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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Country Sausage Pasta

I have been enjoying a week with very few things on my calendar.  My meeting reminder has only been going off about once a day and I was even able to ignore the ones from yesterday!  It's a nice change from last week, where I had meetings non-stop from Monday through Wednesday.  This quiet calendar week also comes with perfect timing as I am crazy busy with lab work right now!

It hasn't been since I was a postdoc that I've had this much time to spend in the lab and my feet are wondering what I'm doing!  At this very moment, I am transitioning from one project to another.  The only problem is that I'm not quite finished with the first project and I need to dive right into the second one.  So this means that I'm working double duty to try and make both project leaders happy.

Luckily my multi-tasking skills haven't atrophied since I left Connecticutt.  I've been running reactions, purifications and analysis, all at the same time, over the past few days.  This makes me happy, I like seeing reactions stirring in my hood and I like checking the analytical data and seeing that I have indeed made what I wanted to.  Let's share a happy moment from earlier this week, with a little background information.

As a non-chemist, you may imagine me in my lab, surrounded by multi-colored beakers and flasks, all bubbling away.  Steam pours out of the reactions and there are miscellaneous coils full of colorful liquid in the background.  Dry ice bubbles in water baths, white smoke pouring from the bowls.  Bunsen burners alight with their blue flames, heating reactions and making chemistry happen.

Sadly, none of the above is true.  Firstly, nobody uses beakers.  I keep my dirty stir bars and spatulae in them.  Secondly, and most sadly, organic chemistry is a science with very little color.  If you want to see reds, blues and greens, become an inorganic chemist.  Everything in organic chemistry is either clear or yellow or light yellow or if you're really lucky, bright yellow.  It's so sad...  Which is why my week was made on Tuesday afternoon while running a new reaction.

The chemicals were added together at -78 C (that's cold) and slowly warmed to room temperature.  The reaction started off yellow (of course) but as the temperature warmed, magic in a flask happened.  The reaction turned blood red!  As it got closer to room temperature is lightened and eventually settled on a bright pink hue.  It was seriously pink, like I took a My Little Pony and stuck it in a blender pink.  I was so sad to add water to the reaction to end it, where in it turned back to boring old yellow.

One Year Ago: Ham & Cheese Scones

Country Sausage Pasta
Adapted from Pasta Sauces

I generally try to make enough for three servings.  That way I can have dinner, boyfriend can have dinner and I can have lunch for tomorrow.  Unfortunately, this was super delicious and someone ate the leftover serving as seconds.  I decided to use spicy Italian sausages in order to install a little heat in the sauce early on.  If you like it mild, just be sure to buy to sweet variety, rather than the spicy ones!

8 oz cavatappi pasta (or your favorite spirally pasta)

Olive oil
1 package italian sausages (5 links)
1 cup chicken stock (homemade, if you have it!)
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup frozen peas
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup parmesan/romano cheese, grated

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta according to package instructions, generally 8-10 minutes.  Drain and place in a large bowl.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Remove sausage from casings and add to the skillet.  Break up the meat and cook until browned.  Remove to another bowl.

Add a little more olive oil if necessary and add onion.  Cook for 3-5 minutes or until softened.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add chicken broth, peas and parsley and simmer for 2 minutes, or until the peas are thawed.  Add sausage back to the pan and stir everything together.  Allow mixture to simmer for 5 minutes before adding cherry tomatoes.  Stirring occasionally, cook until the tomatoes wilt around the edges.  Pour into the bowl with the pasta, add cheese and toss to mix.

Serve with a little extra parmesan cheese on top.  Hide the leftovers if you want to have lunch tomorrow.
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