Friday, December 21, 2012

Penne with Vodka Sauce

Today's yummy dish is penne with vodka sauce. You might be thinking this is fairly ordinary fare, especially since I typically keep things kicked up a notch or two. But I chose the dish because I had the ingredients on hand from the lobster bisque I made the other day. This is what I made with the leftovers.

It really is an easy dish to make.  I went first to Allrecipes to find a recipe and found one here. It took only about 10-15 minutes to make, start to finish.



1 16OZ box of penne pasta
2 TBSP butter
1/3C vodka
1/2C heavy whipping cream
1 small can tomato paste
1/2C grated parmesan cheese
Salt to taste


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

Meanwhile, melt butter or margarine in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Add vodka and stir until it is reduced by half, about 4 to 5 minutes. Simmer uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes. Stir every few minutes. 

Stir in pasta, and heat through. Serve with Parmesan cheese.


I made some changes to the original recipe (which called for pancetta and tomato sauce instead of tomato paste). In addition, I used half and half instead of heavy whipping cream. I felt the tomato paste contributed to the thickness of the sauce. The salt was important though; I guess if you use pancetta it would be a little saltier, but I found I needed to add more than I would usually into the dish. But it was yummy - I will be making this again!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lobster bisque

Well here's another winner to add to the recipe arsenal. Lobster bisque.

For Christmas my mother, who works at QVC, sent to me and my husband a box of lobster tails and filet mignon. While I don't eat meat, I DO eat fish. And boy, do I love lobster! So I decided to make a nice soup using the lobster.

I found the original recipe here from and I have to say it was easy; most definitely a keeper.


1 cup chicken broth
2 medium slices onion
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound cooked and cubed lobster meat
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper


In a small frying pan place 1/4 cup chicken broth and the onion. Cook over a low heat for 5 to 7 minutes.
In a medium size pot over medium heat melt the butter. Slowly whisk in flour. Whisk until a creamy mixture is created.Gradually pour in broth, whisking constantly. Whisk in milk, salt, onion, lobster meat, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper. Heat until soup is almost boiling. Do not boil the soup as the milk will curdle when boiled.

Mostly I followed the recipe as written. A few changes I made included: using 1C half and half and 1C fat free half and half instead of using regular milk.  I also added garlic when cooking the onions (which I actually used shallots) and 2TBSP tomato paste - to give the soup a pinkish color. It was really yummy!!!

Oh - and I also added 3 small new potatoes. I left on the skin and chopped them into small cubes.  I baked them in the oven for about 15 minutes to soften them up for a little while. Then when adding the flour to the frying pan, I made sure the potatoes were in there first, then I added an additional TBSP flour to bring it up to 3 TBSP total.

I let it simmer for about another 20 minutes before eating.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cinnamon Swirl Blondies

So even though we're deep in the throes of the holiday season, I decided not to go the way I did last year baking RIDICULOUS amounts of cookies, etc. But that doesn't mean I'm not baking at all. I'm simply being more selective about my choices.

That said, I've been going through my Pinterest boards and came upon this one that I wanted to try out. It looked yummy and the recipe seemed easy enough. The outcome: It was and yes.



2/3 cup unsalted butter (although if you prefer your blondies a little salty, use salted butter)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8x8" baking pan. In a small saucepan, melt the 2/3 cup butter, and let it cook until it is golden brown. Set aside to cool slightly. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar, and stir until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice and mix well. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. In the same saucepan you used to melt the butter for the blondie batter, melt the 1/4 cup butter for the cinnamon swirl. Add the sugar and cinnamon and stir to combine. Drizzle the cinnamon sauce over the blondie batter and use a butter knife to swirl it in. Don't bother trying to do a fancy pattern; it just all melts together! Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs on it. Cool completely before serving. 


I followed this recipe to the letter. It was easy to put together and it came out GREAT. These are really very much like brownies only with vanilla and gooey cinnamon swirls throughout. SO GOOD. I will definitely make these again (and probably bring up to the in-laws for Christmas :)