Dinner, Seafood

Shrimp and Fettuccine with white wine sauce

    To celebrate national pasta day last Friday we made a variation of a recipe we found on Pinterest.  As you might know, pasta is one of my son’s favorite dishes.  So we decided that he was going to help with the cooking this evening to skills to more than ramen noodles and omelettes.  It would not be that difficult has he has been working over the summer and on breaks as a prep cook at a local restaurant.  He has spent many an hour slicing and dicing various items for the line cooks we knew he could do this at home and actually complete the recipe.  

    The sauce is very light but has a kick with the crushed red pepper.  You can even omit the shrimp and just make the sauce for your next pasta dish.

    1 lb pasta 

    2 tsp minced garlic
    1/4 c olive oil
    5 Tbsp butter
    1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp pepper {fresh ground}
    1/2 c white wine
    1/2 c parsley for garnishing
    1/2 c fresh grated Parmesan
    1 lb of large size shrimp

    In large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium. Add garlic, red pepper and saute until golden, about a minute.  Add salt, pepper, wine and butter.Stir 2 minutes, add shrimp and cook until pink – about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and toss with pasta.Garnish with parsley and generously add fresh Parmesan

      Dinner, one pot meals, Pasta

      Rigatoni with Sausage and Fennel

      Just by looking a this picture you can almost taste how delicious this is. My son and I were watching an old Ina Garten episode from the summer of 2017 on pasta dishes and saw her making this recipe. My mouth was watering by the end of the episode and I knew that I needed to make this. So off to the store this morning to get the necessary ingredients. My pasta loving son was pleased and so was my hubby. I even think this is foodie friends worthy.

      3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

      3 cups chopped fennel (1 large fennel bulb)

      1 ½ cups chopped yellow onion

      1 ¼ pounds Sweet Italian sausage, casing removed

      2 tsp. minced garlic (2 cloves)

      ½ teaspoon whole fennel seeds, crushed with a mortar and pestle

      ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

      Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper

      1 cup dry white wine

      1 cup heavy cream

      2/3 cups half-and-half

      2 tbsp. tomato paste

      1 lb. Rigatoni

      ½ cup chopped, fresh Italian parsley leaves

      1 cup freshly grated Reggiano Parmigiano cheese, divided

      Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset, over medium heat. Add the fennel and onion and sauté for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add the sausage and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, crumbling it with a fork, until nicely browned. Add the garlic, crushed fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. black pepper and cook for one minute.

      Pour in the wine, bring to a boil and add the heavy cream, half-and-half, and tomato paste. Bring back to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.

      Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 2 tbsp. salt and cook the rigatoni according to package directions. Drain and add to the sauce, stirring to coat the pasta. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes to allow the pasta to absorb the sauce.

      Off the heat, stir in the parsley and ½ cup of the Reggiano Parmigiano. Serve hot in shallow bowls with passing the remaining ½ cup of Parmigiano.


      Ricotta Meatloaf and Peas with Pancetta

      This recipe is a long time coming, but has not been forgotten.  I made this earlier in the spring and with all of our family activity it hadn’t been posted.  Lydia is a new favorite of ours. I will definitely try this again and make the peas more often.


      1 cup milk
      3 cups day old bread cubes, from a loaf of country bread
      3 pounds ground beef (freshly ground preferred)
      3 large eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
      1 pound drained fresh ricotta (about 2 cups) plus more for the sauce if you like
      1 bunch scallions, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
      1/2 cup grated Grana Padano
      1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian Parsley
      1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
      1 tablespoon Kosher Salt
      freshly ground black pepper to taste
      1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, cut in 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
      1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
      4 to 5 cups tomato sauce

      Pour the milk over the bread cubes in a bowl, and let soak for a few minutes, until the bread is saturated. Squeeze the soft bread a handful at a time, pressing out as much milk as you can (discard the milk). Tear the bread into small shreds and toss back into the empty bowl. Crumble the ground beef into the bowl, and add the eggs, ricotta, scallions, grated cheese, parsley, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Fold and toss everything together, and squeeze the mixture a few times between your fingers to distribute all the ingredients evenly. Scatter the mozzarella cubes on top, and fold and mush them throughout the loaf mix.

      Brush the roasting pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Gather the meat mixture in the bowl, turn it into the pan, and shape it into a fat oval loaf. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cover the pan with foil—tent it so it doesn’t touch the meat—and bake 45 minutes. Remove the foil, and continue to bake until the meatloaf is browned all over and completely cooked through, another 1 hour and 30 minutes or so. (If you check the loaf with a meat thermometer, it should reach a temperature of 160 degrees.) Remove the roast from the oven, and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

      Heat the tomato sauce to a simmer in a saucepan as the meat rests. Turn off the heat, and, if you like, stir 1/2 cup or so fresh ricotta into the sauce. Cut the loaf crosswise in the pan or on a cutting board, in slices as thick as you like.

      Serve on warm dinner plates, topped with a spoonful or two of sauce, and pass more sauce at the table (or, for family-style serving, arrange the slices on a warm platter, topped with some of the sauce).

      Peas and Pancetta 
      3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
      3 ounces Pancetta, finely chopped
      1 small onion, finely chopped
      1 (1 pound) bag frozen peas, thawed
      1/4 cup Pine Nuts, toasted
       In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil, pancetta and onion. Cook until pancetta is rendered, about 5 to 7 minutes.

       Add the peas. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion and peas are tender and flavored with the pancetta. Stir in pine nuts. Cook and toss for a minute, then serve.


      Creamy Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms

      Chicken Thighs have become more of a staple in our freezer and on our dinner plate. While boneless chicken breast are the preferred cut, thigh meat is very flavorful and is relatively inexpensive.  You can always find it on sale.  We have also found some great recipes that are specific to using thighs rather than chicken breast.  
      This recipe is no exception.  The sauce was wonderful and was great over the rice that accompanied our dinner.  


      4 to 6 chicken thighs -skin on and bone in
      2-3 teaspoons garlic powder
      Salt and pepper

      For the Sauce:
      1 tablespoon minced garlic
      14 oz cups sliced Portobello mushrooms (1½ cups)
      1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs
      2 teaspoons fresh chopped parsley
      1½ cups 2% milk – (We used a mixture of skim and heavy cream)
      Salt and pepper, to taste
      1 tablespoon cornstarch (cornflour) mixed with 2 tablespoons of extra milk mixture
      ¾ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, divided
      ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley – to serve


      Preheat oven to 400°F.  Season chicken with garlic powder, salt and pepper.

      Heat cooking oil spray in a large, non stick and oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Sear chicken thighs until golden and crispy on each side (about 3-4 minutes each side). Transfer to a warm plate.

      Drain some of the excess fat from the pan, reserving 2 tablespoons for added flavor. Return pan to medium-high heat; sauté the garlic in the pan juices until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add the mushrooms, herbs and 2 teaspoons of parsley; fry until they just begin to soften.

      Reduce heat to low-medium heat, add the milk and bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

      Add the milk/cornstarch mixture to the center of the pan, and continue to simmer while quickly stirring the mixture through until the sauce thickens.

      Add ½ cup of Parmesan cheese; allow sauce to simmer for a further minute until cheese melts through the sauce. Add the chicken back into the pan; transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked through.

      Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of parsley and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese.

      Serve with steamed rice or pasta.


      Comfort Plus!

      Creamy Garlic Mac and Cheese 
      Comfort plus describes this new Mac and Cheese recipe.  I mentioned last weekend that I want to make some macaroni and cheese for dinner.
       Hubby suggested that since it was the weekend we should try something new and not my tried and true recipe.  I had saved this recipe from a post by The Noble Pig, a blog from a winery out west that I have followed for years.   It has three different types of cheeses and a crispy breadcrumb topping.  Now the one thing about the topping is that my son for some reason says he doesn’t like the bread crumb topping so when I sprinkled it over the top I left a small portion without the topping.
      This dished turned out to be delicious.  We made sure we saved some for our daughter’s return from college.  I will make this one again.
      1 pound pasta (elbow, macaroni or any other pasta)
      1½ tablespoons butter
      ⅔ cup Panko breadcrumbs
      ¼ cup butter
      4 cloves garlic, crushed
      ¼ cup flour (all purpose or plain)
      4½ cups milk, divided (I used skim, but 2% or full fat are fine to use)
      1 tablespoon cornstarch (corn flour)
      salt and pepper, to season
      1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder (or a vegetable stock powder)
      ¾ cup low fat grated cheddar cheese
      1 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
      6 ounces low fat mozzarella cheese

      Boil pasta in salted water, according to packet instructions, until JUST al dente (do not over-boil)! Drain and rinse well with cold water. Set aside.

      Preheat oven grill or broiler to 375°F.

      To make the topping – Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large, oven proof pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the Panko breadcrumbs; stir to coat and cook until golden browned. Transfer to a bowl; set aside.

      To make the sauce:

      Melt the ¼ cup of butter in the same pan / skillet. Add the garlic and sauté until just fragrant (about 1 minute). Whisk in the flour; continue to cook while whisking (or stirring) for at least 2 minutes. Reduce heat down to low; gradually whisk in 4 cups of the milk (about ¼ cup at a time), whisking between each addition to combine. Bring to a boil until beginning to thicken.

      In a separate jug, combine the cornstarch and remaining ½ cup milk; whisk until lump free and stir through the white sauce to thicken completely. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the bouillon powder.

      Remove from heat and add in the cheddar, ¾ cup of parmesan cheese, and the mozzarella slices. Stir through until all of the cheese has melted. Toss the pasta through the sauce until completely coated.
      Top with the Panko and the remaining parmesan cheese. Broil (or grill) in oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until bubbling.

      Allow to cool down slightly before serving.


      Out of the archives-Parmesan Crisp and Skillet Lemon Chicken

      I have a couple of binders in my cook book cupboard that I use on occasion.  One is the big binder of recipes hubby and I have accumulated and I have written about, and the other is a binder I received as a shower gift 25 years ago that I could sort and save recipes in.  This was the go to recipe place back before hubby joined me in the kitchen.

      The first recipe I found was for a light appetizer.  I remember making these for a Christmas party years ago.  These tasted great with a glass of really cold Chardonnay.

      Parmesan Crisp 

      20 Wonton Skins, cut in half diagonally
      Vegetable cooking spray
      2 teaspoons water
      2 teaspoons olive oil 
      1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning 
      1/2 teaspoon paprika 
      1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
      Dash ground red pepper
      2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese 
      Arrange wonton skins in a single layer on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Combine water  and next 5 ingredients; brush evenly on skins and sprinkle with cheese.  Bake at 375 degrees for 5 to 6 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove to wire racks to cool completely.  Store in an air tight container.  Yields 40 crisp @ 15 calories per crisp. 
      Note – I did not cut this batch in triangles.  
      The main course recipe I found was for Skillet Lemon Chicken.  I don’t remember when I made this before, but this time it was delicious.

      Skillet Lemon Chicken 

      4 medium boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets (thin cut)
      2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons all purpose flour
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      1 large egg
      2 teaspoons olive oil
      2 tablespoons butter
      3 garlic cloves crushed with side of chefs knife 
      1/2 lemon thinly sliced
      1/2 cup chicken broth 
      1/4 cup dry white wine 
      2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
      2 tablespoons drained capers
      On waxed paper, mix 2 tablespoons flour with salt. In pie plate, with fork, beat egg.  Coat chicken in flour and then dig in egg.
      In non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat until hot.  Stir in1 tablespoon butter until melted. Add chicken and cook 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium, turn chicken and cook 8 to 10 minutes longer until juices run clear.  Transfer chicken to warm platter.
      Add garlic and lemon slices to dripping in skillet; cook until golden.  In cup, mix chicken broth, wine, lemon juice and 1 1/2 teaspoons of flour until smooth; stir into skillet.  Heat sauce to boiling; boil 1 minute. Stir in capers and remaining tablespoon of butter until butter melts.  Discard garlic. Arrange lemon slices over chicken and pour sauce over chicken.  

      Zucchini Crisp

      It is that time of the summer when area gardens are cranking out fresh vegetables in large quantities.  This year with our landscaping plans around the house we didn’t get to plant a garden but are making the most of the fresh produce at our local garden center.  Zucchini is one of my favorite summer vegetable and I am always looking for new ways to prepare it.  This dish got good reviews from 3 out of 4 members of my family.  Number 4 wouldn’t even try.
      I found this recipe on Pinterest and decided to give it a try.  It is from Ellie Krieger when she was on Food Network.  Her show is no longer on.  It seems that they are dwindling down the number of cooking shows that featured great chefs with real recipes for ones that are now more competitive.  Sounds like what MTV did with music videos.  Are there any more music videos on MTV or VH1?  Soon there will probably not be any more real cooking shows on the Food Network and they will be doing something completely different – maybe music videos?   

      Zucchini Crisp


      Cooking spray
      2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound total)
      1 tablespoon olive oil
      1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (3/4-ounce)
      1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
      1/8 teaspoon salt
      Freshly ground black pepper


      Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
      Slice the zucchini into 1/4-inch thick rounds. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the oil. In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, and a few turns of pepper. Dip each round into the Parmesan mixture, coating it evenly on both sides, pressing the coating on to stick, and place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
      Bake the zucchini rounds until browned and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove with spatula. Serve immediately