Saturday, January 30, 2010

Home Alone Husband Penne

My mom once told me this old Chinese story about a wife that left on some trip away from home and baked a big cookie to tie around her husband's neck so he wouldn't starve while she was gone. She came home to find him dead anyways - starved to death. The cookie was half eaten but only to top part that he could reach. He never flipped the cookie around to eat the bottom side.

Last weekend I took my mom to Vegas. The trip only lasted 3 days but in those short days, if left to his own vices, I may have found my own hubby dead of starvation. Or at least severely emaciated and malnourished. He would have been forced to consume what's left of the stale saltines, sniff out the hidden Oreos in the back of the cupboard or gnaw off his own arm.

Ok, I kid. Maybe not that last one, but there certainly would've been more than one trip to those famous golden arches. It's certainly not that Gabe can't feed himself, he just doesn't make very healthy choices. This pasta is good for fooling him into thinking he's eating some 'man food'. Joke's on him, there's tons of zucchini and whole wheat pasta in it.

We came home a few days later and..........he was still alive! Perfectly well fed with several balanced meals. He even made himself a little salad.

No he didn't. Salads = immediate loss of man cards.

No matter. He's alive. That's all that matters.

Love you, Boo.

Home Alone Husband Penne

Serves 6-8

3 zucchini, large
1 onion, large
4 garlic cloves
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, bulk* 1 lb. fresh mozzarella
1 32 oz. jar marinara sauce
1/2 c. grated hard cheese (parmigiano reggiano or pecorino romano)
1 lb. box penne pasta (or any other short cut pasta)

* If you don't have Italian sausage, be crafty & make your own:

1 lb. pork shoulder
1 tsp. fennel seed
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. red pepper flake, optional
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven 350ºF. Start some water boiling for the pasta and preheat another large heavy bottom pot on high to saute veggies and brown sausage.

Now, let's start paring the veggies. I use a large dice on both the onion and zucchini:

Put about 3 tbsp. oil into the bottom of the pan. When it starts to ripple, get the onions in the pot and turn the heat down to sweat the onions. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Chop garlic.

When onions are nice and translucent, toss in zucchini and garlic.

I didn't happen to have the sausage on hand so I just ground some pork shoulder up in the food processor and added some spices.
If that's the route you're going, cube up the pork and pulse in the food processor until it's ground up.

Season w/ some salt & pepper.

What makes sausage taste like sausage..fennel seeds!

After the veggies cook down and look like this:

Put them aside on a plate:
Using the same pan on the same heat, put about 2 tbsp. light oil (I use canola) in the bottom and toss in the ground pork.

Now, don't crucify me - I didn't have any paprika. But if I did, I'd add it in here. I put some oregano and steak seasoning in instead. Just for fun. Gabe can't tell when things taste crazy.

Keep it stirring.
Water should be boiling at this point. Throw in a handful of salt.
Add in your pasta and boil a few minutes shy of whatever it says on the box.
You don't want the Sausage going too far so turn the heat down when the sausage is almost all the way cooked.
Cut your mozzarella into large 1" cubes. Boys LOVE this.
Rolling boil, good good.
Dump pasta, good good.
Dump the onion/zucchini mixture back in.
If you have your own marinara, you're an overachiever. I use my favorite jarred:
Pecorino Romano:
Dump the sauce in the pot.
Add in the chunks of mozzarella:
Use a spider and add in the pasta directly into the sauce..
Mixy mixy.
Stand back and admire. Try not to drool in the pot.
Transfer to a 9 x 13" pan.
Sprinkle w/ cheeeeese!
Bake at 350ºF for about 30 minutes.
Ooey gooey mozzarella.

Those big chunks of cheese really make it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Greek Breakfast Pizza

Gabe and I got married a few years ago. Just like any other bride-to-be, I had what may be the most motivating factor in weight loss: wedding photos. Dun-dun-DUUUUUN!

So, just like anyone who's getting ready to do the weight loss thing, I jumped on the fad diet. My poison of choice? South Beach, baby!

I fell off that wagon not but a few months after the wedding but, I will say that I took away several habits from the South Beach Diet that I still follow to this day. This breakfast pizza is hands down my absolute favorite thing I learned from the book.

Of course, I jazzed this puppy up with some bacon and mushrooms which the original recipe does not, but you can definitely omit. Gabe won't eat it w/o the bacon though so that's my excuse for using the bacon.

Greek Breakfast Pizza
Adapted from The South Beach Diet book

Serves 2

1 whole wheat pocket pita
3 slices bacon, optional
1 c. mushrooms, sliced
4 c. pre-washed baby spinach
1 green onion, sliced
1 Roma tomato
2 oz. feta cheese
2 eggs
garlic powder, optional
salt, pepper, olive oil

*Note: pitas freeze really well!

Slice the pita in half horizontally. Put the cup sides up and toast.

I use my toaster oven.

Bacon. The root of all that is good in this world. We use three slices in our household.

Cut the bacon into little pieces - about 1/2"

Throw them into a cold non-stick pan to render a little bit of grease. The pan should be on medium to medium high heat.

If you're using uncooked bacon, just brown and drain off the grease into a bowl and whatever sticks in the pan, just leave it. Cut up the bacon and proceed as follows!

While the bacon heats up, get the mushrooms sliced. I use criminis, as always!

There we go. Give up that yummy porky goodness.

Throw into the pan and toss until the mushrooms get slightly browned.

I like using some green onions, just a small handful for flavor.

Then we have the triple washed baby spinach. You can use frozen chopped if you have it.

When the mushrooms look like this:

Go ahead and add the spinach:

Looks like a lot of spinach, but you know how spinach wilts down to nothing.



Wilted. Add 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper and a dash of garlic powder.

Here's the pita all toasty and a little crunchy.

Golden brown edges. Look for those, people. Creates a nice texture contrast.

Throw in those green onions and toss.

So put the spinach mixture onto the pitas and throw into the toaster oven to warm.

I use the same non-stick pan. Dish tyranny, remember?

Crack the egg. Crack iiiit.

Look at those pretty eggs.

Slice the tomato, 1/4" thick. Thicker if you like.


Then the feta. Yummy yummy feta. Please don't use the crumbled stuff, it's so bland compared to the blocks.

Don't forget to salt & pepper the eggs, for the love of god. Gabe's been cooking eggs for years and still can't remember that very important step.

Put the slices onto the pizzas and then..

Crumble the feta on top of the tomatoes and throw it back into the toaster oven to get warmed through.

Cook your eggs how you like, but I like when the edges get a little crunchy but the yolk is still runny.

Bonus: Use the top of the toaster oven to warm your plates!

That cheese gets all warm and the tomatoes too. DE-lish.

Then, throw the egg on top.

Add some orange slices.

Gabe calls them the Sydney Opera House oranges.

See the resemblence?

Dig in. Thank me later.

Make this for a brunch party - they'll love it!