Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Creamy Tomato Pasta and Homemade French Dressing

After seeing too many sitcoms where the wife makes her husband's favorite recipe, which happens to be something his mother always made for him, and the recipe never turning out right, I have learned not to try and top something Steve's mom has made. Food has a lot of feelings attached to it, and that is why I think those recipes never work. That, and it gets a lot of laughs.

My grandma's bread and butter pickles never tasted as good unless you were up north eating them with a view of the lake. My dad's French toast never tastes as good unless it's a Sunday morning before church. My mom's anything never tastes as good as when she makes it and you get to sit and chat in the kitchen while it bakes. Sometimes you just need the original.

Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, Steve's mom makes this cranberry fluff that he loves. He could eat pounds of it and never get tired of the tart treat. When his mom offered me the recipe, I declined. She was shocked. However, I knew I could never make it just the way she did because he loves her and how she makes it. It's something special that they share. Someday I'll ask for it or have Steve ask her for it. It is really good, and you never want a delicious recipe to get lost.

This hasn't stopped us from swapping recipes for other things. Her cherry dessert with the sweet pretzel crust? Oh yeah, I'm making that for Christmas. My cheesy potatoes? I left Thanksgiving dinner with an empty dish. Some recipes are a hit no matter who makes them.

A few nights ago, Steve said, "Hey, you haven't tried one of my mom's recipes in a while." So I grabbed my recipe cards and did a search. Since we have accidentally been doing a meatless Monday for a few weeks now, I thought I would make her homemade French dressing for a side salad to go with our creamy tomato pasta dinner. I'm never using store-bought French dressing again!

Creamy Tomato Pasta
1 box of pasta (pick your favorite shape!)
1 tbsp butter
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 small zucchini, chopped
1/2 large onion or 1 medium onion
1 clove garlic
1 tsp pepper
1/3 of an 8 oz. block of cream cheese (the low fat kind works fine)
1 shot glassful of white wine (optional)
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce

Cook pasta in a large pot according to the package. Meanwhile in a medium-sized sauce pan, melt 1 tbsp of butter so that it's liquid, but not bubbling. Saute the zucchini, mushrooms, onions and garlic on medium heat. When they are soft (when the onions are translucent), stir in the cream cheese so it melts. When that has melted, add the pepper and a shot glass-sized splash of white wine and the pepper. 
Keep stirring so that it doesn't scorch on the bottom. No one likes burnt cream cheese.
Mix well and then add at least half if not the whole jar of pasta sauce and stir. You should be able to get that completed and simmering by the time the pasta is done (in 12 minutes).
You can keep this simmering on low.
Drain the pasta and return it to the big pot. Pour the whole sauce mixture over the pasta and toss so it is well coated.

Carol's French Dressing
Super easy!
1 cup salad oil (meaning a light oil like canola oil)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup vinegar
1 cup ketchup
1 tsp salt
1 tsp celery seed
1 small grated onion

Directions: Combine ingredients and beat until thick. Makes 1 pint. Store in fridge.
Tasty and healthy-ish!

I made 1/3 of this since 1 pint of dressing is a lot for two people and she didn't say how long this lasts. So the only hard thing to measure was the vinegar because I don't have a 1/9 cup. (Who does?!) For the salt and celery seed, I just eye-balled it and it tasted fine. I'm sure the next time we use it, we'll have to stir it up again because the oil will try and separate. That's easy enough, and it's nice to have on hand for a salad. We're keeping it in a plastic jar with a tight lid just in case it should fall off of a shelf in the fridge. There are a lot of Christmas cookies chilling in there right now. More on those later this week!

No comments:

Post a Comment