March 23, 2009

Puttanesca Sauce... *my way*



This has to be my most favorite tomato based pasta sauce. I use it on everything from linguine and penne pasta to lasagna and stuffed manicotti. In my next post, I'll show you how *I* make stuffed manicotti using this sauce... but for now, we'll stay focused on the sauce itself.

Puttanesca Sauce gets it's name from the Neopolitan prostitutes who are said to have created the dish "Pasta alla puttanesca." The word puttanesca is derived from puttana, a colloquial term for 'prostitute.' There are several variations of the story on how these women began making this dish. It's been said that the women were always short on time and this dish was both quickly put together and with things most Italians would have on hand in their larder on any given day. Another story suggests that the sauce's fragrance would entice "customers" to come to the brothel.... come for the food, stay for the entertainment, so to speak. Yet another story claims that the sauce was a way for the women to "cover up" the odors of their work... since this sauce tends to be a rather fragrant one.

Regardless of how it got it's name or why the dish was first created... all I can say is that I am so very glad it was. It's simple and and incredibly flavorful. Not often can such a small amount of work put forth something so very delicious. I urge you to try making this at home for yourself sometime and see what I mean. And don't let the anchovies scare you! They have add a wonderful depth to the overall flavor of this sauce, you honestly can't tell there is fish in it.

Ingredients:
1 28-oz. canned whole tomatoes, drained (I like Muir Glen best)
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 anchovy fillets, chopped
1 cup kalamata olives
1 cup green olives
1/3 cup capers, drained and rinsed
1- 1.5 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Handful of chopped fresh basil or Italian parsley

Method:
Heat olive oil with garlic and anchovies in a skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is lightly golden.

Add the drained tomatoes to the skillet and crush with a fork.

Raise heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, about 10 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste, olives, capers, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste and continue to simmer until your pasta is ready.

Serve immediately over pasta of your choice with a sprinkle of chopped basil or parsley for garnish.

This recipe is enough for 1 pound of pasta, 3-6 servings.

Kitchen Notes:
My recipe calls for more anchovy than most recipes of this volume. I like the flavor they add... but if you don't want to taste anchovy at all, cut the amount used back to 4 fillets.

I use more olives than most recipes and use both black and green along with the capers. If you would rather use all kalamata, feel free. Also, you could use half the amount I use and still have quite a few.

I like my sauce rather spicy... if you want a milder sauce, use a 1/2 teaspoon of the red pepper flakes.

I also like a good handful of freshly grated Parmesan added over top of my plated dish, though I'm told that is not traditional. The whole fish and cheese don't mix thing. Eh.. I never said I was traditional ;)

 Spaghetti alla puttanesca

March 15, 2009

Pomegranate Glazed Pork Chops



A few days ago I received a case of POM Wonderful to try and after drinking a couple of glasses of the jewel toned juice on it's own, I decided it would pair perfectly with the pork chops I had sitting in my refrigerator. What I came up with isn't fancy or fussy to make... but it turned out absolutely delicious and will definitely become a regular dish at our house. The Honey and the kids loved them! And it was so simple that it would make a great weeknight dinner too.



Ingredients:
4-6 Boneless Pork Chops
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
8 oz 100% Pomegranate Juice
Juice and Zest of 1 Orange
2 Cloves Chopped Garlic
1/2 Tablespoon Ground Rosemary
3-4 Tablespoons Brown Sugar (How sweet do you want it? Use less or more to taste)
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Method:
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add pork chops and brown well on both sides. Add pomegranate juice, orange juice and zest, garlic, rosemary, and brown sugar to skillet and stir to combine. Lower heat to medium and allow pork chops to simmer until the sauce has reduced and thickened and the pork chops are cooked throughly (160-170*F) This should take no longer than 30 minutes. Serve pork chops immediately with a drizzle of sauce. Serves 4-6

Amazing Taste Winners!



Here's what the winners had to say:

#6 Lo said...
What an interesting flavor combo! You've got me craving steak.
I'd try the cajun seasoning to blacket catfish for fish tacos... hope it's HOT!!


and

#37 Elisa said...
wow, this looks absolutely fantastic!
I love fajitas, so I wouldn't mind trying their Fajita Mix on the chicken the next time...


You two have won! I will be contacting you shortly to get your mailing information! Congrats and enjoy!

Thanks to all who entered... come back again soon for another great giveaway!

March 9, 2009

*Giveaway* Steak with Shrimp and Creamy Parmesan



A couple of weeks ago, the lovely folks at Amazing Taste sent me a package of their seasoning packets to try out. One of my favorite things about these seasonings is that they are designed to bring out the best in some of the more economical cuts of meat. I used the "Steakhouse" blend to flavor the steak I used in this recipe and it turned out tender, juicy and delicious! Amazing Taste's seasonings are all natural and contain no MSG, which is another thing to love. For the shrimp, I used Amazing Taste's "Malibu" blend with a little added all purpose "Cajun" seasoning mix to kick up the spiciness a bit more. For this recipe we like our shrimp extra spicy. I tasted several of the shrimp before adding the Cajun seasoning and they were delicious. In fact, the shrimp I served to my children used only the Malibu seasoning and they gobbled it up! I really loved these seasoning mixes and I think you will too.



The cheese sauce was a lovely addition as well. It balanced out the spicy shrimp nicely and just gave this dish a wonderful something extra.

Steak with Shrimp and Creamy Parmesan
Ingredients:

For the steak:
4 Steaks of your choice.
1 packet "Steakhouse Blend" or any steak/grill seasoning.

For the shrimp:
1 Pound peeled and deveined cooked shrimp, thawed if frozen.
1 Tablespoon olive oil.
1 packet "Malibu Blend" or any spicy seafood seasoning you like.

For the Creamy Parmesan:
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup (4 ounces) fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Salt/pepper to taste
Fresh chopped parsley

Method:

Season steaks with "Steakhouse Blend" or other grill mix and grill, pan fry or broil to your liking. While the steaks are cooking, saute the shrimp with a drizzle of olive oil and "Malibu Blend" or Cajun seasoning. Heat through and cover, set aside.

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Saute the garlic and onion for about 1 minute. Add the cream cheese, half-and-half and Parmesan cheese and heat until hot and smooth. Stir in pepper and salt, to taste. Add chopped parsley, stir. Ladle over steak and top with shrimp. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6



Now... would *you* like a chance to try out Amazing Taste's seasoning blends for yourself? All you have to do is go to this website and take a look around: Amazing Taste Products. Afterwards, come back here and leave a comment with which seasoning blend sounds the best to you and how you think you would use it. Remember to leave some way to CONTACT you in your comment. Comments with no contact information will be disqualified.

The giveaway will run until Friday 3/13/09 at 11:59 EST. On Saturday 3/14/09 I will randomly draw 2 winners with the help of Random.org. The winners will receive a selection of Amazing Taste seasonings sent to them by mail.

Good Luck!!!




March 4, 2009

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day *Winner*

And the winner of this awesome book is...



Comment #14 Kristen who said...
As a self-acclaimed bread snob I would use this book to show others that they can make their own awesome bread in the amount of time it takes one to pick out a mediocre loaf from the bread department, and oh so much better!


Congratulations Kristen! I will be contacting you today to get your mailing information! Enjoy!

Thank you everyone for entering! Keep on the lookout for another great giveaway here soon!

March 1, 2009

We have a winner!!!

And the winner for the My Fruit Roll-Ups *Speed Giveaway* is.....



#2 Anne said:
"Did you ever see the 'circle' photo of my kids? That would look SO cool on these! What a neat concept - really."

Congrats Anne... I will be contacting you today with your code to make your own box of "My Fruit Roll-Ups"!
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