parsley and pecan pesto

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Last week I thought I was at the end of my rope. Our little guy just turned four months and had decided that he wouldn’t nap anywhere else but on me or in the car. Being a stay at home mom, I don’t get breaks like normal people do, so the break I get at nap time is highly coveted. That is the time where I get to do normal human things like take a shower, eat a quick meal and maybe squeeze in some dish washing. However, when nap time didn’t happen or it would only happen in my arms, I slowly turned into a zombie and it was all I could do to not guzzle the nearest bottle of wine and call it a night. I told my husband that I was nearing the edge and just one more day of no breaks could shove me right over, so he graciously took the weekend to train our son how to nap in the pack n play. Now, after this glorious Monday filled with three long naps, a fantastic lunch and some time in the pool, I feel like Wonder Woman. In fact, as soon as the babe was down for the night, I danced into the kitchen and I cooked up a very tasty pasta dish using this pesto. This my friends, has been an excellent Monday, one I’d like to repeat many times over. Good thing for wonderful husbands and their freakish ability to power through all the crying.

This pesto is a great way to finish off the herbs in the fridge. I have wasted so much money buying herbs and then leaving most of them to turn into brown sludge in the crisper. It’s the perfect sauce to have on hand since it goes well with just about anything and makes quick work of weekday meals. Spread some on a slice of bread and plop a runny egg on top, toss with some freshly cooked pasta and top with a scoop of lemony ricotta or stir it into a pile of sautéed vegetables. This was my first time making pesto and I’m completely hooked. I just hope you have better luck not eating it straight out of the jar with a large spoon.  (more…)

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August 19, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , . condiment, quick and easy, sauces, vegetarian. 2 comments.

homemade sausage ravioli with marinara

Lately we have been sharing our home with close friends and family who are in need of a warm home and an uncomfortable futon to crash on. I love having guests to share our house with because it’s no fun to keep it all to ourselves. Of course, when there are guests, I want to cook and it just so happens that I have been given a fancy new tool and I need to break it in: a Kitchen Aid Pasta Roller and Cutter.

click here for more on homemade ravioli->

April 1, 2010. Tags: , . Italian, sauces. 1 comment.

pasta with creamy pumpkin sauce and chicken sausage

pumpkin pasta sauce

Pumpkin could very well be my favorite ingredient this year. It’s incredible in it’s versatility. As I’ve told you before, I have pumpkin married to sweet in my head, but as a savory item, it is surprisingly wonderful.

In honor of Halloween, I made mini pumpkin muffins for a department potluck. They only called for 1 cup of pumpkin puree, so I was left with a whole bunch and couldn’t bring myself to waste it. So, I set out to use the very last drop. One night this week the husband and I needed a quick meal and since I was already in my pajamas, it had to be something I could throw together out of the pantry, so I turned to the pumpkin. I remembered that some time ago I had fallen in love with butternut squash ravioli and figured pumpkin was a close cousin so it must be equally delightful paired with pasta. I set out to find a recipe for a pumpkin pasta sauce, since I did not have the slightest idea of what ratios would be used in something like this. I came across a recipe from The Washington Post that looked easy and had an ingredient list that was mostly available to me, if not easily tailored to fit what I had on hand.

This recipe calls for the usual things you would think make up a sauce. Garlic, shallots, cream, salt and pepper. It is simple in it’s construction and subtle in it’s taste, but has a kind of ‘wow’ factor. When I put the first taste to my tongue, I said to myself, “This might be the best thing I’ve ever tasted.” This is a perfect week night meal for fall. It’s also a spectacular way to use up extra pumpkin puree.

Pasta with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce
The Washington Post, Nov 14,2007
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 to 10 ounces multigrain angel-hair pasta or any other of your choice
  • 1 medium shallot*
  • 3 medium cloves garlic
  • 2 sprigs sage leaves*
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth (make your own!)
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk*
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese*
  • 2 chicken sausage links, casings removed

Preparation:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions (6 to 7 minutes).

Meanwhile, mince the shallot and garlic; finely chop the sage.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic; cook for 3 minutes, stirring, until they have softened. Add the pumpkin puree, chicken broth, milk and half of the sage. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste; keep warm on the lowest setting.

Heat a medium non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage links and break up into crumbles with a wooden spoon. Saute until cooked and browned. Set aside.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce, then add 2 tablespoons of the cheese and mix well. Divide among individual plates and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese, sausage and the remaining sage.

*NOTE!

I made the following changes based on what I had in the house:

  • 1/4 cup of onion instead of 1 shallot.
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage.
  • 1/4 cup half and half for the low fat milk.
  • I omitted the cheese completely.

November 11, 2009. Italian, pumpkin, sauces. 3 comments.

spaghetti and meatballs

spaghetti and meatballs

When I was a kid I called it “Pasketti”. Apparently for me, the “sp” sound was too difficult to make. Thankfully, my mother spoke child and would satisfy my request for the Italian noodle often. My mothers’ spaghetti and meat sauce was wonderful. It was the first thing I asked for when I was coming home from 5 months overseas, where all I ate was rice and beans. I made sure to tell her a couple of days ahead of time so that she would be ready with five servings, because I was ready to eat. Last weekend, while out to breakfast with my Mom, I reminisced with her about her spaghetti and meat sauce, and she quickly said, “It’s Ragu Rachel. I added some onion and some ground beef and that was it.” Well, Ragu, you taste good to me, but I think I found you some competition. This sauce is a major contender. There are chunks of homegrown tomatoes, the perfect amount of onion, a hint of garlic and it’s even better heated up the next day.

Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs
serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb whole wheat spaghetti (or more if you like it heavy on the pasta)

For meatballs:

  • 1 1/4 lbs lean ground turkey (italian seasoned)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 oz soft fontina
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil for sateeing

For Sauce:

  • 5 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Bring a large pot of water to boil. When the water is boiling, follow cooking directions on the package for your pasta. It’s good to time it so that the pasta comes out of the water just as everything else is done so that it doesn’t dry out.

Sauce:

1. Mix all ingredients into a medium sauce pan. Let simmer on low until the onions are translucent and it is heated through. This sauce can be made a day ahead. Like I said, it tastes better the next day, so feel free to save some time and crank it out the day before you want to serve it. Cook it, let it cool and then place it in the fridge in an airtight container.

Meatballs:

1. Mix the first five ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

2. Cut fontina into small chunks.

3. Form turkey mixture into tablespoon sized balls. Place one piece of fontina in the middle of each meatball.

4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

5. Place meatballs into pan and brown on each side. About 2-3 minutes each side. Then reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook, covered until done, about 3-5 minutes depending on size.

September 12, 2009. Italian, quick and easy, sauces, turkey. 3 comments.

odeto(thebesthusbandintheworld)goodness and chicken under a brick

Okay. Now I know when you use the word best, that it is usually a matter of opinion. However, provided with the facts, I think I could persuade you.

Fact#1: My husband walked through the door the other night with a Williams Sonoma bag in hand. Now, I could just stop here, and that would be good enough but…

Fact#2: There was something in the Williams Sonoma bag.

Fact#3: Inside the aforementioned bag, there was an OXO digital scale, something every aspiring home cook needs, but wouldn’t buy for herself.

Fact#4: It was not a holiday, or my birthday, or an anniversary of any kind. It wasn’t even Friday.

I think I have provided you with adequate information to persuade you to believe that I have the best husband in the world. If not, well, I’m sure there will be many more stories just like this one to help you along. 

Now, for what I actually cooked for said husband. Chicken under a brick or more fancily, Chicken al Mattone.

chicken under a brick

This was a meal of firsts. It was the first whole chicken I’ve ever dealt with (they tend to intimidate me a bit). Also, my first butterflied chicken (you have to remove the backbone for this one), and my first skillet sauce. Everything turned out surprisingly well for never having done any of these things before. To tell you the truth, the skillet sauce was my favorite thing of the entire meal. After watching a swirl of butter thicken the sauce into something beautiful and beyond delicious, I jumped around the kitchen like a girl who was asked to prom by the cutest boy in school. If for no other reason, make this chicken for the succulent browned bits it leaves behind, they make the most unbelievable sauce that would be delightful on everything from chicken, pork, or oooh, mashed potatoes.

The chicken was amazingly moist, and was even better the next day over a green salad. It was a little shy on the spice factor, so I think next time I would season it quite a bit more. The butterflying (is that a word?) is great fun, and the brick aspect is great too. The best part is that the white meat is moist and juicy which is wonderful since my main complaint against white meat is that it’s usually dry and generally boring.

Chicken under a brick
serves 4-6
Bon Appétit
September 2009

Ingredients:

  • 1 4 pound whole chicken, backbone cut away and discarded, rinsed and patted dry.
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus additional sprigs for garnish
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • Chopped fresh Italian parsley

Special Equipment: Brick covered in foil, or large cast iron skillet

Preparation:

See this video to learn how to butterfly a chicken!

1. Open chicken flat like a book; place butterflied chicken, skin side down, on rimmed baking sheet.

2. Mix 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary, and garlic in small bowl. Rub mixture all over both sides of chicken. Cover and chill overnight.

3. Preheat oven to 400°F.

4. Sprinkle chicken with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.

5. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, skin side down, to skillet and cook until golden brown, about 7 minutes (do not turn chicken over).

6. Place foil-wrapped brick (or cast-iron skillet) crosswise atop chicken; roast in oven 30 minutes. Remove brick and turn chicken over; return brick to chicken and continue to roast until juices run clear when thickest part of thigh is pierced, about 15 minutes longer.

7. Remove brick and transfer chicken to platter. Drizzle chicken with remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice and sprinkle with crushed red pepper and parsley. Garnish with rosemary sprigs.

Herb Skillet Sauce
makes about 1/3 cup, enough for 4 servings
Cooks Illustrated

Ingredients:

1/2 small onion or 1 large shallot, minced

1 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs*

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, broken into several pieces and softened

Ground black pepper

Preparation:

1. Once sautéed** meat, poultry, or fish has been removed from pan, reduce heat to medium, then add onion and sauté in remaining fat until softened, about 30 seconds.

2. Increase heat to high, add broth, and scrape skillet bottom to loosen browned bits. Boil until liquid appears darker and slightly thicker (it should reduce to one-third of its original volume), about 4 minutes. Add any accumulated juices from plate with cooked meat, poultry, or fish and reduce sauce again for 1 minute.

3. Off heat, stir in herb, and swirl in butter with wooden spoon until it melts and thickens sauce. Season with pepper to taste. Arrange cooked meat, poultry or fish on plates and spoon over sauce. Garnish with herb. Serve immediately.

*I used rosemary to go along with the rosemary in the chicken, and it’s what I had.

**In our case the meat was roasted, but it produces the same outcome.

September 8, 2009. chicken, sauces. Leave a comment.