Broken Noodles with a Creamy Poppy Seed & Shrimp Sauce

The first time I made this was Christmas eve and I thought to myself, this would be great for Valentine’s day. At the time, it felt so far away but here it is already! This is a nice dish to make for your love, as it’s extra special, doesn’t take long and is just so tasty! This is nice served on one plate, to share. It’s going to be a cold one on the east coast, so if you want to stay in, this is a nice dish to make. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • 6 lasagna noodles, broken
  • 10 large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 1 cup good marinara sauce
  • 5 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Bring the water to a boil and add in the noodles. On high heat, bring the marinara sauce to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and add in the shrimp, until they are cooked through and opaque, about 5 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and poppy seeds until heated through. Pour the sauce over the noodles, sprinkle with poppy seeds and enjoy! Serves 2 lovebirds.

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Fettuccine with Creamy Gravlax & Peas

So, you’ve made enough gravlax to impress yourself and your friends, you’ve had it with toast and eggs on Saturday, bagels and cream cheese on Saturday, tossed into your salad for lunch on Monday…and you still have some leftovers. I’ve got the recipe for you that will put a new spin on that gravlax. This recipe is creamy, a little salty, a little sweet and a touch, zesty. A perfect meal to share for two, on a blistery, snowy day, such as today. Enjoy!

  • 6 oz. fettuccine
  • 3 oz. thinly sliced gravlax
  • 1 cup frozen petite peas
  • 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • freshly ground course black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon country dijon mustard

Bring the fettuccine to a boil and add in the peas for the last 2-3 minutes of the remaining cooking time. In the meantime, melt the butter on low heat, increase the heat to high adding in the heavy cream, until the whole pan is filled with creamy bubbles, add in the gravlax and mustard until warmed through. Season with lots of freshly ground black pepper. Set aside. Drain the fettuccine, reserving some of the cooking water. Add the fettuccine to the creamy salmon and pea mixture and give it a good toss. Add in a small ladle or two of pasta water to thin, if needed. Serves 2.

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Couscous with Sad Salad & Chickpeas

Baby P was napping for quite a while and he gave out a cry. Was it a cry in dreamland? Or was it the cry, the one that was warning me, “It’s time for me to eat mama!” I waiting a minute or so, frozen to see if he would awaken, he didn’t and I went for it, I opened the fridge. I was getting hungry and spent most of his nap doing laundry and catching up on housework, that I am now forever catching up on. I opened the fridge, to be faced with sad salad, you know the kind, sad, semi-wilted, still good enough for salad but something about it, isn’t too appealing…I set it out on the counter and then rummaged through the cupboard and found a box of couscous. I love it just because of its’ ease, versatility and serotonin-boosting carb levels. Time was of the essence and this meal was done in about 20 minutes, great if you are in a hurry. Serve with a non-saddening salad for a nice meal. Enjoy!

  • 1 10 oz. box plain couscous
  • 2 cups packed finely chopped salad greens, any kind of good salad greens, herb, a mix of 50/50 or “power” greens, spinach works great also.
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (the kind packed in oil, already diced, usually with herbs)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups water* or chicken broth
  • 1 chicken bouillion cube, if using water*
  • 1 15.5oz. can chickpeas also known as garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

In a small Dutch oven, melt the butter on low heat, add in the chickpeas and the tomatoes. Give it a good stir. Add in the chicken broth, increase the heat and bring to a boil. (If using water, allow it to come to a boil and in a separate mug, dissolve the bouillion cube with a little bit of the water and add back into the pot.) Once boiling, add in the couscous and the greens, give it a good stir and pat down with the back of a spoon, cover and take off the heat. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Serve right away. Serves 3-4.

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Buttery Strascinati & Fava Beans with Tomatoes

As crazy as it may sound, I was in the mood to make a pasta dish over the weekend in this heatwave we are having. It sat on the stove, I enjoyed a little and then put it in the fridge and forgot about it until about midnight…(I know, is that the worst for a dieter? Let’s not forget the pasta. What was I thinking? I can just give pasta a glance and gain a pound. I had a costly, momentary lapse and was only thinking of having something delicious to eat.) And it was cold, refreshing with lemon flavor and dee-licious…The perfect thing to enjoy at midnight during a heatwave. Enjoy!

  • 1/2 pound strascinati, cooked al dente
  • 3/4 pound fresh fava beans in the pods, or about 3/4 cup shelled
  • 5 small Campari tomatoes, quartered and sliced
  • juice of half a lemon
  • heaping teaspoon lemon thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • sea salt

Bring a potful of water to a boil. In the meantime, cut the fava beans in half. Blanch the beans for about 2-3 minutes, until the outer shell separates from the inner beans. Drain and allow to cool until you are able to handle them. Discard the outer shell and set aside the inner beans.

In a saucepan, combine the butter and olive oil on low to medium heat until melted. Add in the tomatoes and the lemon thyme leaves. Saute for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally. Add in the lemon juice and sea salt, cooking for about a minute or two more. Toss in the strascinati and the fava beans until warmed through. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Garnish with fresh lemon thyme leaves and a drizzle of olive oil when serving, along with a lemon wedge. Serves 2.

Linguine & Smashed Tarragon Peas with Pistachio-Panko Crumbs

Happy Earth Day! What a great day to renew some vows to take care of the earth, whether it be to recycle more, shop at the local farmer’s market, start a composting bin or to make more veggie meals. Here’s a great veggie meal that is tasty and doesn’t take a lot of time. The smashed peas adds the creaminess of this dish, so you won’t even miss the cream and what I love about making pistachio-Panko crumbs is they are a great substitute for grated cheese. And the best part, you have a great meal on the table in no time, which is great on a day like today, so you can spend some time outdoors. Enjoy!

  • 4 oz. linguine, cooked al dente
  • 1 heaping cup petite peas, cooked and roughly smashed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon julienned sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons plain Panko crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon raw pistachios, minced to the texture of Panko
  • a few leaves of fresh tarragon, roughly chopped
  • sea salt

First, start off by making your pistachio-Panko crumbs. They can easily burn, so they require a little extra attention. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat a tablespoon of the olive oil on low heat, when the oil is not quite sizzling toss in the Panko crumbs, give it a good stir and add in the pistachio crumbs and a nice amount of sea salt. Keep stirring the crumbs allowing them to lightly brown. Once they are golden, allow them to dry and drain on a paper towel. While you cook the linguine, in a heavy bottomed pan on low heat, heat a tablespoon of the olive oil and the sun-dried tomatoes until the oil is sizzling, add in the smashed peas until heated through. Toss in the tarragon and season with sea salt and keep warm, until the linguine is cooked. Once the linguine is done, drain, reserving a tablespoon or more of the pasta water. Toss the linguine and water with the peas. Divide among plates, or share from one and top with the crumbs. Serves 2, double or triple, as needed.

Cavatelli & Baby Kale

“Cavatelli and Broccoli” rolls off the tongue a lot easier than “Cavatelli and Baby Kale” but it satisfies the taste buds sitting on the tongue, just the same or pretty close. As many times as I’ve tried to make cavatelli and broccoli at home, it doesn’t come out as good as from a restaurant. But if I’m completely honest here, I like when the cavatelli and broccoli are slicked with garlicky oil and I like to dip my bread into the pools of oil sitting on the bottom of the plate, (no judgement please, lol) slick and shiny, resembling mini ice skating rinks. My bread, being skates, gliding along the slippery plate. So, I’ve given up recreating the exact dish at home but have found a nice substitute for the broccoli found in the salad section, baby kale. And it makes a nice dish at home that’s quick, easy and tasty. Perfect for this hustling and bustling time of year. Enjoy!

  • 13 oz. bag frozen cavatelli
  • 3 cups tightly packed baby kale, roughly chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic, smashed and finely minced
  • 2 quarts of water
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus a drizzle for the pasta water 
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, bring the water up to a boil and add in the bouillon cube and a drizzle of olive oil. Stir well, so the bouillon cube dissolves. Add more salt if needed. Toss in your cavatelli and cook for about 5 minutes, until they rise to the top. Drain them and reserve 1/4 cup or more of the pasta water. In the meantime, in a large pan, combine the garlic, butter and olive oil and saute on low heat, stirring often until the garlic turns nice and soft, if you see it beginning to brown, add a tablespoon or two of the pasta water to slow down the cooking process. Once the garlic is soft, toss in the kale until wilted. It doesn’t take long at all for it to wilt. Toss in the cavatelli and 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Season with sea salt if needed and fresh ground black pepper. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and give it a nice toss. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil if you like. Makes 2-3 servings.

Black Ink Spaghetti with Squid

Everyone will scream in horror and run from the table, when they see squid tentacles falling over the plate, unexpectedly reaching and grasping to take hold of any helpless victim that falls in their path. (Ok, maybe not scream but it will be fun for sure, it’s not every night that you have black ink spaghetti and squid tentacles for dinner.) For some reason the theme song from Jaws keeps playing in my head, when the shark is oh so close and everyone runs from the water, screaming, just as everyone will run from that dinner table. That was a great movie. I really need to watch Jaws over the weekend! Speaking of weekend, everyone have a great one and enjoy the fall foliage, carving pumpkins and grasping tentacles that you have to fight off, for dinner. ;)

  • 4 oz. black ink spaghetti, cooked al dente
  • 3/4 pound squid tentacles
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and finely minced
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes *optional
  • 2 cups good marinara sauce
  • 3 tablespoons light cream
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • sea salt, if needed

In a Dutch pot, on low heat combine the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Saute for 5 minutes, until the garlic gets soft. Add the marinara sauce and heat until it’s simmering, about 5 minutes. Add the squid and simmer for about 5 minutes until the squid turns opaque and is pink and purple in color. Scoop the squid out, leaving the sauce in the pot. On high heat, bring the sauce to a boil for 2-3 minutes, add in the cream, pepper and salt. Heat for another 2-3 minutes, until thickened. Toss in the squid and spaghetti, gently toss and enjoy! Serves 2. Double or triple the recipe as needed. Enjoy!

Candele Lunghe in a Tomato Beef Sauce

Can also be called, ”Worms in Tomato Sauce” for the older boys and girls that delight in a little bit of “ILLLL!” and “YUCK!” and similar squeals of the Halloween season. This is great to make on Halloween, before the kids go out trick or treating. You can make this ahead and just heat it up in the oven, the day of. Or you can even make it over the weekend and freeze it. (Just defrost before baking.) This is great for an adult Halloween party also! If you can’t find candele lunghe you can use bucatini in its’ place. And you can certainly use ground turkey instead of the ground beef, I actually prefer turkey over beef any day, but found free range, grass fed organic ground beef that I couldn’t pass up. You can always make this dish vegetarian also! It’s really important, to use a marinara sauce that isn’t laden with oil, otherwise the pasta will be swimming in oil and you will get an ill and a yuck, but not the kind you were anticipating, that comes with a giggle, lol. Enjoy and have a happy weekend!

  • 1 pound candele lunghe pasta,broken in half, cooked al dente
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 5 small tomatoes, like Campari, roughly chopped equalling a cup
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
  • 1 24 oz. jar good marinara sauce (or a little larger)
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 juniper berry
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Begin by heating up a drizzle of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan, add the beef, juniper berry, bay leaf, clove, paprika, salt and pepper. Saute the meat until browned, breaking it up as needed and cooked through, set aside. In the same pan, add a drizzle of olive oil and saute the tomatoes and the garlic on low heat for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes and garlic are cooked through. Add the jar of tomato sauce and cook for ten minutes. Discard the juniper berry, bay leaf and clove and add the beef to the sauce.

Use a nice amount of olive oil when cooking your pasta, so they don’t stick to each other. Stirring the pasta often. Drain carefully and , use tongs to handle the hot pasta and spread out the noodles on parchment paper, so they don’t stick to each other. Spoon 2 cups of the sauce down in a 13×9 pan and top with a layer of tightly packed candele lunghe.

Spoon on 1 cup of ricotta cheese. Follow by 2 more cups of tomato sauce. Top your sauce with another tight layer of the pasta. Spoon on another cup of ricotta cheese, followed by a layer of pasta. Ending with the remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top and bake in a 350 degree, preheated oven for 30 minutes. This serves 6-8.

King Oyster Mushroom Parmesan

I love chicken and eggplant Parmesan! And I think it’s the one dish that almost everyone enjoys. The other day, I grilled up some king oyster mushrooms and they were so delicious, I immediately thought, ”This needs to be Parmesan-ed.” Juicy breaded meaty mushrooms, swimming in a good marinara sauce topped with bubbling hot cheeses placed on top of a oh-so-perfect mound of spaghetti. What’s not to love? Such soul satisfying comfort food, on a chilly, almost autumn night. The only thing needed to complete the meal is a green salad tossed with an olive vinaigrette and a nice glass of wine. There is something bad about this meal, I gotta admit, you just want more of it, lol. It’s just that good! Serves 6.

  • 10 oz. king oyster mushroom, about 3, bottoms trimmed
  • 1 25 oz. jar good marinara sauce, warmed through
  • 4 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • canola oil, for frying
  • 3/4 pound spaghetti, cooked al dente

Wipe your mushrooms clean with a damp cloth. Next, trim the mushroom caps, lengthwise, so they are even with the stems, so it’s easier to fry. You can reserve the trimmings for another use. You can toss them into a broth, soup or stew, to give it a little extra flavor. Cut your mushrooms lengthwise, so they are about 1/4 inch thick.

Dip your mushroom slices into the egg, followed by the bread crumbs. Have everything breaded and ready to go into the oil. Heat up your canola oil on low to medium heat. Fry the mushroom slices for about a minute to two minutes per each side. Drain on paper towels and move them onto a paper bag. Fry in batches, until all of them are done. Next, take half of the sauce and pour it into a heavy weight 13×9 inch baking pan. Arrange the mushroom slices so they all fit in one layer.

Top with the remaining half of the tomato sauce and the grated mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Place in the oven, about 6 inches away from the broiler, which is set on high. Broil for 8 minutes, until bubbly and browned on top. Every oven is different, so keep that oven light on and keep an eye on it, so it doesn’t burn. Enjoy!

Egg Pappadelle with Beef Ragu

It’s been a little chilly on the east coast. And as the chill comes in, the sweatpants come out. It’s not a pretty picture, lol and I just want carbs, carbs and more carbs! And the best carb, welcome cooler weather dish to make, is a hearty beef ragu, that simmers on the stove for a couple hours and is tossed with pappadelle. It’s comforting-soothing-the-soul type of dinner fare, it’s just satisfying. This is great to make on a lazy Saturday or Sunday, where you have a little more time. Use good Parmesan cheese to top your pappadelle with and you will be in love with this dish. This beef ragu recipe makes 8 servings. So you can enjoy half today, and freeze the rest for another day. Serves 4. Enjoy!

  • 1 1/2 pounds beef chuck short ribs, on the lean side
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-2 porcini mushroom bouillon cubes
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 pounds fresh garden tomatoes
  • 2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream *optional
  • a pinch of Vegeta or any all purpose seasoning that you like
  • a few basil leaves, minced
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • sea salt
  • 8 oz. egg pappadelle, cooked al dente

Lightly salt your beef ribs. In a Dutch oven heat up the olive oil on low to medium heat, once sizzling add in the beef ribs meat side down. Let your meat get a nice brown crust and turn over to brown the other sides. Keep an eye on your meat as it can burn easily. Brown the side with the meat closest to the bone last. Once your beef is browned, add in four cups of water and bring to a boil. Add in a porcini mushroom cube and taste to see if you need to add another. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for one hour. In the mean time, bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the tomatoes. Gently drain them and let them cool. Once cool enough to handle, peel your tomatoes and roughly chop them. To your tomatoes, add your garlic and with a hand immersion blender, blend until smooth. In a small Dutch oven, melt your tablespoon of butter. Once your butter is sizzling, add in the tomato puree. Let it simmer for 30 minutes on its’ own. When your hour is up simmering the beef broth, carefully remove the beef and add to the tomato sauce along with 1 cup of the porcini beef broth. The remaining beef broth can be frozen for future use or served before the pasta with freshly made garlic croutons. Bring your tomato and beef to a boil. Once you have a boil going, lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Once the hour is up, remove the beef and the bones, by this time, the meat is so tender that its’ fallen off its’ bone. Let the tomato sauce continue simmering. With a knife, carefully remove the chewy tissue that is closest to the bone. It’s a little tough and you don’t want that up against a perfectly tender pappadelle noodle. Cut the meat up and naturally with a fork, you will be able to break up the meat almost shredding it. Once broken up, put it back into the pot, until it is simmering again. Once simmering again, add in the heavy cream, Vegeta, basil and the fresh ground pepper and stir. Gently toss in the pappadelle so they are all coated with the beef ragu. Put on those comfy sweat pants, sit in a comfy chair and enjoy. ;)