Showing posts with label Italian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italian. Show all posts

30 September 2014


Pork slow cooked in flavorful tomatoes and herbs until fall-apart tender and served over creamy parmesan polenta.  Sounds good, doesn't it?  We enjoyed this meal last week when the temperatures were starting to dip and comfort food was on our minds.  

Red Gold sent me another packet of goodies!  They asked if I would help promote their "2-A-Day Crock-Pot Giveaway".  Everyday, two Red Gold fans will win an awesome Crock Pot.  That makes 44 winners!  The promotion ends on October 8th, so hurry over to their Facebook page now to enter.  (Make sure to come back here afterwards to check out this awesome recipe I made with Red Gold tomatoes!)

In order to help promote this great giveaway, Red Gold asked if I would like to create a warm, comforting slow cooker meal using their tomatoes.  No problem!  They sent me six cans of tomatoes, this rockin' wooden spoon, and an apron to give away to one of my lovely readers.  Stay tuned after the recipe for instructions on how to enter the giveaway.

Nice spoon, huh?


I have a new title. :)

Pork loin went on sale right around the same time I got my stuff from Red Gold.  I love pork loin.  I actually find it much more versatile than tenderloin, which is more popular.  I love to stock up on the loin when it goes on sale for $1.99/lb.  There are so many things you can do with it.  My favorite thing to do is to throw a hunk of it into the slow cooker, cover it in an easy sauce of some type, and then forget about it all day.  My Savory Apricot Pork follows this method.  Since tomatoes were on the agenda for this, I decided to go with an Italian flavor profile this time.  

Slow Cooker Italian Pork over Polenta

Ingredients:
2 lbs. pork loin
½ tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
½ tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp onion flakes
1 tsp salt
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions:
Place pork in a 3 quart slow cooker.  In a small bowl, combine the diced tomatoes (with their juice), fresh herbs, onion flakes, and salt.  Pour tomato mixture over the pork.  Cover slow cooker and set to low.  Cook for 7 hours.  Carefully remove pork from slow cooker and let rest 5-10 minutes.  Cut into slices or break up into chunks.  

Polenta:
Bring 3¾ cups water and 1 tsp salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add 1½ cups cornmeal in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, until the polenta is very thick, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 2 tbsp butter and ¾ cup parmesan.  If polenta thickens too much, stir in some milk.

Serve pork over warm polenta, garnishing with additional freshly grated Parmesan, if desired.

Makes 6 servings.



Wow, this was so good!  It took all of 5 minutes to throw together in the morning, didn't need a single thing done to it all day, and came out so perfectly tender and flavorful at dinnertime.  The polenta is simple and quick to whip up too.  This is an awesome meal for those busy weeknights.



The petite garlic and olive oil tomatoes were just perfect for this.  The smaller chunks of tomatoes were just the right size and the garlic and olive oil complimented the other flavors perfectly.  I happened to have fresh herbs on hand when I made this, but you can of course use dried instead.  I would decrease the amounts of thyme and oregano to 1/2 tsp each if using dried.


 Now, how about the giveaway?  I am giving away a gorgeous, tomato red, official Red Gold apron.  I received an apron identical to it when I participated in the summer promotion, so I can tell you this apron is pretty cool!  It has adjustable straps and nifty pockets.  It has become my favorite apron.  So I am excited to share the apron love with one of my lovely readers.  As an added bonus, if someone local to me wins, I will throw in 6 cans of tomatoes as well.  I would love to offer that to everyone, but the cost of shipping 6 heavy cans of tomatoes is too prohibitive to me.  So they will just be an added bonus if someone in my community happens to win.


All you have to do to enter this giveaway is to comment on this post telling me your favorite dish to make with canned tomatoes.  I also strongly encourage you to enter Red Gold's slow cooker giveaway, but I won't make that a requirement.


So tell me what you like to make with tomatoes, making sure to enter your email address into the comment form (it won't show up publicly), and I will pick a random winner next Tuesday, October 7th.  Good luck!



What I'm Reading Right Now


goodreads.com

16 September 2014


Today I'm sharing with you a great slow cooker side dish.  My husband and I love potatoes; they are probably our favorite side dish.  (My kids don't like them; Eva won't eat them at all, but Lena is starting to wear down and will eat small amounts of them now.)  Even though my kids aren't huge fans, I make them at least once or twice a week.  They are cheap, filling, somewhat nutritious, and I love how versatile they are.  The only thing I don't like about potatoes is how long they take to cook.  I love mashed potatoes, but the peeling is a huge pain in the butt, then the chopping, then they take forever to come up to a boil and cook.  I like using the oven to make potatoes, but that can be a problem if your main dish uses the oven as well.  My automatic conclusion was to use the slow cooker to make potatoes.  I've had some iffy results doing that, but last summer I found a real winner of a slow cooker potato recipe.  I found it at 365 Days of Slow Cooking.


Slow Cooker Italian Potatoes

Ingredients:
2 lbs. small yellow potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp Tuscan Sunset or other salt-free Italian seasoning

Directions:
Halve the small potatoes; quarter the larger ones.  Place them in a 3 quart slow cooker.  Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and Tuscan Sunset.  Toss to evenly coat the seasonings.

Cook on low for 3-5 hours, stirring occasionally if you can.

Makes 4 servings.



They key is using yellow potatoes, I think.  Russetts tend to turn kinda brown and get too mushy in the slow cooker.  The yellows keep their color and their shape better.  This is how they look going into the slow cooker.  



They really don't look too different when they are done.  I was very pleased with how they turned out.  They are tender, but not mushy.  And the seasoning was just perfect.  I used Penzey's Tuscan Sunset, which is the best Italian seasoning ever, but you can use your favorite Italian seasoning, or a mixture of dried Italian herbs like basil, oregano, and thyme.  Tuscan Sunset also contains garlic, so add some garlic powder if using a different brand.  Tuscan Sunset is salt-free, so adjust the added salt if using a blend that contains salt.

Of course, these don't have to be Italian-flavored potatoes.  You can season them any way you like.  Greek seasoning, chili powder, smoked paprika, lemon pepper, and curry would all be delicious on these potatoes.


I served these with my favorite white fish recipe, Baked Cornmeal Crusted Cod.  The potatoes were awesome on their own, but I also enjoyed dipping them in a little bit of my Homemade Tartar Sauce.  Yum.



What I'm Reading Right Now


goodreads.com

15 August 2014


Hey!  Guess what!  This is the 600th recipe posted on my blog!  Wow!  I've been posting recipes here for almost 7 1/2 years, but since I don't post very regularly, it's hard to believe there are 600 recipes here. But Blogger's post count doesn't lie, so I know it's true!  Here's to the next 100!



This is a super summery recipe that I have made twice this season.  Pappardelle pasta tossed in a slightly lemony, slightly creamy sauce with lemon pepper roasted salmon.  It's adapted from Taming of the Spoon.

Lemony Salmon Pappardelle

Ingredients:
3 (4 oz.) salmon fillets
Salt 
Lemon pepper
8 oz. pappardelle pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
4 tsp lemon juice
½ cup low sodium vegetable broth
1 tsp cornstarch
2-3 tbsp light sour cream
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
Fresh dill, chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°. Season salmon fillets with salt and lemon pepper and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Roast salmon in oven for 15-20 minutes or until salmon is cooked through.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.  Combine lemon juice, broth, and cornstarch in a measuring cup.  Add to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, whisk in sour cream, stirring to combine. Add in Parmesan cheese; cook about 3 minutes to heat through but do not boil.  Taste and season with salt if necessary. Add pasta to cream mixture and gently mix to evenly coat noodles. Continue to mix until the sauce thickens slightly and clings to pasta. Break the salmon into large chunks and gently stir into the pasta mixture.  Garnish with lemon zest and fresh dill.

Makes 4 servings.


 This is the pappardelle I used.  Pappardelle is great in this dish, but if you can't find it at your regular store, you can certainly use linguine or fettuccine.  I couldn't find it the first time I made it and used one of those.  I like using the pappardelle though, because it's a little out of the ordinary.  I know Trader Joe's sells a lemon pepper pappardelle because I've used it before in my Lemon Pepper Pappardelle with Roasted Garlic Sauce.  I don't get to Trader Joe's very often, though, so I just used a pappardelle from my local Italian deli and grocery store.  

I love this dish!  It's perfect because it is slightly creamy, but not super heavy like an alfredo sauce.  Just a touch of creaminess coating the noodles.  And the lemon flavor is just perfect.  Noticeable, but not overpowering or sour.  And lemon pairs with salmon so well.  

I love dill and lemon together (especially on salmon), so I garnished this with fresh dill from my herb garden.  Lovely!



My daughters loved the pappardelle.  They thought it was hilarious to pretend the noodles were long wagging tongues.  (They are in a phase where they like to pretend they are puppy dogs.)

Even though it is starting to feel like fall here (it was 46 last night!), I am determined to keep making summery food!  Tonight I'm making another citrus-y salmon dish that I will share with you soon.



06 April 2014


It's time for this month's Secret Recipe Club! The Secret Recipe Club is a group of food bloggers who secretly make one of someone else's dishes and post them all on the same day at the same time.  It's really fun, choosing a recipe to make, making the recipe, then reading about everyone else's recipes.  It's a great way to "meet" other bloggers and check out some great blogs that you never knew about before.

Secret Recipe Club

This month I was assigned the blog Kitchen Trial and Error, written by Kate, a wife and mom of one with another on the way this month (congrats Kate!) in Rochester, New York.  I was familiar with Kate's blog and have had it on my blog reader for a long time.  So I knew I would have no problem finding something yummy to make this month.  Funny story: when I received my assignment, I started exploring Kate's blog to decide what to make.  Pretty quickly, I found her Slow Cooker Honey Mustard Drumsticks.  First, it sounded really good, then it started sounding really familiar.  Not only had I pinned that recipe when she first posted it, but it was actually on my meal plan for that week!  What a coincidence!  Unfortunately, I couldn't use it for my SRC post because that recipe is so awesome that Ilona's Kitchen picked it last month when she was assigned Kate's blog.  But I had no trouble finding other options.  I considered her Pretzel Chicken with Mustard Cheese Sauce, Soy-Glazed Cod with Zucchini, and White Chocolate Chunk Macadamia Blondies before settling on something very classic.  Something classic and relatively simple, but something I had not ever made before: Meatball Subs.  

Meatball Subs

Ingredients:
1 lb. lean ground beef
2 eggs
¼ cup grated Parmesan
½ cup dry breadcrumbs
1 tsp Italian seasoning (Pasta Sprinkle)
½ tsp salt
1 jar pasta sauce
6  sub rolls
1½  cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine ground beef, eggs, parmesan, breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, and salt.  Mix well.  Form into 2 tbsp-sized balls and place on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.  Remove from oven; do not turn oven off.

Heat pasta sauce in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.  When meatballs are done, remove meatballs from baking sheet and place them in the sauce.  

Split the sub rolls and place 4-5 meatballs and some sauce on each one.  Top with mozzarella and place on a baking sheet.  Put them on the top rack of the oven and bake a few more minutes, just until the cheese melts.  Remove from oven and serve warm.

Makes 6 servings.



Why have I never made these before?  I knew my husband liked them because he orders them at restaurants, but I never thought to make them at home.  There's no reason not to, as they are really easy to make.  I love Kate's recipe because it's a great combo of homemade and convenience.  Homemade meatballs and jarred pasta sauce.  I'm not a big fan of making my own tomato sauces, but I much prefer homemade meatballs to the frozen kind.  So Kate's recipe was absolutely perfect for me.

Kate used a mini muffin pan to make her meatballs, but I don't have one (I have regular, square, heart-shaped and jumbo muffin tins but no mini!), so I used my 2 tbsp measuring spoon and that seemed to be just the right size.  I think I got about 30 meatballs that way.  It was more than we needed for dinner that night, but my husband loved having subs for lunches the next two days.

My husband and my kids loved these.  Messy, but good!  I made the mistake of trying to melt the cheese with the broiler the second time around and even though they were in there for only a minute, the bread burned, so definitely do it like Kate says and use the 400° oven instead.

I was a little conservative with the cheese on the sandwich in these picks because I wanted you to be able to see the yummy meatballs.  But feel free to pile it on for the ultimate gooey melty cheesy experience.

Thanks for a great recipe, Kate!




   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   

20 February 2014


It's time for the Improv Challenge!  


The premise of the Improv Challenge is easy: each month there are two assigned ingredients.  The participants must make a recipe using both ingredients and blog about it.

This month's theme was bread and butter.  So many things you can do with that!  I looked through my archive of recipes I have photographed but haven't posted yet, and I came across my most favorite garlic bread.  I used to always buy frozen garlic bread; the kind with the orangey butter that you throw in the oven for a few minutes.  That stuff is definitely a guilty pleasure.  But I wanted to make my own.  I created this recipe to be almost as easy as the frozen stuff, because if it was complicated, I would never make it.  Not only is it almost as easy, but it is way tastier, with the addition of parmesan and herbs.  Definitely a huge improvement over the frozen stuff.

Easy Parmesan Herb Garlic Bread

Ingredients:
1 (7”-8”) loaf Italian bread, cut in half lengthwise
6 tbsp softened butter or tub spread
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning (I use Penzey's Tuscan Sunset)

Directions:
Turn on broiler.  Line a small pan with foil.

Combine butter, parmesan, garlic powder, and Tuscan Sunset.  Slather on the cut sides of the bread.

Broil for about 5 mins, or until browned.  Don’t walk away; keep your eye on it!

Remove from broiler and cut each half into 4 pieces.

Makes 4 servings, 2 pieces each.



Isn't it beautiful?  I just love the perfect golden color.  Using the broiler is great because it makes the bread perfectly crunchy and browned in just a few minutes.  You really need to keep your eye on it and you might need to rotate it a bit if one side is getting more brown than the other.  I also love how the bottom of the bread stays nice and soft, so you have the best of both worlds in one bite.  Perfection!

The garlic and herb flavor here is pretty intense.  I love it that way, but my husband says it's a bit much for him.  So now I usually cut back on the garlic powder and Tuscan Sunset just a bit.  Still good that way too.

I don't often have softened butter sitting around, so I love how this works well with tub spread, which I always have on hand.  Makes it really easy to mix up in a jiffy.  This is definitely my go-to garlic bread.

Be sure to check out all the other great bread and butter recipes below and come back next month to see what I make with sausage and mushrooms.



   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   

23 September 2013


It's Monday and I have a new meatless main dish to share with you today.  I got out of my Meatless Monday habit somehow in the last several months, and have resolved to go back to it.  This is a new meatless main dish I made last week.  It's very heavily adapted from a recipe Rachael Ray made on 30 Minute Meals.  She called it Polenta Vegetable Lasagna, but I get tired of people calling any kind of layered dish a "lasagna", so I renamed my version.

Polenta Veggie Bake

Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
½ large onion, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 cups baby spinach, torn
½ tsp dried thyme
Salt, to taste
2 tbsp butter
2 rounded tbsp flour
1 cup milk (plus more as needed)
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (plus more for topping)
4 cups vegetable broth
1⅓ cup quick-cooking polenta
½ cup marinara sauce, divided

Directions:
For the veggies: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Sauté onion until it begins to soften.  Add the zucchini and mushrooms, and sauté until they become slightly tender.  Season with dried thyme.  Stir in the spinach and cook just long enough for it to wilt.  Remove veggies from skillet and set aside.

For the béchamel: In the same skillet, melt the butter.  Sprinkle in the flour and cook for a few minutes over low heat.  Slowly whisk in the milk, then bring to a boil until thickened.  Stir in ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese.  Return heat to low to keep warm while you make the polenta.

For the polenta: Bring the vegetable broth to a low boil in a small saucepan. Very slowly stir in the polenta.  Whisk the polenta constantly until thickened and smooth, 2-3 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding some salt if necessary.

To assemble the dish: Preheat the broiler.  Spread ¼ cup of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 1½ qt. broiler-safe baking dish.  On top of that, spread half of the polenta.  Then layer on half of the sautéed veggies.  Give the béchamel sauce a stir; if it has thickened up too much, stir in a little more milk until it is the right consistency.  Pour all of it over the veggies.  Top that with the remaining marinara sauce, the remaining polenta, and grate some more fresh Parmesan over the top.

Place dish under the broiler for about 5 minutes, or until Parmesan starts to brown.  Serve warm.


Makes 6 servings.

I changed Rachael's recipe a lot.  First, she made her own red sauce from scratch, but I felt this dish had enough going on without that nonsense.  I just used my favorite jarred sauce.  I only ended up using 1/2 cup of it anyway; that's definitely not worth all the work of making it from scratch.

I also added way more veggies to mine.  While she used carrots and celery in her red sauce, the only other veggie in her recipe was some frozen spinach.  I sauteed onions, zucchini, mushrooms, and fresh baby spinach.  I think the whole point of meatless meals is to pack in the veggies!

The other major difference is the way I made the polenta.  I used all vegetable broth instead of part milk and part broth, simply because of my daughter's dairy allergy.  (I made her a separate little dish with the red sauce, veggies, and polenta, leaving out the bechamel and parmesan on top.)  I also left out the fennel, as I'm not a fennel fan.

The resulting dish was really good.  I loved the combination of flavors and textures going on in this dish.  I've always enjoyed combining red sauce and white sauce, and then adding in the hearty polenta and the perfectly sauteed veggies makes it all just perfect.  

This dish is hard to photograph, and the picture at the top doesn't really show all it has going on, so here are some pics of it after we served it.

Creamy, yummy deliciousness.

I served this with garlic bread.

My husband and I loved this dish.  My kids weren't quite as thrilled with it.  Lena, my five-year-old, picked at it, and Eva, my three-year-old did not even touch the special one I made just for her.  :(  Oh well, I guess you can't win them all!



19 September 2013



It's reveal day for this month's Improv Challenge.  The premise of the Improv Challenge is easy: each month there are two assigned ingredients.  The participants must make a recipe using both ingredients and blog about it.


This month's ingredients were pasta and cheese.  So many options!  It was an easy decision for me though. I pinned a Taste of Home recipe for Garlic Parmesan Orzo a while back and it has been one of my most popular pins. I get tons of emails every day telling me all the repins it's gotten.  As of today, it's been repinned over 300 times.  So I just had to make it. I actually did make it once before, but the only orzo I could find at my local store was really weird and the dish didn't turn out right at all.  Late last month I got the chance to stop by a Trader Joes while in Milwaukee and picked up some decent orzo and gave this recipe another shot.  I'm glad I did because it was fantastic.  I made a few changes; here's my version.

Garlic Parmesan Orzo

Ingredients:
2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
4 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, grated
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
¼ - ½ cup milk
Dried dill

Directions:
Cook orzo according to package directions just until al dente; drain.

Melt butter in a large skillet.  Sauté garlic in butter until tender. Add the orzo, Parmesan cheese, and ¼ cup milk.  Stir until heated through, adding more milk until desired creaminess.  Pour orzo into a serving bowl and top with more grated Parmesan and some dried dill.

Makes 6-8 servings.

The original recipe called for a whole stick of butter, but that seemed like way too much.  I cut it in half and that was just perfect.  I used a little dried dill because it needed something green and I don't care for parsley. Fresh would have been even better, but the dried worked just fine.  I used two large cloves of garlic, and at first I didn't find the dish very garlicky.  But I noticed it later.  And the garlic was even more prominent in the leftovers.  Please make sure you use fresh Parmesan for this recipe.  I keep the green can on hand for certain things, but this is one dish that needs the real (fresh) deal.



This made the perfect side dish for some ribs and corn on the cob as one of our last summertime dinners.

Check out all the other awesome pasta and cheese recipes below and come back next month to see what I make with cake and frosting!




22 July 2013



I have a really awesome recipe for you today.  First of all, it's a slow cooker recipe, so it's not going to heat up your house during these hot summer days.  And it's a long-cooking slow cooker recipe.  It actually cooks all day.  Second, it only takes three ingredients.  That's including the big hunk o' meat.  And third, it is so good! This pork just melts in your mouth.  This is a recipe I created myself.

Slow Cooker Savory Apricot Pork

Ingredients:
5 lb. boneless pork loin roast
⅓ cup apricot preserves
1 tbsp Italian dressing mix

Directions:
Place the pork loin in a 6 qt. slow cooker.  Combine apricot preserves and Italian dressing mix in a small bowl.  Pour the apricot mixture over the top of the pork, spreading it out to cover the top and sides.  Cover slow cooker and turn to low.  Cook for about 8 hours, or until pork is browned on the sides and fork tender.


Makes 6-8 servings.

*This recipe is gluten-free, provided that the dressing mix you use is gluten-free.

Now you might be thinking that this sounds really weird.  Apricot preserves and Italian dressing mix?  How can that taste good together?  But trust me, it really works.  The apricot preserves lend just a hint of sweetness to the pork while the dressing mix provides salt and all kinds of other yummy seasonings (garlic, onion, pepper), all in a convenient pouch.  The pork comes out fall-apart tender, incredibly moist, and with a lovely brown crust all around the outside.  

I made this when we had some friends over for dinner earlier this month and they raved about it.  They really couldn't believe that it was made with only three ingredients.  Then when I told them what the ingredients were, they couldn't believe apricot preserves and Italian dressing mix could combine to form such an amazing flavor for pork.  They were blown away, and left saying that they really need to start using their slow cooker more often!

I used a boneless pork loin, not to be confused with tenderloin.  You can use this with any kind of pork, but you will need to adjust the cooking time.  Tenderloin is more lean than regular loin, and therefore will probably dry out being in there for 8 hours.  This would be good on chops too, but obviously they would need much less time as well.

I served this with a new potato dish that turned out amazing as well.  I'll post that one soon.  And I used my other (smaller) slow cooker to easily make some baby carrots.  It was a really fuss-free meal!

So when it's too hot to turn on the oven, throw these three ingredients into your slow cooker and treat your family to an amazing meal.

13 June 2013



Wondering what to make for dinner tonight?  I've got a great weekday recipe for you today.  It's one of those super awesome "one pot" meals, where everything cooks in one pot.  Yep, even the pasta cooks right in the sauce.  I love meals like this.  I started with this recipe at Plain Chicken and ended up changing it quite a bit to suit our tastes and the ingredients I normally have on hand.  It turned out great.

Creamy Sausage and Pasta Skillet

Ingredients:
14 – 16 oz. smoked sausage, cut into half moons
2½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup tomato sauce
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
8 oz. farfalle pasta (bowtie)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
½ cup light sour cream

Directions:
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sausage and cook until lightly browned.  Drain off grease.   Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, and onion and garlic powders.  Add farfalle, cover, and bring to a boil.  Boil lightly for 10-15 minutes, or until pasta is tender.  Stir in peas.  Turn heat to low and stir in sour cream. Remove from heat and serve.


Makes 4 servings.

Isn't it amazing how easy this is?  Basically, dump everything in a skillet and let it cook.  I've made this twice now and it's been a big hit with my family both times.  Since my youngest daughter is allergic to dairy, I simply take some out and set it aside before I stir in the sour cream.  The first time I made this I used rotini, but I like it much better with the farfalle.  You can use any short-cut pasta that you have on hand.

The combination of the bright tomato flavor and the creaminess of the sour cream is terrific.  And I love the fresh "pop" that the peas provide.

But mostly, I love how easy this meal is to make, and to clean up.  Just one pan and a couple of measuring cups.  Just perfect for those busy weeknights.


18 April 2013



It's time again for the Improv Challenge.  The premise of the Improv Challenge is easy: each month there are two assigned ingredients.  The participants must make a recipe using both ingredients and blog about it.



The assigned ingredients this month were bacon and eggs.  I didn't get too creative this time, but I did use this opportunity to try a classic dish that I had been wanting to make for a long time.  Pasta Carbonara.  I've always been intrigued by it.  Pasta (usually spaghetti) tossed with bacon and a sauce made of eggs and cheese.  How can eggs make a pasta sauce?  How do they not scramble?  I don't really know the answer, but I'm guessing maybe it has something to do with the fact that the eggs are mixed with cheese before being added to the hot pasta.  Whatever the science behind it, it makes a really tasty pasta dish.  You can find a million recipes for pasta or spaghetti carbonara online, but I based mine off of the one I saw Lucinda Scala Quinn make on Mad Hungry.  

Pasta Carbonara

Ingredients:
½ lb. spaghetti or other pasta
½ lb. bacon, sliced into ½” pieces
2 large eggs
⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving (optional)

Directions:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and cook the spaghetti. 

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium-low heat until just crispy, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain all but 1 tbsp of the fat. Drain the pasta, add to the bacon in the pan, and toss to combine.
Whisk together the eggs and cheese in a small bowl. Pour into the pasta, and combine thoroughly. 

Serve immediately with extra grated cheese, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.





So simple and so tasty.  I just love how it only has four ingredients.  Easy peasy!  I actually already had some bacon that I cooked the day before, so I just chopped it up, melted 1 tbsp of the fat that I had stashed in the freezer, and tossed the vermicelli in it.  I was really worried that the eggs would scramble when I added them to the hot pasta, but they didn't.  They (along with the freshly grated cheese) just made a beautiful, creamy sauce.  You can't see it very well in the pictures, but it's there.  I was going to add a chiffonade of basil on top for garnish, but I forgot.

The only negative about this dish is that the leftovers aren't so great.  The pasta absorbs the sauce and it turns out kinda dry.  So don't plan to make more than you think you'll eat.  This dish is best served immediately.

I'm so glad I got this little push to finally try this yummy dish.  Check out all the other bacon and egg dishes below and come back next month to see what I make with cinnamon and sugar.