Attempting to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Penne w/ Vodka Sauce April 27, 2011

Filed under: Dinner — theboxexperiment @ 9:49 pm
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This is one of my absolute favorite dishes. There is a pizza/pasta place in my hometown where I get it most often (Michelangelo’s Pizza, Pasta and Things gotta love family Italian cooking). We went home for Easter and I picked it up for Friday night…I was in heaven.

I actually got the idea to cook this years ago when visiting a high school friend at Dartmouth. He snagged a recipe from his mom and we made it for a bunch of his friends. (It’s on this trip that I discovered how awesome mozzarella balls and balsamic is). If a college boy can do it…I knew I can too 🙂

I made this for the first time a few months ago, but last night JEM made it for me as part of a celebratory dinner. He did a GREAT job, it was unbelievable and paired very nicely with garlic bread and champagne.


  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion OR 2 to 3 shallots
  • Scant 3/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper OR 1 dried red chili, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with the liquids
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 3 Tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil
  • Shaved or grated parmesan cheese, to garnish
  • Additional fresh basil leaves (optional)
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and keep warm.
  2. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add onion to pan; sauté until tender.
  4. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and garlic; sauté 1 minute.
  5. Add vodka (when cooking with alcohol, there is always a chance it catches on fire, so be very careful); bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes or until liquid reduces by about half.
  7. Stir in short 1/2 teaspoon salt, broth, and tomatoes; bring to a boil.
  8. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.
  9. Remove skillet from heat and let cool slightly.
  10. Pour tomato mixture in a blender. (Remove center piece of blender lid–to allow steam to escape; and secure the lid on blender.) Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatter), and process until smooth.
  11. Return tomato mixture to pan.
  12. Mix in cream, then cook the sauce for 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  13. Remove from heat. Stir in cooked pasta and basil.
  14. Enjoy immediately.
Pictures coming soon!!!

Zucchini w/ Rice April 4, 2011

Filed under: Dinner,Poutlry,Vegetable — theboxexperiment @ 7:53 pm
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Tonight’s dinner was fantastic and simple. More importantly made in 25 minutes!!! We’ve been getting slower about cooking, making us eat later and later. After having dinner at 8 one night, we agreed that we needed to eat at an earlier time so we could get some decent night’s sleep.

For the grilled chicken: coat the chicken in a bit of olive oil and use whatever chicken seasoning you like. We use McCormick Montreal Chicken Seasoning, one of the best pre-made ones we’ve found. Then grill till cooked (~15 mins for 1 chicken breast).

On to the main recipe: zucchini w/ rice. Inspired by the 2 zucchini from last weeks box.


  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 2 zucchini peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tbls olive oil
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 1 can tomato paste (a little one)
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 c. chopped yellow onion
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (opt.)
  • 1 tsp onion powder (opt.)
  • 1 tsp dried basil (opt.)


  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet.
  2. Add the garlic and zucchini.
  3. Saute until soft (~15 mins.)
  4. Once soft add tomato paste, water, onion.
  5. Saute until the tomato paste and water combine.
  6. Add the other seasons, mix till joined.
  7. Add in rice. (We used less than 1 c.–closer to 2/3 of a cup)
  8. Serve and Enjoy.

The seasonings are not yet perfect. Tomato paste has a very strong flavor: salt, onion, garlic, and basil did a pretty good job improving it. Feel free to tweak, if you find something that works well, let me know!!


Bok Choy Chicken Stir Fry April 3, 2011

Filed under: Poutlry,Vegetable — theboxexperiment @ 8:46 pm
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We had 2 baby bok choy’s from last weeks box and decided to throw them in to a stir fry tonight. It was awesome, but the one mistake we made was in not testing the flavor of the sauce before throwing everything together. We used a spicy schezuan (store-bought) sauce and then added in a Serrano pepper…the serrano was definitely not need. Our final dish turned out so spicy, luckily we really like spicy food. We used the schezuan sauce but you can definitely use any other stir fry sauce you know of or like.


  • 1 chicken breast
  • 2 baby bok choy
  • 1 c. diced carrots
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1 c. cooked rice
  • 1 tbls peanut oil
  • 1/3 c. of stir fry sauce


  • Add oil to wok or skillet, heat up till sizzling.
  • Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and add to the oil. (We cut it into slices and then once cooked cut it into smaller pieces.)
  • Once the chicken is cooked, remove from pan and set aside.
  • Add the bok choy (we use all of it except for the bottoms) and the diced carrots. (We added some water in now).
  • Cook until tender.
  • Add the chicken, onions, and stir fry sauce.
  • Saute together to combine flavors.
  • Serve over hot rice.
  • Enjoy


Filed under: Box — theboxexperiment @ 8:30 pm

We’ve received several boxes since I last posted. We’ve definitely been eating more produce and in general living a healthier lifestyle since starting this adventure. It’s been pretty fantastic–more fruits and veggies. We’re slowly purging the house of food that’s not so great for us. Chips-gone, chocolate-brought to work for all my colleagues to eat, ice cream-gone.

With beach season coming I’ve also signed up for a new 10-miler. I did the Cherry Blossom a few times and it gets very boring during the last few miles around Haines Point. I’m excited to run the Baltimore 10-miler. But it means, I need to get my butt in gear and start training and eating right. I’ve done the past 2 10 miles in ~1:40/1:45. It would be nice if I could do it at 1:25/1:30.

I’ll get some recipes up this week. We’ll be doing a pasta w/ zucchini tomorrow, tonight we did a bok choy chicken stir fry. I’ll get that one up later tonight.