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Monday, February 20, 2017

Pasta Party - Ziti Carbonara

Today concluded an especially fun (and food) filled three day weekend that was indisputably action packed. We started at a friend's birthday party and then the family got together Saturday evening for an easy and festive dinner. I was in the mood to cook, even though it was technically my birthday weekend and I was otherwise taking it easy (we officially celebrated on Sunday with a phenomenal dinner at Brooklyn's iconic, Peter Luger). 

Cooking almost never feels like work to me, and when you pick easy recipes and do just a little bit of light prep work, entertaining can be almost effortless. I decided that dinner would consist of a duo of Pasta Courses and a salad. The first dish was a Neurotic Kitchen classic, Aglio Olio e Peperoncino, which is perfect in its simplicity and also incredibly budget friendly. Next I whipped up a sinful batch of Ziti Carbonara

I have to thank my mom for walking me through the Carbonara prep, and without a recipe, no less. It's one of those dishes that you can make almost by instinct. It ended up being the perfect easy dish for our family gathering. Really flavorful, a little rich and indisputably comforting. It's definitely going in the dinner party rotation for years to come. For tips and the recipe, read below!

Special thanks to everyone who made my birthday weekend so special. 

Ziti Carbonara, Photo: NK 

Cook's Notes- Carbonara is a dish you need to make a la minute. That means that you'll benefit greatly from chopping and prepping in advance, which is especially crucial if you're cooking this for guests.

Do Ahead:

Grate the Parmigiana Cheese
Chop the Onions
Chop the Bacon
Chop the Italian Parsley


Ziti Carbonara
Serves 6 modestly or as an appetizer

1 Pound Ziti
4 Strips (approximately 4 Ounces) Thick Cut Bacon or Pancetta (we prefer Coleman Organic) cut into a medium dice
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium Sweet Yellow Onion or White Onion, cut into a 1/2 inch dice
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
1 Cup Grated Parmigiana Romano
3 Large Eggs* (each cracked and beaten in it's own individual mug or ramekin)
1/3 Cup Finely Chopped Italian Parsley
1 teaspoon Black Pepper 

1. Make sure all ingredients are chopped and prepped as above.

2. In a saute pan, cook Bacon in about a Tablespoon Olive Oil until golden brown and slightly crisped. Remove the Bacon from the pan and set aside. Wipe out some of the remaining oil and Bacon Fat, leaving about two Tablespoons. Add the Onions to the pan and saute over medium heat until tender and translucent. Add the Wine and scrape the pan. Allow to cook over medium flame until it is reduced, by about half or more leaving a Tablespoon or two remaining.  Turn off the flame.

3. Set a large pot of salted water to boil. When it is ready, add the Ziti, stirring occasionally until cooked to a nice al dente.

4. Drain the Pasta in a colander. Return to the hot Pasta pot. Working quickly, add a handful of Parmigiana Cheese, toss well. Add the Bacon and Onion Mixture, toss. Add one beaten Egg, and toss vigorously and continuously. Add another handful of grated Parmigiana, toss. Add the Black Pepper, toss. Add another egg, and toss again. Add more Parmigiana and the final Egg. Toss until creamy and well incorporated. Sprinkle in all the Parsley and toss. Taste for seasoning and add Salt as needed. Add more Pepper as you wish. It should have a good amount. Serve right away in a communal bowl!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Game Day Gourmet - Superbowl LI

Hosting our friends for the Super Bowl is a tradition in our house, and even though we only invite a few people, we do like to go all out. This year's menu was at its best with Thomas Keller's absolutely delicious New England Clam Chowder (even though we were hoping the Falcons would win!). As a rule, I like to go beyond the chips and dip and serve recipes that are casual, fast to make, but also just a little elegant too. Who says football food can be gourmet? 

Here's a quick look at what we made with links to all the recipes. Until next year! 

Hogs In A Blanket, (Andouille Sausage in Puff Pastry with Chutney & Mustard). Click HERE 

Thomas Keller's Amazing New England Clam Chowder, Click HERE 

Ina Garten's Roasted Brussels Sprouts Tossed with Bacon, Click HERE 

Old Bay Buffalo Wings, Click HERE 
Looking for more ideas? Check out our Super Bowl Menus through the years:


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

3 Meals In The Life - Weekly Meal Prep

Today I wanted to share a bit of the methodology I use for weekly meal planning. Since one of my many 2017 goals (I don't do resolutions) revolves around limiting food waste, I thought such a post would be particularly relevant, especially if you too are looking to conserve while eating nutritiously and efficiently. 

Alton Brown's Easy Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic and Yotam Ottolenghi's
Cucumber & Poppy Seed Salad, Photo: NK

Now don't misunderstand, I know full well that In the midst of all life's responsibilities, meal planning can seem daunting. 

One easy way to demystify it with an eye towards lessening food waste is to start with one recipe idea and then think about the ingredients you'll have leftover, and then what other meals they complement.  After a while, you'll get in the habit of knowing how to group your meals. For instance, I know whenever it's Taco night (my husband's fave), a grain bowl with scallions and protein won't be far behind. 

For a more regular look into our daily meals, follow us on Instagram.

Salmon Barley Bowl (with Poppy Seeds!), Photo: NK

1. On weekdays, choose simpler recipes (most here on Neurotic Kitchen take well under 45 minutes), especially those that can be quickly warmed in the microwave or even served at room temperature. Note: This week, we made an easy version of Chicken With Forty Cloves of Garlic which still takes an hour and a half to cook, but the prep time is very short so you can pop it in the oven as soon as you get home from work. Alternately, it's a great Sunday dinner. 

2. Wash, prep and chop all your veggies early in the week; you'll have them at the ready for even quicker assembly. The end result is much less prep time. If you've planned it so that your veggies are part of several different meals, you'll also have less waste.

3. Make large batches of grains and other staples to add to packed lunches, salads, or bulk up kids' meals

Meals (for 2-3)
Shrimp Tacos (optionally Marinated)
(Click above for the Recipes!)

Shrimp Tacos, Photo: NK 

Shopping List

Veggies & Starch 
1 Bunch Scallions (for Tacos and Salmon Barley Bowl)

5 Persian Cucumbers (or small Cucumbers) (for Salmon Bowl & Chicken + Cucumber and Poppy Seed Salad)

2 Avocados (for Salmon Bowl and Tacos) 

Tortillas (for Tacos)

Mild Red Chilies (for Tacos and Cucumber Poppy Seed Salad)

Barley (For Salmon Bowl, to bulk up lunch salads, and as a base for extra kids' meals)

Cilantro (For Tacos, For Cucumber Poppy Seed Salad)

Salsa/Store-bought Pico de Gallo (and optional Tortilla Chips for Salsa & Chip snack)

Poppy Seeds (For Cucumber Poppy Seed Salad and Salmon Bowl) 

Pre-Peeled Garlic (optional, as you could buy whole and peel Garlic) but it will save you time!

Thyme (for the Chicken) Note: Thyme keeps about 7 days, here's another idea for it.

5 Ounces Smoked Salmon 

Whole Chicken cut up (bone in and skin on)

1 Pound Shrimp 

Optional Extras:

Washed and ready to eat Salad Mix. I use this to make to work lunches - just and add whatever extra Veggies, Grains or Proteins we have leftover from dinner! 

And there you have it. I hope you enjoyed a little look into our weekly recipe planning. Here's to more recipes and easy and elegant meal ideas for 2017. Happy cooking! 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Easy Elegance - Spaghettini al Limone

There are several Lemon-driven recipes here on Neurotic Kitchen (find them HERE, HERE and HERE) and the reason for that is simple: I love the stuff. Today's incredibly simple but elegant meal will delight your palate and is a worthy choice for dinner parties, date nights, or any time you want to treat yourself. 

As a bonus, its low-cost ingredients will keep you within your New Year's budget, but the austerity stops there; a sinful amount of Butter makes this not all that diet-friendly, but, incredibly, the finished dish manages to feel so light and refreshing that it is perfect for a first course to get your tastebuds ready for more. Once the Pasta is cooked, this dish comes together in just 5 minutes, so with your mis en place ready to go, you can make it with guests on hand and only be gone from the party very briefly.
Spaghettini al Limone, Photo: NK 

Spaghettini al Limone
Serves 6 as a light appetizer, 4 as a heartier appetizer
Very lightly adapted from Maria Batali

6 Tablespoons Salted Butter 
Pound Spaghettini or other thin long pasta
2 Tablespoons Salt 
1/4 Cup Lemon Zest (from about 4 lemons)
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/2 Cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese 
3 Tablespoons finely chopped Chives 
Extra Salt and Ground Pepper 


Boil a large pot of water with 2 Tablespoons of Salt in it. 

Meanwhile, in a very large saute pan, add the Butter and Lemon Zest and heat over moderate heat, stirring. 

Once water is boiling, add the Pasta and cook until just al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup Pasta Water and drain the pasta. 

Add drained Pasta to the saute pan. Toss Lemon Juice onto it. Toss to coat with Lemon Zest and Butter Mixture and loosen with a tablespoon or two of pasta water, tossing continuously over medium heat for about a minute until thickened. 

Turn off flame and sprinkle on Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese. Taste for Salt and add more if needed. Season liberally with Black Pepper. Divide Pasta among plates and sprinkle with chopped Chives. Serve with extra Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese.