Creamy Pesto Pasta Primavera With Shrimp (BLW Contributor)

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On a recent Rachael Ray Show with guest Emeril Lagasse, they made a pasta primavera with saffron cream featuring one of my favorite vegetables, asparagus. Asparagus is in its seasonal prime right now and looking its glorious best; skinny smooth stalks and tight heads with no signs of flowering or wilting. And if the sight of gorgeous asparagus isn’t enough, Rachael gives it even more sex appeal by cutting it on a bias! The audience swoons…

When I attended public school back in the Jurassic Period, we had enough time in the day to take elective classes in art and music. During the ceramics chapter, my art teacher tasked us with making our favorite food out of clay. Amid an abundance of kiln-fired pizza, popcorn, hot dogs, and hamburgers on display at the end of the week was my realistically sculpted, painted green stalk of asparagus. It turns out I…

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Corn, Bacon and Parmesan Pasta Recipe – Oh, my!

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Oh, hi, I am ready for summer now. What did I miss? Because the first half of this summer was so busy — a manuscript due, a redesign set off into the world, a birthday, and a zillion other bits of happy work/life chaos — I’m in this funny position of looking up for the first time mid-July and realizing that no mysterious person has arrived while I was buried in winter recipe testing and font fine-tunings and filled my freezer with popsicles, put a bowl of heirloom tomatoes on the counter, ready for their caprese closeup [realistically, this doesn’t happen even if I had been paying attention, but let me enjoy this rose-colored Pinterest fantasy just the same] and beach? Hadn’t seen it since May. I have about seven weeks left to catch up, except I know at least five of those will be buried under recipe testing and book edits, which basically means it’s now or never to do all the summer things I haven’t yet. Beach? Check. Swimming? Check. Grilling? Check, check, check. Scheduled 7-hour flight with 4 adults and 5 children to a faraway beach town in the name of vacation? I’m scared but: check! Do everything I can with sweet summer corn while it lasts? Let’s get to work!

Check out the whole recipe via corn, bacon and parmesan pasta — smitten kitchen

Bacon, Onion and Rye Breard Stuffing Recipe

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INGREDIENTS

  1. One 9-inch-long loaf seeded rye bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  2. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  3. 1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia, halved and thinly sliced
  4. 1 celery rib, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  5. 1 teaspoon chopped sage
  6. 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  7. 1/2 pound piece of slab bacon, sliced 1/2 inch thick and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  8. 2 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  9. 1 egg
  10. 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  11. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toast the rye bread cubes for about 15 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until lightly golden and dry. Transfer the bread to a large bowl.
  • In a skillet, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery; cook over moderate heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the sage and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Scrape into the bowl with the bread.
  • Wipe out the skillet. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until browned, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to the bowl with the bread. In a medium bowl, whisk the chicken broth with the egg. Pour over the bread mixture and add the kosher salt and pepper. Toss until the bread soaks up the liquid. Scrape into the prepared baking dish and cover with foil. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Bake the stuffing for about 30 minutes, until hot throughout. Remove the foil and bake for about 30 minutes longer, until the top is lightly golden. Serve hot or warm.

Credit: Food & Wine

Bacon-Wrapped Breadsticks Recipe

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Ingredients

  • 24 bacon strips
  • 2 tubes (11 ounces each) refrigerated breadsticks
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

Nutritional Facts

1 breadstick equals 189 calories, 12 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 18 mg cholesterol, 425 mg sodium, 13 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 6 g protein.

Directions

  1. Wrap a bacon strip around each breadstick; place on baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

In a shallow bowl, combine cheese and garlic powder. Roll warm breadsticks in cheese mixture. Yield: 2 dozen.

Photo Credit: Bread, Booze & Bacon

Happy Pasta Day!!! – Loaded Chicken Carbonara

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LOADED CHICKEN CARBONARA

Ingredients

6 slices bacon, chopped

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

  • 
salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 
3 cloves garlic
  • 
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 
1/2 cup white wine
  • 
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 
3 large eggs
  • 
1 gallon water
  • 
1 pound spaghetti
  • 
2 cups frozen peas

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  • PREP
   20 mins
  • COOK
   45 mins
  • READY IN  
1 hr 10 mins

Directions

  • Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove bacon from skillet with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Drain fat from skillet, reserving 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings.
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon bacon drippings in the skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken breast halves in the bacon drippings until no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, about 5 minutes per side. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Transfer to cutting board and tent with foil. Rest chicken for 5 minutes before slicing; set aside.
  • Heat remaining tablespoon bacon drippings in skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Cook and stir garlic and ground black pepper in skillet until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour wine into skillet; cook at a simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Whisk Parmesan cheese and eggs together in a bowl. Slowly stream wine mixture into the Parmesan mixture while whisking continually.
  • Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through but firm to the bite, about 12 minutes. Remove 1/2 cup of the water from the pot for later use.

Put the peas in a large colander. Drain the pasta in the colander with the peas. Return drained pasta and peas to the pot. Stir bacon, chicken, and wine mixture into the spaghetti. Thin sauce with reserved pasta water as desired.

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National Noodle Day!!! – Noodle Facts – 5 Creative Cup Noodle Creations (Video)

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  1. Australians consume more than 18 million kilograms of noodles every year – that’s almost one kilogram per person!
  2. In Japan, it is considered good form to loudly slurp your noodles as a way of telling your host that you are enjoying the meal.
  3. Noodles symbolise longevity in China.
  4. Noodles have been created from flour and water since 1000BC and today they are more popular than ever.
  5. Noodles are low in fat and have a very low sodium content.

Credit: Foodimentary Photo Credit: FunnyJunkSite

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Happy Drink Wine Day!!! – Benefits of Wine – Tell us what your favorite Reds or White wine?

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Today is Drink Wine Day! Pop the cork and enjoy a refreshing glass of Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot, Shiraz, or Zinfandel in honor of the occasion! 

People have been producing wine since at least 6000 B.C. There are dozens of ancient legends about humans who accidentally consumed fermented grapes and became intoxicated, which is probably how wine was first conceived. Eventually, people began experimenting with the fermentation process. The methods for making wine spread from the region of Mesopotamia to Egypt, Greece, Rome, France, Spain, and eventually the New World. Today, over 20 million acres of the earth’s surface are dedicated to growing grapes for wine.

Studies have shown that drinking a glass of wine a day improves heart health, reduces forgetfulness, boosts immunity, and increases bone density.

Wine could preserve your memory. When researchers gave memory quizzes to women in their 70s, those who drank one drink or more every day scored much better than those who drank less or not at all. Wine helps prevent clots and reduce blood vessel inflammation, both of which have been linked to cognitive decline and heart disease, explains Tedd Goldfinger, DO, of the University of Arizona School of Medicine. Alcohol also seems to raise HDL, the so-called good cholesterol, which helps unclog your arteries.

Studies find that people who drink wine daily have lower body mass than those who indulge occasionally; moderate wine drinkers have narrower waists and less abdominal fat than people who drink liquor. Alcohol may encourage your body to burn extra calories for as long as 90 minutes after you down a glass. Beer seems to have a similar effect.

In one British study, those who drank roughly a glass of wine a day reduced by 11% their risk of infection by Helicobacter pylori bacteria, a major cause of gastritis, ulcers, and stomach cancers. As little as half a glass may also guard against food poisoning caused by germs like salmonella when people are exposed to contaminated food, according to a Spanish study.

When Australian researchers recently compared women with ovarian cancer to cancer-free women, they found that roughly one glass of wine a day seemed to reduce the risk of the disease by as much as 50 percent. Earlier research at the University of Hawaii produced similar findings. Experts suspect this may be due to antioxidants or phytoestrogens, which have high anticancer properties and are prevalent in wine. And in a recent University of Michigan study, a red wine compound helped kill ovarian cancer cells in a test tube.

On average, women who drink moderately seem to have higher bone mass than abstainers. Alcohol appears to boost estrogen levels; the hormone seems to slow the bodys destruction of old bone more than it slows the production of new bone.

Credit: PunchBowl

Happy National Tortellini Day!!! – Cheesy Baked Tortellini by Giada De Laurentii

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Cheesy Baked Tortellini

CHEESY BAKED TORTELLINI BY GIADA DE LAURENTII  

Ingredients
Olive oil
2 cups marinara sauce
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 pound purchased cheese tortellini
2 ounces thinly sliced smoked mozzarella
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish.

Whisk the sauce, mascarpone cheese, parsley and thyme in a large bowl to blend. Cook the tortellini in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 2 minutes. Drain. Add the tortellini to the sauce and toss to coat. Transfer the tortellini mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top the mixture with the smoked mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and bake until the sauce bubbles and the cheeses on top melt, about 30 minutes.

Credit: Food Network

Easy Peking Duck with with Homemade Mandarin Pancakes Recipe

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Ingredients

For the duck:
 
4 duck breasts (about 6 to 7 ounces each) with the skin on, rinsed and thoroughly patted dry with a paper towel
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
Pinch of five spice powder
1 tablespoon oil
 
For the mandarin pancakes:
1 1/2 cups flour 
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon oil
For the fixings:
 
1 cucumber, de-seeded and julienned
1/2 cup julienned cantaloupe (optional)
2 scallions, julienned
3 cloves garlic, finely minced and mixed with 1 teaspoon oil to make a paste (optional)
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
Directions

First, marinate the duck. Mix the salt, soy sauce, wine, and five spice powder in a small bowl and massage into the duck. Leave the duck breasts skin side up on a plate uncovered, and let sit in the refrigerator overnight to marinate and to let the skin dry out. (If you don’t want to wait overnight, reduce the marinating time to 30 minutes).

Next, prepare the Mandarin pancakes. Mix the flour and salt in a heatproof bowl. Pour the boiling hot water into the flour mixture and use chopsticks or a spatula to mix until a dough ball forms. Once it is cool enough to handle, knead the dough for 8 minutes until smooth, adding flour if the dough is too sticky. Cover with plastic and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour.

Roll the dough into a cylinder and cut into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a dough ball, then flatten them out into a small disc about 2 inches in diameter. Lightly brush 6 of the discs with oil, ensuring the sides of the discs are also brushed with oil. Layer the remaining 6 discs over the 6 oiled discs so you have 6 pieces, each comprised of 2 discs.

Use a rolling pin to roll the discs into 7-inch circles, flipping the pancakes frequently so both of the dough discs are rolled into the same size.

Heat a wok or frying pan over medium low heat, and place one pancake into the pan. After 30 to 45 seconds, you should see air pockets begin to form between the two pancakes. Flip the pancake; it should be white with just a couple of faint brown patches. Any more than that, and they are overcooked. After another 30 seconds, the air pockets should be large enough to separate the two pancakes. Remove the pancake to a plate, and let it cool for another 30 seconds. Now carefully pull apart the two pancakes at the seams. Place finished pancakes onto a plate and cover with a warm kitchen towel. Repeat until all pancakes are done.

The pancakes can be reheated in a steamer for about a minute when ready to serve. They also keep in the freezer for up to 3 weeks if you decide to make a larger batch. Next, prepare your fixings and place in small bowls to serve alongside the duck. (Using cantaloupe as one of the add-ins was new to us but was quite common in China. It’s a surprisingly delicious addition!).

Next, preheat the oven broiler on low heat. Heat an oven-proof pan over medium-high heat, and add 1 tablespoon of oil to coat the pan. Sear the duck breasts, skin side down. Move them frequently so the skin crisps up and fries in the duck fat that renders out. After 8 minutes, or when the duck skin is golden brown and a little bit crispy, carefully drain off the duck fat and discard (or save for later application to other recipes!). In the pan, flip the duck breasts (so they are skin side up), and transfer them to the broiler for about 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn the skin, which at this point should be a bit crispy.

Remove the duck from the broiler and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. The duck will be cooked about medium well and will be very juicy. Transfer to a cutting board and, using a sharp knife, cut into thin slices.

Serve the duck with your warmed pancakes, fixings, and sauce.

Check out the full recipe @ The Woks of Lie

 

Happy Spaghetti Day!!! – What’s your favorite place to eat spaghetti?

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The long, thin cylindrical pasta of Italian and Sicilian origin which is made of semolina or flour and water, known as spaghetti and loved by millions has it’s own special day.  January 4th is National Spaghetti Day and is observed annually across the county.

There are a variety of different pasta dishes that are based on spaghetti from spaghetti alla Carbonara or garlic and oil to spaghetti with tomato sauce, meat sauce, bolognese, Alfredo sauce, clam sauce or other sauces.  Spaghetti dishes are traditionally served topped with grated hard cheeses such as Pecorino Romano, Parmesan and Grana Padano.

The word “spaghetti” is plural for the Italian word spaghetto, which is a diminutive of spago, meaning “thin  string” or “twine”.

Spaghetti was offered in restaurants in the United States, around the end of the 19th century, as Spaghetti Italienne (which is believed to have consisted of noodles cooked past al dente and a mild tomato sauce flavored with easily found spices and vegetables such as cloves, bay leaves and garlic).   It was decades later that it became commonly prepared with oregano or basil. 

There is significant debate on the origin of spaghetti however we do know that pasta has been consumed for many many years.  There are records in the Jerusalem Talmud of itrium, a kind of boiled dough, being common in Palestine from the 3rd to 5th centuries AD.  A 9th century Arab dictionary describes itriyyaas, string-like shapes made of semolina and dried before cooking. In an 1154 writing for the Norman King of Sicily, itriyya is mentioned being manufactured and exported from Norman Sicily.  Dried pasta became popular in the 14th and 15th centuries due to its easy storage.  People were able to store the dried pasta in ships when exploring the New World.  A century later, pasta was present around the globe during the voyages of discovery. (Wikipedia)