Friday, January 27, 2017

Fettuccini Alfredo

I've been making alfredo sauce, with varying degrees of success, for a long time. In fact, right after high school, I made tortellini in an alfredo sauce and my caprese salad as an apology dinner for my mom after I used up most of the chicken she was saving for dinner when I made myself lunches earlier in the week.

While I still make the same salad, thank goodness my alfredo sauce has changed! I had never really seen alfredo sauce made, so I had a really convoluted way of making it that really only had about a 50% success rate. Luckily, I now have a better idea of what I'm doing, and so I am proud to present my fettuccini alfredo recipe.

One of my favorite things about fettuccine alfredo is how versatile it is. Adding a protein really completes the dish. I think my meatballs go really great with this recipe since they have a strong parmesan flavor that compliments this dish really well. I also like making this with spicy italian sausage or shrimp, but you can feel free to go more traditional with grilled chicken. You could even add some broccoli, cooked spinach, sundried tomatoes, or other veggies to make a complete meal.

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 10 min
Serves 4



1 tbsp. butter
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tbsp. flour
3 cups heavy cream
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. crushed red pepper flake
Pinch of fresh nutmeg
½ cup freshly grated parmesan*
1 parmesan rind (optional)**


4 qt. of water
2 tbsp. salt
1 lb. of fettuccine


Melt the butter over medium to medium low heat in a nonstick pan or skillet. Add the garlic and cook until softened and very fragrant. Whisk in the flour until all the liquid in the pan is absorbed. Lower the heat and slowly add in the heavy cream, whisking continuously until all the cream is incorporated and there are no more lumps of flour. Add the spices, cheese, and rind. Bring the whole thing up to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until your desired consistency is reached.

For the pasta, bring the 4 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil, add the fettuccine, and boil, covered, for about 8 minutes, or until al dente. Drain thoroughly, but do not rinse. Add the noodles to the sauce and serve.

*Since the parmesan is really the key flavor here, I recommend buying a block of it and grating it at home. I understand that is out of some people's price range, so by all means, do what you must. I just ask that you take this into consideration: prepackaged grated parmesan, which is really a powder, is coated in cellulose or wood pulp to keep it from clumping, which, while convenient, does nothing to improve the texture of the finished sauce.

**If you buy a block of parmesan, chances are you will be left with the rind. Why not throw it in the sauce too? It will give a good nutty and salty flavor that you won't really get otherwise. You are going to throw it away anyway, so why not squeeze some more cheesy goodness out of it.

Saturday, January 21, 2017


Making meatballs has always been something I was a little afraid of doing. Most people I know will tell you, "oh my mom has a great meatball recipe," and I did not want to go up against that kind of sentimentality and fail. So, I invited one of my friends, who used to be a breakfast chef, to come over and help me get my flavors just right... and I gotta say, this beats my mom's meatballs.

When I made this recipe, I focused on making it easily scalable so you can easily halve this recipe if you don't feel like making so many meatballs, or double it if you are cooking for a large party.

Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: varies depending on the size of your skillet
Makes: 55 meatballs


1 cup breadcrumbs
⅔ cup milk
1 lb each ground pork, veal, beef
2 eggs, beaten
½ tsp garlic powder
1.5 tsp parsley flakes
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp dried rosemary
½ tsp dried basil leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tbsp onion powder
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Olive oil


In a bowl, combine the milk and breadcrumbs and set aside to allow the breadcrumbs to hydrate. In a large bowl, mix together the 3 ground meats and the eggs. Combine thoroughly and then add the breadcrumbs and sprinkle on the spices and parmesan cheese. Make sure everything is thoroughly mixed before shaping into golfball sized balls. It should make about 55 meatballs. Place your meatballs on a wax paper or parchment paper lined baking sheet and refrigerate for about an hour to firm them up.

When you are ready to cook, place a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat and allow it to preheat for a while. You want good, even heat for this, so I let mine preheat for about 5 to 10 minutes on heat setting 4 before I started cooking. Once your skillet is ready, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet and put in 1 batch of meatballs. (About 10 fit in my 10.25" skillet.) Cook for 2 minutes and then turn over, repeating until all sides are a nice brown, about 6 times. Once that batch is done, wipe out your skillet (because burned loose bits in the bottom will just make your following batches taste bad), add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and repeat until all of the meatballs are cooked.

If, while you are cooking them, you find the meatballs are falling apart when you try to turn them, stick the uncooked ones back in the fridge for a bit to firm up. I neglected that step the first time I made these, and so about halfway through I ended up with a lot of meatball bits in the bottom of my skillet and a few less meatballs.

You can use these meatballs right away in a variety of pasta dishes or store them in the fridge for a week or the freezer for a few months. Just reheat in the microwave or a simmering sauce and you are ready to go.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Chipotle Chicken Salad

A few weeks ago, I had some chipotle chicken salad from a local grocery store, and it wasn't very good. It was too sweet and had pickle in it (I don't mind pickle, it just didn't really make sense to me here). But, I was intrigued by the possibility and decided to try and make my own.

This chicken salad is a lot more involved than a classic chicken salad, since it has more cooked ingredients, but it is simply a modified version of my Black Bean and Corn Salsa added to shredded chicken, mixed with a chipotle mayo. I think the extra work is worth it since my wife says it is the best chicken salad she has ever had, and she doesn't even like chicken salad!


1 rotisserie chicken, shredded, about 3 cups
2 T olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 15.5oz can of black beans, drained
1 15.25oz can of whole kernel corn, drained
½ t of salt
1 C of mayonnaise
4 chipotle peppers
1 t of adobo sauce


Pour the olive oil into a skillet over medium heat and heat until the oil shimmers before adding the garlic and jalapeno and sauteing until lightly browned. Add the cans of black beans, corn, and salt and cook until the beans are soft and are easily squished and start to split. Remove from the heat and add to the shredded chicken, folding in thoroughly.

Take 4 peppers from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and place them in a blender with 1 cup of mayo. Add 1 teaspoon of the adobo sauce and blend until smooth. Add to the chicken mixture and stir until completely mixed.

I don't like my chicken salad too saucy, so I only added about 3/4 of the mixture and then used the rest as a spread on other sandwiches, so please add as little or as much as you would like, depending on your taste.

Serve on a nice roll to a grateful world!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Buttermilk Pancakes

I love pancakes. I can't think of a time of day that isn't perfect for pancakes. In the pantheon of pancakes the buttermilk pancake is the gold standard of fluffy, sweet, yet tangy, pillowy perfection. A few weeks ago my wife and I had a rather negative experience with some pancakes, and this poor confection was calling out for redemption. When I went online for a good recipe, most of them seemed pretty poorly written, or just had ingredients that didn't make much sense. So, after a little experimenting, I put this together and I made some of the best buttermilk pancakes I have ever had. Warning: I'm going to get pretty indepth with my directions here, so the block of text might seem intimidating but I assure you it is very simple, I just want to explain why I'm having you do what I'm having you do.


3 C AP flour
1 T baking powder
1.5 t baking soda
½ t salt
3 C lowfat buttermilk
3 eggs
¼ C sugar
⅓ C shortening or butter, melted*


These pancakes are assembled using the muffin method which means you combine all your dry ingredients first, then all your wet ingredients (yes, sugar counts as a wet ingredient when making cakes, which these are, just fried cakes) and then the two mixtures are added together. Making sure both sets are mixed thoroughly before combining means the final mixture will come together with less stirring, and less stirring means softer pancakes. So, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in one bowl then mix the buttermilk, eggs, sugar, and shortening or butter in another bowl.

While the wet and dry teams are separate, then can be held that way for a little while, but once they are combined, chemical reactions start taking place and you are committed. When you are ready for pancake making, mix the wet into the dry team using a whisk, stir only 12-15 times. Yes, there will be lumps, but that is ok, they will work themselves out. Besides, if you work the batter till it is completely smooth you will have a chewier, bread-like pancake. Now let the batter sit for 10 minutes. This will allow the flour to hydrate without agitation, and this is a pretty thick batter that will trap the air bubbles that the baking powder and soda are busily making.

While your batter is resting, heat up your favorite liberally oiled griddle. You'll know the griddle is ready when a few drops of water sprayed on the surface skitter before boiling off instead of instantly disappearing. Once the 10 minutes is up and your griddle is nice and hot, it's time to start cooking pancakes

Pour on a ladle of batter and, using the back of the ladle, spread the batter out into a roughly 5-6 inch circle. You'll know you are ready to flip when bubbles in the center of the pancake break without filling back in. Flip with a wide turning spatula, and cook until the side that is now down is golden brown. Keep finished pancakes warm in a low oven until ready to serve to a grateful world.

*I recommend shortening for this recipe because, with its lower water content, it creates a fluffier pancake. I know that shortening is worse for you than butter, but come on, we are making pancakes here, not health food.