Tag Archives: Emeril Lagasse

Penne a La Vodka Casserole

Day 57: “Emeril’s Potluck

February 26, 2011

Putting vodka in a pasta is not something I think of when I am making my home-made spaghetti sauce, but it is common.  You can even buy jarred spaghetti sauce with vodka in it.  I had my husband make this dish for the family this week and when he looked for the vodka, which I assumed me had plain vodka, we did not.  Not sure how this would have tasted with raspberry vodka or chocolate vodka, but we didn’t want to risk it.  A call to our neighbor was the last-minute rescue.  Don’t you love having those neighbors who can help a gal out with a cup of vodka?  She calls me for a can of cream of chicken soup and I call her for vodka.  Doesn’t get more neighborly than that!

This cookbook is filled with all sorts of yummy satisfying food.  I have a couple more that I would have liked to have made, like the Cowboy Chicken Casserole that has 12 cups of tortilla chips in it.  There is another one for Mexican Breakfast Casserole as well……it calls for 6 poblano peppers….and you all know how much I love those poblano peppers!

The Ruling: It was well liked by everyone in our family…..by everyone I mean everyone but the youngest.  I am going to stop commenting on his likes and dislikes as I think he is throwing this cook book adventure of mine a curve ball.  He wouldn’t even taste one noodle…..soemthing about how he hates red sauce as his excuse.  Weird!  When I copied down the recipe I obviously didn’t look at things very closely like…..4 cups of onions……2 pounds of sausage (I had bought 1 pound)……and the 1/2 cup of vodka…..and it takes 2 hours.  Nothing like eating dinner at 8:30!  Oops!  It was worth the wait it was a good one to put in the monthly rotation, probably under the Sunday Supper category though.  The theory is that you have more time on Sunday’s to let things simmer and bake.  Props to my husband for sticking with this….now I know why he asked for 1 cup of vodka for the recipe from the neighbor and he only needed 1/2 cup…..some was for him.

Penne a la Vodka Casserole


  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausages, cut crosswise into 1-inch slices
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausages, cut crosswise into 1-inch slices
  • 4 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • two 16-ounce cans whole tomatoes, crushed with their juice
  • 1 teaspoon Emeril’s Original Essence
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound penned pasta
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • Crusty bread, for serving


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over high heat.  Add the sausages and cook, stirring, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onions, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and the black pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are just soft, about 4 minutes. Add the basil and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the vodka and tomatoes, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes. Add the Essence and heavy cream, stir to mix, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. To cook the pasta, combine 4 quarts water, the olive oil, and the remaining teaspoon salt in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, add the pasta, and cook until al dente, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain well. Combine half of the ricotta cheese and half of the Parmigainao-Reggiano with the remaining 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Add the pasta and toss to coat evenly. Add the sausage mixture and mix well. Add the remaining ricotta cheese and the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano and mix well.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. Bake until bubbly and golden, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven. Serve warm with crusty bread.

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

 MS. Simplicity

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger  operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity.  She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at www.ididit-fargo.com .  Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at melissa@ididit-fargo.com.  For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity fan page  here.

If you try any of my suggestions, I would love to hear from you.  It helps me to understand what my readers want me to write about and what they think is a waste of their time….thanks for taking the time to help me out.



Filed under Main Dishes, Pasta, Sunday Suppers

Day 27…..Prime Time Emeril

Emeril Lagasse…..the man who made me start shouting “bam” as I add spices to my meals.  This weird habit would get strange looks when I was sitting in a restaurant and put a little hot sauce on my meal.  Just kidding, I wouldn’t do that in public….especially if my teenagers were around as I wouldn’t want to embarrass them!  Just kidding, back to the cookbook.  It was published back in Emeril’s haydays of 2001.  He to me really was the first celebrity chef that hit it big on the Food Network.  Who didn’t enjoy watching a little Emeril on a Friday night?  But I only now see glimpses of Emeril on the new Cooking channel.  This cookbook is still full of good Emeril recipes like Hot Corn Dip with Crispy Tortilla Chips……Andouille Potato Salad…..or what I made Poblano Chocolate Mole.  The cookbook has several pictures…..of Emeril.

Poblano’s long use to be a fear of mine…..they looked so intimidating when the recipe said to char them and peel the skin.  But one day I decided to take the plunge and made my friend Sara’s Poblano Zuchini soup and my love affair has not stopped since.  Sara and her hubby Eric’s catering business also introduced me to my first taste of “mole” (pronounced moh-ley).  This sounds so exotic!  Mole is a spicy sauce flavored with chocolate, usually served with turkey or chicken, or as we served it with a pork tenderloin.  It was like destiny that I made this sauce.  I had conquered my fear of the poblano so I think I can make the mole. 

If you have never cooked with poblano’s before, here is a cautionary tale.  Do not touch your eyes or lips after handling them.  They are hot and your lips will tingle after you touch them.  I really need to invest in some gloves that I wear while cutting peppers.  I could get seriously hurt one of these days.  I have already been to the ER with a papercut to my eye so I know a poblano burn is in my near future!

This took some time to make, but I think it was well worth the effort.  I do not have a gas stove, so I roasted my peppers in a pan under the broiler….make sure to watch them.  I purchased a pork tenderloin and baked it with the sauce on top of it.  I also poured some of the sauce on once it was sliced and on our plates as well.  You could make this dish vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

Even the youngest child tried it.  See, he likes spicy foods.  He puts tabasco sauce on chips as an afterschool snack.  Nothing is too hot for this boy. 

My only other adjustment would be that the sauce needed to cook a little longer, as I like my mole thick like Mosaic Catering had made it.

Poblano-Chocolate Mole, page 184


  • 1 pound poblano chilies
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and halved (root ends left on)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup pistachio nuts
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups Chicken Stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  1. To roast the peppers, place them directly on the burners of a gas stove over medium heat and turn them frequently with tongs until all sides are charred black, 7 to 10 minutes.  (Alternatively, the peppers can be roasted under a broiler, or over a hot gas or charcoal grill.)  Transfer the peppers to a plastic or paper bag, seal the bag, and let cool for about 15 minutes.
  2. Roast the two onion halves over medium heat, using the same procedure, until the cut surfaces are lightly charred and the onion is slightly softened, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool.
  3. Peel the peppers, remove the seeds and stems, and coarsely chop the flesh.  Remove the root ends for the onions and coarsely chop them. (The chopped peppers and onion will yield about 2 cups.)
  4. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the pistachio nuts, pumpkin seeds, and pine nuts and cook, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are browned, about 5 minutes.  (The nuts will make popping sounds as they cook.)  Cover the skillet if the nuts start to jump out of the skillet.
  5. Add the chopped peppers and onions, the chili powder, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper and stir for 1 minute.  Add the chicken stock and cilantro and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes.
  6. Add the chocolate and stir until melted.  Add the cream, stir well, and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
  7. Puree the mole with an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender.  Serve warm.

 To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity


Filed under Main Dishes, Vegetarian