Shrimp and Penne


Shrimp and Penne

We found this recipe in a monthly flyer from one of our local grocery stores.  This looked super easy and we had almost all of the ingredients.  We used frozen shrimp and did the fast defrost option of putting the shrimp in a colander and running cold water until they have defrosted.   Whole process takes just a few minutes.
Our son was working that night so we saved him some which was quickly devoured once he got home.  No Italian takeout that night.  This will be  a go to recipe for the upcoming lenten season.


8 oz Penne Pasta
1 lb Large Shrimp peeled and deveined
2 cup Small Broccoli Florets fresh or frozen
1 cup Half-and-half
4 oz Cream Cheese cubed
2 tsp McCormick® Perfect Pinch® Mediterranean Herb Seasoning
1/4 tsp Salt
Grated Parmesan Cheese or Asiago Cheese (optional)

Cook pasta in large saucepan as directed on package, adding shrimp and broccoli during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain well.

Meanwhile, bring half-and-half to simmer in small saucepan on medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low.

Add cream cheese, Seasoning and salt; whisk until cheese is melted and sauce is well blended.

Place pasta, shrimp and broccoli in serving bowl. Add sauce; toss gently to coat well. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve immediately.


Snacks for teens – Sesame breadsticks

Everything is slowly winding down for my daughter as she heads towards high school graduation.   We have finished the 2 show productions of the year, closed the books on basketball season,  picked out our Prom dress and now this past Saturday helped the guys get their tuxes.   Following the tux shopping our daughter had her group of friends back to the house to “hang”.  So with 6 teenagers in the house you want  to give them something more than chips and dip.
So Saturday morning I pulled out my collected recipes binder that I have had for years and  found a appetizer recipe I had cut out of the Sunday inserts back in 1994.  It looked really good then, and at the time I would clip out recipes I saw and file them away. The bad part about it was I never made them because I had forgot about the recipe.  We had plans to go grocery shopping  for dinner that night, so I jotted down the ingredients I would need and off we went. This old recipe did not disappoint.  Unlucky part was I didn’t get to have any, they were gone in minutes, but did get rave reviews.  

Open Sesame Pick-Up Sticks          



1 egg  
1 Tablespoon water                        
1  teaspoon Dijon mustard                        
3  oz. (3/4 cup) freshly grated Asiago cheese                        
4 1/2 teaspoons sesame seed                        
1/2    teaspoon garlic powder                        
1 (11-oz.) can Pillsbury® Refrigerated Breadsticks 

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Spray cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Beat egg in small bowl. Add water and mustard; mix well. In shallow dish, combine cheese, sesame seed and garlic powder; mix well.

    Baked Pasta and Italian Meatloaf

    Looking for a comfort food on these cold winter nights?  Look no further than this Baked Fettucine with Asiago and Thyme and Italian Meatloaf.  The recipe for the fettucine is from Food Network and one of our favorite chefs – Giada.  You will need to make sure you have the right ingredients on hand.  This recipe calls for Creme Fraiche and Asiago cheese, not your standard ingredients.  You will also need some fresh thyme.  Fresh herbs are best when cooking and we were very lucky with this one.  We still had some thyme in the herb garden that was not too snow covered.  

    My traditional meat loaf recipe is very good, but very basic.  We have found a few new recipes that spice up the taste of this widely popular comfort food.  This recipe is from Michael Chiarello, an old favorite from Food Network and Napa Valley.  I loved his show when he was on Food Network.  And, I love his restaurant Bottega and his store Napa Style.  Hubby always says that he would love to live between Giada and Ina.  For me Michael Chiarello would then have to live across the street.

    Baked Fettucine with Asiago and Thyme


    1 pound fettuccine pasta
    2 cups grated Asiago cheese, plus 1/4 cup
    2 (8-ounce) containers creme fraiche
    1 cup grated Parmesan
    1 1/2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme leaves
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.

    In a large bowl combine the 2 cups Aiago cheese, creme fraiche, Parmesan, thyme, salt, pepper, cooked pasta, and pasta cooking liquid. Gently toss until all the ingredients are combined and the pasta is coated. Place the pasta in a buttered baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup asiago cheese. Bake until golden on top, about 25 minutes. Let sit for at least 5 minutes and serve.

    Italian Meatloaf



    1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    4 teaspoons (about 6 cloves) chopped garlic
    2 medium onions, diced
    2 red peppers, seeded, small diced
    1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
    2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
    4 eggs
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    2 cups grated Parmesan
    1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
    3 pounds ground beef
    2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    1 cup marinara sauce


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat and add the garlic. Saute 1 minute and then add the peppers and onions and saute until just soft. Let cool.

    Whisk together the basil, parsley and eggs in a small bowl, and then add the salt and black pepper. Combine the Parmesan and breadcrumbs in another small bowl. Thoroughly combine the meat, herbs and eggs, Parmesan and breadcrumbs, the Worcestershire, vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil together in a large bowl using your hands, making sure not to over mix.

    Pack the meat mixture into an oiled loaf pan, if you do not have a loaf pan, form the meat mixture into a loaf shape on an oiled oven tray or baking dish. Top with the marinara making sure to spread evenly over the top.

    Bake for approximately 50 to 60 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees F in the middle of the meatloaf. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.

    Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/michael-chiarello/italian-meatloaf-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

    Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/creamy-baked-fettuccine-with-asiago-and-thyme-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback


    Delicious Dip!

    Parmesan Dip

    I have posted this recipe recently with a link to the recipe site, but it is just so good I had to post the actual recipe.  It is a bit pricy to make, but it makes a ton of dip and is just so good!  Make your own crostini to serve this with and impress your friends. 


    1/2 pound Parmesan, not too dry
    1/2 pound Asiago cheese, not too dry
    2 teaspoons minced garlic
    2 teaspoons dried oregano
    1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    2 tablespoons chopped green onion
    1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


    Remove any rind from the cheeses and chop the cheeses into rough 1-inch chunks. Place the cheese in a food processor with the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and pulse until reduced to the size of fine pea gravel. Stir in the green onion, olive oil and black pepper and pulse again. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours before using.

    A Midwinter Night’s Dinner



    I remember mentioning in my very first blog post that because of our love of cooking, we have been in a gourmet dinner club for probably 12 years now.  Our Dinner Club started when hubby and I, along with our foodie friends invited 2 other couples to join us.  One couple, who have been with us from the start, is “Giada” from across the street and her “no green veggies or no seafood main course” husband Mike (had to put that in there, “Love ya Mike!”).  Then we asked friends of ours that we know through my husbands job at the time to join us. 
    Our dinner club was to get together every other month and we would rotate the host couple.  The host  selects the menu, assigns a course to the other couples and makes sure the menu and recipes reaches them 2 weeks before the dinner. The host supplies the main course and some sides, wine or cocktails, coffee and a welcoming table.  
    Well 12 years later and an exchange of one couple for another, we are still going strong.  We now have a wonderful southern cooking influence with our beautiful artist friend and her always happy and smiling husband that she refers to as “farm boy” in her blog in the group, along with our foodie friends and neighbors.  We have had menus ranging from prime rib (1st dinner) to an Italian Feast, a Chinese smorgasbord, a Thai dinner, some wonderful southern delights, Mexican entrees, tailgaters delights’, crock pot entrees and more.  So many menus and recipes from all these dinners that they fill up two binders I have in my kitchen. 

    Well this weekend is our time to host.  Our menu was inspired by two things, a need for an easy preparation because of a planned afternoon basketball game and some recently viewed recipes that we wanted to try.  The first recipe I saw is from the Traditional Home magazine I saw while at the hair salon.  I love Michael Chiarello and his restaurant Bottega in Yountville, Ca.  His whole menu loved wonderful, probably not for dinner club, but the appetizer could work.  The salad is from Fine Cooking Magazine.  I wanted something a bit different and the shaved asparagus made this interesting.  And Ina’s Turkey meatloaf and Green Beans Gremolata, how could you go wrong.  The potatoes have been assigned to our neighbors.  First because we thought we had a basketball game in the afternoon and second, they live right across the street and so their oven is really close.  They were so delicious.
    Now the dessert…. It looked very tasty, light  and because the difficulty level was hard.  Ha ha, we assigned that to our “Foodie Friends” because we know that they are up to the challenge.  When we sent the menu and recipes out, we put in fine print that if that thought it was too difficult they could contact us for a substitute.  But they didn’t and it was very good. What a wonderful evening with great friends, good food and delightful conversations. Who could ask for anything more!
    Bon Appetite!