Category Archives: Pasta

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Drunken Spaghetti

It’s almost Valentine’s Day…you know what that means, right? Wine! Lots of wine!(And chocolate too, but let’s save that for later) Whether or not you’re in a relationship, this recipe is a winner. If you’re by yourself (like me!) this is a good excuse to go through a bottle of wine alone. If you’re cooking for a special someone (I kind of hate you) this can be a fun, romantic meal. You choose.

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So what is Drunken Spaghetti? Excellent question! It’s spaghetti cooked in wine and water. How fun is that? It makes the spaghetti a neat color too. I chose to do equal parts wine and water to make things easier on myself, so all I did was pour a bottle of wine into the pot, then refill the bottle with water and add that to the pot as well. Easy! If you’re thinking to yourself, That’s such a waste of wine!!!! Calm down, I bought $2.99 bottles at Trader Joes. It’s not like I’m using something amazing and delicious.

You’ll notice that I’m using pancetta in this recipe. Pancetta is fancy Italian bacon, and normally way too expensive for me. I was going to just use regular bacon (you know, because romance) but I saw this super cheap package of chopped pancetta at the store and simply had to get it. You understand.

pancetta pkg

This isn’t really much of a recipe, just a guide. Good luck!

First you add equal parts red wine (I used a cheap Cabernet Sauvignon). It doesn’t have to be exactly half. Just close. If you don’t want to open another bottle later, set aside about a 1/2 cup of wine to add at the end.

pouring wine

When it comes to a boil, add 1lb of spaghetti and cook following package directions or until done.

Meanwhile, start cooking your pancetta/bacon/mushrooms/whatever you decide. I added a little salt, pepper, and 21 Seasoning Salute (from Trader Joes). You can use Italian Seasoning if you don’t have 21 Seasoning Salute. Add a happy amount.

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Stir and cook on medium high heat until browned.

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When pasta is cooked, strain it and return it to the pan.

strained pasta

Stir in pancetta and a 1/2 cup red wine. Serve with cheese and love.

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Have an awesome Valentine’s Day!!!

 

PS – My new camera is crazy awesome. These are my first pics with it!! Hopefully I get better at it.

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Parsley and Walnut Pesto, featuring roasted garlic

So…I haven’t posted anything in a while, do you forgive me? I was a little busy this summer with my internship, but I will try to never again leave you waiting for so long.

Although I will leave you waiting for the recipe due to my usual rambling, so here’s a preview of the actual purpose of this post.

I haven’t been able to check on the garden at my parent’s house very often this summer, but I do know it wasn’t quite as prosperous as last year. There was probably too much rain for some of the vegetables. We still got a lot of tomatoes and green beans, but practically no squash or cucumbers. It was a little sad. We attempted beets and carrots this year too, and it looks like we may have planted them too close together, but it’s ok because we still got some delicious product from it!

Check out these lovely beet greens, and the carrot greens behind them

Tomatoes! You might see these a couple times in this post as a garnish

We did manage to get a ton of herbs, which we smartly planted right outside the kitchen door. I came home from NYC on August 26th, so my mom and I made sure to cut as much of the herbs as we could to save them from Hurricane Irene. It started raining while we gathered, but the hurricane didn’t really get going until much later.

Basil!

We decided to freeze most of the basil. So we cut, picked the leaves, washed them, let dry, then put into freezer storage bags and hoped the hurricane wouldn’t knock out our power (it didn’t). I saved some unpicked bundles in a container of water to use during the week.

I love me some parsley

We did pretty much the same thing with the parsley, except I kept a lot more unfrozen to make a parsley pesto for dinner.

I know many people make basil pesto. I had a ton of basil, why did I make the pesto predominantly with parsley? Well, because I felt like it. Were you expecting a real reason? And why walnuts instead of the traditional pine nuts? Because we had walnuts in the house, and because they are way cheaper than pine nuts and still delicious.

One more explanation before I present you with the recipe: why did I roast the garlic? That’s an easy one. My parents don’t like raw garlic. Even in a delicious pesto they find the flavor to be too overwhelming. So, I roasted it. A head of garlic might sound like a garlic festival to those who aren’t fond of the tasty morsels, but when you roast it the flavor becomes much more subtle and bearable. Just cut the top off of the head leaving the cloves exposed. Don’t worry, there’s a picture coming later.

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Berberé Blend & Couscous with Raisins

It’s starting to get warm outside, and this leaves me craving spicy food. Trust me, spicy hot food in the summer and cold food in the winter. It puts things into perspective. And nothing is worse in the summer than warm, melting, sticky, messy ice cream. Let’s leave that for the winter, shall we? Plus there’s also something about food and regulating body temperature and all that good logical reasoning stuff. And of course, once the heat and humidity actually hit I’m going to be desperately trying to cool down with cold cucumber soup and lemonade. But I’m allowed to be hypocritical on my own blog, right?

Because you dealt with my ranting so well, here’s a lovely treat for you! Hint: It’s the topic of today’s post!

For now, let’s go with spicy and a hint of sweetness since springtime isn’t all that hot yet. I decided it would be fun to make a dish I cooked in my Nutrition class. Our groups were assigned different continents and had to come up with healthy meals that reflect the culture in those areas. My group got Africa, and one of the interesting things I found was an Ethiopian spice blend called Berbere. According to The Congo Cookbook, this is the foundation of Ethiopian cuisine.

I could only find whole anise seed, which was awesome since I love using my         mortar and pestle :)

I used this blend to season couscous, and then mixed in raisins (hence the sweetness), and added some toasted slivered almonds for a bit of crunch.

I just cook the almonds in a pan with a little bit of oil until they get nice and brown, like how you see them on the couscous.

When I was trying to find all the spices so I could make my own bottle of the spice, I had difficulty finding some, and some were just too expensive for me to be able to buy right now. So I just altered the ingredients, and still somehow it came out to be delicious. I’m a genius! I’m also opposed to putting salt and pepper into spice blends, it’s better to be able to control it yourself, so I opted not to include it. And with the couscous, normally the water:couscous ratio is 1:1, but I prefer it 1.5:1, so that’s how I wrote my recipe.

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Berberé Blend

½ tsp. Allspice
¼ tsp. Cinnamon
¼ tsp. Cloves
1 tsp. Cumin
2 tsp. Anise
½ tsp. Nutmeg
1 tsp. Ginger
3 Tbsp. Paprika
1 Tbsp. Cayenne
¾ tsp. Cardamom (optional)
½ tsp. Coriander (optional)

 

 

Berberé Couscous with Raisins

1 Tbsp. Olive oil
½ Onion, diced
1 Tbsp. Berberé Blend
1 ½ cups Chicken Broth
¾ cup Raisins
1 cup Whole wheat couscous
Salt and Pepper to taste
Slivered, toasted almonds for garnish

In a medium sized pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions until tender. Add the Berbere Blend and cook about 1 minute. Add broth, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in raisins and couscous, cover and let sit 5 minutes or until broth is absorbed. Fluff with a fork, and top with almonds.

Spicy, sweet, soft and crunchy. And also still tastes good when it’s cold! Is this a winner? Um….yeah it sure is. Duh  :)

 

Up next: I’ll make a Berbere marinated chicken with some sort of Berbere coconut sauce concoction! It’s going to be delicious! (Well, at least I hope it is since it’s what I plan on having for dinner…)

Dill Macaroni Salad

Dill weed. It’s a silly name for a tasty herb. An herb I have not much explored. I gathered some recipes, was offered some more, and have been patiently waiting for my dill to be usable. It has reached that point.

I decided to start with a dill macaroni salad. Why? Because I am unfamiliar with dill and I am very familiar with macaroni salad. I found a recipe using dill for a potato salad, and just adjusted it to fit with the way my mom makes macaroni salad to create some sort of monstrous taste-pile of goodness.

I found the dill to be pleasant to work with. Very easy to chop and with a pleasant smell. The reason I have been so hesitant to venture into this culinary realm is due to the fact that I absolutely despise pickles, and in my mind “dill” and “pickle” are forever together. I thought maybe the flavor in pickles that I can’t stand came from dill. I was wrong. Turns out that anything pickled, even olives, instantly triggers the up-chuck reflex. Gross.

I have since learned the error of my ways. People have made many delicious treats involving dill, such as the ever hilarious Dill Dip. As much as I now know that dill is not the reason for my pickle hostility, I still am a little uncomfortable with it. Hence the familiar recipe made in a new and crazy way.

Plus, this has mayonnaise in it. You can’t go wrong with a recipe involving mayonnaise. I love the stuff! In the recipe I wrote that you should use 1 cup of mayo, however keep in mind that more is always an option. An option I frequently choose. Needless to say, yet I’ll still say it, I highly enjoyed this foray into the joys of dill weed.

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Couscous Peperoncino

This is an Italian recipe that I learned about while I was in Japan. Most of their versions of Italian food I found to be incredibly hilarious, such as pasta with a ketchup ragu sauce topped with a raw egg. But this one was actually pleasant. I used to buy packets of the sauce mix while I was living there, but when I moved back I found them to be overly expensive. So I went to the store, found a packet, read the ingredients, and made my own version. Being cheap and poor has had the positive side-effect of forcing me to be a good cook.

This recipe is both spicy and fresh tasting. It would go well as a side dish with meat or fish, or is good as a lunch. The garlic is very subtle. You taste more of the spicy hotness from the peppers, which is slightly tamed by the parsley.

When I make this I used dried chili peppers from Asian markets, and I usually buy them pre-chopped into little rounds. You can always buy whole dried chili peppers and chop them yourself. Those are probably at regular stores, but I never really checked.

I also prefer whole wheat couscous because it’s got an extra bit of flavor that is slightly nutty. This recipe can be made with pretty much any type of grain., I just like couscous the best for this.

This recipe also only takes about a total of 10 minutes to prepare and cook. It’s kind of awesome like that.

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