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Stuffed Pepper Soup

I spent a little time looking at recipes for using up peppers.  I ran across one called stuffed pepper soup. I usually look at several recipes to get an idea of the range of possibilities and ended with one that used half ground beef and half Italian sausage.I had several Anaheim peppers I needed to use.  They have a thick skin so I roasted them to help get those off.Let the roasted peppers sit in a bowl for 20 minutes, covered, and the skins will come off easily.  I do it over a bowl full of water to help with the removal.I picked a couple of nice green bells, and chopped them, the roasted Anaheims, and a big sweet onion.Chop a couple of cloves of garlic while you are at it.Brown the meat, spoon out excess grease, and add the peppers and onions, cook until they are soft – 5 minutes or so.I added a quart of the tomatoes I stewed and canned last year, a can of tomato sauce, and 3 or 4 cups of chicken stock.  I seasoned with granulated onion, granulated garlic, dried herbs like basil, marjoram, thyme, oregano, and a few bay leaves.  Salt and pepper to taste.It’s good over pasta, too.  This recipe was received with much enthusiasm around these parts.

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Pasta with Spinach Cheese Marinara

Pasta photo by JeffreyW

Pasta w/Spinach Cheese Marinara Sauce:

  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, washed & sliced
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • 2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste*
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp thyme, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ cup grated Romano cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 12 oz bow-tie pasta (farfalle)

2 saucepans

Bring water for pasta to a boil in large saucepan, add pasta and cook according to directions to al dente.

Meanwhile, heat oil in the other saucepan; sauté onions, mushrooms & peppers until onions are golden.  Add remaining ingredients (except pasta) bring to a low boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to med-low, cover and let simmer until pasta is done cooking. As the pasta finishes up, add a ladle or two of pasta water to the sauce.

Drain pasta well and toss together with sauce.  Serve with additional Parmesan & Romano cheeses if desired.

*you can freeze the remainder in an ice-cube tray and store in a freezer bag.



 

Chicken Parm

This dish is usually made with tenderized chicken breasts, I like the boneless, skinless thighs better.  I pounded these a little but not a lot.  The prep was typical, though:  dredge in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs,  Cook in olive oil until golden, then flip.  Bake, topped with sauce and cheese and serve.  I like a bed of spaghetti that has been tossed in butter and good olive oil with plenty of garlic.

Mmm… Bacon and Tomato Pasta Salad

The store deli had an interesting pasta salad that we brought home for a quick side.  They called it a bacon and tomato pasta salad and I found it delicious.  This is an attempt at a copycat recipe.  I went to Google for some ideas and this came up.  It seemed incomplete as the Kroger salad had some dried herb flakes that I decided must be basil.  I added a lot of basil, maybe 2 tablespoons or so to my small test batch.A lot of the recipes I turned up in the search included ranch dressing, and I think that may be the way to go in the future.  After sitting overnight in the fridge the pasta shells I used had absorbed most all of the liquid and were looking dry.  I added more mayo cut with half and half and chopped another tomato to fold in.  It’s an interesting dish, and fun to experiment with.  The Kroger deli used rotini but just about any bite size pasta will work.

Tidbits

Meatballs!  I followed this recipe, mostly.  Quantities in the recipe were for 1 lb. of meat – I went with 1 lb. of ground beef and 1 lb. of Italian sausage and scaled the amounts accordingly.  I’ve no idea what locatelli cheese is so these were made with Parmesan.They were browned in the toaster oven before going into the sauce.I like then over spaghetti with more grated Parmesan and ribbons of basil.  I may do some meatball subs today with the rolls I baked the other day:I had planned to smoke a pork shoulder but when the big chunk of meat was thawed it turned out to be beef.  I resorted to the crockpot and made a batch of Italian beef.  My recipe is to slice a bunch of onions, mince a lot of garlic, add beef or chicken broth, red wine, bay leaves, dried basil and oregano, more granulated garlic and onion, and salt and ground black pepper.  Open a jar of pepperoncini and dump them all in – with the juice.  Some red pepper flakes work well but are optional.  Put all of that stuff in with the beef and give it 8 hours or so on high.  Proper Chicago style Italian beef is made with thin sliced beef but I don’t do it that way because I don’t keep a deli slicer out on the counter.  Mine is more like pulled pork:Here’s a quick lunch we had the other day before I baked the rolls, the little buns are a par-baked item Kroger carries, just pop them into the toaster oven for a few minutes and they made credible slider buns.Here we go with a full sized sammich.  I like them dipped but if you dip the whole sammich it becomes a race to finish it before it falls apart.  A little bowl of juice on the side overcomes that problem.Lest you think it’s all meat and carbs around here, Mrs J cuts up a sweet yellow watermelon.

Sautéed Cherry Tomato Sauced Spaghetti

I’ve been waiting for this since the first tomato turned ripe – enough to do the sauce thing for a delicious summer treat.Cook them down in a little olive oil over medium high heat, using a potato masher to help them along.  Cook the pasta while the sauce is making, reserving some of the pasta water in case the sauce is too dry.  Stir in a couple pats of butter and a tablespoon or two of tomato paste to finish the sauce.  Add the spaghetti and fresh basil to the pan, toss with tongs, or flip it in the pan chef style if you’ve got the chops – this amount was a little too much for me.  I did try and didn’t embarrass myself by spilling any but I will admit to a certain timidity.   Garnish with more grated cheese and basil.

No Really, I’m Still Here and I’m Still Cooking: Sautéed Sausages and Pasta

I’ve been cooking up some great recipes almost daily, but finding the time to put together recipe posts has been difficult. And forget remembering to take photos. Pictured above is Easter dinner, which I did remember to snap. Mostly because as I went to cook the rib roast, I realized I have never transcribed my go-to recipe for this perfect rib roast. I will remedy that in the coming week.

We had snow today, so yesterday before I even sat down to work, I spent time cutting flowers for vases and covering up plants I didn’t want to lose. So there wasn’t a lot of time to think about dinner. Luckily, I had a few items in the frig that needed to be used, so first up for dinner:

Sautéed Sausages and Pasta

  • 1 lb sausage links – I used bratwurst this time, Italian sausages work great, too
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 10 oz dried spaghetti (works best with that, but if you have another style on hand, go for it)

skillet and saucepan

Slice sausages into 2 inch pieces.

Prepare pasta according to package directions, but drain when just Al Dente, you want it a bit under cooked, because it will continue to cook and soak up the sauce in the next step. Reserve the pasta water.

While pasta is cooking, heat oil in skillet, reduce to medium-hi heat, add vegetables and saute until softened. Then add sausage pieces and brown. Reduce heat to medium and cover until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Once sausage is cooked through, add a ladle of pasta water to the pan to deglaze and create a sauce – add more as needed – and stir until well mixed and cook on medium high for a minute or two, reduce heat. Add drained pasta. Toss and let it all cook together on low for about 3-5 minutes to let the pasta soak up the sauce. Add a bit more pasta water if needed.

Serve with Parmesan cheese and salad.

Since it was going to be cold today, I decided soup would be a great idea. I made a traditional Potato Soup (recipe here) but since I had leftover carrots and potatoes from a pot roast earlier in the week, I blended those together with the milk, omitted the flour, and made the tastiest creamy soup base. The flavors were amazing and it was perfect for a cold snowy spring day.



Pasta Pr0n – Sausages in Marinara Sauce

dsc_2085-1600x1200Some of those garlic pepper sausages, browned in olive oil, and then simmered in a garlicky tomato sauce.dsc_2084-1600x1200And an artsy shot with a wide aperture to blur the background.  The sausages were not explicitly Italian, there isn’t any fennel in the recipe, but they work very well in this dish.

Garden Fresh Pasta Dinner

I had friends over on Sunday and by request, made a garden fresh entrée. The advantage with this type of dinner is, it is quick and easy to prepare while guests are there. We had pleasant conversation as I put it together, which from start to finish was less than 20 minutes.

I apologize in advance, I have no photos of the final dish because I was having such a good time I completely forgot to even get my camera out.

Garden Fresh Pasta

  • 4 tomatoes
  • about 4 basil leaves (or 1/2 tsp dry)

=====

  • 12 oz linguine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper (or red or orange as desired), chopped into large pieces
  • 2 zucchini, cubed
  • 1 large eggplant, cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 tomatoes (I used a variety from my garden and my friends’ garden), chopped into large pieces
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil (or 1 tsp dry)

saucepan, skillet, large pot

Blend 4 tomatoes and 4 basil leaves together until smooth and add to saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer while prepping the remainder of the dinner.

In large pot, cook pasta according to package directions, to al dente. Drain, but don’t rinse.

In skillet, heat 1 tbsp of oil, add onions. Saute for a minute and then add peppers. Stir occasionally until they are softened and onions are translucent. Add additional tbsp of oil, once heated, add garlic, zucchini and eggplant. Saute until tender. Finally, add tomatoes and basil, cook for one to two minutes and then add the tomato mixture from the saucepan. Stir together gently and bring to a low boil for about 1 minute. Serve over pasta.

I served it with grated Parmesan, tossed salad and fresh baked bread

Go wild and add whatever fall garden vegetables you have on hand….



 

Tomato-Pasta Salad

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Yesterday’s bounty from my yard and some bonus homemade salsa

Tomato season is in full swing. Every meal has tomatoes in one form or another. This is a nice combination of flavors to shake things up from the usual pasta salads:

Tomato-Pasta Salad

  • 10 oz dry rotini pasta, cooked, drained, chilled
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Dijon or stone-ground mustard
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 oz fresh basil
  • 4 oz fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
  • 4 oz Kalamata (Greek green) olives
  • 4 oz shredded parmesan
  • 2 oz crumbled Feta
  • 8 oz diced ham (opt)

serving bowl, bowl, saucepan

In small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, pepper, garlic & basil.  Slowly whisk in oil.  To serving bowl, add pasta, fresh basil, spinach, tomatoes, olives, parmesan, opt. ham and toss with dressing.  Garnish with crumbled feta.