Monday, February 16, 2009

many shades of red

100_2341This Valentine’s Day, we didn’t go all out, but decided that making a nice dinner together would be just the thing.  Baked pasta is one of our favorites, so we made some fresh pasta, with homemade marinara and sautéed veggies.  We paired this with a J. Lohr Cab, which is definitely a wine you can’t go wrong with, especially at about $10/bottle.  It has a little bit of fruit with a nice richness that cabs bring, but not too punchy.  I would say it’s a beginner’s cabernet sauvignon. 

100_2330There is just something about fresh pasta that makes it so much better than dried.  This is especially true for the long varieties like fettuccine, tagliatelle, etc. It’s very tender and spongy, and of course very fresh!  It’s not that hard either, check out this post for pictures of the well-method. 

For the pasta:

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (you could experiment with a little whole wheat too)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-2 tbs olive oil
  • You could also add frozen spinach (squeezed very dry), beets or spices to make colored or flavored pasta!

100_2328 You mix it all together on the counter top using the well-method and kneed it until smooth.  It is important to let it rest for 30 minutes and then you can shape into anything you like.  We used our mixer attachment for fettuccine this time around.  Or you can simply use a knife to cut them.




For the sauce, we decided we would try to simmer it in the crock-pot all day, since we wouldn’t have too much time once we got home.  It turned out great, and tasted rich with deep tomato flavor.

100_2327For the marinara sauce

  • 2 cans TJ’s whole tomatoes with basil
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste (about 1/2 small can)
  • 1 jar roasted red bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup sweet balsamic vinegar
  • All your favorite Italian spices.  I used about 2 tbsp italian seasoning (I didn’t have any herbes de provence), 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp of salt, pepper, an all-purpose seasoning like mrs. dash, 1 tbsp sugar.  It’s best to taste after it has been simmering for awhile and adjust to your liking.  I just dump them in there and don’t have measurements.

Cook everything in the crock-pot on low all day (about 8 hours) and once you get home, continue to cook but with the lid slightly off to help it reduce some more.  And voila!  How easy is that?!

Then, I sautéed some zucchini and chicken sausage in a pan, put it on top of the pasta with a bit of mozzarella and parmesan and broiled until bubbly and golden.  I call this love in a bowl!



100_2339For dessert, I made beet cakes from Tyler Florence (more red!)  They actually turned out pretty good and were not too sweet.  Instead of oil and butter, this recipe uses applesauce and low-fat buttermilk. 


100_2335They were very moist, almost like Yorkshire pudding  (I could have probably cooked them 45 min), and especially good paired with a little frozen yogurt!  Look at them beets.  When I was younger and ate beets for the first time, my mom had never told me that beets do something to your . . . you know . . . so the next day I ran to my mom because I thought I was dying!  And then she told me, “it’s the beets, silly.”  



I have these little flower baking pans, and here is a picture of my favorite . . . sunflowers!


All in all, it was a very nice, simple Valentine’s Day!  Do you have any romantic Valentine’s Day stories?

1 comment:

Thinspired said...

We did the same thing with homemade pasta on V-Day! I don't think ours was as successful as yours though ;) Looks great!