Tag Archives: easy dinner party recipe

Quick Weekend Pasta Dinner (Rigatoni with Savory sausage & Sweet Onions) – Serves 6

I don’t know what your weekend is like but for me I always move a little slower on Saturdays. The weekdays I am up early, busy all day and fall into bed exhausted each night, and so Saturday I think my body and brain go on strike in order to recoup. This means that making an easy dinner fits right into the relaxed pace I am in dire need of.

The easiest dinner in the world!

The easiest dinner in the world!

This is a family day for me, a day when I try to avoid having anyone over for dinner (unless of course it is a “weekend guest” weekend!) preferring to close the door on all things that are a hassle on Friday night. I love having friends over Friday as I am in work mode anyway and it is a great way to celebrate the beginning of a couple of days that are different from the rest.

Herbs from my garden save my life most nights

Herbs from my garden save my life most nights

If I go grocery shopping on Saturday I make sure to buy some very convenient items with an eye on making my dinner prep a breeze. This Saturday I found some great seasoned sausage and knew it would be all I would need to flavor the whole dish (save for throwing a few fresh herbs snagged from my garden).

Remove sausage casing by cutting the entire lenght of the sausge adn sliding it off. then it is easy to cut or break the sasge into your pan

Remove sausage casing by cutting the entire length of the sausage and sliding it off. After that it is easy to cut or break the sausage into your pan

 A good pasta dish can be one of the most delicious things in the world to eat if it is mixed with the right combo of flavors. It was so good that if I had happened to get in over my head and invite people to dinner it would have worked out very well indeed.

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You will need:

3 to 4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbs unsalted cold butter

1lb savory sausage (I used an apple and onion sausage, but any flavor combination that appeals to you and is available will do!) – removed form casing

3 small/medium sweet onions – diced

2 cloves garlic – finely chopped

1 small sprig fresh rosemary

3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (optional – I always like a bit of heat!)

1/2 tsp salt (but taste dish before adding)

4 cups chopped greens (spinach, kale or chard work great)

1lb rigatoni (I use Barilla brand with ridges)

1/2 to 3/4 cup pasta cooking water (this is water reserved after cooking the pasta)

Method:

*Place the water on for the pasta. Rigatoni takes between 12 to 14 minutes to cook so plan on timing it to be ready when the rest of the dish is cooked. BEFORE YOU DRAIN THE PASTA WATER SCOOP OUT ABOUT 1 CUP AND SET SIDE.

1 – Place large pan (large enough to hold the entire finished dish) on low/medium heat and add 3 tbs of the oil. When it has wormed, Add the onions and garlic and cook stirring occasionally for 10 minutes, until nice and soft. Add the herbs and pepper flakes (if using).

Saute onions in oil, add herbs after a bit

Saute onions in oil, add herbs after a bit

2 – Add the sausage either by cutting it was a scissors or breaking it off with your hands into the pan. Break it up further with a wooden spoon as it is cooking. Turn the heat up a little and cook until the sausage begins to brown a little and is cooked through (depends but anywhere up to 15 minutes).

Add sausage

Add sausage

3 – Add the spinach and stir quickly. Turn heat off, taste for addition of salt and add if you think it needs it.  Cover with lid. until the pasta is ready.

Add greens

Add greens

4 – Add the pasta directly from draining into the pan (DO NOT RINSE PASTA UNDER COLD WATER), al with 3/4 cup of the reserved pasta water and cold butter. Replace lid and after a minute stir everything gently.

add cooked pasta and pasta water

add cooked pasta, cold butter and pasta water

Serve in warmed bowls and pass the cheese if you have it on hand. A few extra pepper flakes wouldn’t go astray either!

Did I menton how great this tastes topped with the cheese of the gods: Parmiagiano reggiano!

Did I mention how great this tastes topped with the cheese of the gods: Parmigiano Reggiano!

A Yummy Sausage and Pasta Dinner – Quick! (serves 6)

Have you every had one of those crazy spontaneous moments and asked people over to dinner that evening and it is already 5 o’ clock! Of course you have done this, and then arrived home to find yourself in a panic over what you can pull together quickly while screaming out loud, “what was I thinking inviting people over tonight!!!!”” That’s when you zoom to the supermarket (or do this before you go home to avoid this panic attack) and buy the few things you need to make this gorgeous, crowd-pleasing dinner! It is also a super inexpensive main course for six.

Quick and easy dinner for six!

Quick and easy dinner for six!

I also think when you see how easy this is, you might also decide to make a batch of brownies while everyone is sitting around after dinner: yes, it’s what I did and I wasn’t taxed a bit! (Recipe for Brownies below)

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You will need:

2 tbs olive oil

1 lb seasoned sausage (I used an Apple & Onion, but feel free to grab whatever is available: mild Italian, garlic, wine & herbs, etc – * If I were on the East coast of Ireland I would use Lavistown Sausages*)

ALSO: you can use chicken or turkey sausage

1 large Vidalia (sweet) onion, small dice

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 celery ribs, including leaves, diced

4 sprigs fresh thyme (if you don’t have it, don’t worry)

4 cups chopped fresh spinach

2 tsp curry powder (any favorite variety)

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (optional)

1 1/2 cups chicken broth (or 1/2 bouillon cube & water)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

sea-salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 lb medium pasta shells (I use Barilla brand)

Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (if you have it on hand)

*This can easily be a Blood Type A Diet recipe by using a poultry sausage (chicken or turkey) Also, substitute the cream with more stock (veggie or whole bouillon cube) and, if you are really strict, omitting the curry powder and chili flakes*

Method:

*Put large pot of water on for pasta, add about 2 tsp coarse salt to water. Cook according to instructions and reserve about 3/4 cup pasta water before draining. do not rinse pasta with cold water. It will take the pot of water about 5 or so minutes to come to a boil and the shells will take anywhere from 9 to 11 minutes (check package for cooking time). This adds up to about 16 to 20 minutes, so time the pasta to be ready at the same time as it is required in the dish*

first: dice onion, chop garlic

First: dice onion, chop garlic

1 – Put large saute pan on medium heat and a the oil. When it has warmed add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes.

Remove sausage casing by cutting the entire lenght of the sausge adn sliding it off. then it is easy to cut or break the sasge into your pan

Remove sausage casing by cutting the entire length of the sausage and sliding it off. Then it is easy to cut or break the meat into your pan

2 – While onions are cooking remove the sausage from casing (instructions above)

kuh

Add Sausage and thyme

3 – Add the sausage to pan be cutting it into pieces as you go, or breaking it off into pieces with your hands. Add the thyme and celery. Turn pan up slightly and cook the sausage for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until starting to brown on all sides.

Add curry powder

Add curry powder

4 – Add the curry powder (and bouillon cube if using) and stir into sausage mixture until everything looks golden.

Add the liquids, then the spinach

Add the liquids, then the spinach

5 – Add the broth (or water) and let it come to a simmer. Add the cream and wait until it is also simmering before adding the chopped spinach. Cover and lower heat until everything is at a very gently simmer and cook for about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and taste sauce and add salt and pepper if needed (purely personal). Add the just-drained shells and stir. If you like a looser sauce, add some of the reserved pasta water (and a little cream if you like) until desired consistency is reached.

Serve

Serve

Serve in warmed shallow bowls with a grating of Parmigiano Reggiano.

lovely brownies

If you want to make brownies quickly, click HERE for recipe!

Smokey Pork With Capers & Penne – So Good! (serves 6 in a hurry!)

A few days ago I posted a recipe just to demonstrate how frozen pork tenderloin could be sliced and used handily, (Pork Stir-Fry). Well, here is another one.

I cannot tell you how convenient it is to have ingredients like a quick-cooking meat and baby peas in the freezer. 

Yes, I come off as being boringly organised in the kitchen, but it is because I am just the opposite that I make sure to have food like this stashed away! It rules out a lot of thinking and planning. I will say that I am good at winging-it in the kitchen, so not knowing what I am going to cook each evening is more of a joy than a challenge (my one talent).

So Good

But, if you’re not a fly by the seat of your pants style cook, this is a great recipe for you. It is also ideal for a crowd, so double the amounts and have a party!

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You will need:

1 lb pork tenderloin, thinly sliced (if the pork is semi-frozen it is very easy to slice)

3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 good quality veggie or chicken bouillon cube (try to keep Rapunzel cubes on hand)

3 heaped tbs capers with their briny juice

1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (optional)

1 cup peas (I used frozen baby peas)

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 tbs unsalted butter (optional)

1 lb penne, mini penne if you can find it (I use Barilla brand)

freshly ground black pepper

pasta water and cream as necessary

Method:

1 – Slice the pork and set aside. Put water on for pasta and when it boils add some salt and cook according to instructions. The pasta should be cooked right about the time you need to add it to your pan. *Do not rinse pasta and reserve about a 1/2 cup of the cooked pasta water for use later*

sliced pork tenderloin

2 – Put large saute pan on low/medium heat, (large enough for the whole dish). Add the oil and when it warms swirl in the stock cube and stir until dissolved.

oil and bouillon

3 – Add the capers and stir to cook in for a minute. Add the paprika and pepper flakes and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

Add capers, then smoked paprika

4 – Turn heat up to close to high and add the pork. Arrange on the pan in an even layer and let it cook undisturbed for about 3 minutes, (it will get liquid-y).

add pork

5 – Turn and allow to cook for another 3 minutes or so, after which point it should be nice and tender.

saute pork for 4 or so minutes

6 – Add the peas and cook for another minutes. Turn heat down to low (or just above) and add the cram and water. Cover and cook for about 4 minutes. Taste for addition of salt and pepper and add accordingly.

add liquid

7 – Add the cooked pasta and the optional butter and mix together. If you need to loosen up the pasta you can add a little more cream and/or the reserved pasta water until you are satisfied with the consistency.

add pasta

Serve in warmed bowls or put one large bowl on the table and let everyone help themselves.

add things like black pepper and chili flakes

If you are a condiment-type person I suggest more pepper flakes and black pepper. Some grated Parmigiano Reggiano would be delicious too.