zucchini & chicken spaghetti

Sean and I were watching the Stanley Tucci special where every episode he is in a different region of Italy. In one episode, he was making Spaghetti Alla Nerano which I have never heard of! In that particular recipe, they fried zucchini and then blended up some of it to make a puree. We decided to put our own spin on this classic recipe (largely due to the fact that we wanted to make it more simple and add chicken!) and it came out so good. As much as I love tomato based sauces, this butter and garlic sauce was velvety smooth and full of flavor!

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 16 Oz. Brown Rice Spaghetti
  • 1 Lb. Chicken Breast
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 3 Zucchinis, Sliced
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1/4 Stick of Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • Salt + Pepper to taste
  • Parmesan Cheese, grated

Directions:

  1. Drizzle Olive Oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the sliced zucchini.
  3. Add the garlic powder, salt and pepper. Stir to coat. Saute until zucchini become tender.
  4. Boil a large pot of water and cook the spaghetti per the package directions.
  5. Once spaghetti is cooked, drain but keep a cup of pasta water on the side to use later.
  6. Coat each chicken breast in the flour and set aside.
  7. Remove the Zucchini once tender and set aside.
  8. Cook each chicken breast until done.
  9. Once done, remove chicken breast and cut in to pieces.
  10. Put minced garlic, butter, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of pasta water and dash of salt + pepper in the pan and stir as the butter melts to combine.
  11. Once butter is melted, put the spaghetti, chicken breast, and zucchini in the pan and toss to coat everything in the sauce.
  12. Serve in a pasta bowl and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top, and enjoy!

Bolognese Sauce

Did I mention that I am Italian and wish that I could have pasta for every meal? While most of my meals are gluten and dairy-free, on the weekends there is nothing better than a homemade Italian dinner! This is my recipe for a flavorful and comforting meat sauce to put on your favorite pasta. I used ground chicken for the meat but you may use whatever ground meat you prefer. Packed with vegetables and crushed tomatoes, this is the perfect sauce for those nights you want a more filling sauce. If you’re feeling adventurous, skip the boxed pasta and make your own pasta at home! Click here to get my super easy pasta recipe (pasta machine not necessary!).

Ingredients:

  • 1 LB Ground Chicken
  • 4 Oz. Diced Pancetta
  • 1 Medium Onion, Diced
  • 1 Medium Carrot, Diced
  • 3 Stalks of Celery, Diced
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 28 Oz. Can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 6 Oz. Tomato Paste
  • 1.5 Cups Dry White Wine
  • 1.5 Cups Whole Milk
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Fresh chopped basil
  • Parmesan Cheese for serving

Instructions:

  1. Mise en place! French culinary term for setting up all of your ingredients so they are ready to be cooked. Chop veggies, pour liquids, place spices/ meat, open cans and place all on the counter.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat.
  3. Cook onion, carrot, and celery and season with salt for about 5 minutes or until they soften. Stir in garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Remove the vegetables and place them to the side in a bowl.
  5. Cook pancetta in the same pot for about 5-6 minutes until it is browned.
  6. Add the ground chicken to pancetta and cook until it is browned. Add in tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper.
  7. Add the cooked vegetables and white wine, stirring until most of the wine is absorbed.
  8. Add crushed tomatoes and milk, add more salt and pepper.
  9. Let the sauce simmer on low in a covered pot for at least 3 hours, the longer the better. Place sauce in a large bowl and top with chopped basil. Serve over pasta with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Pizza On A Grill- That’s Amore!

Sean and I have this tradition every Friday night where we make homemade pizza! It is Friday night after all, and the night of the week that I indulge. I always say you have to live your life balanced, everything in moderation. During the week, I have my protein shakes for lunch, healthy snacks in between and a healthy dinner. Friday nights, I know that I am going to have delicious homemade pizza and it tastes even better knowing that I eat healthy meals over 80% of my week. In my opinion, if you deny yourselves all “indulgent” foods and only eat healthy, it is harder to stay on track. Plus, life is short! We used to make pizza in the oven which works great as well. Once we got a grill, we decided to try it on there and WOW, true game changer. Because the grill gets hotter than our oven, the pizza gets a nice crisp to it that we weren’t getting from our oven. No flop, as el pres would say!

We usually do one “classic” pizza, so I put the ingredients for those toppings below with the recipe. This crust recipe makes 2 pizzas, so for the other one feel free to add what you like, get creative with it! Our other favorite pizza is made with saute chopped mushrooms, onions and garlic in olive oil for about 15 minutes to caramelize it. We brush the pizza with olive oil, add the mushroom & onion mixture and finally add sliced mozzarella cheese and sprinkle Parmesan cheese. Pictured below we had prosciutto to add on top when it was done cooking! This is one of my favorite pizzas because the mushroom and onions are so soft and flavorful.

Pro tip: I highly suggest buying a pizza stone and a pizza lifter as it makes this whole process easier. Now, on to the pizza….

Ingredients for the Crust: (THIS MAKES ENOUGH FOR 2 PIZZAS)

  • 5 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Active Dry Yeast (Pizza yeast is definitely the best but you can use active dry yeast)
  • 2 Cups Warm Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Dried Oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon Salt

Classic Pizza Topping:

  • 8 Oz Mozzarella Cheese, Sliced
  • 14.5 Oz Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 6 Oz Tomato Paste
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • Olive Oil
  • Optional: Prosciutto for topping (if using, DO NOT cook the prosciutto when you put the pizza on the grill, put it on when you take it out of the grill before eating!)

Instructions:

  1. Mix warm water and yeast together, let it sit for about 5 minutes, until the yeast proofs.
  2. Add 2.5 cups of flour to a bowl with the proofed yeast and mix.
  3. Add additional 2.5 cups of flour to the bowl with salt and oregano, and knead until smooth.
  4. Cover bowl with saran wrap when the dough is smooth, let it sit for 30 minutes.
  5. Turn grill on high and place pizza stone on the grill, close it to let it heat up.
  6. If you are using my classic topping idea, combine diced tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a bowl. Set aside.
  7. For each pizza, spray olive oil on tinfoil the size of the pizza lifter, roll out half of the dough on the pizza lifter. Add flour if it is too sticky. Make sure it is very thin.
  8. Create a crust by rolling the sides in and pressing the crust in to the pizza to make a crust shape.
  9. Brush or spray olive oil directly on to the crust.
  10. Put your toppings on! If using my classic pizza recipe, spread tomato mixture on crust, put mozzarella cheese on top and drizzle some olive oil.
  11. Place pizza with tinfoil on the pizza stone. COOK EACH PIZZA FOR ABOUT 13 MINUTES.
  12. Remove from grill, let it sit for about 2 minutes. Slice it up for serving, and ENJOY!

Homemade Pasta

PASTA. Is there any better food in life?! (The answer to this question is NO obviously!) I have always found making food from scratch is not only healthier because you know what you are putting in it, but I truly enjoy just making my own food. It is like therapy for me to be in the kitchen with my favorite food aromas and playing some music! Making your own pasta is the perfect weekend activity to do. While I do have a pasta machine, I also enjoy cutting the pasta by hand to make pappardelle or other shapes of pasta.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups Flour
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Olive Oil
  • Salt

Instructions:

  1. Pour 3.5 cups of flour onto a flat surface into a mound. Make a well in the center of the flour and crack the eggs directly in to the well. Scramble the eggs, add in a pinch of salt and the olive oil. With a fork, pull in the flour from the sides of the wall gradually. Try to maintain the integrity of the well wall as long as possible. It will usually stay until half of the flour is mixed in.
  2. Start working the dough with your hands. It should be a little sticky. If it is too dry, add some water, if it is too sticky add more flour. Once it comes together in a smooth ball after about 10 minutes of kneading, place in a bowl and cover with a damp towel and let it sit out for 20 minutes.
  3. Separate the dough into quarters.
  4. Flour your surface and roll out each piece of dough so its very thin.
  5. I use a kitchen scraper but you can use any kind of knife/ cutting tool. Cut pasta into strips depending on what kind of pasta you want. For spaghetti, it should be about 1/4 inch wide, for a wider pasta such as pappardelle, it should be about 1/2 inch.
  6. Sprinkle the pasta strips with flour so they do not stick together.
  7. Let dry for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, boil a large pot with water and add salt.
  8. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes. Fresh pasta takes much quicker to cook than boxed pasta.
  9. Strain pasta, and…. enjoy!

Tip: Pour your favorite sauce on top or keep it simple with olive oil and Parmesan cheese.