Not Penne with Vodka Sauce

As promised … Pasta with vodka sauce. Not penne. Blame Trader Joe's, I do. Plenty of rice and gluten free options. Am I now a minority? So linguine stepped in and twirled its way round our hearts. Two kids took home leftovers, an endorsement if ever there was one. Any way you toss it, Ina did a great job with the recipe. I lightened the load a bit on the hot pepper flakes. I also think it covers more than a pound of pasta.

Click here for the recipe.

Mangia – B

Note: obviously can be gluten free. Just ask Trader Joe's.

 

 

Crowd Pleasing Chicken

After asking 5 children 16 to 26 for their thoughts on dinner, I got chicken. And so did they. Doubling the recipe took a little extra time, but chicken piccata is a great weeknight option. I also only used one pan, cooking the chicken in batches and keeping it warm in the oven. At the end I threw it all back in the sauce with no one the wiser. No pressure, but I served it with pasta in vodka sauce. Recipe to come.

Click here for the chicken recipe, courtesy of Epicuriois.

Eat – B

 

 

Channeling Colcannon

Three ingredients (plus salt) never tasted so good. It must be the upcoming St. Patrick's Day that made me want to dump this lot on a plate of mashed potatoes. Not that Brussel sprouts cooked in pancetta come close to that Irish cabbage and potato delicacy. And bite my tongue but I loaded my mashed potatoes with English butter. Still, it's comforting to spoon this dish down at winter's end with bathing suit season not even a squint away. Also, local purveyor Trader Joe's, you have redeemed yourself from last week's suddenly expiring produce! xo

Ingredients

4 oz chopped pancetta

1/2 small red onion, chopped

1 bag shredded Trader Joe's Brussels sprouts

In medium heavy skillet over mid low heat, render the pancetta. I like mine a little crispy. 10 minutes. Add onion and a little salt, cook 5 minutes. Add sprouts, cooking until tender, 5-8 minutes. Be generous with the salt and pepper. If food sticks, deglaze with a tablespoon or two of water. Serve alone or ladled over mashed potatoes.

Eat – B

 

 

You Will Eat Your Vegetables! Fregola

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…with pasta. Fregola, or fregula, is just another word for what children and adults like best. This Sardinian import is typically semolina dough rolled into teeny balls and toasted in the oven. It’s like the Mini Cooper of pasta – so cute your reluctant veggie eaters will dig into broccoli before they know what they’re doing.

Ingredients:

1 bag fregola available in some markets and specialty stores

Florets from small head of broccoli, small pieces

1 bell pepper any color but green, ½ pieces

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

½ cup water or chicken stock, halved

1 Tablespoon Olive oil

Salt & pepper

1/3 cup parmesan * optional

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Cook ½ package or 8 ounces of fregola according to directions (10 minutes for me). Drain when done.

Meanwhile in large heavy weight skillet over low to medium heat, warm olive oil. Cook onion with a few salt pinches 5 minutes, add pepper and garlic. Cook 3-5 more. Add broccoli, stir a minute. Add ¼ cup liquid and steam 3 minutes with lid on. Add fregola, tossing. Add ¼ cup more liquid and let soak into fregola. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Sprinkle with cheese.

 

Eat – B

 

Note: Fregola is usually more expensive than your on sale pasta, BUT, it’s way less expensive than steak, fish, chicken etc.

Note 2: Add boccoccini or a vegan sub and make it a meal. Sautéed chicken works too – Season chicken filets with salt and pepper – garlic too if you prefer. Cook first, cut up and toss into pasta at the end.

 

 

Eat Your Veg

It's the “It” vegetable of the day, but don't let that deter you from making this dish at home. I will also say – unless you're meat free, ordering cauliflower as a main while dining out is a big fat…well, you know. It's a pretty big markup for little investment. Do it if the chef is your bestie.

For all others consider, click here for the 1-2-3 recipe.

 

Eat – B

 

A Christmas or Anytime Morning Casserole

Ok, so I skipped the pepperoni as our meal was closer to breakfast than lunch. And I forgot to garnish with scallion which I diligently chopped. But I guarantee this is a no fail recipe. Waking up Christmas morning, I also remembered I forgot to set the strata the night before. No matter – an hour on the counter and the deed was done. Click here for the recipe from Food and Wine.

BTW – in a perfect pairing world, champagne (or prosecco) works regardless of time of day.

Eat (& drink) – B

 

 

I Bean Making Soup

I couldn’t make lunch with my friend 😦 so I made soup. I had a mixed bag of legumes from my local Italian specialty store, but feel free to mix and match from the pantry. Use what you got – beans, barley, lentils, they all play nice.


And give yourself plenty of lead time. Beans sit on the shelf a while, sometimes years. I cooked this soup three hours and it could have gone longer. It freezes well too.

If you want some extra thickness, purée 2-3 cups and stir back in the pot. We were big babies as kids and refused beans with skin. My mother puréed the whole – baby food for her babies.

Ingredients

2 cups of mixed legumes (look for a package in the bean and/or soup aisle)

1 big onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 parsnips, chopped

2 stalks of celery (or the heart!), chopped

3-4 nuggets garlic, chopped

15 oz can Diced tomatoes

Veg or olive oil

2 bay leaves

Salt & pepper

In large heavy soup pot, warm 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, parsnips and celery. Season with salt & pepper. Soften 5-8 minutes. Add garlic, cook 2-ish minutes. Add tomatoes, bean mix, bay leaves and 6 cups of water. Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer 2-3 hours. Add 2 or more cups of water as it gets absorbed. Season with salt and pepper.

Note: most of my salting takes place at the end with this soup. Don’t eat bay leaves.

Eat – B