Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

Typically pasta dishes are on my “Do Not Make” list. I grew up in an Italian family so pasta is a true comfort food for me, but I don’t want to resort to it all the time. So if I can, I try to find something healthier to make. William Sonoma’s Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage recipe is an exception, though. It’s incredibly easy to make while still giving the impression of a well-prepared dinner. 

I was not accustomed to using broccoli rabe until I started making this recipe. The strong taste took a little getting used to. It’s like spinach, but stronger and tougher. This makes trimming and chopping after boiling important steps as well as adding the right amount of seasoning. You get used to it the more you make it. Be sure not to skip the step of cooking the pasta in the leftover water from the broccoli rabe. It really brings out the flavor.

What’s your go to fast, but polished meal? 

Mango Salad

I’ve been on the lookout for recipes that are light and easy to make for summer nights. Ideally something healthy as I’m scared at the thought of beach season quickly approaching. Anything involving mango and cilantro ranks very high on my list as I could eat either by the bag full. I even had thoughts of not sharing this salad.

Mangoes were on sale at the Market District where I shop and there was a sample lady with a salad similar to this one. Hers used red onion, and I am not sure what the dressing was. I simply used olive oil and vinegar. The result is a great mix of sweet and sharp flavors, which I love. This and the latest issue of Vanity Fair were my sides for dinner last night. I am not sure what Sofia Vergara is up to besides Modern Family and being engaged to Pittsburgh’s Joe Manganiello (I keep hoping I will see them together around town), but I guess I will find out.

Mix together:
2 large mangoes diced
1/2 onion diced
2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
Olive oil
White vinegar

There are many variations of this salad and this one from Epicurious looks really good.

Meat and Cheese Board

As winter drags on I am finding that I need something to help me get through the last leg of this journey, and I am not a fan of the in flight movie. So the other night the boy came over and we caught up on The Office, feasted on meats and cheeses and drank Peroni. I am not an expert with this sort of thing so I let someone at Market District tell me what I to do. “An Asiago cheese would be nice to compliment the pepper salami,” said the helpful store associate. Ok, sounds good! The olives, I was able to pick out using my own devices, and are a greek mix with feta and kalmata from the olive bar. This isn’t going to make spring weather come sooner, but it did make me feel better in the mean time. Do you have any favorite meat and cheese pairings?

Apple Pancakes

It’s funny how at certain times of year there are foods you always crave. I can vividly conjure up the taste of my Grandma’s mashed potatoes right now. The cooler weather always has me craving those comfort foods. This past weekend, I was thinking of one of the recipes my Dad always made when we were younger, apple pancakes. I think he may have used whole slices of apples, but I chopped them. However you make them, with a little cinnamon and syrup, they are amazing!

Slice and dice as many apples as you want depending on the serving size and how much apple to pancake ratio you like.

Mix the apples in cinnamon and oil and heat in a frying pan for one minute. Then stir the apples into your pancake mix.

Cook the pancakes according to the instructions on the box or whatever homemade recipe you are using. Then enjoy with family and friends!

I Didn’t Burn It #2: Orecchiette with Turkey Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

I often have a love-hate relationship with my Giada De Laurentiis Everyday Italian cookbook. Some of the recipes are very straight forward and simple like this one and some have a laundry list of ingredients that include pricey fresh herbs. I of course substitute with my trusty dry ingredients but, Giada, not all of us live in California where the weather is constantly warm for growing fresh ingredients. Not all of us have perfect hair and make up and low-cut shirts when we are posing for a photo while bending over a boiling, steaming pot of pasta. 

That being said, the Orecchiette with Turkey Sausage and Broccoli Rabe recipe has a simple ingredient list and it only takes about 30 minutes. Perfect for a week night meal and there are plenty of leftovers.

I Didn’t Burn It: Tilapia Baja Tacos

I Didn’t Burn It is a new series I am starting on the blog that deals with my attempt to make delicious and easy recipes. Cooking is not one of my strong suits so just keep that in mind. 

I have made this Cooking Light recipe twice in the last 7 days. It’s one of those recipes that has a list of ingredients I can remember off the top of my head and doesn’t require any strange concoctions from the spice cupboard. The mixture of spices really livens up the tilapia and I am generally in support of any kind of sauce that involves sour cream, lime and cilantro. As I am not into really hot spices I excluded the jalepenos and red pepper. I also don’t have a cast-iron skillet. So my tilapia was not really blackened. Just crispy. Still delicious!

New Trader Joe’s in Pittsburgh

I usually hate grocery shopping. The store is crowded and the lines always feel too long. Not to mention, I can’t stand being inside when it’s a nice day outside. I immediately changed my tune when I found out a Trader Joe’s was opening in my neck of the woods this past weekend. Something about the cheery atmosphere of the store doesn’t make it feel like a chore to go shopping. Although it is oftentimes referred to as the cheaper version of Whole Foods, I feel like Trader Joe’s does a nice job of stocking ingredients for the trendy and healthy recipes I read about on blogs and in magazines, i.e. kale. As I was walking through the store I noticed so many fresh precut and easy to prepare ingredients.

The only downside I could see is that we are sans 2 Buck Chuck here in Pittsburgh because of some crazy Pennsylvania laws regarding the sale of alcohol. Sad face. Also some things still are more expensive so I will continue to rely on other grocery stores, but I am extremely impressed with Trader Joe’s ability to bring specialty food to the masses in a fun and accessible way.  Where do you go grocery shopping? Is there a specialty store that you prefer? Here are some pics of my Trader Joe’s haul:

  • Frozen chicken breasts
  • Salad mix 
  • Spinach
  • Tortilla chips
  • Hummus
  • Frozen pot stickers
  • Cubed butternut squash
  • French roast coffee

P.S. I also love Trader Joe’s Fearless Flier. The old timey sketeches are so cute.

Black bean burger

I used to love frozen veggie burgers. They were easy, not as fatty as red meat, and inexpensive. The only problem was that I hated how—just like other processed foods—the sodium was so high. So I decided to take a stab at making my own black bean burgers with this recipe. I was slightly intimidated about making my own black bean burgers as I didn’t know what it would involve. When I read that the hardest step would be mashing the black beans with a fork, I knew that this was the recipe for me. And in terms of expense, I already had most of the spices and ingredients already. I thought it was just as good if not better than the frozen stuff, and definitely worth making myself. Oh and I made these sweet potato fries too. I can elaborate on those another time.

Ingredients:
* 1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
* 1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
* 1/2 onion, cut into wedges
* 3 cloves garlic, peeled
* 1 egg
* 1 tablespoon chili powder
* 1 tablespoon cumin
* 1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce or hot sauce
* 1/2 cup bread crumbs

Directions

1. If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and lightly oil a baking sheet.
2. In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.
3. In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Then stir into mashed beans.
4. In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce.
5. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.
6. If grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.

On relationships: date idea


Photo via Kerri Ladish.

I know this may sound a little indulgent, but on Sunday, when the weather was unbelievably nice, and we were in a little need of food and hydration, we went cafe hopping in the local Italian neighborhood. We had two different antipastis, several glasses of beer, and enjoyed conversation and people watching. The key to the system working is to walk around before eating again. We burned off some of the calories by walking to the art museum, which is several blocks away and then around the circumference of its park. But, then you can go right back to eating and being lazy. It’s great!


La Dolce Vita