Italian Sausage Rigatoni and a Field Trip to Lagana Foods

We recently went to Seattle to visit my best friend Kaela. Kaela and I have been friends since 6th grade. She is the friend who knows everything about you, the one who will call you out on your B.S., the friend you don’t have to entertain or clean your house for, the friend you don’t see nearly enough but always pick up right where you left off like no time has passed. Everyone needs a friend like this.

When we were young we pretty much lived together on the weekends, alternating from one parents house to another. I’m not sure if my mom just gave us free reign in the kitchen or if we were hungry and fending for ourselves, but these were the weekends Kaela and I learned to cook.

Sometimes we would find a recipe and try to follow it but most of the time we would make crazy, stir fry, saimin creations. What this involved was defrosting and cutting up chicken (obviously before the great fear of salmonella), a package of top ramen, and a little of every condiment we could find that had asian writing on it.

We still carry on this tradition, although I like to think our palates are a bit more refined now. (At least something is more refined.) When Kaela comes to visit we will guaranteed have a “let’s pretend the weather is bad and cook everything in the house” day. Good times.

Kaela, along with her partner Ethan Stowell, created an artisan pasta company called Lagana Foods and I got to go on a field trip there.

Here’s a picture of Kaela teaching my daughter Leila how the pasta machine works. This is not a picture of Auntie Kaela making pasta out of children as someone so cleverly commented. (Funny though)





















What’s special about Lagana Foods pasta is it’s made from 2 ingredients. Semolina flour and water. 2 ingredients that you can pronounce. I like that rule with food, if you can’t pronounce it then you probably shouldn’t eat it. Unless of course you can’t pronounce it because it’s Italian, then eat away!

Secondly, the pasta is bronze cut.  Bronze cut pasta is rougher and more porous than your commercial teflon cut pasta which comes out smooth and shiny. The benefit to the rustic bronze cut pasta is that your sauce will hold to it in a way that makes teflon pasta jealous.

So if you live in Washington or Oregon, you can buy yourself some Lagana pasta. It seriously smells like Italy.

As for me, I was given a huge bag of this fantastic, fresh pasta to carry home to Oahu on the airplane. I was halfway across the pacific ocean when I realized I left it in the mini fridge of our hotel. I like to think the housekeepers had a huge pasta party with it. That makes me feel a little better.

So you are probably thinking, what’s in the picture above? That’s Safeway’s Barilla pasta. Teflon cut, 7 ingredients, 2 that I can pronounce. If you live in Hawaii that will probably be your only option until the day Lagana Foods expands across the Pacific. Kaela- we anxiously await your arrival!

Italian Sausage Rigatoni

Rigatoni (the best you can find wherever you live)

4 links Chicken, Turkey, or Pork Italian Sausage (remove casing)

2 cloves garlic minced

1/2 small onion diced

1 28oz can whole tomatoes (Lightly pureed)

2 T tomato paste

2 T olive oil

Feta, Kalamata olives and flat leaf parsley to garnish

Set a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.

Heat a large pan and add the olive oil. Add your Italian sausage and start breaking it up. You want to get a nice caramelization on it. Add your onions and continue cooking over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add your garlic and stir around for just one minute. If you happen to have a bottle of open red wine nearby, a little splash to deglaze the pan would be an excellent idea. Add your pureed tomatoes. I like to buy whole tomatoes and puree them myself because I find the quality and taste is much better than pre-crushed can tomatoes.

The amount of tomato paste you add depends on how long you let the sauce cook and whether you cover the pan or not. Basically if your sauce looks loose and watery, add tomato paste.

Cook your pasta to al dente and right before you drain it reserve a cup of that magic salty, starchy water the pasta was cooking in. That way if you added too much tomato paste earlier you can thin down your sauce a bit.

Add the pasta to the sauce and gently toss. Put it in a big family style bowl and garnish with chopped flat leaf parsley, feta cheese, kalamata olives and black pepper.




Wild Cherry Tomato Focaccia and My Happy Place

First things first, let’s get this straight. In my happy place I have long, amazing hair. The kind someone might take a picture of and put on Pinterest and title it “Boho Dream Hair”.  I am also an excellent dancer who teaches Zumba for fun on Thursday mornings.  Now you know, whenever we are talking “fantasy world”, those two things are a given for me.

Do you have a happy place your mind automatically goes to whenever you have to do something that sucks? Like when you’re at the dentist, or cleaning toilets, or doing a super intense ab workout?

I do.

In my happy place we live on an organic farm. My husband has a 3 day beard and spends most his time sitting on the deck singing and playing indie folk songs on his acoustic guitar while watching our children play.

Inside our house looks a lot like the inside of an anthropologie catalog. (imagine that) In the late afternoon when the sun shines through our kitchen you can see a fine dusting of flour on the counter. It’s leftover from the cherry, pistachio and goat cheese tart I made earlier.  The cherries came from our tree, my daughters picked them. And the goat cheese? I rode my yellow bike, the one with the basket on it, to the farmers market for that. (Obviously.) [Read more…]

Jessica’s Montana Kale Salad

Montana Kale SaladOne of my favorite things about going to the mainland is ROAD TRIPS! Yes, we torture our children with long drives, loud music, scenic routes, and stops at strange stores in strange towns. We have no interest in making good time and whenever asked, “Are we there yet?” we preach that the journey is equally important to the destination. I like to think they will look back on these adventures with fond memories, but time will tell.

We went on a spontaneous road trip from Idaho to Montana to visit our favorite family friends. All kinds of exciting things happened.

For one, my Mom was able to handle 3 non-stop hours of our music cranked up to road trip volume, and I even think she genuinely enjoyed some of it. Well done Mom, Montana playlist coming your way soon!

We saw 6 moose, a bald eagle nest and a yard sale that would put every episode of hoarders to shame.

We got to go wake surfing which is good fun if you haven’t tried it yet. Flathead lake was warm and glassy and Jacks boat makes an amazing, never-ending wave. The best part is when you fall in the middle of the lake and you are waiting for the boat to come back around and pick you up, you don’t even have to think about sharks.

I did think a bit about bears though later on by the campfire…

My daughters got to see hail for the first time! We were making s’mores and watching a storm get closer and closer. Everyone kept commenting on how loud the rain sounded. Surprise, hail! All 10 of us had to run for cover and wait out the storm crowded together in a small boat house. This was obviously very exciting for us Maui people, we even kept some hail and put it in the freezer.

And of course we had an amazing Montana dinner. Grilled spice rubbed pork tenderloin, homemade baked beans, and a kale salad we have been recreating every night since. Jess, I hope I do it justice!


3 C chopped Kale

2 C chopped Spinach

1 C chopped Red Cabbage

1 large diced Tomato or 12 small tomatoes

1/2 Avocado

1 cup sliced Hearts of Palm

3 slices Crumbled Bacon

2 T Blue Cheese

Balsamic Dresing

1 t Dijon mustard

3 T balsamic vinegar

1/2 C olive oil

Salt and Pepper

Trim the kale off the stems and cut it up with the spinach and cabbage. The trick here is to cut your greens small! Like your making a slaw. Put it all in your handy salad spinner and wash and spin. Cut up the rest of your salad ingredients and artfully arrange. I like to make my salad dressing in a mason jar and shake it up. Toss the salad with the salad dressing about 30 minutes before eating. The vinegar helps to tenderize the kale.