Pasta and Sausage in Creamy Vodka Tomato Sauce

Penne2 The Curvy Carrot

It’s ironic that I’m posting a pasta recipe when it’s something I’m avoiding at all costs right now.  My sister is getting married in less than 6 weeks, and I’ll be damned if I don’t fit in my bridesmaid dress.  Now that the warm weather is finally upon us, I whipped out my old capris and sundresses and realized….”Oh dear.  These are a *bit* too tight.”

Needless to say, the past few weeks have been ridiculously busy with work, exercise, eating right, and…more exercise.  I’m seeing some results, which is great, but I really wouldn’t mind treating myself to another large helping of this particular dish.  The good news is with all the extra exercise right now….I totally can.  In all honesty, it’s not *so* bad for you.  Yes, there’s some glorious cheese and cream, but there’s a few veggies, too….like spinach and tomatoes.  Oh, and vodka.  There are worse things in life than having a little tightness in your pants and a little splash of vodka in your pasta sauce.  Checks and balances, right?

This recipe can be adapted to your own tastes.  If you want to use a meat sausage, by all means, feel free.  I used an Italian-flavored veggie version.  If you don’t want vodka in your sauce, simply omit.  And if you don’t want cheese or cream, you can omit those, too-the sauce is great without the cream.  Add in additional vegetables if you like.  And make sure you drink a big glass of wine with it.

 Penne7 The Curvy Carrot


Pasta and Sausage in Creamy Vodka Tomato Sauce

Servings: about 4-6



1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

One 28-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (keep the juices!)

1/3 cup vodka

1/2 cup heavy cream

2-3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves

1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

2 sausages, cooked according to package directions, and sliced into bite-sized pieces

Fresh ciliegine mozzarella (use however many you want-I’m a fan of as many as possible.)

16 ounces of whole wheat pasta (whatever kind you like), cooked according to package directions, with 1/2 cup pasta water reserved

 Penne9 The Curvy Carrot




1. In a large saute pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil until shimmering.  Meanwhile, you can start cooking your pasta.

2.  Add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes or so.

3. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

4. Stir in the can of tomatoes (with their juices) and cook until heated through, about 3-4 minutes.

5. Add in the vodka, and cook, stirring the sauce occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

6. Add in the cream, spinach and basil leaves, and cooked sausage, stirring to thoroughly combine.

7. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce,  mixing to toss the pasta with sauce.  Add in some of the pasta water if you would like to adjust the consistency of the sauce at all (I didn’t find I needed to, but at least you can have the option here.)

8. Top the pasta with the mozzarella and additional basil leaves (if desired) and serve immediately.


Source: A Curvy Carrot original.


June 6, 2014 - 9:26 am

Moira - I have a similar relationship with my summer clothes right now ;) Slightly tight pants are totally worth it for vodka sauce though…I’ll be making this soon!

June 8, 2014 - 6:23 am

Helen @ Scrummy Lane - I always find sausage in anything so flavourful, and let’s face it, you can’t really go wrong with a splash of cream in a pasta sauce, extra calories or not! Love the idea of adding the vodka – the Greeks have a version that they put ouzo in and it’s absolutely delicious so I’d definitely be interested in giving this a go, too!

June 10, 2014 - 5:56 pm

Joanne - Haha that’s what I’m going to be like in the 2-3 months before my wedding…but until then, might as well eat ALL THE ICE CREAM AND PASTA. Right?

June 10, 2014 - 7:50 pm

Carol at Wild Goose Tea - I love vodka pasta sauce, but I never got around to finding a recipe. Great, now I have one! I pinned it.

Garden Vegetable Bagel Melts (and a Giveaway!)

Bagel Melt1 The Curvy Carrot

I think some of you have commiserated with me before about small living spaces and over-reactive smoke detectors.  In my humble apartment, one of my smoke detectors is located directly above my oven, which therefore leads to the predictable and very inevitable alarm going off anytime I cook something over 425 degrees.  Which excludes most pizzas, melty sandwiches, or anything really tasty.

So it was serendipitous when Panasonic contacted me to see if I would be interested in their Panasonic #InaFlash FlashXpress Toaster Oven giveaway.  I had actually been researching various types of toaster ovens (I research kitchen appliances like it’s a second job-took me almost a month to decide on a coffee maker.) because I figured that I’d be able to make some of those delicious meals in a smaller, confined space.

Now, I’m picky, but I really love this little appliance (P.S. It’s available in silver and white!).  I’ve made a few things in it now, and I have been incredibly pleased.  There’s a few major bonus points:  it’s tiny, so it doesn’t take up much counter space (which is high-end real estate in my kitchen).  It has a dual infrared heating system (which means it cooks/heats food much, much faster) which I like-this bagel melt only took about 3 minutes!  And I love that there are different settings for toast, pizza, and even a quick reheat option for leftovers (anything to make life a bit simpler, right?)  I love that when you use the broiler, there is an automatic light that switches on so you can actually see what you are cooking (decreasing the chances of over-cooking or burning!)


Bagel Melt6 The Curvy Carrot

I know most of you love cheese out there.  And, to me, nothing is better than an ooey-gooey melty cheesy open-faced sandwich.  Back in my college days, we used to have a “bagel melt” night-which was a much simpler (and probably less healthy) version of this one.  Here I used a cream cheese base, some fresh veggies (play around with your own on-hand veggies!) and some creamy Provolone cheese.

Want to win one of your Panasonic FlashXPress Toaster Ovens?  You can win via a few ways (and multiple modes of entry are encouraged!):

-Leave a comment on this post telling me what you would make in your FlashXPress Toaster Oven.

-Tweet a picture of your own #InaFlash meal with both handles: @HomePanasonic and @thecurvycarrot  (make sure you are following @HomePanasonic and @thecurvycarrot, though!)

-Share this #InaFlash giveaway via Facebook.


I’ll keep the giveaway open until 12 am (Central Daylight Time) on Sunday June 1, 2014.  The winner will receive one FlashXPress Toaster Oven.  Good luck!

Bagel Melt4 The Curvy Carrot



Garden Vegetable Bagel Melts




Two bagels, sliced (I use Everything bagels….because they are my favorite!)

One 1.50-ounce package ranch dip mix (I used this one from Simply Organic.)

One 8-ounce package of cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves

1 large tomato, sliced thinly

1 avocado, pit removed and sliced

4 slices Provolone cheese

For garnish:  sliced black olives, basil, etc.


Bagel Melt5 The Curvy Carrot


1.  In a small bowl, using an electric hand mixer (or a large spoon), beat together the ranch dip and cream cheese until thoroughly combined.

2. Spread about 1-2 tablespoons (or more, if you like) of the ranch/cream cheese mixture onto each sliced bagel.

3. Top the cream cheese with about 1/4 cup spinach, followed by a couple of slices of tomato, avocado, and a slice of Provolone cheese. Repeat with each bagel slice.

4. Broil the bagel until the cheese is melty and lightly golden brown, about 3 minutes or so.  Garnish with fresh basil and black olives, if desired.


Source:  A Curvy Carrot Original.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.”  Panasonic compensated me with my own Panasonic FlashXPress Toaster Oven to test recipes as well as cash to cover ingredient costs. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission.



May 23, 2014 - 3:47 pm

Megan - Quesadillas!!! More yummy gooey cheese!

May 23, 2014 - 3:52 pm

Stacey - My kids love quesadillas- this would make it oh so easy!!

May 23, 2014 - 4:22 pm

Carrie - Everything!! We choose not to use a microwave, so we go through toaster ovens like crazy!

May 23, 2014 - 4:28 pm

Tracey - NACHOS!!!!! (dear self try to be cool, don’t just blurt out…)
(seriously, they don’t need to know how deep your love of…)
I’d make a giant plate of nachos. AND I’d toast the chips first, then add the toppings, lastly with 2 kinds of cheese (cheddar and pepper jack) and toast some more until it was all ooey gooey golden perfection.

May 23, 2014 - 4:32 pm

Chris - I would make cookies. Not a healthy meal, but yummy!

May 23, 2014 - 5:14 pm

Em R. - I love making little english muffin pizzas for my toddler, that would be perfect!

May 23, 2014 - 5:48 pm

Jacy - Ooh, I would make broiled cheese sandwiches, a flash back to my childhood!

May 23, 2014 - 7:25 pm

Rachel - What an awesome little oven! I would make some twice baked potatoes!

May 23, 2014 - 7:34 pm

mysweetiepiepie - I’d make garlic bread or baked potatoes.

May 23, 2014 - 7:55 pm

Meryl - Baked potatoes. Also, I’d use it to reheat all kinds of leftovers.

May 23, 2014 - 8:11 pm

Jen - I would make French bread pizzas!

May 23, 2014 - 9:11 pm

dana - sweet potato wedges mmm

May 23, 2014 - 10:58 pm

Jacki @ Two Forks One Love - I’m hysterical over your smoke detector. My husband usually talks to his friends on the phone while I’m making dinner. Inevitably during his conversation, the smoke detector starts going off. His friends must all think I’m an awful cook!

May 23, 2014 - 11:48 pm

Rachel R. - Baked oatmeal!

May 24, 2014 - 12:32 am

Renee Richardson - I would love to make pizzas in it. This is so awesome, thanks for the chance :)

fattybumpkins at yahoo dot com

May 24, 2014 - 1:03 am

Melissa - Bagel pizzas!

May 24, 2014 - 1:09 am

Melissa - I would use it for toast, sandwiches, pizza, anything that I want warm. I use my toaster oven all the time and it just broke, so I’ve been on the hunt for a new one and this would be perfect!

May 24, 2014 - 1:34 am

Birdiebee - I would make my swiss cheese and crab quiche first thing.

May 24, 2014 - 1:37 am

Birdiebee - I shared this very generous giveaway on Facebook.

May 24, 2014 - 4:10 am

Sarah @ SnixyKitchen - I’d make some croutons for a grilled caesar salad…and then some baked mochi!

May 24, 2014 - 7:07 am

melissa herrmann - I would make mini homemade pizzas!

May 24, 2014 - 8:14 am

theresasea - English muffin pizzas.

May 24, 2014 - 9:00 am

Amy S - Sourdough Cheese toast and homemade bagel pizza! Yum!

May 24, 2014 - 11:49 am

Mandi - quick quesadillas!

May 24, 2014 - 12:45 pm

karen - I’d use it to toast nuts, make baked potatoes, heat up leftovers, all kinds of things that don’t need you to heat up the kitchen with the big oven.

May 24, 2014 - 12:50 pm

Melanie - mmmm. bagel pizzas for my super picky 3 year old.

May 24, 2014 - 4:10 pm

Jaclyn Reynolds - I would make pizza bagels!

May 24, 2014 - 7:46 pm

Jennifer @ Also Known As...the Wife - I love using the toaster oven to cook small meals or reheat leftovers. I just wish it were faster. I would use this toaster oven to cook a variety of things for the kids’ lunches without having to use the oven.

May 24, 2014 - 8:22 pm

Amy Orvin - I would make my own special French bread pizza. They are amazing!

May 24, 2014 - 8:45 pm

David - We eat a lot of frozen foods, especially breaded fish, either fish sticks or fillets. I would use this for that.

May 24, 2014 - 8:46 pm
May 24, 2014 - 9:19 pm

Eileen - Toaster ovens are the best! I tend to make a lot of sandwiches with mustard, sliced bits of all the vegetables in the house, and a few pieces of mozzarella on top. So hot and delicious! Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

May 24, 2014 - 10:52 pm

Kelsey Guile - I would love to win a toaster oven because it sounds so easy to reheat meals in! I try to avoid reheating my 1 1/2 year olds food in the microwave & it would be more energy efficient to use a toaster oven instead of my conventional one. In addition, it would probably be fun to try new recipes with it! Thanks!

May 25, 2014 - 12:00 am

Amanda - Biscuits! That’s always been my go-to for the toaster oven. Might try roasting some veggies in there, too. I’ve been wanting a toaster oven lately as my boys are on a french toast sticks kick, and the regular toaster just doesn’t cut it.

May 25, 2014 - 3:36 am

Karen - I would love one of these!! I make toast in the ginormous oven every morning at 425 degrees! It takes 15 minutes just to preheat the oven. Fingers crossed… This looks like the perfect solution!!!

May 25, 2014 - 10:57 am

Jordan - I’d make mini personal pizzas! Thanks for the giveaway :)

May 25, 2014 - 1:38 pm
May 25, 2014 - 8:51 pm

Bianca - pizza bagels!

May 26, 2014 - 8:24 am

amanda - I would love to make a toasted bruschetta with pesto. great giveaway.

May 26, 2014 - 8:47 am

Rachel Tilly - I would use it to heat up leftovers and to make delicious cheesy sandwiches! Yum!

May 26, 2014 - 9:28 am

Christina - What wouldn’t I make? Seriously, I’d have to start with my homemade waffles and pancakes that I freeze for the kiddos.

May 26, 2014 - 12:29 pm

Corey Anderson - Julia Childs’ Eggplant Pizzas (and English Muffin Pizza for my 11 year old son ;) .)

May 26, 2014 - 9:01 pm

Jenice - I was recently widowed and I think this would be handy for cooking for one.

May 27, 2014 - 7:40 am

Sophie - I would use it to keep quesadillas warm, to toast bagels, to reheat my homemade waffles.

May 27, 2014 - 10:08 am

samW - well i would try this first!

May 27, 2014 - 10:20 am

Jan - I would probably cook everything in it during the summer to avoid turning on my oven. Since it’s just me, I don’t make huge batches of anything so a toaster oven that works well would do fine :)

May 27, 2014 - 11:00 am

Emily - This post could not have come at a better time! I am moving into a tiny apartment next week, and I’m struggling to decide which kitchen appliances would make sense in my mini kitchen. Given that I toast EVERYTHING, this seems to be a perfect toaster-oven solution. I’d definitely be making open-faced sandwiches with turkey and melty cheese and creamy avocado as often as possible. You cannot go wrong!!

May 27, 2014 - 11:54 am

Amanda Sakovitz - I would make pizza bagels!

May 27, 2014 - 11:55 am
May 27, 2014 - 11:57 am
May 27, 2014 - 6:05 pm

Rebecca - I would definitely try the bagels you showed. OMG. I already love bagels, but this looks AMAZING. It would be awesome to make something like this without heating up the whole kitchen in summer!

May 27, 2014 - 6:20 pm

Carol at Wild Goose Tea - This is the perfect sandwich for a toaster oven. I am shopping for a toaster oven as we speak. This would be SO perfect for Me Me Me Me. And besides toast I would definitely be making some kind of open faced sandwich.

May 27, 2014 - 8:48 pm

Meg - Oooooo, I’d make cheesy garlic bread, or bake a few chocolate chip cookies.

May 27, 2014 - 10:00 pm

sharon - I would make lightly toasted garlic bread and also roast veggies.

May 27, 2014 - 10:02 pm
May 27, 2014 - 11:27 pm

Veronica R - I would make Tuna melts!

May 27, 2014 - 11:30 pm
May 27, 2014 - 11:32 pm

Joanne - Our smoke detector is across the apartment and I still manage to set it off fairly often. I suppose that’s just a side effect of food blogging. Love the sound of this toaster oven thought! Sometimes I just want melty cheese but don’t feel like turning on the oven for just one sandwich.

May 28, 2014 - 1:01 am

Quixotism - On pumpernickel bread, I would pile on some sauteed peppers, mushrooms, and onions and add a slice of provolone cheese that would then be toasted to a golden brown in the oven. After the bread and cheese goodness cools, I would eat it with a lot of spinach that has been lightly coated in a stone ground mustard because that’s how I roll.

May 28, 2014 - 9:20 am

Kate Dee - I have a wonderful recipe for homemade pizza crusts (a rye/wheat/all purpose flour combo) and I bake the crusts on my pizza stone and freeze. So this little oven would be a godsend for making small pizzas out of my frozen crusts – especially on hot summer days when I don’t want to heat up the house by using the large gas oven.

May 28, 2014 - 10:55 am

Savannah S - I would definitely use it to make pita pizzas: pita bread, a little basil, a little oregano, marinara, mozzerella, and a little parmesan! SOOOOOO good.

May 28, 2014 - 11:35 am

Kim - I have a panini press but LOVE making toasted sandwiches in my soon-to-be-dead toaster oven. Melty cheeeeeeese, so delicious!

May 28, 2014 - 6:44 pm

Kristen - We’d use it to make quesadillas.

May 28, 2014 - 11:59 pm

Missy - Pizza! Really….I can’t think of anything I couldn’t make in this beauty.

May 29, 2014 - 2:29 am

Susan - I would use this sweet baby to make crab melts on English muffins. Yum!

May 29, 2014 - 2:31 am

Susan - I would also make my favorite cheese toastie!

May 29, 2014 - 12:46 pm

tiffany - I would make a big batch of chicken, black bean and cheese nachos!

May 30, 2014 - 12:33 am

Sarah Oswald - I would make cinnamon raisin bagels with cheddar cheese on top the cheese is melted and bagel is toasty and we all love it. YUMMY!!!!

May 30, 2014 - 12:39 am

Sarah Oswald - I shared this awesome giveaway on facebook

May 30, 2014 - 10:41 am

Bettina - I use my toaster oven all the time! Anything from toast, duh, to broiled asparagus when I don’t want to heat up the whole kitchen! Thanks for a chance to win.

May 30, 2014 - 1:19 pm

Emily - I would make some yummy grilled cheese with tomato or quesadillas for the kiddos- thx for the giveaway.

May 31, 2014 - 8:26 am

Laura - My smoke alarm is just as reactive as yours!

I would make a lot of cheese toast in the In a Flash toaster oven. It’s one of my favorite breakfasts to take on the go!

May 31, 2014 - 12:52 pm

cassandra - I would make quesadillas.

May 31, 2014 - 12:53 pm

kenneth - i would make a mini pizza.

May 31, 2014 - 11:11 pm

Elizabeth - I would make scones in this – I live alone, but love having friends over for coffee and scones. I make scones in batches, freeze them, and bake them as needed. It would be great to have a cute little FlashXPress toaster oven for my little batches!

Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Sea Salt

Choc Chip Cookies 1 The Curvy Carrot



I had a post pretty much ready to go to show what to do with leftover risotto, but then a little bird told me that today is actually National Chocolate Chip Day (who knew!?) so, as with most of my current priorities, anything chocolatey and indulgent will come first.  No offense, risotto, but, these cookies are to die for.   And, so maybe for the first time in my life, I might appear to have my act somewhat together as a food blogger to actually celebrate a national food holiday for once.  Pi Day came and went.  National Soft Pretzel Month came and went (apparently it’s the month of April-again, a whole month that I could easily over-indulge myself in.)  Oh, and let’s not forget the upcoming National Cheese Day (June 4th, FYI) which I will probably treat like any other day…with mass quantities of cheese consumption (hey, it’s a holiday, right?)

A word to people out there who might be looking for a food blogging concept:  national food holidays.  Everything from National Egg Salad week to whole days dedicated to fudge.  Each day dedicated to a recipe of the day’s particular celebratory food.  Run with it.

Since I’m an addict of sea salt, these cookies were right up my alley.   I originally wanted to use a bunch of chocolate chunks, but then I realized that I didn’t have enough in my pantry to fulfill the necessary amounts.  So I did what any other chocolate-lover would do-I used mini chips in the actual dough and then sprinkled the chocolate chunks on top when the cookies were warm so that they would get all melty and gooey.  Nothing beats a warm chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven.  Well, maybe a chocolate chip cookie sprinkled with some sea salt will.

Happy National Chocolate Chip Day! (Quite possibly one of the best days of the year!)



Choc Chip Cookies 2 The Curvy Carrot



Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Sea Salt

Servings: about 20 cookies (depending on how big you make them)



2 and ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used mini chips since that’s what I had on hand, and then extra chocolate chunks to put on top of each cookie)



1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda.

3. In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using an electric hand mixer), beat the butter, sea salt, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes or so.

4. Add the vanilla and eggs, mixing until thoroughly combined.

5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add in the flour mixture until incorporated.

6. Using a rubber spatula, add in the chocolate chips.

7.  Using a cookie dough scoop (or in generous spoonfuls), roll the dough into balls, place onto the prepared baking sheets (spacing each dough ball about 2 inches from the next one) and flatten into smooth discs about ¼”-inch thick.

8. Sprinkle each cookies with a little sea salt (to your own liking), gently pressing the salt into the dough to adhere.

9.  Bake each pan for about 10 minutes or so, or until each cookie is golden brown.  If baking both baking sheets at the same time, rotate and switch the pans halfway during the baking time.  Let the cookies cool slightly, then transfer to a wire cooling rack.


Source:  Barely adapted from Sur La Table.



May 15, 2014 - 6:28 am

Jess @ Sweet Menu - The introduction to salt on sweets has been the best thing ever! And these cookies looks amazing!!

May 15, 2014 - 7:41 am

Lily (A Rhubarb Rhapsody) - Salt and chocolate are truly a match made in heaven. It’s an absolute must that choc chunk cookies be eaten warm. ;) Mmmm gooey chocolate!

May 15, 2014 - 7:54 am

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar - These cookies look so freaking yummy. LOVE this recipe!

May 18, 2014 - 6:48 am

Joanne - I am now officially bummed that I missed this most important of holidays! Must atone with plenty of cookie baking. Stat.

May 18, 2014 - 12:46 pm

Helen @ Scrummy Lane - I hope the chocolate chunks in these cookies were nice and large!They look and sound lovely!

May 20, 2014 - 6:27 pm

Carol at Wild Goose Tea - National Chocolate Chip Day—OMG I missed it. But to me every day is chocolate chip day. But look, it prompted
your to post these fun cookies, which I would make BIG. The sea salt sprinkle is pretty cool. I don’t think I have seen that before.

May 25, 2014 - 11:30 am

dina - they look delicious!

May 25, 2014 - 11:46 am

Abbie @ Needs Salt - These cookies look incredible! I’m totally loving the addition of sea salt (of course.) – it’s the best with chocolate chip cookies.
Beautiful job! Pinning!