Tuscan Pasta With Tomato-Basil Cream

As I grow older I become more focused on the quickest way to getting a tasty dinner on the table without going for greasy, cold, take out burgers.  It’s become even more important since I’ve gone back to work part-time and  I’m also picking Eric up from school three days a week.  I’m dealing with rush hour traffic on two freeways trying to get from southwest suburbs of Detroit to northeast suburbs and not walking through the door until 5:30 p.m. or 6:00 p.m.,  I don’t want to spend a lot of time hanging out over the stove.

Now that Walt is taking sandwiches to work instead of leftovers, I have eliminated the need to cook at least one day a week, sometimes two.  Another day or two we use the crock pot so dinner is ready as soon as I walk through the door.  We generally go out to dinner one day a week so that leaves me with 3-4 days that I actually have to plan meals that I prepare when I get home.  It’s not always easy to come up with meals that I can make quickly and still be tasty when reheated for Walt as he walks through the door a few hours later.

This recipe is quick, easy and tasty.  It started with a bag of ravioli, a jar of Alfredo sauce, a splash of wine, a little basil and parmesan.  What made it perfect?  The fresh chopped up tomatoes right out of our garden.  Try it….you’ll love it too!

Tuscan Pasta With Tomato Basil Cream

TUSCAN PASTA WITH TOMATO-BASIL CREAM

What You’ll Need:

1 (20-oz.) package refrigerated four-cheese ravioli*

1 (16-oz.) jar sun-dried tomato Alfredo sauce

2 tablespoons white wine

2 medium-size fresh tomatoes, chopped**

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Garnish: fresh basil strips

Directions:

  • Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, pour Alfredo sauce into a medium saucepan.
  • Pour wine into sauce jar; cover tightly, and shake well.
  • Stir wine mixture into saucepan.
  • Stir in chopped tomatoes and 1/2 cup chopped basil, and cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
  • Toss with pasta, and top evenly with 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Garnish, if desired.

Source:  http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/tuscan-pasta-with-tomato-basil-cream-10000001646355/

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Michigan – One Morning – 4 Seasons Passing Through

Spring is coming….spring is coming….”I have to chant this today since the temperatures are going down instead of up, the wind is getting stronger and the rain had turned to a light sleet which is now snow. Spring is coming….spring is coming, what’s that saying “in like a lion, out like a lamb?” Ok, let’s hope this is a preview of how March will arrive in the next nine days so that by the end of March, and when spring truly does arrive on March 20, March temperatures will roll into April gentle as a lamb. Only in Michigan can you preview four seasons in one morning.

I think the interview I went to yesterday went a little better than the one last week, at least this time the interviewer actually came out and said “So, I have to ask.” “Why, would someone with your experience and background, want what could be considered an entry-level position?” “You could do so much more with your background.” So we spent about five minutes talking about why I want this role, how my background and experience will benefit them and why I want an entry-level role. She said she appreciated my honesty and I made sure to reiterate my stand on why I am the ideal candidate for this role in my “thanks for the interview” letter. We’ll see what happens.

On Saturday my bestie Tina made my morning.  I was enjoying a cup of coffee Saturday morning when I heard my phone chime that I had received a text.  At first when I saw it was Tina I held my breath for a second, we don’t usually weekend text so when I saw her name I sort of held my breath for a second.  Ok, quick sidebar….yes I am a creature of habit, I do not do well with surprises or things that happen out of the natural scheme of things that make up our lives.  So yes…her text made me pause for a second.

Ok..ok…back on track.  So I received a text which was actually a photo:

Vanilla Coconut Muffins

Tina decided to make the “Vanilla Coconut Muffins” on Saturday morning so she sent me a photo and a quick note to let me know that she made the muffins, she used coconut milk (yes I was jealous, I didn’t have any when I made mine), the house smelled delicious, she ate three mini muffins because she couldn’t wait and she thought they were so good she took some over to her neighbor.  Woohoo!!  I’m excited because Tina also had made the “too die for” blueberry muffins a while ago and I forgot to tell her to spray the top of the muffin tin as well so that when the blueberries melt and burst as they bake they don’t stick to the top and rip when you try to get them out.  Of course I was excited when the Vanilla Coconut Muffins were a hit.  Way to go girlfriend!!

Today I am going to share another tortellini recipe with you.  Just when I thought there couldn’t be another sauce we would like for our tortellini I stumbled across this one on the Taste of Home site.  It’s fast, easy and delicious….three of my most favorite things when I cook.  It’s a perfect dish to make for those “Meatless Monday’s” or better yet for Friday night dinners during lent.  Try it, this dish won’t disappoint and it reheats exceptionally well.

TORTELLINI WITH TOMATO CREAM SAUCE

Tortellini

What You’ll Need:

1 package (16 ounces) frozen cheese tortellini

1 small onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed      and squeezed dry

1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Additional grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions

  • Cook tortellini according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute onion in oil until tender.
  • Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
  • Add the tomatoes, spinach, basil, salt and pepper.
  • Cook and stir over medium heat until liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in cream and cheese. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes or until thickened.
  • Drain tortellini; toss with sauce.
  • Sprinkle with additional cheese if desired.

Yield: 6 servings

Source: http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Tortellini-with-Tomato-Cream-Sauce

 

 

Knockoff’s And Copycats

It’s Thursday, grocery shopping day.  I am not looking forward to going out into the 11 degree weather with a wind chill that makes it feel like 2 degrees.  On top of that we had a “dusting” of snow; a dusting, there is no dust about it, it’s snow, it doesn’t matter that it finely covers everything!!  Spring cannot get here fast enough!  I feel bad for the homeless and people who have to work outside.  It is just way to cold.  I doubt that today will be one of those days that I only wear one of Joshua’s school hoodie sweatshirts so that I don’t have to have a heavy old winter coat in the store.  Even though it’s just a quick run from the car to the store and back again, it’s still too cold.

A few nights ago I made a new Alfredo sauce, one that was supposed to have been restaurant quality.  Have you ever gone to a restaurant and said “WoW, I really wish I could make this at home?”  Sometimes we try to recreate a meal either on our own by throwing things together that we think made up this great taste or we do an internet search looking for “Knockoff” or “Copycat” recipes.  But what exactly is a “knockoff/copycat?”  Lots of people who post knockoff or copycat recipes claim that their recipe is the real deal, that it is the recipe your favorite restaurant uses to make the dish you just have to have at home.  Most of the time that just isn’t true, generally knockoffs are a copy or imitation of something popular, most of time it falls into the imitation category.

Although I have never tried Olive Garden’s Alfredo sauce, I am strictly a chicken scampi girl when I go to Olive Garden, I was very interested when I found the recipe below on Pinterest.  I mean come on, heavy cream, cheese, butter, garlic; at the very least it’s the basics for any Alfredo sauce.  But again, to clarify, I have no idea what Olive Garden Alfredo sauce tastes like so I can’t tell if you this is the real deal. I can tell you that there are well over 306,000 internet entries claiming to be the recipe for Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce.  Going through the first half-dozen recipes that popped up, none of them resemble the one listed below.

The original recipe, which the source link below my recipe will take you to, actually makes a gallon of sauce enough to feed fourteen.  Walt and I certainly could not consume a gallon of Alfredo sauce so I had to make some adjustments which are what I have listed below in the recipe posted today.  Even with the adjustments that I had to make this was a pretty tasty sauce, I think the fontina cheese is a great addition.

As with almost all Alfredo sauces my biggest complaint is when you reheat it the next day, the cheese separates and the butter pools, this one does as well.  I have to say that the only Alfredo sauce I have found to reheat well is the one from The Avenue, a little restaurant that Walt and I like to go to; I actually look forward to eating the leftovers the next day.

This recipe is worthy of a try. It won’t replace my “go to” Alfredo sauce but I’m glad I gave it a try.  Is it the Olive Garden’s recipe?  I’ll never know.  Does it taste like Olive Garden’s Alfredo sauce?  I don’t know, but if you’ve had Olive Garden’s Alfredo sauce give this recipe a try; let us know what you think.  We love your feedback!

Have a great Thursday everyone!

 OLIVE GARDEN ALFREDO SAUCE

Alfredo Sauce

What You’ll Need:

2 oz. milk

1 Pint heavy cream

4 tbsp. butter

1/2 tbsp. flour

4 oz. Freshly grated parmesan cheese

1 oz. Fontina cheese

3/4 tbsp. minced garlic

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

Directions:

  • On medium heat, add butter, garlic, and flour until butter is melted. Do not brown garlic
  • Whisk in the heavy cream and milk until hot
  • Slowly add the freshly grated cheeses into the hot cream mixture
  • Finally add the salt and pepper
  • Stir often to make sure no cheese settles at the bottom
  • Simmer until all the cheeses are melted and the sauce reaches the desired thickness. Do not let this sauce boil, or it will begin to separate and the cheeses will become grainy
  • Turn heat off or on low before serving

Source:  http://italian.food.com/recipe/olive-garden-alfredo-sauce-173712?scaleto=.25&mode=null&st=true