Friday, October 2, 2009

Good Stuff to Eat

I had an email from my friend Liz who recently moved from California to Colorado. Those of us who have lived in or around Sacramento can't help but think of Apple Hill once fall arrives, and Liz is no exception!


For Liz and the rest of you who might be interested in the recipe for Apple Hill Cake, click HERE. The cake is wonderful served warm or cold, gets better as it ages, and tastes great with whipped cream, ice cream, or anything else you can think of on top--I saw a version of the recipe with a cream cheese frosting that sounded pretty good too!

Wondering what to serve with it? How about that pasta dish I made the other day? It's an old favorite in our house! As with many of my recipes, measurements are "suggestions" and ingredients can be altered to fit your tastes and/or what you may have on hand. I'll give you the "I Don't Care What My Rear-End Looks Like 'Cause I Can't See it Anyway" version as well as a few suggestions for a version that's lower in fat and calories.


First I saute a package of sliced white mushrooms in a skillet. To saute the mushrooms, add a little olive oil (1 to 2 tablespoons) to the skillet, heat, and add the mushrooms. Cook on medium heat stirring only occasionally. When browned, turn the mushrooms onto a paper towel to drain.

Next, brown some Italian sausage in the same skillet. Usually I buy link sausage because it's more readily available, and I squeeze the sausage out of the casings of two to three links, but you can also use bulk Italian sausage. Of course, if you wish, you can substitute chicken or turkey Italian sausage for a lower fat version of the dish, and if you don't like sausage at all, grill and slice a chicken breast. When the sausage is done, turn it out to drain on a paper towel.

While the sausage is cooking, I heat water in a medium-large pot and when it comes to a boil, I add about 1-1/2 cups of dry pasta. A small penne pasta works great but other varieties will do, such as bow tie pasta or even elbow macaroni. I've also used tortellini. When the pasta is cooked, drain and set aside.

I love using toasted pine nuts on pasta and I keep a bag on hand in the freezer--Trader Joe's carries pine nuts at a reasonable price. Toast a couple tablespoons of pine nuts (or substitute a different, somewhat soft nut if you wish). To toast, I spread the nuts on the small tray of my toaster oven and set the oven to a light toast setting, but there are many ways to toast nuts if you don't have a toaster oven! Use your favorite method or check the internet for ideas.

Now to make the Alfredo sauce--and first I'll give you the full fat version. In a medium-large pot over low heat, melt a half stick of butter or margarine (seriously, butter is much better!). At this point, if you like garlic, add a tablespoon of chopped or minced garlic to the butter and let the garlic saute until fragrant. Next, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and stir into the melted butter over low heat until the cheese is melted. Slowly add about 1 cup of heavy cream (or half and half)--first add about 1/4 cup and whisk well until cream has incorporated with cheese and is fairly smooth; then slowly add the remainder of the cream while whisking, keeping the burner on low to medium heat.

(Lower fat version: Instead of cream, use whole or low fat milk and skip the butter. Heat milk in a pan over medium/low heat. Once the milk is hot, add about 2 ounces of cubed cream cheese and stir/whisk until cheese has melted and blended with the milk. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and stir/whisk until melted and blended. If sauce seems too thin, sift in a little flour to thicken, up to about 1 tablespoon, and whisk as you add the flour. Still too thin? Add another ounce of cream cheese. Still too thin? Suffer. You should have gone with the higher fat version and hit the Stair Master afterward!)

To the sauce (either version) add a few handfuls of cleaned/washed baby spinach and stir about a minute until the spinach cooks down. Add the cooked mushrooms and sausage. Finally, add the cooked pasta. Continue to stir until everything is well blended and heated through. Serve in bowls or on plates and top with toasted pine nuts and more Parmesan cheese.

Serve with toasted French bread and a salad. And if you've made the full fat version? Serve small portions--it's very rich! This recipe will make three to four servings

Mangi!

13 comments:

searchfamilies said...

Recipe sounds lovely, in cooking if i don't wish to use cream i use no or low fat natural yoghurt instead am about to click on the Apple recipe
Hugs Janice

Fiesta said...

yummy!

DianeH said...

Thanks Kim, I'm in a cooking rut and this sounds and looks great!
Will put the ingredients on today's shopping list.

luv2quilt2 said...

The pasta sounds delicious. I think I'll try it.

Heckety said...

My dear, if one's rear end was narrow one would fall off the chair when one was sewing...

paulette said...

So what time is dinner? And it doesn't matter what recipe you go with-fat/not so fat.....both sound yummy!! :o)
Take care!
Paulette

Mandy said...

I'm having a giveaway at my blog if anybody is interested in entering!

http://thatssewmandy.blogspot.com

MichelleB said...

Holy Crap! That sounds fabulous! I'm going to be making some of that for sure! I'm sure my family will prefer the full fat version, but we'll see which one I make.

Jan said...

Tks for sharing the recipes Kim! Both sound wonderful and look awfully good! Enjoy your w/e :)

Desi said...

Wow, good thing I just ate, because I could almost eat again. What time is dinner?

AnnieO said...

Sounds delicious! I have a favorite recipe by Giada/Food Network that is asparagus, walnuts, mushrooms and broccoli with bow tie pasta,no meat, and uses the Italian version of cream cheese for the sauce and is just as yummy. It's even good the next day reheated. Nuts add so much to the dishes! Thanks for sharing--I'm up for the full fat version :)

dianne said...

we have apples in Colorado! honest! not Apple Hill apples ... but apple trees do okay here in the upper atmosphere!

Gran said...

Yum!