Showing posts with label first course. Show all posts
Showing posts with label first course. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Prawn Linguine with Fresh Cherry Tomato Sauce

I know I haven't been very good at keeping up with my blog lately and I do miss it. This is a place where I like to share the things that make me happy and it's something I really enjoy doing so I'm happy to be back here today. 

Things have been pretty hectic with work and life in general.  I've been making an effort to go for an hour long walk/jog every day after work. I've been doing pretty good with sticking with it so I'm proud of myself for that. I haven't noticed any drastic weight loss or anything but I feel stronger and have more energy so I guess that's some improvement. 

My favorite blogs to follow other than DIY/home decor blogs are weight loss blogs.  I'm fascinated by the drive and motivation that these bloggers have to push through on their weight loss journey. I'm inspired by them to live a healthier lifestyle because that kind of drive is not easy to maintain every day for an extensive period of time. At least not for me... I'm usually pretty good for a couple weeks then I slowly creep back to my old eating habits. I'm sure I'm not the only woman who struggles with this...it's just frustrating at times especially when the warmer weather comes around and I'm trying on bathing suits and shorts...ugh! 

I have tried many fad diets and low carb eating but I find that it's not in the least bit easy for me to maintain long term.  Yes, I would lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time but I would always put it back on again (...and then some...) as soon as I starting eating regularly again. I also firmly believe that moderation is key and that it's ok to have pasta every once in a while but I make sure that the condiments or dressings used are healthy and light so I opt for a fresh tomato sauce as opposed to a creamy cheese sauce for example. I'm also trying not to mix carbs and protein in one meal so I'll do rice or whole wheat bread with a salad or veggies for lunch for example and only protein and veggies for dinner. Hopefully I will maintain a steady and gradual weight loss without having to starve myself or feel deprived from the foods I love. Anyways, I'm not here to give weight loss advice I just wanted to document what I've been doing lately and it seems to be working for me (for now at least lol). 

On that note I wanted to share a delicious and light seafood pasta dish that is great for summer and won't leave you feeling weighed down when you finish eating. This is a typical Italian dish that I made for our Sunday meal a while back and instead of using ready made sauce I made my own tomato sauce from fresh cherry tomatoes.



It was just the two of us so I bought a handful (about 8) fresh prawns.  These little guys don't really have a lot of meat in them but they do have a lot of flavor so they add a delicious seafood taste to the sauce. I just rinsed them and dried them off with a paper towel and set aside. 


For the sauce I used about half a kilo a fresh cherry tomatoes cut in half.  I added them to a pot with a cut up shallot and some fresh basil leaves and let them cook for about ten minutes on low heat stirring occasionally. I didn't add any salt yet as it will be added later together with the prawns. 


Next I placed everything in the sauce maker and pressed the condiments into a small bowl. 


Keep turning until you're only left with the skin and seeds of the tomatoes. Make sure to scrape the sauce off the bottom of the press. 


Here is the fresh tomato sauce that will be used. 


Next I sauteed the prawns with one garlic clove (which I removed once it browned), about a tablespoon of olive oil and a cup of dry white wine. 


When the white wine evaporates add the sauce. I like to press the prawns down while cooking to release the juices which will add that delicious seafood flavor to the pasta. 


At this point I added salt and pepper to taste along with some chopped fresh parsley.


In a separate pot I cooked the linguine "al dente" drained the pasta and added the sauce amalgamating everything together for a few minutes on low heat. 



That's pretty much it! Now you're ready to serve...preferably in your favorite dinnerware :-)


This is about a 400 calorie dish and it will keep you full for a while. In the future I might try making this with whole wheat pasta which would probably be an even healthier alternative and I'm sure would taste just as good. 


I hope you enjoyed this recipe. 

Have a great rest of the week and I promise to be back again soon and update on my weight loss progress.

xoxo

Silvana


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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Original Italian Ragù with Fresh Tomatoes

Ragù is made very differently in each part of Italy.  Up north ragù is usually made with ground beef whereas in the south whole pieces of meat are typically used creating one dish used both as a first course (condiment for the pasta) and second course (involtini or "braciole" as typically referred to in the south).

Today I am happy to share with you our original family recipe for freshly made tomato sauce and Braciole that is a main dish served almost every Sunday in many many Southern Italian households, as well as my honey's favorite dish of all time.

I have to be completely honest with you, this is not one of my preferred dishes simply because I'm not a big fan of tomatoes but it is always a hit and never EVER gets left over...

Ok so for this recipe you will need a sauce strainer and if you have a pressure cooker you with significantly reduce the cooking time.


I'm not going to be too specific with quantities because this really is a "taste as you go" recipe based on many variable factors such as sweetness and acidity of the type of tomatoes you use, the type of meat you choose to use, etc. 

In this case I used 5 thinly sliced pieces of beef making 4 Braciole and cutting up the 5th slice into 4 sections adding it to the sauce as I will show you shortly.

Begin making the Braciole. Lay out the slices of meat adding a small piece of Pecorino Romano cheese to the center. Add a dash of salt and pepper to each slice.

Now fold the meat in half and fold in the sides eventually wrapping it up and holding it in place with a tooth pick as shown here:

Now chop up half of a medium size onion and add to the pot with about three table spoons of olive oil.

Let the meat simmer and make sure the heat is on low because you don't want to burn the onion, you simply want it to soften up and eventually melt into the sauce so the heat has to be very low.


You should see that the meat will slowly release water during cooking.

In a separate pot add the washed tomatoes cut up into pieces, the rest of the onion and a few fresh basil leaves.  I used 2 San Marzano tomatoes and 5 vine ripened tomatoes. Do not add any water, any oil or any salt. You are simply letting the tomatoes cook on their own and you will see that they too release lots of water once cooked. The tomatoes should cook on medium heat for no more than 10 minutes.


This is what they should look like after 10 minutes on medium heat.


Once cooked you want to filter them using the sauce strainer. Just add the tomatoes to the strainer and filter into a bowl making sure to scrape the rest of the pulp off the bottom.

Now you have your freshly made tomato sauce that you can add to the meat.


In the meantime the meat should have released some water and once you hear it start to simmer go ahead and add the sauce.


Make sure to stir everything together and add a half a cup of water. At this point go ahead and taste it to see if it needs any extra salt, pepper and if you like you can add some chili pepper to spice it up.


You can now put the lid on the pressure cooker and leave it cook for about 30 minutes.  If you don't have a pressure cooker you will have to cook on very low heat for a good 2 hours. The meat needs to really break down and become super tender in order to have a good ragu.


When the 30 minutes are up let the steam out from the valve, turn off the heat and open up to see what you have.


Look at that delicious ragù! If the sauce is too thick you can add another half cup of water and heat uncovered until you reach the right consistency.
Now you will find the meat breaks down very easily and is extremely tender. With this sauce you can dress any type of pasta and it will be fantastic, I assure you.

On another note, I bought a beautiful hutch for my dining room over the weekend!


Now since everybody who knows me knows that the term patience and I have absolutely nothing in common.... I had to take it home with me immediately and would in no way wait for transportation and the people at the furniture store were very nice and totally understood my immediate need for this hutch sooo they put the bottom half in my trunk and the top half on top on my car....securing it with...tape.

Yes, tape.

I was a little worried I have to admit ...but the guy was like "Lady, we've done this a million times...it works...just go slow..."

And that I did...I went very VERY slow.


You gotta love southern Italy...

:-)

xoxo

Silvana 


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Monday, April 4, 2016

Hello Spring!

This is my favorite time of year...the weather is perfect, neither too hot nor too cold..flowers are blooming all around and some of my favorite fruits and vegetables are in season. 

It's funny how as soon as April comes around, I start to really take my healthy eating and working out seriously. I bought a Nutribullet last week and I am so in love with it! It is NOT the same as a blender at all. 
It's small yet powerful and my smoothies taste so much better. I don't know what it is...I think it's because it really blends everything well and doesn't leave any chunks (which I hate!). I've been having a green smoothie every morning for breakfast and am amazed at how much my energy level has improved. 


I usually add some strawberries, celery or spinach, an apple and lemon juice. I'll throw a banana in there every once in a while and that's pretty much it. I can't get over how good it is. I just feel so healthy after having one in the morning. Starts me off on the right track I guess. 

So what else have I been up to? I mentioned before how much I miss the foods that I can easily find in the States but that are not easily found here... one of those foods are fajitas! 

Whenever I fly to the States my first stop is this little Mexican restaurant near my house. It's a family owned restaurant and I absolutely love it. I was craving some chicken fajitas and decided to make them myself, tortillas and all! 

I found a recipe online and was surprised at how easy it is to make homemade tortillas. 


Basically all you need is 250 grams of all purpose flour, 120 grams of water, 30 grams of olive oil, a dash of salt and that's it. 

Mix everything together, divide the dough in four sections and let sit for about 30 minutes. 


Then all you have to do is roll the dough out very thinly with a rolling pin and heat in a wide flat skillet on high without greasing the surface at all. 

You'll see it start bubbling up a bit and that's when you gently flip it over. They really only take a couple minutes to cook. The recipe makes 4 tortillas.


I cut some chicken breasts into strips and made a quick stir fry with onions and added some spicy paprika. 


I didn't add any cheese or sauce...just kept it simple with some lettuce and cherry tomatoes. 

It was light and I didn't feel as guilty after eating it as I would have if it was smothered in sour cream and guacamole...


I suggest you make the tortillas as soon as you're ready to eat the fajitas since they do tend to dry up after sitting out for too long. 

This weekend the weather was wonderful and I had been eying a gazebo at Ikea for a couple summers now. This year I caved in (well, my honey did) and he bought it as an early birthday present for me. I love it. I'll do a separate post on my outdoor patio and get some better pictures soon.  It needs some more work before showing and telling :-)

We set up the furniture and decided to have Sunday lunch outside since the weather was so nice.



I made the salmon that I shared with you in this post and made baked gnocchi with mozzarella cheese. 

Sooo good!


I pretty much just added two layers of gnocchi, tomato sauce small mozzarella balls and grated Parmesan cheese and baked for 25 minutes at 175°.   

I'm really excited about the warmer spring weather and ready to get out more. Sunshine always puts me in a good mood. 

Hope you all are well. 

Until next time xoxo

Silvana

Monday, February 22, 2016

Fisherman's Risotto

Good morning and Happy Monday to you!!!

Today I am excited to share my favorite recipe of all time with you! This is what I usually order whenever I go out to an Italian seafood restaurant and is a big favorite of mine.

I really enjoy making risotto's and I've shared some recipes with you before. Here is my pumpkin risotto recipe and here you can find my asparagus risotto.

Using just one main ingredient for a risotto (like porcini mushrooms, asparagus or even spinach) makes things a lot easier because the cooking time doesn't vary; but when you're using more than one ingredient and especially when using seafood, you have to be extra careful with the different cooking times.



Ingredients for 4 people:

 - 300 grams of uncooked white rice
 - 500 grams of mussels
 - 500 grams of clams
 - 1 fresh calamari
 - 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
 - 1 shallot
 - 1 tablespoon of butter
 - 1 litre of vegetable stock
 - one  spoonful of fresh chopped parsley
 - pepper to taste

Start by preparing the calamari. Rinse it well and cut into small pieces. You don't have to be precise here but keep in mind that they shrink a bit while cooking.


Next prepare the mussels and clams by cooking them on medium heat as done in my Seafood Cavatelli recipe.   Remove the shells and filter the juice with a sifter and napkin to catch any sand that is inside the fresh clams. Set aside.


Now that you have prepared your ingredients, you can heat the chopped up shallot in olive oil until translucent. 


Next add the calamari and let that cook for a couple minutes making sure to stir continuously. Then add the rice.


Let the rice heat up a bit in the skillet then proceed by adding a couple ladles of stock. When you see the rice start to dry up add another ladle and so forth.


Again, the secret to a great risotto is to give it time and let the broth absorb into the ingredients. Check the cooking time indicated for the rice you are cooking with and at the half way point add the mussel and clam juice. 


Taste the rice as you add the broth so you make sure not to overcook it. When the rice is almost done and you can feel it is still a bit firm (usually after 12-14 minutes) add the mussels and clams. Turn off the heat and add the butter and parsley. Keep stirring and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving. Add some pepper if you wish...but no salt is necessary.


If you like seafood, I hope you'll give this a try. I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I do!

I wish you all a great week ahead :-)



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http://www.lifeandlinda.com/2016/02/link-party-84.html