Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Valentines Day! (and Pasta Shells of Death!)

Nathan has always made me Valentine's dinner and brought me flowers, so this year we switched it up a bit. I figured after 5 years of being the Valentine's recipient, he deserved to be able to come home to a fancy meal. I recreated a Valentine's meal he made for me a couple years ago (although he did it full out by not only making home made foccacia, but also making homemade croutons from a second homemade focaccia, I considered doing this, but in the end I got a par-baked load from Fred Meyer... another reminder that Nathan is super human).

Table all set and ready to go!

The pasta recipe is similar to a traditional vodka sauce, with the addition of spicy Italian sausage and red pepper flakes to give it a little kick. This was a super popular dish in the house Nathan lived in in college and it's been with us ever since. We don't make it often since there's a fair amount of cream, and the sausage isn't all that healthy either, hence our pet name of:

Pasta Shells of Death!!!!
* 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
* 1 lb Italian Sausage (Hot)
* Red pepper flakes to taste
* 1 onion diced
* 5 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 cup vodka
* fresh basil leaves
* 1 16oz can of diced italian tomatoes
* 1 8oz can of tomato sauce
* 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 1 lb medium pasta shells

(I happen to think this would be awesome with mushrooms too, but Nathan and I are not agreed on this point, if you think you would like mushrooms, I'd suggest adding them in towards the end of the onions step. Also if you want to make a veg-version you could replace the sausage with mushrooms and I bet that would be amazing!)

1. Heat the oil in a pan and add the red pepper flakes

2. Add the sausage to the pan mush it around so that it breaks into manageable chunks, keep cooking until the insides of the chunks are not pink inside and the outside start to brown (set aside) <-- (I forgot to do this part because I have a thing about not reading directions, instead I drained the grease from the pan and added the onions and garlic directly to the sausage. I am happy to report that nothing bad happened, although in the future I think I'd like to try to drain the sausage on a towel for a bit to reduce the grease as much as possible).

3. Add onions and garlic and sauté until transparent

4. Start to boil pasta water

5. If you took the sausage out put it back in.

6. Add Vodka, if you are feeling adventurous, add a bit more. I went a little wild with a cup and a half, hey we buy this stuff at Costco so I can afford to live dangerously.

7. Simmer until vodka is reduced by half (not long, alcohol is good at evaporating)

8. Add basil, diced tomatos and tomato sauce.

9. Simmer some more, just let it keep going until your pasta's done.

10. Add cream and stir until well combined.


I also made Tiramisu for dessert, that was more tricky because the directions I had were a bit skimpy. It turned out alright but I was a bit light handed with the Kahlua, we also buy this from Costco, so I think I'll add more next time, and maybe make some fresh espresso too!

Elephants enjoying the bouquet.


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