Tag Archives: pasta

Creamy Pumpkin & Sage Bacon Alfredo

Call me “basic” but come Fall, I sure do love me some pumpkin!  Now I’m not fully crazy, as in pumpkin spice coffee every morning, noon and night crazy.  I do, however, like to use the orange offspring of squash in more creative ways.  Todays “way” is in the form of pasta!

To convince my family my idea was some sort of genius, I also used 2 of the tastiest key words in describing our future dinner, “alfredo” and “bacon”…Yep, that got their attention!

Now sure, this is after all Alfredo so it does contain a bit of cheese, but it’s actually not all that artery clogging and indulgent as you may think.  For one, I used less than 1 cup of parmesan cheese, mainly for the saltiness it brings.  I substituted the heavy cream for it’s lighter cousin, half & half, and if you want to lessen the saturated fat of butter, feel free to use Tresomega Nutrition cold pressed coconut oil!  Plus, lets not forget the health benefits of the sneaked in pureed pumpkin!

Now honestly, this sauce is fantastic on any pasta or fluffy gnocchi of your choice, it would be good on a shoe for that matter.  Though for my gluten free friends, I highly recommend the new GF pasta made by my buddies at Tresomega Nutrition!  It contains no wheat nor corn and is made with organic rice, quinoa and amaranth which keeps that same bite and color of your traditional pasta noodles.  It also doesn’t fall apart when cooked like most of its counterparts!  I’m fully a fan!

Please find out more info on Tresomega Nutrition products here:

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  4. https://twitter.com/tres_omega

You can also purchase the Tresomega Nutrition brand at:

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  3. https://www.amazon.com
  4. https://www.walmart.com

The Starting Lineup

  • 1lb of your preferred pasta or gnocchi (Tresomega Gluten Free recommended)
  • 8 strips bacon, grease reserved, divided
  • 2 Tbsp butter or Tresomega cold pressed coconut oil
  • 12 sage leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 cups half & half (16oz)
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp each kosher salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup pasta cooking water (optional to thin sauce)
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I tried this recipe with both pasta noodles and gnocchi and BOTH are delish!

Begin this Fall-inspired pasta by chopping, grating and mincing your bacon, onion, garlic and parmesan cheese.

In a large skillet on medium heat, crisp up your bacon.  Once done, transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined dish and set aside while keeping the bacon grease in the skillet.  *There should be about 2 Tbsp of grease.

To that same pre-greased skillet, add to it either the butter or cold pressed coconut oil along with the chopped onions and sauté, about 7-8 minutes.  Turn down to medium-low and then add in the garlic and sage and cook for another 1-2 minutes.  Careful not to burn the garlic, but to slightly crisp up the sage.

**Here you can boil a large stockpot of salted water to a boil and add in your pasta of choice and cook to package directions.

Once the veggie medley is finished (smells gooooood huh?!), you will add in the pumpkin puree while whisking in the half & half to form a creamy consistency.  Next, whisk in the grated parmesan cheese, crisped sage leaves, 1/2 of the cooked bacon, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Cook over low heat till combined and then add in your perfectly cooked pasta.  ***You can also add in the 1/4 cup of pasta water if you’d like a thinner consistency.

Serve warm, with the other 1/2 of cooked, chopped bacon sprinkled overtop, a bit more parmesan and sage leaves if desired.  Enjoy!

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Seared Filet with Roasted Butternut Squash & Blue Cheese Ravioli

My husband and I do not get a lot of “date nights” as we have two young boys, rarely a babysitter and he has the craziest schedule working for the railroad.  No set schedule actually.  All that combined leads me to craving fancy-dressed, wine-filled nights out even more!  That being said, I knew I could do it!  Not the literally leaving my house to enjoy a quiet kid free atmosphere, but create that upscale dining experience here at home!

I already knew I could make a fantastic steak, so I wanted to try my hand at homemade pasta.  Like REAL homemade pasta, no attachment to my Kitchen-Aide or anything.  So out came my flour coated rolling pin and I finally attacked the somewhat scary mound of welled flour and eggs.  You know what?  It wasn’t that hard.   I’ve been scared all these years for nothing!  Now, if I’m making a crockpot meal asking for the filled pasta, then frozen is fine, but for this meal all the slight extra work was sooooo worth it!!

So please, next time you can’t get away, or maybe your budget is a bit tight, please give this a whirl!

The Starting Lineup

Dough

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
    3 eggs
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Filling

  • 1 small butternut squash
    2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
    1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon butter
    1 tablespoon olive oil 
    5-6 sage leaves, minced

Protein (optional)

  • (2-4) Filet mignon or Ribeye Steaks
  • Fresh ground black pepper and kosher salt
  • 2 vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick), softened

 

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Roasted butternut squash and blue cheese filling!

 

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To begin…..

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Next, (this is a great tip!) prick your butternut squash with a fork all over.  Cut off the ends of the squash and place on a plate in your microwave for 4 minutes (if you don’t, this vegetable is extremely hard to cut).  Using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin and then cut in half length-wise.  Discard of the seeds and then cut into rough cubes.  Place on a baking sheet drizzled with olive oil, salt & pepper and place in the oven for 30 minutes until fork tender.

Meanwhile…..

Mound the flour on a clean work surface and make a well with a fork in the center, creating almost a “volcano” in appearance.  In the well, crack the eggs and add in the salt and oil.  Using your fork, slightly beat together while gathering a bit of flour at a time until it forms a dough ball.

Using your hands, start needing the dough until it forms a perfectly smooth ball with a shiny appearance (10 minutes).  Add more flour if it seems sticky or a tbsp. at a time of water if it feels too dry.  Wrap your dough ball with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes.

Now that your butternut squash is roasted, transfer to a large bowl along with the blue cheese crumbles and the salt & pepper.  Mash together with a fork to your desired consistency. Cover and set aside.

With your dough ball, unwrap pasta and cut into four sections. You will work with one section at a time. Wrap the remaining three up in plastic in the mean time. Flour your work surface liberally. Roll out dough with a floured rolling pin, working from the middle and rolling out. Try to get the thinnest and longest piece of dough you can. Keep rotating and turning the dough to prevent sticking. Once your dough is rolled very thin, place a small amounts of the filling {about a teaspoon} onto the dough about 1 1/2-2 inches apart. Fold the top of the dough over the filling. Press the top piece of dough over and around the filling to remove any air bubbles. Now using either a ravioli stamp, pastry cutter or a pizza cutter, cut into perfect squares {you will need to crimp the edges with a fork if using a pizza cutter}. Place on a floured tray and cover with a tea towel as you make these. Form any leftover dough into a ball and place in the plastic wrap to rest. Continue this pattern until all the raviolis are filled and cut out.

To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Drop in your raviolis (4-5 at a time) and stir gently. Raviolis will be finished cooking once they float to the top. Drain.  Once finished add to a warm sauté pan of melted butter, oil and sage that is slightly crisped.  Toss gently to coat.

Now you can eat these delish ravioli’s as is or pair with a great steak!  If you choose the steak route, here is my favorite way..

Set the steak out of the fridge to come to room temp for 20-30 minutes {I did so while I’m preparing the ravioli’s} and heat oven to 400 degrees, rub the steak all over with oil and coat in freshly ground pepper and kosher salt.  Heat your cast iron pan on med-high heat till about smoking.  Add in the butter and then the steaks, let cook (do NOT move) for 4 minutes on each side.  Transfer the skillet with the seared steaks to the oven and let cook for 5 minutes (for medium-rare).  Remove the steaks to a platter and cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  {Here is where I cooked and sautéed the ravioli’s.}  ***Make sure you have a well ventilated kitchen as cast irons smoke something crazy.  You can absolutely grill your meat too if preferred.

So, whether you decide to make this a vegetarian inspired meal or are a true carnivore like myself, you will not be disappointed!  Serve with a great red and you have a true 5-star restaurant meal!  Enjoy!!

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Blackened Chicken Broccoli Tortellini

Here you have a family pleasing meal that can be made on a hectic weeknight, because…it take’s just 30 minutes!  Yep, a 30 minute meal that didn’t even use a jar of sauce to create a creamy yet more dreamy alfredo sauce!

To offset the richness of the cheese tortellini and sauce, the blackened chicken gives just the right amount of kick and since you basically are just blanching the broccoli, it keeps a great crisp texture!  Even my 5 year old had seconds AND leftovers for lunch the next day, score!!

*You can use any noodle of your choosing if not a tortellini fan; you can also use fresh broccoli if available.

The Starting Lineup

Chicken

  • 1-1/2 lbs chicken, I like the thin cut breasts
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic power
  • hefty pinch of kosher salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Pasta

  • 16oz  package frozen cheese tortellini
  • 10oz frozen broccoli
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 container parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

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In a small bowl, mix together all of the seasonings to create a blackening rub.  Pat some olive oil all over each chicken breast and then coat in the blackening seasoning.  *Often, if I am using thin cutlets of chicken, I will just coat one side.  If using larger chicken breasts, coat both sides..

Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil and either bring your grill to medium high heat or a cast iron pan to screaming high heat.

Now, I used our grill, so once ready I made sure the grates were oiled and cooked each side of the thinly sliced chicken for about 2 minutes and then transferred to a plate tented with foil to let rest.  *If using a pan, do the same, just remember to turn your vent on as it WILL smoke a bit inside your kitchen.  Cook till the juices run clear.

Meanwhile, add the tortellini to the boiling water and cook to package directions.  The last 2 minutes of cooking, toss the frozen broccoli right in with the tortellini.  Drain in a large colander.

In a large pan, melt the butter and whisk in the heavy cream.  Add in the cooked tortellini and broccoli.  Sprinkle and fold in all of the parmesan cheese and a bit of salt and pepper to taste.  *I like lots of pepper.

Hey, you’re DONE!!  Slice the blackened chicken and lay overtop the broccoli tortellini alfredo and you have yourself a tasty dinner!  Serve with garlic bread, a side salad and vino of course!!

 

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

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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.

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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!

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Greek Tzatziki Chicken Pasta

Going “global” with this one guys!  Now as y’all know, I basically have two types of cuisines that I prefer to eat…constantly.  Mexican and southern comfort food!!  I do however branch out from time to time and THIS time it’s with my likely 3rd choice, Greek!

Now I used to live by this AMAZING restaurant called “Pita Jungle”, that without fail catered to my cravings of this ethnic fare..saltiness of feta cheese, brininess of kalamata olives, fresh vegetables and the Greek’s unique spices has me every(damn)time.  The only bad part of always getting my ‘fix’, was moving away and having nothing silimilar nearby.  It was time to create my 2nd masterful Greek dish and THIS one is silly easy!

This Greek inspired chicken pasta is full of flavor, yes, BUT it’s also healthy for you too!  Heck, get yourself another helping! 😉  Using non-fat greek yogurt and fresh produce brightens this dish and leaves you not feeling heavy in the least.  *I also used fantastic gluten-free noodles that really help with that after dinner bloated feeling.  Lastly..this dish is also so versatile that it is equally delicious served warm OR cold!  So it’s a fabulous choice for a leftover dinner or lunch at work too!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb chicken breasts/tenders
  • 1 cup kalamata olives
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cucumber, seeded/cored and sliced
  • 1/4-1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 package penne noodles

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 2 cups non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 large cucumber, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 tsp dill, fresh is best if you have it
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Greek Chicken Marinade

  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 salt and pepper, each.  

Alright friends!  In a large gallon size ziplock bag, add in all of the marinade ingredients followed by the chicken.  Seal and place in a dish (to avoid spillage) and into the fridge.  Allow to marinate for about 3 hours.  Do not go too much longer as the citrus in the marinade will change the texture of the chicken.  *You can make the marinade without the lemon juice if you’d like it overnight and add it in later.

Assuming the chicken has been marinating away and it’s time to finish the meal, you’ll next prepare the Tzaziki sauce and again, it’s just as easy as the marinade!  After you dice up the cucumber, simply whisk together all of the above mentioned ingredients, cover and set aside.  *If preparing this in advance, please keep refridgerated until ready to use.  

Onto the vegetables!  Rinse, cut, chop, dice, seed etc. etc. etc. your yummy veggies while also bringing a large stockpot of salted water to a boil.  *I sprinkled a bit of salt and pepper over the vegetables for added flavor.

In a skillet over medium/medium-high heat with 1Tbsp of oil and 1Tbsp of butter, add the marinaded chicken.  Cook through and set aside.  Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook to package directions.  

Once the chicken has cooled slightly, roughly chop into bite size pieces.

Drain the al dente noodles and pour into a 2-qt casserole dish or large serving bowl.

The finish line has arrived…Now it’s just time to cross it!

Simply add the vegetables and olives to the penne pasta, pour on your finished tzatziki sauce and gently toss together with the crumbled feta cheese.  

Serve with extra lemon slices and perhaps a bit more feta cheese and a pinch of fresh dill, enjoy!!  

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!! 

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!!! 

 

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