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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.

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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)

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  • 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.



 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Filled Shortbread Cookies

Filled shortbread cookies

That blemish on that strawberry is going to haunt me. But the cookies were delicious. A bit of cooking going on this week. I’m also putting together my menu for my June visitors, which will probably be the topic for the next several recipe exchanges.

Tonight’s feature recipe was going to be used during that visit, but I won’t lie to you, it’s labor intensive and I decided there would be too much going on to try and attempt them. This is why I test-drive recipes. I refuse to be a tied to the kitchen when I could be having fun with my guests.

Before we get to that recipe, here is what else was cookin’ in my kitchen this week:

Rotelle No-Boil Pasta Bake – quick, easy and I love the little wheels. Click here for the recipe.

Leftover raspberries went into a nice salad: Pear-Raspberry Salad, recipe here.

Spring Roll step 1

And this week’s dinner menu was Chicken Satay and Thai Spring Rolls. Menu, recipe and shopping list are here and photo instructions for the spring rolls are here.

No Bixby this week (although his resistance video got picked up by I Love Great Danes and he’s quite popular. Insists on wearing shades when we walk now – no autographs please). But here is a little kitteh to end your week. She rules the big guy.

What’s on your plate this weekend? Have any warm weather recipes to share? Grilling, fresh greens, fun sweet treats?

Tonight’s featured recipe:

Raspberry and Strawberry Filled Shortbread Cookies

I was going to make my own filling, but when I realized how labor intensive rolling out shortbread dough was going to be, I went will all-fruit style jams instead.

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 2-1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • fruit filling – I went with strawberry (hearts) and raspberry (circles)
  • parchment paper (not optional)

cookie cutters (sharper the better), rolling pin, baking sheets

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add salt and then flour, about a third at a time, mixing gently until all flour is incorporated.  Divide dough in half. Place one half on parchment sheet, cover with another sheet of parchment and roll to about 1/8 inch thick. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the second section of dough. Place baking sheet in the refrigerator and cool for an hour.

Remove one of the dough parchment packets (keep the other refrigerated until ready to use). Peel off the top piece of parchment and cut out the large shapes, then for half the shapes, use a smaller cookie cutter to cut out the center. Move the center pieces from the center to the parchment, so they don’t bake back together. I used the center pieces to make sandwich cookies. Place the parchment on a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees (f) for about 15 to 20 minutes – remove them when they are light golden. Because they are thinner than regular shortbread, keep a good eye on them, they cook up quickly.

Repeat with the second parchment packet.

Remove cookies and let cool thoroughly before assembling. To assemble, place a spoonful of fruit filling in the center of the whole cookie and GENTLY press the cut out cookie on the top, allowing the fruit filling to spread to the edges and fill the center. (Resist the urge to lick the edges to smooth them out) Serve the centers plain or make fruit filled sandwich cookies as desired.

Makes about two dozen, depending on the size of the cookie cutters.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend – TaMara



 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Mix It Up

Cucumber SalsaI did quite a bit of cooking this week, but it’s been busy enough that I haven’t put together the recipes or taken a lot of photos. So tonight I’m highlighting some past favorites.

Pictured above is Crisp Cucumber Salsa, always a hit when I make it. Recipe here.

Baked Ziti is my go-to for dinners to take to events or share when condolences are needed – I often take it unbaked so it can be fresh and hot when needed. It’s also a great make-ahead dinner for weeknights. Recipe here.

This week’s dinner menu is Cranberry Pepper Steak and Bleu Cheese Mashed Potatoes, click here for menu and recipes.

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This yummy photo is from JeffreyW – it’s Bacon Dill Potato Salad – instructions here.

What’s on the menu for you this weekend? Grilling yet? Have anything fun planned?

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Tonight’s featured recipe is another quick but tasty dinner entry. When I was a kid I used to love the Friday nights my mom said, I’m tired of cooking let’s just have hamburger goulash – which was basically hamburger, tomato sauce and elbow macaroni with some spices thrown in. This recipe is like an adult version of that, with some real flavor.  Still easy to put together.

Pasta Jambalaya

  • 12 oz penne pasta
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbsp Cajun or Creole seasoning
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4 oz can chopped green chilies
  • 4 oz smoked sausage, sliced (I like Andouille)
  • 4 oz shredded Mexican 4-blend cheese

saucepan

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well. In the saucepan, heat oil and then sauté onion, pepper, celery and carrots until onions are translucent and celery soft. Add garlic, Cajun seasoning, tomatoes, chilies, beans, carrots and sausage. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat, add pasta and let simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with cheese as garnish.

Note: When a recipe says to add 1 tsp to 1 tbsp, or to taste of a spice, add it in small increments, 1/4 to 1/2 tsp at a time. Remember you can always add more, but it’s pretty tough trying to remove what you’ve added. 😉

That’s it for this week. We’ve finally gotten rid of the clouds and it looks like a great weekend to spend outdoors Have a great weekend. – TaMara

 



 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Chicken, Chicken and More Chicken

Golden Chicken Curry4As promised, I jumped back into blogging this week. And there was actual cooking and baking in my kitchen. I have been wanting to try a cold fermentation bread dough for a while and this was the week. I want to make it a couple more times before I share, but so far it is about the best bread I’ve ever made. For once high altitude did not diminish my enthusiasm or my bread.

But for the rest of the week, it was all about chicken.

First up, Golden Curried Chicken Pilaf and Dill Dip (pictured at top) – a complete dinner menu and recipes can be found here.

JeffreyW made Chicken in Tomatillo Sauce, click here, which I think sounds delicious. I love tomatillos. If you have room in your garden this year, they are very easy to grow. A great addition to salsas and sauces.

In anticipation of grilling weather, there is Tangy Yogurt Chicken, recipe here. The marinade makes for tender chicken and a terrific coating with some zing.

Spring is finally here, so why not a nice Chicken Primavera, with a bonus Carrot Cake, full dinner menu and recipes here.

What’s on your plate this weekend? Cooking anything fun this first full weekend of baseball? Hit the comments and share.Sesame chicken fingers

Tonight’s featured recipe is from my kids’ menu. Great flavor and a breeze to put together. I tossed in some grated Parmesan for additional flavor when I made it this week.

Sesame Chicken Tenders

  • 1/2 cup stone-ground mustard
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 tbsp limejuice

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  • salt & pepper
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • ½ cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 to 2 tbsp water
  • 1 to 1 ½ lbs chicken tenders

baking sheet, greased or lined with parchment or foil

2 bowls and 1 plate

Mix mustard, honey & limejuice in bowl, set aside for dipping sauce*.

On plate mix salt, pepper, breadcrumbs & sesame seeds. In second bowl, add egg and water. Dip chicken in egg wash then dredge in breadcrumbs, coating completely. Place on baking sheet, sprinkle with more sesame seeds if desired. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes, turn, and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until crispy on all sides. Serve with mustard dipping sauce, waffle fries and a fresh vegetable tray for a quick and easy dinner.

*Note: I made a second dipping sauce using Buttermilk Dressing and my favorite Red Hot Sauce. I liked it and will use it again.

That’s it for this week. Next week I’ll be mixing it up with some recipes I’ve had bookmarked to try for a while. Have a great weekend! – TaMara

 

Friday Recipe Exchange: March Roundup

a nice plate full

I’m going to be gone the rest of the month, so I thought I’d put together recipes for the major events in March. Specifically St. Patrick’s day, Easter, and Spring.

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JeffreyW plates up a nice Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner above and I have two recipes for it here.

Coconut Lemon Cake c2011 W4DS

This pretty Coconut Lemon Cake is a showy dessert I like to make for Easter Dinner, click here for the recipe.

What’s going on in your kitchen this weekend? Anyone broken out the grill yet? What recipe makes you feel like spring has finally arrived?

I steamed these veggies for 5 minutes and cooled them in running water, set them aside

Pictured at the top of the post and above are JeffreyW’s Seafood Primavera, more photos and instructions are here.

Tonight’s featured recipe takes advantage of what you can find fresh in the produce section and makes you long for gardening season. It’s quick and easy. You can change up the vegetables at will and omit the chicken if desired (I’d substitute some nice mushrooms then.)

Chicken Primavera

  • 3 boneless chicken breasts, cubed in large pieces
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz sliced carrots
  • 8 oz broccoli crowns
  • 1 small yellow summer squash, sliced
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed or ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • ¾ cup chicken broth or equivalent
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 oz grated parmesan
  • 9 oz fresh linguine

skillet, large saucepan

Sprinkle salt & pepper over chicken pieces. Heat oil in skillet, add chicken and saute for 5 minutes over medium-high heat, until golden on all sides. Add carrots, broccoli and squash, and stir for 2 minutes. Add basil, garlic, tomatoes. Stir additional 2 minutes. Remove mixture to bowl. Add chicken broth and wine to skillet, deglaze drippings, bring to a boil, reduce heat, add chicken mixture, toss and cover. Reduce heat to low and let simmer while pasta cooks. Bring water to boil in saucepan and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain very well and toss with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve.

That’s it for now. Have a great weekend! – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: What’s in the Pantry?

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The sun is peaking through the clouds after two days of excellent rain. A little thunder, a steady drizzle and snow in the mountains, perfect Colorado fall.

Tonight’s recipe exchange was prompted by a friend of mine who recently lost her husband. I was working at her house and she asked me to come into the kitchen and began going through her pantry, freezer and refrigerator and filling a bag for me with things she didn’t think she’d be able to use. She doesn’t really like to cook much and cooking for one can be a challenge. That’s when I had an idea. I asked her if I could come over every once in a while and cook for her and use up a lot of these amazing ingredients. Her husband was a bit of gourmet, so the whole kitchen is filled with mouth-watering things.

What sold her on the idea was my desire to just pop in, look around the kitchen and come up with something on the spot based on what ingredients sparked my imagination. She thought that sounded like fun and I agree. One of the things I’m really looking forward to is using the black rice. I’ve never cooked with it before.

So for tonight, I went looking through my recipe files to find the ones that started out as a “whatever is in the pantry” meals. They are rarely the same thing twice, but I put the basics in a recipe.

Here are a few:

Pineapple and Bacon Fried Rice is one of the reasons I keep Ponzu Sauce on hand. Click here for that recipe and click here to see all of JeffreyW’s photos and recipes for a variety of fried rice dishes (including the one pictured above).

Pasta is always a great base for a quick dinner.  Here is my Pasta Rustica, (basic recipe here), that can include any number of items from your vegetable drawer or freezer.

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Of course JeffreyW has a great photo of Beef and Broccoli. Yum.

Spicy Beef and Broccoli (click here) is one of my favorite dinners to make with sirloin. And it’s great if you forgot to take the meat out to thaw until late. There is also a full menu, recipes and shopping list at that link.

I thought I hated vegetables, until I had Stir Fried Vegetables in a Bread Bowl, (recipe here) at a local restaurant. Quick and easy, serve over rice or noodles if your basket weaving skills are minimal (that would be me).

Finally, the weekly dinner menu starts with a basic recipe that you can jazz up with whatever you have on hand, Beef Vegetable Soup and Apple Pumpkin Butter. Menu, recipes and shopping list are here.

What are your go-to “raid the pantry” meals? Are there ingredients you always keep on hand for quick dinners? What’s on the menu for the weekend? I’m not sure there will be a recipe exchange next week, I’m hosting a dinner. Stay tuned…

For tonight’s featured recipe, I kept it as simple as it gets. If you can’t find pineapple salsa, JeffreyW has a recipe for it.

Frijoles Ananás

  • 2-15 oz cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 16 oz pineapple salsa
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbsp chili powder (start with 1 tsp and add more to taste)
  • 1/4  tsp to 1 tsp cayenne pepper (start with 1/4 tsp and add more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

To serve:

  • 8 oz shredded cheddar
  • 6 to 8 taco size tortillas, warmed

saucepan

Add beans, salsa and spices to a saucepan, bring to a low boil for 1 minute, reduce heat and let simmer 10 minutes, add cilantro and simmer for 5 additional minutes. Serve with cheese and tortillas.

If you want to make it a one-pot meal, add corn or cubed zucchini to the mix for a complete dinner. Serves 4 generously.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Pastas and Sauces

Spaghetti and Meatballs2

I did not step in my kitchen this week, except to put together a salad or reheat some (homemade) soup. Allergies, pets, friends and work ate away all my time and energy. So for tonight I went into the archives and combined a couple of exchanges to come up with tonight’s recipes.

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

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

And his Shrimp & Pasta Formaggio (here) is a quick and easy alternative to red sauce.

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.

If you like meatballs with your favorite sauce, my favorite recipe (pictured above) is here and also at that link are several other styles of meatballs from JeffreyW, so you should find something you like.

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.

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. What’s on your plate this weekend?

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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.

For the full menu that I created for this recipe, click here for menu, recipes and shopping list.

That’s it for this week. I’m thinking apples next week. Have a great weekend – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Bring on the Veggies

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I thought as the farm stand season winds down it would be fun to focus on recipes that take advantage of super fresh produce before it all disappears.

I was going to make an Eggplant Parmesan for the featured recipe but never got around to it, so I went with the Chili Rellenos Casserole instead.

To get started, a fresh and tangy Asian Pear and Grape Cabbage Salad, recipe here.

These Marinated Mushrooms (recipe here) sounded good and could be used as an appetizer or sliced into a salad.

Pizza is great way to get have a fun and flavorful vegetarian dinner. JeffreyW always does pizzas right and his Margherita Pizza  (picture above) is no exception.  Click here for his recipe and lots of photos.

This week’s dinner menu sticks with the veggie theme: Pasta with Marinated Vegetables and Bruschetta. Menu, recipes and shopping list are here.

And finally, for the pet lovers, Bixby checked in this week, spoiler alert there was a bath and a stuffed monkey.

What’s cooking in your kitchen this weekend? Have any cool weather recipes to share?

Tonight’s featured recipe, quick, easy and oh, so good:

Chili Relleno4_Snapseed1

Chili Rellenos Casserole

  • 2-7 oz cans whole green chilies
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 16 oz shredded 4-blend Mexican cheese
  • 4 to 6 corn tortillas, torn into wide strips
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 oz salsa
  • ¼ cup milk
  • salt & pepper
  •  ½ tsp crushed garlic
  •  ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup snipped fresh cilantro ( Italian parsley or fresh basil if you hate cilantro)

bowl, 8×8 glass baking dish, greased

Drain and seed peppers. Layer 1/3 of the peppers in the bottom of baking dish, top with 1/3 onions, 1/3 of the cheese and 1/3 tortilla strips. Repeat to make three layers. Beat together eggs, salsa, milk, spices and cilantro. Pour evenly over casserole. Bake uncovered at 350° for 35-40 minutes until fluffy and center is set.

That’s it for this week. Have a fun and safe weekend. – TaMara

 

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