Monday, November 19, 2012

Creamy Farfalle with Mushrooms and Peas

What a let down.

I was looking forward to this dish ALL day, because I knew I was just cooking for me (which is convenient because I'm the only one in this house that would eat it). Plus, it's a Fabio Viviani dish, so how could it not be fabulous? I even had a green protein shake for lunch to help me feel less guilty about this indulgence. Well, I could've skipped the liquid lunch because I was not pleased with my results here.

There were several problems: 
1) It was bland. I thought that with the pancetta, plus the salt I added to the sauce, there'd be plenty of flavor. But nope. I had to add more salt tableside, even AFTER I dashed on some parmesan. And more black pepper. And some cayenne.

2) My sauce was sticky. That could have been easily remedied, had I added more liquid to the roux. But I kinda sorta halved the recipe and didn't want my sauce to be TOO runny. Obviously, I underestimated. And then I was just lazy. I thought, Why bother with making the texture right when it doesn't even taste good? Which brings me to my next problem.

3) The pancetta tasted old. This was the most disappointing of all. I love pig. Pig is good. Usually. But tonight, he let me down.

I don't appreciate foods that require a lot of added salt, so I probably won't make this again. I'm just dumbfounded, too, because I love all of these elements...just not altogether, I guess.

Creamy Farfalle with Mushrooms & Peas

2 tbsps. Butter
3 tbsps. All-purpose flour
2 1/2 c. whole milk -at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ c pancetta -diced
3 tbsps. Extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound brown button mushrooms -sliced
3/4 c. green peas -frozen
1 Lb. farfalle pasta

 In a medium size saucepot heat the butter over medium heat then add the flour and whisk until smooth and the flour loses its raw flavor, about 4 minutes. Add the milk all and whisk until smooth. Simmer for 3 minutes then remove from heat. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside and cover to keep warm.

  eat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until golden and crispy then transfer it to a bowl and keep warm. Add the mushrooms to the skillet with a pinch of salt and sauté until tender and golden, for about 15 minutes. Stir in the peas and continue cooking until warmed through. Season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the farfalle and cook until al dente. Drain and transfer the pasta to a large bowl together with the mushrooms, peas and pancetta. Pour the cream sauce on top and gently toss to coat. Adjust seasonings and serve

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Slow Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup

WITH BACON, thank you very much!

Today turned out to be a pretty good day, all things considered. Even though I had to stay home from work with a sick kiddo, I was still able to do laundry, clean a little, get some work done--shh!!-- and put together a pretty good meal. The weather even cooperated by cooling down so that soup was the perfect dinner. And the kicker of it all: the hubs liked it! 

Why is that the kicker, you ask? Because he claims to hate soup. And I made this with full knowledge of his claim, without any doubt that he'd eat it. How? See the opening line of this blog. Also, his two favorite foods after bacon are the two most prominent ingredients in this soup. No brainer.

So if you're going for quick and easy prep on a cold day, this is for you. (It's in no way low-fat, though.) The recipe seems to call for pre-cooked bacon. But I made bacon while the soup was thickening and crumbled it myself. That was pretty much the most complicated part of this process. The one thing I forgot was the green onion garnish. (That ticked me off, too, because I love me some cebollas verdes!) Oh well!

Slow Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup

1 bag (32 oz) frozen southern-style diced hash brown potatoes, thawed
1/2 cup frozen chopped onion (from 12-oz bag), thawed
1 medium stalk celery, diced (1/2 cup)
1 carton (32-oz) Progresso® chicken broth
1 cup water
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 bag (8 oz) shredded American-Cheddar cheese blend (2 cups)
1/4 cup crumbled bacon
4 medium green onions, sliced (1/4 cup)

In 3- to 4-quart slow cooker, mix potatoes, onion, celery, broth and water. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 6 to 8 hours.

In small bowl, mix flour into milk; stir into potato mixture. Increase heat setting to High. Cover; cook 20 to 30 minutes or until mixture thickens. Stir in cheese until melted. Garnish individual servings with bacon and green onions. Sprinkle with pepper if desired.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Easy Chicken Parmesan

I just got DOWN with some chicken Parm! Woo! I'm all lit up now!

So, here's what happened: I had a craving. When I asked the hubs what he wanted for dinner and he had no opinion, I decided to indulge my craving. Now, chicken Parmesan isn't normally a dish I crave. It can be super yummy--as can eggplant Parmesan--but it isn't necessarily high on my list of favorite foods. But ever since I watched my FAVORITE Italian and Top Chef, Fabio Viviani, make it on his web show Chow Ciao, I've been wondering how simple it really is.

Well, it really is easy. But I didn't use Fabio's recipe. I was too impatient to watch the whole video again. So I used THIS. (And now that I'm watching the video now, I regret my decision and will henceforth use Fabio's recipe; although, I may still used a jarred sauce. We'll see.) Good news is, this "easy" baked version was delicious. The boys devoured it.

Bad news is, no photos. I'm sure you know what it looks like, though, right? Mine looked like that. (Except that I didn't get the chicken breasts as flat as I wanted. And I slammed those suckers!) Oh! I only used 2 chicken breasts so not a whole jar of sauce, and I used panko bread crumbs that I seasoned myself (with salt, fresh ground pepper and Italian Herbs).


Easy Chicken Parm
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese, or more
  • 1 jar (16 oz) spaghetti sauce
  • Parmesan cheese
Whisk together the egg and milk. Dip the chicken breasts in milk and egg mixture and then in bread crumbs. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken in the hot oil on both sides until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Set chicken in a baking dish. Slice 8 pieces of mozzarella cheese and put two on each chicken breast. Pour 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce over all. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and a little more mozzarella and bake at 350° for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly.