Bagel Party

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So I treated myself to a stand mixer – and now I can’t stop making bread.  So far though, the best think I’ve made has been bagels.  They only take two hours and it’s a fun Saturday morning activity.  You just knead the dough with the dough hook on the slowest setting for 10 minutes, let it rise for and hour, shape, boil, and bake!

Quick shout-out to the blog DeliciouslyYum for the inspiration for this recipe.  I’ve adapted it slightly.

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Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups flour.
    • I used 3 cups bread flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour.  I have used 2 cups whole wheat and 1 1/2 cups bread flour and the bagels were fine but a little tough.
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/3 cups warm water (about 110 degrees)
  • Toppings: cheese, jalapenos, seeds, onions, whatever sounds good!

Instructions:

  1. Pour warm water, yeast, and sugar into the bowl of your stand mixer.  Let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Add flour and salt to the bowl and mix on low using the dough hook attachment for about 10 minutes.  Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 1 hour.
  3. Place dough on floured surface, punch it down a little, and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Cut dough into 8 equal wedges.  Shape into balls.  Using your fingers, poke holes in each bagel.  Let rest for another 10 minutes.  Get some water boiling in a wide pan – use enough water to allow the bagels to float.  Preheat your oven to 425.
  5. Boil bagels in batches, 1 minute on each side.  Drain bagels as much as you can and place on parchment paper on a baking sheet.
  6. Top your bagels! This is a good time to add cheese, seeds, onions, etc.
  7. Bake the bagels for about 22 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool completely before serving.  Cut them in half prior to freezing or refrigerating.

Bright Mexican Chicken Soup

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I really like to roast a chicken on Sunday nights.  It’s a pretty easy dinner – and it has the most useful leftovers.  Seriously, if you’venever made soup from leftover roast chicken and homemade chicken stock, do it this week.  It is so great to be able to throw together a soup in 20 minutes.  And, you get 4 (2 meals for 2 people) or more meals for not much money at all.  Below is a picture of the broth we made using the leftover bones from last weekend.

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This soup relies on a good squeeze of lime right at the end.  Real lime, not that stuff from a bottle.  Trust me, it brightens this soup and takes it to a whole other level.  The beans and corn are optional, and feel free to experiment with other veggies.  I think zucchini would be good but boyfriend doesn’t like zucchini.

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Ingredients

  • 5 cups homemade chicken stock
  • Some leftover roast chicken, torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 handful frozen corn or half of a can of corn
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • cilantro, jalapenos, and limes for garnish
  • salt

Instructions

  • Sweat the onion in a large pot with some olive oil and a pinch of salt until they just become translucent.  Throw in the garlic and saute on low heat for another minute or two.  Add the tomatoes and oregano to the pot and cook for 2 more minutes on medium heat.  Add another pinch of salt.
  • Pour in the chicken stock, chicken, beans, and corn and simmer for about 10 minutes.  The timing here doesn’t really matter.  Season with salt.
  • Serve with cilantro and raw jalapenos as a garnish.  The most important part of this soup for me is the lime juice, so squeeze about half of a lime into each bowl immediately before serving.

Carrot and Coconut Soup with Crispy Chickpeas

Before you go to far: you will need an immersion blender.  I bet this can be done in a regular blender, but it would be a pain.

It’s gotten cold outside (60 degrees is cold in SF), and I was craving soup.  But I was also craving something colorful and fresh.  That was my inspiration for this curried, coconutty, carrot soup.  I was all pumped to take awesome pictures but then I turned my kitchen into a cooking tornado and didn’t take too many.  Whoops.  Also, I was completely full of fried chickpeas by the time I sat down to eat.  Don’t make the same mistake I did.

I only used chicken broth instead of veggie broth because I don’t really like the veggie broth at Trader Joes.  I’m sure this soup would be fine with either.  Also, feel free to play with the seasonings a bit.  I bet cumin/chili powder would be a good combo too.  The curry version with sriracha was pretty good though – honestly the sriracha kind of “made it” for me.

This produced enough soup for dinner for me and two servings of leftovers.

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IMG_3732 Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 16 oz chicken broth (or veggie broth if you prefer)
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • cilantro, sriracha, and jalapenos as garnish
  • salt

Instructions (for soup)

  1. Roast the whole carrots (with a little olive oil and salt) at 350 degrees until they just begin to brown.
  2. Meanwhile, sweat the onions on low heat in a large pot for about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Once the carrots just begin to brown, take them out of the oven and chop them into 2 inch chunks.  Throw them into the soup pot.  At this point, pour in the chicken broth and coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
  4. Simmer until the carrots are quite soft – this shouldn’t take too long.  Once they are soft, use an immersion blender and blend the soup until very smooth.  Season with about 1 tablespoon each of curry powder and garlic powder.  Start with only half of that and work your way up.  Do the same with salt.
  5. Serve with cilantro, chickpeas, jalapenos, and maybe some sriracha!

Instructions (for chickpeas)

  1. Drain the can of chickpeas.  Pat them dry with a paper towel.  Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil in a small pot (so that the oil is about 1 inch deep).  Heat on a medium flame.
  2. Working in small batches, fry the chickpeas in the oil until they darken.  Let them rest on a paper towel, then sprinkle with salt, curry powder, and garlic powder.

finally… shakshuka!

Shakshuka, shakshouka, chachouka… however you want to spell it… I have been wanting to make this for brunch (or dinner) for at least a year.  It has everything I like: runny eggs, spicy tomato sauce, bread, cheese, herbs.  I can’t believe I hadn’t made it yet.  This is definitely something I will be making often from now on.

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We are having a lazy weekend over here in Nob Hill.  Last night boyfriend and I watched a scary movie (one day too late for Halloween) and had some red wine.  Now, on Sunday, we decided a proper brunch was in order.  Boyfriend made the mimosas while I made the food – typical.

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Shakshuka is infinitely versatile.  Since boyfriend was a hungry monster, we added some chickpeas to the mix – but you could easily add other things like spinach or mushrooms.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 handful cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 can chickpeas
  • 4 eggs
  • a lot of paprika
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Any mild cheese – I used manchego but feta would have been great as well
  • chives and cilantro as garnish

Instructions

  • Heat some olive oil in a large shallow pan.  Toss in the onions and sprinkle of salt and allow to cook on medium heat until slightly softened – about 2 minutes.  At this point, toss in the jalapeno and bell peppers, garlic, and tomatoes.
  • Cook until all of the veggies have softened.  The tomatoes will turn mushy; this is okay!  Sprinkle in about a tablespoon of paprika.
  • Pour in half of the can of chickpeas and continue to cook until the chickpeas gather some of the salty paprika goodness.  Remember to add a little salt at each stage of cooking.
  • Cover the veggies with the tomato sauce.  Simmer until it just starts to thicken.  Add more paprika and cayenne pepper to taste.
  • This is where everything needs to happen at once.  Make little pockets in the sauce and crack eggs into them.  Cover the pan and allow to simmer on low heat for about 6 to 10 minutes.  You want the egg whites to cook but the yolks to stay a little runny.  Keep an eye on them.
  • Meanwhile, get your toast going.  We used sourdough, which was good, but french bread would be great too.
  • Once the eggs are cooked to your liking, sprinkle the pan with chives, cilantro, and cheese just before serving.
  • Give your guests a plate and a piece of toast and let them scoop and egg and some sauce on to the bread.  Yum!

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cheesy kale and quinoa bake

This one is an experiment.  I looked at a few similar recipes to figure out the process, and then I just went with it.  I used a bagged cheddar – which was alright – but I also had some manchego lying around.  This is what I put on top.  At the very end of prepping this dinner, I broiled the casserole to get it extra bubbly!  I wish I could add a .gif of that.

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There are a lot of little steps in this one, so i recommend prepping all of your veggies beforehand.

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Boyfriend doesn’t love kale, especially cooked kale, so this wasn’t his favorite recipe ever.  We both agreed that we want to try a creamier version of this as well – sort of like a quinoa macaroni and cheese.

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I think we also need to experiment with the amount of water in this dish.  I used 2 cups total but it may have been a touch too much.

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Anyway, good luck.  I hope you like this experiment.  I think this dish offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to the veggies and seasonings used.

Ingredients:

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups kale, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 handful cilantro, minced
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, maybe manchego.  Something melty.
  • 2 cups water
  • salt
  • olive oil/butter
  • pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • On low heat, melt some butter and some olive oil in a large pot.  Saute garlic and jalapenos for about one minute.  Then add the chopped onions and season with salt.
  • Cook the onions on medium heat until just starting to soften – nearly 10 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and 1 cup of water.  Boil this mixture until the tomatoes begin to fall apart – about 5 minutes.  Add the kale at this point.
  • Continue to cook on medium heat until kale begins to wilt.  Add the cilantro and some more salt.
  • Add all of the quinoa and the second cup of water.  Pour mixture into a small casserole dish.
  • Mix the cheese into this mixture, but leave some for later.  It will be watery!  Put the casserole into the oven.
  • Bake for 30 minutes and taste.  If the quinoa isn’t cooked or the mixture is still watery, continue to cook.  Check it periodically, though.  Mine took more than 35 minutes.
  • Once the quinoa is nearly cooked, top with more cheese.  Bake for another few minutes until cheese is bubbly.  I threw mine under the broiler.
  • I served this with a little bit of salsa.  Hot sauce could be good too!

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adventures in paella

How’s it going?  It’s been a while.  Apologies.

I finally got my hands on a decent camera.  I took a bunch of photos of food, and then realized I didn’t have the proper cord for moving the photos from the camera to my laptop.  Don’t worry though!  We found the right cord in my dad’s “cord drawer” in his office.  If my paella instructions are a little fuzzy, it’s because I cooked it over a week ago.  Good luck!

I’ve been meaning to make paella for a while now.  Boyfriend is allergic to crustaceans (sad) so unfortunately this version only had chicken and chorizo, but it was still really satisfying.  I chose to use arborio rice, but honestly it made the whole thing a little too gloopy.  I would recommend trying a different rice.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 2 chorizo sausages (the ones I used were fully cooked)
  • a few chicken thighs
  • 1 can of chicken stock
  • 1 red bell pepper, juliened? long stringies please!
  • 1 carrot, cubed
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • frozen peas and corn
  • paprika to taste
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oilpaella4

Instructions

  1. Brown your onions in a big pan – not too brown!  Then brown the chopped up chicken and chorizo.  Really toast that chorizo – the brown bits were the best part!
  2. Throw the garlic and the bell peppers in there.  Don’t brown them, but let them cook a bit.  Add the carrots too.paella2
  3. Throw some paprika in there – get it a little toasty.  Then toss the rice in, let it soak up all of the flavors of the spices and the chorizo.paella3
  4. After the rice has mixed in for a minute, pour in the chicken broth.  the rice should be swimming in it a little bit.  Cover the pan and let cook until the rice is done (about 20 min) and most of the liquid has either boiled off or been absorbed.  Throw in the peas and corn and let them defrost.  Serve with some wine.  Eat up!paella6

On Cities, specifically mine (Or, I should probably go back to grad school)

Yesterday, I went on a great walk around the city with two of my oldest friends. We walked from my apartment in Nob Hill, through Chinatown, through the Financial District, along the Embarcadero & Fisherman’s Wharf, and then to dinner in the Marina (about 6 miles or so, yesterday was a 19k step day!). It felt like every 5 blocks or so, we were surrounded by an entirely different culture. So, halfway prompted by a discussion about the changing demographics of the city and halfway prompted by my weird obsession with census data, I decided to figure out who my neighbors are.

My apartment is technically in Nob Hill, but it doesn’t feel like the stereotypical Nob Hill. According to trusty Wikipedia, Nob Hill became a wealthy and exclusive section of the city because of it’s central location and great views (more history of the hood and the entire city can be found in this book, an excellent read if you like local history). Even though the enclave of the rich and famous was destroyed by the earthquake in 1906 and most of its inhabitants decamped to Pac Heights, it continued to be an affluent area of the city and still has that reputation today. That said, I have yet to see anyone walking around with a monacle and fur coat (though, it would be pretty ballsy to wear a furcoat in this city).

Instead, my neighborhood feels like a mix of young people of diverse backgrounds, multigenerational Chinese families, and older White people who have lived here (and in their rent controlled apartments) forever. Is my feeling correct though? Or am I totally off the mark? I decided to research this, starting at the New York Times project that mapped the data from the 2010 census. Be forewarned, that clicking on that link will take you to the most amazing time suck ever. I found that I live in census tract 11 (who knew? Where’s the pride for tract 11?); which as of 2011, had a negative population growth of 4.2%. Given how much I pay for my apartment now, I think that trusty tract 11 has recouped that population loss quite a bit. Tract 11 is quite dense, 4,827 people lived in 4 square blocks; which explains why parking is such a bitch here. It’s 44% white and 46% Asian; all other ethnicities are under 5%. This info echoes my experience.

To find out more comprehensive data, I had to zoom out quite a bit from tract 11 to my ZIP code which was unfortunate. I found that no age group was the majority, and instead found that people ages 25-34 held a plurality, 29%. Of note, people under 19 only make up 7.6% of the population (I’ll save my musings on kids in SF for another day, this post is getting long). The next closest age group is those between 25 and 44, the median age is 37. 

I’m now realizing that this mini project that I’ve created for myself on a Sunday afternoon is probably incredibly boring to everyone that’s reading this, so I’ll wrap it up. In short, my neighbors are probably White or Asian, don’t have kids, and weren’t alive when Rocky or Taxi Driver came out. The more you know.

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trying new things – crispy skinned trout and roasted corn and quinoa salad

It’s always a little nerve-racking to try a new recipe, especially when you are trying to impress someone else.  Boyfriend is not a huge fish eater and he claimed to not like quinoa, but luckily he is always willing to at least try – and I’m glad he did!  He actually liked the fish and the quinoa!  I’ve only made quinoa once or twice before, and it was always a little bland – but I really loved this salad!  I bought the red quinoa from Trader Joes, and used the recipe on the bag as inspiration.  The result was a quinoa salad that had hints of a fresh pico de gallo flavor.  It was light and refreshing, and was very easy to make ahead of time.  I cooked the quinoa and browned the corn, and let those two cool before adding any other ingredients.  This salad would be easily customized – I just used whatever veggies I had on hand, honestly.

To cook the quinoa, I used veggie broth rather than water.  Next time, I would use chicken broth because I was not a huge fan of the Trader Joes veggie broth.  It smelled like V8 tomato juice.

The trout was from Trader Joes too.  Their fish usually doesn’t look very appealing, but I thought I’d give it a try because the fish at my local market is $20 per pound!  We got 3 small fillets for $9 total, which boyfriend was very happy about.  Cooking the fish doesn’t take long, so save it until the last minute.  Boyfriend had a great idea and suggested I added some sauce to the fish.  I ground up some arugula, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice in my food processor and the resulting “pesto” tasted great on the fish.   I served everything with some lemon wedges and a great bottle of white wine from Napa that a good friend gave to us as a gift.

trout and quinoaQuinoa Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken broth/veggie broth/water (if you are boring)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup corn
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro
  • 1/2 jalapeno (optional)

Quinoa Salad Directions:

  • Cook the quinoa!  Just put the broth and quinoa in a small pot and bring to a boil.  Then let it simmer for 15-20 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed.
  • Meanwhile, you want to brown the corn.  I used frozen corn, so I bet you could use any other kind.  Just brown it in a pan with some olive oil on high heat.  It will seem like its not browning, but just wait a little while.  It will!
  • Let the corn and quinoa cool in the fridge.  At this point you can put them together in a bowl.  While this is happening, chop the cilantro, tomatoes, onion, and jalapeno.  Mix these into the cooled corn/quinoa mixture.
  • Drizzle with the juice of two limes and serve!

Trout Directions:

  • Right before serving dinner, rinse and dry the trout.  Salt the meaty side and then flip over.  Really really really dry the skin side as much as you can.  This was the first time I successfully got crispy skin on fish, and I think part of that was due to the DRY skin.  Salt the skin.  You may need more salt than you think.  Imagine the skin as a fish-skin potato chip.
  • Heat some vegetable oil in a large pan.  Give it a lot of time to heat up – you want the oil to “fry” the skin a bit.
  • Without crowding the pan, place the fish skin-side-down in the hot oil.  It should sizzle a lot – if not, the pan isn’t hot enough.
  • Be patient!  This is the hardest part for me.  Let the fish cook most of the way through while staying skin-side-down.  The skin should turn a golden-brown color.  This should take somewhere between 3 and 5 minutes.  Then flip the fish and cook for another minute to get it cooked through.  Place on a plate skin-side-up.
  • Serve with the sauce I described before or just with some lemon.

thai green curry

Boyfriend and I don’t always agree when it comes to food.  That can make choosing a dinner that works for both of us hard sometimes.  Usually I can keep him pretty happy by making a dinner that begs for hot sauce.  This chicken curry dish met that criteria, and it was a one pot meal!  With veggies!  I wouldn’t call this “healthy” considering the coconut milk, but it’s comfort food so I think it’s okay.

It took me three trips to the grocery store because I kept forgetting things, but eventually I got my act together and was able to finish dinner.  In spite of a few hiccups (too thin sauce, wrong coconut milk), I like how this dinner turned out.  Boyfriend usually isn’t a fan of coconut milk, but I think he liked it too.  We both brought the leftovers to work the next day, and it kept well.

thai curryIngredients:

  • fresh ginger, peeled, about 2 tablespoons
  • fresh garlic, 3 cloves
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into bite sized chunks
  • 2 small sweet potatoes
  • a few big handfuls of spinach
  • juice of 2 limes
  • a dash of fish sauce (optional)
  • cilantro
  • 1 can lite coconut milk
  • 1/2 can real coconut milk
  • cornstarch (optional)
  • cooked white rice

Instructions:

  • Place peeled ginger, garlic, and jalapeno in the food processor with a tiny bit water.  Pulse until you have a rough paste.  Saute the paste in a large pot until very aromatic.
  • Pour the coconut milk over the paste.  You may have to scoop out the real coconut milk, it solidifies in cooler temperatures.  Bring to a soft boil.
  • Put the raw chicken and the chopped potatoes into the coconut milk mixture and simmer until cooked through.  Once cooked, taste for salt or any other spices you may want.  Add the lime juice and fish sauce.  At this point, I realized I wanted more ginger flavor so I added some ground ginger to the pot.  I also added some curry powder for an extra kick.
  • Add the spinach and cook until wilted.
  • So here’s where things got tricky.  I realized the sauce was pretty thin, so I added cornstarch until I got the thickness I desired.  This is totally optional!
  • Serve everything over white rice and top with cilantro and Sriracha.

Warning! This is good leftover, but do not eat it if you have a busy day at work.  It will put you to sleep!

 

tomato sauce (from scratch!)

I don’t know why everyone doesn’t make tomato sauce from scratch.  It’s way cheaper, healthier, and honestly doesn’t take much effort or time at all.  All you need is tomatoes (I use roma), garlic, olive oil, and basil.  It tastes good without the basil too – but if we’re trying to be authentic here, we might as well use it.  All you need to do is roughly chop some tomatoes, throw them in a pan at medium-high heat, and let them cook down.  Then I toss in lots of fresh chopped garlic – none of that stuff from a jar!  When my pasta is ready, I mix it into the sauce and sprinkle with basil.  That’s it!  I feel like such an old Italian lady when I make this (I have no Italian heritage, but a girl can dream).

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Boyfriend and I couldn’t agree on dinner last night, so he had Kraft macaroni and cheese while I gave some store-bought gnocchi a try.  The gnocchi was alright, but the sauce turned out great.  It was so fresh!  It even tasted good leftover today.  It must have been the giant garlic cloves I used.  I’m still using the camera on my iPhone, sorry about the neon tomatoes.

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Even though the gnocchi itself wasn’t my favorite, I was pretty happy with the result.  This is my go-to meal if boyfriend isn’t having dinner with me because he doesn’t like pasta (what a monster!!!).  It is my comfort food, especially with a glass of our family favorite, Bogle Merlot.

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Ingredients:

  • Roma tomatoes.  About 6 per person.
  • Garlic. Fresh garlic.  About 1 clove for every 3 tomatoes? I don’t know, I like a lot of garlic.
  • Good olive oil
  • Fresh basil
  • Salt
  • Parmesan for sprinkling
  • Pasta, gnocchi, your mouth.  Just something to put the sauce on.  I think you can figure that part out.

Instructions:

  • Chop the tomatoes.  This doesn’t need to be pretty.  I don’t even peel the damn things; the skin doesn’t bother me at all.  Throw them in a pan or pot at medium-high heat with some olive oil.  They should start to turn to mush pretty quickly.  Once they are cooked down, lower the heat so you don’t overcook the tomatoes.  This would be a good time to add salt.
  • Throw in some garlic.  I don’t think it needs to be browned or anything, just let it cook right in the tomato sauce for a few minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook your pasta.  Salt the water! Seriously, it makes such a difference, especially with a simple sauce like this.  Be sure not to overcook your noodles either.  If they are a little undercooked, just let them finish in the sauce.
  • At the very very end, add some finely chopped fresh basil.  At this point, your pasta should be mixed in with the sauce.
  • Serve with Parmesan! An extra drizzle of olive oil never hurts either.
  • Relax, it’s pasta night.