Category Archives: Italian

Mini Frittatas & Smoked Salmon Pinwheels

mini frittata salmon pinwheelsLike most people, I absolutely love the weekends. I work for myself so it isn’t so much about what the weekend represents—time away from annoying coworkers and clueless bosses—but more about the relaxing culture that encompasses all weekends. I think I have a better appreciation for my weekends now that I’m living in Europe. I wake up and linger in bed for awhile before heading to the kitchen to prepare breakfast.

I admit that I’m not much of a breakfast person. Not that I don’t like breakfast, but rather I’m not all gung ho about it every morning. As long as I have a steaming cup of freshly ground coffee and a bagel…my morning is as good as mornings can get. But on the weekend we can be lazy and not rush to get him out the door to work, and that means I get to spend time with my honey and work on expanding my breakfast dishes. Continue reading Mini Frittatas & Smoked Salmon Pinwheels

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Mediterranean Pizza

One of my favorite things about cooking is venturing outside of my comfort zone. There are foods that my tongue simply refuses to acknowledge as tasty such as eggplant and spinach. Luckily for my culinary skills my husband does like those foods, but this isn’t Iron Chef so I season and experiment but never taste. He seems happy about the flavors, which is about the best I can hope for, so I think I’ve done a decent job so far.

That brings me to one of my biggest culinary loves; pizza. I’m not talking about the crap that passes for pizza in the frozen section of the grocery store because let’s be honest, that is only acceptable after a long night of partying or for college students. Otherwise it is a disgrace. No, I’m talking about making your own dough, kneading it until your muscles burn and watching (okay squealing) with delight when the dough begins to rise. This is the kind of pizza that gets my mouth watering. Continue reading Mediterranean Pizza

Simple Marinara Sauce

When I’m in the mood for something quick and easy, pasta is one of my favorite ‘go to’ dishes. It doesn’t have to be complicated with a multi-ingredient Bolognese or with the precision of the perfect cream sauce. Sometimes it is best to follow the KISS principle: keep it simple stupid.

With the right pasta, by that I mean whole wheat pasta, you don’t need a bunch of ingredients to make the pasta palatable. All you need are just a few ingredients, along with a well-stocked spice rack and you’re ready to whip up a classic Italian dish without the fuss.

Back in the day before I quick smoking and made my health a priority, I was just like most people: convinced I just didn’t have the time to cook a proper meal and made do with the “sauce” in a jar. I use the term ‘sauce’ very loosely here because while I’m sure some tomatoes were harmed in the making of that product, it just doesn’t taste the same. At all. I find the stuff in a jar is very salty and acidic, and while I know that tomatoes have a certain degree of acidity to them, I can eat a tomato without getting heartburn…can’t say the same for Ragu or Prego or even the store brand.

mamas marinaraThis isn’t me being a food snob, but rather me giving my body what it needs. My body does not need heartburn, that’s for sure. Besides, if I want to pump crap into my body I’d still rather have a cigarette even after 9 years of being nicotine-free. With bad food your body has a negative reaction, and because of the lack of nutritional value you’ll still be hungry later…and that’s after consuming hundreds of calories worth of “food”.

Honestly I’d rather take an extra 20 minutes and make a proper meal that way my leftover calories & fat can go to something I’ll truly enjoy like a nice glass of wine or Irish Whiskey or even my famous (if in my own head) fudgy walnut brownies.

Maybe it’s my too logical (or illogical if you ask the hubs) way of thinking, but I’d rather put in a little effort so that I can have the things I love rather than suffer through something that is easier, but not as good.

Plus if you really think about it; do you really trust what a huge company says it puts into its sauce? I’m not anti-corporation—well, maybe a little—but I certainly am not going to believe any entity who’s main goal is to make a little bit more money by any means necessary. If you knew your doctor was getting a kickback from a pharmaceutical company, would you really believe you were getting the best medicine available or that he’s trying to secure a golf outing in St. Tropez?

Enough with my diatribe; let’s get back to this super simple marinara sauce.

Ingredients

  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 5 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 yellow or white onion, chopped
  • 2 anchovy filets
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste (in a jar NOT a can)
  • 2 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp. each; basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme
  • Whole wheat pasta (enough for 2-4 people)
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

simple marinara sauce

Once you have assembled your ingredients you’ll need a large pot for the pasta and a small sauce pot or pan for the sauce. Get the salted water boiling for the pasta and follow cooking instructions.

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in sauce pan over medium-high heat then add anchovies. Most of the time they come in oil so you can always use the oil from the anchovies. You can also skip this step if you want, but it adds an unmistakable earthiness to the sauce you will love.
  2. Once filets are nearly fully dissolved, stir in onions and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook onion about 5 minutes or until translucent and add garlic.
  4. After 2 minutes has elapsed, stir in tomatoes and reduce heat to medium.
  5. Season with salt, pepper, herbs and spices.
  6. When the water begins to cook out of the tomatoes, add the tomato paste and stir until blended.
  7. Reduce heat to simmer until you have a thick marinara, continue to season to taste.
  8. Plate the pasta and serve marinara on top, or blend it all together and serve.
  9. Add Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano to the top if desired.

Since this is a pasta dish you might want to have wine with it, but I’m of the mind that you can have whatever you want to drink with your meal whether its water or milk, beer or tequila.

Guten apetit!

Creamy Garlic & Mushroom Alfredo

So I’m back marooned on my island with Brad Pitt in tattered clothes, near nude, and we have exhausted our potato supply. What to do? Get the next best thing, of course, noodles!

Ok so I don’t love noodles as much as I love potatoes but man do I love a good noodle. Whether it’s a buckwheat soba, Asian ramen, whole wheat spaghetti or a simple egg noodle…I will eat it with gusto!

garlic and mushroom alfredo recipe

Despite this recipe today, I’m not one of those pasta lovers who can’t go without sauce. Sure I love Alfredo, Bolognese, ratatouille or plain old tomato sauce, but I love a nice lemon and olive oil as much. In fact I absolutely adore a nice scampi—with or without shrimp but ALWAYS with anchovies. YUM! Continue reading Creamy Garlic & Mushroom Alfredo

Chunky Tomato Shell-sagna

One of things I dislike about traditional lasagna is that all the ingredients sink to the middle when you cut into it, so generally I avoid it. I don’t mind the time it takes to chop and assemble all the ingredients, but I do mind not getting every ingredient in one bite.

So I decided to make lasagna…with a twist. I admit that I was going to brave another attempt until I got to the store and could only find the pre-cooked lasagna noodles. I don’t really care for those flat sheets, which is all they had, so the decision was made for me. But what I did find was whole wheat medium shells that were tri-color. Mmmmmm.

easy pasta recipes

Since I already had ALL the lasagna ingredients in my shopping cart I decided I would make Shell-sagna and keep my fingers crossed that it was slightly more than edible. Continue reading Chunky Tomato Shell-sagna

Wild Shitake Risotto

Whenever I’m in the mood for something that is quick to make but tastes like it took hours, I turn to risotto. Ever since I watched Rachel Ray make it on 30-Minute Meals years ago and saw how easy it was to make, I’ve been hooked.

The best thing about risotto is that you can make it with tons of different things—for herbivores and carnivores—for meal variety. Add shrimp or chicken for meat eaters, or cheese and herbs or even peas for an easy vegetarian meal.

mushroom risotto

I got a good deal on a wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano and my plan was to just make some creamy risotto until I spotted a nice batch of shitake mushrooms. It would’ve been nice to find Portobello mushrooms or even crimini, but I do love shitake and I was happy to snap up a few hundred grams. Continue reading Wild Shitake Risotto