It’s that time of the year again folks…….I bet you never knew just HOW easy it is to “can your own tomatoes”.

I started canning tomatoes soon after Bob & I were married…(1977).  I always believed home grown tomatoes made a better sauce than any store bought can tomato on the market (yes, even the ones from Italy).  My family has NEVER had store bought sauce….

When I started canning,  their was really no easy way of canning tomatoes; you would purchase the tomatoes (or grow them), score the bottom of the tomato with a sharp knife and plunge the tomatoes into boiling hot water.  Once the tomato skin would break away you would then plunge the tomatoes into cold water (to stop the boiling), then skin them using your favorite knife.  This took hours, some times a couple of days.  I am happy to say that my family has helped in this process.

Years ago I came across the best tool ever……I have always loved having a vegetable garden, however it never produced as many tomatoes as I needed to get me through a year of homemade sauce. This tool is called Electric Tomato Press”. This tool changed my canning life!  I can now go to the farmers market, purchase 3-4 boxes of tomatoes, ($8-10 per box)  and with the help of my family have about 40-50 quarts “put up” in a couple of hours.  These “canned” tomatoes will last a couple of years.

Below you will find a video that Jen and I made several years ago, “Canning 101”.  I hope this encourages you to try this technique.  My family has fond memories over the past 30 some odd years of this fun family project.  Not only will you have the best sauce, but you will make the “best family memories”

Buon Appetito!


One of my favorite Italian dishes to make is Gnocchi, also known as “little dumplings”.    Typically these are made with potatoes, semolina or flour, eggs, and served with a sauce.  I prefer the lighter ricotta version.  I have to say, these are SO easy to make, you only need 30 minutes and you will have an amazing dinner for your family and friends.  I sometimes make these with spinach and sometimes not.  My recipe and photos are for both.  I hope you enjoy!

You will need 16 ounces of whole milk ricotta, 2 eggs, 1 ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon white pepper and 1 cup of cooked chopped spinach (all the water must be removed).

DSC_0003It helps to have a gnocchi board, you can purchase one on Amazon for about $5.00.

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan, olive oil, eggs, spinach (if desired) salt, and pepper with a wooden spoon in a large mixing bowl. Add the all-purpose flour in 3 parts, stirring after each addition.  You want the dough to be slightly sticky, add more flour if needed.
Bring the dough together in a ball and cut off one-quarter of it. Dust the work surface with all-purpose flour to prevent sticking, and roll the cut-off piece of dough into a dowel shape about 5/8 inch in diameter. Cut the dowel into 5/8-inch pieces. Dust some parchment paper with polenta or corn meal.  Roll each dumpling on the gnocchi board.

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Place the gnocchi on the prepared sheet pan.  Repeat with the rest of the dough, quarter by quarter.


Place the prepared gnocchi in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To make the Pancetta Cream Sauce, you will need 1 6 ounce package pancetta, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 shallot chopped, 2 gloves garlic, minced,  ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (if desired) 1 14.5 ounce can Red Gold Petite Diced Tomatoes, ½ cup heavy whipping cream.

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crisp, about 5 minutes.

IMG_5208Remove the pancetta from the pan and reserve, leaving the fat behind.
Add the oil, butter, diced shallots and garlic to the hot pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the shallots have softened, about 5 minutes.  IMG_5209

Add the can tomatoes, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20-25 minutes.  Add the reserved pancetta and heavy cream,  cook an additional 2-3 minutes (or until the cream is hot).

Cook the gnocchi in the boiling water for 2 minutes. Serve tossed with a bit of the Pancetta Tomato Sauce, top with chopped basil and freshly grated Romano cheese.  Alternatively, you can freeze the uncooked gnocchi for up to 2 weeks.

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Ricotta/Spinach Gnocchi:
2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
1 1/4 – 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup cooked chopped spinach, squeezed dry (if desired)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon white pepper

Pancetta Cream Sauce:
6 ounces thick-cut pancetta (about 3 1/4-inch slices), diced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
One 14.5 ounce can Red Gold Petite Diced Tomatoes
½ cup heavy whipping cream
4-5 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade

Combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan, olive oil, eggs, spinach (if desired) salt, and pepper with a wooden spoon in a large mixing bowl. Add the all-purpose flour in 3 parts, stirring with after each addition.  You want the dough to be slightly sticky, add more flour if needed.

Bring the dough together in a ball and cut off one-quarter of it. Dust the work surface with all-purpose flour to prevent sticking, and roll the cut-off piece of dough into a dowel shape about 5/8 inch in diameter. Cut the dowel into 5/8-inch pieces. Dust some parchment paper with polenta or corn meal.  Roll each dumpling on the gnocchi board. Place the gnocchi on the prepared sheet pan.  Repeat with the rest of the dough, quarter by quarter.Place the prepared gnocchi in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To make the Pancetta Cream Sauce, heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the pancetta from the pan and reserve, leaving the fat behind.
Add the oil, butter, diced shallots and garlic to the hot pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the shallots have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the can tomatoes, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20-25 minutes.  Add the reserved pancetta and heavy cream,  cook an additional 2-3 minutes (or until the cream is hot).

Cook the gnocchi in the boiling water for 2 minutes. Serve tossed with a bit of the Pancetta Tomato Sauce chopped basil and freshly grated Romano Cheese.   You can freeze the uncooked gnocchi for up to 2 weeks.

Buon Appetito!

Ricotta/Spinach Gnocchi with Pancetta Tomato Cream Sauce



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This dish easily wins the award for one of the fastest, easiest and most delicious recipes out there.  Total time – 45 minutes, which includes 10 minutes to peel and devein shrimp.  I bet most people have all the ingredients in their cabinet, except the shrimp.  :o)

Prep time:  10-15 minutes
Cook time:  30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb. raw shrimp (20-25 count), peeled and deveined
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup butter
½ onion or 1 shallot, finely diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 14.5 ounce cans of Red Gold, Petite Diced Tomatoes
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh basil
Black pepper to taste
¼ cup chicken stock
¼ cup heavy cream
1 lb. capellini, cooked al dente, drained – reserve a few tablespoons of the cooked pasta water*
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Good quality Romano or Parmigiano-reggiano cheese, shaved or grated

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and oil.  Add chopped onion (or shallot), garlic and red pepper flakes.  Reduce heat to low and cook until onions are soft and transparent, about 10 minutes.

Add diced tomatoes, fresh thyme, basil, black pepper and chicken stock.  Increase heat to medium low and continue cooking 20-30 minutes.  Add raw shrimp, cook until shrimp turns pink, about 5 minutes.  Add heavy cream and reserved pasta water, simmer 2-3 minutes.

Place cooked pasta in a large serving bowl, pour sauce over pasta and top with fresh chopped parsley and grated cheese.

*Make sure you GENEROUSLY salt the pasta water before cooking your pasta, about 2-3 tablespoons.

Buon Appetito!

 

Capellini with Tomatoes and Shrimp


Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day! Just how easy is it to make Beef Wellington? Check out my blog!!!

Foodsinthefastlane.me

One of my favorite meals to make on Valentines Day or any other special love day is “Beef Wellington” This classic dish is so easy to make and doesn’t really take long either. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as my family has over many holiday! Happy Valentines Day!

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Mushroom Mixture:
2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped sun dried tomatoes
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup red wine

Wellington:
4 prime cut filet mignons, 4-6 ounce in size, 1 1/2” thick
freshly ground sea salt & coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
Egg wash, 1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water

Wine Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 package Beef Demi Glace, 2.6 ounces
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons heavy…

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Happy Valentines Day!

One of my favorite meals to make on Valentines Day or any other special love day is “Beef Wellington” This classic dish is so easy to make and doesn’t really take long either. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as my family has over many holidays!  Happy Valentines Day!

DSC_0011

 

Mushroom Mixture:
2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped sun dried tomatoes
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup red wine

Wellington:
4 prime cut filet mignons, 4-6 ounce in size, 1 1/2” thick
freshly ground sea salt & coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
Egg wash, 1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water

Wine Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 package Beef Demi Glace, 2.6 ounces
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Heat a medium sized saute pan over medium heat, add butter and melt. Add the shallots & garlic, saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook until wine has evaporated.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Generously spray a cooking sheet with cooking spray.
In a large skillet, heat oil. Generously sprinkle both sides of filets with salt & pepper. Place in hot skillet and sear filets on all sides until brown. Remove from skillet.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry large enough to wrap around the beef. Divide mushroom mixture in fourths and place in center of pastry. Top mushrooms with filet. Brush the edges of the pastry with egg wash. Wrap filet with pastry cutting off any extra (use the extra for topping wellington with shapes or initials).
Place seam side down on baking sheet and top wellington with egg wash. Bake 15-20 minutes or until pastry is golden on top. Use an instant read thermometer for accurate meat temperature (125 for rare, 130 for medium) let meat rest 5 minutes before serving.
In a small sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until soft. Add demi glace and red wine. Cook until mixture is reduced by half. Add heavy cream. Serve immediately. Place wine sauce on a serving dish and top with beef wellington.
Buon Appetito!