Penne with garden Fresh Tomatoes and Basil plus Mozzarella


Our garden seems to choose every year what it will do well and what it won’t. One year, it was zucchini. Another year, basil. This year seems to be tomatoes. So with the overabundance of tomatoes and a few small basil leaves, we wanted to make something that would be quick and easy and not super hot, since of course it’s late August in Missouri.

Luckily, J found this super simple recipe on the Food Network. We’ve talked about how we love lots of Emeril Lagasse’s dishes before (here, here and here) and he did not disappoint this time either.

Print Recipe
Penne with garden Fresh Tomatoes and Basil plus Mozzarella
Servings
people
Ingredients
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Put a large pot of salted water on for the pasta. Meanwhile, prepare your sauce.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil.
  3. Add the garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute or less.
  4. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, just until they begin to release some of their juice.
  5. Cook the pasta in the pot of salted boiling water for 12 to 13 minutes until al dente (you're best bet is to follow the package directions).
  6. Drain the pasta. Add the pasta and basil to the pan with the tomatoes and toss.
  7. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  8. Serve the pasta in bowls, equally distribute the fresh mozzarella between the bowls. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the bowls of pasta and serve immediately.
  9. We reserved some mozzarella to top the pasta and then drizzled it with Balsamic vinegar.

My opinion:
So very tasty and perfect for a hot summer evening. Next time we might add additional veggies like onions or zucchini.

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Homemade Paseo Caribbean roast

You may have noticed that whenever we take a vacation, we come back with a recipe. Our recent jaunt to Key West was no different. While we could have come back with a recipe for traditional Key Lime Pie (we did) and the best lime slush (also have that), we really wanted to recreate our favorite lunch at Paseao (which apparently is also in Seattle, who knew?).

Here’s a picture of the original sandwich.

Paseao Caribbean roast

We found a pretty easy to follow recipe and with a few tweaks got our version really close. Finding the mango juice was the hardest part. We ended up finding Mango Puree in the natural food section of our favorite grocer.

Pork Ingredients:
1 cup Mango juice
2 cups orange juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice (Key West is best, but if you can’t find it regular lime juice is just as good)
2 tablespoons fresh, chopped garlic
1 teaspoon fresh, chopped oregano
sprinkle (about 1/2 teaspoon each) kosher salt and black pepper
1 shot of rum (splurge a little and get a good dark, non-spiced rum)
3 pounds pork shoulder
tablespoon or two vegetable oil

Onion ingredients:
2 yellow onions

Garlic Aioli ingredients:
1 cup of mayonnaise
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice

Additional ingredients:
good, crusty baguette (bigger than a french loaf)
Fresh Romaine lettuce
fresh cilantro
pickled jalapeños

Directions:
Combine the pork ingredients in a large Tupperware container. Add pork. Seal. Shake. Leave it in the refrigerator for at least 4  hours, the longer the better. We left it in overnight.
Caribbean Roast Marinade

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Remove the pork from marinade, but don’t discard! Sear the pork in a lightly oiled pan or skillet (save that pan for later!) on all sides. It will lose all the marinade at first and get really bubbly. Don’t worry. Just let it get crispy on all sides. The juices will evaporate.
Caribbean Roast sear

Place the pork in a roasting pan and pour the marinade on.
Caribbean Roast
Tent the roasting pan with foil to seal in the steam. Place the roasting pan into the oven and cook for 45 minutes. Then uncover and cook for at least 1 hour and 30 minutes, basting as needed and flipping the meat over half way through. We ended up cooking it for a little over two hours. The longer the better. Let the meat rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting.

When you put the pork in the oven, you can prepare garlic mayo by peeling 8 cloves of garlic (we left them whole, even though the original recipe called to chop the garlic). Put the garlic in an oven proof custard dish and pour about 2 tablespoons of lime juice on top of the garlic. Add to the oven with the pork and cook for about 30 to 45 minutes or  until the garlic is soft and roasted. Add this to 1 cup of mayonnaise. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lime juice and stir. The original recipe called for relish, but we left that out.

Caribbean Roast Garlic Aioli

While the meat is roasting, cut up the onions yellow onions into wedges. We went with strips in the food processor and it wasn’t quite right. Place in the same pan that you seared the pork shoulder in and set to medium high heat. Cook for about 10 minutes or until onions are caramelized and have picked up all of the fond.

Cut bread in half. Slather garlic mayo on both sides and place in toaster oven till the mayo puffs up a bit and the bread slightly browns.

Last step, assemble the sandwich by adding a little more mayo on the bread, topped with romaine leaves, onions, pork, a few pickled jalapeños and some cilantro.

Caribbean Roast Sandwich

My opinion:
Three pounds of pork made five sandwiches the first night. We opted to freeze the rest, which will make at least four more sandwiches. Plan for a feast. It’s just as tasty cold the next day. I only wish I’d had a few more pickled jalapeños to add a bit more heat.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Jamaican Jerk Chicken
Jamaican Jerk Chicken

I’ll admit I was skeptical about this recipe. But after one bite, I wasn’t skeptical at all. It was deliciously flavorful and less labor intensive than we thought it would be. Warning: it’s pretty filling.

Ingredients:
1 tb Ground allspice
1 tb Dried thyme
1 1/2 ts Cayenne pepper
1 1/2 ts Black Pepper freshly ground
1 1/2 ts Ground sage
3/4 ts Ground nutmeg
3/4 ts Ground cinnamon
2 tb Salt
2 tb Garlic powder
1 tb Sugar
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c Soy sauce
3/4 c White vinegar
1/2 c Orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
1 Scotch bonnet pepper, Seeded and finely chopped (if you can’t find this, feel free to use a habanero)
1 c white onion Chopped
3 Green onions finely chopped
4 6-oz Chicken breasts Trimmed of fat, up to 8-oz each

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine the allspice, thyme, cayenne pepper, black pepper, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, garlic powder and sugar. With a wire whisk, slowly add olive oil, soy sauce, vinegar, orange juice and lime  juice. Add the Scotch bonnet pepper (we used habaneros since we couldn’t find Scotch Bonnet), onion and green onions and mix well. Reserve about a cup or so of the marinade to use later. Add the chicken breasts, cover and marinate for at least an hour, but the longer the better! Remove the breasts from the marinade and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. If you prefer a sear, turn on the broiler and broil each side first for a few minutes and then bake. Or if you prefer, fire up the grill and cook for 6 minutes on each side or until fully cooked. While grilling or baking, baste with the left over marinade. Heat the rest of the leftover marinade and serve on the side for dipping (we just did this on the stove). If you prefer more intense flavors, feel free to double the spices.

My opinion:
Even without doubling the spices, this was plenty hot. It was the right combination of sweet and spicy and the chicken was very moist. We will try this on the grill next time! The rice and slaw will be in another post. I”m having trouble locating the original recipes to link back to at the moment.

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya


In college, J and I practically lived on jambalaya and coffee. Of course, it was the boxed version and after eating it for two years, we got pretty burned out. Which was sad because jambalaya is so tasty and easy and perfect for a chilly evening. Luckily, J found this jambalaya recipe and with a few tweaks cured the burnout.

Ingredients:
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
1 (14 ounce) package andouille sausage, sliced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 large celery ribs, chopped (we left them in half moons)
3 tbs garlic, minced (we eyeballed this as we like garlic)
1 bunch scallion, chopped
1 (32 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juices
about 15 ounces chicken stock
1 1/4 cups long grain rice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon Tony Chacere’s creole seasoning (as the original recipe states, there is absolutely no substitute for Tony’s)
cracked black pepper (to taste)

Directions:
Cook sliced sausage over medium high heat in a 6 quart stock pot until slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper, onion, celery, garlic and scallions and cook until softened but not translucent, about 4 minutes. Add cubed chicken breast and Worcestershire sauce and cook just until you can no longer see pink. Add the bay leaves, basil, oregano, sage, paprika, Tony Chacere’s, salt, black pepper, tomatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Add rice, bring back up to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmer for 30 minutes. The jambalaya should still be wet, but not soupy. Remove the bay leaves. Enjoy!

My opinion:
We’ll be adding this back to our regular dinner rotation. It was super easy to make and make more than enough to freeze half for a later meal.

Butternut Squash and Fried Sage Pasta


If you told me 10 years ago, I’d be eating squash, I would never believe you. But I am! And I’m loving it! I had no idea these fall vegetables could taste so lovely! I’m always looking for new recipes and when a friend recommended this Self Magazine butternut squash recipe, I jumped at the chance to try it. It was super easy (once I figured out how to cut the squash) and very filling.

Ingredients:
8 oz whole-wheat penne
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 fresh sage leaves (Do not substitute dried, it doesn’t taste the same!)
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 lb), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (it’s ok to omit this, but it does enhance the flavors)

Directions:
Cook penne as directed on package (we used spaghetti because we were out of penne, it worked just as well!). Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry sage, turning once, until crisp on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a paper towel. Add onion and garlic to skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft and golden, about 3 minutes. Add squash, 3/4 cup water, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until squash softens, 5 to 7 minutes (this took about 10 minutes for us). Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking water. Return pasta to pot and add squash mixture; stir over low heat, adding some reserved cooking water if necessary, until pasta is coated, about 1 minute. Serve, garnished with cheese and sage.

My Opinion:
I didn’t expect this simple dish to be as flavorful and wonderful as it was. The only two changes I’ll make are to add more onion and garlic. A great late fall early winter dish. Not to mention a wonderful introduction to the world of butternut squash. What new vegetable should we try next? Parsnips?