Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

Meatball soup

It has been freezing lately (for SoCal, at least) and hearty soups have been on my mind.  But, so has laziness… So I did a stock of the freezer/ fridge/ pantry and I had all of the ingredients to make something I have been wanting to try, Meatball Soup!  I adapted this recipe to my tastes, and just used the frozen turkey balls I had one hand (as I always do!).  I just set the frozen turkey balls out when I started working on the soup, and they were about half defrosted by the time I added them, and it was fine.  This is a really great, easy recipe to crank out on a cold rainy day.  You should have most of the ingredients, especially if you already have some frozen meatballs.  This would also work with store-bought frozen meatballs.

What you need:

  • About 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bag of baby carrots
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Minced garlic, I used about ten cloves
  • 3 -4 bay leaves, fresh or dried
  • Meatballs, I think I used about 16 – 20
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cups water
  • 2 – 3 cups dried pasta of your choice.  I only have linguine, so I broke it in half.
  • Fresh parmesan for garnishing

What to do:

  1. In a deep pot over medium heat combine oil, carrots, garlic, onions, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Cover pot and cook veggies 5 or 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Uncover your soup pot and add broth and water to the pot. Increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil.
  3. When soup boils, reduce heat a bit and drop meatballs to cook in the broth.  Simmer while meatballs are cooking.  If frozen, this will probably take 10 – 15 mins.
  4. Add pasta to the soup and stir. Cover and simmer soup 15 minutes.
  5. Serve and garnish with fresh parmesan.

Don’t worry about over simmering it, as it will just taste better with the juices of the veggies and meatballs flavoring the broth. This makes 4 entree sized servings.

I apologize for the lack of photos, but I burned myself taking the cast iron griddle out of the broiler and was barely able to limp through the very easy cooking process.


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Butternut squash was crazy on sale about a month ago at Sprouts/ Henry’s, so I did the rational thing and bought like seven of them.  Luckily I came across this recipe in Martha Stewart Living for butternut squash lasagna.  It really is perfect because Boyfriend loves lasagna (but I rarely make it because it takes about 6 hours) and I have all these squash to use!  I followed the recipe for the most part, but did make some minor changes based on laziness.

What you need:

  • One butternut squash, about 3-4 lbs
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • At least one pound ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 cups of grated mozzarella
  • A tablespoon or two of nutmeg
  • minced garlic, to taste (I used about a tablespoon, maybe a bit more)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • Lasagna noodles
  • Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425.  Peel and cut up the squash into one inch pieces.
  2. Toss or spray with olive oil.  Sprinkle with pepper.  Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
  3. Reduce oven to 375.
  4. Combine ricotta, eggs, cream, mozzarella, nutmeg, garlic and a pinch or two of salt.

    Cheesy mixture

  5. When the squash is done roasting, or has a few minutes left, melt the butter in a large sauce pan.  When the butter is fully melted, add the chopped sage.  Stirring constantly, cook the sage & butter over medium heat until the butter becomes very yellow, about 4-5 minutes.

    Not quite yellow enough yet

  6. If you have a sous-chef, like I happen to last night, have them do this step while you are working on the sage & butter.  Soak about half a pack of uncooked lasagna noodles in hot tap water in a shallow dish.  After 3-4 minutes take them out of the water.  They should still be pretty stiff.
  7. Add the squash and chicken stock to the sauce pan with the sage and butter.  Mash most of the squash and stir thoroughly.
  8. Assemble the lasagna in a 9×13 baking dish, in this order: Layer of noodles, layer of butternut squash (about 1/3 to half of the mixture depending on how many layers you want), layer of cheese mixture.  Repeat until you run out of squash and cheese.  Top the entire thing with a generous layer of Parmesan cheese.

    Bad representation of the layers

  9. Bake for 35 minutes.  Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving, unless you want to burn your face off. 


    The end result was very good, perfect for a chilly night.  It was WAY less time consuming that normal lasagna (if you make your own sauce, as I do), so it’s much more appropriate for a weeknight dinner.

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PUMPKINS!!!  I have wanted to cook with pumpkins for years, but I could never find the right kind of pumpkins.  You can’t just use jack o lantern ones, because they don’t taste good, don’t have much meat and are watery and yucky.  But this year it seems that all my local grocers finally got with it.  There are sugar pumpkins everywhere!  I am still on the search for a cheese pumpkin, though…

I was perusing the interwebs, looking for a cool recipe to try out and stumbled upon this one, which I adapted for this dish.  Also, ricotta was on sale at Sprouts, so it was perfect.  I actually roasted my own pumpkin and made the puree the day before.  You can google instructions on how to roast a pumpkin, but it’s basically exactly like roasting a spaghetti squash, only without the salt and pepper.  I roasted two 2-3lb sugar pumpkins and it made double the amount needed for this recipe (popped the rest in the freezer for later).

pumpkin puree!

What you need:

  • 16 ounces of whatever type of pasta you prefer (although shorter noodles like penne or bowtie are better)
  • 4 – 6 cups of ricotta
  • 15 ounces or about 2 cups of pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 ounces yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (about a bulb)
  • 3/4 – 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 cup of mozzarella or a few ounces of heavy cream
  • About 1/2 a cup of breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil
  • Ground pepper

What to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 and lightly oil a 9×13 baking dish or pan.
  2. Cook the pasta VERY al dente, and drain.  Add back into the pot and toss with a bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking.
  3. In a larger bowl whisk the following together; ricotta, mozzarella, pumpkin puree, eggs & yogurt.
  4. Add the salt, nutmeg, pepper, ginger, italian seasoning, garlic, parmesan and almonds and stir until combined.
  5. Add contents of bowl to pasta pot and stir into pasta until thoroughly mixed.  
  6. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.
  7. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top.
  8. Bake for about 35 minutes.


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Oh, if only pasta started with a B!

Tis the season for squash and pumpkins and all of these lovely things.  The great thing about the big squashes (like butternut, acorn, spaghetti, etc) is that you can buy them now while they are on sale and they will keep (as long as they are stored in a cool place, much as you would store a bag of potatoes) and use them later.  I bought a ton and used some butternut for this recipe, and decided to save the rest for butternut squash soup when it gets a bit more chilly and fall-like here in San Diego.

This is a super easy thing to pull together for a weeknight dinner.  It can be especially quick if you cut up the squash, onion and bacon before hand… When I have a lot of chopping to do I like to do it all at once on Sunday or Monday night for the whole week.  Then I pack everything that goes in one meal in a tupperware, then on whatever given day I just pull out the container and hit the ground running.  Also, in situations like this one, the bacon can start flavoring the onion and butternut squash in advance, while sitting in the fridge.

Besides b-nut (and bacon, if you aren’t obsessed like I am), you should have all of the ingredients on hand, and there are only three main steps (chop, roast, cook pasta)!

What you need:

  • A smallish butternut squash (unless you are feeding more than 3-4 people)
  • bacon, I used 4 really thick cut strips, but I would use 6 next time.  So 9 normal strips would do the trick
  • 1 onion
  • olive oil, salt and pepper for roasting
  • 1 cup or more shredded parmesan cheese
  • 8 to 12 oz of pasta

What to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. Peel and chop up the butternut squash into 1-2 inch chunks.  Chop up the onion and bacon into 1 inch pieces.

*Quick tip: if you have a sap problem after you cut up the squash – use a pumice stone to get it off your hands.  Works like magic!

  1. Put all the chopped components on a large baking sheet and spray or drizzle olive oil on top, enough to lightly cover most pieces.  Then season generously with salt and pepper.  Roast for 30 – 40 minutes, checking after 30 to see the progress.

Ready for roasting!

  1. While the squash and bacon are roasting, get your water a-boiling for the pasta.  When there is about 10 minutes left on the clock for the oven, start cooking the pasta.  When it’s ready, strain out the water (reserving one cup) and return to the pot.
  2. When the squash, bacon and onion are done, throw them in the pot with the pasta.  Add in the parmesan cheese and stir it all together.
  3. If you want it to be more liquid-y, add in some of the reserved pasta water and a dash of olive oil.  Top with more cheese if you like.
  4. Enjoy!

Finished product

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This was adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s spaghetti with lemon and olive oil.  I basically just stole her delicious sauce, and cooked shrimp in it, then served over some gnocchi that my mom bought me at her local Italian market.   This is a pretty simple dish, with a lot of flavor.  And like a lot of things I try to do, you should already have almost everything at home, so it can be a great impromptu meal.  Also this is a great recipe to improvise with (as with almost any pasta + sauce dish!).

What you will need:

  • Gnocchi (or pasta)
  • 3 or 4 lemons
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 heavy cream
  • at least 1/2 cup grated or shaved parmesan cheese
  • anywhere from 1/2 to one pound of shrimp
  • salt & pepper

Get your pot of water a-boiling, and cook your gnocchi/ pasta to your liking. While the pasta is cooking, you should zest the lemons until you get a tablespoon of zest, then juice all of them.  Also get out all your other ingredients and measure them out.  Clean and peel shrimp if you haven’t already.

After you drain the pasta, set it aside (and save 1 cup of the pasta water in case you want to thin out the sauce later).  You can now use the already dirty pot to make the sauce.  Add the cream, pasta water, lemon zest, shrimp and olive oil to the pot and boil for 5 or 6 minutes (basically until the shrimp is cooked).  Make sure you are stirring constantly so you don’t get a burned layer going on the bottom of the pot.

makin' some sauce!

Once the shrimp looks good ‘n pink, add the pasta back to the pot, along with the lemon juice and parmesan cheese.  I kept the stove on low for this step, to help the cheese turn into melty gooey awesomeness.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Then plate and EAT!  Cheesy parsley garnish optional (I had to justify the parsley plant outside with a reason other than the fact that it’s the only herb I can keep alive for longer than 3 weeks).

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This is adapted from Lottie + Doof.  I was inspired not only by that lovely blog, but also by the sweet, delicious and CHEAP corn that is available right now.  Ahh, summer.  Please do check out the photos on L+D because they are at least a thousand times better than mine.  Also, way cuter bowls.  So anyway, this is basically just pasta with a pesto sauce made from corn instead of basil.

What you need:

  • Bacon.  I used two pieces of very thick cut bacon.  I cut them up into about 1 inch pieces, but next time I will cut the pieces much smaller
  • Fresh corn kernels.  I used about 3 cups (4 ears).  TIP: shave off the kernels in a large bowl because they totally fly everywhere
  • Garlic, minced.  I used about two tablespoons, but I am a garlic fiend.
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 package of spaghetti, or whatever pasta you have
  • Basil, fresh
  • Deep skillet, preferably cast iron
  • food processor or blender

First things first, BACON.  Fry the bacon in a deep skillet or cast iron pan.  After you have the bacon going, start boiling water to cook your pasta, then cook your pasta, heh.  Let it cook until it is your preferred amount of crispy, then remove from the pan.  Add in the corn and spices to the bacon fat (if you use more than a few pieces, you may have to spoon some out, you want only a few tablespoons).  Saute and stir until the corn is good and cooked, it should take about 7 minutes.

Corn ready to be pesto-fied!

Save about 1 cup of the corn mixture and set aside.  Put the rest of the corn and most of the parmesan cheese into a food processor and press the magic button.  Slowly add the olive oil through the top hole or feed tube.  Process until it looks like a pesto (only yellow!).  Remove from the processor and toss with the (now hopefully cooked and drained) pasta, reserved corn and bacon, then serve.  Ideally you would have some delicious fresh herb to add into the mix, too.  Mine got wilty and gross before I got to use it 😦

This photo would be so much more appealing if there was some fresh, green basil… But trust me, this is REALLY YUMMY.  Totally unexpectedly good!  I fully intend on making a bunch to freeze for the sad wintertime when fresh sweet corn isn’t 20 cents an ear.

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Fettuccine Alfredo

Last night I made Fettuccine Alfredo… for the first time ever, which is weird, because I LOOOOOVE it.  The reason I never made it is that it’s sooo bad for you, I reserved it for a treat at a good Italian restaurant.  Then I found this amazing (believe me) recipe for this low-cal FA that honestly tastes like the real thing.

Recipe (adapted from Food Network Magazine, link)


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 5 – 6 clove garlic, minced
  • grated lemon zest from one lemon
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons all-purpose flour (Wondra brand works the best for this, and any other sauces, gravies, etc)
  • 1 cup low-fat (2%) milk
  • salt
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese, plus more for topping
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 package of fettuccine pasta, or fresh if you have it!



1.     Cook the pasta, according to the directions

2.     For the sauce: melt butter, lemon zest and garlic in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Cook for a minute or two, until garlic starts to soften

3.     Add flour, whisk for a minute

4.     Whisk in milk and ¾ teaspoon of salt, for 3-5 minutes until thickened

5.     Whisk in cream and parmesan/ romano cheeses until melted

6.     Add and stir in chopped parsley

7.     Serve over plated pasta

Per serving: Calories 490; Fat 15 g (Saturated 8 g); Cholesterol 48 mg; Sodium 734 mg; Carbohydrate 66 g; Fiber 3 g; Protein 20 g****

*Please note that this is approximate, as I did change the recipe slightly, although based on the changes, I don’t think the nutrition facts are altered much at all.

I also served the pasta with roasted asparagus (simply roast asparagus with some olive oil and salt and pepper for 10-20 mins in the oven) and some grilled chicken breast that I marinated with balsamic vinaigrette.  So delish!

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