pasta cabornara

How to Make Restaurant Quality Carbonara

May 4, 2016

Pasta Carbonara is one of THE easiest dishes to make –  it is literally just bacon, eggs, cheese and pasta. The trick to making perfect carbonara is timing (just like life). I’ve tried a number of different ways to prepare this dish and this is my preferred method. If raw eggs freak you out remember, the egg is going to cook as you mix it with the hot pasta. You are not eating raw egg.

If you don’t succeed at this recipe on the first try, I strongly encourage you to try again. It is definitely a practice-makes-perfect type of dish. The good thing is that the ingredients are cheap and it’s quick to make, so if you don’t get rich creamy results the first time, you can always whip up another batch on the spot.

pasta carbonara ingredients, easy weeknight meal

How to Make Restaurant Quality Carbonara
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. uncooked thin pasta or linguine
  • 6 - 8 slices of bacon, chopped
  • ½ Cup scallions, chopped
  • Two eggs
  • 1 cup of good quality Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook spaghetti pasta until al dente (or however you like it).
  2. While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet, cook chopped bacon until slightly crisp; remove and drain onto a paper towel. Reserve 1 tablespoons of bacon fat in the pan. Add chopped scallions and garlic to the pan and cook over medium heat for a minute or until the scallion wilts down.
  3. In a small bowl mix eggs and Parmesan cheese together and set aside.
  4. Return cooked bacon to pan with the scallions and turn heat to low. The spaghetti should be done by now. If it isn’t, turn off the heat to the pan until the spaghetti is cooked. Add cooked spaghetti directly from the pasta water to the bacon and scallion mixture in the pan. Toss to coat and heat through. Add a small scoop of the pasta water if the pasta seems dry or is sticking together. Turn off the heat.
  5. Add mixture of beaten eggs and Parmesan cheese to the pan, tossing constantly with tongs or large fork until eggs are barely set. The noodles should have a creamy, translucent glow that sort of looks like an Alfredo sauce.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

pasta cabornara

Tips

  • If your eggs curdle, the pasta was too hot. Next time try mixing the pasta with tongs for a minute to cool it down enough. You want the pasta to reach the sweet spot of hot enough to cook the eggs, but not so hot they curdle.
  • I like to use thin white spaghetti. I find with wheat pasta I have to increase the eggs and cheese.
  • Parmesan cheese is salty, so go don’t add salt until the very end after you’ve tried it before serving.

I love this for a quick and easy weeknight meal. It is this working mom’s favorite go-to meal!

Do you have a favorite pasta dish? 

 

 

(c) Lorri Brown

Easy Way to Cook a Whole Chicken

April 29, 2016

Have you ever heard of Spatchcock chicken? I didn’t think so. It’s an easy way to prepare a whole roasting chicken so that it will cook quickly and evenly. This makes it an ideal meal for busy working moms and dads. You can prepare it and then let it marinate in your sauce of choice, overnight, for added flavor.    Check out the full directions for more information. 

 

(c) Lorri Brown

(c) Lorri Brown

New Habits

Day 66 of My New Habits Adventure – Eat Your Vegetables

April 24, 2016

66 days ago I set out to cultivate a new healthy habit. I chose 66 days because that is the amount of time it takes for a new habit to stick. My goal was pretty simple: eat more vegetables. I could have tied in eating less, cutting out certain food groups, exercising every day, etc… but I know from experience trying to tackle too many things at once is a recipe for failure. So, I decided to just focus on increasing my vegetable consumption. By default this would reduce the amount of unhealthy food I ate and I would probably lose weight.

It’ll Put Hair on Your Chest

Eating more vegetables sound like something you might hear in grade school. As a kid, my grandfather would encourage me to eat the cooked carrots on my plate because they would 1. Put hair on my chest and 2. Make my eyesight better. Since I had perfect eyesight and did not want to risk a hairy chest, I tended to skip the cooked carrots and most other vegetables, sticking with the good Maine diet of Meat & Potatoes.  Not surprisingly, this childhood habit of little to no veggies carried far into adulthood. It is only in the past six or seven years that I’ve really embraced a healthier diet of vegetables that go beyond microwaved peas and iceberg salads. And it’s really only been the past two years that I have begun to incorporate true variety of vegetables into my diet – things like zucchini, summer squash, Brussel sprouts, baby spinach, to name a few.

Be Willing to Try New Foods

My most deliberate action during my 66 New Habits Adventure was a willingness to try new foods. If you are a grown woman (or man) and still wrinkle your nose at foods you’ve never eaten, it’s time to act your age and be willing to try something new. And be willing to try them prepared a couple of different ways. I did not like steamed Brussel sprouts. At all. But then I tried them roasted with a little balsamic vinegar and they were to die for good! Now they are one of my favorite dishes to cook.

I also experimented with foods that I have historically rejected, like tomatoes, which I grew up hating. I could handle tomato-based sauces or ketchup, but that was it. Now I enjoy fresh tomato salsa, fresh bruschetta with tomato and basil, and add tomato to salads – something I would have never done even a few years ago. 20141019_161917

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other new dishes I have incorporated into my cooking repertoire include:

  • Roasted Asparagus – I may or may not wrap it bacon. #nojudgezone
  • Baked Spaghetti squash – either by itself, or in place of spaghetti or taco shells.Baby spinach – I add a cup of raw baby spinach to smoothies three or four times a week. You can’t taste it all, and it adds a wallop of nutrients and fiber.
  • Zoodles  – AKA Zucchini Noodles. These are a great base for spaghetti or pad that. Get yourself a spiralizer for $14 at Walmart.
  • Avocado – I have always loved guacamole, but rarely did I use avocado in any other fashion. Today I will add fresh diced avocado to salads, scambled eggs, or in place of cheese in a sandwich on burger.
  • Sweet Potatoes – I like them baked, or sauteed with baby spinach and (more) bacon.

The Results of 66 Days of Practice

Are you wondering if I ate loads of fresh veggies every single day for the past 66 days? No, because I’m Far From Perfect (recall the name of blog, no?). But I can confidently say I did eat more vegetables on a daily basis about 80% of the time – including a work trip to Florida, which involved a week of eating out. Just as I hoped, adding vegetables to every meal or snack is no longer something I have to think about or struggle with. I have built up a nice stock pile of vegetable recipes and ideas that keep me from getting bored and I actually look forward to cooking them. I also don’t berate myself if I don’t eat perfectly at every meal. In fact, if I skip veggies at a meal or two, I can feel the difference. My body actually craves healthier food now. So, I that’s a first.

Habits are Built

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for external goals – I did lose about 10 pounds (which I had gained over the holidays with impressive rapidity) and I my energy levels are much better – I am able to exercise longer and harder without wanting to die. Coincidence? I don’t think so. And my mood is better in general. I wake up feeling good most days, rather than feeling like eating healthy and exercise is an uphill battle; just one more thing on my never ending to do list. The whole experience has made me excited to set a new 66 day habit adventure, starting tomorrow! Stay tuned for more!

Do you have any new habits?

Follow Me Friday WrkOut

Follow Me Friday: Easy Work Outs You Won’t Hate…too much

April 22, 2016

As you may or may not know, I like to work out occassionally. I have even been known to work out multiple times in one week. Crazy, I know. Running was my go-to for a long time. But recently I committed more strength training and a little less cardio. I wanted to see if there would be any difference in the way I looked and/or felt.

I decided to keep it simple and go old school – no gym and no equipment; I was just going to use my body weight, which is more than enough resistence to guarentee a good work out. After two months of regular strength training, I did notice a big difference in my legs. AND I noticed that I was running faster and longer with much less effort. Will you mistake my legs for Carrie Underwoods? Ummm….no. But I’m pretty happy with my progress so far.

I turned to Pinterest to find a variety of different workouts. You can see them on my Strength Training and Cross Training boards. There are specific workouts for arms, legs, core, and full body. I also like to use Fitness Blender – which offers hundreds of free workout videos online.

For a quick go-to I can do in my office or at home, I also use this handy list from PopSugar. You’d be surprised how even short intervals can add up to big changes over time.

Here is an example of a quick and dirty workout I will do at my office or at home. If I have more time, I’ll add five or six more moves or repeat the whole set two or three times. Usually within 25 -30 minutes I’m done! Easy Peasy.

Easy Workouts for Working Moms

Easy Workouts for Working Moms

 

 

Do you have a favorite go-to exercise?

 

 

My obligatory disclaimer: I like working out (kinda) but don’t be fooled, I’m not a professional. Information provided here is for entertainment purposes only. Please consult a physician before starting any exercise regime. 

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Become a Potluck Rockstar With This Easy Guacamole Recipe

April 22, 2016

I was in the checkout line at Hannaford and the cashier, a 20-something girl, held up the avocados I was buying and asked “What do you do with these?” And my heart broke a little. She didn’t even know what an avocado was. I always feel bad for people who don’t know or are unwilling to try avocados. They are so good and good for you. And they require hardly any prep.

Avocados are probably the most popular food at Boxshop. We eat them plain, diced up on top of scrambled eggs, sliced inside sandwiches, as a topper for salads or burgers, and our favorite way: Guacamole.

One of the perks of my now defunct marriage is the salsa and guacamole recipes I learned to make. Passed down from a Mexican grandmother (yes Donald Trump, my kids have Mexican blood running through their veins, better get that wall up ASAP) this recipe is a cinch to prepare. And not to toot my own horn, but I am kind of a big deal when I show up to parties and potlucks with a bowl of my guacamole. For real.

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Easy Guacamole Recipe
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 cups or so
 
Be the star of your next pot luck with this gorgeous guacamole.
Ingredients
  • 1 ripe avocado (it should give a little when you push it)
  • 1 fresh tomato, diced
  • 1 tablespoon diced jalapenos
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 dashes of worchershire sauce
  • 1 squeeze of a lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: tablespoon of diced red onion.
Instructions
  1. Scoop out the avocado and mash it with a fork. Add all the other ingredients and stir together. Viola! You can add in ¼ cup of sour cream or greek yogurt to stretch the recipe for a small crowd. You will need to adjust the worcheshire, lemon juice, and salt.
  2. I usually double or triple the orginal recipe and may throw in a dollop of sour cream, if I am taking this to a potluck or serving to a crowd.

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I gave a quick elevator speech to the cashier, about how to best eat avocados. As I pushed my grocery cart toward the exit, she didn’t look entirely convinced, but I felt better.

Do you love avocados?