Pasta with Asparagus

Pasta with Asparagus
2 cups chopped Asparagus (about 17 spears)
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup tepid water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 lb pasta cooked and drained- use a dense pasta like rigatoni or penne. Here I used celentani, which is a corkscrew type pasta

Asparagus
Asparagus
2 cups chopped asparagus, 1 medium onion chopped and 2 large cloves of garlic minced
2 cups chopped asparagus, 1 medium onion chopped and 2 large cloves of garlic minced

In a large skillet, over medium high heat, add in the oil.  Once heated add in the onion and garlic, saute until translucent.

Saute onion and garlic till translucent
Saute onion and garlic till translucent

Add in the asparagus, and toss in the oil.

Add asparagus and toss in oil
Add asparagus and toss in oil

Once the asparagus is coated well in the hot oil add in the water and continue to cook for 6 minutes, until the asparagus is tender.

Add water and cook for 6 minutes.
Add water and cook for 6 minutes.

Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, add in the pasta along with the asparagus mixture.

Toss and coat the pasta completely, then add in the grated cheese.

Mix well.

Done!
Done!

Done. Ready to serve!

Advertisements

Uncomplicated 3 Cheese Lasagna

3 Cheese Lasagna
1 package of no boil lasagna pasta (if you use the pasta type to boil- follow instruction to boil prior to use)
16 oz ricotta
4 oz shredded mozzarella
1 cup grated Romano cheese
1 large egg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper

4 quarts of Tomato Sauce: Click here for the sauce recipe. This recipe will make the amount of sauce you need.
 

Need a 13x9x3 baking pan.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine ricotta, 1/4 cup grated cheese, salt and pepper and eggs. (The rest of the grated cheese is to be sprinkled between layers evenly.)

Ricotta, 1 egg, romano cheese,  and s&p
Ricotta, 1 egg, romano cheese, and s&p
Mixture combined- Ricotta, 1 egg, romano cheese,  and s&p
Mixture combined- Ricotta, 1 egg, romano cheese, and s&p

Spread sauce over bottom of pan, about three ladles full.

Add sauce to the bottom of the pan
Add sauce to the bottom of the pan

Place lasagna over sauce, overlapping to fit. About 5 pieces will fit for one layer; be careful when splitting to fit the sides.

Add one layer of the pasta over the sauce
Add one layer of the pasta over the sauce

Spread layer of ricotta mixture evenly over noodles.

Sprinkle grated cheese evenly over mixture.

Using a spatula (or back of a spoon) spread the ricotta mixture over the dry pasta, then top with a layer of sauce.
Using a spatula (or back of a spoon) spread the ricotta mixture over the dry pasta, then top with a layer of sauce.

Ladle sauce over mixture, spreading to cover.

Repeat layering pasta, remaining mixture, grated cheese and sauce.

Arrange remaining pasta over sauce. This will be your third and top layer.

Spread remaining sauce over pasta. Sprinkle grated cheese then cover with mozzarella cheese evenly over lasagna.

2nd layer of pasta- repeating with layering the mixture and sauce on top, repeat...
2nd layer of pasta- repeating with layering the mixture and sauce on top, repeat…

Bake for 45 minutes; until pasta is completely soft and cheese is bubbly has created a golden crust.

Before baking
Before baking

Let lasagna stand 15 minutes before serving.

DONE!
DONE!

Eat and repeat.

Marinara Sauce

Marinara Sauce
2 28 oz cans of kitchen ready crushed tomatoes (no salt)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3/4 can of tomato paste
3 basil leaves, washed and left whole
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper

In a large stock pot, heat the oil over a medium-high heat.

Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

Minced garlic and chopped onions
Minced garlic and chopped onions

Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil. Then quickly turn down the heat to low.

Add the tomato paste. Stir till melted.

Simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Stir often.

Shown two cans of kitchen ready tomatoes and tomato paste
Shown two cans of kitchen ready tomatoes and tomato paste

Add in basil leaves ten minutes before sauce is done.

Remove from heat when finished. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.

DONE!
DONE!

Easy Eggplant, Zucchini and Summer Squash Panini– without a press!

This is my favorite sandwich all year round. The crunch of the bread with the warm, melted, cheesy filling… so yummy!  The combinations are endless, too.  Which I am saying there will definitely be other variations of this sandwich to come from me.

This recipe yields 4 large sandwiches using a baguette, or, one large muffaletta that can be sliced for up to 6 people.

Simple Vegetarian Panini
1 large eggplant, washed then cut lengthwise into 1/4″ thick slices
1 large zucchini, washed then cut lengthwise into 1/4″ thick slices
1 large summer squash, washed then cut lengthwise into 1/4″ thick slices
4 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into long pieces (you can also use shredded, but the fresh cheese is prefered)
4 tbsp grated Romano cheese
3 tsp salt
1 tsp of fresh cracked pepper
approx 3 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil- drizzled to coat vegetables for cooking
2 tbsp tepid water
1 loaf of crusty bread not sliced. *I used a French baguette, but an Italian scali, ciabatta or muffaletta works great and is what I like too.

You will need:
– parchment to cover baking sheets
– tin foil to wrap the sandwiches
– a sturdy all metal stock pan to weigh down the sandwiches
– an extra baking sheet to hold the pan on top of the sandwiches

* If you have access to cook the vegetables on a grill, use it.  It makes this dish even tastier, which is why I make this at least once a week during the Summer. Cook and eat outside with the family, that is my all time favorite pass time!

Preheat oven to 375.
Prep the vegetables.

1 Large eggplant, 1 Large Zucchini, and 1 Large Summer Squash
1 Large eggplant, 1 Large Zucchini, and 1 Large Summer Squash

Wash and cut lengthwise into 1/4″ slices.

Drizzle some oil over the baking sheets, then lay the vegetables on top.

Season with the salt and pepper, add more if you feel needed, but the Romano cheese adds a lot of salty flavor. Then drizzle oil over the top.

All the veg prepped with s&p and olive oil
All the veg prepped with s&p and olive oil

Place into oven.

After 20 minutes flip each slice over.  Add water along the eggplant pan only.

Then all back in the oven to let roast for 15-20 more minutes until browned on both sides.

The summer squash and zucchini done
The summer squash and zucchini done

Once the veg is cooked remove from oven.  But, leave the oven on.

Let the vegetables cool a minute so they can be handled easier for the sandwiches. Once cooled cut the zucchini and summer squash slices in half to fit in the sandwich. The eggplant size is fine as is.

Now it’s time to assemble the sandwich.

This night we used French Bread, but any hearty crusty fresh bread will work.  Grated Romano and fresh mozzarella
This night we used French Bread, but any hearty crusty fresh bread will work. Grated Romano and fresh mozzarella

If you use a baguette cut into the sized sandwiches you prefer, about 5″-6″ long shown.
If you use a larger bread that you plan to cut for everyone later, like a muffaletta, same instruction applies below except your bread isn’t cut, you are just going to use the ingredients as is all over.

With your hands, remove the interior crumb of the bread.

Take a large piece of foil, enough to cover one sandwich, and lay down on work surface.

On top of the foil, start to assemble the sandwich by sprinkling a little grated cheese on the top and on the bottom halves of the sandwich.

Add two slices of the mozzarella over each half of bread atop the sprinkled cheese. This will help keep the sandwich open so you can move to the next step.

Lay the vegetables to cover the tops and bottom, adding a sprinkle of grated cheese between slices. You will use about 1 tablespoon of grated cheese per sandwich.

The sandwich will contain three slices of each vegetable. For the zucchini/summer squash since you sliced them in half after they were cooked, this means three of the half pieces each, so it would equal 1.5 slices of each if whole.

Shown: the bread with crumb removed and with a sprinkle of grated cheese and two slices of the mozzarella
Shown: the bread with crumb removed and with a sprinkle of grated cheese and two slices of the mozzarella
The panini assembled being wrapped
Panini assembled being wrapped

Once you have assemble the sandwich wrap it in the foil, and follow the same to complete all the sandwiches.

All wrapped in the tin foil
All wrapped in the tin foil

On a baking sheet, add the sandwiches in a row with a bit of space between.

Then set a baking sheet on top, press down on the sandwiches a touch.  Then set the stock pot on top to keep that flat shape.   *I can’t stress enough, the pot has to be all metal, no rubber or plastic handles.

Place in oven for 10 minutes, until all the cheese is melted.

Remove from oven. Make sure you place the heated metal items in a safe place where nothing can melt.

Then unwrap the sandwiches.  Slice in half to display the delicious filling before you serve.

So delicious!

ENJOY!

Finished dish!
Finished dish!

Not Your Average Guacamole

This version of guacamole is made without onion and garlic.
Reason being is that my husband didn’t like the ever lasting taste of them, but loved the flavors of guacamole. So, I started working on a recipe that would eliminate that all night taste of onion and garlic, but kept their flavors.. I came up with this.
But if you want to add it in, I normally would use 1 Spanish onion chopped and 1 large clove of garlic minced and add it in after mashing the avocado (then instead of 1 tbsp of cumin, bring it down to 1 tspn).

Enjoy!

Guacamole
2 Haas avocados, seeded (set pits aside for later) and mashed
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt (sometimes I like a touch more, to taste)
tiny pinch of freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 medium sized jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 tomato, seeded and diced
1 pinch of fresh cilantro, chopped

 

One of my favorite tools for this dish is a potato masher.  Makes mashing the avocados with everything a cinch.

All this gorgeous color!
All this gorgeous color!
Jalapeno seeded and minced.
Jalapeno seeded and minced.

 

In a large bowl, mash together the avocados, lime juice, cilantro, pepper and salt.

Mix in the tomato. Then add in the cumin. You can serve this immediately, but it is actually best served after it’s been in the fridge for at least an hour.

This is where the avocado pits come into play. Place the finished guacamole in a serving bowl. Then tuck the pits inside the dip. Then wrap in clear plastic cling wrap and refridgerate. Sounds odd but the pit helps it from turning brown.

Guacamole and Tortilla Chips.  The best snack!
Guacamole and Tortilla Chips. The best snack!

Peppermint Flavored Buttercream Frosting

Peppermint Flavored Frosting
3 cups of powdered sugar- confectioner’s sugar
1 stick of unsalted butter- room temperature
6 tablespoons skim milk-cold
1 tablespoon of peppermint extract
Desired food dye/coloring- or none at all for white frosting

Some of what you'll need.. also milk and butter!
Some of what you’ll need.. also milk and butter!

Mix together the butter with the sugar.

3 cups of powdered sugar
3 cups of powdered sugar

Then slowly, one tablespoon at a time, add in the milk. With each tablespoon let it incorporate fully before moving onto the next one.

This photo below is the desired consistency.

After adding in the butter, milk and peppermint extract
After adding in the butter, milk and peppermint extract

Once you’ve gotten the frosting to the perfect consistency add in the food dye.

Two drops of red food coloring
Two drops of red food coloring

For this pink I added in two drops of red dye.

The perfect pink!
The perfect pink!

You are now ready to frost!

*Using disposable decorating bags makes this messy job super easy and neat! I highly recommend investing in a pack. Scoop the frosting then load up a bag, and clip the cone end and you’re frosting!

Done!  My two girls decorated these, cute right?
Done! My two girls decorated these, cute right?

Homemade Chicken Soup

 

Homemade Chicken Soup
4 quarts of COLD water
2 bone in chicken breasts; washed, skin removed and fat removed
1/2 can of Tomato Paste
2 medium yellow onions, quartered
4 organic celery stalks, washed, ends removed, and cut in half. Keep leaves.
4 carrots, washed, peeled and quartered
2 tspn salt

Fill a large stock pot with the cold water.

Start with cold water. Do NOT turn heat on until all items are in the stock pot.
Start with cold water. Do NOT turn heat on until all items are in the stock pot.
The vegetables: 2 medium yellow onions quartered, 4 carrots cut in half, and 4 organic celery stalks halved with leaves kept whole.
The vegetables: 2 medium yellow onions quartered, 4 carrots cut in half, and 4 organic celery stalks halved with leaves kept whole.
2 bone in breasts of chicken cleaned my way.  Washed in hot water,  trimmed (skin and fats taken off), then scrubbed with kosher salt then rinsed with cool water.  this process helps with the skimming of the soup later.
2 bone in breasts of chicken cleaned my way. Washed in hot water, trimmed (skin and fats taken off), then scrubbed with kosher salt then rinsed with cool water. this process helps with the skimming of the soup later.

Then add in everything starting with the chicken on the bottom of the pot, then the vegetables on top.

All items in the cold water.  Now you can turn on the heat to medium high.
All items in the cold water. Now you can turn on the heat to medium high.

Turn on heat to a medium high.

Tomato Paste
Tomato Paste

Once the stock comes to a rolling rapid boil add in the tomato paste. Stir to melt the paste well.

Once the soup is boiling at a rapid pace add in a half can of tomato paste.
Once the soup is boiling at a rapid pace add in a half can of tomato paste.
The tomato paste not only adds a lot of flavor, but it will turn the from a gloomy pale to a warm rose.
The tomato paste not only adds a lot of flavor, but it will turn the soup from a gloomy pale to a warm rose.

Turn down heat to medium, keeping the soup on a constant simmering boil. Stir occasionally.

After one hour you can start the process to skim the fat from the top. Using a ladle or spoon skim the fat at the surface of the pot, most of it will accumulate around the edges.  Discard fat.

About an hour into boiling you can begin skimming the fat from the top.  The fat is real minimal because of how it was cleaned, but there is still fat to skim.
About an hour into boiling you can begin skimming the fat from the top. The fat is real minimal because of how it was cleaned, but there is still fat to skim.

Turn the heat down to low.  Let the soup simmer for 30 minutes.

The soup is now done!

You can start the removal of the chicken and vegetables.

After 1.5 hours of boiling, the soup is done.  Now you have to remove all the items and set them aside.  The chicken can be shredded for when you add in cooked pasta to it, or it can be used for salads or anything!
After 1.5 hours, the soup is done. Now you have to remove all the items and set them aside. The chicken can be shredded for when you add in cooked pasta to it, or it can be used for salads or anything!

Place the chicken and vegetables aside on a plate/bowl.

Straining the soup.  This is important for a clear soup.
Straining the soup. This is important for a clear soup.

In another bowl or stock pot, place your fine strainer then pour the soup through it, to further collect the smaller pieces.  Leaving the soup clear. Throw the strained bits away.

Add in the salt now to taste.

Shown the meat and veg that was removed, and then 2 quarts of strained soup ready to be put away for later this week.
Shown the meat and veg that was removed, and then 2 quarts of strained soup ready to be put away for later this week.

To add pasta: Partially boil pasta separately. Strain the water, then add soup.  Cook pasta through.

What to do with the chicken and vegetables? 
1. In your soup: Shred 3-4 oz of chicken. Cut 3-4 pieces of carrots into bite sizes. Then set aside. Partially cook small sized pasta separately from the soup. Strain the pasta, then add in stock, chicken and carrots. Cook on medium till pasta is cooked fully.

2. A side dish: Cut the chicken into large bite sizes, place on a platter along with the carrots and celery.  Drizzle extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle salt and grind pepper on top.  If you like lemon, like I do, squeeze a little lemon juice on top. It’s such a delicious addition to this dinner.

3. For another dish like chicken salad.

The onions can be thrown away.

Here is our left over chicken with carrots and celery.  I love placing everything on a platter, drizzling a good olive oil over it then sprinkling salt and freshly cracked pepper on top.  SO YUMMY!
Here is my chicken with carrots and celery. I love placing everything on a platter, drizzling a good olive oil over it then sprinkling salt and freshly cracked pepper on top. Then a twist of lemon juice. SO SIMPLE AND SOOOO YUMMY!