Truly Home Made Pasta Alfredo

Okay, so I know that food manufacturers make it like SUPER easy to skip a bunch of steps when you’re cooking and buy everything pre-made and then just throw it together in various pans.

While the convenience is nice… you lose a lot of flavor potential and, quite frankly, the dish tastes flat and, well… canned. Hmm, maybe that’s why the “pasta alfredo” you make at home with lackluster jarred sauce and frozen meat doesn’t taste quite like the “Pasta Alfredo” you get from the authentic Italian restaurant down the road that promotes their “made from scratch” Alfredo sauce and “fresh, never frozen” meat.

I have tried to really make it clear through this blog that cooking from scratch and making restaurant quality dishes doesn’t have to be hard or expensive! If you shop smart and cook without waste it really becomes so worth it to make everything yourself.

Now, I’m not about to tell you to start making your own pasta – while that can be very rewarding, it’s a tricky process and sort of defeats the “it’s really easy and quick” mantra I continually put out. So, keep on buying boxed pasta on sale for $1 a box – it’s really cheap and still tastes fine!

That being said, after reading this post, you should never buy jarred or canned Alfredo sauce – EVER again!

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The kind of pasta and meat you use for this is really entirely up to you – I used smoked sausage for my meat and Cellentani for my pasta. The important part is getting the sauce down. A note though: if you’re used smoked sausage, it’s really seasoned enough on its own, so just brown it in oil and set it aside. If you’re using something like chicken or shrimp, however (which has a blander flavor profile) you’ll want to kick up the spice a bit while you’re cooking it – even if it’s just salt, pepper, and something like basil or cayenne.

So, once you’ve browned/cooked your meat in some olive oil and removed it from the pan, keep the pan over a medium-low heat and add 1/2 a diced onion to the remaining oil. Let the onions sweat for about 2 minutes, then add 2 cloves of minced garlic.

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Let this sweat for another minute more, then add 1 cup of cream (or milk, if you’re trying to keep things low-fat).

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It will bubble and steam as it de-glazes the pan and reduces down. After about 1-2 minutes, add 2 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese and 1 cup of Parmesan cheese, along with 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp basil, and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper. Stir until the cheese has melted and spices are combined.

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Stir in your reserved meat and then whatever pasta you cooked, and serve! That’s it. It’s that simple – and it will taste so much better than that lame jarred stuff!

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Full Recipe:

Home Made Pasta Alfredo

Yield: 2-3 servings

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cream (or milk)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Process:

1) Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and allow to sweat for about two minutes, then add garlic and let sweat for an additional minute.

2) Pour in cream to de-glaze the pan and allow to reduce for 2 minutes or so, then stir in spices, Parmesan, and mascarpone until cheese is melted and everything is combined.

3) Stir in cooked pasta and browned meat of your choice and serve immediately.

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*Valentine’s Week* Chocolate Parfait with Rum Whipped Cream

Happy Valentine’s Week! This week is dedicated to decadence and romance, since Valentine’s Day is this Friday! These recipes are of course good the rest of the year, too – but for a day that practically worships chocolate, I’m focusing on that delightful sweet dessert ingredient all week!

I’m kicking things off with a recipe that can actually prove to be very versatile, as the two components of the recipe (the chocolate cake and the whipped cream) can be used by themselves elsewhere, or together in other combinations than what I’ve given here.

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I truly feel like I’ve stumbled onto a gold mine with this mini chocolate cake recipe. It’s just enough batter for two light, fluffy, and moist cupcakes – and it’s decadently dark and rich!

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and putting two cupcake liners in a cupcake pan. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave for 30 seconds and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup flour, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together 1 egg, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/4 cup milk. Slowly pour in melted butter, whisking steadily while you’re pouring. Once this is combined, switch to a wooden spoon or spatula and stir in your flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Once it’s combined, pour into the two cupcake liners.

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If you’re like me and can’t resist having a bit of the batter while you’re mixing, it should fit nicely into two cups. If you do have a little extra, then just bake three cupcakes instead of two!

Bake them for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Once they have cooled, take a serrated knife (a steak knife works great) and slice each cupcake into 3 even layers.

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Place the layers on a dish lined with parchment paper and pop them in the freezer, along with your stand-mixer mixing bowl and whisk attachment, for ten minutes or so.

Once your bowl and whisk are chilled, attach them to your stand mixer and a 1/2 cup of chilled heavy cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and one tablespoon of RumChata (or another favorite rum). Beat this on a high speed for a minute or so, then add 1/3 cup powdered sugar and continue to beat on high until stiff peaks form.

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Once the whipped cream is done, you’re ready to assemble! Make sure your glasses are wide enough to accommodate the width of your sliced cupcakes. Start with the whipped cream, add a layer of cake, and then topped with whipped cream. Continue until both glasses have 3 cake layers with whipped cream at the bottom and the top. Serve immediately, or keep refrigerated until you’re ready to serve!

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If you don’t wan’t to be so fancy, you could also just make the cupcakes and frost them with the whipped cream, or even pipe the whipped cream inside them!

*You could also make chocolate whipped cream by swapping out the rum for chocolate liqueur and adding 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder to the powdered sugar!

Full Recipe:

Chocolate Parfait with Rum Whipped Cream

Yield: Two parfaits

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cupcakes:
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Whipped Cream:
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp RumChata
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Process:

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with two cupcake paper liners.

2) Melt butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Set aside to cool.

3) In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

4) In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together egg, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Slowly pour in butter, while whisking continuously.

5) Once wet ingredients are combined, switch to a wooden spoon or spatula and stir in flour mixture to wet ingredients.

6) Pour finished batter into prepared baking pan and bake for 12-15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

7) Cool in pan for 5 minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

8) Once the cupcakes are cooled, cut them with a serrated knife into 3 layers each and place them on a parchment paper lined dish in the freezer, along with your stand mixer’s bowl and whisk attachment, for 10 minutes.

9) After the 10 minutes has passed, attach the bowl and whisk to the stand mixer and beat heavy cream, RumChata, and vanilla on high for about a minute, then add powdered sugar and continue to beat on high until stiff peaks form.

10) Layer whipped cream and cake layers in parfait glasses, so there is whipped cream on the bottom, top, and between each cake layer. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve.