Creamy Pasta with Prosciutto & Kale

DSC_0040-1 (1)

Last night was a “must go” night for me. I had some prosciutto and goat cheese in the fridge that I haven’t used for anything yet and thought… pasta!!! And of course with pasta I always like to cook something green, I thought peas.. sadly none in the freezer, then spinach came up, but I didn’t have that either. I am in love with kale and happened to have just enough in the fridge, so kale it was!

Let me tell you, for literally making this recipe up as I went, it was so good. I may be a little off on my measurements simply because I was adding and doing things randomly. Hopefully I get them right! This dish is rich and creamy, the crispy prosciutto gives it a wonderful crunchy consistency with the creamy sauce. I also like my choice of linguine versus other pasta’s because it always has a little bite to it, that is if you like it “al dente” style. I think this dish would be good in so many different ways! If you have peas instead, add those. Grilled shrimp instead of prosciutto would also be a good choice.

Pasta can be made so many ways, so go ahead and be creative!! You’ll be surprised with what you come up with.

34307744-52f7-48af-b548-f8da0e349025

To start, go ahead and get your pot on high heat with a little salt until boiling. Add pasta and cook according to package directions (9-10 minutes for al dente linguine). While you wait for your pasta to boil, take a large skillet turn on med high heat and add your olive oil. Once the pan is warm, swirl to coat, and add your onion and prosciutto. Crack some pepper and mix well. Let them sit on the pan for a minute or two to brown the prosciutto, then stir. You do not want to add salt with this dish, the prosciutto is very salty. Once your prosciutto is browned and crispy, add your white wine (or white wine vinegar) and de glaze the pan making sure to scrape the bottom bits up. This will help flavor the sauce your going to make. Add your kale and garlic, stir frequently, you don’t want to over cook your kale. It should be soft, but still somewhat stiff (about 1-2 minutes) you want to leave a slight bite to it.

DSC_0004-2

At this time your pasta should be done, before straining, reserve 2 tbsp of pasta water. This will give your sauce some starch and help it to thicken. Take a measuring cup and add your cream/half and half (in my case I had neither, so I used unsweetened Soy milk and it turned out great!!) and add your flour. Whisk well until thickened. Add your cream, noodles, and pasta water to the pan. Take your goat cheese and add to the pan as well. Stir well until the goat cheese is melted and the sauce is formed.

DSC_0008-1

Once melted and mixed, turn your pan on low and let it sit for just a few minutes.

DSC_0016

 Serve!

What you’ll need:
your favorite brand of linguine pasta, reserving 2 tbsp pasta water
1 tbsp olive oil
I used a little more than half of Boars Head cubed prosciutto (pre packaged in your deli area)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
pepper
1/3 cup (ish) white wine or white wine vinegar (this is where it gets tricky, I didn’t measure the wine, I am guessing 1/3 cup, taste test the liquid after stirring up the brown bits and cooking for a minute, if you think you need more add more!)
1 tbsp minced garlic
large hand full of kale (stems and stalks removed, washed)
3oz goat cheese (not crumbles)

DSC_0036-1

Salmon with Butternut Squash Risotto and Kale Chips

IMG_20140225_190718 (1)

Finally I am back to blogging! I will say it has been a very hard past few months for me and I’ve been very busy and honestly haven’t felt up to cooking much. In late October my father had gotten admitted to the hospital. After a visit home I decided it was best for me to come home and spend time with him and help my family with medical decisions and guidance. He ended up passing a month later. Shortly thereafter, my husband went on deployment and he will be gone for the next 9 months. Needless to say it has been a very challenging and emotional time for me, and I’m glad to be back in the kitchen and in the blog world. I know my father  would want me to pick up the pieces and live my life like I normally would, so in a sense, this post is in honor of him.

All sadness aside, this is an amazingly rich and healthy dish. It’s filled with vitamins and honestly no preservatives, it has all fresh ingredients. There is so much flavor my mouth is watering just thinking back to when I ate it 4 hours ago! Salmon is something that I could eat everyday,  no questions asked. I think the flavor of the butternut squash risotto and the salmon go so beautifully together, then bringing it all in with crispy kale chips gives it an amazing crunch. The slight bitterness of the kale cuts through the sweetness of the risotto and makes a surprising duo!

To begin, preheat your oven to 425 then get started on your risotto. Take a 2 qt size saucepan and place 1 tbsp olive oil on medium heat. Once the pan gets warm, pour in your risotto and mushrooms and continuously stir making sure it is evenly coated, cook for 2 minutes. Pour in your water, milk, white wine (or white wine vinegar) stir well and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir well and turn on low to simmer for 20 minutes, do not cover. Risotto is a very starchy rice, so you want to stir it frequently to bring out the starch and help it thicken. you want the end result to be thick, but creamy. I ended up cooking mine an extra five minutes.

20140225_184916-1

While your risotto is cooking, your oven should be preheated by now. Place your salmon on a baking dish or oven safe skillet and pour some olive oil in the pan, turn to coat the pan. Season your salmon with a little salt and pepper. Take your olive wine mixture by brushing the mixture onto the salmon, it’s ok if some gets on the bottom of the skillet/baking pan. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

Take your bunch of kale and wash it well, tear off the leafy parts leaving the stems. Any thick stalk you may find you will want to leave out. The key to this is to make “chips” so you want the leafy parts only. Place some olive oil on a baking dish then put your kale on the pan evenly. Place pepper evenly over the kale add some lemon juice and a little bit more olive oil, mix around to evenly coat the kale with the oil. Place in the oven and take it out every 5 or so minutes to mix around, it will be ready when the kale tips are browned and crispy.

Once the salmon has cooked for 15-20 minutes, turn your oven on high broil and place it on the top oven rack. Watch the salmon carefully to make sure you don’t overcook or burn the fish. You want to watch your kale or take it out if it’s ready as well.  The salmon on broil will make the top skin nice and crispy.

To plate, take a nice amount of risotto in the middle of the plate, grab a spatula and when removing your salmon, locate the skin and gently put your spatula in between the skin and meat of the salmon. The skin should peel off easily and stay on the pan while you have your fillet nice and pretty on your spatula. Place your salmon on top of the risotto, then surround with your kale chips and voila!! Yummy and also looks impressive on a plate.

20140225_190150 (1)

What you need:
For the risotto:
1 box of butternut squash risotto (I used Lundberg traditional brand, found in organic or rice section)
handful of mixed mushrooms (crimini, shiitaki, button, and porcini, mixed together in one box at grocery store)
The following ingredients were on the box for directions, I added the vinegar and used less water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 3/4 cup water
1/3 cup of white wine vinegar
1 cup of milk (I actually ran out, so I ended up using soy milk and it turned out just as good!)
For the Salmon:
2 salmon fillets, I prefer fresh and not previously frozen, also wild caught not farm raised
salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
juice of half a lemon (i ended up using a little less than half and saved the rest to sprinkle on top)
1 tbsp lemon pepper seasoning
For the kale:
A bunch of kale, washed and stems and stalks removed
olive oil (I don’t measure, just enough to lightly coat the kale)
pepper
sprinkle of lemon juice

20140225_190132-1


Vietnamese Pho with Beef

DSC_0099-1

I love Asian cuisine! RJ has been gone all week, and I have been going Asian fusion crazy. He’s not a big Asian food fan, so this explains my serious excitement. I was in the mood for soup, so I found this yummy recipe on the food network website, they never do me wrong! This soup is very easy to make! I could only find the thin rice noodles at the store, so next time I hope to have the thicker noodles for this dish. Beef is definitely the best pick for this soup.

Prepare the rice noodles per package directions.

Place a large pot over high heat, I used my cast iron covered braiser (Giada DeLaurentiis style) . Poke the meat all over with a fork to tenderize it and season with salt and pepper. Cover with a little drizzle of vegetable oil and sear the meat for 2 to 3 minutes per side, then transfer to a plate.

Add the onion and ginger to the pot and cook about 4 minutes. Add the broth, 3 cups water, the star anise and cinnamon stick, reduce the heat and simmer about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the scallions and jalapenos (remove seeds if you want less heat) and tear the cilantro. Thinly slice the meat against the grain, keep aside. Drain the noodles, once drained keep in cold water until you use in the soup.

DSC_0077

Add the fish sauce to the broth and boil 5 minutes. Add your mushrooms and jalapenos (this was something extra I thought would be perfect with the soup!) Throw out the ginger, star anise and cinnamon stick. Remove and slice the onion. Divide the noodles among your serving bowls; top with the broth, beef, scallions, cilantro, bean sprouts and onion.

Simple as that! And soo soo good. I even think my husband would like it!

DSC_0088

What you’ll need:

  • 8 ounces rice noodles (you will find this in the international Asian aisle)
  • 12 ounces lean beef sirloin, fat trimmed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large onion, halved
  • 1 4-inch piece ginger, unpeeled, halved
  • 3 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 5 star anise pods (you will find these in the international aisle with the packages of dried seasonings)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 scallions
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, preferably red and green
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons fish sauce (you will find this in the international Asian aisle)
  • 1 cup fresh been sprouts

DSC_0107

Pasta Ponza

It was another one of those nights where I decided to throw a bunch of ingredients together and throw it all in a casserole dish! I love pasta dishes that have a little crunch to them, and I happened to have some panko bread crumbs in my pantry. I also have this thing for capers, love em! So I thought I would add those. I needed to use the leftover bacon in the fridge, great excuse to use that! What better than to add some crushed tomatoes with some seasonings and pasta and voila!

So to start, boil a large pot of salted water. Add your pasta and cook according to package directions. I used ziti, but you can use your favorite type of pasta! While your pasta is boiling, take a skillet and cook your bacon on medium high heat. Cook until desired crispiness. Place on a towel to absorb excess grease. When the bacon is cooled, break into small pieces. Rinse off the skillet and dry it. Take your crushed tomatoes and cook on medium heat, add capers, red peppers, pasta water, and seasonings. Cook until it starts to bubble, turn down to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix together the panko crumbs, fresh parsley, seasonings, and olive oil. Turn your oven on to high broil. Grab a casserole dish and spray with PAM. Place your pasta, tomato mixture and cheese into the pot and mix. Pour the mixture into the baking dish, top with the panko and bacon mixture.

Place in the  broiler on the top rack and turn the light on. The broiler gets hot fast and you want to be careful not to burn the dish. It only takes about 5 minutes to completely brown, turn it every few minutes to brown evenly. Place in a bowl and chow down!

What you’ll need:
1 box of ziti, or your favorite kind of pasta

1 can of crushed tomatoes with herbs
red bell pepper, sliced
2 tbsp capers, drained
1/2 package of bacon, cooked
1/3 cup of panko bread crumbs
1 tbsp italian seasoning
handful of flat leaf parsley, minced
1 1/4 cup pecorino romano and parmesean cheese, grated
1 tbsp olive oil

Seafood Mac-N-Cheese

On a trip home, I happened to meet some friends at a restaurant called Keystone Bar & Grill, famous for their unique mac and cheese and quesadillas. Amazing dishes, so creative and my favorite is their mac and cheese names, such as Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, Nirvana. I am a huge Classic Rock and Alternative fan, so obviously I loved their food before even tasting it!

I came home and decided I was going to make my own version, not really experienced in the mac and cheese world, I thought I would be safe and look up a mac and cheese recipe to base my dish off of. I decided to use Muenster Cheese because it felt soft and I knew it would melt well. I actually have never had it before so I kind of just winged it at the store! I also bought some Gruyere Cheese because I wanted a little bit of a nutty cheese into the mixture.

From my previous recipe Seafood Quesadillas I had extra shrimp and Mahi Mahi. I thought, this would be super tasty in a mac and cheese dish! I had some bacon I needed to use up, so I added that to give the perfect salty crunch! This dish takes some time to make, but it’s definitely worth it in the end (and even better the next day leftover!)

I start out by whisking my goat cheese (If you don’t like goat cheese, you can substitute with feta or cheddar, or really any cheese you like!) bread crumbs, and bacon. I originally wanted to use panko crumbs, but I forgot to buy some at the store and the bread crumbs worked out great! Preheat your oven to 450º.

Start boiling a large pot of salted water. Cook your noodles according to package directions, you want them to be al dente, as in a little bit undercooked because they will also cook in the oven. Once drained, rinse your pasta with cold water and drain again, this prevents the pasta from sticking. Pour into a large bowl then place your shrimp and mahi and mix well. Set aside.

Start your cheese mixture. My favorite part of mac and cheese is obviously the cheese sauce! And it’s important that you get the right texture! Start by melting the butter on medium, then adding the flour slowly and making sure to whisk constantly to make a clumpy, flour base. Then add your milk, slowly and whisk constantly until you reach a thick consistency. It should stick to the back of a wooden spoon. Next, add your cheeses and mix until melted through. It may take a couple of mixes to break up the cheese and melt. Make sure you give it a taste before deciding it’s good. If it doesn’t taste cheesy enough, add more! If it’s not thick enough, add more flour. Also be sure to not let your mixture boil! This will clump up the flour.

Add all of your sauce into the bowl of pasta. Next add your lemon juice and zest, parsley, garlic powder and pepper. Mix well. (I omitted the salt because of the butter, cheese and bacon.. that’s enough sodium for me!)

Now add your bread crumb mixture evenly over the top of the pasta and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes. I put mine on broil for the last 5 minutes and moved my dish to the top wrack to give it a good crunch on top.

Let sit for 5 minutes to let the flavors and sauce really come together.

I am not lying this is the best homemade mac and cheese I’ve ever had! One of the best surprises in this dish is the slight lemon zest you taste in every bite, it works so well with the seafood and cheese! Unless you absolutely hate seafood or have an allergy, you have to try this dish! And if you don’t like seafood, subtitute with some chicken or sausage. It’s so fun to use your imagination when in the kitchen, and the results are always something to be proud of!

What you’ll need:
13.25 ounces rotini (I used Barilla)
1/2 pound fresh shrimp, peeled with tails removed and cut in half
1/2 fillet of Mahi Mahi, cut into pieces
1 package bacon, cooked crispy and crushed into small peices
A spoonful of herbed goat cheese, crumbled
Zest of 1 large lemon, divided
Juice of the lemon
3/4 cup plain bread crumbs (or panko)
4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour (plus more if needed)
4 cups milk (whole or reduced fat)
2 ounces Gruyère Cheese, grated
8 oz Meunster Cheese, wax cut off (I used Boars Head)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon fresh black pepper

Roasted Veggie & Sausage Pasta

Ohh pasta.

When can you ever go wrong with pasta? Not only do you have endless options but you can be so creative with it! Friendly to all of our veggies out there, you can add meat, seafood, you name it and it will be a great pair!

Pasta is the best quick dinner, after a long day at work or running around with errands all day, pasta is that easy go-to staple always accessible in your pantry and fridge.

To get started, cut up your eggplant and zucchini. Preheat your oven to 425. Place olive oil on a baking dish and roll the vegetables around to coat evenly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 15 minutes, re check and flip over with a spatula and place back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes until the veggies are browned and slightly crispy.

While these are roasting, cut up half an onion and mince 1 clove of garlic. Take a skillet and place a bit of olive oil in the pan until it’s hot on medium high. Take your sausage links and cut into slices or you can take the casing and remove it, then scramble the sausage into crumbles. Cook the sausage until almost fully cooked with slight pink to it. Add your onions and cook until translucent and slightly soft. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Pour your favorite spaghetti sauce in the skillet and turn the heat to low. Simmer to incorporate all of the flavors.

Add your veggies to the sauce, stir.

While simmering, start your pasta. Boil a large pot of salted water. Place noodles in boiling water and cook according to package directions. I chose angel hair pasta, it’s one of my favorites!

Once all is cooked, place your noodles, then sauce then sprinkle with parmesean cheese and a dash of parsley! Enjoy with your favorite glass of wine.

What you’ll need:
1 box of your favorite pasta (I used angel hair)
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce (I used a mix of roasted red pepper and vodka sauce)

1 eggplant, cut into cubes
1 green zucchini and 1 yellow zucchini cut into slices
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 half yellow onion, diced
2-3 hot sausage links (or ground sausage)  
Parmesean cheese
Italian Flat leaf Parsley for garnish 

 

Creole Shrimp Sauté

I love Publix.

Growing up in Cincinnati area we had grocery stores called Kroger and your occasional Winn Dixie. When I moved to Florida and went to Publix for the first time I felt like a kid at Christmas! Their slogan is “Publix, where shopping is a pleasure.” Oh it is definitely a pleasure, the staff is always friendly and helpful and the food always is in good quality!

Every day Publix has someone cooking up a yummy recipe. They also have lots of recipe cards available throughout the store and the best part is that they are free!!  So I found this particular recipe card and couldn’t wait to make it for dinner! If you like shrimp with a little kick and a light olive oil based pasta, you will love this meal!

I did my usual and changed some things up from the original recipe, added asparagus for more of a color pop and also substituted pancetta in place of bacon. But if you aren’t a fan of asparagus, I would also suggest some sweat peas or peppers! You could also try some chorizo instead of bacon or pancetta.

To get started, boil a medium sized pot of water. While your waiting for it to boil, prep some of your ingredients: cut up the pancetta (or bacon or chorizo, etc) into bite-sized pieces. Chop your parsley and tomatoes.

If you are cooking with bacon, cook the bacon on medium high for 5-7 minutes or until it is almost done. If you are using chorizo or pancetta (especially pancetta) you only want to cook it ahead for a few minutes because it cooks faster. Your water should be boiling by now so go ahead and add your pasta and cook according to package directions.

Once the meat is cooked almost all of the way through, sprinkle blackening seasoning (I used my favorite seasoning Cajun!) to the shrimp and add to the skillet stirring and cooking for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, asparagus, wine, garlic, red pepper flakes. Cook for another few minutes or until the shrimp turn pink and the sauce thickens a bit.

Stir in scampi sauce (make sure you shake the bottle well before pouring!) and lemon juice. Cover the pan for a few minutes to let the asparagus steam. I only cooked them enough to be soft in the middle and a little crunchy on the outside. This gave the dish a different consistency that I love: crunchy and soft!

Take your drained pasta and place on a plate or bowl and pour your shrimp creole mixture on top, sprinkle with parsley. Voila!!

Please don’t skimp out on the lemon juice, it was my favorite part of the sauce, it gave it that tangy bite that really helped bring out the natural flavors of the veggies and shrimp! Please enjoy this with a glass of white wine such as Riesling or Pinot Grigio.

What you’ll need:
8oz. Angel Hair Pasta
4 slices of thickly cut pancetta (Get this at your deli)
1 cup diced tomatoes
2 tsp minced garlic, or 2 cloves
3/4 cup white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
12 oz. peeled, deveined shrimp
Creole or Cajun/Blackening seasoning
1 cup of asparagus cut into pieces
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup of scampi sauce
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

 

Quick, around the house pasta!

I have to tell you, this is one of the best meals i have made unplanned. I brought home a jar of La Rosa’s pasta sauce from my visit home and I was craving it, so I went to the pantry and refrigerator and put together this lovely meal. When I worked at Buca Di Beppo, I loved the dishes they served with peas in them, so I grabbed a can of sweet peas I had in the pantry. I also grabbed some spinach, parmigiana, and Panko bread crumbs. (Yes, bread crumbs on top of pasta, I am a carb lover and I usually embrace it!) If you are watching your carbs, you can obviously leave those out, but they are put in the oven on broil and give this dish the perfect crunch 🙂

Also, I bought this pasta at Fresh Market, it was filled with pesto and mixed cheeses, I would suggest buying a more authentic box you see in your grocery store, believe me it is worth the extra buck or two!

Start off by turning your oven on HI broil. Next begin boiling your water for the pasta. I used a medium sized pot. Next, take a skillet and drizzle olive oil, heat on medium until warm. While the oil is warming, rinse a handful or two of fresh spinach. Place paper towels to pat dry. Put in the skillet and  add salt, pepper, and minced garlic (I used dried); stir constantly until spinach is wilted through, take off the skillet and put on a plate with paper towels to soak the extra oil.

Still on medium heat, take your skillet and pour in your favorite pasta sauce, add a drained can of sweet peas, your spinach and parmigiana (I used about a cup). Mix well, bring to a slight bubble and turn the heat on low, mix and let sit for 5 minutes or until pasta is done ( this will let all of the flavors come together).

By this time your water should be boiling. Pour your pasta in and cook via package directions. Once it is cooked, drain thoroughly (nobody likes watery pasta!!)  Pour your drained pasta back into the pot you used to boil it in. Take your pasta sauce mixture and pour that into the pasta pot. Stir gently (you want to be careful not to break open the pasta) Once evenly mixed, take a round glass baking dish and pour in. Take about a cup of Panko breadcrumbs and place into a medium sized bowl. Add a half cup of parmigiana, pepper, Italian seasoning, and olive oil (I would suggest a drizzle over top, just enough to lightly cover the crumbs). Mix well. Add the Panko mixture to the top of your pasta evenly. Place on the top most rack of your oven, turn on the light to be sure you don’t burn the crumbs! The broil is quick, so be sure to turn the dish every minute or two to get an even browning. This should only take 3 minutes or so to brown.

Serve with a glass of wine (or milk for the kids) and enjoy!!!

Penne all’amatriciana with mozzarella meatballs

It’s safe to say that I’m a carb lover, so pasta is one of my favorite things to make & eat! My all time favorite cooking inspiration is Giada De Laurentiis, from Food Network. She makes the best meals, and they are simple! A Christmas gift of mine was a cook book by Giada called Giada at Home sampling some of her favorite recipes from when she grew up in Italy. Needless to say, this one caught my eye. I love cheese, and the fact that mozzarella is stuffed inside of a meatball makes my mouth water! The sauce gives this meal the perfect addition, pancetta with crushed tomatoes and a pinch of crushed red pepper gives a perfect salty kick.

I definitely advise you to buy the real cheese and grate it at home. Also, if you have never cooked with Veal before, don’t be intimidated (I have to say that I was, something about veal makes me a bit uneasy) but you will never know the difference other than the meatballs tasting better than you’ve ever had them! In her recipe, she used Spaghetti noodles, I used Penne because I was out of Spaghetti noodles, but honestly you could substitute any noodle!

A little Italian education for you : All’amatriciana is a traditional Italian pasta sauce based on guanciale (dried pork cheek), pecorino romano cheese and tomato. Originating from the town of Amatrice, the Amatriciana is one of the most well-known pasta sauces in Italian cuisine. Now that you are informed, we can continue 🙂

You want to grab a large heavy skillet and heat oil in medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until golden brown, stirring constantly (5-7 minutes).  Using a slotted spoon take out the pancetta and set aside. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir about 30 seconds, then add tomatoes, salt, pepper, and cooked pancetta. Simmer, uncovered over medium-low heat and until thickened for about 15 minutes. While it’s simmering, grate your cheese then add in pan.

Now to start the star of the show: the meatballs! Preheat your oven to 400º, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take a large bowl and mix together the onion, 1/2 cup of parsley, 2/3 cup parmesan, bread crumbs, egg, ketchup, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and a few dashes of Worcestershire. Add the beef and veal. Mix everything together with your hands to be sure it is mixed evenly and thoroughly. When rolling into balls, you want to make them a little small, then depress the middle and add a cube of mozzarella cheese, add some mixture to fully enclose the meatball. You can reform it by rolling it again with your hands.

Bake on the lower third portion of the oven at 400º for 15-20 minutes, or until browned. While the meatballs are cooking, fill a large pot with water to a boil. Add your noodle of choice and cook to box directions or until al dente! (Soft but has a slight firmness). Strain.

In a large bowl (or to save on dishes add the sauce into the pasta bowl after strained.) Sprinkle cheese and parsley on top. Serve the meatballs in a separate bowl or on top! And enjoy!!

What you’ll need:

for the sauce:

2 tbsp olive oil
6 ounces pancetta, diced
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
A Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 (14 ounce) can of crushed tomatoes (I ended up using a little more than a can)
1/2 cup of grated fresh Pecorino Romano cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste

for the meatballs:

1/2 onion, grated
3/4 cup of chopped flat leaf italian parsley
2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup Italian seasoned brad crumbs
1 large egg
2 tbsp. ketchup
a couple dashes of Worcestershire
3 garlic cloves, minced
pinch or 2 of crushed red pepper flakes
pinch of salt & pepper
8 ounces ground beef
8 ounces ground veal
2 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese, cut or torn into cubes

1 lb of penne, spaghetti, bucatoni, etc. (noodles  of your choice!)

Bon Apetite!!!

RJ’s Tuna Noodle Casserole

So I worked my usual 12 hour shift and as usual I was super tired and had no interest in moving what so ever. So RJ made dinner and it is his family’s famous Tuna Noodle Casserole. This was the first dinner he made for me a  year or so ago and I find myself craving it all of the time. This casserole is hardy and rich with tons of cheese. So of course I love it! The best part about this dish is the peas, they make the perfect addition to the tuna and cheese with a little bite and a soft inside the flavors go beautifully together!

When he made it for me the first time I thought, oh how nice he is making blueberry muffins for dessert. He told me, no it goes with the casserole, that’s how we have always made it. I thought in my head, that’s the strangest thing I’ve ever heard. So while eating, I found myself glancing at the muffins and back at my food and back at the muffins. Finally, RJ convinced me to try it and I couldn’t believe how good it tasted together! Who would’ve thought that blueberry muffins and tuna casserole would be so good?

So I must tell you, no matter how weird it is, when you make this casserole, you better whip up some of those muffins too; you will be completely surprised!! Just buy a box mix, it takes about 20 minutes to cook and you wont regret it!! (plus you’ll have some breakfast muffins for the next morning!)

So let’s get started!! First preheat your oven to 350º. Start to boil a large pot of salted water. Now start making the famous Jameson white sauce. Melt the butter over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour continuously for 2 minutes. Warm milk in the microwave to make it room temperature, add to sauce and stir. Keep stirring the mixture until it is thickened and just starts bubbling (do not overheat or the mixture will clump or burn to the bottom) Lastly add some pepper. Once it is ready, you can add the can of soup and cheese. If you  bought the cheese in  blocks, I would suggest you break it into small pieces and adding to the pot. Stir until melted.

By this time your noodles should be added and cook until al dente (per package directions. I like to use broad egg noodles, yolk-free) Thaw your peas by running over warm water. Once the sauce is evenly mixed and thickened up and the cheese is melted, you can add the tuna and the thawed out peas.

Once the noodles are done, strain them thoroughly, you don’t want a watery casserole! Take your noodles back into the large pot and add the sauce. Mix well. Spray a 9×13 pan with PAM. Pour the mixture evenly into the pan and place foil on top to cover. Place in the oven for 30-45 minutes, taking the foil off for the last 10 minutes.

Enjoy some cheesy goodness 🙂

If you want to be an adventerous person and try the muffins with it, just buy your favorite box brand (or if you have a quick homemade recipe) mix it up real quick and place into the oven above the casserole, they will be done around the same time!! Perfect timing for a perfect pair to eat together.

What you’ll need:

1 lb. Broad Egg Noodles
2 tbsp. Butter
2 tbsp. Flour
2 cups Whole Milk
1 can of Cream of Celery Soup
1 lb. of American Cheese (don’t use the individually wrapped slices)
About half a bag or 1 1/2 cups of Peas (frozen and thawed)
1 large can of Tuna

9×13 Pyrex or glass casserole dish.
1 box of your favorite Blueberry Muffin mix (and the fixings for that!)