Tag Archives: pasta

Bacon Shrimp Linguine

pasta 1

 

In the past months, I finished illustrating two books, some magazine pieces, a promo piece, and some pieces for two gallery shows.  Oh, and I took two online courses.  Now that I finally have a moment to breathe, I have enjoyed cooking and experimenting again!  It’s so nice to spend time in the kitchen and try different things outside of our usual rotation of dinners of late…

I made this delicious shrimp and bacon dish last night and wanted to share it.  Also, I want to remember how I made it as I will definitely have to make it again!  My inspiration came from part of a package of bacon and frozen shrimp in our freezer that I had to use up.  The base of the recipe is similar to a All’Amatriciana dish I used to make often.  I omitted the red pepper flakes because my son and husband don’t like them, but it would be a great addition to my version.  I used smoked bacon instead of pancetta and added shrimp.  It is easy to make and perfect for a week night dinner.

Prep involves deveining and cleaning shrimp, so make sure you’ve done this beforehand:

shrimp

After sauteing bacon pieces until crunchy, drain and set aside for a nice garnish!

bacon

 

When it all comes together, the smokiness of the bacon, the acidity of the tomatoes, and the creaminess of the cheese goes so well with the shrimp!

pasta 3

Shrimp Bacon Pasta

4 slices of bacon

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, diced finely

3 gloves of garlic, crushed and minced

1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes

kosher salt to taste

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried basil

About 1 pound of shrimp, cleaned and deveined, chopped

1/2 pound of linguine

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1.  Boil 4 quarts of water in a large pot.

2.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add oil and fry bacon until crispy.  Remove bacon to drain on paper toweled lined plates.  When it is cooled and crispy, break into little bits.

3.  Saute onion and garlic in remaining oil and bacon fat until soft.  Add crushed tomatoes, salt, sugar, oregano, and basil.  Let simmer, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes.

4.  Add salt to boiling water in large pot and cook linguine according to package instructions after sauce has been simmering for about 10 minutes.

5.  Drain pasta and return to large pot.  Add shrimp to tomato sauce.  Cook another minute or so until it becomes opaque.  Be careful not to overcook the shrimp.

6.  Pour shrimp sauce on top of pasta in pot, add cheese and stir.

7.  Serve pasta with crispy bacon and more grated cheese on top.

Makes about 4 servings

Enjoy!

pasta 2 bacon

 

12 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Pork, Shrimp

Slow Cooker Tomato Beef Sauce and Quickie Baked Pasta

beef pasta 1


I know I sound like a broken record, but I’m still crazy busy and haven’t had time to cook or bake anything very exciting!  Unfortunately since I’ve been working on client work, rather than personal pieces, I can’t show anything (until it’s published).  Here’s a peek at a sketch I did that will appear as part of a story in Highlight’s magazine for babies, Hello!  I also did the cover for that issue.

I had a lot of fun painting this little on and her mom!

I had a lot of fun painting this little one and her mom!

I’m also working on another Hidden Picture for a Let’s Play Hidden Pictures book, and working another Anne Rockwell story as well as several other projects.

 

The slow cooker has been my friend still, and last week, I threw together a baked pasta with an active prep time of about 15 minutes.  Here’s what I did:  In the late morning I threw a bunch of ingredients into the slow cooker (no pre-sauteing or anything! I also didn’t measure –the recipe is an estimate) and cooked it on low for about six hours.   Then 30 minutes before dinner, I preheated the oven to 350, boiled some water and cooked some rotini pasta. Next I assembled the pasta dish with the sauce and parmesan, and topped it with some shredded mozzarella  and baked it until it melted — about 10 minutes.  That’s it– dinner done.  I didn’t even add oil at the start, as I figured the meat and liquids would be sufficient, and they were.  The meat was moist and juicy, and the sauce was delicious.  It was a bit hit with my son, who had seconds. 🙂

I’ve also been (quickly) experimenting with cauliflower flat bread (see my previous version here) and chia pudding in my attempt to eat more whole foods even in the midst of stress and work.

cauliflower pizza with caramelized onions

 

I’ll post more on that later!  In the meantime, enjoy this easy, fast, and delicious beef pasta dish!

beef pasta 2

 

Easy Beef Pasta in Slow Cooker

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 small onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small can of tomato paste

1 small can of diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

kosher salt

pepper

1/3 cup red wine

1/2 lb. dried pasta of choice

1/2 lb. shredded mozarella (I used smoky)

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1.  Put beef through red wine into slow cooker.  Cook on low for about six hours, stirring every two hours or so.

2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Drain.
3.  Return cooked pasta to pot and pour in beef sauce and grated parmesan.  Mix thoroughly.

4.  Pour pasta mixture into a casserole dish and sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Bake in oven until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.

 

 

13 Comments

Filed under Art Related, Beef, Slow Cooker

Creamy Pesto Sauce

creamy pesto ravioli


When it comes to gardening, my thumb is pretty much black.  The one thing I have success with every summer, though, is basil.

This is only a fraction of basil leaves on my plants!

This is only a fraction of basil leaves on my plants!

And everyone knows, the best way to use copious amounts of basil is to make PESTO!  I make a lot during the summer and freeze it for future use.  When freezing, the one thing you want to remember to do is omit the cheese — it messes up the texture.  Then after the pesto is thawed and heated, add grated parmesan to it.

Traditional pesto is made with pine nuts, which can be really expensive. I buy the Chinese ones instead of the Spanish ones.  Also, you can substitute walnuts for the pine nuts if the price is too great in your area.

Mmm.  Toasted pine nuts!
Mmm. Toasted pine nuts!

You just process the nuts with basil, garlic, parmesan, salt, and olive oil, and you end up with a great sauce.  You can also thin the sauce with some hot pasta water (from the pot you boiled your pasta in).

pesto with pasta

With some extra grated parmesan of course!

I also love pesto on sauteed zucchini “pasta”.  You may like this low carb alternative.

pesto with zucchini slices

Another great pesto sauce is a creamy version.  Heat cream cheese and milk in a sauce pan, whisk until smooth, and then whisk in about 2 large spoonfuls of pesto.  It makes a wonderfully creamy pesto sauce that is not as rich and fattening as one made with heavy cream.

creamy pesto ravioli2

Which do you prefer?  Regular or creamy pesto sauce?

Pesto Sauce

1/4 to 1/2 cup  pine nuts

a huge bunch of basil leaves, washed and dried

2 garlic cloves, smashed

about 1/4 cup olive oil or more as needed

grated parmesan to taste

kosher salt to taste

1.  Toast pine nuts.  I use my toaster oven.  Watch carefully, because they brown quickly!  You could also toast them in a skillet on the stove.  Keep stirring and watch them so you don’t burn them.  Remove from heat and let cool.

2.  Wash and dry basil leaves.

3.  Process basil in a food processor until chopped up fine.  Add garlic and pine nuts and process until fine.  While processor is running, add olive oil until the mixture becomes smooth.  Add grated cheese if you plan to use immediately, rather than freezing the pesto.  Taste.  Add salt if you think it needs it. Or more olive oil.

4.  Cook pasta until al dente. Dress with the pesto sauce — thin if you need to with pasta water.

Creamy Pesto Sauce

1/2 cup light cream cheese

1/4 cup milk

2 large spoonfuls of regular pesto sauce (see above)

1.  Heat cream cheese and milk in saucepan over low to medium heat.  Slowly whisk together until smooth.

2.  Whisk in dollops of pesto sauce.

3.  Serve over you favorite pasta.

40 Comments

Filed under Condiments, Dinner, Pasta, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Easy Weeknight Baked Pasta with Meat and Veggies


Trying to get some vegetables into your diet?  (Sneaking in more vegetables in your kids’ diet also counts!)

Here is an easy weeknight dish that accomplishes that, and even meat eaters will approve.
I think it was in Mark Bittman’s Food Matters that I first read about the benefits of stretching meat centric dishes with vegetables and/or grains.  It’s a nice compromise, because you are not cutting out meat completely–if you are an omnivore–but just reducing the amount and bulking up on vegetables and grains.  This accomplishes a lot of great things at once:

From a health standpoint, eating less saturated fats and more healthy fats from plants is always a good thing.

From an environmental standpoint, eating less meat and more plants is also a good thing.

From your pocket book’s standpoint, it is a lot cheaper to maintain a diet heavier on plants (especially if you grow a lot of them–something I, unfortunately, haven’t had to luck of doing) rather than on meats.

My husband is a meat person — I’ve mentioned before he only used to eat brown food (think bacon, beef, chicken, potatoes, peanut butter, bread, etc.) for a lot of his life before we got together!  I’m not going to force him to become a vegetarian — it would never work anyway.  And I eat meat also — just not so much red meat.

This is a simple, fast weeknight dish that you can adapt to suit your preference.  If you like more meat, add more.  No meat, omit it.  You can swap ground turkey or chicken for the beef.  Use whatever vegetable you like.  Since zucchini is a family favorite, I use it.  But I think this dish would also be great with eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, even fall friendly vegetables like butternut or acorn squash.  The more variety of colors, the better!  Just be sure to cut the pieces into similar sizes.

Fiori pasta is so cute.

 

I used Fiori pasta because I had a package in the pantry, but any bite sized pasta would work well.

Make a meat and vegetable sauce.

Béchamel sauce cooking.

Make a Béchamel sauce if you’d like an extra layer of flavor and richness.

Pasta topped with Béchamel sauce,

Yum!

Topped with grated mozzarella.

Top with mozzarella — note:  Freeze the mozzarella about 30-60 minutes before grating, so it is easier to grate!

Spotted from some broiler action.

Throw in the broiler for a quick melt and you’re done!

Easy Weeknight Baked Pasta with Meat and Veggies (based on Rachel Ray’s Baked Ziti)

Lb. pasta of your choice (I used Fiori)

Kosher salt

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onion (one whole small onion)

½ lb. ground meat (I used lean beef)

3 cups chopped vegetable (I used one large zucchini)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 28 oz. can diced or crushed tomatoes

pepper to taste

For Béchamel Sauce (optional):

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup milk

grated nutmeg to taste

nonstick spray

¼ cup grated parmesan

4 oz. grated mozzarella

  1. Bring large pot of water to boil.  Season with salt.
  2. While waiting for water to boil, put mozzarella in freezer to firm up.  Heat oil in a large skillet or pot over medium heat.
  3. Sauté onions and beef until beef is no longer pink.  Add garlic and let cook until fragrant.  Add zucchini or other vegetable.  Sauté until softened slightly.  Add canned tomatoes.  Turn heat down to low, cover, and let simmer, stirring occasionally until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.
  4. If using, make béchamel sauce.  Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Add flour and quickly whisk with butter to prevent from clumping.  Sauté for a minute.  Gradually add a little bit of milk while whisking.  Don’t add it too fast, or the sauce will become lumpy.  Add just enough at a time to smooth it out.  When it is the consistency of a smooth, liquid paste, add the rest of milk, while whisking.  Season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg to taste.  Let simmer and thicken about five minutes.
  5. Meanwhile cook pasta al dente according to package instructions.  Set aside.
  6. Preheat broiler.  Coat the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with spray or olive oil.  Set aside.
  7. Assemble baked pasta. Combine cooked pasta and cooked sauce in the large pot you used to cook the pasta in.  Add grated parmesan. Stir to combine.  Transfer to baking dish.  Top with a layer of béchamel sauce.  Cover with grated mozzarella.  Broil in oven until cheese is melted and is starting to brown, about 2-3 minutes.

13 Comments

Filed under Beef, Dinner, Pasta, Vegetables

Low Carb Zucchini Pasta and Creamy Ricotta, Smoked Bacon, and Artichoke Sauce

After our week of eating while traveling — that is, many In-n-Out burgers, diner food, and other processed and greasy vittles, it feels good to be back at home, cooking healthy whole foods again!

I had to make a quick weeknight meal last night, so I made some pasta for the boys, and sauteed zucchini “pasta” for me.  I saw this recipe on the NY Times site, and it sounded intriguing.  It’s just zucchini slices made with a vegetable peeler sauteed in olive oil until al dente and seasoned with salt.  It really makes a wonderful foil for a creamy rich sauce, and I think it’s more flavorful than regular pasta.  I saved the cores of the two zucchini and will steam them and throw them in a soup later in the week.

Cooking the zucchini al dente makes a wonderful alternative to pasta.

I knew I wanted a rich, creamy sauce (I had extra ricotta  on hand), so I made up one inspired by this Cooking Light Alfredo with Bacon recipe.  I altered it by adding the ricotta, nutmeg, a mix of part skim plain mozzarella and whole milk smoky mozzarella to bring out the smokiness of the bacon, and some leftover artichoke hearts I had that needed to be used!

It was a perfect marriage of flavors and my boys loved it (always a good indicator for a recipe I can use in the future!)

Ricotta Artichoke Sauce with Spaghetti -- fettucine would be great too, but none to be found in our pantry at the time!

Pasta with Ricotta Cream Sauce and Bacon

½ lb. pasta (spaghetti or fettucine works well) and 1/2 recipe of zucchini pasta

or 1 lb. pasta or one full recipe of zucchini pasta

kosher salt

2 slices of hickory smoked bacon, chopped

2 teaspoons  olive oil

½ small onion, chopped

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon flour

1 ½ cup milk (whole or 2% would probably be best, but I used skim!)

¾ cup ricotta (5 oz.)

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

¼ cup grated mozzarella (I used a combination of regular and smoky)

2 canned artichoke hearts, chopped (could probably use more, but that’s all I had)

½ teaspoon nutmeg

Freshly crushed black pepper

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Season water with salt and cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve about ¼ cup cooking water and drain pasta.  Or make zucchini pasta.
  2. While pasta is cooking make sauce.  Cook bacon in a large skillet until browned.  Remove to a paper lined plate to drain.
  3. Add a teaspoon or two of olive oil to pan depending on how much bacon grease is left.  I hardly had any so I had to add oil.  Saute chopped onion and garlic until softened.  Sprinkle flour on top and brown quickly in pan.  Then whisk in milk gradually to create a sauce.  Add ricotta and whisk until smooth.  Then add parmesan and mozzarella and artichoke hearts.  Stir to combine.  Season with kosher salt, nutmeg, and pepper to taste.  Simmer over low heat until thickened, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add cooked pasta to skillet and toss to coat.  Add bacon and stir.  Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

26 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Pasta, Vegetables