Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘Pasta’

Dinner at La Buca

After our Oregon journey to the beach at Lincoln City and our adventures in Woodburn, the Chef and I finally made it to Portland.

Now I’ve said this before on other trips through these parts, but I have to remind you that Portland is a serious food town! ( Check out last time we were through here)

The worst thing is trying to narrow it down as to where to go!  It can be quite overwhelming.

We decided to check out the East side again, because we had such luck last time.  And because it is more neighbourhood like, it is easier to park!

We headed towards East Burnside Road and parked on one of the side streets.  There was such a selection of places that we kept walking back and forth trying to decide.   We finally agreed on La Buca because it looked very inviting and had an outdoor patio.

La Buca Portland

It always makes me SO happy to be able to eat outside!  I was very used to that coming from Montreal where we would persevere patios from April to October just so we could say we were eating outside!  But I find that living in Victoria, there isn’t quite as much of that.  So I like to take advantage whenever I can!

We started with a nice little order of Bruschetta Pomodoro and some wine that came in a regular little juice glass.  I love wine like that, like you are over at someone’s Nona’s house.

It was fresh and delicious.

Then we split the salad of  romaine lettuce, with apple, walnuts and creamy gorgonzola dressing.  

And home made bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping.

Also fresh and wonderful.

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Then the Chef ordered pollo marsala: chicken medallions sautéed with mushrooms in a marsala wine sauce, served with mashed potatoes.

Chicken Marsala

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And I went for the abituale: penne tossed with spicy italian sausage in a parmesan & roasted garlic tomato cream sauce.  I love spicy Italian sausage and just can’t resist it!

Pasta with spicy sausage

I couldn’t have been happier!

There isn’t too much I can think of that is better than sittin on a warm patio as the sun goes down, with your best person, eatin some pasta and sausage and drinkin wine out of a juice glass!!  That’s LIVIN!!

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And then, that temptress of a waitress enticed us to try the Tiramisu: a dessert of espresso dipped italian lady fingers layered with mascarpone and belgian chocolate!  By then we were giddy with delight so how could we resist!

Tiramisu

The real kicker in all this?  Just last week, at home in Victoria, we had a comparable, if not slightly inferior Italian meal at a local hot spot that cost us THREE times what this cost!!   Have I mentioned there is no sales tax in Oregon??

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After dinner we took a little stroll around the neigbourhood  ( mostly to let the food settle a little before we tried to stuff our bellies back in the car!)  and we found this lovely Art Deco style Coca Cola bottling plant!

Coca Cola plant

Cheesy Eggy Pie

I think I might be watching too many episodes of “Top Chef” on the food network, because I am getting very good at just putting something together out of whatever happens to be around!!

For those of you who have never seen the show, Chefs are often given a few random ingredients and are expected to make something editable out of it.

I’d say my cheesy Eggy Pie might qualify!

So here is what is in mine, but as is always my motto, what ever you happen to have around will do!

  • 1 medium onion finely sliced
  • 1 bell pepper sliced ( any colour or combo)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced.

Toss these into a frying pan with a slosh of oil and saute till wilted.   Then add them to a casserole dish.   Then I added:

  • a large handful of chopped spinach
  • asparagus chopped in 1 inch bits ( fresh or left over cooked)
  • 2 green onions chopped

Toss in with the peppers.   Chopped tomato  or zucchini would go fine too.

Then add some cooked pasta.  I used rotini, but any short hearty pasta will do.  If you are going to use noodles, I would break them in half before cooking.

Toss all that together.   Feel free to add some chopped fresh or dried herbs like oregano or parsley.

Then, you will mix up some egg with cream or milk like you are going to make something like a bread pudding.   Add a few shots of hot sauce if you like, or paprika.

Then pour this mixture all over the pasta and vegetables.   It shouldn’t be swimming but enough to maybe fill up the sides half way.

Then sprinkle with your favorite cheese and bung it in the oven at about 350 degrees for about 20 minutes to half hour.

You will know it is ready when you take it out and shake it a little and there is no liquid moving around and the cheese is melted nicely.

Spoon it up and serve with a little green salad and you have a quick Summer supper!

Cheesy Eggy Pie

Pulled Chicken Pasta

A few weeks back I gave you a recipe for “Pulled Chicken Tacos“.  

This has turned into one of our favorite things to eat lately.  It is easy and flavourful and great in summer.

But as much as I could eat tacos several times a week, sometimes it is nice to change it up a little.   Or maybe you just don’t have the rest of the fixins to go with the tacos?  Whatever the case, here is something to do with your left over “pulled chicken” if for any strange reason you actually have any!

Pulled Chicken Pasta

Cook up a pot of your favorite spaghetti.

Meanwhile, heat up the left over pulled chicken.  If it is too dry for what ever reason, add some salsa or tomato sauce, crushed tomato or even just a bit of water till it is “sauce” like.

Top your spaghetti with it.

That simple and SO good. 

I have a feeling we will be eating this…….a LOT.

Tuesday night type pasta

Are you ever on your way home from work or whatever and just can’t bear to stop at the store because you are tired or don’t want to deal with all the people in way?

You come home and are determined to “make do” with whatever you can find in the pantry?

Well here is a suggestion.

I took out the large skillet, chopped up an onion and tossed it in.  I realize I really do cook with a lot of onions, but there is nothing wrong with that, they are very good for the blood!

What next?

I dug in the fridge for a bit…….

Okay, I got it.  Here we go:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 5-6 cremini mushrooms sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper ( seeded and sliced in slightly larger than usual bits)

Stir those up till they are well acquainted then add:

  • 1 or more tbsp poultry spice ( or just plain dried sage)
  • 1 can rinsed white kidney or pinto beans

Stir those in well.

Then I added some of my  “Pulled Chicken”  left over from taco night.    But if you didn’t just happen to have that, you could add a can of tuna or just leave it completely vegetarian / vegan.

Meanwhile, boil up a pot of your favorite pasta.  Tonight I used linguini……cause that’swhat I had.

Once the pasta is done, toss it in with the veg and beans.  Make sure you save a bit of the pasta water and add that too, just to help make it a little saucy.

Toss those and then add some salt and pepper.

Then I added, which is totally up to you, some lemon zest and the juice of said lemon just to zinger up a little!

Had I had any baby spinach or arugula, I would have totally added a bit of that just before serving too….but I didn’t.

Plate it up and add some parma cheese…….if that’s your thing.

Does the trick for a Tuesday night!

And on a further note, it makes a great lunch for work the next day!  Eat at room temperature with a squirt or two of lemon just before you eat it!

Sesame chicken and asparagus pasta

Here is another quick mid-week easy dinner for you!

Here’s what you will need:

  • skinless boneless chicken in bite size bits
  • asparagus cut into 1 inch bits
  • pasta of your choice ( rotini or penne work best for this)

For the sauce:

  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy or Bragg sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil ( or other neutral oil)
  • 2 tbsp tahini ( sesame paste)
  • 1 tbsp of maple syrup or agave syrup
  • 1 tsp crushed chili ( more if you like)
  • 1/4 cup of water or stock

Then I whizzed it up in the mini hand blender.  If you don’t have a blender make sure you mince the garlic and ginger SUPER fine!

So boil the water for the pasta.

In a large skillet saute the chicken parts in a bit of oil. 

Saute chicken

Cook thoroughly, because this is the only time it is being cooked.   Once the chicken is done add the asparagus and about 1/4 of the sauce, just enough to coat the chicken and asparagus and help steam it a bit.  Put on the lid.

Meanwhile, boil and drain the pasta.

Then toss pasta into pan with chicken and asparagus and the rest of the sauce.  Toss well and let it all heat up nicely.

Serve immediately topped with toasted sesame seeds and some chopped green onion if you have it.

Sesame chicken and asparagus pasta

My Valentines

I know that many of you have expressed envy over the fact that I have a Chef around the house.

And although there are MANY perks to this, there are also a few hazards, like the high risk to your waistline and the fact that there ALWAYS seems to be a lot of dishes!

But on this past Valentines Day this year, I was once again treated to a lovely meal!

Actually it started with a very nice breakfast, simple but effective.

Eggs, cooked inside slices of red pepper that looked very much like heart shapes, on toast, with a bit of cheese.  I couldn’t have been happier!

Heart shaped eggs

Who knows what I had for lunch?  Probably nothing, knowing I would be coming home to a feast.  And a feast it was.

For weeks I have been nagging the Chef to try out something I saw on someone else’s blog.  The other blogger had taken goat cheese, rolled it into balls, breaded them and then deep fried them and then tossed them in hot sauce.  Exactly like you might do with chicken wings!

The Chef, not liking to be outdone, took it up a notch!

Instead of just goat cheese, he used shredded chicken and blue cheese!  So these balls were even closer to a chicken wing!   But then we just dipped ours in hot sauce instead of having them completely covered in them.   

Very tasty! 

Chicken & blue cheese balls

Then we moved on to the “Party Snack Sampler”.  I am a big fan of party snacks so to start with a few to whet my whistle, was very nice.

Tapenade topped goat cheese, hummus and pita. 

And my favorite little Spanakopita!

Spanikopita

Next was a simple salad of bundles of baby greens wrapped in finely sliced cucumber with a nice sun-dried tomato and balsamic dressing.

Then the main event.  asparagus filled ravioli on a mound of puree of sweet roasted butternut squash, topped with brown butter and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Asparagus ravioli with butternut squash and brown butter

Finally, for dessert, the triple header chocolate delight!!

Home made chocolate pudding, topped with grated chocolate infused whipped cream and a shard of Lindt 70% dark chocolate bar!  

Chocolate Triple Header

Doesn’t get much better than THAT!

I am a lucky girl.

Looking for Johnny in Santa Rosa

After our long day down the Oregon Coast we ended up in Eureka California.

It was a shame that it got dark so early because we had to drive through the Redwood forest but weren’t able to see too much.

The plan for Eureka was to check out a joint called Porter Street BBQ.  There are apparently more than one location but regrettably by the time we rolled into town it was too late and the location we found was closed.  We were tired and hungry and so we ended up at Denny’s.

Much like the hotel breakfast buffet, don’t be so quick to turn your nose up at the thought of the venerable chain, the place is clean, the food reliable, oh yeah and it was OPEN!!  But to be honest, I don’t even really remember what I ate.  A chicken and avocado sandwich perhaps?   Whatever it was, it did the trick and I was refreshed enough to be on our way.

The goal for the next day was to visit the restaurant of a celebrity Chef.

It would all depend on which route we took.

If we took the route through the Napa Valley California, the plan was to stop at Food Networks celebrity Chef Michael Chiarello’s  Bottega Restaurant.

Michael Chiarello has long been a staple on the food channels with his “easy  Napa entertaining” style cooking show, but more recently was one of the finalists “The Next Iron Chef”.

The other route would take us through Santa Rosa California, where we would have TWO choices of restaurants  from another Food Network celebrity Chef Guy Fieri, host of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”  and “Guy’s Big Bite”.

We had to choose between Guy’s restaurants in Santa Rosa,  Johnny Garlic’s and Tex Wasabi but they are both quite different in style.  What to do?

But first we had to drive a long a part of the highway called The Avenue of Giants where the trees are super tall.

Here is a glimpse, but believe me, the picture can’t capture just how crazy tall these trees are!!

Avenue of Giants

A choice had to be made so we went with Santa Rosa and decided on Johnny Garlic’s.   Mostly because it was the easiest to get to, just off the highway.

To be honest, it is in a sort of strip mall with a Sizzler across the street.  I was kind of surprised at the “averageness” of the location.  But this was Guy’s first restaurant opened 13 years ago before he was a celebrity Chef, so you have to start somewhere.

Equally average was the interior and decor.  I’m not sure what I was expecting but the inside was as “strip mall” as the outside.

But we were greeted promptly and led to our seat and the host was very keen to know if we had been before and when we said we hadn’t he went into his spiel about the history of the place and Guy himself.  But it was in a genuine way, not like he was paid to say it, but rather he was quite proud of letting us know.  And we appreciated that.

The waitress was extremely knowledgable and confident and didn’t make us feel like she was just some student making some cash in between classes, she was very professional and steered us through the extensive menu.

What to eat?  What to eat?

We started with a drink, I had their famous lemonade and the Chef had the ice tea.  Very refreshing and neither too sweet nor too tart.  And then the waitress brought some wonderful bread with olive oil and balsamic for dipping.  We gobbled it down because it was so good, but were smart enough to refuse and second helping because we would spoil our lunch!

Then we started by splitting  a full portion of the:  

Sonoma Salad

 Sonoma Salad

Spring Mix, Dried Cranberries, Honey Almonds, Stella Blue Cheese Crumbles + House Balsamic Dressing

Then the Chef ordered the:

French Pig Pizza

Brie, Pancetta, Green Apples, Leeks + Extra Virgin Olive Oil

French Pig Pizza

And then I had the lunch special which was a half order of:

Cajun Chicken Penne

 Blackened Chicken Breast, Sun Dried Tomatoes + Creamy Parmesan Sauce

Cajun chicken pasta and Sonoma salad

And some more of the Sonoma Salad cause it was so good!  The Cajun Chicken pasta is a signature dish that has been a favorite at Johnny Garlic’s since it opened.

I can see why.  It was delish!!

Obviously we didn’t have any room for dessert at this point and we still had a full afternoon of driving to stay awake for!

I’d say if you happen to be in the neighbourhood, whether you are a Guy Fieri or not, it was a very good lunch.  So there.

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