Vodka Sauce with Prosciutto and Penne

penne with vodka sauce

I’ve made pasta with vodka sauce before. It’s something I almost always try at restaurants if they offer it and I love making it at home. Once in a while Ben and I get out to Pittsburgh for a date night to see a ballet or just to walk around and shop and we usually end up at this bar called Olive or Twist. He’d gone there on a work trip to Pittsburgh a few years ago and when we first moved to Morgantown he took me for a night out and knew I would just love the place. And I did! We’ve been there a few times since and I usually get their penne ala vodka.

The twist with theirs is that they use cream to make a richer sauce and put a crispy piece of prosciutto on top. Let me tell you, that prosciutto makes it. It adds a little salty bite to every few bites of rich pasta. I am just obsessed. So I decided to try to recreate the dish at home and it was a success!

Vodka Sauce with Prosciutto and Penne Recipe

16 oz. penne pasta – cooked
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves – minced
1/2 cup vodka
3/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup cream
1 Tablespoon fresh basil – chopped
2 slices prosciutto
Salt & black pepper to taste
Pinch red pepper flakes

While you’re cooking this sauce, you’ll want to get your water boiling and your pasta cooked to just before it’s done, with a little bite left.

Start by heating up 2 cloves of minced garlic in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat for about a minute.

sauteed-garlic

Pour in your vodka and let it reduce by half, about 3 minutes.

vodka-sauce-ingredients

Add your broth and tomatoes, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook on medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Stir in your cream and bring back to a simmer.

creamy-vodka-sauce

vodka-sauce

Toss in your cooked pasta and basil. Bring back up to temperature, until the pasta is just done.

vodka-sauce-pasta

vodka-sauce-basil

Heat a medium skillet to medium-high heat and place your prosciutto in the heated pan. Let it cook for about 30-45 seconds until it shrinks in size and has a little crispness to it.

prosciutto

Top your sauce-coated pasta with your salty prosciutto and serve!

vodka-sauce-prosciutto-penne

vodka-sauce-penne-recipe

Do you have a dish that you always order at a restaurant?

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Loaded Au Gratin Potatoes

loaded-au-gratin-potatoes-recipe

I received a mandoline slicer for my birthday this year which is something I’ve been wanting for a while now. I had planned on making au gratin potatoes for our Christmas feast here and figured I’d be slicing potatoes for an entire day. My birthday is just before Christmas so I was so happy to open the gift and know that my Christmas day prep would be that much easier! The classic, cheesy recipe turned out great on Christmas day but I was itching to slice some more, so I made these loaded au gratin potatoes for dinner this week.

Loaded Au Gratin Potatoes Recipe

8 slices bacon – cooked and chopped fine (6 for the potatoes, 2 for topping)
5 russet potatoes – peeled and sliced thin
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
4 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
6 oz. shredded mild cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt
Black pepper
Green onions for garnish

Get your bacon cooked and cooled. I bake mine at 400-degrees for 15-20 minutes until it’s crispy. Chop into little pieces and set aside. Bake it on a wire rack to keep cleanup super easy!

baked-bacon

Pre-heat your oven to 350-degrees for the potatoes.

To start, you’ll get your potatoes peeled and sliced. You can use a knife to slice them pretty thin, but you may need to cook some additional time as they’ll likely be thicker than mandoline sliced potatoes.

sliced-potato

In a medium sauce pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter on medium heat until it starts to bubble. Add your flour and garlic.

roux-ingredients

roux

Cook until the entire mixture is bubbly and just starts to turn a pale brown.

Pour in your milk while whisking and then stir pretty frequently for about 10 minutes until you have a thick sauce.

Add your cheeses, sour cream, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, onion powder and stir until the cheese melts and you have a creamy sauce.

cheese-sauce-ingredients

loaded-cheese-sauce

Take half of your sliced potatoes and create a layer on the bottom of your pan. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper, 3 slices of chopped bacon, and then drizzle half of your cheese sauce on top.

potatoes-bacon

au-gratin-potatoes-cheese-sauce

Layer the rest of the potatoes on and then cover with 3 more slices of chopped bacon (reserving 2 slices to chop for the top) and cheese sauce. I set aside a little additional bacon for garnish at the end, but that’s optional.

au-gratin-potatoes-recipe

Bake for 45 minutes at 400-degrees covered with foil. After 45 minutes, remove the foil and bake another 10-15 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbly and you can slide a knife or fork through the potatoes easily.

au-gratin-potatoes

Finish with some thinly sliced green onions and enjoy!

cheesy-loaded-au-gratin-potatoes

loaded-au-gratin-potatoes

I’m probably going to be snowed in for the rest of the weekend, but I’m stocked up on ingredients to cook so I’m set ;) Everyone expecting to get hit with this storm, I hope you stay safe and warm!

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Butternut Squash Lasagna

butternut-squash-lasagna-recipe

The cold weather finally made an appearance here in WV and I’m sort of okay with it. I wish it had been colder for Christmas, but we had an amazing New Years trip to Canaan Valley and stayed in a cabin with some friends and the temps dropped low enough that a few of them could do some skiing. I’m not much for skiing (aka being on my backside all day) so we visited Blackwater Falls instead. It was absolutely gorgeous in the winter. I’d been there before in the fall during our cabin weekend for my bachelorette, but it was Ben’s first time out that way and he loved it!

blackwater-falls

Annie was a bit of a hot mess all weekend, having an accident (or two), eating a green crayon and trying to snag my friends sandwich right off the table. She’s still learning her manners, I have a feeling she’ll get better with time. And if not, at least she gives us some laughs!

Now, on to the food portion of this post. I received a Ninja Blender as a wedding gift (thank you, Casey!!) and I am just in love with it. I’ve started making more sauces and will soon start trying some soups. So far, I’ve made this butternut squash sauce twice and I am addicted. You roast the squash and then add it to the blender with some cream and chicken broth and whir it up until it’s a creamy, amazing, golden sauce. I love it in this lasagna recipe!

Butternut Squash Lasagna Recipe

9 to 12 lasagna noodles – cooked
3 cups (or so) butternut squash sauce – recipe below
1 lb. mild Italian sausage
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage
15 oz. Ricotta
1 egg
1 cup Parmesan cheese – divided
Salt
Pepper

Butternut Squash Sauce Ingredients

1 butternut squash – peeled and cubed
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion – roughly chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup cream
2 garlic cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt – taste and add more as needed
1/2 teaspoon black pepper – taste and add more as needed
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 400-degrees. Place your squash and onion on a baking dish in a single layer.

butternut-squash-onions

Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

butternut-squash-roasted

Roast for 20 to 30 minutes until you can easily slide a fork through a chunk of squash. Set aside to cool. Reduce the heat on your oven to 350-degrees. Once the squash and onions have cooled, dump them into the blender.

roasted-butternut-squash

Add your chicken broth, garlic cloves, spices, and cream and blend until you have a smooth sauce. Depending on the size of your butternut squash, you may need to use 1/2 to 1 cup more chicken broth. If I ever need to add more, I try to keep it even amounts of cream and chicken broth to keep the consistency where I want it. You want it to be a nice pour-able sauce. Think about sauces in the grocery aisle that you may sometimes use for pasta, that’s what you’re going for.

Once your sauce is set, you’ll want to make the filling by mixing together your ricotta, sage, egg, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.

lasagna-filling

lasagna-filling-ingredients

To start assembling, pour about 1/4 cup of the sauce in the bottom of your baking dish.

roasted-butternut-squash-sauce

Layer 3-4 noodles in a single layer, then use 1/3 of your ricotta mixture to cover the pasta. Sprinkle on 1/3 of your sausage.

butternut-squash-lasagna-ingredients

And then 1/3 of your butternut squash sauce.

butternut-squash-lasagna-layers

You’ll end with a layer of the sauce and then sprinkle it with the final 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.

butternut-squash-lasagna-topping

Bake at 350-degrees for about 40-50 minutes, until everything is bubbly and hot and the top starts to get a little brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting so everything is set and you can cut nice squares to serve.

baked-butternut-squash-lasagna

butternut-squash-lasagna-dinner

Stay warm out there and let me know if you have any other lasagna recipes I should try so I can keep my refrigerator stocked with leftovers :)

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