Tag Archives: penne

Green Chile Albondigas Alfredo

MMmmm….meatballs!  Yes, for those of y’all that are not “in the know”, meatballs translated in Spanish is: albondigas.  The more you know.

These said albondigas just so happen to pair beautifully with green chiles and creamy alfredo sauce…they almost cancel each other out to flow beautifully together.  Not too spicy, not too bland.

I like to serve ours with a bit more cheese and chopped roasted peppers, but however you do it, you’ve made yourself a more elegant, Mexican-inspired meal.  Move over Taco Tuesday!

*You can make your own albondigas (your typical meatball recipe but combined with more Mexican spices: cumin, salsa, carrots, cilantro, Mexican oregano, etc) or you can use a bag of frozen Italian meatballs, both delicious.

*If gets too thick/not to the creaminess you prefer, you can add a splash of milk or heavy cream.

The Starting Lineup

  • 14oz meatballs (homemade or frozen)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 10.5oz can Cream of Jalapeno soup (can sub chicken broth or cream of chicken + seeded/diced jalapenos)
  • 8oz block cream cheese (1/3 fat-Neufchatel is fine), cubed
  • 1 cup water (or chicken broth)
  • 8oz penne pasta noodles
  • 4oz can of green chilies, hot
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste.

Garnish

  • Flat leaf parsley, rough chop
  • Roasted peppers (i.e.. jalapeno, poblano-seeded), finely chopped
  • Parmesan cheese

GreenChileAlfredo.jpeg

1.  Begin by heating a 10″-12″ pan to medium high heat.  (I actually love my cast iron for this, a bit of scraping is needed, but it creates almost a ‘crust’ on the noodles.  Though a non-stick would leave you an equally delightful super creamy version).

2.  To that hot pan, pour in the oil and followed by the meatballs to sear all over, 5-10 minutes.  (I used straight from frozen/fully cooked and work just fine!).

3.  To the seared meatballs, add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes.

4.  Once the onions are just translucent in color, whisk in the cubed cream cheese and can of soup.  Whisk, whisk, whisk!

5.  Next pour in the water/or broth, your 8oz of noodles and can of hot green chiles with juices.  Bring to a quick boil, stir.  Cover and allow to simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes.

6.  Finally, uncover, and toss in the halved cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Simmer on low, uncovered, for 5 more minutes.

Serve:  either individually or family style, top with a bit more parmesan, roasted peppers and chopped flat-leaf parsley.  Enjoy!

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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!! 

Cajun Pasta’laya

I’ve been in a Cajun influenced state of craving lately and was REALLY wanting a New Orleans staple…jambalaya!  My only problem (ok it’s not quite a “problem” but an annoyance of mine) is that I have two toddlers and when they eat rice, well it’s not a pretty sight.  I’d say they get 1 grain of rice in their tiny mouths for every 53 pieces on my floor.  

So hey!  Let’s substitute pasta noodles (MUCH easier for them to use a fork with or even fingers) and have ourselves some dinner!  It worked out great, wasn’t too spicy, wasn’t too mild.  The boys and hubby enjoyed it alike and guess what??  There was no damn rice all over my floor when dinner was over!  Happy momma!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1/2 lb chicken (Breasts or tenders), cut into pieces
  • 1 pckg large/extra large shrimp 
  • 1 pckg andouille sausage, cut into 1/2″ slices
  • 12oz penne pasta noodles
  • 1 15oz can of diced tomatoes (undrained)…I like one with cajun flavors of celery, onion, bell pepper
  • 1 each green & red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp+ of cajun seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Green onions, sliced (garnish)
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese (garnish)
  • Crystal, Louisiana or Tabasco sauce (garnish)  

Start this feast with a ‘kick’ by prepping all of your meats, shrimp and veggies.  In two large seperate bowls (1 for chicken & 1 for shrimp), add a hefty teaspoon of Cajun seasoning to each and toss to coat.  Set aside.  Mince, dice and chop up veggies and get the EVOO heated up over medium heat in a large pan.  Also bring water to boil in a large pot for the noodles. 

     Once the oil is up to temp, add in the seasoned chicken and begin to cook.  Once just starting to brown, add in the onion, bell peppers, garlic and sliced andouille sausage.  Cook till chicken is no longer pink and the vegetables are starting to sweat/soften.  Remove the cooked chicken, sausage & veggies and set aside. 

 Next, in the same large pan, (add in a bit of butter or oil if needed) add the seasoned shrimp.  Cook just a couple minutes on each side (don’t let them curl up completely up on you.  You want the appearance of the letter ‘C’, not an ‘O’ for perfectly cooked shrimp).  Remove from pot and set aside with the other cooked goodies. 

   *By now your pasta should be al dente (boil 1-2 minutes under package directions)!  Drain and set aside. 

 Back in that same large pan, add in the butter and flour while whisking away to form a rue.  While still whisking, incorporate the heavy cream until it’s creamy and smooth. 

       Next, add in the entire can of diced tomatoes (juice & all) and stir to combine.  Here you can taste for heat level and add in either/or another tsp or two of Cajun seasoning or a couple dashes of southern style hot sauce.  Once that is perfected, add back in all of the cooked veggies, meats and shrimp and toss in the cooked penne pasta noodles! *Add more milk/cream if it becomes too thick.

     Spoon into serving bowls and top with the freshly grated Parmesan and green onions!  Enjoy!!!  *You can also add the cheese and green onion to pan at the end if serving buffet style. 

 

Italian Stuffed Meatloaf Florentine

I’m giving away a secret…my famous Italian meatloaf recipe!  Ok, well maybe it’s only famous between my sister and I, but it’s ridiculous!!  It’s almost like a ginormous meatball or maybe a deconstructed lasagna..call it what you want, but we call it delicioso!

It’s a fun twist on your traditional American meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  There’s nothing wrong with old fashioned comfort food,  but this spin will keep your week nights a little less boring.. ☺️ You can also prepare the meat mixture the night before and then just sauté the spinach and assemble the next evening if you’re crunched for time after a busy day at work.

I hope you enjoy this family favorite recipe as much as me…and my sister. 😉

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb lean ground pork
  • 15oz container ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 5 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 bag frozen spinach, slighty thawed
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 egg, beaten
  • 3 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp EVOO 

Side Dish

  • 1 pckg noodles (I.e. Penne, spaghetti)
  • 1 jar of marinara sauce  

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

We’re going to first rinse and chop & dice our vegetables (onion, garlic, bell pepper & parsley).  You’ll also seperate the minced garlic.  2 cloves for the spinach and 3 cloves for the meat mixture. 

 

Heat the EVOO to med-low in a skillet and add in the 2 cloves minced garlic.  Cook till fragrant, about 1 minute.   

 

Next, you’ll add in the spinach.  *dont worry if it’s still a bit frozen, it will work.  You can also use fresh spinach if you have that available.  

Stir the garlic spinach mix occasionally till warm.  Transfer the cooked spinach to a dish and set aside while keeping the leftover liquid in the skillet. *I like to place my cooked spinach in a paper towel lined bowl to soak up the extra juices. 

 

While you’re finishing up cooking the spinach (aka the florentine) portion of this masterpiece, we’ll start the meat mixture.  Super simple!

In a very large bowl, combine almost everything else.  The beef, pork, veggies, garlic, bread crumbs, seasonings, the beaten eggs and the milk.  Remember to take off your jewelry because you’re about to get your hands dirty!  Get in there and thoroughly mix this up. 

  


Now, in a 9×13 baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick, you’re going to start the fun part! 

Take about 2/3 of the meat mixture and make a firmly packed rectangle while pressing down the middle to create an almost 1″ thick by 2″ tall “walls”.  You’re going to be filling this area with some good stuff! 

 

Spread your container of ricotta cheese in the base 1st. 


Next, you’re going to spread the garlic-spinach mix overtop that.  

Then sprinkle about 1 cup of mozzarella cheese over your spinach. 


Finally, we’ll top this off with the remaining 1/3 meat mixture.  I like to almost make ‘hamburger patties’ out of it and place over top while pinching it all together to make a seal.  It’s really easier than it seems.  Then I just press and pack it tight to keep that perfect rectangular shape.

 

Pop this in your preheated oven.  It will cook for one hour.

After about 30 minutes of you’re stuffed meatloaf cooking, start your noodles and sauce.  I like to pour my sauce right into the skillet we sautéed our spinach in.  That flavor from the remaining EVOO, garlic and spinach will only enhance the flavor of the jarred sauce.  *cook your noodles about 2 minutes less than the package directions.  Once time is up ladle straight into the marinara sauce, along with about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. 

   

While your side is coming together, that 1 hour should be up.  Sprinkle the remaining cup of mozzarella cheese over your cooked meatloaf and cook for about 10 more minutes, till cheese is bubbly and melted.  Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. 

   

Cut into thick slices and place over your marinara dressed noodles alongside a glass of good vino.  Enjoy!! 

 

*If you do not care for ricotta, you can substitute with all mozzarella cheese.  The thick slices of mozzarella in you’re grocers deli section would be ideal, nice and gooey!

*I chose a lean ground beef, because there’s enough fat in the ground pork to keep it juicy.

  

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!

Short Rib Ragu

The aroma in your home is worth this.  This isn’t your store brand ‘Ragu’, this is  an authentic meat based sauce where the tomatoes take a back seat to the delicious braised meat.  In layman’s terms, this is fancy Italian food.

The Starting Lineup

  • 3lbs beef short ribs 
  • 1 lb noodles
  • 5 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups beef broth, low-sodium
  • 1 cup red wine, I.e. Cabernet Sauvignon 
  • 3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Italian flat leaf parsley 
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • EVOO    

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Start this dish by liberally seasoning your short ribs with kosher salt & pepper. I say do much more than you think you need.  Pour a few tbsps worth of EVOO into a heavy bottomed pan (I prefer my enameled Lodge cast iron for this, cleans up easy).

Heat that EVOO up to a med high temp and then add in your short ribs, searing all sides a couple of minutes.  This should take about 10 minutes, set your short ribs aside, but leave that now flavored oil and brown bits in the bottom of your pan.

  

In that same pot, with allll that brown goodness and flavor, add in your onion.  Sweat those down for 2 minutes and then add in your garlic.  Cook for 1 more minute.

 Add in your quartered tomatoes, cup of red wine and Dijon mustard.  Bring up to a boil while scraping up the brown bits on bottom of pan with a wooden spoon.  Place your short ribs back in your pan along with the beef stock.

Turn your oven down to 300 degrees, cover your pot and pop in the preheated oven for 3 1/2 hours.  I suggest going out & about, so when you return home you really get a whiff of this delicious delight!

When the braising meat is almost done, start your pasta according to package directions.  I usually undercook my noodles by about 2 minutes, they’ll finish cooking in your sauce.  *Keep your left over pasta water on hand in case your sauce needs thinned.

After the time is up, take your covered pot out of the oven and carefully remove the short ribs. They will be fall apart tender.  Shred.

Ladle the remaining vegetable, wine broth into a food processer and pulse till smooth.

Return both the short ribs and the puréed sauce to your pot, add in your noodles. (If needed, ladle in a bit of your reserved pasta water to thin).  Cover and allow flavors to meld.

Meanwhile, chop up some parsley and shred your parmesan cheese.

Scoop a large serving into a bowl, garnish and enjoy!!  Serve with some crusty bread and the rest of your red wine! 🍷

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