Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Penne al a Chardonnay

I've been looking for a pink penne vodka sauce of some sort to make my husband's belly dance! I've tried two different recipes already that were mediocre and figured I'd give it another try after stumbling upon a recipe on Pinterest, and I'm glad I did! Anthony took his first bite and as I watched him, he made a face, and I quickly asked "it's not good?", he said, "No, this is delicious! It's really good, this is like eating in an Italian restaurant, what did you do?" At that moment, I smiled a mile wide and said "third times a charm, I guess!" He knows how nervous I get when trying to recreate good Italian food that meats his palette. The secret ingredient you ask? Using chardonnay instead of vodka, who knew!

Though I found this on Pinterest, this recipe originated from The Pioneer Woman's blog from her Penne a la Betsy recipe and I made some revisions by adding extra garlic and Italian seasoning instead of parsley. I also made the sauce a night before and I think that helped marry all the flavors. This dinner would be perfect for meatless Monday, so last night after coming home from work, I put the sauce on the stove, boiled some penne, sauteed the shrimp in some butter, had some Italian bread warming in the oven, and a beautiful Penne al a Chardonnay was served with smiles all around!

·         3/4 pounds Penne Pasta
·         1 pound Shrimp
·         3 Tablespoons Butter
·         3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
·         1 whole Onion diced(small)
·         3 cloves Garlic diced
·         1/2 cup White Wine, Or To Taste 
·         1 can Tomato Sauce (8 Oz)
·         1 cup Heavy Cream
·         Fresh Basil, To Taste
·         Salt and Pepper to taste
·         Italian seasoning

1.Cook the penne pasta until al dente
2.Peel, devein and rinse (under cool water) 1 pound of extra large shrimp. Heat about 1 tbsp. butter and olive oil in a skillet. Add the shrimp and cook for a couple minutes until just opaque. Don’t overcook and remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Now, put the cooked shrimp on the cutting board and pull off the tails. Chop the shrimp into bite –sized pieces and set aside.
3.Finely dice one small onion and mince three cloves of garlic.
4.In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the garlic and onion and sauté, stirring occasionally. After the garlic and onions have cooked a bit add your white wine (I used Rawson’s Retreat Chardonnay). Let the wine evaporate for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
5.Now add an 8-ounce can of plain tomato sauce (I used Cento). Stir well until combined and then add 1 cup of heavy cream. Continue stirring. Turn heat down to low and let simmer.
6.Now chop your herbs, about a tablespoon of chopped parsley and about the same amount of chopped basil. I also added a dash of Italian seasoning too for some more flavor
7.Now add your chopped shrimp back into the tomato cream sauce. Give it a stir and add salt and pepper to taste. Throw in your herbs and stir until combined. Finally add your cooked penne pasta and give it a good stir and garnish with some fresh basil!

Bon Appetit!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sizzlin' Pan Seared Scallops

Mmmmmm scallops. I’m drooling just thinking about how easy this was and how delicious they were! Instead of going out for seafood, which can cost an arm and a leg, I said I’d cook some fish at home and who knew, it was easy, quick, and delicious!  I picked up about a pound of fresh scallops (forget the frozen ones, fresh is best) from Wegman’s for me and the hubby, which ran me about 16 bucks. I had rice and green beans already at home from my previous weekly shopping adventure, and of course I had white wine, so back to the kitchen I go…

First and foremost, you want dry scallops. Be sure to pat dry your scallops to rid the moisture and season them on both sides with S&P, I also sprinkle them with some garlic seasoning. What? I love garlic! You also want to be sure that your pan is sizzling HOT so you get those delicious markings on the outsides (all clad frying pan will work best).  As soon as you add the olive oil,  you’ll see the sizzle and then drop those bad boys into the pan. They cook fast and after you remove them from the pan, they will continue to cook, so no need to be nervous of  eating raw scallops! Keep in mind, you don’t want to overcook them, because then they will taste like rubber bouncing balls, which then means you wasted your money too! You also don’t want to overcrowd them in the pan and create the steamer effect. I did my scallops in two batches.

I let these guys cook about 2 minutes on the first side, flip and cook another minute plus on the second side. I remove them quickly to a plate while I get ready for the amazing sauce. The pan will look a bit messy with all the scallop bits and juices, but do not throw down the drain. This help builds the flavors and makes a wonderful pan sauce because it is packed full of flavor. Keeping the pan at med-high heat, drop the butter and watch it melt…

When the butter is completely melted, it’s time to pour in the white wine. I had some Yellowtail Tree-free Chardonnay in the fridge, but feel free to use what you like/have-Pinot Grigio’s  work well for this too. Just promise me you’ll use some good wine, you just spent $$$ on the scallops and we don’t want them to swim in bad tasting, cheap wine. Obvi! The wine will bubble and steam, and you’ll need your whisk or spoon in there to stir it around and scrape at the bits on the pan. This will then soften up and dissolve into the liquid, which makes cleaning the pan much easier and flavors that lovely sauce. As it reduces to the right consistency, I remove it from the heat and serve it over the scallops

*Since these cook so fast, be sure to prepare/have your sides ready. Remember the scallops cook in about 5 minutes, and the sauce is done under 5 as well. Bon Appetito my fellow scallop sailors!

 Pan-seared scallop ingredients:


  • 8 large dry scallops
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Garlic seasoning
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • *parsley for garnish at the end
  1. Pat the scallops dry with towel or paper towels. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the scallops (both sides).
  2. Heat olive oil in a frying pan (don’t use non-stick) over high heat. When oil is hot, place the scallops in the pan with at least one or two inches between them (so they don’t crowd and steam one another). After two minutes, the base should be browned nicely. Flip the scallops and cook for another minute or until base is browned. Remove from heat and set on serving dish(es).
  3. While still on high heat, drop a pat of butter into the pan. Move the pat around the pan until melted completely.
  4. Pour in the wine and use a whisk or spoon to scrape the bits from the pan and stir it into the liquid. Leave the heat on high and let the sauce boil until it reduces to desired consistency.
  5. Immediately remove from heat and serve with scallops.