Zoodles with a spiral slicer

I finally purchased a Paderno spiralizer slicer and it has been a wonderful addition to my kitchen tool collection.  My three blade slicer is able to cut vegetables very quickly into angel hair noodles, shoestrings and even spiral cut strands.  My first attempt at using the tool was extremely successful, as I made zucchini noodles in place of pasta one evening for dinner.

I sautéed the zoodles with some sliced mushrooms, seasoned with black pepper and parsley flakes in one tablespoon olive oil. I cooked the zucchini noodles until soft and served with pasta sauce.  The noodles were extremely tasty, and confirm the recent enthusiasm from many chefs for using this spiral slicer.

I will be experimenting with apples, potatoes, carrots and cucumbers in the coming months. The slicer is an interesting way to prepare and cut these foods for appealing presentation and to increase food excitement.

For more information on this slicer, it can be purchased online at Williams Sonoma cookware.

Spinach and Tomato Tortellini

After doing an Internet search, I was not able to find a recipe which comes close to how I have prepared this dish several times.  It is quite tasty and has gone through some variations in the past years. I have finally settled on this method which produces a very delicious quick and easy dinner.

I use microwave bacon to start, which immediately speeds up the cooking process. In a large 10 inch deep saucepan, I heat 5 strips of bacon with just a teaspoon of olive oil.  Remove the bacon and set aside to cut into pieces.  In the pan, brown one white chopped onion.

   

Next, add 1/2 of one frozen box of spinach, which has been thawed and drained.  And, also 1/2 bag of frozen tortellini, which have been thawed, but not yet cooked. Stir to combine and heat slightly.  Then add, one canned of drained diced tomatoes.

Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Then add bacon pieces and cook and additional five minutes.

Top with Parmesan cheese and parsley flakes. Serve and enjoy.

Lasagna in a slow cooker

This was my first experience of preparing a lasagna in a multi-cooker.  It turned out perfectly. The recipe is super simple and easy to make, but allow at least 6 hours for cooking the meal.

Assemble these ingredients:  1 pound ground beef, 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning, 28 ounces pasta sauce, 1/3 cup water (optional) 8-10 uncooked lasagna noodles, 1 carton ricotta cheese, and 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese (or more if desired), dried parsley for the top

Brown the beef in the slow cooker and add Italian seasoning.  Drain the beef.  Combine the spaghetti sauce and the water in a small bowl.  Drizzle a bit of sauce at the bottom of the cooker first, then place noodles as the first layer.  Add some beef, and sprinkle with both types of cheese, cover with sauce.  Repeat each layer until all of the ingredients have been added to the dish. Sprinkle the top with cheese.  Cover and cook on High for 1 hour, then reduce to low cook for at least 5 hours. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Serve with a side salad and garlic toast if desired.  Refrigerate or freeze the leftovers.
This dish freezes very well and can be used for easy weeknight meals. Divide into freezer containers and allow to cool before sealing.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

RPM Italian-Chicago

As someone who loves to enjoy a quiet delicious meal at a lovely restaurant, I highly recommend RPM Italian.  We made reservations weeks in advance as nightly the dinner hours are jammed with guests. Located in River North, the upscale atmosphere is decorated in black, white and grey, with wood and leather accents. The menu is billed as contemporary Italian with fresh pastas and Italian classics.  Within the dining areas, the feeling is romantic and chic. We arrived at the start of the evening and within 15 minutes every table was seated.

IMG_7886

We dined for two hours with a comfortably slow pace to our six course meal. The servings were plated very attractively with our waiter explaining the menu and the various options.

We started with hot antipasti and then the bread course.  We shared a green salad and the pasta course, where we selected the carbonara. Giuliana’s salad was crisp and tasty.  The pasta was prepared tableside and was a petite portion perfect for tasting.

IMG_7890    IMG_7893

IMG_7903

I chose the slow cooked crispy roasted chicken with broccolini for my entrée, while my husband thoroughly enjoyed the Italian classic spaghetti and meatball with pomodoro basil sauce.

IMG_7899     IMG_7901

For dessert, we were treated to a gelato and sorbetto assortment. We sampled coconut, pistachio, and salted caramel gelato along with raspberry sorbetto.

RPM Italian was a top choice on my restaurant review list of places to visit, and it certainly met my expectations of fine dining and pleasurable evenings on the town.

IMG_7911

Meatless stroganoff

Here is a recipe for your next meatless Monday dinner schedule.  If you like mushrooms, this tasty stroganoff is full of flavor and is also very easy to prepare. This recipe could also be a hit for your next buffet or casserole night with friends.  Simple to make and very creamy and a favorite of the men in the crowd.

Gather these ingredients:  8 ounces of egg noodles, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons margarine, 2 packages of white button mushrooms or other favorite mushrooms, minced garlic, dried thyme, sweet paprika, sea salt, ground black pepper, 2 tablespoons flour, 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, 1 cup sour cream, and dried parsley flakes.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Begin by cooking the noodles according to the directions on the bag.  Drain and reserve for the next steps.  Heat olive oil and only 1 tablespoon margarine in a large open skillet.  Add sliced mushrooms and cook for about 4-6 minutes. Stir in garlic and the next four ingredients. Next, add the flour and another tablespoon margarine and cook for about 1 more minute.  Add chicken broth and mix well, bringing the entire mixture to a boil. Cook for 5-7 minutes and remove from the heat.  Add sour cream and stir.  Mix in the noodles or serve over the noodles garnished with dried parsley flakes.  If taking to a casserole party or serving on a buffet, place into a warm casserole dish or a chafing dish to keep the stroganoff heated.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Shrimp Scampi

We love shrimp dishes at our home, and I often try to incorporate different flavors so that the very neutral tasting shrimp come alive. Shrimp cook very quickly and are an excellent protein. Cooking with wine also adds a delicious flavor to shrimp, so choose a dry white wine and mix away. An added hint for cooking with wine, if you do not like the taste of a certain wine, do not use it in your dish.  Always select a delicious tasting wine that you or your guests love to drink straight from the glass.

This scampi recipe is super simple and takes about 15-20 minutes to prepare.  Begin by choosing a large deep skillet.  Melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter or margarine in the pan along with about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic and heat slowly to infuse the butter with the flavor.  As this is cooking, begin a pot of water to boil for the pasta.  I used very thin spaghetti for the scampi and cooked according to the directions on the pasta box, about six minutes.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Next, into the skillet, add one chopped white onion and about 6 chopped green onions including the stems.  Heat and stir, adding the following seasonings:  salt, ground black pepper, dried parsley flakes, crushed red pepper to taste, and if desired, lemon pepper blend and dried green pepper flakes.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Add cleaned and de-veined shrimp (26-30 count size) to the pan.  The shrimp will cook in about 4-6 minutes.  Just as the shrimp finish cooking, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or to taste, and about 1/2 cup of white wine.  Allow these last ingredients to boil just to heat and then reduce the heat.  Drain the pasta and mix well.  Serve immediately.

This dish can be controlled by the cook.  If you like a lot of garlic, add more chopped garlic. If you like herbs, add more herbs.  This is another recipe that is easy to prepare, looks and tastes great and is very quick from cook-top to table.

The wine in this dish gives the pasta a delicious flavor, so be certain to choose a favorite.

 

 

shrimp pasta salad

Here is a perfect summer lunch recipe.  Actually, this recipe can be made one day in advance and used for a lunch, tea party sandwiches, summer snacks, or a light summer dinner.  Choose an attractive lettuce leaf to serve with the salad, such as bibb, Boston, mache or a red romaine.  The recipe was adapted from a Taste of Home magazine.

Here is the recipe:  Use an 8 ounce bag of cooked salad shrimp. (100-200 size)

Mix together 1/2 cup light sour cream, 1/2 cup light mayonnaise, 1-2 celery stalks minced, 3 minced shallots, 1 Tablespoon ketchup, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon horseradish, salt and pepper to taste.

When this sauce is mixed together, add 2 cups of cooked and chilled macaroni noodles.  Chill completely for at least 3 hours and serve.