5 Ingredient Fix | Claire’s Spinach Carbonara

Originally from:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/claire-robinson/claires-spinach-carbonara-recipe/index.html

We still need to try this.  You can’t go wrong with pasta, cheese, and bacon…  and spinach is good for you.

Prep 15 min
Cook 15 min
Total: 30 min

Ingredients

  • Salt
  • 1/2 pound slab bacon, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 pound fresh or dried spinach fettuccine
  • 1 whole large egg, plus 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium heat and salt generously.

Put the bacon in a large high-sided skillet and cook over medium-high heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and reserve bacon in the pan.

When the bacon is about halfway cooked, drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook about 4 minutes for fresh or according to the package instructions if using dried.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg and yolks, 1 cup cheese and pepper together in a small bowl.

When the pasta is ready, return the skillet with the bacon to medium heat. Using a ladle, slowly whisk about 1/2 cup pasta cooking water into the egg and cheese mixture until loosened. Reserve some additional cooking water. Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet.

While tossing continually, slowly drizzle the egg mixture over the pasta until it is completely coated. Add more cooking water if pasta seems dry. Add the spinach leaves to the pan and toss until combined. Transfer the carbonara to a serving bowl and serve immediately with more cheese sprinkled over the top.

Cook’s Note: The key to perfect carbonara is working while everything is piping hot; this assures the egg will cook and produce a silky, creamy sauce that sticks to the pasta.

Looks easy enough!

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Meatloaf with a surprise…

This is all from a post on my other blog:  So, I made a meatloaf last night.


I was hungry for meatloaf, so the other day I asked my wife to pick up some ground meat and croutons at the store, and last night I decided I was in the mood to cook.

Every time I make meatloaf, I think of my mom & grandma telling me how my grandpap used to make it with hard boiled eggs in the middle. I always thought that would be fun to try… but something pushed me into finally doing it. A look at Wikipedia seems to indicate that the eggs-in-the-middle is a Hungarian, Phillipino, Bulgarian or Czech thing… Thanks for the help, Wikipedia. As far as I know, that side of the family is mostly German & Irish… so who knows where it came from? Not like people couldn’t come up with this stuff independently… but I like to read useless information.

Whenever I make meatloaf, I never use a set recipe. I always end up googling something like “How long and at what temperature do I cook a 2 lb. Meatloaf?” or going to Cooks.com and simply searching for “Meatloaf” right before I start. This time was no exception. I also usually end up calling my mom, to see what she would do as far as time/temperature.

I’m amazed at how many things you can do to meatloaf. I’m gonna try shredded carrots some time. And maybe I’ll even try soaking bread crumbs or croutons in milk before mixing them in. I have used just chunks of bread, crumbled crackers, bread crumbs, and even mashed potato flakes… but too many bread crumbs or crackers and the meatloaf is just gross… more loaf than meat, and that’s certainly not a good thing.

This time though, I kept it pretty simple… except for the eggs, I guess… and the bacon…

Here’s what went into it…

  • About 2 lbs. ground chuck… I think it was the 90/10 stuff.
  • 2 handfuls of “seasoned” croutons… one crumbled, one not…
  • 1 egg (raw)
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs
  • assorted spices… minced garlic, fresh ground black pepper, whatever else I grabbed out of the cupboard… no real discernible measurements here. I think I even popped in a little ketchup, A1, and Parmesan cheese…

All that got mixed together, well, without the hard-boiled eggs… then I formed the bottom of the loaf in a glass pan, on top of 3 slices of white bread… made spots for the eggs, placed them gently in the raw ground goodness, and covered them over with the rest.

Eggs in meatloaf mixture, on top of the bread slices...
Eggs in meatloaf mixture, on top of the bread slices...

I picked up the meatloaf on top of slices of bread trick from my dad. It serves a double purpose, it prevents the bottom of the loaf from burning, and soaks up any extra grease… I needed a loaf rather than a few slices for this one, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Grandma used to usually put ketchup on the top of her meatloaf. My mom said that my grandpap used to sometimes top his with some mashed potatoes & brown them for a potato frosting. My meatloaf needed something on top… my signature, if you will.

This is where we cross from odd into ridiculous. I couldn’t decide, so I made a triple topping. Typically I go with a glaze on top that’s a mixture of Ketchup, whatever honey mustard, and A1. But the eggs in the middle told me to do something goofy… so I got out some shredded cheddar jack cheese… Then the eggs reminded me of bacon… so I got that out too.

So for the top of the meatloaf we had…

  • Heinz Ketchup
  • Frech’s Honey Mustard
  • A1 Steak Sauce
  • shredded cheddar jack cheese
  • Bacon

The glaze is probably about 2/3 ketchup, 1/6 mustard, and 1/6 A1. How much of each? I dunno. I eyed it & mixed it in a coffee mug. I put that on top of the meatloaf. It looked pretty good. Then I sprinkled the cheese on top of that… Still lookin’ OK, albeit a little brighter.

Meatloaf + Cheese & ketchup/mustard/A1 glaze...
Meatloaf + Cheese & ketchup/mustard/A1 glaze...

Then the “aaaaaaaaah”/choir of angels moment… BACON.

I’ve used bacon-bits in meatloaf and chili before, but I’ve never wrapped anything in bacon. There’s a first time for everything, right? Of course, I had to top the bacon with more fresh ground pepper.

After reviewing a bunch of stuff on line, and talking to my mom… I decided to cook it for about an hour and a half and make sure the meat thermometer reached 160° F. I had it covered in foil for about an hour, the last half letting it go uncovered to get the bacon nice & brown… maybe a little too brown this time, but oh well.

I realize this isn’t the most healthy meal in the world, but I seemed to offend the senses of some and become a champion of sorts to others simply by posting photos in photobucket and sharing the link on facebook.

Its... BACON!
It's... BACON!

My sister-in-law asked how many calories it was, and while I know it was in jest, it got me wondering, so I asked Yahoo!.

The finished product!
The finished product!

This is the meal of a carnivore, as it has stuff from three different animals… although one didn’t have to die in the process of harvesting its delicious nutrition.

Next time, I may not use so much bacon… because it made a pool of grease at the bottom of the baking dish that wasn’t all that appealing.

The eggs are a neat surprise, and a good way to stretch it I suppose… but I doubt I’ll do every meatloaf like this from now on. But, at least I can say I’ve done it, and I know what it looks and tastes like.

I hope you enjoyed my tale of meaty decadence… and I hope to hear others recipes/ideas/surprise ingredients!

Stuffing Recipe – Thanksgiving 2009

Stuffing has got to be my favorite Thanksgiving food.  I remember Thanksgivings past where my dad & I would fight over the stuffing bowl like it was filled with gold, diamonds, and (for me) guitars.  The stuff is perfect.  Alone, with turkey, with gravy… the decadent amount of carbs is ridiculously awesome.

Last year was my first ever attempt at making stuffing… and my grandma told me that it tasted just like hers.  Is there a compliment better than that?  I had used as a guide an old recipe that my grandfather & grandmother had both used when making holiday meals.  My mom lent me the old cook book with my grandfather’s notes last year, I collected some others, and I made scans for myself.

I say “guide” because it’s not always an exact science when doubling/tripling recipes… and there really aren’t any cooking directions… it’s just a guide to make the stuff.  Also, I tend to do a lot of “oh, that looks about right” and a little bit of “hey, let’s add a little of this” in the kitchen, as most people comfortable there usually do.

A lot of times I see stuffing recipes online, on TV, or in the little books by the cash register at the grocery store… and they include sausage, apples, raisins, (yuck!) nuts, or even peppers, carrots, or mushrooms (all of the latter of which I’ like to try some time).  The philosophy behind this recipe seems to be a K.I.S.S. one.  I like that.  It’s a very simple accompaniment, and the taste that my mind goes to every time I think “stuffing”.

This year, it was definitely a two person effort.  I don’t know how I would have done it without Bethany and all four of our hands.  We made a lot of stuffing.  Sadly, I didn’t think to chronicle the thing with photos like I sometimes do with new recipes… but I did want to make a guide with my own notes, so when I do this next year, I remember what I did differently this year.  I know I altered things slightly last year, but the details were a little fuzzy.  I figured that if I’m going to do it for myself, I might as well share, right?  Plus, we got compliments from two moms, two grandmas, and an aunt… all excellent in the kitchen themselves!

I did take a photo today, because really, what’s a food blog post without a photo?  Perhaps I’ll see if my mom got any with her camera and amend the post later.

Thanksgiving Stuffing 2009
This year’s effort was delicious, if I do say so myself.

This is my first time really writing out a recipe… so pardon me if it’s a little convoluted or long winded.  I don’t want to miss anything, and I hope to get it all in the right order as well as make it an entertaining read.

Here’s what you’ll need to do it the same way I did…

Food:

  • 5 loaves of bread (equaled 56 cups once cubed)
  • 1 bundle of celery (3 cups, chopped – the rest can cook w/ the turkey or be a snack)
  • 2 Spanish or Sweet onions
  • The giblets & neck out of your turkey.
  • 1 can (14½ oz.) vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoons of salt
  • ½ tablesppon Season All Seasoned Salt
  • 1 heaping teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 heaping teaspoon sage
  • 1 heaping teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 10 eggs
  • 4 sticks (2 cups) butter
  • some water
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 bottle of Yuengling

Stuff:

  • 2 cookie sheets
  • cutting boards
  • small pot
  • electric skillet
  • Magic Bullet®
  • electric roaster
  • large crock pot
  • knives
  • a few large bowls
  • whisk
  • spatula
  • several large spoons
  • paper towels

OK, on to the directions…

  1. Monday night, get your loaves of bread, open the bags, and put the loaves on cookie sheets before dinner.  Leave ‘em out on a table or counter while you do your thing.
  2. Right before your favorite prime time TV shows come on, set up a station on the coffee table in front of the couch with the cookie trays of bread, some cutting boards with knives, and the pans out of your electric roaster.  Cube the bread and fill the roasting pan.  When I say fill it, I mean fill it.  It will be ridiculously full.
  3. Cover it with paper towels, and set it on the kitchen table that you only use when company comes over anyway.  Over the next few days, stir it a few times a day, whenever you think of it.  This will get it nicely & slightly stale.  If you’re going to be doing anything that smells, like using cleaning chemicals, put it in the oven… but don’t turn it on.  It’s nice & warm & dry & not stinky in there.  The bread will absorb that stuff and the stuffing will taste like Mr. Clean made it.
  4. Wednesday night, get out your turkey… and pull the disgusting papery bag of giblets out of the neck cavity, and the neck out of its butt.  (Why exactly do they put the neck in the butt, anyway?  Who’s idea was that?) Boil the giblets in your can of vegetable broth, or just use plain water… or even turkey or chicken broth.  I thought the vegetable broth would add a nice flavor.  I boiled them for a nice long time, and let it cook down quite a bunch.
  5. Finely chop up your celery & onions… or use the Magic Bullet, like I did.  I’m not real big on chunks of slimy or crunchy stuff in bread-like consistency foods.  I probably had half of each chopped finely, the other half rendered to near-paste by the genius little piece of equipment that list the Magic Bullet.  I’m sure any food processor would work.. but this one is easy to pot pout of storage, use, and clean when you’re done.
  6. Then I popped out the electric skillet to sauteé the onion & celery mixture… probably in some Country Crock & a bit of extra virgin olive oil… adding some of the spices mentioned above, and maybe even some paprika… although, they don’t come the totals listed above.  These are the aforementioned “oh, that looks about right” and  “hey, let’s add a little of this”.  You’ve sauteed stuff, you know how it works.  I love this step because it turns the onions from gross into awesome… especially the Spanish onions.  The sweet onions are oddly enough not as sweet to me when cooked.
  7. Next time, I’m totally getting a pair of swimming goggles or those glasses that I’ve seen at Bed, Bath & Beyond for when I chop & pulverize the onions.  I was crying like a little girl who just watched a car run over a kitten.
  8. I popped the onions and celery into separate containers for the ‘fridge to save for Thursday morning.
  9. Next, I pulled out the giblets and chopped them into tiny pieces, & put them with the reduced broth from cooking into a 3rd refrigerator bound container to be used on Thursday morning.
  10. Go to bed.  You have to get up early.
  11. Thursday get up about an hour before your turkey needs to go in the roaster oven, and start to mix all this crap together.
  12. Add the dry spice ingredients to the now stale-ish cubed bread.  Good luck not getting any on the floor.
  13. Chop the fresh parsley.
  14. Nuke your butter in a microwave safe bowl, add it to a large mixing bowl, crack open the 10 eggs, and whisk away.
  15. Add the fresh parsley to the buttery gooey egg mixture.
  16. Add 2-3 cups of the broth from the giblets, and the finely chopped giblets to the now even gooier butterier egg mixture.
  17. This is where I got the bright idea to dump in some Yuengling.  It wasn’t a whole bottle… but I had it out & only needed about ½ cup for my butter/garlic/beer turkey injection/baste,  so I dumped some into the gooey buttery gibletey mixture, and drank the rest… all before 8:00 am.
  18. Dump the celery & onion concoction on to the bread, mix around, and then dump on the gooey buttery gibletey Yuenglingey mixture.  This is where it was imperative that there were two of us.  Bethany opted to use her hands to mix while I poured.  The mixing gets easier when it’s wet, as it goes down a little.  You should probably wash your hands before you do this.  Not that I think you’re stupid or anything… but there are signs out there all over the place… so someone somewhere must need reminded.  Use soap, and hot water.
  19. Now, this needs to come out of the roaster so the turkey can go into it… and you should be doing this around the same time as turkey prep… so stuff what you can into the turkey carcass’ various cavities, and put the rest in the crock pot.  I had Bethany scoop it into a bowl small amounts at a time as I stuffed it into the bird, so I wasn’t touching raw poultry and the stuffing that wasn’t going into the bird.  She made it clear that she wasn’t touching the raw dead bird, or sticking her hands into it.
  20. I sewed up the turkey and popped it into the roaster to cook, and then put the stuffing in the crock pot on low to cook for the same amount of time.
  21. Everyone told me last year that stuffing + crock pot = bad idea.  This is where I say that you could not be more wrong.  It was perfectly moist and heated well throughout.  I did break the cardinal cock pot rule by removing the lid every hour or so and stirring a little so it didn’t stick to the sides or burn.  This worked well, except that I didn’t get the bottom well enough.  You could add more liquid throughout if t looked necessary… or not stir if you like the crusty part as much as the other part.  If you use the crock pot enough, you get to know what works for yours.  Pop it on to warm or off a while before you eat.
  22. When the turkey’s ready, the stuffing’s ready.  Stuff yourself silly, send people home with leftovers, and eat for breakfast, lunch, & dinner the next day.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the process, and I’m sorry for jumping tenses.  I think I did anyway.  All over the place.  Maybe Dave and Kristin can give me some pointers on that.

I’d love to know what you think of this recipe, and how you do your stuffing.  I’m always up for trying things new ways… and I’m always up for eating stuffing.  In fact, even better — make some, and invite me over for dinner!