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They say that we should be careful what we ask for; I’ve been asking when the heat was going to make an appearance here in Northeast Ohio.  Well… believe me when I say, the heat came… with a vengeance!  One day it was 78 degrees and the for the next full week it was 95+ degrees outside.  I was like “Uh, what happened here?”  Not that I was upset about it, because I really wasn’t.  It felt like spring in Houston to me.  So, while everyone else was literally “melting” I was enjoying the warmth.  Oh well… it was fun while it lasted.  We are back in the 70’s this week…

During these hot spells, it’s good to have a couple of “go to” meals that you can prepare without a lot of effort, or time spent in the kitchen.  I mean, let’s face it, who wants to be in a hot kitchen cooking when it’s hot outside?  Crazy people like me wouldn’t mind, but that’s only because cooking relaxes me.  It’s sort of a form of therapy because I can create something from the deep recesses of my mind, or from some recipe that I wanted to jazz up.  I know… it’s hard to believe, I actually do have a creative side.  Believe me, no one is more surprised than I am.  I can’t even draw stick people successfully, so when I started to make dishes from an idea I had, well, let’s just say my family is very brave!  Seriously though, I am glad that my family act as my judges/critics.  At least I know that I’m getting honest feedback on what tastes good and what sucks.  Of course the stuff that sucks never sees the light of day, let alone a post on my blog.  See?!?!  I did it again… why do you let me go off on these long rants about nothing?

Back to the topic at hand, a nice easy meal that can be made in a snap.  Something that is healthy, but not too heavy.  That would be Aglio Olio.  It’s a pasta dish with olive oil as it’s base.  You can use whole wheat or gluten free pasta to lighten up it up so you aren’t eating bowl of carbs and nothing else.  At the end of the day, you need to have some carbs in your life, it’s just a matter of balancing that with proteins and fat.  Yes, I said that dirty word… FAT!  We need that in our diet as well.  So… Aglio Olio… what I really like about this dish is you can make it really quickly and add whatever you want to it.  Veggies, cheeses or other aromatics can be incorporated to bring out some truly inspired flavors.  This is one of my favorite things to do.

As I set about preparing to make this meal I decided it was clean out the fridge time.  Once again, I struck gold.  I had some decisions to make though… I had mushrooms, tomatoes, parmesan cheese, squash and zucchini.  I decided to drop the squash and zucchini back in the fridge and go with everything else.  I didn’t want this to be too heavy.  I was more than satisfied with the end result.  You can follow the recipe below, or feel free to be creative and make it your own.  Isn’t that what cooking is all about?

I hope you enjoy this dish, and please let me know what variations you make to it. I might have to try some of them!

AGLIO OLIO WITH MUSHROOMS, TOMATOES AND PARMESAN CHEESE

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
½ cup tomatoes, chopped
½ cup mushrooms, chopped
pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
1/4 cup chicken stock or cooking water from the pasta
1/2 pound angel hair pasta
fresh grated romano or parmesan – to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper – to taste

Directions

Boil pasta as directed on package. While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add garlic, mushrooms and red pepper flakes. Cook until garlic starts to soften and lightly brown and mushrooms are cooked through. Add chicken stock (or cooking water). Drain pasta and add it and tomatoes to saute pan. Toss the pasta mixture with the olive oil then season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with cheese and serve immediately. Enjoy!

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