Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tag Pic Pac Pasta

Happy First Day of Spring of Everyone!

I wish I could say it was a beautiful spring day here, but it is not unless you think cloudy, 40 degrees, flurries all day long is spring weather. But I'm going with it and believing it's here.

The first day of spring has inspired me to think about what I would like to grow in my garden this year and how to lighten up some of our favorite winter time meals. We eat a lot of pasta in our house. On a day like today I would love to be diving into a big plate of homemade spaghetti & meatballs. Why not, it's the best hearty meal in my opinion. But it can be a heavy meal, so this is the first meal I thought of' that can be replaced with something a bit lighter in the upcoming summer months. I grow basil and tomatoes in containers on my deck all summer long so a pasta with a lighter sauce using garden fresh tomatoes and basil would be a good replacement for this menu item in our house.

Tag Pic Pac Pasta, like at Carrabba's, is a perfect dish to make. Two summers ago while visiting an amusement park in Pennsylvania, we went to a Carrabba's for the first time. I had Tag Pic Pac Pasta made with fresh tagliarini topped with tomatoes & basil - oh my !! It was delish. Some time after our visit, I found they shared their recipe on their website. I've made it several times and we all love it (any time of year, but especially in the summer). This recipe really tastes as good as it does in the restaurant. Have a try! 

Note: This recipe uses canned tomatoes but could easily be replaced with garden fresh Roma tomatoes. 

Tag Pic Pac Pasta ...

Picchi Pacchiu Sauce

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 can (28 ounce) whole Roma tomatoes in juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound fresh tagliarinior fettuccine


  1. To make the sauce, heat the oil and garlic together in a small skillet over medium-low heat just enough so the garlic is soften and fragrant and the oil is very warm (about 5 minutes).  Remove from heat and let stand to infuse the oil, about 30 minutes.
  2. Pour the tomatoes and their juices into a bowl.  Squeeze the tomatoes through your fingers until they are coarsely crushed.  Stir in the garlic in its oil and the chopped basil.  Season with Kosher salt and pepper.  Let stand for 1 - 2 hours for the flavors to marry.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat.  Add salt to taste.  Add the tagliarini and stir well to separate the strands.  Cook according to the manufacturer's directions until al dente.  Drain well.
  4. Return the tagliarini to it's cooking pot.  Add the sauce and mix well.  Cover and let stand for 1 minute.  Divide among 4 serving bowls and serve hot.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pistachio Cake with Pudding Frosting


A simple popular recipe. I remember this Pistachio Cake from when I was a kid. I think every gathering we attended someone brought this cake or some type of dessert made with Pistachio pudding. The cake is moist and the frosting is light and refreshing. Everyone loves it!

You can make some alterations to the cake. Such as, you can serve it plain and dusted with powdered sugar. You can add chopped pistachios to the batter for an extra crunch if you'd like. Also, the cake does have a nice light green color to it and makes a great St. Patrick's Day dessert. Add a few drops of food coloring to bring out the "Green" on the holiday! (For this cake, I made it as follows with no alterations).

Pistachio Cake with Pudding Frosting ...



  • 1 pkg yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/2 C veg oil
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 2 pkgs instant pistachio pudding
  • 5 eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan (bundt pan).
  2. In a large bowl mix together cake mix and pudding mix. Make a well in the center and pour in eggs, water, and oil. Blend ingredients, then beat for 2 minutes at medium speed.
  3. Pour into prepared 10 inch tube pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly pressed. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.



  • 1 8 oz cool whip
  • 1 pkg instant pistachio pudding
  • 1/2 pint heavy cream


Beat pudding and milk on slow speed for 1 minute until blended. Fold in Cool Whip. Ice cake and store, lightly covered or in a cake carrier, in the refrigerator.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Guinness Ice Cream

Ice cream, Guinness beer .. all in one bowl .. yes! This ice cream does have have a unique bold, rich flavor and was enjoyed by all guests. It is a super creamy ice cream and it does have a beer taste, but not the beer taste you imagine.  I served it with Guinness Brownies, topped with a tad of whipped cream. It did us all in on the richness but it was so good. If you like making your own ice cream, and you like experimenting you have to give this a try. 

Guinness Ice Cream ...


  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup Guinness stout
  • 2 Tbs plus 2 tsp molasses
  • 3 extra-large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract


  1. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Using a paring knife, scrape the seeds and pulp into a medium saucepan. Add the vanilla pod, milk, and cream, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat, cover, and allow the flavors to infuse for 30 minutes.
  2. While the cream is infusing, whisk the beer and molasses together in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and then turn off the heat.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract together in a bowl. Whisk a few tablespoons of the warm cream mixture into the yolks to temper them.  Slowly pour the warm cream mixture, whisking continuously. Pour the mixture back into the pot, and return to the stove.
  4. Stir the beer mixture into the cream and cook the custard over medium heat, 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently with a rubber spatula and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan.  The custard will thicken and when it’s done will coat the back of the spatula.  Strain the mixture, and chill at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.  
  5. When the custard is very cold process it in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Irish Nachos

Corned Beef, Cabbage, Potatoes, Beer .. what can I say, it can't be anymore Irish then that, right? Well, there is debate on whether or not Corned Beef & Cabbage is truly Irish cuisine. But it is one of the most popular dinners eaten in celebration of St. Patrick's Day. 

Irish Nachos are a great spin on the traditional Irish corned beef and cabbage meal. The nachos are made up of waffle fries, deli corned beef, cabbage, and then topped with a beer cheese sauce. It's a great appetizer (or even a main dish) for any St. Patrick's Day celebration. These Irish Nachos were made by a member of my Taste Tempters Cooking Club for one of our March dinner gatherings. There are awesome - the beer cheese sauce on top is just to die for! She adapted the recipe from Rachel Ray's Irish Nachos

Irish Nachos... 


1 20-24 oz. bag waffle fries 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 pound deli-sliced corned beef, chopped 
1 small onion, thinly sliced 
1/2 small head green cabbage, thinly sliced (about 2 cups) 
Salt and ground black pepper 
2 tablespoons butter 
2 tablespoons flour 
1 cup beer (I prefer a mild tasting beer)
1 cup chicken stock 
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese 

  1. Preheat oven to 450ºF. 
  2. Arrange the waffle fries on a baking sheet and cook according to package directions, adding about 10 minutes onto the baking time to make them extra crispy. 
  3. While the fries are baking, place a medium skillet over medium-high heat with 2 about 2 tablespoons of  olive oil. Add the corned beef to the skillet and sauté until light golden brown and heated through, 2-3 minutes. 
  4. Add the onions and cabbage to the pan, and cook until the onions have softened and cabbage has wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and reserve and keep warm.
  5. While the veggies are cooking, place a sauce pan over medium-high heat and melt the butter. Add the flour to the pot and cook for about a minute. 
  6. Slowly whisk the beer into the mixture and cook for about 30 seconds to cook off the alcohol. Whisk the chicken stock into the pan and bring up to a bubble. Simmer until thickened, 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in the cheese to melt. Season the with salt and pepper. 
  7. To serve, arrange the crispy waffle fries on a platter, top them with the corned beef and cabbage mixture and top with cheese sauce (lots of it).

Enjoy and Happy St. Patrick's Day!