Tag Archives: Italian

Creamy Mushroom Prosciutto Fettuccine

I was craving a hearty, but not heavy meal, which isn’t easy to do with Italian food.  Usually I end up with meatballs, parmigiana, cheesy manicotti…but not this time!  The fettucine is coated in a light, buttery cream sauce that isn’t too rich and the mushrooms really fool you into having a hearty meat-filled meal.   However, since I cannot fix my hubby’s brain into believing mushrooms can substitute as meat, the prosciutto had to happen!  Frankly, I’m ever grateful for it!  The thinly sliced Italian charcuterie and mushrooms make for such Umami flavor!!

*Umami:  delicious, savory taste.  One of my favorites of one’s five basic taste buds.*

**A nice addition in the Springtime is to add blanched sweet peas or even asparagus to this pasta dish!  Great flavor, freshness and vibrant color!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 8 slices thinly cut prosciutto, crisped
  • 1 lb mushrooms (mixed with any variety of mushrooms.  I used baby bella, portabella and rehydrated shitake)
  • 3 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup chicken stock (not broth, but stock)
  • 1 pckg fettuccine noodles
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Kosher salt and pepper

Garnish

  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Fresh thyme

MushroomP1.jpg

Begin by heating the 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Place the thinly sliced prosciutto in a single layer into the hot oil and fry up (similar to bacon) until crisp.  I prefer mine super crispy, but cook to your liking!  Once crisped, transfer to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.

In that same pot, heat the now prosciutto flavored oil to high heat and add in the 1lb of assorted mushrooms, cooking for 7-8 minutes.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and add in the shallots, 1 tsp of fresh thyme and season with salt and pepper.  Sauté all together for a couple of minutes, till shallots soften.  Finally, reduce the heat to low and pour in the chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer and allow to cook down for 5-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook your pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water.  You want the fettuccine to be quite al dente, so boil about 3-4 minutes less than package directions.

MushroomP2

Transfer the very al dente pasta, using tongs, to the pot of mushroom mixture.  Ladle 1 cup of the pasta cooking water into the mix as well.   Crumble half of prosciutto into pot.

Increase heat to medium, bring to a simmer, and cook, tossing constantly, until pasta is now perfectly al dente and liquid is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add cream, return to a simmer, and cook, tossing, until pasta is coated, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, add the butter, and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt if needed.

Transfer to your serving bowl(s) and top with the remaining prosciutto, parmesan cheese and fresh thyme!  Enjoy!

MushroomP4.jpg

 

 

 

Smokey Gnocchi Toscana 

Who doesn’t love Olive Garden’s famous “Zuppa Toscana”?  It’s a delicious blend of sausage, kale and potatoes in a creamy broth…my only small problem with the soup (more so my family’s problem) is it will not fill my hearty boys and husband’s appetite up!  Nope, soup in general just won’t cut it!

Now since I was craving a big bowl of Toscana comfort, I had to figure out a way to change it into something a bit more substantial if it were to be mine.  I have to say, it came pretty easy to me..thank goodness.  How about we make the broth into a rich, more flavor packed cheese sauce and amp up the potato texture by using those fluffy pillows from heaven, otherwise known as gnocchi.  Hey, gnocchi’s are in fact made from potato flour..I do have a little bit of genius left in me.  My boys tend to suck it out of me at times.  I also made sure it was chocked full of (not too) spicy sausage and healthy kale.  Yep, with all those Italian flavors going on, even my boys will slurp up the greens!

Last, but not least, I topped it all off with some crispy, crumbled bacon for another layer of smokey flavor…drooling…

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb Hot Italian Sausage, removed from casing
  • 1 package Gnocchi 
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4+ cups Kale (a Kale/Spinach blend would work too)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 heaping Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk, plus more to thin cheese sauce if needed
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided 1:1
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided 1:1
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • A pinch each of salt and pepper
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked and chopped for garnish


First and ALWAYS foremost is prepping your ingredients to have at the ready!!  Chop and mince the garlic and shred the cheese if it hasn’t already been done for you.  I’ll be taking sous chef applications soon 😉

Now onto the cooking part my multi-tasking friends!  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and on a foil lined baking sheet, lay out the bacon and cook till slightly crisp (about 15 minutes, rotating once in the oven).  Remove to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.

Keep the oven on, but drop the temperature to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, bring a large stockpot of salted water up to a boil (for the Gnocchi) and in a separate large pan, heat up the olive oil to medium heat and begin browning the sausage, chopping up with a spoon as you go.

Water boiling: add in Gnocchi and cook for about 2-3 minutes, until they float to the top.  Drain and set aside.

Sausage: once cooked through and slightly crumbled, remove from pan and drain the grease slightly.  *leave about a tablespoon of grease please.

In the same pan that the sausage cooked in add in the onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes.  Add in the kale and garlic and allow to wilt down.  Once quickly wilted, add the sausage back in along with the Gnocchi.  Remove from heat.

Pesto cheese sauce: in a medium sauce pan melt the butter and then whisk in the flour till it makes a rue (paste).  Now you will whisk in the milk for about 3 minutes till starts to thicken.  Add in the pesto, 1/2 of each the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and a pinch of salt and pepper.  *It may get a little thick here, so just thin by whisking another couple tablespoons of milk in at a time until you reach your desired consistency.



You’re at the finish line now!  In a 9×13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray, spoon in the Gnocchi, sausage and kale mix.  Pour that super cheesy pesto sauce ALL over and top with the remaining cheeses.  Cover with foil and place in the 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.  

Bump up the oven to 425 degrees and pull the foil off, allowing to bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the cheesy top gets nice and brown.  Remove from oven and relish in the “it smells soooooo good in here” praises!  Make sure to top it all off with the crumbled bacon..NEVER forget the bacon!  *Let rest for 5 minutes before serving..remember it’s going to be hot!  

Serve with a simple salad, warm bread sticks and you have yourself a hit!  

Italian Sausage and Gnocchi Soup (slowcooker)

It’s beginning to (finally) feel a lot more like Fall around these parts!  Goodness, the weather’s been in the 90’s, in November, in Texas!  Though the lone star state definitely has its fair share of warm weather..it usually doesn’t last THIS long.  So when we finally dropped temp and it was a cool 60 degree high, you know I just had to bust out my slowcooker for a warm soup dinner!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 package Italian sausage (if links, remove from casing)
  • 1 package gnocchi
  • 2 cans diced Italian style tomatoes
  • 1 80z block cream cheese, cubed
  • 32oz chicken broth (4 cups)
  • 1 bag spinach leaves
  • 1 zucchini, sliced & quartered
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 

Begin by simply spraying your crockpot with a bit of non-stick spray, followed by the rinsing and chopping of your vegetables and heating a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Once the pan is nice and hot, add in the Italian sausage.  After it is about halfway cooked through you can then add in the chopped red bell pepper, onion and garlic.  Allow the sausage to cook the all of the way through and the peppers and onion to soften.

Now you can either drain the grease from the sausage mixture or just use a slotted spoon (Like I did) and scoop the cooked sausage and vegetables straight into the crockpot.

Pour in the two cans of Italian-style diced tomatoes, chicken broth, the sliced zucchini, spinach leaves and cubed cream cheese.  *The spinach may seem like there’s no way it can fit, trust me…it will wilt pretty darn quick!    Cover and turn on low..you can now step away for 6-7 hours.  Yes!!

The hour before you’re planning on eating, add in the gnocchi.  That last hour will soften and cook it for you.  No need to boil it separately first!  Score!

See how simple all of that was?  It’s done!  Serve this creamy, flavorful, hearty soup alongside a piece of buttered crusty bread and you have yourself a meal!  Finish with a snuggly blanket on the couch ;).

Morel and Asparagus Parmesan Penne

Hello to my ‘fancy friends’!  This grown-up, earthy, flavorful, umami recipe is SURE to satisfy your significant others tastebuds come date night!  *Well it better as morels are not cheap, nor is asparagus and darn it, this is just good eats!

We had a good friend recently return here to Texas from a trip to his home state of Montana.  Well… when he returned, I was delighted with the gift of real deal morel mushrooms (and huckleberries!!) so I hope he gets to revisit soon!  Thank you Dennis!

Now that I had aquired such a highly sought after ingredient, I could NOT let them go to waste.  Pity the thought!  So to get ALL the flavor I simply cooked the pasta IN the rehydrating liquid and boom…magic was served!  

*I should of charged $47 a plate though! 😉

The Starting Lineup

  • About 8 dried morel mushrooms
  • 1pckg/lb penne pasta
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch Asparagus, cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  •  1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for garnish
  • Pinch of dried tarragon
  • Juice of 1 lemon, plus the zest 
  • Kosher Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Red pepper flake, to taste (optional)

Boil 8 cups of water (I simply did so in a microwave safe bowl), and then add in the dried morel mushrooms to the hot water.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit/rehydrate for about 25-30 minutes.  ***Do NOT discard this water

Transfer the now rehydrated mushrooms to a cutting board and quarter each, set aside.

Next, pour the morel-flavored water into a large stockpot (add more water if needed).  Bring this to a boil, salt and then add the pasta noodles.  Cook 1-2 minutes less than package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium high heat.  Toss in the shallots, cook for 3 minutes, followed by the garlic for one minute. 

Next, to the same skillet, add in the asparagus, morels and the chicken stock.  Bring to a low boil, cover, and let cook for 4-5 minutes.  Remove the lid and pour in the heavy cream. Let cook down and reduce for about 3-4 minutes. 

Finally!!  Remove the skillet from heat source and add in the al dente pasta noodles, lemon juice and zest, tarragon, salt and pepper and the parmesan cheese!  Toss together and top with more parmesan (and red pepper flake) if desired!  Enjoy love birds!! 

Pizza Rolls

Do you remember growing up and eating those famous Totino’s Pizza Rolls after school??  You know, the little crunchy squares filled with gooey cheese, sauce & meat that would always burn the roof of your mouth because you couldn’t wait for them to cool off?.. 

Well these are them recreated on steroids!  Soooo good!  What’s also great about these is that you can fill them with any pizza topping of your choice!  Make these upscale with roasted vegetables, salami, pesto, feta cheese or keep it the original way of mozzarella, marinara and pepperoni!!  Kids and adults alike will enjoy these to no end!

The Starting Lineup

  • Spring roll wrappers
  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 1 cup pepperoni, chopped
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)  

Begin by heating up the extra virgin olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat while chopping & dicing the vegetables and pepperoni.  Also turn on your deep fryer to 350 degrees (or bring vegetable oil up to temp in a large heavy bottomed pan).

Next add the diced onion to the hot pan and sauté for 2-3 minutes, followed by the minced garlic for another minute. 

 Add the Italian sausage, Italian seasoning and S&P to the onion & garlic and brown till cooked through.  Drain on a paper towel lined bowl. 

 In a large bowl, combine the pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce.  Next, fold in the sausage mixture and set aside. 

   Assembly time!!  Now it’s not as tricky as you may think, but please follow along :).  Needed: a bowl of water, a beaten egg and pastry brush, the spring roll wrappers and a shallow dish with the rice flour in it.

Lightly sprinkle your work surface with a bit of rice flour.  Next dip 3 spring roll sheets (individually) into the water for about 15 seconds each and stack on top of eachother on the floured work surface.  Now add a scoop or two of the meat filling in the middle of the wrapper and then brush the beaten egg around the edges of the wrapper. 

 
 Fold up like a burrito and carefully dredge the entire roll with the rice flour and set aside as you finish assembling the rest. 

    Once done, take to the deep fryer and again, carefully drop into th hot oil and allow to fry for a few minutes until a light brown.  (These won’t brown heavily like you might think). 

 To serve, cut on the diagonal and serve with a side of warm marinara sauce for dipping.  Be careful as these rolls are hot…and addictive!! 

 

Spinach & Sausage Gnocchi

I must be feeling “off” because instead of (my favorite) Mexican food…I was having an Italian craving!  So I loaded up the crew and headed to the store in search of something that’d catch my eye!

Once in the produce section, I saw aplenty of fresh mushrooms, and while their meaty texture would of been fine alone for me, I KNOW my hubby needs meat in his meals.  So let’s head for the Italian Sausage!!  In true Carly form I went with the spicy..hey, even my young boys love it!  Finally, what goes better with sausage and mushrooms in not only flavor, but color?  Sautéed spinach!!  Dang, when paired with the onions and garlic, the light pillowy texture from the gnocchi (Im dreamy eyed right now), this was just delicious!!  **plus quick!!

*This can be made gluten free.

*You can leave out the sausage and substitute veggie broth instead of beef stock for a vegetarian option.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 16oz pckg gnocchi (gluten free available)
  • 1 pckg Italian sausage links (I used spicy)
  • 1 9oz pckg frozen spinach (defrosted and drained)
  • 2 portobello mushrooms (cleaned, scraped and sliced)
  • 1 8oz pckg baby Bella’s mushrooms (cleaned & sliced)
  • 1 cup beef stock (gluten free available)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic and 1/2 shallot, minced
  • Kosher salt & pepper, red pepper flake (a pinch each/to taste) 

    Beef broth not pictured

         

In a large skillet on medium heat, place in the Italian sausages along with a couple Tbsps of water.  Cover and allow to brown, turning ever so often.  Once the sausages are browned on all sides, remove most of the grease and then carefully poor in the 1 cup beef stock over the sausage.  Cover again and allow to steam in the broth for about 5 minutes to finish cooking through.  When finished, set aside on a paper towel lined plate reserving the pan juices. 

   

**Meanwhile bring a large stockpot of salted water to a low boil.  

In that same pan with the reserved juices, add in the garlic & shallot and cook for 1 minute. 

 Next, toss in all of the mushrooms followed shortly with the defrosted & drained spinach.  Sauté the veggies together while slicing the now cooled and cooked sausage links into 1″ pieces.  Add to the skillet. 

     

**Your water should now be boiling, so toss in the gnocchi and cook to package directions.  This does NOT take long folks.

Gnocchi is now cooked!  With a ladle transfer the pillowy potato bites directly into the sausage skillet.  Make sure to include a little of the cooking water with the gnocchi!  Really makes for a great sauce!! 

 Finally…add that nutty parmesan cheese over top the entire skillet and fold in. 

Serve with a bit more freshly grated Parmesan on top alongside a light salad and glass of vino!!  Enjoy!!! 

 

Supreme Pizza Fries

How have I never made this before??  I mean it’s great for a fun & easy Friday night dinner, fabulous on a big tray while hosting a football watching party, or even an awesome way to get your kids in the kitchen cooking with you!  Really, what kid or even adult dislikes pizza or French fries?  Combine the two and it’s a sure fire winner!

Plus, the toppings are endless!  Now here I went the traditional ‘supreme pizza’ route, but what if your favorite pizza is Hawaiian?  Sausage?  Salami and hot peppers?  Pick your poison and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

*If your making your own French fries, make SURE to soak the cut potatoes in a large bowl of cold water in your refridgerator for at least 1-2 hours, if not longer, prior to frying them.  This removes a lot of the starch from the potatoes, resulting in crispier restaurant style fries!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 pckg frozen (or homemade) french fries
  • Jarred pizza sauce
  • Pepperoni, quartered
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Green bell pepper, sliced
  • White onion, thinly sliced
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • Black olives, sliced
  • Garlic powder 
  • Crushed red pepper/Parmesan cheese (optional garnish)    

Start this simple recipe by slicing up the veggies, shredding the mozzarella and preheating the deep fryer oil to 350 degrees (or later setting the oven to package temperature if baking the French fries). 

   Set the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.  Spread the sliced bell pepper, onion and mushrooms out evenly on the baking sheet and drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt & pepper.  Place the vegetables into the oven for about 10-12 minutes, mixing occasionally.  Remove from oven and set aside…keep the oven on. 

 While the vegetables are roasting, pour about a cup of the pizza sauce into a small pan and bring to a low simmer to warm through. 

 Once the oil (or oven) is ready, begin cooking the French fries.  You want the fries to be on the crunchy side, so I like to double or even triple fry here.  Not burn them of course, but just get them nice and crisp.  Remember, you’ll be pouring on pizza sauce, cheese, etc..soggy fries are no bueno! 

 After the fries have finished cooking, toss with a bit of garlic powder (this really helps with that pizza crust flavor!). 

 Assembly time!!  On a foil lined baking sheet, add that mound of fries.  Next, pour on the warm pizza sauce, the shredded mozzarella, roasted veggies, pepperoni and black olives.  It’s quite the heaping helping here! 

 Pop into the oven on the top rack (now set to broil) and watch closely as the cheese melts to that ooey-gooey pizza cheese consistency!  After just a couple minutes remove and serve up!  Heck, I won’t tell if you even eat straight from the baking sheet! 😉 Serve with a bit of crushed red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese if desired. 

 

%d bloggers like this: