Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pasta Alla Friends- Friday Night Hangout

We try and get together with our friends as often as we can, due to the fact that all our friends have kids this can sometimes be a challenge. But lucky for us we could all make it work this weekend. We all bring a dish and a libation of choice and the rest is history. I know these little get togethers really restore all our spirits after a long week. The dishes don't have to be complex, so is the case in the pasta I brought. I really just made this up on the fly, I looked to see what I had on hand and all I had to buy was some whole wheat pasta. Good luck and I hope you Enjoy!

-Pasta All Friends-

1 lb. whole wheat spaghetti (cooked according to the directions)
1/2 c. pistachio's (shelled and toasted)*
1/2 c. pine nut's (shelled and toasted)*
3 lemons, zested and reserve the juice
1/4 c. parsley leaves
1/2 c. olive oil
1 1/2 c. cheese (I used Peccirino and Parmigiana)
salt and pepper

*to toast nuts put them in a dry saute pan over medium heat just until they start to release there oils, you'll be able to smell them become toasty. Shake pan occasionally, be careful not to burn.
1. Cook pasta according to the directions. Be sure to salt the boiling water.
2. After you have toasted the nuts, place them in the food processor with the lemon zest, pepper and parsley, pulse down to a fine grind. Use your best judgement on the size of the pulsed nuts.
3. Mix the olive oil and reserved lemon juice, whisk together. Season with salt and pepper.
4. When the pasta is done cooking drain and place back into the pot you boiled it in. Drizzle in the lemon and olive oil mixture, the nut mixture and the cheese. Using tongs toss all together and coat all the pasta.
5. Pour into a big bowl and garnish with any leftover cheese or parsley.

I liked the idea of this dish because we are getting whole grains from the pasta, good fats from the nuts and olive oil, and using fresh herbs and lemon bring a fresh flavor and take your taste buds for a ride. Parsley has a number of healing properties such as strengthening the liver, kidneys and the bladder. It's also a immune enhancer and helps support the nervous system.
How cool is that? Food should always taste amazing but also be nutritional dense, using whole foods will ensure this.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Kale! It's on sale at Whole Foods... Hurry Run!

I wanted to make a quick mention of this because Kale is a highly nutritious green vegetable. It's loaded with vitamins and minerals and when cooked right totally delicious. This would be a great time to try out a couple of my earlier recipes- Sausage and Kale and Kale Chips. Kale can be added to soups and can be juiced with other fruits or vegetables. So hurry, run to the store and pick some up today. Let me know what you think.

Pasta all Vodka- Rockstar Status!

This recipe will make you look like a rock star in the kitchen. This is one of those recipe that I pull out when I want to blow someones socks off. My friend Kim laughs when I say "I swear it's easy" when it comes to a recipe, but I SWEAR IT'S EASY!!! I wish I could give credit where credit is due but all I can tell you is our old friend Alan Daly gave me this recipe and I love it. This is a great dish to try out on your in-laws, a new love, and old love or maybe just for your friends. Enjoy!

-Pasta alla Vodka-
3 T. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
1 onion, chopped (this is not in the recipe but I like it)
1/2 c. chopped bacon, go for the meaty parts (I use prosciutto de parma)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 T. chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 T. chopped fresh sage
1/2 c. vodka
1 1/2 c. tomato sauce
1 1/2 c. chicken stock
1 lbs pasta
Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

1. Heat the oil in a large saute pan set on medium heat until sizzling, about 2 minutes.
2. Saute garlic, onion, bacon or prosciutto, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, rosemary and sage for 2-3 minutes, until the bacon is beginning to brown.
3. Turn off heat, stir in vodka, turn heat back on and scrape up any brown bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
4. Add the tomato sauce and chicken stock, stirring well.
5. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and cook, uncovered for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Cook pasta according to the directions, once the pasta is finished pour the finished sauce over the pasta and cook, stirring over medium heat for 3 minutes.
7. Sprinkle cheese over the pasta and mix well.

DIY- Herbed Crackers (Vegan and Gluten Free)

I wish I could take credit for this recipe but I can't, this one belongs to Elana's Pantry. I have made these crackers more times than I can count, they are easy, taste fantastic and are probably not like any other cracker you've had. They are great with soup or with your favorite dip. I recently made these for my mom to go with this yummy, warm, spicy roasted squash soup after her last chemo treatment (YEAH!). This was a perfect combination because I wanted something delicious and comforting, but good for her. Did I mention these crackers are high in protein due to the fact that they are made with almond meal. Enjoy!

-Herbed Crackers-
2 c. almond meal (the last time I bought almond meal I bought it at Cali's Market, but I've also seen it in the bulk section at Whole Foods)
3/4 tsp. real salt, or Celtic salt
2 T. Herbs de Provence (I use Bragg's Organic Sprinkle)
1 T. olive oil
2 T. water

1. Preheat the oven to 350.

2. Mix all the dry ingredients together first. Then add the olive oil and water, mix again well.

3. Using a parchment lined baking dish (8x8 or 9x9 in size) pour the mixture into baking dish. Press the mixture into the bottom of baking dish, making sure to even out the mixture. Make sure the mixture is pressed down firmly and evenly.

4. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the top of crackers mixture is browned a little.

5. Take out of the oven and let cool 20 minutes. Then cut the crackers, I get 16 crackers out of my batch.

DIY Recipe- Homemade Pizza Sauce

We love making homemade pizza at our house, especially in the summer out on the grill. So now that it's cold and miserable outside we had to come up with a plan B. Lucky for me Big Mike (my mom's fiance) gave us a pizza stone, so decided to try it out Saturday night. I had the pizza dough, mushrooms, kale, cheese, vegan sausage, but no sauce. Here's what I came up with. P.S. I joke that if my husband approves it must be good, he's very picky about his sauce.

Good luck and Enjoy!

-Pizza Sauce-
1 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 c. pureed tomatoes (I used my canned tomatoes, and strained them through a fine mesh strainer to remove any seeds)
1/4 c. ketchup
1/4 tsp oregano, basil, sugar
salt and pepper

1. Start by sauteing the onion and garlic in olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Saute until the onions are soft. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Add all the other ingredients and simmer the sauce until it thickens, maybe 20 minutes. Taste the sauce to see if you need to add more salt and pepper.

3. Use on your next homemade pizza.