Gettin’ Saucey

Vodka Sauce (With Shrimp & Baby Bella Mushrooms)

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I have made this three times, and each time I used different tomato sauces as the base. I will share the ingredients I felt were most successful in the completion of this dish. My tip: use up what sauces you have in the kitchen pantry – the texture may be a little different each time, but it does not stop you from enjoying what you intended to do in the first place – make a delicious, home-cooked meal! ūüôā

Originally found on, and adapted from, Rocco DiSpirito: http://www.oprah.com/food/Penne-Alla-Vodka

Ingredients:

16 ounces (one 1 lb box) Barilla pipette pasta (up to preference) (The amount of sauce being made can withstand 1 1/2 boxes pasta, if you would like a higher pasta to sauce ratio)

1 jar Francesco Rinaldi Hearty Tomato sauce

1 jar Francesco Rinaldi Tomato & Basil sauce (or Traditional Tomato & Basil sauce)

1.5 oz (one shot or more) Kettle One vodka (any brand of vodka can be substituted, up to preference)

8 ounces (1 container) mascarpone cheese (Beligioso)

1/2 tsp or more ground and/or crushed red pepper, up to preference

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Oregano, to taste

Garlic powder, to taste

6 tbsp Italian cheeses

1 tbsp heavy cream (optional)

12 or so extra large shrimp (26/30), cooked and deveined (optional)

3 Baby Bella mushrooms, washed and sliced thinly (optional)

Directions:

1. In a large pot, cover salted water and allow it to boil. Cook pasta according to boxed directions.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium to large saucepan, heat both jars of pasta sauce on low to medium-low heat.

3. Heat through, add vodka. Stir well, and allow sauce to simmer.

4. Add spices (crushed/ground red pepper, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper).

5. Add mascarpone cheese and stir well. Sauce should be a light red color, not yet blush.

6. Spice more to taste. Too much red pepper will overwhelm your palette, so be sure not to add too much unless you are ready to sweat! As an option, add heavy cream to make more of a blush sauce.

7. Add shrimp and/or mushrooms to sauce. You can also sauté the mushrooms in extra virgin olive oil first, with a few dashes of salt, pepper, and garlic.

7. Toss cooked pasta in sauce. Mix well. Sprinkle with Italian cheeses. Enjoy!

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One Roux to Rule Them All

Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

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This is my first attempt at my very own mac and cheese. I followed a similar recipe I had found from the Food Network (by the Neely’s) as a basis to get mine started. Rich and luxurious, this mac and cheese will surely fill you up. The mild Gouda gives it a distinctive taste, while the mild Gruy√®re calms it down. In addition, the intense, four-year aged white cheddar gives it a sharp taste to your buds, and the goat cheese adds a much needed creaminess. I found my cheeses at Wegman’s. With their distinctive and plethora of imported and domestic cheeses, I knew I would surely find some to give my concoction a much needed flare.

Ingredients:

1 lb (one box) whole wheat pasta shells (or pasta of choice)

4 tablespoons (1 half stick) of unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, diced

1 teaspoon shallots, diced (I used jarred)

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 cups heavy cream

2 or more cups 4 year-aged Cheddar, white

2 cups organic mild Gouda (origin: Holland)

1/4 or more cup Goat cheese (classic chèvere)

1 cup mild Gruyere

1/4 cup Sauvignon Blanc White Wine (Sutter Home, California)

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (more or less to taste)

Ground red cayenne pepper, to taste

Paprika, to taste

Thyme leaves, to taste

French bread, toasted (to make into bread crumbs for topping)

Parsley (for topping)

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Directions:

1. Cook choice of pasta according to box directions. I like to cook it while I make the sauce, so the pasta does not sit for a while without being tossed. Cook until al dente.

2. Lightly grease¬†the bottom and sides of a 13×9 (aluminum) pan with unsalted butter.

3. Meanwhile, on low heat, make a roux.

How to make a roux:

  • Melt butter in a medium to large saucepan.
  • The butter should bubble and become frothy. Add garlic and shallots. Be sure not to brown the butter too much – a light brown color is alright.
  • By the tablespoon, whisk in the flour. [Equal amounts of butter to flour is a safe ratio to use]. Be consistent in whisking, so the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pan. A thick paste should form.

Tip: You can also use a wooden spoon if you do not want to whisk the roux

For extra assistance: http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/culinaryfundamentals/ss/roux.htm

4. Once the roux has finished forming, add the heavy cream. Allow the mixture to boil, on low to medium-low heat.

5. After it boils, add the Sauvignon Blanc white wine. Allow it to cook off for a minute or two. Whisk/stir frequently.

6. Add spices: black pepper, red cayenne pepper, paprika and thyme. In this instance, the cheeses act as a substitute for salt. However, if you feel the need, add a dash of salt.

7. Add the variety of cheeses (shredded): cheddar, gouda, gruyère and goat cheese. Whisk/stir frequently. The sauce should thicken up by this point. Add any extra spices. I added a bit more ground black pepper, because the nuttiness and intensity of the cheeses can overpower any previously added seasonings.

8. Toss the pasta into the sauce pan and make sure it is completely covered with the gooey, cheesy deliciousness.

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9. Pour the cheese-covered pasta into the greased pan. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and finely chopped parsley. You can also top it with bread crumbs after it goes into the oven. (To make the bread crumbs, all I did was cut a few slices of French bread into 1 inch cubes and allowed them to toast in the oven).

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10. Into the oven it goes, on 325 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, to bake through, for about 15 to 20 minutes. Allow the top of the casserole to brown up a bit before serving. Sprinkle with extra parsley and/or bread crumbs if desired.

11. Enjoy!

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Bunny. Eats. Design. has invited me to share one of my recipes in the May 2013 Our Growing Edge monthly blogging event (hosted by Sonya)! This event is aimed at helping inspire and connect food bloggers across the World Wide Web. I am truly honored! Thank you!

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