Category Archives: Sauces
When my mom told me about a recipe she found in one of her cooking magazines, I was intrigued. The combination of brussels sprouts and cream cheese with pasta had me wondering…I knew we would have to try it out! I have tried just about every veggie with pasta, but never brussels sprouts for some reason! And using cream cheese seemed like a cop-out to make an alfredo-ey type sauce without having to do any sort of work but I’ve seen more and more pasta recipes recently that use cream cheese so I figured why not jump on the bandwagon?! The dish ended up being a great weeknight dinner idea, very creamy, thick and rich and fairly easy to make. And the best part being, I usually have all of the ingredients on hand to make it, they are more or less staples for us!
Roasted Brussels Sprout Pasta
- 1-2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
- 3 T olive oil
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 1 pound pasta (I used a shell type, but you can use elbow, orecchiette, etc)
- 3-4 T butter
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 onion, chopped or 1-2 t onion flakes
- 1 cup chicken broth or white wine
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- 1-2 T olive oil
- Parmesan cheese, to taste
- Salt & Pepper to taste
First, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay on sprayed baking sheet in one layer and roast about 30-40 minutes or until soft and slightly browned. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil for pasta, heavily salting as soon as it comes to a boil and cook pasta. While that’s cooking, saute onion and garlic in butter until softened, 3-4 minutes, add in chicken broth or wine and bring to a boil until reduced by half. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the water. Toss pasta and brussels sprouts with butter mixture, reserved pasta water, 1-2 T olive oil, some parmesan cheese and cream cheese. Heat until cream cheese is melted, add more pasta water as necessary to get to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with more parm while eating! I like to add parm in layers as I eat…usually going through an additional 1/4 cup at least…I do not suggest this, however it is one of those habits I just can’t stop!
When we were younger, my best friend and I would go to my gram’s house during lunch and she’d make us pastina and egg. Another amazingly simple yet delicious recipe (seriously, just add a cracked, beaten egg or two to drained pastina, with a half a stick (or more) of butter and a ton of parmesan cheese)! We would eat an entire pound of pastina and go through half a container or more of parmesan cheese….glad to have someone to share my love of parmesan cheese with, mostly because at least I know I’m not the only one!!
Usually, I opt for the sweet breakfast choice over the savory, any day of the week…I’m talking 9 out of 10 times…give me a muffin or chocolate croissant please! Yesterday was an entirely different morning, for some reason I decided to make an uber rich and savory breakfast and it turned out fabulous! Josh and I went out to a steakhouse Friday night and ended up, through quite a mishap of giving our entrees away to another table, etc, with 3 large entrée steaks…so for once, we ended up having leftovers, a rare event in our lives! I was trying to think of something fun to do with the steak because re-heating a steak doesn’t sound too appetizing to me! I got the idea from a combination of the ever popular dishes ‘chicken and waffles’ and ‘steak and eggs’ and came up with ‘steak and waffles!’ We both absolutely love anything mushroom or Marsala so I decided this would be the ‘syrup’ for the waffles. We made savory herb waffles and topped them with steak slices, Marsala sauce, and a fried egg. I just might swing towards the savory breakfast club if they could all be this good!
Waffles (makes 6):
- 1 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
- 1 cup cheddar cheese
- 1 cups buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 2/3 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 container Portobello mushrooms
- 1 small onion or shallot, diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup Marsala
- 3-4 T fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 t chopped thyme
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper to taste
I realize it has been a while since my last post but luckily I’ve been really busy! And sadly we didn’t have internet at work this week…which forced me to do actual work, blah! No seriously though, I do have a new recipe I’d like to share with everyone! I saw an episode of Giada over a year ago that I’ve been wanting to make but never did, until last Friday! It is for a lamb ragu….I used her recipe, omitting the mint leaves and using a smidge more garlic and lamb meat…and used my mama’s gravy recipe for the ‘marinara sauce’ part! The lamb added such a unique, peppery flavor and the ricotta added an unexpected creaminess. It was well worth the wait, and was easier than anticipated to make which was a definite bonus!! So here it is:
1 lb Pasta (rigatoni, shells, rotini: any that hold on to a hearty meat sauce)!
2 T olive oil
2 lb ground lamb
2 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup red wine
4 cups marinara (Gram’s gravy recipe to follow)!
1/2 cup ricotta
Heat large pot of water to boiling, add salt, and add pasta….cook until al dente. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, add the shallots and garlic, cook until softened. Add the ground lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and juices have evaporated. Add wine, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of the pan. Simmer until the wine is reduced by half. Add the marinara sauce and cook over low heat until flavors meld, at least 15 minutes. Add the ricotta and mix through. Add the pasta (I chose shells, mostly because that’s what I had in my pantry but also because the shells would hold on to the meaty chunks in the sauce). Top with some fresh parsley and of course, serve with parmesan and a big glass of red wine!!
Mama’s gravy recipe (and I apologize in advance for not having exact measurements of any sort, but I had to learn how to make this through watching):
Heat enough olive oil and vegetable oil (more olive than vegetable) to coat the bottom of a deep, large pot. Add a lot of chopped garlic and little chopped onion and soften for a few minutes. Add pork neck bones and fry until browned. Add a large can of tomato puree. Salt and pepper to taste. Add a lot of oregano, a little basil, a dash of red pepper flakes and a few splashes of red wine. Let that come to a boil, then simmer. Mix a small can of tomato paste with a can of water and add that to the gravy. Add a bit of parmesan cheese and let simmer for a few hours. Be sure to stir occasionally, making sure to scrap the bottom and sides of the pot. (Sidenote: you can use any combination of pork neck bones, beef shank, Italian sausage, meatballs, etc for the beginning part)!
The time I am talking about is of course pumpkin season! Just about everyone’s favorite time of year…coffee shops bring back the pumpkin lattes, donut shops and bakeries the pumpkin donuts and muffins, stores the canned pumpkin puree…all such wonderful things! I do have to say though, some coffee shops really fail on the pumpkin syrups and they end up tasting as if you’re drinking a melted down candle (Caribou and Julius Meinl I’m talking to you), but Starbuck’s you are exempt, yours is delicious! So my obsession with pumpkin hit an all time high the other year when canned pumpkin became a rare commodity…I ended up buying at least a can or two every trip to the grocery store and when all was said and done, I ended up with a stockpile of 15 + cans! Needless to say, I needed to come up with a few recipes/ways to use them! So to celebrate the season, here are a few of my favorites:
Pumpkin Sage Alfredo (courtesy of Emily Vandenbroucke):
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 16 fresh sage leaves (sliced into thin strips)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or a Dash of ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Vegetable oil for deep-fat frying
- Spiced Sugar
- In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high seed for 30 seconds. Add the 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in pumpkin, buttermilk, egg, egg yolk and vanilla until combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour until well combined. Cover and chill 3 hours.
- Shape into balls or on a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a 1/2-inch thickness and cut with floured 2-1/2-inch doughnut cutter (if you are fancy enough to own one of these)!
- Fry doughnuts, 2 or 3 at a time, in deep, hot fat (365 degrees F) about 2-1/2 minutes or until golden, turning once. Using a slotted spoon, removed doughnuts from oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining doughnuts and doughnut holes. Coat warm doughnuts in Spiced Sugar.
- Spiced Sugar: In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
- 1 pumpkin, about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
- 4 ounces stale bread, sliced thin, then cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 4 ounces cheese ( Gruyère, Blue, or Goat are my favorites), shredded or cut into chunks
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Any other seasonings you like can be added! As can any type of meat or vegetable…
- 10 oz good-quality chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips
- [10 mini (2 inch) aluminum/tin foil muffin liners]
- 2 oz (about 4 Tbsp) 1/3-less-fat Neuchâtel cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup finely ground cinnamon graham cracker crumbs (a food processor works best here)
- Melt chocolate in double boiler.
- Continuously stir the chocolate until completely melted. Remove bowl from the heat.
- Using a small spoon or pastry brush, “paint” the melted chocolate all over the insides of the 10 muffin liners (the tin foil cups are easier to peel off than the paper cups). The layer of chocolate should be thick enough so that you cannot see through it, but thin enough that the paper cups remain upright and intact. You will not use all of the melted chocolate in this step.
- Allow chocolate cups to cool and harden completely by placing on a tray in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. You can also complete this step the night before.
- In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese through vanilla extract and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Stir in graham cracker crumbs.
- Evenly divide the pumpkin mixture between the hardened chocolate cups., smoothing the top to create an even surface.
- If the remaining melted chocolate has hardened too much, simply repeat steps 1-2.
- Evenly divide the remaining melted chocolate amongst the filled cups, smoothing the tops and making sure the chocolate reaches all the way to the edges in order to seal the cups.
- Chill in the refrigerator until set, about 1-2 hours.
- Try to eat just 1 or 2, I bet you can’t!
- http://www.healthyfoodforliving.com/?p=14620 (this is the site the recipe came from)!
Last night Josh and I decided to grill some rib-eyes but wanted to do something different than our usual preparation of garlic salt, cayenne pepper and sauteed mushrooms.
We both love blue cheese and every time we eat at a steakhouse, I always order the blue cheese crust! So I decided to attempt to make my own mushroom, blue cheese sauce! The sauce came out soooo delicious, we decided that we are never eating steaks without it again! It was so good I felt I needed to share so here’s what I did:
I sauteed half a chopped onion and a few cloves of chopped garlic in some butter until softened and then added in the mushrooms for about 5 -7 minutes. I then added a few splashes of marsala wine to deglaze the pan, being sure to scrape up any browned bits that stuck to the bottom. I then added about 3/4 cup of beef broth and brought that to a boil and then let it simmer for a bit until it was thick enough to coat the back of the spatula (about 5 minutes or so). Once thick enough, I added in 8 ounces of crumbled blue cheese, let it melt down and then seasoned with salt and pepper to taste!
Hope you enjoy!!
I was home alone the other night and decided I would prepare a lasagna to bake the following night for dinner since I had what I thought to be all of the necessary components. I was going to use Trader Joe’s Vodka Sauce in place of homemade gravy (yes gravy as us Italians refer to it, not pasta sauce) and add in some spinach and mushrooms. My grandma would die if she knew I was using a bottled ‘sauce’ but this was not going to be a truly traditional lasagna nor did I have 6 hours to home make it and let it simmer all day! So I boiled the noodles until al dente, sauteed mushrooms and spinach in olive oil and garlic, made my ricotta and parmesan mixture and was ready to begin assembling my masterpiece! That was until I opened the bottle of vodka sauce, only to find out it had gone bad before I was able to use it! With no sauce, it is nearly impossible to make a lasagna! I searched my cabinets for anything I could use to make a generic, quick substitute for gravy. All I had was a can of tomato sauce and two cans of diced tomatoes. I decided that instead of letting all I had already prepared go to waste, I was going to give it a whirl!
Here it goes I thought as I sauteed some chopped onions and garlic in olive oil until they were soft and then threw in the can of tomato sauce and two cans of diced tomatoes. I added a few bay leaves, some fresh basil and parsley, salt, pepper and a dash of red pepper flakes. I also added a splash of red wine and let it simmer for as long as I could before heading to bed, which only ended up being about a half hour! I didn’t want to taste the sauce before creating the lasagna for fear it was not going to be good and I’d consider this epic failure #1! So I ladled some sauce into a 9X13 pan, layered noodles on top of it, added the ricotta mixture and some mozzarella, another layer of sauce and noodles, then the sauteed mushrooms and spinach with more mozzarella and lastly, another layer of noodles and sauce and topped it mozzarella and grated parmesan. I covered it and let it sit in the fridge overnight.
Being a newlywed (our wedding was May 14th), I didn’t want to tell my husband about my little mishap and put him in the mindset that it was going to be terrible and that his Italian wife can’t even make a lasagna! This Susie homemaker thing is still new and exciting for me, I didn’t want to fail this early on! I brainstormed different ways to make things go better than anticipated and even toyed with the idea of opening multiple bottles of red wine with dinner, hoping that he would then forget if it wasn’t quite as delicious as I hoped! Bad idea since we both had to work the next morning, so it dawned on me to end the meal with something I know would be super delicious! I decided to whip up homemade fudge brownies and top with them with Nutella and dark chocolate ice cream! I knew this would definitely overshadow any bad dinner! As it turned out, the lasagna was fairly tasty, not my best work by any means and my grandma would probably have scoffed at it, however it was edible and we enjoyed it…him more than I but that’s what it’s all about!