Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pasta Carbonara

So delicious. Salty pancetta, savory onion and garlic, with a rich and cheesy sauce. Indulgent, but very simple to make.

Pancetta - 6 oz, diced
Onion - 1/4 cup, diced
Garlic - 1 clove, chopped
Eggs - 2
Parmesan Cheese
Linguini - 1/2 lb. You can use spaghetti or angel hair if you like.

This makes enough for 4 adults if you are serving a soup or salad and bread sticks as well.

Boil noodles in well-salted water for one minute less than the package says to. While noodles are boiling. Put a large skillet over medium low heat, add pancetta and onions. After about 3 minutes, add garlic. Allow to cook until pancetta has rendered its fat and the onions are softened. When noodles are done, drain them but reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Place noodles in the pan with the pancetta, toss to coat. Remove from heat. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk lightly. Add to pasta, stirring constantly. You don't want the eggs to scramble, so keep them moving. You'll end up with a creamy looking sauce. Sprinkle with pepper and parmesan. Stir a little more, if the sauce is too thick, add some pasta water, a splash at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

I came up with this recipe when my tomatoes were just a tad too ripe to be chopped up for my salad. It's not one of my favorite dressings.

2 ripe Roma tomatoes, though I suppose any tomatoes will work
1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
10 fresh basil leaves
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
3 TBS red wine vinegar
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients in blender, and process until smooth. Delicious. I like to let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before I use it, so the flavors have time to come together.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pizza Parlor Style Breadsticks

These remind me of the breadsticks from the pizza parlor where we had our soccer parties when I was a kid. They can be made from start to finish in under an hour. They go well with a variety of meals.

Warm water - 1 - 1.5 cups
Yeast - 1 TBS
Sugar - 2 TBS
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups flour
1/2 stick butter, melted
Garlic Powder
Basil, dried
Oregano, dried
Parsley, dried

Preheat oven to 175. Combine water, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of your mixer. Let stand 5 minutes. Combine flour and salt, add 1 cup to yeast mixture, attach dough hook, and mix on low speed. Continue to add flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time. Depending on the day, you may need to add a few drops more water or flour. Once combined, allow machine to knead for 5 minutes. After kneading is finished, allow the dough to sit for 10 minutes.

Line a large baking sheet with foil, pour 1/4 - 1/2 of the butter on the sheet and spread it around. Move the dough to the sheet. Press it out a little. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Spread dough to the edges of the pan, it will spring back a little, but make it go as far as you can. Pour the remaining butter on top and spread it around. Sprinkle with the garlic powder, herbs, and parmesan. I never measure.

Place in 175 degree oven for 10 minutes, they should plumb up nicely. Increase the heat to 350 and bake for another 10 minutes. Scrumptious.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Potato Wedges

Potato Wedges go great with just about anything. My version are baked, so you don't have to feel as guilty.

1 Potato per person
Olive Oil
Seasoning Salt

Heat oven to 450. Cut each potato into wedges. I like them smaller so they get crispier. Place in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with seasonings and toss to coat.
Line a large baking sheet with foil. Arrange potato wedges on tray so that they are not touching. I try to leave a little room betweent them, it helps the potatos to get crispier. Bake for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, flip them. They should be nice and brown and delicious on the bottom.
Bake another 10 - 15 minutes until the other side is browned.

Serve. It was hard to get a picture, as these were being eaten faster than I could get them onto the plate.

Whole Wheat Linguini with Chicken and Greens

I have a confession: This is the first time I have eaten "greens" in my life. As they aren't served many places in Southern California, I don't think I had even seen them before I moved to Alabama. I always wanted to try them, but to be honest, I'm not too big on the idea of  vegetables boiled with bacon, which seems to be how most people cook anything remotely healthy out here. I had seen Rachael Ray prepare pasta with broccoli rabe a long time ago, and thought it looked good. Serving with pasta and a light sauce certainly sounded more appetizing to this Italian girl.

So, when I did my grocery shopping on Saturday, I thought I'd try it. However, my grocery store doesn't carry broccoli rabe. I've heard Daphne Oz praise the health benefits and deliciousness of kale, but the store was out of kale. Same goes for escarole. They did have mustard greens and turnip greens. A lot of them. So I picked up a bundle of turnip greens.

1 large or 2 small chicken breasts
1/2 an onion
1 clove of garlic
zest of 1 lemon
2 TBS olive oil
1 bunch of turnip greens, rinsed. Leaves pulled off, stems discarded.
Salt & Pepper
Parmesan cheese, just a sprinkle on top
1/2 box of whole wheat linguini noodles
Pinch of chrushed red pepper, optional
fresh basil leaves, for garnish
I made this for dinner. That morning I put the chicken in a bag to marinade with a little olive oil, the zest of half a lemon, and some pepper.

As for the onion and garlic in this recipe, you can saute them as you prepare the meal, but something I like to do if I have a little time each week is finely dice a few onions and an equal number of cloves of garlic and let them caramelize over low heat. I store this in the fridge to use throughout the week, as it lends a wonderful flavor to so many meals.
First, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta just a minute shy of the directions on the box. While the water is heating, get out a large skillet and heat a tablespoon or so of oil. Brown the chicken. Remove the chicken from the pan. If cooking onions and garlic now, add them to the pan and saute until fragrant, add the greens and a 1/4 cup of water, sprinkle with salt. Allow greens to wilt. Return Chicken to pan, add previously carmelized onions and garlic, if using. Add drained noodles to the pan, toss to coat. Season. Serve with a sprinkle or two of parmesan and garnish with basil, if desired.

I really liked this dish, and I think I'll try it with a few different types of greens. I've done similar dishes with spinach, which has a less pungent taste.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Italian Meatballs

Absolutly delicious, moist, flavorful, perfect meatballs. Make these for the people in your life, they'll love you for it.

2 1/2 lbs ground beef
4 sweet Italian sausages
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 large or 10 small basil leaves, chopped
handful fresh parsly leaves, chopped
2 eggs
2/3 cup bread crumbs
two big handfuls of parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
vegetable or canola oil for frying

Fresh herbs are preferred, but dried could be substituted. For the tastiest meatballs, use real parmesan cheese, not the stuff in the green can.

Heat 1/3 cup oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Place ground beef in a mixing bowl, remove sausage casing and add to bowl. Add the garlic and remaining ingredients. Using your hands, mix the ingredients well, without overmixing. Dig your hands in and squeeze, then turn the meat to grab what is on the bottom. Do not over mix, your meatballs will be like rocks rather than tender and juicy. Form your meatballs, I usually make them about the size of golf balls, and I get about 20 from a batch. You can make them smaller or larger, depending on your liking.
Check the oil by placing a small piece of meat in the skillet, if it bubbles around the meat, it's hot enough. When the oil is sufficiently heated, place the meatballs in. When the first side is nice and brown and gorgeous, flip them. You may have to flip them to the sides as well, especially if they are large.
Drain on a plate lined with paper towels and enjoy with pasta and your favorite red sauce or as the star of a meatball sub.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Quick Laundry Tip

We all know to empty the lint filter on the dryer every time we put a load in. Lint is extremely flammable. What you might not think to do is wash the lint filter. My local fire department recommends washing it twice a year. This is especially important if you use fabric softeners or dryer sheets, as these can build up on the filter. To tell if it is time to clean, remove it and run a little water over it. If water beads on the surface, you need to wash it. I like to make a sink of hot soapy water, let the filter sit in it for 30 mins, then scrub with a brush, rinse, and dry.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Fluffy Pancakes

These pancakes are my family's favorite. They are tender, fluffy, and scrumptious.
The original recipe didn't call for vanilla, but I just can't make pancakes without vanilla.

  • 3/4 cup milk

  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons white sugar

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 egg

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • cooking spray

    1. Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to "sour". If you have buttermilk, you may use it in place of the milk and vinegar combo.
    2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
    3. Whisk egg, butter, and vanilla into "soured" milk.
    4. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.
    5. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray.
    6. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface.
    7.  Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.
    8. Serve with lots of butter and warm syrup.