welcome

Come along with me as I journal about my latest cooking and gardening adventures. Discover what grows in my zone five garden, and see what new recipes I try from my cookbook collection each week.



As I share recipes and information from my kitchen, I invite readers to comment and share ideas along with me in this blog. I am looking to increase followers to my blog, so that I may learn more about cooking and gardening.



Since moving to Midland, Michigan, I have been reading and researching many cooking journals, cookbooks and collected recipes from the past thirty years. Organizing pictures of gardens I enjoy has also been a joy for me, as I continue to learn about garden design and horticulture.

angel food cakes

angel food cakes
this kitchen is seasoned with love

Monday, January 9, 2012

penne with vodka tomato cream sauce

one of my very favorite pasta dishes is vodka penne.  i found this recipe in a catholic school cookbook that i have owned for many years.  it is one of the best recipes around.  your guests will be quite impressed with the taste and flavor of this pasta dish.

this recipe will make four large servings as shown in the photo.  this recipe could very well be served in a smaller portion along side a roasted vegetable.  i do think your guests will ask for more, as the sauce imparts such a delicious flavor.

to make the recipe, begin by melting 1 tablespoon margarine with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy saute pan over medium heat.  saute 1 small finely chopped onion until very soft.  then add one 28 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes and cook until the juice has evaporated, stirring frequently for about 25 minutes.

cook the penne during this time period as directed on the package. i used 2 cups of penne for this recipe, and drained before mixing into the sauce.
next, add 1 cup whipping cream, 1/4 cup vodka, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes to the tomato mixture, while stirring the sauce.  the tomatoes will turn a beautiful pink color. then, increase the heat, and bring to a boil and allow the sauce to thicken.  season with fresh or dried basil which has been finely chopped, salt and pepper to taste.  add 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese to finish the dish. add the penne and serve.

to increase the recipe to serve more guests, increase the penne to 3 cups for 6 or more servings.  and, increase the tomatoes to three 14.5 ounce cans. adjust the other ingredients as desired.
this pasta dish can be served with crusty bread and a side salad, or in smaller portions with steamed or roasted asparagus.

wedge salad with poppy seed dressing

i have owned this salad dressing recipe book since 2002.  it is a small paperback book that has wonderful recipes for every classic salad dressing that can be imagined from florida to washington d.c.  one of my favorites from the book is called sunrise boulevard. it is the salad dressing served at the neiman marcus restaurant at the galleria mall in florida.

it is a wonderful poppy seed dressing and i highly recommend trying to make it at home.  as with anything else, homemade salad dressings taste so much better than store bought.  and, this recipe is super simple.
i made one half of the recipe in the book, so here are the smaller quantities.  they can be doubled if desired.

mix 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar with a hand mixer or blender.  add one cup canola oil and continue to mix until VERY thick.  stir in 1  1/2 tablespoons of poppy seeds.  this recipe makes about 2 cups of salad dressing and will last in the refrigerator 2-3 weeks.


served over a simple wedge of iceberg lettuce, this salad dressing is simply amazing.  of course, any mix of salad greens, dried cranberries, chopped nuts, or even raisins would be delicious with this dressing.  however, i think the dressing speaks for itself. simply tasty !