Monday, March 02, 2015

Tomato Vodka Cream Pasta Sauce


1/4 cup good olive oil
1 medium Spanish onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup vodka
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled plum tomatoes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound penne pasta
4 tablespoons fresh oregano
3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream
Grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large oven proof saute pan over medium heat, add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the red pepper flakes and dried oregano and cook for 1 minute more. Add the vodka and continue cooking until the mixture is reduced by half.

Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes through a sieve and crush them into the pan with your hands. Add 2 teaspoons salt and a pinch of black pepper. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and place it in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente. Drain and set aside.

Place the tomato mixture in a blender and puree in batches until the sauce is a smooth consistency. Return to the pan.

Reheat the sauce, add 2 tablespoons fresh oregano and enough heavy cream to make the sauce a creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and simmer for 10 minutes. Toss the pasta into the sauce and cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan. Serve with an additional sprinkle of Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh oregano on each plate.

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Saturday, February 07, 2015

Pumpkin Ravioli

  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 can (15 Oz. Size) Pumpkin Puree
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Chili Powder (more To Taste)
  • 1/4 cup Pine Nuts
  • 1 stick Butter
  • 36 whole Wonton Wrappers
  • 1 whole Egg, Beaten
  •  Black Pepper To Taste
  •  Fresh Parmesan
  •  Fresh Sage, Sliced Very Thin

Preparation Instructions

Melt butter with the garlic in a skillet over medium heat and cook for a couple of minutes to release the garlic flavor. Add the pumpkin puree, salt and chili powder. Stir and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Toast pine nuts in a small skillet over medium-low heat, tossing occasionally, until golden. Remove from heat and pour the pine nuts onto a small plate. 
In a small skillet (you can use the same one you toasted the pine nuts in) brown the butter by melting it over medium-high heat, then letting it cook and bubble for an additional minute or so until the foam is golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside. 
Assemble the ravioli: Lay out 18 wonton wrappers and put 1/2 teaspoon of the pumpkin mixture in the center. Beat the egg with 1 tablespoon water. Using your finger, smear the egg mixture all over the surface of one of the wrappers surrounding the pumpkin. Place a clean wrapper on top, matching up the edges. Press the edges together and use your fingers to press out any air pockets that form. Repeat with the rest of the wrappers. (Keep in mind the wrappers dry out quickly, so you might want to assemble 9 ravioli at a time, keeping the other wrappers covered.)
(If you like, you can trim the raviolis using a circular or square cutter to make the edges uniform. Totally optional!)
Bring a pot of water to a boil. 3 at a time, drop the ravioli into the water and cook for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spatula and put the ravioli on a plate. Continue cooking the ravioli in batches of 3. 
To serve, spoon a little browned butter onto each plate and smear it around. Place 3 ravioli on each plate, then spoon a little more browned butter over the top. Sprinkle on toasted pine nuts, sprinkle with a little black pepper, and sprinkle on shaved Parmesan. Finally, sprinkle on the sage and serve!

Friday, February 06, 2015

Orange Chicken

  • Vegetable Or Peanut Oil For Frying
  • 4 whole Egg Whites
  • 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 4 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs, Cut Into Bite Sized Pieces
  •  Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup Orange Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Packed Brown Sugar (OR White Sugar OR Honey)
  • 1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar (or Regular Distilled Vinegar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sesame Oil
  •  Dash Of Salt
  •  Dash Of Crushed Red Pepper, More To Taste
  • 1 clove Garlic, Pressed Or Minced
  • 2 teaspoons Minced Ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Cornstarch (additional)
  •  Zest Of 1 Orange (optional)
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 2 whole Green Onions, Sliced

Preparation Instructions

For the chicken: In a large bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and egg whites with a fork until almost frothy, about 1 minute. Add the chicken to the mixture and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
For the sauce: Meanwhile, put the orange juice, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, salt, crushed red pepper, garlic and ginger (and orange zest, if using) in a small nonstick skillet and whisk together. Heat until bubbling and starting to thicken, about 3-4 minutes.
Whisk together the cornstarch and 1/4 cup water in a small bowl and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch slurry to the sauce. Mix in and thicken for 1 minute. (If sauce gets overly thick, just add in another 1/4 cup water and whisk in.)
Heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed pot until a deep-fry thermometer inserted in the oil registers 350 degrees F. In batches, carefully drop a few pieces of chicken into the oil (drop them in one by one to keep them from sticking together) and move it around, 2-3 minutes or until light golden. Let the pieces drain on a plate lined with paper towels for 2 to 3 minutes. Then drop them back into the oil for 1 minute to really solidify the coating.
Toss the chicken in the sauce and serve immediately with orange zest and sliced green onions on the top.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cheesy Chili Hash Brown Casserole

I found this recipe in a magazine at the dentist office and thought I'd try it out. I made some substitutions to avoid the canned sauces and it turned out great!

1 lb ground beef
1 onion
1 green pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 tsp brown sugar
3/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp yellow mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 can pinto beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can tomatoes with green chilis (undrained)
1/2 (30 oz) bag shredded frozen hashbrowns
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425.

Brown beef with onion and bell pepper. Drain grease and return to heat. Add garlic powder, brown sugar, ketchup, mustard, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add beans and chopped tomatoes and stir well.

Spray 9x13 pan and fill with chili mixture. Top with frozen hash browns and bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 more minutes or until brown and crisp. Sprinkle with cheese and bake 5 more minutes until melted.

Serves: 6

Asiago Dip

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped chives
1/3 cup asiago cheese, grated
1/2 cup spinach or shredded zucchini (lightly sauteed in olive oil)
8 oz. sour cream
1 tbsp asiago cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first five ingredients in a bowl. Transfer to 1 qt. baking dish. (I like to use my small stoneware baking dish). Sprinkle with asiago. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Serves: 6

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Kale, Cherry and Farro Salad

Kale, Cherry and Farro Salad

1/4 c plus 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, diced
1 c. farro, rinsed
1 t. kosher salt, divided
2 sprigs fresh oregano or ½ t. dried oregano
Juice of ½ large lemon
Juice of 1 medium orange
1 small bunch of Kale, stemmed, finely shredded
½ c. dried cherries, chopped
½ English cucumber, chopped
4 o. goat cheese
½ c. slivered almonds or pine nuts, toasted lightly in oven

Heat a medium saucepan over med-high heat. Add 2T. olive oil and shallot. Cook until shallots have softened, about 3 minutes. Add the farro and toast in olive oil, about 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium/med-low and stir in 2 c. water, oregano and ½ t. salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the farro is cooked through and tender, about 20-25 minutes. Remove fresh oregano sprigs (if using), drain farro if necessary and set aside.

Whisk together lemon and orange juice, ¼ c. olive oil and ½ t. salt in large bowl. Add the warm farro and toss. Add kale, dried cherries, cucumber and nuts (if using). Toss to combine. Crumble in goat cheese and mix gently.

*Note: If farro dressing tastes too tart, use honey to sweeten. If it doesn’t taste tart enough, add more lemon juice or orange juice.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Thai Chicken Noodle Bowls

Michelle and I made this delicious recipe (via Cooking Light) when I visited her this summer. I decided to make it for Doug's birthday dinner, too. He loved it! Neither of us are raw cucumber fans, but in this dish they just work. :) It was fun to use cucumber, carrot and basil fresh from the garden, too.

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons roasted red chile paste
1/3 cup finely chopped green onions (4 onions)
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
6 ounces uncooked rice sticks (rice-flour noodles) *we also used angel hair pasta and it was equally delicious
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon roasted red chile paste
2 carrots, peeled and cut into ribbons (about 2 cups)
1/2 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons finely chopped unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
Additional ingredients:
6 lime wedges

1. To prepare marinade, combine first 9 ingredients in a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; add chicken. Seal bag; marinate in refrigerator overnight.
2. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
3. While chicken stands, cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.
4. To prepare sauce, combine 1/4 cup rice vinegar and next 6 ingredients (through chile paste) in a small bowl.
5. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
6. Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Cook 6 minutes on each side or until done. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut chicken crosswise into slices.
7. Place 3/4 cup noodles and slices from 1 chicken breast half in each of 6 bowls. Top each serving with 1/3 cup carrot, about 3 tablespoons cucumber, 2 teaspoons basil, and 1 teaspoon peanuts. Drizzle each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons sauce, and serve with 1 lime wedge.

Tips: To make carrot ribbons, use a vegetable peeler.

Serves: 6

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mini Zucchini Quiches

It's that time of year... Happy Zucchini Harvest! I found this recipe on Weight Watchers. It's actually not very diet friendly, as each little mini muffin is about 100 calories, but they sure are tasty. These would be a great thing to bring as an appetizer or for a brunch. I'm thinking they probably freeze well, too!

1 cup shredded zucchini, uncooked
1 small onion, finely chopped   
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
3 large eggs
1/4 cup flour (I used whole wheat, but you could use all-purpose as well)
1/8 cup basil, fresh, finely chopped   
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, extra virgin   
1 tsp baking powder   
1/2 tsp sugar   
1/2 tsp kosher salt   
1/5 tsp black pepper   

Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a 24-hole nonstick mini muffin pan with cooking spray.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; spoon about 1 heaping tablespoon egg mixture into each prepared hole.

Bake until bottoms are golden brown and quiche are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and let quiche cool for a few minutes in pan; remove quiche to a wire rack to cool more. 

Yield: 24 mini quiches