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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage

SNOW DAY! Snow days don't get any less exciting when you are a grown up than when you were a kid. Well, working from home is not as fun as spending the day sledding and building snowmen, but snow days are still pretty phenominal. And after a beautiful walk in the snow, a baked pasta was the perfect end to the day. I made sure to plan ahead when I heard the forecast, and sent Matt to the store for the ingredients for Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage yesterday just in case. This recipe did NOT disappoint our craving for something warm, hardy, and delicious. And it makes so much, that you can definitely freeze half for another time, which is so useful for pretty much everyone out there who can't find enough time in the days. This pasta is fairly simple to make, comforting, and delicious. The smoked sausage in the pasta adds such a yummy, interesting flavor. Matt has been in the kitchen since finishing his plate, pretending to clean the dishes, but really cleaning the leftover pastas :)

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage
from My Kitchen Cafe, adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pound rigatoni (I used whole wheat)
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained well, or 8 oz fresh baby spinach (I used fresh)
12 oz precooked smoked chicken sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I used turkey)
8 oz mozzarella cheese, half diced and half shredded
1/4 cup shredded Parmesean cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, heat until translucent, about 3 minutes (about 8 minutes). Stir in garlic, heat another minute.

Stir in tomates, oregano, and basil; simmer 8-10 minutes. Add cream, cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. (if using fresh spinach, add it to the pot of boiling water right at the end and cook until wilted) Drain, and then return contents to the pot.

Add tomato sauce, sausage, and cubed mozzarella to the pot; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Scoop pasta into lightly greased 9x13 inch pan (or split between two 8x8 pans). Top with grated mozzarella and Parmesean. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, about 20-30 minutes.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Caramel Apple Crumb Cake

Have you seen "The Cake Boss" yet? It is about a bakery named Carlo's in Hoboken, NJ, about 5 minutes from our home. And they make the most AMAZING crumb cake. It is about 7/8 crumb, and 1/8 cake, the perfect proportion iun my opinion. You have to get to the bakery first thing in the morning to have a shot of even getting some. But I may not even try to brave those lines anymore after discovering this recipe! This crumb cake was so delicious, the perfect proportion of crumb and cake, with caramel apples separating the two. I did not make any changes to the original recipe, so I will link you right to Dinners for a Year and Beyond:
Preparation pictures and some randoms from our brunch:
My husband helping in the kitchen :)