No Recipe Required: Pasta with Short Ribs and Capers

May 20, 2011 at 6:29 am | Posted in Beef, No recipe required | 24 Comments
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  • Slow cook short ribs in your favorite jarred marinara sauce until fall off the bone tender.
  • Remove ribs from sauce, remove meat from bone and shred. Skim fat from sauce.
  • Toss sauce, shredded beef, halved cherry tomatoes and capers with cooked bucatini pasta.
  • Top with coarse grated Parmesan cheese.

Pasta with Short Ribs and Capers…It’s What’s for Dinner.

One Year Ago: Chicken Marengo


Dark Chocolate Pasta

September 8, 2010 at 1:48 am | Posted in dessert | 45 Comments
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I just had to give it a try. Dark chocolate-flavored pasta. Flanked by fresh raspberries and fresh Colorado Western Slope Peaches. All sitting on top of drizzled dark chocolate sauce.

My favorite Denver-based pasta vendor, Pappardelle’s came out with this dark chocolate flavored pasta. Sounding so interesting, I couldn’t pass up a chance for a unique dish not to mention good blogging fodder.

Starting with my favorite big white pasta bowls, I drizzled some chocolate sauce in a manner to appear artsy. I obviously need some artsy practice. By the way, I thought about making my own chocolate sauce, but opted just to purchase some good quality bottled.

Cooking the pasta according to package directions, I then plated the dish. I must say the pasta had a wonderful and almost perfect chocolate flavor. And and you can’t go wrong with chocolate and fruit, but I must admit I think it was a little too sweet for my taste. Hubs thinks it would be good sprinkled with bacon bits.  I’m all over that and might give it another try.

I’d be interested to hear what you’d do with Dark Chocolate Pasta.

Dark Chocolate Pasta,

It’s What’s For Dessert.

Bacon’n’Eggs…’n Pasta

August 4, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Posted in Pasta | 16 Comments
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Why am I such a poached egg  freak-o? Just something about that creamy yolk running down the side of…oozing through the middle of..or swimming  in the broth of any dish makes me swoon.

This is just a quick post and an easy weeknight fix. Well, the clean-up crew thought there were too many pans involved…but I didn’t hear him complain during dinner.  🙂

First of all, I want you to take a look at those tomatoes at the top of the photo. That’s right folks, it’s August 3 when this photo was taken, and you’re looking at the first sliced tomatoes of the season from my garden. It’s been a long time coming. So everyone share in my joy and in Mormon Tabernacle Choir fashion sing a big “HALLALUJIA”.

Next to those tomatoes is a slice of the first Rocky Ford Cantaloupe of the season. The Colorado Rocky Ford Melon phenomena is a whole other topic for another post, so stay tuned.

Now we’re talkin’! I do believe that little chunk of bacon swam right out of the pasta just to bathe in that runny yolk. For this dish, I simply cut two slices of bacon into bite-sized chunks and crisped it in a fry pan with some sweet onion. Meanwhile, I cooked some whole-grain spaghetti according to package directions. Tossed it with the bacon, onion and some red pepper flakes. Plated on my favorite pasta bowls, I topped with the poached eggs.  Kind of a no-brainer.

Poached Egg Over Pasta…

It’s What’s For Dinner.

Noodles with Sauteed Shrimp and Cilantro

July 11, 2010 at 11:48 pm | Posted in Pasta, Seafood | 15 Comments
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I swear, I should never be allowed to go to any grocery story, farmer’s market or specialty market unsupervised. You might as well throw in convenience stores. I’m sure I could find some gourmet fake orange cheese product that I couldn’t live without.

Still trying to work out of the pantry to use up some of my “stock-pile” here’s what I came up with.

Love the combination of flavors here. The salty citrus combined with the cilantro and the sweet shrimp work well here. And the addition of red pepper flakes really BAM it up.  Take a look:

Noodles with sautéed Shrimp and Cilantro:

  • 1/2 pound noodles of your choice, (I used flat egg noodles)
  • 1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 T. tamari soy sauce
  • 3 T. teriyaki Sauce
  • 1 T. agave syrup (or honey)
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced and separated into rings
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 t. lime zest plus the juice from one lime
  • A sprinkle of crushed red pepper
  • Lime wedges for serving

Cook the noodles according to package directions.

Meanwhile in a large bowl combine 2 T. of the oil with the soy, teriaki and agave syrup. When noodles are cooked and drained, toss them in the sauce, cover and let marinate while you:

Heat 1 T. of the oil in a skillet. Add shallots and cook over moderate heat stirring until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes  Transfer shallots to a paper towel and in same oil add the garlic and cook over low heat until fragrant and just turning gold (about 2 minutes). Transfer garlic to the paper towel.

Meanwhile combine the lime juice with zest and remaining oil and toss with the de-tailed, de-veined shrimp. Season with a little salt and then saute the shrimp in the same oil until done. 

Arrange noodles in large pasta bowls.  Sprinkle with the scallions, garlic, cilantro and some crushed red pepper to taste.  Arrange the shrimp on top, lime wedges along side.

Good to the last drop.

Noodles with sautéed Shrimp and Cilantro…

It’s What’s for Dinner.

The Best Pasta Salad EVER?

May 28, 2010 at 11:47 pm | Posted in Pasta Salad | 23 Comments
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Grilled burgers, pasta salads, hanging out on the back deck…get your flip-flops on, grab a cold glass of iced tea and Let The Summer Games Begin.

I honestly don’t have a really good pasta salad recipe. I used to. I don’t know what happened to it. I can’t remember what I thought was so darn good about it…I mean really, is there any magic to throwing together a good pasta salad? Do you really need a recipe? Well it seems I do, as nothing I “throw together” is impressing me.

So I decided to Google “best pasta salad recipe EVER”. After looking through a few of the results, this one caught my eye, so gave it a try. I think it showed up in the results because the first few reviewers exclaimed it to be the best pasta salad EVER.

I don’t know if it’s the “Best Pasta Salad EVER” but we really, really liked it.

Re-Googling, I can’t find the recipe to give credit where credit is due. It wasn’t from a food blogger, it was on a recipe site. And, by coincidence, just as I had finished preparation of my pasta salad, I headed to the computer to read a couple of food blogs last night before dinner and Buffalo Dick had just posted hisMacaroni Salad The Way A Guy Does It” pasta salad…so if you’re looking for a more “manly” version…

So here’s my recipe…it’s in my database sporting the title “Best Pasta Salad EVER”  and I suppose it can keep that title until something better comes along.

Before we go any further, I don’t want you looking at me like I have two heads when you see it calls for bottled Coleslaw Dressing. Finished product is quite tasty, and, as always, much better after sitting in the fridge overnight, gotta give those ingredients a chance to get to know each other better. Ok, you can proceed reading.

The Best Pasta Salad EVER?

1 19 ounce package of frozen three-cheese tortellini (Safeway had their five-cheese brand on sale, so that’s what I used)
1 lb bacon
4 cups chopped broccoli
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 cup bottled coleslaw dressing (I could only find one brand – Hidden Valley)

1. Cook the tortellini according to the package directions, drain, rinse with cold water, and refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes.

2. Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate. Chop the bacon into 1/2-inch pieces while still a little warm.

3. Place the tortellini, bacon, broccoli, grape tomatoes, and green onions into a salad bowl. Pour the dressing over the ingredients, and toss lightly to coat. Chill in refrigerator before serving.

Servings: 10

When standing in the frozen pasta section and seeing all the different tortellini flavors, I really think the possibilities are interesting. But for now, I somewhat followed directions.

Why is this so good?  Salty bacon and onions, always a winner, chewy cheese tortellini, fresh crunch of broccoli, colored with red tomatoes, with a creamy sweet and tangy vineager dressing.  Yum. 

Do you have a pasta salad recipe that you think is the best EVER? 

Pasta Salad

It’s What’s For Summer

Stick around for a couple of photos from our picnic today;

Our friend Lee, joined us on a picnic/birdwatching trip to Chatfield State Park today. Along with this pasta salad, I packed a ham sandwich wrapped in a plain white bag, tied off with some string with a sprig of fresh rosemary tucked beneath. I copy-catted this idea from my boss Sheri who was recently in a restaurant in Texas where they served a sandwich wrapped like this. She took a photo of it with her phone and sent it to me…that’s right, I now have people taking photos of food and sending them to me. 

The Riparian area along the South Platte River that flows into Chatfield Reservoir. This grove is lousy with birds.

A photo of  hills behind the lake. We’re kinda funny in Colorado, we call our mountains “hills” and our puny little reservoirs “lakes”. We’re at an angle and so close to the foothills that you can’t see those gorgeous 14,000 ft. snow-capped peaks looming behind.  With its close proximity to the Denver Metro Area, tomorrow this lake will be filled with boats. 

Have a great holiday weekend!

One Year Ago:  Cream Cheese Flan

Baked Ziti With Fire Roasted Tomatoes

January 21, 2010 at 10:58 pm | Posted in Pasta | 22 Comments
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I mean who doesn’t love a baked cheesy one pot pasta dish??? I found this recipe over at the Muir Glen Website and I’m sure glad I gave it a try.   

Before Christmas I received an offer from Muir Glen to purchase a pack of their special reserve harvest tomatoes. It was only 7 bucks so I said “what the heck”.  Plus, the shipment included a nice little cookbook.   

To my surprise, not only did I receive the tomatoes but look how cleverly they were packaged.  Good job Muir Glen Marketing Department!   


Wanting to try the Fire Roasted Tomatoes first, I saw this recipe, it sounded delicious. And it was.   I even made a special trip to Whole Foods for some good quality ziti.  I have a pantry full of whole grain pastas just to stay on the healthier side, but for the first try of this recipe wanted the whole devilishly sinful effect.    


I was a little leery that this might taste too tomatoey because it had one can of tomatoes plus one full can of tomato sauce.   I was wrong.  This recipe is delicious and the mild. The sweet flavor of those fire roasted tomatoes mixed in with all that mozzarella cheese, ground beef and zucchini makes this a scrumptious pasta dish.  Just serve with your favorite green salad and you’ve got a wonderful meal that you could even serve to guests at a dinner party.   

Right out of the oven

To my pasta bowls

I made absolutely no changes to this recipe, except for using my Dutch oven on the stove top, so I could easily transfer the meal to the oven.  So, without any further ado, I present to you Baked Ziti with Fire Roasted Tomatoes.   

Muir Glen Baked Ziti With Fire Roasted Tomatoes:   

2 1/2 cups uncooked ziti pasta (8 oz)
1/2 lb extra-lean (at least 90%) ground beef
1 large sweet onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 can (15 oz) Muir Glen® organic tomato sauce
1 can (14.5 oz) Muir Glen® organic fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoon coarse (kosher or sea) salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (3 oz)   

Preparation Directions   

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Cook and drain pasta as directed on box.
2. Meanwhile, spray 12×8-inch (2 quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook beef, onion and garlic over medium heat, stirring frequently, until beef is thoroughly cooked.
3. Stir zucchini into beef mixture; cook 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper. Heat to boiling. Add drained pasta; toss to coat. Spread in baking dish.
4. Cover dish tightly with foil; bake 20 minutes. Remove foil; sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered about 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.
High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): Increase covered bake time to 30 minutes.
If you like, use ground turkey or chicken in place of the ground beef.

Thanks to Muir Glen for such great products and for this wonderful and easy recipe.  They’ve got a great web site, take a look at

Sweet Potato Pasta

January 15, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Posted in Pasta | 31 Comments
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Isn’t this pasta just screaming for a sprinkle of green chives? 

One of the pleasant surprises of blogging is that when your food photos appear on your computer screen…they talk.   And I’m glad they talk, because they teach me.

Sometimes a photo of a plated meal will chatter pleasantly amongst itself.  And other times its fighting  like cats and dogs.   One time I opened a photo to find an angry skinless chicken breast in a white cream sauce demanding that the dollop of mashed potatoes be removed immediately and replaced with its more colorful friend, asparagus.   

Then there was the braised chicken leg who said “Back off, you’re too close and this really isn’t flattering to my complexion.” 

The greasy limp wrong-bread beef panini that simply asked “What the hell were you thinking?”  

A pork roast that asked “Does this glaze make my butt look fat?”

The lentil soup who that pitifully gurgled “I’m boring.” 

The big dark steak wearing a dark cloak of brown gravy jumped onto the screen yelling BOO.  Scared me to death.

You know what I’m saying, you’ve all heard it.  

 I could have so much fun and go on and on with these, but I’d like to hear what your pictures have said to you.  Please share it in your comments.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to learn to make my own pasta, and then learn to make some clever flavored pastas.  But until then, and as I’ve mentioned before we have a wonderful company right here in Denver that does exactly that and includes recipes on their website.

Just listen to that beautiful Sweet Potato flavored pappardelle whispering in your ear.  Aren’t you in love?

This recipe comes from Pappardelle’s web site.  It’s easy.. easy..easy.. and very tasty.  I do believe that this cream cheese sauce would match well with any pasta.  After the recipe I’ll post a link to their website so you can browse.

Sweet Potato Pappardelle con Salsa di Noci

1 lb. Pappardelle’s Sweet Potato Pappardelle Pasta
1 clove garlic, minced
7 oz. shelled walnuts, finely chopped   I used pecans because that’s what I had on hand
tablespoons butter, unsalted
7 oz. marscapone or cream cheese    I used cream cheese
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Melt butter in skillet and sauté garlic until it is golden brown. Add walnuts, stir for 3 minutes and remove entire contents from heat.

2. Meanwhile, cook pasta in 6-8 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente (about 8-10 minutes).

3. While pasta is cooking, add the marscapone or cream cheese to the walnut mixture and heat gently throughout.

4. Drain the pasta (do not rinse), toss in the grated Parmesan and transfer to a heated serving dish. Stir in the sauce and serve at once.

Serves 6

Orange Day, Chapter 2

December 12, 2009 at 9:12 pm | Posted in Pasta, Seafood | 45 Comments
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I’ve been meaning to post this for days now, but it appears I’ve become slammed!  Not sure how it happened so quickly; slammed with work, slammed with entertaining my mom while she’s here; slammed with preparing for the holidays; throw in a few parties and my poor little blog has been swept into the corner.  :-/  I think there’s a lot of you out there that must be a lot more organized than me.   Everyone is baking truck loads of cookies, gallons of Holiday beverages, already testing recipes for Christmas Day, taking pictures of beautifully decorated homes, leisurely photographing pets…I mean c’mon people! 

This is a continuation of a post from last Monday. It seems that everything from my kitchen that day had an orange theme.

If I were to answer my own “Just Grilled” questionnaire I would answer the question “Favorite Local Product” with Pappardelle’s Pasta.  Pappardelle’s is a pasta company started right here in Denver specializing in flavored pastas.  I love, love, love their products and their website full of delicious and unique recipes.  Take a look at    So many interesting ideas for sauces  for each of their pasta creations.

There is a store front location near the Cherry Creek shopping area where you can purchase Pappardelle’s year-round.  But, since I seem to be perfectly happy in my little burbs bubble, (I mean we have a Target, a Whole Foods, a liquor store, a pizza place AND NORDSTROM within just a few miles – what else does one need???)  I don’t drive into the city as much as I should.  Instead, I wait until the very last day of our Highlands Ranch farmers market, and buy a trunk full of their pastas to have over the winter.  It’s  so much fun to pull out a package and go to their website for the recipe.  Always delicious and pretty easy. 

My last adventure with Pappardelle’s was Orange Shrimp with Basil Tangerine Pasta.  ohmygosh YUM!  This dish is straight from their website.  I made no changes, I can’t take credit for any tweaking or ruining improving the recipe at all.   With all that said, I don’t want to be in trouble with my favorite Denver food vendor, so will just direct you to the website to take a look at the recipe.  Enjoy and while you’re there take a look around.

So Easy a Cry Baby Could Make It

October 1, 2009 at 1:07 pm | Posted in Pasta | 14 Comments
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This post finds me propped up in bed on a fluffy pillow and pain medication. This past Friday we went to the Rockies/Cardinals game. It was fan appreciation night with fireworks to take place after the game.  I love fireworks.  I ended up in Denver General Hospital in the 5th inning.  Here’s the Reader’s Digest Version: I was sitting in an aisle seat one minute enjoying the game, chatting with friends and the next minute I felt as if a car had hit me in the back. It seems a man was running with food, down the stairs, lost his footing, became airborne and slammed into my back before landing three or four more steps further down.  I was rushed to the emergency room, x-rays showed no broken bones, probably torn ligaments.  I’ve been in bed since. I’m slowly getting better every day, but can barely walk.  So there ya have it.

Of course this means no cooking.  And yes, I’m being a cry baby about it. 

And let me digress.  “Rushed” to the emergency room is an exaggeration, as the ambulance broke down in route.  I was stuck for about 15 minutes until a replacement ambulance arrived with this poor 25-year-old old paramedic trying to make small talk to take the edge off of a very difficult situation.  “So where do you live?  Any children?  What are your hobbies?  Do you work?  Any pets?”  Bless his little well meaning heart.

Denver General Hospital is quite the place.  They really do a fabulous job.  I was given the choice of Denver General, or one of our South end swanky “resort” hospitals.  I wanted the latter and my husband quickly pointed out “Do you want to go somewhere that’s experienced with trauma (Denver General) or somewhere that can give you advice on plastic surgery (south end resort hospital)”.  I “got it” and agreed on Denver General.  While waiting on x-rays and watching the third shackled prisoner pass down the hall accompanied by an armed police officer, I turned to Bob and said “We should come downtown more often”.  Big mistake, as I learned very quickly that it hurt very bad to laugh. 

OK, well you got more than the Reader’s Digest Version after all.  I am really missing cooking so tonight I hobbled down the stairs, crippled around the kitchen enough to get this to the table.  Oh…Oh…Oh… I almost forgot the foodie part of this whole mess.  As I was being wheel-chaired through the bowels of Coors Stadium to the first aid area, holding my head, looking down, I briefly opened my eyes and all I could see was a hot dog bun smashed and stuck to my leg.  Can you believe it? A missed photo opportunity.


 Look at these beautiful vibrant fresh ingredients ready for preparation. 


 Some bright red sun-dried tomatoes.


Double Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta with Broccoli and  Parmesan Cheese
1 lb. Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta
2 lbs. broccoli, chopped into small florets
5 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup coarsely chopped sun- dried tomatoes
½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

1. Add broccoli flowerets to a large saucepan of enough boiling salted water to cover generously. Cook, uncovered, over high heat for about 2 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water. Chop broccoli florets coarsely.

2. Meanwhile, cook pasta in 6-8 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente (about 8-10 minutes). Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

3. Heat remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add broccoli, salt and pepper. Sauté about 2 minutes or until heated through.

4. Add broccoli mixture to pasta bowl and toss. Add sun-dried tomatoes, basil, grate Parmesan Cheese on top.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serves 4

Adapted from Pappardelle’s Pasta.

Spinach Pasta

August 29, 2009 at 10:17 pm | Posted in Pasta | 5 Comments
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Dinner last night was another great pasta dish compliments of Pappardelle’s brand pasta.  We even hit the wine pairing smack dab on the head.     The Babich 2006 Sauvignon Blanc was a delicious crisp compliment.    Even if you can’t find a spinach flavored pasta (in case you’re Karen in Wichita)  I’m sure this sauce would be wonderful on plain pasta.  And yes, I even used the anchovies called for in the recipe.  🙂   If you’re hesitant about the anchovies, relax! While they’re integral to the dish, they don’t make it taste “fishy.”


Wilted Spinach and Garlic with Spinach Pasta

1 lb. Spinach Pasta
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
12 cloves garlic, minced
12 canned anchovy fillets, chopped
¼ cup capers, drained but not rinsed
Splash of dry white wine or water
3 bunches fresh spinach, stems removed
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat olive oil in large kettle or wok over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden. Immediately add anchovies. Using wooden spoon, simultaneously stir and mash them until they “dissolve” into the garlic and oil.

2. Add capers and cook one minute longer, stirring constantly.

3. Immediately add spinach, tossing continuously until it wilts. If necessary, add a little wine or water to prevent sticking

 Reduce heat to low and keep warm.

4. Meanwhile, Cook pasta in 6-8 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente (about 6 minutes for angel hair and 8-10 minutes for fettuccine). Drain and add directly to spinach mixture. Toss gently to thoroughly coat the spinach with the pasta. Serve straight from the pan, sprinkling Parmesan at table.

Serves 4 – 6

NOTE:  This is not very good the next day.  I had some of the leftovers for lunch the next day and the pasta really intensifies over night with a salty strong flavor from the anchovies.

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