Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Alligator Penne

Alligator on our Airboat Ride in the Everglades

Okay, I have had a very busy month this last month.  I have really been suffering.  First, I had to spend Christmas away from my family so instead I had to spend it in Miami with great friends.  They forced me to go to the pool on Christmas day:

Me, KT & Chad
This was followed by partying in South Beach until 2:30 in the morning (close your eyes mom).  I even had to cuddle with this animal:
My Buddy Axl
Then we had a two week work trip over New Years.  We went to Miami and the Florida Keys and it was beautiful every day.  Oh the torture!   I had to work on my birthday (thanks for the shout out Emily) but managed to eek out a celebration cocktail on Saturday night in Key West.  We got back to Fort Myers after working 16 days straight and I had this gorgeous guy come to see me:

My cousin Austin
I would have a picture of another gorgeous guy named Skyler but he was mysteriously missing during the sunset cocktail.   Next up, I was tortured by a visit from my sister.  We ended up kayaking and seeing the manatees up close and personal.  

Nancy & I having a great day on the water
I took the long way around but you get the idea.  I have had a crazy month and the idea of cooking for just myself just didn't appeal to me.  I was torn between two Pinterest recipes any way.  They both sound awesome so here you go!  I hope you have better luck getting them made.  In case you are feeling sorry for me, I have since made the roasted chicken several times.  I can see these on the menu sometime soon.

Copycat Macaroni Grill's Penne Rustica

Gratinata sauce ( use 4 1/2 cups )
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon chopped garlic 
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard 
1/2 teaspoon dill 
1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary 
1/2 cup marsala cooking wine 
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
4 cups heavy cream 

Penne Rustica
1/2 ounce pancetta or bacon (I used an ounce which was 1 strip of bacon for me)
9 raw shrimp, peeled and deveined 
6 ounces grilled chicken breasts, sliced (1 large breast or 2 small)
8-12 ounces penne pasta, cooked 
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped pimiento (optional)
3 Tablespoons butter 
1/2 teaspoon chopped shallot
 pinch salt and pepper 
1/2 cup parmesan cheese 
1/4 teaspoon paprika 
3 sprigs fresh rosemary (for garnish)

1. For Gratinata Sauce: Saute butter, garlic, and rosemary until garlic begins to brown.
2. Add Marsala wine and reduce by one-third.
3. Add remaining ingredients, reduce by half of the original volume.
4. Set aside.
5. For Penne Rustica: Saute pancetta or bacon until it begins to brown.
6. Add butter, shallots, and shrimp.
7. Cook until shrimp are evenly pink but still translucent.
8. Add chicken, salt, pepper, and mix thoroughly.
9. Add gratinata sauce and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.
10. Simmer until sauce thickens.
11. In a large bowl, combine shrimp and chicken mixture with the cooked pasta.
12. Pour into a large casserole dish or roaster.
13. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup more parmesan cheese, pimientos and sprinkle with paprika.
14. Bake at 475 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.

15. Remove and garnish with fresh rosemary sprig

The second runner up is this one from Food & Wine:

Recipe: Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

  1. 1 pound asparagus
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. 2 teaspoons salt
  4. 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  5. 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  6. 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  7. 1 pound penne
  8. 1/4 pound butter, cut into pieces
  9. 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

  1. Heat the oven to 400°. Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and discard them. Cut the spears into 1-inch pieces. Put the asparagus on a baking sheet and toss with the oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, put the vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer until 3 tablespoons remain. Stir in the brown sugar and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove from the heat.
  3. Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling, salted water until just done, about 13 minutes. Drain the pasta and toss with the butter, vinegar, asparagus, Parmesan, and the remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt. Serve with additional Parmesan

Good luck and if you try either tell  me how the turn out!


  1. Love the pictures and update on what you've been doing! I will be making that penne with balsamic - looks delicious! What did we do with our time before Pinterest came into our lives?

  2. Megan, you crack me up! That does sound like a tough life. I thought you were serious with the Alligator Penne. Wonder if there is such a thing.