Tag Archives: parmesan

Stuffed Tomatoes Puttanesca

A lot of influences helped bring this recipe idea to mind.  One, being my love for Pasta Puttanesca, a common order from me at many Italian restaurants.  Secondly, I love having people over and serving unique appetizers aka hors d’oeuvres if I’m being fancy, and thought this will make a great contender for my counter….and lastly, my hilarious, old soul of a little 6-year-old son who legitimately enjoys anchovies on his pizza.  Yes, if he’s not a chef, food critic or stylist when he grows up, I will be shocked.  Future foodie right there!

So because of that last reason, I had a couple containers of anchovies handy and the rest of the ingredients are pantry staples for me…so given all that, the Stuffed Tomato Puttanesca was born!  Thanks Brooks. 🙂

Also, you can make this with out stuffing the tomato/oven-step and serve in a dish drizzled with a bit more olive oil alongside crackers, bread and veggies for a great tapenade!  Heck, even spread it on your bread for an amped up turkey sandwich!  Endless options folks!  Ps.  These are great paired with a juicy steak and glass of red….

The Starting Lineup

  • 12 small cocktail style tomatoes, 2-3 inches and ripe
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 25+ pitted Kalamata olives, rough chop
  • 1 Tbsp capers
  • 8-10 anchovy filets (canned or jarred in olive oil)
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs or panko
  • 1/4 cup Romano cheese, grated
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 Tbsp tomato juice
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment, foil or silpat sheet.

Using a serrated knife (I always use serrated when dealing with tomatoes, trust me), slice off the tops of each tomato (keep) and carefully scoop out the inside of each tomato with a spoon into a bowl.  Once finished, pour and press the tomato flesh through a fine mesh sieve to get the fresh tomato juice.

In a food processor, place in the tops of your tomatoes (stem cut off), Kalamata olives, anchovies and garlic.  Process until well chopped.

Combine the olive paste with the bread crumbs/panko, capers, parsley, thyme, olive oil, the tomato juice, pepper and Romano cheese.

Place the cut and hollowed tomatoes onto your lined baking sheet and use a spoon to stuff each tomato with your tapenade filling.  Once they’re all full, sprinkle the tops with the shaved parmesan cheese slices.  Place into your preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese has browned and tomato is slightly wilted and heated through.

Sprinkle a bit of fresh thyme or parsley overtop and serve as an appetizer or side dish, enjoy!

PuttanescaTomatoes

Baked Spaghetti Pie

Back when we lived in hot and sunny Arizona, we would frequent a certain Italian food joint that was close to our home.  However, it wasn’t the close proximity that made us end up there, it was my husband’s love for their Baked Spaghetti that brought us.

Fast forward years and years and he still spoke of it…so I began to give it a whirl!  With much success, I give you my version which in using a spring form pan, gives many ooh’s & ah’s at dinnertime!  Looks quite impressive for such an easy recipe!

*If you do not have a spring-form, this recipe works just as well in a casserole dish or deep dish pie pan! 🙂

**Feel free to add in/change ingredients to suit your tastes and what you may have in your pantry and fridge!  I.e. Italian sausage, mushrooms, bell peppers, different cheeses, maybe no meat at all!

The Starting Lineup

  • 16oz spaghetti noodles (boiled 8-9 minutes/drained)
  • 24-32oz jar marinara sauce
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 container ricotta cheese
  • 2-3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning blend
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded/grated
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh basil, torn (optional garnish)

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.  Bring a stock pot of salted water to a boil (for the noodles) while you have a large skillet browning the ground beef with the chopped onions, minced garlic and olive oil.  *Feel free to add a pinch of salt and Italian seasonings of your choice if desired.

Once the noodles have finished (slightly under cook them at about 8-9 minutes, as they’ll finish in the oven), drain and toss in a large bowl with the beaten eggs, parmesan cheese and teaspoon of Italian seasoning.  Set aside.

As the ground beef becomes browned, pour in the marinara sauce of your choosing and stir together.

Now I used a lightly greased 10″ Spring-form pan for this (what you would typically make a cheesecake in), however, you can also use a deep dish pie tin, a 2-quart casserole dish, etc.  Just make sure to spray with a bit of non-stick.  **With the spring-form pan, I wrapped the bottom in foil just to ensure no leakage, which I didn’t have anyway.

First layer in the egg coated noodles and then top with dollops of the ricotta cheese.  Pour the meaty red sauce overtop, finally topping with the shredded mozzarella cheese.   Place your prepared spaghetti pie, covered, into the oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil cover and let bake another 10 minutes.

Once finished baking allow to rest for a good 5 minutes before slicing into.  If desired, top with a bit more parmesan cheese and freshly torn basil.  Enjoy!

BSP2

 

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!! 

Real-Deal Green Bean Casserole (no cans)

You may be thinking..why go through all the effort when the Campbell’s soup Green Bean Casserole recipe has been around for decades??  Well, because THIS is the best, that’s why!  I luckily stumbled upon this goodie years back and just tweaked a couple of things to suit my family.  There’s no going back to the dark side now!  ..Well, maybe occasionally, it does remind me of good memories growing up 🙂  Anyway…  Now besides what you may be thinking is a lot of work, this can all be done in an hour and it’s ALL fresh!!  You actually KNOW what your family is consuming.  That’s kind of awesome.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 1/2 lbs fresh green beans, rinsed and trimmed
  • 4+ slices bacon (grease reserved after fying)
  • 6 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb sliced mushrooms
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 heaping tsp thyme leaves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided (1:1)
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsely, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper 

    Yes…there should also be the thyme, bacon and milk pictured…but lets just hope you’re reading the ingredient list 😉

      

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a 2-quart baking dish with non-stick spray.

In a large deep skillet, cook the bacon strips till desired doneness and set aside on a paper towel lined plate.  Then add the extra virgin olive oil straight into the excess bacon grease and heat till almost smoking. 

 To the hot grease/oil, add in the sliced shallots (about 1/4 cup at a time, it took about 3 batches) and fry until they turn a nice golden brown and and crisp up.  Once done transfer to another paper towel lined plate and set aside. 

  *Meanwhile, you can either steam the green beans on the stove top OR take an easier way out and add them to a large microwave safe bowl with about 2 Tbsp of water.  Cover the bowl with a plate or saran wrap and microwave on high in 2-minute increments until that perfect soft but slightly crisp texture is achieved!  Make sense?  Soft and crisp?  Yes, it’s a thing! 😉
Now that the shallots are done frying up, dispose of the excess grease/oil EXCEPT for roughly 2 Tbsp’s worth.   You will now add all of the mushrooms to the grease over a medium-high heat.  Stirring occasionally, the mushrooms will start to ‘sweat’ and release their moisture.  Keep cooking until all of the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes.  Finally you will add in the minced garlic and thyme leaves.  Cook for 30-60 seconds and transfer the mushroom mix to a bowl, set aside. 

   While the mushrooms are cooking down, whisk together the flour and milk in a bowl until the flour is dissolved. 

Now add this right to the same skillet (you’ve been cooking everything in/mushrooms just removed from) while constantly whisking and bring to a simmer.  Lower the heat to medium-low, whisking occasionally, and in about 10 minutes it will reduce down and thicken up nicely.  *should ‘coat’ the back of a spoon.  Remove the skillet from heat. 

  

See how it’s starting to ‘coat’ the whisk and reduce down?

Ok, here is the real easy part!  Now is when you can fold in the mushroom mix, 1/3 cup of the parmesan cheese, the cooked and chopped bacon, parsely, nutmeg, salt & pepper and the GREEN BEANS to that milk/flour rue you just made.  Resist the urge to spoon in mouth…though I’m 100% guilty! 

     Pour this holiday staple side dish straight into the non-stick coated casserole dish and top with the remaining 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese and the fried shallots you made earlier.  Pop into the preheated oven and bake (uncovered) for 20-30 minutes! 

Enjoy and Happy Eating!! xo


Chicken Broccoli Parmesan Bake

Here is an easy comforting dish for these cool months that are approaching fast!  The creaminess, that crunch…oh my!  I do not know one person that does not like the combination of chicken, cheese and broccoli together..and if you stumble upon such a creature..run away!!

This meal can be on your family’s table in less than an hour and it WILL fill everyones belly.  Assured!  

IF you have any leftovers (it does make a bit afterall), just cover and store in the refridgerator.  The next meal, pop this back in the oven (now covered) for 25 minutes and then uncover for the last 5-10 to regain that great crunchy top!

The Starting Lineup

  • 2lbs (4 breasts) chicken, cooked
  • 16oz bag frozen broccoli, slightly defrosted
  • 2 cans cream of chicken (‘with herbs’ if possible *Campbells)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise 
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (pinot grigio/sauvagnon blanc)
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 Tbsp butter, softened/melted
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded & divided (1/2 cup-1/2 cup)
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Kosher salt & ground pepper, to taste

Garnish

  • I like to serve ours either alone or overtop rice or rotini pasta.  

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Assuming your chicken is cooked and shredded or cubed (I prefer either a roasted chicken or Ill just quickly poach the breasts myself, which I did above) and that your broccoli is slightly thawed (I’ll pour it into a microwave safe covered dish, hit defrost for a few minutes and then drain any excess water through a collander) you can now begin assembling. 

 In a buttered 9×13 casserole dish, layer the broccoli down first, followed by the cooked and shredded chicken. 

 In a seperate bowl, combine the 2 cans of soup, sour cream, mayo, dijon mustard, cheddar cheese, white wine and salt & pepper to taste.  Give this creamy mixture a good stir. 

   Now you will simply pour this directly over your chicken and broccoli..use a rubber spatula to create an even layer and then sprinkle about 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese over top. 

   In a second bowl you will combine the Panko breadcrumbs, butter, remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and a pinch of cayenne.  Mix this together until the panko is coated in butter, cheese and spice and then evenly sprinkle over the top of your casserole. 

     Now that is ready to go, pop in your oven (uncovered) for about 30-45 minutes, until that top coating gets a beautiful crunchy, brown! 

 Let rest on the counter for 5 minutes and then serve, enjoy! 

 

Gnocchi Pancetta Primavera

Hot Damn!  This flavorful, bright Italian inspired dish can be made and on your table in 30 minutes or less!  Can you believe it??  Homemade goodness AND quick…A few fresh ingredients, garlic & cheese and the lovely, pillowy potato gnocchi will earn you rave reviews with your family.  It’s also ‘fancy’ enough for an intimate dinner party, so please give it a try!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 pckg gnocchi (16oz)
  • 1 pckg pancetta, thinly sliced, roughly chopped (butcher can help)
  • 3/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1/4 cup of red onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
  • Optional: prosciutto can be substituted for the pancetta …equally delightful!

We’ll begin this quick and fun italian dinner by giving the vegetables a quick rinse & slice, dice & mince!  While you’re at it, you may as well grate that parmesan cheese…trust me, having everything already prepped makes cooking go so MUCH more smoothly!

   Next let’s heat the EVOO to medium heat in a large sauté pan, while also bringing a stock pot half full of water to a boil for the gnocchi.  *I always add a hefty pinch of kosher salt to my pasta water.  I suggest the same for you 😉

 Now that the oil is hot, add in the red onion and zucchini to the sauté pan…let that cook till it’s just sweated down a bit and onions are slightly translucent.

 Next add in the chopped pancetta and let those flavors cook together for 3-4 minutes.  *Always stir occasionally, unless otherwise noted.  Follow this with the cherry tomatoes.

   About now the pasta water should be boiling.  Please add in the gnocchi and cook to package directions.  *It’s usually quite fast and takes only 2-3 minutes, tops.  The gnocchi will float to the top and they’re ready!
Ok..you’re welcome to drain the gnocchi into a collander as you would pasta noodles, but I prefer to directly transfer the gnocchi with a ladle directly into the veggie/pancetta mix.  *I also keep about a tbsp of the ‘gnocchi cooked water’ in each  spoonfull…the starch in the water adds flavor and will help thicken this up along with the cheese.

Finally add in the juice of 1 lemon, the garlic, and a bit of salt & pepper to taste. Give this a quick stir and turndown to medium-low.

Top with the 3/4 cup of parmesan cheese and toss together.

   Immediately serve in a bowl and garnish with a bit more grated Parmesan.  Enjoy!  *Those gnocchi’s are like delish potato pillows..I’m not kidding.

Roasted Red Pepper and Sausage Pasta

Traditional marinara sauce can get boring..but a roasted red pepper sauce??  Let’s try!!  This is easy to make and will give your tastebuds a nice treat and dinnertime a kick!

While watching some of my favorite shows on my beloved Food Network, I saw two “chefs” have similar recipes like this (I use the word chef loosely because they’re not formally trained, but fantastic cooks nonetheless).

Anywaayy, I combined the two ideas, tweaked a few things and the end result has won rave reviews with my friends and family.  Again, even my two toddlers approve and that’s saying something!

So feel free to give this recipe a try when your family’s response to what they’d like for dinner is “I don’t care..” Man, I hate that one 😉

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb Italian sausage, sliced
  • 12oz+ penne pasta
  • 15oz jar roasted red peppers
  • 1 cup chicken broth/stock
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Basil, fresh torn
  • Kosher salt & pepper 

We’ll start this pasta delight with prepping some of the veggies.  Slighty chop up the roasted red peppers (drained from jar), dice the onion and mince those garlic cloves.


Now, start the water for your pasta.  Bring to a boil and cook till one minute under your package directions.  They will finish cooking in your roasted red pepper purée.

You’ll also want to start the sliced Italian sausage links in a separate pan.  Cook till browned.


Now to make that rich and creamy sauce!  In a heavy bottom pot, heat 1/2 of the butter (2tbsp) over med-high heat.  Add in your onions and garlic, cook for 2-3 minutes.  Next add in the roasted red peppers and cook for another 2-3 minutes till heated through.

*your water should be boiling about now to add in your pasta.

After the veggie mix is softened and hot, spoon into a food processor (you can use a blender as well, just make sure to secure the lid while holding a hand towel.  The hot liquid and normal blenders don’t mix well and can explode).

Pulse this mix till pretty smooth.  A few veggie chunks left are still great for texture.

  

In the same heavy bottomed pot on med heat, add in the last two Tbsp’s of butter.  Pour the pepper purée back in with the chicken broth/stock, heavy cream, salt and pepper.

  
The noodles should be just about done now, so really quick, grate 3/4 cup of parmesan and give a rough chop to your parsley & basil leaves.  Ladle your pasta noodles directly into your sauce along with the chopped herbs and 3/4 cup cheese.  Toss together.

  

Lastly, mix in your now cooked Italian sausage straight into your dressed pasta and get garnishes ready to serve!

Plate your pasta with an extra serving a grated Parmesan cheese and sprinkle of torn parsley and basil.  Enjoy!

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