15-Minute Vegetarian Pasta

15-Minute Vegetarian Pasta

I am ALL about fast meals during the week days. Delicious goodness that can be whipped up in a flash using minimal ingredients and the least amount of dishes.

Because if I haven’t told you before, I absolutely loathe washing dishes. I would pretty much rather wash anything else…….laundry, my car, Bella (my pup)–heck, washing an elephant would be infinitely more enjoyable than doing dishes.

Back to food……….

Pastas are one of my go-to quick fixes where I can throw anything together for a fulfilling meal. This 15-Minute Vegetarian Pasta is so easy to make and can really be modified to whatever you have in the fridge. The end results is a great dish that is rather light and would be perfect for a warm summer night with a glass of pinot grigio in hand. And coming from a carnivorous gal, you won’t even miss the meat while you get down on a big ol’ bowl of this deliciousness.

Have an awesome Friday folks and enjoy your Easter Weekend!

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15-Minute Vegetarian Pasta
Serves 2

Ingredients:           

kosher salt
4 ounces dry linguine or spaghetti pasta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup chopped shallots
½ tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
¼ cup white wine
1½ cups grape tomatoes
3 heaping tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
black pepper
2 handfuls (about 2 cups) fresh arugula leaves

Boil the pasta for approximately 8-10 minutes in salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the starchy water that the pasta was cooked in.

While the pasta cooks, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the shallots and sauté for 1-2 minutes until they start to become translucent. Add the garlic, chili flakes and cook for an additional minute. Pour in the wine and bring it to a boil. Add the tomatoes to the skillet. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes until they begin to burst.

Pour the starchy pasta water into the skillet. Once the liquids start to boil, toss in the pasta and sprinkle in the parmesan. Vigorously toss the cooked pasta to evenly coat it with the sauce. Check for seasonings and adjust with kosher salt and pepper accordingly. Toss in the arugula leaves and plate the pasta to a dish.

Serve immediately.

Cacio e Pepe with Poached Egg

Cacio e Pepe with Poached Egg

Cacio e Pepe topped with an unctuous poached egg is absolutely divine and can be whipped together in about 20 minutes.

Want to learn more about how I’ve crossed two traditional pastas together to create this beauty? Click here and read my latest post and recipe for our friends at Safest Choice® Eggs.

You absolutely won’t regret it!

Ultimate Stuffed Shells to Ring in the Holidays

Ultimate Stuffed Shells

Here we go….let the Holiday celebrations begin!

Thanksgiving….Friendsgiving….Hannukah….Christmas…Kwanzaa…Winter Solstice…Festivus!

Don’t get me wrong, I adore them all. I’m a holiday-lovin’ gal. Heck, I’ve had my Christmas tree up for over two weeks now but with all of these festivities, there’s a lot of cooking that’s required.

And as much as I’m down for long hours of cooking and baking, I also strongly believe in dishes that I can make ahead that can still carry the spirit and yumminess (is that a word?) of the special occasion.

Ultimate Stuffed Shells

These Ultimate Stuffed Shells really fit that bill. Not only are they bright and colorful but they are just down right comfort food—something like grandma would make. Well, not my grandmas…they were old school Vietnamese and would have stuffed tofu than pasta. But someone’s grandma would have made them and it’s like getting a big ol’ hug when you take a bite.

Why do I call these “ultimate” stuffed shells? Because they’ve got all of my favs in them–spicy Italian sausage, mushrooms, spinach, and tons of different cheeses. They’re pretty easy to make and are always a fan favorite when they show up on a spread.

And with that….Bring on the stretchy pants–I’m ready for some Holiday Eats!

ps. And since this is the time for giving, check out these adorable personalized cutting boards from our friends at Red Envelope. Perfect for any loved ones who enjoy a delicious Foodventure.

Cutting Board

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Ultimate Stuffed Shells
Serves approximately 6

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
½ cup diced shallots
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup minced baby portabello mushrooms
8 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese + 2 tablespoons, divided
4 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
½ cup fresh basil chiffonade (more for garnish)
kosher salt
black pepper
20 ounces marina sauce
20-24 jumbo pasta shells, boiled to just shy of al dente
4 ounces shredded mozzarella

Heat a large skillet with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the sausage and use a wooden spoon to crumble up the meat while it’s browning. Once browned, remove the sausage to a plate that has been lined with paper towels to drain.

In the same skillet, cook the shallots over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until tender but not browned. Add in the garlic, pepper flakes, thyme, oregano and mushrooms. Continue cooking for a few minutes until the mushrooms become tender. Add the spinach, parsley, nutmeg and continue to cook for an additional minute until combined. Transfer to a large bowl and cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Once the mixture has cooled, fold in the ¼ parmesan cheese, ricotta, beaten egg and basil until just combined. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Pour approximately 2/3 of the marina sauce into a baking dish. Spread the sauce evenly to coat the bottom. Fill each of the shells with heaping spoonfuls of the cooled mixture and place them in the dish on top of the layer of marina. Continue until all of the shells have been filled and are placed snugly amongst each other in the baking dish.

Spoon the remaining marina sauce over the shells and then the remaining parmesan and mozzarella cheese.  Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet (in case anything bubbles over during baking time). Bake the shells for 25 minutes and then remove the foil and continue baking for 10 minutes until the cheese bubbles and slightly browns.

Remove the dish from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Prior to serving, garnish with additional basil chiffonade and enjoy!

Italian Sausage & Mushroom Skillet Lasagna + Nambé GIVEAWAY

Italian Sausage & Skillet Lasagna

When I was living in LA for grad school, my roommates and I would often find time between classes and work to make dinner together. They were modest meals that came out of our tiny kitchen and on our grad student budgets– but they were always fun and memorable. Especially because we barely had any cookware or pans!

Italian Sausage & Skillet Lasagna

One pot meals were a necessity and boy did we come up with some doozies! A million different types of fried rice, stroganoffs, breakfast scrambles, stir-frys, and one of my tried and true favorites—skillet lasagnas.

Italian Sausage & Skillet Lasagna

Skillet lasagnas were perfect! Not only were they delish and filling but you literally only needed a pan and one stove top burner to make it.

Italian Sausage & Skillet Lasagna

No ovens, no baking dishes and no extra pots needed to boil the noodles ahead of time. Just the thing when you’re short on time—and cookware.

Italian Sausage & Skillet Lasagna

So when I got my little hands on this gorgeous sauté pan from our friends at Nambé, nostalgia kicked in and I had to give it a roll.

Italian Sausage & Skillet Lasagna

Nambé’s new cookware line is FANTABULOUS! Sturdy, heats evenly, easy to clean and is just so pretty. Since they’re so snazzy, you can move them directly from the stove to the dining table! Cookware to Serveware? Where were you when I was in grad school?!

Italian Sausage & Skillet Lasagna

And since you are the sunshine of my day, YOU will have the chance to win a set of four (4) of their new CookServ Sauté Pans (8, 10, 12 and 14 inches) courtesy of the awesome team at Nambé! Check out these beauties:

CookServ-SautePans-web

Nambé has partnered with several different blogs for this joint giveaway of these stunning pans that are retailed at 650 buckaroos. Want to know how to win?

It’s Easy-Peasy!

Simply click on the following link to enter the Nambe Giveaway powered by Rafflecopter

Italian Sausage & Skillet Lasagna

ps. Whether you have only one pan in your pantry or a dozen, you’ll really want to make this Italian Sausage & Mushroom Skillet Lasagna. Sooooooo yummmyyy!

pps. Don’t forget to enter this rad giveaway and BEST-O-LUCK!!!

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Italian Sausage & Mushroom Skillet Lasagna
Serves 6

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound spicy Italian sausage
2 cups sliced crimini mushroom
1 cup diced white onions
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoon tomato paste
3 16-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes
10 ounces dried lasagna noodles (about 2/3 of a regular sized box)
1½ cups chicken or vegetable stock
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
kosher salt and black pepper
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
½ cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

In a large skillet that has a lid; heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat. Removed the casing from the sausage and add to the skillet. Using a wooden spoon, break up the sausage and cook until lightly brown. Add in the mushrooms and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes until the mushrooms have softened. Remove the sausage and mushrooms to a clean plate.

Add an additional tablespoon of oil to the skillet and cook the onions until softened and translucent. Add the garlic, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute before adding in the tomato paste. Allow the mixture to cook for an additional minute to allow the items to become aromatic. Transfer the sausage and mushrooms back to the skillet and stir to combine.

Using a blender or immersion blender, puree the tomatoes with its juices until smooth.

Break the lasagna noodles into 1-2 inch pieces and layer on top of the ingredients in the skillet. Pour the pureed tomatoes and chicken stock over the noodles. Allow the liquids to come to a slight boil. Cover and simmer the lasagna for 20-25 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Continue cooking until the noodles become al dente.

Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper and lay pieces of mozzarella over the top. Garnish with basil leaves and serve warm.

**If you would like a bit of crunch, turn on your oven broiler after placing the mozzarella cheese and place the skillet about 4 inches away from it. Allow to brown for about 30-45 seconds but be sure to keep an eye on it to avoid burning the lasagna.

Homemade and Hand Rolled Tagliatelle

Fresh Tagliatelle

When my sibs and I brainstormed our menu for October’s Sunday Family Dinner, we thought it would be delicious to create a meal that was hearty and celebrated the flavors of Fall. But when the day finally arrived, instead of chilly weather we were greeted with a sunny, 85 degree afternoon. That’s Southern California for you…….

We put together a simple antipasti platter of delicious cheeses, cold cuts, olives and bread to munch on while we were prepared dinner. And for dessert, my sis, N, made fruit tarts with pears and apples.

Anti Pasti

My sis, T, was in charge of the main course– slow braised Osso Bucco. Due to the hours of slow cooking, the shanks broke down into rich, meaty goodness with a wonderfully, savory sauce. Once plated, we topped the Osso Bucco with spoonfuls of gremolata—a condiment made from tons of chopped garlic, lemon zest and Italian parsley. The gremolata brought brightness to the dish and also helped cut some of the richness.

To serve with the Osso Bucco, I was inspired to try my hand at homemade, hand rolled/cut pasta. Why hand rolled instead of employing a hand crank or KitchenAid attachment? Simple…I don’t own either. (Hint! Hint!)

Osso Bucco with Fresh Tagliatelle

I used Mario Batali’s recipe for the dough and have one recommendation–beat the eggs first before pouring them into the “well” of flour. It may not be traditional but it’ll reduce any potential “leaks” that may occur. Trust me, you should have heard the shrieks coming out of me when the walls of my “well” started oozing eggs. I was a mess for a hot second! And I have to admit, I was working up a sweat from all the rolling that was going down—those Italian grandmas must be buffer than they look!

In the end, I think the Tagliatelle turned out well and was worth the effort. I do wish I could have gotten it a little thinner but I guess I’ll need to work out my biceps a little more in preparation for next time.

Happy Friday Friends!

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Recipe from Mario Batali via Joy the Baker

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese because it’s my Blogiversary!

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

My how time flies……

In the past three years, I left a comfortable job and moved to a brand new city. My family has welcomed a few new additions and have had our share of ups and downs. I’ve celebrated milestones with friends and loved ones and have stumbled upon great adventures.

And of course, three years ago I started this blog.

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

I can hardly believe how a quick decision one “wine-induced” night has catapulted me into a wonderful world of food and self-exploration.

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

This experience has introduced me to the food blogging community—a group of folks who are so supportive and generous. And I have been extended wonderful projects to participate in–which I still find so mind boggling! Not too shabby for this home cook :)

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

After three years, I am still so grateful. Thanks to my loved ones who serve as my steady food testers and inspiration.

And Thanks to you All for your continued support of The Culinary Chronicles. I promise, there’s a lot more to come.

ps. To celebrate, try out my Lobster Macaroni and Cheese. Comforting and a bit decadent…just how I like my food.

Happy Foodventures!

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Lobster Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 6

Ingredients:

¾ Pound Elbow Pasta
2½ Cups Whole Milk
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
4 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Gruyere Cheese, shredded
1 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 Cup Fontina Cheese, cubed
½ Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/8 Teaspoon Freshly Grated Nutmeg
Kosher Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
10 Ounces Cooked Lobster Meat, tail and claw
½ Cup Toasted Panko Breadcrumbs
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoon Fresh Chives, diced

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Heavily salt the water and cook the pasta for 8-10 minutes until it is just shy of al dente. Drain well and set aside.

In a small saucepan, add the milk and bring to a slow simmer.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, melt the butter and vegetable oil together over medium-low heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk for about 2-3 minutes to allow the flour to cook. Whisk in the hot milk and continue to stir until the sauce thickens. Remove the pot from heat and add in the Gruyere, Cheddar Cheese and Fontina. Stir until the cheeses have melted and then add in the red pepper flakes, nutmeg, kosher salt and black pepper. Add in the pasta and lobster and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into a greased 9×9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle the top with Panko and Parmesan Cheese. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and bake in a 400 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chives over the baked dish.

Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Orzo

Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Orzo

I’m quite pleased to share that our Sunday Family Dinners have been going swimmingly well.

And what’s fun is that we’ve adopted some international themes for each dinner—the last inspired by Latin flavors. It was a memorable afternoon/evening where everyone had a hand in creating our delicioso menu.

My contribution this time around were fresh margaritas (no pre-bottled stuff here!) and a huge bowl of Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Orzo.

Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Orzo

I’m pretty obsessed with Chimichurri Sauce –full of bright herbs and citrus flavors. I usually drizzle it over grilled skirt steak but I’ve been known to stir a spoonful of it into scrambled eggs or as a spread in sandwiches in lieu of pesto.

The dish turned out to be a winning combination that can be served either warm or at room temperature. Total Nguyen-Win :)

Stay tuned for our upcoming Family Dinner where we will venture to Europe!

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Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Orzo
Serves approximately 6

Ingredients:

1 Pound Dried Orzo
1 Pound Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher Salt
Pepper

Chimichurri Sauce
1 Large Bunch Fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped
1 Large Bunch Fresh Parsley, roughly chopped
6 Sprigs Fresh Oregano
2 Large Garlic Cloves
1 Serrano Chile Pepper*
1 Tablespoon Lime Zest
¼ Cup Lime Juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
½ Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes*
1 Teaspoon Honey
3/4 – 1 Cup Olive Oil, more if needed
Kosher Salt
Pepper

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and set aside.

Prepare the Chimichurri Sauce. In a food processor or blender, add the first nine ingredients and pulse several times. Stream in the olive oil and blend until the items have fully incorporated. More olive oil can be added if a smoother, loose texture is desired. Check for seasonings and add salt and pepper as needed. Refrigerate until ready to be used. (*Chile amounts can be adjusted based on heat level preference)

Bring a grill pan to medium high heat. Cover the pan with cooking spray and grill the shrimp about 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer the shrimp to a plate and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the orzo until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain well.

In a large bowl, toss together the orzo, shrimp and ½ cup of the Chimichurri Sauce at a time. (Add additional sauce as needed.) Plate and garnish with additional cilantro.