No doubt you have had this dish at any one of thousands of Italian restaurants around the world. It really is quite simple once you have prepared the sauce. You can use canned tomatoes, but in this case I used 2 larger fresh tomatoes, NOT plum. I simply chopped them up. One thing of note – do NOT use more than 3 – 4 tablespoons of vodka, as it will leave the dish bitter…
Penne alla Vodka
- 28 oz. whole plum tomatoes, undrained OR 2 large fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 Tablespoon fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 3-4 Tablespoons vodka
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 2 Tablespoons cold butter
- Salt/Pepper, to taste
- 1 lb. Penne
- Fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Puree the tomatoes in a blender, food mill, or an immersion blender and set aside. You can decide how chunky or uniform you’d like the tomatoes to be. I simply chopped them up!
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the thinly sliced garlic and the basil. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant and softened.
Turn off the heat.
Add the vodka to the pan and let it sizzle. Turn the heat back to medium and reduce the vodka until there is about a Tablespoon left.
Add the pureed tomatoes and let it simmer for 45 minutes or so, allowing it to reduce and become quite thick.
During the last 12 minutes or so, cook the penne according to package instructions. For saucier pasta, use ¾ lb. instead of the full pound. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water.
Add the heavy cream and the red pepper flakes to the sauce.
Add 2 Tablespoons cold butter to the sauce, along with 1/4 cup pasta water. Stir to combine.
Season with salt/pepper if desired.
Add in the drained pasta.
Garnish with roughly chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese and serve!
Our Canadian friends who are “snowbirds” recently had us over for lunch overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. She served a wonderful cucumber and mango salad, not unlike this recipe. She and her husband love to experiment in the kitchen with whatever ingredients they have on hand. The cucumber and mango salad was wonderful!! We ate it all and this sent me looking through Pinterest for a similar recipe. Hope you will be able to give this one a try…
Cucumber Mango Salad
- 1 English cucumber, peeled and chopped (about 1 1/2 c.)
- 2 mangos peeled and diced
- 1/2 c. diced red onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Juice of 1 lime (about 3 Tbsp.)
- 1 tsp. honey
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1/16 tsp. red pepper (more if you like it spicier)
- 1/4 tsp. coriander
- 1/8 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
- 1/3 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
- Toss together the cucumber, mango, red onion, and garlic in a medium sized bowl,
- In a separate small bowl or jar whisk together the lime juice, honey, cumin, red pepper, coriander, and black pepper. Pour over the cucumber-mango mixture and stir gently.
- Fold in the chopped cilantro.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate for later
If you should get invited to a Spanish ‘tapas’ party, this makes a perfect dish to bring. Okay, in English we might say appetizer, in French hors d’oeuvres ??? No matter it was another great find on Pinterest. It was also quick to prepare.
Baked Feta Cheese with Olives and Lemons
- one block of sheep’s milk feta (sold in the brine) about 10-14 ounces
- 1/3 cup good extra virgin olive oil
- juice of 1/2 large lemon
- 1 – 2 cups mixed olives* (recipe calls for whole and pitted) see below
- a few sundried tomatoes chopped
- 3 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- a few coarse grindings of black pepper
- Set oven to 350F
- Put the feta in a gratin dish or other small ovenproof dish that you will also serve out of.
- Pour the olive oil into the dish, followed by the lemon juice. Arrange the olives* (I would suggest using ONLY sliced olives as they whole ones fall off when you lay them on the cheese when serving) around the cheese, with the rosemary. I quarter the squeezed lemon half and throw that in as well. Sprinkle the red and black pepper over all. I also added some slices of sundried tomatoes.
- Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbling. I loosely laid a sheet of foil over mine. You can finish under the broiler if you like for a little charring effect.
- Serve hot with toasted bread
Yes we love tuna steaks when they are fresh. They never require a lot of effort to prepare them and two is always enough, along with some steamed vegetables. The bonus is their quick cooking time!
Here I served it with some julienne carrots and some yellow cherry tomatoes.
Sweet and Spicy Glazed Tuna Steaks
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp ginger, minced
1/4 cup homemade teriyaki sauce (or store-bought)
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil OR olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 wild-caught tuna steaks 1 1/2″ thick
Toasted sesame seeds to taste
Place Tuna steaks in a shallow baking dish or cast iron skillet. Mix all remaining ingredients and pour over the tuna. Reserve about 2 Tbsp of the sauce, and pour it on right before serving, or save it for dipping.
Bake uncovered at 400 degrees. 10 minutes for rare. 20 minutes for medium. 30 minutes for well done. I got nervous at 10 minutes and went an extra 7…it was almost too long…I will try 12 next time! ( I like pink centers in tuna)
The flavor of the sauce really penetrates the meat, so there is no marinating required. This goes very well with a fresh green salad or steamed vegetables. Sprinkle a few toasted sesame seeds on before serving.
Just in time for your Thanksgiving dinner! Make ahead and refrigerate. Serve as your first course!
Thai Style Chicken Pumpkin Soup
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 large white onion, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 T. minced fresh ginger
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 15 ounce can pumpkin
- ½ cup mango nectar
- ½ cup fresh lime juice
- ½ cup peanut butter (or more)
- 1 liter low sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups water
Heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add chicken and cook about three minutes, stirring frequently. Add onion, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Cook 1 to 2 minutes longer.
Transfer chicken to crock pot. Add celery, carrots, pumpkin, nectar, lime juice, peanut butter, broth and water. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours or HIGH for 4 hours,
After the time is up, stir in the following –
3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Mix ½ cup heavy cream and 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch together.Stir into soup and turn cooker to HIGH for 10 minutes or less until soup thickens.
Serve over white rice which has been previously cooked. Sprinkle with more chopped cilantro and chopped peanuts.
Source – Crock-Pot Best Loved Slow Cooker Recipes.
If you have not tried kale yet, now may be the time. This super green is packed to the max with nutrition that puts it high on the list of the world’s healthiest foods.
Even spinach cannot come close in comparison to the number of nutrients that kale provides. Including kale in your diet provides nutrients that support healthy skin, hair and bones, as well as healthy digestion and a reduced risk of heart disease.
Other possible health benefits of kale include improving blood glucose control in diabetics, lowering the risk of cancer, lowering blood pressure and lowering the risk of developing asthma.
OK…so you might not like it as a salad ingredient, but it really soars as a cooked side dish!
- • 2 bunches of kale, ripped, washed, and dried
- • 4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
- • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
- • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
- • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- Heat oil in large saute pan on medium. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant. Turn heat up to medium high and add kale, mixing it with tongs to coat it with olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Saute until kale wilts and turns a deep green, approximately 7 minutes. Season with salt, give another good mix, and serve.
Checked the pantry and found a large can of clams…should I make chowder or linguine? No potatoes…decision made…linguine! Pinterest to the rescue again.Quick and fairly straight forward if you use the canned clams. Certainly would make a special dish for a memorable dinner…
Linguine with Red Clam Sauce
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Yield: serves 4 to 6**
• 1 pound linguine
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 4 anchovies, packed in oil
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 shallots, minced
• 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 1 cup dry white wine
• 18-ounce jar diced tomatoes
• 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
• 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
• 2 pounds littleneck clams* OR 13 oz. canned clams drained (save the juice)
• Parmesan cheese
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add linguine and cook for 3 minutes. The pasta will finish cooking in the sauce. Strain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and set aside. If using clam juice discard the pasta water
2. In a very large sauté pan over medium heat, heat oil. Add anchovies, garlic, shallots, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Sauté for 3 minutes until the anchovies “melt” and the shallots become translucent. Add wine and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the wine reduces by half, about 5 minutes. Next, add tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of parsley, thyme, and reserved pasta water or clam juice. season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
3. Add linguine and clams to the sauté pan and cover. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until the clams open. Discard any clams that do not open.
4. Garnish with the remaining parsley, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and a pinch of sea salt. Serve immediately. Pass the cheese…
So today you get two for one recipes. These went so well together I decided to share them together. First up is the baked scampi, breaded with lots of garlic and butter and a lemony flavor. It goes well with the orange and garlic in the rice, with a touch of crispiness from the celery. I see no reason why you could not substitute asparagus pieces for the celery…peas would not cut it in this recipe…LOL
Baked Shrimp Scampi (Ina Garten – Food Network)
2 pounds (12 to 15 per pound) shrimp in the shell
3 tablespoons good olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1/4 cup minced shallots or green onions
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 extra-large egg yolk
2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
Lemon wedges, for serving
Directions Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on.
Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.
Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture. In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until combined.
Starting from the outer edge of a 14-inch oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish.
Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute. Serve with lemon wedges. …and now for the Orange Rice…
Orange Rice With Celery (Rio Caliente Hot Springs Spa – Guadalajara)
1 cup brown rice (I used Jasmine)
1 cup celery chopped
½ cup green onions chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
2 T sunflower oil ( I used avocado oil)
1 cup water
1 cup fresh orange juice
Brown the rice, celery, green onions and garlic in the oil. When vegetables are tender, add water and orange juice. Cover. Cook 40 minutes, covered, over LOW flame. Let stand for 5 minutes. This rice dish goes so well with fish, etc.
Pasta with Roasted Red Peppers, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, & Brie
Searching for a pasta dish to use up the rest of my roasted peppers…I came across this one which turned out to be a one pot dinner! Eureka. I hate dishes…LOL. The original concept for the one pot pasta came from Martha Stewart. The recipe I adapted was from www.thekitchn.com With supervision this would be a good recipe for young cooks!
As always, my changes or substitutions are in red.
Serves 2 as large entree, or 4 as first course
12 ounces linguine, broken in half
1 cup packed basil leaves I used arugula…
1 cup coarsely chopped roasted red peppers buy a jar if you are in a hurry
1/2 cup sliced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes mine turned out to be a jar of sun-dried tomato pesto
3-4 large garlic cloves, pressed
4 1/2 cups water or less
1 small can of green peas
2 tablespoons oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes (or regular olive oil)
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
Pinch red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 ounces brie cheese, rind removed and torn into pieces I substituted cubes of feta
Grated Parmesan, for serving
Good quality olive oil, for serving
- Combine linguine, basil, roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic in a 3-quart straight-sided skillet. Add the water, olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes, and a generous amount of black pepper and bring to a full rolling boil over high heat. Using tongs, stir and turn the pasta frequently to prevent sticking. Cook until al dente, approximately 9 to 10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat. (If there is still a little bit of cooking water pour some, but not all, into a separate bowl.)
Add the brie and toss with tongs until creamy and melted. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. The sauce will naturally thicken up after a couple of minutes. Serve with grated Parmesan and a swirl of good olive oil. (If the pasta does seem to need liquid, add back a few splashes of reserved cooking liquid.)
NOTE: You can use almost any vegetables you like…
Just when we wanted to have tacos for dinner I realized we had no seasoning. Thankfully I found this on the ‘Net, submitted by Bill Echols. It certainly beats buying that packaged stuff and is simple to make as needed. I used the whole amount on 700 grams of beef, which I had precooked with some chopped onion and garlic instead of using onion and garlic salt. We try to limit salt intake…..
1 T chili powder (I used pepper flakes)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (I used chopped garlic in the meat)
1/4 teaspoon onion powder (I used chopped onions in the meat)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
If you just use the spices and not the chopped onion and garlic while cooking the beef, store the spice mixture in an airtight container until you want to use it.