Saturday, April 26, 2014

La Novella Sette Mescolare

Now, you may think from the title that I have become an expert Italian cook, however, that is not the case.  So in an attempt to make a meal with my sous chef this evening, we wanted to create a dish from my previous experiments in cooking.  Below you will find the original recipe (meaning I took it from Cooking Light in 2012 and made it my own) for my Sausage Ragu over Creamy Polenta.

The altered version of the recipe :)

The only thing that we altered was adding sauteed mushrooms to the dish.  The other alteration is the seasoning.  Because turkey sausage is not available in all supermarkets in Iowa (at least to my knowledge), we made our own spicy concoction for Italian sausage.

It was sooooo good, we have named it.  Now when one names something in my world, there has to be a story and meaning behind the name.  So after a few hours and raving over our own cooking skills, we finally came up with the following name:

La Novella Sette Mescolare

Novella in Italian literally means "new".  While I like to use it in the literary sense, this is definitely an appropriate use of the word.

It's a spice party!
Sette in Italian means "seven".  Because there are seven different spices we used to create this masterpiece, we had to continue to use the Italian theme in our naming.

Mescolare in Italian means "mix" or "blend".  How appropriate for the final part of our name, right?

Here is the recipe for our new blend of seven spices (listed in alphabetical order):

1 tsp. black ground pepper
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. fennel seed
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. minced garlic (fresh or dried)
1 tsp. sea salt

Blend all spices together and combine with ground turkey or pork for deliciousness in any meal!

Please note that this name and seasoning blend is copyrighted and patented (officially by my sous chef). We are happy to share with our family and friends; all we ask is if you use this recipe, give credit where credit is due and to also call it by its proper and newly dubbed name. :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Creamy Spring Pasta

So in an attempt to please my assistant in the kitchen and his Italian cravings, I attempted a new recipe, with his help, this past week.  It was taken from my Cooking Light April 2012 edition.  It was quite a lovely dish, easy and fun to make, and best served with a glass of wine. :)  Served with this dish was a side of steamed carrots, lightly salted and peppered, for a colorful compliment to the dish.  Let's not forget the rhubarb pie with ice cream to balance out the meal. :)

Total Preparation Time: 30-40 minutes


  • 3 quarts water (used for boiling veggies and noodles, so the amount doesn't really matter)
  • 2 ounces French loaf or baguette, torn into pieces
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 1 1/2 cups (2 inch) diagonally cut asparagus
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 6 oz. uncooked wheat spaghetti, fettuccine, or any other variety of pasta
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 1/4 cup fat-free, lower sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup 1% or fat free milk
  • 4 oz. 1/2 less-fat cream cheese
  • 1 ounce or 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp. tarragon, fresh or dried
Putting It All Together:
1.  Bring water to a boil in a Dutch oven.  
2.  While water is boiling, take torn bread and put in food processor until coarse crumbs form.  
3.  Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 garlic clove to pan and saute for 1 minute; then add breadcrumbs to saute for 3 minutes or until golden brown or toasted lightly.  Remove mixture from pan and wipe pan clean with paper towel.
4.  Add asparagus and peas to boiling water; cook for 3 minutes or until crisp-tender (the asparagus is perfect with a slight crunch in the pasta, so don't overcook it!)  Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, placing in a bowl with ice and rinsing with cold water to keep bright green color.
5.  Add pasta to the same boiling water you used for the veggies.  Cook for 10 minutes or until al dente (slightly chewy).  Drain and keep warm.
6.  Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and the remaining garlic cloves.  Cook for 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.  Place flour in a small bowl; whisk in chicken broth.  Then add broth mixture and milk to pan, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Reduce heat; cook 1 minute or until thickened.  While keeping on low heat, add cream cheese and grated cheese until melted along with the salt, pepper, and tarragon.  
7.  Add pasta, asparagus, and peas to alfredo and toss well.  Sprinkle breadcrumbs on pasta when serving.

Servings (4) (1 1/4 cups)
Calories: 408
Fat: 13.8 g
Protein:  17.6 g
Carbs: 54 g
Fiber: 4.6 g
Sodium: 625 mg

Homemade Pizza :)

So, my partner in crime and I recently created a beautiful Italian cuisine with a little dough and sauce and Graziano sausage.

The recipe I use for my pizza dough can be found on the following website; I love this dough recipe as it is a healthier version and is quite tasty as well.

Whole Wheat and Honey Pizza Dough

I will go ahead and post the actual recipe and preparation of the dough below for convenience:

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 wheat germ
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. honey or agave syrup
1 tbsp. corn meal

Preparation of Dough:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.
2.  In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Let stand until creamy for about 10 minutes.
3.  In a large bowl, combine flour, wheat germ, and salt.  Make a well in the middle and add honey and yeast mixture.  Stir well to combine.  Cover and set in a warm place to rise for a few minutes.
4.  Roll dough on a floured pizza pan or stone and poke a few holes in it with a fork.  Sprinkle corn meal on pan and lay rolled out dough onto cooking pan/stone.
5.  Bake in a preheated oven for 5-10 minutes or until desired crispiness.  Now I don't usually cook it until I have all the ingredients on my pizza.

Here are the ingredients we used to create our masterpiece.

Pizza Assembling and Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. Graziano sausage, cooked
  • 1 cup diced colored peppers (variety of colors-I prefer this to give the pizza some character) :)
  • 1/2-1 package sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 small onion, diced (preferably red onion, but white or yellow is fine as well)
  • 1/2-1 can black olives (sliced)
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce/pizza sauce
  • Oregano/Italian Seasoning
  • 1 package shredded mozzarella cheese
1.  Spread cornmeal on stone/pizza pan.  Then roll out dough onto pizza pan/stone.
2.  Saute onion and peppers until slightly crisp.
3.  Then saute mushrooms separately (but don't overdo it.)
3.  Spread pizza sauce and spices onto sauce.
3.  Evenly spread cooked meat, veggies, and black olives.
4.  Top pizza with mozzarella cheese.
5.  Follow directions for baking pizza in the crust directions above.
6.  Slice and enjoy! :)