Archive for the ‘Italian’ Category

Shrimp Scampi Linguine
This may not come as much of a surprise. But, when I go on vacation, one of my favorite activities is seeking out and buying whatever edible bounty hails from my destination. And I’m not just talking the best local restaurants: if I can swing it, I try to bring back enough to stock my pantry and freezer. From Phoenix, I toted back a bag of the most splendid grapefruits. From Maryland, a trunk full of apples, pumpkins, and cider. From Wisconsin, a backpack full of cheese, accompanied by an ice pack which thankfully was not confiscated at the airport.

And from our recent weekend getaway to the Grand Strand beaches of South Carolina, I brought back a few pounds of fresh-caught shrimp.

Fresh shrimp!
Having grown up in a rather land-locked state, I never had many opportunities to enjoy fresh seafood. Shrimp was always something I liked to eat, but I mostly knew it only in its breaded, popcorn form, or cold and pink around the shores of a cocktail sauce reservoir. With this rare opportunity to buy it right from the waters of the Atlantic, I wanted to try a dish I’ve been thinking about ever since I was served something similar at a friend’s after their own return from their beach house in the Outer Banks: a pasta dish studded with shrimp and lightly coated with a buttery, flavorful sauce.

Pretty pretty ingredients Read on »

Little Tomato Pasta
It hardly seems real to me that the summer, which seemingly only just began, is now drawing to a close. What once looked like a vast expanse of time in which to accomplish projects and execute plans that I’ve had on my list for some time now is now behind me, with very few of those items marked off.

I suppose that’s the way it goes, isn’t it? Perhaps there’s a reason those projects are still on the list: they simply don’t take priority when other things come up. Sometimes it’s dinner with friends, sometimes a movie, sometimes it’s work.

This time, it was a MASSIVE harvest of tiny tomatoes that would be heartbreaking to waste.

All the tomatoes in America
Up until a couple of years ago, I only ate cherry tomatoes raw, usually in salads or from the veggie tray at parties. And as someone who is not a particularly big fan of raw tomatoes, I typically only ate one or two.

Now that I am growing my own, however, I must find other ways to use them up. I actually dried most of this batch, but I’ve been curious about what a tomato sauce made from these tiny, sweet tomatoes would taste like, so I decided to give it a shot. And while it is certainly more labor-intensive than pulling a jar of Ragu from the pantry, it’s quite a delightful way to make the most of the tomato-harvest of August.

Read on »

And now, for something thoroughly NOT wedding cake:


After spending the majority of last week baking more cake than many people bake in a lifetime, I’m celebrating this week by not baking anything sweet. No cookies, no cakes, no pies, nothin’. Instead, MEATBALLS.

These particular meatballs are a blend, primarily, of ground beef and ground pork. You can really mix and match any ground meats you like, or you can just use one variety. I’ve made excellent batches using only ground turkey, but beef and pork were in the freezer, so there you are. But contrary to their name, meatballs are not entirely meat. I daresay that every recipe I’ve seen suggests that bread crumbs are just as important as the meat itself.

Let’s actually talk about bread crumbs for a moment. Bread crumbs are incredibly easy to produce (if you have bread, you can make bread crumbs), but they have still managed to find their way onto the shelves of grocery stores in a consistency that often is not so much of crumbs as it is a fine dust. If you have fresh bread, a few minutes in the oven will crisp it enough that you can smash it into crumbs at whatever consistency you fancy. Or, if you have trouble making it through a baguette before it goes stale, as I always seem to do, you can grind that sucker up in the food processor for bread crumbs far more satisfying and probably more economical than the canisters at the store.

Read on »

I frequently lament that I need another freezer. We have your standard apartment fridge-and-freezer combo, but our freezer is, shall I say, stuffed. Filled to the brim. There are many reasons for this. I have given up on buying chicken breast and now buy the whole dang bird, break it down, and separate the parts into meal-size portions. I capture strawberries at their peak ripeness, freeze them on cookie sheets, then bag them up to use in winter months when the only berries to be found are the imposters at the grocery store. Insanely, I recently made enough soup to open a deli and froze most of it because really, who wants soup in 95° weather?

Oh, and last summer, after foolishly planting seven basil plants that plotted to take over the world, it was all I could do to keep up with it by tossing it in the food processor with some nuts, garlic, parmesan, and a glug or two of olive oil before freezing it in my ice cube trays to make an army of pesto cubes. (Finding actual ice in our freezer is, coincidentally, impossible. Icy beverage lovers, beware.)

And then there are the pizza doughs. I made about twenty of them in the afterglow of my homemade mozzarella cheese experiment this spring with the leftover whey, and may have over-estimated the value of their convenience in relation to my precious freezer real estate.

Read on »

Have I talked about my obsession with peas?

I’m not kidding.

I look forward to the brief harvest of pea pods from their delicate vines more than any other veggie. My grandparents planted endless rows of peas in their garden not so much because they needed that many for themselves, but because they had two wily granddaughters who spent many summer days amongst the plants, picking and eating peas still warm from the sun.

Read on »

There are things I daydream about. Sometimes, they are kitchen things.

In these kitchen daydreams, the sauce pan I need is never at the back of the cabinet. All my spice bottles are the same shape, same size, same color, and they’re all labeled in the same font. Sunshine floods across my countertops and splashes to the floor, filling the room with light. My knives are always sharp, but I never cut my fingers. Avocados grow locally. Also cashews and cocoa beans and grapefruits.

Le sigh.

Some dreams stay that way. But other dreams? Pasta-and-mushrooms-tossed-in-sun-dried-tomato-cream-sauce dreams? Oh yeah. They’re COMING TRUE.

Read on »

Remember a week or two ago when I made fresh mozzarella cheese? And I said I was gonna tell you what you could do with the 1/2 gallon + of whey that results from the cheesemaking process?

I’m here to fulfill my promise.The promise of pizza.

It’s a lovely thing when completion of one kitchen project leads inexorably to another. What better way to use a pound of fresh mozzarella than to throw the old pizza stone in the oven, pull out the pizza cutter, and have yourself a pizza feast? And this pizza crust? THIS one uses up the whey from making mozzarella. Some of it. Or if you’re moderately obsessive me, it uses all of the whey.

I’ve used several recipes over the last couple of years for homemade pizza crust. Sometimes thick and fluffy, sometimes thin and crispy, sometimes in that strange place in between. This crust is simple to put together, has a short list of ingredients, and can go from disparate ingredients to rolled-and-ready-for-toppings in less than 30 minutes.

Read on »

There are few things that can distract a pasta lover while making homemade pasta. I was so intent on working on these lovely little noodles that Brad cooked our entire dinner, which is both lovely and rare (it was uh-mazing, by the way).

However, one thing that did manage to pull me away from a mound of fresh pasta dough was Sierra calling to inform me that she had come across a post from my little food blog (shared by Paul at Dudecraft) on a fairly major craft blog, which then led to pick ups by several other sites, and it turned out that my site was crashing from so many people trying to visit. Holy crapoly. A tiny viral internet moment!

I’ve been overwhelmed and flattered by the feedback as thousands of new readers have taken a look at 30 Pounds land. The spike will level out, I’m sure, but still! I write this blog because I enjoy it, for sure, but if I wasn’t interested in sharing with you my successes, failures, moments of confidence, and snippets of frustration, and hearing about yours in return, this site would not exist. So thanks to all of you for reading. I’m really, really happy you’re here.

Okay, sappy reflective moment over. Let’s make some dang pasta!

We’ve discussed my pasta obsession. I love it. I cook it a lot. The major part of an entire shelf in our pantry is dedicated to pasta and its friends.

(I love you pasta.)

Read on »

If there’s one thing I know about lasagne, it’s this.

My mom’s recipe is the best one.

I’ve never tasted it’s equal.

Which leads me to the second thing I know about lasagne.

Sometimes, getting exactly what you want require cheap, grocery store tomato sauce, cottage cheese, and dried pasta.

Sure, I’ve localed it up a bit with some fantastic locally raised beef and parsley from my garden, but this semi-unusual way of preparing lasagne is the way I was taught, and as we’ve already discussed, it’s the most delicious way to do so. Why break something that works so beautifully?

This is not to say that I will never foray into fancy lasagnes with handmade noodles and fresh tomato sauces, but I doubt I will ever abandon this one.

Read on »

Alright, so, I know it’s summer and heatwaves are just a part of the drill (stay cool, mid-westerners!) but… it’s really hot here these days. The kind of hot that makes the walk from my parking lot at 9:30am more like a slog through a sauna. The kind where my weather tracker icon blinks furiously at me, warning me to stay indoors. Or where a broken air conditioner constitutes a full-blown maintenance emergency.

Someone in my life is happy about it though. It seems to be the perfect kind of hot for my basil to go. absolutely. crazy.

I think I had a misconception about what growing basil was going to involve; I didn’t realize just how quickly, and voraciously, it can grow. I’ve given my seven plants (yes, I know now that I may have overestimated how many plants I would need) four significant haircuts this season, and just a few days after each one, the plants again look like they haven’t seen scissors in weeks.

Read on »