Tag Archives: red pepper flakes

Lazy Sunday Italian Tomato Gravy

6 Nov
Lazy Sunday Italian Tomato Gravy

Lazy Sunday Italian Tomato Gravy

After we harvested the last of our ripe tomatoes before the first freeze hit, I decided to grab a bunch of the green tomatoes and hope for the best. These languished on the countertop for a couple of weeks as they slowly ripened. Yesterday I decided I better do something with the ones that finally ripened. Older tomatoes like this need to be cooked down, so slow-roasting them all day seemed the perfect way to spend my Sunday while binge-watching Chopped episodes. And it made the house smell divine!

While I used fresh tomatoes for half this recipe (I blanched and peeled them first), by all means use all canned tomatoes, and preferably San Marzano. Mine were fire-roasted but plain works equally as well. I had to add some additional water during the cooking since I didn’t have the canned juice to go with fresh tomatoes.

This recipe is halved, but by all means double it, as this tomato gravy can go with a multitude of dishes beyond pasta. We served it over rice with garlicky sauteed shrimp. I plan on poaching some eggs in the leftover sauce for a future meal. So rich and incredibly tasty!!

Lazy Sunday Italian Tomato Gravy
Adapted from Serious Eats/J. Kenji López-Alt

2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
8 baby carrots
1/2 medium onion, halved
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Fresh and Canned Peeled Tomatoes

Fresh and Canned Peeled Tomatoes

Lower rack in oven to bottom position and preheat oven to 275 degrees. In a large bowl, crush the tomatoes thoroughly with your hands. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the crushed tomatoes to a container and refrigerate until later.

Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat in a Dutch oven until butter is melted. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, and basil, and cook for about two minutes until garlic is fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes, carrots and onion until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer.

Tomato Gravy Ready to Slow Cook

Tomato Gravy Ready to Slow Cook

Cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar and place in preheated oven. Walk away and enjoy your day, coming back to stir about every 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add a little water if needed throughout. The sauce should reduce by about half and darkened to a deep red, about 5 to 6 hours.

Remove from oven, then discard onion quarters and carrots. Add the reserved tomatoes and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper. Serve immediately over pasta, rice or any which way you want. Leftovers can be refrigerated up to a week or frozen. Reheat from frozen with 1/2 cup water.

p.s. Austin Street Taco followers: I’ve closed my cart down now for the winter, but had a meeting today about a possible and exciting future venue next year! Stay tuned!

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

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Grilled Foil Pack Pacific Cod with Summer Veggies

5 Aug
Grilled Foil Pack Pacific Cod and Veggies

Grilled Foil Pack Pacific Cod and Veggies

I do think I’ve run out of things to say about not posting new recipes recently, so why don’t I just cut to the chase. My new taco cart adventure is successful, YAY!

Here is a post from FB from one of my new (and very excited) customers, lol. I figure it’s OK to post it to the world since this Facebook page is a public page.

Austin Street Tacos Happy Customer

Austin Street Tacos Happy Customer

And yes, I cook for the fam quite frequently, but simply forget to snap a photo or even think to write a post about it. This recipe, however, I remembered. This took less than a half hour max to prep and cook on the grill. The ONLY downfall with it is I FORGOT THE RED ONIONS! I had full intentions of slicing some red onion real thin to add to this, but then my seester from Texas called all excited about a new job she just landed, and I was basing my recipe off one I had just brought up on my phone, and well, you know…

Either way, this was such a fantastic summer meal to enjoy on our deck. I hope you enjoy it too.

This recipe adapts handily to any number of mouths you are feeding, adjust accordingly. The one below is for two and just base the amount of vegetables on how hungry you are (or how big your foil sheets are). If you can, use the bounty from your vegetable garden or head to the farmer’s market for the veggies!

Grilled Foil Pack Pacific Cod and Veggies
Adapted from Serious Eats

2 6-ounce Pacific cod filets, or other mild white fish
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Zucchini, cut into thin rounds
Yellow summer squash, cut into thin rounds
Thin-sliced red onion
Sliced tomato
Crushed red pepper flakes
Olive oil, for drizzling
Dry white wine, for splashing
Thin lemon slices
Sprigs of fresh lemon thyme (or regular)

Preheat the grill (or oven) to 450 degrees. Lay out sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil for each person. Season the fish with salt and pepper and place a piece of fish on each one. Arrange the vegetables around the fish, top with lemon slices, then sprinkle with red chile flakes and perhaps a bit more pepper if you like. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over all, and splash a bit of wine over it too. Top each packet with a fresh lemon thyme sprig.

Wrap the foil around everything, leaving some head space for steaming, and seal completely. Set packets on the preheated grill (or in oven) and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness of fish.

Remove and CAREFULLY open (it will be steamy hot) to check fish. If done, serve immediately or re-cover and cook a tad more. I chose to also serve some mashed potatoes, but pasta or rice would be great too.

Download and Print PDF

Download and Print PDF

 

 

Pacific Cod with Chorizo and Tomatoes

11 Jun
Pacific Cod with Chorizo and Tomatoes

Pacific Cod with Chorizo and Tomatoes

With my parents visiting from Texas to celebrate various milestones in my family (including an 18th birthday and high school graduation), we’d been eating out a lot or ordering some pretty heavy take-out food. I decided it was time to cook a bit lighter fare last night before we send them back to the Lone Star State tomorrow (but not after a big feast of Texas Brisket tonight!).

Here are my parents enjoying their meal

This is an elegant and definitely guest-worthy meal that comes together quickly. The small amount of spicy chorizo and the bright taste of lemon thyme pairs perfectly with the sweet red peppers and fresh tomatoes. Do serve this with copious amounts of crusty bread for sopping up the tasty sauce. I chose to serve the fish and tomato sauce over pan-seared polenta slices with a side of steamed asparagus.

Pacific Cod with Chorizo and Tomatoes
Adapted from Roasted Cod with Linguica,
by Steven Lee Meyers on Food52

1 tablespoon olive oil
5 ounces Mexican chorizo
3 cloves garlic, sliced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded and blended with 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
Leaves from 3 sprigs lemon thyme, plus more for garnish
1.5 to 2 pounds Pacific cod, or other firm white fish
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium and brown the chorizo, about 10 minutes. Add the sliced garlic and saute until fragrant. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes, then deglaze the pan with the white wine.

Add the pureed red pepper, chopped tomatoes, and lemon thyme. (If you don’t have lemon thyme, you can use regular thyme and squeeze in a small amount of fresh lemon juice.) Simmer the sauce until the tomatoes break down, about 15 minutes. You want it a bit soupy to hold the fish.

While the sauce is simmering, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly sprinkle the cod with salt, then nestle the pieces into the tomato sauce. Carefully place the hot skillet into the oven and roast until fish is done, about 7 to 10 minutes. The fish should flake easily with a fork.

Remove from oven and serve fish over polenta cakes, spooning the sauce over and around it.  Garnish with lemon thyme sprigs.

 

p.s. I’m starting to get the hang of running my food cart and the day-to-day tasks needed. We won’t talk about the day I forgot to bring the cheese or the other day I forgot the salsas, OK? But really, I’m having a blast with it and have also been contacted to be a vendor at a dog rescue fundraising event in August. I’ve also started applying to have the cart at various summer festivals and other events. Some are already booked for this year, but I’m getting a good list for next year in the process!

 

 

Braised Lemon Chicken with Artichokes and Salami over Pasta

11 Mar
Braised Lemon Chicken with Artichokes and Calabrese Salami Over Pasta

Braised Lemon Chicken with Artichokes and Calabrese Salami Over Pasta

Call me crazy for making this, but it turned out so awesome (to me) that I ate it for lunch THREE DAYS STRAIGHT. Never mind the opinions of the household members.

I had some lingering Calabrese salami and frozen artichokes hanging out in the usual places, and decided to throw caution to the wind and make something up. As it turns out, mixing chicken and salami is not so uncommon (it’s a New Orlean’s dish). Neither is mixing artichokes and salami (pizza, anyone?). Why not marry them all into one dish?? And then serve it over pasta?

This is a delight for the taste buds and even guest-worthy, if you have friends who aren’t intimidated by the bold and adventurous. 🙂

Braised Lemon Chicken with Artichokes and Salami over Pasta

1 1/4 pounds chicken breasts or thighs (mine were boneless/skinless breasts)
Salt and black pepper for seasoning chicken, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sliced onions
1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced
1/2 cup sliced fennel bulb
5 ounces frozen artichokes (that’s 1/2 bag of Trader Joe’s)
1/2 cup large-diced salami (I used Calabrese, also TJ’s)
1 large stalk fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian flat-leafed parsley, plus more for garnish
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 dry white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken stock
Juice of 1/2 small lemon, plus lemon slices from the other half
Cooked pasta of choice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut chicken into large sections, if large. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Over medium-high heat, add the oil and sear the chicken until browned on all sides, a few minutes a side. The chicken will cook more later, so remove and place in a 2-quart casserole dish with a cover.

Veggies and Salami

Veggies and Salami

Add the sliced onion and fennel to the hot skillet for about 5 minutes, stirring until starting to soften and brown, then add the salami and sage. Cook until the salami begins to crisp up a bit. Add the garlic, artichoke hearts, oregano, parsley, and red pepper flakes.

Beautiful Base for Sauce

Beautiful Base for Sauce

Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping the bits off the bottom. Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate. Then add the flour, again stirring to incorporate. Now pour in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Last, squeeze in the juice of the half lemon.

Sauce Mixture for Chicken

Sauce Mixture for Chicken

Pour the mixture over the chicken in the casserole dish, arrange sliced lemons over top, cover with foil, then with the lid.

Cooked Chicken in Veggie Salami Sauce

Cooked Chicken in Veggie Salami Sauce

Place in heated oven and roast for about 40 to 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to directions.

Uncover and sprinkle with fresh parsley, for garnish. Serve over cooked pasta of choice (I used angel hair) with plenty of sauce and vegetables. For the leftovers, I found shredded Mozzarella cheese to be a fantastic addition!

Braised Lemon Chicken with Artichokes and Calabrese Salami

Braised Lemon Chicken with Artichokes and Calabrese Salami

 

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Recipe

 

Fried Artichokes and Shrimp Pasta

2 Jul
Fried Artichokes and Shrimp Pasta

Fried Artichokes and Shrimp Pasta

What can I say? This dish is simply AH-MAZING! I am a huge fan of artichokes, but fried? And also jumbo shrimp? Shut the door and lock me in! When I saw this recipe over at Meals with Mel (please stop on by her site to check it out. Hi Melody!!) I knew I just had to make it and went on a mission to do just that. My only regret is adding only two cans of artichokes, as I do believe I ate at least one can of said artichokes before they even met the shrimp and pasta.

While not something I’d indulge in often while watching the waistline, this is definitely a meal I will make again. My husband loved it too and wow Mel, thanks for the introduction to a plate of heaven!

Fried Artichokes and Shrimp Pasta
Adapted from same recipe at Meals with Mel

2 14-ounce cans artichoke hearts, quartered
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 handful thyme sprigs
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 pound jumbo shrimp (16/20 count)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 large shallot, diced small (about 1/3 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped and divided
2 teaspoons fresh spicy oregano, minced
1/8 cup capers plus 2 teaspoons of the brine
1 large lemon, halved
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 to 6 ounces dried Linguine
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Pecorino Romano, grated, for serving

Drain the artichoke hearts until they are almost completely dry. I squished them down in the colander with paper towels then let them set for about a half hour, blotting with more paper towels periodically.

Artichokes and Thyme Ready to Fry

Artichokes and Thyme Ready to Fry

Arrange the artichoke hearts in a single layer in the bottom of a cast iron skillet or other heavy skillet. Pour just enough olive oil over the artichokes to cover them. I used a cup.

Toss in the smashed clove of garlic and thyme sprigs. Turn the heat on to medium-high and allow the artichoke hearts to fry for about 30 minutes.

Artichokes Halfway Through Frying

Artichokes Halfway Through Frying

After about 10 minutes gently move the artichokes around to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom. After about 20 minutes carefully turn the artichoke hearts over to ensure even browning. After 30 minutes they should be golden brown, but don’t let them burn.

Remove the artichokes from the skillet and transfer to a paper towel-line plate. Lightly salt the hot fried artichoke hearts. Set aside and try not to eat them all. Trust me.

Fried Artichokes

Fried Artichokes ~ Maybe I should have moved them further away from my work space

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook to your preference according to package directions. Remove a cup or two of the cooking water and reserve, then drain the pasta

In another large skillet add about 2 tablespoons of the artichoke “frying” oil and a tablespoon of butter. Add the shallot and cook over medium heat until tender, about four minutes. Add in the garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, capers and brine, half the chopped parsley, and the juice and zest of half the lemon. Season with a little salt and lots of ground black pepper, to taste. Cook for two minutes until fragrant, then add the white wine and reduce by half.

Cooking the Jumbo Shrimp

Cooking the Jumbo Shrimp

Add the shrimp and cook just until the shrimp turn pink, just a couple minutes per side. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the shrimp and fried artichokes and toss to combine. Loosen the pasta with the reserved cooking water.

Fried Artichokes and Shrimp Pasta

Fried Artichokes and Shrimp Pasta

Pour the skillet contents into large serving bowl and toss with the remaining parsley, the other lemon half squeezed, and a little fresh grated Pecorino Romano or other high-quality hard cheese. This is dinner-guest worthy! Enjoy!

P.S. I have been super busy the past few days getting our house and patio ready for a 4th of July party. I hope you all have a safe, memorable and enjoyable holiday weekend!

Fried Artichokes and Shrimp Pasta

Fried Artichokes and Shrimp Pasta

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

Broccoli, Spinach, and Mushroom Pasta in a Yogurt Cheese Sauce

7 Aug
Broccoli, Spinach, and Mushroom Pasta in a Yogurt Cheese Sauce

Broccoli, Spinach, and Mushroom Pasta in a Yogurt Cheese Sauce

Meatless Mondays! OK so it’s Wednesday or later by the time you read this, but I’ve decided to get in on the Meatless Monday dinner idea and made this on Monday. This is not only meatless, but it’s a one-pot meal. Sort of, if you don’t count the strainer.

I had a small head of broccoli and a bag of fresh spinach in the fridge, along with some mushrooms, ALL of which needed cooked ASAP because I forgot to bring them on my four-day camping trip last weekend. Well, not so much forgot but knew we were eating out a lot (I thought) so ignored them by default. We actually ended up cooking dinner two out of the three nights due to unforeseen circumstances. This is also a “by the seat of your pants” meal, meaning I really didn’t know what I was going to add to except for the veggies and pasta it until I started cooking it.

My hubby was pleased and my daughter kept eating my leftovers, darn it! Since this was meatless, I decided to use the hearty Rigatoni pasta to give it a bit more ooomph. I also added a large dollop of sour cream at the last minute, since the Greek yogurt didn’t make it as thick as I wanted it. Per usual, I added lemon and crushed red pepper flakes since it had spinach in it. I can’t say it enough, those two ingredients just make spinach sing! Instead of regular butter, I also used my Tarragon Lemon Chive Butter compound, but of course you can use any butter instead. I hope you have a chance to enjoy this for a delightful Meatless Monday Meal.

Broccoli, Spinach, and Mushroom Pasta in a Yogurt Cheese Sauce

2 cups fresh broccoli florets, chopped into bite-sized pieces
8 ounces dried Rigatoni (or other sturdy pasta)
1/2 tablespoon Tarragon Lemon Chive butter, or unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 to 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 to 5 cups cups fresh spinach, torn
1 cup reserved pasta water
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
A couple of pinches of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
7-ounce container plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese, plus more for garnish

Broccoli, Spinach, Mushrooms, and Onions Ready for Sauce

Broccoli, Spinach, Mushrooms, and Onions Ready for Sauce

Bring a big pot of water to boil.  If you have a steamer basket that fits inside the pot, put the broccoli in it and place it in or above the boiling water to cook the broccoli for about 5 minutes (steaming might take longer). If you don’t have anything like that, then just add the broccoli to the boiling water for same amount of time. Remove the broccoli from the water without pouring the water down the drain. Set broccoli aside. Now add the pasta to the water, and bring it back up to boil and cook according to package directions.

Once the pasta is done, reserve one cup of the pasta/broccoli water and set the pasta aside. (I just added it to the broccoli basket.) Return the pot to the burner, and add the butter and oil to the pot and reduce heat to medium. Add the mushrooms and onions, and cook for about 5 minutes until the onions start to soften and the mushrooms release their liquid. Now add the garlic, and cook for about a minute more. Next add about half the spinach and a half cup of the reserved pasta water. Add the rest of the spinach, and stir until all is wilted.

At this point, grind a bunch of black pepper over it to taste, the crushed red pepper flakes, lemon juice, yogurt, and sour cream.  Now add the broccoli and pasta back into the pot and stir around. Last, add the grated Parmesan cheese, and mix around to incorporate. Add more pasta water as needed to desired consistency. This sauce will be a bit clumpy on the veggies, but it’s all good. Heat for a minute or two more, then serve immediately with more Parmesan. I had some garlic bread I was going to serve with this, but I totally forgot to heat it up. Oh well!

Broccoli, Spinach, and Mushroom Pasta in a Yogurt Cheese Sauce

Broccoli, Spinach, and Mushroom Pasta in a Yogurt Cheese Sauce

Sloppy Joes Sliders

27 Mar
Sloppy Joes Sliders Fresh Out of Oven

Sloppy Joes Sliders Fresh Out of Oven

Until I made these last week, I had not had Sloppy Joes in upwards of 30 years, seriously. My mom always made them from the stuff out of a can, and it was one of my least favorite meals she made us as kids. Don’t get me wrong, my mom is a fantastic cook, but when you have six kids in soccer and the various games and practice schedules, sometimes dinner just had to be quick and easy. I was inspired to make these after making Baked Ham and Swiss Sliders for Super Bowl, but wanted to make it from scratch and had to rely on what was in the fridge and pantry, (except for the King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, which I insisted hubby drive to the store to get for me after he dropped our daughter off at piano lessons). First off, the variations to make these are off the charts. So I printed out two of the recipes combined them to give me the basis for the sauce. My daughter was gone for dinner that night, so I only prepared a half-rack of rolls, but made enough Sloppy Joes so that we could just heat up the Joes and plop on the rolls for a quick lunch/snack later in the week. I am happy I made these, and now have another ground beef meal to add to the rotation. Feel free to leave off the roll-topping sauce at the end, but it does add a wonderful dimension to the flavor.

Sloppy Joes Ground Beef, Peppers, and Onions

Sloppy Joes Ground Beef, Peppers, and Onions

Sloppy Joes Sliders

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup hot water
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/8 teaspoon Mexican oregano (or regular)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or regular)
1/4 teaspoon dried ground mustard
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (or regular)
1 8-ounce can of tomato sauce
1 6-ouce can of tomato paste
1 12-count package King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
Shredded Swiss Cheese

Sloppy Joes Mixture

Sloppy Joes Mixture

For the roll topping:
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Sloppy Joes Ready to Top

Sloppy Joes Ready to Top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef with the onions, red bell pepper, and garlic with ground black pepper to taste. When cooked through and starting to stick, drain the grease and deglaze the pan with the hot water.  Reduce the heat to medium, then add the rest of the ingredients except the rolls, cheese, and roll topping. Mix well and simmer until heated through and thickened, about 10 or 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix all the roll-topping ingredients and microwave for 30 seconds. Next assemble the sliders. Cut the rolls in half lengthwise, add the bottom of teh rolls to a lightly oil-sprayed casserole dish, then layer the Sloppy Joes on the bottom of the rolls. Next top with Swiss cheese. Last, add the roll tops, then brush the roll-topping over the rolls. Cover with foil, and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover, and broil for just a few minutes. Keep an eye on them! Mine started to burn pretty quickly, so ended up with a few slightly more than browned on top. Good thing my hubby likes burnt toast, he got the darker ones. These sure were good, and way better than that stuff out of the cans!

Sloppy Joes Slider

Sloppy Joes Slider

Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Angel Hair Pasta

17 Feb
Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Angel Hair Pasta

Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Angel Hair Pasta

What’s not to love about a thick, cheesy sauce filled with spinach and artichokes? Well, maybe the fat content but I reduced it down as much as possible to still give you an awesome meal without meat! I can’t believe I pulled it off. I was worried, I tell you. I don’t serve meatless meals that often in this household, but it was rich enough to sate even my husband’s carnivorous appetite. While shopping for my list of food for this, I was specifically looking for  some Neufchâtel in the cheese aisle and when I started peering closely at labels, this more than helpful stocker asked if he could assist me. When I told him what I was looking for, he pointed it out and said “Neufchâtel is the original cream cheese, and has 1/3 less fat than that other stuff.” Well I was one not to argue since I knew that already but thought I’d throw that out there for you in case you didn’t. He also informed me that they have various forms of  Parmesan cheese in no less than four different locations in the store, and five if you counted the fake-shake stuff by the jarred spaghetti sauce. I think this guy really knew his cheese. Thank you, sir.

Moving on, I’ve mentioned before that if you use spinach,  always think of lemon and crushed red pepper flakes. That combination just can never go wrong. In fact, just go off right now and cook up some fresh spinach with a little butter and lemon juice and red pepper flakes, and tell me what you think? OK. We have an understanding. Before I lose too many carnivores in this post, you can always add some cooked chicken at the end to this. I was tempted. But I resisted.

Please do not be intimidated by my long post below, as this actually comes together in about a half an hour. I just had lots of  words to share with you!

Adding Spinach to Creamy Cheese Sauce

Adding Spinach to Creamy Cheese Sauce

Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Angel Hair Pasta

8 ounces Angel Hair pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 brick (8 ounces) Neufchâtel cream cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 6-ounce bag fresh spinach
1/2 to 1 cup low-sodium homemade or boxed chicken broth, as needed
More Parmesan cheese for serving

Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. In a deep cast-iron or heavy bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil to medium, cook the garlic a minute or so, then add the brick of cream cheese. Once the cheese starts melting a bit,  add the milk (I used 1%)  and light sour cream. Using a spatula or back of large spoon, smoosh the brick of cheese all around and get it to mix with the liquid. Just keep smooshing and stirring and cooking and finally it will start looking creamy. I know, I had my doubts on this. It does eventually happen.  Once the mixture starts looking creamy enough, add the 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese, then stir until combined. Grind a bunch of black pepper over it all, to taste. I add lots, usually. Now add the lemon juice, pepper flakes, and artichoke hearts and stir and stir around to combine nice and good.

At this point, you better put your Angel Hair pasta into the water that’s probably boiling by now. Now it’s time to start adding the spinach into the sauce. I just grabbed a handful of spinach and tore it up a bit and started adding it to the creamy sauce handful by handful and stirring it in. This is where the chicken broth comes in. As the sauce starts to get too thick, stir in a bit of chicken broth, maybe a quarter of a cup at a time, stirring all the while. Add more torn spinach, stir, simmer, add more, stir simmer. Too thick? More chicken broth. You get the picture. Finally all the spinach will be in and wilted, and you will be very hungry now because it looks and smells so good. OH! Drain that now-cooked pasta, heap a mess on a plate, then spoon the delicious creamy yummy spinach artichoke sauce over it. Top with more shredded Parmesan cheese to taste. Whoa! This is goooood. Real good.

Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Angel Hair Pasta

Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Angel Hair Pasta Ready to Eat

Paprika Spinach and Garbanzo Beans with Brined Smoked Pork Roast

11 Nov
Wilting the Spinach in Garbanzo Beans

Wilting the Spinach in Garbanzo Beans

My husband decided to smoke some of the salmon and steelhead we had in our freezer and made a big batch of brine. So he decided to try his hand at brining a pork roast too and smoking it after the fish was done. What a great idea! He basically followed the brining recipe here: How to Smoke a Salmon. He smoked the pork for quite a long time, but I was busy cleaning the house and didn’t pay much attention to the process, sorry! I was also getting tired of our same-old same-old side dishes, so set out to find something new and different to serve with the pork. I found a fabulous recipe on Cooking Light for spinach and chickpeas (I call them garbanzo beans, same thing) but of course I didn’t have most of the ingredients. And of course, I adapted it with what I had. Cooking is not a science, really! (OK, maybe baking is but you know where I stand on that. Too precise for me!) All you have to do is consider the basic flavors of what is asked for in the recipe (besides the main ingredients) and scour your fridge and pantry for substitutes. It usually always works. Usually. Really. 🙂

Paprika Spinach and Garbanzo Beans

Paprika Spinach and Garbanzo Beans

Paprika Spinach and Garbanzo Beans

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup diced fresh tomato
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1  can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 package fresh spinach (9 ounces), coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 half lemon

Brined Smoked Pork Roast

Brined Smoked Pork Roast

Heat a large skillet to medium and add the olive oil and onions. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook about 5 more minutes until the onion is soft. Add the paprika and cook for a minute or two longer. Add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and garbanzo beans. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes more, stirring occasionally. I also smashed some of the chickpeas with the back of my spatula to help thicken the broth.  In batches, add the spinach and stir and cook until it is wilted. Add the rice wine vinegar and lemon juice, mix it up a bit, and serve. A very filling, tangy and spicy yummy side dish!

Oh, and if you want to see how I subbed all the ingredients, here is the original recipe:  Chickpeas and Spinach with Smoky Paprika

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