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Tag Archive for italian

::eating out:: By George! Pizza, Pasta & Cheesesteaks


With all the time spent in Reading Terminal Market during the Philadelphia Comic Con, I got to enjoy tons of food that I had yet to try. I adore the Market.  But it is just not as convenient as all the food in our own neighborhood, so it requires a special occasion to make it down. One day when I am rich, I will make more of an effort to visit more often.

With all of us kind of craving cheesesteak goodness, we headed towards our usual spot Spataro’s only to find they were closed for the day!  The horror! Luckily after exploring a bit more, we found the back corner of the market. Neither PTB or I had ever been back there!  How had we missed this corner? With a huge neon sign guiding us overhead, we found By George Cheesesteaks and other Italian yumminess.

While we waited, I took a ton of pictures to remember everything I want to try in the future.

I’m not going to say it was the best cheesesteak I had ever had. I am not a fan of digesting animal fat at all, so when it is present in a sandwich, I cringe a little. Flavor-wise though, it was still a higher quality meat, and it was a well made sandwich. They had a huge variety, I went with the spinach, garlic, onions, and provolone.

The only other downfall to these sandwiches it the size. They are well over a foot long and about 4-5″ in diameter.

This was not a meal for one. At least not for me. Once I said something, the boys felt the need to prove me wrong. I would much rather split a sandwich and fries, but PTB doesn’t like fried onions on his cheesesteaks!

I will give George’s another try if the time comes. Overall, I was completely satisfied with the sandwich. I just wish I knew ahead of time it could feed an army. And it will take me forever to get through their endless menu and try everything. But they have tomato pie, so you know it’s good ūüôā

By George on Urbanspoon

::summer love:: Garden Pasta


After a quick glance at my fridge contents, I started coming up with my plan for dinner.  Since it had been a bad day for PTB, I decided to change my original planned meal to something including pasta.  What can I say?  I definitely found my match.  Noodles fix everything.

Unfortunately, the contents of my fridge did not include a couple zucchini as thought. ¬†It included cucumbers! ¬†Oops. ¬†So, I made dinner work with what I had. ¬†The moral of this story is – this sauce is beyond versatile. ¬†Just include whatever vegetables you want. ¬†It’s a good thing I did not go with my original plan since that definitely relied on zucchini. ¬†Oops.

What I Used
Step One

3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Olive Oil
Step Two
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped or grated
small-medium onion, sliced thin
red bell pepper, 1/4″ pieces
Step Three
3 oz tomato paste
5 cloves of garlic minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Step Four
1 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
Step Five
1/2 lb curly pasta such as fusilli
fresh chopped basil
grated parmesan

**Since the sauce takes about 30 minutes total, I started my pasta once the tomatoes were done in step one.  Since the sauce will go straight from the pan to the paste, it is ok if the noodles are done a bit before your sauce.

In a 10″ skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. ¬†Add tomatoes and cook until wilted (~5 min.). ¬†Remove from pan, add a bit more oil and add all step two vegetables. ¬†Cover, stirring occasionally, and cook until they begin to soften. ¬†This should take about 5-7 minutes.

Add tomato paste, and mix in, allowing to cook until it begins to brown.  Stir in garlic and pepper flakes and cook for another minute.  Lastly, add broth to pan and allow to thicken.  Along with set-aside tomatoes mix about half the sauce into the pasta and top with basil and parmesan.

We had this pasta with some parmesan crusted chicken breasts and topped the pasta and chicken with some of the extra sauce. ¬†It was amazing ūüôā ¬†If you want just a vegetarian meal, you could easily just split the pasta between two for a hearty dish.

Serves: 4 (as a side)  Cost: $2/serving

Roasted Vegetable & Pasta Bake

Oh my! ¬†Mother’s Day weekend was exhausting for me. ¬†I needed a few extra days to recover this year, so I apologize for the lack of posting earlier this week. ¬†On the bright side, most of Mother’s Day brunch was an absolute hit and I can’t wait to post some of the recipes. ¬†Some others however, need some tweaking before they are presented for your consumption ūüôā

Since I haven’t even imported my pictures yet (I told you I needed a break), I thought I would post a recipe that had been inspiration to the Mother’s Day main dish. ¬†I first made this dish last summer during “Family Beach Week”. ¬†We are each responsible for at least one meal, and I thought this would be a great dish for two reasons:

1.  It is a big family, I needed something I could make into a big dish and easily double.

2. I grew up on a meat & potatoes farm diet, I thought a vegetarian dish would be funny

Wondering the results of that night?

1.  It was perfect because we were able to keep mushrooms out of one pan, keeping me happy.

2. ¬†My dad stating partway through his first serving, “It could use some meat”.

So, it was successful. ¬†Maybe if I make it again this year at the beach I will add some meat to satisfy everyone. ¬†But really the versatility of this dish is one of the things that make it so great. ¬†If you want more/different vegetables, feel free. If you want some meatiness, feel free. ¬†Otherwise, I tried to follow Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe pretty closely, although mine is still not as pretty. ¬†

What You Need
Step One

3 zucchinis
2 summer squash
2 red bell peppers
1 large yellow onion
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp Herbs de Provence
Salt & Pepper
Step Two
1 lb penne pasta
Step Three
3 cups marinara sauce
1 cup grated fontina
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Step Four
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat your oven to 450F. ¬†And get your pasta water started. ¬†Cut the zucchini and squash into 1 inch chunks, and the onion and pepper into 1″ strips.

In a large bowl toss all step one ingredients together.  When cooking the pasta, only cook for about 6-7 minutes.  You want it to be undercooked since you will be baking it later.

Spread vegetables into a foil lined baking dish.  Roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until tender.

Once the pasta & veggies are done, combine with all step three ingredients.

Spread into a large baking dish.  Top with remaining parmesan and dot butter pieces around the top.

Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown and crispy.

Serve and enjoy!

Serves: 6-8  Cost: ~$4/serving (6 servings)

::cooking for two:: Chicken Bolognese


This was the first of the of the PTB birthday week meals, but the last to post.  This was one of my top picks for the week, at least from the selection of new recipes (I do love me some Etouffe).  I was sad when I burned on my finger preparing it and I was told that the blister resembled a Vitamin E tab.  I was even sadder when the blister burst without me realizing, and left me with an extremely stingy open wound on my finger.  Note to future-self: have splatter guard ready when adding pancetta to pan of hot butter.

Ok! ¬†Onto the food. ¬†I LOVED the¬†previous bolognese sauce I had made from the Cooking for Two 2009 Annual. ¬†I really have yet to make a bolognese I haven’t liked, so changing it up to be chicken didn’t seem like anything could go wrong. ¬†It was one of those meals that I knew I had to make a bit extra because we would both want “just a couple more bites”. ¬†As usual, I had to modify the recipe. ¬†This time I had two reasons. ¬†#1 – no mushrooms enter our home. ¬†#2 – Neither do sweeter white wines, so I’ll stick with something drier, thanks.

I’m sure you have noticed that I heart Muir Glen Fired Roasted Diced Tomatoes. ¬†I have completely eliminated standard diced tomatoes from my shopping. ¬†I like to change up the style tomato depending on the recipe. ¬†With something that I know I am going to be adding so many rich flavors to already, I stick with the standard, no salt added. ¬†As for butter, I want to point out that I also ALWAYS use unsalted. ¬†if the recipe is meant to have salt, it will call for salt. ¬†No need to over-sodiumize yourself needlessly (yeah, that’s right, I made a word).

What You Need:
10″ skillet
small food processor
6qt pot to cook pasta

Step One

1 can diced tomatoes
2/3 cup white wine
Step Two
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 oz Pancetta (about 5 slices), cut into 1/4″ pieces
Step Three
2 small or 1 medium carrot, minced
1 large shallot, minced
Step Four
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sugar
Step Five
8oz ground chicken
3/4 cup whole milk
Step Six
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2-2/3 lb rigatoni (depending on how hungry you are and how saucy you like it)
grated Parmesan
This is a recipe where you have time to multitask in the beginning.  So gather your ingredients, and get the skillet on the stove!  Over medium-low heat, add the wine to the pan and allow it to simmer.  The wine needs to reduce down to about a tablespoon, so you have PLENTY of time.  This should take about 15-20 min.  Process the can of diced tomatoes until smooth and set aside.  While the wine simmers you should also have time to chop up the pancetta and mince your carrot, shallot, and garlic.

Once you have reduced the wine down to a tablespoon set it aside and add the butter to the skillet.  Increase the heat to medium high.  Once the butter has melted, add the pancetta to the pan and cook until it is nice and brown.  This is where you need your splash guard!  It should only take 2 or 3 minutes, but if you get splashed Рit will HURT!  Once the pancetta is browned, add the step three ingredients to the pan, cooking until softened (~4 min).  Add step four ingredients and cook for 30 seconds.  Be sure to use the liquid from the veggies to help you scrape up any brown bits in the pan.

Add the ground chicken to the pan and break up into small pieces. ¬†Cook it for appox. 1 minute (it can still be pink) and stir in the milk, bringing to a simmer. ¬†You’ll want the milk to be completely absorbed into the mixture. ¬†This should take about 10 minutes. ¬† Use this time to break the chicken down even smaller. ¬†I would also use this time to get your pasta going.

Almost done!  Once the milk has been absorbed completely (see image above), add the tomato paste and cook for about 1 minutes.  Stir in the processed tomatoes, and about a 1/4 tsp salt & pepper (to taste).  Bring to a simmer reducing heat and cook the sauce until it is thick (but still moist).  Add the wine and cook another 5 minutes.

This *should* have been just about perfect timing for your pasta. ¬†Don’t forget to reserve some of your cooking water to help the pasta bind to the sauce and adjust the consistency to the perfect level for you. ¬†Combine and split for two, topping with freshly grated parmesan. ¬†Since I had made a bit more than was meant to be for two, I left the little bit extra in the pan so we could feel like there were those few more bites!

Serves: 2    Cost: coming soon

::vegetarian:: Spicy Baked Mac + Cheese

I will admit… as much as I love food, when it comes to mac+cheese, I prefer the Kraft blue box. ¬†I HATE Velveeta, and usually I am not crazy about “real” macaroni and cheese. ¬†PTB loves mac+cheese…so for the birthday ¬†week, I was willing to venture into something new. ¬†Especially when I found a recipe that isn’t cheddar based. ¬†I based my version of this Spicy macaroni on a Giada Everyday Italian recipe, but of course, had to change it up a little bit! ¬†There is a lot going on with this meal…so if you can get a helper – I would recommend it.

What You Need:
Step One

1lb elbow macaroni
Step Two
2 Tbsp olive oil
Large Shallot, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
Step Three
can of diced tomatoes
10oz frozen spinach, thawed & drained
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Step Four
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesean (1/3 cup more later)
1/4 cup grated Romano (1/3 cup more later)
Step Five
12oz fresh mozzarella cut into 1/4″ cubes

Cook macaroni to package directions, undercooking slightly since it will continue to cook in the oven.  Also Рget your oven heated to 350 F.  The key to making this recipe easy is multitasking.  While your water is heating, get all your step two ingredients chopped up.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallot and garlic and cook for bout 2-3 minutes.  Add all step three ingredients.

While everything is heating, mix together step four ingredients (except your reserved cheeses).

Butter a large baking dish, and then coat with half the cheese & bread crumb mixture.

Once the noodles are cooked and the veggies are heated, mix them together with the remaining cheese mixture and the cubed mozzarella.

Spread evenly in the baking dish.

Top with remaining cheeses and dot with butter. ¬†Bake for 30-40 minutes….

…until the cheese is golden brown on top.

Serve and Enjoy!! ¬†ūüôā /

Serves: 6  Cost: