Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pasta Carbonara

I came home this evening wanting to set the mood of a special occasion. Not because there is anything to celebrate. I simply had my fair share of simple meals. The last couple of weeks (if you haven't noticed) I have been cooking very simple dinners.  That's not to say they came from a box. They were more like -salmon, broccoli, and baked potato - kind of meals. Now before I go on, let me mention that there is NOTHING wrong with simple meals. I applaud people who take the time to make any meal at all, let alone one that doesn't come right out of a box. If it's simple, and you like it, you've accomplished something great! After all, food should be fun, EASY, and positively delicious.

As I thought of my meal plan for the week, I thought to myself - what better ingredient than bacon to make a night special? So there you have it. I created a meal which I'm sure most of you have heard of, with some bacon, peas, mushrooms, and sauteed onions. I guarantee, you will love this. It offers enough ingredients that it's not your average pasta dish. It isn't boring.

8 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
2 cups peas, fresh or frozen and thawed
1 small red onion, diced
6 oz fresh mushrooms (optional)
2 tbs butter
3 cloves garlic, pressed/smashed
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup half and half cream
1 pint whipping cream
1 lb pasta
1 tsp olive oil
crushed black pepper

Please note the small size

"I'm ready for my closeup Mr. Demille
1. Drizzle olive oil in a hot pan and toss in the bacon. Sautée bacon until it is crisp
2. Remove all the bacon from the pan, place it on a small plate, and toss in the onions and mushrooms. Sautée until mushrooms are golden brown and the onions are translucent then remove and place onto a separate plate
3. Bring a large pot of water filled 3/4 of the way to a boil. Once boiling, drizzle a bit of olive oil in the water and add pasta along a large pinch of salt
4. Drain the remaining bacon grease out of the pan, but use it to make an Alfredo Sauce by bringing bringing the butter, half-and-half, whipping cream, parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper to a simmer. The taste of the bacon will be hinted throughout the sauce
5. Once the pasta is al dente drain it in a strainer and serve it on a pasta plate
6. Pour a desired amount of sauce over pasta and top with the onions, bacon and peas. Give pasta a light toss and serve hot

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Lentil Soup

I travel about about once a month for 4-day-long periods. When I return, I guarantee there is nothing I want more than a meal I don't feel gross about after eating it. You know what I'm talking about. There's always that meal that you crave, you swear that it will make your day and give you a beautiful feeling that will make you sing till the end of time. And then you digest your food and wonder "why, why did I let myself eat all that...again?"  Imagine doing that for FOUR DAYS STRAIGHT. As I'm sure many of you know, there aren't many healthy options on the road. And even if you find them, that's the last thing you want after working all day. You're alone for crying out loud! You need something to distract from the fact that you're hundreds of miles away from home! So why not get that one dish at that one restaurant that you NEVER go to or eat.
But I get home and think, "Hmm, I could for something fresh, delicious, and that requires me to be in the kitchen for a little bit" (Yes I know, I sound crazy to most of you).  After returning this past trip, I decided to make lentil soup. It was a great decision and I'm certain it will be the first recipe (for many of you) that includes chard. Don't be afraid of this multicolored beauty. It's jam-packed with nutrients and offers a unique taste to switch things up. It's delicious in soups and sautéed. So take down some notes and try this new fun, easy, and positively delicious soup...Just look at the ingredients for crying out loud! It's also very wallet-friendly!

1 bunch chard, washed and chopped into 1 inch or bite-size pieces (red or green will do)
1 onion, diced
1 bag dried lentils
juice of 1 1/2 lemons
2 cloves garlic, pressed
extra virgin olive oil
black pepper
8 cups water
(Chard) --Isn't it beautiful?!

1.Drizzle olive oil in a deep pot and toss in garlic, and onions. Sautée on medium high until onions are translucent
2. Add chard and stir repeatedly, allowing it to soak up the flavors
3. Add lentils along with the rest of the ingredients tot he pot.
4. Lower heat to medium and put the lid over the soup while it cooks for about a half hour
5. Taste check to see if the lentils are cooked enough. If not, let it cook for a little longer while checking it every few minutes to make sure they don't get mushy. Feel free to add more water if you don't prefer a thicker consistency.
6. Serve hot and enjoy!