Pasta Carbonara made with bacon that was not a mess to make.

Pasta Carbonara and a Bacon Trick

Bacon. Onion. Garlic. Pinon nuts. Eggs. Pasta. Parmesan cheese. OMG, what a divine collection of wonderfulness! And they all combine together quickly and easily into my version of Pasta Carbonara which I’m going to share with you right now. And bonus, I’m passing on a great way to make bacon! I know, right? Let’s get started!

Pasta Carbonara made with bacon that was not a mess to make.

Finished and delicious Pasta Carbonara.

Here’s a great bacon trick for cooking it with a minimum of shrinkage and grease splatter: 

I wish I could take credit for this but I heard about this method on America’s Test Kitchen and it’s brilliant –

  1. Put bacon in a cold skillet and add enough water to just cover the bacon.
  2. Turn the heat on to Medium-High and cook until the water has evaporated. This helps prevent the bacon from shrinking and has the majority of the cooking happening “under water,” with no splattering.

    Raw bacon being cooked in water to prevent shrinkage and splattering.

    Here, I’m making a second batch of bacon which I cut up with a scissors, with water over it, starting to cook the bacon.

  3. Once the water is gone, let the bacon start to brown a little and then turn it over to brown the other side. Remove the bacon from the heat when it’s done and let it drain on paper towels.
  4. Now this part, I WILL take credit for – take a clean kitchen scissors and cut the bacon into little bite-size pieces and then follow the method above. This makes it easier to turn, means all the bacon fits in the pan, and leftover bacon will be ready for adding to scrambled eggs, salads, chicken dishes, or just sprinkling directly into your mouth, my personal favorite.

    Bacon starting to brown using the water-first method.

    The water is cooking off at this point and the bacon pieces are starting to brown. This is when you would want to put a splatter guard over your pan. Although, I guarantee you, you won’t have nearly the mess you would have if you’d been frying it without the water first!

Just wait until you try the method above. You’re going to thank me. In advance, you’re so welcome! Now, onto the recipe…

Easy Pasta Carbonara:

1 lb bacon in bite-size pieces (see an easy way to do that, above)
1/2 white or yellow onion, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 lb spaghetti pasta
1/4 cup pinon nuts
3 eggs, whisked with a fork
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Put a big pot of salted water on the stove so the water can start coming to a boil while you prepare the meal.

Brown the bacon according to the method above. Remove the cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Brown the onion in the same pan. As soon as it starts to look translucent, add the garlic, watching it very carefully so neither brown, especially the garlic which will get very bitter if overcooked. With a slotted spoon, remove the onion and garlic to another bowl.

Lightly brown the pinon nuts in the same pan (do we hear one-pan meal?!). Keep stirring them around so they brown evenly. Quickly remove them to the dish with garlic and onion.

By now, the pasta water has probably started boiling. Add the pasta and give it a good stir right off the bat to get those noodles separated and cooking.

Once the pasta is done, scoop out about 1/2 cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta but don’t fret too much about getting every last drop of water off the pasta because it’s going to be part of the sauce. Return the cooked pasta to the pot.

Add 1/2 of the Parmesan choose to the egg mixture and quickly pour it over the pot of noodles, stirring and lifting (use tongs or a pasta server) it quickly so that the egg/cheese mixture gets distributed over the pasta as much as possible. The heat from the pasta is cooking the egg.

Add just a little pasta water (too much and you’ll ruin it and disaster will strike) to take advantage of the starchy water mixing with the pasta, egg and cheese to help distribute everything.

Next, add the onion/garlic/pinon nut mixture and the bacon and toss everything around until it’s pretty evenly distributed.

Serve up the pasta and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over the top.

IF there’s any Pasta Carbonara left over (not likely, so better make extra), it’s delicious the next day (or two) for leftovers with just a drizzle of olive oil mixed in. Just sayin’.

The raw egg cooks in the heat of the noodles and adheres to the Pasta Carbonara.

The egg/parmesan mixture “cooks” in the heat of the pasta and adheres to the noodles. Delicious!

 

Note: on occasion we will provide affiliate links to Amazon.com as a way to provide the reader with direct access to a product we recommend or think would be handy. We also receive a very small commission on what you might buy on Amazon as a result of using this link. That money goes right back into the expenses related to hosting and running this blog. 

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Beef and Noodles with Mushroom-Onion Sauce

EAT - Beef and Noodles with mushroom onion sauce Served angle

Warning, what you’re about to see below, isn’t pretty. And it isn’t even appetizing. But believe me, in 7 hours or so, you’re going to be serving up something delicious (see above) and a lot better looking than when it started.

This dish started out as a version of beef stroganoff and was headed in the right direction. What I forgot was the important, very last step of removing the sauce from the heat and then whisking in sour cream. Instead of incorporating nicely and making the sauce creamy, the sour cream broke down under the heat and didn’t break up well without the help of a whisk. Still, the flavor was really good. So out with the stroganoff recipe I was going to give you and in with:

Beef and Noodles with Mushroom-Onion Sauce!

Serves up to 10 (serve one batch and freeze the other for tough day when you don’t want to cook)

Ingredients:

2 chuck roasts (I get mine at Sam’s Club where they are packaged in two and when they are on sale)

1 can Campbell’s golden mushroom soup or cream of mushroom soup

1 can Campbell’s onion soup

1 can of water from the onion soup can

1 14-ounce container of full-fat sour cream

1 white or yellow onion, sliced

1 pound white button mushrooms, sliced or mix and match white button mushrooms with baby bellas

1 bag wide egg noodles

EAT - Beef and Noodles with mushroom onion sauce rawMethod:

  1. Place half the onion slices in the bottom of a crockpot.
  2. Place one FROZEN roast on top. Pour half of each of the soups on top.
  3. Place the other FROZEN roast on top of the other one, a slightly different direction as your crockpot will allow so they aren’t completely stacked on top of each other. You read right, I use frozen, rock solid hunks of meat because I found that it comes out beautifully tender, more so than if it was thawed.
  4. Put the rest of the onions and the rest of the soup on top. Note, with the cream of mushroom soup, you may need to take a rubber spatula to loosen it and glop it on, spreading it a little bit. It will make a funny sound coming out.
  5. Fill the onion soup can with water and pour it AROUND the two roasts, not over the top.
  6. Put the lid on the crockpot and cook it on HIGH about 7 hours. If you’re home to do so, at around 3-4 hours, carefully turn the meat over and switch their positions if you can, without splashing everywhere. This also helps with tenderness.
  7. Check the meat by sticking a fork in it at around 6-7 hours. It should be very tender.
  8. EAT - Beef and Noodles with mushroom onion sauce MeatCarefully remove the roasts and put them in a large bowl. After a few minutes, take two forks and shred the meat, removing any chunks of fat. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  9. Pour or ladle the remaining juice and onion into a pot over high heat. Stir periodically as it boils, cooking down and getting thicker.
  10. Turn off the heat and add the sour cream, a little at a time, stirring to blend it.
  11. Meanwhile, be cooking your noodles. If they get done early, drain them and drizzle with olive oil, mixing to coat them so they don’t stick so much.
  12. EAT - Beef and Noodles with mushroom onion sauce SauceIn a DRY, heated skillet such as a cast iron one, start cooking the mushrooms. This can actually be done in advance. Turn them periodically until they are brown and a little wrinkly. I learned a long time ago to cook mushrooms dry because they release their own liquid and will have a more intense flavor without the help of butter or oil. Add them to the sauce.
  13. Serve by spooning noodles in the dish, placing some shredded beef on top and then a good ladle or two of the sauce that has the onions and mushrooms in it. Sprinkle with some parsley, preferably fresh, for a dash of color.

EAT - Beef and Noodles with mushroom onion sauce Served angle

 

Bacon Tomato Tart – A Guest Blog

Lynne Cobb - tomatoes and basil - bacon tomato tarte - meTo me, the best parts of a BLT sandwich are the bacon, tomato and bread. Sorry, lettuce, you just don’t thrill me. So when a fellow blogger, Lynne Cobb, shared her recipe for “My Super-Awesome Bacon Tart,” which combines those three perfect ingredients, I asked her if I could share the recipe with my E.A.T. readers. 

Lynne took advantage of the best of her garden’s tomatoes, basil and oregano when developing this recipe. If it’s too early in the season for a great harvest, try to find the best tomatoes and herbs you can from the market to make this recipe really shine. 

Lynne’s recipe calls for easy-to-find ingredients: 

(Preheat oven to 350 degrees.)

1 unbaked pie crust shell (homemade or purchased)

12 oz of bacon – cooked until crisp. (Reserve a few tablespoons of bacon drippings).

1/2 cup of chopped onion – saute in bacon drippings

6-8 oz of soft mozzarella, shredded or cubed

1 large tomato, sliced thin (Note, I didn’t have large, beautiful tomatoes from the garden so I used cherry tomatoes which worked fine)

A few leaves of basil, cut into thin strips

Crumble the bacon into pie shell. Layer it with the onions and mozzarella; add tomato and basil.

Mix together:

1 cup of milk, 4 eggs, salt, pepper and a few teaspoons of freshly chopped oregano. Pour over ingredients in pie shell.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then slice and enjoy. 

 

Tomato Bacon Tart - Mine - Lynne Cobb

 

 

Thank you Lynne, for sharing your recipe! My family loved it. It was the perfect meal with a nice salad on the side. The leftovers were great for breakfast too! 

 

 

Big Batch Bolognese

My first taste of meat sauce for pasta came as a child when my Mom would use a name-brand seasoning packet which shall go nameless here. It was delicious but full of processed stuff. When I had a family of my own, I tried to recreate those flavors without all that processed stuff and came pretty darned close. Then, a while back, I was invited to dinner at a fancy restaurant in town where they made a fantastic bolognese sauce with pork, Italian sausage, beef and a touch of red wine. It was divine! So, I set about figuring out how to make THAT at home as well, feeling like I was graduating a bit from that first attempt at sauce.

I think I’ve done it and wanted to share the recipe with you. I’ve made this recipe numerous times now and it always draws raves. I love putting half the sauce in the freezer, knowing that on a busy night, I’ve got another great meal ready.

Big Batch Bolognese - finished

This makes a big batch of bolognese sauce! Our family of six can get two full meals out of it. It freezes beautifully (I think it actually benefits from some time chilling out) so depending on the size of your family, portion it off in freezer bags for easy defrosting and reheating. Also, note that this is not a saucy sauce that’s going to run over your plate. It’s thick and meant to cling to your pasta. I recommend spaghetti, fettuccine or wide papperadelle noodles or campanelle which is small but ruffly and catches bits of sauce beautifully.

Big Batch Bolognese
Serves up to 12

Ingredients:

1/2 yellow or red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp. sugar
2 15-oz cans tomato sauce plus about 1/2 a can of water
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 pound ground beef – 80/20 or 90/10 lean/fat are fine
1lb bulk, hot Italian sausage
1 lb ground pork
Fresh or dried basil, oregano, rosemary – see below
1/4 cup red wine that you’d drink with the meal
Salt to taste
Pasta of your choice
Parmesan cheese to taste

 

Big Batch Bolognese - meat

Save time by cooking the meats, onions and garlic all together.

Instructions:

1. In a large pot, drizzle a little olive oil and heat until just before it starts to smoke.
2. Add the onion, garlic and meats, breaking them up and mixing all ingredients as they brown. Keep cooking until the fat diminishes. You want to have some left for flavor but you don’t want it to be swimming in it.
3. Carefully add the cans of tomato sauce and the tomato paste plus the 1/2 can of water. Keep the cans nearby in case you have to add a little more water as things thicken. This is a good way to also get every last bit of sauce out of the cans and prepare them for the recycling bin.
4. Stir everything together, breaking up the tomato paste.
5. At this point, add about 1/4 tsp. of each of the herbs. If you are using dried herbs, crumble them between your fingers and mix.  
6. Add the sugar and mix. This is an old trick to tang some of the acidity off of the tomato sauce and to give it a more well-rounded flavor. Add too much and you’ll ruin the sauce so be conservative. You can always add more. 
7. While the sauce is cooking over medium heat, get another big pot of salted water boiling and make the pasta. The sauce can be left waiting but the pasta can’t. 
8. Cook the sauce until it has thickened a bit, stirring frequently so that it doesn’t scorch on the bottom of the pan. 
9. A few minutes before serving, add another 1/4 tsp. of each of the herbs. I do this because I like the layering of herb flavors that have cooked with the dish and the ones that are more pronounced on their own. 
10. Sprinkle in some parmesan cheese and leave it out to serve with the finished meal.
11. Add the wine and stir. 
12. Drain your pasta and serve the sauce over it or mix the two together before serving if you’re going to eat it all. Don’t freeze pasta and sauce together – it doesn’t reheat well. 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Breakfast Sopas

A grocery store coupon for sopas led us to a fun and easy breakfast. Sopas are made of corn masa, Egg Green Chili Sopas - doneshaped into shallow little “dishes” of sorts that you can fill with whatever you want. We came up with this for breakfast.

Breakfast Sopas

Ingredients:
4 Sopas
1 Cup green chili (with or without pork)
4 Eggs
Cheese of choice such as a Mexican Blend, feta or cojito (optional)

Directions: 
1. Place the olive oil in the skillet and heat in a 350 degree oven. When hot, add the sopas and spoon in some green chili until filled just below the top edge of of the sopa.
2. Heat up for 15 minutes.
3. Remove from the oven, crack an egg over the green chili and return to the oven.
4. If you’re going to add cheese, do so a couple minutes before the egg is done to your liking; this allows the cheese to melt without overcooking the egg.
5. Serve with potatoes of your choice such as cubed or hash browns.

Egg Green Chili Sopas - Eating

 

Souvlaki and Rice

Every time I go to the grocery store, I check the mark-down meat bin. Whenever there isPork Souvlaki - done cubed pork on sale, I buy it because I can make either Pork Green Chili (I’ll have that recipe for you soon) or Pork Souvlaki. That’s the beauty of pork – it’s flavorful but also basic enough that it can adapt to different types of ethnic cuisine such as Mexican and Greek in this case.

One of my best tips is to buy a large pork loin (not the smaller tenderloin) from your “big box” store. I divide it into thirds and keep 1/3 for a pork roast, 1/3 gets sliced into pork chops that are very lean and 1/3 gets cubed – 3 meals from one bug hunk of meat!

Here’s how I make my family’s favorite pork souvlaki with rice.

Pork SouvlakiPork Souvlaki - cooking

Ingredients: 
1 pound cubed pork (you can also cube your own from thick-cut pork chops or pork loin)
3 cloves of garlic roughly sliced (not diced)
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup lemon juice (bottled is okay but fresh is always better)
1 TBS dried oregano, divided
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method:
1. Put all of the ingredients including 1 tsp of the oregano in a zipper bag. Seal it and squeeze out the air. Smoosh things around making sure all of the ingredients get distributed well.

2. Put the bag ‘o pork in the fridge for six to eight hours. (You could prepare the bag before you go to work and then cook it for dinner). Don’t leave it much longer than 10 hours or the lemon causes the pork’s texture to get a little weird.
3. Drizzle some olive oil in a skillet and heat it up until the oil starts to shimmer. Carefully pour the contents of the plastic bag into the skillet. Distribute it evenly over the bottom of the pan.
4. Let the meat cook, turning it over with a large spatula, as it browns. If your pan was hot enough and you waited long enough before turning, the meat will turn over easily, will be nicely browned and you won’t leave a layer of nice meat crust behind.
5. As you are cooking the meat, sprinkle some more oregano over the meat, crumbling it between your fingers as you do to release more flavor.
6. If there isn’t any marinade liquid left in the pan, add a little more olive oil and lemon juice to make some liquid.
7. Finish off by adding a little more crumbled oregano. I do this often with herbs and spices because they change as they cook. I want multiple layers of flavor from herbs! Serve the souvlaki over the rice, being sure to drizzle the liquid over the combination. 

To accompany the meal, make a nice Greek Salad with greens, tomatoes, cucumber and an olive oil/lemon juice dressing. The crisp coolness adds a nice counterpoint to the meat and rice.

Rosamarina Rice

Coconut Curry Chicken

Every time I make rice, I make it this way, with rosamarina because it just tastes so darned good!

Ingredients:
1/4 cup rosamarina, also called orzo, found in the pasta section of the store
2 cups rice
4-1/4 to 4-1/2 cups water (or chicken stock)* 
3-4 bouillon cubes (if using water instead of stock)

Method:
Melt about 1 tablespoon of butter in a pot. Add the rosamarina and stir almost constantly until it starts to brown. At this point, it will burn quickly so before that can happen, pour the rice over it and stir to prevent the rosamarina from continuing to sit on the bottom of the pan. The butter that’s still in the pan will lightly coat the rice/rosamarina, adding some flavor.

Add the water/bouillon and stir. Let the mixture come to a boil. As soon as it does, cover the pot, turn the heat to low and let it sit to start absorbing the liquid. This usually takes about 20 minutes so I try to time the coordination of making rice with making the entree so they are done around the same time. Resist the urge to lift up the lid or stir the rice because it will affect how the rice turns out.

* Normally, you would use twice as much liquid as rice. But because the 1/4 cup of rosamarina is over and above the rice amount, I increase the liquid. Start with 4-1/4 cups of liquid but then check the rice as it starts to absorb all of its liquid. If it isn’t done, add that other 1/2 cup of liquid. Rosamarina and rice cook at slightly different rates, which accounts for the variations in liquid at the end. 

Drizzle a little olive oil over the rice – it’s so good that way!

Saucy Chicken

While I’d love to make whole, roasted chicken often (I love the way the house smells as it’s baking), I usually don’t have time. Instead, I cheat a little (okay, a lot) by using skinned, boneless chicken thighs that are frozen. I always keep a bag of them in my freezer to have flavorful, lean, tender chicken at the ready. This recipe is a great use of them. Because they are small and flat, they cook a lot faster and there’s no carving or carcasses involved! 

Mad Hungry variation Chicken

I served this Saucy Chicken with, from top right, crusty bread, Swiss chard from our garden, Israeli Couscous, a squeeze from a lime wedge for freshness, broiled yellow and red bell peppers and a grilled jalapeno pepper leftover from the previous night’s BBQ. I drizzled the sauce over everything I could – yum!

Ingredients

 

4-5 Boneless chicken thighs, thawed
3TBS lemon juice
1 TBS butter
6 TBS olive oil + a little to drizzle in the pan 
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3 smashed garlic cloves (put one aside)
Pinch of salt & pepper
1 tsp. chopped rosemary if desired

Directions

1. Drizzle a little olive oil in a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat until the oil starts to shimmer. This is separate from the 6 TBS in the recipe.
2. Very carefully add the chicken (it will splatter so have a splatter-guard ready). Note, patting chicken (or any protein) dry before adding it to hot oil helps cut down on splattering. The wetter it is, the more it will splatter!
3. Brown the chicken on both sides and cook until done.
4. Remove to a plate and turn the heat down to low.
5. Add all of the other ingredients except the 1 clove of garlic and swirl the mixture with the chicken drippings, scraping with a spatula to loosen the yummy bits. By doing this, you are warming the sauce, just slightly cooking the garlic (overly-browned garlic gets bitter) and incorporating the sauce with those delicious flavors from the drippings. 
6. Add the last garlic clove and pour all of the sauce into a serving container or just a measuring cup if you plan to do the drizzling over everyone’s meal. The reason I add that last garlic clove at the end is to get the two layers of garlic flavor – slightly cooked and raw. 
7. To serve, drizzle the combined sauce over the chicken as well as over other sides such as potatoes, rice, polenta, couscous – whatever you served it with. It’s delicious with starches, veggies and some good, crusty bread to soak up anything left!