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My Pasta Rosa

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I’ve been looking up recipes online and through pinterest for quite some time now. And something just dawned on me. I need to stop. I have maybe 20+ cookbooks that are just sitting in the bookcase, and they are screaming at me to be used. My last cookbook purchase was Nigella Lawson’s new book, Nigellissima. Almost every recipe that I open this cookbook to, is a keeper. The one that I’ve been eyeing the most is Nigella’s Pasta Rosa.

I didn’t quite have the ingredients for her version, but I will admit I was heavily influenced by her recipe when making my own.

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Pasta Rosa

  • 2 oz (or whatever single serving of pasta you prefer) of spaghetti
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup small, cooked shrimp
  • 1/3 cup creme fraiche
  • 2 tbsp creamy horseradish sauce
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • milk, to texture (I used almond milk, but you can use coconut, whole or part fat milks)
  • 2 tbsp or so of fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Put a large pot of water on stove and heat to a rolling boil. Salt the water heavily, and add the pasta. Cook till al dente, about 8 minutes or so, depending on if you’re using thin or regular spaghetti.

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a skillet. Add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Heat through, about 5 minutes or so, turning occasionally. Add creme fraiche, horseradish, and paprika to the pan. Let everything melt together, creating a sort of thick sauce. Add a little bit of milk to get the desired consistency you like.

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When the pasta is done use a pasta spoon or tongs to remove from the water, and allow to drain excess liquid while holding over the pot, very minimally. The starchy water helps the sauce adhere to the pasta.

Before serving sprinkle with parsley and parmesan. Serve immediately, and eat greedily.

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Chicken Parm Meatballs

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I love ground chicken. I love ground turkey, too. Basically, I feel like the chicken has a slightly creamy texture when cooked with. I don’t even know how that’s possible, but beef seems too, basic. It’s almost like it’s drying. Which isn’t the case if it’s not in ground form. Obviously, I’m not talking about the super lean beef, but the ground chuck that you’re supposed to use for good flavor. Nope, I just can’t do it lately, I can’t cook with beef.

I suppose that’s good for me, in the long run, so it works out.

But I have to say, I’ve used ground chicken in pasta sauces, with lasagna, stuffed into peppers, and made chili with it. I’ve been working with ground turkey less than chicken, but today I’m returning to my old poultry friend in these delicious, and giant (!) meatballs.

From Dinner, A Love Story

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Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill or parsley
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino (or Parm)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • paprika to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (or there abouts)
  • 1 14-ounce can store bought pizza sauce (or pasta sauce, I had pasta sauce so that’s what I used)
  • about 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly (I didn’t have that, so I used a shredded mozzarella blend, with a bit of cheddar mixed in)

Preheat oven to 400°F, setting rack to upper third part of oven.

In a large bowl, using your hands, gently mix together first 11 ingredients (everything up to the olive oil). Shape into lacrosse-ball size balls (that would be somewhere between golf and tennis) and place a few inches from each other on a foil-lined baking sheet.

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Brush oil on top of each meatball (I just drizzled it around them and on top so some oil got under the meatballs as well. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

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Remove meatballs from oven, spoon some sauce on top of each meatball, and cover each with a slice of cheese. Broil another 3 to 5 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden.  Heat remaining sauce in a small saucepan.

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Serve with some pasta or potatoes. I used some spaghetti squash, to keep it healthy.

These meatballs (if the same, large, tennis ball size) are about 128 calories each. Two is more than enough, especially with a side, for a meal.

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My First Time with Spaghetti Squash

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It has been a crazy few months. This last class has been too hard to put into words. Needless to say, I have been aware that I’ve been away far too long from the blog here. I am sure that I will be keeping up now that I’ve gotten my grade for the class back (an A- woo hoo!), and with some unexpected free time, be prepared for lots of summer, healthy fun.

Onto to today’s recipe…

I’ve never eaten or cooked spaghetti squash. Till today. I went out to my local grocery store and bought it. I did the deed. And I have to say, that it was fantastic! I can’t believe that I’ve been missing out for so long, on such a delicious and simple meal. A half or a whole, with marinara or alfredo sauce, with meat or without, it’s delicious.

It took an hour to actually bake the squash, and maybe ten minutes to make the sauce and prep everything. That includes cleaning and doing the dishes while the sauce was simmering. I’m in awe, simple as that.

Recipe  slightly adapted from The Comfort of Cooking

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  • 1/2 medium-sized spaghetti squash
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1/3 milk or heavy cream
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus 2 Tablespoons extra for topping
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Crushed red pepper flakes and fresh parsley, for optional garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

First, prep the squash. Cut spaghetti squash in half using a large sharp knife, scoop out the seeds and place cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until tender, about an hour.

As an alternate way of baking: Poke a few holes deep into the whole squash with a paring knife. Bake for 60 minutes, remove from the oven and let rest for 10 to 20 minutes before slicing in half with a large serrated knife. Scoop out the seedy inside leaving the spaghetti strands.

Once squash is cooked, use a fork to gently scrape the “spaghetti” strands into the center. Place in a bowl.

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For the sauce, melt butter in a small pot over medium-low heat. Once hot, add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in milk or cream until no lumps remain. Once hot, add cheese, salt and pepper and stir until smooth. Remove from the heat. Add to bowl and stir. Taste and season further.

Top each half with a pinch of red pepper flakes and fresh chopped parsley, if desired. Serve hot.

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Eggplant Parmesan

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One of the best things ever to make that’s easy and fulfills the vegetable quotient for the day. I didn’t use traditional methods, but of course, it still turned out wonderfully well. In my opinion, nothing is as wonderfully cheesy, salty, and creamy than a great plate of eggplant parmesan.

  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced 1/6 inch thick
  • course sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • panko breadcrumbs, about 2 cups
  • 2 cans of roasted tomatoes, crushed
  • 2 cups mozerella cheese
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese

Make sure to salt the eggplant slices generously and let sit in colander for 20 minutes or so so they become mushy and most juices leave them. Pat down slices when enough time has passed.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cover the bottom of an 8×8 in dish with roasted tomatoes. Now you’re ready for dunking. Whisk an egg with pepper in a bowl. In another plate, spread out your breadcrumbs. In assembly line format: dunk eggplant in egg, then panko, and layer in the prepared oven dish. between each layer of eggplant add some tomato sauce (I only had two layers). Cover top with mozerella cheese, and sprinkle parmesan on top of that.

Bake for 40 minutes till bubbling and juices are flowing at bottom of pan.

Enjoy hot.

Spinach and Cheese Baked Manicotti

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There are days when I don’t want to be homemade. I don’t want to make everything myself, and marvel at how much better everything tastes. I also have days were making you’re own tomato sauce just seems like it’s too much of a hassle, even for me. Even adding extra oregano is a chore.

However, I do still have to eat. And on the days that homemade is too demanding I got for my partly-storebought-home-assembled dishes. This manicotti dish has almost nothing in it that’s homemade, and perfectly original, it is however, delicious, easy, and takes only 15 minutes to put together.

For the Filling:

  • 1 24 oz bag of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 bar of cream cheese
  • 1/2 lemon, juice and zested
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp of ground cloves
  • 2 tbsp of granulated onion
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 box manicotti pasta, cooked and left to cool slightly
  • 1 large can of Heinz tomato sauce, in any flavor you like. I used garlic and herb
  • 1 cup mozerella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

Add all the filling ingredients into a bowl and mix together. Set aside.

Prepare an 8×8 inch square dish. By prepare, I mean, simply add 1/4 cup of tomato sauce to the bottom instead of oil. This will keep the manicotti from sticking and also keep it moist.

Stuff the manicotti, by using a teaspoon, and slowly adding the mixture into the hole. If this doesn’t work, you can always open up the manicotti and stuff it that way, and then close it back up. The stuffing should keep it together, because it’s very sticky by itself, thanks to the cream cheese.

Cover with tomato sauce when all manicotti is stuffed and in the pan. Sprinkle with mozerella and parmesan cheese, to your preference. I usually prefer tons of cheese!

Bake in over for 25 minutes, till cheese is melted.

Polenta Love: Polenta Pie with Mushrooms, Wine, and Cheese

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I’ve always loved polenta. It’s like a savory version of cream of wheat, and I love cream of wheat. I thought, today would be a no brainer for dinner as I recently purchased three boxes of instant polenta/ corn meal.

I got my inspiration from Moosewood Monday.

  • 1/2 cup boiling water (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms, in pieces (optional, I used oyster and shitake dried mushrooms)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups domestic mushrooms, diced (use 2 cups if you omit the porcini)- I SKIPPED THIS ALTOGETHER
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dry white wine
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup smoked cheddar cheese or 1/2 cup mild provolone cheese, shredded
  • ground black pepper
  • dash of basil, marjoram, or tarragon (optional, I didn’t use it)

If you use the porcini mushrooms, pleace them in a bowl, cover with the boiling water, and set aside for about 10 minutes.

In a saucepan, bring the 3 cups water and salt to a rapid boil.

Add the cornmeal in a thin, steady stream, whisking to prevent lumps. Lower the heat to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking until the polenta thickens.

While the polenta cooks, strain the porcini mushrooms (if using) and rinse them. Heat the oil in a skillet and saute the domestic mushrooms, garlic, and porcini on medium heat until the oil is absorbed, stirring occasionally.

I used a mexican cheese mix instead of the cheddar for the second (top) layer of cheese

Stir in the wine and add salt. Simmer gently for another minute or two. Preheat the broiler in the meantime.

Spread the polenta in an oiled pie plate (or individual ramekins). Sprinkle the mozzarella on the polenta. Spoon the sauteed mushrooms over the mozzarella and finish with a layer of the smoked cheddar and/or provolone. Add pepper to taste.

Broil for 3-5 minutes until cheese is golden brown, and serve bubbling hot.

I was so excited to eat I scooped with a fork and made a mess. Still delicous!

Saturday Picnic

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First of all, Happy Belated Mother’s Day!

I wanted to share with you all what a wonderful and lovely  time Boyfriend and I had at the picnic Saturday. This was official picnic, meaning I actually made everything, from scratch, aside from the pita chips.  I think I outdid myself with the food, we didn’t finish any of it, but it was wonderful, and we found a tree that was covering a perfect picnic table. It was like a fairytale.

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I wasn’t to able to take a lot of photos of the food since we were so hungry, and the light under our perfect tree wasn’t perfect. However there are two shots, one of the sandwich and one of the general festivities that I thought were good enough to relate how much it was that my picnic basket actually hauled. And it was just the two of us!

  • Honey-Ginger Lemonaid (spiked!)
  • “Brick” Italian deli sandwiches
  • A three cheese and salami spread
  • Old Fashioned Hummus
  • Spiced Bar Nuts

The sandwich was the most delicious in the world! Best one ever. Did need a bit of mayo, though.

The picnic gave us energy to walk around Descanso Gardens. Last time we were there was early April and it was windy, and chilly, and overcast. And we only walked around the East side of the park. This time it was sunny, and we were able to venture and adventure around a lot better. We actually found the Boddy House this time (the home of the original owners of the park).

Along the way to our adventures I took these pictures for your enjoyement.