Posts Tagged ‘pasta’

Pepperoni Parmesan Pasta Salad

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

I’m going to attempt to share a recipe for pasta salad with you. I say attempt, because pasta salad is so often a “little of this and a little of that” kind of dish. I’ve had requests for this pasta salad recipe before, and not been able to explain it or share it properly. This time, I tried to pay pretty close attention to exactly how I made it.

One of my favorite things about this dish was these new mini pepperoni (Hormel Pepperoni Minis) we found at Costco. They’re perfect for pasta salad! And probably English muffin pizzas, and regular salads. I’ve also used them in fake lasagna, and bubble-up pizza casserole. I think they’d go really well in those pepperoni pinwheels, too.

Pepperoni Parmesan Pasta Salad
Makes 6-8 servings

  • 1 pound small pasta (shells, bowties, corkscrews, etc)
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Italian salad dressing
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup pepperoni, diced (I used these mini pepperoni)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • salt & pepper to taste

1. Cook pasta in boiling, salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water (or refrigerate) until pasta is cold all the way through.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic, olive oil, and Italian dressing.

3. Place pasta in a large bowl; drizzle with dressing mixture. Stir to combine.

4. Add basil, cheese, tomatoes, and pepperoni. Mix completely.

5. Serve chilled, with extra parmesan for garnish.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Spaghetti Carbonara? Yum!

I feel like I need to invoke Joey from “Friends” to really capture the greatness of this dish:

Noodles? Good.

Cheese? Good.

Bacon? Goo-od.

Carbonara’s a really fun dish to make. It looks impressive, it sounds impressive, but honestly, it couldn’t be easier. And it tastes delicious. This recipe for carbonara is by far my favorite out of the few that I’ve tried.

Spaghetti Carbonara
Adapted from The Amateur Gourmet

  • a box of dry spaghetti
  • pancetta or thick bacon
  • two raw eggs
  • freshly grated parmesan
  • freshly ground pepper
  • four cloves of garlic, peeled
  • white wine
  • roughly chopped parsley

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

2. Cut the bacon or pancetta into small cubes. I use about 6 slices of bacon, but you can use less or more, depending on your tastes.

3. Add the cubes to a non-stick skillet with some olive oil and the garlic cloves. Turn on the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring often, until the garlic is golden brown  and then remove the garlic from the pan. Keep cooking the bacon/pancetta until it’s crispy and drippings are visable in the pan.  Once the bacon/pancetta is crisp, add one glass of white wine. It will bubble up and then begin to simmer. Continue heating this sauce over medium low heat until the liquid reduces and the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

4. When the water begins to boil, salt the water then add the box of spaghetti noodles.

5. While the pasta boils and the sauce simmers, crack two eggs into a large bowl. Grate in at least one cup of Parmesan cheese (more if you like, I probably use closer to 1 1/2 cups). Grind black pepper over it all and then stir it together with a fork.

6. Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, drain and add it directly to the large bowl with the egg and cheese mixture.

7. Stir very quickly. It is important that you begin to stir immediately and continue stirring until the mix covers all of the noodles. The heat from the pasta is cooking the eggs for you, but if you don’t stir well, you could end up with something closer to scrambled eggs than pasta sauce. (As Alton Brown would say, “That’s not good eats.”)

8. When all of the noodles are coated with the egg/cheese mixture, add the bacon and sauce to the pasta and stir again. To finish, stir in the chopped parsley, and sprinkle a little more cheese on top.

Note: I like Spaghetti in this dish, but fettuccine or even orecchiette would work well. It just needs to be something that can be coated easily with the sauce mixture. Sometimes, we make this with grilled chicken–I just cook the chicken separately, then add to the bacon/wine mixture while the wine is reducing. If I add chicken, I usually use a little less bacon.

Alton Brown’s Stovetop Mac & Cheese

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

I think we may have bought our last box of macaroni & cheese. I like Kraft Macaroni & Cheese in a pinch, and Velveeta is pretty good, occasionally. They aren’t as good as homemade, of course, but they’re also an entirely different animal than most homemade macaroni & cheese recipes. After all, when it comes to homemade mac & cheese, you’re usually talking about a rich, heavy dish, baked in a casserole, topped with bread crumbs. And there’s nothing wrong with that, except that that kind of macaroni & cheese is almost a meal in and of itself. Sometimes, you want macaroni & cheese to take it’s rightful place as a side dish.

Enter AB’s Stovetop Mac & Cheese. Alton Brown’s Macaroni & Cheese recipe is just as quick and easy as the box variety.True, there are a few more ingredients, but they’re actually ones that we always have on hand.

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Alton Brown’s Stovetop Mac-n-Cheese

  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 ounces evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 10 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded

Directions

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy.

Note: See? That’s it. Just like with the blue box, boil the pasta, add some stuff, and stir. The flavor, however, is much, much better than any boxed macaroni and cheese. It was rich and creamy and deliciously cheesy.

Chicken Noodles Romanoff

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

I found this dish on The Knot website when I was still buried in wedding planning last summer, but it sounded promising, so I bookmarked it. We’ve made it twice now. The first time, as listed below. The second time, I used a whole package of noodles, which lightened it quite a bit by spreading the creamy cheese sauce out over a greater number of servings. Anyway, it’s great as written, but easily made healthier, which is a nice feature in a recipe.

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Chicken Noodles Romanoff
From the cookbook Most Loved Casseroles by Jean Paré

  • 5 cups medium egg noodles
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup 2% cottage cheese
  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 tablespoon onion flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

Cook noodles in boiling salted water in large uncovered saucepan or Dutch oven for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but firm. Drain. Return to same saucepan.

Add next 9 ingredients. Stir. Transfer to greased 3 quart casserole.

Sprinkle with second amount of Cheddar cheese. Bake, uncovered, in 350°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes until heated through.

Note: You don’t have to use leftover chicken. If you need to make the chicken from scratch: Start with 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (4 – 6 ounces each). Place in a large frying pan with 1 cup water or chicken broth. Simmer, covered, for 12 to 14 minutes until no longer pink inside. Drain. Chop. Makes about 2 cups of cooked chicken.

I substituted low fat cheese and low fat sour cream to make this dish a little bit healthier, and the taste didn’t suffer at all. It’s really a nice comfort food style casserole; like macaroni & cheese, but with a lighter taste and texture.

Ravioli Lasagna Fake Out

Friday, March 6th, 2009

I like lasagna. And who doesn’t? What I don’t like about lasagna is all of the work involved. I just don’t have the patience for all the layers, etc., especially after working all day. But rather than relegate the whole lasagna concept to the weekends, when I have the time and energy to bother, I started making this quick lasagna casserole dish. Affectionately, we call this “Fake Lasagna,” and it’s really quite good. All the flavor and none of the fuss!

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Ravioli Lasagna Fake-Out (Fake Lasagna)

  • 16 ounce package of cheese ravioli, frozen. (We use the Kirkland brand from Costco)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 regular sized jar of spaghetti sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 pound ground beef (or 1/2 pound ground beef, 1/2 pound Italian sausage)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot full of salted water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and the frozen ravioli. Boil for 3-4 minutes, until the ravioli float to the top. Drain and reserve.

2. In a large skillet, season the ground beef with Italian seasoning, salt & pepper, and garlic. Brown and drain. Return to skillet. Stir in the jar of spaghetti sauce.

3. Spray a 2 or 2 1/2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Add a spoonful of the spaghetti sauce mixture and spread across the bottom of the dish in a thin layer. (This keeps the pasta from sticking to the dish when you scoop it out later).

4. Place a single layer of ravioli on top of the sauce. Cover the ravioli with a ladle of the sauce/meat mixture. Sprinkle with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Begin a new layer of ravioli, top with sauce and cheese. Continue in this way until the casserole dish is full. I usually end up with at least 4 layers, but this will depend on how thick your ravioli are. You should end with a final layer of mozzarella cheese.

5. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the mozzarella cheese. You like cheese, right?

Herbed Chicken & Dumpling Soup

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Another soup? I know, right?

Truth be told, David had to have a tooth pulled, and that had me seeking out soft things for him to eat. There’s not much softer than soup!

This chicken & dumpling soup was a tasty, quick meal. Using store-bought chicken stock gave this dish a long-cooked taste, even though it was finished in about half an hour. Fresh herbs really upped the flavor profile from what you’d normally expect in a quick soup. All in all, I was pleased.

Herbed Chicken & Dumpling Soup
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

  • Cooking spray
  • 8  ounces  skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3/4  cup  (1/4-inch) diagonally cut celery
  • 1/2  cup  (1/4-inch) diagonally cut carrot
  • 1/2  cup  chopped onion
  • 1/8  teaspoon  dried thyme
  • 3  parsley sprigs
  • 1  bay leaf
  • 3  cups chicken stock
  • 2.25  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  cup  1% low-fat milk

1. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Add celery and next 5 ingredients (through bay leaf) to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Return chicken to pan; cook 1 minute. Add broth to pan; bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.

2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, chopped parsley, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add milk, stirring just until moist. Spoon by heaping teaspoonfuls into broth mixture; cover and simmer 10 minutes or until dumplings are done. Discard parsley sprigs and bay leaf.

Chicken Parmesan with Tomato Basil Gnocchi

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Chicken Parmesan doesn’t need much explanation. You all know what I’m talking about. Crunchy chicken breast, tomato sauce, cheese. Usually with pasta. This recipe is a little different from how I usually make Chicken Parmesan–adapted from the Pesto Stuffed Chicken Breasts that I’d made earlier in the week. I topped these chicken breasts with provolone cheese for a change from the more mild mozzarella.

If you’ve never tried gnocchi before, they’re Italian potato dumplings–like little nuggets of pasta. I like the ones stocked by Trader Joe’s, but you can usually find them in the pasta aisle of your regular grocery store.

Chicken Parmesan with Tomato Basil Gnocchi
Adapted from EatingWell Magazine

  • 4 slices provolone or mozzarella cheese
  • 1 jar of spaghetti sauce, divided
  • 3 tablespoons basil pesto (store-bought or homemade)
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1-1 1/4 pounds total)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning blend
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 package gnocchi (Italian potato dumplings)
  • 1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. Lightly beat egg white with a fork in a medium bowl. Place both kinds of breadcrumbs in a shallow glass dish. Stir in Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Dip each chicken breast in the egg white, then dredge in the breadcrumbs. (Discard leftovers.)

3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts; cook until browned on one side, about 2 minutes. Place the chicken, browned-side up, on the prepared baking sheet. Top each chicken breast with 3 Tablespoons of spaghetti sauce and one slice of cheese. Bake until the chicken is no longer pink in the center or until an instant-read thermometer registers 170°F, about 20 minutes.

4. While the chicken bakes, boil gnocchi according to package directions. Drain. In a medium sauce pan, stir cooked gnocchi, remaining spaghetti sauce, and pesto together and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, alongside chicken.

Toasted Israeli Couscous with Pine Nuts

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

In case you aren’t familiar, Israeli couscous is completely different from normal couscous. The regular couscous, which you’ve probably had before, is a middle eastern grain dish, shaped like little tiny dots of pasta. It cooks like rice, and is good for just about anything you’d use rice for. It’s quite tasty, and there are more and more options available in the regular grocery store these days: different flavors, different varieties, different brands. David’s not crazy about it, but Leah and I like couscous a lot.

In contrast, Israeli couscous rather than being made from a grain directly, is just small pearls of pasta. It has a lot in common with Orzo, actually, but the pasta is smaller and completely round.

This recipe, from the Bon Apetit Fast, Easy, Fresh cookbook, was pretty simple to make, but very, flavorful. The cooking method reminds me of a risotto, and maybe that’s why it shouldn’t surprise me that the couscous thickened like a risotto, and took on a sort of creamy texture. The toasted pine nuts added a lot of flavor to the dish as well. We had this with the Valentine’s Day Pork Chops, but I’m sure we’ll make it again. It was really good, and a nice change of pace from our usual repertoire of side dishes.

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Toasted Israeli Couscous with Pine Nuts
Adapted from Bon Apetit’s Fast, Easy, Fresh Cookbook

  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2/3 cup pine nuts (about 3 1/2 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 3 cups (16 ounces) Israeli toasted couscous
  • 1 large cinnamon stick
  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 3 1/2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh Italian parsley

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add pine nuts and stir until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to small bowl.

Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in same pan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Add couscous, cinnamon stick, and 2 bay leaves and stir until couscous browns slightly, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add broth, wine,  and salt and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until couscous is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in parsley and pine nuts. Season with black pepper. Transfer to serving dish.

Note: As I was making this recipe, I noticed a similarity in ingredients to how we make our risotto, and decided to sub the white wine for a portion of the broth. It turned out really well.

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

Beef Stroganoff is a dish that Leah and I both love. It’s not David’s favorite, but he tolerates it for us. If you aren’t familiar with the dish, it’s chunks of tender beef in a rich, creamy sauce, usually served over egg noodles. You’ll also usually find mushrooms in Beef Stroganoff, though I happen to live with a couple of mushroom haters. As you’ll see, I found a way around that.

There are a lot of ways to make Beef Stroganoff, I imagine. I have made this on the stove top before, simmering the sauce long enough to get the meat nice and tender, but it lends itself very well to slow-cooking, and that’s my preferred method. That’s how I cooked it for dinner tonight. (In my new slow-cooker, I might add).

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff
Serves 4

  • 1.5 to 2 pounds lean stew beef or trimmed round steak, cut into 1.5 inch pieces.
  • 1 15 oz. can Beef Gravy (I use Campbell’s–two smaller cans are fine if you can’t find the larger one)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 preparation sauteed mushrooms, recipe to follow
  • 1 package of egg noodles
  • 1 cup of sour cream

1. Preheat about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the beef, garlic, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the beef shows some carmelization. Stir in the can of beef gravy and red wine.

2. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a slow cooker and cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.

3. When the beef sauce is finished, prepare egg noodles according to directions on package. Right before serving, stir in sour cream. Sauce should be relatively thick; if it seems too thin, feel free to thicken with 2 tablespoons of flour whisked into a small amount of cold water. Serve over egg noodles. Garnish with extra sour cream, if desired.

Note: Mushrooms and Stroganoff belong together. If you’re cooking for mushroom eaters, you can take the easy way out, and add a large can (or two small cans) to the beef mixture as it goes into the crockpot. Or, you can take the more delicious way out, and toss in my sauteed mushrooms, outlined below. If, like me, you live with people who will not tolerate the fungi, just saute the mushrooms for yourself and add them to your portion. These fresh sauteed mushrooms have enough rich flavor on their own–they don’t need to stew with the beef all day to be tasty like the canned version.

Sauteed Mushrooms
My own creation

  • 1 cup of sliced mushrooms (I used plain white button mushrooms, but feel free to be creative)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons of heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon of sour cream

1. Add extra virgin olive oil to a skillet and place over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot (the surface will shimmer) add the mushrooms in one layer. Cook just until the edges begin to brown.

2. Once the mushrooms start to brown, add salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Add Parmesan cheese, cook for 1 more minute, and then sprinkle with flour.

3. Once the flour is golden brown, add the cream and sour cream and stir together. Remove from heat. The mushrooms should have a buttery aroma and a thick texture.

4. Enjoy! These will melt right into your Stroganoff sauce, but they’re also very tasty on their own.

The mushrooms should be bound together with the flour and cream mixture–it tastes like cream of mushroom, but much, much thicker. Also, the parmesan cheese forms a delicious crunchy crust at the edges of each bite–yum!

Chicken & Dumplings

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

We had chicken and dumplings for dinner tonight. Not the doughy-ball kind of dumpling, but the flat kind that my Grandma makes. It’s actually one of her most requested dishes, I think.

I  can remember that chicken and dumplings was one of the first things I really cooked; I think I was in 4th grade. I made it once at my Grandma’s house, and then Dad and I recreated it at home for some sort of pot-luck dinner at school. Somewhere around the same time, I earned a Brownie Try-It for learning to make tacos, so maybe that was the first thing I learned to cook. Chicken & Dumplings was one of the first, anyway.

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Now, I don’t have a recipe, because I just kind of throw things together. So I guess, if it looks good to you, you’ll have to come over and watch me make it. (Maybe with less salt this time).