Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category



One of my husband’s favorite meal is lasagna.  He was craving it last week so I told him I’d find a good recipe and make it for him.  I happen to stumble across Pioneer Woman’s site and she had a recipe titled Best Lasagna Ever.  I’ve tried her recipes before and they have all turned out great so I was excited to make this for Brian.  Her webiste is awesome, she has step by step instructions with pictures so it was really easy to follow.  I already had most of the stuff on her ingredient list anyway so that worked out even better for me.  She did use cottage cheese in her lasagna and even though she said that you couldn’t tell a difference, I was still hesitant about it.  I was going to just go with it but changed my mind.  I just used ricotta cheese instead.  I also didn’t use the breakfast sausge.  We had bought some bottom round while it was on sale awhile ago and just grounded that up.  I also couldn’t find slicked mozzerella cheese so I just used the shredded kind.  I must say, this was one of the best lasagna I ever made!  It was very hearty and rich and Brian loved it!  Next time, maybe I’ll try using the cottage cheese instead and see how it would turn out.  I’m sure it would be just as great!

Lasagna by The Pioneer Woman Cooks

1 1/2 pounds of ground beef (I used 3 lbs of ground bottom round)
1 poung hot breakfast sausage (omitted since I didn’t have any)
2 cloves mince garlic
2 14.5 cans of whole tomatoes (I just used one 28oz can)
2 6 oz can of tomato paste
2 tablespoons of dried parsely flakes
2 tablespoons of dried basil (I ran out so I used part Italian Seasoning)
Salt (I used kosher salt)
One 10oz package of lasagna (I just used 8 noodles)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cubs lowfat cottage cheese (I used 24oz of Ricotta Cheese)
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup Kraft Parmesan Cheese
4 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
1 lb sliced mozzarella cheese (I used 16oz shredded mozzarella)

In a skillet, combine ground beef, sausage and 2 cloves minced garlic.  Cook until brown, draining off half the fat.  Pour in cans of whole tomaotes and tomato paste, dried parsley flakes and dried basil, and 1 tsp. of salt.  Mix together thoroughly and simmer, uncovered, about 45 minutes stirring occassionally.

In the meantime, boil the lasagna noodles.  Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tbsp of olive oil to water.  Cook the noodles “al dente”.  When noodles are finished, drain, rinse with cool water, and lay the noodles flat on a sheet of aluminum foil.

While meat and noodles are cooking, mix lowfat cottage cheese in a bowl with 2 beaten eggs.  Add 1/2 cup Kraft Parmesan Cheese, 2 tablspoons dried parsley flakes and 1 teaspoon salt.

Set up your “assembly line”; meat mixture, 1 pound sliced mozzarella cheese, cottage cheese mixture, and cooked lasagna noodles.  Lay four cooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of the pan, overlapping as you go.  Spread half of the cottage cheese mixture evenly over the noodles.

Then lay 1/2 pound of mozzarella cheese slices on top of the cottage cheese mixture.

With the spoon, make a line through the middle of the meat mixture so you’ll distribute it evenly.  Spread a little less than half of the meat mixture over the mozzarella cheese slices.  Spread it around until evenly distributed atop the mozzarella cheese slices.

Repeat the layering process…being with another layer of four lasagna noodles top with the remaining half of the cottage cheese mixture, top the cottage cheese mixture with another 1/2 pound of mozzarella, and finish with the rest of the meat mixture.

Top generously with Kraft Parmesan cheese.

Place in a 350-degree over for 20-30 minutes, until hot and bubbly.  Alternately, you could cover and freeze it, unbaked, at this point.  Or cover and refrigerate, unbaked, for up to two days.


Read Full Post »

Pasta Bolognese

Pasta Bolognese

So over the holidays, I was stuck at home because of the big snowstorm that we had.  I was flipping through the channels and came across the show, “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef” on the food network.  She was making Pasta Bolognese.  I was intrigued…I’ve always liked making my own pasta sauce from scratch.  My friends always give me a hard time because they don’t get why I even bother when I can just buy it in a jar.  Really…it’s not the same.  Homemade sauce is so much better!  I have never made bolognese sauce before and she made it look really easy.  It was pretty simple, just a bit time consuming.  I wouldn’t make this for a weekday dinner but you can definitely make it over the weekend and just freeze it and eat it whenever you can.  The sauce was so yummy!  I fed it to both Brian and my mom and they just loved it.  I also made the garlic knots to go with it and it was a perfect meal!

Note:  I didn’t add the olive oil in the last step because I didn’t think I needed it.  Be sure to allow enough time for this, don’t try to rush the process.  You really don’t want to add all the water at once and then just let it boil down because that want, you’re just gonna end up with boiled meat sauce.  Also, make sure you use kosher salt because if you salted it as much as she did in the video with regular table salt, it would be way too salty!  It’s fine if you don’t have kosher salt, just use less table salt and keep tasting!

Pasta Bolognese adapted from Secrets of a Restaurant Chef


  • 1 large onion or 2 small, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 pounds ground chuck, brisket or round or combination (I used ground round)
  • 2 cups tomato paste (I used a 12 oz and an 8oz can)
  • 3 cups hearty red wine (I used Cabernet Savignon)
  • Water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch thyme, tied in a bundle
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • High quality extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing


In a food processor, puree onion, carrots, celery, and garlic into a coarse paste. In a large pan over medium heat, coat pan with oil. Add the pureed veggies and season generously with salt. Bring the pan to a medium-high heat and cook until all the water has evaporated and they become nice and brown, stirring frequently, about 15 to 20 minutes. Be patient, this is where the big flavors develop.

Browning the veggies...make sure they really do brown!

Browning the veggies...make sure they really do brown!

Add the ground beef and season again generously with salt. BROWN THE BEEF! Brown food tastes good. Don’t rush this step. Cook another 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the ground beef to the mix...make sure you really brown the meat too!

Add the ground beef to the mix...make sure you really brown the meat too!

Add the tomato paste and cook until brown about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the red wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, another 4 to 5 minutes.

Last stage!  Add tomato paste and wine...

Last stage! Add tomato paste and wine...

Add water to the pan until the water is about 1 inch above the meat. Toss in the bay leaves and the bundle of thyme and stir to combine everything. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. As the water evaporates you will gradually need to add more, about 2 to 3 cups at a time. Don’t be shy about adding water during the cooking process, you can always cook it out. This is a game of reduce and add more water. This is where big rich flavors develop. If you try to add all the water in the beginning you will have boiled meat sauce rather than a rich, thick meaty sauce. Stir and TASTE frequently. Season with salt, if needed (you probably will). Simmer for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

During the last 30 minutes of cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat to cook the spaghetti. Pasta water should ALWAYS be well salted. Salty as the ocean! TASTE IT! If your pasta water is under seasoned it doesn’t matter how good your sauce is, your complete dish will always taste under seasoned. When the water is at a rolling boil add the spaghetti and cook for 1 minute less than it calls for on the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking remove 1/2 of the ragu from the pot and reserve.

Drain the pasta and add to the pot with the remaining ragu. Stir or toss the pasta to coat with the sauce. Add some of the reserved sauce, if needed, to make it about an even ratio between pasta and sauce. Add the reserved pasta cooking water and cook the pasta and sauce together over a medium heat until the water has reduced. Turn off the heat and give a big sprinkle of Parmigiano and a generous drizzle of the high quality finishing olive oil. Toss or stir vigorously. Divide the pasta and sauce into serving bowls or 1 big pasta bowl. Top with remaining grated Parmigiano. Serve immediately.

Read Full Post »

Mac and Cheese

We usually host Christmas dinner for my side of the family and have all my aunts and uncles and cousins over for dinner.  They love, love, love mac and cheese and is always asking me to make it for them.  I have tried several recipes for them and have never been quite happy with the results.  I just never found one creamy enough, it always seemed too dry.  Well, I finally found a winner!  I came across it on Smitten Kitchen, she had a version from Martha Stewart.  Just looking at her pictures made me drool!

I typically don’t like the crunchy toppings that is usually seen on mac and cheese so I just left it out.  Also, I had some leftover cheeses from other dishes I was making so I switched out some of the cheeses, it is denoted by the * in the list.  I don’t know if that made a difference but my family couldn’t get enough of it!  This was a great recipe and I’ll be making this again and again.

Cheese goodness...

Cheesey goodness...

Creamy Mac-and-Cheese adapted from Smitten Kitchen‘s
Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The Original Classics

Serves 12

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to l/2-inch pieces
5 1/2 cups milk (I used 2% Milk)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I just took it out)
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano cheese

*14 ounces shredded Mild Cheddar Cheese
*4 ounces shredded Colby JackMonterey Jack cheese
*5 ounces shredded Gruyere
*3 ounces grated Pecorino Romano

1 pound elbow macaroni

*My own adaptations

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place the bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.

2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyère (or 1 cup Pecorino Romano); set the cheese sauce aside.

5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyere (or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano), and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes (though we needed a bit more time to get it brown, but your oven may vary). Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.

Read Full Post »

Turkey Tetrazzini

Turkey Tetrazzini

Back in elementary school, once a month or so they would make turkey tetrazzini for lunch.  I don’t know what it is but I just loved that dish.  So anytime we have leftover turkey, I would try to make it.  Since we had so much turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving, I decided to make it for Brian since he’s never had it before!  I found the recipe on foodnetwork.com and it was yummy!  It had all the basic ingredients and it was a great comfort food on a cold night!

I just made a few substitions…instead of the Madeira, I used Sherry and spaghetti instead of linguine.  I also took out the bread crumbs since I didn’t really like it.

Luxurious Turkey Tetrazzini adapted from the Food Network

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Madeira
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 to 3 cups leftover cooked turkey, cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 pound linguine cooked to al dente stage
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese mixed with 2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet. When the foaming subsides, add the mushrooms and saute, over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes until the mushrooms have absorbed the butter and are tender. Stir in the Madeira and evaporate over high heat.

In another saucepan heat 3 tablespoons of butter. When foaming subsides, stir in the flour and cook for a minute. Whisk in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cook, over low heat, for about 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove sauce from heat and stir in the cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold in the mushrooms and turkey.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 1 1/2 quart casserole. Layer half of pasta, half of mushroom and turkey mixture and repeat with pasta and turkey mushroom mix. Scatter Parmesan and bread crumbs over the top and dot with remaining tablespoon of butter. Heat for 45 minutes or until heated through, sauce is bubbling and top is browning. If you wish, slide casserole under the broiler for a moment to brown the top.

Read Full Post »