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Category Archives: Pasta

Lasagna

lasagna noodles

What could be better on a cold winter night then a big old pan of Lasagna?!  After years and years of trying different recipes, following others, and adapting to my own, I have finally found the perfect combination of sauce to cheese ratio that my family just loves.

 

Lasagna

tbsp Olive Oil

1 Cup chopped onion

2 Garlic cloves, minced

1 lb Sweet Italian Sausage (I have used both ground, and sausage I have removed from casings)

1 Large can of crushed italian tomatoes (good quality)

One 6 ounce can of tomato paste

1/4 cup of red wine for de-glazing the pan

1/2 cup chopped basil leaves

1 /4 cup fresh oregano

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Tbsp of butter

12 lasagna noodles

1 lb Ricotta Cheese

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 large egg beaten

1 lb fresh whole milk mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup parmesan to top last layer

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F and move rack to center position
  2. Heat olive oil in the pan over medium heat and add onions cooking till translucent.  Add sausage and garlic, cooking and breaking up till the meat is no longer pink and cooked through.  De-glaze the pan with 1/4 cup red wine, and scrap the bits off the bottom of pan for flavor for about a minute.  Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, basil, salt and pepper.  Simmer uncovered on medium low heat for 20 minutes. Add the tablespoon of butter. This ensures that there is not bitterness from your tomatoes.  If the sauce seems too thick, you can add a touch of water, but I have never found it to be a problem.
  3. While sauce is simmering, soak the lasagna noodles in a pan with hot tap water.  (No cooking of pasta needed, just the soak.
  4. In a large bowl, start the filling.  Combine ricotta, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, beaten egg, parsley, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Building the layers; start by covering the bottom of the 9 x 12 x 2 pan with sauce, about 1/4th of the sauce.  Next lay out your lasagna noodles.  I use three noodles across and one at the top to fill in the gap.  Then add your mozzarella cheese slices, leaving space between for melting, and then ricotta cheese.  Repeat layers, starting with sauce until your last layer is the sauce again.  Sprinkle with a 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
  6. Bake uncovered for 50 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling.  Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting.

Baked Sketti

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I can hear my kids now… Spaghetti again?  Actually it was Monday nights during the football season. Chris wanted nothing else.  For the entire football season we would eat Spaghetti.  The girls to this day I don’t believe like spaghetti very much. 

What reminded me of spaghetti was a friend who ALWAYS makes this dish when the grandkids come over.  They are at the age where they absolutely adore it, but because it is made with a BIG cup of love.  Now if it is especially good…. there is TWO cups of love.

I Was going to take spaghetti and just plop it in a baking dish top it with cheese and go from there, but decided to follow Paula Dean’s advice (yes the buttah lady) and do a slow simmered sauce and layer the ingredients. 

Baked Sketti

1 can diced tomatoes (about 2 cups)
2 cups tomato sauce or your favorite jarred sauce
1 cup water
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup bell pepper (optional)
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp of sugar
2 small bay leaves
1 lb of ground beef
14 ounces Smart Taste (small box) thin spaghetti
1 cup grated cheddar
1 cup grated Monterrey jack

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In a large pot, combine the tomatoes, the jarred sauce, water, onions, garlic, parsley, seasonings, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for an hour.

Cook ground beef in a skillet; drain off fat and add to sauce. Cook an additional 20 min.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Cover the bottom of a 13 X 9 X 2 casserole pan with sauce. Add a layer of pasta, then 1/3 of each cheese, repeating layers ending with the sauce.

Bake for 30 minutes in 350 degree oven. Top with the remaining cheese, return to the oven and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes.

 

Baked Pasta With Asparagus (Pasta al forno asparagi)

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Here is another tasty recipe that I converted over to Mediterranean style of eating, no butter, whole wheat pasta. The original recipe had 50 grams of fat. I have got it down to 21 grams of fat without losing flavor. The seasonings are pretty basic. I added some tarragon while cooking the asparagus, just because I love the flavor. You could add whatever you like I don’t think it would detract from the taste at all.

Baked Pasta With Asparagus
14 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
2 lbs asparagus
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
10 ounces skim or low fat ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese)
1-2 Tbsp chopped Chives
4 ounces of Parmesan cheese
3 eggs (1 whole egg, 2 egg whites)

Wash Asparagus. Remove any tough stalks and cut into short lengths. You may want to split the length in half. Heat 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil in pan and cook the asparagus over a low heat for about 20 min. While asparagus is cooking combine chives with ricotta cheese. Every so often, add a little chicken stock to keep it moist. When the asparagus is done, season to taste, salt and pepper.  Cook the pasta for half the time stated on the package. Drain and immediately toss with 1 Tbsp. Olive oil and half the Parmesan. Pam or cooking spray a deep oven dish. Make a thin layer of pasta, then one of asparagus, then one of pasta again and then one of ricotta. Repeat, finishing with the layer of pasta. Beat together the eggs and the remaining cheese and pour over the top. Sprinkle with black pepper. Bake in a medium oven, 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Baked Ziti with Italian Turkey Sausage and Sweet Peppers

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This dish is so simple.  I love the flavors of the sweet peppers and Italian sausage mixed together.  Use your favorite marinara sauce.   Serve along side a crispy green salad and some crusty french bread and you have a wonderful meal. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. 

Baked Ziti with Italian Turkey Sausage and Sweet Peppers

8 ounces dry ziti pasta, cooked, drained and kept warm        
2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 medium sized onion, sliced thinbaked_ziti_sausage.jpg

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red bell pepper, sliced thin 
12 ounces mild Italian sausage links, casings removed
6 ounces mushrooms, sliced 

1/2 cup red wine 
1  large jar of favorite marinara sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese,
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese

  1. preheat oven to 400 degrees; grease 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
  2. Heat olive oil in large saucepan. Add sausage; cook, stirring frequently, until no longer pink. Drain. Add onions, peppers and mushrooms; cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are tender. Add 1/4 cup of wine, cook for approx. 1 min to deglaze the pan. Add sauce; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Remove from heat.
  3. Addpasta to sauce mixture; toss well to coat. Spoon into prepared baking dish; sprinkle evenly with mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese
  4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Vegetable Lasagna

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This is not your normal vegetable lasagna but it is a favorite in my house.  Last night was Chris’ birthday and so he got to choose the meal for the day.  He wanted vegetable lasagna with REAL bacon he said.(I would have used turkey bacon, he knows me well)  So below is my mothers lasagna recipe with my notes and changes.  I used low fat and skim milk products , and cut the 2 eggs to one egg and one egg white.  Turned out great.  My photography doesn’t do it justice.

 Vegetable Lasagna

24 ounces Cottage Cheese (low fat works fine, I half and half with ricotta and cottage cheese)
2 eggs
3 Tbsp. Parsley
1/4 tsp salt

Mix these ingredients in a bowl and set aside

2 packages chopped Broccoli (Thaw in colander, sprinkle with lemon pepper)
8 ounce box of lasagna noodles (approx. 9 for 3 layers)
12 ounces mozzarella sliced (sliced works better than grated)
1 cup parmesean cheese
12 slices bacon (I cut 6 slices of bacon or Turkey bacon in half)

Cook noodles according to package directions. 

Layer as follows:  Noodles, cottage cheese/ricotta mixture, broccoli, cheese slices, Parmesan cheese.  Repeat till you have 2 to 3 layers.

Bake at 350 for 40 min.

Comfort Food gone healthy?

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macncheese.jpgHealthy comfort food. Is that possible?  Sure it is.  After spending most of yesterday doing my bookwork for taxes, yeah… I know… cutting it close there.  Ever hear the word Extension?  Anyway… I didn’t get the chance to get to the store to buy groceries so I scrounged the freezer and found my last pound of ground beef from the butcher and decided that I would just whip out some  hamburger patties a veggie or salad and Mac and Cheese.  The trick would be to make it fairly friendly to the way I eat.  So below is the low fat version  (adapted from the weight-watcher cookbook) of my favorite comfort food Mac and Cheese.  It wasn’t too bad!

The recipe below is from the Weight Watchers Homestyle Recipes. I like the traditional dish without the onions and garlic and omitted that step. I added some worceshire and a bit of dried mustard to mine for the taste I like.

Three-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

1 tbsp plus 1 tsp margerine ( I used butter, trans fats in margerine)
1 tbsp minced onion
1 clove garlic
3 cups cooked macaroni pasta ( I used whole wheat penne)
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/2 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
pepper

In a 2-quart casserole, in microwave, melt the butter on high for 30 seconds. Stir in onion and garlic; microwave on high for 1 min.

Stir in remaining ingredients, mixing well to combine. Cover and microwave on High 3 minutes, until heated through. Let stand 1 minute.

Per serving: 280 calories If following the original recipe above with no deviations

14 grams of protein
10 grams of fat
34 grams carbs
205 mg. calcium
260 mg sodium
26 mg cholesterol
2 g dietary fiber

Spaghetti and Meatballs

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Originally the first time I made this (Tyler Florence ultimate meatballs)I made it with a combination of beef and pork 1 1/2 pounds of each, but then I went on the Mediterranean diet and I now use strictly a good grade of ground turkey breast.  I add a bit more than the recipe below, just to add flavor, but I LOVE the bread soaked in milk(traditionally white bread).  It really makes for a fall apart meatball. 

To the onion/parsley mixture I add  roasted red pepper, and a 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes for a bit of heat. 

 I use my favorite marinara sauce that I have added some fresh garlic, onions, deglaze with red wine.

Because the quantities in this recipe are large and there is only two of us; I make meatballs and divide them into meals and seal-a-meal them into dinner sized portions for later.  They freeze beautifully.  Of course you will want to cut your sauce proportions down accordingly.

Spaghetti and Meatballs 

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 cup milk
4 slices whole wheat or grain bread
3 lbs. Turkey ground turkey breast (or 1/2 beef and pork or split with your favorite meat combination)
1 large egg
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups Marinara sauce
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, cut into chunks
Leaves from 3 sprigs fresh basil
1 pound whole wheat  spaghetti

Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil for the spaghetti. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and parsley and cook until the vegetables are soft but still translucent, about 10 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and let cool.Pour enough milk over the bread in a bowl to moisten and let it soak while the onions are cooling. Combine the meats in a large bowl. Add the egg and Parmigiano and season generously with salt and pepper. Use your hands to squeeze the excess milk out of the bread and add that to the bowl along with the cooled onion mixture. (Hang onto the pan – you’ll need it to cook the meatballs.) Gently combine all the ingredients with your hands or with a spoon until just mixed together. Don’t overwork or the meatballs will be tough.  Shape into LARGE meatballs. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat a 3-count of oil in the frying pan over medium heat and brown the meatballs on all sides, about 10 minutes. Put them into a baking dish and spoon about half of the marinara sauce over. Shower with the mozzarella and drizzle with olive oil. Put the meatballs in the oven and bake until the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes.Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in the boiling water until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and put it onto a large serving platter. Pour on the rest of the sauce and mix well. Spoon the meatballs on top of the spaghetti and garnish with basil leaves. Serve immediately along with extra cheese.