Spinach Tomato and Sausage Skillet over Angel Hair Pasta

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I am not a big fan of super saucy dishes unless it is curry. I feel that when things are over sauced it takes away from the real stars of the dish. The big players in this one are spicy sausage and chunky style sun dried tomatoes. The combination of these two offers a degree of savory-sweet (with a kick). It is my favorite flavor combo making this recipe a new favorite in my Rolodex. If you are into bold flavor and a meal that will feed your family for a few days than give this dish a try! This recipe was adapted from a beautiful recipe blog called Julia’s Album.

Time: 35 minutes

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Italian Sausage (I went with spicy but refine to your own taste)
  • 8.5 oz jar of sun dried tomatoes julienne cut in oil (reserve the oil you will use it to cook)
  • a pinch (or more) of red pepper flakes. I tend to like things spicy and opted for upwards to three pinches. Tailor it to your taste
  • 6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • One bunch of fresh basil, chopped (I am aware that “one bunch” is incredibly vague so to clarify just buy a packaged bunch of fresh basil from your market’s produce section)
  • 8 oz fresh spinach
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb angel hair pasta (or whatever pasta you prefer)

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet heat the entire contents the sun dried tomato jar over low heat. Once heated up the temperature to medium and add the sausage and red pepper flakes. Cook until the sausage is no longer pink.
  2. Add Roma tomatoes, basil, spinach, garlic, and salt/pepper to taste. Toss this mixture gently to be sure that all veggies get coated with the tomato oil goodness. Continue to cook until the spinach begins to wilt. Then remove the skillet from heat and cover it.
  3. Cook your pasta per the packaging, drain and add it to your sausage and vegetable skillet. Mix it all together and plate.
  4. One extra and totally optional tip is to reserve some of the spinach (or buy extra) and add crisp spinach to the dish as you plate it. This adds color, nutrients and a wonderful crunch to the dish. I highly recommend.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

 

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Italian Baked Sausage and Pasta

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This recipe had me at pasta and sausage. Who doesn’t love an Italian style bake?! It’s easy and IT’S DELICIOUS! This one seems like it has a lot of steps but it’s actually pretty effortless. I was impressed with how nicely each step came together.

Serves: 6     Calories: 400 per serving    Time: 1 hour 20 minutes 

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz whole wheat Penne pasta
  • 1 lb Italian chicken sausage
  • 1 6 oz. bag baby spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato pasta sauce, we used a sweet basil variation
  • 1 container plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk, we used 1%
  • 1 and 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, we used reduced fat
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • red pepper flakes to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Boil a large pot of water and cook pasta. You don’t want it to be cooked completely because you are going to bake it. You still want a little crunch when you strain it. (DON’T STRAIN UNTIL YOU READ STEP # 6)
  3. Spray a large pan with cooking spray and cook sausage over medium heat until cooked through/browned (approximately 15 minutes).
  4. Add in garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds or until fragrant. Turn off heat, remove sausages, and scrape what sauce and garlic is left in the pan into a bowl.
  5. Slice the sausage into bite-sized disks.
  6. Place the spinach in the bottom of your strainer. When pasta is done, pour pasta and pasta water over the spinach allowing the spinach to wilt.
  7. Pour pasta, sausage, spinach, and tomatoes into bowl with the garlic.
  8. Add tomato sauce, yogurt, milk, 1 cup of the cheese, and spices. Mix very well.
  9. Pour into casserole dish. Top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Cover dish with foil.
  10. Cook for 30 minutes covered. Remove foil, cook for an additional 10 minutes.
*Photo is an original belonging to me
*Recipe adapted from http://www.taylormadebytaylorbee.com/

Spinach and Cheese Filled Ravioli with Pesto Sauce

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After I got comfortable with making pasta I couldn’t stop. Perry invited a few friends of ours over for dinner so I used it as the perfect excuse to show off my new found pasta making skills. I want to say that I like the raviolis better then the tortellini but I think that is only because I found them easier to make. I had the roll and press process down so it didn’t feel as tedious to me. Also the cheese filling is AMAZING. This is definitely the combo I’ll be using from now on. Hit the spot and our guests loved it too.

Serves: 6-8      Calories: 800 (yes this is a once in a while dinner..)    Time: approx. 2 hours depending on how fast you work with the ravioli

Ingredients for Pasta Dough:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for Spinach/Cheese filling:

  •  1/2 lb fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 lb ricotta cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp chopped shallots
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pkg sargento provolone cheese, diced
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for Pesto:

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Make pasta dough. Recipe found here
  2. While dough is resting, sauté spinach with garlic, shallots and olive oil.
  3. Drain liquid and place in a mixing bowl with ricotta, mozzarella, and provolone.
  4. Mix well until nice and firm. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. After you’ve let your dough rest, separate it into 4 equal parts. Keep the parts of the dough you aren’t using right away wrapped in plastic wrap until you are ready to use it.
  6. Sprinkle a bit of flour on your clean and flat workspace. Flatten dough into a thick oval shape with your hands. Sprinkle a bit more flour on top of the oval and roll it flat with a rolling pin working from the center of the dough outwards. Constantly move the dough to keep it from sticking to your work surface.
  7. Once the dough is flat, using either a stencil or the rim of a drinking glass, punch out as many circles as you can. Roll up left over dough and cover with plastic wrap to be used again.
  8. Take two of the circles and roll them flat again because after you initially cut the shape it will probably contract a little bit. Once flat add about 1/2 tsp of the spinach/cheese mixture to the center of one of the circles. Place the other circle on top of the other and press the seam together. Using a fork press the edge of your circle to complete the seam.
  9. Repeat with the rest of your dough and store uncooked ravioli in an airtight container for no longer the 24 hours in your fridge or freeze for up to 2 months.
  10. When ready to cook bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook until the raviolis start to float, about 5 minutes or so
  11. While ravioli is cooking whip up the pesto sauce by adding all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blending until paste like.
  12. Top  raviolis with pesto or any other sauce you choose.
  13. Enjoy!

*Original recipe belongs to http://www.food.com and  Elise at http://www.simplyrecipes.com and Kelsey Nixon of http://www.cookingchanneltv.com 

*Photo is an original belonging to me

Homemade Pasta

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Recently my two year “blog-aversary” came around and I decided I wanted to do something out of my comfort zone. I tried my hand at homemade pasta. I’m not going to lie, making this recipe for the first time gave me mega anxiety because I had no idea what the consistency of the dough should be or what it should look like when it was done cooking etc… I’m hoping this post will inspire others to try cooking something that seems hard because it is such an awesome feeling when you nail it. This recipe blossomed because I decided to try making tortellini and ravioli on a few different nights. I tried about 3 different variations of this recipe and every time this one was the best. My words of advice are if you are confused or weary of your dough and if you are making it right watch youtube videos. The internet is a huge library of useful tips in the kitchen so don’t be afraid to use it. I’ll attack links to videos during the directions section of this recipe that I needed help because I would definitely not have been successful without them. Try this out and I promise you won’t regret it!

Serves: 1 dough ball yields 6-8 servings       Calories: 192/serving        Time: 45 minutes

NOTE: In the directions when I say “Check out this video to help you out” that whole sentence is a link to the video. For some reason my “link text” won’t differentiate from regular text.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Make a mound of 2 cups of flour on a clean and flat surface. Hollow out the center of the mound making a deep well in the center with steep walls of flour. You want these walls to be steep because otherwise you’ll have a mess of egg spilling out from your mound.
  2. Break the 3 eggs into the well. Add salt and olive oil. Start to gently mix with a fork. This step can be tricky so take it slow as to not break the steep walls of the well. I did it like I was gently scrambling eggs. Try your best not to hit the walls of flour just scramble the egg mixture and it will pick up flour as you do this. You can find a great video of how to do this here 
  3. Keep working the dough until it all starts coming together. You will not use all of the flour so don’t feel pressured to have to use every dusting of flour on your workspace. After you have a solid amount of dough start kneading it until it is smooth and elastic. Do this for 8-10 minutes. If your dough becomes too dry add a bit of water and if it is too sticky add a bit of flour.
  4. After you knead the dough form it into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. Let it rest in your fridge for 20-25 minutes. You can store the dough for up to 24 hours in your fridge but it is best to use within a few hours of making. If you let it rest the whole 24 hours check the dough for small black specks. Black specks are no good so be careful in your inspection and if you find black specks you need to start over.
  5. Use dough for my ravioli recipe or tortellini recipe which will follow this post 🙂

*Recipe adapted from Kelsey Nixon of http://www.cookingchanneltv.com 

*Photo is an original belonging to me

Cheesecake Factory Chipotle Pasta

ImageI’m always looking for new pasta recipes because it is so easy during the week to cook up some whole wheat pasta and a quick sauce. This recipe is just that. It is extremely easy and delicious to boot. The creamy sauce is rich but complimented nicely with crunchy veggies.

Serves: 8      Calories: 470       Time: 

Ingredients:

  • Juice of one lemon
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, rinsed ribbed and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, rinsed ribbed and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1.5 cups of frozen peas
  • 1 lb whole wheat pasta (we used penne)
  • 3 tbsp adobo sauce ( OPTIONAL: chop up and add a chipotle pepper or two to add additional heat)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • tortilla chips to top

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to its package directions.
  2. Combine lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside
  3. Chop veggies and garlic
  4. Over medium high heat, heat a skillet and add butter and canola oil.
  5. Add peppers, onion and lemon/honey mixture. Cook for approximately 5 minutes (until onions become clear) stirring as not to burn the honey.
  6. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.
  7. Add frozen peas, heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Cook until peas are heated through approximately 5 minutes
  8. Let simmer for a few minutes so sauce will thicken and add adobo sauce and optional chopped chipotle
  9. If you are making homemade tortilla chips now would be the time to do it.
  10. Dish your pasta and top with tortilla chips. We also sprinkled chipotle pepper powder on top. Can you tell we like it hot 🙂
  11. Enjoy!
  12. TIP : When reheating do it stovetop to protect the sauce from separating. Heat over medium flame and stir constantly. There is cheese in this recipe so it will burn if you do not keep a constant stir.

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Original recipe adopted from http://mrsschwartzkitchen.blogspot.com/

Grilled Pierogies and Kielbasa

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Growing up Pierogies were sort of a staple in our diet. We had then for dinner at least one a month so I have always loved these pasta/potato pockets. I guess the pierogie movement never made it out west because Perry claims that in his 52 years of life he’s never had one. I was appalled upon hearing this and insisted we make pierogies straight away. I will never eat perogies any other way again. This recipe is absolutely perfect and I challenge you to try and top it 🙂 I did have a little grilling trouble (as per usual) so my recipe differs from the original which tells you to grill the pierogies. My grill was literally on fire… Like I turned off the gas and the whole grill was still in flames. Needless to say I did not grill everything that was to be grilled. I only “grilled” (and by grilled I mean “smoked”) the kielbasa.

Cook time: 30 min     Serves: 4     Calories: 580    Carbs: Approximately 11.3 per serving

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of Kielbasa, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 tbsp. whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 large white onion, cut into 6 wedges
  • 1 lb frozen potato-and-cheddar pierogies (or any flavor that takes your fancy) , do not thaw
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. Preheat a grill to medium. Grill the kielbasa, turning, until marked, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet or platter (If you see smoke like I did turn off the gas immediately and have a water bottle handy…Hopefully you guys aren’t as bad at grilling as I am.)
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the mustard and vinegar in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons olive oil until smooth
  3. Toss the onion and pierogies with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Slide into pan and cook on medium high, covered, until the pierogies thaw and the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Turn the pierogies and onion and continue to cook, covered, until the pierogies are cooked through and the onion is tender, 4 to 6 more minutes. Transfer to the baking sheet or platter.
  4. Slice the kielbasa into pieces and add to the bowl with the mustard dressing. Roughly chop the onion and add to the bowl along with the pierogies and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and toss.
  5. Dish and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

**Original recipe belongs to http://www.foodnetwork.com

Tomato Basil Pasta with Olives and Feta

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After our big Thanksgiving feast we decided to take things down a notch and do easy healthier recipes this week. I found this recipe on http://www.chow.com and it was perfect because every ingredient is a favorite of Perry’s. Oh and did I mention it only took me 30 minutes to make?

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

– 1 carton of cherry or grape tomatoes, diced

– 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (no more than 1/4 cup. You don’t want to make it too oily)

– 1 1/2 tsp. salt

– 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

– 1-6oz can of black olives, drained and rinsed and roughly chopped

– 1/4 cup fresh or dried basil leaves, if fresh chop it

– 2 medium garlic cloves, minced

– 1 lb orecchiette pasta

– 1/4 cup of hot pasta water from your cooked pasta

– 1 cup crumbled feta (I wouldn’t get the herbed or sun dried tomato feta. Try it plain the first time. I guarantee you’ll love it)

Directions:

1.) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2.) While pot is heating dice up your tomatoes and put them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Let sit for 10 minutes so the tomato juices can drain a little into the oil making a nice sauce.

3.) By this time your pot should be boiling so cook your pasta. (orecchiette takes about 10 minutes.)

4.) Add olives, garlic and basil to the sauce and mix well.

5.) DON’T FORGET TO RESERVE 1/4 CUP OF WATER FROM YOUR POT FOR THE SAUCE. Strain pasta and transfer back to the large pot.

6.) Pour sauce and reserved pasta water over the pasta.

7.)Gently stir in feta.

8.) Enjoy!

*Original recipe found at: http://www.chow.com/recipes/25674-heirloom-tomatobasil-pasta-with-olives-and-feta
**Photo original taken by me