Birthday feast for Nonna

I love an occasion to cook for. Cooking is my way of showing love for someone I care about. Its not so much the foods I make as much as it is the preparation or love that goes into the meal. I would rather spend all day making something from scratch for someone than taking them to a restaurant chain. My mom’s birthday was yesterday. For her present she requested a favorite meal of ours. My mom is the reason I cook, because she always taught me so many things in the kitchen. I love seeing her with the girls today teaching them the love of cooking. For her dinner she requested Penne with Crabcake pasta from the restaurant we had our wedding rehearsal dinner at. I always loved that entree so I recreated it at home till I got it right. It is extremely simple yet it plates and tastes like 5 stars. Then because my mom has a sweet tooth I made her a delectable chocolate cake. Who doesn’t want to try a new chocolate cake recipe? So here we go:

Crabcake Penne with Spinach and Sundried tomatoes

This recipe is one I made up to duplicate the dish we always enjoyed at one of our favorite NC places, Amos Mosquitos cafe. First I cook some garlic, about 6-8 cloves, roughly chopped in butter. Then I toss spinach in the butter and cover it to wilt, you don’t want it to cook too long. Then I add a about 3/4 jar of chopped sundried tomatoes in olive oil and I add some of the oil from the jar as well. I cook some penne till it is al dente and then I toss it in the saute pan with the spinach. I serve a bowl of this lovely pasta concoction with a crabcake sitting on top and some aioli on the crabcake. Sometimes I make my own crabcakes from scratch but lately I have been using Maryland Lump crabcakes from the freezer section. The crabcake is so happy to be sitting in this pasta nest. Aioli is what really adds the zing to this dish. For my aioli I use garlic, mayo, chipolte peppers in adobo sauce, dijon mustard, and white wine vinegar. I got the recipe from Food Network.com a while ago but I have since added to it. This dish has such few simple ingredients but it is really pleasing to the eye and the palate. It really makes a date night in look extra fancy.

For dessert we had the Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with Fudge Icing, pictured above. No matter how little time I have I just can’t use a store bought or boxed cake, as the ones from scratch taste so much better. I have made this recipe for so many special occasions before. It is so moist and light and fluffy. I have really never tasted a cake like it. In fact I think I am going to go taste some right now…

 

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