Shortly after moving to Charlotte, I fell in love with Mama Ricotta’s. I blame it on the goat cheese and mascarpone dip, which was my first bite of food on my very first visit to Mama’s.
Mama’s is the type of place where families feel equally comfortable as couples on hot dates. The dining room is cozy with large family-sized booths plus intimate tables for two, vintage family photos, and a large wood-fired pizza oven.
If you have any Italian friends or family, you know the importance of sharing food in the Italian culture. Food is love. This holds true at Mama’s, where most of the pasta dishes are available family-style and are served in deep dishes that are passed around the table, just like at home.
It didn’t take long for me to realize Mama Ricotta’s had common ownership with Bad Daddy’s (one of my favorite burger spots in town) and Midwood Smokehouse (my favorite barbecue joint). I’ve eaten at these restaurants dozen of times, and many of those meals have ended with toasts to Frank Scibelli, the owner and man behind the amazing food.
I’m a big fan of bread, and Mama Ricotta’s bread basket alone is worth a visit. The housemade rolls are served with olive oil sprinkled with crushed red pepper flakes for dipping. As for appetizers, there’s that amazing dip I mentioned–it’s a warm goat cheese and mascarpone dip served with grilled crostini and a warm tomato basil sauce, a steal at $8.50. I also highly recommend the new house made burrata ($12). Burrata is fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream, and Mama’s burrata is soft and supple and accompanied by olive oil poached tomatoes, basil, roasted garlic, and grilled ciabatta.Read More
Last week, on a lunch-break grocery shopping spree, I picked up ingredients for this shrimp and tomato bake. It’s a low-stress meal that can easily be made after work or prepared the day before. (I find that recipes using canned tomatoes taste even better when they’ve had time to sit.) Shrimp, tomatoes, and a bit of cheese–it’s a dish built for carbohydrates. I recommend a crusty bread or a twirly noodle.Read More
Call it Shrimp Fra Diavolo, as the Italians say, or simply spicy shrimp with tomatoes and onions in a garlic wine sauce. Either way, this easy pasta dish is one to add to your recipe repertoire, pronto.
When it comes to pasta, I’m usually a marinara kind of gal. I find cream sauces heavy and overly rich and oil based sauces often taste bland and greasy. This fra diavolo sauce is the perfect middle ground—light, yet flavorful, with a kick of heat from the red pepper flakes. Two bites into our pasta Saturday night, Jarrod and I agreed we’d be making it regularly. That’s when you know you have a good recipe on your hands!Read More
The process of planning out a dinner for the BF and I usually involves 1-3 hours of research, googling, cookbook flipping, blog reading and a substantial amount of quality time spent on allrecipes.com. This will result in a list of 3-6 options with corresponding website links and/or attached photos, which I will then email to the BF for his consideration. If I’m lucky he’ll rule out 1-2 items on the list that aren’t striking his fancy and then leave the final decision up to me. More often than not, he’ll respond that all the items on the list in question look fabulous and that “everything you cook turns out delicious” (LIES!!!!!) and then leave the final decision up to… you guessed it. Moi. This is a little game I like to call For the Love of God Will You Make a Decision, Man, or FTLOGWYMADM, as we say.
I wouldn’t say I’m indecisive. The problem is my decision making abilities are clouded by my gluttonous desire to eat the world once over. When I do finally reach a decision I stick to it with a supernatural stubbornness, but getting to that point can be a wee bit exhausting. Decision making on an empty stomach is horrid after all, and I’ve mentioned a time or five before that bad things happen when I don’t eat.
All I want is a plate full of deliciousness.
A mound of this, perhaps:
After playing our normal round of FTLOGWYMADM and going through the subsequent mental debate, I decided to go with this recipe for Bruschetta Chicken pasta I saw on Iowa Girl Eats. It’s really not much of a recipe, and that makes me love it all the more.
This pièce de résistance of this dish is the balsamic drizzle. Simply simmer a cup of balsamic vinegar over medium heat for 15 minutes. The vinegar will reduce by about half, and once removed from the heat it will continue to thicken as it cools.
While I waited for the balsamic vinegar to reduce, I got to prepping my veggies.
The asparagus was for the pasta and the sprouts were our side dish. Love me some veg.
Jarred bruschetta sauce is the secret behind the simplicity of this pasta dish. Thank you Trader Giotto
This pasta was so simple, in fact, that I decided to squeeze in a little nap.
Before I fell asleep at the pan, I cut the chicken into big chunks, seasoned with S&P, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder and tossed into a saute pan with 2 tsp olive oil. Then I dropped 6 ounces of penne pasta into boiling water.
Once the chicken was cooked through, I sautéed the veggies with garlic salt, black pepper, and 1 tsp olive oil.
When the pasta reached al dente, I combined the chicken, asparagus, jar of bruschetta, and penne in the skillet and sautéed until everything was heated through.
Last but not least, I topped the pasta with a little balsamic drizzzzzzle:
This pasta was DELICIOUS, filling, and balanced, and the tangy balsamic drizzle wowed my tastebuds. I will definitely be adding this recipe to the playbook.
Bruschetta Chicken Pasta Ingredients List (serves 4)
Recipe from Iowa Girl Eats
WOW guys. WOW.
For the big game this past weekend, I was looking for a something a little different to take to the family party… Something a little healthified but that still packed a little somethin somethin. During my search, I stumbled upon the the Mac and Cheese Light recipe from the September 2010 Cooking Lite, and it looked like the perfect fit! You can never have too much cheese on super bowl Sunday, I always say.
What really drew me to this particular recipe was that it started off with the “secret weapon” – a puree consisting of one whole LARGE onion and 9 cloves of garlic.
Clearly this was destiny.
First up, I put a big ole pot of water on the stove to boil, then tossed a large Vidalia onion and 9 cloves roughly chopped garlic into a bowl with 1/2 cup water.
I covered this guy with plastic wrap and nuked in the microwaved for 10 minutes. Prepare to smell like onions and garlic for the remainder of the day. Don’t worry. I won’t judge you.
After 10 minutes, you dump this onion garlic goodness out into a blender and pulse until smooth. It should look like grits, ya’ll:
By now the water should be boiling, so drop in 8 Ounces Barilla Plus Elbow Macaroni and cook until al dente.
Meanwhile season up you onion garlic puree with:
Once the pasta is done, drain and set aside. Then heat your onion garlic puree up in a pot (large enough to hold the sauce and the pasta), and once hot and bubbly slowly whisk in 2 cups shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese.
It should be gloriously thick.
Once the cheese is all melted in, take it off the heat and whisk in 2/3 cup fat free plain greek yogurt, then add in the cooked pasta. Once everything is combined, pour the mac and cheese into a casserole dish greased with cooking spray.
Sprinkle the top with
Baked at 425 for 15 minutes:
No joke. Big. Arse.
Of course I finangled one serving of the mac and cheese to take home with me after the game, and I decided to spice it up a bit for dinner tonight.
I LIBERALLY seasoned up 4 jumbo shrimp with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper and sautéed them up on a pan:
I also roasted up some broccoli that I had liberally seasoned with S&P … and I also microwaved the mac and cheese. Don’t judge.
That is a seriously grown up healthified mac and cheese masterpiece!!!
I havent had roasted broccoli in months!! I practically lived off of roasted veggies last summer, and I had somehow forgotten how friggin delicious they are!
The mac and cheese by itself was a little too mild for my tastes – so, at the super bowl party I topped it off with some Frank’s Red hot. But for tonight’s dinner this spicy cayenne shrimp added plenty of kick:
Can’t get over how delicious!
Get in my beeeeeeeeeeeelllllllllllllllllllllllllllllly!!!!!!!!!!!!
Stats on 1 serving mac and cheese (no shrimp): 275 calories, 30g carbs, 10g fat, 17g protein, 3g fiber
Stats on 1 serving mac and cheese WITH shrimp: 322 calories, 30g carbs, 11g fat, 26g protein, 3g fiber
Mac & Cheese Ingredients List (serves 8 )