Category Archives: Pasta

Thai Chicken Noodle Salad

So here’s the thing about ginger. I hate it. I think it tastes like soap. I am extremely sensitive to it and I can taste even a small amount in things. Now, I realize there are some things where ginger is imperative and in general if it’s cooked into something (like chutney) I don’t notice it that much, but fresh ginger makes me feel like I’m in that scene from A Christmas Story.

While writing this post, I searched long and hard to find information on why ginger tastes like soap to some people (because I know I’m not the only one), but I couldn’t find anything. I did find some disturbing things pertaining to why people thing ginger tastes like soap, but I assure you- none of it was scientific.  Somewhere along the line I read something about how the way ginger tastes is some kind of chemical reaction, or recognition, similar to why some people think cilantro tastes like soap (not me, I love the stuff). Either way, I give up. If you find it, tell me.

Until then- keep that nasty crap away from me.

As for this recipe, it is common for Thai food to have ginger in it. I was immediately drawn to this recipe after I realized it was missing that one loathed ingredient.  I love rice noodles, everything from their texture to how quickly they cook. Aside from a short marinade for the chicken this recipe comes together extremely quickly. It tasted light and refreshing and I had visions of enjoying this in the backyard with fresh herbs from the garden. Screw you winter, bring on the sunshine!

Anyway, this is a modified version of this Martha Stewart recipe

Thai Chicken and Noodle Salad

Ingredients for dressing/ marinade:

4 thinly sliced scallion whites

2 minced garlic cloves

½ cup soy sauce

½ cup rice vinegar

2  Tbs brown sugar

1 Tbs fresh lime juice

½ tsp anchovy paste

1 tsp red pepper flakes

¼ cup sesame oil or olive oil

Whisk or shake together all ingredients except the oil (the oil will be added after it is used as a marinade).

Ingredients for salad:

1 ¼ Lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced crosswise

3 ½ oz Chinese rice noodles

1 Tbs. veg oil

2 carrots, sliced into ribbons with a vegetable peeler (or julienned if you’re fancy)

1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

¼ cup freshly chopped cilantro

Handful of bean sprouts

3-4 sliced scallions

A dash of red pepper flakes (optional)


Place chicken and half of the dressing in a sealable plastic bag, reserve remaining dressing. Marinate at room temp for 30 minutes, or refrigerate overnight. Boil about 3 cups of water in a kettle or a pot. Put the rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let them sit for two to three minutes until cooked (these directions will also be on the package). Drain and set aside. In a Large skillet heat oil over medium high. Working in batches, cook chicken until cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk the remaining dressing with ¼ cup sesame or olive oil. Top the noodles with the chicken, carrots, cucumbers, cilantro and bean sprouts. Drizzle with the dressing, and sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes and scallions.

A few notes:

The original recipe called for basil- both cilantro and basil work for Thai food and I happened to have cilantro on hand. It was delicious. If you had Thai basil it would be even better.

You could literally modify this recipe ANY way you want. You could add ginger (eww) to the marinade/dressing. You could add spicy Thai chilis instead of red chili flakes for even more heat. You could use pork or beef. You could top it with crushed peanuts, or any other kind of vegetable you might like.




Filed under Pasta, Poultry, Recipes, Salad

Beef Stroganoff

This is, hands down, one of my favorite dinners. When I visit my parents this is almost always on my request list. There is just something so homey and comforting about it. It’s just simple good food. I haven’t made this in years, partially because I associate it with home and it’s really the best when one of my parents make it, and partially because the boyfriend doesn’t like mushrooms.

He loved this, even though he did pick out all the mushrooms. Then again, he likes anything with gravy.

That’s pretty much what this is, beef with mushrooms and gravy served over egg noodles. There is nothing fancy here, just delicious down home goodness.

The inspiration behind making this was a friend of mine who attempted to make a version she found online which turned out to be nothing like she remembered. Since she was coming over for dinner, it seemed like the perfect time to call Mom for the recipe. This is a family secret, so don’t make it for anyone you don’t really really like (okay, it’s not a secret exactly, but it is from an Ohio cookbook- the kind neighborhoods and churches put together- so it’s someone’s secret family recipe).

Beef Stroganoff originally from Mom


2 Lb boneless beef, I recommend sirloin

½ cup flour

1/8 tsp pepper

1/3 cup butter; plus 3 Tbs

½ cup finely chopped onion

2 cups hot water

2 bouillon cubes

½ lb mushrooms, sliced

1 c sour cream

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 package egg noodles


Put meat in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes, this was a trick my mom always used; it makes it easier to slice the meat thinly. Cut the meat into 2 inch long ¼ inch thick slices. Combine flour and seasonings in a brown bag, add the meat and shake to coat (you could do this in other methods, but this is the way mom does it). Melt the butter in a large skillet and add the entire contents of the brown bag. Brown the meat over medium low heat. Add the onions and brown. Dissolve bouillon in hot water; add to meat mixture. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Liz wanted to make sure she got credit for slicing all the mushrooms so beautifully

Lightly brown mushrooms in 3 Tbs of butter; add the mushrooms to the mixture and simmer for 5 more minutes. Stir in sour cream and Worcestershire sauce.   Serve over cooked egg noodles.

A few notes:

While I am a big fan of Better Than Bouillon and other fancier substitutes, this recipe needs good ol’ fashioned bouillon cubes, do not substitute.

Speaking of substitutes, I often use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. Not here my friends, stick to the originals.

It’s ok if you think about giving my Mom a big hug when you eat this, I think that too.



Filed under Meat, Pasta

Pork and Ricotta Meatballs

Awhile back I came across this recipe in Food and Wine. The story mentioned that it was a beloved special run frequently at the restaurant A16 in San Francisco. As a foodie obsessed with the San Francisco food scene, I had to try this. When I was looking over the recipe, I was asking the boyfriend what he thought of some minor changes I thought of making to the recipe, his response was “just follow the damn recipe for once.” He makes a good point. So I did (mostly). Honestly, it was wonderful just as is; the one major thing I did was divide the recipe in half which is the recipe I have posted here. I generally am cooking for two and 24 meatballs seemed like a bit much. The 12 I ended up with seemed like too much…until all the leftovers disappeared the next day.

These pork meatballs were wonderful, they were amazingly moist, flavorful, and the sauce was thick with an earthy sweetness from the tomatoes. The only thing I would change (and is reflected in the recipe below) is extra tomatoes. Once everything cooked down I found myself craving more tomatoes. Granted, I served this as a spaghetti instead of just pork with tomatoes, I still think it would benefit from the extra tomatoes. This recipe is originally modified from Food and Wine.

Pork and Ricotta Meatballs (1/2 recipe)


¼ lb (2 cups) white bread, crust removed cut into ½ inch dice

¾ lb lean ground pork

1 ½ oz thinly slice pancetta

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2.5 oz ricotta (about ¼ cup)

2 Tbs chopped flat leaf parsley

½ tsp dried oregano

¼ tsp fennel seeds, crushed

¼ tsp crushed red pepper

Kosher salt

Two 28-oz cans whole peeled Italian tomatoes (San Marzano if available)

Freshly ground pepper

1 Tbs shredded basil

3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

¼ cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese


Preheat oven to 400.

In a food processor pulse the bread to coarse crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a large bowl. Grind the pancetta to a coarse paste in the food processor (you can also chop it finely, but I find this easier). Add the pork, pancetta, eggs, ricotta, parsley, oregano, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and ¾ tsp kosher salt.

Mix well. Shape into 12 meatballs. The best tool for this is an ice cream scoop, but your hands will of course work as well. Transfer the meatballs to a medium roasting pan, oiled if it’s not non-stick.

Roast the meatballs in the oven for about 30 minutes, turning once at 15 minutes.

While the meatballs roast dump all the tomatoes into a large bowl and crush lightly with your hands. Mix in the minced garlic, 1 tsp of kosher salt, and a heavy couple grinds of pepper.

The meatballs should be browned. Using a spatula, loosen the meatballs from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato mixture. Lower the oven temperature to 325 and cook uncovered for about 2 hours until the sauce is thick and the meatballs are very tender. Turn the meatballs once or twice during cooking.

Serve the meatballs over spaghetti (or on their own). Garnish with fresh basil and pecorino romano cheese.

A few notes:

I added garlic to the tomatoes because I love garlic and I felt like it. Feel free to omit it.

The meatball mixture is very wet, do not be surprised by this, just do your best to form them into balls.

In the past I haven’t ground my own bread crumbs. I usually use panko bread crumbs. I think the fresh bread crumbs really added to the moisture of the meatballs, so don’t skip this step.



Filed under Appetizers, Pasta, Recipes

Gluten Free Pasta with Roasted Garlic Goat Cheese Sauce

AND broccoli, peppadew peppers, artichokes and grilled chicken.

Lately I have been trying to eat from my fridge, because so often I end up wasting things after forgetting about them. Such as using half a bunch of asparagus and leaving the rest in the drawer. It’s not always possible to create a meal around ingredients in your fridge- let alone more than one ingredient. This time, however, it managed to work…and work really well!

I had another challenge presented to me during my menu planning; one of my dinner guests was gluten free. Ten years ago this may have presented a bit of an issue, but today there are practically gluten free isles at the market. I had been planning on a pasta dish when I remembered my friend was gluten free. Cat told me she is not a fan of brown rice pasta, she said she thinks it’s too sticky*. I went to Whole Foods to see what other options they had. What they had (along with brown rice) was quinoa pasta.

It was absolutely wonderful…and what I actually mean by that, is it tasted just like regular old pasta. I was seriously impressed. Not to mention the added bonuses of having extra protein, low sodium, and no cholesterol. The price was not overly expensive either, it’s like buying the store brand pasta versus the fancier brand of boxed pasta. I liked this pasta so much I would consider buying this in place of regular pasta.

The plan for this pasta was asparagus,artichokes, peppadew peppers, chicken, and goat cheese cream sauce. As it turns out the boyfriend had already used  the asparagus (and I don’t mean eaten, because he doesn’t do that, he shared it with other friends who were over earlier in the week). Since I had already gone to the store to get the pasta, I looked at what else was available. Broccoli it was. I was not disappointed in the least, the broccoli was perfect (but asparagus would be good too and I would prepare it the same way).


4 oz goat cheese

1 /4 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream

1/2 tsp salt

1 can artichokes in water (or frozen hearts)

1 medium head of broccoli

1 head garlic

6 peppadew peppers

1 lemon

3-4 chicken breasts

Salt and pepper, for chicken


Preheat the oven to 400. Chop off about ¼ inch off the top of the entire garlic clove; you want to just expose the cloves. Place the garlic on a piece of foil, drizzle heavily with olive oil, and twist into a little pouch. Place in the oven for about 45 minutes or until the garlic is soft and roasted and smells like heaven (in my world, heaven smells like roasted garlic). While the garlic roasts, make the rest of the dish.

Slice the peppadew peppers into thin strips (or whatever your desired shape is) and set aside. Try not to eat too many of them while you cook everything else.

You will also be roasting the broccoli but it doesn’t take as long as the garlic. To prepare the broccoli chop the head into small florets. Make a foil packet to put the broccoli in**. Drizzle the broccoli with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. The broccoli will take from about 20 minutes depending on how crisp you like your broccoli.

Start a large pot of salted water to boil on the stove for the pasta. In a medium skillet, sauté the drained artichokes and the juice of one lemon over medium heat for about 3 minutes; remove from heat and cover, the steam will help the lemon juice flavor to penetrate.

For the cream sauce, in a small sauce pan over medium low heat combine the yogurt and goat cheese and melt until a thick sauce forms. Add a dash of milk if the sauce seems too thick. By this time the garlic should be roasted. Squeeze the softened cloves directly into the sauce, along with the 1 tsp of salt and whisk to combine. Keep the sauce on low heat while you complete the final steps.

Salt and pepper the chicken and grill. While the chicken is grilling, cook the pasta.  After the past is cooked, and drained, toss the pasta with the goat cheese sauce. Toss the broccoli and the artichokes with the pasta, and top each portion with the sliced chicken and the peppadew peppers.

Absolutely delicious, not to mention gluten free, and healthy. I will be making this often.

A few notes:

My gluten free friend tells me she quite likes rice pasta but apparently there is an art to making it, involving soaking, rinsing and things like that. I will find these things out and share them with you, but until then- I recommend the quinoa pasta.

You could also roast the broccoli in a roasting dish, but I like the foil packets because they lightly steam while they roast (and there is one less dish to wash). Whatever your preference is fine.


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Filed under Pasta, Poultry, Recipes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Sausage, Mushroom and Pea Risotto

The boyfriend and I have been on a homemade sausage kick lately, which has resulted in a plethora of sausage in both our fridge and freezer. In light of this, I decided to make something with sausage for dinner last night. I had wanted to make risotto for awhile but just kept putting it off for various reasons. Risotto is notoriously a bit of a finicky dish, and if you don’t think you can make it, let me share this with you: I have a very dear friend Liz who shall remain nameless, who until recently didn’t even know the ingredients for chili. Lately she has been spreading her culinary wings, and has even made risotto. If she can make it- you surely can too. Risotto is made from a specific type of rice called Arborio. What makes this rice different than your typical rice is the high starch content resulting in a creamy almost sauce like texture when cooked. Risotto takes approximately 30 minutes to make because you have to add broth or stock slowly, while stirring constantly, to develop the tender creamy texture

Now, risotto often comes with things like mushrooms, squash and many other combinations of wonderful vegetables…that the boyfriend won’t eat. I decided on peas, sausage and mushrooms.  Classically, risotto has onions, garlic, and parmesan cheese in it as well.

Sausage, Mushroom, and Pea Risotto


½ lb ground Italian sausage, or about a link per person

6 large button mushrooms, thinly sliced (or mushrooms of choice)

1 ½ cups finely chopped onions, about one medium onion

2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed

2 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs butter

6 cups chicken stock

1 ½ cups Arborio rice

1 cup frozen peas

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste


Warm your stock over medium heat, preferably on the burner directly behind the burner where you will be cooking the risotto. You want the stock to be hot, but not boiling. In a cast iron skillet (or skillet of choice) brown and cook the sausage, set aside.

In a 4 quart enameled dutch oven, or something of similar size, sauté the mushrooms with the olive oil with a sprinkle of salt over medium heat until soft, about 4 minutes. Remove mushrooms from the pot and set aside. Add the 2 Tablespoons of butter and melt. When the butter is melted add the onions and garlic, cook until softened. Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes to lightly toast the rice. Using a ladle add approximately ½ cup of hot stock to the rice.

Cook and stir for approximately two minutes until the liquid has been absorbed. Add more stock ½ to 1 cup at a time cooking in between each addition until all of the stock has been added. You will need to stir this almost constantly at first, but as it forms more of a sauce this is less necessary. This should be at a low bubbling boil during all stages of cooking the rice, stirring frequently to avoid burning or sticking. Along with the last addition of stock add the 1 cup of frozen peas along with the 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese.

Stir to cook and combine. Once the risotto is finished add additional salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the sausage and mushrooms and serve immediately.

A few notes:

We had a spicy Italian ground sausage in the fridge so I used this. You could use any kind of sausage you like. In fact, while cooking my sausage I tried to keep it in larger chunks, I think using a sausage link that is sliced and browned would really be ideal. Chorizo would be amazing

Frozen peas are always the way to go. Here is a little fact I just read about peas in Bon Appetit: fresh peas have a very short season so unless you can get peas plucked right off the vine, they will disappoint. Tender and green at first, the peas have sugars that turn into starch within hours, so there’s a good chance those cute little pods are full of tough pellets.



Filed under Meat, Pasta, Recipes

Diver Scallops with Linguine and Bacon

I love scallops. I especially love making them because they are fancy, and surprisingly not as expensive as you might think. You absolutely want to get fresh high quality diver scallops, but that’s really the main cost of this meal (and it’s really not that expensive, we are talking less than 10 bucks for enough scallops for 2 people).  This dish is super quick, and super easy to prepare, it’s a wonderful weeknight dinner for two or it can easily be adapted for more.


3 strips of thick cut bacon

3 scallions, sliced

1 clove garlic, diced

6 scallops (3 per person is what I generally allot for)

2 servings of linguine

1 Tbs of olive oil, plus more for dressing the pasta

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Cayenne pepper (optional)


Boil a large pot of salted water for the pasta (salt the water, it’s important, it adds a lot of flavor to the pasta). Cook the pasta while you prepare the scallops. Dice the bacon and cook over medium heat in a large skillet. Once the bacon is crisp use tongs to remove it from the pan, I like to put it in a bowl lined with a paper towel to help drain a bit of the fat. Remove the pan from the heat to let the oil cool slightly (burnt bacon fat is not a delicious smell).Pat dry the scallops, this is a very important step because if they are wet they will just steam in the pan instead of searing. Season your scallops liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. I add a light sprinkle of cayenne because I think it really adds to the scallops, but it’s optional (a light sprinkle will add flavor and not a lot of heat).

Depending on how much fat your bacon rendered, you may want to pour some off, you want about a tablespoon. You also could remove all of the bacon fat and use olive oil (but I don’t know why you would want to do that).  Put the pan back on the heat and warm to medium high. You want a HOT skillet because the key to scallops is to get a really good sear on them. Another key to scallop cooking is not to crowd the pan, if you add too many at one time it drops the temperature and you will not be able to get a proper sear. You should be able to fit 6 easily in a 10-12inch skillet, but any more than that you should do it in batches. Once the pan is hot, add the scallops carefully (they should sizzle). Do not touch them; let them cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until they have a dark sear. I find it easiest to use tongs to turn them over, but use whatever you are comfortable with.  Once the scallops are cooked remove from the pan and set aside.  Turn the heat down to medium and add the garlic to the pan.

Cook until fragrant and then add the sliced scallions and cook for another 30 seconds or so just until the scallions start to wilt. Pour the garlic/scallion oil over the pasta and add another healthy drizzle of olive oil, add the cooked bacon and toss. Plate the pasta and top with 3 scallops apiece.

check out the beautiful sear

check out the beautiful sear

A few notes:

There are two kinds of scallops in the world, bay and sea. Bay scallops are found in the smaller bays of coastlines and sea scallops are found…well…in the sea. Bay scallops are quite a bit smaller, usually about 1/2″ in diameter where sea scallops are about 1 1/2″ in diameter. Diver scallops are sea scallops that are literally hand picked by divers. They are considered to be the highest quality (and most tasty in my opinion). While there is a time and a place for bay scallops, I think diver scallops are really ideal for use as an entrée.


– Second note from Cat:  This isn’t my post, but since I have a scallop related anecdote, I have to take my chance.  I used to joke with my friend Andy Flynn that when I imagine scallops in the wild, I imagine a long white tube just crawling around in the sea, like a pale cucumber, and when we eat scallops, somebody just grabs the tube and chops it up into little circles.  I can’t remember why I thought this idea was so hilarious to begin with, and I am, of course, aware that isn’t actually true, but I do find it funny to think about.  So two summers ago, I was in Asia, and in this particular story, on an island off the coast of Thailand.  Thai islands have a lot of “beach BBQ” things going on for tourists, where they put all this seafood on tables, and you pick it out and they BBQ it for you.  Well, I finally saw scallops in the wild, turns out they are in pretty little shells, and not, in fact, long white tubes like I prefer to imagine.  The picture below is me, trying to explain to the skeptical Thai man at the BBQ stand why I found his scallops so fascinating.  He obviously thinks I’m a total idiot.  – Cat

i'm explaining that i've never actually seen a scallop in the shell, and that i think it's funny to imagine them being a long tube. he thinks i'm a moron, but is too polite to say so.


Filed under Pasta, Recipes, Seafood

Baked Lemon Pasta

If you have any interest in food blogs (which I hope you do since you are here) you have probably heard of The Pioneer Woman, she is quite popular, not to mention amazing. I really truly enjoy her writing, her food, and almost every aspect of her blog in general. However; I don’t know how that woman keeps her butt so tiny because she is channeling a whole lotta Paula Dean in that ranch kitchen of hers. Not all of her recipes are like this…but most of the ones I want to try are. As it turns out, I also love cream and butter and delicious things like that. My butt begs to differ, so I have decided to take one of her recipes and lighten it up. I have never met a lemon I didn’t like- so when I came across this recipe, I had to try it.

When I made this for dinner the boyfriend said…wow this is delicious, what kind of cheese is it? I am so sneaky! It was a combination of lemon juice, 0% Greek yogurt, olive oil, butter, and garlic. For those of you who are familiar with cheese making, yes, this does include some of the same ingredients as cheese so in reality I guess it is a littttttle bit like cheese- but for a low fat satisfying version, I’ll take it. If you’re familiar with noodle kugel, this has a similar consistency.  This is savory, however, whereas kugel is sweet, but the cottage cheese-like consistency is similar.

The Pioneer Woman’s original recipe calls for sour cream, and since I often sub out Greek yogurt for sour cream, I decided to try it in this recipe as well. While you could use low fat sour cream in this, I have always found that to be less than satisfying, it’s always rather runny and not very creamy, where as Greek yogurt has a really luscious thickness to it. I also decided to omit the parmesan cheese since Greek yogurt has a bit more tang than sour cream, and I just added an extra sprinkle of salt at the end to account for it. (Confession- I actually forgot to add the parmesan, but half way through the meal I realized I forgot it, and decided it didn’t need it).

Recipe modified from The Pioneer Woman, link to the original here.


1 Lb thin spaghetti

2 Tbs salted butter

2 Tbs olive oil

2 cloves Garlic, minced

1 whole lemon, zested and juiced

2 cups 0% fat Greek Yogurt (or sour cream)

½ tsp. kosher salt

Flat leaf parsley, chopped

Extra lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 375. Cook the spaghetti to al dente (it will cook a bit more in the oven).

On low heat melt the butter and olive oil. Add the minced garlic and lemon juice and sauté lightly until the garlic is fragrant. Remove from the heat.Add the Greek yogurt and stir carefully to combine.

Add the lemon zest and stir again, don’t worry if you cant incorporate all of the oil into the yogurt, mine looked like this:

In a large bowl toss the cooked spaghetti noodles with the sauce.

Transfer to an oven safe dish (I used and 8X8). Bake uncovered for 15 minutes (do not over bake or the noodles will dry out). Top with chopped parsley. Serve with lemon slice to squeeze over the top, and grilled chicken if you want to be like me.

A few notes:

This made a TON of pasta, for two I would cut it in ½ and still plan on leftovers.

I used the butter as listed in the original recipe, but i think you could probably just use all olive oil.

Before you bake the pasta it has a lemony creamy sauce, you could easily stop right here and eat it as is.

I made this in a 10 inch skillet, it was a bit difficult to incorporate the yogurt. I will be using a sauce pan next time.

I have big plans for this pasta this summer, here are some possible variations:

-Replace the parsley with basil, and add toasted pine nuts

-Add tomatoes to the above option, either fresh halved grape tomatoes, or roasted tomatoes.

-Add fresh baby spinach into the bowl you toss the sauce and pasta with, so that it wilts slighty and cooks with the pasta. MMmm

So many possibilities!



Filed under Pasta, Recipes, Vegetarian