Week in the Life, Monday

Last week, I played along with Ali Edwards’ Week in the Life project.  I loved her idea.  Ali introduced the project to her blog readers by saying the following,

“Things in my life are much different right now than they were a year ago. I want to make sure I capture some of those little things.”

The premise is simple.  Fifteen years from now, your life will look completely different from the way it looks today.

And you’ll want to remember little things like what you liked to wear, how the house looked–the stuff of your everyday.

I was skeptical when I started out on Monday.  I didn’t have too much planned for the week, and wondered what I’d possibly find to take pictures of.

Now that my “week in the life” has come and gone, I’m so glad I grabbed my camera and played along.

On Monday, I chose to photograph dinner in real time.  Whenever I reached a new step in my recipe, I snapped a shot, including the clock on the stove.  You can see everything, from start to finish.

I decided on a Penne a la Vodka recipe from smitten kitchen, adapting it just a smidge.  I’ve never found just the right recipe for this particular restaurant fave, so I knew that if anyone was going to come through for me, it would be Deb–she who never disappoints.  It was a smash hit.

To make about 4 C sauce, you will need:

  • 1 T evoo
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 C vodka
  • 1 C chicken broth
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes (28 oz.)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 C cream
Should you be serving this for dinner tonight (as opposed to making the sauce ahead and freezing it for later), you will also want:
  • 16 oz. any short cut pasta, though penne is the classic choice here
  • 20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn (I didn’t have any and that was quite tragic)
Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over moderate heat (no, I didn’t use a skillet, I’m sorry).

Once that’s hot, add the shallots and garlic, and saute for about 8 minutes.  The longer you let them saute, the more flavor they’ll develop.  Keep stirring so things don’t burn.

Add the vodka, and let it cook down until it’s reduced by half, about 4 minutes.

Then, add the chicken stock and tomatoes and bring the sauce to a boil.  Grab a wooden spoon, coat it with sauce, and taste for salt and pepper, adding as much as you want.

Reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer, while you start heating up some water in another large pot.  Once the water comes to a boil, add salt (by the tablespoonful) and the pasta.

Keep simmering the sauce, and cook the pasta according to package directions.  When it’s finished cooking, drain the pasta, take the sauce off the heat, and add the cream to the tomato sauce.

You can now go one of two ways–toss everything together, throw in the basil and serve family style in a large bowl, or throw some pasta in a small bowl and top with sauce and a little bit of basil.

In lieu of basil, I grated cheese on top.  Do as I say, not as I do.  Please go get the green stuff.  It adds so much freshness and flavor.

*A note – Deb got this recipe from Rachael Ray’s 30 minute meals (I was as surprised as you are to hear that–I promise the dish is a keeper).  I finished dinner in about 45 minutes, because I didn’t start the pasta water as soon as I started sautéing the onions and garlic.  If you started the sauce and pasta water at the same time, I bet you could finish in 30.  The only tradeoff is your sauce will be thinner and the flavors won’t be quite as deep.  But if 30 minutes is what you have, this is a lot better than another night of Kraft macaroni and cheese.

*Another note – I love Kraft macaroni and cheese.  But you can’t eat it every night.

9 thoughts on “Week in the Life, Monday

  1. “Penne a la Vodka recipe from smitten kitchen, adapting it just a smidge.”

    You need to work “smitten smidgen” into this sentence. Did you use your “pinch” and “smidge” measuring spoons?

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