Archive for March, 2010

Bowties in Tomato Sausage Cream Sauce

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Or something. I put those words in a different order everytime I make/think about/mention this recipe. Good thing the title means nothing! Woot!

This is my husband’s mostest favoritestest bestest food ever. Or something. In fact, when he sees this post and realizes I made this while he was out of town… well I just don’t know what will happen. He might do something drastic, like send me a nasty IM or something. It won’t be pretty.

What to gather: olive oil, bowtie pasta, heavy cream (DO IT!), diced tomatoes, italian sausage, fresh basil, onion, garlic, salt, parmesan cheese (to be shown later), red pepper flakes

As I’ve done before, we are going to cut everything before we start. It makes it much less stressful when I’m trying to put it all together, plus it makes me feel like I have my own cooking show where people prepared everything and lined it up in little bowls for me so I could just toss it all together and cook it from raw to perfection during the commercial break.

But back to reality, lets start by removing the sausage from the casing. You just squeeze it on out of there.

I remove it in little bits, since we need it in little bits eventually anyway. Save a step / save a life. Not really. Just the step.

During this step, you might find this wily creature. Beware. She’s here for your sausage.

Finish removing all the sausage from the casing, while trying hard to ignore the dog that is currently staring into your soul.

Set it aside, high on a shelf. She’s just waiting for you to look away. Trust me, I know.

Cut the onion and garlic. Feel free to use a yellow onion. In fact I usually do. Today I just happened to have a ‘red’ one. Why do they call them red? Anyone in their right mind can see that this onion is purple.

And the basil. I like to start by rolling it up the long way.

And then chopping it the short way.

Now we’re ready to begin. Note that the pasta cooks for roughly the same time as the sauce simmers. So, now would be a good time to start the water boiling. By the time we get everything else in the pan, hopefully it will be boiling and they’ll both be done at the same time. If not, do not panic. Either of them can wait a couple minutes for the other.

Heat a large and deep skillet (it needs to be big enough to hold everything, including the pasta) and add the olive oil.

Then add the sausage that you so valiantly guarded from predators.

And add a bit of red pepper flakes. As much as you like. I’m a wimp, so I only added a touch. If you want to cry while eating, feel free to add more than this. (You could also use hot italian sausage if you are so inclined. Mine, however, is medium. Again – wimp.)

Saute this deliciousness over medium high heat until brown. Mmm.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan, and saute until the onions are tender.

Now we start to add the stuff our television staff has so kindly prepared for us. I imagine they’ll be by soon to do the dishes, too.

Drain the excess juice off the tomatoes, and add them.

Then the heavy cream. Yeah, baby.

A pinch or so of salt. Pinch pinch.

And the basil. Note: technically and aesthetically you shouldn’t really add the basil until the end, because it doesn’t need to be cooked to death. I, however, can not be bothered with these details and just threw it in at this step. Don’t be like me. I got excited.

Stir that around and simmer on low for 8-10 minutes. It will thicken slightly. You don’t want it so thick that it doesn’t cover the pasta, though, so don’t get carried away or anything.

Add your bowties to your boiling water. You boiled water, right? I TOLD YOU TO BOIL WATER! *ahem* Sorry. Add your bowties to your boiling water.

Mine took 12 minutes because they were bigger bowties. You might have smaller ones that cook faster. Just go by what the box says. That way I don’t steer you wrong on account of me not knowing the cook time of every single brand of bowties known to man. I know a lot of random crap, but sadly not that.

Once the noodles are done and drained, and the sauce is happily thickened, that’s pretty much it! Add the noodles to the sauce and combine.

Add some freshly grated parmesan just before serving.

Wooo boy. Good stuff.

Please don’t divorce me, honey. I’ll save you some!

Bowties in Tomato Sausage Cream Sauce

12 ounce pkg bowtie pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb sweet or hot (your choice) Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced onion
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp minced fresh basil
Freshly grated parmesan

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente; drain and set aside. Heat oil in a large, skillet over medium heat.
Cook sausage and pepper flakes until sausage is evenly brown. Stir in onion and garlic, cook until onion is tender. Add tomatoes, cream, and salt. Simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir cooked pasta into sauce, and heat through. Sprinkle with basil and freshly grated parmesan.

Taco Salad Dip

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

About 94 or so years ago, one of my online groups assembled a cookbook. That is to say, they all sent me their favorite recipes (some even via the POST OFFICE. We were so retro!), and I typed them all up, secretly printed them at work for free, and then took them to the printers to have a spiral binding put on them. At least a year later, we all got together at Kelli’s house for a baby shower and she served this dip. It was so delicious that I was completely outraged that she hadn’t included this recipe in the book. Until she pointed out that she had, at which point I felt like a giant idiot. Until later, when the pregnant person opened one of her gifts only to find 2 mismatched used socks that one of Kelli’s kids had stashed in the gift, leaving the guest of honor very confused, Kelli very embarrassed, the rest of us very amused, and me off the hook for being the idiot of the day.

Ahh, good times, indeed.

At any rate, this has since become one of my go-to recipes for any function requiring me to “bring something”. It’s easy to whip up, and always a big hit.

What to gather: cream cheese (allow to soften first), sour cream , taco seasoning mix, lettuce, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, sliced olives, tortilla chips (not shown, but recommended unless you just plan to eat this with your hands)

We start by dumping the cream cheese and sour cream into a bowl. Note that while I showed a 16 oz container of cream cheese in the photo, the dip only calls for 8 oz. So, I used half. See my tricky math there? I didn’t have a tutor or anything!

And combine. If you’re feeling muscular, you could probably do this by hand. I, however, have the upper body strength of… I dunno, something weak. So, I used my mixer.

One it is happily incorporated, and don’t go all crazy obsessive, it’ll be covered by lettuce and no one will see a lump or 2, add the taco seasoning. Half the package. No, I don’t know exactly how many teaspoons that means. Just roughly half will do.

And once again combine. You’ll need to scrape the sides of the bowl down to make sure it’s mixed well. Once it is, we are going to spread it on a platter.

Don’t get overly hung up on the size of the platter. This one is a bit smaller, so my dip will be a tad thicker. My normal platter has a giant crack in it that I didn’t want you to know about, so I used this one instead. Either one is fine, really. I promise.

Now for the “salad” part of the taco salad dip. Chop some lettuce.

And add it.

Now, shred some cheese. If you are going to the family reunion on your dad’s side, and you don’t like them anyway, feel free to use pre-shredded. But, if you’re serving this to someone you love, or eating it yourself, shred your own. It’s better.

Add the cheese on top of the lettuce. Lookin’ good so far!

Time to chop the tomatoes. As you can see, once I’d chopped them, I did pick out the overly seedy bits. But, I wasn’t obsessively seeding the tomatoes or anything. I just took 10 seconds to fish out the obnoxious parts.

Evenly distribute atop the cheese. Completely forget to take a photo.

And, finally, the sliced olives. Naturally, you’ll want to drain them first. I don’t even LIKE olives, and I still use them on this. I even eat them. Don’t tell any of my olive hating friends what I did.

And that’s it! Serve with tortilla chips and be merry!

Taco Salad Dip

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces sour cream
1/2 package taco seasoning mix
lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, tomatoes, olives

Combine cream cheese and sour cream; add taco seasoning and mix well. Spread on bottom of serving platter and layer with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and olives (in that order). Serve with tortilla chips.

Amaretto Sour

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

I made this blog post at 1pm. I always eat (or in this case, drink) whatever I put on the plate for the picture. This means I had an amaretto sour at 1pm for no reason other than this post.

Now that we’ve had full disclosure, we can move on.

I love to go to the martini bar and order the froofiest most girly and ridiculous fruity ones they have. Which might explain why I put this drink in a martini glass, despite the fact that it’s not a martini. Or, it could be that I’m just weird. I don’t believe in formality here, put it in a dixie cup for all I care. Really, after the first one, it won’t matter.

What to gather: Amaretto, Sour Mix, Orange slices, Maraschino Cherries, Powdered Sugar and Ice.

Or, if it’s been a rough day, just the amaretto and sour mix. I do enjoy them more when I go the extra mile, though. so lets do that.

Hopefully you have one of these shaker things, but if not, you can use a spoon or whatever. It does make you feel all Cocktail to use this, though, so if you have one, use it.

First, we add the ice to the shaker. Amount not all that important, since we’re going to strain the drink off of it in 10 seconds anyway.

Then, carefully measure 3 ounces of amaretto and add it to the shaker. Or, just do this:

It’s not that scientific.

Add 2 precisely measured “splash”es of sour mix. Or:

It’s mostly amaretto with a touch of mix.

And shake. Oh wait, first put lid on. Then shake. Emo nailpolish optional.

Now right there it’s good enough to drink, and already better than any amaretto sour I’ve ever had at a bar. But, we’re living it up here. So, we’ll garnish.

Cut an orange by slicing it in half and then slices.

Add one orange slice and one (or 2) maraschino cherries to the bottom of the vessel of your choice. Really, you are supposed to put the orange cutely on the rim of the glass. Bah whatever. I just chuck it in there. We’re friends, right?

And strain amaretto and sour mix on top of it.

Sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Become embarrassed at the condition of your aged orange.

Enjoy drink and forget all about it.

Amaretto Sour
(technically, makes 2 if you put a cherry and orange in each glass)

3 ounces Amaretto
2 splashes Sour Mix
1 orange slice
1 maraschino cherry
powdered sugar

Add amaretto and sour mix to ice filled shaker; shake. Strain into glass, adding cherry and orange slice. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar.

Curry Vegetable Orzo

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Warning:  This post contains curry. Hence the name.

Curry seems to be a love it or hate it spice.  I love it.  You might not.  Or, maybe you are an enigma, that neither loves nor hates curry.  I will say that the curry in this dish is very subtle as it only uses 1 teaspoon for the whole entire recipe.  If you don’t like it, you have my permission to leave it out.  You don’t have permission to yell at me when the recipe isn’t as good anymore, though.  😉

The great thing about this recipe is that it is totally flexible as far as the veggies go. In the summer when the produce department is plentiful and glorious (notice I didn’t say my vegetable garden, which is rarely plentiful or glorious), I use different vegetables in this, depending on what looks good at the time. I LOVE it with asparagus, so try adding some of that if you’re so inclined. If not, lets just do this thing!

What to gather: Olive oil, garlic, shallots, zucchini, carrots, curry powder (JUST DO IT), vegetable stock, orzo, Parmesan cheese, parsley, frozen peas (pretend they’re there), salt and pepper (this time in a stainless steel bowl so that the dog doesn’t chew it up immediately following this post).

We’re going to start by cutting all our vegetables first, since they all get added to the pot at the same time. Once we have that done, the rest is a cinch! (Yes, I just used the word cinch. Yes, I’m 108 years old.)

Peel, and then shred some carrots. I only ended up using 2 of the 4 I pulled out. And yes, I used this archaic thing on which to shred them. And yes, I do in fact own a food processor. I just don’t really know how to use it and it seems like a lot of clean up just to shred a couple carrots. I gave my shreds a rough dice at the end because I don’t want big chunks of carrot, but don’t feel obligated to do the same. It’s not important to the end game.

Chop some zucchini. I cut it into strips and then diced, but again, you can chop it however it makes you happy.

Now a couple shallots. A shallot is more or less a small, sweet, mild onion, so you could absolutely substitute onion if you can’t find / don’t want / do not believe me about shallots.

And finally, the garlic. You can use your garlic press, I won’t tell.

To the stove, jeeves! Not that I need a ride to the stove, it hasn’t quite come to that. Yet. Drizzle the olive oil into the hot pan.

And dump in all that stuff we just chopped. Just dump it on in there. Throw caution to the wind.

Saute for about 5 minutes, or until everything softens up. It doesn’t have to be completely cooked since we have a ways to go, just softened.

Add the cumin (DO IT!) and the broth and bring to a boil.

Now the orzo, and again bring to a boil. Then, lower the heat, cover, and walk away for 10 minutes while the orzo cooks. You can use this time to clean up the huge mess you’ve made, start knitting a blanket or making a pot of coffee. Or, better yet, you can get the final 3 ingredients ready to go.

Shred some Parmesan cheese. This time, using an even smaller archaic instrument.

Chop up some flat leaf parsley.

And dig the peas out of the bottom of the freezer. Once the orzo has reached the desired state of doneness (doneness?), add the peas, parsley and orzo to the pan. No need to thaw the peas, they’ll heat up in a few stirs while you’re combining all this.

Season with salt and pepper, and you’re done!

I love this stuff.

Curry Vegetable Orzo

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 cup shredded carrots, chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup orzo pasta
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 cup frozen peas
Salt and pepper

Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan in a slow stream. Add garlic, shallots, zucchini and carrots. Sauté 5 minutes. Add curry and vegetable stock, and bring to a boil. Add orzo and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally until pasta absorbs the liquid and is al dente in texture, 10 minutes. Uncover and stir in cheese, parsley and peas. Season with salt and pepper, to your taste.

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