August 25, 2009

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce in Photos

Posted in Pasta: stovetop tagged , , at 8:53 pm by jenniec00ks

This recipe requires a few simple ingredients but yields a sweet sauce full of depth and flavor.  It’s roots are based from Rachael Ray’s Gemelli with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.  However, it does require a food processor in order to get the full incorporation of the bell peppers.  If you don’t have one, chop the bell peppers as finely as you can and try this recipe out anyway.

This serves 2-3 people, and for those who must have their meat – try pairing it with the spicy shrimp recipe to come!

Ingredients:
2 fresh red peppers (see below for details/jar substitutions)
1/2 lb. of any kind of pasta you like, Rachael Ray uses spirals, I anything lying around
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 shallots
14.5 oz. crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine or chicken/vegetable broth

PS, click any picture for a larger view!

roastedredpepper 005I’m starting with 2 fresh red bell peppers that have been blistered under a broiler, peeled, and sliced which you can replicate for special occasions.  The whole process only takes maybe 10 minutes plus cooling time.  On the weeknights that you’re pressed for time, go ahead and start with some roasted red bell peppers in a jar.  I believe they’re usually packed in water with some preservatives, so you might want to give them a rinse before you start.  And if you’re using the jarred kind, I’d estimate about a cup sliced and 1/2 cup after it’s been pureed (8 oz? if anyone tries this, please report back!)

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We’re starting off high powered with the food processor to finely chop these bell peppers.  Use the pulse option – the roasted peppers will have a lot of water in them and we don’t want to make soup.  No more than 5 pulses should do the trick.

If you only have a blender (which is a staple in many college kitchens for frozen drinks, e.g. smoothies of course), you can add some chicken (or vegetable) broth or white wine to help it blend (no more than a 1/2 cup, less if possible, you can always add in but you can’t take liquid out.)  If you don’t have either a blender or a food processor, guess you’ll be working on your knife skills!

roastedredpepper 009roastedredpepper 010Speaking of knife skills, chop up a couple shallots and a couple cloves of garlic (more or less to your taste, I went a bit heavy on the shallots).  And before you tell me I can’t count, there were 2 smaller shallots inside each of the paper casing.  Heat up a tablespoon of oil on medium heat in a skillet/saucepan.  The skillet I used was clearly a bit large for this application.  Oops.

Anyway, after everything is chopped, toss it in the pre-heated pan and saute for ~2-3 minutes.  Then add the roasted red peppers and give it a stir.  If you had to add the liquid earlier (wine/veg broth/chkn broth) then let this simmer for ~4-5 minutes to concentrate the flavor.  If not, then saute the red pepper mixture (bottom right) for 2-3 minutes.  Right about now it should be smelling fantabulous in your kitchen.

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If you still haven’t added the liquid of your choice (wine/veg broth/chkn broth) it’s time do it now and let the liquid reduce for 2-3 minutes.

roastedredpepper 013We’re definitely going for flavor than to let the wine/broth water down the sauce.  The crushed tomatoes will provide plenty of liquid to create the sauce.  Speaking of which, time for the tomatoes to come to the party.

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Et voila! Dress up any pasta with this fantastic sauce!

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August 15, 2009

Basics: Roasted Red Bell Peppers

Posted in Basic Techniques tagged at 7:20 pm by jenniec00ks

I know you can get these in a jar, but for that extra special occasion, try roasting your own.  They’re truly amazing.  This is the broiler method, as I’ve never had a gas stove.  You can rinse the peppers if you’d like, but make sure they are completely dry before roasting them.

roastedredpepper 001Just put the whole pepper as close to the top heating element as possible without touching it.  I also rolled up some foil and stuck it in the doorway to keep the heating element on all the time.

roastedredpepper 002Each side only takes 1-2 minutes to blacken, so I’d stay near the broiler.  Use tongs to rotate the peppers approximately a quarter turn to blacken all sides.

roastedredpepper 003When they’re fully blackened, put them in a paper sack.  Alternatively, you could put them in a bowl and put some plastic wrap on top.

roastedredpepper 004After about 15 minutes, they should be cool enough to handle.  The left one above could be a little more blackened.  Just pull on the skin and it should slip right off.

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That’ll make them nice and pliable to slice right up.  =)  Enjoy!

August 13, 2009

Turkey and/or Veggie Lasagna in Photos

Posted in Pasta: baked tagged , , , , , at 9:09 pm by jenniec00ks

lasagna 047Phew.  I am blogging my butt off, and I have a BAJILLION pictures of this recipe.  So might as well take advantage of it, this will be a follow the pictures kind of recipe.  I did a turkey AND veggie lasagna, so my 9″x9″ dish was filled to the brim.  I was originally going to do 2 smaller lasagnas, but then I realized I cooked the turkey before the veggies, and therefore contaminated the pot and decided to throw it all together.

Ingredients:

9 x 9 inch glass dish (9×13 would prob work, may need a lil more sauce)
1 box lasagna noodles (9-12, bake/no bake, up to you)
1/2 lb turkey
1 bell pepper (any color will do)
6-7 large mushrooms quartered, ~8 oz.
S&P to taste
5 cloves garlic
3/4 jar (~20 oz) of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup diced onion (or whatever you have around)
1 small container ricotta (15 oz? sorry it’s been a while)
1 large egg
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese or Italian white cheese blend*

* Don’t get the 2% or fat-free cheese, it just WON’T MELT!!  >O

Brown the turkey.

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For the vegetarians, cut the bell pepper (click for a link to my new basics posts to keep recipes shorter) and mushrooms into large chunks & dice the onion.

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Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan and toss the bell peppers in for a minute or two to give them a head start.  Then toss the mushrooms in and saute them for 3-4 minutes until the mushrooms are soft.

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With that extra room on the cutting board, finely dice the 5 cloves of garlic and add them to the pot.  Just as a refresher since I haven’t posted a garlic mincing basic – pull the cloves apart and lay them on your board.  Lay the knife flat on top of each and give the knife (not the blade side) a good whack with your fist.  Then you should be able to pull the paper right off.

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(Click the photos for a larger image.)

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Add it to the pot and give it a stir for a 1-2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant.  Then add about 2 cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce (3/4 of a 24 oz. jar), sorry this amount isn’t more precise.  Also stir in the onions and cover the pan so the sauce can simmer and soften the onions.

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Time to boil the noodles and drain them according to the package.  Or you can skip this step by buying those no-bake ones – so long as you’ve got enough sauce, the no-bake ones are great because they save time, energy AND a pot while not missing any flavor.

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Last step is to beat the egg and ricotta together in a bowl – you can throw in any grated parmesean cheese for extra flavor if you’ve got it around.  Make sure this layer is mixed well!

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Finally, the layering.  Well, better get your oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit right about now.  We’re going to do pasta, ricotta, sauce, shredded cheese.  But we’re actually going to start with an exception, and put an extra layer of sauce on the bottom.  Some say to do it to prevent sticking, but it’s pretty much required if you’re using the no-bake noodles.  If you’ve got boiled noodles, I think it’s optional.

lasagna 033 Sauce at the bottom, still piping hot!

lasagna 034Noodle layer and half of the ricotta/egg mixture.  Don’t need to spread it all that evenly, it will melt in the oven and make a nice layer.

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Sauce, again.  I had veggies + meat in the sauce, but you might want just one or the other.lasagna 037Shredded cheese!

Then we do it again, but use up all the ricotta you’ve got left.

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Then the final layer of pasta, sauce, and shredded cheese for the topping:

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Pop this heavy sucker into the oven for ~45 minutes (uncovered!) or until the cheese is golden brown.  I put it on a foiled sheet pan in case anything boiled over, it didn’t mess up the oven.

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w00t! Golden brown! Time to eat!

Basics: Dicing a bell pepper

Posted in Basic Techniques tagged at 5:13 pm by jenniec00ks

lasagna 005Turn the bell pepper upside down (stem side down) and cut about halfway down.

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Pull the bell pepper apart to expose the seeds.lasagna 008

Pull the seeds out and the top around the stem should come with it.lasagna 011

Cut each half into strips from the inside out, makes it a little easier I find.lasagna 012

Then collect the large strips and hold them together to make a cut through all.

lasagna 013Voila!