Category Archives: Italian

Way Rad Bowl of Pasta

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I didn’t know what else to call it. It has so many preparation-detailed ingredients that the full name would be something too long and annoying. So way rad bowl of pasta it is, because that’s what it was.

Sooo yeah. Remember how I said I wasn’t eating carbs and I missed them oh so much, but I refused to eat them? I kicked myself in the ass and told myself “moderation and portion control, betch” and then made this way rad pasta dish. And I would make it again, too.

I made this the night before our treadmill finally made its appearance in our basement gym, when I knew I would be running like mad the minute the delivery guys left my house. So I decided it would be best to pretend like I was running a marathon thereby validating a big bowl of pasta.

Although the base of this recipe comes from Cooking Light, I had to make some changes so it could fit into my “let’s be friggan’ healthy” lifestyle.

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For instance, I used whole wheat pasta, used a lighter cheese, and since we needed some kind of protein in there other than cheese, I threw grilled portobello “steaks” on top. So my version was born and was received well by both me and the man of the house.  I can’t get over the smokiness and spicy flavor this dish had, but tossing it all together with seared tomatoes and fresh spinach in a chili garlic sauce? Fuhgettaboutit.

Make it. Moderate it. Portion it well. Eat it. Delicioso. Fin.

5.0 from 2 reviews

Fettuccine with Chili Garlic Sauce and Portobello Mushroom
 
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A robust bowl of whole wheat pasta, seared tomatoes and fresh spinach tossed in a chili garlic sauce, then topped with sliced portobello “steaks”.
Author:
Recipe type: pasta, vegetarian, main dish
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. whole wheat fettuccine, or long pasta of choice (linguine would be yummy)
  • ½ cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1½ tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (use ¼ if you prefer less spice)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 15-oz. can organic tomato sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 2 oz. part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 portobello mushroom caps, de-stemmed and gills scraped out
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook according to package directions, about 7-9 minutes, or until al dente
  2. While the pasta cooks, spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Arrange tomatoes cut side down and cook 1 to 1½ minutes or until tomatoes start to soften or burst. Remove from skillet, transfer to bowl and set aside.
  4. In the same skillet, add the 1½ tablespoons olive oil over low heat.
  5. Add the red pepper flakes and sliced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add the tomato sauce and salt, stir and cook 5-7 minutes or until warmed through.
  7. While the tomato sauce simmers, the pasta should be done so you can drain and set aside.
  8. Get your grill pan ready or a separate pan and grill up portobello caps until browned and grilled well.
  9. Slice mushrooms and set aside.
  10. Once the sauce has thickened slightly, add the spinach, cheese, and drained pasta and toss well to coat.
  11. To serve, add mixed pasta to bowls, spoon a few grape tomatoes around the outer edge of bowls and top each bowl with sliced mushroom.

Cookbook Challenge #4 and #5

It’s time to recap two cookbook challenges I had last week. One was a complete disaster (#4) and one was totally boss (#5). I’m now two cookbooks done and only have 9 more to get through and 17 more recipes to finish!

Let’s talk about the kitchen disaster first. I tried making Isa Chandra’s Samosa smashed potato cakes from her Vegan Brunch cookbook and it failed miserably.

The mixture looks like it would hold!

The mixture looked promising. Looks can be deceiving.

I followed the recipe exactly and even used a blog online that also referenced the recipe and it still failed. The only difference was I didn’t use 4 pounds potatoes because we didn’t need 30 of these potato cakes for just us two. But that shouldn’t have made a difference. Whenever I make any kind of savory cake, I almost always use cooked quinoa, Panko or even an egg as the binder. Since this recipe was vegan, I couldn’t use the egg, but it suggested using flour. Which I used. It still turned into a gloppy, horrible mess, but it tasted great.

Following the recipe method of frying them. Yuck!

Following the recipe method of frying them. Yuck!

Again, this looked promising! They just wouldn’t hold so when I would flip them (waiting almost 6-7 minutes per side; double the time suggested in the cookbook!), they turned into a mess. So I decided to try it again but without any oil in the pan.

More promising - still didn't hold.

More promising – still didn’t hold.

Since it was like samosa filling, it was totally boss. I’m just disappointed the end result couldn’t be classified as food. So we ended up getting takeout since it was already like 8 by that point. Lame. Screw the cookbook. Use Panko or quinoa next time. Lesson learned.

But moving onto Friday, we had our successful recipe! I found the risotto and pea recipe from Giada’s Everyday Italian cookbook and decided to make it. Except, learning my lesson from the disaster the night before, I just made my own version of it. I used my mushroom risotto for two recipe but added peas. Simple enough and oh so delicious.

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I’ve sort of perfected my risotto making process and now it’s foolproof. I do like the addition of peas, too. I didn’t think I would, but it was actually really good. And it reheated well the next day, too! You can’t go wrong with risotto though. It’s probably one of my favorite foods and since I don’t get to eat it all the time, when I do, it’s the most glorious experience. Truly.

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Mushroom Risotto with Peas
 
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Combining my risotto recipe with the peas from Giada de Laurentiis
Author:
Recipe type: risotto, main dish, vegetarian
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 1 oz. package dried porcini mushrooms (Earthy Delights brand or similar) – soaked in hot water to reconstitute
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 8 oz. Cremini mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed and sliced
  • 4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed and sliced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine (Pinot Grigio or similar)
  • ½ cup frozen green peas
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Start by adding the dried porcini mushrooms to some hot water to reconstitute them. Set aside for 20-25 minutes.
  2. Next add 4 cups of low sodium vegetable broth to a medium saucepan and bring to slight simmer over medium heat.
  3. In a large, deep skillet heat the 1 teaspoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat.
  4. Add the shallot and cook for 3-5 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Next add the sliced cremini and shiitake mushrooms and cook 8-10 minutes or until tender and most of the water has evaporated.
  6. Remove mushrooms from pan to bowl and set aside.
  7. Heat the other teaspoon of oil and tablespoon of butter in same pan.
  8. Add the arborio rice and stir until slightly toasted.
  9. Add the white wine and cook for 1-1½ minutes or until alcohol evaporates.
  10. Then add the broth ½ cup at a time, stirring the rice, and let it thicken. When you notice the liquid is almost absorbed, add another ½ up of broth. Continue this until the broth is used up.
  11. Add the cooked mushrooms to the pan.
  12. With a slotted spoon, take the porcinis out of the water and add them to the pan.
  13. If you need to use more liquid, you can use the mushroom water.
  14. The risotto is done when it is thickened and the rice is cooked and no longer hard – about 25-28 minutes.
  15. Add the frozen peas and cook for 1 minutes to heat through.
  16. Stir in the Parmesan cheese last.
  17. Serve immediately
  18. Optional garnishes: freshly chopped parsley or shavings Parmesan cheese

Cookbook Challenge #3 – Mushroom Bolognese

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Look at me go. I’m down 3 recipes and still have….19 to go! I’ve finished the two recipes from Isa Chandra’s Appetite for Reduction, so I moved onto a cookbook I own that now doesn’t suit my diet whatsoever: Everyday Italian by Giada de Laurentiis.

First off, I’m not the biggest fan of Giada. I don’t know if I ever was, but I was gifted this cookbook probably because I wanted cookbooks from all types of cuisine and figured “Hey! She’s bone thin and seems relatively healthy, I’ll get her cookbook.” Except, her cookbook isn’t made up of the healthiest recipes, definitely not lower carb and she only eats like 2 bites of food a day so no wonder she’s bone thin.

Either way, I figured I should tackle this cookbook next since carbs are my enemy and I need to just get it over with. So I made a version of her mushroom bolognese.

I forgot how much I love Italian food. I also forgot how heavy it can be. And I also forgot that carbs aren’t my friends and eating a lot of them in one sitting after not doing so for months did not make my stomach feel happy. I just felt full. Talk about carb binging.

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Nonetheless, it was done. Now I can check it off my list and go scouring through the book to find another recipe to make. Maybe I’ll just stick to something simple, like a vegetable appetizer.

Mushroom Bolognese
 
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A heartier version of Giada de Laurentiis’s recipe.
Author:
Recipe type: sauce, main dish, mushrooms
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound (2 8-oz. containers) mushrooms: I used creminis, shitakes and oysters – wiped clean, stems removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 15-oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. When the oil is hot, add the onion and red bell pepper and cook until tender, about 5-8 minutes.
  3. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
  4. Remove peppers and onion from pan and transfer to a bowl and set aside
  5. Add the remaining teaspoon olive oil, then add the mushrooms and cook until softened and tender – 5-10 minutes.
  6. When the mushrooms have reduced in size and most of the water has evaporated, add the peppers and onions back to the pan.
  7. Add the tomato paste, whole tomatoes and crushed tomatoes to pan and stir well.
  8. Add dried oregano, thyme, salt and pepper and stir well.
  9. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes, or until thickened.
  10. Serve over pasta of choice and enjoy.

 

 

Healthy Italian

 

Hi everyone! I hope you all are doing well!

So the title isn’t a mistake. There is such a thing as healthy Italian food. Ever since I started my new low-calorie/low-carb diet, I’ve missed pasta a lot. I’m also really nervous to eat a lot of pasta because I’m afraid of portion control. While I think I’ve, for the most part, learned how to eat the right amount, and also not eat things like cream sauce and stuff, I’m afraid I’ll still eat too much. It’s a terrible, horrible feeling that I’m hoping one day passes, but still. It is a bit of a struggle and it’s more mental than anything, but I’ll get better about it. I’m sure of it.

In light of thinking healthy Italian, REB and I made tofu parmesan on Saturday night. I never was a big fan of chicken parmesan when I ate meat, but I wasn’t a fan of deep fried things. I’m still not big on eggplant parmesan either. However, I found this recipe on Eating Well for tofu parm and decided we should give it a shot! I’m glad we did!

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It was not only delicious, but it was under 300 calories per serving. Perfection. I wish there was more protein in it, but you can always add some extra sides to make that happen. We did change a few things for our tastes, but it worked great.

Recipe adapted from Eating Well

Tofu Parmesan

•1 14-oz. block firm tofu, cut lengthwise into four “steaks”
•1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
•1/4 teaspoon salt
•1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
•1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
•2 teaspoon olive oil
•1/2 pound (one 8oz.-carton) baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
•1/2 cup onion (half a large onion), chopped
•1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
•1/2 cup total low-sodium marinara sauce
•1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated (can also use vegan cheese if you prefer)
•5 basil leaves, chiffonade

Method

On a plate, combine the Panko and Italian seasoning. Cut the tofu lengthwise into four “steaks” or pieces. Lightly season each side with garlic powder and salt (we didn’t use the full 1/4 teaspoon for each) and then dredge each side in the breadcrumb/Italian seasoning mix.

In a large deep skillet heat the olive oil and then add the onions and let them get translucent and slightly brown, about 5 minutes. Next add the mushrooms and let them sweat their liquid out and turn slightly brown, about 5-10 minutes.

Transfer the onions and mushrooms to a bowl. In the same skillet, which you may need to add another teaspoon of olive oil, add the tofu steaks and cook until it’s golden brown (about 3 minutes per side).

Turn the tofu, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, spoon the mushroom/onion mixture on each steak, top with a tablespoon or so of marinara sauce, then the mozzarella cheese. Cover the skillet and let the tofu continue to cook until the cheese is melted, about 2-3 minutes.

The last bit is just sprinkling some basil on top of each and serving it up! I’m glad we decided to use Panko instead of breadcrumbs. It made the tofu a little crispier. Note to self: find more recipes to use Panko! Like I said, this recipe is under 300 calories per serving and all delicious! Enjoy!

Have you had struggles with weight?
What are things you miss eating and have you found alternatives?

Mushroom Risotto For Two

Risotto is one of my favorite foods of all time. I LOVE it! The main problem, of course, is that it’s almost always made with chicken stock or broth. That doesn’t make it very vegetarian friendly. I always feel like the annoying customer who has to ask, “Is your risotto made with chicken broth or stock?”, but I just want to make sure, you know?

The last time we made Parmesan risotto, we used vegetable broth and it turned it really dark and took away the pretty color. The nice thing about making mushroom risotto is that it’s already dark so using a darker broth is A-OK!

Most mushroom risotto recipes suggest using dried porcini mushrooms and then letting them re-hydrate in water. Then you can even save the mushroom liquid as part of your cooking liquid. While that would have been awesome, we didn’t have any of those, so we just used baby Bella mushrooms, which we sliced up!

The process of making risotto does take a while and is all about stirring, but it was pretty good! We ended up having to use more liquid than normal recipes suggest, but I think that’s because we used fresh mushrooms. Actually I don’t know if that’s true, but we had to use more.

Here’s what you need:
•1 tablespoon butter
•1 tablespoon olive oil
•1/4 cup onion, chopped
•1 cup Arborio rice
•1/2 cup dry white wine (we used a Pinot Grigio)
•1/2 pound fresh baby Bella mushrooms (8 oz. carton), wiped clean and sliced
•3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
•1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Start by heating the vegetable broth over medium-low heat. Just bring it to a simmer so it’s warmed up. Then chop your onion, wipe clean and slice your mushrooms and set both aside.

In a saucepan or large pot, add the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Next add the Arborio rice and cook for 1-2 minutes or until it’s lightly toasted. Then add the wine and let it cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute to let the alcohol cook out. Add in all the mushrooms and stir to coat them in all the flavors.

Next, add in the vegetable broth, 1/2 cup at a time and stir to help the cooking process along. When the rice is a little dry, add another 1/2 cup. Keep doing this until you’ve used all the liquid and the risotto is coming together nicely and is creamy. For us, it took about 35-40 minutes total. We also left the risotto alone, not stirring it constantly, so some of the rice could cook up nicely since again, we had to cook fresh mushrooms with them. It was worth it, though! We were left with creamy, flavorful and mushroomy-meaty risotto. Throw in the Parmesan at the end, stir it in so it gets extra gooey and serve! You can also put a few shavings of cheese right before you eat.

Mushroom risotto for two! Or maybe just for you ;) Enjoy!

Have you ever made risotto before?
What’s your favorite kind?

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Eggplant Parmesan

I’ve never made eggplant Parmesan before. So I decided to make it tonight. Couldn’t be that hard, right? It wasn’t. The recipe I made I thought would serve just us two, but I think it could have easily fed 3-4 people.

Starting line up:
•1 large eggplant, cut into rounds 1/2-inch thick
•2 eggs, beaten
•1/2 cup flour
•1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
•Olive oil
•1 jar marinara sauce, or any sauce
•6-8 slices provolone cheese
•1/4 cup grated Parmesan
•1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
•1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

Preheat your oven to 435ºF

Wash the eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch round pieces. Add them to a large bowl and sprinkle some salt on them. This will help release some of the moisture so the eggplant won’t be soggy. Let it sit for 15 minutes or so. Then rinse them under cold water, to get rid of the salt, and pat them dry.

Get your dredging stations ready: 1 plate with flour, 1 shallow bowl with two eggs beaten with 2-3 tablespoon of water, 1 plate of bread crumbs. I added the oregano and red pepper flakes to the bread crumbs and tossed them. You could even toss them onto a cookie sheet and bake them for 5-10 minutes so they get toasty and golden brown. Totally optional though.

In a large, deep and wide skillet add enough olive oil (so it’s about 3/4 inch deep) and let that heat up

Take some eggplant, pat in the flour, then the egg, then the bread crumbs and set aside on a plate (while you wait for the oil to heat up). Continue doing this until you have all the eggplant prepared.

When the pan is hot, add 2-3 rounds to the pan and let them cook on each side for about 4-5 minutes.


Looking good! Once they’re all cooked, put them on a plate lined with paper towel to let some of the oil drain.

In a glass baking dish, pour the sauce. We just used jar sauce since I was lazy and didn’t have time to make my own. But making a marinara sauce is super simple. Heat up some onions and garlic in a sauce pan. Add a can of crushed tomatoes, your seasonings, you can add some tomato paste to help concentrate the flavor, and you’re done!

After you’ve poured the sauce into the baking dish, arrange the eggplant pieces in the dish so they’re snuggled into the sauce. Cover each eggplant piece with provolone cheese, sprinkle some Parmesan all over the top and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and ooey-gooey delicious!

Now that I now how to make it, whether it’s the traditional way to or not, it was super tasty and was super easy to make. Enjoy!

Caprese Salad

The colors of Italy never looked so good! This super simple, and very popular salad is one I love anytime of year. However, having this salad in the summer with fresh ingredients is how I like it best.

What you’ll need:
•1 tomato, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
•Fresh mozzarella, sliced in to 1/4-thick slices
•9 fresh basil leaves
•Balsamic vinegar
•Olive oil
•Sea salt
•Freshly ground black pepper

You’ll need three slices of tomato and three slices of the fresh mozzarella. Layer tomato, mozzarella, two basil leaves until you have a little stack.
Take the remaining basil leaves, roll them up, and slice them (chiffonade) into ribbons. Sprinkle that on top, along with a splash of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. It’s as simple as that!

Rainbow Pasta

Michigan has graced us with four consecutive days of beautiful Springtime weather.

This wouldn’t be such a big deal, except, this time last year it snowed for the last time for the season. And it snowed a LOT.

I know it’s coming. I know it. We always get one more dump of snow and then winter is officially over (usually) the second week of April.

I’m not going to go over the logistics; I’m thoroughly enjoying this weather and hope to continue doing so for a few more days.

In lieu of the warm weather I made a most delicious pasta dish full of roasted vegetables. It just makes me think of Spring and warm weather!

You’ll see why I call it Rainbow Pasta if you keep reading.

Rainbow Pasta starring:


•1 pound Farfalle (bow tie) pasta (or any pasta of your choice)
•3 carrots, peeled
•1 red bell pepper (or 2..they roast up beautifully!)
•1 yellow bell pepper
•1 green bell pepper
•1/2 cup grape tomatoes
•1/2 red onion (or a whole one if it’s on the small size)
•1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasonings (marjoram, thyme, oregano, basil, parsley)
•1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
•1 cup pasta water
*S&P to taste

Start by preheating your oven to 450ºF

Peel and cut the carrots into thin strips. Do the same with all the other vegetables.

See why I call it Rainbow Pasta?? So many pretty colors! Makes me antsy for Spring!
You could also use summer squash, zucchini, eggplant…whatever you like! I haven’t met a roasted vegetable I didn’t like.

Place all the vegetables onto a baking sheet in their own little piles.

Drizzle some olive oil all over the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Toss them carefully and lightly, but try to maintain their little piles as best you can.

Put them into the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes.

While that’s happening, start boiling your water and cook your pasta. I used Farfalle pasta, or bow tie pasta. Really, you can use any kind of pasta you like. Penne would work great, or rigatoni. I just had bow tie in the house and it’s one of my favorite kinds of pasta, so that’s what I used.

After 10 minutes, check on the vegetables and stir them around a bit. At this point, sprinkle the herbs on top and put them back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes.

This is what they look like when they come out of the oven. The vegetables are done when 1). you can smell them (and believe me, you can!), 2). they look a little wilted, which lets you know they’ve roasted beautifully. More importantly, the carrots are tender and soft.

Let them cool while the pasta finishes cooking. You can also get your grape tomatoes ready. The ones that were bigger, I cut in half. But for the most part you can leave them whole. When they’re in the pasta, they’ll burst in your mouth with amazing flavor – so delicious!

You can also grate your Parmesan cheese.

I buy the real stuff. I’ve said it before, but it’s true: using quality ingredients makes a world of difference. I’m also a food snob when I want to be ;-)

When the pasta is done, measure out 1 cup of the pasta water. The starchy water will help mix all the ingredients together and since we salted the pasta water when it came to a boil, it’ll intensify the flavor of the dish even more! Mmm! Mmm!

Drain your pasta and return it to the same pot (no use dirtying a new dish). Pour all your vegetables (carefully!) into the pot and stir.

Pour a little bit of the pasta water and stir a bit more. Add in the cheese, tomatoes and the rest of the pasta water, and give it one more good stir.


Grate some more cheese on top – honestly, you can’t have enough cheese – and enjoy!

It’s such an easy dish to prepare and it’s colorful, fresh and flavorful. I’m sure you’ll love it!

Pizza Party

REB and I were waffling between making stir fry or pizza for dinner. Since there was football on TV, I think the obvious choice was pizza. However, my thoughtful sweetie said it might be fun to make our own dough. So we did, and it was amazing.

I can’t take any credit for this recipe. We used Ina Garten’s recipe for pizza dough. I mean, she can be really annoying and she says smarmy, cheesy things, but she has some OK recipes. If you don’t know who she is, she’s the Barefoot Contessa lady on Food Network.

We just used one of her pizza recipes for the dough. It can be found here. We didn’t make California grilled pizzas, but the dough recipe was outta sight! Now, we have a stand mixer so we used that (as the recipe will note to use). However, if you don’t own one, I imagine using a hand-mixer with dough hooks would work just the same. Or use your best tools: your hands.

Here’s what you’ll need (if you don’t want to visit the link):
• 1 1/4 cup warm water
•2 packages dry yeast (we used Red Star brand dry active yeast)
•1 tablespoon honey
•3 tablespoons olive oil
•4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
•2 teaspoons salt

Add the warm water, olive oil, honey and yeast to your mixer bowl

On low speed, mix the ingredients to combine

With the mixer still on low speed, slowly add 3 of the cups of all-purpose flour and the salt. Add the flour slowly so it combines slowly and you’ll see it start to look like dough!

Reserve the last cup of flour to sprinkle little by little to help the dough become smooth and not so sticky. You may not end up using the entire cup (we didn’t…I don’t think)

Once the dough is smooth in the mixer, stop it and take it out. Place it on a lightly floured cutting board or counter and continue to knead it until it’s smooth.

Oil a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Roll the dough around so it gets lightly covered with the oil

Cover with a dry towel and let it sit for 30 minutes so it can rise

After 30 minutes, uncover and you’ll see that the dough has risen! Take it out of the bowl and place on a cutting board.

Cut the dough into six pieces (we cut it in half and then cut each half into thirds) and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Don’t they look like cute little pillows of nomminess? Cover the cookie sheet with a damp towel and let it sit for 10 minutes

While the dough sits under the damp towel, prepare your toppings

We used some roasted red pepper cut into thin strips, sliced black olives, Roma tomatoes and fresh basil

I love, love, love the way fresh basil smells. Mmmm! So fresh and so fragrant!

Preheat your oven to 500ºF (Yowsa! That’s hot!)

When the dough is done sitting, take a piece and pull and stretch into a 6-to-8-inch round

First ya sauce it (I lightly brushed the dough with olive oil before spreading the sauce)

Then ya cheese it

Then ya top it

Then ya bake it for 10 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is fully melted

REB let out his non-existent Italian and decided to be a pro

(….it worked…)

His was quite happy to have been created – smiiiile!

Voila! This was mine. A simple Caprese with Roma tomatoes, cheese, fresh basil. It was delicious!

His was an “everything veggie” with the black olives, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, cheese and basil.

What we learned after making mine was that the basil almost got burnt. It didn’t taste bad whatsoever, but it was a little darker than I wanted. For his pizza, we put the basil on 5 minutes into baking so it wouldn’t crisp as much or as fast. Worked like a charm!

The third one we made was sliced and put into the fridge for leftovers. We only used half the dough pieces. The rest were put into the freezer to be used at another time!

Like I said, I can’t take any credit for this dough. It turned out so well and I can’t ever imagine ordering pizza again. It was so simple to make and so delicious to eat.

Gnocchi noms

I made a gnocchi dish tonight. I got the original recipe from my friend Michelle, but I always end up doing a variation of it and add different things. That’s the great thing about it – you can pretty much add just about anything you have in your fridge or pantry, and it’ll probably taste good. Calories aside and put out of my mind for the night, this dish is comfort and delicious! I made this dish for me and REB, and we have leftovers (probably makes about 5 servings). You can easily cut this in half and make it for one person.

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Ingredients:
2 packages of gnocchi (fresh) – can be found from most grocery stores (top shelf)
1 lemon
1 package pre-washed spinach (can buy fresh too), roughly chopped
1 jar roasted red peppers, thin strips
5 cloves garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil

To Prepare:

First boil your water for the gnocchi. It’ll take about 10-15 minutes to boil. You can add salt to the boiling water if you want.

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IMG_8359Chop the walnuts. You can just roughly chop them.

IMG_8361I think ordinarily, you’d only use 5 cloves. However, I love garlic, so I use 6 :-)

IMG_8363Take the roasted red peppers out of the jar and shake them a bit over the sink, so they aren’t sooo wet

IMG_8364Cut the peppers into thin strips. Ta-da! There are the first ingredients all ready to go.

IMG_8365Over medium-high heat, make a few turns of olive oil and let it warm a bit

IMG_8366Add the garlic and walnuts. Stir and let them cook about 3-5 minutes until you can smell the walnuts and they’re slightly brown. Watch it carefully so the garlic does not burn!

IMG_8367Add the roasted red peppers and stir

IMG_8368Take the spinach out of the bag (or wash thoroughly if fresh) and roughly chop into big pieces. Add them to the skillet

IMG_8369Cover to help the spinach wilt quickly

IMG_8370When the water is boiling, add your salt and put the gnocchi in! Be careful to not let the hot water splatter on you! The gnocchi will only take about 2-4 minutes to cook. They will float to the top when they are finished.

IMG_8371Remove the lid and stir the contents of the skillet

IMG_8373When the gnocchi floats to the top of the water, take a slotted spoon and transfer the dumplings from the boiling water to the skillet. If you don’t have a slotted spoon, drain the gnocchi into a colander, but save about 1/4 cup of the pasta water.

IMG_8374Once all the gnocchi is added, stir all the contents together in the skillet. You may need to add some of the pasta water (one ladle) to the skillet to help cook down the spinach and help thicken the olive oil sauce. At this point, you can also add some freshly ground pepper and the juice from half the lemon

IMG_8375Right before serving, grate some fresh Parmesan and stir into yummy gooeyness

IMG_8377Spoon into a bowl, add a little more Parmesan at the end, and enjoy!

The great thing about this dish is that you can do so many variations on the dish! I’ve made it before with thinly sliced shallots, walnuts, spinach. You can also add arugula, diced tomatoes, caramelized onions, garlic, balsamic vinegar, it goes on, and on. Have fun!