Vegan: Penne with asparagus. 9/20/18

Today we are having yesterday’s pasta that wasn’t. This is a simple but delicious dish. The prep and cooking time is about 20 minutes.

While you are bringing the water for the pasta up to a boil sauté a tablespoon or so of chopped shallot and two sliced garlic cloves in a mixture of olive oil and butter. Start cooking the pasta (we use three ounces per person) in the salted water. While that’s going, sauté the diagonally sliced asparagus stems. Drain the pasta when the penne is quite al dente reserving a cup of the pasta water. Put the asparagus tips in the pan and dump the hot penne in on top. Mix it over heat using some of the pasta water to create a thin sauce. When the penne texture is perfectly to your liking, serve.

Penne with asparagus

For a vegetarian dish include grated cheese over the top. For omnivores you might add a little ham.

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The pasta dinner that wasn’t. 9/19/18

John goes into the office today which always means a larger lunch than usual. I go out to lunch with my daughter which also means a larger lunch than usual. These two events have an impact on dinner tonight.


My lunchtime spicy banh mi sandwich

After settling down with a glass of wine and some pretzels to talk about our days’ events, I make an herb and tomato salad which includes two types of peppers, scallions, and a toasted pita. It is really a fattoush.


Tomato herb salad with crisp pita

We are supposed to be making penne with asparagus for the main event. I say to John, “Are you still hungry?” “Not really,” he replies. So in an unusual hunger awareness situation (usually we would just eat dinner anyway), we cancel the pasta and decide that salad is enough for dinner. Good for us!!


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Fire on the grill! Epic fail. 9/18/18

We run into a little trouble when our cast iron flat top catches fire on the grill. Our experiment with searing scallops on a ripping hot surface does not turn out well.  Lesson, never add fat too an overly hot grill, flat top, frying pan, etc. I am really glad that this occurs outside instead of in the kitchen. Fortunately no one is hurt or anything else catches fire.


Blackened scallops (by mistake) with spinach and new potatoes

After the fire dies down, John continues to cook the scallops but the heat of the flat top is a little too much for the delicate scallops. Let’s just call these blackened scallops. In the meantime I cook some new potatoes, spinach, and make tartar sauce.

I suggest that we go back to fried scallops. It is not a happy-making remark.


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Monday Sous vide grilled BBQ Chicken. 9/17/18

Tonight’s dinner has two courses! How fancy of us! For out first course we have a the ingredients for a Caprese salad on a bed of spinach. Our daughter’s tomatoes are the stars with backup from basil that I grow in the backyard in a pot.

Caprese salad

The chicken preparation sounds confusing but all it is really just a sous vide chicken breast that we season with some BBQ sauce and then slap on the grill briefly. Usually we cook chicken thighs on the grill for this dinner but we only had breasts in the freezer. They can get really dried out if you try to cook them on the grill the whole time. The side dish is a spicy bean salad. It is a mixture of black-eyed peas and black beans with a whole lot of other chopped up vegetables. I put harissa in it for a spicy punch.

BBQ chicken breast with spicy bean salad aka Texas caviar

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Vegan Pasta Pantry Night. 9/16/18

I think I will start with the picture first since if you are vegan, vegetarian, or an omnivore such as myself, you will love the looks of this dish!

Whole wheat linguine with garlic, tomatoes, olives, capers, parsley, and breadcrumbs

As you can see I make notes on the recipes I use. Some changes I made to this recipe is to slice up all the garlic and toast it in olive oil. Then I take the garlic slices out and save them for garnishing. In the meantime the oil that you are cooking the rest of the ingredients in is flavored with the garlic. I do not chop up the capers. Capers are small! Why make extra work? I use canned petite diced tomatoes and throw in some fresh if I have them. I loosen the sauce with some V8 and also use some reserved pasta water. Rather than using fresh breadcrumbs, I season and toast some panko breadcrumbs. John cooks the linguine and I make the sauce. It all takes less than one half hour. We make this at least once a month.

Most importantly find a recipe that looks good to you. Try it out and then make it your own by changing it to your own tastes and ease of preparation. Be sure to make notes because even if you feel that you will remember what you did, chances are you won’t.

Posted in Easy, Italian, Kitchen tips, Pasta, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weekly menu 9/17-23/2018

Last week was not a great success with following the menu but I am not daunted! After a vegan dinner on Sunday, 9/16/18, we will be starting off with Chicken Monday tomorrow.  As an aside, yesterday our son told us that when they make chicken at their house they refer to it as Chicken Monday regardless of the day of the week. It made me smile.


There is nothing too exciting this week. I think I need to start actually following the menu before I get inventive.

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Too busy celebrating to cook! 9/14/18

We have been off celebrating John’s birthday so my well-planned menu has flown out the window. We ate out for dinner one night and then had no dinner the next due to a large lunch. After one more celebration with the family today things should get back to normal. Here’s a look at some of the dishes we’ve had.

We shared this delicious rabbit pate with pickled vegetables

I had herb and ricotta dumplings which John helped eat

He enjoyed duck confit

On a beautiful Friday we stopped at Stonestreet Winery in the Alexander Valley for some top notch Chardonnay tasting

I expect my menu will be filled with less caloric selections next week!

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