Another Weeknight Pasta

I know, I can hear everyone now, “Another weeknight pasta?!  How many weeknight pastas does one needs?  Aren’t they really all the same??”  Like Sugar Skulls, I can never have to many weeknight pasta recipes.  Somehow, there is always a little twist.  And quite frankly, everyone has those, “Oh man, I don’t want to make dinner, nor do I know what to make for dinner” moments.  Weeknight pasta is the perfect solution and it’s simple!  I don’t like simple – said no one ever.

Ingredients:

8 oz uncooked pasta (any small shape that you’d like, I used a mix of what I had on hand)
1 Tbs olive oil (such as my new fave, garlic extra virgin olive oil by Sciabica’s)
1 lb lean ground beef (I use 90%, but 80% is great, too.  Or sub with chicken)
1/2 onion, minced
2 tsp dried oregano (if you haven’t tried LiteHouse freeze-dried herbs, I urge you to.  Run, don’t walk, to your local market and check out all of the options they have)
1 tsp minced garlic (as always, pre-minced, such as Spice Island)
28 oz crushed tomatoes (I love Cento)
2 cups beef broth (helps boost that meaty flavor)
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste (yes, you finally get to use the WHOLE can!!)
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
Parmesan cheese for topping.

Preparation:

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil to medium high.  Add beef, onion, and garlic.  Cook until onions are translucent.  Add crushed tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, oregano, salt, and sugar.  Stir well.  Reduce heat; simmer, covered, for 20 – 25 minutes.  Drain pasta and add back to the pot.  When sauce is done, slowly add sauce to pasta, stirring to mix thoroughly.  Top with pasta and serve with warm, crusty bread.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Total time:  About 40 minutes

Serves 6

Another Weeknight Pasta

Another Weeknight Pasta

*Original Serves-4 Recipe

Rustic Italian Braised Beef Short Ribs with Cheesy Polenta

I know, I was just going on and on about grilled steak and not wanting to give up summer.  Then what do I do?  Mix it up with a rich, hearty comfort food that would be perfect for winter.  I can’t explain it, I just goes with what speaks to me as I’m coming up with the weekly menu, then factor in time and schedules.  The beauty of this is that the braised ribs were done in a slow cooker. Believe me, I’m shocked too.  And, I was able to do the major prep work the night before. This is an incredible meal for sitting down with your family, and it would be equally appealing for guests.  I’m already planning my next dinner party!  (PS – Cheesy Polenta to follow in another post)  Update my friends – The short ribs reheated fabulously for lunch!  Polenta, not so much.

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped onion
10 garlic cloves thinly sliced (I’m sorry, as a working mom. I just don’t have time for this.  I subbed minced garlic [by Spice Island] and no one ran from the table covering their mouths)
3 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional, especially if you have a 6 & 7-year-old that will act as if you are trying to perform some ancient ritualistic punishment)
1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes (such as Muir Glen)
4 (10 oz) boneless beef short ribs (definitely go boneless.  The meat is fall off the bone, so the bones, well, just become a problem)
Salt and pepper to taste
Slivered fresh basil, to taste

Preparation:

In a medium skillet over medium heat, add onions, garlic, tomato paste, oil, oregano, and pepper flakes.  Stir until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to slow cooker.  Stir in tomatoes.  Season short ribs with salt and pepper.  Add to slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low until beef is tender, 8-9 hours.  Less time?  5-6 hours on high is just as good.

Transfer short ribs to serving dish and tent with foil.  Strain sauce into fat separator, reserving  tomatoes, and let stand 5 minutes.  Add reserved tomatoes back to empty slow cooker and break into large chunks with a wooden spoon (I used a square face potato masher and it worked just fine!). Stir in defatted sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour sauce over short ribs and sprinkle with basil.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Bordeaux
Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot
Sangiovese

Serves: 6
Active time: 10 minutes; Inactive time: 9 hours

Braised Short Ribs

*From America’s Test Kitchen – Slow Cooker Revolution

Caesar Salad & Pasta Primavera

I am so happy and beyond excited to be able to share my “Guest Blogger” with you today.  I’m going to have to do the typing for her because, well, she’s 5 1/2 and this would take all day.  My youngest foodie D wanted to take a cooking class that was being offered through her school, and I couldn’t think of any reason to say No.  I mean, my little angel girl loves cooking, like her mommy?!?!!  She has always been my little foodie, ready and willing to try anything.  She absolutely adores food and as soon as she finishes one meal, she is already thinking about the next.  On Sunday she was making cookies and I caught her talking lovingly to her dough.  Does it get any better?  I think it just might!  Yesterday was her first day of her cooking class and she came home buzzing with excitement from her class.  They got to eat their food in class, but she also brought a plate home to share with the family.  We all raised our hands in agreement that her food was “super yummy!”  I am pleased to share with you her results.

Caesar Salad

Ingredients:

3 medium heads romaine lettuce; chilled, dry, and crisp
1/3 cup garlic olive oil
2-3 Tbs wine vinegar
1 lemon – halved
2 One Minute coddled eggs
Salt to taste
Dash Worchester sauce
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese (can add more)
1 cup Caesar croutons

Preparation:

Bring a sauce pan of water to boil.  Gently add eggs and turn heat to low, set timer for 2 minutes.  Remove eggs with slotted spoon or wire mesh strainer.  Cool in cold water and set aside.

Into a chilled salad bowl, break romaine leaves into 2 inch widths.  Drizzle with garlic olive oil and vinegar.  Squeeze juice from lemon over the top.  Break coddled eggs over lettuce, toss many times to ensure everything is thoroughly mixed.  Season with salt, pepper, and Worchester sauce.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Toss six or seven times until dressing is well combined and every leaf is coated.  Add croutons.  Serve immediately.

Pasta Primavera

Ingredients:

1 lb Italian style spaghetti
1 cup thinly sliced zucchini
1 ½ cup snow peas (can use frozen)
1 cup baby peas (can use frozen)
6 asparagus sliced in 1″ pieces
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 (16 oz) can peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
3 Tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (can sub 1/8 cup if using dried)
2 tsp minced garlic
½ cup freshly grated parmesan
¹⁄³ cup butter
1 cup heavy cream (can sub low-fat milk)
¹⁄³ cup fresh, chopped basil

Preparation:

Cook pasta in large pot boiling water.

Briefly cook the green vegetables and mushrooms in water (or steam).  When crisp tender, refresh by running under cold water.  In large frying pan heated to medium, sauté tomatoes and parsley in olive oil.  Add all of the vegetables and simmer until heated through.

Add cooked pasta, cheese, cream, butter, and basil.  Toss to coat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot, with chilled Caesar salad.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Fume Blanc
Grüner Veltliner
Muscadet
Sauvignon Blanc

Both recipes serve 6

Caesar Salad & Pasta Primavera

Caesar Salad & Pasta Primavera


Tomato Pesto Tart

I don’t know about everyone else, but I seem to be getting into the Holiday spirit in fits and stops.  One minute I’m super excited and totally on top of things, and the next I’m yawning into my glass of wine and wishing someone could just wake me up when it’s all over.  For this I blame all of the stores that completely by-passed my favorite holiday of the year (#Thanksgiving) and started decorating for Christmas on November 1st.  It has left me feeling not quite bah humbug about the whole thing, but certainly ho-hum.  So, to show my support for Thanksgiving, I’m going to be posting more of my recipes from that holiday.  And the fact that they haven’t been posted before has absolutely nothing to do with laziness . . .

Ingredients:

All-purpose flour
1 sheet Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry, thawed
¼ cup pesto sauce (I used store-bought from the produce section)
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs thinly sliced basil leaves

Preparation:

Heat oven to 400°F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sprinkle flour on work surface.  Unfold pastry sheet on floured work surface.  Roll the pastry sheet into a 12″ square.  Place the pastry sheet onto the baking sheet and prick thoroughly with a fork.

Spread pesto sauce on pastry to within ½” of pastry edge.  Arrange tomato slices on pesto and sprinkle with cheese.

Bake 12 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.  Let cool for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with basil.

Serves 6 as appetizers
Prep: 15 minutes; Total time: 30 minutes

Tomato Pesto Tart

*Courtesy Pepperidge Farm