Saturday, October 3, 2015

One-pot Bucatini with Sausage and Bacon

I wasn't going to cook at all. Everyone else in the family was off doing their things, and I hate cooking for just myself. I didn't even feel like cooking, but I suddenly found myself in the kitchen peering into boxes. Oh... have I mentioned that we recently bought a house and moved? Yeah... hence the box-peering. Anyway, I started seeing things... like pasta and the two lonely pieces of bacon in he fridge and the breakfast sausage that was about to go south. The more things I found, the more they started telling me they wanted to be together. NEEDED to be together. Not only did I end up clearing out some room in the fridge and putting away a couple of boxes, I came out of the kitchen with this!-

It was deeeeeeeeelicious!!

One-pot Bucatini with Sausage and Bacon

2-3 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2" wide pieces
1 package breakfast sausage links, cut into 1/2" pieces (or bulk Italian sausage... or whatever sausage-like meat you want to use)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, chopped
1/2 C. red wine + 1/2 C. water
1/4 C. tomato paste
1 C. tomato sauce
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 C. chicken broth
1 6.5 oz. can sliced mushrooms, undrained
1 t. dried basil
1 t. dried oregano
pepper to taste
1 C. water
1 16 oz. package bucatini pasta, broken into 3-4" pieces (or whatever pasta you happen to have on hand... just remember to adjust the cooking time if you need to)
1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, saute bacon until crisp. Remove and set aside to drain. Add sausage to remaining fat in pot. Saute until browned and cooked through. Remove and set aside with bacon. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from pot. Saute onions and garlic until soft. Deglaze pot with wine/water mixture, scraping up browned bits from the bottom. Add next nine ingredients and bring to a boil. Add pasta and return to simmer. Cover and cook 5 minutes (or approximately 2/3 of the recommended cooking time for the pasta you're using), stirring occasionally. Turn off burner, add reserved meats and Parmesan cheese, stirring well. Cover and let stand about 3 minutes, or until most of sauce is absorbed. Serve with additional cheese, if desired.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Watermelon with Goat Cheese Salad

I'm getting this strange feeling of deja vu... like this has happened before... like last summer when I had way, WAY too much watermelon in my life...

Once again, I went in search of something different to do with all the watermelon sitting in the fridge. This time I wanted a salad-like concoction, but all the recipes I found online involved feta and mint. I did not want feta and mint! This is what I came up with to suit my craving... it was VERY tasty!!

Watermelon with Goat Cheese Salad

3 oz. thin-sliced prosciutto (5-6 pieces)
6 C. diced watermelon
1 bunch (about 8) large radishes, thickly sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 C. fresh basil, chiffonade
1 1/2 T. honey
1/4 C. fresh lime juice
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
3 oz. goat cheese

Heat oven to 400° F. Arrange the prosciutto in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes, turning over once or twice. Remove to paper towels to drain and cool. In a large mixing bowl, combine watermelon, radish slices, onion, and basil. In small bowl, whisk honey, lime juice, oil, salt, and pepper until well mixed. Pour dressing over watermelon mixture and stir gently until everything is well-coated. Crumble goat cheese and crisped prosciutto into mixture; stir again. Serve immediately.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Meaty Meaty Bolognese Sauce

My eldest stepson was over for dinner last night, I wanted to make something special, and I actually had all day to do it (which was a good thing, because this sauce took nearly 6 hours to make!). I'm sure this isn't completely traditional, but it was the best pasta sauce I've ever made!!! Buon appetito!!

Meaty Bolognese Sauce

1-6 oz. package prosciutto, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 T. olive oil
1 lb. extra lean ground beef
1 lb. Italian sausage (removed from casing, if links)
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 large stalks celery, diced
1-8 oz. package sliced crimini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 T. minced garlic
1 C. red wine
1-6oz. can tomato paste
1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 C. beef broth
generous amount of fresh basil, sliced
Handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Black pepper to taste

In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, saute prosciutto until just crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels, leaving fat in the pot. Slowly brown ground beef and sausage, seasoning with pepper, until cooked through. Add carrots, celery, mushrooms, onion, and garlic; continue cooking until vegetables are tender. Add wine and boil until almost completely evaporated. Add tomato paste and stir until completely incorporated. Add crushed tomatoes, beef broth, and reserved prosciutto. Reduce heat to low simmer, cover, and continue to cook for another 1-2 hours, adding water if it appears to be getting too thick. Just before serving, stir in basil and cheese.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Caprese Pasta Salad with Shrimp

It's been hot here in the greater Puget Sound area. Really hot. For a frightfully long time.

I figured it was time to come up with a new dinner salad! This would also be great for potlucks, picnics, and the occasional shindig.

Caprese Pasta Salad with Shrimp

1 - 12 oz. box farfalle (butterfly) pasta
1 lb. small cooked shrimp, shelled, deveined, and tails off
2 C. grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 C. prepared pesto 
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/2 t. kosher salt
2 - 8 oz. packages fresh mozzarella pearls, separated 
1/3 C. fresh basil, chiffonade (cut into thin strips)
a few basil leaves reserved for garnish

Cook pasta according to package directions. If you're using frozen shrimp, dump it into the colander you plan to drain the pasta in. Pour cooked pasta over shrimp in colander, drain, then run under cold water until shrimp are thawed and pasta is cold. Drain again very well. 
In a large mixing bowl, combine pasta and shrimp mixture with remaining ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined. Garnish with reserved basil leaves if desired and serve immediately or refrigerate until desired.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I didn't want to go to the grocery store...

We'd been out at our lake place for the past four days. The water out there is... different. It makes my hair do... strange things. I'd taken a shower the morning we left, so I didn't want to take another one the next day just to go to the grocery store, yet... 

The hair remained...

Okay, truth be told I could have easily straightened my hair and gone to the store for something, but I decided I would create another one of my self-challenges and make something from what I already had. 

Best decision ever.


Shrimp in Lemon Garlic Cream Sauce over Grilled Corn Polenta

(sounds pretty schmancy, huh? tastes like it too!)

This is grilled corn IN polenta, so technically it's a bbq dish. Just sayin'. Don't be intimidated.

Let us begin...

For the polenta -

2 ears fresh corn, shucked
4 C. chicken broth
1 C. polenta
1/2 C. Parmesan (I admit I used shaky cheese, but fresh grated would be so so much better)

Preheat grill. The temperature depends on what kind of grill you're using. I used my standard propane grill, all four burners on high. It just has to be really hot. Grill corn, rotating frequently, until browned grill marks appear... like this...

Remove from grill and cool until easily handled. Cut corn from cobs and set aside.

In a large sauce pan, bring chicken stock to a boil. Turn heat to low, whisk in polenta until thoroughly incorporated, and cover. Cook for 25 minutes, whisking every 5 minutes. Stir in cheese and corn thoroughly, cover, and set aside until the shrimp are done, about 5 minutes. It will set up quickly, so try to time it so the shrimp and polenta are finished at about the same time.

For the shrimp -

1 1/2 lbs. shrimp, shelled and deveined
6 slices bacon, diced
3 large cloves garlic, severely dealt with
1/3 C. green onions (about 6), sliced (a couple pinches reserved for garnish)
1 lemon, zested and juiced (you will need 1 tsp. of zest and 2 tbs. of juice, so that works out to about one small-to-medium lemon)
3/4 C. heavy cream (I never said this was diet-friendly... ha!)
large pinch of kosher salt
1/2 tsp. of your favorite hot sauce. I used Tapatio, and I would recommend Frank's, but Tabasco might have too much vinegar in it... that's up to your personal taste. Maybe cut back on the lemon juice if you use Tabasco... up to you.

In a large non-stick pan, fry bacon until crisp. Remove bacon to paper towels and drain all fat out of pan, except for what clings. Don't wipe out the pan. Return pan to medium heat, add garlic and green onions (remember to leave a little for garnish!), and saute for about 1 minute. Turn heat to medium-high and add shrimp. Saute until half done, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove to plate, scraping out as much of the garlic and green onion as possible. Return pan to stove and add cream, most of bacon (reserve a little for garnish), salt, hot sauce, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and reduce by half until thickened, about 8 minutes. Add shrimp back into pan and boil until shrimp are cooked through and sauce has re-thickened. 

Spoon polenta into shallow serving bowls (or whatever serving device you happen to have on hand) and spoon shrimp with sauce over. Garnish with reserved green onion and bacon. Eat and die happy.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Salmon with Grilled Pineapple and Avocado Salsa

Don't really have much to say about this one, aside from it's YUMMY!


3 large fresh pineapple spears
1/2 medium red onion
1 large jalapeno
1 T fresh lime juice
1/4 C chopped cilantro
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t cumin
1/4 t cayenne
1 large avocado, diced

Spray grill rack with cooking spray (or brush first three ingredients LIGHTLY with olive oil). Grill over high heat until pineapple is golden and onion and jalapeno are pretty well charred. Remove from grill and cool until they are easily handled. Dice pineapple and onion. Remove skin, seeds, and ribs from jalapeno and finely chop. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Makes about 2 cups.


In a small bowl, mix together the following:

1 teaspoon each -
kosher salt
granulated onion
chili powder
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Cut approximately two pounds of boneless, skinless salmon into manageable-sized pieces (3 or 4). Brush with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle evenly with spice mixture. Grill until desired doneness.

Top with prepared salsa and serve with your favorite side dishes. We had it with toasted pine nut couscous and one of my broccoli slaws, which can be found HERE.

On the off-chance you end up with leftovers, make salmon street tacos!

Friday, April 3, 2015


No photo of this one (yet), but I want to get it documented somewhere before I forget what I did. I came up with this recipe to go with shrimp street tacos I made the other night. It was a hit!

1/3 C mayonnaise
1/2 C chunky-style salsa
1 T freshly-squeezed lime juice
about 6 C finely shredded cabbage
1/4 C chopped white onions
1/4 C chopped cilantro
1 medium avocado, diced

In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, salsa, and lime juice. Gently stir in remaining ingredients. Serve immediately. That's all there is to it!