Tag-Archive for ◊ pasta ◊

24 Jun 2013 Crab and Brie Macaroni and Cheese

Crab and brie mac n cheese

Whooooa Nelly!  Crab and Brie Macaroni and Cheese?  Over-the-top decadence in a comfort food?  YEP! And the decadence makes the comfort food even more comforting–like ‘died and gone to heaven’ comforting!  Yet another winning recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication “Best Loved Reader Recipes; 125 Winners from 1930 to Today”. (My last post was a recipe for “Peach Iced Tea” inspired by a recipe from this magazine)

If someone is having a hard time, and that sweet “I am going to drop off a casserole” American tradition seems appropriate, THIS is the casserole to take.  I took it to my 120-miles away daughter who is bravely attempting a semester long college Physics course in a six-week summer session, working the 4 PM-midnight shift at Target, and sweltering in the hot central valley heat. I am not saying this Macaroni and Cheese is miraculous or anything, but she did  score 15 points over the class average on her first mid-term. Not dropping off a casserole to a friend-in-need anytime soon?  I’ll bet you’ll be going to a potluck then. Take this!  Want to eat it at home, like we did?  We had it with mixed roasted veggies, but a leafy green salad would be nice too, and a corn muffin.

This casserole is not cheap, but if you shop at Costco for your pound of brie and pound of crab (the only two expensive ingredients), it won’t break the bank and you’ll have made a casserole big enough feed a small army.

Truth be told, I was a bit afraid of this recipe at first, wondering if the Brie would be too strong, and wondering if I would be able to taste the crab over the brie.  Both worries proved needless.  Everything melds together nicely.  Comfortingly nice.  I’ll say it again, because it’s true, ‘died and gone to heaven’ nice!

I changed the recipe just just a bit; one, to conform to the quantities of crab and brie sold at Costco (no leftover bits and no need to buy two big cartons of anything) and two, to make the recipe a bit easier by  substituting panko instead of homemade bread crumbs. I also re-wrote the recipe a bit, making roux is not hard, just follow my instructions: brown the flour and butter (and don’t skimp on the butter), remove the pan from the heat, then vigorously stir in hot milk until sauce is smooth.

Enjoy your comfort food decadance.

Crab and Brie Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 lb. dried macaroni (small shells or elbows)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 tablespoons butter (maybe a bit more)
  • 3 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 13-16 oz. Brie, cubed
  • 16 oz. refrigerated container crabmeat, drained and flaked
  • 1/2 cup Panko or favorite breadcrumbs
  1. Cook macaroni in salted water according to package directions.  (Choose the shortest cooking time since pasta will continue to cook when baked.) Drain and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-in by 13-in casserole dish.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute onion in butter until tender and golden, about 15 minutes.  (Do not skimp on the butter.  You’ll need the full quantity of  butter to make the roux in the step 5.)
  4. Heat 3 cups of milk in microwave until hot (3-5 minutes).
  5. Meanwhile, over medium heat, stir flour into onion and butter mixture.  Stir constantly for 3 minutes (to cook flour and to incorporate butter into the flour).  If mixture is too lumpy or dry, add an additional tablespoon of butter.
  6. Remove hot pan with onion and roux from heat.  Pour in 1 cup of hot milk.  Stir well, and keep stirring-vigorously if needed-until mixture is smooth and lump free.  Add another cup of hot milk, stir and mix again.  When mixture is smooth and lump free, repeat with last cup of milk.
  7. Return pan to medium heat. Add cubed brie to sauce in pan.  Stir constantly until brie is melted and incorporated.  Remove pan from heat when brie has melted and the sauce is smooth once again.
  8. Fold drained crab into cheese sauce then stir in cooked and well-drained macaroni.
  9. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Pour crab-brie-macaroni mixture into a well buttered 9-in x 13-in casserole dish.
  11. Sprinkle bread crumbs over top of macaroni and cheese.
  12. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until mixture is heated through and bread crumbs have browned.  If breadcrumbs don’t brown, turn on the broiler and broil casserole for a few minutes.
  13. Remove casserole from oven. Let cool 5 – 10 minutes, then serve. In a bowl, while curled up on the couch with a good book or good movie, or on a plate with roasted veggies or a salad, and maybe a small corn muffin. Enjoy.  Feel better. Ace the Physics test!

Leftovers can be reheated in microwave or frozen for a future treat.

Thank you for stopping by my kitchen again today,  I love having you drop by!  Let’s see what else I can make from this magazine. It’s supposed to be on the shelves until July 15, 2013, so if you see it, you might want to pick up a copy.

20 Mar 2012 Cheesy Spinach Manicotti

I must admit, I make a pretty mean Manicotti.  I’d forgotten how good it is until I made some on the spur-of-the-moment this week.  My Manicotti is  probably not very authentic, seeing as I have no genuine Italian reference point at all.  I don’t think it helps much that the recipe here got it’s start from the back of a box of Manicotti noodles either!  Maybe I should just call this dish Cheesey Spinach Pasta Rolls and ditch the whole faux Italian thing!

The instructions below will guide you in putting together a whole pan of Manicotti, but the recipe part is just for the creamy cheesey gooey yummy manicotti filling.  You’ll need about 3 cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce to finish the dish (I make a hearty meat, mushroom, onion, red wine spaghetti sauce to serve with this dish, the recipe is posted on this site)  along with one box of  manicotti noodles (those really big. long pasta tubes).  I’ve used the filling below to stuff  large shell pasta, too, so you can use those if you can’t find the manicotti noodles.

BTW, leftovers  microwave wonderfully well. My my son has already zapped a few several times today. I hope he has left me some, leftover Manicotti is such a treat.

Cheesey Spinach Manicotti 

Approx 3 cups prepared spaghetti sauce, warmed

1 8 0z. box manicotti noodles, cooked according to package direction, rinsed and drained

For the filling:

  • 10 oz. box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, and squeezed dry
  • 16 oz. carton ricotta
  • 8 oz marscapone
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6  1 oz. packages of string cheese, cubed OR 6 oz mozzarella cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • additional grated cheese, Parmesan and/or mozzarella, for sprinkling on top of baked casserole.
  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Squeeze the spinach really, really dry and place in a large bowl.
  3. Stir in the cheeses: ricotta (I didn’t used to like ricotta, so I have substituted cottage cheese for the ricotta before),  marscapone, grated Parmesan, and cubed string cheese or part-skim mozzarella. Stir well.
  4. Lightly beat the eggs and add to the spinach-cheese mixture.
  5. Stir in the nutmeg.
  6. Fill cooked manicotti with the filling.  The best way to do this is to put all the filling in a large Ziploc bag.  Push the filling to one corner of the bag, then cut the corner off the bag–to make a sort of pastry bag-and squirt the filling into the manicotti. If this method doesn’t work for you, just use several long handled spoons (ice tea spoons work well) to fill the tubes.  Some of the manicotti will have split.  Try not to use the split ones, but if you have to just roll them tight and lay them seam side down in the pan.  I think there are two more noodles than will comfortably fit into a 9×13 pan in each manicotti package, so you are OK discarding two tubes.
  7. Place 1 cup of the warm spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the 9×13 pan.
  8. Arrange the stuffed manicotti on top of the spaghetti sauce.
  9. Cover the arranged manicotti in the pan with the remaining 2 cups sauce–you might need a little more or a little less sauce. If you have leftover sauce, you can always serve it, warmed, on the side.  Some people appreciate more sauce.
  10. Cover the baking dish with foil and place  in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 30-35  minutes.
  11. Remove foil, sprinkle any remaining cheese over top of the casserole, increase heat to 425 degrees and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and cheese has melted and nicely browned.
  12. Remove casserole from oven and let sit for approx. 10 minutes before serving.
Enjoy!  Invite the family over for dinner. Maybe serve an antipasto platter to kick off the evening?  I love antipasto, it’s a very social appetizer.  Dessert?  What is easier than a scoop of spumoni or gelato? Go ahead and gild the lily and  serve some biscotti and coffee on the side, too!  Can I come over?
Have fun, and thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.

 

 

 

26 Oct 2010 Pumpkin Parmesan Pasta

A few weeks ago my friend Nancy and I went to a free cooking class at Williams-Sonoma.  We like free. Part of the free class was a sales pitch, which we had to sit through before the the free food was served.  We were shown $300 pans we couldn’t cook without, $500 blenders to blend and boil soup (I am not kidding), and a $12 bottle of Pumpkin-Parmesan Pasta Sauce that would change our lives.  We like free; a $12 bottle of pasta sauce was out of the question…, but that boiling blender was sooooo tempting. I still dream about it. But I digress… After downing the free samples (and not being that impressed), I went home to Google Pumpkin-Parmesan Pasta Sauce Recipes.  Five popped up. I compared them. Combined them.  Made them. I fed the first batch to my grandson. He loved it (and he doesn’t love everything).  My daughters had the leftovers and they said the words that make me swoon, “This is really good, Mom”.  I love those girls. Feeling I was on the right track, I upped the spices a bit, and made another batch for my Dining For Women group. They liked it too! YAY! They asked me to post the recipe. I love those women.  I hope you bought an extra can of Pumpkin Puree. You are going to want to use one to make this recipe at least once this season.  It’s tasty, it’s different, it’s nutritious and it’s just the thing to be eating this time of year and, drum roll please, it’s FREE!

My only caution about this recipe: don’t make it ahead of time.  Make it, and then serve it immediately. Right after combining the sauce with the pasta, it’s all nice and creamy, but it doesn’t take long for the two parts to congeal into a big blob.  Other people didn’t seem to mind, but I did. Perhaps I need to add more liquid to keep it creamy longer?

I wanted to serve the sauce with cheese tortellini or cheese ravioli tonight, but I forgot to buy some, so I had to make do with what I had in the cupboard, Rotelle. I’ve also made this with with Penne and Bowties, too, and both were good. But I really wanted to try it on cheese ravioli 🙁  If you try it on ravioli, let me know how it is, please!

I serve this as a side dish.  Recipe will serve 6-8.  This sauce goes together quickly.  Not as quickly as opening a $12 jar of sauce, but almost!

Pumpkin-Parmesan Pasta Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chopped shallot (about ¼ cup)
½ cup chopped onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 box pasta (penne, rotelle, bowtie)
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp. ground sage
½ tsp. nutmeg (freshly ground is best)
1 ½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

Fill a pasta pot with water, bring to boil, add salt.

While the pasta water is coming to a boil, heat the olive oil in a skillet and stir in onions and shallots.  Saute until translucent.  Stir in minced garlic and saute for another minute or so.

By this time, your water should be boiling.  Stir in pasta, and cook according to package directions.

Add pumpkin, broth, cream, vinegar and spices to the onion/shallots/garlic mixture in the skillet.  Simmer on low for 5 minutes or so.

Gradually stir in 1/3 of the cheese to the sauce.  When that cheese has been incorporated, repeat with another 1/3 of the cheese.  Then repeat again with remaining cheese. Stir in chopped fresh sage.

By this time, your pasta should be cooked.  Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.

Stir the drained pasta into the sauce.  If the sauce seems too thick, add a bit of the reserved pasta water until the sauce reaches desired consistency. Serve immediately. Enjoy!  Happy Fall!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Raise your hand if you are a pumpkin junkie! (I am, I am!!)

28 Sep 2010 Chinese Pasta Salad

Chinese Pasta Salad?  Is there such a thing?  I doubt it.  So what is this?!  I don’t know what else to call it! Chinese Pasta Salad is the name it came to me with and I welcome all suggestions for a new name 🙂 This cold pasta side dish is good.  Very good.  I made it for a potluck last night, and three people asked me to post the recipe.  Always glad to oblige! Cold noodles, in a sauce of sesame oil, maple syrup (Chinese?  I think not!), and soy sauce with chopped dry roasted peanuts (again, Chinese?  I think not), green onion and cilantro. I wouldn’t have made this if I hadn’t tried it first.  Believe me, with this dish, the whole is better than the sum of it’s parts!

An old coworker of mine, Mary Lou Stuart, brought this to an HR potluck at LifeScan on Tuesday, September 20, 2005.  I know the date because I still have the email with the recipe (and that horrible name).

I changed the method a bit, just to make it easier, but other than that, I made no changes. Please forgive me for mixing up my cultures and photographing this Chinese Noodle Salad (which isn’t) on a Japanese cloth.  Also, the cilantro looks a little old, in the picture, doesn’t it?  It is.  I forgot to take a picture the day I served this. This is a picture of what was left in the refrigerator container because it wouldn’t fit into the serving container.  So that cilantro has been sitting in the dressing for three days.  Yours will look much better. The world is out of alignment today.

Chinese Pasta Salad (not..)

1 lb. angel hair pasta, cooked and drained
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (Grade B, if you can find it)
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce (I have also used teriyaki)
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 bunch chopped green onions (6-8)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped dry roasted peanuts.

Blend the maple syrup, sesame oil, and soy sauce in the blender.  Pour over cooked and drained noodles.  Add in chopped cilantro and green onions. Refrigerate overnight.

Just before serving stir in the chopped dry roasted peanuts.

Mary Lou said she sometimes adds about 2 cups of chopped cooked chicken to the salad (she uses a cooked rotisserie chicken).  I’ve done this once or twice (with a chicken breast poached in a bit of soy sauce and water/broth), but actually prefer this salad without the chicken.  Plus, it’s always nice to have something on the table for the vegetarians and vegans in the group.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  If you know Mary Lou Stuart, please forward this message to her. I have lost track of her.  If she is uneasy with her name being on this post, I will use a pseudonym.

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!