Linguine with Clam Sauce

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Linguine with Clam Sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Medium
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DSC045503 ½ to 4 ½ dozen small little neck clams
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons margarine
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 / 2 cup white wine
1/ 4 cup parsley, chopped
Oregano
Basil
Salt and pepper

1 16 ounce box of linguine

1. Scrub clams well under cold water. Place in a large pot with ½ cup water. Cover pot and simmer until clams pop open (about 10 to 15 minutes). Remove opened clams from pot. Take clams from shells, place in a bowl, then discard empty shells. Strain clam broth from pot through a cloth. Reserve clam broth in a bowl, set aside. Chop clams into smaller pieces on a cutting board, then return to bowl.
2. In a large frying pan heat butter and margarine with olive oil. Add chopped garlic and onion, sauté until tender. Add oregano, parsley, basil, clam broth, white wine, salt and pepper, continue to cook. Add clams last. Continue to simmer on a low flame
3. In the meantime cook the linguine al dente.
4. In a large serving bowl, place cooked linguine. Pour clam sauce over center of pasta bowl. Toss .
5. ENJOY – Pasta with clams, seafood made at home!

©  This recipe courtesy of Somebodys-Mom.com


What happened to the family dinner?

I miss Sunday family dinners. In the good old days, we’d gather for the 2:00 pm Sunday dinner because that’s what you did on Sundays with immediate or extended family. It was the norm; no questions asked. After I had my own family, I tried to continue hosting Sunday family dinners. More often than not, my mom, aunt and uncle would join us. It has been difficult to carry on the tradition as my children no longer live nearby. Most Sundays I will cook up a storm and my husband and I will have a nice dinner together, with leftovers for Monday’s dinner and maybe a lunch for work. Just the two of us at the table is too quiet for me. So, whenever I get an opportunity to have a family dinner with all of our children and grandchildren, I usually go all out.

Recently, I had the chance to have a family dinner with everyone on a Saturday night instead of on a Sunday. As I shopped for the big dinner, planning on preparing shrimp, I spied these little neck clams. These little clams inspired me to prepare something different, like linguine in clam sauce, a favorite of my husband’s. Once the main dish is established, it’s easy to put together a menu.
My daughter, Marisa, requested stuffed mushrooms and her wish was granted. Luckily, my kids eat pretty much anything; I am the fussy eater in the family.

My Saturday night menu: stuffed mushrooms, antipasto platter with Italian bread, fresh vegetables with hummus dip, chips and sour cream dip, and to my grandkids’ delight, deviled eggs as appetizers.
The main dishes were linguine in clam sauce, a tray of sausages with peppers, meatballs, a tray of stuffed shells (for anyone who doesn’t like clams) and salad.

Dessert consisted of strawberries, homemade cookies and mini cheesecakes, and donuts for the kids. I thought this was a lot of food. Apparently not, from my daughter, Marisa’s, comment, “Mom you didn’t make as much food as you usually do!” Really, come on. At the end of the day, there was very little food leftover.

Whether it is too much food or too little food, Sunday afternoon or Saturday night, at the end of the day, I am happy because we had our family dinner together. Life just doesn’t get better than that!

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ORZO WITH TOMATOES AND GARLIC

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Orzo with Tomatoes and Garlic

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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1 lb box of Orzo or some other small pasta
3 – 4 large pulp tomatoes (egg shaped tomatoes), chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
¼ cup scallions, chopped or 1/2 red onion, chopped
Basil and or parsley
olive oil

Good Seasons Italian Dressing

1. Cook orzo according to directions. Rinse under cold water to prevent sticking.
2. Chop tomatoes, garlic and scallions or red onion. Mix together with well drained pasta in an
attractive bowl for serving.
3. Make the Good Seasons Italian Dressing. My secret is this. I use less water than the
Directions call for first of all. I use half the water portion and substitute it with
vinegar. Where it says vinegar, I use half the portion with red wine vinegar and the
other half with balsamic vinegar.
4. After making the salad dressing according to your taste, pour about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the dressing into the pasta salad and mix together. Let that sit for awhile. Refrigerate the pasta until nice and cold. Just before serving drizzle olive oil (about 2 to 3 tablespoons, I don’t measure, I just drizzle) and some more dressing if needed. Toss and taste.
5. ENJOY – Mama Mia what a pasta for me a.

Justine, my niece, recently texted me with a request for my Orzo with Tomatoes, her “favorite recipe”! As you can imagine, that was music to my ears. For someone who takes pride in their cooking, a request for one’s recipe is a compliment of the highest order.

I told Justine she could find it on my website, only to discover this family favorite wasn’t there. So, I quickly poured through my secret stash of recipes and added it to my site. Justine, this one’s for you! I hope you won’t mind sharing it 

Scarsdale was and still is a great place to live and work; however, eating on the cheap is not something this town offered. When I worked downtown years ago, I was too busy playing Supermom to have any time to make my own lunch to schlep to work, and how much pizza can one person eat in a given week? One of my favorite places was a gourmet chicken take-out store. I would typically order a small container of chicken salad or pasta with tomato and garlic to the tune of $6 … which was about $3 too much at the time.

I always feel challenged to make something at home just as tasty but cheaper, and this pasta was just the inspiration I needed. It has become a focal point and huge hit at all my barbeques, proving, once again, that a good recipe does not have to be expensive or complicated. I do feel compelled to let you know that I did not request their recipe out of respect. Back in the day, folks believed it to be fair business practice to pay for recipes, especially if they were purchasing a food business. Well, times have changed and many folks feel it’s a compliment to be asked for a recipe. I know as I have done this many times over the years, and I have never been turned away.

The next time you enjoy something from a restaurant, a store, or even a party, don’t be shy — ask for the recipe. Go home and give it your best shot; you’ll be amazed with the results. Make this dish for the next party in your life, and I am sure you too will be asked for your recipe!

Homemade Tomato Sauce

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1 large bowl of home grown tomatoes
olive oil
hand full of fresh basil
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 to 2 cans tomato paste
salt and pepper

1. Rinse tomatoes, make a crisscross on one end of the tomatoes.
2. Fill a large pot with water about 3/4. Bring to a boil. Drop tomatoes into the boiling water for less than a minute, remove from boiling water with a
slotted spoon. The tomatoes will be very hot to handle, so with a pot holder on one hand, quickly peel the skin from the tomato with the tip of a sharp
knife with the other hand. The skins should fall right off if done immediately.
Set peeled tomatoes on the side.
3. In the meantime, in another large pot, add olive (about 2-3 tablespoons) to cover the bottom of the pot. Add chopped garlic and onions. Saute on a low
to medium flame, until the onions are translucent.
4. On a cutting board, quarter tomatoes and place into a food processor. Blend tomatoes. With a strainer over the pot of garlic and onions, add the blended
tomatoes to the pot. I use a large spoon to strain and squeeze the tomatoes through the strainer. This straining will keep the tomato seeds from going in
the sauce in the pot. Continue this process till all of the tomatoes have been strained.
5. All the time, cook your sauce on a low to medium flame. Fresh tomatoes contain a lot of water. Add one to two cans of tomato paste to thicken your sauce.
6. If fresh basil is available, wash a handful and put into the sauce. Add salt and pepper and stir.
7. Cook sauce with a cover that is sligthly ajar for about 3 to 4 hours on a low flame, to just simmer. Stir every 20 minutes to 30 minutes.
8. ENJOY – Mangia!

Here a tomato, there a tomato, everywhere a tomato. If you planted your tomatoes at the right time, now at the end of summer, you probably have a bounty of ripe tomatoes.

That is exactly what my daughter, Marisa and her husband, Jeff, have at their home in Buffalo, New York. They were coming to my house for a visit last weekend and I called to see if they needed anything special from the supermarket. Marisa asked me what I was shopping for and I said I needed tomatoes. “Don’t buy any tomatoes!” she practically shouted through the cell phone. “We are bringing you a bag full, and some cucumbers and zucchini”. Okay, I won’t buy tomatoes. Truthfully, I was thinking she was bringing a brown paper bag of tomatoes and not the shopping bag full of tomatoes she actually brought me.

After cutting up a few tomatoes for a pasta salad, I thought now what am I going to do with all these beautiful ripe tomatoes. In previous years, I canned tomatoes. I did it two years in a row and I pretty much made the decision that canning wasn’t something I really enjoyed. Marisa and Jeff can tomatoes and I patiently wait to see if they will share a few jars with me.

Tom, my husband, who in his own right is a good cook, and I decided to make homemade fresh tomato sauce with the shopping bag of Marisa and Jeff’s tomatoes. It was a joint effort with him boiling and peeling the tomatoes and me processing and cooking the sauce.

The aroma of the tomato sauce was so overwhelming while simmering on the stove, my other daughter, Mia, impatiently, burned the roof of her mouth, from dipping bread a few times into the pot of hot sauce to taste.

We all agreed over our pasta dinner that night, this homemade tomato sauce compliments of Marisa and Jeff’s home grown tomatoes, was delizioso !

VEGETABLE LASAGNA WITH WHITE SAUCE

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1 pkg 16 ounces lasagna noodles
1 pkg 8 ounces mozzarella cheese shredded
3 cups ricotta cheese
6 to 8 cups homemade tomato sauce
1 cup steamed spinach, drained
6 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion chopped
4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced

1 10 ounce pkg of frozen chopped broccoli, cooked and drained thoroughly
1 – 3 carrots, sliced and steamed
1 – 3 zucchini, sliced and steamed

White Sauce
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
3/ 4 cups half and half
3/ 4 cups milk
salt and pepper

1. Prepare lasagna noodles according to package. Use a drop of oil in water to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Cook 1 to 2 minutes less than the directions, so the noodles are not too soft. Run noodles under cold water immediately after draining them. Spread out long sheets of wax paper. Lay the noodles side by side until no room left on sheet. Then place a sheet of wax paper on top and continue until all noodles are used. This will prevent them from sticking to one another.
2. In the meantime, in a large frying pan, sauteed the garlic, chopped onions and tomatoes, cooking till tender. Add spinach and continue to sauteed till everything is heated. As an option for a different version of vegetable lasagna try it with – 1 10 ounce pkg of frozen chopped broccoli, cooked and drained thoroughly, 3 carrots, sliced and steamed, 3 zucchini, sliced and steamed.
2. Oven 375 degrees.
3. Mix in a bowl the spinach sauteed mixture with ricotta and 4 ounces of mozzarella. (I use whole milk, or part skim ricotta and mozzarella.) The other 4 ounces of mozzarella should be set aside to sprinkle on top of lasagna.
4. In two 9 x 13 x 2 oven baking pan, spoon sauce on the bottom.
5. Layer 3 to 4 noodles over the sauce. Spoon the cheese vegetable mixture onto the layer of noodles. Spoon some sauce over the cheese mixture, then top with a layer of noodles and continue until entire pan is almost full but not all the way to the top of the pan. The last layer should be noodles with sauce covering them and some mozzarella sprinkled over the sauce.
6. Cover and bake for 40 minutes.
7. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add flour gradually and stir with a wooden spoon and continue to stir. Slowly add half and half and milk with salt and pepper. Cook and continue to stir until the white sauce thickens a bit. (The sauce will be smooth and thin, but it thickens the longer it sits.) Cover and heat just before serving.
8. Remove cover and bake for 10 minutes longer.
9. Let lasagna sit for 10 minutes after removing from oven before serving and slicing. Serve on the side the white sauce. I serve it in a gravy boat and tell my guests to pour it over the lasagna the desired amount.
10. Makes about 8 servings. Serve with bread and salad.
ENJOY – Vegetarians everywhere unite for lasagna…..

The first time my dinner guests eyeballed my Vegetable Lasagna with white sauce, the silence was deafening. I could sense their disappointment! I knew most of them were expecting the traditional lasagna; pasta loaded with tomato sauce, not this white stuff. I had prepared a different kind of lasagna with a chicken broth and cream based sauce that the ladies felt might not be a winning combination. One friend actually made a face when I told her to “just try it.” She did, and fell in love; I won everyone over at the first bite….al dente, of course. Yep, they even came back for seconds.

The combination of spinach, tomatoes and onions was what I had to work with at the time. Feel free to experiment with any other vegetables. If I had broccoli I could probably substitute that instead of spinach. Carrots are a little sweet so they can add to the flavor, while zucchini can be somewhat bland so no extra flavor there, however, when sautéed together, they can add a punch of flavor. Hey, it’s also an easy way to get your family to eat more vegetables. As far as the white sauce is concerned, I like a very smooth, light sauce to cover the lasagna. Thick sauces tend to be overbearing so other more subtle flavors risk getting lost.

My co-worker, Victor, and I discuss recipes all the time. He used to be a cook in an Italian restaurant and we really enjoy kicking around new ideas. Victor told me to try the white sauce over the lasagna. I know no fear when it comes to cooking; I’m not afraid to fail even when serving friends. I find that people are so grateful when you cook for them that they don’t care if you never made it before. They don’t mind being guinea pigs! I would love if I was a guest for dinner and someone was trying a new recipe on me and wanted my honest opinion. I would feel very privileged to be included in their taste testing.

I consider myself to be a very unpretentious, easy-going and laid back person, and I believe that this is reflected in my cooking. Baking and cooking are fun to me, and I really can’t imagine losing this joy. After all these years, I still love it! OK, cleaning is another story…….

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy and explore the world of cooking and baking. I hope you continue to enjoy taking the journey with me!

Shrimp Stuffed Shells

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1 pound shrimp, shelled, deveined and cleaned
1 16 ounce box of jumbo pasta shells
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/ 4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 / 2 cup white wine
Oregano
Basil
Parsley
Bread crumbs

3 tablespoons butter
1 cup half and half
1/ 4 to 1/ 2 cup Romano cheese, grated

1. Cook pasta 2 minutes less than according to the directions on the box. Drain and set aside on wax paper till
needed. Cut shrimp into smaller pieces.
2. In a large frying pan heat 2 tablespoons butter with olive oil. Add garlic and cook a few minutes, add shrimp.
Add oregano, parsley, basil and white wine. Cook until shrimp turns pink. Stir often. Sprinkle in bread crumbs
by the handful until mixture thickens into a nice stuffing consistency.
3. Put the still warm pasta shell in your hand and add about a tablespoonful of shrimp stuffing. Place the stuffed
shell into an oven baking dish. You should get 22 to 28 shells.
4. In the meantime, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan. Add the grated cheese by starting with a 1/ 4
cup of grated cheese; add more if needed to make the consistency of what you would use to make the same as a white
sauce. Add half and half slowly while continually stirring to blend. Sauce will be smooth and thin. Don’t
worry; it thickens the longer it sits.
5. Pour sauce over shells and serve immediately
6. ENJOY – White shells from the sea to your table!

Christmas Eve is the night of the fishes.

For years, on Christmas Eve, my Uncle Dom would treat our family to dinner at different Italian restaurants. It became our tradition to start dinner at 5:00 with a smattering of fish appetizers, work our way through some wonderful fish entrees, pursue lots of conversation and hand gesturing, and wrap up our night with hugs and kisses four hours later. Unfortunately, my uncle passed away in 2003 and even though my brother and I tried to continue the tradition with our families, it just wasn’t the same without Uncle Dom. However, my husband and I continued to take our family out each Christmas Eve up until this past year. As our family continued to grow, the cost of an evening out simply exceeded our budget. Not to let that stop us, we decided to begin a new tradition, starting with Christmas Eve dinner in our home.

This did not go over so well with the kids for whom this tradition was all they knew and very much enjoyed. My husband, Tom, is a good cook as I have mentioned before. We understood that replicating our traditional Christmas Eve dinner would be a major undertaking, but I knew we were up for the challenge!

It’s all about preparation and organization. About 4 days before Christmas Eve, I prepared a big pot of sauce. The day before Christmas Eve, I made manicotti, a cheesecake, and set the table. My husband took care of purchasing more than $200 worth of fish such as mussels, scallops, tilapia, calamari, and shrimp. I also prepared a small roast beef for anyone who didn’t want fish. A platter of antipasti and chips and dip also rounded out the menu, much to the delight of our grandkids.

Years ago, I used to make my featured recipe, Shrimp Stuffed Shells. The chef, Tom, allowed me to make one fish dish this year and this was it. It became the first course and it was a huge hit. Everyone was impressed by the presentation as much as the delicious taste. Because I hate to waste anything, I decided to serve some of the leftover plain shells with some extra white sauce I had. My granddaughter, Mackenzie, really liked the unstuffed shells with the white sauce and an extra helping.

Shrimp Stuffed Shells can be served as a first or even as a main course and are great to serve any “eve”, not just Christmas Eve, when you want to impress your guests. Who needs to go out to a fancy, pricey restaurant when you can serve a very special meal at a less painful pricetag!

Pasta Primavera Pie

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4 cups of Pasta Primavera, leftover
6 ounces of fresh mozzarella, cubed
8 eggs
salt and pepper

1. Oven 400 degrees.
2. In a pie dish, (I used a glass Pyrex pie plate) grease bottom with olive oil, lightly.
3. In one bowl, toss your leftover pasta with cubed mozzarella cheese. Place tossed pasta and mozzarella
into pie plate.
4. In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Add salt and pepper to eggs to taste. Pour beaten eggs
over pasta and place pie plate on a cookie sheet. Place cookie sheet in the center of the oven.
Bake pie for 35 minutes. Check by putting a butter knife in the center of pie. If clean, pie should
be done. If wet, bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer. Let pie stand for 10 minutes before cutting into
wedges. Serves 8.
5. Enjoy – What leftover? I don’t see any leftover!

Welcome to my latest creation: Pasta Primavera Pie. This little brainstorm was born out of the desire for something new as well as the desire to use leftovers. For guidance, I referred to my spaghetti pie recipe, another gem that will find it’s way to you via a future posting.

I so appreciate that my husband, Tom, is a good cook. The best thing about his cooking is that he will make dinner if he gets home before me. Lately, he has been making dinner more nights than I. Adjusting to cooking for two people instead of a family of five has been a bit challenging for both of us, so leftovers frequently appear in my fridge. The good news is that they are great life/timesavers for those of us who have to bring lunch to the workplace. However, who gets excited about eating the same dish 3 days in a row? Not wanting to toss out food, we need to reinvent that leftover.

So, my Pasta Primavera Pie began with my Tom’s delicious pasta primavera for dinner the other night. It contained fresh broccoli, zucchini and carrots, sautéed in olive oil with garlic and tossed over angel hair pasta. There were about 4 or 5 cups of pasta leftover, and then the challenge to reinvent began. Pasta is pasta, I thought to myself. Why not make a pasta primavera pie, the same way I make my spaghetti pie. I added 2 more ingredients, and bingo, a new leftover arose from the ashes!

This dish is great for vegetarians too, served as a main dish or as a side dish. I am always trying to think of more exciting veggie dishes, and now I created another one. The other night I had dinner with my friend, Mela, and together we had my Pasta Primavera Pie, with a side of salad and rolls. It got the big thumbs up!

Remember when cooking, think outside the (pasta) box, and have some fun.

ZITI WITH ROASTED VEGETABLES

1 head of broccoli
1 head of cauliflower
1 red onion
3 tablespoons olive oil
Garlic powder
Parsley
Basil
3 ounces grated Romano cheese plus
extra cheese for garnish
Salt and pepper

1 pound ziti pasta

1. Oven to 425 degrees.
2. Cover a large baking sheet with Reynolds non-stick aluminum
foil.
3. Core and cut the cauliflower and broccoli crowns into bite
size pieces. Fill a large bowl with vegetables and cover with
water. Drain and repeat again. Drain and leave crowns in
bowl.
4. Cook pasta according to package. Drain and return to pot.
Add a drop of olive oil and toss to prevent sticking.
5. Cut red onion into bite size pieces and then add to bowl
with cauliflower and broccoli. Add olive oil, garlic powder,
parsley, basil, salt and pepper. With a large spoon, toss
everything until vegetables are well coated. Spread
vegetables on baking sheet.
6. Roast vegetables for 15 minutes. Toss on sheet and rotate
pan front to back. Bake for 10 minutes more. Test for
tenderness with fork, bake 5 to 7 minutes more if needed.
7. To the pasta pot add roasted vegetables and 3 ounces
Romano cheese. Toss everything together.
Garnish with additional Romano cheese when serving.
8. ENJOY! – Vegetables taste even better roasted and
toasted!

While roasting vegetables has become a popular grilling experience all summer long, what does one do about the rest of the year? No problem. It’s time to use the oven to keep the house cozy and fill the air with a new fragrance, roasted veggies. It can be tantalizing!

Keep it simple. Just wash and cut fresh vegetables into bite size pieces, keeping in mind that carrots should be smaller than say, broccoli, as harder veggies take longer to cook. Toss them in a bowl with olive oil and spices ensuring that all are evenly coated, and then just place them on a baking sheet covered with non-stick foil. Place in a hot oven, give a shake or flip over after 25 minutes or so, and taste test for doneness. Veggies are like pasta; some like them al dente while others prefer a softer consistency.

There’s something special about roasting cauliflower, broccoli, and other like veggies together. If you’ve roasted too many vegetables for a particular recipe, no problem, put the extras in the fridge for the next dish. Roasted vegetables are wonderful in quiches, frittatas, omelets, soups, etc. They make a delightful addition to any number of recipes.

Truth be told, I made this dish for dinner for my husband and myself recently. I tossed ziti with roasted veggies generously garnished with fresh grated Romano cheese. Nothing could taste better…except when my husband, Tom, is concerned. Even though I watched my guy wolf down 3 plates, he still felt compelled to let me know that he couldn’t find the meat! About 15 minutes after we finished eating, Tom dug into the freezer and found 2 small steaks and insisted on grilling them for a snack. Who does that! Crazy carnivorous men! You can’t make this stuff up! He grilled his steaks (in the tundra that was my backyard) and ate a plate of sliced steak pieces on top of crackers …get this… as a snack! Sometimes, you just have to surrender to the caveman mentality and go with the flow. After all, the man did eat all of his veggies first.