SHRIMP PAD THAI

This recipe is the PERFECT downsized recipe for 2! This flavor combination offers a complex salty AND sweet yet spicy AND pungent flavor with just enough acidity from the lime for balance in the sauce. Add in the sauteed shrimp, the scrambled egg, salty peanuts and crunchy bean sprouts and scallions that balance out the texture and flavors for a complete meal.

SHRIMP PAD THAI
SAUCE
2 LARGE limes, juiced, about 3 +/- tablespoons
3 tablespoons water
2 1/2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons avocado oil (or other neutral oil)
3 teaspoons rice vinegar (I often use seasoned – flavor of choice)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • Whisk all together and set aside.

NOODLES & SHRIMP
4 ounces WIDE rice noodles
1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 shallot, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 LARGE egg, lightly beaten
1 cup bean sprouts
2 tablespoons crushed dry roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons FRESH chopped cilantro (for garnish – optional)

  • Bring 4 quarts of water to boil.Remove from heat, add rice noodles and let stand 10 minutes until noodles are tender. Drain noodles and set aside.
  • Pat shrimp dry.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add shrimp and a pinch of salt, sauteing 2-3 minutes until shrimp are opaque.
  • Transfer to a plate.
  • Add remaining oil to skillet.
  • When oil is shimmering add shallots and garlic, sauteing until light golden brown.
  • Add in egg and cook 20-30 seconds until scrambled.
  • Add noodles, tossing to mix.
  • Add sauce, tossing continually to coat for 1-2 minutes until well blended and coated in sauce.
  • Add bean sprouts, peanuts, scallions and shrimp, tossing to coat.
  • Serve immediately.

NOTE: As a quick cheat I use pre-prepared yakisoba noodles from my butcher to replace the rice noodles.

SHEET PAN MAC & CHEESE

SHEET PAN MAC & CHEESE
2 LARGE cans evaporated milk (12 ounce)
1 cup cubed Velveeta pieces
2 1/2 cups grated Cheddar
2 1/2 cups grated Gruyere
1 teaspoon dry mustard (optional)
1 tablespoon Frank’s original hot sauce
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1 pound macaroni, cooked according to package instructions
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Nonstick cooking spray

  • Preheat the oven to 425°.
  • In a saucepan over a medium heat, add the evaporated milk, processed cheese, 1 cup of the Cheddar, 1 cup of the Gruyere, the dry mustard if using, the hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste, whisking until the cheeses are melted and the mixture is smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and stir to coat and combine.
  • In a small bowl, toss together the remaining cheeses.
  • Remove the sheet pan from the oven and carefully spray with the cooking spray.
  • Pour the mac and cheese from the saucepan into the sheet pan and spread evenly.
  • Sprinkle the cheese mixture evenly over the top.
  • Bake until the cheese topping is fully melted and the mixture is bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes.

CLASSIC PASTA SALAD

This is the PERFECT and the EASIEST pasta salad, a true classic for any pot luck, BBQ or church supper.

CLASSIC PASTA SALAD – 8 servings

2 cups ROTINI or elbow macaroni, cooked per package directions
1 SMALL can Le Seur peas, drained WELL
2 LARGE eggs, hard boiled and diced
2/3 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 SMALL mini red peppers, diced
1/3 cup FINELY diced red onion
2 celery ribs, FINELY diced
3 tablespoons chopped FRESH parsley leaves
1/2 cup SMALL diced extra-sharp cheddar cheese
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste

  • In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.
  • Fold in pasta, peas, eggs, bell pepper, onion, celery and cheese.
  • Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Cover and refrigerate for AT LEAST 2 hours before serving.

ITALIAN WEDDING CASSEROLE

ITALIAN WEDDING CASSEROLE adapted from Ree Drummond

CASSEROLE
2 cups (dry) bowtie pasta
2 tablespoons butter 
2 tablespoons avocado oil 
1 cup diced celery 
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH oregano 
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped thyme
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped Italian Parsley
1 teaspoon FRESH chopped rosemary
3 cloves garlic, minced 
2 carrots, diced 
1 onion, diced 
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
4 cups chicken broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
1 1/2 pounds of homemade meatballs OR a 26-ounce bag frozen Italian meatballs 
2-3 cups chopped baby spinach *SEE NOTES
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

  • Preheat the oven to 375°.
  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until less than al dente; set aside.
  • Melt butter and avocado oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add celery, carrots and onion, cooking until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add oregano and garlic, sautéing until fragrant.
  • Sprinkle with the flour, stirring and cooking for an additional minute.
  • While whisking constantly, slowly add chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and allow the sauce to thicken, about 2 minutes.
  • Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • Add the meatballs, spinach, Parmesan, stirring to combine.
  • Fold in pasta.
  • Transfer to 9×13-inch baking dish.

TOPPING
1  cup PANKO breadcrumbs
1/4 cup FRESH grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons salted butter, melted
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH parsley 
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH oregano 

  • Mix together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, butter, parsley and oregano in a bowl until well combined.
  • Sprinkle the breadcrumb topping over the casserole.
  • Bake until golden and bubbly, about 20 minutes.
  • Allow the casserole to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

NOTES:  Baby spinach can be easily replaced with broccoli or green beans, but both of those need to be added during the saute’ process.

PIZZA CASSEROLE

Not the prettiest looking casserole, but after you dig into it, the flavor makes you forget how it looks!
ITALIAN PIZZA CASSEROLE
4 servings spaghetti or fettuccine
2 sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
1 LARGE shallot halved and sliced thin
1/2 of a LARGE red pepper, diced
2 cups spaghetti sauce
1 cup chopped pepperoni pieces*
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons FRESH chopped herbs (Italian Parsley, Rosemary and Thyme), divided

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray 2 quart baking dish with non-stick spray.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • In a small skillet heat avocado oil.
  • Add Italian sausage, cooking until crumbly and shallots are caramelized.
  • Add red peppers, cooking a few minutes more peppers are tender and juicy. Drain sausage mixture of excess grease.
  • In a mixing bowl combine sauce, two-thirds of the chopped herbs, pepperoni pieces and sausage mixture until well blended.
  • Add half of each cheese, blending well.
  • Fold in pasta.
  • Arrange mixture into baking dish.
  • Sprinkle remaining cheese evenly on top.
  • Sprinkle remaining herbs over cheese.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes until heated through.

NOTE: I buy the mini pepperoni bites so there is no chopping involved.

TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE (NOT YOUR GRANDMA’S)

TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE (NOT YOUR GRANDMA’S)
1 stick butter, divided 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons + 4 tablespoons
1 tablespoon avocado oil
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
3 cups DRY wide egg noodles
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch green onions, whites only sliced thin
4 cups SMALL broccoli florets (about 3 crowns, stalks discarded or used elsewhere)
14 ounces marinated artichokes, drained WELL
1/4 cup WONDRA flour
4 cups WHOLE milk
1/4 cup cream sherry
4 ounces cream cheese, sliced into 8-10 pieces
2 LARGE cans white albacore tuna in water, drained WELL
1 cup shredded Gruyere
1/4 cup FRESH chopped Parsley
Several sprigs FRESH thyme
1/2 cup PANKO crumbs

  • Prepare noodles al dente per package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  • Melt avocado oil and 2 tablespoons butter in large saute pan.
  • Add green onions and garlic, sauteing 2 minutes until garlic is golden and fragrant.
  • Increase heat to medium-high and add broccoli florets, sauteing 7-8 minutes until broccoli is tender and vibrant green.
  • GENEROUSLY season with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Add artichokes and Parsley, cooking several minutes more until all liquid is absorbed.
  • Pour broccoli and artichokes into colander and drain off any remaining oil.
  • Return pan to stove and melt 4 tablespoons butter.
  • Whisk in WONDRA flour until smooth and golden.
  • Gradually add milk and cream sherry stirring well after each addition. Cook until slightly thickened.
  • Add cream cheese pieces, whisking until smooth.
  • Add Gruyere, whisking until smooth.
  • Adjust seasoning.
  • Fold in tuna until well blended.
  • Fold in broccoli and artichokes until well blended.
  • Fold in noodles.
  • GENEROUSLY season with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Transfer to 3 quart 9×13 baking dish.
  • Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
  • With a fork blend melted butter and Panko crumbs.
  • Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over casserole.
  • Bake 30-45 minutes until crumbs are golden and casserole is bubbly.
  • Garnish with green onion tops if desired.

TUSCAN STEAK with MUSHROOMS & 3 PEPPER SAUCE

TUSCAN STEAK with MUSHROOMS & 3 PEPPER SAUCE serves 4
12 ounces fettuccine
FRESH ground sea salt and tri-color peppercorns, to taste
1 pound sirloin steak
2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Wondra flour
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes (optional)
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
1 small can baby peas (Le Seur)
Balsamic glaze, for drizzling

  • In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside. OR roast or pan fry potatoes in a separate pan.
  • Generously season steak with FRESH ground sea salt and tri-colored peppercorns.
  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook steak 3 minutes per side for medium rare.
  • Transfer to a plate to let rest, 10 minutes, then thinly slice.
  • Meanwhile, make Alfredo sauce.
  • Add butter to skillet and let melt.
  • Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
  • Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute more, then add milk and simmer until thickened, 5 minutes.
  • Add parsley and Parmesan, stirring to combine.
  • Fold in peas.
  • Add tomatoes (if desired) and cook down 2 minutes.
  • Add cooked pasta or roasted potatoes to sauce and toss until coated.
  • Top with sliced steak, drizzle with balsamic glaze and sprinkle with minced Parsley.

HAM & BROCCOLI NOODLE CASSEROLE

HAM & BROCCOLI NOODLE CASSEROLE
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 cups FRESH broccoli florets, cut small*
1/2 Vidalia onion, finely chopped
1 + 1/2-3/4 cup SHARP cheddar cheese, divided
1 ham steak (2 cups diced)
1 1/2 cups macaroni noodles, cooked and drained well
1 jar pimientos, drained WELL
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Mix together the mayonnaise, 1 cup of cheese and milk.
  • Fold in the broccoli, onions, pimientos and ham pieces.
  • Spoon into a 9×13 baking dish.
  • Melt butter and add bread crumbs until well blended.
  • Sprinkle with 1/2-3/4 cup of cheese and bread crumbs.
  • Bake for 45 minutes until bubbly and golden on top.

NOTE: *FROZEN broccoli will work, but FRESH is so much more tastier! 😀

HORSEY GARLIC MAC & CHEESE

HORSEY GARLIC MAC & CHEESE
5 slices bacon, cooked crisp and FINELY crumbled
1 1/2 + 2 tablespoons butter
1/8 cup WONDRA flour
5 ounce can evaporated milk
3/4 cup 2% milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
3/4 cup grated Vampire Slayer (Garlic) cheese**
3/4 cup grated Horseradish cheese**
1/2 pound elbow macaroni, prepared per package instructions
2 teaspoons FRESH ground thyme
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray 8×8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Add 1 1/2 tablespoons butter to dutch oven and melt.
  • Whisk in flour until golden.
  • Season with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Add evaporated milk, 2% milk and heavy cream, whisking 5 minutes until slightly thickened.
  • Add cheeses, stirring until smooth.
  • Add macaroni and thyme, blending well.
  • Spread into baking dish.
  • Bake 20 minutes.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons butter in skillet over medium heat.
  • Add Panko crumbs and stir 5 minutes until crisp and butter is well absorbed.
  • Stir in bacon pieces.
  • Sprinkle bread crumb bacon mixture over macaroni and cheese.
  • Return to oven 5-10 minutes baking until golden and bubbly.

**NOTE: I’m sure many creameries make similar flavors, but these specifically come from FACE ROCK Creamery along the Oregon coast and have a tremendous flavor! My theory is that the cool ocean breezes make happier cows that produce better milk for tastier cheese 😀 The bacon never hurts either. 😀

CHEESY TACO PASTA

CHEESY TACO PASTA serves 6-8
1/2 pound large shells pasta
1 pound ground beef
1 package Taco Bell ORIGINAL seasoning packet
3/4 cup water
1 cup jarred salsa
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  • Cook the shelled pasta according to the directions on the box and drain WELL.
  • Add the ground beef to the pan and brown well.
  • Drain the fat.
  • Add the taco seasoning and water, stirring and cooking until water is evaporated.
  • Add the pasta, salsa and cheese.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Garnish with chopped green onions, chopped olives and/or peppers.
  • Serve immediately, with crunchy tortilla chips or Fritos.   I also like to use taco shell bowls.

STUFFED SHELLS

STUFFED SHELLS
24 JUMBO pasta shells
2 CUPS shredded Mozzarella cheese

BALSMELLA (Italian Bechamel)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup WONDRA flour
2 1/4 cups WHOLE milk
1/2-1 teaspoon FRESH grated nutmeg
FRESH ground sea salt and tri-color pepper, to taste

  • Melt butter in sauce pan over medium heat.
  • Whisk in flour cooking 2 minutes until golden.
  • Whisk in milk and nutmeg, bringing to a simmer.
  • Reduce heat and cook, whisking periodically for 10 minutes until thick.
  • Season to taste with FRESH ground sea salt and tri-color pepper.

STUFFING
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1 SMALL onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons avocado oil
FRESH ground sea salt and tri-color pepper
1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup QUALITY DRY sherry

  • Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add onions, cooking 3-4 minutes until softened.
  • Add garlic, cooking until fragrant.
  • Add ground beef and pork, cooking until browned, breaking up meat pieces into fine.
  • Drain off excess grease.
  • Stir in sherry and cook 5-6 minutes until nearly evaporated.
  • Season to taste with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
  • Let cool completely.
  • Stir in Balsamella sauce.

TOMATO SAUCE
3 tablespoons avocado oil
1 small red onion, chopped
24 ounce can whole tomatoes
1 KNORR beef gel packet
3/4 cup moscato white wine
Juice from 1 lemon
5-6 cloves garlic, finely minced into a paste
3 tablespoons Classico sundried tomato pesto
1 teaspoon fresh ground Himalayan pink salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground red pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fresh chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil

  • Heat avocado oil in a large saute’ pan over medium high heat.
  • Add onions and garlic sauteeing until tender.
  • Whisk together the beef gel, wine, pesto and juice from the tomatoes.
  • Add seasonings, blending well.
  • Add tomatoes and gently crush.
  • Bring to a SLOW boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer 2 hours.

ASSEMBLY

  • Spread 3 cups of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 3 quart baking dish.
  • Spoon meat mixture evenly into shells, arranging shells on top of red sauce in baking dish.
  • Cover with foil and bake 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove foil and sprinkle with Mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake another 15-20 minutes until cheese is bubbling and golden.
  • Let rest 5 minutes.
  • Garnish and serve with remaining tomato sauce.

NOTES:

  • I like to cook the shells the day before, chilling in the refrigerator over night so they are pliable and easy to work with the next day.
  • A potato masher helps to make a finely minced meat.
  • If you have any extra meat mixture I either sprinkle it over the shells or freeze to use later in a lasagna.

PASTA with CREAMY ARTICHOKE RAGU


PASTA with CREAMY ARTICHOKE RAGU serves 4
2 LARGE jars marinated artichoke hearts
2 slices sourdough bread
1 tablespoon butter
6 LARGE white mushrooms, sliced thin
1 small shallot, sliced thin or small diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons heavy cream
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
12 ounces campagnelle pasta, prepared per package directions and reserving cooking water
1/4 cup FRESH minced parsley
FRESH grated Parmesan cheese
avocado oil

  • Cut leaves from artichoke hearts. Trim and discard any leaves that are stiff or dried out. Cut hearts into quarters. Drain on paper toweling.
  • Pulse bread in food processor until finely ground.
  • Heat butter in skillet until melted.
  • Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring constantly until crumbs begin to color.
  • Add 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese and cook another couple minutes until golden and toasted. Remove from heat. Pour bread crumbs into a small bowl and set aside.
  • Add oil to skillet over medium high heat until shimmering.
  • Add shallots, garlic, artichoke hearts, mushrooms and leaves, cooking 5-7 minutes.
  • Add wine to de-glaze pan.
  • Lower heat to medium and add cream, stirring to blend and coat well, cooking 2-3 minutes.
  • Add drained pasta and Parmesan cheese, blending well.
  • Add pasta water as necessary to desired sauce consistency.
  • Season to taste.
  • Top with bread crumb mixture and parsley.

NOTE: Hubby hates mushrooms so I actually make 2 separate pans for this recipe.  I also often add pieces of shredded roasted chicken as a protein, but it’s just as easy to sear up a couple boneless, skinless chicken thighs to shred into it.