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Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

Before I became a pescetarian, I hardly ever put seafood and pasta together. I always stuck with cooking, or ordering, beef bolognese, which is too bad. Seafood is a great compliment to pasta, especially shellfish.

I’ve never been a huge clam fan, but lately, I’ve given them a chance, and I’m glad I have. They’re becoming one of my favorites to work with and this recipe is in my top 5 pasta dishes.

If you’ve never cooked clams, please, don’t be intimidated. They practically do the work for you, so give them a try.

You can use any size of clam you want for this recipe, so don’t worry if you’re local seafood store only has one kind to choose from.

Let’s get started.

First, soak your clams in cold water for at least 20 minutes before cooking. Why, you ask? As clams breathe they filter water. When the fresh water is filtered, the clam pushes sand out of their shells. After 20 minutes, the clams should have released any sand in their shells.

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Also, get a pot of salted water going for your pasta.

While the clams are in a happy ice bath, and water is getting to the boiling point, let’s get everything else going.

Chop one large shallot and three to four cloves of garlic.

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Now, sauté the shallot and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Be sure to continuously stir, because you don’t want the garlic to burn.

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Now add one cup of wine, one tablespoon of butter, red pepper flakes, and the juice of one lemon. By the way, if you don’t have a hand held lemon/lime juicer, get one. The amount of juice you get from using one is way more than squeezing it with your hand.

Let this cook on medium heat for about five minutes. You want the alcohol from the wine to cook out.

Now add one can of clams.

I bet you’re saying, “What??? CANNED clams?”

Yes. Canned clams.

They add more clam flavor to the dish. If you don’t want to add them, you don’t have to. Also add one bottle of clam juice. This is a clam pasta dish, so you want all the clam flavor you can get. Just trust me.

Stir and let it simmer for a minute or two and then taste. You’ll notice I haven’t added salt up to this point. With the canned clams and bottled can juice, you may not want or need anymore salt. If you feel it needs more, add it to your taste. If you think it’s a little tart, add more butter.

Once you have it like you want, it’s time to add the clams, but first, put your pasta in the boiling water and cook ’til al dente.

While your pasta is cooking, put the clams in the sauce, and turn the heat up to medium-high. You can cover them, if you want, but I like to keep them moving. By moving them around, you can see which ones are opening. As soon as a clam opens, take it out and put it in a bowl. The reason I do this is so they don’t overcook while the others open.

Some will take longer, so be patient, and keep them moving around. Once you get most of them out of the sauce, and you see a few still are not opening, just toss them. If they don’t open, they’re not good.

Now, add your cooked (al dente) pasta to your sauce and stir around.

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Add your clams back to the pan and stir.

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Time to eat!!

One good addition to any saucy dish is crunchy bread!

My favorite local bread is made by Elmore Mountain Bread.

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Man, it doesn’t get any better than this!

(Of course, I added chopped parsley and a little grated parmesan.)

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What you’ll need:

2 lbs fresh clams

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 tablespoon of butter

1 cup of white wine (sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio)

1 large shallot, chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 can of clams

1 bottle of clam juice

1 lemon, juiced

1 box of spaghetti

Salt to taste

Red pepper flakes to taste

Chopped parsley (optional)

Grated parmesan (optional)

Crusty bread (optional)

Directions:

First, soak your clams for twenty minutes before cooking.

Get a pot of salted water going for your pasta.

Chop one whole shallot and three to four cloves of garlic. Sauté them in one tablespoon of olive oil on med heat for 2-3 minutes. Be sure to continuously stir, because you don’t want the garlic to burn.

Add one cup of wine, one tablespoon of butter, red pepper flakes, and the juice of one lemon. Let this cook on medium heat for about five minutes. You want the alcohol from the wine to cook out.

Add one can of clams and one bottle of clam juice.

Stir and let it simmer for a minute or two and then taste. You’ll notice I haven’t added salt up to this point. With the canned clams and bottle juice, you may not want or need anymore salt. If you feel it needs more, add it to your taste. If you think it’s a little tart, add more butter.

Put your pasta in the boiling water and cook ’til al dente.

While your pasta is cooking, put the clams in the sauce, and keep stirring them until they start opening. As soon as a clam opens, take it out and put it in a bowl. This will ensure they won’t overcook while the others begin to open. Be sure to discard the ones that do not open.

Add your cooked (al dente) pasta to your sauce and stir around. Then add your clams and stir one more time.

Enjoy!

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I remember the days of Hamburger Helper Stroganoff. It was a mainstay in my pantry when I was in my 20’s, and yes, even into my 30’s. I loved the stuff!

It’s one of my favorite comfort foods, and once I began upping my cooking game, I knew I had to find a way to make my own stroganoff recipe.

I call it Mushroom Stroganoff, but you’ll notice I used my favorite meat crumbles, and you could also use browned chicken, or browned ground beef, or or leave out the protein all together. It’s up to you.

So, let’s get to it.

First, cook one 16 ounce package of egg noodles. Be sure to cook them al dente, because they will cook more when you add them to the sauce.

Now, if you’re going to use meat, brown it, and then set it aside.

Next, chop and onion and slice your mushrooms. I did two medium onions and two packages of mushrooms. You can use more or less… it’s up to you.

Put them in a large pan (I use cast iron), and sauté them in two tablespoons of olive oil on med-high heat until the onions are just tender. Then, remove them from the pan, and set aside.

Now, it’s time to make a roux.

In the same pan, melt two tablespoons of butter and add two tablespoon of flour. Whisk until you get a smooth mixture. If it’s dry at all, add more butter. While continuing to whisk, cook for at least one or two minutes.

Now add four cups of milk and whisk away. Keep the heat on med-high and whisk continuously. This will thicken the sauce.

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Once it gets thick, so it can cover the back of a wooden spoon, it’s time to add flavor and spices.

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The spices are: salt, pepper, onion powder, chopped garlic, red pepper flakes. Also, add dashes of worcestershire sauce.

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Mix it all together, and then add 1 cup of sour cream, and whisk it in. As you can see, I use Cabot. Seriously, if you’ve never tried their sour cream (or any of their products), do it! It’s simply amazing and SO MUCH better than any other product out there.

 Now, taste it. What do you think it needs? I usually have to add a little more salt and red pepper flakes.

After adjusting the flavor to your liking, add the mushrooms, onions, meat (if you’re using it), and grated pecorino romano cheese. Stir it all together.

Now, add your cooked egg noodles and stir them in.

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Time to put it in a bowl and devour!

Of course, I topped mine with extra grated pecorino romano and parsley.

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So yummy!! Enjoy!

What you’ll need:

1 package of egg noodles

Browned meat of your choice (optional)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 large onion

2 packages of mushrooms of your choice (I used baby bellas)

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

4 cups of milk (at least 2%)

1 cup of sour cream

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon pepper

1 tablespoon red pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

7-10 dashes of worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated.

Directions:

First, cook one 16 ounce package of egg noodles. Be sure to cook them al dente, because they will cook more when you add them to the sauce.

Now, if you’re going to use meat, brown it, and then set it aside.

Next, chop and onion and slice your mushrooms. Put them in a large pan (I use cast iron), and sauté them in two tablespoons of olive oil on med-high heat until the onions are just tender. Then, remove them from the pan, and set aside.

In the same pan, melt two tablespoons of butter and add two tablespoon of flour. Whisk until you get a smooth mixture. If it’s dry at all, add more butter. While continuing to whisk, cook for at least one or two minutes.

Now add four cups of milk and whisk away. Keep the heat on med-high and whisk continuously. This will thicken the sauce.

Once it gets thick, so it can cover the back of a wooden spoon, it’s time to add salt, pepper, onion powder, chopped garlic, red pepper flakes. Also, add dashes of worcestershire sauce. Stir it all together and then mix in the sour cream.

Now, taste it. What do you think it needs?

After adjusting the flavor to your liking, add the mushrooms, onions, meat (if you’re using it), and grated pecorino romano cheese. Stir it all together.

Now, add your cooked egg noodles and stir them in.

Time to eat!

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Bubs’ Pasta Pie

This past weekend I made Bubs’ Sauce and I wanted to think of a creative way to use the leftover sauce. I came up with a pasta pie and it was one of the best things I’ve ever made– EVER!! In my opinion, and my husband’s, it’s better than lasagna, and it’ll be a go-to recipe from now on.

Here’s what I came up with:

You can use my sauce recipe, which is linked above, and if you want a meat sauce, just add the meat of your choice to the recipe.

Cook spaghetti and then let it drain.

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While it’s draining, chop some sun-dried tomatoes.

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Now, put the drained spaghetti, sun-dried tomatoes, grated parmesan, two eggs, and olive oil in a bowl.

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Time to get your hands to work. Mix it all together really well.

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Melt some butter in a large cast iron pan and then press the pasta into the pan.  If you don’t have a cast iron pan, you can use a deep dish pie plate or a cake pan. Just skip the step of melting the butter and just smear it in your pie plate or cake pan.

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Now, bake it in a preheated 400 degree oven until the pasta is browned and crispy around the edges– about 10-15 minutes.

While the pasta crust is baking, grate some cheese. Whatever cheese you have on hand– I used Cabot cheddar. Also, slice some low-moisture mozzarella.

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Once the pasta crust is ready, put down a layer of cheddar (or whatever cheese you use) and then put the spaghetti sauce on top. If you’d like, put some sliced onion on top of the sauce. We like the added flavor and crunch.

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Then, put the mozzarella on top and sprinkle Italian seasoning all over. I forgot to take a picture of this. Sorry… I was too excited to get it in the oven.

Now, bake at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted and browned– about 25-30 minutes.

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Let it rest for about 5 minutes before cutting it.

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Y’all!! This is so darn good!! Make it! You will thank me later!

What you’ll need:

1 box of spaghetti

3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

2 eggs

1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

2 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 tablespoon butter

Approx. 3-4 cups (or however much you want) Spaghetti Sauce , warmed

Grated Cheese– whatever kind you want and as much as you want

LOW-MOISTURE, sliced mozzarella– as much as you want

Sliced onion (optional)

Italian seasoning

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Cook spaghetti and then let it drain. While it’s draining, chop some sundried tomatoes.

Put the drained spaghetti, sundried tomatoes, grated parmesan, two eggs, and olive oil in a bowl. With your hands, mix it all together really well.

Melt some butter in a large cast iron pan and then press the pasta into the pan.  If you don’t have a cast iron pan, you can use a deep dish pie plate or a cake pan. Just skip the step of melting the butter and just smear it in your pie plate or cake pan.

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven until the pasta is browned and crispy around the edges– about 10-15 minutes.

While the pasta crust is baking, grate some cheese. Whatever cheese you have on hand– I used Cabot cheddar. Also, slice some low-moisture mozzarella.

Once the pasta crust is ready, put down a layer of cheddar (or whatever cheese you use) and then put the spaghetti sauce on top. If you’d like, put some sliced onion on top of the sauce.

Then, put the mozzarella on top and sprinkle Italian seasoning all over.

Bake at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted and browned– about 25-30 minutes.

Let it rest for about 5 minutes before cutting it.

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Mussels are one of my favorites! Most restaurants around here have them on the menu and I order them all the time. There’s nothing like dunking a crunchy piece of buttered bread into the sauce, taking a messy bite, and then pulling a mussel from its shell… repeating over and over until the whole bowl of mussels are gone– nothing left except empty shells. Ah! So, so good!!

Up until a few months ago, I was a little intimidated to make them at home, but I’m glad I gave it a shot. They’re easy to do. I promise. Also, they’re not expensive AT ALL. I got two pounds for less than ten dollars. That’s a deal!

Before I go into the recipe, let me give you a few tips on what to do before cooking the mussels:

  • Before cooking, soak the mussels in a large bowl of ice water, with a cup of flour, for at least thirty minutes. This will clean out any sand in the shells and it also plumps the mussels. I learned this trick from TheKitchn.com.
  • After soaking, drain well. 
  •  Inspect each mussel for a beard (little furry thing at the corner of the mussel). If there’s a beard, pull it out.
  • If a mussel is in any way open, tap it. If it closes, it’s still alive. If it doesn’t close, toss it.

Okay, let’s get cookin’!

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First, dice the garlic, shallots, and tomatoes (or drain canned diced tomatoes).

Heat a large, heavy pot on med-high. Melt butter and add olive oil; add the shallots. Cook for two minutes, and then add the garlic and tomatoes . Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often so the garlic doesn’t burn.

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Time to add wine, vegetable stock, parsley (optional), and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and boil on med-high heat for five minutes.

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Add mussels and stir to coat with the vegetables and sauce. The flour will help thicken the sauce. Cover and let simmer on med-high heat for  8-10 minutes, or until all the mussels open.

After cooked, stir the mussels… are any of them still closed? If so, toss them.

Serve the mussels in a bowl and spoon the sauce on top. Serve with toasted, buttered bread and lemon wedges or with pasta (spaghetti or angel hair is good with mussels). We ate it with both bread and pasta. Why not?

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What you’ll need:

2 pounds mussels

Ice water (for soaking mussels before cooking)

1 cup of flour (for soaking mussels before cooking)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons butter

4 large shallots

4 large garlic cloves

1 lemon, juiced– plus lemon wedges for serving with the dish

1 small can of diced tomatoes (drained well) or 2-3 fresh tomatoes, diced

2 cups of white wine (Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc)

1 cup vegetable stock

Parsley (optional)

Directions:

Before cooking, soak the mussels in a large bowl of ice water, with a large scoop of flour, for at least thirty minutes.

Dice the garlic, shallots, and tomatoes (or drain canned diced tomatoes).

Heat a large, heavy pot on med-high. Melt butter and add olive oil; add the shallots. Cook for two minutes, and then add the garlic and tomatoes . Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often so the garlic doesn’t burn.

Add wine, vegetable stock, parsley (optional), and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and boil on med-high heat for five minutes.

Add mussels and stir to coat with the vegetables and sauce. The flour will help thicken the sauce. Cover and let simmer on med-high heat for 5-8 minutes, or until the mussels open.

After cooked, stir the mussels… are any of them still closed? If so, toss them.

Serve the mussels in a bowl and spoon the sauce on top. Serve with toasted, buttered bread and lemon wedges or with pasta (spaghetti or angel hair is good with mussels).

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Bubs’ Sauce

If you ask any cook, of any level, what they like most about cooking, I bet they’d say, “Cooking for those I love.”

For me, that’s the definitive answer. I love nothing more than spending the day in the kitchen–cooking and baking–for those who mean the most to me. What better way to show love than working in the kitchen– tasting, babying, coaxing flavors, and making sure a dish is just the way it should be. Putting a little (or a lot) of love on a plate goes a long way. It creates flavor memories, conversations, laughing, fun, togetherness. What could be better than that?

Like most weekends, this past weekend, I was able to cook for my number one, my husband. However, this was more special–it was for his birthday.

A couple weeks ago, I asked him what he’d like me to cook for his birthday, and without thought, without hesitation, he said, “Bubs’ Sauce.”

What’s Bubs’ Sauce? It’s my spaghetti sauce.

It’s the one thing I’ve cooked over the years that he, and friends, always ask me to  cook.

Just like my Salmon Chowder recipe, my mom is the inspiration for my sauce. Mom’s spaghetti was AMAZING! She taught me how to make it at a very young age and it’s a recipe I cherish so very much.

There was a time when I made it for her, and she said, “Amy, I think this is better than mine.”

That wasn’t possible, but I took the compliment as high praise.

The biggest difference from my recipe and hers is I don’t put meat in mine.

WHAT? No meat? You ask.

That’s right. No meat.

When Chris and I became pescetarians (we eat fish, but no other meat), I took the meat out of the recipe and found a way to add depth and richness that meat would normally give.

Some people would turn their nose up at spaghetti sauce that doesn’t have ground beef, pork, and/or veal– my dad being one of them. He normally wouldn’t touch such a sauce. However, just a few months ago, I made it for the family, and he tasted it. To my surprise, he liked it! I doubt… no, I know… he won’t ever make it my way, but the fact he thought it tasted good is enough for me. He, and my brother, couldn’t believe it didn’t have meat it in it.

It comes down to layering flavors. Don’t worry, meat eaters, I give directions on adding meat if you want to.

Please pay attention to any little tips I give along the way. They make a difference in the end product. This is not a quick spaghetti sauce. It’s a process that results in a restaurant worthy bowl of spaghetti. Who doesn’t want that?

Okay, let’s get to it.

First, dice one large onion, six cloves of garlic, and two medium carrots.

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In a large pot, sauté the carrots and onions in olive oil for five minutes. From this point, until the sauce is put together, cook at medium to medium high heat.

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Add Worcestershire sauce. I know… it seems weird, but I got this tip from my Italian friend, Tony De Vito, who co-owns our favorite Italian restaurant in Stowe, Trattoria La Festa. Just add it. It does something good. Also add the chopped garlic and spices– Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.

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Stir and cook for five minutes. Don’t worry if it gets “dry”. Deglazing with wine comes soon.

Now, add a whole tube of tomato paste. I use Cento brand. If you can’t find any that comes in a tube, use the canned version. I know it seems like a lot of tomato paste, but like the Worcestershire, it adds a depth of flavor. Stir it into the veggies and spices. It’s not going to look pretty, but it’s a part of the process. Go with it.

Cook for three minutes.

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Time to add the good stuff… Wine! Add one cup of red wine… whatever you have open or any everyday table wine. If you don’t cook with wine, use vegetable broth.

Stir into the mixture. Again, it’s not going to look pretty. Continue to go with it.

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Let that cook for another five minutes. You want to cook out the alcohol. Even if you use vegetable broth, let it cook down.

Now, add the tomatoes. I use two large cans of crushed tomatoes and one large can of diced tomatoes. You can mix and match whatever tomatoes you like best. After stirring them in, add one package of mushrooms– baby bellas or white mushrooms work great.

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Stir, cover, and let simmer on low heat. This is where all the flavors come together and the veggies cook through.

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After an hour, taste the sauce. What do you think it needs? I always end up adding a bit more of each seasoning. Plus, we like it a little spicy, so I add some red pepper flakes. Season however you wish, then cover and let it continue to simmer away… checking it every once in a while. It’s good to leave the lid off every so often to let extra moisture evaporate, which thickens the sauce.

I let it simmer for four to six hours, depending what our plans are. It can never simmer too long, but don’t let it simmer for too little. At the least, make sure the veggies are cooked through and then let it cook for another hour (or more).

About twenty or thirty minutes before you’re ready to eat, add grated Parmesan (or Romano… my favorite) to the sauce. Again, it adds a depth of flavor. I never measure this… just grate away until your heart is happy. I’m guessing 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup is a good amount. If you can, get the kind you need to grate; it has more flavor.

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At this point, I also like to add another package of mushrooms. The mushrooms that were put in at the beginning are cooked down, so adding more will give a “meatiness” to the sauce, especially if you’re not adding meat.

Turn the heat up to medium and leave the lid off while the second round of mushrooms cook in the sauce. This will allow any water they let off to evaporate and the sauce won’t become watery. Let them cook for around twenty minutes.

During this time, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Be sure to add a good amount of salt to the water. Any pasta will work. This weekend, we chose our favorite, Pappardelle. It can handle a hefty sauce. This is the brand we use. It may be hard to find, but Amazon carries it:

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Swirl your pasta around in the water; this helps it to not stick together. Also, adding a little olive oil in the water helps. Don’t over cook your pasta. You’ve spent all this time making a delicious sauce and nothing will hurt it more than mushy, over-done pasta. Once you get to the seven minute mark, taste a piece of pasta every minute thereafter. (Unless you’re using angel hair. Those don’t take much time to cook– maybe five to seven minutes total). As soon as you eat the perfect one (al dente is best), take the pasta off the stove, and drain. Do not wash your pasta! However, drizzle a little olive over the pasta, and toss gently. This keeps the pasta from sticking together. Let it sit in the colander for at least 3-5 minutes, shaking it around a few times to get all the water off.

Okay, FINALLY, it’s time to eat!

I like to top mine with fresh basil and grated Romano (or Parmesan) cheese.

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Chris ended up having three bowls, which made me smile. I have to say, it was the perfect bowl of pasta. We reheated it on Sunday and Chris had another three bowls.

I also made him a Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Whipped Cream Icing, which was the best cake I’ve ever put in my mouth (if I say so myself). Chris had two pieces on Saturday and two pieces on Sunday. Birthday boy had a very happy tummy.

 

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What you’ll need:

1 large onion– diced

2 medium carrots– diced

6 cloves of garlic– finely chopped

4 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon garlic powder

1 Tablespoon onion powder

1/4 cup Italian seasoning

1 tablespoon of salt

1 tablespoon of pepper

Red Pepper flakes– if you like adding heat

1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce

1 tube or 1 small can of tomato paste

1 cup of red wine or vegetable broth

3 large cans of tomatoes (2 crushed and 1 diced– or any combination you like)

2 packages of mushrooms– Baby Bellas or White Button

1/4 – 1/3  cup, grated Parmesan or Romano, plus more for adding on top– get the kind you need to grate yourself

Fresh Basil–chopped

Directions:

First, dice one large onion, six cloves of garlic, and two medium carrots. Sauté the carrots and onions in the olive oil for five minutes. (From this point, until the sauce is put together, cook at medium to medium high heat.)

Add Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and spices– Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook for five minutes. Then, add a whole tube or can of tomato paste. Cook for three minutes and then add the wine (or vegetable broth). Cook for five more minutes and then add tomatoes and one package of mushrooms, stir to combine.

Let it simmer on low heat. Taste after one hour, adding more seasonings if you need to. Let it simmer for 4-6 hours on low. When you’re 30 minutes away from eating, add approx. 1/4-1/3 cup (or how ever much you want) of grated Parmesan (or Romano) cheese and another package of mushrooms. Leave uncovered and cook on medium heat. During this time, cook pasta. *Be sure to make note of the tips I gave above about cooking pasta.

Plate and enjoy!

Alternatives and more tips:

You can do this in the crock pot, but make sure to do all the steps up to adding the tomatoes and mushrooms on the stove top. Transfer the veggie mixture into the crock pot, then add the tomatoes and mushrooms. Set on high for the first few hours and then turn to low for rest of the time. Be sure to leave the lid off every once in a while to let moisture evaporate, which will thicken the sauce. Follow the rest of the instructions just the same.

Once you begin tasting the sauce, and you feel there’s too much acidity, add a tablespoon of sugar. It will cut the acid in the tomatoes.

If you want to add meat, brown your meat mixture (whatever you choose) and add it after adding the tomatoes.

Having someone be a taste tester is always a good idea. Sometimes I feel my taste buds aren’t catching everything they should, especially after the third or fourth time tasting the sauce.

If there’s a particular ingredient you don’t like, leave it out. For example, I know people who don’t like mushrooms. That’s cool, just don’t add them.

 

 

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