During these cold months, I can’t think of anything more delicious or comforting than a big plate of pasta with homemade sauce. It was my first time making bolognese sauce but it came out really good. It does require a little bit of patience, as you want really deep flavors as it slow cooks. The best part of this sauce is that it freezes beautifully and can be thawed for a quick weeknight meal.
Unfortunately, my daughter was not a fan….I will have to try giving it to her again next time. I can’t believe we are now a household with a picky toddler!
Recipe: Simple Bolognese Sauce
Instead of canned tomatoes, I used Romi brand tomatoes that come in cartons (I was not compensated to say that). Loved the flavors and it’s better for you than using the canned kind.
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 pound of ground beef (organic if possible)
4 cloves of minced garlic 2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 can (6 ounces) of tomato paste
1 cup of red wine
28 ounces of whole tomatoes in a can or carton
2 teaspoons of sugar
Sprinkle of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
Handful of fresh basil leaves (optional)
Fresh Parmesan cheese
1 box of pasta of your choice (spaghetti is best, but I used linguini since that’s all I had)
1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add onions to the pot, with a dash of salt and pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook until onions are translucent, about 6-7 minutes. Set aside.
2. In a separate skillet, add ground beef. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until it’s no longer pink.
3. Add tomato paste and cook for about 15 seconds. Add garlic and stir to combine. Season once again with salt and pepper.
4. Add tomatoes, wine and sugar. Add basil leaves. Simmer on very low heat with the lid open for about 45 minutes to an hour (at the very least).
5. Serve with pasta and a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
After grilling up some spicy sausages and bulgogi burgers over Memorial Day weekend, we found ourselves with leftover spicy sausage. I thought the sausage might pair well with a leafy vegetable like kale over whole wheat pasta. The salty and spicy flavor went well with the slightly bitter taste of kale, and the extra garlic really added a lot of flavor to each bite.
Though it’s an extra step, I like to poke holes and then boil the sausages briefly in boiling water before grilling them. This allows some of the fat to escape into the oil and cooks more quickly on the grill. I applied the same idea to this dish by cooking the sausages without the casing, then discarding the pool of oil released in the pan.
Recipe: Spicy Sausage with Kale over Spaghetti
Makes 3-4 servings
6 spicy sausages (about 2 pounds, with casing removed)
3 cups of fresh kale, stems removed and chopped into large chunks
1 box of spaghetti
3 cloves of garlic, cut into small pieces
Fresh cracked pepper
2 pieces of paper towel
Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)
Fresh basil leaves (for garnish)
1. In a frying pan over high heat, add sausages (without casing). Cook sausage for about 5 minutes, breaking up the pieces with spatula. Once the sausage is no longer translucent, transfer sausage to a plate lined with paper towels. Discard remaining fat. Rinse the pan.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot (enough to fit pasta) of water to boil.
3. In a frying pan, add a little bit of oil over medium heat. Cook garlic until fragrant, then add kale. Transfer sausage back to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper.
4. Add pasta to boiling water and cook until there is slight bite, about 5-6 minutes. Drain water and transfer pasta to a plate.
5. Spoon sausage mixture over the pasta. Serve with cheese and basil, if desired.
I wanted to share about my very first butternut squash gnocchi making experience with y’all. Gnocchi, for those of you who might not know, is a pasta usually made of boiled potatoes and flour, with countless variations, from ricotta cheese to fresh spinach!
The end result is supposed to be pillowy, chewy bites of butternut squash goodness, dressed with a light tomato sauce. My version ended up being a gooey, flavorless blob of dough instead.
Next time, I will try the pan frying method instead. I would also use at least 1 potato for its starch texture. The only redeeming part? The sauce came out wonderfully flavorful and light, I ended up cooking some regular pasta as to not waste such great tasting sauce.
Do you have a favorite gnocchi recipe? If so, please share in the comments!
The most time consuming aspect of this recipe is making butternut squash puree. I would suggest putting the sauce on the stove while the squash is getting steamed. Simply add canned tomatoes with 3 cloves of chopped garlic, dried basil, dried thyme to a pot and cook on low heat for about 1 hour. Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper at the end.
Because I worked so hard to get the puree, I’m determined to make this again. Any tips you have would be appreciated!
Recipe: Butternut Squash Gnocchi
Adapted from My Recipes
I saved the puree for another recipe but I ended up with about 3 cups of puree for a 2 pound squash. The original recipe recommend microwaving, but I find that steaming produces the best results.
1 butternut squash (about 2 lbs.)
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg
3 to 3 1/2 cups of flour, plus more for shaping
Freshly cracked black pepper
(Any kind of sauce – pesto or tomato or even some cheese!)
1. Slice butternut squash into 3 pieces.
2. Carefully, cut each piece into thirds again, creating rings. Remove seeds and innards.
3. Steam by adding about 3 cups of water to a big pot with a steam rack until tender, about 6-7 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Once cooled, use a pairing knife to peel the skin off easily!
4. Dice into pieces and mash using a potato masher or just a spoon (like I did).
5. Using floured hands, mix squash puree, 2 cups of flour, egg, salt and nutmeg together in a large bowl. Continue adding flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Knead the dough about 10-12 times.
They look like circus peanuts! This is a picture of what NOT to do.
6. Roll other batch into a 3/4-in.-thick rope and cut into 1/2-in.-long pieces. Put pieces on a floured baking sheet and set aside. Repeat with remaining dough.
7. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil gnocchi until they rise to the surface, about 4 minutes; cook 30 seconds longer and then lift with a slotted spoon, making sure water drains from gnocchi, and place in a large serving bowl (I did not do this, so I had a watery end result -see photo below).
8. Add sauce. Top with freshly cracked pepper.
Hope everyone had an abundant holiday with family and friends! I feel as though I’ve gained about 5 pounds in the past two weeks, which is quite terrible news for a bride-to-be. It’s time for me to shape up and get back into the routine of healthy eating and exercising!
Here is a photo of a quick and easy pasta dish I made using leftover cherry tomatoes, ham, cheese, along with a lemon I found in the back of my fridge. I did not expect these flavors to complement each other so well but they did! The pine nuts added a nutty note, along with a crunchy textural contrast.
Use whatever ingredients you have on hand to make a delicious pasta dish.
Recipe: Pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes
Makes 2 servings
20 cherry tomatoes
Drizzle of olive oil
1/2 box of linguini
5 slices of leftover ham
2 tablespoons of Parmesano Reggiano
1 teaspoon of breadcrumbs
Zest of 1 lemon
Sprinkle of pine nuts
1. Heat oven to 350. Cover cherry tomatoes with foil. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes or until they burst!
2. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 5-6 minutes, or just until there is a slight bite.
3. Meanwhile, heat up ham slices on the stove, just until they’re warm.
4. Drain pasta. Transfer to a bowl. Immediately add cheese, ham, bread crumbs, lemon zest and pine nuts. Add more freshly cracked pepper if desired. Mix together. Add tomatoes and serve!
Most of my weeknight meals consist of very basic things, such as soba noodles or brown rice and eggs. During the week, it’s rather difficult to make anything that requires a lot of preparation, especially when I’m famished after a workout and all I want to do is stuff my face!
But once inspiration hits, there’s no stopping me. I’ll plan a menu for days, obsess over which groceries to purchase and read the recipe about a 100 times just to make sure I don’t miss anything. I got this recipe from a blog, and I even went as far as to ask a question in the comments section. (Talk about obsessive!)
I cooked for for my friend Emily, in honor of her 30th birthday, which just so happened to be over a year ago. I know – a whole year later! So Emily, Vince, Dan and I had a wonderful night of eating and enjoying ourselves.
This beautiful dish is inspired by Michael White, owner and executive chef at Marea. He braises baby octopus with homemade sauce, then places it over fresh fusilli, along with extracted bone marrow. I had some frozen bone marrow, so why not serve it as my main course?
If you’re looking for a recipe to impress your friends, look no further. This dish looks unassuming yet it sneaks up on you, like a ninja in the night. The octopus was perfectly tender from the slow cooking and not rubbery at all (which is what I was afraid of). The simple sauce, made with fresh basil and thyme, combined with the rich, buttery bone marrow gave the sauce a complex flavor.
Here is our menu for the night. We started out with a cheese course – smoked gouda, Vermont cheddar and brie with prosciutto, grapes and baguette; then baby spinach salad with roasted beets and feta with homemade honey vinaigrette dressing; bone marrow fusilli with baby octopus, sangria marinated skirt steak with chimichurri sauce, and freshly baked Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookies with seasalt to end the meal.
The most challenging aspect of the entire menu, as expected, was the pasta dish. After all, I’ve never been to Marea so I had no idea what it was supposed to taste like!
Recipe: Michael White’s Fusilli with Baby Octopus and Bone Marrow
From Saint Tigerlily
Makes 5-6 servings
1.5 pounds of fresh baby octopus
1 pound veal marrow bones (I used regular beef)
2 28 oz cans of San Marzano tomatoes
1.5 cups of Sangiovese wine
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cups of fresh basil, cut into ribbons
2 tablespoons of fresh thyme, chopped
2 pounds of fresh fusilli
6 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
1. Place your veal marrow bones in an ice bath with a good amount of salt. Keep that ice bath cold, in the fridge, until you are ready to extract the marrow.
2. Butcher the baby octopus. (I couldn’t find baby octopus so I used regular.) Cut off the head, slicing it in half and then cut the tentacles into quarters so they are in sets of two. (This part was actually pretty slimy and gross. I also peeled as much skin off as I could. The slimy octopus wouldn’t cooperate, so I actually cut the legs off using a kitchen scissor.)
3. Lightly season the octopus with salt and pepper and get a pan, something that will give you a nice crust and build-up, smoking hot. (My pot was hot, but too much water came out of the octopus while cooking. I’m not sure how to fix that.) Add about a tablespoon of olive oil and sear the octopus, in batches if necessary, before setting aside.
4. Using the same pan add a bit more olive oil and now the garlic (3 cloves, chopped – save the rest) and half the basil. Saute lightly for a few moments before adding the wine and tomatoes. Finally, throw the octopus back in there. Bring the whole mess to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer, leaving it to bubble and gloop tantalizingly for about an hour and half. Keep an eye on it. Add more tomatoes, wine, or even water or stock if it gets too, too thick.
5. Sometime during that hour and half extract the marrow from your marrow bones using a paring knife. Just slide it around the edges and then sort of smoosh it out, digging the extra out if you have to.
6. Saute the marrow in another pan, first on a low heat until it begins to render and then on a slightly higher heat as it releases some fat. When the fat starts to pool, add in the thyme and the remaining garlic along with some salt and pepper. When the marrow is somewhat cooked down add it back into the sauce at the 90 minute mark or thereabouts. At this point you should also add the remaining basil. Solares says that White lets the sauce cool before completing this step. You could do that and see how it goes. (I didn’t have the patience to wait either.)
7. Keeping the sauce on a low heat, cook your fresh pasta. and add it in, tossing to coat. Serve with 1 tablespoon of breadcrumbs on top for each serving.
A word about fresh pasta – mine was from Durso’s in Bayside, a cute pasta shop that has been there for years. Bobby Flay actually did a throwdown with them! My pasta cooked so quickly – in about 3 minutes! Be sure to keep an eye on it so that you don’t overcook it. I left the remaining uncooked portion on my counter and it actually grow moldy in about 3 days, so use it quickly or refrigerate!
What’s your favorite comfort food?
I’d bet that for a large number of you, lasagna is the perfect comfort food! Though I’m a fan of lasagna, it’s not something my mom made for me while growing up. If anything, I would say my version of comfort food would definitely be a Korean stew.
Dan and I were in Woodbridge, New Jersey a couple of weekends ago to run an errand. Being a New Yorker, I’m always making some sort of joke about New Jersey (snicker snicker). But not on this day. We ate Chick-Fil-A (yes, I know NYU has one) and stopped by Wegman’s to get groceries! Is it possible to be obsessed with a grocery store? Why, that is a resounding yes! Wegman’s reminds me of my college days in upstate New York and I will always have fond thoughts when it comes to Wegman’s.
We were trying to figure out what to do for dinner and decided on lasagna. Dan’s had it a lot growing up, but never made it himself, so it was a first time try for both of us. We actually gathered the ingredients listed on the Barilla box at the store complete with jars of Wegman’s sauce – only for $1!
The only thing I would do differently is to add more sauce and olive oil on the edges to keep it from drying out. And we somehow forgot that the recipe said to whisk 2 eggs together and combine it with the cheeses. But don’t worry- it was scrumptious! I love the combination of meat and cheese in every bite, coupled with the softness of the noodles.I will happily make lasagna again very soon. =)
Recipe: Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna
Adapted from the Barilla Box
Makes 12 servings
1 box of Barilla lasagna noodles
2 jars of Italian sauce (I just used pasta sauce)
1 pound of ground beef, cooked, drained
1 bunch of fresh spinach
1 cup of baby portabella mushrooms
15 ounces of ricotta cheese
2 cups of mozzarella cheese (I used less so feel free to include more)
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
Dash of paprika
Salt and pepper
1. Rinse spinach thoroughly under running water and cut in half, lengthwise.
2. In a large pan, cook the ground beef over high heat. Add paprika, salt and pepper. Break apart with spatula. Cook about 4-5 minutes, until the meat is no longer red.
3. Add mushrooms and spinach. Cook for another 3 minutes, until spinach has wilted. Drain oil and discard.
4. Heat oven to 375°F.
5. Cook noodles according to package cooking time, drain and separate. (I did this in batches because my pot was too big. I also cooked it for about 2 minutes less than the suggested time.)
6. Add jar of sauce to the pan and remove from heat.
7. Prepare ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses in separate bowls.
8. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray (I used two smaller pans.). Spread 3/4 cup sauce over the bottom of the baking dish. (I thought this was weird but Dan said it might be to keep the lasagna from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Smart!
9. Place 3-4 lasagna noodles over the bottom, slightly overlapping.
10. Spread half of the cheese mixture over noodles and cover with 1/2 of the meat sauce. Repeat layers. Cover last layer with remaining noodles and sauce. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.
11. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
What’s the best part about lasagna? It keeps well in the freezer!
Happy Friday to you!
It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog. And for that, I apologize. I’ve been working really hard to edit a new look and feel for the site, and it’s ALMOST ready for your viewing pleasure. I’m excited to share that I’ll be doing a giveaway once I go live, so stay tuned! I promise the prize is a good one. =)
Is it still technically fall? It sure feels like winter in NYC! In any case, I came across this pumpkin ravioli from Recipe Rhapsody that uses dumpling wrappers. I substituted kabocha squash for pumpkin and really enjoyed this simple yet delicious recipe. I also froze a whole bunch of these for next time!
Recipe: Kabocha Squash Ravioli
Adapted from Recipe Rhapsody
Makes 34 ravioli pieces
5 pounds of kabocha squash, cut into quarters
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
¼ cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons of plain dried breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons of nutmeg
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon of water
68 wonton wrappers (square)
Pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper
3 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of thinly sliced fresh sage leaf
1. Heat oven to 350 F.
2. Quarter kabocha squash into four pieces and remove seeds and innards. Sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon on top and roast in the oven for 1 hour, until tender.
3. Let squash cool to room temperature. Using a spoon, scoop out the squash bits and remove skin. It should come out easily.
4. In medium bowl, combine squash, Parmesan cheese, cinnamon, bread crumbs, whole egg, nutmeg, salt and freshly ground black pepper. In small bowl, whisk together egg white and water.
5. Place 1 wonton wrapper on the work surface. With pastry brush, brush egg white along edges; place 1 rounded tablespoon squash filling in center of wrapper, keeping filling away from edges. Top with second wrapper; press down firmly around filling to seal ravioli, pushing out any trapped air.
6. Place ravioli on cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining filling and wrappers, using a second cookie sheet so that ravioli do not overlap. Let ravioli dry 30 minutes, turning over halfway through to evenly dry both sides.
7. Ten minutes before cooking ravioli, heat large pot of salted water to boiling on high.
8. Add ravioli to pot; cook 3-5 minutes or until tender, stirring gently to separate ravioli. The ravioli is done when the orange color brightens through the wrapper. Meanwhile, in 4-quart saucepan, cook butter on medium 3-4 minutes or until golden brown, stirring. Remove from heat; stir in sage and 1/8 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper.
9. With large slotted spoon, lift out ravioli, 1 at a time; drain, on paper towels. Transfer ravioli to saucepan with butter; gently stir to coat.
This past Tuesday, I attended an event at Unilever Test Kitchen in New Jersey that enabled me to cook my own recipe using Ragu’s brand new pasta sauce. I met a bunch of mommy bloggers, which I thought was interesting, since I don’t have kids (or a husband) for that matter. But everyone was so friendly, which made it easier for me to feel comfortable!
The kind folks putting the event together asked me to send them a recipe so that they can prepare the ingredients. I was talking to my friend Sharon about what to make, and she suggested putting chorizo and pineapple in the pasta sauce. People seemed to really enjoy it, so I was happy. Thanks for the great suggestion!
We heard from the marketing folks at Ragu, who told us that they created a new pasta recipe that packs 2 servings of veggies per 1/2 cup. We did a little taste test – new sauce on the left, and old sauce on the right. The new sauce was thicker and more flavorful, and unlike the old recipe, there was no excess liquid coming out of the sauce. And note the subtle color difference.
Some people submitted recipes while others experimented with ingredients on the spot, which I thought was a super fun idea. Just look at the ingredients we could choose from! I love it.
Since I had given them a recipe earlier, they handed me this tray full of ingredients. Everything chopped already! I almost felt like I was on a Food Network cooking show or something. It was great. =)
I added a bunch of red pepper flakes to contrast the sweet and the salty flavors. I think the smoky flavor added a third dimension of flavor. After I was done cooking, I felt like the pasta was too monochromatic, so I added the basil on top. Such a simple addition made the dish look much more appetizing!
Recipe: Chorizo and pineapple pasta
Makes 3-4 servings
2 jars of Ragu Traditional sauce
1 box of dried linguini
1 pound of chorizo, cut into 1/2″ chunks
1 10 oz. can of pineapple chunks (drained)
1 medium yellow sweet onion, diced
6 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
3 teaspoons of crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of olive oil
Sprinkle of fresh cracked pepper
7-8 leaves of fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (for garnish)
1. Set a large pot with 3 cups of water over high heat.
2. In a frying pan over high heat with oil, cook onions until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add chorizo. Cook through until chorizo has a nice brown color on the outside, another 3-4 minutes.
3. Lower heat and add fresh garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
4. Over medium heat, add sauce to the pan. Stir until it simmers. Add pineapple chunks.
5. Add pasta to the pot and cook for no longer than 5-6 minutes, checking to make sure the pasta is not overcooked.
6. Combine pasta and sauce. Add fresh cracked pepper. Sprinkle basil leaves over the top.
After I was done cooking, it was time to eat! Everyone explained what they made and then we all sat down for a meal. Look at all the delicious stuff other bloggers made – vegetable lasagna, jambalaya, eggplant Parmesan, a Mexican style dish, and so much more!
If you want to see more photos from that night, check out the album on their Facebook fanpage!
This is yet another classic pasta recipe. This was my first time making it but it was a success. It was quick and easy. I made this for D and he enjoyed it, but then again, he’s biased.
I wanted to cook with fresh clams but didn’t have time to scrub those little guys. Instead, I went with the canned kind, along used some white wine for the sauce. As long as you have fresh herbs and garlic, I think you’ll be fine. I didn’t use any cheese in the name of keeping the dish more healthy, but I would highly recommend using at least a little bit to add depth of flavor.
As an appetizer, I went with a no-fail classic: tomatoes with mozzarella and chiffonade basil, fresh cracked pepper and olive oil. Simple, delicious and best of all – doesn’t need heat!
Recipe: Linguini with clam sauce
Makes 3-4 servings
1 pound of dry linguini
1 cup of white wine
3 10 oz. cans of clams (updated – added more clams!)
3 shallots, diced
1 anchovy fillet, minced (or 2 teaspoons of anchovy paste)
3 cloves of fresh garlic, cut into strips
7-8 pieces of fresh leaf parsley, chiffonade
3-4 pieces of fresh basil, chiffonade
1/2 cup of Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Fresh cracked pepper
1. In a pan over high heat, saute shallots with a drizzle of olive oil until translucent, about 5-6 minutes.Drain clams and add to the pan. Add basil.
2. Lower heat to medium. Add minced anchovy fillet (or paste) and garlic. Cook for 2 more minutes.
3. Add white wine and increase heat back to high. Cook for 7-8 minutes, until sauce has reduced.
4. Boil pasta according to package instructions. Cook the pasta al dente, making sure it does not overcook.
5. Once pasta has cooked, mix sauce with the pasta. Add parsley and cheese. Finish with some fresh cracked pepper. Enjoy!
Happy Independence Day! A special thanks to all those who sacrificed for our freedom. Hope everyone had an enjoyable long weekend with family and friends!
Puttanesca is an Italian dish that I’ve always enjoyed but never tried making at home. This dish is begins with some garlic and diced onions, then includes a harmonious blend of flavors from anchovies, capers, and tomatoes. It’s a great alternative regular tomato based sauces, and has a ton of flavor!
My friend J and I made this dish together for dinner, then had dessert wine and brownies.
I used real tomatoes, but that canned diced tomatoes may actually work better in this case. I also added kale as a way of incorporating some greens into the dish. If you are a fan of dark greens like kale, you should definitely give this a try!
Makes 2 servingsIngredients:
1/2 package of whole wheat spaghetti (about 8 oz.)
2 cups coarsely chopped kale
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste
1/2 of a sweet onion, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of drained capers
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
3 anchovy fillets, drained and quartered
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
2. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook and stir until the onion has softened and begun to turn golden brown, about 5 minutes.
4. Stir in capers, anchovy fillets, and diced tomatoes, and bring to a simmer. Stir in kale, and simmer over medium-low heat until wilted and tender, about 10 minutes.
5. Once the pasta has cooked and been drained, stir into the puttanesca. Toss and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese before serving.