Simple and Easy Clam Pasta


This recipe comes from my hometown of Clinton, Indiana. As you can see by the title picture my town is very proud of its Italian heritage. I myself am a quarter Italian as is almost everyone else that grew up there. Every year they hold a Little Italy Festival on Labor Day weekend. I sadly can’t go this year so I’m happy to be writing about it. It’s happening in a week so if you are in Indiana you should go.

As a kid I would get so excited every year for the festival because I was extremely proud of my 1/4 Italian ethnicity. My mother is the one who is half Italian and she was constantly talking about our family and our family history. It also doesn’t help that my full-blooded Italian grandfather was somewhat of a legend in our tiny town. I never met the man, but the way everyone talks about him makes him out to be this larger than life character. His wife, my grandmother, used to talk about him in the same manner. He died in 1979, but she continued to love him up until she passed. She was a pretty impressive human being herself by the way. She was a great cook too, so I’m sure she’d get a kick out of this blog.

As an adult, I still enjoy the festival, but I wish it was like how it used to be. Before I was even born the festival was less about fast food stands and more about the celebration of our Italian heritage. There is still some of that happening though. I particularly enjoy all the local clubs and organizations that have spaghetti tents and etc. In the past, more of the stands on our main festival strip where local Italian cooks who would sell their sauces and more during the festival. Also they had gondola rides on the Wabash river.  We still have the gondola, but it is not rideable anymore. Unless you count when it’s used as a float during our parade.

Fun personal fact! They also have a tractor ride where you get a little mini tour of the town. When I was in grade school I was riding this ride and they had a narration tape playing. In the tape they mentioned my grandfather and how he brought the gondola over from Italy. I was so excited about this I ran to my mother and said, “Mom! Why didn’t you tell me it was grandpa that brought the gondola?”

My mother had to burst my bubble a bit. She explained that there was a committee and he wasn’t the only one who had a hand in it. The next year they changed the narration so it didn’t single out my grandfather. I like it when the facts are accurate, but I admittedly got a kick out of hearing my grandfather’s name on the tractor ride.

Besides the spaghetti fests and the gondola, we also have a couple of mini museums and a wine garden. The mini museums are an old Italian grocery store and a small house that a little old Italian lady used to live in. The wine garden is pretty much a bar that is only open during the festival and it’s a highlight for the adults. Especially the adults in my age range. I say adults loosely, because we are, in my opinion, pretty immature. Especially during the festival. The wine garden is an outdoor venue with a small stage and an overhead trellis with grape vines. It’s simple but pretty. It’s pretty tame during the day. At night the wine garden becomes a Dionysian high school reunion. It’s a little weird admittedly, but it can also be fun.

Needless to say this cookbook is very precious to me, because it reminds me of home, my heritage, and the festival. My great-grandmother has three recipes in it too. The clam pasta is not one of them, but I’ll get around to her recipes eventually.

This recipe is delicious and super easy to make. All you have to do is saute a can of clams with the clam juice, garlic, and a ton of parsley. Then you pour it over your choice of cooked pasta. It amazed me how simple and good this recipe is! I made a clam pasta that was more elaborate from another cookbook and it wasn’t nearly as good.

The great thing about this recipe is that you could substitute it easily with other meats too. I didn’t try this yet, admittedly, but I could tell from experience that it would go well with shrimp. I’d be intrigued to try it with scallops or chicken too. I would love to try it with shirmp since I’m not a clam lover. Despite that though, I really enjoyed this recipe and would recommend it.

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The lovely clam pasta.

Tiny Worlds of Cheese with Olive Cores

Cheese is amazing! I love it so much! I could never be a Vegan. If someone told me I couldn’t have cheese anymore, I’m not sure I’d want to live. A world without cheese for this girl, is a sad one.

As you might have guessed my next recipe features cheese and comes from this wonderful cookbook.

photo_1Monroe County is a county from my homestate of Indiana. It is the county where Bloomington and Indiana University is located. This is not where I grew up though. I grew up in a town called Clinton which is about an hour and a half away from Bloomington. For my next entry I’m actually going to write about my hometown’s cookbook, so hooray for foreshadowing!

My parents love Bloomington so much that they have a condo there where they spend most of their weekends. I can’t say I blame them. It’s a cool little college town with some amazing restaurants. This cookbook is also amazing because some of these restaurants were kind enough to publish their recipes in this wonderful cookbook.

I’m still in the appetizer section, so this recipe is cheese puffs with olives on the inside. It was very easy to make. You mix grated sharp cheddar cheese with flour, a bit of hot sauce, pepper, salt, and some other spices.Then you slowly add in olive oil. Once the flour is down to the right consistency you just take an olive and wrap it up lovingly into a ball of cheese.

Once you have used up all of your mixture, you freeze the balls for 24 hours. Then you heat the oven for 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Once those 15 minutes are done, you have a plethora of tiny worlds of cheese.

When I finally got to taste them, they strangely reminded me of Cheetos. Not exactly, but similar. I was racking my brain for a good hour about what exactly they tasted like. Cheetos wasn’t quite right. Finally I figured it out. They are very similar to those highly addictive cheddar cheese biscuits from Red Lobster only with olives inside. Sounds a bit strange, but trust me, it’s good.


All The Vegetables You Can Fit in a Pot Soup

The actual name of this recipe is hearty vegetable soup. It came from a cookbook called Light and Healthy. Similar to Cooking Light, this cookbook looks for healthy alternatives for ingredients. This is one of my favorite cookbooks because not only are most of the recipes delicious but generally healthy as well. Each recipe has a short story in it too that is sometimes entertaining. There was a dip recipe where they spent hours finding the right sour cream combo to use until they not only got the right taste but also the right consistency.

So you should have no doubts that they take the health and the taste of their recipes seriously.

For being soup, this particular recipe was a little insane though. Like I suggest in my title, it seemed like it had every damn vegetable in existence! Which is annoying when it comes to prep and shopping. I was able to buy every ingredient at my local Vons, except for parsnips. I thought for a minute about searching for some. I didn’t want my soup to feel incomplete, but then I realized I had practically every vegetable Von’s sold in my bag already. As you can see, leaving the parsnips out didn’t take away from the fullness of the soup.

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The hardest part about making this soup was the countless hours of chopping all those vegetables! Ok, so maybe it didn’t take hours, but it sure felt like it. I’m not a great chopper so for me it was excruciating. Once everything is chopped, it’s pretty easy to make. You just put it in your pot, add vegetable broth, a little bit of tomato paste, and finally the appropriate spices. Heat it up to a boil and you’ve got your vegetable intake for the day!

Despite this being easy to make, I wouldn’t make it again though. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. It was just somewhere in mediocre land.  Spending all that time on chopping and vegetable shopping just isn’t worth it.


At least we can say the soup is photogenic though.

Beets and Blue Cheese AKA Cheese makes everything right

My first documented recipe was a success. It came from a magazine called Cooking Light. This particular issue focuses on summer comfort foods that are health consciousness. My mother sent it to me when I first moved to LA because I felt like a fat piece of trash compared to all the other girls in town. Let’s face it, half of those girls were probably skinny because of eating disorders and/or drugs. The other half were naturally skinny, worked out, or their mothers also bought them cooking magazines focusing on healthy eating. It’s kind of working for me, I might have to move on to cocaine or heroin though. Can’t get rid of this one little fat roll. This is sarcasm folks, don’t be alarmed.

The dish I made from this book was a side dish. It was baked beets with blue cheese and it was definitely comforting and good! The first step was removing the stems from the bright, red beets and setting them aside. I then had to boil the beets so that I could peel the skin off. This trick can be done with tomatoes too, but it only works if you place the vegetables in cold water after boiling. You have to have the right amount of hot to cold, otherwise it doesn’t really work. I had trouble with these beets admittedly. Some of them I was too frustrated and left part of the skin on. This is because I’m lazy. Don’t be like me.

After peeling the beets, I cut them up into quarter sized squares and placed them on a cookie sheet. Now here’s where the fun begins. It begins with blue cheese. You layer the beets with blue cheese, some heavy cream, and other ingredients. Then you cover that mixture with the stems you cut off earlier and sprinkle it with more blue cheese and breadcrumbs. All that’s left to do is to bake it in the oven. When finished you have a delicious side dish or desert. It actually makes a good desert. Europeans do this because they know that when they feel fat and desire something sweet, fruit with cheese or sweet toppings help cravings. Now you know.

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This be the beets