Tag Archives: pasta

When A Recipe Brings Back Memories

In October of 2005, Jay and I put our little 1936 Craftsman home in San Diego on the market and headed to Nor Cal with a 6-month old Elliott and Riggs & Rascal. For 6 months we lived in a little one-bedroom apartment in Sunnyvale while our home was being built. I remember begging the salesperson to get us into a home that was already built so we wouldn’t have to live in this OLD apartment complex {it was the only place that allowed our two dogs}, but this was at the height of the market and we had to indeed wait several months for the home to be finished…there were no houses that fell out of escrow.

We literally knew NOBODY when we moved there. Jay’s cousins lived nearby, and that was great for weekend get togethers, but during the week I literally watched Food Network, did laundry and grocery shopped day in and day out. All our belongings were in storage and we went to IKEA and got two comfy black chairs and a tiny 13″ television/DVD player at Costco. I’d sit and watch the FN line-up and decided to invest in a Rachael Ray cookbook. I’d flip through the cookbook and find something that sounded good or take notes from an episode and Google the recipe. I would go to the grocery store almost daily and get fresh ingredients for our dinners. The bottom of Elliott’s stroller was just big enough to fit everything we needed for one night’s cooking.

Elliott would sit in her swing and I would prepare dinner for Jay and me. This is when I developed my love of cooking and baking. I’d always envisioned myself as the “entertaining” type, but worked FT, had a commute that got me home later than Jay and didn’t seem to have the time or energy to fix a nice meal. BUT, in this teeny little galley kitchen, I learned to LOVE to cook. We didn’t even have a table and if I remember correctly, we’d sit in our IKEA chairs and balance our plates on our laps! Classy.


This past Sunday night a group of mamas got together to visit and pray for our friend, Angela, who is having surgery today. We started talking about a pasta dish that sounded amazing and I asked for the recipe. Turns out it’s called  Peasant Pasta and is a Rachael Ray recipe.

As I was walking the aisles of Ralphs yesterday gathering ingredients for this pasta, I couldn’t help but go back to the slower, simpler days when being a stay-at-home mama was new and maybe a bit lonely at times. Now that we’ve put down roots back in So Cal while establishing many wonderful friendships and with our days being so full and watching the weeks fly by, it’s hard to imagine the quieter, carefree days.

Now that I look back, those days in that little apartment were beautiful, too. I love when a recipe can bring back such memories….

Thank you, Lillian, for sharing!





1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, available in bulk at butcher counter or, 2 links, casings removed
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, available in bulk at butcher counter or, 4 links, casings removed
3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped, optional {I used about 10!!}
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup frozen green peas {I used petite peas}
24 leaves fresh basil, torn or thinly sliced
1 pound penne rigate pasta, cooked to al dente
Grated Italian cheese, for passing


Heat a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan. Add sausage meat. Crumble sausage meat as it browns. Add chopped garlic to the pan. When all of the crumbles have browned evenly, deglaze the pan drippings using chicken or vegetable broth. Stir in crushed tomatoes and bring the sauce up to a bubble, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir cream into your sauce, this will blush the color and cut the acidity of the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir peas and basil into your sauce to combine. Toss hot drained penne rigate in pan with the sauce, then transfer pasta to serving bowl.

Even without the sweet memories attached to this meal, it was DELISH and will definitely be a frequent contender in menu planning.

This recipe makes a lot so it would be great for entertaining a larger group and even doubling it would be easy, too.

Enjoy, friends!

Happy Tuesday.

Mud Run Eve Eats ~ Tequila Lime Chicken Pasta

Jay signed up for the Merrell Down & Dirty Mud Run again this year ~ his third year in a row.

It’s a lot of fun to be a spectator as well as participate…I partook last year and it was quite the comedy. You can check that out here.

Jay requested a nice pasta meal the night before the 10K and, of course, I was quick to say, “Sure!”. He decided on Tequila Lime Chicken Fettuccini ~ a fabulous choice, I thought.

Cilantro? Jalapeños? Tequila? Lime?



I followed the recipe precisely, however, subbed half & half for the heavy cream to feel a little bit less guilty. Also, wasn’t too sure about the soy sauce ingredient since this isn’t an Asian dish, but decided to roll with it. I didn’t think it took away from the tequila lime flavor at all, though.

We both thoroughly enjoyed it. Personally, I thought it needed more heat. Next time I think I will use 2 fresh jalapenos and leave the seeds and the ribs in since that is where all the heat is {this time I only used one and took out most of the seeds and innards}.

We were up bright and early to report for duty at Lake Castaic!

Jay did awesome and watching from the sidelines this year made me want to set a goal to do it again next year….


With his dog tag medal….



So, I guess I am half way committing to doing the 5K again next year.

I’d like to get a team together and make a party out of it. Anyone interested?

Definitely going to need to {train} better and tackle some bigger hills leading up to the race, but mostly it’s a novelty event and just getting out there and getting dirty is what it’s all about!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend.


Summer Salad ~ Pasta Caprese

I wish I could say our summer travel took us to the island of Capri…


It’s on the bucket list.

Instead we will enjoy a salad which gained it’s fame on the gorgeous Amalfi Coast ~ Caprese Insalata

We went to spend an evening with our neighbors last weekend and I offered to bring a salad. With four bright red tomatoes from my friend’s community garden plot sitting in our vegetable crisper and a bunch of basil in our own backyard, I decided to do a caprese salad, but add in pasta for a heartier side dish yet still fresh and summery.

Pasta Caprese

{recipe via}

  • 1/3 cup EVOO
  • 1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced {I used about 8 cloves!}
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • 2 pounds tomatoes, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound pasta, such as campanelle, penne or fusilli {I used gemelli}
  • 12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, shallot and garlic in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add sugar, if desired (depending on the sweetness of your tomatoes). Add the tomatoes and gently toss. Marinate at room temperature, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Drain in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking.

Add the pasta and mozzarella to the tomato mixture and toss. Stir in the basil and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate, tossing occasionally, until serving.

{Note: the original recipe called for 1/4 cup lemon juice. I felt it needed some balsamic so I subbed 1/8 cup with that acid, but if you don’t have that on-hand, you could go with 1/4 cup lemon juice}


It was delish and perfect for the warm summer months. This pasta would also be festive during the holidays, as well!

Enjoy! Happy Tuesday.


P.S. Linking up with Mel over at The Larson Lingo….get your summer salad swap on!

Summer Salad Swap

Like A Gingerbread Man With It’s Head Cut Off

Oh my.

It’s been 5 days since I’ve posted! Every day I plan on sitting down and doing so, but it just hasn’t happened.

My days have been filled with the following…

driving around to four stores looking for gingerbread syrup for some martinis…then it dawned on me that I could have just walked into Starbucks and possibly begged them to buy a {tall} gingerbread syrup. Then I visited every CVS in town tracking down some calendars. I tell you, once I get something in my head, there’s no stopping me.

making more of these with Caramel Kisses {delicious, but don’t press the m&m down too hard or you will have oozing caramel which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just not as tidy for packaging them up nice and neat} and the Hugs {milk chocolate inside white chocolate with stripes ~ those turned out super cute! {you can see the salted caramel ones to the right ——-> under my Instagrams}

Our little ballerina partook in her fourth recital and Gramma and I had the {pleasure} of working backstage. Keeping track of a dozen tutu’d 4-6 year olds is no joke. This paranoid mom was doing a head count every 10 seconds when I wasn’t filling cups with goldfish or providing water refills, that is. I {think} I may prefer sitting in the audience cheering on my girl rather than stressing backstage and applying lipstick touch ups at the last minute, but she’d been wanting me to be a stage mom for some time and I most certainly didn’t want to let my little lady down. Thanks again, Gramma, for being on potty duty!

Also, thank you to Gramma for starting a beautiful new holiday tradition and treating to front row seats at our local production of The Nutcracker. I was amazed at all the beautiful young dancers….my goodness. My girl decided to wear her costume straight from her recital to the ballet ~ swapping her ballet slippers for some boots and adding in one {Fancy Nancy} coat…

Holden sang a very simplified version of {Soon And Very Soon} in church on Sunday ~ You Tube to come!

I hosted a little Merry Mama gift wrapping to-do where several gals came over armed with rolls of paper, rolls of tape, bags of gifts and lots of chit chat. This was where my gingerbread martinis were supposed to make an appearance, but honestly my girls were so busy wrapping they didn’t even notice! I served the Winter White Wine sangria, artichoke dip, cranberry meatballs and Christmas pasta salad {2 packages Buitoni spinach tortellini, one box small shells, 4 small tomatoes [chopped] and a whole bottle of Bernstein’s Light Fantastic Cheese Fantastico ~ cook both pastas [separately] according to package directions, add chopped tomatoes and then stir in the bottle of dressing…can be made the night before} along with my beloved Hershey pretzel snaps and See’s molasses chips for a little sweet somethin’.

My little Pinterest find came together for treats for Elliott’s classmates:

{I picked up a bulk bag at CVS and divided them up into cello bags, but later found them prepackaged in a box of 24 at Smart And Final which is the route that I will go for Holden next year}

I also literally threw together a frame and some glitter clothespins to hold thoughtful gift cards from the kids to E’s teacher ~ one Goodwill frame, a can of black gloss Rustoleum, some twine, a glue gun, some clothespins {thanks for lookin’ out, Lisa!} and a rainbow of glitter…

These frames are also perfect for displaying Christmas cards during the holidays or birthday invitations throughout the year. Just get yourself a frame and discard the graphic and glass, spray paint it if need-be, use your glue gun to string twine across the frame every 4 inches or so by pulling it tight and securing it with hot glue onto the back of the frame. Easy. For the clothespins, just brush some Elmer’s glue onto the pin with a foam brush, sprinkle on your glitter over a bowl, shake off excess and let dry. Easy.


And that is where I’ve been, friends! I’ve missed you and hope to post more regularly now that the kids are both out of school and we’ll be having some LAZY mornings days while they’re on break.


Tuscan Memories

While I was sitting waiting in the jury room exactly two weeks ago, I thumbed through LOTS of magazines. Magazines from 1986. The periodicals in the jury room are ancient. I reread of Brangelina’s twins births. How old are they now? If you have a room full of even semi-current magazines and don’t know what to do with them, may I suggest donating them to the Chatsworth Courthouse. Anywhoo, I came across a Pasta Fagioli recipe in a Family Circle and wanted to share it with you.

 This soup reminded me of a soup that Jay and I, along with a few friends, slurped on a cool early November afternoon in San Gimignano almost 9 years ago to the day. We were touring the fortress city on the last leg of our Italian vacation and took a break in a small restaurant and shared conversation over the most amazing, warm, regional bowl of loveliness. There is something about being so tired and hungry in a foreign country and appreciating the food like it’s your last meal.

This is a hearty, healthy holiday soup if there ever was such a thing.


Pasta Fagioli

2 tbsp EVOO

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1-14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with basil

2-14.5 ounce cans reduced sodium chicken broth

8 ounces {2 cups} small pasta shells

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1 bunch fresh kale, discard tough stems and chop

2 cans small white beans, rinsed and drained {I used cannellini}

1 tbsp tomato paste

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

grated parmesan cheese for garnish

Cook onions and garlic in olive oil. Stir in tomatoes, broth and 3 cups water. Simmer over high heat, add pasta and Italian seasoning. Cook 5 minutes. Stir in kale. Cook 5 minutes. Reduce to medium heat. Stir in beans, tomato paste and salt & pepper. Heat through. Ladle into bowls and top with parmesan cheese. Serve with a nice big chuck of crusty bread for dunking if you’re not worried about carbs!

I cannot wait to make this again. I may add a touch more water. The leftovers were a little thick, but still delish. If you’re worried or turned off by the kale {aka salad bar decor} you could certainly substitute spinach. I would have done that, but there has been several spinach recalls in these parts and the kale sounded healthier…it cooks up nicely and looks a lot like spinach anyway!


I love when a dish or meal brings back wonderful memories with wonderful friends.

What recipe does that for you?


Tonight it was Taco Pasta for din din.

I know this dish sounds Hamburger Helper-esque, but don’t let that deter you from making it. It will be the perfect comfort food meal come Fall….but just as perfect for a {late} July evening.

I recently stumbled upon {The Girl Who Ate Everyting} blog which is where I discovered this recipe. I have made a mental note of SEVERAL other things I’m going to try from this site. If you have the time, click around. You’re going to want to eat everything, too. What I love about her recipes are that they are family friendly and use basic ingredients.

This meal is a mash up between Mexican and Italian ~ how can you go wrong with that? They come together in perfect harmony.

Just a few notes: it calls for 4tbsp taco seasoning…I just used one packet which is about the same measurement. I added MUCH more garlic than it called for…like five times more! I also just went ahead and threw in the juice from the tomatoes…it was totally fine and not at all too soupy. I added double the cilantro since I love it so. One last tidbit…I used light sour cream and you could NOT tell the diff at all.

This dish gets it cheesiness from cream cheese and the sauce is a creamy sort of tomato sauce which I love…makes you not feel quite as guilty with the tomatoes in there! I’m sure you could substitute the cream cheese with grated cheddar and it would be just fine. You could most certainly boost up the veggies in this by adding some peppers {green, red, yellow or all three} when sautéing the onions. I think I may do that next time around.


Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Amy

Love Chelsea Handler.

But this post is not about her….it’s about some Vodka Sauce.

Readership has gone down in the past couple days possibly given the content material, so if some of you were turned off, hopefully I can redeem myself with some tasty new recipes!

Pasta a la Vodka

{Did I get your attention?}

I thought you could only buy this stuff in a jar! Thanks to Leah, I now know how easy it is to make from scratch.

{The only additional thing I would say about the recipe is that when adding the vodka [or ANY alcohol to a dish] to the pan, PRETTY PLEASE REMOVE THE PAN FROM THE HEAT}

Leah is right, this dish is elegant and very much restaurant quality. I really need to cook with fresh basil more often! I talked Jay out of adding chicken because, honestly, I just didn’t want to fix it! Sorry, Babe! I told him there was {chicken} stock in the sauce, though. Ha! Frankly, I think the chicken would throw it off…I will most def be making this again.


What’s For Dinner

Jay signed up for some healthy recipes through Eat Better America (eatbetteramerica.com).

He’s been asking me to pleeeeeaaase make this for the past couple weeks:

Mexican Pasta Skillet

I picked up the ingredients at the store over the weekend, but HE ended up making it last night and when I came home from my workout the house smelled soooo good!

This is one of those one pot meals. Comfort food, but on the healthier side.

We added a small bit of avocado, cilantro and some jalapeños, of course!

It makes TONS so we’re having it again tonight which means another night of no cooking for me!

Hope you have a “healthy” rest of the week.