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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.

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Pasta Pr0n – Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

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.

Pasta Pr0n – Spaghetti and Meatballs

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.

Tidbits

20161110_1937411600x1200I’ll start this off with a pie than should have been great but ended up only fair to poor.  It’s a Brown Butter Apple Pie with a Cheddar Crust.  Sound great!  It turned out to be a lot of effort for a disappointing result.  Mrs J swears that she will not try this one again.20161108_1511411600x1200This was a pretty good pie.  Somehow I got the water/flour ratio wrong on the dough – it ended up too wet and sticky.  I kneaded in more flour but gave up and poured it onto the pan.  It got an Awesome Sauce base for the mozzarella, onions, mushrooms, sausage, and ham.20161106_1055061600x1200I broke out my slicer for that big sous vide tenderloin I did, and also sliced some ham.  Most of it I vac-sealed and froze but kept some out for my midwestern version of the classic Cubano sammich.20161031_1357191600x1200More chili!  This is about half chorizo and half ground beef. I don’t usually put sour cream on mine but many people do.  I can take it or leave it.  It does make for a pretty picture, so there’s that.20161103_1701261600x1200I used the slow cook feature on the toaster oven, they got 2 hours on high and some more time on the low setting because we weren’t quite ready to eat.  I used a flat lid for the shallow pan and it touched the chicken quarter, that’s the black patch on the thigh.  The rest was quite tender, the leg came off as I plated it.20161105_1206141600x1200Here’s another sammich made with the pork and ham I sliced.  I need to make more slaw, bake more beans, and make another potato salad.20161109_1619231600x1200Classic spaghetti with meat sauce.  When the pasta drained after cooking, instead of spooning some sauce into it I used half a stick of butter that I zapped in the microwave with several cloves of garlic.  Add a little Parmesan and you can eat it just like that but I like a nice meat sauce.  Mrs J isn’t fond of mushrooms so I sauteed a few to top my plate with as a garnish instead of mixing them into the sauce.dsc03224-1600x1200Here’s a few kittehs.

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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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!

Tidbits

20150607_144444 (1600x1060)I nearly forgot that I had this baguette tray with the perforations .  I thought I might try it for some hoagie rolls and it seems to have worked pretty well, not sure if it’s better than on a regular tray.  I got a rash of complaints when I served up a photo of a cheesesteak on a round bun, they said I wasn’t true to the  proper form in the Platonic sense of “cheesesteak” – most of the complaints pointing to lack of a long roll, never mind that they weren’t Amoroso’s.20150609_164029 (1600x1060)That should quell the riot.  I’ll take note of any complaint and report back.PICT3623 (1600x1060)Bonus kitteh!  This is the neighbor’s cat, Mrs J says that is a mackerel pattern.  It was taking advantage of our bench that overlooks the front pond early the other morning.20150609_190526 (1600x1060)I think these are the best looking hamburger buns I’ve made so far.  The shapes are good and the sizes are nearly uniform.  These are from the King Arthur Flour “Beautiful Burger Buns” recipe – now my go to recipe for buns and rolls.20150610_173025 (1600x1060)Mmm… we had this spaghetti for dinner tonight.  A little Italian sausage in some of my Awesome Sauce from last year’s tomato crop.  My container basil was getting lonely, this was a perfect place for s sprig.20150608_162124 (1600x1060)Baked beans!  These are always good to have on hand, along with slaw and potato salad.  Add a sammich for an instant lunch.