Dinner, soups

Quick and Spicy Tomato soup

Lunch time at the office

We were away this past weekend visiting our friends in North Carolina and our flight home arrived just before 5 on Monday.  After eating great food all weekend and traveling we wanted something that was easy to make and also light. This recipe from our favorite Italian chef Giada fit the bill. Within a half hour we had a hot and hearty soup on the table.

As we move into the fall season we start to crave hearty comfort foods. For the reason we try to keep our pantry stocked with basic essentials.  The less trips to the store the better.  This recipe had all of the essentials and made enough to bring into work for lunch.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 – 26 oz jar marinara sauce
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic and saute until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the jar of marinara sauce, chicken broth, cannellini beans, red pepper flakes, pasta, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve.

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Quick and Spicy Tomato Soup

After a weekend away enjoying some great food and wine, one might want to make a just have a simple soup.  That is exactly what we did this past Sunday.  We had a great weekend in the Finger Lakes with our Foodie Friends.  Tasted some local wines, enjoyed the sites at a local state park and then ended our evening with a wine dinner at a local inn.  By Sunday Afternoon, we were a bit tired, still stuffed from the great food we had.  I remembered this soup we had made several times from Giada.  Very simple and delicious.  And the best part we had all the ingredients!  
 


Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce (recommended: San Marzano brand)
2 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup orzo pasta (or any small pasta)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic and saute until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the jar of marinara sauce, chicken broth, cannellini beans, red pepper flakes, pasta, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve.

SERVINGS: 4 (MAIN); Calories: 430; Total Fat: 16 grams; Saturated Fat: 2 grams; Protein: 15 grams; Total

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A feast for me!

Okay, this is a little late, but it is about the food, right?  Yes, Mothers Day was two weeks ago and my family outdid themselves with the cards and gifts.  A very enjoyable day and dinner that evening was no exception.  This pasta dish made a Mother’s Day comeback for dinner.  Hubby has prepared this before and yes, on Mother’s Day.  This is so good and not just for Mothers Day, maybe for even tomorrow.

Rigatoni with Vegetable Bolognese

INGREDIENTS

1 -ounce dried porcini mushrooms

1 1/2 cups hot water

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

2 garlic cloves

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

5 ounces assorted mushrooms (like shiitake, cremini, and brown), stemmed and chopped

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 cup red wine

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

1 pound rigatoni pasta

1/4 cup Parmesan

DIRECTIONS

Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with 1 1/2 cups very hot water. Set aside and let the mushrooms soften.

Place the carrots, onion, bell pepper, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse the vegetables until finely chopped but still chunky. Place the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped vegetables, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper and cook until tender, about 6 minutes. Strain the porcini mushrooms, reserving the porcini mushroom liquid. Add the porcini mushrooms, fresh mushrooms, and tomato paste and continue cooking, stirring to dissolve the tomato paste, until the mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the porcini mushroom liquid and red wine. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and let the mixture simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add mascarpone cheese and stir just until the cheese is incorporated.

Meanwhile, 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 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and add to the vegetable mixture. Add some of the reserved pasta cooking liquid, if necessary, to moisten the sauce. Toss with Parmesan and serve.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/rigatoni-with-vegetable-bolognese-recipe.html#lightbox-recipe-video?oc=linkback

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Home is where….

Love my girl!
Home is where Mom is… As my daughter posted this weekend on social media.  She came home for fall break and we had a packed weekend from tailgating with our peeps to a birthday dinner for my husband’s mother.  And while she was home we dropped her off to see her best friend from high school best for the night at our old Alma Mater, that came with a return trip to pick her up18 hours later.  Felt a bit nostalgic driving around the campus.  
And while we all know home is where mom is, in our house home is also where Dad asks “what do you want special for dinner?  The reply was “that shrimp dish with the arugula and pasta”.  No problem!  This dish has been a Lenten favorite as the kids call it, so we haven’t made it in awhile.  It has all of the kids favorites in one dish – pasta and shrimp, and from our favorite Italian chef Giada.
Dad and his little Girl
 
 
Our local college team versus the Nations #1 Team
We served this with Roasted Brussels Sprouts that were tossed with some diced red onion and diced pancetta.  The roasting in pretty easy with this dish and makes a great aside dish.   Trim the sprouts and place them on a foil lined cookie sheet.  Toss with some olive oil,  1/4 cup chopped red onion and 2 oz. of diced pancetta.  Sprinkle with sea salt and roast in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. 
 
 
 

Linguine with Shrimp and Lemon Oil

Ingredients

For the lemon oil:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zested
 
For the pasta:
1 pound linguine pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
16 ounces frozen shrimp
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 lemon, zested
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces arugula (about 3 packed cups)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions

For the lemon oil: Combine the olive oil and the lemon zest in a small bowl and reserve.
 
For the pasta:  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 cooking liquid.
 
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked linguine, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine. Turn off the heat and add the arugula. Using a mesh sieve, strain the lemon zest out of the reserved lemon olive oil and add the oil to the pasta. The zest can be discarded. Add some of the cooking water to desired consistency. Add the chopped parsley to the pasta and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
 
Brussels Sprouts with red onion and pancetta
 
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Dinner Club Time….

 
 
I have been a bit busy lately and haven’t posted much. As I was looking through my recent pictures I found a bunch from our last dinner club.  We changed things up a bit for this one.  Nobody got the recipes before hand.  All they got was a list of groceries to bring.  And to make things even more surprising, the ingredients were switched up a bit.  We wanted to make it a bit of a guessing game.  So one couple got a list of some of the ingredients for apple crisp but had to bring a jalapeno for the green beans made on the grill. 
 
 
We went with this concept to make it very easy for all parties.  Our part was setting the table, picking up the filet’s we were preparing and making the Easy Risotto. 
 
 

 
After the table was set I set up the work stations for the couples.  Some of the basic ingredients we provided and we gave them the recipe and the prep tools they needed.

 
Set up for Apple Crisp which I have blogged before.

 
Set up for the appetizer recipe shown below.

 
Set up for Jill’s grilled green beans.
 
The main course was blue cheese stuffed tenderloins, an old favorite recipe of mine from my favorite restaurant in the Virgin Islands, The Lime Inn.  We also made Ina’s Easy Risotto, a great side that is made ahead without all of the stirring that is normally involved with Risotto.
 
So the recipe I wanted to feature was the appetizer I had my neighbors, Giada and Mike, from across the street make.  It is one of my favorite recipes to make that is very easy and very tasty.  None of the recipes we choose were new to use, but were new to our guest besides the tenderloins.
 
This recipe calls for simple ingredients and takes about 15 minutes to make.  The honey makes this dish.
 
 
 

Crostini with Gorgonzola and Honey

From Giada De Laurentis

 
Ingredients
36 slices (1/2-inch thick) baguette bread, about 1 loaf
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces Gorgonzola, sliced
3 tablespoons honey
Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
 
Arrange the sliced baguette on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil. Bake until the bread is pale golden and crisp, about 10 minutes.
 
Arrange the cheese on the toasts and bake until the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.
Drizzle the toasts with honey. Place on a serving platter and serve immediately.
 

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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

Ingredients

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
Directions
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

Ingredients

 

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

Directions

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

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Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce

Yes,this is my second post of the day, but I have a recipe backup in my blogger account.  And in looking out the window right now I though that this might be a perfect time to share this recipe.  Heating up the oven to bake makes a cold and snowy day bearable.

This is An old recipe for us but a good one too.  This makes enough that you use one pan and freeze the other for a later time.  With our kids winter sports season getting into full swing, it is nice to have ready made meals  all set to go.  Just pull them from the freezer in the morning and then the first one home at night starts the oven.

This is a Giada recipe and both the sauce and the stuffed shell recipe are below.  If you don’t have enough time to make the sauce, just use a spicy spaghetti sauce such as Arrabbiata or Dafriolo.

Cheese mixture ready for filling

,

This is one of my husbands recipes.  Here he is stuffing the shells.

Ready for the oven.

 

 

Ingredients

    12 ounces (1 box) jumbo pasta shells (approximately 36 shells)
    2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for greasing baking sheet
    6 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, diced
    2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper flakes
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    5 cups marinara sauce
    2 (15-ounce) containers whole milk ricotta cheese
    1 1/3 cups grated Parmesan
    4 large egg yolks
    3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
    3 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
    1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint leaves
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

      Directions

      Lightly oil a 12 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish and set aside. Lightly oil the baking sheet and set aside.
      Partially cook the pasta shells in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly tender but still quite firm to the bite, about 4 to 6 minutes. You will continue cooking the shells in the oven after they have been stuffed. Using a slotted spoon, drain pasta shells and place on oiled baking sheet, spreading them out so that they don’t stick together and allow to cool.
      Heat the oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes. Add the garlic and sauté until tender, about 1 minute. Add the marinara sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring often.
      In a medium bowl, stir the ricotta, Parmesan, egg yolks, basil, parsley, mint, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
      Spoon 1 1/4 cups of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Fill the cooked shells with the cheese mixture, about 2 tablespoons per shell. Arrange the shells in the prepared dish. Spoon the remaining sauce over the shells, then sprinkle with the mozzarella.
      Bake in the lower third of your oven until the filling is heated through and the top is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes