Squid Ink Pasta with Seafood

This recipe is inspired by a dish served at one of my favorite local St. Louis restaurants and is the only item on the menu I order when I go there.  The combination of the wonderfully briny and beautifully black squid ink pasta, delicate scallops, tender lobster meat, and sweet, succulent prawns immediately draw you in, then you’re surprised with the perfect finish of an added layer of acidity using lemon-infused olive oil, lemon juice, fresh parsley, and just a bit of heat from the chili flakes.  Sweet, salty, acidic, and spicy!

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Fettuccine Aglio e Olio

This recipe is my daughter’s second favorite pasta dish.  In Italian, it’s called Fettuccine Aglio e Olio.  In the United States, we call it Olive Oil and Garlic Fettuccine It’s a simple yet very flavorful traditional dish comprised of garlic two ways; herb infused olive oil, fresh herbs, and tender cooked pasta.  And if you have your prep done ahead of time, you can easily have this dish on the table in less than 30 minutes.

There is a fair amount of spice here between the Serrano pepper and the red chile flakes so scale up or down according to taste.

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Ginger Glazed Pork Ribs with Apples, Cabbage & Noodles

I consider myself very fortunate to have had a Hungarian grandfather and a German grandmother. Not because their genes contributed to my curvaceous European figure, but because of the wonderful recipes their families brought with them to this country.

And even though the sticky, sweet, falling apart tender pork ribs were a big success the night I made this meal, it was the apples, cabbage, and noodles that really hit home. The very first bite took me back in time to weekend family dinners, raucous conversation, and rich, flavorful food.

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Cajun Chicken and Andouille Fettuccini Alfredo

What do you get when you give a sixteen-year-old girl who loves pasta free reign in your kitchen? You get spicy, flavorful, creamy, luxuriant pasta bliss!

I love cooking with my daughter, and this recipe is great for a young cook. The directions are simple and easy to follow, and cooking the pasta in the liquid uses the starch from the noodles to naturally thicken the sauce. It’s a one pot meal. Brilliant and delicious!

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Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Gnocchi

It’s hard to imagine the same bright summer heat that ripens tomatoes could still infuse its warmth offseason, but that flavor really comes through here.  I used minced sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, which not only infused that delicious warm tomato flavor into the dough, it gave the gnocchi great color as well.

These little nuggets have so much flavor all they need is a light toss in some toasted garlic olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan and chopped basil.

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Penne with Sausage, Fennel, and Mushrooms

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I love making this pasta dish when we have company over because you can prepare the sauce ahead of time and allow the flavors to blend and deepen until you’re ready to warm it back up in time for dinner. I’m also a believer in the rule that you should always cook with the wine you plan to serve with the meal. The peppery, currant, berry flavor of Syrah wine adds a deep richness to the sauce and wonderfully compliments the earthy mushrooms, spicy Italian sausage and bright licorice essence of the fennel.

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Baked Penne with Meatballs

Baked Penne with Meatballs

This recipe is one of my super-easy, super-quick, fall-backs, ‘always try to have the ingredients on hand’ recipes for last minute changes or unexpected dinner guests.  Penne is a great type of pasta for soaking up spicy red sauces, and it bakes well when paired with Italian-style meatballs, ricotta, and fresh mozzarella cheeses.

An alternative lower fat option would be to replace the Italian style meatballs with turkey.  Both taste great and add a nice heartiness to the dish.

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Crawfish à la crème with Shitake Mushroom Fettuccini

Crawfish à la crème with Shitake Mushroom Fettuccini

A rich, creamy sherry sauce folded into sweet, tender crawfish and earthy mushroom infused pasta is by far one of my favorite, decadent bites. When you order the dish in a restaurant, though, it’s often weighed down by unnecessary fat and calories, causing you to feel uncomfortable by the time you’re finished eating it.

Not wanting to give up on this delectable dish, I came up with this lightened version, replacing the heavy cream with reduced fat half and half and using light butter and heart-healthy olive oil. The sauce still has the rich, flavorful taste you look forward to, but you walk away from the table without any of the guilt!

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Carrot, Fennel and Radicchio Stuffed Pasta Shells

Carrot, Fennel and Radicchio Stuffed Pasta Shells

Here’s another perfect weekday dinner that comes together in about an hour. And if you make a big enough pan, you’ll have enough leftovers for another night. The creamy Fontina cheese is a nice change from the traditional Mozzarella, and mixing the half-and-half into the sauce adds another layer of depth and richness in flavor.

It’s also a perfect meal for vegetarians, much to the chagrin of my daughter. Halfway through our dinner, she asked me, “This is really good, Mom. What kind of meat is stuffed inside the pasta?” When I told her there was no meat, just carrots, fennel, onion, garlic and radicchio, she paused, thought about that for a moment and then kept eating.

That’s a success in my book!

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Spicy Pumpkin Lasagna

Spicy Pumpkin Lasagna

I promise this is not one of those ‘pumpkin-spiced everything’ recipes.  It is, however, a great use of fall vegetables like pumpkin, yellow squash, and zucchini.  And as much as this would be a perfect dish for my veggie friends, the carnivore in me had to add the spicy Italian sausage for no reason other than it ended up tasting so good, I couldn’t have imagined the dish without it!

I chose fontina cheese for this recipe, rather than the traditional mozzarella, because the creamy, earthy, nuttiness of the fontina pairs so well with the flavors of the sage and pumpkin.  But if you’re a die-hard mozzarella fan, that will work too!

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