Veal Pasta

This months issue of Food and Wine has a some great pasta recipes in it.  One that sparked my interest was Orecchiette with Veal Capers and White Wine.  Orecchiette is the pasta that looks like little ears.  Unfortunately no store around me has this type of pasta.  Further, I am not the biggest fan of capers.  I had a bad experience with them once at a wedding reception and it has pretty much ruined them for me.  I know that I should try them again, but it was horrible.  After a little tweaking I think it is an amazing dish.

Shells with Veal and White Wine
Shells with Veal and White Wine

Substituting shell pasta for the Orecchiette gives a similar texture that holds on to the meat.

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Mushroom and Spinach Ravioli

After a long weekend of being in Airports I wanted a nice and hearty meal.  So I searched around and came across a nice and easy Ravioli recipe from Giada.  The recipe does not require you to make pasta and it includes some of my favorite ingredients such as; mushroom, spinach and marscarpone cheese.

Homemade Ravioli
Homemade Ravioli

Top with your favorite marinara sauce and some freshly grated cheese and you have a meal.

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Mushroom Stroganoff

I hate to say it, but I am a huge fan of Noodles & Company. My favorite dish is the Mushroom Stroganoff. So today I wanted to try to recreate it. So I went to the store and picked up 2 lbs of mushrooms. Luckily I had a huge pan as I totally underestimated how many mushrooms were in 2 lbs.

Mushroom Stroganoff
Mushroom Stroganoff

Served over Egg Noodles with a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese, this was a great meal.

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Macaroni Salad

Macaroni Salad

When I was a kid my parents would take me to Pizza Hut for the pizza and salad bar buffet.  It was the best time as it was all you can eat breadsticks and pizza.  Before diving knee deep into the pizza I always went to the salad bar for a quick healthy snack.  That is when I fell in love with the macaroni salad.  It wasn;t like most macaroni salads.  It was full of pimentos and relish.  I have been looking for a good recipe for this type of macaroni salad for a while.  Finally my Mom and I figured out a recipe.  It is basic, but it is really good.

Macaroni Salad
Macaroni Salad

It is a little sweeter than most macaroni salads, that is probably why I loved it as a kid.

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Time to cool down, Spaghetti Salad

Time to cool down, Spaghetti Salad

It was a warm one the other day and I wanted something light and refreshing for dinner.  So I called up my Mom and asked her for her spaghetti salad recipe.  As a kid my Mom would make this for us in the summer.  It is great as a side or alone served with some garlic bread.

The fresh vegetables make this a great refreshing meal

Spaghetti Salad – (From Mom)

  • 1lb spaghetti
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 large tomato or 3 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese – the powdered green can stuff works the best in this recipe.
  • 8 oz Zesty Italian Dressing – Recipe Below
  • 2 tbs Salad Supreme Seasoning – Store Bought or see Recipe Below

Zesty Italian Dressing – (From Group Recipes)

  • 1 cup of the vinegar of your choice
  • 1 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flake – (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne – (optional)

Salad Supreme Seasoning – (From RecipeZaar)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon poppy seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper – or more, up to you.  I prefer more.
  • 2 tablespoons Romano cheese

In a large pot bring salted water to a boil. Then cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions. Remember this salad is served cold so make sure that pasta is tender. The noodles firm up when chilled.  When cooked drain the pasta and then immediately run it under cold water or shock it in ice water to stop the cooking.

Cook and then immediately cool the pasta
Cook and then immediately cool the pasta

Next make the salad dressing. Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and whisk until combined.

Whisk everything together till it emulsifies
Whisk everything together till it emulsifies

Next peel the onion and cucumber   Try to dice up all of the vegetables the same size.  A quick tip is to leave the root end on the peeled onion. This will keep the onion from falling apart when dicing it.

Leaving the root on will make it easier to dice
Leaving the root on will make it easier to dice

Dice up the tomato and the green pepper.  Try to make them all about the same size.

Beautiful Colors
Beautiful Colors

In a large bowl combine all of the vegetables and the pasta.

Make sure to use a large bowl.  1lb of pasta is a lot.
Make sure to use a large bowl. 1lb of pasta is a lot.

Next cover with the Parmesan cheese, Zesty Italian Dressing and 2 tbs of salad supreme seasoning.

Add the dressing, cheese and spices
Add the dressing, cheese and spices

Mix and chill for at least 30 minutes.

You can add more veggies if you like.  I like more tomatoes.
You can add more veggies if you like. I like more tomatoes.

This salad tastes the best if made the day before you want to enjoy it.

Spaghetti Salad great as an entree or an side dish
Spaghetti Salad great as an entree or an side dish

This will be a perfect side dish for those Labor Day Cookouts.

The Blue Box Revisited – Pesto Mac

The results are in for the FoodieFights.com competition. I ended up finishing in fourth place with 133 pts. Thanks to everyone that voted. If you would like to see my entry click here.

A couple of months back I did a post on how to spice up boxed mac n cheese. It was a popular post so I decided to do another round. I know that homemade mac n cheese is the best, but we all have a box of mac in the cupboard. I am not too ashamed to admit it. Ok, maybe just a little bit. But, the blue box is cheap and tasty. Especially when you get home late from the bar. So here is my take on how to spice up boxed mac n cheese.

Pesto mac
Pesto mac

Fresh pesto tossed in with the mac n cheese adds an amazing flavor. You can barely tell that the cheese was once in powder form. Really.

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One Pan – Macaroni and Cheese

Over the past week I have been cleaning out my pantry trying to cook everything that I could without going to the grocery store. Needless to say, I was running low on everything. Then I noticed that I had a bag of mozzarella cheese in the fridge and about a 1/2 cup of milk. Sounds like Macaroni and Cheese to me.

So creamy and delicious.  Makes you wonder why you ever buy the box stuff.
So creamy and delicious. Makes you wonder why you ever buy the box stuff.

This recipe is quick and easy. Only took about 10 minutes to make, not counting the 5 minutes to heat up the water. Heating up water isn’t really cooking and thus does not count towards cooking time.
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Cheap Eats – Chicken Bake for $1.69 a person

I have been getting a lot of emails from people who want quick and easy recipes that are cheap. So for now on, I am going to devote thursdays to cheap eats.  In this economy people want to save money and an easy way to do that is by cooking at home. Cheap food does not have to be bad either. For instance I made this chicken bake for $6.74, or $1.69 per person. I purchased the ingredients on sale and that was the reason why it was so cheap. For instance, instead of having to purchase cheese, which is not cheap, I purchased frozen vegetables in cheese sauce. They were on sale for $1.49 a bag. I used half a bag of broccoli and half a bag of cauliflower in this recipe for a total of $1.49. Sure beats buying cheese at $3 for a 8 oz bag. 

Chicken bake for less than a $1.70 a serving.
Chicken bake for less than a $1.70 a serving.

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Recreating the bread bowl pasta

If you have been watching TV lately, Dominos has been advertising their new Bread Bowl Pasta.  It is Carbs on Carbs, so basically it is amazing.  So I wanted to make my own version to see how great pasta in a bread bowl could actually be.  Spoiler Alert – It was amazing.  The bread bowl soaked up the sauce and the cheesy topping was amazing.  I am not sure if I can ever eat pasta again in a regular bowl.

The best creation that I have made in the past year.  Thanks Dominos.
The best creation that I have made in the past year. Thanks Dominos.

Dominos offers 5 different bread bowl pastas.  I tried to recreate the Italian sausage with marinara bread bowl.

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Super Quick Marinara Sauce

Every once in a while you need a quick meal and don’t have any jars of marinara lying around. Or, if you are like me you like to make your own, but don’t have time to let it simmer for 2 hours. I made this quick sauce that took only 15 minutes to make.

Only takes 6 ingredeints, 8 if you count the salt and pepper.
Only takes 6 ingredeints, 8 if you count the salt and pepper.

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Chicken Limone with Gnocchi

Update: It was a great time competing in foodie fights.  In the end I ended up in 5th place.  I want to thank everyone that voted.  With your help I ended up receiving the 3rd most popular votes.   Thanks again.

The time has arrived for my entry into the Foodie Fights Battle. After you check out my creation below, be sure to go look at the other competitors concoctions. After looking at the the other sites, vote for your favorite. You can vote using the poll at the end of this post or at any of the other competitors posts. It doesn’t matter what site you vote on, as all of the forms are linked to the same poll.

The ingredients that were picked for this battle are: Potatoes and Lemons. So I decided to make lemon basil chicken with homemade potato gnocchi.

Savory Lemon Chicken Over Homemade Potato Gnocchi
Savory Lemon Chicken Over Homemade Potato Gnocchi

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The Blue Box Revisited – Spicy Mac n Cheese

If you are like me, no matter how much you cook, you always have a box of Mac n Cheese in the pantry.  As much as I want to hate the stuff it is good.  So, I have worked to spice it up in more than one way.  Honestly, it is not much, but it is enough to transform a bland blue box to a tasty concoction.

Spiced up Mac n Cheese

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