Pasta Infused With Tomato Puree and Basil

After debating for a year about purchasing a stand mixer, I recently went ahead and did it. The first attachments I really wanted were the pasta attachments, which Jake got me for my birthday last week! The set comes with a roller and a cutter for fettuccine and another for spaghetti.

I decided to put it to use last night. I knew I wanted to do an infused pasta, but I didn’t have any fresh herbs on hand and I was feeling too lazy to head to the store. I promptly searched Pinterest to see if there was anything I could do with the ingredients in my fridge. We still had four fresh tomatoes that Jake’s parents had given to us and I was delighted to find a pasta dough recipe that called for tomato sauce and dried basil. (Here’s the link to the recipe.)

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Instead of using tomato sauce, I made a tomato puree from three of the tomatoes we had on hand. I cut the tomatoes into large pieces (I got four slices out of each tomato) and scooped out all the guts. I didn’t de-skin the tomatoes, just tore off pieces of skin where it was a little rougher. I then boiled the tomatoes in water until they were soft, drained them, and tossed the tomatoes into the food processor until pureed.

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I followed the pasta recipe, although I ended up tripling it because the serving size in the recipe seemed small. I think I could’ve gotten away with doubling it because I ended up with some leftovers. Jake and I eat generously, so that may give you an idea of how much you need.  The recipe called for optional vegetable oil and an optional egg. For the tripled recipe, I ended up using about 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 eggs. I would suggest that you fully mix or let the stand mixer fully mix the dough before deciding if you need to add in more tomato puree. At first, it would seem dry, so I would put in a tiny amount more of the tomato puree. Then, it seemed too wet, so I added a little flour to balance it out. In the end, I think I could’ve just stuck with the original proportions.

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I used the fettuccine cutter because I like the slightly thicker noodles. I also went with the 7 setting on the cutter for thickness. Next time, I think I’ll try going down to a 6. Because I made extra dough, I ended up with 6 batches. (I followed the guidance of using approximately 4 ounces of dough for each batch. Picture below of what ~4 oz looks like. I have petite hands.)

I was stumped as to what kind of sauce I should use with the pasta. I thought about tossing a can of San Marzano tomatoes into the food processer, but I didn’t feel like doing that and thought it might take away from the pasta flavor. I ended up making a lemon and white wine garlic sauce. I didn’t follow a recipe for that – I melted some butter with olive oil, put in 2 cloves of minced garlic, a little bit of parmesan, and added a splash of white wine and  lemon juice. Then, seasoned with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (which were homemade and given to us by Jake’s coworker). I only made a small amount because I didn’t want to overpower the pasta.

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I happened to have a chicken breast in the freezer, which I thawed out earlier that day. I cut it into chunks and air fried them to toss with the pasta. I also cut up the last tomato for some freshness in the pasta, as well.

As a side note, we had ears of corn that we bought last weekend and wanted to use those up, so I made a semi-Mexican street corn. I say “semi” because I didn’t have all of the right ingredients, but used what we did have. If you’re interested, here’s a recipe that I’ve used in the past that came out well.

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The end result was a really good pasta dish. I have to say, though, that the pasta didn’t carry much of the flavors. I think if I had used a different type of tomato that packed more flavor, like Roma tomatoes, and fresh basil, I might have had a different result. Either way, pasta is pasta and we enjoyed it!

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Good luck!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

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Game Day Eats – Wings, Sliders, and a Vegetable Casserole

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It’s game day! This is the first day of the NFL season and our friends, Ben and Liz, invited us over for some game day fun. I’ve known Liz since middle school and after many years, we ended up back living in the same town as each other and have become good friends. Our husbands have, as well!

We grilled, had a few drinks, and rooted for our team, the New England Patriots. Hey, what do you expect? We’re from Massachusetts after all!

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Geared up for game day! 

Ben and Liz covered the snacks and the meats.  There’s nothing better than a bowl of chex mix (one of my favorite junk food snacks), cheese, and crackers to whet the appetite before digging in at game time. Plus, look at the Sunday Funday serving dish – I’m loving it!

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Ben grilled up some wings and Liz prepared turkey sliders and pastrami sliders. The wings had a delicious caramelization from the marinade. The pastrami sliders were heated up just perfectly in the oven to get that melty swiss cheese and slightly toasted bun, which Liz had brushed with some garlic butter. They were both nice enough to capture photos for this blog post! Don’t you think they did an awesome job?!

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Jake and I were in charge of the side dishes. We naturally gravitated to our usual store-bought macaroni salad as one option. Of course I also saw this as an opportunity to try something new. So, I dug into my “Make It” Pinterest board to see if any of my pinned recipes jumped out at me. I found a veggie/side dish option that I thought had the perfect flair to say goodbye to summer and hello to fall.

It was a Zucchini, Squash, and Corn Casserole with a buttery parmesan breadcrumb topping. (Here’s the link to the recipe.) It has the flavors of summer, but the warmth we crave when there is a slight fall chill. I followed the recipe very closely.


First, I prepared the creamy mixture (sour cream, mayo, egg, etc.). I didn’t use fresh breadcrumbs – I used equal parts of canned Italian Style and Panko.

I then added kernels from three fresh ears of corn. Each ear yielded approximately one cup of kernels for me, but this may depend on the size of your cobs.

I sliced the zucchini and squash. I have a mandolin, but I don’t really like using it, so I sliced by hand. I also used my handy dandy vegetable chopper to chop one sweet onion. My mom gave this to me years ago and it is a great way to get a rough chop without the effort or the tears.

I cooked up the onions, squash, and zucchini in a large pot instead of a skillet. I found that it gave me more room to stir the vegetables without fear of them going overboard. I also melted butter to mix with remaining breadcrumbs and parmesan.

Finally, I folded the cooked vegetables into the creamy corn mixture, leaving out as much of the extra liquid as I could. I spread the final mixture into a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish and evenly spread the breadcrumb mixture over the top. This cooked in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for less time than the recipe – I only need about 30 – 40 minutes.

The end result was really good and could work as a side dish for many types of meals. If the zucchini and squash were in season for fall/winter holidays, I think this could work then, as well. Frozen corn is easy substitute. I would definitely make this again.

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Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about Ben and Liz’s dog, Bella, the cutie black lab below! We brought her some duck jerky. Yummy!

Overall, it was a great afternoon with friends and a win for our home team! Shout out to our friends Ben and Liz for hosting! Can’t wait for more of these great get-togethers this NFL season!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Air-Fried Plantains: An Alternative Dinner Starch

We try to have a balanced meal most nights, which means we have a protein, vegetables, and a starch. When we’re looking for something a little different than the usual rice or potatoes, we lean towards items like yucca or plantains. Last night, I made tostones, which is basically fried plantain. Although, my twist is that I used my beloved air fryer. (If you’ve read any of my other blog posts, you’d know I absolutely adore my air fryer.) If you don’t have an air fryer, don’t fret. You can do all the prep and pop them in the oven, too!

I’m definitely not an expert on plantains, but here’s what I know – Although plantains are technically a fruit, green plantains have less sugar and more starch. Yellow plantains are more ripe, which means they have higher sugar content and can be used in sweet plantain dishes. I had bought my plantains several days ago, so they were a bit more yellow when I got around to using them.

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To prepare the yucca, you’ll need to soften them. I’ve seen some people cut, peel, and boil it. In this case, the microwave is much easier.

  1. Cut off the ends and makes a few slices through the outer skin. The slices will allow the yucca to breath and release some of that steam. If you’ve ever made a “baked” potato in the microwave, it’s the same concept – you need to poke holes in the potato first.
  2. Microwave for at least five minutes. The skin will turn dark. Be careful when handling them because they will be HOT!20180906_19280720180906_193424
  3. Peel the skin off the plantains.
  4. Slice into one-inch chunks.
  5. Use a flat surface (I used a drinking glass) to flatten each chunk. Hint: If the plantain gets stuck to the bottom of the glass, carefully run a knife between the plantain and the glass.20180906_194055
  6. Place a single layer of flattened plantains into the air fryer.
  7. Spray the tops of the plantain and sprinkled with salt, pepper, and chili powder.
  8. Set it to 400 degrees and cook for approximately 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Repeat steps 6-8 until all your plantains are cooked.

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Jake loves dipping the tostones in this mayo/ketchup dip. Just mix relatively equal parts of mayo and ketchup to your taste. I like to add a squirt of sriracha and sprinkle pepper on top.

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The main meal we had last night was steak tips. The tostones were the perfect side, along with some air-fried Parmesan green beans.

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Cheers!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Labor Day Meat Sweats

One Last Cookout –

Happy Labor Day! This holiday in the U.S. is often seen as the last weekend of summer – people begin to close their pools for the season, kids get ready to go back to school, and families and friends have one last big cookout. One of Jake’s many hobbies is smoking meat. For this Labor Day weekend, he decided to cook up some of his ol’ faithful recipes and try some new ones. He made a smoked haddock dip, smoked ribs, and a smoked beef chuck.

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See? Even the pups couldn’t resist waiting by the smoker for the scrumptious food!


Smoked Haddock Dip

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Easter 2017 – Jake’s Smoked Salmon (right)

Last Easter, Jake had tried his very first smoked fish (salmon). We had his family over that day and we conducted our own little research test. We put out store-bought cold-smoked salmon and Jake’s smoked salmon. Jake’s salmon won by a landslide.

Last weekend, Jake had ventured out on a day of fishing with his friend. He came back with a few pounds of fresh haddock. Here was the perfect opportunity to make another smoked fish. He let the haddock fillets sit in a homemade brine overnight. The brine was seasoned as if he were going to use it for a baked haddock (sans the Ritz cracker).

Next day, he smoked the fish for a few hours, regularly basting it with butter and lemon. After a taste test, Jake decided last minute to make a smoked haddock dip. The dip ingredients included cream cheese, sour cream, cayenne, pepper, and green onion. It was absolutely delicious and balanced the perfect amount of smokiness with that classic creamy dip taste.


Smoked Ribs

Jake has made smoked ribs a handful of times now. This time, he decided on two different batches:

  1. A homemade Memphis dry rub
  2. Aloha Spice Company’s Organic Aloha Chicken & Pork rub

There are a couple schools of thought on how ribs should be. Some love it fall-off-the-bone and others (Jake) like it with a little resistance and structure. As for me? As long as it’s good, I’ll eat it! Close to when the ribs are done, Jake likes to brush a bit of BBQ sauce on top. These were great and I can definitely tell he’s begun to perfect his rib smoking! Tangy outside with a little bit of that crust; tender on the inside.

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Smoked Beef Chuck

We stopped by BJ’s Wholesale Club on the way home the other day and picked up a 3 lb beef chuck. We really like the meat they have there and they were nice enough to cut us the size chuck we wanted. In fact, we had gotten the ribs there, as well. The beef chuck was simply seasoned with salt, pepper, brown sugar, and a basting mixture to keep the chuck moist while cooking. Jake has an extra secret technique with his chucks that he won’t allow me to disclose! I’ll try to sneak it into one of my future posts. 😉

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20180902_165806The chuck is one of my favorite thing that Jake smokes. (My absolute favorite is his smoked citrus turkey breast.) Look at those smoke rings on the slices. So good!


We invited our friends, Rob and Lindsay, over to enjoy the meal with us. We whipped up a couple of sides, including a quinoa salad and pasta salad. Lindsay brought homemade lavender lemon squares and her fail-safe brownies for dessert.

(Side note – Every once in a while, Lindsay and I plan out full cooking days where we try out a bunch of new recipes. I can’t wait until our next one so I can post the mouth-watering photos.)

We ended the night with some drinks and conversation around the fire pit. It was a wonderful day and I hope you enjoy your weekend, as well.

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Pears, Pears, Pears

A Trio of Pear Dishes –

My in-laws live in a town outside of Boston. Believe it or not, they have been in the same house for 40 years! In their side yard, they have a single pear tree. Most years it produces an abundance of pears and this year was no exception. Jake’s dad knows that we like to cook and decided to bring us a bag full of those delicious pears.

These pears were so juicy and sweet; they made for the perfect afternoon snack. If it’s at all possible, they were almost too juicy. I needed to lay out at least three napkins at my desk at work – still a small price to pay for the ripe goodness.

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After about a week, it was time to figure out what to do with the rest of the pears. We weren’t going to finish them all just by eating them as snacks. This was the perfect opportunity to find some new pear recipes and go to town. I had a mini cooking day to myself and whipped up three dishes:

I mentioned in The Fu Behind the Fu’d page that I get almost all of my recipe inspiration from Pinterest, so I linked each to the recipe I used. Because I also made multiple dishes on this occasion, I won’t provide step-by-step instructions on what I did. (It should all be in the recipes.) I will add a little commentary on my experiences making each dish and a judgment on the final products.


Raspberry Pear Pecan Bread

Get the Pinterest recipe here.

I originally chose this recipe because I had just bought my very first KitchenAid stand mixer and wanted to make bread. I don’t have a lot of experience making bread. From what I gather now, this was much less of a traditional bread recipe and much more like a banana bread recipe. I probably didn’t need my stand mixer at all. Oh well!

This bread was good. I loved the tangy and tart flavor that the raspberry left throughout each bite. I also went light on the brown sugar, so it wasn’t overly sweet. The recipe called for grating the pears. Because of how juicy the pears were, there was a lot of liquid, which I think caused the bread to fall apart a bit. I think counteracting it with more flour may have helped. The pear flavor was also barely there. For a sensitive palate, it might be the perfect hint, but I was craving more. We enjoyed the bread for a few days and ate most of it. But because I used fresh fruit, it was best to toss the rest after that. Regardless, this would make a beautiful gift during the holidays or to bring to a lunch/dinner party.


Creamy Sweet Potato and Pear Soup

Get the Pinterest recipe here.

I enjoyed this soup. I was surprised that Jake liked it, too. He is usually much more of a hearty stew type person, but he thought this had a unique flavor. I followed the recipe closely. Although, I did mistakenly sprinkle thyme leaves throughout the soup, which left a small chunk every few slurps. I should have left the thyme sprigs whole to flavor the soup and then removed them.

I don’t frequently use my immersion blender, so I get excited at any opportunity. The photo below reveals how infrequently I use it because I still have the label on it! It worked like a charm and left the soup with a great consistency.

I gave half the batch to my in-laws, but I wish had doubled the recipe and saved even more for ourselves! This soup seems like it would freeze very well, since you don’t have to worry about any chunks of vegetables or starches getting too soggy when re-heating.


Pear Vinaigrette

Get the Pinterest recipe here.

The vinaigrette was a bit of trial and error. In general, I love homemade dressings that have olive oil, fresh garlic, and lemon. I was able to use the extra juices when grating the pears for the bread recipe. However, again, the pear flavor was almost non-existent and I decided to scrounge up some extra grated pear to throw in.

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I used it a few times as a salad dressing and as a slaw dressing. I still have not figured out the best way to store something like this. I feel that the pear needs to be refrigerated, but after a couple of days, the olive oil begins to solidify at the top. This means that when I want to use the dressing, I need to let it sit out for a bit and then shake it up. I will be sure to report back if I ever figure out the right technique or perhaps you can help me out and let me know how you make it work!


Pears seem to be a great alternative to other fruits. They have a much more subtle flavor. I think that it can complement savory dishes well, but could be too mild for sweeter dishes. Overall, another successful mini cooking adventure with some lessons learned!

Sincerely,
Fu’d