July 6, 2010

Pasta With Vodka Sauce (aka cooking for adults!)

I hope that everyone had a fabulous 4th of July weekend! Steve and I were up at the cabin from Thursday afternoon until late last night (it is always so hard to leave!) (and why is the nicest day of the weekend always the day that I have to go home??), and we had an awesome time. I have millions of pictures that I haven't even uploaded yet, and hopefully before next July I will post them! 

As you know, I have been cooking for Steve's kids (aka delicate taste buds) lately...and even when I am not cooking for them, I am thinking about what I could cook that they would like and stressing myself out about coming up with relatively healthy, delicious meals that don't taste like sawdust to me. 

Last week I threw all of those worries out the window. I didn't have to cook for them at all (besides bbq chicken on Sunday...and PS - Chris doesn't like chicken...which I didn't know until after dinner was ready) during the week, so I took advantage of the opportunity to cook for myself! Yay!

At this time, I would like to discuss cooking with alcohol. You all know that I do it, and that I love it. I add wine to sauces even when it doesn't call for it. I cook with beer instead of water whenever possible. And I've always been under the impression that the alcohol "cooks off". It doesn't. Not for a long, long time anyway. Seriously. While I was pondering making a sauce with almost a cup of vodka in it (see recipe at the bottom of this post), I starting wondering if booze really does evaporate or cook off or magically go away. I've never really cared before, because I am usually only cooking for myself and other adults. But in the off chance that I could get Steve's kids to eat something wonderful that involved a 1/2 cup of wine or possibly some vodka, I figured I'd better double check. Here is what I found:

No heat application, immediate consumption
No heat application, overnight storage
Alcohol ingredient added to boiling liquid, and removed from heat
Baked, approximately 25 minutes, alcohol ingredient on surface of mixture (not stirred in)
Baked/simmered, alcohol ingredient stirred into mixture 15 minutes
30 minutes
1 hour
1.5 hours
2 hours
2.5 hours

source: Minnesota Nutrition Council Newsletter

So, um, yeah. Basically what that means, is that aside from my Crockpot Beef, which cooks in the crock pot overnight...pretty much everything else I add alcohol to still contains a percentage of the booze when I serve it. Yikes. Again - if I am cooking for myself, who cares? A half a cup of wine mixed in to a sauce that will make 4+ servings isn't going to effect me. I just thought ya'll should know in case you are having some kid-folk over for dinner. 

Now on to the Vodka Sauce! Yippee! This recipe is based on PW's "Pasta alla Vodka" 

Pasta with Vodka Sauce (adapted from the Pioneer Woman)

  • 1 lb of pasta, cooked according to package directions (as you can see from my pic, I used medium shells...but you could use whatever your heart desires!)
  • 2 Tablespoons of butter
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 of a medium onion, minced  (PW's recipe calls for a whole onion, but I find that too overpowering for me)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup of vodka (PW calls for up to one cup, but 3/4 cup is PLENTY)
  • 1 can of tomato puree (14.5 oz)
  • 1 cup of heavy cream* (you could sub half n half)
  • salt and pepper
  • crushed red pepper (she called for a pinch...I used a few pinches because I am tough)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
 Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, saute onion and garlic until tender. Stir in vodka and let cook for 5 minutes. Stir in tomato puree and turn heat down to low. Once sauce has cooled a bit, add in cream. Season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Toss in drained pasta and Parmesan cheese. Add more salt, pepper, or crushed red pepper if necessary. This would also be great with some leftover grilled chicken, or some shrimp mixed in. Enjoy! 

*As you may know, heavy cream makes my stomach very unhappy. This recipe was no exception (1 cup of heavy cream is a lot of heavy cream), but it tasted so good that I didn't care. Sorry if that was too much information, I just wanted you to know that it was delicious and worth every bite.  

Printable Recipe 

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