Entries Tagged as 'pasta'

Extreme Rotini and Cheese and a Gaw-jis Meatloaf

rotini and cheese

“So what in the Sam Hill is Nikki doing making meatloaf and mac and cheese in the summer for?” you ask? Well. Even though the temps are soaring, and the sun is blazing, I braved the house heating oven. For One Reason. Michelle, at Thursday Night Smackdown posted her oh so decadent creamy cheesy rotini. Did you see that stuff?! I may have slobbered all over myself. And cried with envy at that dish. She is such a fabulously funny writer, making *thee* most amazing of foods. I mean, this gal makes $55 sticks of butter for recipes, folks. Michelle is also the poached egg Master (Madame? Mistress?).  I bow down to her talents, people.  Seriously. 

So back to the Cheeeese….the Rotini and Cheese…I followed Michelle’s recipe pretty closely, though I did make a few changes, which I’ll note here:


1 1/2 pounds (750 grams) rotini
1/2 cup butter
a few saffron threads
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 quarts (1 1/2 liters) milk
2 cups grated white Cheddar
1 cup grated Gouda
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Regiano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
plenty of freshly cracked black pepper
a spoonful of sweet Spanish paprika
a generous grate of nutmeg
2 chicken bouillon cubes, crumbled
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs


First, preheat your oven to about 350ºF/175ºC and get your pasta water boiling.
While this is getting started, get your sauce going.
Heat butter over medium heat.
Remove from heat and add saffron threads.
Stir this around a little bit so the saffron releases it’s color and aroma.
Add flour and whisk until creamy.Add the bouillon (be sure it’s pretty powdery, and whisk it through)
Add a bit of milk and whisk until thoroughly combined.
Add remaining milk and return to heat.
You’re going to have to whisk this pertnear (that’s a Minnesotan word, guys…it means “almost.”) constantly until it heats through and begins to thicken.
This will happen after about 10 minutes or so.
When the sauce is just beginning to thicken, add the remaining seasonings and stir through.
Now it should really start to thicken up.
Remove from heat and add the cheeses.
Taste a spoonful (or 5) to make sure the seasonings are right.
You might need to taste some more spoonfuls to be sure.
Once you’ve gotten the sauce right, cover and set it aside.
Your noodles should be about done by now, right?
Drain them and add them to the sauce.
Stir it all up.
Pour this into an oven proof dish.
Now, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter in the mic quick.
Add the melted butter to the bread crumbs and mix it up really well with a fork, until it has a sandy texture and appearance (yum! let’s eat sand!).
Sprinkle this all over the top of the noodles and cheese.
Bake about 20 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
See that?

rotini and cheese

“So what about this so called ‘gaw-jis’ meatloaf?” you ask…”And anyway, who the hell has ever seen a beautiful meatloaf?”  No one has.  It just isn’t possible, because meatloaf is ugly assed food.  But I don’t care, because it is really, REALLY good.  Meatloaf may not be beautiful on the *outside,* but it sure is gorgeous when you take that first tender bite, seasoned just so, with a kick of Sweet Baby Ray’s slathered over the top for good measure. 

gawjis meatloaf

Now that’s good eatin’.


2 pounds (1 kilo) ground beef
1 egg
2/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup milk
garlic powder…lots, at least a tablespoon
1/2 envelope of Knorr Onion soup mix
a bunch of cracked black pepper
a good splash of Worcestershire sauce
a good splash of HP Sauce (or Heinz 57, or A1)
Sweet Baby Ray’s bbq sauce to cover the top


Preheat oven to 350ºF/175ºC.
In a large bowl, mix everything except bbq sauce really well.
You may need to use your hands for this, it’s just easier.
Spread the meat mixture into a loaf pan, or make a free form loaf on a lipped baking sheet or jelly roll pan.
Cover with bbq sauce.
Bake for about an hour, until cooked through.
Drain off excess liquid and allow to rest, covered for about 15 minutes.
Slice and serve.

I decided to serve this with some steamed asparagus, bathed in butter and lightly seasoned with sea salt and cracked pepper.


Man. This is living. So THAT, my friends, is why I made rotini and cheese and meatloaf in the summer. I bet you anything you want to do the same right about now. LOL ;)

Proximamente…las recetas en español. :)

The Best Cup-o-Noodles You’ll Ever Eat! Creamy Pesto Penne

Fresh basil is abound at the vegetable markets, and you know what that means! Pesto! Lots and lots of pesto! It’s such an easy sauce to make, and goes oh so wonderfully well with, well, with *everything!* lol Would you believe the very first time I ever had pesto was at the Renaissance Fair in Southern Minnesota? There was a stand there that had freshly baked dense bread slathered with pesto. I think I went back to that stand like 5 times that day. lmfao Of course after that fateful day, I had to learn to make it on my own. Well, that was over 20 years ago already (and you better not make any old jokes either! :P ), and pesto still pays regular visits to my table. And by regular? I mean like at least once a week.


See those pine nuts in there? Yum. Pine nuts are soooo good…One of my first visits to Spain, we went up to a little town called Ávila. While walking, one of my friends picked up a gigantic pine cone and started eating from it. I was all like, “WHAT are you doing?” And she started laughing at me and showed me that she was eating the fresh pine nuts, straight from the cone. OMG! Free pine nuts! All over the place! Well, needless to say, we picked up a bunch of those suckers and had our fill of those delicious little nuggets. Good times, good times.

And while I’m on the subject of good times, Tony at Olive Juice is having a pesto event (It’s actually part of a series of events called, A Taste of the Mediterranean)!


Doesn’t that sound like fun?! Why don’t you join in and submit one of your own pesto dishes? This time, I’m submitting my old standby, Creamy Pesto Penne. I already have plans for another pesto dish this weekend, too. :D

creamy pesto penne


4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (to toast pine nuts, just toss them in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly browned and aromatic)
1 large bunch basil (by large, I mean about 3 cups leaves), stemmed
1 small bunch parsley (about a cup), stemmed
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (about)
3 cups cream
1 pound (1/2 kilo) boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
1 pound (1/2 kilo) penne


Prepare pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, make pesto.
Using a food processor, first process garlic, then add basil and parsley and process until finely chopped.
Now toss in the parmesan, salt and pepper and pulse until combined.
In a steady stream, add enough olive oil to bind the pesto (so it sticks together, but isn’t liquid-y).
Add in pine nuts and pulse to combine, you don’t want to break them up entirely..those little nuggets are good! :)
Mix about 1/3 of the pesto with the chicken strips.
Heat a skillet over medium high heat, and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
Saute chicken until cooked through, then add cream and stir to combine.
Heat through, then remove from heat and add the remaining pesto and stir to combine.
Drain the pasta, and then toss with the creamy pesto sauce and chicken.
Serve with extra parmesan if you like.
Try not to die of happiness and joy with each bite. ;)

Penne con Pollo y Salsa de Pesto Cremoso

4 dientes de ajo
1/2 vaso piñones, ligeramente tostado
1 manojo grande de albahaca fresca, (unos 3 vasos)
1 manojo pequeño de perejil (un vaso)
1/2 vaso queso parmesano recientemente rallado, y mas para servir
sal y pimienta al gusto
1/4 vaso (mas o menos) aceite de oliva virgen
3 vasos nata
1/2 kilo pechuga de pollo en tiras
1/2 kilo pasta penne rigate


Preparar pasta según el paquete.
Mientras tanto, preparar el pesto.
Utilizando el robot de cocina, procesar ajo primero.
A continuación, añadir la albahaca y el perejil y procesar hasta que estén picaditos.
Ahora añadir el parmesano, la sal y la pimienta y procesar.
Verter el aceite poco a poco hasta que el pesto esté homogéneo, pero no líquido.
Añadir los piñones y pulsar un poco, no quieres romperlos del todo–que son buenos! :)
Mezclar la tercera parte de pesto con el pollo.
Calentar una sartén sobre fuego medio fuerte y rociar con aceite de oliva.
Saltear pollo y pesto hasta que esté hecho, y a continuación, añadir la nata.
Calentar solo hasta que la nata esté caliente, y retirar del fuego.
Añadir el pesto que sobra y mezclar bien.
Escurrir la pasta y mezclar con la salsa y el pollo.
Servir con parmesano si quieres.
Intentar no morirse de gusto y felicidad con cada mordisco. ;)

I would also like to thank Elle at Elle’s New England Kitchen for awarding me an I love you this much award!

i love you this much

Thank you so much, Elle! I love YOU that much and MORE!!! MUAC!!! :D

I’d like to pass this award on to some great bloggers:

Nina at Nina’s Kitchen
Judy at No Fear Entertaining
Ginny at Just Get Floury
Gloria at Canela’s Kitchen
Brenda at Flanboyant Eats

That’s Amore! Chicken Parmesan over Spaghetti::¡Eso es Amore! Pollo al Parmesano sobre Espaguetis

Mmm, mmmm, mmmm, mmmm, MMMMH!  I love Italian food.  Don’t you?  Doesn’t everyone?  There’s something to be said for a big ol’ plate of pasta, homemade sauce and bunches of cheese.  This dish is probably more of a winter weather dish, but what the heck?  I figured I’d better sneak it into the menu at least one last time before the hot days of summer sneak upon us.  Soon the menu is going to be all about gazpacho, and grilling’ and mojitos.  But before that, I really felt that we needed to give Chicken Parmesan a proper send off, one last hurrah before it gets tucked away for cooler days.

Oh! And something *new*! Ahora algo *nuevo*! I’m excited to announce that the recipes I post will now be available both in English and in Spanish. Tengo el placer de decir que desde ahora en adelante, todas las recetas que pongo en el web estarán disponibles en inglés y en español. :D

chicken parmesan


2 pounds (1 kilo) spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
2 quarts (2 liters) homemade sauce (about)
2 pounds (1 kilo) chicken fillets
2 eggs plus 2 tablespoons water
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil (or olive oil and butter) to fry
1 cup grated mozzarella (about)


You’ll probably want to start your sauce first, seeing as how it simmers a couple of hours.
While your sauce is simmering, prepare the chicken station.
Beat eggs and water in a deep plate.
Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in another deep plate.
Dip each chicken fillet in egg wash first, then in bread crumb mixture and reserve on a plate.
When your sauce has about 45 minutes left to go, heat up enough oil to coat the bottom of a skillet.
Fry chicken fillets until golden, about 4 minutes per side, depending on thickness of fillets.
Drain chicken on paper towels, then keep warm in a heated oven.
You might want to start your pasta now.
Once all chicken in fried, and pasta is cooked and drained, you’ll want to plate your chicken Parmesan.
Place a bunch of spaghetti on a plate and top with a generous amount of sauce.
Slice a chicken fillet, and place it over the spaghetti and sauce.
Add a little more sauce and top with some mozzarella.
Try not to die of pleasure, because I think that might be a sin. ;) lol

Y ahora en español! :)

chicken parmesan


1 kilo de espaguetis, preparado según el paquete
2 litros salsa de tomate casera (aproximadamente)
1 kilo filetes de pollo
2 huevos mas 2 cucharadas de agua
2 vasos (de Nocilla) pan rallado al ajo y perejil
1/2 vaso queso parmesano recién rallado
sal y pimienta negra al gusto
aceite de oliva (o aceite y mantequilla) para freir
1 vaso queso mozzarella rallado


Querrás empezar con la salsa primero, como tardará unas horitas en hacerse.
Mientras la salsa esté en el fuego, preparar un lugar para el pollo.
Batir los huevos con el agua en un plato hondo.
Mezclar el pan rallado, queso parmesano, sal y pimienta en otro plato hondo.
Pasar los filetes de pollo primero por el huevo/agua y después por el pan.
Reservar en un plato.
Cuando la salsa le quede unos 45 minutos para terminarse, calentar un poco de aceite en una sartén.
Freir los filetes de pollo unos 4 minutos por cada lado, según el grosor.
Escurrir sobre papel de cocina, y reservar en el horno, ligeramente calentado.
A lo mejor querrás empezar la pasta ahora.
Cuando todo el pollo esté frito, la pasta esté cocida y escurrida y la salsa esté hecha, querrás emplatarlo.
Colocar una montañita de espaguetis en el plato, y cubrir con un poco de salsa.
Cortar un filete de pollo en tiras y colocar sobre la pasta.
Cubrir con un poco mas de salsa y espolvorear con queso mozzarella.
Intentar no morirse de gusto, porque creo que eso es un pecado. ;) jijiji

Salsa de Tomate Casera


2 latas (800 gramos) tomates en puré
1 lata (800 gramos) tomates enteras peladas
4-5 dientes de ajo, majados
1 cebolla pequeña, picada
1 pizca de clavo molido
albahaca al gusto
sal marina y pimienta negra al gusto
2 cucharadas azúcar
un chorro de aceite de oliva virgen
100 gramos queso parmesano rallado


En un caldero grande, sofrier el ajo en el aceite primero, hasta que esté doradito.
Majar los tomates (con las manos mismas) y ponerlos en el caldero.
Añadir los ingredientes restantes, incluyendo las albóndigas o carne que quieras y cocer a fuego mínimo durante 3 horas (removiendo de vez en cuando).

Linguine with Cockle Sauce (even better than Clam Sauce)

Wow, that old saying of “You learn something new every day,” really is true, isn’t it?  I was thinking of writing a cute little title for this dish, playing on an old Mother Goose rhyme; Mary, Mary, quite contrary…etc, until I read the history and significance of the rhyme.  Um, let’s not use that particular imagery on the cooking blog. Yikes! :P So, a simple title will have to suffice, because the only other clever thing I can think up using the word, “cockle,” is probably also inappropriate for a cooking blog. ;) lol

linguini with cockle sauce

It’s Cockle season!  Yes!  Cockles are (in my opinion) better than clams….they are a type of mollusk, small and heart shaped, and if you really would like to know all about them, here is a link to Wikipedia detailing the exact nature of the creature.  What Wikipedia doesn’t tell you, though, is that the cockle is delicious!  It’s sweeter than a clam, and quite tender and succulent.

ZenChef over at Chefs Gone Wild made a delectable looking clam risotto the other day, which I had planned on trying this week.  Unfortunately, my market’s clams left much to be desired.  Which is strange, considering that they are almost always available and fresh and begging to be purchased and made into something wonderful.  They did, however, have cockles, and I think that I’m almost happy that the cockles were screaming at me instead.  The delicately sweet flavor lends itself really, really well to this garlicky white sauce,  And over pasta?  Yum.  I will definitely try Zen’s delicious risotto soon, though.  :)


1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 medium onion, minced
3-4 small dried cayenne peppers
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup water
1 1/2 pounds (750 grams) linguine
2 pounds (1 kilo) cockles (soaked in salted ice cold water for a minimum of 1 hour)
1/4 cup butter, in pieces
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
*optional, but recommended* 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1/3 cup water
freshly grated parmesan cheese to taste


Get your water going for the pasta…you’ll want to salt it fairly heavily and bring to a rolling boil.
Meanwhile, begin your sauce.
Heat olive oil in a wide, medium depth soup pot.
Saute garlic first, just until beginning to turn golden, then add onions and saute until translucent and tender.
Add cayennes, wine and water and cook about 3-5 minutes over moderate heat.
By now, your pasta water might be ready, so pop the noodles in there and prepare according to package directions.
When the pasta is done, drain well and return to the pot.
Ok, back to the sauce.
Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, then add the cockles and cover.
Cook over moderate heat for about 5 minutes or so, until cockles have opened (discard any that haven’t opened, they’re not fit to eat).
Remove from heat, add butter and parsley and stir.
Add cornstarch slurry if using and stir some more, then reserve.
Is your pasta back in the pot? Ok, then it’s time to pour the cockles and sauce over your pasta and stir well to combine.
Discard any empty shells you find.
Sprinkle with parm to taste and enjoy!
Oh! Be sure to have more of that dry white on hand to drink with this dish. ;)

Tried, Tested and True…Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Broccoli and Fusilli

Giz and Psychgrad over at Equal Opportunity Kitchen are hosting a blogging event called Tried, Tested and True

tried, tested and true 

The event is basically a roundup of our favorite recipes, the ones that are always in rotation, that get rave reviews from our families, friends and anyone else that is lucky enough to dine at our tables! ;)   I have quite a few recipes that fit this description, but the one I thought of immediately was Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Broccoli and Fusilli.  Originally, one of my best friends in the whole wide world, Elle at Elle’s New England Kitchen,  shared this recipe with us gals, and I couldn’t WAIT to go out and get the stuff to try it.  I mean, jeez!  It’s got all of my favorite stuff in there!  Chicken, greens, gaaaaahlic, freshly grated Parmiggiano-Reggiano, a delicious lemon pepper vinagrette…and the pasta…holy dear Lords of pasta, this is just amazing….her recipe began with bow-ties, but I’ve since switched to fusilli (the twisty, spiraly lookin stuff).  Broccoli is probably one of my favorite vegetables, throw in some more parm, toasted pine nuts, lemon and garlic–OH and butterrrrr and you have me swooning with delight.  Elle’s recipes *always* rock my world.  And I mean ALWAYS.  What can I say?  The girl can cook, folks. 

parmesan crusted chicken


1/2 pound (200 grams) fresh greens of choice, washed and thinly sliced (I used baby romaines this time)
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound (100 grams) freshly grated parmiggiano-reggiano
2 pounds (1 kilo) thin chicken fillets
2 large eggs plus 2 tablespoons water
1 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated parmiggiano-reggiano cheese
1/4 cup light olive oil for frying


Prepare your greens first, and set aside.
Whisk together lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and reserve (this is your vinaigrette).
Prepare your chicken “station.”
Beat eggs and water in a deep plate.
In another deep plate, combine seasoned bread crumbs, parm, salt and pepper.
Dip chicken in egg first, then in bread crumb/parm mixture.
Set aside on a plate.
Repeat with remaining chicken fillets.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet.
Cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes on one side, depending on thickness, then turn and do the same (3-4 minutes) on second side until no longer pink and nicely golden brown.
Plate the chicken, then place a a bit of greens over each chicken breast.
Dress with lemon pepper vinaigrette and top with extra freshly grated parm.
You want this, don’t you? I can tell. ;)

Now, the perfect accompaniment to this meal IMNSHO, is the Broccoli and Fusilli. Also Elle‘s recipe. :)

broccoli and fusilli 


1/2 pound (200 grams) fusilli (the original recipe calls for bow-ties)
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1-2 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly grated parmiggiano-reggiano cheese


Cook pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, bring broccoli to a boil in salted water and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
Drain and set aside.
While your pasta and broccoli are cooking, heat butter and oil in a small sauce pan and saute garlic until golden.
Add lemon zest and stir.
Remove from heat.
Add the pepper and lemon juice and stir well.
Pour this over the broccoli and pasta.
Add pine nuts and freshly grated parm to taste (I use a generous half cup or so).
Toss well.
**note**it’s a good idea to make the pasta first, then the chicken if making these together. The pasta reheats really well.

One Pan Beef Stroganoff

I suppose it’s no coincidence that my blog has been filled with comfort type dishes as of late…the January blues and blahs tend to hit really hard for some reason…even living here in the Canaries where it’s sunny more often than not.  I’ve always thought that my seasonal surge of depression was due to the cold grey days of Minnesota winter, but once again I am proven wrong…even though the days can be bright, here, my mood has not been.  Whenever this shadow shows it’s ugly self, I find that I dive into comfort food mode, and probably a comfy robe and slippers, too.  So, it’s no surprise that today’s post is about one of the quintessential winter comfort dishes…Beef Stroganoff. Being the busy (and too lazy to do dishes) mom that I am, I try to cut time corners whenever possible.  Beef Stroganoff traditionally makes a big mess and lots of dishes, but not this one.  I promise you every bit of the delicious flavor of Stroganoff with only one deep pan.  Well, and the pasta pot, too.  It’s quick, easy and hella soothing on a rough day.  (so much so that I hid the leftovers from the kids so I could have them myself!  Bad mommy! lol)

beef stroganoff


2 tablespoons butter
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, minced
3 cups chopped mushrooms
1 1/2 pounds steak of choice, cut into thin strips (or ground beef)
2-3 tablespoons flour (or cornstarch for gluten free)
3 cups beef consomme (or beef broth)
a splash of Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup tomato puree
1 bay leaf
a few sprigs of thyme (or thyme leaves to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup sour cream (or Quark cheese or Greek yogurt)
chopped parsley to garnish
1 pound (400 grams) egg noodle pasta, prepared according to package directions


Using a deep saute pan, melt butter.
Saute garlic first, just until golden, then add onions and stir until translucent.
Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.
Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are tender and beginning to brown just a little.
Add steak (or ground beef) and toss around, browning a bit.
Add flour and give it a good stir.
Now add consomme, Worcestershire, tomato puree, bay and thyme and season with salt and pepper.
Stir to combine, then cover and cook over low heat about 20-30 minutes.
(Now is a good time to make your pasta)
Add sour cream and stir through.
Remove from heat and serve over pasta, garnished with freshly chopped parsley.


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