Parmesan

Pizza Pasta

Who enjoys having fun with their food? I do! Let’s face it, I’m not in the running to win a Michelin star. Although I think I get 4 stars on this! (One from each of my kids). We have growing athletes in this house, so we eat a lot of pasta. And I don’t know one kid who doesn’t like pizza! Let’s just get crazy… As if we needed further proof that easy weeknight meals can be as amusing as they are tasty.

Serves 6-8

As organic as possible:

1 lb Penne pasta or pasta of choice

1 – 14 oz. jar/can or homemade Pizza sauce

1 – 15 oz. jar/can or homemade Tomato sauce

1 tsp Sugar

1 tsp dried Oregano

Salt and Pepper to taste

6 oz. Pepperoni, sliced *reserve 12-15 slices for topping, quarter the remaining

2 cups shredded Mozzarella or Italian cheese blend, divided

1/4 cup (approx) of freshly grated Parmesan

*Optional diced veggie “toppings”such as onion, green pepper, mushrooms, etc.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cook pasta according to package instructions, less 1-2 minutes. *I like to salt my water when it comes to a boil, before adding dry pasta. Drain and return to pot.

In the meantime, in a sauce pan, combine pizza and tomato sauces, sugar (to balance tomato acidity), oregano,  quartered pepperonis, and any diced/sliced veggies. Stir until combined and warmed through. Taste for further seasoning, i.e. salt & pepper.

*Side note: this could easily be a vegetarian dish by omitting the meat! 😉

Pour the sauce mixture into the pot of noodles and stir. Place half of the saucy noodles in a large baking dish in an even layer. Sprinkle half of the shredded cheese on the first layer of noodles and repeat with remaining noodles and shredded cheese. Strategically place the full slices of pepperoni around the top of the pasta dish, followed by the grated Parmesan, to create your piece of art. Kiss your grouped finger tips and throw your hand in the air while shouting “Bellissimo!”

Place the loaded baking dish into the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the top pepperonis are starting to brown on the edges. Yum!

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*It might also be noted that I reserved some of the saucy noodles, which I placed in a separate small baking dish for my dairy-free son. (Which you may or may not need to do yourself.)

Pizza Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Penne pasta or pasta of choice
  • 1 - 14 oz. jar/can or homemade Pizza sauce
  • 1 - 15 oz. jar/can or homemade Tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp dried Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 6 oz. Pepperoni, sliced *reserve 12-15 slices for topping, quarter the remaining
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella or Italian cheese blend, divided
  • 1/4 cup (approx) of freshly grated Parmesan
  • *Optional diced veggie "toppings"such as onion, green pepper, mushrooms, etc.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cook pasta according to package instructions, less 1-2 minutes. *I like to salt my water when it comes to a boil, before adding dry pasta. Drain and return to pot.
  3. In the meantime, in a sauce pan, combine pizza and tomato sauces, sugar (to balance tomato acidity), oregano, quartered pepperonis, and any diced/sliced veggies.
  4. Stir until combined and warmed through. Taste for further seasoning, i.e. salt & pepper.
  5. Pour the sauce mixture into the pot of noodles and stir. Place half of the saucy noodles in a large baking dish in an even layer. Sprinkle half of the shredded cheese on the first layer of noodles and repeat with remaining noodles and shredded cheese.
  6. Strategically place the full slices of pepperoni around the top of the pasta dish, followed by the grated Parmesan, to create your piece of art.
  7. Kiss your grouped finger tips and throw your hand in the air while shouting "Bellissimo!"
  8. Place the loaded baking dish into the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the top pepperonis are starting to brown on the edges. Yum!
http://sadiesnest.com/pizza-pasta/

 

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Bites

I love zucchini. It’s a green vegetable with a creamy, almost buttery, texture when baked. Top it with a little pepper and salty Parmesan, and well you’ve got yourself a tasty treat. But let’s take this one step further and serve it with a side of marinara dipping sauce. Oh my goodness! Guiltless indulgence is like an oxymoron when it comes to healthy eating… but it does exist!

As organic as possible:

Snack serves 2 (or a hungry 1) 

Olive oil cooking spray

2 Medium Zucchini, washed, dried and sliced into 1/4 inch rounds

3 oz. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Coarse Kosher salt

Freshly ground Black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly sprayed with olive oil. Place zucchini rounds on the oil-misted parchment paper, not touching eachother. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pinch a tiny mound of Parmesan cheese to top each slice of zucchini. Place baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until Parmesan turns golden brown. Serve warm with a side of marinara. (And maybe an iced glass of S.Pellegrino?) Indulge.

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Brown Eyed Baker’s Spinach Artichoke Dip

A good dip is hard to beat. I mean, how many times have I spoiled my dinner filling up on a crazy delicious appetizer… with no regrets? Too many to count probably, and totally worth it every time. I love the combination of creamy artichokes, slightly bitter spinach (for a little depth), smooth cream cheese, and salty Parmesan. Who doesn’t? I’m drooling just thinking about it. I owe my friend AnnMarie credit for bringing this winner to my attention.

As organic as possible: (you know I have to say that)

1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1½ cups (6 ounces) finely shredded or grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1½ cups (6 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
Paprika, to taste (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Press the excess moisture from the spinach.

Combine the artichokes, spinach, 1¼ cups of Parmesan cheese, 1¼ cups of Monterey Jack cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, and garlic in a bowl and mix well.

Spoon the artichoke mixture into a 1½-quart baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining Monterey Jack and Parmesan cheeses on top, and then sprinkle with paprika, if desired. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm with tortilla or pita chips, crackers or vegetables.

Thank you Annie for sharing this recipe with me! View the original at www.browneyedbaker.com

Fried Ravioli

Little soft pillows of creamy cheese… coated in a blend of bread crumbs, Parmesan, and Italian herbs… fried into crispy golden perfection… A little warm marinara for dipping on the side… It’s a good day… dolce vita.

As organic as possible:

2o oz. frozen Cheese Ravioli

3/4 cup Flour

5 eggs

8 oz Parmesan & Italian Herb Bread Crumbs

2 tsp salt

3-4 cups of frying oil (give or take depending on the size of your skillet) such as Canola or Peanut

Freshly grated Parmesan for serving

 

This is a perfect example of how prepping your work area first makes the job a lot easier. In 3 separate shallow baking dishes (brownie pans, small casserole dishes, etc.) place the flour, whisk the eggs, and toss the Parmesan & Herbed bread crumbs with the salt. Heat your oil on the high end of medium. The oil is ready when you sprinkle a small amount of flour in it and it starts to sizzle. You only need a couple inches of depth.

While you’re waiting for your oil to get hot, take the frozen ravioli and dip it in the egg, coating it completely. Dip the egg covered ravioli in the flour, covering it, and lightly shaking off the extra. Then put the ravioli back into the whisked eggs, covering it again, and lastly into the bread crumb mixture. Make sure to get every area of the cheesy pouch coated with the delicious salty herbed bread crumbs. Repeat. Make sure you have a a few ready to go before you start to fry.

When the oil is ready, fry the raviolis in batches of about 4 or 5 at a time (to not lower the temperature oil too much). After about a minute, flip the ravioli and let it cook another half to whole minute. Using a slotted spoon or something similar remove the raviolis to a paper towel-lined plate. When raviolis are fried, transfer to serving dish of your choice and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan, (maybe even freshly chopped parsley if you’re into that sort of thing) accompanied by some warmed marinara sauce for dipping. Buon Appetito!

 

 

 

Pasta Carbonara

My husband has been in Germany all week on business. So what’s a girl to do, except make dishes that I want to try; that I know he wouldn’t eat anyway! Carbonara in general is a bacon and cream sauce; in this case they are whisked with eggs which are actually cooked by the hot pasta, creating this amazingly creamy and flavorful dish. If you haven’t had it, you might (as I did) be skeptical and think it’s going to taste like breakfast on noodles. I promise you that is not the case. It creates this delicious coating of velvety yum that when paired with the Parmesan and caramelized onion (nod to Tyler Florence) makes a meal into an event to remember. Now if I could only get my husband to like bacon.

As organic as possible:

1 lb Linguine (easily substituted by spaghetti or long noodle of your choice)

2 Tbsp Olive oil

10 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips

1 yellow Onion, diced

4 Eggs

6 Tbsp heavy Cream

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

Freshly ground Black Pepper

 

Start the cooking process for the pasta according to package directions, but be sure to salt your water!

Heat the olive oil in a skillet, add bacon and onion. Let cook until bacon is crispy and onion is caramelized, about 8 minutes give or take. In the meantime crack eggs into a large bowl and whisk with cream, Parmesan and a little freshly cracked black pepper. When bacon and onion are ready, spoon some of it into the cream and egg and whisk, add the rest including all of the fat and continue to whisk a little until it makes an emulsion.

If we have our timing right, the noodles should be al dente and ready to come out of the boiling water. Using tongs or a pasta scoop, place a portion of the noodles into the egg sauce, and toss. Add the rest of the noodles and gently toss until all noodles are coated with the creamy mixture of deliciousness.

Serve with a little freshly cracked pepper and light grating of Parmesan. Buon appetito!

Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence’s Spaghetti Carbonara

Hot Artichoke Dip

I am a sucker for hot cheesy dips. Melted flavorful cheese is hard to resist. Period. Give me a cracker, a chip, or a spoon.  I know I’m not alone. The best part of these dips is that they are good all year round. Bring ’em to a pot luck or a party; you won’t disappoint anyone. I am also fond of artichokes. They are great hearty and healthy vegetables that can stand up to a lot of flavor. The combination is perfect as an appetizer, for a midday snack or a light meal …A little reminder that food can taste really good.

As organic as possible:

1 – 12 oz jar Marinated artichoke hearts, drained

1 – 14 oz can Artichoke hearts, drained

8 oz Cream cheese

1 cup Mayonnaise

1 tsp granulated Garlic

1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground Black pepper

1/8 tsp Cayenne pepper

3 Scallions (green onion), chopped

3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place half of the jar of marinated artichoke hearts into a food processor and set the rest aside. Add the can of drained artichoke hearts, cream cheese, mayonnaise, garlic, salt, pepper, cayenne and scallions into the processor and pulse (not to liquify) until all is incorporated together.

Chop the remaining marinated artichoke hearts into small bite size pieces. In a large bowl add artichoke mixture, chopped artichokes and Parmesan cheeses. Stir until combined. Check for taste, and adjust seasonings accordingly.

Spoon cheesy artichoke goodness into a medium sized baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, until hot and bubbly (and maybe just starting to brown around the edges). Serve with tortilla chips or crackers. Savor.

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Susan’s Mac & Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese is just such a real comfort food. It’s creamy, hearty and warm, and the perfect remedy for a cold day, rainy day or even a hard day. “Mac” short for “macaroni” is really a blanket term for whichever pasta one happens to choose. Big shells, little shells, cavatelli, cavatappi… cook it al dente, cover it with cheesy goodness and bake it until bubbly perfection. I’m in. This is my sister-in-law’s variation; it’s delicious.

As organic as possible:

8 oz “Mac” noodles (today we’re using medium shells)

1/4 cup Butter

2 1/2 Tbsp flour

2 cups Sharp cheddar

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

3 cups of milk

 

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Cook pasta just short of the package recommendation (as they will continue to soften in the oven).

In a large sauce pan, make a roux using the flour and butter. (Over a medium heat, cook the flour and butter for a couple minutes, stirring regularly, and keeping watch not to burn.) Add milk, whisk. Add cheese and stir until melted. Mix sauce and noodles cover with bread crumbs or crumbled crackers. Bake until bubbly, about 45 minutes.

Parmesan Kale Chips

I don’t know what you may or may not be thinking, so let me just clarify… These are Delicious! They are crispy and salty, with more depth in flavor than you can get from a potato chip. I think they would be a great side dish for any meal. But they are so good on their own, that my favorite way to serve them is as an appetizer or starter. They are perfect little finger foods to accompany aperitifs. Only four ingredients and completely guilt free, because it is kale after all!

As found in Barefoot Contessa’s Make it Ahead:

1 Large bunch of flat-leaf kale

Good olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

 

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

With a sharp knife, remove and discard the hard rib from the center of each leaf, leaving the leaves as intact as possible. Place them on the sheet pans, drizzle or brush them with olive oil, and toss to coat lightly. Sprinkle generously with salt and bake for 10 minutes, until crispy. Sprinkle lightly with Parmesan cheese and bake for another 5 minutes. Cool and serve.

* I like to brush them with the oil for even coverage. And yes baking kale gives off a strange green leaf vegetable aroma, but it is so worth it in the end!

Bangers and Smash

Simple rustic food is a mainstay in our home. As much as I love to delve into a new recipe with all of my mise en place, sometimes I need to be practical. But that doesn’t mean I have to skimp on fun or flavor! I’ve recently become a fan of “smashed” potatoes. They’re like a twice baked potato, without some of the hassle. You know I love to play; here’s my take on an English (British) classic.

Serves 6-8 people (and can easily be adjusted for size of crowd)

As organic as possible:

8 large Red skin potatoes

1/2 Tbsp salt

1/4 cup Garlic-infused olive oil

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp coarse Kosher or sea salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground Black pepper

1 Tbsp olive oil

8 chicken or veal sausages

Scrub and trim any blemishes off of the potatoes. Place in a large pot and cover with water, over by an inch or two. Add the 1/2 tablespoon of salt and bring to boil. Boil approximately 20 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender.

In the mean time, preheat the oven to 375°. When potatoes are ready, using tongs or a slotted spoon remove the potatoes from the water and place on a baking sheet, spacing them out for room to grow. Use a flat bottomed glass (or the like) and smash the potatoes until spread out about an inch thick. Drizzle potatoes with garlic-infused olive oil evenly, sprinkle with coarse salt, pepper and Parmesan. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted and starts to brown.

While potatoes are baking, in a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Place sausages in the skillet and cook about 15 minutes, flipping once about half way through. Serve with love to ladies and chaps alike.

 

Easy Oven-Baked Chicken Parm

Sometimes you get a craving and nothing else but a cheesy, salty, crusted piece of moist chicken will do. (Clearly I’m not a vegetarian.) This chicken is coated with a mix of Parmesan and Asiago, for maximum tantalizing flavor. It’s got a crispy outside and is moist on the inside, and it’s baked not fried. So basically it’s guilt-free. It’s great on it’s own, but I love it with my favorite marinara and pasta to make an easy Italian classic, Chicken Parmesan. Yum!

As organic as possible:

4 Chicken breast cut into strips (2-3 per breast lengthwise)

3/4 cup Mayonnaise (you can substitute with light mayo)

1/4 cup Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs

1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Black pepper

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

2-3 Tbsp (rounded) freshly grated Asiago

Preheat oven to 425°. Place mayo in a small bowl, set aside. In a shallow baking dish mix bread crumbs, salt, pepper and cheeses. Dredge each piece of chicken in the mayo, so that it has a nice even coating, removing excess. (You’re going to get your hands messy, but it’s worth it.) Then roll coated chicken around in bread crumb mixture until completely covered. Place covered chicken strips on a baking sheet (or two). Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes, until chicken is cooked through, and crust is browned and crispy.

While chicken is cooking, prepare noodles and warm your favorite marinara sauce for serving. (It hardly gets easier for a weeknight meal than that!) Top with more freshly grated Parmesan… Enjoy!