Care and Feeding of a Sourdough Starter

So you are now the proud owner of a sourdough starter.  Maybe you bought it, got some from a friend who bakes, or maybe you even captured some wild yeast in your backyard.  How will you care for it?  It’s easier than you think to maintain a healthy, vigorous culture.


You will need 2 quart size ball jars with lids. For feeding I use All Purpose flour and stone ground rye flour (starter loves rye, I picked up that tip from a baking group). Always store the starter in the refrigerator. I keep 1-1/2 to 2 cups of starter in a ball jar with the cover on very loose (it needs to breathe).

Feed the starter once a week (on the day you want to bake). Stir in 1/3 cup stone ground rye flour plus 1/3 cup All Purpose flour, with between 1/2 to 2/3 cups of warm water.

Stir it all together (An old wives tale – you should never touch your starter with a metal instrument. I am superstitious and use a wooden spoon). The consistency should be like a thick pancake batter so start with the ½ cup of water and add a little more if needed.


After feeding, leave the starter on the counter for a few hours (keep the lid very loose), it should become very bubbly and rise to the top of the jar. It is now ready to use. If you leave it unattended, it will keep growing and spill over the top!


Most of my recipes call for ¾ cup of starter. Pour ¾ cup into a measuring cup to bake with, and pour the rest into a clean ball jar. You should have 1-1/2 to 2 cups. Put a clean cover on the jar (do not tighten the lid) and put it back in the fridge for next week.


Of course you may not bake every weekend, but it’s still a good idea to maintain a weekly feeding schedule (discard a little after it rises, so that you are left with 2 cups).



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Posted in Bread, Instructional, Sourdough | Leave a comment

Roasted Turkey Leg

Look at this turkey leg, it’s huge!  For the two of us, it’s like a small roast.  More than enough for dinner with leftovers for sandwiches the next day.  Cooked low and slow, the meat is moist, tender and falling off the bone.  I used a covered cast iron skillet for this recipe.



  • 1 turkey leg
  • 1 large onion, cut into wedges
  • 5 celery stalks, halved
  • 2 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • poultry seasoning


Rinse the turkey and pat dry.


Rub the turkey all over with flour, then season with salt and pepper.


Brown 5 minutes per side in a stainless steel (not non-stick) skillet.


Next, set up a deep skillet with a cover, or a Dutch oven.  Coat with cooking spray and add the onion, celery and carrot, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.


Place the browned turkey, skin side up on top of the vegetables.


Deglaze the first skillet with white wine, scraping up the browned bits with a spatula.  Let it reduce by half.


Pour the reduced wine over the turkey.  Add the chicken broth and sprinkle with poultry seasoning.  Cover and roast 1 hour at 300º, then reduce the temperature to 250º (yes) and continue roasting, with the cover on for 3 more hours.


Transfer the turkey and carrots to a platter and spoon some of the pan juices over the top.  You won’t need a knife to cut the turkey, it’s so tender.


I served with a side of stuffing and homemade bread.


Can you see how moist it is?  The low and slow cook method is the secret to tender juicy  meat that is full of flavor!


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Posted in Comfort Food, Dinner for two | Leave a comment

Roasted Green Beans with Bacon

Green beans are my favorite vegetable.  Simply steamed with a little salt, I can eat them by the bowl full.  Mr. Extruded Noodle will have them on occasion, but only because I enjoy them so much.  Tonight, I am trying to change his mind about this humble legume.  Instead of boiling or steaming, I’m going to roast them.  Roasting takes bland vegetables to a whole new level, creating wonderful nutty flavors through caramelization.  For further convincing, I will add bacon!


  • 1 bag fresh green beans, ends trimmed
  • olive oil
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 strip bacon, diced


Preheat the oven to 350º.  Trim the ends off the green beans, rinse under cold water and pat dry.  Toss with 2 tbsp. olive oil and spread them evenly on a baking sheet.  Season with salt and pepper.  Chop a strip of raw bacon into small dice and sprinkle it evenly over the green beans.  Roast for 30 minutes.


The verdict, 2 thumbs up!  Looks like we will be eating our vegetables tonight.  Jazz up your green beans with this simple preparation!



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Posted in 30 Minutes or Less, Dash Diet Friendly, Eat your Vegetables, Side Dish | Leave a comment

Beef Stir Fry with Rice Noodles

When you get home from a long day at work, you don’t want to spend a lot of time making dinner.  Here is one of my favorite Asian inspired recipes for those busy nights.  I used a large nonstick skillet with a lid to make this meal.


  • 3/4 lb. petite sirloin, cut into strips
  • 4 oz. brown rice noodles
  • 1/2 bag frozen Asian stir fry vegetables, thawed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cups broccoli, chopped small
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • olive oil
  • toasted sesame oil
  • soy sauce


Boil water for the noodles and salt well.  Whisk together the mirin, soy sauce, chicken broth, garlic powder, ginger and cornstarch in a bowl and set aside.  Brown the beef in a little olive oil (do not cook through).  Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with soy sauce.  Cook the onions 30 seconds in olive oil, then add the broccoli, garlic and thawed vegetables.  Add a tbsp. or so of sesame oil, soy sauce and sprinkle with pepper.  Toss well, cover and cook 3 minutes.  While the vegetables cook, add the noodles to the boiling water and cook 3 minutes.  To finish, add the beef back to the skillet along with the drained noodles.  Pour the sauce over everything, then toss continuously to coat while the sauce thickens, several minutes longer.


Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy.


If you like, garnish with toasted sesame seeds and/or scallions.  This easy, homecooked meal is better than takeout!  Dinner for two, comfort food, on the table in 30 minutes.



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Posted in 30 Minutes or Less, Asian Inspired, Comfort Food, Dinner for two, Gluten Free, Skillet Dinners, Stir Fry | Leave a comment

Breaded Pork Chops

Pork chops are one of my go to meals during the week.  In this recipe, I slice the chops through the middle and pound them thin, for a very quick cook time plus more surface area for the crispy breading.  Homemade potato chips are the perfect side for this dinner.

Dinner for 2


  • 2 boneless pork chops, 6 oz. each
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs (regular or panko)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (or use 1/2 cup milk + 1 tsp. lemon juice)
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. olive oil


Combine the buttermilk, Worcestershire and garlic powder in a measuring cup.  Lay the 2 pork chops on a cutting board and carefully slice each chop through the middle, so that you have 4 thin chops.

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Place each slice between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound to an even 1/4″ thin.


Lay the pork chops in a gallon zip top bag with the buttermilk mixture.  Let it marinate for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Breaded-Pork-Chops-The-Extruded-Noodle-008eHeat a large non-stick skillet over medium low heat.  Remove the chops from the marinade and dredge in the breadcrumbs.  Brush the skillet with 2 tsp. of olive oil.  Place the chops in a single layer and cook 2 minutes per side, turning once.

Breaded-Pork-Chops-The-Extruded-Noodle-010A - Copy

That’s it!  The chops are thin, so 2 minutes per side is all it takes!

Breaded-Pork-Chops-The-Extruded-Noodle-012a - Copy

Moist and juicy, on the table in minutes!

Breaded-Pork-Chops-The-Extruded-Noodle-020a - Copy

I served them with barbecue sauce, a side of homemade potato chips and butternut squash.  The whole family will love this dinner, picky eaters too!


Even if you double or triple the recipe, it’s a fast and easy to cook up several batches.  So the next time you’re wondering what to make for dinner, give this a try!


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Posted in 30 Minutes or Less, Comfort Food, Dinner for two | Leave a comment

Apple Glazed Chicken

We have chicken several times a week, so I am always looking for different ways to prepare it.  Tonight’s chicken dinner is baked and basted with a sweet, apple based barbecue glaze.  As the chicken bakes, the glaze thickens into a sauce.  The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for a big family.  It’s easy and everyone will love it!  The secret ingredient – frozen apple juice concentrate!



  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 6 oz. frozen apple juice concentrate
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • cooking spray


Preheat the oven to 325º.  Rinse the chicken, pat it dry and place in a baking dish coated with cooking spray.  I trimmed some of the excess skin so that there would be less fat.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.


In a small saucepan over low heat, stir together the apple juice concentrate, ketchup, brown sugar, cider vinegar, thyme and red pepper flakes.  Keep it warm.


Bake the chicken for 30 minutes (no glaze), and drain any excess fat from the pan.


Brush the chicken with glaze and return to the oven.  Continue baking an additional 45 minutes, basting every 10-15 minutes.


The glaze looks very light at first, but will darken and thicken.  Here it is after an additional 30 minutes and 3 bastings.


After a total bake time of 1 hour and 15 minutes, it’s ready.  Isn’t that beautiful?


Spoon some of the glaze in the bottom of the pan over the chicken and serve.


Easy comfort food for your family dinner.  Now that you know how, try it tonight!



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Posted in BBQ, Chicken, Chicken Dinner, Comfort Food, Dinner for two, Gluten Free | 1 Comment

Orange Glazed Salmon

I love salmon, and this orange glaze just makes it pop!  The concentration of flavor in the zest of just one orange is enough to brighten an entire dish with vibrant citrus tones!  Easy to make, and ready in 15 minutes, you can easily put this meal together, even after a long day at work.

Dinner for two



    • 1 lb. salmon filet, cut into 2 pieces
    • zest of 1 orange
    • 1 tbsp. rum
    • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
    • 1 tsp. butter
    • maple garlic seasoning (The Spice House makes a good one)



Zest the orange, and combine with the rum and maple syrup.  Sprinkle the salmon with maple garlic seasoning.


Melt the butter and brush onto a grill pan over medium low heat.  Add the salmon, skin side up, and brush with 1/3 of the glaze.  Cook 5 minutes, then turn the salmon over.


Brush the top with 1/3 of the glaze, and continue cooking another 5 minutes.


Brush with the remaining glaze and cook 3 minutes more.  Serve with rice and a veggie.


Look at the beautiful color, can you see the zest?  You are going to want to add this recipe to your weeknight rotation!  Thanks for stopping by today and I hope you enjoyed our dinner for two.


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Posted in 30 Minutes or Less, Dinner for two, Gluten Free, Seafood | Leave a comment

Orecchiette, Sausage & Spinach

I hope you enjoyed the previous post where I show you how easy it is to make Orecchiette, the pasta that is shaped like “little ears”.  Here is a wonderful 30 minute meal to make with fresh or packaged pasta!  The colors in this dish are wonderful, with bright green spinach, rosy hot Italian sausage and golden egg pasta. Dinner for 2.


  • 1 batch of Orecchiette pasta (or substitute 1/2 lb. dry pasta of your choice)
  • 2 hot Italian sausage, about 1/2 lb. (or use sweet sausage)
  • 1 package fresh baby spinach
  • olive oil
  • grated cheese


Hot Italian sausage adds some nice heat to this dish.  If this is too spicy for your palate use any sweet sausage.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Heat a large skillet over medium low.  Remove the sausage from the casings, and add to the skillet.  Break it up with a spatula and brown on all sides.

Orecchiette-Sausage-and-Spinach-The-Extruded-Noodle-007aWhile the sausage is browning, cook the pasta to 1 minute less than package directions.  If using fresh pasta, cook for 2-3 minutes, or until it floats to the top.


Add all of the spinach to the skillet.  It will cook down.


Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the cooking water.  Add the drained pasta to the skillet with a small amount of the starchy water.  Toss well to wilt the spinach.


Transfer to a serving platter, drizzle with a little olive oil and top with grated cheese.


Simple, flavorful and delicious.  With fresh pasta it was amazing!


A dish like this with just a few simple ingredients can really showcase homemade pasta.  Try it!  See the previous post and learn how to make orecchiette right in your own kitchen.



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Posted in 30 Minutes or Less, Comfort Food, Dinner for two, fresh pasta, From Scratch, handmade pasta, Healthy Italian Favorites, Italian Sunday Dinner, Pasta, Skillet Dinners | Leave a comment

How to Make Orecchiette

One of my favorite pasta shapes, Orecchiette means “little ears” in Italian.  You can see why.  Forming this rustic pasta is easy and kid friendly, and everyone will enjoy making it as much as they do eating it.  A little dough goes a long way, this portion was more than enough for the two of us with a little left over.  You can double or triple the recipe as needed.  Be sure and check out the accompanying video, showing you just how it’s done!  Gluten free friends, see the notes at the end of this post for a gluten free dough option!


  • 100 g. “00″ flour
  • 100 g. semolina flour
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 5-6 tbsp. cold water (add 1 tbsp. at a time)



Whisk the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer.


Add the remaining ingredients and mix together with the paddle attachment, add the water 1 tbsp. at a time, using just enough to form a soft dough.


Press the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.  Let it rest a room temperature for 10-15 minutes.


Divide the dough into 4 sections.  Work with one section at a time, and keep the remaining dough covered so it doesn’t dry out.  Lightly flour a cutting board and roll the dough into a long rope, 3/4″ thick.  Use a bench knife to cut the rope into 1/2″ pieces.


Roll each piece between your palms to form round, marble sized balls.


Now use your thumb or forefinger to make an indentation in the center of each piece, then gently stretch it over the tip of your finger to form the “ear” shape.  Watch how to do it!



Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper, and dust lightly with flour.  Place the finished Orecchiette on the baking sheet.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate if not cooking immediately.  When ready, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.  Lift the waxed paper and slide the pasta into the water.  Cook the Orecchiette 2-3 minutes, they are done when they float to the top.  Remove with a slotted strainer and toss with sauce.


It takes an extra set of hands to add video to a post.  Special thanks to Mr. Extruded Noodle, my personal videographer, taste tester, dishwasher and partner in crime 

Notes: ♪♫

For an optional, gluten free pasta dough:

  • 105 g. brown rice flour
  • 35 g. tapioca starch
  • 1.5 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1.5 tsp. olive oil


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Posted in Comfort Food, fresh pasta, From Scratch, Gluten Free, handmade pasta, Pasta | 1 Comment

NY Strip Roast

Here is a very special dinner for all the “meat and potato” lovers out there.  Easy to prepare with only a few simple ingredients.  The fat cap on this cut of meat helps keep the roast tender and moist, and the rub adds a double dose of garlic flavor as both a mince and a paste.  Fingerling potatoes were the perfect accompaniment to this juicy roast.  I started the roast at 425º to get good color then turned the heat down for the remainder of the cook time.  This method worked well for both the roast and the potatoes.



  • 2-3 lb. boneless NY strip loin roast
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • olive oil
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • thyme
  • 1 pkg. fingerling potatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/4 red onion



Take the roast out of the refrigerator 30 minutes ahead, remove from packaging and pat dry.


Make a paste with 2 of the garlic cloves and drizzle with 1 tbsp. olive oil.


Place the other 2 cloves in an electric chopper with a handful of parsley leaves, black pepper, salt and 1/2 tsp. of thyme.  Drizzle with 2-3 tbsp. olive oil and pulse several times.


Combine the garlic paste with the parsley mixture and rub it all over the roast.  Place the meat fat side up in a roasting pan lined with foil.  Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 425º.  Rinse the potatoes, peel and cut the carrots into chunks, and slice the onion.  Toss well with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme.  Spread evenly in a baking dish and place in the oven 15 minutes before you start the roast.  You will want to stir them every 15 minutes or so, and add a little more oil if they look dry.


Place the roast in the 425º oven uncovered and cook 20 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 325º and continue roasting until the internal temperature reaches 140 for medium (130 for medium rare, 150 for medium well).  How long will it take?  About 15 minutes per pound, however this can vary greatly based on the size of the roast and your oven.  Use a thermometer!


Our roast weighed 2.25 lbs and was cooked to medium after about 50 minutes.  When done, take the roast out of the oven and tent with foil.  Let it rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing.  Turn the oven down to keep warm (170º) and leave the potatoes in the oven until ready to serve.


Slice the roast and serve.  We both like it cooked to medium and this was perfect.


Our colorful potatoes were nicely done, the onions have almost melted away.


This meal was a special treat.  If you like gravy with a roast try my onion gravy and use beef broth in the recipe.  Truthfully the meat was so moist it didn’t need anything else.




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Posted in Comfort Food, Dinner for two, Gluten Free, Roasts | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Marinara Sauce

Why can’t restaurants make a good marinara?  I’m often so disappointed when ordering a simple pasta dish like chicken and shells.  It’s the sauce.  You know, that bland watery tomato sauce straight out of the can with no seasoning?  Honestly, I want to just walk into the kitchen and show them how to do it.  Well, maybe I’ll just show you, it is not difficult to make a marinara sauce.  Of course you can start with canned tomatoes, you just have to jazz it up!  Use whole peeled tomatoes if you like it chunky, or plain tomato sauce if you prefer no seeds.  Use a combination of the two.  I confess, to this day I still prefer Hunts Sauce for my marinara, because that’s what my mother used and it brings back such happy memories of our Italian Sunday dinners growing up.  4 servings, but you can double, triple or more to feed a crowd.


    • 1 large (29 oz.) can of plain tomato sauce, or whole peeled tomatoes
    • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
    • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
    • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 heaping tbsp. brown sugar
    • fresh ground pepper, about 8-10 grinds
    • 3 tsp. dried basil
    • 2 tsp. dried oregano
    • pinch of red pepper flakes, optional but good!


Add 1 tbsp. olive oil to a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot and heat over medium low.  Add the onions and cook for several minutes, stirring frequently until they are translucent.


Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds, be careful not to let it burn.  Next add the tomato paste.  Make a space in the center of the pot and drop it in, and let it toast for a minute before stirring it into the onions and garlic.


Using paste gives the sauce body and makes it less watery.


Now add the sauce or whole peeled tomatoes, brown sugar, pepper, basil and oregano.  I do not add sugar to a meat sauce, but for a marinara I love just a tablespoon of sugar or brown sugar per can of tomatoes.


Simmer on low for 30-40 minutes.  A simmer mat is great for maintaining a low, gentle simmer and you don’t have to worry about burning your sauce.


What restaurant favorite will you make for dinner tonight?  How about spaghetti and meatballs?  Chicken and shells?  Now that you have a great marinara recipe you can recreate all your menu favorites right at home!


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Posted in Comfort Food, Dash Diet Friendly, Healthy Italian Favorites, Italian Sunday Dinner, Pasta, Under an hour | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Potato Chips

Crisp potato chips, hot out of the oven.  Better and tastier than store bought, with no preservatives and you control the salt.  Only 3 ingredients – potatoes, salt and cooking spray.  Kid friendly, even picky eaters will love them!  I used a mandoline to slice the potatoes paper thin, but you can do this with a good kitchen knife.  Potatoes can be peeled or not, I like mine with the skins on for extra texture.

2 – 3 servings


  • 1 large russet potato
  • cooking spray
  • salt or seasoned salt (I like Lawry’s lower sodium blend)


Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and mist with cooking spray.  Note: chips will brown faster when baked on foil, for a lighter chip use parchment.  Slice the potato paper thin, using knife or mandoline.


Spread the slices in a single layer on the baking sheet.  If you are doubling the recipe, do not crowd the pan.  Use 2 baking sheets.  Mist the tops with cooking spray and sprinkle with seasoned salt.


Bake for 20 minutes at 425º, check them after 15 minutes.  This batch is perfect for me.


Here is a batch baked on foil, see the difference?  Mr. Extruded Noodle likes them super crunchy like this!


I love this side, especially on busy weeknights.  For more dinner ideas, check out my 30 Minutes or Less Meals and Side Dishes.


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Posted in 30 Minutes or Less, Gluten Free, Side Dish | 1 Comment

Sweet and Savory Pork Tenderloin

This weekend I’m serving up a romantic dinner for two.  My Sweet and Savory Pork Tenderloin is rubbed with a paste made of mustard and maple syrup, then wrapped in bacon.  On the side, I continue the sweet and savory flavor palette with a medley of carrots and pears, cooked in the rendered bacon fat and garnished with crumbled bacon bits.



  • 1 lb. pork tenderloin
  • 4 strips of bacon, divided
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. stone ground mustard
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup, divided
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 tsp. thyme
  • black pepper
  • 3 small carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal
  • 1 pear, peeled and sliced into wedges



Cook 2 strips of bacon in a skillet (not non-stick).  Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels, crumble and reserve for garnish.  Leave the rendered bacon fat in the skillet, we’ll come back to that later.


Pat the pork tenderloin dry.  Mix together 1 tbsp. mustard and 1 tbsp. maple syrup.  We were gifted some fancy stone ground mustard for Christmas but use what you have.


Rub the pork all over with the mustard/syrup mixture, and set it on a baking pan.  Cut the remaining 2 slices of (uncooked) bacon in half, and wrap it over the pork.


Use a meat thermometer, roast the pork at 375º to an internal temperature of 145.


While the roast is in the oven, heat the skillet with the reserved bacon fat.  Add 1/4 cup diced onion, 1/4 tsp. thyme and a few grinds of black pepper.  Add the carrots, cover and cook 15-20 minutes on low.  Add the pear slices during the final 5 minutes of cooking.


Remove the roast, tent with foil and rest 5-10 minutes before slicing.  I have a confession to make, we were so hungry we didn’t wait!


To serve, slice the tenderloin and transfer to a platter.  Arrange the carrot and pear mixture around the meat, drizzle with remaining 1 tbsp. of maple syrup and top with crumbled bacon.


Foodies, it was a fabulous meal!  Mr. Extruded Noodle was impressed, especially with the pear and bacon combo.  They go well together, who knew?




*A pork tenderloin weighs about 1 lb., but is often sold in a 2+lb. vacuum sealed package that actually consists of 2 thin tenderloins.  The tenderloins can be tied together for cooking, but I always separate and freeze them individually for 2 meals.

*Wondering about the pilaf in the final photo?  It’s sorghum, an ancient grain that is nutritious, economical and makes a great stand in for rice or barley.


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Posted in Comfort Food, Dinner for two, Elegant Dining, Gluten Free | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp Scampi, a romantic dinner for two that is so fast and easy you can enjoy it on a busy weeknight.  So go ahead, open a bottle of white wine, reserve 1/2 cup for the recipe and enjoy the rest with dinner.


  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 3/4 lb. medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 lb. spaghetti


If your shrimp is frozen, give it a quick rinse under lukewarm water.  Melt butter and olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium low heat.


Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then stir in the diced tomatoes with their juice.  Season with basil and oregano, salt and pepper to taste.  A pinch of red pepper flakes if you like more heat.  Cover and simmer 10 minutes.


While the tomatoes are simmering, cook the spaghetti.  At the very end of cooking add the shrimp to the skillet along with the white wine.  My shrimp were still a little frozen, that’s fine.


Cover the skillet and continue cooking several minutes more, just until the shrimp turn pink.  Be careful not to overcook the shrimp or they will be tough.


Drain the spaghetti, add it right into the skillet and toss well.  Cook 1 minute more to blend all the flavors.


That’s it!  Did I tell you it was easy?  Transfer to a serving bowl and dinner is ready.


If it were summer, I would garnish this with some fresh parsley from my garden.  Alas, it’s January so we will have to enjoy it as is.  Such a tough life we have!  That’s our dinner tonight friends, comfort food and elegant dining in 30 minutes or less!  Make it for your special someone.


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Posted in 30 Minutes or Less, Comfort Food, Dinner for two, Elegant Dining, Healthy Italian Favorites, Seafood | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Gnocchi with Chicken and Roasted Cauliflower

This skillet dinner is a family favorite and you have seen me prepare meals like this many times.  Notice anything different about the pasta?  Yes, it’s made from scratch and it is fabulous.  Now for the surprise, it’s gluten free.  Yes, it is.  Foodies, if you are gluten free and craving a pasta dinner I’ve got you covered!  With a handful of ingredients you can make a gluten free version of any fresh pasta right at home.  4 Servings.



For the pasta:

  • 3.75 oz. brown rice flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1.25 oz. tapioca starch
  • 1.5 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1.5 tsp. olive oil

For the skillet:

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 lb. boneless chicken breast, cut into cubes
  • olive oil
  • Italian seasoning
  • 3 tbsp. all purpose gluten free flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • fat free, low sodium chicken broth about 1/3 cup
  • grated cheese, for serving


To make the pasta, whisk together the rice flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Beat together the eggs and olive oil and add to the flour mixture.  With the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until a soft dough forms (about 1 minute). Press the dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap.  Let it rest 10 minutes.


Lightly flour a cutting board and gnocchi board.  Use a bench knife to divide the dough into 4 even pieces.  Work with one piece at a time and keep the rest covered so that it doesn’t dry out.


Roll each piece of dough into a long rope about 3/4″ wide.  Use the bench knife to cut the rope into 1/2″ pieces.


Roll each piece of dough over the gnocchi board using a butter knife or your thumb.  Keep the board and your fingers floured so the gnocchi don’t stick.


Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper and flour lightly.  Place the finished gnocchi on the baking sheet.  If not using right away, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Always follow food safety guidelines, pasta made with fresh eggs should be refrigerated within 1 hour.


Cut the chicken into 1.5″ cubes and toss with 3 tbsp. flour, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.  Let it sit at room temperature while you prepare the vegetables.  Chop the cauliflower and onion, and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Arrange it on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 20 minutes at 400º.  Don’t skip this step, it adds so much flavor.


Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil for the pasta.  Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium low heat.  Begin browning the chicken in a little olive oil.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, turning several times to brown on all sides.  Add a pinch of red pepper flakes if you like a little heat.


When the chicken is almost done, cook the pasta.  Cover the pot if needed, to keep the water at a boil.  Remember fresh pasta cooks quickly, 3-4 minutes is all it takes.  It will float to the top when done.


Add the roasted vegetables to the skillet along with a little chicken broth, folding gently with a spatula as the liquid begins to thicken.  Use a spider strainer to gently lift the pasta out of the water and add it to the skillet.  If too dry, add a bit more chicken broth or a ladle of the pasta water.  Toss gently and continue cooking 1 minute more.


Transfer to a serving platter and top with grated cheese.


There you are, fresh pasta, homemade, from scratch, and gluten free.  Thanks for stopping by today and hope you enjoyed our pasta dinner.  If you would like to make a traditional wheat version of this recipe made with semolina flour read about it here.


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Posted in Chicken, Comfort Food, fresh pasta, From Scratch, Gluten Free, handmade pasta, Skillet Dinners | 1 Comment

Baked Ziti with Sausage and Roasted Asparagus

I love casseroles!  This one is so delicious, made with Italian sausage, penne pasta and roasted asparagus.  But wait, there’s more, a bacon breadcrumb topping!  Be still my heart   Roasting the asparagus before combining with the casserole adds tons of flavor, don’t skip this step!


  • 3 strips of bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, (choose thin firm stalks)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 8 oz. penne pasta
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 cup fat free, low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese + more for serving


Render the bacon in a heavy skillet until crisp.  Add the Panko breadcrumbs and cook 1 minute more, stirring frequently until the breadcrumbs have absorbed the bacon fat.  Transfer the bacon breadcrumbs to a bowl and set aside.


Rinse and trim the asparagus, discarding the bottom 2″ of the stalk.  Chop the remainder into short pieces, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread evenly on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes at 425º.


Add more olive oil to the skillet and begin browning the sausage, breaking it up with a spatula.  Add the onions, mushrooms, garlic and red pepper flakes.  Cook over low heat until most of the liquid has evaporated.


Cook the penne to 2 minutes less than package directions.  Drain and add to the skillet, along with the roasted asparagus.  Whisk together the chicken broth and flour, and pour over the skillet.


Stir and toss well until the liquid begins to thicken , then transfer everything to a gratin dish that has been coated with cooking spray.  Top with cheese, and the breadcrumb mixture.


Lower the heat to 375º and bake 20 minutes more.  Watch that the breadcrumbs don’t burn.


Serve with more grated cheese.


Doesn’t that look delicious?  This was one good meal!  The little extra touches, like roasting the asparagus first, and making a bacon breadcrumb topping really make the dish special.  Try it and tell me what you think!


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Posted in Casserole, Comfort Food, Italian Sunday Dinner, Pasta | Leave a comment

Asian Beef and Broccoli

With just a handful of ingredients you can prepare a delicious, restaurant quality Asian meal right at home.  Petite sirloin (also called top sirloin) is a tender cut that is far superior to what is usually sold as “stir fry beef”.  It makes the dish and is well worth paying a little extra to purchase.  I used a stainless steel skillet (not non-stick) for quick cooking over high heat.

Dinner for 2


  • 3/4 lb. petite sirloin
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1 bunch sliced scallions, divided
  • 5 minced garlic cloves, divided
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil, divided
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated to form a paste
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • 1 large broccoli crown (about 2 cups)
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • 2/3 cup (uncooked) brown basmati rice


Measure and prep all of the ingredients ahead of time.  I used a zester to make a paste from the fresh ginger.


For the marinade, whisk together 1/4 cup of soy sauce, 1 tbsp. brown sugar, 2 tbsp. scallions, 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1 tsp. of sesame oil.


Cut the sirloin (uncooked) into 1/2″ slices.  Pour the mixture into a zip top bag and add the beef.  Marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours.


Brown basmati rice takes longer to cook, so allow a 30 minute head start, cook according to package directions and keep warm.  Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet, watch closely that they don’t burn!  Set aside for garnish.


Next, cut the broccoli into uniform pieces, leave some of the stem attached.  In the same skillet, heat 3 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. sesame oil.  Add the broccoli, 3 tsp. garlic, 3 tbsp. scallions, all of the ginger and 3 tbsp. water.  Stir together and cook quickly for about 2 minutes.


Set the broccoli aside on a platter while you finish the dish.


Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet and begin browning the beef.  Do not crowd the pan, do it in 2 batches if needed.  Discard the marinade.


Season with red pepper flakes.  Return all of the beef and broccoli to the skillet and toss with 1/4 cup hoisin sauce.  Doesn’t that look good?


To serve, spread the rice evenly over a platter and top with the beef and broccoli mixture.  Sprinkle with the remaining scallions and toasted sesame seeds.


Friends, what a meal!  Mr. Extruded Noodle loved it, especially the tender beef.  I have another petite sirloin in the freezer so that we can do this again really soon.  Thanks for stopping by today and I hope you have enjoyed our Asian inspired dinner for two!

Note:  This meal can be made gluten free by choosing gluten free soy sauce and hoisin sauce.



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Posted in Asian Inspired, Comfort Food, Dinner for two, Gluten Free, Skillet Dinners, Stir Fry | Leave a comment

Twisted Rolls

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  Time for holiday baking!  Make a batch of twisted sourdough rolls and serve them up for dinner this weekend.  Easy and fun to make, you can shape them into bread sticks or buns.  They freeze beautifully, so start baking now for the big holiday meal.  10 Rolls



  • 3 cups whole grain flour (wheat, spelt, Khorasian wheat or combination)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup fully active sourdough starter
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. diastatic malt powder
  • 3/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1-1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. powdered buttermilk
  • 1-3/4 cups warm water
  • 1 beaten egg, for egg wash
  • sesame seeds, poppy seeds, coarse salt


Begin with a fully active sourdough starter.  If needed, take it out of the refrigerator ahead of time and begin feeding until it’s bubbly like mine.


Measure 3/4 cup of the starter and add to the bowl of your stand mixer.  Drizzle with 1 tsp. of honey.


Whisk together the flours, diastatic malt powder, instant yeast, salt and powdered buttermilk.  With the dough hook attachment on low speed, begin alternately adding the flour mixture and warm water until incorporated.  Increase speed and knead for 5 minutes.  The dough will be heavy and wet.


Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Place the bowl in a draft free area for a 3 hour rise.


After 3 hours the dough has doubled in size.


Transfer the dough to an oiled cutting board and perform a stretch and fold.  Then place it back in the bowl and cover for a second rise of one hour.


Divide the dough into 20 pieces about 2 oz. each, and with oiled hands roll each piece into a 12″ rope.  Working with 2 ropes at a time, twist into a bread stick or shape into rounds.  Watch the video to see how easy it is!


Place the rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment.


Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 425º.  Just before baking, whisk an egg with 1 tbsp. water and brush the rolls lightly.  The egg wash gives the rolls a nice shine and helps the seeds adhere.

Twisted-Rolls-The-Extruded-Noodle-043aSprinkle the rolls with sesame and poppy seeds, and coarse salt.

Twisted-Rolls-The-Extruded-Noodle-047aBake for about 12 minutes and transfer to a rack to cool.

Twisted-Rolls-The-Extruded-Noodle-050aAren’t they beautiful?  Serve the bread sticks whole like this, or cut them into smaller pieces.

Twisted-Rolls-The-Extruded-Noodle-056aCheck out the nice soft crumb!  They are delicious and a little something special for your holiday table.

Twisted-Rolls-The-Extruded-Noodle-059aI hope you’ve enjoyed today’s bake!  If you didn’t catch the video, see it here.

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Posted in Bread, From Scratch, Sourdough, Today's Bake, Whole Grains | 3 Comments

Shrimp, Wild Rice and Roasted Vegetables

Here is a weeknight dinner that is big on flavor.  Roasting the vegetables brings out their natural sweetness through caramelization.  It is a taste that you just cannot get from a stir fry.  Grilling the shrimp adds another layer of flavor.  I love using Delicata squash in my fall recipes.  It does not have to be peeled, and the beautiful striped skin roasts up tender and sweet.  Ready in about an hour, time well spent for a delicious meal made with healthy fresh ingredients.  Dinner for two.


  • 12 oz. raw medium size shrimp
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Old Bay
  • butter
  • 1/3 cup uncooked long grain and wild rice mix (such as Lundberg)
  • 1-1/3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • seasoned salt (or salt and pepper)
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 parsnip. peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 sweet onion cut into slices
  • 1/2 delicata squash, halved and sliced, seeds removed



Cook the rice in 1-1/3 cups chicken broth, seasoned salt to taste and pinch of cayenne.  Peel and devein the shrimp, toss with olive oil, sprinkle with Old Bay and set aside.  Slice all the veggies 1/4″ thick (so that they cook evenly), toss with olive oil and seasoning.  Spread the veggies in a single layer in a baking pan and roast for 25 minutes at 400º.


Transfer the cooked veggies to a serving bowl and keep warm.


Heat a grill pan and brush with butter.  Cook the shrimp quickly, they only need a few minutes per side to turn pink and sport some nice grill marks.  To serve, I stirred the rice and veggies together and topped if off with the shrimp.


Isn’t that beautiful?  This is a delicious weeknight meal that you can feel good about.  Thanks for stopping by!


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Posted in Comfort Food, Dash Diet Friendly, Dinner for two, Seafood, Under an hour | Leave a comment

Steak and Peppers

The colorful bags of mini bell peppers caught my eye at the market this week.  In shades of red, yellow and orange I knew they would make a beautiful fall plate.  This is an easy skillet dinner that I served over a bed of brown rice.  Dinner for two.



  • 4 cups of tri-color mini bell peppers
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 12 oz. steak cut in 2 (London broil or sirloin)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • olive oil
  • steak seasoning


Cook the rice according to package directions.  Brush the steaks with olive oil and season both sides.  Leave at room temperature 30 minutes before cooking.  I had a 12 oz. London Broil, cut into 2 pieces.


Cut the peppers into thin slices, removing stems, ribs and seeds.  Rinse well.

Steak-and-Peppers-The-Extruded-Noodle-002Toss the peppers and onions with olive oil and seasoning.  Heat a large skillet over medium and mist with cooking spray.  Add the steaks first then arrange the vegetables around them in a single layer.  Cook the steaks 5 minutes per side, uncovered (for medium).  Toss the vegetables every few minutes with tongs.  The peppers will be crisp and beginning to brown around the edges.


To serve, spread the rice evenly on a serving platter.  Top with the peppers and steak.

Steak-and-Peppers-The-Extruded-Noodle-020Dinner is ready, start to finish in under an hour.  If you prep the veggies and cook the rice ahead of time, then you could be enjoying this meal in under 20 minutes!


I love skillet dinners!  They are delicious and you can’t beat the easy cleanup of a one pan meal.



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Posted in Dinner for two, Gluten Free, Skillet Dinners, Under an hour | 1 Comment