Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Difficulty: Moderate

Every family has their own version of spaghetti & meatballs. It comes from Phil’s mom and every one of us has the recipe and every one of us makes it a bit different. Here is our version. It is more of a traditional cooked sauce, it is simple and relatively pain free. Moderate difficulty due to prep time, making your own meatballs, etc. But in my opinion easy. (Forgive the picture, we made the sauce and found we had no spaghetti noodles. Hey, pasta is pasta right?)

1 pound hamburger meat
1 packet saltine crackers, crushed
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
3 TBS Worcestershire sauce
3 cloves garlic
1 egg
S & P
2 TBS olive oil

2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 cup olive oil
5 cans tomato sauce
1 can Italian stewed tomatoes
S & P
Parmesan for serving
1 pound pasta, cooked al dente

Directions: Combine meatball ingredients (minus the olive oil) in large bowl with hands. Roll into 1″ balls, set aside. In large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes more or until onions are translucent. Remove from heat and pour onion mixture into fine mesh strainer set over medium bowl. Strain onions and garlic from olive oil, pressing on them to get the most oil out. Return oil back to pan and return to medium heat. Discard onion/garlic mixture. Add tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes to pan, stir to combine and let simmer.

Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 TBS olive oil and cook meatballs in batches until golden brown on all sides. Transfer meatballs into sauce to finish cooking. When meatballs are all browned and in tomato sauce, place lid on pot and let simmer an additional hour or so. Cook pasta according to directions until al dente. Taste sauce and adjust seasonings as needed. The sauce will pick up flavor from the meatballs and I didn’t even have to salt my last batch. Serve over pasta with Parmesan.


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Difficulty: Easy

Dinner on the fly inspired this yummy dish. Pasta is the easiest thing to whip up and so comforting. I had some leftover grilled chicken and just went from there pulling ingredients out of the fridge until this beauty was born. Onions, garlic, fresh basil and delicious feta star in this dish, serve with a salad and bread or another veggie for a complete meal. Choose a pasta with lots of nooks and crannies to catch the sauce. Serves 4.

1 onion, halved and sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBS olive oil
S & P
3 chicken breasts, grilled and sliced thin
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 pound pasta, (reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water)
3 TBS fresh basil, sliced into thin ribbons

Directions: Bring large pot of water to boil, salt it and cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup water and set aside. Drain pasta. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat, add onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened and beginning to caramelized, 6-8 minutes. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute. Add half-and-half and feta cheese. Stir until thickened and cheese begins to melt, add sliced chicken breast to heat through. Adjust seasonings to taste and remove from heat. Toss pasta with chicken and sauce. Add reserved pasta water a little at a time if needed to thin sauce out, you may not need it at all. Sprinkle fresh basil on top and any additional feta if desired and serve.

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Difficulty: Easy

Sunday after Girls Camp left me with a semi-empty fridge and two very hungry people. Thankfully I have several staples that I can draw upon and a quick glance in the fridge told me I needed to use up some veggies, and I only had 2 to choose from!

I used store bought pesto which I kept in the freezer but you are welcome to make your own if you have a favorite recipe. Make sure you use a pasta that can catch the pesto in it’s nooks and crannies. I used Campanelle, it looks like a curled up trumpet but shells, bow ties, etc would work too.

2 large chicken breasts, pounded even and thin
1 cup prepared pesto
1/2 pound Campanelle pasta
1 large bell pepper, chopped
1 large red onion, sliced thin
Parmesan cheese, grated
2 TBS olive oil
S & P
1/2 cup reserved pasta water

Directions: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, drain pasta and set in large bowl. Meanwhile, heat 1 TBS oil in large skillet and cook bell pepper and onion over medium-medium high heat unitl softened and beginning to caramelize. Place in bowl with pasta. Heat remaining 1 TBS oil and season chicken well with S & P, cook until done and caramelized on each side, 4-6 minutes. Let rest and then cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Add to pasta bowl.

Add pesto and reserved pasta water and toss all ingredients together. Place in individual serving bowls and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Refrigerate leftovers.

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Difficulty: Easy

While perusing fellow blogger’s food sites, I came across a nice looking recipe from Picky Palate. (Thanks for the inspiration Jenny!) The problem that presented itself to me as I was gathering the goods to make the dish tonight was that I was missing several ingredients. No matter, I thought to myself, I will just substitute and make adjustments where needed. I ended up straying a bit from the recipe and creating my own version, both in veggies used and the sauce. It was a lovely meal, hearty with fresh veggies, toothsome pasta, salty bits of bacon and Parmesan all coated with a lovely cream sauce. I feel okay about the cream sauce, there is only 1/2 cup in the entire dish, plus the veggies are a nice bonus to ease my guilt. Everyone should eat their veggies with a little cream and bacon!

1 pound dry ziti pasta
8 slices good quality bacon
1 large onion, peeled, halved and sliced thin
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 zucchini, quartered then diced
6 oz sugar snap peas
S & P

4 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBS flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups milk (whatever version you have)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Directions: Bring pot of water to boil, add 1 tsp salt to water and cook ziti noodles until al dente, about 6 minutes. They should still have some bite to them and will continue to cook in the sauce. Drain and set aside in the pot.

Meanwhile, cook bacon unitl brown and crisp, drain on paper towels and reserve about 3 TBS bacon grease, leaving 2 TBS in skillet and set remaining 1 TBS aside. Discard remaining grease. Add onion, carrot, and zucchini to hot skillet and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, until crisp tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add sugar snap peas and toss, cook 1-2 minutes more. Remove from heat and add to noodles.

Add remaining 1 TBS bacon grease to now empty skillet, heat and add minced garlic. Cook 1 minute. Add flour, stir to combine and cook 1-2 minutes, until flour is light brown. Add milk, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper and whisk until thickened, 1-2 minutes. Add Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley, stir. Pour over noodles and veggies, toss to combine. Taste pasta, adjust seasonings as needed. Chop bacon, dish up pasta, sprinkle tops with bacon and additional Parmesan cheese.

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Beef Stroganoff

Difficulty: Moderate (Due to time) Serves 6

This dish is sooo yummy and comforting. Classic Sunday meal when you have more time or if you don’t mind the 40 minutes to an hour required then dish it up on any weekday. Stroganoff classically has mushrooms in it, which my husband despises and I love. So I just leave them out. Once I made an Italian meat sauce that had mushrooms in it that I put in the food processor and chopped them so fine they were nondescript and blended right in with everything else in the pot. He saw me put them in and despite my well rehearsed reasoning and speech he refused to eat it just to prove his point. Stubborn? Yes, but I was equally stubborn by putting¬†them in since they were an integral part of the recipe. With stroganoff, not so much, love them or hate them, take them or leave them, your call.

1 pound beef top sirloin steak, sliced into thin 1-inch strips
Course salt & pepper
3 TBS olive oil
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 pound white mushrooms, sliced (optional)
2 TBS flour
1 can chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream
1 TBS Dijon mustard
2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley or fresh dill, chopped
12-16 oz. Cooked egg noodles

Directions: Season beef generously with salt and pepper. Heat 2 TBS olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add meat to pan and brown, about 1 minute per side, as each batch is done, place on plate and set aside.

In the same skillet, add 1 TBS olive oil and chopped onion. Using wooden spoon, scrape beef drippings from bottom of pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender and just starting to brown, 6-8 minutes. If using mushrooms, add mushrooms to pan and cook an additional 6-8 minutes. Add garlic, cook for 30 seconds. Add flour and stir to coat onions, cook for 2 minutes more. Add chicken broth and stir to combine, cook for 2 minutes until liquid has started to thicken.

In a small bowl, combine sour cream, mustard and Worcestershire sauce until smooth. Add to skillet and stir to combine. Add beef and any accumulated drippings to pan and cook until heated through, 1-2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve over noodles and garnish with fresh herbs.

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Pasta Salad

Difficulty: Easy!

I asked Phil what he wanted for dinner last night. I was planning on not cooking at all since I was still full from lunch or just scrummaging around to satisfy his hunger, nothing spectacular planned. He threw me a curve ball and wanted pasta salad. He always does this when it starts getting hot. He wants something light and cool yet filling. It was Thursday, end of the week and my groceries are dwindling. I did scrummage something up and it was quite delicious if I do say so myself. Perfectly tender pasta, ripe cherry tomatoes bursting with sweetness, crunchy cucumber and red bell pepper, the tang from a vinaigrette and smoky, salty crisp bacon sprinkled on top with creamy feta cheese. How can you go wrong? (And yes, I usally have all these things on hand, consider it part of your staples and you will always be prepared.) Enjoy!

Pasta Salad
1 pound rotini pasta
1/2 pound bacon, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 small red peppers, chopped
1 cucumber, seeded, peeled and chopped
Fresh Italian parsley, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 cup feta cheese, don’t like feta? Leave it out or substitute your favorite.

4 TBS olive oil
3 TBS red wine vinegar
1 TBS white vinegar
1/2 tsp granulated garlic or 1 small clove, minced
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Directions: Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, 6-8 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water, set in large bowl. While pasta is cooking, cook bacon in skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown. Drain on paper towel lined plate, set aside. Add tomatoes, cucumber, red bell pepper, parsley to pasta.

In small bowl whisk together ingredients for vinaigrette. Pour over pasta salad and toss to combine. Add feta and lightly toss. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. If pasta is too dry add a splash more vinegar and olive oil. Place in serving bowl and sprinkle bacon on top. Serve! Refrigerate any leftovers.

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Spaghetti with Parmesan & Bacon

Difficulty: Easy

From Cooking Light

This was dinner last night for Phil & I, I halved the recipe since there are just the 2 of us. I burnt my finger draining the pasta and was a little distracted with the fire-like feeling as I was trying to finish the sauce, so my eggs cooked. But it was fine, I added a little more milk to moisten the pasta and we still ate well. So don’t fret if your eggs “scramble”, you’ll survive.

The eggs and milk create a rich, creamy sauce that coats the pasta. The key to the creaminess is tempering the eggs – heating them gently so they don’t cook too fast and curdle. Do this by slowly whisking in the hot water in which the pasta cooked.

1 pound uncooked spaghetti
12 bacon slices, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs
1 cup frozen petite green peas, thawed
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup hot cooking liquid.

While pasta cooks, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan. Discard remaining drippings; set bacon aside. Add garlic to drippings in pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

Combine milk, salt, pepper, and eggs, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add reserved hot cooking liquid to milk mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add pasta, milk mixture, and peas to skillet; cook over low heat 3 minutes or until sauce thickens. Add bacon and cheese; stir to combine.

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