• “Best” Ever Spaghetti Sauce

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    It seems we’ve been kind of in a funk lately.  Not much new cooking going on, but that all changed tonight!  -s got an awesome new cookbook for Christmas called The Kansas City Barbeque Society Cookbook, and when I browsed through the book a number of recipes popped out at me.  So tonight -s made the Best Spaghetti Sauce Ever recipe (p. 97), and it didn’t fall short of its name.

    It was fabulous.  -s made a few changes, which are noted in the recipe.  We’ve never made a sauce with 2 whole cans of tomato paste, but the tomato paste plus the simmering for hours had delicious results!

    Recipe adapted from the Best Spaghetti Sauce Ever Recipe.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 lbs. Italian sausage, bulk or links, casing removed (-s didn’t remove the casing)
    • 1 small yellow onion
    • 3 TBSP pressed garlic
    • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
    • 2 6 oz. cans tomato paste
    • 2 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
    • 2 c. water
    • 1 TBSP minced fresh basil
    • 2 tsp. dried parsley
    • 1 TBSP packed brown sugar
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes (omitted)
    • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

    Directions:

    1. In a large pot over medium high heat, brown the sausage with the onion and garlic.
    2. Add the tomatoes with their juices, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water.  Mix well.  Add the basil, parsley, brown sugar, salt, red pepper (omitted), and black pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for at least 1 hour.  We simmered for 3 hours.
    3. Serve over spaghetti.

    Best Spaghetti Sauce Ever:

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  • The Bidens’ Pasta Caprese

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    I saw this pasta salad in the September 2010 issue of Food Network Magazine, and I knew I had to try it.  I’ve now made this quite a few times, and I’ve adapted the recipe to our liking.

    It is delicious, and I love the addition of the lemon zest.  It’s a great summer pasta salad, which would be perfect for a picnic or potluck.  We’ll definitely be making this one again.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/3 c. olive oil
    • 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
    • 2-3 shallots, minced
    • 3 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic presser
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 1 TBSP sugar
    • 2 lbs. grape tomatoes, halved
    • 1 lb. pasta of your choice (I used radiatore)
    • 12 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
    • 1/2 c. basil, chopped
    • 1/4 c. mint, chopped
    • zest of 3 lemons

    Directions:

    1. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, shallots and garlic in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add sugar.  Add the tomatoes and gently toss.  Marinate at room temperature, about 15 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of slated water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook as the label directs.  Drain in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking.
    3. Add the pasta and mozzarella to the tomato mixture and toss.  Stri in the basil, mint, and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper.
    4. Refrigerate, tossing occasionally until serving.

    The Bidens’ Pasta Caprese:

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  • Pasta Arabiata with Sausage

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    This sauce recipe is awesome!  It tastes like something you would get in a restaurant.  The original recipe calls for cooking the sauce for 4 minutes, but I like the flavors when the sauce is simmered for a longer period of time…it’s richer and bolder.  But if time is short, you can certainly cook the sauce for a short time and it still will be delicious.

    I added zucchini to the sauce and it was delicious.  It was a great way to get more veggies, and it gave the sauce great body and flavor.
    The other thing I like about this recipe is how the cook the sausage.  It’s broiled, which is brilliant, because it’s a very low fat no fuss way to prepare sausage.

    Adapted from a recipe in the April 2010 issue of Cooking Light.
    Ingredients:

    • 1 package of sweet Italian turkey sausage links
    • 1 box of spaghetti
    • 2 small to medium size zucchini
    • 2 28 oz. cans of whole tomatoes, undrained
    • 4 TBSP olive oil
    • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
    • 10 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press or minced
    • 2 tsp. sugar
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 c. torn fresh basil
    • Parmesan or Pecorino Romano Cheese

    Directions:

    1. Place zucchini in a food processor; process until roughly chopped.  Add tomatoes to the zucchini and process until almost smooth.
    2. Heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add crushed red pepper and pressed garlic; saute for 1 minute.  Stir in zucchini and tomato mixture, sugar, and salt; cook 4 minutes.  If you can cook the sauce longer you won’t regret it.  It gets thick and rich…I let mine simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
    3. Meanwhile preheat broiler.  Arrange sausage on a baking sheet.  Spray with cooking spray.  Broil sausage for 5 minutes on each side or until done.  Remove and slice in 1/4 inch thick slices.
    4. Cook pasta according to directions.
    5. Place pasta in a large bowl; toss with sauce and sausage; add basil and peccorino.

    Pasta Arabiata with Sausage:
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  • Chicken and Broccoli Pad Thai

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    I love Pad Thai, and the nice thing about this dish is that it is quick and easy to make.  It’s certainly a bit more adventurous than my kiddos are willing to try, so I just set aside some of the chicken for them, and they were happy with that.  You could also skip the chicken and make this a vegetarian dish.

    This recipe is adapted from a recipes in 30-Minute Suppers Winter 2010 by America’s Test Kitchen.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. chicken breasts, sliced thin
    • 8 oz rice stick noodles
    • 1 head of broccoli florets
    • 1 TBSP vegetable oil
    • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    • 3/4 c. water
    • 1/4 c. soy sauce
    • 1/4 c. lime juice
    • 2 tsp. Asian chili-garlic sauce
    • 1 c. bean sprouts
    • 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro

    Directions:

    1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Add chicken and saute until cooked.  Set aside.
    2. Meanwhile blanch broccoli in boiling salted water.
    3. Cook noodles in boiling salted water.
    4. After chicken is done cook eggs, stirring constantly until scrambled.  Transfer to plate.
    5. Add water, soy sauce, lime juice, sugar, and chili-garlic sauce, and cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.  Add chicken, noodles, broccoli, and egg; toss to coat.  Then add bean sprouts and top with cilantro.

    Chicken and Broccoli Pad Thai:

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  • Easy Homemade Mac-N-Cheese

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    I’m not ashamed to admit that I like boxed mac-n-cheese, especially with some chipotle Tabasco sauce.  I’ve made homemade mac-n-cheese before, and most of the time the result is disappointing.

    The most important thing I’ve learned is the type of cheese you use is extremely important.  Regular mild cheddar doesn’t melt well and doesn’t have any flavor, so your mac-n-cheese will have an odd consistency and be bland.  Even if you don’t like sharp cheese for regular eating use it for you mac-n-cheese…I promise you will love it and you won’t taste the sharpness.  I used Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Cheddar, I totally recommend it.

    This recipe is adapted from the October 2009 issue of Southern Living.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 c. milk
    • 2 TBSP butter
    • 2 TBSP all purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 10 oz. block of Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
    • 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper (optional)
    • 10 oz. package elbow macaroni, cooked

    Directions:

    1. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente.
    2. Preheat oven to 400.
    3. Microwave milk on high for 1 1/2 minutes.
    4. Meanwhile, in a large skillet melt butter over medium-low heat; whisk in flour until smooth.  Cook, whisking constantly for 1 minute.
    5. Gradually whisk in warm milk and cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until thickened.
    6. Whisk in salt, black pepper, 1 c. shredded cheese, and red pepper until smooth; stir in cooked pasta.  Spoon pasta mixture into a lightly greased 2 qt. baking disk; top with remaining cheese.  Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

    Homemade Mac-N-Cheese:

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  • Rachel’s Famous Pasta Salad

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    This is a very easy and very tasty pasta salad…even -s and TT ate it up.  I think next time I’ll do without the cheddar and jack cheese and instead try feta for an extra punch.

    Adapted from a recipe by Rachel Griffith.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 bottles light Italian dressing
    • 1 lb. pasta of your choice
    • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
    • 1 large sized cucumber, chopped
    • 1 large green, red, orange, or yellow bell pepper
    • 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
    • 4 oz. pepper jack cheese, cubed
    • You could also add olives, artichoke hearts, feta instead of the other cheeses etc.

    Directions:

    • Cook pasta according to directions on the box.
    • Meanwhile chop veggies and cheese and put in a large bowl; then add one bottle of salad dressing.  Allow veggies and cheese to marinate.
    • When pasta is done, drain it and rinse it with cold water, then dump a bunch of ice cubes on the pasta to stop the cooking process and help it cool quickly.
    • Once pasta is completely cool, add to veggie mixture; toss to coat and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.
    • Before serving, toss pasta salad, and add more dressing, if desired.

    Pasta Salad:

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  • Roasted Tomato and Feta Sauce

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    This is so easy and so tasty.  It was a really good way to use up some of our fresh garden tomatoes.  The feta gives the pasta nice seasoning, so if you omit the feta, be sure to add some more salt
    Ingredients:

    • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
    • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
    • Kosher salt, to taste (I used 1/2 tsp.)
    • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
    • 6 oz. crumbled feta
    • 1 c. fresh basil, chiffonade
    • 1 lb. pasta

    Directions:

    1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
    2. Toss the tomatoes with the olive oil, garlic, vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast until the tomatoes get juicy, about 15-25 minutes.
    3. Meanwhile cook pasta according to package.  When pasta is done transfer to a large serving bowl; then add the roasted tomatoes to the pasta as well as the feta and toss.  Top with basil.

    Roasted Tomato and Feta Sauce:

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  • Homemade Red Sauce

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    We have tons of fresh ripe tomatoes, and what better way to use some of these delicious tomatoes than to make a homemade pasta sauce!

    Absolutely d’lish, and worth most definitely worth the time.

    Ingredients:

    • 16 med-large ripe tomatoes
    • 2 TBSP olive oil
    • 12 garlic cloves, chopped
    • salt to taste
    • sugar to taste
    • 10 basil leaves, chopped

    Directions:

    1. With a sharp knife cut a small “x” on the bottom of each tomato, just enough to pierce the skin; then blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for about 1 minute.  Peel and seed the tomatoes and puree in a food processor.
    2. Heat olive oil over medium high heat in pan; then add the garlic, and fry the garlic for a couple of minutes.  Add the tomato puree and bring to a boil.  Simmer uncovered until the sauce reduces by half.  Add salt and sugar to taste.
    3. Stir in basil just before serving.

    Homemade Red Sauce:

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  • Mediterranean Cous Cous Salad

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    We had short ribs for dinner tonight, and I needed a quick side dish to go with it.  This salad came out so delicious, and I will definitely make this one again!

    Ingredients:

    • 1 c. whole wheat cous cous
    • 1 1/2 c. water
    • 2 TBSP olive oil
    • salt
    • 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1/2 c. English cucumber, chopped
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 /2 of an orange, yellow, red, or green bell pepper, chopped
    • 1/2 c. artichoke hearts
    • Juice of one lemon
    • 1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese
    • 1/4 c. fresh herbs, minced (I used mint and basil)

    Directions:

    1. In a covered saucepan, bring cous cous, water, olive oil, and salt to a boil; then turn off heat and keep on burner for 5 to 7 minutes.  After 7 or so minutes fluff cous cous with a fork.
    2. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes through lemon juice in a bowl; then add the cous cous, and toss to combine; then add the feta cheese and herbs and toss once again. Taste and correct seasoning, if necessary.

    Mediterranean Cous Cous Salad:

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  • Pasta Salad

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    My mother-in-law started makes a delicious pasta salad during the summertime, and this is my version.  It’s super tasty, and it works well as a main dish or a side dish.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/8 to 1/4 c. olive oil
    • 8 to 10 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
    • salt
    • 1 lb. pasta
    • 1 lb. fresh mozzarella, cubed
    • 1/4 c. fresh basil, chiffonade
    • 1 c. quartered artichoke hearts

    Directions:

    1. Cook pasta according to package
    2. Put the tomatoes in a bowl and add some salt.
    3. Heat olive oil in a skillet; then add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes; then add the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes.
    4. Put pasta in a big bowl, add the tomatoes and garlic with the oil and toss to combine.  Then add the cheese, basil, and artichoke hearts and toss again.

    Pasta Salad:

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