 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6-8 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
5 tablespoons minced fresh garlic chives or regular chives* see note below
4 tablespoons minced fresh oregano

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions. Drain, and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Pour into large bowl, and add all of the remaining ingredients. Season with kosher salt and lots of fresh ground pepper.


-I added extra oil and vinegar to the pasta after the salad sat for a while. The pasta absorbs the oil and vinegar, and becomes a little dry.
-Using a white balsamic is important, if using red, it will discolor the pasta and cheese. White balsamic is found in Italian markets, and in some grocery stores.
-*Note that the recipe calls for 5 tablespoons minced garlic or regular CHIVES,
not 5 tablespoons of garlic.


Asian Grilled Flank Steak Salad

Goodness, this was yummy.

Here is the manly part of the salad (below). BEEF.

Tomorrow is my little brother's birthday. He is my one and only sibling. Harold. Uncle Harry to my kids. The favorite uncle, on my side. He has a fun, YELLOW (if you are into the COLOR CODE) personality. I asked Jacob, my youngest to describe him: "Funny, strong, loud, cool, garbage gut, always happy". My little bro is always game for the park, basketball court, carnival rides, swimming pool, sledding, shopping mall- you name it- he's up for it. The two of us rode for countless hours in the back of my parents camper on road trips all over the Western U.S. We fought a little, but mostly got along, because we only had each other.

Kind. Friendly. Thoughtful. Generous. Considerate. He married a great person, Kaari, who brings out the best in him. They have two beautiful and sweet daughters. Harold is a great dad! I admire him for always putting his family first. When I go home to visit, and watch him with his own little family, I think - when did he grow up?? When did I grow up? It seems like it wasn't that long ago we were riding around in that gold camper. When we were kids, we mimicked our parents eating habits. I was just like Dad, give me anything sweet, and I could make a meal out of it. Pie and cookies for breakfast, lunch and dinner - that's me. Harold was just like Mom. A piece of fruit was a great dessert. Salads? I would tolerate a salad with dinner, but mom felt like a meal wasn't complete without salad. Harold's tastes have changed a little, he likes sweets more now than in his younger days, but he still loves to eat salads with meals. He also LOVES meat. When I made this salad a while ago, I instantly thought of him. I wished we lived closer, so I could run over a big platter of this salad to him. It's a delicious summer salad. Big hit at our house. Enough meat to satisfy a manly appetite, and enough green and pasta to please the lady like eaters in your fam. We absolutely LOVED this. And I know you (and your brother) will too.
Happy Birthday little brother, I love you.

I used these noodles I brought back from my trip to Japan last October...
had to guess what this said (see package below).

Asian Grilled Flank Steak Salad

For Flank Steak and Marinade:
1 flank steak (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon peeled, minced fresh ginger
3 scallions, white parts only, sliced (may sub chopped onion)
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil

For Dressing: (to be mixed with remaining 1/2 of marinade)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons honey

For Salad:
1 oz Asian rice noodles, or other Asian noodles
1 head leaf lettuce- Boston, red or green leaf
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 cup small sweet onion, chopped or sliced into
thin rings (optional)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, or two medium sized tomatoes, sliced
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped (I used honey roasted)

1. Score the flank steak on both sides, across the grain. This helps the meat to absorb the marinade. Place the steak into a 9x9 or 9x13 glass dish.
2. Place all of the marinade ingredients into a bowl and mix together well. Make sure the sugar is dissolved. Pour about half of the marinade over the steak in the glass pan. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Save the other half of the marinade for the dressing.
3. Add to the remaining (for dressing) marinade the 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons honey. Whisk and set aside.
4. Bring about 2-3 quarts of water to a boil and cook the Japanese noodles, according to package directions. You may use soba noodles, or rice noodles. Rice noodles only need to be soaked in cold water, then drained after about 1 hour. If the rice noodles are not tender after an hour, you may need to boil in water 1-3 minutes. Drain noodles in colander, rinse with cold water, toss with a little oil. Set aside.
5. Pre-heat barbecue.
6. Place all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl, except peanuts. Toss together.
7. Brush oil or lightly spray PAM on heated grill. Place the flank steak on the hot grate and grill until cooked to taste 4-6 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer to cutting board and let rest for at least 3 minutes. Cut the steak into paper thin slices across the grain by holding the knife blade at a 45 degree angle to the top of the meat.
8. If serving in a large bowl to a crowd, toss the salad ingredients and mound the noodles in the center of the salad, drizzle dressing over all of the greens and noodles. Top with sliced steak, and garnish with chopped peanuts and mint. Toss all together just before serving. If serving on individual plates, lay salad ingredients on plates, top with small amount of noodles and few slices of steak. Drizzle with dressing, sprinkle with peanuts. Serve immediately.

-Rice noodles are available in Asian specialty stores, or many grocery stores. They usually only need soaking, but some varieties require soaking and a brief boil.
-This salad may be made with any type of meat: chicken, pork tenderloin, or even tofu.

adapted from: How to Grill cookbook by Steven Raichlen


Garden Fresh Pasta Salad with Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette

The other day one of my sweet neighbors called to see if we needed any zucchini. Yes! My Mom stir fried a few, then I used the rest for pasta salad. I wanted to try a new dressing, so I sent Jake out to the herb garden (pot). HA. I KNOW, I keep mentioning it. You would laugh your head off if you saw how tiny it is in reality. He snipped off some basil, oregano and thyme. Bought some beautiful green onions at the farmers market. Yummy. Cooked up some pasta I carried all the way back from Rome. Oh, my. It was good. This was not your mothers pasta. Even dried, it was better than any made in the U.S. of A. Decided to make the dressing with things I love. Guess what? It was so, so good. Try it next time you make dressing. You just need to use one part vinegar to two or three parts oil. Then just start pulling items out of your refrig or garden... for flavor, in my case fresh herbs and Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. A little mayo for a creamy effect. Original. Fresh. Summer. This is it.

Garden Fresh Pasta Salad with Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette

1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Cider vinegar
3-4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard ( grainy or regular)
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup fresh thyme, chopped
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

Blend oil and vinegar together with whisk. Add all remaining ingredients. Continue to whisk until all ingredients are mixed well. Season with salt and pepper.

3/4 lb pasta, cooked al dente, drained and rinsed with cold water
1 small zucchini, sliced thin
1/2 red pepper, chopped
2 green onions, sliced, green part only
1 cup fresh spinach
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Place all ingredients in large bowl. Toss with dressing. If not serving immediately, refrigerate. When ready to serve, toss again, if pasta is too dry, mix in a little more olive oil.

-Try buying an imported dried pasta at an Italian market, or use fresh pasta. If you live in Utah, Tony Caputos or Frank Granato Importing Co. are good sources.


Penne with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Arugula

In UTAH, school is almost out, and there are a gazillion places to be and programs/games/meetings to attend before the end of May. I was looking for a quick and easy dish to prepare for dinner last week and found this in Gourmet magazine. I had to make a few adjustments-
1) I already had a huge container of spinach I needed to use in my fridge, so I used spinach instead of Arugula.
2) I used fresh tomatoes instead of sun dried, because the boys don't love sun dried, and I had fresh on the counter. It totally changed the overall taste of the dish, I'm sure.
3)My neighborhood grocery deli girl looked at me with that "what are you talking about??" look when I asked for some pancetta . Instead of making a trip to the big city, I subbed a little bacon. It was an acceptable sub, but the pancetta would have been WAY better. Omitting the meat altogether probably would have been a better option.
The boys loved it, so I can't complain too much. Start to finish, less than 1/2 hour.
Happy May!

Penne with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Arugula

1/4 pound thinly sliced pancetta, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2/3 cup cream
1/3 cup milk (my addition, because the cream amount was not enough liquid) see tips below
1/2 cup drained oil packed sun dried tomatoes, chopped
8 cups fresh arugula or spinach
1 pound Penne pasta*
1/2 cup grated Parmesan plus additional shaved Parmesan for serving
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
salt and pepper

Cook Pasta using package directions. Reserve cooking water to thin pasta sauce. Set aside.

Cook pancetta in one tablespoon olive oil in a skillet (I like Teflon for this dish) over medium heat, stirring occasionally until brown and crisp. Transfer pancetta to paper towels and drain. Pour off all extra oil, wipe out any crumbs from meat remaining in pan. Over medium heat, cook onion in 2 tablespoons oil in pan until softened. Add garlic, salt and pepper cook for about 8 minutes total. Stir in cream, milk, sun dried tomatoes and cooked pancetta, simmer until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat, add arugula stir, just until wilted about 1 minute.

Add pasta to sauce in skillet and toss together with grated Parmesan. Thin sauce with reserved cooking water if necessary . Stir in fresh basil, serve with shaved Parmesan on top.

-I thought 1 lb of pasta was too much past for the amount of sauce. A little of the dry side. Next time, I'll either just cook 3/4 lb of the pasta, or adjust the sauce to make a little more. Maybe up the overall liquid dairy products to 1 1/2 cups. I added 1/3 cup of milk, because I thought the 2/3 cup of cream was not enough. Even with the 1/3 cup of milk addition, and a little water from the pasta, it was not enough sauce for me...


Tessa's Spaghetti Carbonara

Remember my friend Tessa? I love Tessa. And I love almost anything she cooks. She whipped up this Spaghetti Carbonara for me several years ago, and it's still one of my favorites. You probably have everything you need to make it right in your fridge. If not, run down to the store and keep it on hand. Then, when you need to make a quick dinner because you are running to your 6th soccer, or baseball, or softball or lacrosse game of the week, and you are sitting at the field, and it's 7PM, and you are thinking - "We can not eat hamburgers or Taco Bell one more night this week" - go home and have this on the table in about 20 minutes. The secret to having it all done fast is to put the water on to boil while you are cooking the bacon. You can use the pre cooked bacon too, to save time and mess. Serve it with a green veg or salad and some crusty bread, and your family will thank you for being the most wonderful Mom (or Dad) in the world. Oh- almost forgot. You should really heat your plates or pasta bowls when serving Carbonara. If you are placing it in a serving bowl, heat that too. Just turn your oven on for about 10 minutes to 250 degrees, put your oven proof dinner plates and serving bowl in, and turn the oven OFF. Keeping the serving bowl and the plates warm keep the pasta and sauce warm, and you won't get that icky sticky pasta mess you get when you serve this dish on a cold plate. I know you are saying cream and butter!! No, it's not low fat, but neither are those frozen corndogs or Hot Pockets you were going to pawn off as dinner.

Tessa's Spaghetti Carbonara
print recipe

1/2 lb spaghetti
4 tablespoons butter (if you double, I leave the butter at 4 tbsp total)
1 cup whipping cream
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese (No green cans)
4 slices bacon, cooked, drained and chopped

Heat water in large pot to boil. Cook pasta al dente, as directed on package. Meanwhile, cook bacon in sauce pan, remove and chop. Drain off all grease from pan, and wipe inside of pan with paper towel. Melt butter in saucepan. Add cream and cook for about 10 minutes until reduced a bit. Remove 1/4 cup cream to small bowl, mix 4 egg yolks to the 1/4 cup cream mixture with a fork. Return the egg and cream mixture to the pan with the remaining cream. When pasta is done, drain and pour into heated bowl. While pasta is still hot, pour egg mixture over pasta, toss to cook egg slightly. Add the chopped bacon and grated parmesan. Serve immediately.


Sweet Sausage Lasagne

When I graduated from high school back in 1080, oops, I meant 1980- and left for college at the age of 17, I cooked.
One thing.
It wasn't because I liked to cook, it was out of necessity. I wanted it- and my mom didn't know how to make it. My dad was a Navy man, and never liked to eat anything that even remotely resembled a casserole. He said he ate enough casserole dishes in his 20 years in the Navy to last a lifetime. So Mom never made casseroles. In our house, lasagne fell into that category.

Setting: the late 60's- Bremerton(my hometown) was just across the water from Seattle. A ferry ride to Seattle almost always included a trip to the Seattle Center. Before malls had food courts, we had the Seattle Center International Food Fair aka- the "Food Circus". The Seattle Center was home to the World's Fair in 1962 . There were rides outside and a HUGE (well it seemed huge to me) building that housed food booths from "all over the world" :) My favorite was the lasagne shop. I LOVED lasagne. My love for lasagna was satisfied every few months by either going to the Seattle Center, attending a potluck at my little brother's sports banquets (where there were sure to be several pans of my favorite creation), or getting out the BH&G red checked cookbook and making some at home. Over the years, I've tried lots of different lasagne recipes: spinach (chopped frozen and fresh) , beef, four cheese, vegetarian, with ricotta, with cottage cheese, with only fresh mozzarella, the list goes on. This recipe was found while surfing food blogs recently. I loved the Italian sausage in this recipe and the spice it gives to the sauce. I also love the pasta in this recipe. I tried using the "no boil" pasta years ago,(didn't like it) but I think it was different then, thicker? Now, the noodles are really thin. Cook's did a story about using "no boil" pastas, and declared their love for it because it's so thin, it tastes more like fresh pasta. I think you're gonna love this. Buon appetit. Yes, I now speak Italian.

Sweet Sausage Lasagne
adapted from Food Network
print recipe

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
1/2 pound lean ground pork
1/3 cup dry white wine or water
2 (28-ounce) containers crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 medium dried bay leaves

For the lasagna:
1 (9-ounce) box no-boil lasagna noodles
24 ounces part skim ricotta cheese
1 pound part skim mozzarella cheese, low-moisture or fresh, thinly sliced
2 cups finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 2 ounces)

For the meat sauce: Heat oil in a Dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add onion and garlic, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook until just softened. Add sausage and ground pork and stir to break up meat. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add wine or water and cook, scraping bottom of pan to incorporate browned bits. Add tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, basil, oregano, bay leaf, and season well with freshly ground black pepper. Stir until well mixed and tomatoes start to simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld, at least 10 minutes and up to 1 hour.

For the lasagna: Heat oven to 375 degrees F and arrange rack in middle.

Spread 2 cups sauce in a thin layer over the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Layer 4 noodles over sauce, top with 2 cups sauce and spread it evenly over the noodles. Evenly dollop 1/4 of the ricotta across the sauce, top with 1/4 of the mozzarella, and sprinkle evenly with 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Cover with foil and let sit on counter before baking for about 1/2 hour. Bake until liquids are bubbling and noodles are beginning to soften, about 40 minutes.

Remove foil and continue baking until top is golden brown and noodles are completely tender, about 20 minutes more. Allow to rest 20 minutes before cutting.

PS - Lasagna is the singular - as in one lasagna noodle, lasagne is plural - did you know that? I didn't.


Southwest Orzo and Black Bean Salad

It's tournament time! Three Utah teams have been invited to the BIG DANCE. Stock the fridge, make some yummy food and enjoy the games. How can you NOT love the NCAA tournament? Ok, well I didn't always love it... back in the early 80's "One Shining Moment" a video of tournament highlights and watching Jim Valvano hooked me. Over the years, I graduated from the highlights to the actual games. I'm a little backwards, I know. You've never seen "One Shining Moment" ?? click here, this is one of my favorites, 1998, when the Utes played in the championship game. I love that some unknown team (at least to me), this year- Morgan State (15 seed), can make it into the tournament, beat a top seeded team and before you know it the whole nation is talking about Morgan State. I have no idea where they are located- anyone?
Enough with the basketball talk, this is a cooking blog! This is a great recipe I adapted from Cooking Light a few years back. It's versatile because it can be served as a salad, or appetizer and is low fat (bonus). As an appetizer, serve with a big bowl of tortilla chips. If you are serving as a salad, chop some romaine lettuce onto a platter and pour the salad over the lettuce, top with the avocado mixture. If you've never cooked Orzo, you'll love this rice shaped pasta. One box will last a long, long time.
U know who I will be cheering about you?

Southwest Orzo and Black Bean Salad
printable recipe

1 cup dried Orzo pasta
1 can (15 oz) black beans rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups corn, fresh cut, frozen or drained canned
2 firm ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup thin sliced green onion
1 teaspoon grated lime peel
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper, about 1/2 teaspoon each

Avocado topping:
1 ripe avocado
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup non fat, low fat or regular sour cream
Salt and pepper
tortilla chips
chopped lettuce

Boil 2 quarts water. Add pasta, cook until barely tender 9-11 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. In large mixing bowl, mix pasta, beans, corn, tomato, cilantro, onions, lime and lime juice. Toss to combine. Add seasonings, including salt and pepper to taste.
In small bowl, mash avocado with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and sour cream. Salt and pepper.

If serving as an appetizer, pour into serving bowl or platter, top with avocado mixture. Serve with tortilla chips. As a salad, shred romaine lettuce onto platter, top with salad and avocado.

-If you are serving as an appetizer, tuck some chips around the inside edge of the bowl just before serving.


Asian Noodles and Slaw

Spring is in the air! Easter is just around the corner. April the 12th to be exact. So, I have been thinking about brunch dishes to celebrate this joyous time of year.
One of our favorite salads to eat in the spring and summer is this Oriental Cabbage Slaw. Made this last night to go with salmon at a family birthday dinner. Years ago, my sis in law, Sheri, made some changes to the original recipe from A Pinch of Salt Lake cookbook. I made a few more, now its nearly perfect (in my humble opinion). This is a great salad for a buffet table, because it doesn't go limp, or have any ingredients that spoil easily (unless you add chicken to make it more of a main dish salad). It's a little different than the usual pasta salad, and yet different from most salads made with ramen noodles, because the noodles are cooked. In the next few weeks, I'll post some of our (brunch) family favorites.

Asian Noodles and Slaw

4 packages chicken flavored ramen, spice packs reserved
1 medium size head cabbage, finely shredded
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 orange or yellow pepper, thinly sliced
4-5 cups broccoli, blanched and cut into small pieces
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 spice packets from ramen packages
2-4 tablespoons sugar - to taste
salt and ground pepper to taste

After salad and dressing are assembled, sprinkle generously with :
Mrs Dash- about 3 Tablespoons
toasted sesame seeds- about 1/4 cup

Cook ramen according to package directions, do not add spice packets. Do not over cook. Rinse with cold water, drain again. Place noodle in large bowl or container. Combine the chopped vegetables with the noodles.
Combine dressing ingredients, whisk or place in blender until mixed well. Taste the dressing, it should have a little bit of a sweet/sour taste. If it's not tart enough, add a little more vinegar, if too tart, add more sugar. Pour the dressing a little at a time over the salad ingredients, tossing as you add the dressing. There should be about 1/2 to 1/4 cup of the dressing leftover.
Sprinkle generously with Mrs. Dash and sesame seeds. After pouring into serving dish, sprinkle with a few more seeds and Mrs. Dash. Refrigerate until serving.

-Add a couple of sliced chicken breasts to make this a main dish salad.
-Mrs. Dash is a combination of several spices, pepper, celery seed, onion, marjoram, thyme, coriander, cumin, orange peel, lemon juice powder to name a few. It really gives this salad a great flavor.
-I have found that buying sesame seeds in the oriental section of the grocery is much less expensive than the spice area. The bottles are much bigger, many times for about half the cost. - Don't over cook the ramen, it's easy to do, because the noodles are so thin. They really only take about a minute or two.
- I have tried lots of different brands of ramen noodles and Soba noodles in this recipe. For a while I used Soba noodles. They taste good, and have a more substantial texture, but have reverted back to using ramen noodles because they are easier to find in the grocery store, and less expensive. And no one seemed to appreciate the difference! I like the Sapporo Ichiban brand of ramen. If you use a brand like Top Ramen (ick), you may want to increase the amount of noodles to 5-6 packages, and use 3-4 spice packets. They tend to have less noodles per package than the Sapporo brand.

Sapporo Brand, found in the Asian/Oriental section of the grocery