Posts Tagged ‘pasta’

Fettuccine Alfredo with Bacon

Friday, August 27th, 2010

This recipe is from Cooking Light magazine. I’m going to say that again, because you’d never expect it from the title, and it definitely bears repeating. This recipe is from Cooking Light magazine. It was very tasty, but somehow manages to be good for you (relative to other alfredo recipes, at least.

The sauce wasn’t quite as thick as I would’ve liked, so I may adjust the amount of flour next time. Using bacon drippings for a roux was a nice touch, as it added a smoky, salty flavor that wouldn’t have been included in the traditional butter. Normally, you don’t need a roux, of course, but it helps to compensate for the 1% milk in the place of the more traditionally heavy cream.

This wasn’t the best alfredo sauce I’ve ever had, but it was absolutely the tastiest “light” alfredo sauce I’ve ever tried. We’ll be making this again.

Photo from cookinglight.com

Fettuccine Alfredo with Bacon
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine, January 2010

Ingredients

  • 1  (9-ounce) package refrigerated fresh fettuccine (I substituted a high-quality dry pasta)
  • 2  slices bacon, chopped
  • 1  teaspoon  minced garlic
  • 1  tablespoon  all-purpose flour
  • 1  cup  1% low-fat milk
  • 2/3  cup  (about 2 1/2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.

2. While pasta cooks, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 4 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings. Add garlic to drippings in pan; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Sprinkle flour over garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly; cook 2 minutes or until bubbly and slightly thick, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low. Gradually add cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in salt. Add hot pasta to pan; toss well to combine. Sprinkle with bacon, parsley, and pepper.

Note: Even with all that cheese, the sauce wasn’t terribly thick. The original recipe suggested using some of the starchy pasta-cooking water to make the sauce, but I skipped it because I was afraid the results would be too watery. I think that was the right call. We had some leftover grilled chicken, so I threw that on top, but it would be fine without the chicken. whatever you prefer.

Well, Lost is Over.

Monday, May 24th, 2010

I’m pretty happy, actually, with the finale. I enjoyed it, and I thought they wrapped things up pretty well.

My friend Cara (who has her own fashion blog, if you’re so inclined) came over to celebrate The End. We undertook the massive re-watch together last summer and have made watching Lost a weekly event pretty much ever since, so it was only fitting that we finish it together.

She did an awesome job with the Dharma-tizing of our snacks. You can check out her handiwork below.

that's Dharma wine, beers, and sodas, Dharma Initiative tortilla chips with Dharma salsa, guacamole dip, and salsa con queso dip.

She also printed us boarding passes for Oceanic 815, along with all those awesome poster-prints. We couldn’t resist playing the numbers in the lottery. But more about the food.

I contributed some Dharma Initiative-iced cookies, the “Fish Biscuit” goldfish crackers, and “Black & White Rocks” (i.e. chocolate/yogurt covered raisins). And of course, John Locke orange-slice-smile props.

You’d think that was more than enough food for two people, even though it’s mostly snacks, but no. I also made Donkey Wheel Pasta Salad, which is pretty much just this Pepperoni Parmesan Pasta Salad, which you’ve seen before. I used mini wagon wheel noodles to give it that extra Lost-y touch, but otherwise, it was the same.

Then, in honor of Mr. Smoke Monster himself, I made Lil’ Smokey’s in a blanket, with Smokey cheddar cheese. Yum! (Super-Quick Recipe: Cut crescent roll dough pieces into quarters. Wrap each sliver around a Lil’ Smokey and a small slice of cheese. Bake according to the crescent roll package directions. Enjoy!)

So that was our Lost menu. We had a blast celebrating the series, but I’m not going to lie: I’m going to miss it. What in the world am I going to watch all summer?

A Gnocchi Fiasco

Monday, March 29th, 2010

I am a pretty good cook, and I don’t mind saying so. I don’t think I’d be blogging if I wasn’t. Often, my friends will make comments like “Of course it’s good, you made it!” or “Everything you make tastes good, Teri.”

I’m here to tell you that that is not always the case. Sometimes…things happen. Like with these gnocchi.

We’ve got this Meatless Monday thing going on, as you know. So far, we’ve had Chipotle Bean & Cheese Burritos, Fake Lasagna (Cheese only, obviously!), and Basil & Sun-Dried Tomato Panini with Fresh Mozzarella. I’m still struggling to find a meal where David truly doesn’t miss the meat, but we’ve been doing pretty well with the dishes we’ve tried. Last week, I attempted a dish from the “Hearty Pastas” section of Giada De Laurentiis’ Everyday Pasta: Gnocchi with Butter Thyme Sauce. It sounded delicious, and Giada made the gnocchi sound almost simple. The pictures were beautiful, and I really like gnocchi in general, but have never tried to make them. I thought with a crusty Italian bread and a Caesar salad, we’d have a pretty good meatless meal.

And if the gnocchi had worked out at all, we probably could have.

I’m not sure what went wrong. I thought I was doing the right thing. The dough came together, I rolled it out like play-dough snakes and cut the gnocchi into one-inch pieces. The recipe sounded so simple. Giada promised they were worth the work, even though gnocchi are available at your regular store. She lied to me.

Most of the gnocchi just crumbled in the water. They crumbled further when they hit the butter sauce. I ended up with a saucepan full of extra-gummy, gluey, greasy-from-all-the-butter mashed potatoes. Yuck. (I also tried to use light butter, which was a mistake. It melted way wrong, and tasted worse than margarine! I can’t blame Giada for that part, but the damage was already done.) We ended up ordering a four cheese pizza from Homemade Pizza Company. They saved dinner!

I’m posting the recipe from Giada below, in case anyone with real gnocchi experience has some ideas on how to correct the recipe, or maybe a more trustworthy gnocchi recipe to share. I’ll admit, I’m a little leery of trying gnocchi again–seemed like a lot of work, and in this case, all for nothing. Once bitten, twice shy, and all that.

In the meantime, I will take comfort in the fact that over at the Food Network website, two people seemed to have failed at this recipe for every one person that made it work, so it’s not just me.

Here's what the gnocchi should have looked like, from The Food Network

Gnocchi with Butter Thyme Sauce
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis’ Everyday Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 (1-pound) russet potato
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup shaved Pecorino Romano

Directions

Cook the butter in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat until it begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the thyme leaves. Set aside.

Pierce the potato all over with a fork. Microwave the potato until tender, turning once, about 12 minutes. Cut the potato in half and scoop the flesh into a large bowl; discard the skin. Using a fork, mash the potato well. Mash in the salt and pepper. Mix in 3 tablespoons of the egg; discard the remaining egg. Sift the flour over the potato mixture and knead just until blended.

Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece between your palms and the work surface into a 1/2-inch-diameter rope (about 20 inches long). Cut the dough into 1-inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough over a wooden paddle with ridges or over the tines of a fork to form grooves in the dough.

Cook the gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water until the gnocchi rise to the surface, about 1 minute. Continue cooking until the gnocchi are tender, about 4 minutes longer. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to the hot thyme-butter in the skillet. Toss to coat.

Spoon the gnocchi and butter sauce into shallow bowls. Top with the Pecorino and serve.

Note: Absent some expert advice (and I don’t think Giada is reading!), I don’t think I’ll be trying this again. Just too much work to risk it not turning out again. And I can get gnocchi off the shelf anywhere, including my local supermarket.

Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Sauce

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

This very tasty dish from Cooking Light magazine turned out to be both simple and yummy–plus had a kind of fancy look to it as well. I think this could absolutely be served for entertaining.

The pork slices were tender, and the sauce was tangy and delicious. Our roommate Leah isn’t a fan of mustard, but she still enjoyed this sauce. It was so good, I was glad the noodles were there to soak up every last drop. It would also be good over mashed potatoes.

Pork Tenderlion with Mustard Sauce
Adapted from Cooking Light, October 2001

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked medium egg noodles
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut crosswise into 12 (1-inch-thick) slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Directions:

Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

While the noodles cook, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the pork with pepper and salt. Place pork in pan; cook 5 minutes, turning once.

Combine the wine and mustard; pour into pan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove pork from pan; keep warm.

Combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Stir cornstarch mixture into pan; bring to a boil, and cook 1 minute or until thick. Serve pork with sauce and noodles.

Calories: 242, Fat: 8g, Fiber: 1 g

Italian White Bean, Bacon and Tortellini Soup

Monday, January 25th, 2010

I love cookbooks. It feels like I have a million of them, but I’m never disappointed to receive another. I got a few great ones for Christmas, which you’ll be hearing more about soon, I’m sure. One of the cookbooks I got recently (technically not a Christmas gift, but that’s okay) is Giada De Laurentiis’s Everyday Pasta. I like this book a lot. It ranges from Salads and Starters to Sides to Main Dishes, and has a lot of quick and easy dishes, along with more sophisticated ones. We tried one of the more quick and easy dishes last week, this twist on a chicken tortellini soup. The recipe below includes my tweaks on the original. I subbed bacon for the pancetta, because it was what we had on hand, but also cut down on the bacon and oil a bit to lighten the dish. I also used a whole grain fresh tortellini for the pasta. With these substitutions, it ended up being about 6 points for a very hearty bowl of soup. With some crusty bread on the side it was a great winter weeknight dinner.

Italian White Bean, Bacon and Tortellini Soup
Adapted from Everyday Pasta (by Giada De Laurentiis)

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • three slices of bacon, chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 9-ounce package cheese tortellini, fresh or frozen
  • 1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper

In a large, heavy soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon, shallots, carrot and garlic. Cook until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the beans and broth.

Bring the soup to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to the heat to a simmer. Add the tortellini and cook 5 minutes for fresh, 8 minutes for frozen, or until just tender. Season with pepper and serve.

Serves 4 to 6.

Stuffed Shells

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

This is a great healthy Italian dish. It’s classic stuffed shells, but lightened. The combination of cottage cheese and ricotta cheese makes a rich, cheesy stuffing that melts beautifully. (If you aren’t a fan of cottage cheese, don’t worry–this doesn’t taste a thing like cottage cheese) Though you could serve this meatless, and I’m sure it would be good, I added a spicy chicken Italian sausage, which was delicious.

Stuffed Shells with Italian Sausage

  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup fat-free cottage cheese
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder, or to taste
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3 cup canned tomato sauce
  • 1 pound cooked pasta, jumbo shells, approximately 24 shells
  • 1 pound cooked Italian Sausage (I used Amy’s Spicy Italian Chicken Sausages)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375̊°F.

Mix together cheeses, salt, garlic powder, oregano and pepper. Spread a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce on bottom of a 9- x 13-inch baking dish.

When cooked shells are cool enough to handle, fill each shell with cheese mixture and place in baking dish. When all shells are in dish, spoon remaining tomato sauce over shells. Cover pan and bake for 20 minutes. Yields about 4 shells per serving.

Note: I’m sure we’ll be trying this one again. It was very tasty, though a little too saucy. Next time, I think I’ll cut back on the sauce a bit. The Italian Sausage I used was precooked, so all I did was slice it and saute it in a skillet with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil.

Chicken Cacciatore

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

For David’s birthday this year, we had quite a feast. Normally, we spend Wednesday nights watching Glee, (and by “we,” I mean my friends and I, not David. He’s not a fan.) which means that our dinners on Wednesdays are usually more of the quick-and-easy variety than other nights of the week.

Rather than the typical simple fare, I tried for something a little fancier. We sat at the table, for one. Opened a bottle of wine, and had this pasta dish and garlic bread. Finally, topped it all off with Coconut Cake, which you’ll be hearing more about tomorrow. All in all, I think David was happy with his birthday dinner. It did make me wish that we’d do that kind of thing more often.

Pasta was an easy choice when planning a dinner for David, but I wanted to try something new, AND pick something he’d especially like, which is how I ended up with Chicken Cacciatore. Veggies (mostly peppers and onions) and tomato sauce and pasta–I knew he would be a fan. The sauce was made with balsamic and red wine, both of which David loves. It was a natural choice.

Chicken Cacciatore

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 breast halves)
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow pepper, chopped
  • 3 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cups red wine
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 29 oz canned stewed tomatoes, Italian-style
  • 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning (Ours is the Little Italy NYC-Style, from the Spice House)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, snipped
  • 1 13.5 oz box whole wheat spaghetti

Directions:

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Add olive oil and heat. Add chicken breasts and cook over medium heat until browned and juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side.

Add onions, pepper and garlic to skillet. Cook until vegetables are softened, about 2 minutes.

Stir in wine, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve over cooked pasta.

Note: I thought this was good, and I’m sure we’ll make it again. I did add a tiny bit of sugar at the end, to balance out some of the acidity in the sauce. David and I liked this because we really like balsamic, but if you aren’t a fan, I wouldn’t recommend this recipe. Also, I skipped the mushrooms for David, but I think they’d be very tasty in this dish.

Ravioli with Apples and Walnuts

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

This recipe caught my eye on the cover of last month’s Real Simple magazine. I’m not really prepared to admit how much I liked the rest of the magazine or what that says about my life stage (I clearly have more in common with the Real Simple crowd than the Cosmo one), but I definitely enjoyed the feature on “A Month of Easy Dinners.”

This ravioli dish was very tasty. Just a little bit out of the ordinary, but quick to throw together. An excellent weeknight dish, since I spent 20 minutes, at most, throwing it together.

Ravioli with Apples and Walnuts

  • 1 pound cheese ravioli (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 crisp apple (I used a honeycrisp), cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)

1) Cook the ravioli according to the package directions.

2) Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts and cook, stirring often, until lightly toasted and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.

3) Add the apple, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and toss to combine. Spoon over the ravioli and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Monday, October 5th, 2009

This one was a nice surprise. Oddly enough, it caught my eye as an advertisement in Real Simple magazine. I picked up the magazine for the recipes on the cover, but all I’ve made from the magazine is this recipe taken from a Campbell’s soup can.

But if you get over that, it was surprisingly good. I like plenty of recipes that start with a can of cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup, but at the end of the day, they tend to taste like recipes that started with a can of soup. This one was different.

The sauce was creamy and delicious, brightened by the flavors of fresh basil and sun-dried tomatoes. I served it with a garlic-basil fettuccine, but regular egg noodles would be fine, I’m sure. Also, I used cream of chicken soup, but technically, the recipe called for cream of mushroom. Use what you like.

Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

3 tablespoon olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast half (about 1 pound)
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup thinly-sliced sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
4 cups cooked pasta (I used a Basil-Garlic flavored fettuccine)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Thinly-sliced fresh basil leaves

1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes or until it’s well browned on both sides.  Remove the chicken from the skillet.

2. Heat the remaining oil in the skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallot and cook and stir for 2 minutes. Stir the soup, water, tomatoes, vinegar and chopped basil in the skillet.

3. Return the chicken to the skillet and heat to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low.  Cook for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  Serve the chicken and sauce over the noodles.  Sprinkle with the cheese and sliced basil, if desired.

Chicken Divan and Egg Noodle Bake

Monday, August 10th, 2009

This recipe is adapted from the Rachel Ray 365 No Repeats Cookbook that I got from mom for my birthday, and highlights one of the cool things about the cookbook. It’s organized around “Master Recipes,” followed by variations on the the theme. The master recipe in this case is a “Wild Cream of Mushroom Egg Noodle Bake, Hold the Canned Soup.” And if you’ve read the blog, pretty much ever, you know that we don’t do mushrooms around here.

Still, I liked the idea of ditching the canned soup and making my own. Even though, a can cream of mushroom soup is the foundation of every casserole, I’m not that big of a fan. It’s gray, and loaded with sodium and just kind of blah. Of course, cream of mushroom casserole doesn’t have much without the mushrooms, so I skipped the “master recipe” and went straight to one of the variations, a Chicken Divan casserole.

Didn’t miss the mushrooms at all, by the way.

IMG_2217

Chicken Divan & Egg Noodle Bake

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock or broth
  • 1 cup whole milk or cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound broccoli florets
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound chicken tenders, diced
  • 4 slices bread, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound egg noodles
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 pound Emmentaler cheese, shredded

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the egg noodles.

2. To make the mushroom sauce: Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter. When the butter is melted, sprinkle in the flour, and cook 1 minute, to cook out the raw taste. Whisk in the chicken stock, bring it all to a bubble, then stir in the milk. Reduce the heat to low and simmer. Season the sauce to taste with salt, pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg.

3. To make the casserole, heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and the shallots. Cook for one minute, then add the chicken tender pieces and continue cooking until lightly browned and cooked through, about 6-7 minutes. Add the wine and deglaze the pan. Reduce the heat to medium low, and let the liquid cook off.

4. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler to high. While the chicken cooks, cook the egg noodles in the boiling water, until al dente. Drain the noodles and return them to the hot pot. Add the cream sauce to the pot and toss the noodles to coat in the sauce.

5. Cook the broccoli in salted boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and reserve.

6. To make the croutons, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in nonstick skillet. Toss with the bread cubes and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until toasted all around.

7. Lightly coat a casserole dish with softened butter, then transfer the noodles & sauce to the dish and top with the chicken, broccoli, and croutons. Sprinkle with the shredded cheese, and place under the broiler until the cheese melts and is brown at the edges.

Note: This was pretty tasty. I’d probably try it again. I thought that the sauce was a touch on the thin side, and so I baked the casserole, instead of just melting the cheese under the broiler like the recipe suggested. I think the broiler would’ve been the right move, though. It got a little too dried out after baking.