Author Archives: Stacey

Pasta Pomodori

Pasta Pomodori by Pastarella

Pasta Pomodori by Pastarella

Inspired by Patti’s Pasta Con Pomodori al Forno, I tried my hand at a fast and dirty, albeit stripped down version tonight after a long day at work. I had a half pint of cherry tomatoes I needed to use up tonight, along with some leftover pasta sauce and meatballs.

Don’t you just love kitchen sink dishes? Nothing makes me happier than utilising the food in my pantry and fridge instead of eating out or stopping by the store on the way home for a whole new set of ingredients just to make one dinner for two.

This was one of those dishes where I had everything I wanted to use pretty much ready to go. I prepped the tomatoes for roasting in some olive oil with seasonings and popped those in the oven while I got my pot of water heating to boil on the stove while setting out the leftover tomato sauce with meatballs to reheat on another burner.

Dinner couldn’t have been easy and fast enough to cook and assemble. While everything was cooking nicely, I broke up half a whole wheat English muffin and stuffed it in my Magic Bullet for lovely and moist breadcrumbs to toss with the pasta and sauce in a bowl right before plating and topping with the roasted cherry tomatoes, some fresh cracks of pepper and fresh Parmesan cheese.

Try my version for a quick meal during the week, and or try Patti’s version on the weekend when you have more time to find all of the ingredients she uses and make it at your own leisure. I’m sure you’ll find both to be equally flavourful and satisfying.

Dry spaghetti
Premade pasta sauce of choice (I use homemade Marcella Hazan’s butter based tomato sauce)
Meatballs of choice (I had some turkey version from the grocery store to use up)
1/2 – 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1 tbsp or more olive oil
S&P to taste
1/4 C breadcrumbs (unseasoned)

Cut all the tomatoes in half and dump into a bowl along with S&P and Italian seasoning. Toss to coat well. Drop on a sheet or in a pan to cook under the broiler for a few minutes, or on the middle rack at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Start boiling water for the pasta while heating up the pasta sauce with meatballs in the same pot till the sauce begins to slowly boil and the meatballs are heated all the way through. Set aside off the stove if it finishes before the pasta. Drain the pasta and dump it into a large pot with the sauce and meatballs. Toss the breadcrumbs on top and toss everything together well with a pair of thongs.

Plate the pasta and sauce and top with the roasted cherry tomatoes and a few meatballs on top of each bowlful. Serve with a few cracks of fresh pepper and some shavings of fresh Parmesan cheese if desired.


Reworking Ideas – Pappardelle

Sometimes what you envision in your head doesn’t always work out in the final version. Sometimes you need to go back to the drawing board, and sometimes you just need to tweak the great idea you started with. That’s where I am with these pappardelle noodles.

I made them wide and long. I thought that was best. What I didn’t think was how it was going to be eaten, in practical terms. I cooked my first test batch last night and realised there was no way to twirl the long noodles on a fork. None at all. Trust me, I tried!

And for the first time my husband’s suggestion that I wear a white tea towel tucked into the front of my shirt as I ate didn’t offend me. It actually came in quite handy. Instead of stain removing tomato sauce from my laundry tonight, I was able to take the remaining noodles and break them up before I dropped them in the pot. This helped. A lot. I still needed to use the side of my fork to break down large chunks of noodle, but none of it found its way to my clothing. Win!

Plated pappardelle noodles in sauce, topped with fresh pepper and Parmesan shavings.

Plated pappardelli noodles in sauce, topped with fresh pepper and Parmesan shavings.

Anyway, this is the before and after of my pappardelle. I didn’t make anything fancy for this one because it was more about the noodle than the sauce tonight. It still turned out quite tasty, though. You can’t go wrong with a basic Marcella Hazan tomato sauce. You really can’t. All you have to do it top it with fresh pepper and shavings of Parmesan cheese, and you’ll be all set to feast.

Gone, without a trace.

Gone, without a trace.

Gorgeous Pumpkin Ice Cream

Gorgeous Homemade Pumpkin Ice Cream

Gorgeous Homemade Pumpkin Ice Cream

2 eggs, beaten
1 C canned pumpkin puree (or pumpkin pie filling)
1 C packed brown sugar (if not using pie filling)
2 tsp pumpkin spices (if not using pie filling)
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 C evaporated milk
2 C heavy cream (at least 18%, 35% if you can score it)

In mixer, lightly beat eggs before adding pie filling or puree, sugar, spices, salt and milk. Mix thoroughly in mixer.

Transfer to sauce pan and heat to a gentle boil. Remove from heat and sit sauce pan in bowl filled with cold water or ice to cool down for ten minutes. Stir in heavy cream when mixture isn’t hot anymore. If you don’t wait, the cream will curdle.

Put cooled mixture in fridge to chill for at least an hour. When ready, set up ice cream maker and turn it on. Pour the mixture into the machine according to instructions and let it freeze from 20 to 40 minutes (depending upon how heavy the cream you use is).

Transfer the mix into a freezer safe container with lid and freeze at least a half hour before serving for softer serve ice cream all the way up to 2 hours to let it set and get that nice hard yet creamy texture shown in this photo.


Pumpkin Pie Empanadas

I love dessert empanadas. I’m all over the apple ones from Taco Bell, but some of the ingredients don’t agree with me, I save buying one for when I’m really jonsing for a fix. Probably this time last year DH asked me why I don’t make my own at home. His reasoning is I couldn’t be that hard. It looked like pie dough with apple pie filling, deep fried.

I’ve been sitting on this recipe idea for far too long. At first I was looking to duplicate it with my own apple pie filling, and then I wanted to do some pears in preserve juices, but neither of those ideas got made because of the preservatives that would have come with the fruit. This is the ingredient part my body has a problem with.

Along comes Autumn thoughts and recipe ideas, and it hit me a few days ago as I looked at some leftover pie filling I had sitting in my fridge. Of course! Eureka! A plan was hatched. I knew what I wanted, but not how to get it, so I worked it out in my brain for a whole… maybe 30 seconds? Not sure. I lose track of time when I’m recipe formulating in my head. {Ahem}

Pumpkin Pie Empanada

Pumpkin Pie Empanada

This is what I came up with: Pumpkin Pie Empanadas. Radical, huh?

Well, I thought so anyway.

1/8C pumpkin pie filling (already mixed with egg and condensed milk)
Store bought pie filling
(defrosted then brought up to room temperature and rolled out)
Large round biscuit cutter
Chinese Dumpling former
(optional but well worth $10 at most grocery stores)
(a small handful to throw on a work surface)

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Note: You can bake these at 400 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes if you like. I used a longer, cooler bake to ensure even cooking of the dough and filling as I was finding my legs with this recipe idea. Consequently, you can also deep fry the empanadas if you’re into that. make sure your oil is heated to roughly 375 degrees or higher and drop them in for about 6-8 minutes to start with. I’m not a fan of deep fried foods, but if you are, have at it!

Drop flour onto a work area and roll out the pie dough and careful cut the dough into large circles, butting the cut marks against each other to maximize the dough. Ball up any extra and roll out again till you end up with a dozen rounds.

Using a dumpling former, place the dough on the edges and drop about 1/2 – 3/4 of a teaspoon of the pie filling in the center. Carefully bring the handles of the former together and squeeze crimp the dough to seal the half moon empanada.

Place them on a Silpat or parchment paper and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Be careful in the last three minutes. The dough burns easily.

Drizzle the tops with this lovely icing courtesy of Ice Queen:

2 tbsp Half & Half cream
2 C + 3 tbsp icing sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
small pinch of ground ginger

Mix up well, place in a plastic baggy, clip of one corner to create a small hole, and start piping on top of your pastries.

Oh, and enjoy. Mange!