Tag-Archive for ◊ noodles ◊

24 Sep 2010 Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Who eats jarred spaghetti sauce?  I hope no one.  I don’t. Not ever.  Well, I’ve had a spoonful here and there, so I do know how bad it is.  Too much vinegar.  I like wine, tomatoes, onions, fresh mushrooms and fresh meat in my spaghetti sauce.  I’ve never used a recipe.  I learned from watching my Dad, who learned from watching the Galloping Gourmet (I think he also got permission to drink during the day from the Galloping Gourmet, but that’s a whole other story.)

My daughter, Abby, has asked me to write down my “recipe” for Spaghetti Sauce.  I put the word recipe in quotes because when I make spaghetti sauce, I just go for it.  It’s never really the same twice, but it always works out  (I’m not Italian, so I make no claims to an authentic Italian sauce).   Last week, when I made a big batch of spaghetti sauce, I carefully wrote down what I did so Abby can make her own spaghetti sauce while she is away at college.

If you haven’t made spaghetti sauce before, perhaps this “recipe” can be your starting point. Use this as a guide to add and subtract ingredients to suit your tastes. Over the years the amount of meat in my sauce has decreased.  I’d like to cut it my 1/3 more, but my son would get upset.  We all like mushrooms, so I use a good amount.  I don’t like green or red peppers, so I leave them out completely.  One thing I wouldn’t change is the “Super Six”, the must-haves for seasoning spaghetti sauce:  sautéed onions, garlic, celery, parsley, basil and oregano.

After the sauce is made, I let is sit overnight and then we usually have it for dinner. And, if I give in to the pleading of my older daughter, I’ll make a tray of lasagna, too, and then we’ll eat that for the next few days.  The remaining sauce I freeze in 3 or 4 cup batches.  This recipe will makes 10-12 cups of sauce.

I hope you never buy jarred sauce again.  Nasty stuff.  Too many preservatives.  Not enough flavor. This is so much better, so much better.

My Mom Polly’s Spaghetti Sauce

Olive oil, as needed for sauteing
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 cups diced celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ cup minced parsley
2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes (recently I have use the “Muir Glen” brand, but for years I used whatever was on sale at the grocery store.  If you have them, use blanched, chopped tomatoes from your garden.  If you don’t like  chunky spaghetti sauce, then substitute the same amount of tomato sauce.)
2 16-oz cans tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 ½ tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt (add more later if needed)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 ½ lbs to 2 lbs of ground beef (or a mixture of your choice of ground beef, sausage, pork, veal.  Use at least 50% ground beef.  I have used ground turkey before, and don’t recommend it. I found the flavor to be too mild for this robust sauce)
1 lb sliced mushrooms
2 cups red wine (any robust red wine), optional, of course

Heat about 2 T. olive oil in a large skillet.  Stir in chopped onions and sauté for 6-8 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and starting to caramelize. Stir in chopped celery and sauté for another 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and parsley and sauté for another minute.  Do not let the garlic brown or burn.  Pour mixture into a large stock pot, and turn on heat to medium.  Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, basil, oregano, brown sugar, salt and pepper.  Simmer for 30 -60 minutes, stirring occasionally (the longer the simmer, the richer the sauce). Meanwhile, in the skillet, add another tablespoon or two of olive oil and sauté the sliced mushrooms.  Add the mushrooms to the tomato sauce after the sauce has simmered at least 30 minutes.  In the same skillet that browned the onions and the mushrooms, add the ground meat.  Brown the meat, and then drain the fat off (to drain put the cooked meat in a colander over a bowl).  Stir drained, cooked meat into the tomato sauce, along with 2 cups of red wine, and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.  Taste, and more salt, pepper and brown sugar if needed. Serve immediately over hot noodles and topped with grated Parmesan cheese, or let cool, refrigerate, and chill overnight. Warm up only as much sauce as needed for your next meal.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today, I always like it when you stop by!  Leave a comment and say HI!

18 Sep 2010 Meatball Beef Stroganoff

Ex-husbands can be real %#$!!s. At least mine can.  After he let loose, and then hung up on me, I decided to go for a pedicure.  Unfortunately my nail salon is not known for having the most recent magazines with the biggest pictures, so I stopped on the way to treat myself to a glossy dose of gossip.  Wouldn’t you know I would walk by the cookbook section on the way to the magazines?  And there, on the discount table, jumping up and down was The Meatball Cookbook Bible, with a price LESS than that of most magazines.  What was I to do? I walked out with the 512 page cookbook.  (It was on sale for $4.99!)  My day was looking up!

The nail ladies seemed a bit befuddled by my reading material. I think they discussed it between themselves in Vietnamese.  You’d think I was the only person EVER to read a $4.99 Meatball Bible while getting a pedicure…

The Meatball Bible has turned out to be well worth the $4.99 investment.  I’ve made five recipes so far, and all five have been winners.  How often does that happen?   Now let’s get to the disclaimers. I am not talking gourmet cuisine here.  Each recipe is based on some sort of ground meat, noodles, and pantry staples.  The pantry staples, meat, spices and extras are well chosen and harmonious. These recipes work and the results are family-friendly, comfort food and there’s nothing wrong with that, is there? There’s a lot good with that, actually.  A lot of good.

Note….I am on leftovers now.  I have plenty of meatballs and noodles, but I am out of sauce.  Next time, I’ll make more sauce.  Upping the sauce by 50% would probably be perfect.

Meatball Beef Stroganoff

1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk (whole milk, preferred)
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, very finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/4 lbs ground beef (80% lean)

salt and pepper to taste
Pam, or some other sort of vegetable oil spray
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 – 1 lb sliced mushrooms (optional)
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups beef stock, heated in microwave to very hot

2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup sour cream (not non-fat)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

To serve:  1 lb. broad curly egg noodles, cooked according to package directions (or any other pasta)

Combine egg and milk in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk until smooth.  Add in breadcrumbs.  Mix well. Set aside to soak.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  Add onion and saute for 3-5 minutes, or until onion is translucent.  Sir in garlic and cook for another minute. Remove from heat.

Add half of the onion mixture, and the ground beef to the breadcrumb mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Blend meatball mixture together by tossing gently.  Do not compress mixture, toss.  Form meat mixture into approx. 2 inch meatballs.  Roll balls lightly between palms.  Place formed meatballs on a foil covered, rimmed baking sheet.  (If desired, meat mixture or meatballs can be refrigerated for a few hours or overnight–be sure to remove remaining onion mixture from the pan and refrigerate that, too.)

Preheat broiler.  Spray meatballs with vegetable oil (Pam, or something similar). Broil meatballs for approx 6 minutes.  Shake pan, or turn meatballs half way through the cooking time.  While meatballs are browning, finish the sauce.

Add 2 tablespoons butter to frying pan with onions.  Turn on heat to melt butter. If desired, add some sliced mushrooms to the onion mixture and saute for 3 minutes.    Sprinkle flour over onion-mushroom mixture.  Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for 3 minutes.  Turn heat off.

Working quickly, add hot beef broth to mixture in frying pan in 3 additions:  add approx 3/4 cup stock, stir until sauce is smooth, then add another 3/4 cup and stir until smooth, then finish with remaining stock, stirring until smooth.

Turn heat back on under the frying pan.  Whisk in the tomato paste and mustard.  Bring mixture to a simmer and simmer for 3 minutes. Taste sauce.  Add salt and pepper, if needed. Add hot meatballs to simmering sauce.  Continue to simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.

Turn off heat, stir in sour cream and sprinkle with chopped parsley.  Heat sauce, but do not bring sauce back to boil, or the sour cream with curdle.

Serve sauce and meatballs over drained hot noodles. Makes four yummy, family friendly servings.

BTW  I haven’t tested this, but the book says that this dish can be made up one to two days ahead and then reheated in a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, which makes this a great dish to make for the mom with a new baby (and a toddler or two), or the lady down the block with the right broken ankle (right ankle, can’t drive), doesn’t it?

Enjoy supper with your family tonight. There should be smiles all around.

11 Sep 2010 Zucchini Pasta

I have debated back and forth about posting this recipe…  Pros: it uses up zucchini, which is very important this time of year.  The pasta recipe is good.  Simple, straightforward. Good.  Cons: It’s not GREAT; it’s good, but it’s lacking Emeril’s “Bam”!  I made this for the first time at my friend’s beach house this summer.  We all liked it, but we all thought it needed something else.  Garlic?  Shallots?  Lemon Peel?  Egg yolk?  Not sure…

When we returned from the beach my friend kept asking for the recipe and I kept thinking about making it again.  So it had to have something, right?  I sent my friend the recipe (I had no intention of posting it), and I made it again.  The results were the same.  The pasta was good, not great, but…

…for the last two nights I have had leftover homemade pizza, leftover beef rice bowl, and leftover ribs in the refrigerator, along with the leftover Zucchini Pasta.  Two nights in a row I’ve chosen leftover Zucchini Pasta over all my other choices.  So this dish has to have something, right?  Maybe it’s just comfort food.  End of the summer comfort food.  Yes, that must be it.

This recipe is from a Pasta Cookbook I received as a birthday present and took to the beach to read. (I read cookbooks like novels. Who’s with me on that?) The cookbook is called “Homestyle Pasta” by Bay Books (I don’t think that’s a person and I couldn’t find a link!!)  I’ve changed the recipe a bit, but only to reduce the amount of pasta.  The original recipe called for 1 lb. of pasta.  That’s too much pasta, and not enough zucchini and cheese.

Did I mention how easy this is to make?  While the pasta boils, stir up the zucchini…

Did I mention that my two year old grandson can’t stuff this into his mouth fast enough?

Zucchini Pasta

1/2 lb. fettuccine (the original recipe called for 1 lb of pasta)
1/4 cup salted butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lb. zucchini (about 3 medium), grated
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the fettuccine in boiling salted water per package directions. Drain pasta and keep warm.  Melt butter in a large frying pan, saute the garlic for one or two minutes.  Stir in grated zucchini and saute until zucchini is soft, about 3 minutes.  Stir in drained noodles and grated cheese. Toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Good. Fast. Easy. End of the summer comfort food.  And you now have three less zucchini.  HEY! You could attach this recipe to the zucchini you drop off on your neighbor’s porch after dark tonight!

Enjoy these last days of summer.  Enjoy your harvest 🙂

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

29 Aug 2010 Fresh Tomato Lasagna

Every morning, every good, calm morning, I browse the food blogs.  Most mornings I print off a few recipes.  The recipes then sit around for awhile and I revisit them from time to time.  Eventually, I do try some of the recipes.  Very few of the recipes I repost “as is”.  Some recipes show promise and I work with them for a bit (I have been working on a recipe for Orange Creamsicle Cookies for a few months now).  I probably post (or plan to post) about 50% of the recipes I test.

This morning I found this recipe.  This afternoon I printed it off, picked two pounds of tomatoes from my garden, and went to the store for some fresh mozzarella.  This evening I made the recipe (since our temperatures have finally dropped about 25 degrees in the last two days, I was OK with turning on the oven for 45 minutes).  This lasagna was creamy, cheesy and fresh tasting,  lighter than regular lasagna, but still rich.  Since there are so few ingredients in this lasagna that, if you decide to make it, be sure your tomatoes are the BEST and your olive oil is the best you can get.  Although this pan of lasagna looks very small,  it would certainly serve four people.

The original recipe can be found at SortaChef, One Hot Cat in a Woodfired Kitchen.  I changed the Bechamel Sauce to more closely resemble one I have made many times before and really like the flavor of (adding nutmeg, allspice and Parmesan cheese).  I also added some chopped fresh basil (thanks to a suggestion from my friend, Jeanne) and oregano, and changed the method a bit.

Fresh Tomato Lasagna

2 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes (don’t use tomatoes purchased at the supermarket)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, preferably buffalo, sliced thinly or shredded
4 Barilla no-boil lasagna noodles
3-5 cups water at 150º (use half hot tap water and half boiling water)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
4 teaspoons chopped fresh basil (more or less to taste)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (more or less to taste)
approx. ¾ teaspoon salt

For the Béchamel Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk (I used 1%, but whole milk is traditionally used)
¾ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon finely ground pepper (or more to taste)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
dash of allspice
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375º.

Pour 3-5 cups very hot water (about 150 degrees) into a loaf pan or casserole dish and slip the no-boil noodles in one at a time. Let noodles soak for 15 minutes.

Make the Béchamel sauce. Heat milk in microwave for one minute. Melt butter in a quart-sized saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter is barely melted whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes.  Turn off heat. Whisk in one third of milk and incorporate thoroughly before adding the next third.  Be sure the sauce is smooth before you add more milk. Once you have successfully added all the milk and the sauce is hot and smooth, add in the salt, pepper, nutmeg and allspice. Whisk in the egg.  Turn heat back onto medium and cook sauce for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover tightly with a lid and set aside until ready to use.

Slice 8 ounces of Buffalo mozzarella (or other fresh mozzarella) into ¼ inch pieces. Slice the tops and bottoms off of the tomatoes and discard or reserve for another use. Cut the rest of each tomato into ¼ inch rounds. Coarsely chop the basil and oregano.

In glass loaf pan build the lasagna in this order:

  • A layer of uncooked tomato slices, pack as many in there as you can.  Drizzle with your finest olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 t. salt, 1 t. basil and 1/2 t. oregano.
  • 1 lasagna noodle
  • ¼ of the mozzarella
  • ¼ of béchamel sauce spread evenly to all edges of the pan
  • Continue the sequence with remaining noodles and filling, finishing with a layer of tomato slices drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt, basil and oregano.

Bake at 375º for 40-45 minutes, until béchamel has puffed up and the edges are bubbling.

Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen, and my garden, today!

08 Jul 2010 Pasta with Shrimp and Cilantro-Lime Pesto

ANOTHER pasta recipe from the my teaching 19-years olds to cook series. I think we’ve pretty well established that pasta can be an easy, quick, flexible and satisfying meal. My son pulled this together tonight in less than twenty minutes (hot date, no time to dilly-dally around…). This recipe came from the R.S.V.P. section of the July 2010 issue of Bon Appetit magazine. I had to change the recipe a bit though, because there was way too much pasta for the amount of sauce and shrimp. On another note, I’m not sure where a 19 year old is supposed to find 3 tablespoons of tequila…, ohdearrrr, I need to read through recipes a bit more diligently before handing them over to 19 year old boys. Now he’s made this, tasted it, and impressed himself…, he wants to make it for all his friends (you will, too!).

Pasta with Shrimp and Cilantro-Lime Pesto

1 bunch cilantro (about 1 1/2 cups of leaves), stems removed
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon chopped, seeded jalapeno pepper
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 lb. pasta (any kind…that’s usually 1/2 or 3/4 of a box)
1 lb. peeled, raw shrimp (medium to large), deveined
additional 1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons tequila
1/4 to 1/2 cup crumbled Cotija (Mexican-style) cheese or feta

Boil the water for the pasta. After the water comes to a boil add in 1 T. Kosher salt (or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt) and stir. Add pasta to boiling, salted water and cook according to package directions. Drain. While the water is heating and the pasta is cooking…cut the stems off the cilantro and discard. Place the cilantro leaves in blender. Add in green onions, garlic, jalapeno, lime juice and salt, and chop for a few pulses. With machine running, gradually pour in 1/2 cup olive oil and puree. (Can be used immediately or covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.) Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp. Cook one one side for about a minute and a half, turn over, and cook on second side for an additional minute and a half. DO NOT OVERCOOK shrimp, or it will be rubbery. Remove pan from heat. Pour tequila over shrimp. Return to heat and saute for 30 seconds over high heat. Add in pesto, stir to coat. Add in cooked and drained pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Divide pesto pasta and shrimp between four plates. Top each plate with 1 or 2 tablespoons crumbled Cotija or Feta cheese. Serve.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today,

15 Jun 2010 Lemon Chicken Pasta

The cooking lessons with my 19 year old son continue…, and he’s enjoying it more than I (and he) ever thought possible. We are having great success with one-dish pasta recipes. Here’s the latest, pasta with chicken in a light lemony-cream sauce. I was a bit unsure of the flavor appealing to 19 year old boys, but the three 19 year old male taste testers loved it. They had half for lunch–in between a gym workout and a pool workout–then came back and finished off the other half (washing it down with the leftover Blueberry Lemonade, which they also enjoyed). One friend asked me to send the recipe to his Mom. I’m not going to, but I will show him how to make this for her. Wouldn’t that be great for her to come home and find her son had made her a creamy chicken pasta dish for dinner? Maybe with some two-ingredient biscuits on the side? Awwww…

I’ve been making this for about 3 years now…, and I really have no recollection of where I got the recipe.

Lemon Chicken Pasta

For this recipe use leftover cooked chicken, or saute approx. 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (good for a college students budget) or chicken tenders in a bit of olive oil and butter (about 1 T. of each) for a few minutes on each side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (and any other favorite herbs), cool for about 5 minutes, and then coarsely chop into cubes. Use as directed below.

1 lb. Penne Pasta (or any kind of pasta)
1/3 cup whipping cream
4 strips of peel from one lemon, plus the juice from the one lemon (2-3 T)
1 cup chicken broth (OR 1/3 cup white wine plus 2/3 cup reserved pasta water)
1 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 to 2 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water according to package directions. MEANWHILE, saute chicken as directed above. Let cool, then chop into bite-sized pieces. In another small pan, heat 1/3 cup whipping cream with the four pieces of long lemon peel. Simmer for about 1 minute, then remove and discard the lemon peel. Set the lemon infused cream aside. In the pan used to cook the chicken (or in a fresh, clean frying pan if you are using leftover cooked chicken) combine the chicken broth (or wine and pasta water), lemon juice, peas, and cooked chicken. Simmer for two minutes then stir in drained/cooked pasta, lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. Stir to combine. Add more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve.

Makes 4 generous servings.
A small salad on the side would be a nice touch.