Creamy Garlicky Shrimp Tagliatelle

I don’t know about you, but an advertised 20 minute recipe NEVER takes me 20 minutes.  This one was close tho ….. and very easy.  Not only easy, but delicious and I’m more than happy to spend a few more minutes to achieve delicious.

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  • 8 ounces dried tagliatelle pasta (or really, any pasta you like!)
  • 2 tbsp butter (separated, see below)
  • olive oil
  • 10 ounces small, peeled and cleaned shrimp
  • 3 garlic cloves (yes, really)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (I like sauvignon blanc but any dry white will work – stay away from sweet tho)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 1 cup asparagus (cut into 1″ pieces)
  • 1/2 cup minced sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes (or to taste)
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan (do NOT use purchased grated!)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
  • black pepper
  • more parmesan for serving
  1. Get a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil.  Salt and add pasta.  Cook to one minute short of the cooking instructions …. (in order to finish in the cream sauce).
  2. Before draining, scoop out about 1/2 cup of pasta water.
  3. Get a nice flat bottom skillet (non-stick works great here) and melt 1 tbsp butter.  Drain your shrimp and pat dry (you don’t want them to steam) ….. toss the shrimp into the melted butter and sauté quickly – until ALMOST cooked.  Depending on your shrimp size this might only take a minute or two.  There is nothing worse than rubbery, overcooked shrimp.  Well, okay, lots of things are worse including this COVID nightmare we are living through….  Remove from heat and lightly season with salt and pepper.
  4. In the same skillet heat the other tbsp butter and add a splash of olive oil – once melted add the onions, sauté until soft, add mushrooms and cook until just lightly browned, then add the garlic, asparagus and sun dried tomatoes.  Add chili flakes.
  5. Stir in the white wine and allow to reduce slightly, then add the chicken broth, cream and parmesan.  Season to taste ….  I didn’t need to add any more salt but that finishing black pepper is great.
  6. Add your mostly cooked pasta to the skillet and toss to cover.  The sauce will continue to thicken and this is the time to add some of your reserved pasta water a bit at a time, only as needed.  Stir in the shrimp to heat through, toss with parsley and serve with a grating of fresh parmesan and black pepper.
  7. Dig in!
These plump & juicy little guys are barely cooked and will finish in the cream sauce
Easy to make this a vegetarian meal – just stir in as many veg as you like and omit the shrimp.

Spinach Feta Chicken Meatballs

These chicken meatballs were so moist, bursting with spinach and feta that Grant was still raving about them the next morning, and trust me – he is not usually a fan of chicken meatballs!

Served over fresh pasta, these little nuggets were absolutely perfect!

Quick and easy, this makes a perfect week night dinner. No fancy plating required. Well my husband and son in laws never think fancy plating is required. (They are usually involved in clean up so that’s understandable!)

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 tsp minced fresh garlic
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Start by warming a splash of olive oil in your saute pan, as soon as it has heated up add the minced onions and allow to soften, then add your garlic and just warm through. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Take pan off the heat and add the spinach, stirring just until it is wilted. Remove the mixture from your pan and place in a bowl in the fridge. You don’t want to add anything hot to your raw chicken! Please don’t skip the step with sweating out the onions. A raw onion is a totally different item when compared to a softened, slightly carmelized onion.

Season ground chicken with salt, pepper and basil (fresh if you have it). Crumble in feta cheese and stir to combine. Add the cooled onion spinach mixture and bread crumbs. Stir gently to combine.

Form golf ball size meatballs and brown in your saute pan on all sides, then add to your sauce.

Use the same saute pan for everything! Sweat your onion mixture, and reserve the pan to fry the meatballs, then remove the browned meatballs and heat up your sauce. Once the sauce is warm return the meatballs to the sauce and heat through.

See the butter? Hardly a drop in the bucket, but we’ve been watching Stanley Tucci in Italy and the amount of butter in pasta sauces is mind blowing! This sauce was pretty easy, one of my frozen ratatouille batches with a can of good quality canned tomatoes. With the greek influenced meatballs I added some black olives, capers, artichokes and more freshly crumbled feta once the sauce was cooked.

Cacio e Pepe with bacon!

Every time I make spaghetti carbonara I think it would benefit from a bunch of crispy bacon, so here it is … a tangled mash up of cacio e pepe and carbonara. I think it is perfect! Also quick and easy.

A tangle of creamy pasta, sharp cheese and crunchy bacon can’t be beat. Apologies to Italian pasta grannies for any offence this mash up could cause, but it sure is delicious.

Kosher salt

  • 6 oz. pasta (such as egg tagliolini, bucatini, or spaghetti)
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, divided
  • 1tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 8 oz cooked bacon, chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • ¾ cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan
  • ⅓ cup finely grated Pecorino

This serves 2 as a generous dinner helping – adjust for your table!

Slice bacon into thin strips and cook over medium heat, stirring often to separate, until crispy and cooked through. Set aside on paper towel lined plate to drain and cool.

Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain, reserving ¾ cup pasta cooking water.

Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook, swirling pan, until toasted, about 1 minute.

Add ½ cup reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and remaining butter. Reduce heat to low and add whisked egg, Grana Padano, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted. Do this relatively quickly so the egg doesn’t scramble. You only want it to cook through via the hot pasta. Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino, stirring and tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta, and pasta is al dente. (Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.) Transfer pasta to warm bowls and serve, with a generous helping of more Parmesan and cracked pepper.

If you only have one of the cheeses, that is fine too – I’ve had to adapt this a few times during our Covid restrictions to work with whatever I had on hand.

Serve with this aromatic green onion and pepper focaccia and a big salad.

Korean Kimchi Noodles

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Don’t you just love a noodle dish that is as versatile as whatever you have in your fridge or garden??  This is just what you need.  

NOODLES

  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup coloured bell peppers, diced
  • 1/2 cup slivered cabbage
  • 1/2 cup kimchi, diced fine (if you absolutely love kimchi go ahead and use more!)
  • 1/2 cup snap peas, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 Pound fresh noodles

GARNISH

  • Scallion, Toasted Sesame Seeds, Korean Chile Flake, Cilantro and Egg for Garnish

SAUCE

  • 1/4 Cup Gochujang paste
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce
  • 2 TBSP sesame oil
  • 2 TBSP rice vinegar 
  • 1 tsp natural sugar
  1. Mix the sauce ingredients together and set aside.
  2. Cook the noodles in boiling water according to the package instructions. Strain the noodles and rinse well. Drain and set aside.
  3. Prepare the kimchi & vegetables and stir fry until almost cooked, then add in the bean sprouts – remove from pan and set aside.  Add bit of oil to the pan,  stir in the pork and cook 2 minutes. Add in the sauce, reserved vegetables and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat. Stir in the noodles. Stir well to mix and coat.
  4. Serve with garnishes to taste.

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These are the assorted vegetables I had on hand today, and with the sauce it was delicious.  This makes a full meal in one if you pack in enough vegetables along with a little protein (if you are so inclined).  It certainly doesn’t have to be ground pork.  Today I had a wee bit of ground pork in the freezer so I used that along with some shrimp, (chopped up) but it could just as easily be any ground meat or tofu.

 

The BEST meatballs!

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When you request spaghetti and meatballs at Nana’s house you better be prepared to make the meatballs!  Stella loves to, and we all agreed that they were the absolute best meatballs ever.  In fact, I had a hard time keeping enough left in the sauce to have dinner.  Tasters kept appearing in my kitchen …..

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This shows a double recipe, all measured exactly to what Stella feels is the perfect meatball size …. 38 grams.  If you aren’t in a hurry your kids are great at this!

  • 1 pound ground meat (I like a combo of beef and pork)
  • 1/2 cup panko-style breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup milk, any kind
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, plus more to serve
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, plus more to serve
  • 2 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt, divided
  • Red pepper flakes and/or freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Place meat, crumbs, milk, parsley, cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, onion powder, eggs, and one-third of your minced garlic in a large bowl, and mash everything together with a fork or potato masher until evenly mixed. Using wet hands if needed, form mixture into 2-inch meatballs and arrange on prepared tray. Roast for 12 minutes, until cooked through (you can cut one in half).

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Ground beef and pork well mixed and ready for forming.

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Making sure each meatball is 38 grams takes time …..

Stella's meatballs

Almost 7 now, Stella likes to do it all, even if Nana’s freaking (quietly!) while she puts stuff in or takes it out of the oven.

From this point you can serve them however you like – we like them simmered in a tomato sauce just until heated through.  They are so soft and tender with just the right amount of seasoning.  I always make enough to freeze half for another dinner, for us that means doubling this recipe.

This recipe came from the amazing Deb at smitten kitchen.com, and she also lists her easy tomato sauce for simmering  … if you haven’t been to her website, or read any of her cookbooks, make sure you do!  Always delicious, and manageable for doing with kid helpers.

Lemon Artichoke Pasta

 

Lemon Artichoke Pasta

Have you ever seen artichokes growing in the field?  Well, maybe it isn’t a big deal to Californian’s……  It took a few miles before we realized that was what we were seeing but ever since we cooked some fresh artichokes (Thanks Meghan)  I can’t stop adding them to everything. This quick and easy pasta dish is bright and refreshing – dinner ready in 20 minutes!

  • 2-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 pack angel hair/capellini pasta
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 1 can (14 ounces) water-packed quartered artichoke hearts, well drained
  • 1/2 cup minced sun dried tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup sliced kalamata olives
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • freshly ground black pepper

This recipe makes enough to serve 2-4 people.  4 as a side, 2 as a main meal

Angel hair pasta cooks very quickly (4 minutes) to prepare the artichoke sauce first and allow it to sit while you cook the pasta.

Saute the shallots in the melted butter, adding the artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, and garlic as soon as the onions have softened.  When heated through add the olives, parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Set aside while the pasta cooks.

As soon as the pasta is cooked, pull it out of the boiling water and drop it into the lemon artichoke sauce, allowing some of the pasta water to drip into the pan also.  Stir in the spinach and let the warm pasta wilt the spinach.  Add feta and serve with fresh ground pepper and parmesan shavings to garnish.

 

 

Sun Dried Tomato Pasta with Chicken and Spinach

Sun dried tomato pasta 4

Tender chicken, barely cooked spinach, crunchy bacon and tangy parmesan … this pasta dish has it all,   It’s a meal in a dish.

It seems like many years ago I just L O V E D a recipe like this at a local restaurant, creamy yet intensely flavoured and tasty chicken bits.  It took a while, but I finally found this one from RecipeTin Eats, and it is perfect!

Ingredients

  • 300g / 10 oz fettuccine
  • 30g / 2 tbsp butter , separated
  • 2 chicken breasts , cut in half horizontally
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) dry white wine (sub more chicken broth)
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) chicken stock / broth
  • 1 1/4 cups (315ml) cream , thickened / heavy 
  • 3/4 cup (75g) parmesan , finely shredded
  • 70g / 2.5oz baby spinach
  • 100 g / 3oz sun dried tomato strips

SERVING:

  • 120g / 4oz bacon , cooked and crumbled
  • More parmesan
  • Parsley , for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water for time per packet minus 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Just before draining, scoop out a mugful of pasta cooking water. Then drain pasta.

CHICKEN:

  • Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Melt half the butter in a large skillet over hig heat.
  • Add chicken and cook for 2 minutes on each side until deep golden.
  • Remove chicken onto plate, rest for a few minutes then shred with 2 forks.

ALFREDO SAUCE:

  • Turn down heat to medium high. In the same skillet, add remaining butter and garlic.
  • Cook garlic for 30 seconds until golden, then add wine.
  • Simmer rapidly, stirring to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Once mostly evaporated, add chicken broth, cream, parmesan and sun dried tomato.
  • Simmer on medium for 3 – 5 minutes, stirring leisurely, until it reduces and thickens.

Sun dried tomato pasta 1

The most important aspect of this sauce is letting it thicken enough to be rich and glistening.

ESSENTIAL TOSSING:

  • Add spinach, chicken and cooked pasta.
  • Toss for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes on the stove, until sauce thickens and coats the pasta strands – Use pasta cooking water if needed if it gets too thick.
  • Serve immediately with parmesan, crumbled bacon and parsley (if desired).

Sun dried tomato pasta 2

Fresh herbs really pop with colour and freshness in this dish, I added some fresh basil out of the garden and it was a perfect touch.

Moist and tender meatballs

I’ve made meatballs for so many years I can’t even remember when I started.  Then, over the last few years we’ve tasted some pretty amazing meatballs, most notably and surprisingly – in Mexico!  I decided I better start rethinking my meatball game.  After research and the usual taste testing, these won out.  They are so moist and tender you won’t believe the difference.  I like to make a double batch and freeze a bunch for another day.

Spaghetti & meatballs

One perfectly moist meatball, set on a bed of saucy tangled pasta – heaven.

 

 

  • 2 pounds ground meat (equal parts ground beef & ground pork)
  • 1 cup panko-style breadcrumbs
  • 2/3 cup milk, any kind
  • 4 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, plus more to serve
  • 4 tablespoons finely grated parmesan
  • 2 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt
  • Red pepper flakes and/or freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic cloves

Heat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Line a large baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup, and coat it lightly with a nonstick spray.

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Add the milk, eggs and seasonings to the panko first in order to have it all evenly distributed without overmixing your meatballs.

Meatballs 1

Next -get your herbs in there.

Meatballs 3

This is where the large fork comes in handy.  If you over mix the meatballs they will get tough, so this allows you to gently combine everything.

 

Place meat, crumbs, milk, parsley, cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, onion powder, eggs, and your minced garlic in a large bowl, and mash everything together with a fork (this keeps your meatballs from getting overworked) until evenly mixed. Using wet hands if needed, form mixture into 2-inch meatballs (I used a 3 tablespoon scoop) and arrange on prepared tray. Roast for 12 minutes, until cooked through (you can cut one in half).

Meatballs 4

Ready to pop in the oven.  These were on the larger size so they took about 18 minutes to cook through.  Don’t overcook them!  Break one open at that point and check.

Meatballs 5

If serving with spaghetti – submerge meatballs into tomato sauce and allow to simmer until pasta is ready.

Always cook the pasta for the last few minutes in the tomato sauce to allow the sauce to coat all pasta.

Serve with plenty of parmesan to grate over top.

Thanks to Deb at Smitten Kitchen for these meatballs!

 

Cafe de Paris Beurre

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How to enhance an already perfect medium rare steak?  Cafe de Paris Beurre.  It’s that easy.

What’s that, you say????  Only the most amazing flavour packed umami bomb you will ever create.  Don’t be alarmed by the list of ingredients.  This makes a whack of butter, which you can give away to your best of friends, or stash in your freezer to pull out when needed.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound, 5 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ounce ketchup
  • 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 ounce capers, rinsed
  • 2 ounces shallots, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chives, snipped
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon dill, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon tarragon leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 anchovy fillets, rinsed and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • 1 tablespoon madeira
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne powder
  • juice of one lemon
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • zest of 1/4 Orange
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

Cafe de Paris 5

Just a few of the many ingredients needed.

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Okay, it might not look appetizing right now, but it smells incredible …

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter by hand or use an electric mixer set to slow speed, until it has a slightly creamy texture.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine all the other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add this mixture to the butter and beat again until all the ingredients are completely combined.
  3. Place a double thickness of foil, about 12 inches long, on a flat surface and line with a similar-sized piece of silicone paper. Spread half the butter along one of the foil edges and roll up to form a long sausage shape — roll it with your hands like a rolling pin to get a tidy shape and eliminate any air pockets. Twist the ends to seal. You can also use plastic kitchen wrap, which I did this time.  Repeat this process with the remaining butter. Place in the fridge to chill before use.
  4. To use, slice a ½ inch thick disc of butter and place on top of a grilled steak (or a steamed spud). Traditionally, the steak is placed back under a hot grill (broiler) to soften and brown the butter, but I don’t reckon you need to do this, just let it melt from the heat of the steak.
  5. The butter can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a few weeks or in the freezer for several months.

Cafe de Paris 4

Ready to roll into logs and pop in the freezer (or gift bags!)

Cafe de Paris 6

Don’t just think of steaks, top any chicken or fish dish, or use it in place of garlic butter on bread.

Cafe de Paris Beurre 1

I tried out quite a few recipes I found, and this one from Food Republic, is the definite winner, and the most like a butter topped steak we had a “Red Door” in Whistler.  If you aren’t a meat lover, don’t even worry – it’s just amazing on vegetables, scrambled eggs or melted and drizzled over popcorn!

 

CREAMY THAI PEANUT PRAWN & NOODLES

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Creamy, tangy and full of crunch this Peanut Noodle Dish is really a one pot wonder.  One of the few peanut sauces I’ve liked, that didn’t require cooking!

My BFF Jean made a version like this when we met up in Osoyoos for wine tasting, and it was just perfect.  She made it into a one pot meal by using quick cooking Ramen noodles, which cooked in a large pot of boiling water, adding veg and shrimp at the appropriate times to get it all cooked.  Drain it in a colander and pour the sauce over – presto, deliciousness!!!
Ingredients:
These are really just suggestions.  Tonight I used broccoli and sweet coloured peppers.
  • 2 servings of rice noodles
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • vegetables, such as :
  • 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
  • ½ pound snow peas, ends trimmed and shredded
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • sweet coloured peppers
  • onions
  • garlic

Peanut Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped fine
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of chicken stock
  • Toppings:
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped peanuts
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • lime wedges
  • sriracha sauce (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  • Mix ginger, garlic, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, chicken stock and chili flakes in a bowl, puree and set aside.
  • Soak rice noodles in very hot water until just al dente, drain and set aside.
  • Remove the ingredients from heat and drain with a colander.
  • In saute pan, stir fry vegetables until just crisp tender.  Remove and stir fry prawns just until plump and tender.  Be careful not to overcook them – that can happen in the blink of an eye.

Noodles 1Return all ingredients to saute pan and stir to mix.  Add in enough noodles just to get the balance right.

Noodles 2

  • Pour the peanut sauce over the noodles and mix well.
  • Top with cilantro, peanut, sesame seeds and lime wedges to serve.
You can use any noodle if you don’t want the rice noodles, just cook according to package directions.