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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Korean Short Rib Tacos

http://garbosgrillkw.com
photo from: http://garbosgrillkw.com

We made these the other night for dinner and they were amazing. J and I fell in love with the Kogi Korean BBQ  tacos at Garbo’s Grill in Key West this summer. This recipe from Food for My Family is really close and with a few tweaks, we won’t have to trek to Key West every time we crave this dish.

Ingredients:
3 pounds flank-style beef short ribs (We actually used about 2 pounds of short ribs because they were on sale!)
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup mirin
1/4 cup sesame oil
6 cloves garlic (we used a bit more than six cloves)
6 scallions
2 teaspoons fresh peeled ginger (we used grated)

Slaw ingredients:
3 cups Napa cabbage, chopped (we shredded it)
1 cup daikon, diced into matchsticks (in case you’re wondering, like I was, this is a root vegetable and kind of tastes like a radish)
1 cup bean sprouts (If you can’t find this, don’t worry we left the out and it still tasted great!)
6 scallions, diced
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon sriracha or chili pepper sauce (or more if you like it spicy!)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Other ingredients:
10-15 yellow corn tortillas (we used flour because it was what we had on hand)
sriracha sauce

Directions:
Begin by cutting off excess fat from the short ribs. You can also remove the membrane under the bone side of the rib. (We just removed the bones because we were hungry and in a hurry.) Place in a zip-top bag.
In a food processor, blend together soy sauce, brown sugar, mirin, sesame oil, garlic, scallions and ginger. Reserve 1/2 cup of sauce and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Pour the rest of the sauce over the short ribs, ensuring all ribs are covered. Seal tightly and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Longer is better, but you should let them marinate for at least 3 hours.

To prepare the slaw: Place shredded Napa cabbage, shredded daikon (use your food processor, otherwise you’ll be cutting forever!), spouts, scallions and cilantro together in a medium to large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, soy sauce, mirin and sriracha. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat. Store covered in the fridge until ready to serve.

IMG_6640
The original recipe called for reducing the extra marinade ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick. Place in a serving bowl to drizzle on tacos. We thought this made it too salty. Next time, we won’t reduce it. But this is what it looks like reduced.
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Heat a pan over high heat. (Or like the original recipe suggests, heat a grill to at least 550 degrees). The intent here is to flash cook the meat while simultaneously caramelizing the marinade. Place your short ribs on the grill. Cook for three minutes and flip. Cook an additional three minutes, wrap in foil and set aside.
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Cut short ribs into strips, avoiding the bones. Assemble your Korean tacos:  tortilla, barbecued short ribs, a drizzle of Korean barbecue sauce, Napa cabbage slaw and extra sriracha to match your tastes. Serve immediately.

My opinion: It was so good, I didn’t get a photo of the completed dish. Next time!

Homemade Chicken Shawarma

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J recently found the most amazing chicken shawarma recipe originally from David Bonom, Cooking Light July 2008. It’s perfect with our homemade pitas.

Ingredients:
about 1 pound chicken breast (we used boneless, skinless) cut into 16 (3-inch) strips
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil + 2 tablespoons olive oil for the skillet
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 garlic cloves, minced (or more)
2-3 tablespoons Greek yogurt

Sauce:
1/2 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced

Directions:
We made the sauce first so we could use the left over Greek yogurt in the chicken marinade. Combine yogurt and next 4 ingredients (through 1 garlic clove), stirring with a whisk.  To prepare chicken, combine first 6 ingredients in a a zip top bag. Add chicken. Toss well to coat. Let stand at room temperature or at least 20 minutes. Heat a skillet to medium-high heat. Dump the chicken strips into the skillet. Cook about 10 minutes until cooked through. Serve immediately on a homemade pita with lettuce, tomato slices, red onion and sauce.

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My opinion:
Two of these sandwiches is more than enough for an adult. It’s filling and tasty and I always wish there were even more leftovers for lunch the next day.

Print Recipe
Homemade Chicken Shawarma
Servings
Servings

Carbonara


We’ve put off trying this recipe for a while because it seemed complicated. That couldn’t be further from the truth! It was really very easy, though a bit temperamental. The original post cites Rachel Ray as the original creator as published in Woman’s Day magazine.

Ingredients:
1 box spaghetti (about a pound)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 lb pancetta, roughly chopped (we ended up using about 3 ounces because that’s what came in the package)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
5 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine (we used a pinot grigio)
3 large egg yolks
freshly grated Romano cheese (optional, but J swears it’s better with the cheese. Parmesan works too in a pinch)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (you’ll want to use more pepper than salt!)

Directions:
Boil the pasta according to the package directions in salted water. (You will need to reserve at least a cup of the pasta water for use later in the recipe!) While the pasta is boiling, heat a large skillet over medium heat (you;ll be adding the pasta to the skillet). Add the olive oil and pancetta to the warmed skillet. Brown  the pancetta for about two minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for up to three more minutes (remove or turn down the heat if the pancetta starts to burn). Add the wine and deglaze the pan. In a separate  bowl, beat the egg yolks and add 1/2 cup of the pasta water. According to the original recipe, adding the pasta water to the yolks tempers them so they don’t scramble. If you haven’t already drained the pasta, do so now. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta. Toss to coat the pasta. Don’t cook the egg! Remove from heat. Add cheese, pepper and salt. Continue tossing the pasta until the egg mixture thickens and the pasta absorbs most of it. Serve immediately with extra cheese.

My opinion:
Salty and creamy, this is the perfect dinner for a fall evening. If you find the dish too salty, cut back on the added salt at the end. When reheating, make sure to use a little olive oil or reheat by covering the bottom of a pan with chicken stock or broth and adding the pasta. Otherwise, it dries out.

End of season pesto


I’m warming back up to Italian food. For awhile, nothing compared to the food I had in Florence, so I shied away from trying to perfect Italian at home. Luckily, J loves Italian style cuisine so we’ve dabbled in a few dishes (like Pizza Margherita and Eggplant Parmesan). We had a bumper crop of basil that needed to be used, so before the first freeze, (ok the second!), we harvested an armful and got to work making pesto. I found this recipe, but had to modify it a bit for our taste.

Ingredients:
2 cups packed basil leaves
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan (grated works best)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Add all the ingredients to your food processor (except the salt and pepper) and pulse it a few times. Taste. Add desired salt and pepper. Pulse again. We added the oil a little bit at a time, which left the pesto a little chunky, which we like. If you don’t, add the ingredients except the oil first, pulse, then add the oil slowly, pulsing in between. When it’s the consistency you prefer, pour into a clean mason jar, add a little olive oil on top, screw on the lid and freeze. Serve over your favorite pasta.

My opinion:
I was a bit surprised at how little this actually made. We only got two jars our of an armful of basil. Next year, I plan to make some early in the summer and then again at the end of the season so I end up with more pesto.