Sausage & Broccoli Pasta

“I hope you are going to blog about this; it is delicious” “I am going to have this for lunch on Monday; maybe even tomorrow too” just a couple of quotes from my fam after eating last night’s dinner. So here I am going to share it with you. Though a little back story, it was NOT what I had intended on making at all. I had some chicken thighs that needed to be cooked and I wanted to do a sheet pan chicken thigh and veggie dinner; until I opened the package; damn they had been in the fridge too long and went right into a sealed bag into the trash. So this was a back up plan as I also had some sweet Italian sausage in there that needed to be cooked. Thankfully they fared far better and made a great quick simple meal.
IMG_3999.JPGI am still trying to go through the freezer; I know; how deep is that damn thing that I am going on what 2-3 months of trying to use up what is in there. I had seen enough progress so that I took everything out the other day and placed it on the counter. Then called my husband out of his office to “come and pick something out for dinner” he picked arancini (fried Italian rice ball) and egg rolls – Um no thank you! That night was arancini; the next night was the egg rolls. It’s a good thing he is cute!

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I spy in the upper right hand corner my Godiva bottle*Chocolate Martini’s was also on the menu 

Back to how my Italian sausage and a few things from my freezer turned into a quick, simple and blog worthy dinner. When I laid everything out on the counter from the freezer I noticed the broccoli that I put in there from my garden was getting beat up a bit. Apparently being in there since September and getting knocked around a bit it was turning into smaller and smaller pieces. So I thought it best to use it or lose it. I have homemade chicken stock in there majority of the time; thankfully so I added a little pasta and voila dinner.
IMG_3995The best tip I can give you is brown the sausage; without browning it in the pan and letting the pan get all dark in coated with the yummy bits, I am not sure my fam would have been raving about it. The browned sausage made all the difference in the world. The chicken stock helped to deg-laze the pan which gave such a deep rich flavor to the otherwise boring pasta.
IMG_3996I didn’t and usually don’t measure anything so I am going to ballpark it for you!

3 links of sweet Italian sausage – casing removed
1 pound broccoli
1 pound penne pasta – cooked to the packages direction
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup or more Parmesan cheese – grated plus more for serving
Olive oil

Add a little olive oil to your pan and let it get warmed up, add the sausage; breaking it up and letting it get brown. Remove and set aside.
IMG_3997Add the broccoli and let it get a little browned on each side. Add the red pepper flakes and a little salt and pepper to taste. Add the sausage and pasta back into the pan. Add the butter and Parmesan cheese and let it meld.
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Serve and enjoy!

Fettuccini Alfredo – Leaving tonight (Fri) for Italy

I am feeling especially loved this week! I will have been in Rome for one day while you are reading this. The week of my departure, it was just too damn cute; my in-laws were waiting for me when I got home from work to say Arrivederci. Our friends that we met up with in Montreal came and spent the night, no less their anniversary night with us, my dad came to visit me, and my Mom wished me safe travels. My Co-workers were so happy for me and excited for the stories and pictures for when I get back. I went out last night with some good friends and hopefully meeting up for lunch with some more good friends; just feeling loved; I must admit it brought ought a funny comment from me. Damn you guys do know I am coming back right? Yes my husband made it quite clear that I had to come home!

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It all started when I made the decision that I would go visit my daughter before she ends her time in Japan later this year. We talked a lot about either going to her “home” in Japan or maybe meet somewhere else; like somewhere in the middle; cut the flight time for both of us. I looked up all direct international flights from Logan in Boston and from her local airport and of course Tokyo. That at least narrowed it to a few countries.

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We chose Italy which was really a no-brainer; my dream is to eat my way from the North to the South or vice versa I’m flexible either would work for me. While this trip is not my “dream” trip it will definitely be an awesome adventure that I get to share with my baby girl who is turning 25 while we are in Florence. And what a better way to spend her birthday than to attend a 7 hour cooking class. It includes a walking tour of a food market to purchase our items of course, then we are brought out to the country to an old farmhouse where we will make our 5 course dinner and dessert while trying the local vino. Yeah it sounds amazing, I will report back if it is as awesome as it sounds.

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My husband was insistent that I write my blog sitting at a café in Rome; while I LOVED the idea, I mean really; how flipping cool would that be. Unfortunately since I was traveling alone I decided packing super light was the only way to travel and since we were spending time in two or more cities; I wasn’t going to lug my laptop. Next time during my “dream” Italian trip, damn straight I will be sitting at several café’s writing and sharing everything around me with you.

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It was delicious but this picture looks like it needs more pepper

In honor of my trip I am going to share my quick version of Fettuccine Alfredo that I made for my guys this last week with the homemade pasta I brought back from Montreal.

Alfredo Sauce

1 pint heavy cream

½ cup unsalted butter

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiana-Reggiano

Freshly cracked black pepper

Broccoli – cooked in the pasta water till aldente – optional

Shrimp – cooked in the Alfredo sauce or cook in garlic butter before adding – optional

Cook pasta according to directions using fresh or boxed works fine

Heat the heavy cream over medium low heat in a deep straight sided saute pan

Add butter and whisk gently to melt, do not boil but simmer for about 5 minutes or so to thicken. Sprinkle in the cheese and stir to incorporate; Season with freshly cracked black pepper.

Add cooked pasta to the pan and Mangia Mangia!

Arrivederci – I need to go pack now, I leave tonight!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup (from my garden)

So I harvested all of my garlic yesterday as well as several zucchini and cucumbers but only one summer squash and a few tomatoes and a couple of onions. We have been getting broccoli pretty steady for a couple of weeks now. My garlic ended up with pretty small bulbs but there are 68 of them so I think we should be OK for a bit. I need to figure out how to grow larger bulbs; the small ones don’t really keep very well. Once it cures for a couple of weeks I will probably have to peel and freeze all of it. Once frozen the only way to use it is crushed but I do that more than anything else so I am pretty OK with it.

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Broccoli Cheddar

 

 

 

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Chicken Divan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Broccoli really doesn’t keep very long in the fridge once harvested so I had to do something with it. I have already frozen a couple of gallon bags so this morning I decide to make something with it. I love broccoli cheddar soup so that took care of some of it and my son loves Chicken Divan so that took care of the rest. We had the soup for lunch and the divan is actually in the oven as I type.

 

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Broccoli Cheddar Soup

1 TBS melted butter

1 medium onion chopped

¼ cup melted butter

¼ cup flour

1 Cup half and half

1 Cup milk

2 cups chicken stock

Head of broccoli (use less if you want) trimmed

1 cup julienne carrot

¼ tsp nutmeg

8 ounces grated good sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper

Sauté onion in butter and set aside

I had a potato that I peeled for breakfast and didn’t need it SO I cut it up; ,boiled it and used my potato ricer and added it to my soup, it helped thicken the soup even more, which we all love.

Melt butter and add flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.  Stir constantly and add the milks. Add the chicken stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat for 20-25 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste. You can puree this if you want or leave chunky (I left mine chunky) return to heat and add cheese. Stir in nutmeg and enjoy. My son doesn’t like broccoli cheddar soup but he did like and eat this one.

Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry

Have you ever tried to re-create a dish you had while eating out?  I have definitely tried; some were successful some not so much.   I do make a mean Crab Rangoon and I love making Pan Fried Chicken Dumplings.  There is a recipe from my favorite local restaurant that I order every time we go that eludes me; Lemongrass Chicken with a Caramel Sauce served over Jasmine rice with seared greens.  I LOVE the taste and presentation of this dish!  I do wonder though if I were able to re-create it at home would the love fade.  I don’t think I am willing to risk it; I will save this special dish for when we have date night.

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This weekend I will be testing a few Asian Fusion recipes that I hope to be able to have a class on soon.  I have the ingredients to make Pad Thai and a Spring Roll that sounded delicious with a Thai Chili sauce that I am super excited to see how they come out.

My son just came back from visiting his sister in Japan and asked me to experiment with different Ramon dishes.  My daughter went to Vietnam over her Christmas New Year’s holiday and fell in love with their street food.  Next up on my testing list is Banh Mi which is a Vietnamese Sandwich; she literally tried every different vender she came upon.  She also mentioned that I really need to learn how to make Pho which is pronounced Fa.  They are definitely are on my foodie radar.

Last night we had some friends over and I made a Beef and Broccoli dish served over Jasmine rice.  A couple of weeks ago I tested a Portuguese Paella on a few friends. At least I had made the Beef and Broccoli one other time for my guys and they both really liked it.  The Paella was a true test as I have never made before.  I always have a backup plan if things don’t go the way I plan.  We have like 5 or 6 pizza places in our small town; just a phone call away.

This comes together pretty quickly; the rice will take the longest.  Unless you use boil-in-bag rice; I did not I just made some jasmine rice, because it is my favorite.

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Serves 4 – I doubled this last night to serve my friends

Note: pre-measure your ingredients ahead of time and place them by the stove, it will keep things moving along without the threat of burning and over cooking your ingredients.

2 Tablespoons dry white wine or dry sherry, divided

2 Tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce, divided

1 teaspoon sugar

1 pound boneless sirloin steak, cut diagonally across the grain into thin slices

½ Cup lower-sodium beef broth

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce

1 teaspoon Sriracha

2 Tablespoon canola oil, divided

1 Tablespoon bottled ground fresh ginger

2 teaspoons minced garlic

4 cups trimmed up broccoli

¼ cup water

1/3 cup sliced green onions

Cook rice according to directions

Combine 1 Tablespoon wine, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, sugar and beef.  Stir together 1 Tablespoon wine, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, broth, cornstarch, hoisin and sriracha. Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat; add beef mixture; sauté 3 minutes or until browned.  Remove beef from the pan.  Add ginger and garlic; cook 30 seconds stirring constantly. Add broccoli and water; cook 1 minute.  Add onions cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add broth and beef mixture; cook 2 minutes or until beef is thoroughly heated and sauce is slightly thick.  Serve over rice.

Not easy being green – why do veggies get such a bad rap

I am just as guilty as the next for steering clear of everything green growing up!  I was brought up in the era of having to sit at the table until my plate was cleared.  I see good and bad in this approach.  I still feel the need to finish my plate, which is bad for your waist line; good for making you try food that scares you.  I recall as a child placing peas along the underside rim of my plate in hopes that no one would notice.   The family dog wasn’t opposed to any veggie of any color; pretty sure because they don’t see color hmmmm.

I didn’t change my ways until my early 20’s and it has been ongoing challenge ever since.  I have been pretty successful over the years hiding things I dubbed yucky!  I can cut up an onion so small that it disappears in a soup love the flavor, didn’t like the texture – I don’t have to do this as much anymore.  Broccoli was hidden in stir fry or covered with cheese sauce.  Peas were usually covered with gravy mostly only in chicken pot pies.  Asparagus was always covered with hollandaise and just in the last 2 weeks I have been working on brussel sprouts.

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There is speculation that if you eat something 7-10 times you can train yourself to like it.  For the most part I do believe this.  I can now eat Peas, Asparagus and Broccoli without smothering them with anything.  Brussel sprouts are still a work in progress; I am only on try 4 but I haven’t given up hope yet.

Asparagus – we love (except my son) roasting or even grilling with just a little olive oil, kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. We now have an asparagus patch in our garden
Peas – I only like frozen sweet peas – and they are a great tasting side as well as a punch of color – presentation, presentation, presentation.
Broccoli – great steamed or pan seared with some shallots, kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. We have been growing broccoli for many years with great success – We harvest and freeze when we can’t keep up before it flowers.
Brussel Sprouts – we are still eating them with a gravy or sauce of some sort – we are working on it – these look cool but they won’t be making it into my garden anytime soon.

Pasta

1lb tube pasta such as rigatoni, (whole wheat works too)
2 cups frozen peas
3/4 cup pesto
2 handfuls argula
8 oz goat cheese

boil pasta (in salted water) according to the packages directions, at the last minute add the peas, drain and return to the pot. Add pesto and stir to combine.  Add the arugula and toss. Cruble goat cheese on top and a grind of fresh crack black pepper.

*If you wanted to use this as a meal add some diced cooked chicken

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Basil Pesto

6 ounces fresh basil, stems removed, washed and patted dry
4 ounces pine nuts
5-6 garlic cloves (or 7-8 like I do)
2 ounces of grated parmesan cheese
2/3 cup olive oil – more or less
kosher salt
fresh crack black pepper

Combine basil, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor or blender. Pulse until all combined and chopped. Add olive oil to desired consistency. Finish by pulsing in the parmesan cheese, season with salt and pepper to taste.