Category Archives: Pasta

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like The Middle of February

Seriously, 11 degrees below zero in the middle of December?  Two major snowstorms? Is the universe trying to stop Plaid Christmas?!  Because nothing stops Plaid Christmas. Nothing!

All right, well, the weather did move the first Plaid Christmas back by a week. But I’ll give you the recipes now because now next week I’m doing two Plaid Christmases (Christmasi??) in two days. So not likely going to feel like recipe writing. And thanks to The Block

we did an impromptu practice Plaid Christmas last night when the original got pushed back.

However, moving Plaid Christmas One closer to Plaid Christmas Two allowed me to go to a cookie exchange yesterday.

Twas a bittersweet cookie exchange though to honor our dear friends, the Harrisons, who are moving back to Australia. The Block will be all the less kind, funny and joyful without them. *stupid computer got something in my eyes again*

For the exchange I made these Brown Butter Sugar Cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

We tried multiple toppings and all agreed sanding sugar was a better topping than sprinkles. But everyone loved them, even Drummer Boy, who is not a big cookie eater.

However, those cookies were incorrectly attributed by me on Instagram to What’s Gaby Cooking. So to make up for it, I made her Molasses Cookies. Couldn’t be easier.  Used a scant two tablespoon cookie scoop and cooked 2 minutes longer than the recipe called for.

As a gift for the hostess and a snack for Plaid Christmas (one cannot exist on Chex Mix alone. JK – yes you can) I made these Union Square Cafe Nuts via Smitten Kitchen.  Only thing I did different is reduced the cayenne pepper a little. Glad I did, they still have heat at the end, but not overwhelming.

On to the meal. Totally pulled a Rachel from Friends – a layer of jelly, a layer of ground beef – when making GF meatballs and marinara sauce simultaneously.  I started the meatballs, paused probably to tell the cat to get off the table, then looked up a the meatball recipe and continued. That is, until I got to the “add a whole can of tomatoes”. That seemed wrong. Yep, was following the marinara recipe in the middle of the meatball recipe.

I soldiered on though, and what a happy accident indeed. So I present to you:

Accidental Gluten Free Meatballs

1 lb. ground beef
1/3 heaping cup of gluten free panko crumbs
scant 1/4 cup of milk (I actually used a little less)
1/2 TBSP dried parsley
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
3 TBSP finely minced onion
1 egg
2 TBSP olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients except olive oil in a large bowl with your hands until fully incorporated. Shape in to balls with about 2-3 tablespoons of meat per meatball. Heat oil in a skillet and add meatballs. Brown, turning very gently, until browned all over.  Place meatballs on a greased baking pan and cook until done, about 15-20 minutes. These can be chilled and reheated in the sauce.

Plaid Christmas will include Skinnytaste’s Crockpot Bolognese Sauce and Two Peas and Their Pod’s Slow Cooker Marinara.  That way we take care of the meat eaters, the vegetarians, the gluten free crowd and the butter noodles crowd. Trying a new GF pasta, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Will also be making the world’s easiest Rosemary Roast Salmon that I’ve talked about before. The only thing I do differently is mix olive oil with dijon mustard and pinch of chopped rosemary and rub it over the salmon before putting the lemons on. It’s a hit every time and can be prepped ahead and kept in the fridge.  Thanks to The Block for taking care of yesterday’s salmon with gusto

all the while not being allowed in the front room or dining room because I had already set the tables before Plaid Christmas was moved. So it was a cozy practice Plaid Christmas.

In between all these festivities, we had one of the best School of Rock shows to date. Drummer Boy, Guitar Boy and friend and neighbor Singer Girl were all in the Motown band together and they killed it.

See Kevin’s Facebook account for some video footage if you are interested. Or I can send you some, I only have like 40GB of video though #proud parent.

I would be remiss in all my talk about Plaid Christmas – which, by the way, I’ve been planning for 4 years because that’s the McNamara Christmas rotation – if I did not link to one of the funniest annual features on the internet.  The 2016 Hater’s Guide to The Williams-Sonoma Catalog.  Even though it is a little close to home this year (ok I know he’s making fun of me), it still is one of my favorite reads. Not safe for delicate eyes though.

May Santa bring you all a Murder Vacuum.   Have a great holiday everyone.


We Had Pasta, Some Pasta, and Finished with Pasta

I promise you all, not in the same week.  Well, mostly not all in the same week. Somehow in the last week these recipes all rose to the tops of their various lists, so, armed with a loaf of rustic bread, I took on the challenge to see if the family would eat pasta three times in 7 days. Disclaimer:  Drummer Boy eats plain pasta every day, but that doesn’t mean pasta with actual sauce of any kind on it will skew the results here.

First up was Spaghetti All’Amatriciana from Blogging over Thyme.


I didn’t have the thick pancetta only thin in my refrigerator, but it still worked and was delicious. It’s a keeper.

Rating from the boys:  It didn’t make me gag (so 4 forks)

Next up was this lovely Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo Bake from Bev Cooks.


This was really good, though a bit much to do on a weekday.  I happened to have roasted garlic cloves that I had put in the freezer which was my original inspiration. If I were to do this again on a weekday I would precook and chop the chicken and the roasted garlic.

Rating from the boys:  Dad already fed us before practice so we don’t have to try that, right? (So 3 forks it is).

And from Oh She Glows, Roasted Tomato Basil Pesto, a vegan pasta sauce that you really have to try.


As she notes in the recipe, it may not be the prettiest sauce, but it is good and rich.  I would recommend using the nutritional yeast, it gives it that pesto-heft.

Rating from the boys:  It was ok (call the MIchelin folks)

But sure, those are all carbs, but what if one needs more carbs with their carbs (to balance out all the vegan eating)?  Well, if one is lured by the siren song of free samples at Whole Foods, one might walk away having purchased this:


Might spread it on some rustic bread add some fresh chopped parsley.  Might even throw it under the broiler for a minute or two if one is feeling so inclined.  And then:


Need coconut water and celery, stat!

Too Many ‘Maters

If your summer garden decided to explode with tomatoes (as many of my friends’, family’s and co-workers’ gardens did) I thought I’d share some recipe “hits” from the last week or two of summer tomatoes. All of these work best with fresh, summer tomatoes, but you might be able to pull off the pasta sauce, the tart and the dip in the winter too with store-bought grape tomatoes.

Baked Tomato Sauce from Smitten Kitchen

Made this with both red and yellow cherry tomatoes from my CEO’s garden. It was delicious (not just saying that because he’s my boss)! I also added an additional clove of garlic to the breadcrumb mixture and once it was tossed with the pasta, topped with a chiffonade** of basil and a tablespoon of parmesan.


Sorry, we we’re hungry from being at the pool, so no “after” picture, just “gone”.

Crack Dip with Grape Tomatoes from Whiteonricecouple

I had even more yellow grape tomatoes from the aforementioned CEO bounty. This was as delicious as their website advertised.


Shortly thereafter at the Rehor’s pool (nom, nom, nom):

Tomato Burrata Baguette from Gouda Monster

If you happen to have ombre heirloom tomatoes, which are currently $179.99/pound at Whole Foods, then you will have something as beautiful as the picture. But I’m here to tell you that whatever mutant but beautiful summer tomatoes you have will work just fine (see this interesting video “Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables” from Intermarche in France and what a difference it makes to not waste non-perfect produce).

Slice the bread a little thinner than just in half, otherwise it is very hard to eat unless you are capable of opening your jaw Jim-Carrey-in-Mask style. Depending on the thickness of your chosen loaf, I might even suggest thirds and then use the middle, non-crust piece to make breadcrumbs. After toasting the bread, I spread the burrata on and put it back in the oven for about 2-3 minutes to get it extra melty. Used sea salt on top of the tomatoes. I’ve made this twice as a starter, and each time Kevin said, “Why did you even make anything else for dinner?”

Grilled Cherry or Grape Tomatoes  or just Tomato Vierge Spread adapted from Prasino’s in LaGrange

Grilling Option:

In a large bowl, mix 3 cups whole yellow and red cherry tomatoes, 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs (I use a mix of basil, chives and parsley), ½ teaspoon of onion powder and 1 tablespoon chopped garlic.

Let sit about 30 minutes. While they sit, soak wooden skewers in water. Thread tomatoes on skewers and place on grill (with whatever you are otherwise grilling).   Grill about 15 minutes or until charred. Eat as a side or serve with toasted bread and whatever else gets you crackalackin (buffalo mozzarella, goat cheese,  more basil, red onion, etc.). You can use the remaining marinade to drizzle over the bread.

Overnight or Baking Option:

In a large bowl, mix 3 cups halved or quartered red and yellow cherry tomatoes, (½ cup extra virgin olive oil, ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs (I use a mix of basil, chives, parsley), 2 tablespoons capers, drained (or ½ tsp onion powder) and 1 tablespoon chopped garlic.

When I have time, I just let this sit overnight in the fridge and serve as a spread for bread (see above). If you don’t have time, I would suggest cooking it in a 375 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes to meld flavors. Then toast some French or Italian bread slices and use the mixture as a spread.

Tomato Tart from The Pioneer Woman

This is a nice little starter when grilling steaks.

Heirloom Tomato Stack Salad adapted from Cooking Light

You know me, if it said “Avocado and Thing” on the menu I’d say, “Mmmm, that sounds good.”  However, I am one of those people for whom cilantro tastes like soap, so I substitute parsley. I also lay the cut tomatoes on a layer of paper towels to drain a little, otherwise this ends up a really runny mess on the plate.  Keeping with that theme, I also use 2 tablespoons mayonnaise and sometimes add an additional tablespoon of sour cream after blending the dressing if it seems too thin. For the record, I have never been able to get the avocado into that cute little dice you see in Cooking Light’s picture. I tell myself that is because the food stylist was clearly using an un-ripe, hard avocado and therefore mine, with my lumpy pieces of avocado, is much more delicious. I am comfortable basking in the lies I tell myself.

Happy end of summer everyone!

**To the haters—back off. It’s not fancy, it just means you stack the basil leaves on top of one another, roll the basil leaves up and slice them into the thin strips. And no, I don’t have a special tool for that.

Duxbury 2014

Thanks to the Duxbury Guilfoiles for hosting yet another family reunion (less Tommy, but a hermit crab was named in his honor, so it was practically like he was there). Here’s a picture of hermit crab Tommy fighting with hermit crab Joe – so yeah, just like he was there.

Terrific weather and great company makes for wonderful memories for all the cousins:

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