Saturday, November 4, 2017

Pappardelle Il Forno Recipe

Recipe adapted from Via Sforza Trattoria Restaurant in Norwalk, CT

When we lived in Connecticut we had a favorite restaurant we would visit every week. The ambiance was homey, the food was delicious, and the owners and staff treated us like family. They would let our little toddler sit at their small bar while we were waiting for a table, treating her like royalty. We literally ate there every week and one of us ordered this pasta dish almost every time. It's one of those delicious dishes that you crave and regret when you didn't order it. 

Before we left Connecticut for our big move to California, I helped organize a fundraising cookbook for the Family & Children's Agency China program. The owners at the restaurant graciously donated the recipe to be part of our cookbook. It is still a family favorite. And now I hope it will be one of yours, too.

Pappardelle Il Forno
Serves 4
Cook time: 15 minutes

10 oz bag of Pappardelle pasta, wide noodles, or egg noodles
1/2 lb bulk Italian sausage, or link sausage with casings removed, divided into 1" bites (pork or turkey. We like spicy pork!)
10 oz small baby Bella mushrooms, cut in fourths
1 large shallot diced
2, 8oz cans of plum tomato sauce
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup cream
2 oz brandy, or splash of red wine
2 T unsalted butter
salt to taste
pepper to taste
fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

In a large saute pan heat 2 T olive oil until hot. Brown sausage, then add shallots and cook for a minute. Add brandy (or wine) to deglaze the pan. Cook for a minute. Add fresh mushrooms, peas, salt and pepper. Saute for a minute. Add plum tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low.

Boil pasta noodles in salted water while sauce is simmering. Drain pasta. Add to sauce. Add butter, and Parmesan cheese. Toss together. Garnish with parsley.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Banana Sugar Cookie Recipe

by Kris Mulkey

I love when I try a twist on a recipe and it comes out great! For these cookies I used banana in a recipe that called for pumpkin and the results are oh-so-tasty. These banana sugar cookies taste like banana bread with a sweet crispy edge. I debated calling them banana bread cookies. Don thought they should be called banana snickerdoodles. But I settled on banana sugar cookies because they are light and fluffy just like a sugar cookie.

Banana Sugar Cookies

Makes 3 1/2 dozen

1 1/2 cups sugar (plus 1/2 c. more for rolling dough)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon (plus 1/2 t. for rolling dough)
1/4 t. Penzey's apple pie spice (or pumpkin pie spice)
14 T. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 t. vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
2 ripe bananas, mashed

Cinnamon Sugar: 1/2 c. sugar and 1 heaping t. cinnamon

1. In large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, 1/2 t. cinnamon and apple pie spice.
2. With your mixer on medium, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and banana until well combined.
4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until well combined. Chill 20 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
6. Line your baking sheets with parchment or a Silpat liner.
7. Roll the dough into one inch sized balls. Roll in cinnamon sugar. Place on baking sheet 2 inches apart. Press down lightly with the bottom of a glass (lightly buttered.)
8. Bake for 15 minutes.
9. Cool on a wire rack.


Monday, September 4, 2017

A teenagers perspective. Can we blame all the downfalls of a generation on technology?

Guest post by Elli Mulkey, age 15, High School Junior
Getty Image
Technology Takeover
As time goes on, everything around us is aging: ourselves, trees in the backyard, the dog sleeping next to you, the technology in your hands. The article Post-Millennials! Please Go Drink And Smoke And Have Sex In The Woods by Mark Morford is blaming all technology on how kids are these days. The author wrote that “we might be one of the most narcissistic generations, ever.” Smart devices aren’t the only thing wrong in this generation, they have given us great advantages. Can we really blame all the downfalls of a generation on an object?
First I want to state that I can agree with what Morford is writing. There are people out there who can’t go one minute without talking about himself/herself or can’t go one minute without their phone glued to their hand. I believe that the generation with complete tech takeover is starting at the class of 2021. Those kids have been exposed to smart technology since they were born. Most of them that I know all had any model iPhone as their first phone. It opened them up to a world that they weren’t ready for. For my first phone I had a Pantech Pursuit, same goes for my friends. Those chunky little flip phones came with texting, calling, and no data. I wasn’t even sure what data was at the time. Now in restaurants I see babies already with an iPad stuck to their lap. It’s insane to me that a parent would rather give their child a show to watch instead of trying to have a nice family night out. Whatever happened to crayons and paper?
Morford writes how our generation is arrogant and narcissistic. A reason for that could be the media. It makes people post/show the better part of themselves (appearance.) You could say it’s fishing for compliments to feel better about themselves or they know it already and wanna show it off. Which is why that’s a good example of the selfishness in the generation.
This article has brought up so many opinions from different people in our classroom and I believe all of them to be valid. They brought up statistics, like the rate of depression increasing and the decline of dating/going out. Now that we have this smart phone with media and all that jazz, we don’t need to go out anymore right? Well how did we get that smart phone? How did the cyber bullying start on your profile? We have to remember that behind every screen starts with a human being. When I saw that baby in the restaurant the parent was the one who had given him/her the iPad. It’s not like a baby can go to the store and buy one itself. If human beings are the ones controlling technology we should be able to use it in an appropriate way.
Personally, I don’t like to go on my phone very much. I try to stay off it as much as possible when I’m with my friends, it allows me to talk more with them or have “thinking time” when there is the occasional stop in the conversation. People believe that going on social media and scrolling through their feed is a stress reliever or just a way to relax, and it is.  But there is a difference between those people, and those who don’t have self control. They go to a point where they are on their phone and find themselves in the same place an hour or two later.
Like I said in the beginning of my piece, technology is advancing. So I don’t expect to see every little kid with a chunky flip phone. I expect to see this privilege with more restriction when it comes to the accessibility of data and media. To me it’s an easy choice. I would rather be out there in the world exploring everything as much as possible. I don't want to just look at pictures of beautiful places, I want to see them and then go after it myself. You only get to experience this universe once so why would you live it in a phone?

Morford, Mark. “Post-Millennials! Please Go Drink and Smoke and Have Sex in the Woods.” SFGate, 4 Aug. 2017,

Twenge, Jean M. “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 4 Aug. 2017,

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Parmesan Smashed Cauliflower recipe

If you love mashed potatoes, but don't want all the calories, then you should try this mashed cauliflower recipe. They are creamy, cheesy and pretty darn awesome. 

The version I make is about half the calories of mashed potatoes and just as tasty. Serve them alongside a nice grilled steak and you have a delicious dinner which will rival any steakhouse.

Parmesan Smashed Cauliflower
serves 4-6

1 large head of cauliflower
1/4 cup + 2 T Parmesan cheese
1 oz cream cheese
1/4 t. chicken base (Better Than Bouillon)
1 garlic clove minced
salt and pepper to taste

Set a pot of water to boil over high heat with a steamer basket in the pot. 

Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces. Cook in boiling water for about 15 minutes, or until well done. Drain well. Leave cauliflower in hot pan and with the heat off stir it around in the pan. You want the cauliflower to be as dry as possible.

Use your immersion blender, or in a food processor, puree the hot cauliflower until almost smooth. Stir in the cream cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan, minced garlic, chicken base, salt and pepper. 

Pour mixture into an oven proof dish. Top with 2 T shredded Parmesan cheese and broil until golden brown.