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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 🙂

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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!

Raleigh Weekday Chicken Fingers

I make a pretty decent breaded chicken, but when I saw this recipe in my new In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite cookbook, I was intrigued.  The combination of spices made me wonder 1) if it would make the fingers too sweet and 2) if it would compare to the much requested (by the pelirojo) recipe I currently make.

The original recipe calls for fresh basil (or cilantro, or parsely) and fresh garlic, but I didn’t have fresh basil on hand (I used it all in the basil cream sauce pasta).  I was also feeling too lazy to mince garlic, so dried basil and garlic was added instead.  Thankfully, this was not one of those cases where you wonder, “would it have been much better with the fresh alternative?”

The results were impressive!!  I will never make my sorry excuse for chicken fingers again.  This was infinitely more delicious, more moist, better seasoned, and just as easy as my other recipe.  I had wondered if I needed to make some sort of dipping sauce, but I’m really glad that I didn’t because these fingers were flavorful enough to stand on their own.

When I think of chicken fingers, I always think it’s appropriate to make mac-n-cheese (Annie’s brand is the stuff I really love) and a veggie side.  I served the fingers on a bed of spinach and a side of mac-n-cheese, but the flavor combination wasn’t right.  I think this would be phenomenal with basmati rice and some roasted vegetables.

Can I just say how excited I am that I’ve been on a roll?  This is another “KEEPER” recipe!

Hurray for successful adventures in the kitchen!!

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