BLT Pasta Bake

Everyone has their own version of comfort food. For some, it’s a dish they grew up eating at their grandma’s house. For others, it’s a quick run through their favorite fast food chain. Either way, we all love to indulge in our own brand of comfort from time to time. Comfort food transports us from the busyness and stress of our day to a place of fond memories, peace and happy thoughts. That’s what pasta does for me. I love a good pasta dish. Although my waistline would not be very forgiving, I could literally eat pasta every single day. I don’t…but I could. I try to include one pasta dish in each week’s meal plan. Some times those dishes are actually on the lighter side, showcasing whole wheat pasta and fresh veggies. Still delicious and still my own brand of comfort. But other times I like to go all out, and that’s what BLT Pasta Bake is all about.

What makes this pasta bake so fun is that the individual ingredients are all awesome in their own right. Leeks? Yes please! Bacon? Obviously. Cream cheese, asiago cheese AND parmesan cheese? Perfection.

If you’re looking for a little bit of comfort today, look no further. BLT Pasta Bake is where it’s at. Enjoy!!

BLTpasta

 

 

Ingredients:

1 lb. package rigatoni
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 leeks, halved lengthwise and sliced
¼ cup dry white wine
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon, crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 3 oz. bricks cream cheese
1 ½ cups asiago cheese
½ cup parmesan cheese
½ pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil

  1. Cook rigatoni according to package directions. RESERVE 1 CUP OF PASTA WATER!!
  2. Heat oven to 500 degrees.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large oven-proof braising pan or skillet. Add bacon and cook until crispy.
  4. Add leek, garlic and red pepper. Cook 2 to 3 minutes. Deglaze pan with white wine, scraping up brown bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Stir in tomato paste, half of asiago cheese and all of  the cream cheese. Add reserved pasta water and stir until cheese is melted and everything is combined. It will be sticky.
  6. Stir in rigatoni and half of the cherry tomatoes. Top with remaining tomatoes, asiago and parmesan.
  7. Cook in oven for 7 to 8 minutes. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t brown too quickly.
  8. Serve.


Crab Cakes with Sriracha-Mayo

Every summer I look forward to the crab cakes at an awesome restaurant in Grayton Beach, Florida. The Red Bar is an eclectic hole in wall tucked in between magnolia trees and the white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. While they have a really small menu, they serve by far the most delicious nuggets of crab and filling I’ve ever tasted. They are so delicious in fact, that the restaurant tends to run out of them early in the night…better to be an early bird! Craving my favorite summertime treat, this weeknight dinner was born. These cakes are mostly crab and little filling. I served them alongside a bright arugula salad with heirloom grape tomatoes. Happy August in February!

Crab Cakes

Ingredients:

1 lb. lump crabmeat
1⁄2 red bell pepper, small diced
5 scallions, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1⁄2 lemon, juiced
1⁄2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1⁄4 cup mayonnaise
1 large egg
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 1 teaspoon dry ground mustard
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
Dash cayenne pepper
1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sriracha
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Prepare a large baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine all crab cake ingredients. Mix ingredients with your hands. Shape into small patties and place on the baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook. (Can be made 1 day ahead)
  2. Meanwhile, make your spicy mayo. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir to blend. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (Can be made 1 day ahead)
  3. When ready to cook crab cakes, drizzle about 1 1/2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-­‐high heat. When oil is hot, carefully place crab cakes, in batches, in pan and fry until browned, 4-­‐5 minutes per side. Carefully flip crab cakes and fry on other side until golden brown, another 4 minutes.
  4. Serve crab cakes with sriracha mayo alongside simple arugula salad.


Brussels Sprouts Pizza

I have been beyond obsessed with brussels sprouts this winter. Ob. Sessed. Luckily for me, my husband has been very supportive of this new addiction and has happily eaten every single one I’ve put in front of him. My son has too. I somehow hit the jackpot in this area. My one-year old has a more distinguished palate than many adults. He “Mmmmmms” and applauds every time he eats. It’s pretty awesome. I pat myself on the back at every meal even though I secretly know it has very little to do with me, and everything to do with the fact that he’s an awesome baby. I digress.

Brussels Sprouts. If you hate them, chances are you haven’t had them prepared correctly. I’ve recently had great success sharing many different preparations with family and friends, and everyone has raved. These pizzas might be my favorite creation to date. Super quick to throw together and yet HUGE on flavor, this would be an easy appetizer for your next get-together. We actually ate a couple of these each for dinner and it was perfect. I hope you’ll try these soon…I promise you won’t regret it!

Brussels Sprouts Pizza

Ingredients:

8 pita breads
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
extra-­‐virgin olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, cut in half
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 lb. pound Brussels sprouts, shredded or shaved
1 leek, sliced lengthwise into quarters, then chopped (keep root intact for easy cutting)
1⁄4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Heat butter over medium-­‐low heat. Add onions and slowly caramelize,

    careful not to burn, until onions are brown but not burnt. Set aside.

  3. Heat olive oil over medium-­‐high heat. Add leeks and Brussels sprouts and

    sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until softened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  4. Meanwhile, rub each pita bread with the cut side of a garlic clove. Drizzle

    lightly with extra-­‐virgin olive oil and a few crushed red pepper flakes.

  5. Top each pita with some of the caramelized onions and then 1⁄4 cup

    mozzarella cheese. Divide Brussels sprouts mixture evenly over the top of the 8 pitas, approximately 1⁄4 cup of mixture per pita. Add a few crumbles of goat cheese to each and top with the crumbled bacon.

  6. Bake at 425 for 8 to 10 minutes. Serve.