Fettucini and Friends

Hello dear readers! Did you have a good weekend? I did, well actually, I am, because I’m writing this to you on a lovely Sunday afternoon while my adoring husband naps next to me. Last night, we invited our awesome friends Jason, Juan and Randy over for dinner in honor of my sister’s visit to Los Angeles. I knew I wanted to make fettucini alfredo because it’s simple, delicious, and fun to make when guests are over. For a more detailed explanation, visit the Pioneer Woman – but here’s how ya do it.

1) All you need is: 1 Box of fettucini, 1 thing of whipping cream (you need 1 cup), 1 stick of salted butter and 1 tub of parmesan cheese.

Easy Peasy Heart Attack Pasta

2) Boil water for your pasta.

3) Slowly melt the butter in a large sauce pan. SLOWLY. If it burns, you’ll have brown butter, which is yummy, but not what you want.

4) When your butter is mostly melted, add in 1 cup of cream. Let it chill out for a couple seconds and then gently whisk together . Let the cream and butter mingle for awhile and add a few cracks of pepper, if desired. When it’s hot and mixed well (medium heat) – again – not too high, or you’ll end up with scalded cream – turn off the stove and get a large serving bowl.

Mix it up!

5) Add 1 cup of shredded parmesan cheese to the serving bowl. Pour in the butter/cream mixture. Let it hang out for a couple minutes to melt all the cheese, and then whisk again, gently. You can add more black pepper, if you want.

Pepper, cream, butter and cheese = BFFs

6) Your pasta should be almost done. Add the cooked, drained pasta directly into the cheesy, creamy serving bowl. Using tongs, gently toss to coat. Add one more cup of parmesan cheese and toss until all cheese is melted. You just made fettucini alfredo – and DAMN, is it good.

Mouth is watering...

Come to mama.

Obviously this isn’t a meal you eat every week (if you can do it, all power to you), but as an occasional splurge, it’s an awesome dinner party dish. We combined it with yummy pomegranate margaritas my sister made, red wine, a bolognese sauce, a green salad and garlic bread. SUPER TASTY! As you can see by the many bottles on the counter – we had a good time. What’s your go-to dinner party dish?

I will always revert back to my rock n' roll roots when posing for photos!

Here's a picture of my sister scrubbing my stove. Because you know, doing the dishes and wiping down all of the counters wasn't enough.

PS: I want to thank you all for your awesome and heartfelt comments lately. Getting comments is my FAVORITE thing EVER, and it’s so cool to connect with you. Thanks. Your comments are like little warm fuzzy hugs sent over the interwebz. <3

All Squashed Up

I like squash. Zucchini, yellow squash, butternut, acorn – it’s all pretty tasty in my book. However, there was one elusive squash that I had seen fabled across the internet in food blogs- but this sunny yellow gourd was beyond the reach of my standard suburban Ralph’s grocery store.

This squash is heavy! Don't drop it - you may just Squash your foot. Har, Har!

A new “Sprouts Market” opened up near me, and on Sunday afternoon, I walked out with a slab of bacon muenster (it’s for my dad – no, really!), a probiotic juice drink (will blog about that later), a hothouse cucumber, three tomatoes, six cartons of Wallaby yogurt (my new favorite) and a giant, yellow Spaghetti Squash! I was so excited to have found one and decided to make my version of Pasta Carbonara.

Get rid of the seeds and goopy guts.

First, I cut it in half with a giant butcher knife after Matt made his tell-tale big eyed “You’re doing something dumb look” and warned me to be “Careful!” as I attempted to hack it with my favorite’s chef’s knife. Then, because I’m lazy, I looked up how to cook it on the internet and we decided to microwave it instead of bake it. If you want to know how to do something fast, find a lazy person to do it for you!

Like Magic!

I nuked it for seven minutes on each side, cut side down. Once I took it out and let it cool for a few minutes, it was time for the shredding to commence. I took the fork tines to the soft, tender insides … and WOW!!!! It’s really like spaghetti! The strands easily lifted out of the shell of the squash, and it had a nice, fresh taste.

Can you tell I'm excited?

I had precooked three slices of bacon, a small onion, two garlic cloves and 2 cups of peas. I added the squash and gently sauteed for three minutes before serving with some grated parmesean. All I can say is YUM – this squash will be making regular appearances in our home. It doesn’t taste exactly like spaghetti, but it has a nice meaty, crunchy texture that is just bland enough to blend in nicely with other savory flavors. I’m going to try it next as mock chowmein noodles in an asian dish. Have you ever tried a spaghetti squash? Will you now?

Delicious!

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Zucchini Killer Recipe #1


I'm not famous enough yet to blur out the labels. And I'm lazy.

Zucchini are the parasite of the garden, because once you have one… you have 1,000. It’s like having fleas… on crack. I love growing zucchini because they’re easy to grow, but we have SO MANY ZUCCHINI. I have been giving them away to anyone who will take them, but tonight I actually used some and made one of my favorite zucchini recipes – summer squash pasta. It’s relatively simple and easy to make, and apparently, pretty healthy! I also used Orrechiette for the first time (it means “Little Ears” in italian!).

Slicing evenly isn't my forte.

First, you want to chop up your zucchini, mushrooms and onion. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan on medium and add the vegetables. Stir to coat vegetables with olive oil. Crush two big fat cloves of garlic into this. Keep this on medium/low, because the veggies have a high water content and will cook fairly quickly. If you cook too high, the zucchini will burn and get bitter.

Sea Salt and Pepper

Get your pot of water going for your pasta. You can use any pasta you want, I just happened to have Orrechiette on hand since I’d read about it in “Everyday Food”. I usually use something fairly dense like farfalle or rotini for a dish with lots of chunky vegetables in it – gives the oil and cheese something to stick on to. Once the onions are transparent and everything has shrunk down a bit, add 1/2 cup cheese, the frozen peas, and season very liberally with salt and pepper. (Remember: salt enhances vegetables but it’s a fine line between too little and too much. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO TASTE AS YOU GO!!!)

Steaaaaaam

Has it been 11 minutes? Good. Let the pasta keep cooking. (The box lied – these little ears took about 17 minutes to cook instead of 11! Sheesh! The only way to tell if pasta is done is to pluck one out of the scalding water, let it cool for a few seconds on a spatula, and then burn the roof of your mouth as you see if it’s done!) Drain the pasta and shake it a few times to get all that bath water off of it. (Some people rinse, but I don’t. I guess I’m a rebel like that.)

Next, pour all of the pasta into your pan and gently mix to coat the pasta with the vegetables, juice, and cheese. When you’ve mixed it pretty good, add most of the rest of the remaining half cup of shredded cheese. Save some for the top of your dish – it will be worth it.

The Finished Product!

I calculated all of this out in the Weight Watchers Recipe Builder, and it’s coming in at 7 points per serving. The picture shown here is 1.5 cups which cost me 10 points – not bad at all for a delicious, filling, and savory pasta dinner. The picture below has more accurate portions and Weight Watchers listings, if you’re curious! Enjoy – and watch for the next Zucchini Killer recipe coming soon!

 

Recipe Review: Peanut Power Pasta

My Peanut Power noodles wrapped around a fork.

Ok, so the actual name of this recipe from Taste of Home Magazine is “Saucy Thai Beef Noodles” but that’s BORRRRRING so I am calling it PEANUT POWER PASTA! I love Thai food, and who doesn’t love peanut sauce? I’d bathe in that stuff, if I could. Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration because I would forever smell like Skippy, but who doesn’t love a good hyperole? But Peanut Sauce IS delicious, and when the creamy, tangy taste hits my taste buds, I feel bad for peanut allergy sufferers who have to live with the bland and incomparable substitution of Almond butter. (PS Have you ever tried Peter Pan Peanut Butter? I tried some a month ago because I had heard a bunch of hipsters raving about it- that shiz is nasty! Don’t do it! It’s like… peanut lard.)

I followed this recipe to a T (which is unusual for me because I’m more about “a splash of this, a dash of that, I’ll just throw this in there and see what happens” type of cooking), and if I had to rate it, I’d give it 3 out of 5 stars. The taste was right on – actually, the peanut sauce on its own was fabulous! The biggest problem was 1) Not enough veggies, and 2) spaghetti noodles are the wrong type of starch for these Asian flavors, which are already strong on their own and get overpowered by the the thick noodle and heavy peanut sauce. So it was basically a texture problem – not a deal breaker, but next time I will use some vermicelli or even just brown rice with the sauce and vegetables. Oh. I lied. I didn’t follow the recipe to a tee – I used Sugar Snap Peas instead of Snow Peas because Sugar Snaps were .50c cheaper than snow peas, and I’m cheap.

It’s interesting because the reviews on this recipe actually state the same thing – too much peanut sauce, not the right starch, and rate it about 3 out of 5. If you make it, try doubling up on the veggies, cutting down on the PB, and using a different starch – and tell me what you think!

Can you tell I love cilantro?

  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 drops hot pepper sauce
  • 12 ounces uncooked spaghetti
  • 1 beef top sirloin steak (1 pound), thinly sliced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh carrot
  • 1/2 cup julienned sweet red pepper
  • 1 cup fresh snow peas
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped salted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Directions

  • In a small saucepan, bring the first eight ingredients just to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; set aside.
  • Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
  • In a large skillet or wok, stir-fry beef in 1/2 teaspoon oil until no longer pink. Remove and keep warm.
  • Stir-fry carrot and red pepper in remaining oil for 3-4 minutes. Add snow peas and onions; stir-fry 2-3 minutes longer or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Return beef to skillet.
  • Drain noodles; add to the pan. Add peanut sauce and toss to coat. Sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro. Yield: 6 servings.

Nutrition Facts: 1-1/3 cups equals 536 calories, 19 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 31 mg cholesterol, 795 mg sodium, 58 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 34 g protein.

**A serving of this is incredibly dense. I ended up eating about 1 cup.

(How many WW points is this? Do I want to know? Guess I’ll know tomorrow after my first meeting.)

Foodie Friday

Hello my lovely bloggies! It’s Thursday night and I’m gonna be honest – I’m pooped! It’s been a very full week and my brain is feeling like a marshmallow in the microwave, so we’re going to look at pretty food pictures of things I ate this week. READY?! Come on, it’s gonna be fun!

Cobb Salad sans Bleu Cheese

On Monday I had lunch with my co-worker, Charlotte, and ordered my favorite Cobb salad from Weiler’s Deli in Northridge. I never get bleu cheese, and order with light ranch dressing on the side. As you can see they were generous with the big slab of ripe avocado! Buried under the beautiful mound of color is a huge patch of thick, crunchy pieces of bacon over a bed of iceberg, spinach and romaine. Definitely not the “lightest salad” I could choose, but it’s loaded with protein and has no carbs, so this keeps me full alllll day.

Turkey Taco Salad

The salad I made for dinner on Tuesday night was way less of a fatty fat bomb than the cobb salad I ordered on Monday. I made this salad with ground turkey, fresh romaine, tomatoes, salsa, shredded cheese, black beans, and sauteed green pepper and onion. So healthy, so yummy, so fresh – and it used up a good variety of the aging vegetables in my veggie basket. We ate this for dinner with baked tortilla chips on the side.

Pesto Gnocchi with sun dried tomatoes and crimini mushrooms

Tonight for dinner, I made fresh pesto with basil from the garden, six garlic cloves (I know – No vampires coming near our house!), 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, and 1/4 cup olive oil. I sauteed some sliced crimini mushrooms with sundried tomatoes (not oil-packed, just dehydrated – that counts for something, right?), and then tossed the mixture with fresh gnocchi. It was very rich and savory – tangy garlic with sweet, punchy basil and fragrant olive oil coating the dense, chewy gnocchi. This meal was definitely not a diet-concious choice – but we don’t eat like this every night!

And last but not least – this isn’t a food shot but relates to this blog – This image is from E3 (The Entertainment Electronics Expo) that I went to for work this week. Hilda asked me which character I wanted to be and I said with no hesitation, “I want to be skinny for once in my life!” lolz. So here I am as a skinny person (thing/creature/monster?), though I could do without the whiskers 😉