Thursday, September 20, 2007

Presto Pasta Night: Kid Food for Grown-Ups

Hard to believe this week has flown by so fast! The weather this week has brought us the first inkling of fall with cool temperatures and an ever earlier dusk. I've been cooking dinner almost every night and I'm slowly getting the hang of my electric stove (medium on electric = high on gas) and have even been doing some baking ala working on my BrownieBabe recipe and something really special for that once a month affair I know you can't wait to know about (Love my oven thermometer!). Between all that cooking/baking, I've been in NYC two of the three days this week for project meetings. Busy, busy, busy...

Tonight, on the way back from yet another meeting, I was sharing a seat on the 3:48pm from Grand Central with a mother and her young son. He was four and had gone into the city with his mother. All the way back, he chatted with me about all the toys he saw at the Children's Museum and how he had peanut butter, jelly and banana for lunch and saw Dora the Explorer and then went and played in the park. He was so cute and articulate. As he and his mother were leaving the train, I heard him say he wanted "Spaghettios with hotdogs and chocolate milk" for dinner. All the sudden, I wanted to be four again and have my mom fix me spaghettios with sliced hotdogs and chocolate milk for dinner. While my mother may not be able to cook dinner for me tonight, that doesn't mean I couldn't fix myself a grown-up version of spaghettios and hotdogs and I wanted to fix it quickly; a perfect Presto Pasta challenge!!

On the way home, I stopped at what is quickly becoming my favourite neighborhood store, The Market Basket. I figured I would pick up a package of ring noodle soup and use the noodles for my spaghettios and some all-beef skinless hotdogs from the butcher. When I walked down the pasta aisle, I saw a pasta I had never seen before, Ditalini. Perfect! A heartier version of the "O's", this pasta cooked up wonderfully quick and held its shape. While the pasta was cooking, I sliced the hot dogs and added them to the pasta during the last three minutes of cooking to heat up. The sauce was a cheat, I admit it. I picked up a small jar of Prego Fresh Mushroom sauce and added some fresh grated cheese and chopped basil to liven it up. A big dollop of the sauce on top of the pasta and hotdogs, more cheese and fresh cracked pepper and I had a grown up version of a kid's classic.

Easy Peasy Pasta and Dogs
Serves 2

1 1/2 cup of Ditalini or any short tube pasta
three skinless hotdogs, sliced
1 small jar of pasta sauce
2 Tbsp fresh chopped basil
1/8 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano plus extra to sprinkle on top
Fresh cracked pepper to taste

Boil pasta for 8 minutes in salted water. Add hot dog slices and cook until pasta is al dente. While pasta is cooking, add basil and 1/8 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano to 1 1/2 cup of pasta sauce. Drain and toss pasta and hot dog slices with the sauce. Sprinkle Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh cracked pepper on top.

Serve with a crisp Pinot Grigio and Ceasar salad.