Tortellini with Pesto

It’s the second to last dinner for my eldest before he heads off to college so I picked an old favorite from his childhood. It’s one that we all love and has carried through as the years go by, of course it’s hard to go wrong with homemade pesto. 

When we found out that he was allergic to nuts I went on a mission to find one that I liked that was nut-free. This one has stood the test of time. 

I started with my basil: a mix of Thai and regular basil (any basil works, I had extra since I’m using it in my dessert tomorrow too). Once it was cleaned I pulled off my leaves and separated it out into portions.

The portion for the pesto went into the food processor with a few cloves of garlic. 


Then I started the grill and the water. The Italian sausage took 10 minutes so I started those first, then came in and blanched the basil for tomorrow in my pasta water.


Then I cooked the pasta in the basil water and turned the sausage.

I blended up the pesto in the food processor just before the pasta finished, adding salt, pepper, and olive oil after the basil was chopped and finishing with the Parmesan.  


While the pasta drained I pulled the sausage off the grill.


Then I came in and tossed the pasta – dinner is served and I have a happy boy. 


Tortellini with Pesto
Entrées, Pastas, Tested and Approved!

Cook 10 minutes ∙ Makes 4 ∙ Difficulty Easy 


  • 2 cups basil leaves, fresh, packed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup Parmesan, freshly shredded
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1½-2 pounds tortellini, cooked


In a food processor, pulse the basil and garlic until roughly chopped. With the machine on, slowly pour in the oil until just blended. Stir in cheese, salt, and pepper and mix until just blended. 
Toss the pesto into cooked tortellini. 

This can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold.


Dinner for Two

With our eldest in France and our youngest with activities that run through dinner we are finding ourselves learning what life will be like once they in turn leave for college. Tonight’s dinner is just the two of us and there are no allergies to contend with. When I went to the store, I had most of a grocery list, but only fish in mind for tonight. At the meat counter I pursued the selection and was excited to find beautiful yellowfin tuna (1¼” thick steaks)  for only $10/lb. and that is all we needed! With the weather abnormally awesome today (66 and sunny – in Michigan) I quickly decided on grilled tuna with a citrus pepper crust, lemon garlic broccoli, and couscous. I also came across shishito peppers in the produce section and decided that they would make a great appetizer. 

I started by making the citrus pepper marinade/crust by zesting ½ of an orange, lemon, and lime and adding the juice from the lemon and lime halves. (I always cut the end off the lemon so it juices better.) 

I then chopped the leaves of a few sprigs of parsley and a sprig of basil that I had on hand. 

I added a very generous amount of pepper, about ½ teaspoon of coarse salt and two very large cloves of garlic, then covered the mix with olive oil (1-2 Tbsp.).

Then I patted the tuna dry with paper towels and coated them with the marinade and set them aside. (You need to wait at least 20 minutes, but can set them in the fridge for up to an hour.)

I also cleaned the peppers and the broccoli. 

The peppers are simple, cook them in hot oil over medium heat until they blister, ~3-5 minutes. When they are done, drain them briefly on paper towels, squeeze fresh lemon (¼ lemon/pound) on them, and sprinkle them with coarse sea salt. (YUM!!! This was inspired by a dish at The Sardine Room in Plymouth.) 


While we had our tasty appetizer, I was heating the grill. 

After our appetizer I started the couscous and broccoli, adding the lemon to the broccoli after 5 minutes and with only 5 minutes left on the couscous I started the tuna on the hot grill. 


The tuna should be served rare, so it only takes 2½ minutes per side. After the first side, I added the garlic to the broccoli. 

All was perfect. 

Linguine with Garlicky Shrimp

I am so thankful to have the best Guinea pigs on the planet, my husband, kids, and in-laws never complain and they eat everything. Granted I think it’s practically impossible to say no to good food, or any food…but I’m very thankful anyway. My understanding from friends is that my kids, who do try everything I put in front of them, are the exception.

Sunday, I made a treat, another homemade pasta. I was not in the slightest bit concerned: garlic and shrimp are always a perfect combination. I have had this on my list for 3 weeks, but with the activities associated with the end of the school year and spring sports, I needed to find the right day to make pasta.

This is another from the pasta cookbook I got for Christmas and it was another win.

Although, as is fairly typical, I started with dessert when I got back from the grocery store. A couple of weeks ago you may have noticed Bailey’s Cream Cheese Brownies on the list, I was not happy, they were cake-like instead of fudge-like even though the flavor was perfect. I threw a large chunk in the freezer to give it new life. Homemade ice cream is a wonderful treat, and even better with Bailey’s and brownies.

My favorite go-to book for ice cream is Ben and Jerry’s cookbook. There are lots of ideas in there, but the most important item is the sweet cream base.

Start with the eggs and whip them until they are light and foamy. Then add the sugar slowly and they become thick and creamy. For ice cream, I always use my vanilla sugar; every time I use a vanilla bean it goes in this container of sugar, until I use the next one and swap it out.




Last add the milk, heavy cream, and in this case Bailey’s to create your base. After that follow your if cream maker’s instructions.


While it froze, I chopped my chuck of brownie and with a few minutes left I added in the chopped pieces.


From there I moved onto the pasta. The recipe said it served four so I increased it accordingly, I need not have bothered, with the increase I could have served 10-12.

I used a food processor recipe (still in my broken food processor). Starting with the flour and salt, then the eggs and oil all together.


Although it appears to be a sticky mess when I turned it out on the floured pastry board, after kneading for several minutes it is a beautiful soft and smooth dough.




Per the instructions I let it rest under a bowl while I began my preparations for rolling the pasta.

I divided it into six pieces and only worked with one piece at a time, leaving the others under the bowl while I rolled them out to thin sheets. (Thoroughly flour between the sheets so that they don’t stick together!)


Then they went through the the linguine blade and I spread them out and hung them everywhere.

While it dried I moved onto my sauce, starting by rinsing and cleaning the shrimp.

I blanched my tomatoes in the boiling pasta water so that the skin came off easily.

I then proceeded to my chopping work before starting anything on the stove.

While the water was coming to a boil I started the sauce; the pasta went in about the same time as the shrimp.

The shrimp is added once the garlic is fragrant, once they are just opaque, the tomatoes, salt, and white wine are added. Once the wine had reduced off, the pasta was done and I tossed it all in a large bowl with the fresh parsley.


As usual, my MIL made a wonderful salad (spinach, sprouts, and water chestnuts). And we had a garlic bread to round out the meal before serving the brownie ice cream for dessert with freshly sliced strawberries.

Linguine with Garlicky Shrimp


Entrées, Shellfish, Tested and Approved!

Makes 4-6


  • 2 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ red pepper flakes
  • 2 roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 Tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • sea salt
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. linguine


In a large pot, bring 5 qt. water to a boil. While the water is heating, make the sauce.

In a frying pan large enough to accomodate the pasta later, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is softened but not browned, about 2 minutes.

Add the shrimp to the pan and sauté, turing once, until opaque, about 2 minutes on each side. Add the tomatoes, season with ~½ tsp. Sea salt, and stir to mix. Stir in the wine and cook until most of the alcohol has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. of the parsley, taste and adjust the seasoning, remove from the heat, and cover to keep warm.

When the water is boiling, check the package directions for the cooking time, then add 2 Tbsp. Kosher salt and the pasta to the boiling water, stir well, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is just shy of being al dente.

Return the sauce to low heat. Drain the pasta, add to the sauce in the pan, and toss until the strands are well coated with the sauce. Transfer to a warmed large, shallow serving bowl, or individual shallow bowls, top with the remaining parsley, and serve immediately.

Paprika Recipe File

Egg Pasta


Entrées, Pastas, Tested and Approved!

Prep 30 minutes ∙ Cook 0 minutes ∙ Makes Servings: 6 ∙ Source Williams-Sonoma | The Pasta Book, by Julia della Croce (Weldon Owen, 2010)


  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose or “00” flour (see note above), plus more as needed
  • 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. olive oil


To make the dough by hand, measure the flour onto a work surface, mix in the salt and shape the flour into a mound. Using your fingertips, make a well in the center. Break the eggs into the center of the well and add the olive oil. Using a fork, beat until the eggs and oil are blended, making sure the liquid does not breach the walls of the well

Using the fork, gradually draw the flour from the sides of the well into the egg mixture and beat gently, always in the same direction, to combine the flour with the liquid. Secure the wall of the well with your other hand until the liquid has absorbed enough flour that it will not flow over the wall.

When the mixture is too stiff to use the fork, begin using both hands, gradually drawing in the flour from the bottom of the wall, until you have a soft, moist, but not sticky ball of dough. If the dough will not absorb more flour without becoming stiff, do not use it all. If it is too soft, add more flour, a spoonful at a time. Clean the work surface, dust it lightly with flour and flatten the ball of dough into a disk.

To make the dough with a food processor, fit a food processor with the metal blade. Add all but 1/2 cup of the flour and the salt to the work bowl and pulse to mix. You will use the reserved 1/2 cup flour later to adjust the consistency of the dough.
Crack the eggs into a liquid measuring cup and remove any stray shells. Add the olive oil; there is no need to stir. Pour the eggs and oil into the work bowl. Process until the flour is evenly moistened and crumbly, about 10 seconds. Test the dough by pinching it; if it is very sticky, add more flour, 1 Tbs. at a time, processing until it is incorporated. After about 30 seconds total, the dough should come together in a loose ball and feel moist but not sticky

Dust a clean work surface with flour. Remove the ball of dough from the food processor and place it in the center of the floured surface. Using your hands, flatten the dough into a disk.

For both methods: Using the heel of your hand, push the dough down and away from you, fold it in half back toward you, rotate a quarter turn and repeat the kneading motion. After about 10 minutes, the dough should be smooth and elastic.

Shape the dough into a ball, cover with an overturned bowl and let rest for 15 minutes before you roll it out. The gluten in the flour will relax, making the dough easier to roll. Do not let it rest longer or it will be too dry. Makes 1 lb. dough.

Paprika Recipe File

Ice Cream (Sweet Cream Base)


Desserts, Ice Cream and Custards, Tested and Approved!

Cook 30 minutes ∙ Makes ~1 quart ∙ Difficulty Easy ∙ Source Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book


  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature


Use an electric mixer and whisk the eggs, until they turn light and fluffy (1-2 minutes).

Slowly, add the sugar while whisking the eggs. I usually use an electric mixer in one hand and then use the other hand to pour the sugar in a little bit at a time. Slower is better. When it’s all in there, mix it a minute or so more.

Then pour in the rest of the cream and milk and mix it all together.

  • Vanilla Ice Cream: Add 2 teaspoons of good vanilla extract.
  • Alcohol Flavored: Add ½ cup of liqour(s).

Chill the mix (either covered in the fridge, or using the double-bowl and ice method) until it’s below 40°F (5°C). It helps to chill the mix before it’s run through the machine, so it freezes faster. The faster the mix freezes, the smaller the ice crystals will be, and the smoother the texture.

If you have a machine with a built-in freezer, turn it on and let it get good and cold. Then turn on the motor so the dasher starts spinning, and pour in the mix.

It’ll take about 30 minutes, more or less, to churn. You’ll probably be able to hear the motor slowing down when it gets close, and you should probably stop it before it really starts having trouble, just so you don’t damage it. It’ll come out like stiff soft-serve ice cream.

Speed counts now. Get all the ice cream out of the machine, into containers, and into the freezer, as quickly as possible. After a few hours in the freezer, the ice cream will harden and be like what you buy in the store. Smaller, pre-chilled containers allow the ice cream to freeze faster, which is what you want to keep it from getting icy.

Paprika Recipe File


Stir Fry and Soup

Sundays are for cooking, Mondays are for working my butt off at karate, and eventually Tuesdays are for sitting down for a few to write. Sunday I made meals for both days since yesterday was going to be a cooking impossibility with karate and soccer at the same time. I also made the time to sit down and make a menu for the week; my husband and I were both fortunate to have time off for the holidays this year and so I’ve been lax on the menus, but not the cooking. 

While I was skimming recipes I came across a lamb stir fry. My eldest has a fish allergy and we unfortunately regularly served him Chinese food when he was young and the allergy was mild, we ignored the “I don’t like it claims” not realizing it was actually making him sick. Sadly he is still resistant to eating Chinese food and I don’t get nearly enough stir fry to suit my taste. The reason this caught my eye is because he likes lamb as much as I do; it is a stir fry, but there is nothing Chinese about it, it has a Middle Eastern flair. 

The recipe is pretty good as written, but I strongly recommend a longer marinade than the recipe’s 15 minutes. I cleaned the leg of lamb and then let it marinate in the fridge while I made the soup for tonight’s dinner. It took me about 30 minutes to break down the leg and cut it into stir fry pieces, I’m pretty discriminating when I trim. It was a 3.5 lb. bone-in leg and when done I had about 2.7 pounds of meat so I doubled everything. Along with my son’s fish allergy he also has a tree nut allergy so I deemed the pistachios to be optional and promptly omitted them. 

I served it over brown rice following a Greek salad. 

As mentioned I made soup for Monday while the lamb was marinating. It is a hearty soup, but simple and delicious. I like it with the chicken. I added the sage to the cold soup and then heated in a small pan, one bowl at a time based on our schedules. I topped with crumbled goat cheese (easier with the multiple dinner times) and the pancetta. It also freezes well so the other half is frozen for when I need/want it. 

Lamb Stir-Fry with Pomegranate and Yogurt
Prep 1 hr ∙ Cook 15 mins ∙ Makes 4 ∙ Source Bon Appétit | March 2014

  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1½ pound boneless leg of lamb, thinly sliced against the grain
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into ½” wedges
  • Cooked rice (for serving)
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios (optional)
  • Fresh oregano, mint, and/or cilantro leaves (for serving)


Toast cumin and coriander seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Let cool, then finely chop. Toss lamb with cumin, coriander, paprika, garlic, vinegar, and 2 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl to coat; season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill at least 2 hours; return to room temperature prior to coooking.

Whisk yogurt and 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook lamb, tossing occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes per batch; transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon.  

Add onion to skillet and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown and soften, about 3 minutes. Add ½ cup water; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender and water is evaporated, about 3 minutes.Return lamb to skillet and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

 Serve lamb over rice, topped with yogurt, pomegranate seeds, pistachios, and herbs.

Do Ahead: Lamb can be marinated 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

Butternut-Corn Chowder

Prep 30 mins ∙ Cook 30 mins ∙ Makes 8 to 10 servings ∙ Source Bon Appétit | November 1999

  • 4 ounces pancetta, sliced ¼” thick and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2¼ pounds butternut squash, roasted, peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped
  • 1 head garlic, roasted
  • 2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chilies
  • 4½ cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 3 cups frozen sweet white shoepeg corn (unthawed)
  • ½ rotisserie chicken, shredded (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
  • 4 ounces chilled soft fresh goat cheese, cut into ½” thick rounds


Cook pancetta in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. 

  Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels. Add onion to drippings in pan; sauté until just tender, about 4 minutes. Deglaze with wine then add butternut squash, garlic, broth, chilies, and 1 cup of corn; simmer until squash is tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. 

 Transfer soup to blender; puree, or puree with immersion blender. Mix in remaining corn; simmer until tender, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix in sage. Ladle soup into bowls. Top with pancetta and cheese.


Roast the squash halves at 350°F for 35 minutes. (Cut it after to make it easy to scoop into the soup.) The garlic can be roasted in a foil packet with a bit of olive oil while you roast the squash, just set it off to the side of the squash.

 Pancetta and soup (prior to adding sage) can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover pancetta; chill. Chill soup uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Bring pancetta to room temperature and return soup to a simmer before continuing.

Optional: Add shredded roasted chicken with second addition of corn. Also, you can adjust the amount of chipotle to suit your taste.


Thanksgiving Leftovers – Round 3

Today was indeed leftovers… but they were hard to find in the final dish.

We eat dinner at around 6 on Thanksgiving, so we do have appetizers near the game. Each year I invite both family and friends; one of those friends brought a red pepper and fennel appetizer.

Not only beautiful they were also delicious (and she gave me the recipe!). She made two dozen, and although we had 20 people this was more than enough with the other appetizers and dinner on the way. She mentioned that she had used the leftovers in the past to make a pasta sauce and a soup. The pasta sauce idea stuck with me and we split the leftovers.

When I made my weekly menu, I knew I needed a protein (the men of my house insist); I decided on Caprese Chicken.

Today, I pulled the peppers out of the fridge with my chicken and set to prepping my dinner. I started by making a quick pesto (2 small packages of basil (3.4 ounces each) and 1 minced clove of garlic chopped in a food processor and then process in salt, pepper, and shredded parmesan, finishing with just enough olive oil to spread it). I spread this on my 4 chicken breasts and then baked it at 400 for 25 minutes. While it was baking, I boiled water for pappardelle pasta and set to work on peppers. I used 6 of peppers; my first task was peeling the peppers and then I chopped them before tossing them in a large skillet.

I heated them through while the pasta cooked to al dente. Just before the pasta was done I topped each of the chicken breasts with 2 large basil leaves, sliced plum tomatoes, and sliced fresh mozzarella and returned them to the oven for 5 minutes longer.

I then tossed the pasta directly in the sauce and served.

Roasted Red Peppers Stuffed with Fennel

Makes 8 as a first course

  • 4 large red peppers
  • 2 small bulbs fennel
  • 1 x 14 oz (400 g) tin Italian plum tomatoes
  • 8 dessert spoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 rounded teaspoon mixed pepper berries
  • ¾ level teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • ½ level teaspoon fennel seeds
  • juice ½ lemon
  • finely chopped spring onion for garnish (optional)
  • sea salt


Slice each pepper in half lengthways, cutting right through the green stalk end and leaving it intact; though it won’t be eaten, it adds much to the look of the thing. Remove all the seeds.

Place the pepper halves on the baking sheet, then drain the tomatoes (you don’t need the juice), and divide them into eight equal portions, placing each portion inside a pepper half.

Now pare off any brownish bits of fennel with your sharpest knife and cut the bulbs first into quarters and then again into eighths, carefully keeping the layers attached to the root ends.

Now put them in a saucepan with a little salt, pour boiling water on them and blanch them for 5 minutes. Then drain them in a colander and, as soon as they’re cool enough to handle, arrange two slices in each pepper half.

Sprinkle 1 dessert spoon of olive oil over each one, using a brush to brush the oil round the edges and sides of the peppers.

Next, lightly crush the pepper berries, coriander and fennel seeds with a pestle and mortar or rolling pin and bowl, sprinkle these evenly all over the fennel and peppers, and finish off with a grinding of sea salt.

Then bake the peppers for about 1 hour on a high shelf in the oven until they are soft and the skin wrinkled and nicely tinged with brown.

After removing them from the oven, sprinkle the lemon juice all over, cool and serve garnished with a little finely chopped spring onion or as they are.


Cook 10 minutes ∙ Makes 4 ∙ Difficulty Easy


  • 2 cups basil leaves, fresh, packed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup Parmesan, freshly shredded
  • salt and black pepper, to taste


In a food processor, pulse the basil and garlic until roughly chopped. With the machine on, slowly pour in the oil until just blended. Stir in cheese, salt, and pepper and mix until just blended.

Caprese Chicken

Prep 5 ∙ Cook 30 ∙ Makes 4

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • ½ cup pesto
  • 8 basil leaves, large
  • 2 plum tomatoes, sliced (optional)
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced


Preheat oven to 400° F.

Place chicken in a medium sized baking dish and coat with pesto.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Remove from oven; top with basil, tomatoes, and cheese. Bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.