Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A New Take on Pasta

So, I subscribed to the Gourmet Food Box via, the Fancy. It is actually pretty good and thus far I have been pretty happy with it. Basically, they charge you $40 a month (plus s&h) and every month they ship you a box of gourmet food samples. Now, unlike other similar deals, when I say samples, it is actually a full sized product. Generally the retail value of the stuff in the box exceeds the $40 (plus s&h). What's cool about it is that it is full of random items that either are not available to me locally or are somewhat strange and probably not something I would buy if left to my own devices. BUT now I get to play with my food. On my first delivery, I had a jar that was damaged and the seal had broken so I could not use it. It was a butternut squash pasta sauce. I contacted Fancy and since they could not replace the item, they gave me a $10 gift card. I understand they have limited quantities of products but damn that sauce smelled good and I REALLY wanted to try it. So, I wrote down the ingredients on the jar and made my own version. It was delicious! So good that I wanted to drink it! Try it, I think you will like it too!

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

1 butternut squash
2 stalks celery
1 medium onion
2-4 cloves garlic
2 Tbs olive oil
1 jar roasted red peppers (about 12 oz)
1 can tomato paste
1 can chicken broth
3/4 c light cream
a few sprigs fresh parsley and basil
salt to taste

Halve squash and remove seeds.
Roast in a 350 degree oven until flesh is soft
While squash in roasting, mince onion, celery and garlic and saute in sauce pot with olive oil until soft
Add flesh of the squash, peppers, tomato paste,chicken broth and fresh herbs to the pot.
Puree with an immersion blender until smooth.
Add cream and salt to taste.
Let simmer a few minutes and serve with pasta.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Heat Is ON!

It is the first week of June and we have already had our first official heat wave! Let me tell you the past few days have been BRUTAL! To top it all off I had to attend a wedding AND bring a dish! Thankfully the bride requested that I make a pasta salad so the only real cooking I had to do was boil the noodles (Thank Goodness!). Now, I new the wedding day was going to be 90+ degrees and I would be riding my motorcycle down so absolutely no mayo would be going into this salad. I also new I was going to make a LOT so I had to keep it in budget too. I decided to try out a new recipe and I really liked it a lot - Southwestern Pasta Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing. I love fresh veggies and the the dressing made for a tasty, yet light and refreshing salad. I don't know how everyone else liked it but I don't really care either! I ate a ton of it! LOL!

Southwestern Pasta Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing

2 boxes Orzo Pasta
sea or Kosher salt


3/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 3 limes
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons Chile powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cayenne/red pepper (or more)
1 bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2-3 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1 small red onion, diced
2 cans sweet corn kernels, lightly steamed
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced

1. Cook the pasta according to package directions in plenty of salted water to al dente.

2. While the pasta is cooking make the dressing: whisk oil, lime juice, honey, chile powder, cumin, cayenne, cilantro, salt and pepper together. Taste and tweak if needed. Cover and store in refrigerator.

3. Drain pasta and rinse to cool. (TIP: I like to put the onions in the colander and drain the pasta over them to blanch them quickly and remove some of their bite.) Add to a large mixing bowl along with the onion, corn, beans and tomatoes. Add dressing and combine well. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Store tightly covered in refrigerator; toss well before serving.