Pasta with Pancetta, Potatoes and Arugula

I read a couple of recipes that inspired this meal. The one I followed was Pasta e patate alla Napoletana from Mario's Italian Kitchen. I used everything but the celery. Not sure why I did not use the celery. This was well received. Chris really enjoyed the dinner. I liked it too, but I was glad that we have leftovers. Yes, they will appear next week as a Pasta Pie. Another thing I liked about this meal was that it used up a lot of little things I had in the fridge. Again striving for no waste.

My rendition of Pasta e patate alla Napoletana from Mario's Italian Kitchen.

Ingredients-
2 tablespoons olive oil
70gr pancetta, chopped small
300gr potatoes, diced small
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, not drained
1/2 cup diced cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 cup baby arugula
1 pound fettuccine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method-
Place olive oil in a large saucepan, and turn heat to medium. Add onion and Pancetta to the oil and cook, stirring occasionally, until it becomes slightly crisp, about 10 minutes. Add potatoes, and crushed red pepper and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes begin to brown all over, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add tomatoes and their juice, the cherry tomatoes along with 2 cups of the simmering water, and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium-low, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Stir well and continue to simmer on a gentle heat.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the pasta. A minute before removing the pasta, add the arugula and let it wilt.
Drain the cooked pasta and arugula and mix with the sauce.

After I drained the pasta I put it in the pasta bowl with a little butter and cheese. I could have stopped right there.
 But I added the sauce. It was the right thing to do.






And a note about lunch.
Worked from home today, so I heated up the leftover 
spaghetti squash and topped it with a poached egg. 
Wow!

Hot Dogs on the Grill.

Let me start out by saying I am not a huge hot dog fan. But it is a summer staple so... 
 
When Chris called and asked what he was supposed to do for dinner, I asked him to put the hot dogs on the skewers and spiral cut them. That way the relish and other compliments get in the slices in the hot dog, covering up the taste! Sorry, but that is the way I feel. To me a hot dog is a small piece of meat (?) that holds all sorts of tasty condiments in a roll.

Remember the roasted peppers from the other night.  
Well, they can make a hot dog taste quite good!
 Then we have the basic All American Dog.
American Cheese, relish and mustard.


 And the salad....
Farro, red onion, zucchini, parsley, mozzarella  cheese,
cherry tomatoes and olives. Dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.

Crispy Baked Quinoa Crusted Chicken Parmesan



I worked a half a day today, so I was able to make a more hands on dinner than usual tonight. This recipe is from Closet Cooking. This was easy to prepare. I happened to have the cooked quinoa in the freezer. That makes it so easy and quick. Usually when I make a grain like quinoa I will prepare enough for 2 meals, freezing the extra.

Click here for the recipe. And this will give you a chance to check out the blog, amazing recipes!

And the side dish tonight was pretty good. Steamed Spaghetti Squash and zucchini in a Marinara Sauce.

The Stuffed Artichoke

I had to make this recipe again. This time I documented the steps. I do not usually photo the process of preparing a dish. Perhaps I will do this more often. The recipe was from FoodBlogga. The end result was as delicious as, dare I say it, as delicious as my Mom's. I am glad I found this recipe because I do not have my Mom's recipe.

The Stuffed Artichoke, in pictures.-
 

Dinner at My Sister's House

Tonight we went to my sister's house for dinner. My nephew was visiting with his son, Andrew, and his youngest daughter, Elenora, our Goddaughter.

Dinner was, as always, a delicious meal. 
 
Chicken Cutlets, my mom's recipe. 

Black Eyed Peas in olive oil and garlic. This was her mother-in-law's recipe. 
Her mother-in-law was my second favorite cook of all times. 
Her Thanksgiving meals were epic!

For dessert, blueberry pie. I have said on a number of times
that my sister's pie crust is the best I have ever tasted.

One of the wines Ralph poured was a Cabernet that my Dad had made. 
It was one of his best wines.







Fettuccine Alfredo


I wanted something simple tonight. I had homemade Fettuccine in the freezer. I used the Alfredo sauce recipe from Epicurouis. It is amazing how light this dinner is. You think of Fettuccine Alfredo and you think of a lot of cream and cheese. Well, there is no cream in this recipe. This is the traditional Roman recipe and they don't use cream.

My rendition of Fettuccine Alfredo, from Epicurious.

Ingredients-
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
Dried egg fettuccine
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 cup)

Method-
Melt butter in a large saute pan.
Cook fettuccine in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente.
Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, then drain fettuccine in a colander.
Immediately toss the fettuccine with butter and salt in the sauté pan, then slowly add 3/4 cup cheese, tossing constantly and adding enough of cooking water to keep pasta moist.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle with remaining cheese.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Memorial Day.

Roasted Sausage, Peppers, Onions and Potatoes

Roasted Sausage, Pepper, Onion and Potato. Not much to write... Toss the onions, peppers, potatoes and sausage with olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano and roasted for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mixed the vegetables and sausage with homemade marinara sauce and heat through. Chris said this was a delicious dinner and he was right! Of course you need Italian bread and at least one glass of red wine to round out the meal.

It seems like it might be getting warm enough to open the grill... Wink wink, nudge nudge!

A Musical Interlude

One of my Dad's favorite singers passed away yesterday. Jerry Vale. My Dad had all of his records, at least the Italian ones. I think Jimmy Rosselli was his favorite, but Jerry Vale was a close second. When my Mom and I would walk home from mass we would get to our street and we could hear the records blaring from our house. Yeah, Dad liked his Italian music loud. Enjoy the music...



Herb-Crusted Chicken With Kale and Pan-Dripping Croutons

Wow. What a perfect Sunday dinner. The recipe is from RealSimple.com. The chicken was moist and the flavors of the rosemary and lemon were the perfect blend. And the baby kale and bread, wow. I did make a little sandwich out of the kale and bread. I was happy. Chris was happy and even a little black cat was happy. Archie loves when I make chicken!

Ricotta Cavatelli and The Stuffed Artichoke Recipe I Have Been Searching For

Homemade Cavatelli. Homemade Vodka Sauce, made with Homemade Marinara Sauce. That could have been dinner. We did not really need anything else. 
But I saw the Lyon Artichokes at Bishops, $2.99 each. I had to buy one. One was big enough for both of us with leftovers! But how to stuff it. I have been on quest for a recipe that mirrored what my Mom made. I have tried a few. Some I have posted others I have not. Well, this is it. I found it. When I got home with the massive artichoke I googled Lyon Artichoke. At the end of the informational site I found recipe links. I recognized one of the blog names as the same one I used for an Easter Pie. Food Blogga. The photo looked like what my Mom made so I tried the recipe. I was amazed. It was my Mom's recipe, well close to my Mom's. The instructions were simple and well presented. And the result was something I have been looking for for a long time. Chris was even amazed at how good the stuffing was. Thank you Susan Russo for your amazing blog. This artichoke was the perfect end to a perfect Saturday. And the Cavatelli with Homemade Vodka Sauce was quite amazing too!



That Amazing Lemon Chicken



I love this recipe. I love adding the fresh grated lemon peel to the bread crumbs. I want to eat this at least every other week, well maybe every third week.

On a completely different note, I saw a video on Facebook that I would like to share. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that my Father passed on December 14, 2012. His 10th great grandchild was born a couple hours after he passed. When I saw this video I was taken back to that day. This is a beautiful stop motion video with yarn. Sorry to stray from the food topic, but heck this blew me away.
http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2014/05/moving-on-stop-motion-ainslie-henderson/
Click the image to view the video.

Deep Dish Parmesan & A Marinara Sauce Recipe

Tonight's dinner was another of my favorite recipes. Deep Dish Parmesan from RealSimple.com. I made this for the first time back in September. I remember Chris enjoyed the meal so I decided to make it again. The Marinara Sauce is an old family recipe... Well, at least I think it is. A couple of weeks ago I made the Ricotta Cavatelli which was my great grandmother's recipe. At the end of the article was the my mother's cousin, Josephine Signor's Marinara Sauce recipe. I am hoping it was a recipe she may have gotten from her mother. Even it is not an old family recipe it is an amazing sauce. I am sure the white wine has something to do with it. The recipe is posted after the Eggplant recipe.

From RealSimple.com, Deep-Dish Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients-
2 medium eggplants (cut into 1/4-inch slices)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
3 cups marinara sauce
12 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
1/3 cup grated Parmesan (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

Method-
Heat oven to 400° F. On 2 rimmed baking sheets, brush the eggplants with 1/4 cup of the oil; season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bake until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Spread 1 cup of the marinara in the bottom of an 8-inch baking dish. Top with half the eggplant, half the mozzarella, and half the Parmesan. Repeat, ending with the last cup of marinara. Top with the bread crumbs.

Bake until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes.


Josephine Signor's Marinara Sauce

Ingredients-
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 large cloves garlic, cut into slices
1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
35-ounce can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes in juice, squeezed with your hands to crush
½ cup white wine
10 leaves fresh basil
¼ cup Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 bay leaf
Sea salt and pepper to taste


Method-
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and the onion. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 7-10 minutes, or until the garlic and onions are lightly browned, but not burned. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to mix. Cover and cook at a medium boil, stirring occasionally for about 20-25 minutes, or until the sauce reduces slightly. Remove bay leaf. Taste for seasonings. Makes about 5 cups.

Pasta & Fagioli

One of my favorite things to make is Pasta Fagioli. It a meal I never really looked forward to when I was little. I have told you the story of my Dad telling me the beans were ice cream beans. After years I have come to appreciate the frugality of the dish. Beans are very inexpensive and the pasta can be any type you might have on hand. Usually the dish is made with cannellini beans. I was so sure I had a bag in the pantry. Nope. But I had Ceci beans. Well a fine substitution if I do say so myself. The basic recipe is from Cucina di Barbara. That recipe uses gnocchi. I have made it with gnocchi and loved it. But tonight I used Rienzi, i bambini elbows with carrot and squash. I love this pasta. And yes the pasta is the color of carrots, the color balance is not off on the photo!



My version of Pasta & Fagioli, adapted from Cucina di Barbara

1 onion
1 carrot
Dried chili
300 g. Ceci beans
A tablespoon of tomato paste 
1/2 pound cooked pasta of your choice
Sea salt

The evening before, put the beans to soak in a bowl with plenty of water.
 Chop the onion and carrot and let them go over medium heat for 10 minutes in the saucepan, with olive oil and chopped chilies. Rinse and drain the beans. Add the beans to the onion and carrots, let them go for a minute, turning them often.
Then add the water (about 1 liter) and reduce the heat to minimum. Let cook, covered, following the times marked on the label (about 1 1/2 hr).
A few minutes before turning off, add a tablespoon of tomato paste, salt and pepper.
Cook the pasta and mix well together.

When I sat down for dinner, I noticed a little friend was eating too.

Short Rib Stew

Mondays are not so bad when you have something like this for dinner. The recipe is from Food and Wine.  I did make some changes in the original recipe. Instead of boneless short ribs I used the short ribs with the bone, this helped make the stock as amazing as it was. The stock was so good that Chris suggested we make a soup from the leftovers. The meat was tender and 4 short ribs only cost $8.00. I did not have potatoes, I was sure I did and I did not use mushrooms. I had zucchini so I used that instead.

My version of Short Rib Stew, adapted from Food and Wine.

Ingredients-

4 beef short ribs, on the bone
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup dry red wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch dice
2 pound zucchini, cut into 1 inch dice
1 tablespoon thyme leaves, chopped
8 sage leaves, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Method-
In a large bowl, toss the short ribs with the flour. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Working in batches, cook the short ribs over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 6 minutes per batch.

Discard the oil.

Return the meat and any juices to the casserole. Add the wine and boil until reduced by half, 8 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the meat is tender, 2 hours.

Skim any fat from the stew. Stir in the carrots, potatoes, parsnips, onion, zucchini, thyme and sage. Cover and simmer over low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 35 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Memories of Mom

Seattle, Washington 1970
Shopping for a coat, it was colder and rainier than we had thought it would be when we were packing for our trip. She looked at the price tag and it said $30. Wow! We went to the register only to learn it was $300. No, she did not get the coat.

Same trip to Seattle. She finds a steak branding iron with the marks - R, M and W. Perfect gift for my brother-in-law. His first name was Ralph and his last name started with M. But she was not sure what the W was for.

When my sister got married there was an after party at our house. For some reason she and my aunt made Black Russians. I mean they made gallons and gallons of Black Russians a few days before the party. I came home from school to find my mother and my aunt plastered from the fumes, or so they said...

Again for my sister's wedding, my mother and aunt made pastries, Cherry and Almond filling breakfast pastries. They had dozens, and dozens of the these pretty little pastries. When the caterer heard they intended to put these out at the reception hall before his dinner, he put the kibosh on the idea. Into the freezer they went and we ate the forever. And they were delicious.

The night Chris gave me my diamond I called my mom. The next day when my dad got up, he was working the night shift at the time, she said to him that she was not sure if she was dreaming or not but she thought I had gotten engaged!

My mother telling me that friends are friends, but family is forever.

The care packages. I would stop by my parents house once a week and pick up dinners. Packaged and labeled and made with love.

Christmas morning waking up with so many gifts. She started Christmas shopping in February and made out like a bandit at the sales.

As I got older shopping and picking out my Christmas presents, that way nothing would have to be returned.

Coming home from school to those Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Fried dough for breakfast.

Her Chicken Salad for lunch.

Her Stuffed Breast of Veal Pocket. A true culinary dream.

Her pizza.

Her Chocolate Cake with White Frosting.

She always said to look your best whenever you left the house because you never know who you may run into.

You can never have too many shoes!

As long as you have dinner ready for your husband, there is no reason you should not spend the day shopping.

Christmas Eve Dinner. She was a star.

Getting that first issue of Cuisine Magazine back in 1980!

Her sending me to cooking classes when I was in grade school.

Her sending me to sewing school for 2 summers when I was in grade school.

The time back in 1992 when I went over for lunch, I was working nearby. She was making me an omelet and forgot what she was doing. Was that the first sign of what was to come.

Her smile. Her laugh. Her tea with blackberry brandy before bed.

Thinking of her still makes me smile.



Pork Chop Milanese with Arugula and Grape Tomatoes

Yes, this was a delicious dinner. I found this recipe on Epicurious.com. Rave reviews from Chris. The pork was cooked perfectly. The Arugula Salad was the perfect side dish and it was a pretty easy clean up. Well, kind of... Oh, the potatoes were just roasted in olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme.

Happy Saturday!

Baked Macaroni with Vodka Sauce

 
If you have read this blog for a while, you know I have strong opinions about Baked Macaroni. My Mother's was the best. My blog, my opinion. That was until tonight.

 
A couple of weeks ago I made Vodka Sauce. I had enough leftover to make a dish of Baked Macaroni. The Baked Macaroni was prepared on the Sunday after the Saturday night meal and popped in the freezer. We had it for dinner tonight. It was amazing. The sauce was so velvety. Chris said it was delicious and the best Baked Macaroni I had made... Ever!

It was like a flashback to the original meal. That meal was special because of the day on which it was made. But damn, I will always make that Vodka Sauce recipe so I have enough left over to make a Baked Macaroni!