Fettuccine with Homemade Marinara and Buffalo Mozzarella

This pasta is so freaking good. O.M.G. I’m writing this at 8:42 in the morning and now I’m hungry for this dish. The marinara is from scratch but don’t be fooled, its not difficult to make. Instead of buying a jar of pasta sauce, just walk across the isle and grab a can of crushed tomatoes instead. Get a log of goat cheese (or you can use cream cheese) and as long as you have some staples in your cupboard you should be pretty much covered. And I don’t know why but there is something soooooo good about having a few slices of buffalo mozzarella on top drizzled with olive oil and some cracked sea salt and pepper. My husband isn’t usually a big fan of marinara in pasta but he really loves this recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

¾ lbs fettuccine

2 tbs olive oil

2 garlic cloves minced

1 24 oz can crushed tomatoes

¼ cup red wine

1 tbs sugar

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tbs tomato paste

2 oz herbed goat cheese

8 oz buffalo mozzarella ball

fresh basil (optional)

Directions:

Boil a large pot of water. Drizzle some olive oil and salt in the water before adding the fettuccine. While the pasta is cooking make sauce.

Heat a pan to medium high and add 2 tbs olive oil. Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant about a minute. Add crushed tomatoes & tomato paste. Add wine, sugar, cayenne pepper, salt & pepper and oregano. (Crush oregano between your palms to release the oils before adding).  Simmer for 5 minutes and then add goat cheese. Let the goat cheese melt and mix it into the sauce completely. Taste and correct seasoning.

Drain pasta and immediately add pasta into the sauté pan and toss in marinara. Once combined transfer to individual plates or a platter and put slices of the mozzarella on top. Crack some sea salt & pepper and drizzle a little more olive oil on top. Garnish with fresh basil if desired. Enjoy!

Pasta Puttanesca with Buffalo Mozzarella

The first time I had this dish was at my sister-in-law Jen’s house. I had never tried anything like it and was pleasantly surprised to find that capers and olives were great in pasta.  I love the bite that you get from anything pickled… I added a little twist to this recipe by putting in some buffalo mozzarella balls at the end. I feel like this gives the dish that little creaminess without it taking away from the essence of what a puttanesca is. This is a great recipe to have as an emergency dinner because you can have most the ingredients sitting on your pantry shelves. Even if you omit the mozzarella its still great. 😉 Enjoy!

Recipe:

3/4 lbs spaghetti

2 cloves garlic minced

2 tbs olive oil

16 oz jar good past sauce such as Rao’s

1/4 cup capers

1/2 cup sliced green olives pitted

red pepper flakes to taste

1/4 cup fresh shredded parmesan

16 oz buffalo mozzarella balls drained

Directions:

Boil a large pot of water and add pasta.

While the pasta is boiling, heat olive oil in a sauté pan and add garlic. Cook for about a minute until fragrant. Add pasta sauce and stir until simmering. Add capers and olives. Add red pepper a little at a time to determine how much spice you like.  Drain pasta and add to sauce. (Add the pasta to the sauce little by little to be sure the ratio of pasta to sauce isn’t too much or too little.) Once pasta is combined with sauce thoroughly, fold in buffalo mozzarella gently. Top with parmesan and serve. Enjoy!

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Easiest recipe ever (sorry this isn’t an uber specific. You can’t really ruin it…) :

Pork Shoulder or Pork Loin (Pork shoulder is more tender and is traditional but sometimes I use pork loin if I have it)

Bottle BBQ Sauce

Crockpot

Directions:

Set crockpot to low setting. Put pork in crockpot and dump bbq sauce on top. Move around to be sure the bbq sauce gets over the entire slab of meat. Cook on low for 4-5 hours depending on how much or little meat you added. The pork is done when its tender and can be shredded easily with a fork. Put on toasted buns for sandwiches or just eat by itself. I like to add bread and butter pickles to my sandwich. Just sayin’… Enjoy!

Spinach, Artichoke & Ricotta Enchiladas

Spinach & Artichoke Enchiladas:

I’m fortunate enough to have great friends who brought Michael and I many dinners after Georgiana was born. When your butt is sore as all get out and you are dealing with engorged boobs and a whole bathroom regime (TMI?) its such an amazing gift to have delicious dinners brought over. My friend Melissa was the first one to bring food and she didn’t disappoint. I remember her dropping off two aluminum pans full of piping hot enchiladas and rice and beans with salad. It was the most delicious dinner and I just had to make it again. This time I added some artichokes because they go with spinach so well.  For me, its a nourishing meal in both body and soul and reminds me I’m surrounded by amazing people. Thanks Melissa!

Ingredients:

corn tortillas  (about 20)

1 cup spinach coarsely chopped

1 can artichokes chopped and patted dry

16 oz carton ricotta cheese

16 oz carton sour cream

1 medium onion chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

16 oz bag shredded monterrey jack cheese

16 oz chili verde sauce

1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)

1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

Heat pan to medium high and grill each corn tortilla on the dry pan until the outside is slightly toasted. (This makes it easier to roll later without the tortilla’s cracking and breaking) Put in foil to keep warm until you are done with all the tortillas.  Set aside.

In a bowl combine ½ the bag of monterrey jack, ricotta, sour cream, spinach in a bowl. Set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and sauté onions until translucent. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute more. Add artichokes and sauté until slightly browned. Off the heat, pour bowl of cheese mixture into pan and combine. Season with salt, pepper and add cayenne if you like. Taste and correct seasoning.

Pour a little chili verde sauce on the bottom of 2 13×9 glass dishes. Spread the sauce around so it coats the bottom of the dishes. Take one tortilla at at time and add filling and then roll. Repeat until filled. Pour green sauce liberally over the top. Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly browning. Serve with rice and black beans.

Santa Maria Style Tri Tip Marinade

Tri Tip is indigenous to California and specifically to Santa Maria which is about an hour from where I live in Santa Barbara.  Tri Tip is the same cut as a sirloin tip roast but is barbecued instead of braised. This marinade is fantastic and I make this recipe often at home. I usually have corn tortillas, ranch beans and salsa to serve along side which is traditional. I have to say that barbecuing is one of my most favorite activities. Our house sits well above the street level and we have a nice deck where I BBQ. There is nothing better than being outdoors and cooking while watching the activity of the neighborhood below. Now that I have a little one I stick her in her bumbo seat and she loves being out there too. Its pretty hilarious that I am manning the barbecue at our house and shooing away the men folk. I’m just so finicky about the temperature of the grill and if I see someone trying to cut into the meat to see if its done it really irks me! (By cutting into meat its lets out all the juice which will make it dry up). I’m a girly girl in most ways except when it comes to getting down and dirty with barbecuing!

Marinade: (enough for 4 pounds of tri tip)

1/4 cup lemon juice

3/4 cup oil

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tbs black pepper

1/8 cup Lawry’s seasoning

7 cloves garlic

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade chop the garlic. Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend until just mixed. Pour over tri tip  in a glass pan (making sure the marinade gets on all parts of the tri tip) and cover. Marinade for at least 6 hours or overnight. Grill on bbq until you achieve desire doneness. Let rest for 10-15 minute before cutting. Enjoy!

Steak Kabobs with Fancy Vegetables

All the kabobs I’ve ever had have been yummy but pretty standard. You know, chicken, pineapple, peppers & onions. Right now I feel like there are so many great fancy vegetables that are more readily available to us than in the past. Vegetables like brussel sprouts, kale, shitaki mushrooms and red pearl onions aren’t what you normally think for kabobs. They are so delicious when done right so don’t be scared… Pair these amazing veggies with a juicy steak and the flavor from the grill really makes this a delicious dinner idea. Its also as easy as it gets to make. Enjoy!

Recipe: (Yields 4-5 Kabobs)

2 lbs sirloin steak cut into 24 cubes

12 brussel sprouts cut in half

12 kale leaves

12 shitake mushrooms

12 pearl red onions peeled (white are fine if the red aren’t available)

Directions:

Alternate spearing meat and veggies on a metal or soaked wood skewer. Be sure to spear two cubes of meat at a time so that the meat doesn’t dry out on the grill since the veggies need more time to cook. When spearing the kale, fold it over a few times and then skewer through the middle. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Grill on medium high heat until veggies are done and meat is still juicy. Serve and enjoy!

Beer Can Roast Chicken on the Grill

I love barbecuing but never thought I’d be cooking a whole roasting chicken on the grill! This recipe is super duper easy and the flavors from the BBQ really make this a tasty delight. Enjoy!

Recipe:

1 16 oz can of beer

1 whole chicken

salt & pepper

Preheat your gas grill to medium high heat.

Clean and remove any pin feathers from the chicken. Salt and pepper the inside and outside of the chicken. Pour out half the contents of the beer can and with the chicken upright (so the beer doesn’t spill out) insert the can into the cavity of the chicken. Prop the chicken upright on the grill so that the beer can is upright. The chicken should balance so you can leave it there with the bbq grill hood closed. (Measure your grill beforehand to be sure it fits!) Cook until thermometer reads 160 for at least 15 seconds or until juices run clear. Enjoy!

Chuck Roast

Many a Sunday growing up we would have chuck roast at my Grandparent’s house for Sunday dinner. There was always something so cosy about walking into the house with the smell of a roast cooking. It was the smell of love, family and peace. I’m so lucky to have such a caring family that have made so many efforts to create lasting memories through food and togetherness. I just have have one little baby right now who doesn’t eat chuck roast. But I literally can’t wait for the day when my kids say, “Mom, can you make chuck roast for dinner? Its my favorite!” Creating togetherness from food is probably the main reason why I love to cook so much. And a good ol’ roast is usually just as heartwarming to others as it is to me.

Recipe:

2-3 lbs Chuck Roast

2 Cloves Garlic

wochstershire Sauce

1 cup red wine

largely chopped golden potatoes

baby carrots

largely chopped onions

salt & pepper

Buy a 2-3 lbs chuck roast bone in or out. On a cutting board, slice two garlic cloves thinly. On the roast, slice small pockets in the meat every 2 inches and place sliced garlic into pockets. Rub both sides of the roast with cooking oil. Salt and pepper both sides. On a stove top heat a large pot or dutch oven. Place roast with garlic side down in the pot and brown for two minutes. Turn and brown the other side. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce and add 1 cup red wine. Turn oven to 350 degrees. Cook roast 2 ½ to 3 hours. Cover pot with lid. Check to see in one hour if roast goes dry. Add water ½ to 1 cup if desired. 1 hour before roast is done add  potatoes, carrots, onions. Add additional salt and pepper to season the veggies. After an hour, remove the roast and vegetables. Slice the roast and serve with vegetables.

Vegetarian Chili & Homemade Hummus from Cooking Class

Byron Elton led our cooking class this month and taught us how to make his vegetarian chili (and hummus!). Now, Byron is a dapper dan man. You know, the kind of guy who always says the perfect thing, has finesse and style. He is always up to date on the latest and greatest, loves to be green (environmentally speaking) and is a vegetarian. So it goes without saying that people generally like being around him, basking in his positive aura. Which is why I was of course excited when I heard he would be leading cooking class held at Shannon Sorenson’s home; our gracious host each month. The chili is hearty, satisfying and full of flavor. I was myself was a vegetarian for 2 1/2 years and what I love about eating vegetarian is that flavors that usually take a back seat are highlighted. The fresh bell peppers, hot jalapeños and beans are a burst of flavor in your mouth like a perfectly executed cha cha. And when topped with creamy sour cream, cheddar cheese and guacamole, how can you go wrong?

Byron the chef & Shannon the host

Byron’s Vegetarian Chili

Add the following to a saucepan and sauté over medium heat:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 chopped jalapenos
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 2 chopped red peppers
  • 2 chopped green peppers
  • 2 tablespoons garlic

(sauté)

Next add the following:

  • 2 (28oz) cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (28oz) can of kidney beans (rinsed)
  • 1 (16oz) can of black beans (rinsed)
  • 1 (16oz) can of vegetarian refried beans
  • 4 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • Approximately 1 tablespoon of green Tabasco sauce ( or 24 shakes)
  • 1 bottle of Mexican beer (OPTIONAL)

Cook for 30 minutes or to your liking

Serve with sour cream and cheddar cheese

Optional: add corn, yellow peppers or red onions.

(Note: this recipe makes a double serving)

Byron’s Hummus

How to make your own garbanzo beans: 1 cup of dried garbanzo beans will make 2 cups of cooked beans

  • Soak in water for 8 hours (changing water every 2-4 hours.)
  • Add 1 tablespoon baking soda to the water

(8 hours later)

  • Simmer the beans for 20-30 minutes

In a blender or food processor add:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1/3 cup of Tahini
  • Juice from 1 lemon (half if you’d like)

(Blend on low speed)

  • Add 2 cups of cooked garbanzo beans and blend to your liking

Serve with pita bread from Trader Joes

Optional: add red peppers, pine nuts or sun dried tomatoes

Crispy Beef and Chorizo Tacos

These tacos are my Grandma’s recipe and only complete alongside her enchiladas but they are seriously good on their own too. For me, this is the ultimate comfort food that brings back memories of cozy family dinners that are truly magical. This is the most common dinner my Grandma would make for us and they are oh so delicious. She  would make a big batch of the fried taco shells with the meat in the them and then would put all the toppings out for everyone to build their own. I could eat these all day long…..Mmmmmmmmm

1 Pound Hamburger

⅓ Pound Chorizo (I use soy chorizo from Trader Joes)

Grated Cheddar Cheese

Grated Jack Cheese

Diced Tomatoes

Shredded Lettuce

Green Onions

Black Olives

Sour Cream

Corn Tortillas

Canola Oil

Brown hamburger and chorizo in pan. Drain any fat. Taste meat to see if its seasoned enough. If not, you can add a little packages taco seasoning. Set aside.

Fry corn tortillas in a pan with canola oil filled up enough to cover the tortillas. Fold over the tortilla and start on one side and then once fried turn it over. Drain on paper towels.

For the toppings make sure to set out the rest of the ingredients and let your guests build their own. Enjoy!