Brown Butter and Spinach Shrimp Pasta

I love shrimp, actually adore it. But I cannot cook it or handle it raw myself. So whenever I am really craving it, I go out to eat. Alas, that is not an option this month because of this Cook 90 Challenge. So I called my Mom and asked if she didn’t mind helping me by assisting on this dinner prep.

I went to the store and bought all the stuff (this Delish video had been taunting me). I went to her house and I did all (well almost all) the prep work and she handled the cleaning and seasoning of the shrimp. I did as many of the steps I could, and, from a distance, took photos of her doing the rest.

This was actually a quick and easy dish (except for the peeling and deveining of the shrimp). This would be a super simply weeknight meal. Some of you may look at the photo and think the shrimp is overcooked – alas, required for me. You can cook the shrimp according to the recipe directions and it will be perfect.

IMG_9773Yields 4 to 5 servings
From Delish

4 Tbls butter
1 Pound shrimp, 26-30 (large) peeled and deveined
1 to taste salt, Kosher
1 to taste pepper, black, ground
4 Cloves garlic, fresh minced
1 Large lemon juiced and zested
2 Cups spinach, baby
2 Tbls parsley, flat-leaf chopped
3/4 Pounds pasta, angel hair cooked

Tools Needed:
Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5-Quart Round Braiser
Kuhn Rikon Epicurean Garlic Press
J.A. HENCKELS INTERNATIONAL Fine Edge Pro 2-pc Asian Knife Set
Microplane 40020 Classic Zester/Grater

In a bowl, season shrimp with salt and pepper; set aside.

In a large sauté pan add butter and heat over medium-low heat. Warm until color begins to brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. It will start to smell nutty and begin foam.

Turn heat up to medium-high. Add shrimp.

Cook until pink, 2 minutes per side.

Scrape the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in garlic and stir for 30 seconds.

Add baby spinach, and toss until spinach begins to wilt.

Add the pasta, lemon juice and lemon zest and toss with tongs until everything is evenly combined.


Check for seasonings and add more salt and pepper, if needed.

Serve immediately.


Bob’s Basil Pesto

My dad and I shared a love of food and spending time together in the kitchen. One of his favorite and most famous recipes was his pesto. Loved by all and often requested, this is now his grandson’s (age 11) favorite dish and he makes it on his own. Incidentally, he has been making it on his own since about age 8 and will eat this fresh from the ‘nart with a spoon.

You can whisk this into warm cream for a pesto cream sauce, or reserve a little pasta cooking liquid and just toss it with hot, freshly cooked pasta. Personally, that is my favorite application.

Most people ruin pesto with all kinds of tree nuts (I’m not just saying that because I am allergic). The point of pesto is to taste the fresh herbs with a hint of “nuttiness” from the pine nuts (which are seeds, by the way). And while some pour unfortunate souls are also allergic to pine nuts, luckily, I am not. So stop mucking around with true pesto and let it sing.

Chef’s Note: If you have a dairy allergy, you can stop and not add the cheeses. It will just be somewhat runny, but will still have all that yummy basil flavor. I do it for my friend, Heather upon request.

IMG_9234Yields 3 cups
From Robert Davis Frank aka my dad

2 Cups basil, fresh firmly packed
6 Cloves garlic, fresh minced
1 Cup pine nuts
1 to taste pepper, black, ground
1 Cup oil, extra virgin olive
1 Cup cheese, parmesan, grated
1/4 Cup cheese, Romano grated

Tools Needed:
Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless Steel

Process the basil, garlic, and nuts in a food processor fitted with a steel blade until finely chopped.

With the machine still running, pour in the oil in a thin steady stream.


Add the cheeses, and the pepper. Process briefly to combine.

Store in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Cheesy Taco Noodles

I really love cheese, so any excuse to put cheese in a dish, odds are I’m going to give it a shot. This means if the dish is French, Italian or Mexican in original or claims to be one of these ethnicities, I’m sure I will love it. Because again, cheese! If you haven’t heard me say it before, cheese is life.

Now, everything in moderation. I won’t cook a dish like this except once a month, or when on vacation. Mostly because I don’t want to clog my arteries or give my doctor a heart attack. Also, I will use the 2% milkfat cheese anytime I can find them. Why? Well, because when this cools in my fridge, and I pull some out to reheat for lunch, that oil slick on top that becomes a layer of orange congealed fat is unappetizing and I will never cook the dish again. Imagine that in your body… ewwww. Reduce the fat where you can, people. I;d also suggest ground chuck (80/20) or ground round (85/15) – again, less fat equals a better you. I feel those are meatier tasting anyway.

Now in this dish, I broke my cardinal rule… in several places. First, this recipe was a glaring advertisement for No Yolks noodles. I’m not a fan, so I bought the brand I like. Also, I couldn’t find a few things at the store – December 28th and the shelves were barren. Go figure. So I made some edits along the way and this turned out (pardon the pun), delish!

Because you’ve asked, I have a few tutorials on how to chop an onion (my way) and mince a jalapeno (also my way). Apparently, the mushroom slicing was a success.

Adapted from Delish

Yields 6 servings

1 Tbls oil, extra virgin olive
1 Medium onion, white chopped
1 Small pepper, jalapeño minced
1 to taste salt, Kosher
1 1/3 Pound beef, ground chuck
2 Tbls seasoning, taco
12 Ounce(wt)s pasta, extra-wide egg noodles
3 Cups stock, chicken, low-sodium
28 Ounce(wt)s tomatoes, diced, fire-roasted
1/2 Cup cream, heavy
3 Cups cheese, Mexican blend shredded

Tools Needed:
Simply Calphalon Nonstick 5-qt. Sauté Pan & Cover
ZYLISS Lock N’ Lift Can Opener

Chop the onion. First, cut it in half and remove the outer peel. Leave the root on the onion.

Next, cut the half in half – you should have 4 quarters. Note: Root is still in tact – this will keep the layers from falling apart as you chop.

Make slices from the root end (not quite all the way to the root) forward. Depending on the size chop you need – in this case, 1/4-inch.

Turn the onion quarter onto its other cut side and do the same thing. 1/4-inch slices from the root end forward.

Now, turn the onion 1/4 turn and slice (again 1/4-inch). Your slices will yield diced/chopped onion. Slice until you hit the end of your slices – at the root.

Repeat with the other 3 quarters of onion.

Mincing jalapenos: Jalapenos are spicy, but often are requested to be minced with the ribs and seeds removed. What does that look like?

First, remove the stem from the top and cut it in half lengthwise.

Next, remove the ribs and seeds by cutting out both using a paring knife or a spoon. Use gloves or be sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards or you may burn your face or mouth (or anything you touch as the oils from the pepper will stay on your fingers)

Slice the pepper lengthwise into very thin strips with a sharp knife.

Line up the matchsticks and cut into a very small dice crosswise.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and season with salt. Cook until tender, 5 minutes.

Add jalapeño. Cook 2 minutes more.

Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink, about 6 minutes.

Drain the fat and return the beef mix to the pan.


Add the taco seasoning.

Add noodles and stir until coated in beef mixture, then add fire-roasted tomatoes and chicken broth.

Simmer until noodles are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in heavy cream.

Remove from heat and add both cheeses and toss to coat. Add additional salt to taste and serve.

Spaghetti Sauce

spaghettiFrom Eileen Fight Sparks and Nancy Sparks Frank
Yields 3 quarts sauce

2 Pounds beef, ground chuck
12 Ounce(wt)s tomato paste
16 Ounce(wt)s tomato sauce
3 1/2 Cups water
6 Cloves garlic, fresh
1/8 Cup oil, olive
1 Large onion, white chopped
2 tsp oregano, dried
1 tsp basil, dried
1/2 tsp pepper, black, ground
1/2 tsp salt
16 Ounce(wt)s mushrooms, fresh, sliced

Tools Needed:
Kuhn Rikon Stainless Steel Epicurean Garlic Press
Simply Calphalon Nonstick 5-qt. Sauté Pan & Cover
Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French (Dutch) Oven

Brown meat in a skillet until no longer pink. Drain fat and transfer to a bowl. Add oil to skillet and saute onions until soft and slightly browned on the edges. Transfer to bowl and set aside. Add butter to skillet and add mushrooms and half the salt. Saute until liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are browned on the edges. Remove from heat.

Move everything into a Dutch oven. Add tomato paste, sauce, water, garlic and herbs, remaining salt and pepper.

Simmer until thick consistency, approximately 2 hours.

If using a slow cooker, cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.

Serve over pasta of your choice and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Taco Chicken Pasta Salad


Yields 8 entree servings or 16 side dish servings

1 Pound pasta, small shells
15 Ounce(wt)s beans, black, canned drained and rinsed
2 Cups corn, fresh, yellow roasted
1/2 Cup cilantro, finely chopped
2 Large tomato, beefsteak, seeded and diced
1 1/2 Cup salsa, medium
1/3 Cup oil, olive
1/4 Cup juice, lime
1/4 Cup Taco Sauce
2 Tbls seasoning, taco
2 Cloves garlic, fresh, minced
1 to taste salt and pepper
2 Cups cheese, Mexican, grated
2 Large avocado, diced

Optional Ingredients:
3 Cups chicken, cooked, white shredded
2 Tbls seasoning, taco

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and cool.

In a large bowl, add the cooled pasta, black beans, corn, cilantro, tomatoes, and salsa. Toss gently.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, taco sauce, taco seasoning, and garlic.

Pour sauce over pasta and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chill until serving.

Right before serving, toss in the cheese and avocado.

To make this an entree salad, saute the chicken in the 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning and add to the salad.

Lemon Spaghetti


Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis, Everyday Italian
Yields 6 servings

2/3 Cups oil, olive
2/3 Cups cheese, parmesan, grated
1/2 Cup juice, lemon
3/4 tsp salt, Kosher plus more to taste
1/2 tsp pepper, black, ground plus more to taste
1 Pound pasta, spaghettini
1 Tbls oregano, fresh chopped
1 Tbls zest, lemon

In a large bowl, whisk the oil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to blend. Set the lemon sauce aside. (The sauce can be made up to 8 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.)

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes.

Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the spaghetti to the lemon sauce, and toss with the oregano and lemon zest. Toss the pasta with enough reserved cooking liquid, 1/4 cup at a time, to moisten. Season the pasta with more salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer to bowls and serve.

Tomato, Mushroom and Olive Penne


From Mealime
Yields 2 servings

1 Tbls salt, Kosher
6 Ounce(wt)s pasta, penne multigrain
1 Pint tomatoes, red grape halved
1/4 Pound mushrooms, cremini sliced
4 Cloves garlic, fresh minced
1 Tbls oil, olive
0.13 tsp pepper, crushed red
1 tsp seasoning, Lindy’s Zesty Italian
1 to taste salt and pepper
0.13 Cup cheese, parmesan, grated
1/4 Cup olives, Kalamata

Tools Needed:
Cuisinart 719-18 Chef’s Classic Stainless 2-Quart Saucepan with Cover
Kuhn Rikon Epicurean Garlic Press
Cuisinart 622-30G Chef’s Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized 12-Inch Skillet with Glass Cover

Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water, cover and bring to a boil. Uncover, add salt and pasta, and stir for a few seconds. Cook until desired firmness, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.

Heat a saute pan over medium heat.

COat bottom of a skillet with oil. Add garlic and red pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, mushrooms, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste. Stirring occasionally, cook until mushrooms are tender and tomatoes are juicy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add olives and pasta to pan and toss to combine. To serve, place pasta in a bowl and top with parmesan.