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Tomato and Asparagus ?Carbonara?

Tomato and Asparagus “Carbonara”

by Pam on September 30, 2012

I found this recipe in the September 2012 issue of Cooking Light and I couldn’t wait to make it.  It took very little prep or time to make and it ended up being creamy, cheesy, and totally delicious.  I loved that, even though it didn’t have bacon like a traditional carbonara has, it was still flavorful and satisfying.  My husband, son, and I all loved it.  My daughter, on the other hand, thought it was too cheesy and she didn’t like the texture.  It’s no surprise since she doesn’t like cheese.  Oh well… her loss. 

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water per instructions.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes; add the asparagus and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat.

Mix the egg, Parmesan cheese, sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, to taste until well combined.  Drain the pasta and immediately add the cheese/egg mixture to the pasta and stir until well combined and the cheese has melted.  Add the tomato and asparagus mixture to the pan and mix until evenly coated.  Place pasta into the serving bowl and sprinkle the top with the torn basil leaves.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy.


Tomato and Asparagus “Carbonara”

Yield: 4

Prep Time: 5 min.

Cook Time: 12 min.

Total Time: 17 min.


8 oz whole wheat penne pasta, cooked per instructions
2 tsp olive oil
1 pint of grape tomatoes
1 lb asparagus, ends removed and cut into thirds
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1/2 cup of Parmesan, Asiago, Romano cheese mixture
1 large egg
Several fresh basil leaves, torn


Cook the pasta in salted boiling water per instructions.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes; add the asparagus and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the minced garlic and season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Mix the egg, Parmesan cheese, sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, to taste, until well combined. Drain the pasta then place back into the cooking pot and immediately add the cheese/egg mixture to the pasta and stir until well combined and the cheese has melted. Add the tomato and asparagus mixture to the pasta and mix until evenly coated. Place pasta into the serving bowl and sprinkle the top with the torn basil leaves. Serve immediately. Enjoy.

Adapted recipe and photos by For the Love of
Original recipe by Cooking Light – September 2012


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pigtailsandcombatboots: I’ve been wanting to post this for a…


I’ve been wanting to post this for a few days now, but there’s a lot of backstory involved and since I know I can get carried away with explaining things, I’ve been hesitant about trying to write a short and sweet summary. So here goes:

WARNING – I tried, but couldn’t make this short enough to appear readable at a glance (I know, I tend to skip reading long-winded posts because my ADD looks at them in horror.) I completely understand if you don’t read all or any of it. This has been in my drafts folder for several days now and I give up on trying to shorten it.

When I’m passionate about something, I throw myself completely into it. At some point I started watching Gordon Ramsay’s shows, andI discovered he wasn’t a jerk like the media makes him out to be. He is however, blatantly honest and straightforward, and has no patience for people that don’t try to always perform at their best. This perspective inpires me because I have a mediocre amount of motivation for anything, and I have a lot of difficulty using tact. Plus, tact is not very effective when it comes to motivating people, so why mess around and avoid getting right to the point?.This is the background of my passion for all things Gordon Ramsay.

Talented cooks amaze me, just like any other artist, except they do it with food, which at least to me, seems a lot harder. I enjoy watching cooking shows because I can’t comprehend how they can make something that tastes so good out of so few ingredients, in a limited amount of time. There’s so much technique and knowledge involved, I believe a very large part of it has to be instinctual. This puts me in awe.

I started watching Masterchef during season 2 and was hooked immediately. It’s like watching a REALLY interesting magic show (though I’ve never experienced a really interesting one), just without the illusion. I also enjoy seeing the varying degrees of passion and confidence in the contestants. I become involved in trying to dissect what can be interpreted from their psyches and their sources of motivations I don’t know how to explain it. It’s similar to the wonder I feel when I try to figure out how different artists see things the way they do, how they instinctually know how to mix colors, show textures, etc. It’s always interesting to know a little bit about the background of the artist to see what may have influenced their perspective. br />

As a result, I tend to ride the Masterchef wave with the contestants involved, and I was genuinely upset in season 2 when Ben was eliminated much earlier than I expected. His combination of talent and passion seemed the most genuine, but then the 3 judges Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot and Joe Bastianich know truckloads more than I do about food and cooking techniques, so by no means a source of an informed opinion on the subject.

At the beginning of season 3, they introduced the top 16 selected for the show with a little background about each one. Now, I’m always doing something else while I’m watching TV. I can’t just sit there and watch something, I have to be doing something like drawing or crafting at the same time, so I did a double take when I heard one contestant say he was from Brighton Park. Brighton Park is the little neighborhood I grew up in in Chicago, and where my parents still live currently. I chuckled, because the contestant, David Martinez, referred to it as “growing up in the ghetto”. There’s about a 10 year age difference between he and I and it wasn’t that bad when I was growing up, but the “ghetto-ing” was gradual. I went away to college at 17, but I came home every weekend to work for 7 years beyond that. I chuckled because my mom’s been calling it “the ghetto” for a long time, and I always thought she was being a tad bit overdramatic (as usual.) It’s harder to see when the change is gradual, I guess, but hearing David say it on national TV kind of smacked me in the face with the reality of my native ‘hood.

The point to all that is, neighborhoods are like badges of honor in Chicago. It’s not “I’m from Chicago”, it’s “I’m from Brighton Park/Gage Park/Lincoln Park/Wrigleyville/etc.” There’s over 200 of these neighborhoods in Chicago. It’s so rare to meet someone outside of the Chicagoland area that is from your neighborhood, and it’s even weirder to see someone mention it on TV. I immediately called my mom and dad and they started watching Masterchef in support of David, even though they have no idea who Gordon Ramsay is, because we support those that make it out of the ‘hood. (Seriously, not many do.)

Each of the Masterchef contestants have Twitter and Facebook accounts associated with the show, I’m guessing to help stir up interest. So, I sent a note to David on Facebook, basically saying, “Hey, I’m from Brighton Park too, small world, hope you win, etc.” He wrote back and via several messages we had some small convos talking about exactly where we lived, where we went to school, etc. I could ramble on easily here, but if you want to know more about David, here’s his Masterchef website profile – David Martinez.

Via convos and posts, I discovered that David was moving to Phoenix, oddly enough, this past week. I also discovered that Monti, another Masterchef contestant and another big fave of mine had already moved here and was now the morning host on one of the local radio stations here – “Monti in the Morning”. This past weekend, they both joined up with Season 2 contestant Ben Starr (my fave from that season, as I mentioned above) to host a fundraiser for Phoenix Children’s Hospital at Dave and Buster’s in Tempe. I wanted to meet the 3 of them, especially David, since we had been communicating online, and for the fact that he’s automatically my “neighborhood bro”.

The fundraiser was scheduled from 11am-1pm and was $10 to get in, with raffles, free banana splits donated from Cold Stone Creamery and a free all-day gaming pass at D&B’s (score!) There wasn’t a lot of people there at the beginning, because it’s kind of a niche group of fans. Plus, they’re not celebrities, they’re real people with tons of amazing talent, which unliike a lot of people, is more of a motivation for me to meet them than any “celebrity status”-type.

The three of them walked up to the front door of D&B’s together where a few of us were standing because we weren’t allowed to go in yet. They put their stuff inside and then came back out to hang out with everybody and take pics. Before they went in, David saw me and subsequently ran over and gave me a big hug, saying that he thought it was awesome that we (me and Doug) came out to hang with him. We chatted, and that’s about the time we took the above pic, which is from left – David, Monti, me and Ben. (Ignore my hair, the misters at Tempe Marketplace were on so high, it was being in a scene from “The Fog”. Also, ignore this statement because I’m embarassingly self-conscious about photos and I hate that fact.)

We went in, bought a bunch of raffle tickets, got our banana splits, and had a seat by David’s wife because he said he wanted to sit with us after he made his rounds of meeting everybody. All I can say is that during those 2 hours I think I talked more than I have during the last 5 years of my life put together (I’m not by nature, “social”). David and his wife (who’s from Germany) are so down-to-earth, we clicked immediately. David is hilarious, much different than he’s presented on the show because of selective editing. It was like hanging out with 2 old friends, something we all agreed on at the end of the function. David gave us his phone # and we all promised we were going to hang out once David and his wife, Bee, were settled into Phoenix, which wouldn’t probably be until Sept. because of obligations back in Chi and such. David starts work on his PhD in September at ASU so he has no choice but to be back here by then. :) He suggested we do a weekend thing together of quad-riding, barbecuing, etc. sometime soon when the temps get cooler. One of the raffles we submitted several entries into was for a prize of Monti and David coming to the winner’s house and cooking for them. I thought that would be so cool, because I could see the “magic” up close and David and Monti are both really fun people. When we didn’t win, and I made a sad face, David said “Eh, I’ll come cook for you guys, no biggie. Don’t worry about it.” I really can’t say enough about how nice he is.

We chatted a bit with Monti and Ben at the end because Monti was basically the hostess of the whole thing since her radio station sponsored the function. They’re both really down-to-earth as well, and sincerely grateful that people came out to see them for the purpose of this fundraiser. (Eventually the place was packed, standing room only in one of the party rooms.)

After David, Monti and Ben left, Doug and I hung out and made good use of our all-day gaming cards. So much so, that the next day my right shoulder and arm were sore from shooting invading Terminators and playing marathon sessions of air hockey. (I’m a tough air hockey-er.) 😉

Last week and this week’s episodes of Masterchef were reruns because of the Olympics. (Apparently the corporate sponsors realize more people will watch the Olympics if there’s nothing new on TV competing against it.) So after the high of meeting David, Monti and Ben, I didn’t get to watch a new episode a couple of days later, so by the time a new one is on, I’ll have forgotten most of this and it won’t be as interesting. That’s how my brain works. If not fed continuously with stimulating activities, it quickly moves on to find them elsewhere… which is also why I hop on and off social media so much, and why I’ll probably avoid it for at least a few days so I can work on my multiple unfinished art projects. 😉

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Surrendering onions

I’ve been away. I know. I have noticed. Thank you for your patience during the disruption to your service.

I’ve been terribly ill, you see. Sick, so sick. Morning sickness it is. Was. It’s over now – sort of. I still get the odd billowing wave of it, bobbing up around my solar plexus but I’m no longer a drooping, greyish figure haunting my house. Urgh. I hate – hate – people who say that horrid thing to pregnant women – “You’re not ill, you’re pregnant.” Really? Because it feels an awful lot like norovirus to me.

Anyway I feel better now. And I had my 12 week scan – just one spratling, thank god, in the right place – and so I can start moaning on about being pregnant again. The other thing that’s happened is that I’ve finished putting together that book I was talking about. In the end it really wasn’t very much work, it was just impossible to do anything feeling so sick. Ten minutes typing, 1 hour lying down, ten minutes typing, one hour lying down. SO SO SICK. I got some pills off my doctor, The Beast, in the end. I just couldn’t take it anymore. But they only took the edge off, it wasn’t like I was bouncing out of bed in the mornings.

I honestly am still reeling from how awful it was. It just wasn’t that bad with Kitty. And I wasn’t that tired either. But for the last six weeks I’ve been wiped out, asleep from 1-3pm every day. Wiped out like chalk on a blackboard. And then wake up feeling like shit. Poor old Kitty. Or rather lucky Kitty – she has eaten biscuits and watched telly solidly for six weeks. But thank god for telly. Thank GOD! What would we have done without it.

I am trying not to think too much about being plunged back into a babyhood. I am trying to look on the bright side. I must have learned something since Kitty was born. It surely won’t be as awful as it was. I don’t want to go mad again, I really don’t.

It has to be different this time – for one, Kitty was brought home to a house that didn’t have any children in it. It was a grown-up house, really quite spooky in a lot of ways – silent and strange and unfit for a baby. These days it has a chattering lunatic nearly-two-year-old in it, dropping crumbs and kicking balloons and watching telly and running from one end of the house to the other for no reason other than youthful high spirits. The changing mat now has its own room, rather than squatting on the kitchen table. The kitchen extension means that everyone can slob about in the kitchen, rather than me being at the stove, running out every ten seconds into the living room to make sure everyone’s okay.

And maybe I’m different. Broken in, broken down. Resigned. Institutionalised. Used to that special sort of monotony you get with small children, so intense particularly in babies. My expectations from life are different now. I am surrendered, like onions.

Surrendering onions is a slow but pleasing task. It is what you do if you want very soft, aromatic, almost creamy onions (for an onion gravy for example, or a tangle alongside some sausages) and the trick is to cook them for a good 1.5-2 hours on the lowest heat on your smallest available burner.

You slice them into rings, reasonably thinly and scatter them in a pan with some oil – and butter, if you like. Then sprinkle over a generous pinch of salt and put a lid on and leave them. Do not turn the heat up and do not poke them about too much. Take the lid off if at any point the onions start to even think about sizzling. Towards the end of the cooking time, the onions will almost in a matter of seconds collapse into themselves – they will surrender. I can’t help but think of motherhood like that. But not in a bad way.