Sunday, May 20, 2012

Rigatoni with Chicken Sausage, Tomatoes and Cream

Trader Joe's sells a Sicilian chicken sausage that in the words of Mary Poppins, is practically perfect in every way. I try to keep some in the freezer at all times for a quick weeknight meal. My go-to preparation is to sautee it with some onions and red peppers, mix in a jar of spaghetti sauce, doctor it with whatever herbs I'm in the mood for, and voila' -- dinner!
 Every once in awhile, however, I get bored with that old standby, and decide to branch out. Enter my good friend, the Epicurious app. A quick search yielded this 4-fork, blue-ribbon recipe, which I can now add to the weeknight rotation. It's simple. It uses ingredients I tend to have on hand. And it's absolutely delicious.

For my first attempt, I made as written, heavy cream and all. Next time, I'll try lightening it up with some haf-and-half. I have a feeling it will be just as good.

Rigatoni with Chicken Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cream
(adapted slightly from Epicurous)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound Italian chicken sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 pound rigatoni (or your favorite pasta)
  • 1/2 cup (packed) chopped fresh basil
  • Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and crushed red pepper. Sauté until sausage is no longer pink, breaking up with back of fork, about 5 minutes. Add onion and garlic; sauté until onion is tender and sausage is browned, about 3 minutes longer. Add tomatoes and cream. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sausage mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Return pasta to same pot. Add sausage mixture and toss over medium-low heat until sauce coats pasta, adding reserved cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if mixture is dry. Transfer pasta to serving dish. Sprinkle with basil. Serve, passing cheese separately.

S'mores Cookies

I don't know why, but I did not expect to like these cookies. I had seen this recipe dozens of times over the past year or so, and for some reason, barely gave it a second glance. Maybe it's because I associate s'mores with sticky. Maybe it's because I'm not a huge fan of milk chocolate Hershey's bars. Whatever the case, I never bookmarked the recipe, and I never expected to try it.

Well, never say never.  One day, the stars aligned. I had a box of graham crackers and half a bag of marshmallows in the pantry, and I was jonesing to bake something I had not tried before. Suddenly, this recipe popped into my head, and like an "earworm," I simply could not get it out. I did not have any Hershey's bars, but I figured dark chocolate Ghiradelli bars would make a fine substitute. I was absolutely right.

I don't think words can truly express how happy these cookies made me. Seriously. I was giddy. I couldn't wait to share them, and I had an absolute ball watching faces light up as they gazed upon these (non-sticky!) bites of nostalgic marshmallowy goodness. And the taste! My favorite part is the graham cracker crumbs mixed right into the batter. It's such a subtle, but delicious addition -- one that I just might use again and again.

I simply don't think it's possible not to have fun with these cookies. Just. Not. Possible.

S'mores Cookies
(from Make and Bake
  • 3/4 cup softened butter (1 1/2 sticks)1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows (I used slightly more than a cup)
  • 2 chocolate bars, chopped up  (Hershey's are recommended, but I used Ghiradelli and LOVED it)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a stand mixer, ccombine the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in egg and vanilla until combined. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, graham crackers, salt, and baking soda, and then gradually add to the butter-sugar mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by the rounded tablesppon onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 8 minutes, and remove from the oven. Push 3-4 marshmallows and a few pieces of chocolate bar into each cookie. Return to oven and bake for an additional 3-4 minutes until fully cooked. Cool cookies on a wire rack.