Sunday, August 28, 2011

Vodka Sauce

I was in the third grade. The D.A.R.E. program had been educating our class on the perils of drugs and alcohol. Clearly, I hadn't needed such elementary instruction considering my (scandalous) exposure to such addictive substances from an early age. I mean, we were Italian. Limoncello was for "dessert" and scotch was for teething babies.

So imagine my lack of concern when they asked, "Do any of your parents keep alcohol in the house?" Needless to say, I outed my own mother to the D.A.R.E. officers...

"My mom puts vodka in her sauce!" I proudly exclaimed.

Today, I am just as proud to say that I put my very own vodka in my sauce! When I moved out of my parents home at the young age of 19, my mom bought me an enormous jug of vodka (for vodka Sauce) since I couldn't legally buy my own! And really, most of it was used for Vodka Sauce!

All kidding aside, Vodka Sauce is truly one of my top favorite family recipes. All my friends wanted to eat over at my house for Mom's Penne A La Vodka. And it won my husband's heart when we were dating (to the heart, through the stomach!) And so today, I am sharing it with you.

Woo your lovers without intoxicating them with my recipe for Vodka Sauce.


4 TBSP olive oil (enough to coat the onions)
2 TBSP butter
1/2 onion, chopped
1 28 oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes (I recommend San Marzano varieties)
1 cup vodka, divided
1 cup heavy cream

Saute the onions in the oil and the butter on medium heat until transparent (Do Not Brown). Add 1/2 cup of the vodka. Cook out the alcohol (about 5 minutes). Add the tomatoes and blend with a hand blender. Add the remaining vodka. Simmer for 45 minutes. Then, slowly stir in the heavy cream (not while boiling). Serve over penne or your favorite pasta! MANGIA!

*NOTE: Should you wish to freeze this sauce ahead of time, do so before adding the cream. Otherwise, when you defrost it for use, the cream will break. When ready to use, thaw your frozen vodka sauce and add the heavy cream just before serving. I love keeping this on hand for nights when a marinara might not sound as exciting:)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

FRIDAY FIVE! Blueberry Iced Tea & a little politics...

With all the heat the Tea Party has been getting lately, I figured I'd pay homage to TEA by posting an easy recipe for a fresh & fancy summer beverage. With five ingredients or less, you can't go wrong serving this at your next tea party! And if you can handle it, I would strongly recommend the addition of a sixth ingredient - perhaps some bacardi limon?!

Berry Iced Tea

4 qts brewed tea, cooled (I usually steep several green tea bags in 4 qts of water, but it will depend on your choice of tea and the strength you prefer)
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 TB lemon juice

In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries, water, and sugar. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Strain, squeezing all the juice from the blueberries. Add the lemon juice to the strained mixture & allow it to cool. Combine the brewed tea and the syrup (do this a bit at a time, so as to control how much blueberry flavor you prefer in your tea) and chill in the fridge. Serve in a chilled glass over ice. I like to add a couple blueberries to the bottom:) Cheers!

And since I've already opened the can of worms, here's a little political humor for your Friday:)

Why did the chicken cross the road?

SARAH PALIN: The chicken crossed the road because, gosh-darn it, he's a maverick!

BARACK OBAMA: The chicken crossed the road because it was time for change! The chicken wanted change!

JOHN MCCAIN: My friends, that chicken crossed the road because he recognized the need to engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side of the road.

HILLARY CLINTON: When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little chicken to cross the road. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure right from Day One that every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves to cross the road. But then, this really isn't about me.

GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.

DICK CHENEY: Where's my gun?

COLIN POWELL: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.

BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with that chicken.

AL GORE: I invented the chicken.

JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.

AL SHARPTON: Why are all the chickens white? We need some black chickens.

DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem on this side of the road before it goes after the problem on the other side of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his current problems before adding new problems.

OPRAH: Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a NEW CAR so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

NANCY GRACE: That chicken crossed the road because he's guilty! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.

PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

DR SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain, alone.

GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

BARBARA WALTERS: Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its lifelong dream of crossing the road.

ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together, in peace.

BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken2011, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook. Internet Explorer is an integral part of eChicken2011. This new platform is much more stable and will never reboot.

ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What's keeping me up at night...

L'uccello mattinieo si becca il verme

In other words, (in ENGLISH words) - "The early bird catches the worm."

Lately, "early bird" is a pretty accurate description of this new mamma. I stay up late at night catching up on my "mamma" duties and barely fit in some sleep before those early morning feedings. Now, you might say this isn't my first rodeo, I should have it down pat by now....but even numero cinque has given me a run for my money!! Don't get me wrong, she is a great baby, but she's definitely taken up some of my blogging time! Now, this could be dangerous since clearly.....

I mean, doesn't everybody? But if it isn't one distraction, it's another, and I'll happily accept any excuse NOT to do housework!

But doesn't it make you wonder how our nonnas did it all? They had a bunch of bambini running around and still made homemade gravy every Sunday and the scratch pasta was hanging to dry (NOT in the upstairs kitchen, of course). And forget about drive-thrus - dinner was on the table every night!

How did they do all that, AND keep the plastic covered couches clean? It boggles my mind. But when I need a little inspiration, I go to them. I think of my grandma who had her stuff together on the home front. I remember her gardening, canning, praying, cleaning, cooking, and playing with her grand kids! After all that, I'd be, um, praying for a vacation and that's about it....

So I thought I'd share a past article about my Nonna - just because. And I guess it's about time I share a pic of my new bambina too!!
Giuliana Carmela

This is what keeps me up all night - but I wouldn't change it for the world:)
Here she wears the baptismal gown, handmade by my Aunt Marie, worn by me and now my four daughters!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Homemade Pasta with the kids!

Every time we have a new baby in the house, we seem to spend much of the first few weeks at home. Coming up with fun at-home activities for the other kids is very important to us. We don't want any jealousy and any parent knows that a kid with nothing to do is NEVER a good thing!

Our last go-around involved homemade pizza. It was a great way to get the older kids involved in something and make them feel special despite a new baby getting all the attention! This time, we went for homemade pasta.

Now, we kind of cheated and busted out the old PASTA-MATIC. It's a dinosaur of a pasta machine from my childhood. I kid you not - it is the actual pasta machine we used to use when I was a kid! Now this circa 1980's hunk of plastic did a pretty good job despite it's age! It was a hit with the kids, because they could see the process or making and shaping a dough into the pasta they are used to eating. We chose rigatoni and spaghetti because, well, what grade-schooler doesn't like playing with long stringy dough? (It had nothing to do with the fact that we lost most of the pieces over the years so these were our only choices...)

Anyway, see for yourself it was a blast! It did the trick of keeping the kids entertained - and we got dinner out of it!! My only complaint was the dough texture & taste was pretty basic. We only followed the whole wheat recipe in the instruction booklet but I am sooo looking for new one!! Anyone with experience in homemade pasta is invited to share their recipe here as a guest post. I would LOVE to find a recipe that I can stick to that actually tastes great too!

Homemade anything is fun to our family!!! We'll definitely give this another shot, and hopefully won't wait for another baby to do so!!

Friday, August 5, 2011

FRIDAY FIVE: Brie Panini

How do you feed (and impress) a crowd with minimal effort? Two words:

Brie Panini.

1 wedge Brie cheese
1 loaf ciabatta bread
1 - 2 lbs sandwich meat of your choice
4 thinly sliced roma tomatoes
arugala (optional)

Evenly slice the ciabatta and spread each slice with some brie. Top with the meat (I used turkey), tomatoes, and arugala. Close the sandwich and grill on an olive oil greased panini maker or grilling machine.

I served this for a crowd alongside pasta salad I love the versatility of pasta salad! If you're looking for a way to spice up your pasta salad, try this recipe or this recipe.

**Obviously, you can go SOOO many directions with this meal. Try different combinations for different tastes. The above combo is perfect for the kiddos that don't have a sophisticated prosciutto and pesto palette quite yet! I personally LOVE fresh mozarella with prosciutto for a mock caprese panino. Be creative and enjoy!**
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...