Meaty Mushroom Pasta

mushroom pastaWarning: the foodstuffs here do not look at all like their components. This is a wonderful little guise for those who rabidly desire meat but venture into a tepidly omnivore household that leans toward herbivoraciousness. It’s an entirely mushroom-based pasta sauce, but with the right ingredients becomes rich, succulent, and fulfilling.

So, Ramadan came and went, and I surprised myself by how enthusiastically my body responded to the call. Like a horse fresh out of the gates, I galloped full stride into the blazing long days of fasting, somehow procuring during my first week alone at least 4 new recipes for dinner meals. Let us not discuss how the subsequent three weeks unfolded, with root canals and illnesses. But that first week was glorious! (and the last week, pretty good too.) For the unfamiliar, breaking fast during Ramadan consists of iftar, followed by the evening prayer, and then dinner. Traditional iftars vary from culture to culture, but are usually filled with much fanfare. I tried to change that for the husband and myself this year, especially since the fasting was so long (15+ hours) and the feasting so short. So we usually broke fast with a few dates and water (or Rooh Afza, a rose-water syrup which is sublime when mixed with water and a generous squeeze of lime). Dinner as such became the exciting mealtime (which typically included some fruit chaat because how can I deny myself the quintessential dish of my Ramadan experience). Continue reading

Penchant for Peppered Pasta

**Happy birthday to the best mom!  Thank you for instilling and nurturing my culinary passions among so many other things!  Have a beautiful day**

Ok, I won’t say that life has thrust itself into a fiery pit of doom and despair the past two weeks, but things have been a bit awry of late; certainly has felt like a hot poker keeps stabbing its way into my business, burning holes and inflaming everyday routine with stress and worry. The blame falls squarely on a little known problem called cluster headaches, and the fact that my poor husband is dealing with them right now. As such, everything takes a back seat while we try to ensure they don’t hinder his daily livelihood. Thankfully the cycle should pass soon but until then my cooking has turned uber simple, uber healthy, and uber repetitive. I only want to make things I know won’t instigate the headaches, and since my mind can’t focus on conjuring up new things, I tend to hit the repeat button.

The first week, the kitchen wasn’t enthralling for me at all, but I did make one very simple dish that the husband really loved and I fancy as well, spicy Italian pepper pasta. (Evidently bell peppers are supposed to help alleviate the magnitude of the headaches… doesn’t hurt to try!) A quick and basic pasta dish with alya-flare, this recipe includes lots of easy herb and spice resources I have spread out in the cabinet and freezer alike. Continue reading

Lemony Garlic Chicken Noodles for the Soul

It’s a combination that is hailed and heralded in almost every culture (that I am familiar with at least)—lemon, garlic, pepper.  The Tang, the Flavor, the Bite. Sour, Savory, Spicy.  Triple S.  Ah, good times indeed.

Even far back in those decadent days of cooking all pasta all the time in college, just with varying kinds of chicken (yeah I wasn’t breaking any boundaries back then, let me tell ya), I do recall my friend Tehniat’s fixation with lemon pepper chicken.  I was fairly decent at it back then, and I’ve improved on it now.  Using thinly sliced breast meat is key for these kinds of dishes, where I want to have diced chicken floating in a whirlpool of marinated (wheat!) pasta.  It’s been fun and easy to try different marinade ideas in the morning, and just cook it up rapidly at night.  Gives me a sense of calmness to have figured out dinner plans early in the day, so I can just sit and write and write and write and exercise and clean and write or try to write and read and read and clean some more and read and… yeah those are my days lately.  Writing, or searching for jobs actually.  Can be stressful.  So a simple dish like this will do a lot to help ones brain out. Continue reading

Spicy Alfredo Fakeout

For the first time in what feels like a millennium, I feel inspired.  Amorphous words are trying to take shape within my skull, warming up to the thought of expression.  Ironic that they come full force on these most tranquil days, where scope of my eyes’ furthest reaches are suffused with white and nothing else.  I suppose the blank slate that is provided outside is enough to make anyone with the remotest sense of art or creativity want to paint, scribble, compose, or sing.  Honestly a part of me just wants to run around in every untouched field of snow and flounce about in its powder!  But I may be more productive and successful at attacking the blank pages that lie ahead of me instead.

Continue reading

Welcome Back w/ Lemon Garlic Shrimp and Mango Towers!

He’s coming home today!  It’s amazing what a difference that makes – I felt more energy than I did all week (barring the jog I took Monday morning, but that must have been a fluke), getting all sorts of little things done.  Granted, the thank you cards are still sitting there taunting me… I mean, really, people must know we thank them for their wedding gifts yes?  Isn’t that understood, considering the aura of gratitude and happiness that emanated from us that day? No? doesn’t work that way?  Alas.  Almost nearly 20% done, I feel accomplished.

Nevertheless, I finally hit the kitchen properly today for the first time this week.

Looming over mango towers!

I started out with mango tower cupcakes, then lemon garlic shrimp pasta, urad dahl, and I have some chicken and palak on hand as well.  What can I say, the boy likes to eat.  Admittedly he actually doesn’t stuff himself the way other men do, and he definitely is much healthier, but nonetheless food truly inhabits his heart zestfully.

Continue reading

Mozzarella and Chicken Pasta Crisp

When I was younger, my favorite thing about going to the mall with my mom was hitting up the food court (No, I wasn’t an exceedingly chubby little girl, why do you ask?).  Walking amongst endless opportunities for food just made my heart glow, even if the only place I ever ventured to was Sbarro’s Pizzeria.  And while I am the adventurous sort when it comes to food and I will try nearly anything at least once, the most heart warming, soul hugging, tummy tingling entrée was the baked ziti, hands down.  Warm gooey cheese with the slightest hint of a crisp on the outside… oh just enough to make my mouth water right now.

That said, the dish I prepared last night was nearly nothing like that all.  It really only came to mind because I did bake my pasta dish, and there was melty cheese, but the similarities end there. Reminiscing about food is always a joy though, so for the record, try Sbarro’s ziti sometime. Anyhoo… J

What I whipped up last night was inspired by my televised love, The Food Network, again.  This time Giada… oh annoying Giada, so smiley and scrunchy.  But as I was in need of making dinner, and had no desire to spend countless hours in the kitchen being psychotically ambitious, the dinner she created yesterday was both simple and tasty, two very key ingredients to my dreams of life in general.  (Who doesn’t want a tasty life, after all?).  Alas, no pictures this time, because my mozzarella chicken pasta crisp was consumed faster than I’d planned for, but that is a good sign!  No picture is good!  It lets you imagine the warmth of melted cheese comingling with pasta shells and sautéed veggies, with a golden parmesan crust just glistening over and around savory chicken…

Continue reading

Flaky Coco-Curry Pasta

(Because Mr. G is really preoccupied as of late, I am taking the reins for the moment)

ALYAVILLE: I generally don’t follow rules.  Well, when it comes to sports and board games and the like, I am adamant about enforcing them.  Come to think of it, I find it a little strange how fervent I am about those rules (might even add more of them to make something more challenging!) when I am so free flowing in every other regard.  Curious.  Oddly placed competitive streak in me.  But that’s irrelevant.

As a “rule” ironically enough, I  kind of tweak to my heart’s content.  This is especially true in the kitchen, and why shouldn’t it be?  Why should we be relegated only to the constraints of a recipe’s directions?  Why shackle our heart’s (and tongue’s) creativity as such?  Oh rid me of this ball and chain!  I’d rather simmer to death in excess spices than stew in blandness and un-Alyaesque flavor, for example.

In case you didn’t get it, I personally like to experiment.  Not to say I live on the wild side, I just … tweak. I tweak a lot.  Especially if it saves me time and money from buying more groceries than I care to.  Ahh there’s the rub.  How to cook with whatcha got.  Well, I have this delectable red curry paste (Thai Kitchen) and I lo-o-o-ove thai food, but much of what I love consists of coconut milk.  I hardly ever have that on hand, because a) no coconuts of my own to harvest, and b) really? Who is going to remember to buy that on a general run to the store?.

What I do have though (or my mom, I should say, ‘tis her kitchen after all) are coconut flakes.  Ohh interesting.  What do we make of this?  Well what follows is the Alyaville Flaky Coco-Curry Pasta.

Continue reading