Tomato Basil Pasta

Tomato Basil Pasta - Missalaneyus

When I was a kid, we would go out for Italian as a family whenever we were out of town. Often, my parents would get the tomato basil pasta. (Like every time)

So, in honor of tomato season, I decided to try my hand at my own version.

With peak season ingredients, the sauce doesn’t need much more than tomatoes, garlic  and shallot.

Ready in around 20 minutes, make this one tonight.

Tomato Basil Pasta - Missalaneyus

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Cacio e Pepe Risotto

risotto

This recipe combines two of my favorite things – risotto and cacio e pepe. For the unintiated, cacio e pepe has the most lovely, simple flavors. Nutty cheese and lots of freshly cracked black pepper are dynamic against simple pasta. Those ingredients have the same effect on this risotto.

cacio-e-pepe

Make it this weekend for someone you love (like maybe your mom, hint. hint.).

Cacio e Pepe Risotto
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 c. chicken broth
3 tbsp. butter
1/2 an onion, finely diced
1 1/2 c. arborio rice
1/2 c. dry wine
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly cracked pepper
1/4 c. and 2 tbsp. parmigiano reggiano
2 tbsp. pecorino

Directions:
Bring the broth to a simmer in a medium-sized saucepan.

In a separate large pot, melt the butter over medium low heat. Once melted, add the onion. Sautée for 10 minutes or until soft. You may need to turn down the heat to keep it from burning. You’re looking for a golden color.

Then, add the arborio rice. Toast it for a minute or two. Then, pour in the wine. When it evaporates, add in a half cup of the broth. Stir until it is incorporated. Once, it’s bubbled away, repeat. Continue until all of the broth is added.

When the risotto is tender, remove the pot from the heat. Add the cheese, butter, salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Stir until incorporated. Taste and adjust. Serve immediately.

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Smoky Chickpeas with Asparagus and Eggs

eggs

Before Ellie, I used to eat a lot of eggs. Scrambled, fried and poached, they’ve always been a go-to weeknight meal of mine. Even though she likes them as much as I do, I’d sort of forgotten how lovely they are for dinner. So, one evening, I decided to rework a Smitten Kitchen recipe using some new components and an egg. Asparagus was strewn across lemony yogurt, while smoky chickpeas and creamy yolks added depth. It tasted like spring, and I had two servings.

broken-yolk

Now, don’t be fooled by the four components or complex flavors, because this dinner is dead simple to make. I know it looks and sounds super fancy, but rest assured, it’s not.

chickpeas

The whole thing takes about 30 minutes to make from start to finish – and yes, my toddler loved it. (Don’t kill me.)

Whether you’re making dinner for your family or enjoying a quiet evening on your own, make this soon. You won’t be disappointed.

Smoky Chickpeas with Asparagus and Eggs
Serves 2

Ingredients:
15 oz. can chickpeas
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
3 tbsp. and 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided.
1/4 c. Greek yogurt
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 eggs
1 bunch asparagus
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Then, rinse the chickpeas and dry them thoroughly. In a separate bowl, whisk together the spices with salt and pepper. Toss the chickpeas in the spice mixture along with 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil. Spread them onto the lined baking sheet. When the oven is ready, roast for 20 minutes.

While the chickpeas are working, whisk together 1/4 c. Greek yogurt with 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Adjust as needed. Then, set aside.

Now, snap the ends off the asparagus. Place them on a baking sheet. Toss with 1 tbsp. olive oil and salt and pepper.

When the chickpeas have roasted 10 minutes, give them a shake and add the asparagus to the oven.

Now, heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and add 1 tsp. of extra virgin olive oil. Add in two cracked eggs. Sprinkle each with a little salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Cook for about 6 minutes or until the white is set and the yolk is still runny.

To plate the dish, paint a bit of yogurt on to the plate. Then, add some asparagus. Sprinkle with roasted chickpeas and layer an egg on top. Enjoy!

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Fast Food: Vegged Out Sloppy Joes & Potatoes

When Keegan is away, I like to make all the vegetables he doesn’t like. Do you do that too? I’m always sad to see him go, but manage to console myself with mushrooms* and tomatoes.

Some of his least favorite foods are ones that both Ellie and I like a lot. In particular, they are red peppers and tomatoes.

sloppy-joes-fries

In honor of our girls’ night, I decided to doctor up my usual turkey sloppy joe recipe with veggies. Because after a weekend of gluttony, I’m always trying to get more vegetables in both of our diets.

veg-sloppy-joes

Ready in around 30 minutes, ground turkey sloppy joes are spiked with carrots, red bell pepper and diced tomatoes. I served ours with roasted potato wedges, which were quickly gobbled up by both of us.

If you decide to try this out, I have two tips. I’d recommend that you start with the potatoes and then, chop the veggies for your sloppy joes before you even turn on the stove.

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Roasted Potatoes
Ingredients:
2 red potatoes per person
1-2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut the potatoes in half vertically. Then, cut each half into three wedges. Place on a baking sheet. Toss with the oil, salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Roast for 15 minutes. Then, turn and cook for another 15 or until tender.

Vegged Out Sloppy Joes
Serves 2 1/2

Ingredients:
2 1/2 whole wheat buns
2 tbsp. onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, chopped into bite size pieces
1/4 c. red bell pepper, chopped into bite size pieces
1/3 lb. ground turkey
1/2 c. canned diced tomatoes (with juices)
1/2 c. canned tomato sauce
1 tsp. brown sugar
3 shakes Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. yellow mustard
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:
Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft. Now, add the peppers and carrot (These should be bite size pieces.). Cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Remove and set aside in a bowl. Add the ground turkey to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and cook until browned. Put the veggies back in the pan. Add the diced tomatoes and sauce. Then, season with mustard, brown sugar, red wine vinegar, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until reduced (about 7 minutes). Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. I added a touch more brown sugar to ours. Serve on whole wheat buns.

*Full Disclaimer: Ellie used to eat mushrooms, but is now a little wary of them. I’m doing my best to pretend it isn’t happening, because I love them so much. It’s not really working.

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Fast Food: Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes and White Beans

pork-chops-sauce

Pork chops should be your kitchen secret. Serving them for a weeknight dinner looks very impressive, but they take about 15 minutes to make. That’s it.

I won’t tell if you won’t, okay?

pork-chops-sweet-potatoes

To complete the pork chops, I made a quick pan sauce with white wine, but you could easily use chicken broth instead, if that’s not your thing.  You could probably stop right there and serve this with some frozen veg or a salad, and the people around you would call you a queen.

sweet-potatoes

But, if I can, I’d like to recommend making the easiest sweet potato and cannellini sautée. It is so good, I was sneaking leftover bites out of the pan as I was “doing the dishes” – dipping each bite in the remnants of the sauce. Very glamorous things happen in my kitchen.

Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes and White Beans
Serves 2 1/2

Ingredients:
2 bone-in pork chops
3 garlic cloves
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 c. minced shallots, divided
2 c. sweet potatoes, cubed
1, 15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Fresh thyme (1 tsp. thyme, plus one sprig)
1 c. vegetable broth
1/2 c. white wine or chicken broth
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
Salt
Freshly cracked pepper

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Begin by making the side dish. Heat 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add 2 tbsp. shallots and sautee for 3 minutes or until translucent. When cooked through, add the sweet potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, cover and cook for 5 minutes.

In a separate, oven safe pan, heat the remaining 2 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil to begin making the main course. Season the pork chops on both sides. Add them to the pan when the oil is hot, along with the three garlic cloves. Brown on each side (about 3 minutes per side).

While the pork chops are browning, uncover the sweet potatoes and add the beans, along with 1 c. vegetable broth. Place a sprig of thyme in the pan. Then, put the lid back on and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender.

When the pork chops are golden on both sides, put them in the oven. Cook for 10 minutes. Then, remove them from the pan, set them aside and cover them with foil.

Check on your beans and sweet potatoes. When the sweet potatoes are cooked through, season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.

To make the pan sauce, heat the pan the pork chops were in over medium low heat. Add the remaining 2 tbsp. of finely minced shallots to it. Cook until translucent. Add 1/2 c. wine or chicken broth to the pan. Let it bubble up and reduce a bit. Whisk in the mustard to thicken the sauce. Then, off the heat, add in the butter and 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme.

To serve, add some of the bean mixture to each plate. Top it with a pork chop and then, drizzle the sauce on top.

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Mac and Cheese with Peas and Pancetta

overview-mac

I made this macaroni and cheese a few weeks ago with the intention of sharing it with you. Unfortunately right before I wrote this post, I was convinced I had lost the recipe. I was in a panic. “What was the secret ingredient? Could I recreate it?”

Keegan thought I should make it again to retrace my steps.

(He’s very crafty.)

Lucky for both of us (but not Keegan), I was able to find it.

eating-mac

Now, you can make it for your family (or yourself). But, be warned. Everyone will want you to make it more than once. Because of the pancetta. And the cheese.

I used the famous Martha Stewart recipe as a guide, but added some of my favorite flavor combinations. Crispy pancetta is accented with sweet peas. Garlic and butter punch up bread crumbs, while smoked paprika pulls it all together in the background.

Mac and Cheese with Pancetta and Peas
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
1/8 tsp. minced or finely grated garlic
3 tbsp. butter, divided
3 c. baguette, cubed
2 3/4 c. whole milk
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. smoked paprika
1 3/4 c. cheddar, grated (divided)
1 c. gruyere, grated (divided)
1/2 c. Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (divided)
1/2 lb. whole wheat macaroni
1/4 c. frozen peas
4 oz. pancetta chopped
1 tbsp. extra virgin oil
Freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F and spray a 9×9, glass casserole dish.

2. Make the breadcrumbs. Next, add the cubed baguette to a medium bowl. In a small, microwave safe bowl, melt 1 tbsp. of butter with the garlic. Do this is in short 5 second bursts. It won’t take long at all. Then, pour the garlic butter over the bread and add the parsley. Stir until evenly combined. Set aside.

3. Boil the pasta. In large pan, bring water to a boil. When ready, add the macaroni and cook until just tender. Drain and set aside. It should have a little bite to it, because it will continue to cook a bit in the oven.

4. Make the cheese sauce, while the noodles are cooking. In a separate pan, heat the milk. The goal is to warm it, so keep the heat low. You do not want to scald the milk.

While the milk is warming, heat 1 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil in a separate sauce pan. When hot, add the pancetta, stirring occasionally. Once crisp, remove and drain on paper towels. To the same pan, add 2 tbsp. of butter. When it bubbles, whisk in the flour. Cook for a minute and then, slowly whisk in the milk.

Once thickened, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in 1 1/2 c. cheddar, 3/4 c. gruyere and 1/4 c. Parmigiano Reggiano until smooth. Add the smoked paprika and freshly cracked black pepper.

5. Assemble the mac and cheese. Gently mix the pasta, cheese sauce, frozen peas and pancetta together until incorporated. Then, pour the mixture into a dish and spread evenly. Top evenly with 1/4 of each of the cheeses. Next, top with the breadcrumbs. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

mac-cheese-croutons

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Roast Chicken with Sausage & Potatoes

potatoes-chicken

At our house, Sunday dinner is usually something special. If we’ve been in town, I try to spend a little more time in the kitchen and actually set the table. Candles are lit, cloth napkins are added and sometimes, I open a bottle of wine.

family-dinner A few Sundays ago, I remade a dish by Nigella Lawson that was a forgotten favorite. Chicken thighs are baked alongside chorizo and potatoes. Spiked with red onion, orange zest and dried oregano, the flavors are really special. But, that particular night, I had to swap out the chorizo. I used smoked sausage instead, and it was still really good. The whole thing had me wondering which other changes I could make. 

In my version, I used a very similar cooking method, but traded chicken sausages for chorizo, added lemon zest instead orange and sprinkled thyme and rosemary in the place of oregano. The result was really, really good, and deceptively simple. Comforting, warm and a hit with my family, I have a feeling this may become a new Sunday tradition.

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Fast Food: Pancetta, Peas and Asparagus Pasta

penne-pasta

Few things are better than pancetta. That is a fact. The smallest amount can add incredible depth of flavor to a simple weeknight meal.  When it’s tossed with seasonal, fresh vegetables and whole wheat pasta, it makes good for you ingredients surprisingly addicting.

Ready to impress your family? Grate a hard boiled egg over the whole thing and add a little luxury to your Tuesday night. You won’t be disappointed.

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Fast Food: Lemon Garlic Chicken with Asparagus & Strawberries

lemon-garlic-chicken

This is spring on a plate, and it can be on your table in about 30. (And, it’s healthy.) Boom, boom, boom.

The chicken is marinated quickly in lemon juice and zest, along with a little garlic and extra virgin olive oil. Then, it’s thrown on the grill for less than 15 minutes. Asparagus seasoned with parm and crushed red pepper flake is a quick and delicious accompaniment. Strawberries spiked with a little sugar and lemon juice let you forget they’re not quite in season. Make it for dinner this week to remind yourself spring is here.

asparagus-strawberries

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