Tag Archives: meals

Tasty Tuesday: “Evelyn’s” favorite pasta

We don’t go out that often.

Apparently, trying to offer up your kids as payment for a meal at restaurants is frowned upon and looked at as “wrong” and “poor parenting”.

Anyways, when we DO go out, one of my FAVORITE places to go is The Cheesecake Factory.  If you’ve never been there, I pity you- but never fear!  For the next two ‘Tasty Tuesdays’, I’m going to share MY recipes for two of my favorite dishes there.  Its one of my favorite things to do- figure out a way to make my favorite meals or items from favorite restaurants at home.  Even better is when Corey and I can work together to make the dish- bonus!

Anyways, on one of mine and Corey’s date nights, I tried a dish at The Cheesecake Factory (Evelyn’s Favorite Pasta) without even really knowing I had ordered a vegetarian meal.  Maybe not a big deal to some of you, but if you’ve learned ANYthing about me, you should know that I am NOT a vegetarian.  I’m actually under the mindset that God gave the world pigs JUST so I could have bacon.

This is all beside the point, though.  It wasn’t until I was gushing to the hubs about how yummy the leftovers were going to be, that my hunny said,”Yeah, maybe, but I need meat in my meals.”  I hadn’t even realized this was sans meat- it was THAT good.

So, I wrote down the ingredients and decided to wing it.  I think it came out pretty fabulous, if I DO say so myself.

The following is Amber’s Fantabulous Pasta.  I’m allowed to change the name since I’m not TECHNICALLY copying it.  I’m sure they did some sort of C.F. magic to make it a tad bit better.

1 can of NON marinated artichoke hearts

1 small bag of pine nuts, roasted

1 large eggplant, cubed and roasted on a sheet til soft

1 red bellpepper, roasted and cut into strips

1 small bag of sundried tomatoes, chopped

1 med. bag of broccoli florets, steamed

a container of Kalamata olives, halved

a few cloves of garlic, minced

a med. bag of penne pasta, cooked to your preference

Toss it all together with some olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh Rosemary, and oregano.  And don’t even THINK about digging in til you’ve added parmesean.

And, if you’re stomping your foot and saying,”Nope.  Not gonna happen.  No meat?  No way.”  Well, just add some meat.  Chicken would probably be pretty yummy in this.  I don’t think you’ll need it, though.

Oooo- roasted mushrooms would be AMAZING, too!

Now eat up.  You can thank me once your mouth isn’t full.

And, FYI- the leftovers of this dish were just as good.

***Tiny tip: If you’re wondering about the whole “roasting thing”, here are some pointers***

For the eggplant:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the eggplant in half and then slice a diamond pattern in the flesh.  Sprinkle salt over both sides and try to get salt in the sliced pattern (about 1 1/2 tsp. total).  Set the halves aside for about 30 minutes to draw out all the moisture. While you’re waiting, line a baking sheet with parchment or foil.  When the time is up, gently squeeze out the moisture and pat the sides dry.  Brush the sides with olive oil (about 2 tsp. total), place on the baking sheet flash side down, and roast for about an hour.  You’ll know its ready when the eggplant has kind of collapsed and the bottoms of the sides have turned a deep caramel color.  Once they’re cool, scoop out the flesh.  It should come out diced and ready to go.

For the roasted bellpepper:  Peel it as much as possible with a veggie peeler, scrape out the insides, and cut it into 1/4-1/2 strips.  Toss with olive oil and roast with the eggplant on a separate baking sheet.  It should only take about 30-50 minutes to reach the right tenderness.

For the pine nuts:  Roast your pine nuts on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, shaking halfway through. You can also toast them on top of the stove in a heavy skillet, stirring often until they turn golden.

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Tasty Tuesday: Chili Verde

Have I MENTIONED that I love food?

I mean, really, I do.  I love to cook it; I love to look at it; love to read about it… *sigh*

Wow.  I sound HIGHLY unbalanced.

I swear I’m not salivating as I write this.

Well, much.

Anyways, one of my favorite things to make for the citizens of Boystown is Chilie Verde.  What KIND usually depends on the best price I find on the meat when I’m shopping.  Sometimes its a boneless pork butt or picnic roast; sometimes its chuck (the kind of cut you’d use for pot roast); and sometimes its a few boneless/skinless chicken breasts.  It just depends, but whatever I use, its always tasty and gives AMAZING leftovers.

But, enough talking- let’s get to cooking, shall we?

Chili Verde

Sauce

4 onions, diced

1/2 cup chopped garlic

2 Serrano chilies, diced

1 jalapeno, diced

15-20 Anaheim chilies, roasted and seeded, peels removed as much as possible (if you don’t have any on hand, I’ll post a tip at the end of this for how to do it at home)

12-15 tomatillos (outer skins removed and given a good rinse), roasted

5 tbsp. garlic powder

1 tsp pepper

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp oregano

1 tsp coriander

2 tsp salt (I like to use 2 tsp of chicken bouillon- it adds a little bit more flavor for me 🙂 )

Remove seeds and as much of the skins of the peppers as possible.  Puree w/ tomatillos and place the mixture into a large pot.  If you’re one of those lucky ducks with a Vitamixer, I’m extremely jealous, and you MIGHT not even have to worry about getting all the skins off- considering a Vitamixer could puree a penny into a delicious -slightly metallic- smoothie.

Ok, maybe not.  But the peels, yes.  Let me know if you do.

In a med. saucepan over med. heat, add 1/2 cup olive oil.  Stir in onion, garlic, Serrano and jalapeno chilies.  Cook until soft.  Puree and add to the large pot.

Add garlic powder, pepper, oregano, coriander, and salt (or bouillon) to the large pot.  Stir well and simmer for 10 minutes.  Cool and separate into 2 cup amounts (zip lock freezer bags work awesome).  Freeze them until you feel it calling to you to use it.  I give it a week.  Maybe 2.

OR…

You can use one of those 2 cup portions to make yummy nummy Chili Verde for your family.  This is my choice.

Chili Verde Pork/Chicken/Beef

2 cups Chili Verde sauce

1/2 cup Olive Oil (+1/2 cup)

5 lbs trimmed pork shoulder/pork picnic roast/boneless,skinless chicken breasts/or trimmed chuck roast (whatever is the best price) (and, yes, it makes A LOT- I’ll post a recipe later for using some of those leftovers ;-D )

1 qt chicken broth

1/2 corn flour (masa)

Cover a large pot with 1/2 c olive oil.  When it gets hot enough (read: the oil starts to look shimmer-y), place the meat in.  Sear over med. heat til well browned on all sides.

Deglaze the pan with the broth, scraping the bottom to get the brown bits off.

Add chili verde sauce, turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Now, from here you can stick it in the oven and cook at 350 for a couple of hours (or till it shreds easily), but I usually like to use the crock pot.  I live in an apartment and the oven isn’t always the greatest to use (especially during the Summer).  If you use the crockpot, just put the whole mixture in and cook on LOW for around 8 hours.  The last half hour, mix that 1/2 cup olive oil you had left and that masa to make a slurry.  Mix all of THAT into the crockpot.  It’ll help to thicken everything.

Oh, you can also do all this on the stove top, too: bring everything up to a boil and reduce to a slight simmer. Cook for 2-3 hours uncovered or until the pork pulls apart easily.

Serve this yummy-ness with refried beans and Spanish rice to have a great Mexican fiesta.  And if you don’t have any great recipes for either of those, then stay tuned- I do.  One of them is over 100 years old and is DELISH.

***As promised, here’s a tip for making your own roasted chilies.  There are SOME markets out there that will do all the work for you and give it to you in a bag, all ready to use, but they also charge you for that service.  Why pay when its SO easy?  Not to mention, fresh ALWAYS beats out.  Period.

So, what you want to do is take your peppers (and tomatillos you’ve taken the skins off of, if you’re making the sauce), put them on a cookie sheet and coat it all with olive oil.  Roast in a 350 oven until soft.  If need be (if they aren’t getting soft or you’ve noticed they aren’t peeling easily), you can roast them directly on the oven rack, but make sure to place the cookie sheet below to catch the oil and juices as they drip or your oven will smoke.

Once everything is soft, place the peppers into a plastic bag to steam.  (5 minutes should work, but you can basically let them til you’re ready to peel them.)***