Sausage Carbonara

When there is no food in the house, I can usually dig up the ingredients for pasta carbonara. Carbonara is an Italian pasta dish from  Rome, based on eggs, cheese (Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano), bacon or pancetta, and black pepper. Spaghetti is usually used as the pasta, however, fettuccine, rigatoni, or bucatini can also be used. The dish was created in the middle of the 20th century.

Carbonara is one of the few things that everyone in the family eats – even my daughter Grace! Because we had no bacon (can you even imagine?!) my husband made this carbonara using sausage.  It worked!  You can also throw in some frozen peas (Grace picks them out!).
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Sausage Carbonara

Serves 4

4 Italian sausages, cooked and crumbled, casings removed
Olive oil
1 lb pasta
3 eggs
1/2 oz heavy cream
3 1/2 oz freshly grated Parmesan
1 lemon, zested
Sprig fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

Sauté the sausage until golden brown all over. While this is cooking, bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the pasta, and cook according to the packet instructions.

In a large bowl, whip up the eggs, cream, half the Parmesan, the lemon zest and parsley.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander, reserving a little of the cooking water, and immediately toss it quickly with the egg mixture back in the pasta pan. Add the hot sausage and toss everything together. The egg will cook delicately from the heat of the pasta, just enough for it to thicken and not scramble. The sauce should be smooth and silky. Sprinkle over the rest of the Parmesan, season, if necessary, with the salt and pepper, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

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Huevos con Papas Rancheros Casserole

Over the weekend, I made a big breakfast for visiting family. This is one of the recipes. Yes, tater tots are involved! I think next time I might add a 4 oz can of diced green chilis to the eggs.

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Huevos con Papas Rancheros Casserole

Serves 12

Nonstick cooking spray
32 oz package frozen fried potato nuggets
12 eggs
1 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
8 oz Mexican cheese blend, shredded
16 oz jar thick and chunky salsa
8 oz sour cream
fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a 3-quart rectangular baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange potato nuggets in dish.

In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, milk, oregano, cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder. Beat with a rotary beater or wire whisk until combined. Pour egg mixture over potato nuggets.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Sprinkle cheese evenly over egg mixture. Bake about 3 minutes more or until cheese melts. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Top with salsa, sour cream, and cilantro.

Cheesy Bacon & Eggs Cups

Wakey, wakey eggs and bakey!

These bacon, egg and cheese cups have all the elements of a perfect breakfast!

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Cheesy Bacon & Eggs Cups

Serves 1

1 slice of bacon
1 tsp melted butter
1 egg
¼” slice of cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown, but still flexible. Wrap bacon slice around the inside of a muffin cup. Place a teaspoon of butter (or bacon grease) in the bottom of muffin cup. Drop in egg.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Place 1/4 slice of cheese over egg, and continue cooking until cheese is melted and egg is cooked.

Southwest Breakfast Strata

We’re having a big party for my mother-in-law’s 85 birthday tonight. There is a house full of relatives and I needed an easy breakfast option. Usually, I would make this with corn tortillas, but I liked the flour tortilla option. I have slightly tweeked this recipe. I made this the night before, which makes it so easy in the morning. All I have to do is stumble to the coffee maker and take it out of the fridge. (actually my husband does the stumbling)

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Recipe from – Lindsay Powell Fooshee, Johnson City, Tennessee, Southern Living Magazine, MAY 2005

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Southwest Breakfast Strata

Serves 8

1 lb mild ground pork sausage
1 small onion, chopped
½ green or red pepper, chopped
2 (10 oz) cans diced tomatoes and green chilies
8 flour tortillas, torn into bite-size pieces
3 cups (12 oz) shredded Colby-Jack cheese blend
6 eggs
1½ cups milk or half and half
1 tsp salt
½ tsp garlic pepper

Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until it crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain and return to skillet.

Add chopped onion and bell pepper to sausage in skillet, and sauté over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in tomatoes and green chiles; reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Layer half each of tortilla pieces, sausage mixture, and cheese in a lightly greased 13- x – 9 inch baking dish. Repeat layers.

Whisk together eggs, milk or half and half, salt and pepper; pour over layers in baking dish. Cover and chill up to 8 hours, if desired.

Bake, lightly covered with aluminum foil, at 375° for 30 minutes to one hour or until golden and bubbly.

Egg Salad with Dill & Chives

There is nothing like a really good egg salad sandwich. I think adding some fresh dill takes it to the next level. This was another sandwich I served at the Serafina trunk show event.

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Egg Salad with Dill & Chives

Makes 40 sandwiches

8 hard-cooked eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbs finely-chopped fresh dill
6 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
20 white bread
chives, chopped

Peel eggs and place into a medium bowl. Slice eggs and then coarsely mash them with the back of a fork. Add mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and dill; stir until well blended.

Note: This mixture can be refrigerated, covered, up to two days.

Spread butter onto one side of each slice of bread. Spread the buttered side of 10 slices of bread with 2 tablespoons egg mixture. Top with remaining slices of bread, buttered side down.

Carefully cut the crusts from sandwich with a long, sharp knife. Cut in half diagonally, then cut in half again.

Put chopped chives on a small plate and spread one edge with mayonnaise to coat well. Roll edges in chives.

Creamy Boursin Omelette

My daughter, Zoe, got us hooked on Boursin® Vermont White Cheddar & Sage Spread. It claims to be a sophisticated take on cheddar. A hint of delicately earthy sage balances the tangy sharpness of real Vermont Cheddar.

I went to the market with my husband and he bought some. The lady working the check out said she LOVES this cheese and puts it in her scrambled eggs.  Well, isn’t that a nice idea!?  I’m probably one of the few people who would come home from the market and make something the check out lady likes.

So, I went on the Boursin site and found this omelette recipe, though you could just throw some in your scramble. Sorry about the blurry photo, I was hungry and didn’t take my time!

You can also check out my other Boursin recipes:

Puff Pastry Boursin Chicken and Boursin Cheese Dip with Fresh Vegetables

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Creamy Boursin Omelette

3 Tbs Boursin Cheese, flavor of your choice
1 Tbs butter
2 large eggs
1 green onion, chopped
salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter in small non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat. In small bowl, beat eggs and green onions.

Pour eggs into heated skillet, swirling eggs around pan. With spatula, gently draw egg mixture away from sides of skillet into the center, allowing egg mixture to flow towards sides of skillet. When eggs are just about set, season with salt & pepper.

Drop bits of Boursin Cheese onto half of omelette. With spatula, gently flip the omelette in half, keeping cheese-side down. Cook for another minute or until Boursin is melted and omelette is golden brown.

Tip : Add your favorite chopped vegetables. Garnish top of omelette with chopped fresh green onions or crumbled bacon.

Mushroom Shallot Tart

This is a terrible picture of my tart. It was pitch black outside! Anyway, I used a mixture of cremini, oyster and shiitake mushrooms for this tart.

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Mushroom Shallot Tart

Serves 12

1 refrigerated piecrust
1 Tbs Dijon course­ grain mustard
2 Tbs butter, divided
2 medium onions, sliced lengthwise
Sprigs of fresh thyme
4 oz mushrooms of your choice, sliced lengthwise
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups half­ and ­half
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1/4 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350F.

Coat surface of the piecrust with mustard. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool.

To prepare filling, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté 10 minutes. Add salt , pepper and thyme leaves. Scrape into a small bowl.

In the same skillet, melt remaining butter. Add mushrooms and cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir into the shallots.

Combine eggs and half­ and­ half and beat until well blended.

Sprinkle about half the cheese on the bottom of tart shell. Spoon in shallot and mushroom mixture. Pour in egg mixture. Place mushrooms all over the top, along with remaining cheese.

Bake 40 minutes, or until tart is golden brown and filling is set. Serve warm or room temperature.

Crêpe Manicotti

Here is another recipe from my friend Chris. Manicotti is usually made with very large ridged pasta tubes, but this recipe uses crêpes which makes it a lot lighter. They were delicious, he served it the Magic Green Beans.

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Crêpe Manicotti

Makes (12) 8” crêpes manicotti

2¾ cup ricotta cheese (22 oz)
¾ cup fresh mozzarella, grated
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
2 Tbs parsley, minced
2 Tbs basil, minced
½ + tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp nutmeg
12 8” crêpes (see recipe below)
48 oz Marinara sauce
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Make crêpe batter (recipe below), refrigerate at least one hour. Make crêpes and stack covered.

Mix first 9 ingredients together and refrigerate 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350.

Place one crêpe spotty side up on work board and place 1/3 cup cheese mixture on bottom 1/3 of crêpes. Shape mixture into a long butter cube shape and loosely roll up like a burrito. Place on greased cookie sheet seam side down. Bake 20-25 minutes. Heat up marinara sauce.

Place 2 manicotti on a plate and cover with sauce. Sprinkle with some freshly grated parmesan cheese. Serve with steamed vegetables like asparagus, Italian squash, mini squash or green beans.

Crêpe batter

Makes (12-14) 8” crepes

1 cup flour
2/3 cup each – milk and cold water
3 large eggs
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbs clarified butter

Measure flour into a bowl, then whisk in by dribbles the milk and cold water to make a perfectly smooth blend.  Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps.  Whisk in the eggs, salt and 3 Tbs melted butter.  Cover and let rest 1 hour or more in the refrigerator.

Alternate Method (Best):
Pour milk and cold water into blender bowl.  Add flour and blend until smooth.  Add eggs, salt and 3 Tbs melted butter.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into bowl, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or more.

Use the remaining 3 Tbs clarified butter to make crepes.

Caprese Omelette

Today, I woke up with absolutely nothing to blog about, nothing…. I trudged down to the kitchen and scrounged around and here is what happened. I told my mother-in-law that she was having an omelette for breakfast, not her usual extra crispy around the edges fried egg.

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Caprese Omelette

2 eggs
1 green onion, chopped
6 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2 Tbs fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat a small skillet over high heat. Mix together the eggs, green onions, tomatoes and basil in a small bowl. Once the pan is hot, reduce the heat to medium and pour in the egg mixture. As the omelet cooks, lift the edges up and tilt the pan so the uncooked portion flows underneath the omelet. Once the eggs are mostly set, toss on the fresh basil and flip over.

Layer the cheese on half of the omelet and fold the omelet in half. Cook until the bottom gets browned and flip over to cook the other side. Serve with kosher salt and pepper on top.

Spinach Quiche

There are many variants of quiche, including a wide variety of ingredients. Variations are, for example, quiche au fromage (quiche with cheese) and quiche aux champignons (quiche with mushrooms) or conventionally: florentine (spinach); provençale (tomatoes); and so on. I love the endless possibilities and the fact that it can be eaten hot, warm, room temperature or cold. This is perfect for a hot evening served with a salad.

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Spinach Quiche

10-inch piecrust or fresh pastry
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp ground nutmeg
4 eggs, whipped
1 cup spinach, cut thin
1/2 cup cooked and chopped bacon
1/2 cup shredded cheese, Monterey Jack or other
2 green onions, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (on low fan speed, if using convection). During this time, cover the bottom of the piecrust with aluminum foil and uncooked beans. Place the piecrust in the oven and bake (blind bake) for 10 to 12 minutes to allow the crust to cook. The crust should be light brown on the edges when removing from the oven.

During the cooking of the crust, whisk together the milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and eggs in a bowl. After mixing the eggs, in a second bowl, blend together the spinach, bacon, cheese and green onions. Add half of the egg mixture to coat the ingredients, again mixing well. Next, add the mixture to the cooked crust then finish with the remaining egg mixture. Bake in the oven until the middle of the quiche is set, about 40 minutes.