Pasta Pr0n – Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Stuffed Mini-Peppers

I’ve been growing these in a container in the patio garden.  They are green bell peppers in all but name – I’m not sure what the tag said.  I managed to stuff about a tablespoon or so of my Italian beef/rice filler into each one.They are cute as can be!  Here they are after blanching.I went with cooked and crumbled Italian beef mixed with rice and some stewed tomatoes.  Actually, I started with the stewed tomatoes – Mrs J delivered a dozen or so ripe ones that I de-skinned and boiled down with onion and jalapeno peppers.  We had a regular sized green pepper in the fridge so I made sure to make enough stuffing for it, too.Mozzarella made the perfect topping, I cooked them side by side in the toaster oven, the taller pepper browning better than the minis.  Since the filling was already cooked, they just needed enough time in the 375 degree oven to make the peppers tender.Each one was two bites and gone – note that they have relatively thick skins compared to other small peppers.

Tidbits

DSC03131 (1600x1200)Gail, a six month old kitten, was introduced to her her new staff yesterday. After her approval  she allowed her new chauffeur to convey her to her new domain.DSC_5439 (1600x1060) We have no idea what this is.  It’s about the size of a softball and is made of various fibers.DSC_5441 (1600x1060)I suppose it’s possible that it’s just a windblown ball of fluff that has been caught by the branch but it does appear to have been purposely anchored there by several loops of the same fibers as it is built of.DSC_1749 (1600x1060)Mmm… sloppy joes!  I made a quick bean salad with a rice vinegar and olive oil dressing to go with it – based loosely on this recipe.DSC_1752 (1600x1060)I made corned beef the other day and ran the butt ends and scraps through a food processor just for this hash dish.  Frozen shredded potatoes make it a quick and delicious meal.  That’s hot sauce on the egg, I like a dash of Tabasco on mine. DSC_1727 (1600x1060)Gumbo is always a good idea.  This one has shrimp, chicken, and some of my homemade Andouille.  I still have a little bit left, sealed in vacuum bags and frozen.  Vacuum sealing is working out very well, pleased to have rediscovered the method.DSC_1723 (1600x1060)I made a quick batch of Italian sausage from some plain ground pork because I had my heart set on some and found none at all in the freezer.  I was sure I had some!20160130_114847[1] (1600x1060)I’ll make kitteh bookends to the post with this snap of Bea.  The cats have shredded the carpet on this old cat tree so Mrs J set it outside on the back porch, pending remediation.

Pasta Pr0n

DSC_1034 (1600x1060)I went to the pantry and found a quart of last year’s tomato sauce for a pasta meat sauce.  I made quite a bit, adding a big onion, several peppers from the patio garden, Italian sausage, lots of minced garlic, and plenty of fresh herbs.  We had it on spaghetti for lunch, leaving plenty sauce for a supper dish.DSC_1039 (1600x1060) TaMara’s cast iron purchase made me do this in one of my skillets.  This 10 incher is just big enough for 8 ounces of cooked rigatoni with sauce and some mozzarella we had leftover from yesterday’s pizza.DSC_1041 (1600x1060)I noticed that a couple of the recipes I looked at called for assembling the dish in individual sized casseroles but I don’t have anything suitable so I used the pan I had.  I discovered why the mention of individual portions – you need a helper with scissors to cut the mozzarella strings when spooning the pasta into bowls!

Pasta Pr0n – Campanelle aka Gigli

DSC_0183I had a little bit of this left over for a while and it seemed to be just enough for two.  The meat sauce is Italian sausage crumbled and browned then cooked with with a can of basil tomato bits and a ton of garlic and a few spoonfuls of my Awesome sauce.

Homemade Salami

DSC_8045 (1600x1060)This turned out better than I had hoped.  For some reason the local Kroger store has stopped buying cotto salami for their deli meats counter.  It was always one of my favorites and I’ve eaten many a sammich featuring it along with whatever cheese was handy.  I wondered if I could replicate it in my own kitchen.  I did the usual searching online and quickly ran across the old familiar hamburger sausage recipes using Morton’s Tender Quick.  I’ve done similar in the past, using a recipe one of my father’s pals had given him.

I had hamburger and some fresh store-bought Italian sausage that I decided to use.  Mix them together with the recommended amount of tender quick, the desired amendments like red pepper flakes, black pepper, garlic powder, and mustard seed, then roll the meat into one or more logs and wrap in foil.  Refrigerate for at least a day.

I cooked mine on a rack in a low oven over a water filled tray until a temp probe read 160 degrees.  Poke holes with a fork into the foil at the bottom to let the fat drain out.  An alternate cooking method is to pack the meat into a casing and boil it – I think that’s the commercial method for the salami I am trying to replace.  I really don’t know which meats are in the commercial preparations but I believe it is predominantly hamburger.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Pastas and Sauces

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Last year I did a recipe exchange on meatballs (here) but was surprised to see I had never done one specifically on sauces. Now sauces can be risky and start a great debate, because every family has their version. So hit the comments with your favorite pasta sauce recipe, and for that matter, pastas, because there are so many choices. Like many things, I’m not all that concerned about the right pasta for the right sauce, I say, use what you enjoy and ignore the purists.

Food should be fun. For that matter, so should wine, beer and scotch.

So let’s start out with JeffreyW’s Awesome Sauce (here) because, well, it’s awesome.

Want something a little simpler and quicker? How about his San Marzano Sauce, here.

And his Shrimp & Pasta Formaggio (here) is quick and easy, also.

When everything is in season, I like to make my sauce with fresh ingredients, so I have a Garden Fresh Pasta Sauce (recipe here) that’s lighter and fresher than tonight’s featured recipe.

When it comes to pastas, I favor two options, a nice spiral (fusilli or rotini) or a quick cooking Angel Hair (capellini), but if I can get it fresh from the farmer’s market, I’ll take what I can get, which is usually a linguine. It’s all tasty.

For the featured recipe, I went with my traditional family sauce, the one I grew up with, but with a few tweaks. Now, even in my family, half of which are Italian, even the most basic sauce has as many different variations as there are cooks, so this is just a place to start, add your own touches to make it your family tradition. This is a hearty sauce and my go-to in the colder months when fresh ingredients are not readily available. I always double this and freeze half for a later dinner.

Spaghetti w/Meat Sauce

  • 9 – 12 oz pasta of choice (I like angel hair for this recipe)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 tsp. crushed garlic
  • 1 lb lean ground beef (or 1/2 beef and 1/2 spicy Italian sausage)
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 tomatoes, diced (or 14 oz can diced tomatoes)
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 tsp dried basil, crushed*
  • 2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp rosemary, crushed
  • 1 carrot, finely grated or 1/2 tsp sugar (these reduce the acidity of the sauce and bring out the spices – trust me on this one – I prefer the carrot, myself.)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes (opt) to taste
  • grated Parmesan cheese

2 saucepans and large skillet

In skillet, heat oil, sauté pepper, onion, garlic.  Add hamburger and cook thoroughly.  Add tomato paste and 1 tsp ea of crushed basil, oregano and rosemary, mix well.   In saucepan, add remaining ingredients and bring to a low boil, reduce heat, add meat mixture and let simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

Cook pasta according to directions, drain well and serve with sauce and Parmesan cheese.

*CRUSHING Spices – when using dry spices, to get the best flavor, you should crush them, either by rubbing them in your hand or using a mortar and pestle before adding them to a recipe.

That’s it for this week. I know I still owe you a recipe to go with this delicious looking Cream of Chicken Soup I made this week. And if you missed it, here is the Dinner Menu and Shopping list for the week, Pasticcio and Salata Meze. – TaMara

Pizza Night

DSC_6782 [1600x1060]I tried out a half pint of the latest Awesome Sauce on this pie.  I made sure to add plenty of garlic as it simmered down to a thick sauce.  Mmm… Extra Awesome!  This also has Italian sausage, fresh mozzarella, caramelized onions, and a generous handful of those dried cherry tomatoes.  I hurried the crust, so the pie wasn’t perfect but Mrs J went back for another slice.  I’m going to try this same recipe again, and start the dough a lot sooner!  There are just enough of the dried tomatoes for one more.