Gadgets, Gizmos, and Bacon Pepper Pasta

lasagna noodles with bacon and peppers

“I’ve got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty
I’ve got who’s-its and what’s-its galore
You want thing-a-mabobs?
I’ve got twenty”

Yep, I’m quoting the Little Mermaid.  It’s that bad. We have boxes stacked in every corner, bubble wrap strewn across the floors, and today I had to reopen a box because I realized that I’d packed away the checkbook. 

When did I amass so much stuff?

kitcher utensilsIn packing up my kitchen for storage, I have discovered dozens of gadgets and gizmos.  We are moving to a furnished sublet complete with basic kitchen gear – pots, pans, knives etc. Last night, surrounded by melon ballers and cheese graters and meat thermometers and citrus zesters, I realized the only thing in my kitchen that I really need to bring with me is a single cast iron skillet. That’s it.  That’s all I need for sauteing or baking or, well, just about anything.  And as for the rest… I’ll make do. So what if my melon bits are not round? or if my lemons go unzested? And for that matter, I think I can manage a few months without a waffle iron or ice cream maker.  And for crying out loud, why on earth do we have something called a ‘quesadilla maker’?

lasagna noodles with bacon and peppersWhat happened to me?  I used to be the queen of making do!  I’m the girl who lived in a tiny NY apartment and baked cupcakes for 200 in a toaster-oven. I owned exactly three forks, two wine glasses, and one single fantastic French knife.  And tonight, when I made dinner with a handful of lingering ingredients and not a single gadget, I felt a bit like my old self. 

pastaThis dish came together out of nothing.  Our cupboards are bare, but we had some leftover bacon hiding in the back of the freezer, and a few lasagna noodles all alone in the pantry.  And with that, we had dinner.  A pretty awesome dinner, actually.  I was surprised to find that I loved the sliced lasagna noodles.  They had awesome texture, and were a perfect foil for the rich sauce.  The bits of noodle matched the bits of pepper and much to my surprise, the whole thing just worked. Of course, you could sub in any short pasta you like here, if hacking apart noodles is not your thing.  I think farfalle would work very well.

I’m excited for a few months of making do ahead of me.  But for the next week or two I won’t be spending much time in the kitchen.  Once we get settled in the new place, I promise I’ll be back!

creamy noodles with bacon and cubanelle

Make Do Bacon Pepper Pasta

Serves 2

4 strips bacon, chopped

4 ounces lasagna noodles (about 5 noodles)

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1 cup thinly sliced cubanelle pepper (about 1 small pepper)

pinch of red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons cream

parmesan cheese for serving

In a large skillet, saute the bacon over medium heat until almost crisp, about 5-6 minutes.  Drain all but 2 teaspoons of bacon fat from the pan. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the noodles until just al dente. Don’t overcook. Drain the noodles and reserve 3/4 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Add the onion and pepper to the bacon in the skillet and saute until the peppers are soft, about 8 minutes.  Meanwhile, slice the lasagna noodles into 1/2 inch strips. Add about 1/4 cup of pasta cooking liquid to the skillet, along with the red pepper flakes.  Stir in the cream. Add the sliced noodles to the pan and toss to combine.  Add more pasta cooking liquid if desired. Serve topped with parmesan cheese.

Published in: on August 25, 2010 at 5:52 pm  Comments (29)  
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Hearty Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have my computer back in my very own hands. My poor, old laptop had a nice vacation at the PC Guys spa and has come home running better than ever.  If you have ever had a computer crisis, you can probably relate to how naked I have felt these past few days without my laptop.  But all is well now, so here I am!

Over the past two weeks, while my laptop was getting fit and trim, I was busy gorging myself on the remnants of holiday treats. But the mocha cake is gone, only a tiny sliver of fudge remains in the tin, and crumbs are all that remain of the cheese straws. Which, I suppose, means it’s time to get back to reality, and do something about that little roll that developed over my jeans during the holidays.

Puy lentils and brown riceIn the interest of good health I am turning to one of my very favorite staples – lentils!  I often cook a pot of lentils and leave them in the refrigerator to throw in salads and soups for quick dinners.  But tonight I decided to go for something a little more fun. These stuffed peppers are wonderfully quick to make, and keep very well in the fridge for a healthy, hearty lunch that’s easy to reheat.  I prefer Puy lentils (also called French green lentils) because they hold their shape better than other varieties and have a slightly richer flavor.  Brown lentils would work too, but they are easily overcooked, and I usually end up with lentil mush when I use them. 

basil pestoI used some leftover pesto to flavor the rice and lentil mixture, but you can certainly play around.  An olive tapenade would be lovely, as would  sun-dried tomatoes.  I happened to have green bell peppers, but red or yellow bell peppers would probably be even better (although I actually really love green peppers). The real trick to stuffed peppers is getting them to stand up as they cook.  There’s nothing worse than a stuffed pepper that loses its stuffing!  To that end, I cook my stuffed peppers in a loaf pan, packed tightly together to keep from falling over.  stuffed peppers

Lentil Stuffed Peppers

Serves 2

11/2 cups cooked brown rice

11/2 cooked Puy lentils

2 tablespoons basil pesto

1/2 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese, divided

2 medium-sized bell peppers

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a medium bowl, mix together the rice, lentils, pesto and all but 2 tablespoons of the cheese.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Stem and core the peppers, removing all seeds.  Sprinkle the inside of the peppers with salt and pepper.  Stuff the peppers with the lentil mixture.  Top the peppers with the remaining cheese and arrange tightly in a greased loaf pan. Bake 35-45 minutes, until peppers are slightly shriveled and cheese is brown. Serve hot.

Published in: on January 9, 2010 at 7:40 pm  Comments (8)  
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