pasta

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/

 

Easy Mostaccioli

“Don’t take a picture” she said, “the cheese is stuck to the top of the foil.” My much loved friend AnnMarie knew I’ve hardly been able to walk, let alone cook for my family. She texted me a couple days ago to ask me what I’d like to eat and what night she could bring dinner over. Of course I told her I would share no such information, but thanked her for the offer. Naturally Annie, being her beautiful self, said she’d be over in 2 days. She walked through the door with enough meals for a week, plus a blueberry pie. I was ravenous that day, and cheesy pasta is like the epitome of comfort food. She loaded up the refrigerator and freezer dividing the organic meals, explaining this is the cheese for the broccoli rice casserole; these are the shells for the tacos; placing buns for hot dogs in the bread basket… The mostaccioli was warm and ready to serve, the whole house smelled amazing. I thought to myself, “Are you kidding? It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

As organic as possible:

2 lbs ground Beef

Salt & pepper to taste

3 jars (approx 24 oz each) of your favorite store bought or homemade pasta Sauce

1 lb Mostaccioli (or penne) noodles

1 lb (16 oz) shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Brown the meat with a little salt and pepper in a large skillet. Add the pasta sauce and get it hot; let it simmer for about 20 minutes. In the mean time, cook the pasta according to package directions- less a couple minutes. (They will be a little firm, but soften in the oven while baking). When the noodles are done, mix them in with the sauce. Pour everything into a 9X13 pan and sprinkle on all of the mozzarella cheese. Bake it in the oven for about 25 minutes until bubbly and cheese is melted.

Serve with a good crusty bread immediately to your hungry family, or cover with foil and deliver to someone in need. Either way, it’s delicious and they will be forever grateful.

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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

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.

Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Macaroni & Cheese With Peas and Bacon

I have a new unwritten goal: I want to taste every mac & cheese recipe out. Why not? Creamy, cheesy, baked noodles are something I can really get behind. I mean think about it. Yeah, let’s do it! In this case Tyler Florence finishes the dish with a smoky bacon, pea and onion mixture. Can I get a whoo whoo! I thought it was delicious… my kids might tell you a different story (but they are all under the age of 10). And don’t ask Owen either, he doesn’t like bacon. I don’t want to talk about it. But you and I know what’s good, and it does not come from a box. It is this…

Serves 6 to 8

Kosher salt

1 pound elbow macaroni

 

3 Tbsp unsalted butter

3 Tbsp all-purpose flour

4 cups warm milk

5 1/2 cups shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

 

Extra virgin olive oil

4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips

1 large onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, smashed

Leaves from 1/4 bunch of fresh thyme

2 cups frozen peas, thawed in a colander under cool water

 

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over hight heat. Add the macaroni and cook for 8 to 9 minutes, until al dente. Drain.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly to keep lumps from forming. Gradually whisk in the milk and , whisking vigorously, cook until the mixture is thick and smooth. Stir in 4 cups of the cheese and continue to cook and stir to melt the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked macaroni and the parsley and fold that all in to coat the macaroni with the cheese mixture. Scrape into a 3-quart baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

While that’s going, heat a 2 count of olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the bacon, onion, garlic, and thyme and cook for about 5 minutes to soften the onion. Fold in the peas and season with salt and pepper.

To serve, scatter the pea and bacon mixture over the mac and cheese. Use a big spoon to scoop out servings, making sure you get some of the smoky pea mixture into each spoonful.

*Not mentioned, but from the looks of his picture… It seemed like it was topped with Parmesan cheese before serving. So, I did too.

 

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!

Spicy Pesto Perfecto

Aunt Leann makes amazing pesto, the dilemma is like a chef she doesn’t write down measurements. She was very sweet to give me her best estimates, and I tweaked them slightly according to taste; which basically means I added more Parmesan and pine nuts. Yum! Our family is not afraid of a little heat, so the cayenne adds a nice kick and the lemon really brightens the up the dish! Also known as Aunt Leann-ish Pesto, the result is as follows:

As organic as possible:

2 cups tightly packed Basil
1/4 cup tightly packed Mint
1/4 cup tightly packed Parsley
1/2 cup Pine nuts
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
The zest and juice of 1 Lemon
1/4 cup White Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp course Salt
1 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Cayenne
1/2 cup Olive oil (give or take according to preference)

1 pound Linguine (or pasta of your choice)

Roughly chop the the basil, mint and parsley and place into a food processor. Add pine nuts, parmesan, lemon juice and zest, vinegar, salt, pepper and cayenne. Put the lid on the processor and pulse a couple times. Slowly drizzle the olive oil in until somewhat liquified, but still thick. Taste! If need be add more vinegar, cayenne, salt, etc. It should have a strong flavor! You can use it right away or let it sit in the refrigerator until dinner time. It’s a great recipe for making ahead!
Cook noodles according to package directions and strain. When ready, add pesto to hot noodles and toss. Add freshly grated Parmesan as desired for serving. Enjoy!

(Psst, pesto makes a great sandwich spread too.)

Lasagna

It’s not just Garfield who loves lasagna! I have explained to you before our high regard for Italian cooking. When the smell of garlic bread and baked pasta is in the house I want to pour a glass of vino, raise my voice a little and hug my babies. I can’t help myself, without any actuality I’m part Italian.

As organic as possible:

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Yellow onion, diced
3-4 Cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs Ground hamburger (I prefer lean)
2 jars Homemade or store bought pasta sauce (about 50 oz)
1 lb Lasagna noodles

8 oz Cottage cheese
16 oz Ricotta cheese
8 oz Fresh Mozzarella, shredded and divided
3/4 cup Grated Parmesan, divided
1/4-1/2 tsp Salt
1/8-1/4 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp Granulated garlic
1 tsp dried basil

Lasagna requires a few steps, but the difficulty is low. And once assembled it’s a make ahead dish that’s easy to throw in the oven, bake and serve.

Preheat the oven to 350º

I like to start with my sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat, add diced onion and let sauté about 2 minutes. Add garlic and let sauté another minute. Add beef, let cook until browned and drain. Pour in sauce and stir. Allow to simmer. Taste! Add seasonings accordingly.

In the meantime, start boiling pasta water and cook according to package directions (remember to salt your water and keep in mind the noodles are supposed to be “al dente,” still maintaining a little bite because they will continue to soften when in the oven). Drain and rinse the pasta under cool water to stop the cooking process and make the noodles easier to handle during assembly.

In a separate bowl, combine cottage cheese, ricotta, 2/3 of the shredded mozzarella, 1/2 cup Parmesan, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, granulated garlic and basil. (Side note: I love cottage cheese in my lasagna; it has a tangy salty zing that I prefer over ricotta, and I have made my cheesy filling with it alone. However, ricotta gives that little bit of creaminess that cottage cheese in general is lacking, so I prefer the combination). Taste! Some cheeses are saltier than others, you want each part of your layering to taste equally delicious, so if this is flat add more salt and/or pepper now.

Ok. You’ve made it this far, so you might as well finish what you’ve started! In a large baking dish (or a 13X9 dish will do) place just enough sauce on the bottom, smearing it all over, so your noodles won’t stick. Line your noodles closely to each other so that you completely cover the pan (trimming noodles to fit like a puzzle if necessary). Using about a 1/3 of your cheese mixture spread the creamy goodness all over the noodles. Next use about a third of your pasta sauce to layer on top of the cheese. Repeat with the noodles and continue with cheese and sauce until you are out (you will most likely have left over noodles).

Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. (I did not forget about the remaining cheese…) When the kitchen timer goes off (or after you have watched the clock relentlessly for 30 minutes), carefully remove the baking dish from the oven and turn the oven up to 425º. Take off the aluminum foil and on the top layer of sauce, evenly sprinkle the remaining 1/3 shredded mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Place back into the oven uncovered for about 15 minutes until cheese is browned and dish is perfect!

Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before attempting to serve. Not only will you spare the skin on the roof of your mouth, but this gives your dish time to set and will allow for you to cut into it without it spreading.

15 Minute Creamy Pasta

This creamy dish takes about the time to make as it takes to boil water and cook the pasta. The sauce is tangy and cheesy. My family eats a lot of pasta, a lot. It’s fun to have a quick creamy white sauce. This recipe uses low fat dairy, so it feels light but still decadent. And because the cheese still has bite, you won’t miss the meat!

As organic as possible:

1 pound pasta (rotini or what have you)

1 Tbsp Olive oil

1/2 onion, diced small

1 tsp dried basil

1 cup low fat cottage cheese

1- 8 oz block reduced fat Cream cheese, softened

1 Tbsp grated Parmesan

1 tsp granulated garlic

1/2 tsp salt

1 pinch red pepper flakes

1/8 tsp freshly grated black pepper

2-3 Tbsp low fat milk

Bring water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions. In the meantime, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a sauce pan. Add the diced onion and let cook for about 2 minutes, add dried basil and let infuse in the oil (if you prefer fresh, double the amount and add at the end). Add the cheeses, garlic, salt, red pepper, black pepper and milk. Allow the cheese mixture and seasonings to melt together and combine. If the sauce seems thick, add another tablespoon or so of milk. When pasta is cooked and drained, the sauce should be completely melted and creamy. Top the pasta with sauce and serve!