Recession Chic

a down economy does not = ugly shoes

Homemade Marinara April 18, 2011

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 1:20 PM
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After 9 months of working from home, I believe I’ve uncovered all the pros and cons of not going to an office everyday and always being in the same room as your latest work project.

The cons are fairly limited (wishing people would call instead of email for one-off questions, being the only one of the phone for brainstorming sessions, losing my fashion edge to yoga pants…). The pros, on the other hand, continue to expand. I’ve discovered that my brain works better from 7am – 10am than it ever could after 4pm. Also, work drama for me is often caused by a temporarily slow Internet connection. However, the best part of working from home has to be that I have the time, opportunity and energy to do more cooking.

Over the past several months I’ve been able to prepare soups, beans, and bread from scratch during the week — something that is only possible because my ‘lunch break’ can occur whenever I need it to be. After several round of beans I realized that I could (and should) do more slow-cooked dishes since I can keep my eye on the oven/stove all day.

A few weeks ago, a good friend and fellow remote office worker shared with me her basic recipe for pasta sauce she liked making from scratch. She made it sound simple enough that I was eager to try it. My first attempt went well since I was able to simmer the sauce for several hours before serving, adjusting the seasoning as needed. Round two was even better as I refined the recipe and added veggie sausage to create a vegetarian bolognese that could fool some meat eaters (according to my Jeffery).

I first browned the ‘meat’ in my dutch oven and set aside. From there I sautéed the garlic and onions in olive oil, deglazing the pan with a little wine. Next, two cans of Italian style whole peeled tomatoes, tomato paste and a variety of dried Italian seasonings. As the sauce thickened, I tasted and adjusted seasoning. Towards the end I incorporated the ‘sausage’ into the sauce and added some vegetable stock to thin the sauce to the right consistency.

I used about 3/4 of the sauce for dinner that night and saved the rest. Below are some photos of the leftover sauce and the delicious cheese and rigatoni dish.


Fresh Pasta, Fresh Pesto – Perfect for Summer August 18, 2010

Filed under: Cooking 101,Dough Diaries — karakrautter @ 8:44 AM
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The Cooking Channel is the best thing about TV this summer, hands down. Classic reruns of the original Iron Chef, Julia Child and hours of cooking shows (not reality TV) from talented chefs (not Rachel Ray or Sandra Lee). This weekend I was reminded of the greatness of simple meals with fresh ingredients.

Since I finally have a blender with a food chop option (instead of the sad mini chop from my college days), fresh pesto on some homemade pasta sounded like the perfect dish for a hot summer night. From an older episode of Jamie at Home, I realized that I’ve been working way too hard to make my pasta noodles. Although it makes some sense to use the dough hook on my Kitchen Aid mixer, using a food processor to create the dough is far more efficient. The processor roughly combines the egg and flour, creating a bread crumb consistency which requires far less water to form the dough.

For the pesto, I chose the classic recipe (garlic, basil, pine nuts, olive oil and Parmesan) and added tomatoes for a little extra color. Below are photos of the raw pasta and the completed dish.


Dining In: Goat Cheese, Greens and Béchamel over Shells March 19, 2010

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 11:46 AM
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After traveling for a week, I was is desperate need of eating and cooking a nice home-cooked meal. My Google Reader was filled to the brim with tons of recipes from all the blogs that I follow that had been neglected over the last 7 days. I took my time and decided on this French pasta dish from Serious Eats.

Happily I hopped over to the HEB after work to get everything for the meal. I decided to simplify the recipe to cut down on prep time and limit the number of ingredients I would need to buy. I only used two veggies (spinach and peas), and opted out of the shallot, egg yolk and nutmeg.

Unfortunately, in my hustle to get home and start cooking, I forgot to pick up the large shells to stuff. So, instead I used smaller whole wheat shells I already had in the pantry and combined the cheese stuffing and béchamel into a sauce.


Dough Diaries: Pasta, Round One January 25, 2010

Filed under: Dough Diaries — karakrautter @ 10:34 AM
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After weeks of looking at my pasta maker from Christmas, I finally found the time to give a go at homemade noodles. Woah, this was some adventure. Without the moral support and hands-on assistance from my wonderful friend Ashley, the attempt would have failed completely.

I found a recipe for pasta dough online that was simple enough to make, but not the best for making noodles. The noodles turned out very sticky, and Ashley and I had a time trying to keep them separated. But, after cooking them and dressing them up with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella — we had a tasty, unattractive, dinner.

Thanks to my culinary friends, I already have another recipe to try and tips on keeping the noodles dry. Let’s hope next month is better 🙂


Dining In: Spicy Roasted Tomato and Pepper Pasta October 7, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 6:49 PM
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Thanks to my mother, I’ve lately been obsessed with adding red pepper flakes to pasta, pizza, and just about everything to give it an extra kick. These spicy little flakes even inspire me to cook a second meal each week. So, when I saw this recipe for a spicy, roasted pasta dish, I knew I need to prepare it and share it.

I made a few changes to the original recipe to simplify it a bit and use what I already had in my kitchen.


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes
  • 2 bell peppers, 1 red and 1 yellow
  • 1/2 pound curly shaped pasta
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • fresh basil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Slice the tomatoes and peppers and place on a roasting pan. Drizzle them with some olive oil and salt and pepper.
  2. Roast the tomatoes and peppers under an oven’s broiler, turning occasionally, until the tomato skin soften and the pepper skin blackens (about 10-12 min).
  3. While roasting, bring a pot of salty water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, reserving some pasta water.
  4. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a medium skillet, and cook the garlic and chili flakes over medium-low heat until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and peppers  and raise the heat to medium and cook until the sauce thickens (mash the halved tomatoes and add a little pasta water to help the sauce form).
  5. When the pasta is ready, drain the noodles and melt the butter over it. Then toss with the sauce and chopped basil. Serve with Parmesan cheese.



Dining In: Tuna Pasta with Tomatoes and Arugula June 19, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 7:10 PM
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As you can probably tell, when it comes to pasta, I really like fun-shaped noodles. But, when I came across this recipe the idea of just regular spaghetti really sounded tasty.

I had some extra cherry tomatoes and no lemon, so I decided to give the recipe a little different spin, and a little Parmesan. Plus, it is nearly impossible for me (or my father) to have pasta without some kind of cheese. Simple, light, another perfect summer pasta!


  • 1/2 pound dried angel hair
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • Generous pinch hot red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 package good tuna in water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 pound baby arugula
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese


1.Bring a pot of salty water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve some cooking water before draining.

2.While waiting for the water to boil, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, a couple minutes, then add the tuna and halved tomatoes. Add a splash of the pasta cooking water to create a sauce. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and the lemon juice.

3. Add the cooked pasta along with the contents of the skillet back into the past pot. Toss well to combine. Add the arugula and continue tossing, allowing it to wilt, moistening with pasta water or olive oil as needed.

4.Top with Parmesan and serve.



Dining In: Bowtie with Summer Cilantro Pesto May 26, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 3:54 PM
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I truly believe that leftover ingredients can be the best dinner inspiration. No recipe needed, just some extra cilantro from a lime-cilantro rice I made for our Mother’s Day cookout. I love pesto during the warmer months, but it’s great to have a little variety. Simple and tasty, enjoy!


1 clove garlic

1/2 bunch cilantro

2 tbs. olive oil

1/4 cup shredded parmeasan cheese

Juice of one lime

1 tbs. cream

1 Italian sausage (Morningstar for veggies)


1. Boil bowtie pasts according to the directions, but leave it a bit aldente

2. Combine garlic, chopped cilantro, Parmesan, lime juice and olive oil in a food processor (or mini chopper). Blend until all cilantro is finely minced.

3. Heat pesto and cream in a medium saucepan until well-combined. Add aldente pasta to the pesto-cream until pasta is covered.

4. Heat ‘sausage’ according to package directions and add to pasta. Plate and serve!

summer pesto