Farfalle with Bacon, Toasted Corn, and Tomatoes

Pasta with toasted corn, tomatoes and bacon

I seriously can’t believe it’s September 1st today.  Where did the summer go!?  I am already looking forward to cozy sweaters and warm cups of coffee.  But, I am not really ready to move on to pumpkin and Halloween like the stores are insisting upon.  My daughter started her first day of first grade today, and my son started his first day of his last year of pre-school.  OMG!  They are are growing up way too quickly.  But, I must say, I secretly did a little mental dance in my head after my daughter got on the bus.  Isn’t that horrible?  Maybe a little selfish, but I always look forward to the times I get just with baby.  The house is actually quiet for more than 30 seconds when it’s just her and I at home…

Our tomatoes are just now turning ripe.  I must say, I am pretty excited.  I was so afraid, that after the deer snipped a lot of the tips, that the tomatoes weren’t going to produce.  Alas, they look pretty happy still!  Now that I have several different kinds of vegetables ripe in the garden, I am trying to take advantage of them to their fullest.  That means, lots of vegetable dishes.  Especially since I seem to have monstrous zucchini every time I go out the garden. I am serious.  I swear they magically grow between the morning and the evening, because I go out there usually twice a day.

Moving on.

Pasta with toasted corn, tomatoes and bacon

This pasta dish is the perfect way to enjoy fresh, in season vegetables.  Pasta and vegetables are my favorite combination.  Oh, and cheese!  That is very important.  So is bacon.  I mean really, you can’t go wrong with chopped bacon with pasta.  Chop up some fresh herbs, and you have yourself a quick and easy meal.  But definitely not lacking in flavor.  I can’t wait to make this again.

Farfalle with Bacon, Toasted Corn, and Tomatoes

Yield: about 6 servings

  • 8 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 5 ears corn, husked and kernels cut from cobs
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 pound farfalle
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Directions

Cook the bacon in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.  Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat, discard the rest.  Add the corn to the skillet with the reserved fat, as well as 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Stir well and cook until spotty brown, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and cook until slightly softened, 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot.  Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt.  Cook until al dente.  Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot.  Add the bacon, corn mixture, grated Parmesan, and basil.  Toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and add reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency.  Serve immediately with extra grated Parmesan.

Source: Adapted from Pasta Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen

Penne with Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Boursin Cheese

Pasta with boursin

Summer is the time when I embrace pasta loaded with fresh vegetables.  Fresh zucchini, tomatoes, basil- yes please!  I love how zucchini and tomatoes are so versatile.  You can cook, roast, grill, or even leave them raw!  And they taste so dang good.  Needless to say, they are the perfect addition to any summer meal.

Pasta with boursin

Boursin is one of my favorite, very rare indulgences.  My mom introduced it to me as a kid, and ever since, I have been hooked.  It is so creamy, seasoned with my favorite herbs and garlic.  It’s like the upgraded version times 100 of cream cheese and chive dip.  My dad always served chive dip with crackers and carrots when I was a kid- it was my all-time favorite snack.  (He now serves that to my kids as a snack when they visit and they totally love it.)  So, when I saw this recipe that has melted Boursin cheese with pasta and fresh veggies, I put it on the weekly menu immediately.  No questions asked.

My husband, who isn’t a big cheese person still enjoyed this dish, but definitely not to the extent that I did.  Maybe even boarder-line obsession.  I can’t help it, I love cheese!  The Boursin cheese melted when mixed into the pasta dish, so it covered everything.  Swoon!  This is a wonderful dish to incorporate fresh summer vegetables and your love of cheese all into one, easy meal!  The perfect week-night meal.

Penne with Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Boursin Cheese

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb. zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced about 1/2-inch thick
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. penne pasta
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 (5.2 oz.) package Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Directions

Adjust an oven rack 4 inches from broiler element and heat broiler to high.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with tinfoil and brush with 1 tablespoon of oil.  Toss zucchini in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon oil, season with salt and pepper, then spread evenly onto the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.  Place in the oven and broil, stirring occasionally until lightly brown around the edges but still firm in the center, 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, bring 4-quarts of water to boil in a large pot.  Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to the pot.

Add the tomatoes, Boursin cheese, and 1/4 cup reserved cooking water to the pasta and toss well to combine.  Carefully stir in the zucchini, basil and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and add remaining cooking water as needed to adjust consistency.  Serve with additional chopped basil if desired.

Source: Adapted from The Pasta Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen

Cheesy Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

Cheesy Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

It’s funny how lately, I have been going back and forth from craving winter comfort food, to light and healthy dishes. Some days, I want a big, hearty dish full of meat, carbs and cheese. Other days, I am happy with just a simple quinoa dish or salad. I think everything is just out of whack with this never ending winter. We have had so much snow this winter that we ran out of room for the plow! We had to hire someone with a tractor to come and push/pile the snow along the driveway, mailbox and parking spots. The mail even stopped delivering our mail because they couldn’t access it anymore because it got frozen and the snow was piled too high. Amazing!

Cheesy Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

This dish is definitely a wonderful indulgent comfort food. Cheesy, saucy and full of carbs.  Perfect in my book!  I made this one cold winter’s evening with a side of massaged kale caesar salad (recipe to come), and it was the perfect meal. This would make the perfect dish on a winter’s day spent out in the cold.

Cheesy Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

Yield: about 8-10 servings

For the roasted tomatoes

  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

For the pasta

  • 16 oz. pasta (I used gemelli)
  • 1 (28 oz.) can peeled whole tomatoes, with juices
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 6 oz. mozzarella, cubed
  • 1/4-1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Minced fresh basil, to finish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Toss the cherry tomatoes with the olive oil, kosher salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes, stirring twice during cooking. Remove from the oven, but don’t turn the oven off, and let cool.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the pasta to the pot and cook according to the package directions, stopping 2 minutes before the recommended cooking time. Remove from the heat and drain well.

Meanwhile, adjust the oven temperature to 400ºF. Add the tomatoes with juices to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and pulse until mostly smooth. Melt the butter in a large oven proof skillet over medium heat. Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes and tomato paste and cook just until fragrant and the tomato paste begins to brown, about 1 minute. Pour in the puréed tomato mixture, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer until the sauce is reduced by nearly half and thickened, about 6-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the cream.

Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the cooked pasta, mozzarella, and oven roasted tomatoes. (If your skillet is too small, just use any greased baking dish that will fit everything.) Transfer to the oven and bake 10-12 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Remove from the oven, let cool a few minutes, then top with the basil and serve warm.

Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Fusilli Caesar Salad

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With all these crazy snow storms we have been having lately, I have been trying to stay prepared in case we lose power. With several feet of snow on the ground, high winds, and slippery roads, I am surprised that we haven’t lost it yet! (Knock on wood.) There was one big storm that they predicated to be huge and to be prepared for major power outages. (You know how they like to get excited about storms.) So, I spent the day before the storm running around, doing everything that required power. Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, cooking, drawing off water, you name it! I made a big pot of soup that could be put on the stove to warm up if there wasn’t power. I also prepared this pasta salad to have ready in the fridge, if needed.

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Well, we never lost power. It may have flickered a few times, but nothing came of it. I am not disappointed though! It’s nice to lose power for a little time, but not for days. I like running water and refrigeration too much! I was more pleased about having lots of fresh, powdery snow to play in!

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Even though we didn’t lose power, we still got to enjoy this pasta salad. Caesar salad with pasta? Brilliant! This was a fabulous, light dinner. And it made an excellent lunch the next day. This would be a great dish to serve at a cookout (wait, what are those again?) in the summer. Or to mix up your typical caesar salad. Either way, you’ll love it!

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Fusilli Caesar Salad

Yield: About 7-10 servings

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

For the salad

  • 1 pound fusilli or rotini pasta, cooked to al dente then cooled
  • 2 romaine hearts, chopped (I used a romaine mix because that is all the store had at the time, and it was just fine!)
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions

For the dressing, pulse the garlic in a food processor until minced. Add the buttermilk, lemon juice, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper and blend until smooth. With the motor running, add the oil until incorporated. Add the parmesan cheese and pulse until mostly smooth. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

In a large bowl, toss the cooked and cooled pasta and the romaine together until combined. Pour the dressing over the salad, add the Parmesan and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Source: Dressing adapted from America’s Test Kitchen, Healthy Family Cookbook, salad from Taste and Tell

Pasta with Roasted Broccoli, Garlic and Almonds

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When I was a senior in high school, I did a trimester abroad. 10 of us went to Segovia, Spain to live with separate host families for a couple of months. It was freaking awesome. We had two group teachers that lead us around the country, on top of doing daily classes. We went from the top to the bottom and all around Spain. Pretty darn cool in my opinion! I stayed with a well-to-do host mom that didn’t speak any english (well, maybe she did, be she wouldn’t to me!), and her kids were grown and gone. So I got the coolest room with a balcony. I became pretty good friends with two other kids from the group, so in the evening, when we had free time to do what we wanted, the three of us would go to the local stores and see what cool foods we could find to eat. Then we’d grab all of our goodies (including hitting up the penny candy store) and go hang out on my balcony looking over part of the city. One thing that we always got, was Manchego cheese. We would all fight over who got the last piece. That stuff is beyond amazing. Something about it is so addicting.  And it was so cheap there. Those were some awesome times.

Pasta with Roasted Broccoli, Garlic and Almonds

Now, Manchego cheese is a luxury. It’s pretty expensive locally. My mom, a few years back, knew of my love for the cheese and put it in my stocking for Christmas. Best present ever! My favorite way to devour it is by itself. But, when I was flipping through a cookbook and saw a pasta dish that used Manchego cheese, I just knew that I had to make it. I couldn’t pass it up!

Pasta with Roasted Broccoli, Garlic and Almonds

This is a great, flavorful and simple pasta dish. It makes an easy one dish meal. The roasted broccoli and garlic make a wonderful addition. And who doesn’t love almonds with pasta? Any excuse to add nuts is fine with me! The Manchego cheese adds a wonderful twist of flavor to the dish. I just wish I had had some left over to eat for myself!

Pasta with Roasted Broccoli, Garlic and Almonds

Yield: 4-6 servings

  • 2 garlic heads, top sliced off to expose cloves
  • 6 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 pounds broccoli
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pound pasta
  • 1 ounce Manchego cheese, grated, plus extra for serving
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, or 2-3 Tablespoons dried
  • 1/4 cup slivered or chopped almonds, toasted

Directions

Preheat the oven to 500ºF. Drizzle the exposed garlic cloves with 1/2 teaspoon oil each and wrap tightly in tinfoil. Place in the preheated oven directly on a rack, and roast until the the garlic is tender, about 40-45 minutes. Let cool before unwrapping. Carefully squeeze the cloves from their skins into a small bowl. Mash with a fork. Stir in the lemon juice and red pepper flakes. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cut the broccoli into bite-sized florets. Toss with remaining 2 Tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and sugar in a bowl. Place on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and put in the oven. Roast until the broccoli is well browned and tender, 20-30 minutes.

Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Cook pasta according to directions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add broccoli, garlic sauce, 1/2 cup Manchego, basil and 1/4 cup reserved cooking water and toss to combine. Season with salt, pepper and extra lemon juice to taste. Add more reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency. Serve into bowls and sprinkle with almonds and remaining Manchego cheese. Serve warm.

Source: Barely Adapted from The Pasta Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen

Pasta with Garlicky Tuscan Chicken

Pasta with Garlicky Tuscan Chicken

It’s amazing how my love of pasta has grown and developed over the years. As a kid, I only really liked pasta with butter and a large serving of parmesan cheese. And nothing else, thank you very much.

Now that I am an adult, I have come to appreciate the amazing things you can do with pasta. One of my favorite combinations is pasta with chicken. Chicken being my favorite choice of meat, that really comes to no surprise.

Pasta with Garlicky Tuscan Chicken

This summer I purchased a cookbook that is all pasta recipes. I couldn’t wait to read through it and see what goodies were in there. I have made several recipes from it, and so far, they all have been excellent. This one particularly stands out. I have made it twice already! The garlic really shines through in a lovely light sauce. The chicken is tender and flavorful. I decided to swap out the arugula for spinach because I am really not a fan of it. My husband, who occasionally has a blind eye for left overs, came home for lunch the following day and finished off the dish! It is super tasty, really easy, and loved by all in my family. This recipe makes it an easy and great way to vamp up a pasta dinner that could otherwise be boring.

 

Pasta with Garlicky Tuscan Chicken

Yield: About 4-6 servings

  • 3 (6-8 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil or grapeseed oil, divided
  • 12 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 lb. penne
  • 5 oz. baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 oz. (3/4 cup) grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Place 1/2 cup flour in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken through the flour, shaking off any excess. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, just until smoking. Carefully lay the chicken in the skillet and cook until well browned, about 6-8 minutes. Flip the chicken over and reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook until the chicken registers 160ºF with an instant-read thermometer. Transfer to a plate and tent with tin foil.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the now empty skillet, along with the garlic and shallots. Cook over medium-low heat until softened and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes and remaining 1 tablespoon of flour and cook for 30 seconds. Whisk in the wine and broth. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Cook at a simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened and measures 2 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Stir in 2 cups of the garlic sauce, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and spinach. Stir until the spinach is wilted. Add reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, thinly slice the chicken on the bias. Divide the pasta between individual serving bowls. Lay the chicken over the top and drizzle remaining 1/2 cup sauce over each bowl. Serve with extra Parmesan cheese.

 

Source: Adapted from The Pasta Revolution

Bowtie Lasagna

Bowtie Lasagna

Soooo, my husband has this weird thing about cheese. He doesn’t really like it. I’m talking about no cheese and crackers, no lasagna (ricotta cheese is a big no no), and easy on the added cheese to any dish. And there is no hiding it either. I’ve tried.

And then here I am.

I love cheese. A little brie for a snack? Absolutely. More parmesan cheese with that dish? Load her up! The cheesier the better. Unless it’s that really stinky cheese. Like my dad likes. Ick.

Now, after saying all that, I still cook with a lot of cheese. My husband has learned to cope. Or maybe not say anything. Anyway, he at least puts up it.

This dish is cheesy, but not over-the-top cheesy. And since my husband will NOT eat ricotta cheese (that’s why I never, ever make lasagna), sour cream instead of ricotta was perfect! This is an easy, quick meal. Especially if you don’t want to put in all the effort (or don’t have the time), to make a full fledged lasagna, this is a perfect alternative. The pasta/meat lovers in your family will be very happy.

Bowtie Lasagna

  • 1 pound hamburger or sausage
  • 5 cups bowtie noodles
  • 3 cups spaghetti sauce of your choosing
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon italian seasoning, or more to taste
  • 1/2-3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4-1/2 cup sour cream

Directions

Heat a medium size skillet over medium-high heat. Add the hamburger and cook until no longer pink and cooked through, making sure to break up any large chunks.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Stir in the bow-ties and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and put back into the pot. Toss with the olive oil. Stir in the spaghetti sauce. Then fold in the cooked hamburger, salt,pepper, garlic powder, italian seasoning, mozzarella cheese and sour cream. Turn the heat to low and let cook for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Add more seasonings to taste.

Serve warm.

Source: Adapted from Tasty Kitchen