Paleo Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

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While sometimes I miss grains, I don’t miss the “bubble-gut” from eating them. Spaghetti squash can be a good replacement for pasta, especially if you cook it right. I have tried the “bake cut-side down”, (not my favorite – it becomes soft and mushy); and then bake “cut-side up” – my preferred method. I like a little bite to my finished “noodles”. Also, I recommend microwaving the whole squash for a few minutes before splitting in two. It softens the squash just enough to get my knife in without threat of losing fingers! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Meat Sauce – adapted from Food.com

  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 3 -4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 -6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional or adjust to taste)
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste (can use two cans for a thicker richer sauce if desired)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole Roma tomatoes, undrained
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 – 1  cup water (according to your desired consistency)
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy bottomed stock pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Add sausage to the pot and break up Add onion, garlic, dried herbs and pepper flakes saute for 3-4 minutes. Add mushrooms and shredded carrots to the pot, cook for a few minutes. Add tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Add canned tomatoes and water and simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 – 2 hours stirring occasionally. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. You can add more water if you prefer a thinner sauce.

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Pasta with Mushroom, White Wine and Cream

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I love cremini mushroom,s and this dish is a new vegetarian fave of mine!  Out of all the produce that I have ever prepared, mushrooms are by far the most rich, meaty and flavorful. Of course, it helps to season and cook them properly; and I have my two favorite methods down! I love sautéing them in olive oil, butter and garlic; and a close second is roasting them with olive oil, salt and pepper. I had to fudge the amounts of ingredients in this recipe because the metric system and standard measurements don’t play well together 😉 When I make it again, I try adding some fresh thyme to cut through some of the richness of the sauce. This recipe yields about four servings, but if you served it as a side dish you could get at least six smaller servings. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Pasta with Mushroom, White Wine and Cream – adapted from Real Italian Foodies

  • 10 ounces dried pasta – pappardelle, fettucine, tagliatelle.
  • 1 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • grated Parmesan
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

Directions –

Bring a large pot of water to boil, add salt and pasta – cook until al dente.

In a large, heavy-bottomed saute pan over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil. Once the butter has melted, add your cleaned and sliced mushrooms along with the minced garlic. Cook until the mushrooms begin to turn brown – don’t salt the veg until this happens, about 5-7 minutes. Season the veg with salt and pepper to taste, then pour the white wine into the pan to deglaze. Continue cooking until the wine has evaporated, add your cream and Parmesan cheese, turn the heat to low and simmer until the sauce has thickened.

Drain the pasta and add it to your sauce, mix together and serve with extra Parmesan cheese.

Rustic Italian Bread

Lots of waiting with this recipe…hopefully it’s worth it!

It’s kind of my thing to go the extra mile when we have company – and 2012 seems to be the year of overnight guests! Nothing wrong with that, and it’s definitely a nice change from our normal routine. My SIL is coming into town and my plan is to make this bread to go along with spaghetti sauce that will cook while I am away, (slow cookers are a lifesaver in this kind of situation).

I loathe working with wet dough, but I have learned to use my rubber scraper to knead instead of both hands. In the end, the loaf was so big that it barely fit on my half sheet pan. Overall, this is obviously time consuming – but not too much work on your part. The finished product was flavorful (thanks to the overnight fermentation), with a crisp crust of an artisan type loaf. It served as a crunchy base for our all time favorite garlic bread and would be perfect for pressed sandwiches (I need to try one of those!) Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Rustic Italian Bread – adapted from  The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book via Bless This Mess

For the sponge:

  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast

For the dough:

  • 3-3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 2 tsp salt

Directions –

To make the sponge:
Mix the flour, water, and yeast together in a medium bowl until it resembles dough. Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 6 to 24 hours.

To make the dough:
Add 3 cups of the flour and yeast to the bowl of your stand mixer. With the dough hook attached, turn the mixer on to low and slowly add the water while the mixer is running. Let this mix for 2 minutes until the dough starts to come together. Lift the head of your stand mixer and place a piece of plastic wrap tightly over the bowl. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

After the 20 minute rest, remove the plastic wrap and add your sponge and salt. Mix on medium low speed for 8 minutes. After 4 minutes, if the dough is sticking to the side of the bowl add the last 1/2 cup of flour a little at a time until the dough stops sticking to the edges of the bowl but is still sticking to the bottom (you do want it to stick to the bottom). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a smooth round ball.

Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm spot until doubled, about an hour.

After the dough has doubled, remove the plastic wrap. Using a large spatula gently fold the dough into itself by pulling the edge of the dough into the middle. Do this a few times all around the edge of the bowl. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for 30 minutes..

Repeat the previous step after the 30 minutes are up and then let it rise for a second 30 minutes.

After the second 30 minutes of rising, it’s time to form the loaf. Remove the dough from the bowl and gently press it into a 10-inch square without tearing it. Fold each corner into the middle and then gently roll the dough into a tornado shape. Place the dough, seam down, on a rimless baking sheet (or one that is upside-down) that is lined with parchment paper. Gently tuck the dough into place on the parchment. You should end up with a long thin loaf that is 16 inches long. Lightly mist the dough with cooking oil and then loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

While the dough is rising, prep the oven and your baking stone. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Let the baking stone heat for 30 minutes (but not longer than an hour).

When the dough has doubled, score the top with a razor blade, diagonally and 1/2 inch deep and spray lightly with water. CAREFULLY slide the loaf and the parchment onto the hot baking stone in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake for 30 to 35 more minutes until the crust is a deep golden brown. Let the loaf cool on a wire rack until it is room temperature before serving (about 2 hours cooling time).

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Quick Post: If you like spice, love shrimp and adore carbs and cheese – this is the dinner for you! We thoroughly enjoyed this meal, and I will make this again. I served it with some quick garlic bread (I forgot to roast the garlic for this), but it hit all the right buttons 😉 I used a loaf of this, lots of chopped garlic, butter and four different Italian cheeses. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Shrimp Fra Diavolo – adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

    • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined
    • 1 teaspoon salt, plus additional as needed
    • 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
    • 1 cup dry white wine
    • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
    • 3 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves

Directions:

 Heat the 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat, add the red chili flakes to the oil. Add the shrimp and saute for about a minute, add the salt and toss, and continue cooking until just cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a large plate; set aside. Add the onion to the same skillet, adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan, if necessary, and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, wine, garlic, and oregano. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Return the shrimp and any accumulated juices to the tomato mixture; toss to coat, and cook for about a minute so the flavors meld together. Stir in the parsley and basil. Season with more salt, to taste, and serve.