Baked Rigatoni and Ziti

The girls got all excited about the idea of preparing Baked Ziti. No idea where they picked up that nonsense. But we went ahead and gave it a shot. Here is our second truly original recipe (As we went shopping for ingredients, Lily thought the Ziti to be too unassuming and decided we should do 50/50 Ziti and Rigatoni.):

Lena started the adventure by cutting up 2 sticks of celery, half a red onion, and 2 garlic cloves.

Next we got a pot of salt water going to cook a total of 1lb of Ziti and Rigatoni pasta.

We also started frying up 1 lb of happy beef with a dash of olive oil, a little salt, pepperground coriander seed, and cumin, as well as separately softening the cut-up veggies in a bit more olive oil.

In the meantime Lena cut up 3 big handfuls of tomatoes.

After about ten minutes we added the pasta to the boiling water and about 1 cup worth of red wine to the veggies.

After a few minutes we added about a half cup of veggie broth and

all the tomatoes,

fresh rosemary, and the stem of the tomatoes (We are convinced that it adds good flavor).

While the pasta and tomatoes were cooking for about eight to ten minutes we turned the oven to 400F, shredded about 3 handfuls of white Cheddar and Parmesan cheese, and

cut up 2 handfuls of kale.

We removed the tomato stem and whizzed up the veggies to a sauce; rounding off the great flavors with salt and pepper and adding the browned crispy meat.
Now we had all the ingredients ready: cooked pasta, shredded cheese, kale, home made tomato sauce, and a hot oven.

Then Lena went ahead and kept layering pasta, sauce, kale, and cheese into a baking dish until it was filled to the top.

We stuck int into the oven for 15 minutes until all that goodness started to brown on the top.

There it is. Baked Ziti. It came out just beautifully good looking and tasted DELICIOUS!

Tofu Cocoa Chili

First time we tackled tofu. We liked it. This dish took 45 minutes, 30 of which was simmering the chili.

We cut up two handfuls of mushrooms and one half of a big onion and sauted them in olive oil for a few minutes.

In the meanwhile we cut a wobbling 14oz block of tofu into small pieces, nibbled on one to taste it, and minced a clove of garlic.
All that, a couple of teaspoons of cumin, a little chili powder, salt, and pepper we added to the mushrooms for another few minutes.

Then we added 3 tablespoons of tomato paste, 1 small can of diced tomatoes, 1 small can of black beans, 1 can of kidney beans, a handful of frozen corn, and 2 tablespoons of  unsweetened cocoa powder and simmered the whole lot for a half hour.

To serve we opened a bag of tortilla chips and dug in.

(We found the recipe in The Runner's World Cookbook)

Savoy Cabbage, Beef, and Pasta

That was about as quick and easy as it gets for some fork-licking toothsomeness.

While we got a pot of salted water going for 1 lb of shell pasta we browned 1 lb of beef with some olive oil; got it nice and crunchy and spiced it up with salt, pepper, and red pepper spice.

In the meantime we chopped up 1/2 big onion and sliced 1 head of savoy cabbage into wide strips.

When the meat was done, we added the onion for another minute or two.

We removed the beef, set it aside, and

sauted the cabbage with more olive oil, while loosening the fried beef bits. Then we added 1/2 cup of water and let it simmer for about 15 minutes with the lid on.

That gave us enough time to set the table, add the pasta to the boiling water, squeeze the juice from 1 lemon, and rummage for the creme fraiche.

When it was all done, we added it all together: the pasta, beef, cabbage, lemon juice. and a few chunks of creme fraiche and adjusted the taste with a little more salt.
It was absolutely delicious.

We found the recipe in a monthly magazine from Tim Mälzer (German star cook, Hamburg restaurant owner, and cook book author extraordinaire).

Camembert and Ziti

This came from the pages of Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Food Revolution. An easy 30 minutes of cooking that makes you think you are hanging out in the Provence somewhere. (As a matter of fact this asked for such a lazy prep time, we probably should've cracked open a bottle of wine while cooking ... and fruit juice for the girls.)

For starters we turned our oven to 350F. Then we opened a 8 oz box of Camembert, unwrapped the cheese and placed it back into the bottom container. Then we sliced off the top and loaded it up with 2 sliced cloves of garlicleaves of 1 stick of rosemarypepper, and olive oil.

We filled a pot with salted water for 1 lb of Ziti pasta, turned on the heat, and stuck the cheese into the oven on a baking tray for 25 minutes.

Now there was a lot of time left with not much to do. All we had to contend with was washing about 6oz of spinach leaves, and grating 5 handfuls of Parmesan.

When the pasta was done we added the spinach for a quick bath, just about ten seconds or so.

We drained the pasta and spinach, catching some of the cooking water. Then we added most of the Parmesan, keeping some for the table fun. We added back a little of the cooking water to thin this thing out a bit.

Last but not least we rescued the Camembert.  Look at it. That's about as much fun as it gets.

We added the cheese to the pasta, and

Voila! It was delicious.

Cajun Alfredo with Shrimp

Shrimp, cream, and pasta. What's not to like. Well the kids said the shrimp. They boycotted it out right. And you know this might just be very nice prepared without the shrimp. But to get it right we did the whole thing, another recipe from Lisa Leake and her blog turned cookbook 100 Days of Real Food. Sure enough at least a few of us loved it. It was fun to make.

First we cranked up the heat under a big pot of water to prepare 1 pound of fettuccine pasta.

Then we diced up 1 half of a big red onion and 1 red bell pepper.

We heated up a pan and melted the onion for a few minutes in 3 chunks of butter. Whaaat?? Yup. A whole bunch of butter, YUM! We call that real and therefore healthy. BAM!

Next we cleaned up 1 pound of shrimp. We had bought it deveined but not peeled. As a compromise between trouble and cost. We got the shells off fairly quickly.

When the pasta was tossed into the salt water and the onion looked good and the aroma was to die for, we added the pepper, shrimp, and

our own version of Cajun spices: garlic salt, celery salt, dried oregano, chili powder, pink salt (how cool is that?), dried thyme, and red pepper. All to taste. Well; and some extra pink salt, since Lena, Lily, and Lucy each had to have a turn. (And as such we real-fooded it up a notch from the original recipe. Mmmmh-huh.)

Then Lily cleaned 3 handfuls of spinach.

We chopped up the spinach as well as 2 cloves of garlic.

They were added to the mix after the shrimp had cooked for five minutes and looked ready.

After a minute or so we added 1 cup of cream and 3 (Lily-) handfuls of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese. We brought it to a simmer and thickened the sauce up for a few minutes.

There it is. Yummy! It looked like the pros had a go at it. 
Thanks again Lisa for a wonderful dish. I hope we did your recipe and love for good healthy food justice. We sure enjoyed this one.

Pasta with Rocket and Prosciutto di Parma

Okay. So just when the last thing on your mind is to prepare a meal and you've about had it, and are starving, try this dish. It took us just as long to make as to cook the pasta.

So here is how this thing went down. While we started a big pot of salted water for 1 pound of linguine we chopped up half a big onion and slowly melted it with a chunk of butter for about five minutes. 

Then Lena quartered 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes and

tossed them with the onion for another five minutes.

Then she busied herself with 8 slices of prosciutto di Parma, cutting them into small pieces, (A few went mysteriously missing.)

When the pasta was about halfway done, Lena added a 250g pack of mascarpone to the veggies and let it melt to a silky sauce.

We washed 2 handfuls of rocket lettuce (arugula).

And just as all the yummy was getting too much to watch, we tossed it all together, pasta, veggies, rocket, the ham, and some reserved cooking water. Bam! Total fork-lickin' scrumptiousness.

(To the girls' rolling eyes Papa took the opportunity and recounted for the umpteenth time, how as a child he and his folks were crossing the Alps on the way to Sienna, when Papa's dad, Opa, brought the family's old Mercedes to a screeching halt on the market square of some old Italian village. He scampered out of the vehicle and returned within minutes cradling gingerly a whole leg of dry-cured ham. "This, kids," he exclaimed,"is a real Prosciutto di Parma", took a pocket knife, and skillfully cut off thin slices of tasty goodness, passing them around. The traveling party was, of course, within shouting distance of the city limits of Parma.)
We thank Tim Mälzer for the recipe.