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Category Archives: Pasta

Feta and Tomato Spaghetti Squash

After trying Alfredo Spaghetti Squash I thought of endless toppings and ways to prepare spaghetti squash boats.  It is so simple and much healthier than sitting down to a bowl of pasta.  With endless fresh tomatoes from the garden and a large container of feta cheese a light bulb went off.

Not only was this filling and probably way more than a portion but I was starving.  It is squash how bad can it be for you?

Spaghetti Squash with Feta cheese and Fresh Tomatoes

Feta and Tomato Spaghetti Squash:

  • spaghetti squash, split and cleaned of guts
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 small tomato diced
  • garlic seasoning to taste
  • salt to taste

 

The toppings are per half of squash.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare squash by cutting in half lengthwise with a sharp knife.  Scoop out seeds and place cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet covered with water.  Bake until tender, about an hour.

Once squash is cooked, use a fork to gently scrape the squash strand into the center.

Add oil, feta, and tomato and toss to combine.  Serve warm.

Enjoy as a main dish or as a side.

Basil Pesto Recipe

I used to think I disliked pesto.  Which really makes no sense because basil is my favorite herb, parmigiano-Reggiano is one of my favorite cheeses, and I use olive oil for everything.  I think it is the pine nuts which have never done anything for me.  After making my own pesto it was better than I remembered.

I just lessened the amount of pine nuts which was good because I only had about a cup on hand.  I also made a thicker pesto which olive could be added as needed.

After using half the pesto I put the rest in the freezer for a later date.  There are lots of great recipes calling for pesto out there.  Since the basil is in full swing in the garden I might as well make a few jars to store in the freezer.

 

Basil Pesto:Basil Pesto

  • 2 – 3 cups basil
  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 – 1 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup parmigiano-reggiano
  • lemon juice to taste

In a food processor combine all besides cheese and oil, process until combined.

Slowly add in olive oil until desired thickness is reached.

Add parmigiano-reggiano and either stir in by hand or pulse a few times.

Cover with plastic pressed against pesto and then sealed.  The less air reaching the pesto the less browning will occur.

World’s Best Lasagna

World's Best LasagnaA few years ago I found World’s Best Lasagna Recipe – Allrecipes.com, I knew it must be good enough to try.  After I made this recipe I knew I would forever make this recipe.  We are not huge fans of red sauce, especially Mr.Picky.  The funny part is that the sauce recipe was almost exactly how I make my spaghetti sauce.

When the special occasion arises to eat lasagna, this is the recipe I make.  I say special occasion for a few reasons lasagna is expensive to make, it makes so much for just our little family, it is incredible rich, and I over eat when I make it so I have to pace myself.

If you want a no fail recipe this is the one.  I have reduced the salt from the original recipe and I will sometimes add a layer of spinach if I have fresh baby spinach on hand.  I have even grated carrots and zucchini up and added it to my sauce with no complaints.  One day I might grate eggplant into it which I think would be wonderful.

I also discovered you cook the sauce in a slow cooker instead and throw together the lasagna a day or two ahead but it is a one dish meal.  I try to serve a good vegetable with it and garlic bread if we have company.  You can also freeze any leftovers and pull it out for a later time.

The recipe calls for a 9 x 13″ baking dish, just be warned it will be full if you are using a 2″ deep pan like most.  I borrow my mother in-laws deep casserole dish usually or I reserve some sauce for a different meal.  Somehow I always end up with way too much sauce, probably because sometimes I use a bigger can of tomato sauce instead of the two small ones.  If you use the exact measurements you should be fine, I know it came out right the first time.  I think I just add this and that and it all adds up to extra.  But two meals for the price of one sounds good to me.  This time I saved aside about 3 cups of extra sauce and threw some frozen meatballs in for meatball subs.

World’s Best lasagna:

  • 1 lb. sweet or spicy Italian sausage
  • 3/4 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (28 oz. can) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (6 oz. can) tomato paste
  • 2 (6.5 oz. can) tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 fennel seed
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 4 Tbs fresh chopped parsley
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 16 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 lb. mozzarella, sliced
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

 

In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Or place it all in a slow cooker and turn to low for about 4 hours.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water.   Or use my favorite no boil noodles which to me taste better.  I believe they are 16 noodles to a box and are smaller, so use them all.  You can moisten them by allowing them to sit in water for about 5 minutes before using.  This will insure the noodles will not dry out.

In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  If you are putting the lasagna together ahead of time, skip this step.

To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

First Layer of Lasagna

First Layer of Lasagna

 

Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Fresh out of the oven!

Fresh out of the oven!



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Pad See Ew

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Our favorite family friendly dish when we eat Thai food is Chicken Pad See Ew.  Not every restaurant makes it how we like it but it is not spicy so the kids love it.  It is an almost sweet noodle dish containing eggs, chicken, and bok choy or chinese broccoli.  Thanks to High Heel Gourmet, I finally had a recipe to create my own.

It turned out wonderful, better than I expected.  I was given a seasoned wok a few years ago, and finally used it correctly.  I am no longer afraid or intimidated by my wok.  No more collecting dust for my wok.  I changed my directions slightly because I prefered my vegetables a little more done.  High Heel Gourmet, has a great step by step photos of the direction while using a wok.

I had a hard time finding rice noodles that were as wide as the ones in the original recipe.  I ended up using rice ribbons, which when cooked tasted the same as what I was used to eating.  I then reread the directions and saw that you can buy whole noodles and cut them to width, which makes more sense.  Don’t sweat it if you can’t find the right noodle, I am sure any fresh rice noodle will do.  This is the quantity I used to achieve the flavor I was used too, the original recipe had a wider range.

Chicken Pad See Ew:

  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped
  • 1 head of baby bok choy or 2-3 stems of chinese broccoli
  • 1/2 a chicken breast, thinly slice
  • 2-3 Tbs fish sauce
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce
  • 3 Tbs Dark sweet soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 of a package of fresh (sometimes frozen) rice ribbons or noodles

Before you cut up the vegetables or separate the noodles, slice the meat and marinate it in the soy sauce mixed with fish sauce.

Marinate the meat 10-15 minutes.  Meanwhile rinse and separate noodles, and chop up vegetables.

Heat the wok over HIGH heat, the highest your stove can do, and add 1 tablespoon of oil and all the garlic. Stir fry until the garlic is near golden.

Add the meat to the wok but reserve the leftover sauce. Stir fry until the meat is fully cooked.  Adding vegetables about a minute into cooking meat.

Add the noodles to the wok and pour all the leftover sauce onto the noodles. Stir fry, make sure that the noodles are completely coated with the sauce. You can easily see this by the color. If you need more sauce, go ahead and pour it right out of the bottle. If it all gets too dry, you can add more oil. In this step you will be stir frying for a while over high heat.

Push the noodles to one side and add 1-2 tablespoons of oil to the middle of the wok and crack the egg into it. Smear it really quickly just to break the yolk and mix it with the egg white. Flip the noodles back on top of the egg. Let it sit for 10 seconds and then start moving the whole thing around again.

Let the noodles sit still for 10 seconds and then flip them around again to get the noodles to brown a little bit at the bottom of the pan. This adds flavor to the noodles.

Add the white pepper to the noodles, go ahead and taste those noodles.

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

Pasta used to be a favorite food of mine.  Over the last five years my tastes have changed and it just is not something I crave anymore.  I do love a good alfredo sauce.   When I can across this recipe The Comfort of Cooking » Skinny Spaghetti Squash Alfredo I thought, why not.  It turned out great, couldn’t even tell I was eating squash.  The texture was exactly like angel hair pasta, which happens to be my favorite.  This will definitely be the way I substitute any pasta dish from now on.

Cooked up the spaghetti squash for me and some noodle for the family.  I cheated and used a jarred alfredo but this alfredo recipe link is just as easy.  There was a jar in the cupboard that needed to be used so I thought I better not waste it.

Spaghetti Squash AlfredoSpaghetti Squash Alfredo:

  • 1 medium-sized spaghetti squash
  • Jar of Alfredo sauce or use Alfredo Recipe
  • 2 Tbs of Parmesan Cheese
  • Fresh Parsley, garlic and herb seasoning or red pepper flakes, to garnish

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare squash by cutting in half lengthwise with a sharp knife.  Scoop out seeds and place cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet covered with water.  Bake until tender, about an hour.

Once squash is cooked, use a fork to gently scrape the squash strand into the center.

Spoon desired amount of squash on each half and toss the spaghetti squash strands until coated.

Top with parmesan cheese and place under broiler for 2-3 min. until bubbly.  Garnish with parsley flakes or pepper, and serve hot.

*You can also cook and prep the squash ahead of time (I did).  Finish it off by adding sauce and cheese.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until hot.

Butternut Macaroni and Cheese

Butternut Macaroni and Cheese

Looking to cut some calories, add some vegetables, and still eat comfort food?  This is your recipe, I swear it tastes great.  Not only are you substituting some liquid with broth but you are adding all that squash for a rich buttery flavor.  Not to mention no one can guess what is in it because it is all orange and smooth.  My kids gobbled this down.

Butternut Macaroni and Cheese:

  • sea salt
  • 1 lb. macaroni with ridges, or whatever pasta you want maybe even over cauliflower
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs fresh thyme, chopped (1 tsp dried thyme will work)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 3 Tbs flour
  • 2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 (10 oz.) frozen, defrosted box of butternut squash (I just buy a fresh one, peel it and steam it, then mash)
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • fresh ground pepper and salt to taste

Heat a pot of boiling water, season with salt and cook pasta according to directions.  Until al dente.

While pasta is cooking start your sauce.  Over medium heat in a  medium pot heat oil and butter.  When butter melts add thyme and grate onion and garlic into the pot with a microplane.  Cook for 2 minutes.

Add flour and cook for 2 minutes more, whisk in stock and squash.  Cook until warm and smooth.

Stir in cream and bring to a bubble.  Stir in cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Drain pasta and combine with sauce.

Easy Alfredo with Italian Grilled Chicken

Mr.Picky had an idea for dinner, he kept it secret and started creating.  This is the recipe he used, which I believe he got off of Allrecipes.com.  This recipe is a classic food that Mr.Picky loves.  We are garlic lovers in our house, so the only thing we would change is add a few cloves of fresh crushed garlic to the melted butter.

Easy Alfredo with Italian Grilled Chicken

Easy Alfredo with Italian Grilled Chicken:

Chicken:

  • 2 or more chicken breast
  • A bottle of Italian Dressing (your favorite, he used a Roasted Red Pepper Dressing)

Easy Alfredo:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 cups milk
  • 6 oz. parmesan or romano cheese
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 – 3/4 lb. of pasta, we used penne.  Cook as directed or until desired tenderness. Reserve about a 1/4 cup of starchy cooking water to incorporate into pasta and sauce.

Marinate your chicken breasts in the dressing for at least 3 hours.

Grill chicken on low, until breasts reach 170 degrees internally. Remove from heat, place on a cutting board cover with foil to rest while you finish your meal.  Sauce takes only a few minutes, but would start about boiling noodles half way though the chicken cooking.

Once chicken is resting and noodles are almost done or draining, start your sauce.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan, on medium heat.

Add cream cheese and garlic powder, stir with a whisk until smooth.

Add milk, pepper, and thyme.  Whisk until smooth.  Add cheese, and remove from heat stirring until cheese is melted.

Toss together sauce, pasta, and reserved cooking water.  Slice of cube grilled chicken and serve on top or mix in.

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