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Shrimp pad thai

I can’t seem to satisfy my cravings for Asian food!! One of my favorites is Pad Thai with just about anything in it and on the spicy side. This recipe is fabulous and not nearly as oily as most restaurant versions.

Preparing this dish moves pretty quickly. Get everything prepped while your noodles are soaking.

A few tips on ingredients:

  • If you don’t have Thai chilies – use a jalapeno or crushed red pepper flakes
  • Use good fish sauce – it makes a big difference. My favorite brands are Tiparos (Kroger, $2) & Red Boat 40°N (Asian store, $5)
  • Palm sugar can be found at most Asian grocery stores. Light brown sugar is a great substitute.
  • Try chicken or tofu if you don’t have shrimp!
  • Don’t oversoak the noodles – you want them to have bite so they can absorb the sauce when cooked.

Recipe adapted from Food52.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
  • 8 ounces dried wide rice noodles
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 thai chilies whole
  • 6 green onions, sliced 1 inch long
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • small handful peanuts, chopped
  • small handful cilantro, chopped
  • lime wedges

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, 2 tablespoons oil, and tamarind concentrate. Stir until sugar is dissolved and set aside.
  2. Soak the rice noodles in hot tap water for about 20 minutes, or until they start to soften but not fully tender. Drain and set aside.
  3. Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil under high heat for about 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until the shrimp start to turn pink with browned edges. Remove shrimp and set aside.
  5. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to skillet. Add garlic, shallot and thai chilies. Cook over medium heat and stir continuously for about 1 minute. Add eggs to skillet and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until scrambled, about 30 seconds. Add the rice noodles and green onions and toss with tongs to combine. Pour the tamarind/fish sauce mixture over the noodles and increase the heat to high, continuing to toss the ingredients with the sauce.
  6. Add 1/2 of the chopped peanuts and cooked shrimp. Toss noodles for about 2 more minutes. Add bean sprouts and cook for 30 seconds. Dish out onto hot plates and top with remaining peanuts and garnish with cilantro.

Healthy & Hearty Spaghetti with Meatballs

I’ve been working a lot and traveling a lot the past few months, I tried the keto diet, look here the info https://reportshealthcare.com/20070/keto-pure-diet/.  Meaning I’ve been eating a lot of fabulous foods and treating myself to things I would typically pass up at home. Pastries. Potatoes. Pasta. Time to get back to the healthy meals. Luckily, this meal feels like a treat.

I admit, I was skeptical these meatballs from the yummy Rocco Dispirito would actually be satisfying. Considering he reduced the calories from 1200 to 350, the meatballs are surprisingly moist and tender, full of flavor and the tomato sauce is rich and hearty. I’m sure the original version of his Mama’s Meatballs are delicious… but I’ll take these and feel less guilty about dessert.

The weirdest ingredient in this recipe is the puffed kamut. It’s a brilliant replacement for breadcrumbs… and I’m thinking it could make a cool replacement in rice krispy treats… but I’ll tackle that later. You can find it at Whole Foods, Sprouts or most any health food store. I prefer to blitz it in food processor into coarse crumbs for this recipe.

If you really want to take this to the ultimate in healthy meals… skip the pasta and substitute spaghetti squash, one of my favorites.

Healthy & Hearty Spaghetti with Meatballs

INGREDIENTS

  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced small
  • dried red chili flakes
  • 1 cup reduced sodium chicken stock
  • 28 ounce can Cento tomato puree
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano
  • 5-6 leaves fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 medium eggplant (halved lengthwise)
  • salt & pepper
  • 6 ozs ground turkey breast
  • 4 ozs lean ground beef (93/7)
  • 2 ozs lean ground pork
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 oz parmigiano-reggiano, grated
  • 2 cups puffed kamut cereal (Arrowhead brand)
  • 6 ozs spaghetti (kamut or brown rice)

DIRECTIONS

Make the sauce: In a large saucepan heat olive oil. Add half the garlic and half the onion and a pinch of red chili flakes and cook over medium heat until tender, about 2 minutes. Add half the chicken stock, tomato puree, diced tomatoes & herbs. Simmer over low heat for an hour.

Make the eggplant puree: Preheat the broiler. Meanwhile, using the tip of a knife, score the eggplant deeply and sprinkle with salt. Place the eggplant cut-side up and cook under the broiler until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the broiler and place on a plate and microwave on high until tender, about 3 minutes. Let cool.

Make the meatballs: In a large bowl, add the meats and mix gently to incorporate. Place the egg white, ¼ cup chicken stock, ¼ cup onion, 1 clove garlic and parsley in a blender and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the mixture to the bowl with the meats, add the cheese and crumble the kamut in with your fingers. Sprinkle with salt and chili flakes.

Scoop the eggplant pulp out of its skin and let any excess water drip off. Measure out 1/2 cup of the pulp, and then lightly chop and add to the meat mixture, folding in to incorporate. Make each meatball a heaping tablespoon and form into balls with your hands. Should make around 16 meatballs.

Heat a few teaspoons olive oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add half of the meatballs and cook until lightly browned on one side, about 1 minute. Roll the meatballs on the other side and brown evenly, about 2 minutes. Remove the browned meatballs from the pan and add more olive oil if needed. Repeat the browning with the rest of the meatballs. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer very slowly for an hour.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a simmer and then add 1 tablespoon of salt. Drop the pasta in the water and cook per manufacturer’s instructions. Place 4 meatballs each on 4 plates, and then add the spaghetti to the remaining sauce in the pan with 1/2 cup of the pasta water and cook until the sauce holds well on the pasta. Evenly distribute the pasta to each of the 4 plates.

Spring Vegetable Pasta

Like TV shows, there are very few cooking magazines I can commit to. Fine Cooking being the only magazine I’ve subscribed to in years. But new competition is now coming in the mail. Cooks Illustrated is a no-frills, no-color magazine with a test kitchen that tirelessly perfects techniques until they are sure the recipe is a perfect one, for this using the best appliances with warranty plans where you can cover multiple devices like blenders, microwave or kitchens.

This recipe is uber creative in that it mimics the techniques of a creamy risotto, but with a pasta. The stock is super flavored from the asparagus and leek trimmings that would typically be thrown in the trash. Full of fresh flavor and no cream!

A special thanks to my best friend Jen in NY for the subscription… you will love this recipe!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 leeks, white and light green parts washed and cut into ½ inch slices; dark green leaves chopped
  • 1 lb asparagus, tough ends removed and chopped; remainder sliced into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1 lemon zested
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6 Tb extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb Campanelle or other pasta
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 oz grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 oz grated asiago cheese

DIRECTIONS

Prep the broth – place the chopped leek and asparagus scraps, ½ of the garlic, 1 cup of the peas, the broth, and the water into a saucepan. Turn to high heat; bring to boil, then reduce heat. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain broth through a mesh strainer, pushing on the solids with a spoon to get as much liquid and flavor as possible. You should have about 5 cups of liquid. If you have less, add some water to bring the total volume to 5 cups. Discard the solids from the strainer and return the broth to the saucepan. Keep on low heat.

Prep the vegetables – heat 2 Tb of the oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the sliced leeks and some salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the asparagus to the pot and cook for another 4 minutes. Add the remaining garlic and the pepper flakes and cook for about a minute. Add the peas and cook for another minute. Transfer all of the vegetables to a plate and allow to sit – uncovered – while you prepare the pasta.

Cook the pasta – wipe out the dutch oven, return to medium heat, and add the remaining oil. Add the dry pasta and cook for about 5 minutes (until pasta is beginning to brown) stirring constantly. Add the wine and continue cooking (and stirring) until the wine is absorbed. Add the warm broth and turn heat to medium high. Bring the pot to a boil. Continue cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed and pasta is cooked. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, 1/2 of the parmesan, asiago, cooked vegetables, half of the chives, half of the parsley, and all of the lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Garnish with the remaining herbs and parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Roasted Beet Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce & Toasted Walnuts

This is only the second time I have ever made gnocchi. The first attempt was at Christmas a few years ago. My sister and I were trying to recreate the gnocchi we devoured at The Spotted Pig in NYC. It wasn’t successful. But I’ve been watching, researching and getting a better grasp on the art of making gnocchi since that disaster. The secret: don’t overwork the dough and start with room temperature ingredients.

This dish is a show stopper and a total make-ahead meal. It’s absolutely stunning with the magenta morsels nestled in the creamy sea of white. I served this for a girl’s dinner on a weeknight and all of the pieces were made days before. The gnocchi were prepared a week before and popped in the freezer (thaw the day of in the refrigerator). The cream sauce was made 2 days ahead and kept in the refrigerator and reheated. Assembly was quick. Impress your people. Feed them this.

INGREDIENTS

For the gnocchi:

  • 3 small red beets, roasted and pureed
  • 1 pound whole milk fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup flour

For the cream sauce:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 12 ounces of Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

For the garnishes:

  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
  • 10 fresh basil leaves – chiffonade (long thin strips)
  • Parmesan Cheese – for garnish
  • Gorgonzola crumbles – for garnish

DIRECTIONS

To roast beets: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse and dry beets. On a large sheet of foil, drizzle beats with olive oil & season with salt. Fold into foil pouch (or bake in a baking dish covered with foil) and bake for 30min -1 hour, depending on the size of the beets. They should be fork tender. Place into food processor and puree. Set aside.

To make the gnocchi: Place beet puree in a large bowl. Stir in ricotta, eggs, cheese, salt and pepper. Mix in 1 cup of the flour. (Dough can be made one day ahead, cover and refrigerate).

Sprinkle some flour on your countertop or board. Take a handful of the “dough” and place on counter or board. Lightly shape & roll the dough into a log. Cut into 1-inch pieces and shape into balls. Then transfer to baking sheet. Do this in batches. (Gnocchi can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate). Be careful to not overwork the dough – this will make it tough.

To make the sauce: In a saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in flour to create a roux and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly add in milk, whisking to keep lumps from forming. Continue to stir while sauce starts to thicken. Once the sauce has thickened and will coat the back of a spoon, blend in crumbled Gorgonzola and Parmesan until the cheese has melted. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Preheat the broiler. Working in batches, cook gnocchi in large pot of simmering salted water until gnocchi float to the surface, about 3-4 minutes (depending on the size of the gnocchi). Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to the skillet with cream sauce.

Place skillet under the broiler until the cheese sauce has started to brown. Remove from oven and top gnocchi with toasted walnuts, fresh basil, Parmesan cheese & Gorgonzola crumbles. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve!

Truffle Brie Macaroni & Cheese

I’m not a huge fan of the traditional comfort foods… mashed potatoes & gravy, pot roast and meatloaf are easy to resist. For me, comfort food is creamy lemon & pea risotto, beef bourguignon and cannelloni!

When my sweet friend (also fabulous baker & fierce soccer player), Marisa, was recovering from ACL surgery she requested comfort food. So I made what has to be the #1 Comfort Food: Macaroni & Cheese. I’ve since changed my mind about this favorite dish – add some truffle brie to macaroni and cheese and I’ll eat it. Happily.

If you can’t find the truffle brie substitute regular brie and add some truffle oil.

INGREDIENTS

For the breadcrumbs:

  • 1/2 loaf ciabatta bread (or any bread you have on hand)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the cheese & pasta:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 2 ounces Marscapone cheese (or cream cheese)
  • 1 pound grated Sharp Cheddar
  • 1 pound grated Monterrey Jack
  • 4 ounces Black Truffle Brie OR 4 ounces plain Brie + 3 T truffle oil
  • 1 pound cavatappi pasta (or elbow)

DIRECTIONS

For the breadcrumbs: Cube your bread into medium size squares and put it in the food processor for a couple pulses. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tbsp oil in large skillet overt medium heat. Add garlic and saute for about 1 minute. Add bread crumbs to skillet an stir until crumbs are slightly toasted – about 5 minuets. Set aside.

For the cheese & pasta: Cook the pasta 2 minutes LESS than the al dente package directions. Please salt your water very well so the pasta has flavor. Drain and set aside.

In a large saucepan heat butter and olive oil until melted over medium high heat. Next, whisk your flour into the butter and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Slowly add cream and milk whisking in between to make sure there are no lumps. Bring mixture to a simmer and whisk until desired thickness (close to pancake batter). Remove from heat. Add grated cheese & marscapone and mix until melted. Season with salt & pepper. If using truffle oil – add this to the cheese mixture.

Stir in drained, cooked pasta to the cheese mixture. Transfer to a baking dish and top with sliced brie cheese & then sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Cannelloni

Making this dish is a very nostalgic process for me. The smell of it baking takes me right back to my mom’s kitchen.

This was never a weeknight dish but rather a very special Sunday dinner. Last year it was our big Christmas Eve meal and I wouldn’t be upset if we adopted it as an annual tradition. But with 3 daughters who love to cook, my parents are forced to be guinea pigs to our ever evolving holiday menus.

Making this dish is a process, but so worth every effort in the end. So go to the trouble and make a double batch (it freezes beautifully). To make is easier, the filling and the Salsa Di Pomodori can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for a few days.

Saute the beef & spinach filling. Set aside until ready to prepare the rolls. If making ahead don’t add eggs until ready to use.

Classic Besciamella sauce. Should be made right before you are ready to prepare the rolls.

Salsa Di Pomodori (red sauce). This can be made up to 2 days ahead. It’s best when cooked at least 2 hours.

Roll a tablespoon of filling for each roll and line up snuggly in a 9×13 pan.

Top the rolls with the bechamel sauce first.

Then cover with the red sauce and try not to mix the sauces. Top with parmesan cheese. They can be frozen at this point.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, or until bubbly. If made ahead, bring to room temperature before baking (about an hour).

INGREDIENTS

Meat filling:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 10oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 pound ground round
  • 5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • salt and pepper

Heat oil, add onion and garlic and saute until limp but not brown. Add ground round and brown. Drain off fat. Add spinach and cook until moisture is gone. Remove from heat and add, cheese, cream, eggs, oregano, salt and pepper.

Salsa Di Pomodori (red sauce)

  • 2 tablespons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 28 ounce can whole Italian style tomatoes, crushed by hand (I prefer Cento brand)
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pepper, to taste

Heat oil, saute onions, garlic, add remaining ingredients and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours, partially covered. May need to add water if it gets to thick.

Besciamella

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Melt butter, add flour, cook stirring constantly. Pour in milk and add cream slowly and add cream slowly. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until thick. Add salt and set aside.

DIRECTIONS

To sssemble:

Cook lasagna noodles according to box. Drain, rinse and lay on towel. Let cool slightly and cut each noodle in half.

Pour a thin layer of salsa di pomodori into baking dish. Fill each 1/2 lasagna noodle with 1 tablespoon of meat filling. Roll over and place seam side down in baking dish. Lay side to side in one layer. Spoon cream sauce on top then salsa di pomodori over that. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 375 until bubbly. let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Ravioli in Pineapple Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Making ravioli is easy when you don’t have to make the pasta. These beautiful little pillows are savory, delightfully sweet and very easy to make thanks to premade wonton wrappers.

I used Pineapple Sage as I had a ton of it in my garden and I had no idea what to do with it… but regular fresh sage will be just as wonderful.

Your efforts will not go without reward (these freeze VERY well and make about 4 dozen)… well worth the time to make them… and enjoy for a few months.

I served the ravioli as a side with an apple cider brined pork chop finished with a shallot cider pan sauce (recipe to come soon and may be the best thing I’ve come up with on the spot). These beauties would also be very impressive as an appetizer for the holidays.

Note: Wonton wrappers are found in the freezer section of most grocery stores.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small to medium acorn squash (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 sweet potato or yam
  • 1 tablespoons dark molasses
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup crème fraiche (substitute: cream cheese)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 package round Wonton Wrappers (usually found in the freezer section)
  • Flour, for dusting board
  • 4 tablespoons sweet butter
  • 8 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 ounces Parmesan, for grating

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut squash in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a roasting pan. Scrub outside of sweet potato, pierce with fork in several places and place on roasting pan with acorn squash. Cook in the oven until very soft, about 1 hour.

Let cool to room temperature and scoop out flesh into a large mixing bowl. Mash with sweet potato until well combined.

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it begins to brown. Immediately remove from heat and add remaining 1 tablespoon molasses and all the vinegar. Add to squash and sweet potato with crème fraiche, Parmesan, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper and mix well. The recipe can be made ahead to this point. Cover well and refrigerate 4 hours or up to 2 days.

To fill the raviolis: Put 1 tablespoon squash filling in the center of a wonton wrapper. Leave a 1/2-inch border all around the filling. Moisten borders with water and fold in half. Press all the air out and seal firmly by pressing all around with fingertips. Lay raviolis out to dry on a lightly floured board or baking sheet and lightly flour the tops. Repeat until you run out of wrappers and/or filling.

To cook, boil in lightly salted water until tender, about 3 minutes. Reserve 2 ounces of the cooking water.

Uncooked, filled raviolis may be used immediately or frozen for 2 months. Lay them out on sheet pans and place in freezer until frozen. Transfer to plastic bag.

For the Sage Brown Butter: While raviolis are cooking, in a large saute pan, melt the butter with the sage and a pinch of salt until it foams and becomes light brown. Reserve.

On medium heat toss the cooked raviolis in the sage butter then transfer to a serving platter or dishes. Finish with a generous grating of Parmesan cheese.

 

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