Thursday, August 30, 2012

Spaghettini With Bacon, Mushrooms and Herbs

Since we just got back from Disney World, I decided to use the Mickey pasta that I purchased while we were there to take this tasty-looking recipe. And it was tasty. We've decided that bacon is such a glorious but more subtle addition to recipes that sometimes use sausage. It adds a smokiness that I love love love.

Spaghettini With Bacon, Mushrooms and Herbs
Courtesy of Food Network Magazine


Kosher salt
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
12 ounces mixed mushrooms, sliced
12 ounces spaghettini
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
Grated Parmesan cheese, for topping (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the mixture is brick red, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes.

When the water boils, add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 6 minutes. Meanwhile, add 1 cup of the cooking water to the skillet with the sauce; stir and bring to a low simmer over medium heat.

Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta and add to the skillet along with the butter and herbs. Cook, tossing, until the pasta absorbs some of the sauce, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the reserved cooking water to loosen, if needed. Divide among bowls and top with cheese.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Turkey and Stuffing Casserole

I will never make a whole turkey ever again. This is perfection. The stuffing was the best I'd ever had. Add a few sides dishes and some gravy, and Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner is done. Perfection.

I used a turkey London broil (boneless skinless turkey breast), that I cut into two halves, and 3 turkey legs.  The breast pieces definitely needed to be taken out a little earlier than the legs, only by about 15 minutes or so. Next time, I'm going to brine the turkey pieces and use breasts with the skin on. I'm telling you, this is perfection.

Turkey and Stuffing Casserole
A variation on this recipe from Budget Bytes


6 ounces bacon, diced
1/2 bunch celery, diced
2 medium apples, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 loaf French bread, cubed
1 teaspoon chicken base
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 pounds turkey pieces

Cook bacon in a large pot over medium heat until crispy. Add the onion, apples, celery, and garlic to the cooked bacon. Sauté just until slightly softened (about five minutes). Turn off the heat and add the thyme, sage, freshly cracked pepper, and salt to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. If your bread is fresh, slice it and place it in the oven as it heats up to dry it out. Or, buy the bread a couple of days ahead of time and allow it to dry out or get stale on your countertop. Once the bread is dry, cut it into small cubes. Add the cubed bread and parsley to the cooked vegetables and bacon. Stir until everything is well mixed.

Mix one teaspoon of chicken base with one cup of hot water. Pour this over the bread mixture and stir until everything is well coated. Transfer the stuffing mixture to a large 9x13 inch glass casserole dish.

Unwrap the turkey pieces and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Arrange the turkey pieces over the stuffing in the casserole dish. Place the whole dish in the oven and let roast, uncovered, for one and a half hours. The turkey skin should be brown and crispy and the stuffing should be bubbling around the edges. Transfer turkey pieces to a plate and let rest under tin foil for about 10 minutes. During that time, return stuffing to oven and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow the stuffing to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Spaghetti With Spicy Tuna Marinara Sauce

I think I like other tuna pastas I've made better. But it's a good and relatively inexpensive option if I'm looking to switch things up a bit. As usual though, I felt like it could use a second can of tuna.

Spaghetti With Spicy Tuna Marinara Sauce
A variation on this recipe from Food Network Magazine

Kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes (6 to 8 tomatoes)
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
1/2 cup dry white wine
12 ounces spaghetti 
2 5-ounce cans light tuna packed in water, drained
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, puree the tomatoes in a blender or food processor; set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the garlic is just golden, about 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high, add the wine and cook until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add the pureed tomatoes and 3/4 teaspoon salt and simmer, stirring, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 6 more minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook as the label directs; drain. Return the skillet to medium heat, add the pasta and tuna and cook, tossing, 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

My in-laws grew butternut squash in their garden this year, and this is one of the meals I chose to make with the ones they shared with us. It's a delicious and unique take on lasagna. Light but satisfying.

Butternut Squash Lasagna
Courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (1 1/2 to 2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
3 amaretti cookies, crumbled
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk
Pinch nutmeg
3/4 cup (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
2 1/2 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan 

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the squash and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour the water into the skillet and then cover and simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly and then transfer the squash to a food processor. Add the amaretti cookies and blend until smooth. Season the squash puree, to taste, with more salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg. Cool slightly. Transfer half of the sauce to a blender. Add the basil and blend until smooth. Return the basil sauce to the sauce in the pan and stir to blend. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°F.

Lightly butter a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan. Spread 1/3 of the squash puree over the noodles. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Drizzle 1/2 cup of sauce over the noodles. Repeat layering 3 more times.

Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake the lasagna for 40 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the lasagna. Continue baking uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, 15 minutes longer. Let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Tofu and Peanut Stir-Fry

Meh. For all the flavor-adding ingredients there are in this recipe, it was surprisingly bland. I don't think I'll be making this again.

Tofu and Peanut Stir-Fry
Courtesy of Food Network Magazine


6 tablespoons cornstarch 
3 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry 
1/3 cup oyster sauce 
1 14-ounce block firm tofu, drained
1 cup unsalted peanuts (preferably raw)
1/4 cup peanut oil or vegetable oil 
2 teaspoons minced ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 whole dried arbol chiles (or 2 jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise)
Kosher salt
12 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps quartered
1 pound sugar snap peas, strings removed, halved crosswise

Make the marinade: Whisk 2 tablespoons cornstarch, the rice wine, oyster sauce and 2 tablespoons water in a large bowl. Cut the tofu in half horizontally to make 2 large rectangles, then cut each rectangle into 4 squares. Add to the marinade and turn to coat.

Cook the peanuts in the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring, until lightly golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the nuts to a bowl with a slotted spoon.

Drain the tofu, reserving the marinade; sprinkle both sides with the remaining 4 tablespoons cornstarch. Return the skillet to medium-high heat; add the tofu and cook until golden, 4 minutes per side. Remove to a plate. Add the ginger, garlic, chiles and 1 teaspoon salt to the skillet; stir-fry 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and snap peas; stir-fry until crisp-tender. Whisk the marinade with 1 1/2 cups water, add to the skillet and stir until thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tofu and nuts and heat through. If using dried chiles, remove before serving.

Waffles and Blueberry Sauce

I reserve the right to serve something like this for dinner in order to guarantee a whine-free meal when my husband is out for the night. And it worked. Because not only were these waffles delicious, but the blueberry sauce was wonderful. And it's even better over vanilla ice cream.


A variation on this recipe from Taste of Home 

2 cups all-purpose flour 
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 2/3 cups milk 
3 eggs, separated 
1/4 cup butter, melted

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk the milk, egg yolks and butter; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.

In a small bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter.

Bake in a preheated waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions until golden brown.


Blueberry Sauce
Courtesy of

1 cup sugar 
1 tablespoon cornstarch 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon 
2/3 cup water 
3 cups blueberries 
Zest from one lemon 
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Go through blueberries and remove any moldy, soft, or blemished berries. Remove any stems remaining on the blueberries. Place in a colander and gently swish in cold water to wash berries. Allow to drain.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon and water. Stir until mixture is smooth and then add the blueberries.

Cook over medium heat until sauce becomes translucent and has thickened. If sauce is too thin, add 1/4 teaspoon of cornstarch and continue to cook. If still not thick enough, add more cornstarch, 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until sauce is the desired thickness.

Remove from heat and add lemon zest and lemon juice to the sauce. Stir until well mixed.

Allow the sauce to cool before storing in the refrigerator.