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Old 06-20-2006, 06:25 AM   #1
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Looking for an easy, yet delicious recipe!

First-time poster here. My girlfriend is coming to visit this weekend, and normally we go out to dinner when she's here, but this time she's only going to be up for one night, so I want to make it a little more special than dining out.

I have some experience in cooking simple things like spaghetti (noodles of most kinds really), chicken, hamburgers and such.. nothing fancy, but generally when I'm cooking I tend to stick less to a recipe and add in whatever flavors and ingredients taste well together. I guess I generally tend to just fly by the seat of my pants

Anyway, I'm just curious if anyone would like to help me out and share with me a delicious recipe or two they have? I'm not really sure if I'd be able to cook a massive five-course meal (or if we'd be able to eat it all, haha), but it doesn't necessarily need to be as simple as mac-and-cheese, either. I only have about twenty bucks to throw around, though.. I'm a poor college student.

Or if you don't have a recipe, maybe just a few tips? At the moment, I'm thinking of trying a baked spaghetti type dish with an italian blend of cheeses melted over the top of it all, and pepperoni to top it off, so if you have any suggestions I would be happy to hear them! I'm open to any recipes or meal ideas though.. the "pizza baked spaghetti" idea is just mainly a backup.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions, and I'm glad to have come across these forums! What a great source of info and help this will be when I'm poor and living in the dorms and seeking a reprieve from ramen noodles and pizza rolls


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Old 06-20-2006, 07:49 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forum, Rocko!! Well, from the sound of it you seem to be blessed with a natural knack for cooking, so really, you could take a quick tour around this forum you could pick up lots of idea which you can put into action!!

One of my suggestions, being a proud resident of Rome, would be Bucatini Amatriciana with a side of Caprese salad... very simple, quick but impressively delicious!!

Bucatini Amatriciana for 2 people

about 50gs/2oz of bacon (if available, smoked pancetta), crispily cooked and crumbled
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or minced
1/2 onion, finely chopped or minced
extra virgine olive oil
5 ripe tomatoes, diced (if prefered, peeled) or 1 tin of peeled tomatoes(mush them up in small pieces)
black pepper, or if you like it spicy, red crushed pepper
160g-200g/6-7oz of dry pasta (bucatini or spaghetti)
freshly grated parmigiano, or if available, aged pecorino romano

In a skillet sautè onion and garlic in a sufficient amount of olive oil. When they are well cooked, add the crumbled bacon and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper (or red peper). Bring to boil and cook for several minutes until the flavours are well blended and some of the extra liquid is evaporated.
Meanwhile cook the pasta al dente, and drain
Toss the tomato mixture together with the pasta, serve with plenty of freshly grated cheese.

For Caprese salad, get a nice fresh mozzarella (of buffalo milk, if available), ripe but firm tomatoes and a bunch of fresh basil leaves. Slice up the mozz and tomatoes, arrange the slices on a plate then sprinkle the basil leaves upon. Season with salt and pepper, with an option of good evoo drizzled upon.

Then... if you would like to go for the kill, serve up a gorgeous Tiramisu Piemontese for a dessert, I guarantee she would be mightily impressed!!

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Old 06-20-2006, 08:17 AM   #3
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urmaniac13's menu looks outstanding and the salad and pasta would come together pretty quickly!

As an alternative, how about a traditional lasagna; recipes are all over the net. This will stretch your budget by providing enough leftovers for several meals.
You could serve with an antipasto including your pepperoni, maybe some roasted red peppers and anything else you both like. Add a little garlic bread and maybe a simple sauteed summer squash. You could make a sauce from whatever fruit you like and is available at a reasonable price in your market and serve it over vanilla ice cream for desert.

Everything on this menu can be done in advance except baking the lasagna and cooking the squash (which is very easy and fast). Since the visit is so short that might be an advantage.
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Old 06-20-2006, 09:08 AM   #4
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great idea urmaniac! especially the insalata caprese. it's super simple, looks great, and is really delicious. i like to add a splash of balsamic vinegar, too.

m.rocko, along urm's ideas, if you want to get a little fancier and have the budget, you could make a simple tomato sauce; plain, spicy, or garlicy if you wish, and add a few shrimp, scallops, and a few clams or mussels, or even a firm fleshed fish like tilapia. once the sauce is made which can be prepared ahead of time and kept warm, you toss in the fishes, cover, and cook for just a few minutes, then serve over angel hair with fresh chopped parsley or torn basil leaves. it's perfect date food since you don't have to spend a lot of time cooking. the only mistake you can make is overcooking, so serve it as soon as the thickest piece of fish is opaque throughout. i usually check a scallop to make sure. also, all fish in the shell should be open. discard the last few that don't open.
add a loaf of crusty italian bread and a dish of extra virgin olive oil with fresh cracked black pepper.

a few candles, a little wine. you get the idea...

i'll post an actual recipe, if you're interested.
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Old 06-20-2006, 09:09 AM   #5
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Hello modern Rocko, what a nice idea to make your girl dinner! I think
lasagne sounds like a winner in your case, this is my sister's recipe, always a big hit at her fabulous dinner parties. You can halve the recipe, as your only cooking for 2 I guess...

Maybe as a starter you could make some crostini with black olive tapenade?

Grilled vegetable lasagne (for 4)

500 gr lasagne sheets
1 large or 2 small eggplant, cut in thin rounds
1 large or 2 small zucchini, cut in thin rounds
2 bell peppers, cut in strips
3 balls buffalo mozzarella, in slices
1 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
olive oil
fresh basil
salt & pepper

6 a 7 large plum tomatoes, diced
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 tbsp vegetable stock powder
1 small onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
salt & pepper
olive oil

Start with the sauce. Heat olive oil in a saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Add tomatoes, rosemary and stock powder. Fry it on medium fire until flavours have mixed, than let is simmer with the lid on for about 10 minutes. Taste, add salt & pepper and let it simmer for another 10 minutes with the lid half off. Take the rosemary out.

Preheat the oven. Prep the sheets as the package instructs you, or make your own pasta... yummm!
Grease a lasagne dish with olive oil. Heat a grill pan and grill the vegetables until they show some colour. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt & pepper to taste.
Spread some sauce on the bottom of the dish, than add a layer of sheets. Build up the layers with the sauce, vegetables and buffalo mozzarella. Add a little parmesan along the way. Finish with a sheet with just sauce, than add the rest of the mozzarella(grate or dice it first if you like) and all the parmesan.
Bake in the oven according to the instructions of your pasta package, but check if it doesn't get too crunchy or brown. If so, cover with aluminum foil for the last 10 minutes or so.
Tear up the basil leaves.
When lasagne is done, sprinkle with basil, some olive oil and the freshly toasted pine nuts.

You can serve a simple tomato/olive oil/balsamic vinegar/basil/red onion salad as a side dish.

As for a romantic dessert: buy your girlfriends most fav chocolate and some strawberries. Melt the chocolate au bain marie: heat a bottom of water in a saucepan and place a bowl in the water, make sure it can't go in the bowl though, so don't boil to too hard/strong... I don't know what word to use here..
Anyway, break the choc in pieces and let it melt in the bowl.
Dip the washed strawberries in the melted choc, only the bottom half, and set aside on a plate. Put the plate in the fridge until it is time to serve...
Sooo romantic!

Have fun!
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Old 06-20-2006, 09:12 AM   #6
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Here's one that I've done a couple of times... I've found it delicious! You can do all the slicing and prep work ahead of time... the cooking only takes about 15 minutes.

Chicken Breasts with Sauce Supreme

For Chicken:

2 tablespoons margarine or butter
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1 pound total)

For Sauce:
1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons snipped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons whipping cream
White pepper

Hot cooked linguine or fettuccine


FOR CHICKEN: In a large skillet melt margarine or butter over medium heat. Add chicken breasts and cook for 10-12 minutes, or till chicken is tender and no pink remains, turning once. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving platter; keep warm. (Note: I slice the breasts in half and pound to about 1/4", then cook for just 2 - 3 minutes per side. It's faster and it's easier to keep them from drying out- and you only need half as many to serve the same number of people)

FOR SAUCE: In the same skillet cook mushrooms and shallots in the chicken drippings for about 3 minutes, or till tender. Spoon over chicken; keep warm. Add white wine to skillet, stirring to loosen crusty browned bits in the bottom of the skillet. Stir together chicken broth, flour, thyme, and bay leaf. Add to skillet. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in whipping cream. Remove bay leaf. Season sauce to taste with salt and white pepper. Serve sauce over chicken and hot cooked pasta.

Serves 4

Edit: I might add that you might have to add a tablespoon or 2 of EVOO (olive oil) to the skillet with the shallots and mushrooms... I never get much in the way of drippings from the chicken, but do get good crusty bits in the bottom of the pan for deglazing with the wine.
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Old 06-20-2006, 09:51 AM   #7
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From a romantic point of view, I think RP's recipe is a good idea. You don't want to eat anything really heavy and filling, or all you'll want to do is take a nap after you eat. And you don't want to spend the whole evening cooking, instead of paying attention to your lady.
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Old 06-20-2006, 10:18 PM   #8
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Thanks everyone! I think I'm going to try my hand at urmaniac's Bucatini Amatriciana. It sounds delicious and it doesn't seem as if it would take too long to make, and provided I don't screw it up somehow, it would be delicious. I should be able to handle it, though, as it seems pretty straightforward.

We've been talking about how we want to travel around the world, and Italy is at the top of the list.. so this recipe is very fitting!

I'm saving all of these recipes for future reference, by the way. :)
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Old 06-20-2006, 11:39 PM   #9
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Hi Modern welcome to Dc. I may be a bit late but here's something for you for the future. Very easy and very yummy. Make rigatoni like you normally would then add your basic pesto sauce and chicken breast with it. That's all there is to it.
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Old 06-21-2006, 12:50 AM   #10
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Hey Modern,

Here's a really easy one I like to do, and it sounds to me as though it might suit your normal approach to cooking.

Get some fettucine on to boil, and make an Alfredo sauce. Saute a mess o' shrimp in a pan with minced garlic, salt, and butter. Meanwhile, steam some asparagus. The garlic butter from the shrimp goes over the asparagus, and the shrimp goes in the Fettucine Alfredo. Serve with your choice of bread, rolls, etc, and perhaps preceded by a simple green salad.

You can whip the whole thing up in fifteen or twenty minutes, and it's elegant, delicious, and almost foolproof. You can even cheat by using that packaged Fettucine Alfredo, if you like. (I know, heresy! )


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