Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Recipe: Spaghetti Carbonara

Given how much I love eggs, bacon and pasta, my love for a dish like spaghetti carbonara should sort of be a given. Can I let you in on a dirty little secret? Five years ago I spent two weeks in Italy and never had so much as a bite of the stuff. I can assure you, it was only because I so plump from gelato consumption that I couldn't bear to eat another carb-laden bite. How can you blame a girl...
Just can't fake gelato-induced happiness

When I began compiling recipes for Project Cookbook, Kathleen engaged me in a lengthy discussion about the nirvana that was spaghetti carbonara she had in Italy. Regardless of the fact that is complete proof of how hateful little sisters can be (why torture me so!), it did motive me to get this dish figured out.

Good news, people, it is as simple as it is delicious. So even if you're not jet-setting of to Italy any time soon, you can have what I imagine to be a reasonably acceptable substitute to the authentic version of the dish.

Spaghetti Carbonara
20 minutes
3 Servings

  • 1/3 lb. uncooked bacon
  • 5 oz. dry whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese

  1. Dice the bacon and cook in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy (5-8 minutes). Strain bacon pieces out of the grease and dry on paper towels. Reserve 1 tbsp. of bacon grease and discard the rest.
  2. While the bacon is cooking, boil a large pot of water and cook the pasta. When pasta is done, reserve a half cup of the cooking water, then drain and set aside.
  3. With the skillet still on medium heat, cook the garlic for one minute. Toss the spaghetti in the grease and garlic until pasta is coated.
  4. Remove skillet from heat. Add the eggs and two tablespoons of the reserved water and toss until spaghetti is coated. The sauce should be creamy and fully coat the pasta. Add additional water one tablespoon at a time if the sauce needs more liquid.
  5. Add the cooked bacon and grated parmesan and toss to combine.

Tips and Tricks:
  1. When discarding grease, do not pour directly down the drain. Use a container to place the grease in first, then discard in the trash. Small plastic containers (think yogurt containers) work perfectly.
  2. Be sure to break the spaghetti in half. It will make getting the food from your plate to your mouth via a utensil much easier (Cardinal rule of cooking, never complicate the food to mouth part). Even if you (like me) are outrageously skilled at perfectly twirled, long strands of spaghetti with a fork and spoon, the egg will throw off your groove entirely. Trust me on this one.
  3. When you add the eggs, use a spatula to keep the egg from sticking to the skillet. Move the pasta quickly to fully coat it without overcooking the eggs. The eggs should be cooked, but still moist when the bacon and cheese are added in.
  4. Serve with veggies on the side, or add in 1 cup of peas (thawed frozen are fine) when you add in the bacon and cheese. (Just add the peas. You’ll be terribly happy you did.)

Sunday, June 19, 2011


This is the part where I remind everyone of that inaugural blog post where I said something along the lines of "I suck at blogging."

Normally this type of unintentional hiatus happens when I get in a funk or just a busy spell with work and don't have much time for cooking. But this time, I have been cooking. I've been cooking up a small storm that, if it were named like hurricanes, would fall under P for Project Cookbook. I am less than ten recipes away from having final draft versions of all recipes in the book (This is also the part where I shamelessly plug that anyone who would like to lend themselves for recipe editing/testing will be welcomed with open arms and any kind of baked goods you want).

I should have several new recipes up in the next couple of weeks, but in the meantime here's a visual preview of what's coming:

Chipotle Yogurt Sauce

Lemon-Glazed Shrimp

Asparagus and Ricotta Pasta

Poppyseed Noodles

Baked Asparagus

Banana Bread

Italian Breaded Chicken

All coming soon!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Broccoli and Rice Casserole / Mom's Cooking

Came across this article on the science behind why "Mom's cooking" tastes so good to us.

If the science doesn't convince you, there's always photographic evidence:

I obviously needed everything on that spoon to be in my mouth. Immediately.
While the dinner table I now sit at involves a lot less country blue, it involves just as much face-stuffing.

Of all of my mama's cooking, nothing makes me think of her quite like Broccoli and Rice Casserole. This was our special dish when I was growing up. Mostly because she and I were the only two in the house that would touch it with a ten-foot-pole. Every now and then she'd make it when most other members were out of the house for the evening (and usually the unlucky sister left at home with us got her choice of broccoli and rice or leftovers). When I moved to Indiana it was the first thing we made in my kitchen. She brought a lunchbox along with all of the pre-cooked parts and pieces and after a long day of unpacking, we cooked, then chowed down with plastic utensils on paper plates.

Omit the bacon and sub cream of celery with cream of chicken for a vegetarian version. Sub out the white for brown rice for a healthier version. But I'll let you in on a secret. This is one of those recipes that's just so, so much better with unadulterated bacon and intoxicatingly aromatic basmati rice. Maybe it's just my genes talking, but Mom's way is the best.

Mom's Broccoli and Rice Casserole
60 minutes (40 minutes unattended)
6 Servings
Mom’s Kitchen

  • 4 strips bacon
  • ½ cup celery, chopped
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 3-4 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 2 cups rice, cooked
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1.         Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2.         In a medium skillet, sauté the bacon, celery and onion. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until bacon is cooked and onions are translucent. 
3.    Place the broccoli in a medium saucepan and cover halfway with water. Cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain broccoli.
4.         In a large bowl, mix the soup, milk, broccoli and rice. Stir in cooked bacon, celery and onion.
5.         Add mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Top with grated cheddar cheese.
6.         Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly.