Tag Archives: cooking

Pasta and Goodness

This was such a delightful weekend – we had absolutely nothing to do!  After the craziness of the holiday season we look forward to a time when schedules are much more relaxed and the most pressing decision is what’s for supper?  This was another go to the pantry and fridge and see what’s available suppers!  Sometimes those are the best kind!  Penne pasta, walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes, croutons, red onion and  red pepper flakes from the pantry; an orange pepper, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese from the fridge.  Ritchey declared this one of my best pasta dishes ever!

  • 3/4 pound penne pasta
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 orange pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 30 pepperoni
  • 1 cup of walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes
  • pinch of red pepper flakes, or more
  • parsley
  • 1/4 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup croutons, crushed

Bring a large pan of water to boil.  Add a handful of salt and the pasta – cook according to package directions.  In a large skillet over medium-high heat, drizzle olive oil.  Add onions and saute about five minutes.  Add pepper and garlic and saute for an additional two minutes.  Add the pepperoni, walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes and red pepper flakes and cook an additional two or three minutes.  Mix well.  Remove from heat.  Stir in the pasta and parsley.  Top with mozzarella cheese and croutons.  Put under the broiler for just a few minutes – until cheese melts.  Enjoy!

Mediterranean Chicken and Fruit

This is one of my Healthy January recipes!  Chicken, browned in olive oil, dried apricots and prunes, and couscous.  What a flavor-filled meal!  This was the second course to my Orange, Onion and Olive Salad.

Mediterranean Chicken and Fruit

  • olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 1 cup dried prunes
  • 15 ounces chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 cup couscous

Cut each chicken breast into two or three pieces.  Place each piece in a ziploc bag.  Pound with a mallet until thin.  In a large skillet over medium high heat drizzle a little olive oil.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the skillet.  Cook until browned on both sides – about ten minutes.  In a large measuring cup whisk the chicken broth, cinnamon and cumin.  Pour over the chicken.  Add the dried fruits.  Allow to cook for a few minutes.  Add the cup of couscous to the skillet.  Stir well.  Remove from heat and cover.  Let sit five minutes.  Enjoy!

Homemade Pasta Dough

Now isn’t this the most scrumptious skillet of homemade pasta you’ve ever seen?  Well, it was to us!  My first attempt at homemade pasta – I believe I would consider a success!  Nothing like the pasta from those who have done this for years, but for a first try I was pleased!  I used John’s recipe at from the Bartolini kitchens.  It was so easy!  Ritchey bought a pasta attachment for my KitchenAid mixer – it was a birthday present a year and a half ago!  Daunting is not even the word to use when I thought about making pasta!  But after last night’s homemade pizza I thought why not give it a try?

The dough came together beautifully – making it in the food processor was so easy!  The hardest part was kneading for 5 minutes!

The first time I put the dough through the rollers I danced!  I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread!  You’ll have to forgive me, but I do get excited about the simplest things!  Ritchey was snapping pictures and I was making pasta!

Look at these beautiful thin pieces of pasta!

Then it was time to turn those beautiful pieces of pasta into spaghetti!  What can I say?  It was so much fun!

Now, what sauce or dressing for the lovely spaghetti?  I turned to another of John’s recipes – a simple but lovely Spaghetti Aglio e Olio – spaghetti with garlic and oil – with a touch of red pepper flakes, topped with a bit of parsley and pecorino romano cheese.

With the spaghetti boiling away in a large pot it wasn’t long before we sat down to a lovely bowl of fresh spaghetti and a good chianti.  Thank you, John!  I raise my glass to you!  Salute!

Oranges, Onion and Olive Salad

Doesn’t this look like a luscious and healthy way to start the new year?  Yes, all those holiday meals and desserts were tasty and enjoyed by all – but now is the time to start thinking a little leaner and a little healthier!  It doesn’t hurt anyone to eat light now and then (I can hear the boos coming from a few of you!)!

I met Kate at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington during the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  She is one very busy little person!  She graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Kentucky on the 16th, works full-time as a Fellowship Officer in the Graduate School at the university, and works part-time with a young autistic boy – among other things!  This was her one week off and I was very happy to have an afternoon with her!  Kate was running a tad late – and that gave me more time than I needed in the cookbook section!  I found Essentials of Mediterranean Cooking – a Williams-Sonoma book – and just had to have it.  After spending a little time with this book, I found recipes I just had to make!  Such as this one!

I love oranges – so sweet, so good – so good for you!  Believe it or not, olives were not on my favorites list.  But a little encouragement from Ritchey and I have fallen in love – well, with them both!  And the red onion added with the other two main ingredients just gives a super combination of flavors!  The dressing is not overpowering, but the hint of cinnamon truly makes this a Mediterranean dish!  I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did tonight!

Oranges, Onion and Olive Salad

  • 4 navel oranges
  • 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup olives, quartered and pitted
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Using a sharp knife, cut a slice off both ends of each orange to reveal the flesh.  Place the orange upright on the cutting board and, using the knife, cut downward to remove the peel and pith, following the contour of the fruit.  Cut each orange crosswise into slices 1/2 inch thick.

Arrange the orange slices on a serving platter, overlapping them slightly to cover the plate nicely.  Separate and scatter the onion slices over the top.

To make the dressing, add the orange juice, lemon juice, cinnamon, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Whisk until blended.  Whisk in the olive oil.

Scatter the olives over the orange slices and drizzle with the dressing.  Let sit at cool room temperature for 10-15 minutes to blend the flavors.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve at once.  Enjoy!

Christmas Eve Lasagna

Yes, I do know that Christmas has come and gone – and this is not the actual name of the recipe – but it’s what we had for dinner Christmas Eve!  This recipe comes from the first cookbook I bought – in 1975.  That’s telling my age, isn’t it?  This was a pre-Ritchey cookbook so it has my maiden name and the date written at the top of the first page.  It’s the recipe my family adores!  It’s from a Betty Crocker cookbook that is so stained with everything imaginable – and I gave it to Kate last year for Christmas!  She has wanted it for a long time – encrusted flour, stains and all!  It’s the cookbook she used when she started cooking!  And she almost cried when she opened her package!  This year she and Linton received a cookbook made from all my blogs – complete with photos and notes.

Kate was my number one help in the kitchen this year – can’t tell you how many times that dishwasher was filled!  But we had a wonderful weekend together, filled with lots of love and lots of food!

There are a few changes that I’ve included in my version!  And one day I will try making my own pasta – not quite brave enough to do that on Christmas Eve!

Christmas Eve Lasagna

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound sausage
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 – 15 ounce can tomatoes
  • 1 – 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 handfuls parsley flakes
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 handful basil leaves
  • 3 cups cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely shredded
  • 1 handful parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 handful oregano leaves
  • 8 ounces lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely shredded

Cook and stir ground beef, sausage, onion and garlic in a large skillet until meat is brown and onion is tender.  Drain all fat.

Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, 2 handfuls parsley flakes, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and basil.  Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat; simmer uncovered about 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix cottage cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 handful parsley flakes, 1 teaspoon salt and the oregano.  Reserve 1/2 cup meat sauce for thin top layer.

In an ungreased 13x9x2 baking pan layer 1/4 each of the noodles, meat sauce, mozzarella cheese and cottage cheese mixture; repeat 3 times.  Spread reserved meat sauce over the top; sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.

Bake uncovered 45 minutes.  Let stand 15 minutes after removing from oven for easier cutting.  Enjoy!

One more quick story about this cookbook.  A friend of mine, who could not boil water, and whose husband did all the cooking, decided one day to surprise him by cleaning and organizing the kitchen.  She came to his cookbooks, saw the Betty Crocker and decided it was too old, had too many spills, and too many pages that were just stuffed back in the book – so she threw it out!  He was so upset when he got home!  His favorite spaghetti sauce recipe was on the same page as this lasagna recipe!  She was in tears!  We checked at a bookstore, but the newer versions of this book did not have these particular recipes.  I made a copy of the one page, but there were many other recipes he used!  I started checking antique shops and used bookstores – and finally, after several months, found one!  Needless to say that was a very happy household that night!  And the moral of this story is . . .

An Easy and Delicious Way to Eat Your Spinach!

Getting home at 8:00 p.m. is not the ideal time to start supper, but with a quick and easy meal you can have everything ready in a flash!  More to the point this is a meal that is not only high in iron and one of the world’s healthiest foods, but is among the tastiest!  And nothing could be easier!

Wilted Spinach

Saute a large, chopped red onion in a drizzle of olive oil for a few minutes until it starts to soften.  Add two cloves of garlic, finely chopped.  Add a handful of pine nuts and one of golden raisins.  Stir and cook for one minute.  Add a large bag of spinach and cook just until wilted, stirring occasionally.  Crumble some blue cheese over the top and remove skillet from stove, allowing the cheese to partially melt.  The spinach was served with leftover mashed potatoes fried into cakes.  So quick, so easy, so good!  Enjoy!

Gruyere Grilled Grandeur

A simple grilled cheese sandwich – or is it a ‘not’ so simple grilled cheese sandwich?  Everyone has enjoyed the offering of bread and cheese – with a little butter! – such goodness!  Our mothers fixed us grilled cheese for lunch, a snack, when we needed comforting – it was the be all and end all of mothering!  Grilled cheese goes great with soup – especially perhaps a tomato soup – and the sandwich is used for dipping!  It can be that late night meal when we need something quick and easy!

Gruyere is our cheese of choice when it comes to making ‘the’ grilled cheese sandwich!  Yes, this lovely cheese was just featured in the fondue blog!  But around our house it serves in many capacities!  Scalloped Potatoes made with Gruyere have such a depth of taste.  Shredded and used for salads, added to any sandwich, the list goes on and on.  This cheese works wonders no matter how it’s used!

Everyone knows how to make a grilled cheese sandwich!  I use a nine-grain bread, spread a little butter on the outside slices – well, perhaps more than a little – and fill the middle of the sandwich with good Gruyere!  I also add a little butter to my skillet.

Turn the sandwiches several times – to brown both sides and allow the cheese to melt into utter gooey goodness!  Good bread, butter and cheese – what more could you want?  Enjoy!  What cheese do you prefer for your grilled cheese sandwiches?