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Linguine With Beef Sauce

30 Apr

Pasta. It’s the food that most people have a love-hate relationship with. I’m on the side that pasta is our friend. But like everything else in the food world, eat in moderation and eat the right pasta. You can now buy whole wheat, gluten-free, and even spinach pasta. There are so many options when it comes to pasta that every diet can find their own version of pasta that doesn’t break any rules. I’ve had a lot of posts about pasta. The thing I love about it is the amount of variation you can have with your sauces. I stock my cupboards with linguine, spaghetti, shells, elbows and penne. Always. (I personally like Barilla’s pasta, especially their whole wheat line.) Along with canned tomatoes and the little cans of pasta sauce and tomato paste it’s always easy to whip up some fresh tasting sauce. I found this great picture diagram of the different varieties. What are your go to faves?pasta shapes

So one night I needed to make some dinner and I looked in my fridge and freezer to see what I had. There was some left over ground beef, a few mushrooms, a chunk of onion, chives and half a green  bell pepper. I had spinach too and I thought I would use it but I didn’t. Oh well, no harm done. I paired this with linguine. Hope you enjoy! What do you like in your pasta sauce?

Linguine with Beef Sauce Ingredients, Spinach, Bell Pepper, Canned Diced Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Garlic, Onion, Chives, Ground Beef, Linguine

Linguine with Beef Sauce Ingredients L-R: Spinach (not used), Bell Pepper, Canned Diced Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Garlic, Onion, Chives, Ground Beef, Linguine

LINGUINE WITH BEEF SAUCE (serves 2 or 3)

  • 4 to 6 oz of Linguine (2 oz per serving)
  • 4 to 6 oz of Ground Beef (2 oz per serving)
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Bell Pepper
  • 3 Cremini Mushrooms
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Onion
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes
  • Chopped Chives for Garnish
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

In a large pot boil about 4 quarts of water. While you wait for your water to boil prep your veggies. Slice your bell pepper into thin slices, chop your onion, slice your mushrooms thinly and dice your garlic clove.

Sliced mushrooms, bell peppers and diced onions

Sliced mushrooms, bell peppers and diced onions

In a large saucepan (the one I used worked but I wish I had used a larger one) heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Once it’s hot add in your garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds to a minute. Then add in your chopped onions and sauté for a minute or two. Then add in your bell peppers.

Sauteing your veggies and ground beef together.

Sauteing your veggies and ground beef together.

Push all the veggies to the outer rim of the pan and then add in your ground beef in the center to cook. Once browned reduce the heat to medium and add your mushrooms and combine all veggies and meat together. Cook for another few minutes until the mushrooms are browned.

When your water is boiling add in your linguine (or pasta of choice) and cook for about 6-8 minutes until al dente. Taste a piece for doneness. Be sure to stir the pasta every minute or so so that it doesn’t stick to itself.

Linguine into the pot of boiling water

Linguine into the pot of boiling water

Once your mushrooms are browned open your can of diced tomatoes and add to your sauce pan. Reduce heat to low and add in salt and pepper. (If you want, now is also the time to add any additional seasonings like basil or oregano-dried or fresh.) Stir to combine all ingredients. Let cook over low heat until your pasta is done cooking and you’ve drained it, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add in your diced tomatoes and simmer for a few more minutes.

Add in your diced tomatoes and simmer for a few more minutes.

Serve the pasta sauce over the linguine and garnish with chopped fresh chives. Enjoy with a nice glass of red wine!

Linguine with Beef Sauce ready to eat!

Linguine with Beef Sauce ready to eat!

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Stuffed Portobello Mushroom

28 Feb

As a kid, I hated mushrooms. I mean really, what kid under the age of 12 likes mushrooms? But I don’t think I had a Portobello mushroom till I was in college and it was as a Portobello mushroom burger. It was so good I remember asking myself why I hadn’t had one earlier! So when my cookbook “The Pleasures of Cooking For One” had a recipe for a stuffed Portobello mushroom I just had to make it. It was so delicious and easy that I’ve made it a few times and this time I documented it to share with you. You can make one for yourself, or a little extra stuffing for more guests. And I bet you could do it on a small-scale for a party. Hmmm…now that has me thinking…Anyway, if you skip the meat in the stuffing and use another vegetable or tofu this will also work as a great vegetarian meal. Because I had part of a bell pepper in my fridge I used that as well. It added some great color to the meal. I was also going to sauté some onion, but forgot to once I started cooking. Gah! Anyways, enjoy!

Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Ingredients L-R: Salt & Pepper, Bread Crumbs, Onion, Bell Pepper, Butter, Oregano, Basil, Portobello Mushroom, Ground Beef, Olive Oil

Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Ingredients L-R: Salt & Pepper, Bread Crumbs, Onion, Bell Pepper, Butter, Oregano, Basil, Portobello Mushroom, Ground Beef, Olive Oil

STUFFED PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM (serves 1)

  • 1 Portobello Mushroom
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 Heaping Tbsp Fresh Parsley, Chives, Tarragon or Sage
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp Chopped/Crumbled Meat: Ground Sausage, Ground Beef, Ham, Bacon, Prosciutto (your choice)
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/4 to 1/3 Cup Fresh Breadcrumbs

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. If your meat is uncooked heat a small skillet and add about a teaspoon of olive oil and cook up your meat. Add in your chopped bell pepper and onion as well if you decide to add that them in. When done put into a small bowl and set aside. I have used ground beef or sausage so far as it’s cheaper and I can buy a large amount and use the rest for other meals.

Ground Beef & Bell Pepper

Cooking up the ground beef and chopped bell pepper.

Next, cut off the stem of your mushroom and trim off any tough part. Make sure to wipe off any dirt (especially if you get your mushroom from a farmer’s market).

Portobello Mushroom

The stem is easily torn off from the mushroom cap.

Take the stem and chop into small pieces. Peel and slice your garlic into thin slivers. Use your pairing knife so you have more control in making the slivers. In your same small skillet, melt your butter and sauté the garlic and the mushroom stem pieces for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper and then add in your herb and meat of choices. Turn the heat off and let sit in the pan while you prep your mushroom.

Chopped up Portobello Mushroom Stem

Chopped up Portobello Mushroom Stem

Portobello Mushroom Stem

Cooking up the mushroom stem pieces

Pour about a teaspoon of olive oil on your mushroom cap and rub all over with your fingers. Add more if needed to coat the outside and the inside evenly. Season the mushroom with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish with the cup side up, the side that looks like a grill. I use a small Pyrex dish. Spoon your stuffing into the cup of the mushroom making sure it completely fills the cap. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top to your desired amount.

The mushroom is ready for the oven. The top is the cap filled with the stuffing and the bottom is with the bread crumbs sprinkled on top.

The mushroom is ready for the oven. The top is the cap filled with the stuffing and the bottom is with the bread crumbs sprinkled on top.

Place your baking dish in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. The bread crumbs should be browned and crispy. Remove from oven and enjoy!

Stuffed Portobello Mushroom

My stuffed Portobello mushroom is ready to eat! Yum!

Gourmet Burger and Sweet Potato Fries

14 Nov

I bought a sweet potato, but I wasn’t sure why. I went shopping hungry so I bought a few things only because I was hungry. NEVER go grocery shopping hungry! It was still staring at me on a Sunday morning and I was determined to use it for something. While looking in my freezer I saw the box of gourmet hamburger patties that my friend Mary gave me before she left for Texas (remember the shrimp?) and it hit me-I could make sweet potato fries to go with a yummy burger! It was a nice day so I walked to the store and got my favorite burger fixings: red onion, avocado and mushrooms. I couldn’t wait for dinner!

sweet potatoBURGER AND SWEET POTATO FRIES (serves 1, pick your own toppings)

  • 1 Burger Patty
  • 1 Mushroom
  • A couple slices of a red onion
  • 1/2 Avocado
  • Stone ground Mustard (or condiments of your choice)
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Sweet Potato (unless you want to make enough for two people, or just a lot of fries)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 Burger Bun

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. One half of a medium size sweet potato is enough to make fries for one serving. Or you can make the entire potato. (I saved half for another night and fried them rather than baked them.)

sweet potatoCut up the sweet potato into small strips and spread them evenly on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and cinnamon (if you like). Bake for 20 minutes, turning them over about halfway through.

sweet potato fries

Ready for baking!

sweet potato friesWhile your fries are baking get your burger ready. To cook my burger I used my Lodge grill pan. You can use a BBQ, regular skillet, the oven or even a microwave. Spray your pan with a cooking spray and heat  the pan over medium-high heat. Put your burger in the middle of the pan and cook each side for about 6-7 minutes.

beef burger

Beef burger ready for grilling

Feel free to pick whatever toppings you like. I’m a big fan of sautéed mushrooms, grilled onions and avocado. Slice the mushroom into thin slices and cut up a few slices of onion. Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a small skillet and add in the mushrooms, stirring occasionally. Once they start to turn golden (if you like grilled onions as well), add in your onion slices. Continue to cook until onions are slightly translucent and limp and the mushrooms are a golden brown and have started to curl around the edges. Remove from heat and set aside until your burger is done. Take your avocado half and slice into about 1/4 inch slices.

Mushrooms and Onions

Mushrooms and Onions ready for sauteing.

sweet potato fries

Sweet potato fries halfway done.

To toast or not to toast your bun is completely up to you. I threw mine on my grill pan for about 30 seconds to get it warm. Then I spread some stone ground mustard on both halves. When the burger is done place on the bottom half and top with the sautéed mushrooms and onions.

Gourmet Burger

Beef Burger topped with sauteed mushrooms, grilled onions and fresh avocado.

Beef Burger topped with sautéed mushrooms, grilled onions and fresh avocado.

Top with your avocado slices and the top half of the bun. Your fries should be done right about now. Grab your favorite dipping sauce (I chose barbecue sauce) and enjoy!

Gourmet Burger with Sweet Potato Fries

Gourmet Burger with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Grilled Sirloin Steak with Pepper and Caper Salsa

1 Aug Grilled Sirloin Steak

When my dad brought down his copy of “Weeknights With Giada” last year some of the recipes I wanted to try were her grilled steak recipes. Unfortunately it’s hard to grill without a grill, so I knew I had to wait. And wait. But when I finally bought my Lodge Grill earlier this year I knew I could finally grill some steak! And grill I did! And I invited friends Susan and Val over to enjoy the beautiful dinner. And some Doctor Who. And then they got me hooked on Sherlock. (By the way, you should all watch “Sherlock”. Right now.) There was also wine. And ice cream sandwiches. All in all, it was a great night of food, friends and British TV.

Grilled Sirloin Steak & Pepper and Caper Salsa Ingredients L-R: Salt & Pepper, Roasted Bell Peppers, Cilantro, Capers, Herbes de Provence, Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, Sirloin Steak

Grilled Sirloin Steak & Pepper and Caper Salsa Ingredients L-R: Salt & Pepper, Roasted Bell Peppers, Cilantro, Capers, Herbes de Provence, Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, Sirloin Steak

GRILLED SIRLOIN STEAK with ROASTED PEPPER & CAPER SALSA (serves 3)

  • 3 8-ounce boneless sirloin steaks or one 1.5 pound steak, about one inch thick
  • 1 Tsp Kosher or Smoked Salt
  • 1 Tsp Herbes de Provence
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil plus more for drizzling
  • 3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Capers
  • 2 Tbsp Parsley Leaves
  • 1/2 Tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Roasted Red Pepper
  • 1/2 Roasted Yellow or Orange Pepper (you can also buy jars of roasted bell peppers, use about half a cup)
Roasting a yellow and red bell pepper.

Roasting a yellow and red bell pepper.

I chose to roast my own peppers, mostly because it was cheaper than buying a couple jars and because I had the time (takes about half an hour or so). Since I don’t have a grill I used my stove top, much like my mom did with her eggplant for the babaganoush/hummus. Just set your burner to low and place your peppers over the flame. As the skin burns turn the peppers. Continue until the entire pepper is black. Remove and place in a paper bag or wrap in foil to let all the juices soak in and make the peeling of the burned skin easier.

Roasted Bell Pepper & Caper Salsa

Roasted Bell Pepper & Caper Salsa

While you’re letting your peppers sweat, marinate your steak(s) with the herbes de provence, one teaspoon of kosher salt and drizzle with olive oil. Heat your grill over medium high heat (or heat up your gas or charcoal grill) and once it’s hot grill your steaks for 4 to 6 minutes on each side for medium-rare, longer if you like your meat not so bloody. I cooked mine for about 7 to 8 minutes on each side. Remove from grill to a plate or cutting board and let rest for about 5 minutes to allow the steaks to finish cooking.

Grilled Sirloin SteakWhile your steaks are grilling work on the salsa (just watch the clock too so your steaks don’t become over cooked!). First peel the burnt skin off your roasted peppers. The peppers will be very soft and slippery and should be relatively easy to peel away. Cut each pepper in half and save one half of each in a tupperware for another day and slice the other halves into thin slices, about 1/4″ thick. Add to a small mixing bowl along with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup capers (be sure to drain and rinse from jar), about 2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Stir together until peppers are well coated.

kale salad

The kale salad by my roommate. Had carrots, cranberries and cashews.

Grilled Sirloin Steak

Grilled Sirloin Steak ready for serving. I’m drooling already

Once steaks have rested, slice thinly, about 1/4″-1/2″, and top with the salsa, enough to have some with each bite. I served the steak with a kale salad that my roommate had left before she went on a trip the day before. You can also serve with a potato dish, corn on the cob, grilled zucchini, or anything else your heart desires. Val brought a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Trader Joe’s and it was perfect with the steak. She also brought mini ice cream sandwiches. Eating those was real torture 😉 So until next time foodies….

Grilled Sirloin Steak

Dinner is served!

Spaghetti and Beef Meatballs

18 Feb

Meatballs. Such a simple and basic pasta topping and yet it’s something that we don’t make that often in our own kitchens. This certainly was a first for me! It was a cold Saturday evening (remember that cold snap that Los Angeles had?) and I didn’t want to leave the apartment so I was looking through my freezer and cupboards and found about 1/3 pound of ground beef. I didn’t want to just make a meat sauce so I popped open my cookbook Weeknights With Giada and found a super easy meatball recipe! Her recipe was for mini meatball sandwiches, but I just made the meatballs. I didn’t have the corn flakes or the romano cheese but I did have breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, so I substituted them. Don’t be afraid to use substitutions if you don’t have something. You’ll also find my recipe for homemade tomato pasta sauce. This was a super fun and super easy recipe and I highly recommend it, especially if you have kids as they can make it with you.

Meatball Ingredients from L-R: Ketchup, Parmesan, Olive Oil, Egg, Breadcrumbs, Salt and Pepper, Ground Beef, Oregano

Meatball Ingredients from L-R: Ketchup, Parmesan, Olive Oil, Egg, Breadcrumbs, Salt and Pepper, Ground Beef, Oregano

GIADA’S MEATBALLS (makes about 12-16 meatballs)

  • 1/4 Cup Finely Crushed Corn Flakes (I used breadcrumbs)
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped fresh Flat Leaf Parsley Leaves (I used Oregano since I had no parsley)
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp Grated Romano Cheese (I used Parmesan)
  • 1/4 Tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 8 oz. Ground Beef

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Set aside a cookie sheet and line with a parchment paper if it’s not non-stick. In a medium bowl stir together your corn flakes/breadcrumbs, parsley, egg, oil, ketchup, cheese, salt and pepper. Add in your ground beef and mix to combine. I used my fingers rather than a spoon to mix in the beef. Once thoroughly mixed, roll into balls about one inch in diameter and place on cookie sheet evenly spaced apart. They should all fit on one cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Meatball Ingredients

Meatball Ingredients

Meatball Ingredients all mixed together

Meatball Ingredients all mixed together

Mixing the meatball mixture by hand

Mixing the meatball mixture by hand

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Fresh from the oven and still sizzling!

Fresh from the oven and still sizzling!

HOMEMADE PASTA SAUCE

  • 1 Can of Diced Tomatoes (14 oz)
  • 1 Can of Tomato Sauce (8 oz)
  • 1 Tbsp (about) Dried Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp (about) Dried Parsley or Fresh Parsley chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste

While your meatballs are cooking work on your spaghetti and pasta sauce. Put a pot of water on to boil for your pasta. In another medium pot on low heat combine all your ingredients, stirring occasionally. Once your water is boiling add in your pasta (2 oz. for each serving) and cook for about 7 minutes. Let your pasta sauce cook for at least 15 minutes on low heat so that all the flavors are absorbed. I keep mine on the heat until I’m ready to eat. Once your pasta and meatballs are done, serve your pasta with about 4 meatballs and a scoop of hot sauce. Top with fresh cheese and enjoy! I paired it with a delicious red wine I got at a Christmas party gift exchange, Poggiotondo Rosso Toscana 2010. It’s a red blend and while I normally don’t like blends, this one was quite good and I’d readily buy it again.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs

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