Friday, December 22, 2017

Sausage and Broccoli Stew

I had no dinner plan but I did have some pantry staples and some Italian sausage. The hearty soups at Olive Garden inspired me to make this, and it turned out to be remarkably tasty!


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (any grade/quality will do, no need to splurge on EVOO)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs Italian sausage, casings removed (hot or sweet or a combo of both, as you like it)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz)
  • 1 carton chicken broth (32 oz)
  • 8 oz finely chopped broccoli
  • 12 oz soup pasta (ditalini, small shells or elbows, rotini, whatever you have/like)
  • 4 oz grated parmesan or pecorino (the good stuff, not from a can)


Heat oil in a large heavy dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat until the oil just starts to shimmer. Add onion, celery, and carrots with a heavy pinch of kosher salt and the pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the carrots are just al dente. Turn the heat back up to medium-high and add the sausage. Cook, stirring constantly and breaking/mixing up the sausage with the veggies, until the sausage does not look raw. Add the dried herbs, tomato paste, and garlic. Cook for one more minute and add diced tomatoes (with their juice) and the broth. Increase to high and bring to a simmer. Add broccoli and pasta and let it come back to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently until the pasta is cooked through, about 6-8 minutes (it will thicken as the pasta cooks, so make sure to stir the bottom of the pot to prevent burns). Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls, topping with parmesan at the table.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Pasta Marinara with Bacon and Broccoli

I love Broccoli and Bacon together. It's a perfect combination. I had both in my fridge last night, and I'd normally turn it into a salad, but I wanted something heartier. Then I thought, "Pasta!" With the addition of a few pantry staples, I made something that was pretty much a perfect pasta sauce.


  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 6 cups broccoli chopped into small florets
    • I like to include the stems, sliced very thin, with the florets
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced fine (more if you like it)
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 can (14 oz) plain tomato sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons minced fresh basil (or a 1/2 teaspoon dried basil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flake
  • kosher salt
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 box rotini pasta


Cook the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Remove bacon to a plate with paper towels and drain off fat, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the pan and reserving 2 more tablespoons for later. Now would be a good time to start heating a large pot of water to boil the pasta.

Cook the onions in the 2 tablespoons bacon fat left the pan with a large pinch of kosher salt over medium-high heat. When they have started to brown around the edges add the remaining reserved bacon fat, broccoli, pepper, chili flake, and another heavy pinch of kosher salt. Toss together all the ingredients in the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the broccoli starts to soften (but still slightly crunchy). Add the vinegar, canned tomatoes, and tomato sauce. If you are not using a non-stick skillet, there will probably be some fond on the bottom of the pan you want to scrape up so it incorporates into the sauce. Add the oregano and basil. Simmer in the skillet, uncovered, until the broccoli is cooked.

While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta in the boiling water, adding a 2 tablespoons of kosher salt to the water first. Cook the pasta until it is almost al-dente, but is still just a little underdone. Prior to draining the pasta, reserve a couple of cups of the cooking water. Drain the pasta into a colander, then pour directly into the skillet with the sauce (if your skillet is not large enough, you can put both the pasta and the sauce back into the pasta pot). Finish cooking the pasta in the sauce, adding back some of the reserved cooking water (probably around 1/4 to 1/2 cup) to loosen things up if it's too thick. Serve immediately, either as a main dish, or with sliced grilled chicken breasts. Top with (lots of) Parmesan cheese when serving.

Note on 4/7: I recently read this article on Serious Eats, it's totally helpful for properly cooking/saucing your pasta:

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cake Doughnuts (Dairy-Free!)

My kids are sensitive to dairy - it upsets their tummies :( When we are out and they see doughnuts, they always ask for them, but I have to tell them no because many doughnut recipes use milk (and it's hard to tell just by looking at them). Today I decided to figure out how to adapt a simple cake doughnut recipe to avoid dairy products; the results were quite tasty so I'm documenting them here!

  • 2 1/2 cups flour (plus additional flour for dusting the work surface and tools)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup almond milk* (if using unsweetened milk, add 1 additional tablespoon sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice*
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup melted stick margarine for baking*
  • 1 gallon of peanut or vegetable oil for frying

*If you prefer dairy in your pastries: use 1 cup buttermilk instead of the almond milk and lemon juice; use butter instead of stick margarine.

If you have a deep fryer, you can load it up with oil and start it heating to 375 degrees. Otherwise place the oil in a large heavy pot and insert a fry thermometer; don't heat the oil on the stove now unless you have someone to watch it for you - it should not exceed 375 degrees and you will be busy with the dough for a while.

Measure the almond milk in a 2-cup measure and stir in the lemon juice. Let it sit for a few minutes to make almond "buttermilk." In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and nutmeg until evenly distributed. Whisk together almond milk mixture, sugar, egg, and melted margarine in a separate mixing bowl until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients onto the dry ingredients and stir until fully incorporated. It will probably be pretty wet. If you are going to cook on the stove, start heating the oil now.

Turn out onto a well-floured work surface (I like to use a silicone rolling mat) and work enough flour into the dough to make it dry enough to roll out into a 3/4 inch thick sheet. Using a large (3-inch) biscuit cutter dipped in flour, cut into rounds. Then use a small biscuit cutter (also floured) to cut out the holes. 

When the oil is between 360 and 375 degrees, start cooking the doughnuts two or three at a time (don't crowd the pot, it will make the oil temp drop too much). Be very careful not to splash the doughnuts into the oil or you will need treatment for burns! Fry for 1-2 minutes until golden brown before flipping with tongs or wooden chopsticks. Cook the other side until it is equally golden brown before removing the doughnuts to a sheet pan with a cooling rack set on top. Let them drain and cool on the rack for a couple of minutes before glazing or frosting with your favorite toppings. 

When the last cut doughnuts from the first batch are frying, collect up the scraps of dough and re-roll for a second batch. You should be able to get 8-10 doughnuts from this recipe, depending on if you roll up the holes with the scraps or cook them alongside the doughnuts.