Category Archives: Pasta

Pleasing Pasta Puttanesca

I hide it well on this site.  I aim for variety, so I avoid posting too many of these.  But you should know, my friends, that I am a short skip away from being addicted to pasta.  It’s just SO easy to make!  *Lowers head in shame*  I’m even considering giving it up for Lent again this year.  I did this 2 years ago and it sucked.  At least I have one more day to make up my mind!  (Oh, by the way, Happy Fat Tuesday!)

I rock at making a killer pesto pasta.  I consider it one of my safety dishes (dishes I never screw up and are tried-and-true crowd pleasers).  After trying this recipe, I think I have a new dish to add to that very short list!  This pasta puttanesca was picked out of Spitler & Yoakam’s 1,001 Best Low-Fat Recipes.

It has all of the makings of a great keeper recipe: it’s easy, colorful, flavorful, and the ingredients are readily available and reasonably cheap!  The sauce consists of onions, garlic, Canadian bacon, a couple of cans of diced tomatoes, green olives, basil and crushed red pepper.  I really didn’t think it would come together quite as nicely as it did.  Don’t get me wrong, the combination sounded good, but both Ian and I were surprised by how delicious this sauce proved to be.

Great for a weeknight supper or for a group a friends, this pasta puttanesca pleased this hungry apprentice 🙂


Chili à la Cincinnati

A few months back, my bestest gal pals put together a collection of their favorite recipes and presented it to me on my birthday.  Included in the beautiful homemade envelope was this jewel of a recipe.  I’m still not clear on what makes this a cincinnati chili (maybe it’s their known twist on chili?), but I do know that this is a dish that both the pelirojo and I enjoyed.

This chili recipe was given to me by my friend Liz.  Unlike me, she is a seasoned (haha, get it?  I made a cooking joke!  … *sigh…) cook who knows her stuff.  She’s creative, awesome, talented AND she recently started a food blog over at Food Foolery.  I’m excited to see all of her enticing recipes showcased on her site.

Have you taken a glance through the combination of spices in this beast?  The addition of the cocoa was what caught my eye.  Also, this bad boy is versatile because it can be made into a traditional chili or you can make it as a sauce.  I was craving some pasta, so I decided to try the later option.

The sauce was so rich over whole wheat spaghetti.  I’m intrigued by idea of this recipe as a soup with some beans.

An easy recipe and definitely a keeper for my binder.  Thank you for sharing this, Liz.  And I can’t wait to follow the adventure on your blog!

Chicken Penne Pasta

Well, here we are.  It is finally Friday of what has been a long and very busy week.  But the weekend is finally upon us, and I have plenty of fun plans to celebrate the last three days of the Triangle Restaurant Week!

Since the last few days have been so packed, I planned ahead with the week’s menu and made a sauce that would last me for a few lunch and dinner meals.

Before you gasp at the quantities listed in the ingredients to the left, know that I doubled the recipe so that I could have enough to last us over a few days.  And, if you’re normal (unlike me) you can make enough pasta in advance so that all you have to worry about is reheating it in the microwave.

However, if you aren’t normal (like me) and you have a thing against reheated pasta, then you’ll have to take an extra couple of minutes into account in prepping the leftovers.  Don’t roll your eyes!  I’m not imagining it (I don’t think..)!  The consistency of pasta changes once it has been microwaved.  It gets gummy, or hard and it just bugs me.  All this means is that you have to warm up water in a tiny pot just for pasta.  It will take an extra 15 minutes, but it’s worth it to me to have freshly cooked past.  (Ok… I suppose it’s silly enough that you can roll your eyes…)

The recipe is adapted from Spitler & Yoakam’s 1,001 Best Low-Fat Recipes, and is very simple and versatile.  If you are of the vegetarian persuasion, you can simply omit the chicken and have a very flavorful dish.  Even if you aren’t vegetarian, I don’t think you would miss the chicken if you left it out.  There are enough harmonious notes in the dish to keep your palette intrigued.  The only thing I will try changing next time is the olives.  The black olives were nice, but I’d like to taste what kalamata olives would do to the flavor.

It’s time to start getting ready to close up shop and let the Friday fun begin!  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Penne with Basil Cream Sauce

I love pasta recipes, but I rarely take the time to make the sauce from scratch.  I am the master of dressing up store bought sauces by adding onions or veggies, but I know this doesn’t count.  This was my first attempt at a white sauce and it was adapted (yet another recipe…I know!) from the 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes cookbook.

The original recipe didn’t call for mushrooms but mushrooms make everything better, don’t they?  Since I didn’t know if it would mess up the sauce, I sauteed it first and then removed it before starting the sauce.  Here’s what I did:

  1. In a large pot, bring water to a boil for the pasta.  Follow the directions on the packaging to cook the penne.
  2. Sautee the diced mushrooms in a bit of olive oil.  Once it’s done, remove the mushrooms and place in a bowl until step 6.
  3. Add the olive oil to the frying pan over medium heat and add the minced garlic.  Sautee the garlic quickly (I did for about 20 seconds) and then add the flour.  Combine the flour and garlic (it will start clumping at this point).
  4. Add the half-and-half and the salt.  Stir the combo until it’s all smooth.  Stir consistently and bring to a boil.  Once the mixture has thickened, remove the frying pan from the heat.
  5. Add the grated parmesan cheese to the frying pan and stir.  Make sure the cheese melts into the sauce.
  6. Add the chopped basil and the diced mushrooms to the sauce.
  7. Put the cooked penne in a serving bowl and add the sauce over the pasta.  Toss until combined and add pepper to taste.
  8. I sprinkled some parmesan cheese over the final product.

It was light and perfect for lunch with a side salad.  I wondered if sun-dried tomatoes would be another good addition to the pasta.  I’ll have to try it out next time!  And yes, I said next time because this recipe is delicious and a keeper!


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