Quick and Easy Pasta Recipe

It’s Tax Day everyone, hopefully you’ve all gone out and completed your taxes (well at least here in the states). Here’s a quick and easy pasta recipe in case you’re trying to beat the tax clock and make it home to get dinner ready. These are simple ingredients that won’t bog you down with prep work. Just cut up a few veggies and you have yourself a complete meal without too much fuss. I made this pasta dish with bok choy but don’t worry if you don’t have any, you can substitute it for spinach, kale, broccoli rabe or any of your favorite leafy greens. Sometimes the best meals are unplanned and when you just don’t have the time you can toss together a few simple ingredients for a satisfying meal.

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Also, who doesn’t have some sort of pasta in the house? I usually pick up several boxes when I go shopping even though I don’t cook it often. I just like having it around because like rice, it can be a meal in a snap, especially when you don’t have anything else in the house. Add a little butter, salt & pepper and chopped herbs with any pasta, pair it with wine and that alone would make a delicious meal. Here I used penne pasta but spaghetti, but any other would go well with this dish. Spice it up with red pepper flakes and you have a hot and spicy dish to cure those tax blues.

bokchoy-pasta

Bok Choy and Pasta Recipe
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups pasta
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • ½ lb bok choy, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • parmesan cheese shavings
Instructions
  1. Prepare pasta according to instructions on box.
  2. Heat oil in saute pan over medium heat, add garlic until fragrant, after 30 sec add bok choy, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper and stir.
  3. Add the cooked pasta to pan and stir until ingredients are mixed well.
  4. Serve and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

NYC Hot Sauce Expo Photos

As promised, here are the NYC Hot Sauce Expo photos! Better late than never no? We had an awesome time at the event this year and picked up a few great products. If you’re a spicy food lover like I am you should definitely look into getting some of these products if you don’t have them already.

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Willikers delicious spicy chocolate syrups are a must in cocktails, over ice cream or in hot cocoa. I preferred the dark chocolate made with toasted marshmallows and chile spices.

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Lucky Dog brought their special wax sealed bottles for the event.

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Below are the brave souls that participated in the deadly, spicy lollipop lick-a-thon hosted by Michelle from Intensity Academy. She makes the hottest lollipop in the world and some tasty spicy mayo too. How hot were these you ask? These lollies are only 2.3M Scoville units, that’s about 500-600 times hotter than a jalapeno pepper! Seriously people, why would you do this to yourself?! I make spicy lollipops and wouldn’t try this! Some people have much higher tolerance and were definitely testing their limits…pretty amazing feat I think. They look so happy here in the “before” shot but you gotta see the “after” shots! I’ll post video tomorrow for you guys if I can get it to upload.

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Event organizers High River Sauces have an amazing arsenal of hot sauces. One of my favorites is the Hellacious hot sauce. Heartbreaking Dawns 1542 habanero sauce is on the money too!

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Jersey’s own Born to Hula!

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I picked up the All Spice Cafe sweet ghost pepper popcorn for that sweet, spicy and salty flavor that’s tough to find along with Sauce Goddess Moroccan twist popcorn for blended flavors of caramel, cardamom and chiles for an amazing complex flavor. You can find these at Peppers.com.

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You have to pick up Sinclair’s Fatalii sauce from Sweet Heat’s hot sauce makers. It’s made with tomatoes and the wonderfully fragrant and hot fatalii peppers. Fatalii peppers are very similar to the citrus flavors of the habanero peppers but they are a lot spicier, more fragrant and more prominent fruity flavors.

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I made a chicken pot pie this weekend and sprinkled some Volcanic Peppers dust for a little heat which surprisingly came through even with the creaminess of the pie. This little jar packs an incredible amount of heat as it should since it is made with just habanero, red peppers and ghost peppers.

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This A&B hot sauce is a nice Carolina style vinegar based pepper sauce made in NYC. I like the mid-range heat of this sauce and can see it in future bowls of popcorn!

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Twisted Sister’s guitarist Eddie “fingers” Ojeda’s award winning Ojeda Cherry Habanero sauce made my top list in the sweet and spicy category. It has a great natural cherry flavor and a heat that builds over time. This would be amazing on grilled BBQ chicken or ribs!

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Whitehouse Station habanero hot sauce delivers pure habanero heat for that clean citrus flavor I’ve come to love. It is one of my favorite peppers right along with the fatalii pepper. Puckerbutt’s Brown Congo Jelly is not your typical thin, overly sweet jelly. This jelly is chunky with lots of pepper bits and the perfect blend of sugar and heat. Smear it on your pork tenderloin next time.

hotsauce-jelly

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Hellfire yeah! I didn’t get to try all of their sauces but Hellfire’s The Elixir just blew me away. Can’t wait to put that on everything!

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If you can’t handle too much heat and love the flavors of green chiles and tomatillos, this is the sauce for you. This was one of my favorites from NW Elixirs. Fresh, tangy, mildly spicy and perfect on eggs or smothered on baked chicken with melted cheese. Are you hungry yet?

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Here’s one mini entrepreneur! This little guy, with the help of his mom and dad, created his own hot sauce and bravely tried one of my spicy lollipops! This story is pretty amazing and shows how with great parenting and guidance children can learn essential skills to become successful and gain independence down the road. Not only are they selling the Hot Cha – Waa Cha hot sauces and BBQ sauces, but Dad founded and teaches at the Chef2Be Summer program at the Nyack, NY Culinary Learning Center. The Chefs2Be program is for kids over 10 years old interested in learning about healthy eating and cooking. Visit their website for more details about the program.

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The day outside was miserably wet and cold and thank goodness the event was held indoors this year. I have to say I preferred last year’s set up as vendors booths snaked through venue for easy navigation. This year I found myself a bit overwhelmed and not knowing where to turn exactly but that didn’t matter much, I was on a mission and visited every single booth there, especially the food, beer and liquor booth in VIP. There was also a tattoo artist on hand for those crazy, impulsive moments when you convince yourself you need another! I passed but mostly because they didn’t have any chile pepper designs! ha!

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liquor

More food next time please!! Definitely not enough in the VIP area to get through a day of sampling sauces but the sandwiches were delicious, albeit tiny.

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oh and I want these earrings!

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Until next year folks! Hope you enjoyed the photos. Look for Hot Lollies spicy lollipops at next year’s event if all goes well!

 

 

Get Ready for the NYC Hot Sauce Expo

Get ready for the 2nd annual NYC Hot Sauce Expo this weekend brought to you by High River Sauces! This event will be packing some serious heat! If you love hot sauce and spicy foods this is one event you absolutely cannot miss! It’s not too late to get tickets so get them online to save a few bucks! Last year was a huge success with hot sauce producers from all over the country and plenty of food and drink to go around.

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Here are a few photos from last years’ outdoor event. Good thing event is indoors this year since it may be a rainy and chilly weekend. So head over to the Penn Plaza Pavilion next to Penn Station to sample some of the best hot sauces around. This will be an easy commute for those coming from outside of Manhattan. It’s also a great opportunity to try sauces you normally wouldn’t find in this area and to support a few small businesses…and if you’re feeling brave, enter one of the spicy foods contest!   It’s going to be one hell of an event. See you all tomorrow! I’ll be sure to post a few photos for those of you who can’t attend.

Gobi Manchurian Spicy Cauliflower Fritters Recipe

I don’t know about you but I have dozens of bookmarked recipes in cookbooks and online that I’ve been meaning to try. There are so many great looking & great sounding recipes out there but the true test is when you make it yourself and all doubt is erased. What can I say, I’m a skeptic, I’ve tried so many recipes and sometimes they just don’t measure up to the photos or descriptions so I like to decide for myself if its a keeper or not.  This gobi manchurian, spicy cauliflower fritters recipe is one you will fall in love with over and over again!

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Cauliflower just never appealed to me. I always thought it was bland and one of those vegetables that just takes on the flavor of whatever its mixed with so I just never bothered with it. I usually passed up cauliflower until I had a pureed version of it in a dish as well as in other Indian spicy dishes. There are subtle flavors there but more importantly there are many healthy benefits one should not pass up. According to WebMD, “cauliflower is high in vitamin C, potassium, fiber, folic acid and contains a sulfur compound called isothiocyanate that protects health and prevents disease”. It’s also low in calories but I’m about to change that in a minute!

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I’ve mentioned this recipe to you before in one of my spicy roundup post and since I didn’t change anything about this it I won’t post recipe here but you can find it at Sinfully Spicy. I didn’t deep fry these but did use less than 1 inch of oil in pan and turned vegetables once they were brown on one side. I may try steaming the cauliflower next time, just a little though so they don’t have to fry as long. Soaking up the oil with lots of paper towels also helps too.

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This is a delicious, spicy dish that can be served as a side dish or do what I did and enjoy a bowl of it with refreshing coconut water or a chilled acidic white wine. The cauliflowers fritters are soft in the inside but have a nice crunch to them for a chewy bite. The flavors are bold and incredibly satisfying. I will definitely be making this again!

{Products I Love} Nonna’s Spicy Red Pesto Review

I picked up Nonna’s Spicy Red Pesto at the Chile Pepper Festival last Fall and finally getting around to write about it. I’ve only had the traditional basil pesto before so when I saw this version I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I thought, “Is this really pesto?” and “Isn’t pesto’s main ingredient basil?”. Apparently, after looking it up, I learned that pesto is traditionally made with basil throughout Italy but other areas like Sicily use tomato as their main ingredient. Pesto actually means to pound or crush in Italian and was traditionally made using a motar and pestle, which is where the English word “pestle” got its name.  I’m all for this red pesto and happy they spiced this up properly too!

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This spicy red pesto is no lightweight when it comes to heat. There’s a generous amount of habanero peppers to make the spiciness linger for a while. The paste is thick, chunky and great for adding to pastas, spreading on sandwiches and delicious all on its own with plain crackers or pretzels. The flavors are robust, bold, spicy and its strong concentrated tomato based flavor makes it perfect for mixing it into dishes without it losing its punch.

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At first I thought a 4 oz jar was too small to get much use out of it but a little does go a long way. I was pleasantly surprised how it still maintained its flavor even after adding a little heavy cream for my lobster ravioli dish.

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I mixed a tablespoon of the red pesto with about 2-3 tablespoons of heavy cream and poured over the raviolis for a spicy, light and satisfying meal.

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Nonna’s spicy red pesto is just one of City Saucery’s products, they also make other tomato sauces using locally sourced ingredients from NY and NJ farms. I love that they started small and have had tremendous growth over the past few years which is a testament to their product. They’re sold online and in various retailers across the US, just check their website for more details. All in all, for $9 a jar, a wonderful product with all natural ingredients and worth every penny.

Ingredient List:  Sun-dried tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, lemon juice, vinegar, habanero peppers, garlic, sea salt and anchovies.

Prickly Pear Margarita for Valentine’s Day

Seriously, I’ve just had it with all this snow. We were hit with another 11 inches of snow yesterday and I’ve yet to move my car since last weeks storm! My wheels just kept spinning in the ice so just shook my little fists up in the air left it there. There’s also supposed to be another storm coming tomorrow but I’m not letting it put a damper on my evening plans. After shoveling for the umpteenth time I just wanted a strong, spicy drink and pretend I was on a beach somewhere. I thought this prickly pear margarita for Valentine’s Day was fitting…
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Have you ever handled a prickly pear? These semi-tart fruits grow on nopales, the flat cactus shown below. They look deadly but inside they’re a gorgeous fuchsia color and mildly sweet. You have to seriously watch how you handle the fruit however, they call it prickly for good reason. The fruit has these tiny spines that can easily pierce the skin which I learned very quickly. I’d suggest wearing thick gloves or holding them from both ends.
photo credit: http://pdphoto.org/

photo credit: http://pdphoto.org/

prickly-pear

If you like tart, spicy cocktails that aren’t too sweet then this prickly pear margarita will be right up your alley. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Prickly Pear Margarita for Valentine’s Day
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-5
 
Ingredients
  • 3-4 prickly pears, skin removed, quartered
  • 1 cup 100% agave tequila
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced
  • ½ cup triple sec
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • tajin
Instructions
  1. Pour tequila into a cup then add the sliced jalapeno. Let sit for at least 1 hour or infuse the tequila with jalapeno overnight.
  2. Blend the prickly pear in a blender with a little water. Strain juice in a separate container to remove seeds. Set juice aside.
  3. Fill ½ of pitcher with ice, add tequila, about ½ cup of prickly pear juice, triple sec, lime juice and stir vigorously. Taste and adjust with triple sec for a little sweetness, if needed.
  4. To serve, rim glass tumblers with tajin chile spice and fill with the cocktail.