If you’re still feeling romantical after your lovely Valentine’s Day dinner, and even if you’re way over it, here’s a quick and easy Turkey Bolognese with Zucchini Pasta for any weeknight dinner! Continue reading “Turkey Bolognese with Zucchini Pasta”
Creamy Penne Rigate Recipe for Aunt Sophie
Recently, our Aunt Sophie came up to see my Ma, and in order to make life a little easier and to give Ma some extra time to visit, I offered to make several meals ahead of time for the week. Normally, Ma has to cook dinner for my brother, nephew, and grandmother. So, the goal was to make a few large one stop meals that could be complemented with a quick dinner salad and that’s it. One of the meals was a Creamy Penne Rigate with Chicken, Ham, and Peas in an Alfredo sauce with Panko, Parmesan, and Mozzarella topping. When Aunt Sophie arrived, we all ate dinner together, and it was such a hit that she asked for the recipe so she could make it for her grandchildren when she returned home to San Antonio.
Before I post this, in the spirit of full disclosure, I did use a store bought Alfredo sauce for this particular recipe. I know. I know. It’s a horrible thing to do, but because I was making 7-9 large meals in one afternoon, I didn’t make a bechamel like I would have done normally because I needed to save some time. I did, however, doctor the jar, which made me feel a little bit better about my atrocious deed.
Creamy Penne Rigate with Chicken, Ham, and Peas in Alfredo topped with Panko, Parmesan and Mozzarella
1 Large Onion Quartered
2 Individual Packages Baby Carrots
1 Tablespoon Whole Rainbow Peppercorns
2 Tablespoons Knorr Chicken Bouillon (Caldo de Pollo)
4 Large Garlic Cloves Smashed and Peeled
4 Large Boneless Chicken Breasts
2 Cups Whole Smoked Ham Cubed
1 Package Frozen Peas
2 Jars of Best Quality Alfredo Sauce (OR make a bechamel sauce and add copious amounts of Parmesan to the sauce)
1 16oz Box Dry Penne Rigate Pasta
1/2 Cup Panko Crumbs
1 Cup Shredded Parmesan (OR freshly grated)
1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella (OR hand torn in small pieces)
2 Tablespoons Butter Melted
Preheat the oven to 375°
Fill a large 6-8 quart pot with warm water up 3/4 of the side. On medium high heat, add quartered onion, baby carrots, peppercorns, bouillon, garlic and chicken breasts to the water and then bring to a low boil. Once the chicken is cooked thoroughly, remove the chicken and set aside to cool. Taste the broth and adjust seasonings. Strain the broth and transfer the onions, carrots, peppercorns and garlic to a blender. Add broth to the mixture in the blender about half way, just to help liquefy the ingredients. Blend until smooth. Return the ingredients from the blender to the broth and place back on low heat to keep warm. Taste and adjust seasonings, as needed.
Once chicken is cool enough to handle, shred by using your hands or by using two forks to separate the meat. Place shredded chicken in an extra large bowl and add the cubed ham, frozen peas, 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan and 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella, then set aside. Add the two jars of the best quality Alfredo sauce you can purchase, and then when the jar is empty, add the seasoned broth halfway up each jar. Place the lid back on the jar and shake vigorously to remove all sauce from inside the jar, then add both jar remains into the extra large bowl with the other ingredients.
In a separate medium size soup pot, fill 1/2 up with the warm broth and then add warm water up 3/4 of the side of the soup pot. You should still have some broth left in the original pot continuing to stay warm at a low heat. Bring the water/broth mixture to a boil. Add the box of penne rigate to the boiling water/broth mixture, and stir the penne rigate frequently for 6 minutes or until the pasta is almost done but still under cooked. Remove the under cooked pasta from the water/broth mixture and transfer the pasta to the extra large bowl with the other ingredients and thoroughly mix all the ingredients together. Discard the water/broth mixture.
Once all the ingredients are completely incorporated and coated with the sauce, transfer the entire contents of the extra large bowl into a deep lasagna baking dish or large disposable foil roaster for easier clean up. Once the mixture is evenly distributed in the pan, ladle approximately 3/4 cup of the warming broth over the entire mixture. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan, mozzarella, and Panko alternating evenly over the entire surface of the mixture. Using a spoon, drizzle the melted butter evenly over the entire mixture to help the Panko and cheese brown in the oven. Create a loose foil tent to avoid touching the top of the mixture but seal around the ends to cover the pan.
Place in a 375° oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and the Creamy Penne Rigate is warmed through. Remove from the oven and remove the loose foil cover. Place back into the oven and set the oven to Broil. Carefully watch the Creamy Penne Rigate while it is browning under the broiler. Once the browning process starts, it will go fast.
Once the panko and cheese topping becomes golden brown and bubbly, remove the Creamy Penne Rigate from the oven carefully and then turn off the oven completely.
Yields 8-10 Servings
Straight Outta Day One – IFBC
As a great, prolific writer once said, “Today was a good day.”
I may not be “Straight Outta Compton,” but I am straight outta the first day of the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) in Seattle, Washington, and it was pretty darn awesome.
For the last six years, Foodista has held this conference for food bloggers everywhere, focusing on writing, food, and technology. And, this is the first year I’m participating in this phenomenally food-centric gathering.
In addition to the conference, I’m also finding some time to hit a few hot spots in Seattle to check out what the locals enjoy on a day to day. Yesterday, I made it to Stateside and Altura, two amazing visits which will get their own features soon, and today, I swung by Purple Cafe and Wine Bar before heading out to my first event with IFBC.
Taking the suggestion of my server, Jessica, I opted for the trio lunch plate that featured a beautifully created fig and Gorgonzola pizzetta, along with a butternut squash soup and a strawberry and goat cheese salad. I love figs and am a huge fan of pear and Gorgonzola flatbread; so, I knew this was going to be a winner. This pizzetta was out of this world. The buttery crust was perfectly crisp on the outside and nice and chewy where it counted. It was the perfect way to start my day’s adventures.
Now, while tomorrow marks the first official day of conference sessions, today featured a few excursions for the attendees. My particular group went to the Miele USA Showroom for a hands-on cooking class featuring their top of the line appliances, including an induction cooktop which we were able to utilize during the class. Their sleek, German-engineered, stylish ranges, coffee centers, wine refrigerators, and dishwashers were front and center during our class and proved to not only be appealing but functional.
Our group was split into five separate stations where we each made a different dish following Miele recipes while being led by our Miele cooking instructor, Mary. Group number two was where I landed, and I was paired up with Suki, a “super duper fantastic” blogger out of San Francisco who joined me in our take on Pasta e Fagioli. I say, “our take” because we put our own twist on the recipe that may or may not have included adding an entire can of tomato paste to the mix versus a few tablespoons. Whatever the case, the soup rocked, and everyone thought it was a hit!
Together with the rest of our larger group, we created Paella, Steamed Pork Buns, Sliders, Greek Salad, and Gruyere Souffle, a feast fit for kings and queens! Everyone did an incredible job and seemed to truly enjoy our outting at Miele. Now, plenty of food later, it was time for another amazing event, registration and the gift suite expo featuring local restaurants and food businesses.
Now, for me, the highlight of the gift suite expo was meeting the incomparable Armand Batali, father of famed restaurateur and Food Network icon, Mario Batali. Armand, who is actually an icon in his own right with Salumi Artisan Cured Meats in Seattle, was sampling four different salumis, fennel being the featured one in the pic. Not only was the salumi phenomenal, but Armand was, once again, an absolute delight. I’ve actually stood in line for hours to indulge in one of his handcrafted sandwiches made at Salumi, nearly missing my flight many times because I NEEDED that sandwich!
In addition to the ridiculous amount of goodies received, we had the absolute BEST “background” music by this funkalicious Rockabilly group named The Echo Devils. These guys were on FIE-uh! I’m talking blues, funky fab, James Bond groovy jams that took the event to a whole new level.
Now, if all that wasn’t enough, I decided that I would top off the night with a visit to Lark, one of Seattle’s best restaurants that features local ingredients from the very best artisans, produce growers and foragers in the Seattle area. Chef Sundstrom has truly hit his stride at this new location off East Seneca. While my particular service experience was initially questionable, they were quick to resolve any issues, and the food was never in question. From start to finish, the dishes were sheer perfection. Ending the night with a delectable black mission fig puff pastry tart was the absolute highlight of the evening… Told you I was a fan of the fig.
I can’t wait what Day Two has in store…
Note: While all IFBC posts are completely written based on my own experience and opinion, I was offered a discounted rate in exchange for three general posts about the conference.