Posts Tagged ‘pasta’

And guess who forgot to take a picture before devouring it?



I can tell you about it though!

I was in Whole Foods at Gateway during my lunch break yesterday and saw the bountiful array of seafood.  Whole Red Snapper plucked from the water and on grand display on ice in wood crates.  Smoked fish.  Fresh fillets.  So many choices!  I settled on half a pound of bay scallops and a pound of mussels.  These were to foundation of my pasta dish.

The thought of fresh made pasta crossed my mind.  I didn’t buy any semolina so it remained an idea for next time.

Once home from work, I fried bacon and an orange pepper.  Took those out of the pan and used the bacon fat to sear the scallops.  Took the scallops out after a couple of minutes and heated marinara sauce.  Cleaned mussels were tossed in the pan and covered, they steamed until popping open.  The bacon, pepper, and scallops joined the cooked mussels.  Of course there was a pot of spaghetti cooking in the background.

Toss some pasta with the sauced seafood and enjoy!

If I make this again I’ll try to snap a photo for you.





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Pasta and Naan

Naan is one of my favorite breads and it’s best fresh out of a tandoori oven at a good Indian restaurant.  I bought this garlic naan at HEB.  I grated some sharp Asiago cheese on top and stuck it under the broiler until the cheese melted and the naan was heated through, this only takes a minute or two.  The naan accompanied kid-friendly turkey vermicelli, dinner was ready in a snap!

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Need I say more?

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One of my worst fears has come to pass for local families, and at the worst time of the year.  Early today an apartment complex caught fire, several families with children lost everything.  Can you join me in making a donation or spreading the word to those who can make a donation to help save Christmas for these families?  One of the schools affected, Forest North Elementary PTA is taking donations of any kind but for those not in the area who want to help can do so on their website.  Alternatively, contact the Austin Disaster  Relief Network – 512-331-2600 or donate online.  News story is here.

I realize you probably have every charity in the world contacting you for help.  My dear readers, if you can spare anything for these kids I would be very grateful for any assistance you can give to our neighbors.  Thank you and have a blessed holiday season!

Now a recipe for you and your family on this chilly Austin day…


The fall back plan in my kitchen is pasta.  I can make fresh or dried pasta and any little stragglers of food in the fridge can be used to dress it up.  Even if there’s no tomato sauce, like today, I use some canned diced tomato and tomato paste instead.  Look for tomato paste infused with roasted garlic, whatever you make from the pantry with it will be pleased.

  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 15oz can petite diced tomato
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste (with roasted garlic)
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 Tbsp Greek Seasoning (Victorian Epicure)
  • 1 lb 90% lean ground beef
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dry rubbed sage

Start with the pasta.  Brown the meat in a large skillet and break apart as it cooks.  Season the meat well with salt and pepper.  Add the onion and carrot, garlic and herbs.  Stir to distribute and pick up brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the tomato, paste and about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water to dissolve the paste.  Cover and simmer gently until ready to serve and the pasta is al denté.

Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat.   Remove from heat.

Serve with Pizza Toasts and a side salad for a comforting meal with your family.

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Cheesy broccoli meets mac ‘n cheese.

“Kid food” as it’s sometimes referred to around here, can actually be appetizing if you do it yourself.  A punch of flavour from grated Pecorino cheese makes this bowl irresistible.  Little Sister could eat three bowls of this stuff if I’d let her.

  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets, steamed
  • cooked macaroni pasta (any shape you like, use whole grain too!)
  • Alfredo sauce (homemade or a good store-bought variety)
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese

Mix and serve!

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Kitchen toys are so much fun to share with the kids, at least the safe ones.  They love to push buttons and turn handles.  Big Brother was my pasta sous chef for the day, in charge of turning the hand crank of the pasta machine and using scraps of pasta to make his own noodles.  He is obsessed with Kung Fu Panda, and easily convinced he should eat lots of noodles, just like Po.

Little Sister can’t keep still now.  She has learned the tools of the toddler trade: chairs and stools.  These tools are especially useful to see what is cooking.  Any long utensil extends the toddler toolkit to be able to scoot objects off high surfaces and spilling them on the floor.

Big Brother and I worked on the ravioli.  I roasted the softball-sized acorn squash from the garden box with salt and pepper until it was soft.  The flesh of the squash was combined with fresh basil and Pecorino cheese.

The pasta dough is easy to prepare: I used about 2 cups of semolina flour and 2 large eggs.  Pour the flour on the counter and make a well in the middle.  Take off your pointy rings, they will become dough balls and you will tear the pasta sheets as you handle them.   Mix the eggs and slowly incorporate the flour, you might not use all of it.  Knead for about 1 minute until the dough springs back when you poke it.  Cover with a glass bowl and rest for 30 minutes.  Cut slices about an inch thick to begin squishing it down to size, either in a pasta roller or with a rolling pin.  Cut the sheets into squares, roughly the same size squares for even cooking.

Too much water around the rim of the first two ravioli caused a sticky mess.  From then on, I used a sprinkle of semolina flour on the work surface and very little water to seal the edges.

After the squash filling was used up, Big Brother had the chance to make more noodles as I boiled the finished ravioli.

Voilà, fresh ravioli!

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For this recipe, I wish I had access to the huge garden we had on the farm when I was little.  I remember spending hours weaving through the rows of snow peas, green beans, raspberries, carrots and lettuce looking for the perfect snack for a mid-summer day.  Black gold, my father would call the dark earth used to sprout our variety of garden foods that would sustain the family for many months into the coming winter.  Mom rounded up me and my brother to weed every so often, it helps the good plants grow, she said.

Now all I have is a box full of dirt.  No black gold.  No careful hands to weed.  It’s me and my limpy plants.

To my surprise, the limpy plants produced a few green beans!  (Now I know what to plant again next spring)

While this handful is not enough to feed my army, they were a welcome addition to my collection of veggies for this pasta dish.

Bacon, one of my favorite ingredients, was tossed in with the alfredo sauce.  I used a store-bought alfredo with roasted garlic, you can make your own, I didn’t have all the ingredients (most importantly time) to make the sauce from scratch.  I’ll call this a semi-homemade casserole.

  • 1 (15oz) jar of alfredo sauce
  • 4 cups cooked shells
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 cup cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/2 cup green beans, stems and halved
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 thick rashers of bacon


  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic
  • oregano

  Roast the veggies tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper at 425ºF for 10-15 minutes.

Crisp up the bacon, drain , then crumble.  Stir the bacon into the alfredo sauce.

Toss the shells, veggies, and sauce.  Pour the mixture into a casserole dish.

Mix the topping to a consistency of wet sand.  Sprinkle over the pasta and veggies.  Drizzle olive oil over the crumb topping, this will help with browning.

Bake at 400ºF for 25-35 minutes until the topping is golden and the sauce is bubbling.

P.S. Happy Birthday Mom 😛

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eBay find!

Thrifting is not just for clothing and accessories, you can find everything you need for your kitchen second-hand as far as machines and appliances go (and serving ware and dishes too).  I bought my bread maker off Craigslist, $40. Hubby found me a scale and food processor at a garage sale, $10.  The Antique Mall is a great place to find little plates and platters and decor for the table.  And today my pasta maker ($12 including S&H) arrived in the mail!

Let’s give it a try, shall we?

First is the dough.  1 egg to 100 grams semolina flour per serving.  Mix and knead the dough into a cohesive ball.  Divide the dough into manageable portions and flatten to an oval.  Start feeding the dough through the flat rollers, starting with the widest setting.

After a thin sheet of pasta is formed, very lightly dust with flour if it’s tacky.  Keep thinning out the sheet of pasta by decreasing the size of the gap of the rollers.  Switch the sheet of pasta to the wide noodle roller.

I found a #6 to be the right thickness and the noodles won’t fall apart. A thicker #4 noodle was alright but it requires a longer cooking time.  So if you’re in a hurry make thin noodles!


Immediately toss the fresh pasta into salted boiling water.  Cover for the first 30 seconds to allow the water to return to a boil quickly, thus locking in the starches.  And make sure you salt the water, as you may recall, we didn’t put any salt in the dough!

Have the sauce simmering as you are working on the noodles.  Thin noodles will take only about 4-5 minutes to cook.  Thicker noodles may take 8-10 minutes.

The sauce is just a jar I had in the fridge, I threw in sausage and diced fresh tomato.  Keep the sauce hot.  Pull the noodles out of the water and put them in the pan of sauce.  Toss to coat every noodle.


Then serve to your guests (in this case: hungry munchkins).

Fresh herbs (oregano, basil, parsley, chives) can be added on top.  And don’t forget some grated cheese.

Enjoy 🙂

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I had no idea what a caper was until about four years ago.  We were visiting my parents for the holidays in Canada and my step mom rustled me into preparing an appetizer for guests to graze upon.  It was a smoked salmon and caper berry toast.  I tasted one caper to satisfy my curiosity.  I previously had never touched, or smelled these little guys, at least for what my memory serves me.  Surprised, these were not like olives as I expected, they were much more graceful than olives.  (Can you tell that I’m not exactly on olive fan? Which is weird because olive oil is tha bomb!)

Since that inaugural meeting of capers, they have continued to intrigue me.  I recreated the smoked salmon appetizer at home a few times (and it was just as delicious as mom’s) but fell short of experimenting with it further.  Capers faded out of the forefront of my cravings du jour, eventually they were totally out of my life.

Then we traveled to Canyon Lake and I chose the Italian restaurant in town for dinner.  Little did I know that I was about to reunited with my BFF from years ago.  She looked different, slightly plumper than last time we chatted in my kitchen, how old friends tend to change.  Caper now had long golden locks of angel hair, glistening in the fading sunlight.  White wine butter suited her well.  Over a glass of wine we caught up, how old friends do.

I invited Caper over for dinner.  I dressed up chicken and pasta just for her, since I know she likes it.  Laughing and crying, just being silly, really, it was a blast.  The happiness of finally finding Caper again was great.  Caper left and we were all pleased to have entertained her, hoping there would be another chance to dine together again.

ring ring… ring ring… “Of course, you’re always welcome, Caper!”  I grab the calendar off the kitchen wall.  “Yes, that’s perfect.  See you then!” I hung up, giddy that Caper was coming to dinner again and she loved my pasta dish.  This time, I thought a twist on the original picatta would work.

Here is what I prepared for my BFF, Caper:


  • angel hair pasta, or other thin pasta
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 of a large onion (I used yellow for sweetness), diced
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • good olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 slices of bacon, crisped and crumbled
  • leftover roatiserie chicken, diced (about 1 cup)

Start the water for the pasta.  When it boils, add salt (don’t worry most of it ends up down the drain) and pasta.  Cook according to the package, if you are using fresh I envy you and it will take no time at all to cook.

In a large sauté pan, crisp the bacon then remove it from the pan.  Sauté the onion, pepper and tomatoes with a little added olive oil.  When the onion starts to turn color, add the remaining ingredients.  Toss in the drained pasta and add another splash of oil for flavour and to keep the pasta loose.

Serve with pecorino cheese to taste.

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Want to get more broccoli into your kids?  If they tasted my mac-n-cheese they wouldn’t know that there’s sprinkles of broccoli hiding in plain sight!

This is all that was left over from a whole box of macaroni, less than a 1/4 cup.  Big brother tasted one bite then didn’t stop until the plate was clean.  Little Sister screeched when she polished her tray, demanding another round ( or three ) until she had her fill.  Very impressive for a box (eww) of mac and cheese with some steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and baby carrots blended with the cheese sauce until pulverized to sprinkle size.

(Side note: I usually have some sort of instant boxed kid friendly food for between pay cheques.  They are placed inside a box with a glass panel.  The label reads: Break glass in case of emergency.  Well, that part resides in my brain but it’s effective for me.  I should change out that box more often though, the pasta was a little stale, double eww.)

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