Food Cravings

I love food.  I love eating food.  I love cooking food.  I love talking about food.

The best thing about cooking is the freedom to experiment and try new things.  When a friend tells me about a food craving, I can not only picture it in my head, but I’m thinking about the thousands of possibilities on how to create the perfect dish that they are craving.

My little sister, Tiffany, is home for spring break, which means enjoying mom’s home cooked meals for seven days straight.  Honestly, dining hall food at her school is not THAT bad, but c’mon, at the end of the day, it’s dining hall food… chewy bacon, rubbery chicken breast, and sad attempts at stir fry and Asian cuisine.

One of the dishes that Tiff was craving was a hearty pasta dish with a creamy tomato sauce.  I’ve never made a creamy tomato sauce before, so I was excited to try something new!  I tried to keep it on the lighter side, which meant that the sauce didn’t come out as creamy and cheesy as she wanted, but she was still satisfied (or maybe she was just hungry?).  I think next time, I’ll use cream cheese instead of half and half.

Pasta with “Pink” Sauce

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. package of pasta, cooked (I used Colavita Mezzi Rigatoni)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 strips of uncured bacon, chopped
  • 28 oz. can of peeled plum shaped tomatoes, dice the tomatoes and keep the juice
  • Fresh parsley and basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup, half and half
  • 1/4 cup, freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  1. Follow instructions to cook pasta, drain, and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, over medium high heat, add bacon.  Saute for a few minutes, until edges turn crispy.  Add onion and garlic and saute for an additional 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add canned tomatoes and fresh herbs.  Turn heat down to low and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add half and half and freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Continue to stir until sauce becomes a nice pink color.  Season with sea salt and black pepper.
  5. Toss in cooked pasta and mix well.  Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh parsley.

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PSL to Officially Kick-Off the Season

We woke up at 6:45 am today.  It was 51 degrees.  Autumn has officially arrived. 🙂

Chilly early in the morning and late at night, but beautiful and comfortable throughout the day.  Our favorite time of year.

As I prepare the meals for the week, I think this short rib slow cooker dish will be perfect and comforting on a chilly night.  Plus, it’s nice and easy, cooks during the day (without supervision), which means dinner is ready right when we walk through the door.  More family and cuddle time with the puppy!

Now, off to get my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season….!

Short Ribs with Tomato Sauce

Serves 4

  • 1 lb short ribs
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil
  1. Season short ribs with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large skillet, over high heat, drizzle olive oil and cook each side of the short rib for about 3-4 minutes.  You want the edges to have  a nice golden color before placing in the slow cooker.  This helps seal in the flavors.
  3. Add diced tomatoes and sliced onions to the bottom of the slow cooker.  Top with short ribs.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
  4. Serve with rice, pasta, or a vegetable.  Or enjoy alone.  The meat just falls right off of the bone.  Effortless cooking and effortless eating.

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Zucchini Lasagna… Hold the pasta and hold the cheese!

I bought a 16 oz pack of frozen grass fed 85/15 Angus ground beef from Trader Joe’s last week ($5.99/lb).  I was kind of hesitant about getting frozen beef, but the price was great and it sounded good, so I thought I’d give it a try.  Since I’m pretty sure we’re going to lose power tonight (and for the next few days, thanks to Hurricane Sandy), I decided to whip up dinner with ingredients that I already had in the fridge/freezer.

I’ve never made a traditional lasagna before, but I love eating it.  I’m a huge fan of any layering technique.  It’s awesome because you get a taste of everything in one bite (see picture below!).  Tonight’s dinner was a zucchini lasagna dish.  Lots of layering of the ground beef sauce, slices of zucchini, slices of baby bella mushrooms – and hold the cheese!

Zucchini Lasagna

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of grass fed ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • A few pinches of dried oregano, basil, parsley (optional)
  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • Olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F).
  2. In a skillet over medium to high heat, drizzle olive oil and saute onions and garlic for a few minutes, until onions become translucent.
  3. Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes, or until cooked through.
  4. Add chopped red bell pepper and tomotoes.  Mix well and cook for about 3 minutes.
  5. Pour tomato sauce into the skillet and add a pinch of sea salt, black pepper, and dried herbs.  Stir for an additional 3 minutes.  Set ground beef sauce aside.
  6. In a baking pan, coat the bottom with olive oil.
  7. Scoop the ground beef sauce into the pan and spread to create one layer.
  8. Layer with the sliced zucchini, then add another layer using the sliced mushrooms.
  9. Repeat steps 7 &8 until all ingredients are used up.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 25 minutes.

As you can see from the pics, it’s pretty messy when serving because it doesn’t have any cheese to hold it together.  Doesn’t really matter; it’s all going to the same place anyway, right?  Get in my belly!