Carmela & Gabriella’s Cream Sauce

Life is a combination of magic and pasta – Federico Fellini

When my two younger cousins, Carmela and Gabriella, asked if they could stay the night with me a few weekends ago and hang out, I couldn’t wait. I was really excited to spend some quality time with them and to learn more about their lives. It’s easy to forget what high school is really like until you have two young girls in the midst of it, telling you stories. I was glad I was able to share some insight (which did make me feel older than I would like) on boys, friends, college, etc.

Sometimes we forget how scary growing up can be, and it was nice to be able to look back on my high school and college days and confidently tell them that it really will all work out in the end…and to just have fun while you get through all the “growing up.”

After we ate the amazing Flying Cupcakes they brought over after work (oh to have the metabolism of a 15-year-old girl again…), we decided to make dinner together. Carmela’s Dad owns a pizza place here in Indy (Enzo’s Pizza) and her family is from Sicily, so she definitely likes to cook!

The girls requested a cream sauce with Tortellini, so I thought it would be fun to come up with our own version (hence the name). After picking a few key ingredients, we headed to the kitchen to have a fun little cooking adventure!

Carmela handled the chicken and mushrooms, while I taught Gabriella how to make sauce. This was Gabriella’s first time making a sauce, so I let her takeover for a little bit. I understood how to cook by watching my Mom while I was growing up, but I really learned how to cook by doing it on my own, with a little bit of guidance.

Carmela & Gabriella Cooking

Carmela & Gabriella’s Cream Sauce

with Tortellini, Chicken, Mushrooms and Peas

Tortellini

Ingredients

1-Tablespoon butter

1-Tablespoon olive oil

1-Garlic clove

Salt & Pepper, to taste

1 ½ Cup heavy whipping cream

1½ Cup of chicken broth (use “better than bouillon” to make your broth)

Red Pepper, to taste

Garlic Powder, to taste

2-Tablespoons flour

1-Bag of frozen peas

1-package of baby Bella Mushrooms

3 pieces of thinly sliced chicken breast

David Page’s Special Seasoning

Boil a pot of water and add the bouillon base as directed on the package. Once the bouillon is finished, set aside.

Season chicken with David Page’s Special seasons and slice into small pieces. Heat skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil and add chicken. Cook half way and add in the mushrooms. Continue cooking until mushrooms and chicken are cooked thoroughly.

Sliced Chicken

Baby Bella Mushrooms

While you are cooking the chicken, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the garlic clove and salt and pepper. Once the butter has melted and the garlic is translucent, add 1 cup of cream and 1 cup of chicken broth.

Melting Butter

Seasoned Butter

Cream Sauce Cooking

Season with Garlic Powder, Red Pepper flakes and Parmesan Cheese to taste, and let simmer for about 15 minutes while stirring constantly. If the sauce needs to be thickened add about 1-Tablespoon of flour and some more cheese.

Bring sauce to a boil for about 5 minutes and then turn down the heat to simmer. Continue to stir for about 20 minutes (add in more cream and more chicken broth, as needed).

Cream Sauce Cooking

Everything Cooking

After about 20 minutes, add the frozen peas, mushrooms and chicken to the sauce and continue cooking until the peas are cooked and the sauce is at the desired consistency.

While your sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Once the water is at a rapid boil, add the tortellini and cook until finished (once the Tortellini all rises to the top of the pot it is cooked).

Mix the tortellini with the sauce in a serving dish, sprinkle on some Parmesan Cheese and serve!

Cream Sauce with Peas & Mushrooms

Carmela & Gabriella's Cream Sauce

I was actually surprised how delicious the sauce ended up being. I hadn’t made a cream sauce in a very , very long time (dairy is my new enemy) so I was feeling a little shaky on my delivery.

I had to add a little more flour than I would have liked because I wanted to use as little cream as possible, but in a cream sauce that is kind of difficult!

After making Pasta with Carmela, I decided we have to make Pizza together, and soon! Or Bread with my Grandma…Two of my very best friends are getting married in April and May, so I haven’t had enough time to plan our next cooking adventure with all the wedding celebrations lately. Hopefully there will be some time in early April!

Below are two pictures from my weekends in Chicago and Austin celebrating the Brides-to-Be!

Laura's Bachelorette Party

Laura’s Bachelorette Party

Maegan's Bachelorette Party

Maegan’s Bachelorette Party

Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

A few months ago my Aunt gave me a book called The Geometry of Pasta. It has all the different types of pasta and what sauces to pair them with. It was such a nice and thoughtful gift and I was excited to finally get to use it. Not only is it a great recipe book, but it is actually very interesting and provides insight into the recipe. As I sat watching Top Chef the other night, I was reminded of the book when a few of the contestants were in the bottom for making their own pasta. One of the owners from Rao (that is where the challenge was that night) said that you don’t really need to make homemade pasta for it to be a great dish. He said the sauce should make the dish and that if something is just as good pre-made, there is no need to re-invent the wheel when cooking family style.

I instantly grabbed my book and started looking through recipes, as I am always inspired to cook when I’m watching Top Chef. As I scanned the Gnocchi section, I realized I had never made this for my blog. When I started reading about Gnocchi, I found it interesting that the book claimed it was better to make it from scratch than buy it from the store, as packaged Gnocchi is harder and does not cook as well as homemade. I agree with the guy from Rao when it comes to pasta, as I would probably never attempt to make penne or rigatoni, but Gnocchi seemed fun. I hadn’t made pasta in a while and I have never made Gnocchi so I decided to go for it!

Gnocchi Con Gorgonzola

Gnocchi Ingredients:

2 large Idaho Potatoes (or Russet)

2 Eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour

A few gratings of nutmeg

Boil the potatoes in salted water until fully cooked. Drain and let cool. Once cooled, peel off the skin and put through a ricer/foodmil.

When cool enough to handle, but still warm, add the egg, flour and nutmeg. Mix evenly (work as little as possible so that it does not become doughy). Take a small lump and roll on a well floured surface. Test it in the boiling water to make sure it doesn’t fall apart and cooks properly. Once you are sure it’s ready – roll out the dough in strips about as thick as your fingers (thumb or pinkie, it’s up to you). Cut it into pieces of equal width and height, about the size of the tip of your thumb. Make sure they have enough flour on them, but not too much.

Optional: Use a fork to put ridges on one side or use your thumb to make an indent. This allows the Gnocchi to gather more sauce during your meal.

*NOTE: I did not have a ricer/foodmil so I smashed the potatoes with a fork and then mixed them in the food processor.

Gorgonzola Cream Sauce Ingredients:
1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 cups of crumbled Gorgonzola (I just bought a package from the store)

Nutmeg

Pepper

Walnuts (Optional)

Optional: Roast walnuts and add to the sauce. Add in peas for additional flavor.

In a saucepan, mix the cream and the Gorgonzola on medium heat until well  blended. Continue to stir over low-heat. Add in some nutmeg and pepper to taste. While the sauce is cooking, add the Gnocchi to boiling salt water. Once they float to the top, cook for 2 minutes, add to the sauce with a little bit of the pasta water. Cook until well blended. Serve and enjoy!

And for your listening pleasure, my cousin Michael sent me this link today and thought I would share! I know it is out of season, but it is an Italian Christmas song we used to listen to as kids and it made my day! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQrdxtWgHbE&feature=related

Lucia

Cubs & Cooking

Aaah finally…spring in Chicago!  The weather has been beautiful, the sun has been shining, and everything seems to be going great!!  I went to my first Cubs game on Saturday, am heading to Minneapolis to visit one of my best friends this weekend, then spending a week in Florida with my mom.  I start my new job in May and am finally feeling like a resident of Chicago.  It’s been a long trek after college trying to get my feet on the ground, but can finally say I am employed!! Sunday I went to 33 Club for brunch and Mimosa’s with the girls and spent the day hanging around the house and making dinner! It was a very relaxing day and MUCH needed!

Wrigley Field

First Cubs Game!!

For dinner Sunday night, I made my Grandpa’s Artichoke Sauce with penne pasta.  It is a fairly simple sauce to make, but you need to make sure you really cook the flour so your sauce doesn’t taste too much like flour.  All you need is whipped butter, chicken broth, heavy whipping cream, parsley flakes, salt & pepper, quartered artichoke hearts, and of course Pasta.  It was a pretty long weekend, so dinner was not as exciting as previous “Sunday Dinners,”  but it was Nikki’s first time making it to dinner, which was exciting because she enjoys cooking as much as I do!

The sauce before adding the artichoke hearts

Pasta with Artichoke Sauce

MMM…Dinner!

This weeks Kitchen Adventure was not as “adventurous” as previous ones…but the weekend was full of craziness, so that makes up for it!  The sauce was also really good and I am so glad I finally learned how to make it!  This weekend I will be in Minneapolis and will be on a plane to Florida Sunday night, so my Kitchen Adventures next week will have to be canceled.   Hopefully, since it will be just my mom and I in Florida, there will double the amount of cooking adventures to share when I return!