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Orzo Stuffed Peppers

21 Apr

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Ingredients

2 bell peppers
3/4 cup orzo
1 1/2 cup vegetable stock or salted water
1 14.5 oz canned Italian stewed tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 medium zucchini finely grated
1/2 medium zucchini chopped
1 cup mozzarella (plus a little extra for sprinkling on top of the peppers)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
salt, pepper, olive oil

 

Cook orzo pasta in vegetable stock or salted water according to package instructions. (Reserve cooking liquid for later use). While the orzo is cooking prepare the peppers by cutting each one in half. Remove the stem, seeds and rims and place in a casserole dish. Saute the onion, garlic and chopped zucchini until tender.

Combine orzo, tomatoes, sauteed vegetables, grated zucchini, cheeses and seasoning in a bowl and spoon into the prepared peppers. Pour about an inch of the cooking liquid into the dish around the peppers. This will help steam the peppers while cooking. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Remove foil top the peppers with the remaining cheese and bake uncovered for about 15 minutes.

Hope you enjoy!

Super Stuffed Shells

10 Apr

My boyfriend is an italian-aholic. Anything including pasta, marinara, cream sauce, and cheese he’s all over it. For dinner this weekend I decided to make some a new concoction that might please him.. Naturally, it was Italian themed.

Italian stuffed shells

1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs

1/2 pound cooked Italian sausage
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 14.5 oz canned Italian stewed tomatoes
(I had 5 Roma tomatoes I needed to use so I roasted them with italian seaoning, fresh garlic and 1/2 a chopped small onion  at 425 for about 35 minutes instead of using the canned tomatoes. )
8 ounces (20 to 24) jumbo pasta shells
1 jar prepared marinara sauce
Cook pasta shells as directed on package.
Combine ricotta, 1.5 cups mozzarella, Parmesan, eggs, cooked sausage, spinach, tomato mixture in a large bowl. Prepare a baking dish by spreading about 1/4 of the marinara sauce on the bottom so the shells don’t stick.  After the shells are cooked, fill each shell with the filling and arrange in the baking dish. Top with remaining Marinara sauce and sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella. Cover and bake in a preheated oven at 350 for about 45-50 minutes.
Enjoy!

Chicken Meatballs and Spaghetti

12 Jan

Chicken & Spinach Meatballs

Chicken Meatballs Recipe

2 lbs ground chicken
1 small grated onion
1 package of chopped frozen spinach (thawed)
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
Pinch of italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper

Place your spinach in the center of a clean dish towel and squeeze out any excess liquid over the sink. (The spinach is a great way to help our chicken not dry out but if there is too much liquid from the spinach, the meatballs will not stay together)

Combine the grated onion, drained spinach, ground chicken, mustard, and seasonings. Roll into balls a little larger than golf ball size. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes on 375 degrees or until cooked through.

Serve along side marinara sauce as an appetizer

OR

Serve with wheat pasta as a healthy main course.

Wheat Pasta Recipe:

3 eggs
1 cup of all purpose white flour
1 cup wheat flour
plus extra for flouring the board
pinch of salt

Feel free to use all wheat flour to make your pasta. I found using all wheat to be a little too grainy for my taste.

On a large cutting board make a well in the flour. Add in the eggs and salt and begin to wisk in a little bit of flour a little at a time. Once the dough becomes too difficult to stir in flour with a fork, begin to kneed with your hands until there are no lumps. Roll into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 20 minutes

Pasta Press:
After letting the dough rest I divided the dough into four  small sections. Set the machine on the largest setting and feed the dough through. My pasta press starts on one and goes through six. I fed the dough through twice each setting at stopped at 5. After that I ran the dough through the spaghetti setting.

Rolling the Dough by Hand:
Be sure to flour your surface well so the pasta doesn’t stick. Roll the dough out until you can see your hand through the dough. Gently fold the dough over until it is a manageable size then thinly slice the dough with your knife.

From there you can lay the pasta out and allow it to dry or you can cook it immediately. Cook the pasta in generously salted, boiling water for about 3-5 minutes. (The pasta will cook at different times depending on the thickness of the pasta so you may need to add more time.)

Butternut Squash Ravioli

6 Apr

The recipe is not one you can pull out in 20 minutes for sure but it is definitely worth the time and effort. Last night I had a major trial and error period with this last night but I think I’ve finally mastered it. This will be grandpa’s last meat free Friday dinner before Lent ends! Hopefully he’ll like it!

Pasta

4 large eggs
2 ½ cup of flour
pinch of salt

On a large cutting board make a well in the flour. Add in the eggs and salt and begin to whisk in a little bit of flour a little at a time. Once the dough becomes too difficult to stir in flour with a fork, begin to kneed with your hands until there are no lumps. Roll into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 20 minutes.

Filling

1 medium butternut squash
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper
¼ cup skim milk
2 tbsp margarine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut one medium sized butternut squash in half. Lay on a baking sheet. Scrape out and discard the seeds. Poke holes all over the squash with a fork or knife. Lightly brush the squash with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper. Cover tightly with foil. Bake in a preheated oven set at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until the squash is tender and easy to cut.

After the squash is cooked remove the skin and mash it with either a fork or a potato masher until smooth. Stir in ¼ cup of skim milk and two tbsp butter.  Let cool

Sage Butter Sauce

8 tbsp margarine or butter
12 fresh leaves or 1 ½ tsp dried rubbed sage
1 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp flour
¾ cup of skim milk
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

In a medium saucepan melt the butter, add the sage and parsley continue to cook until the butter just starts to brown. Quickly stir in the flour and grated cheese. Gently stir in the milk.

Assembling

Bring a pot of water to boil. Lightly season the water with salt. Roll the pasta into wide ribbons and about ¼ of an inch think. (On my pasta machine I rolled it down to the second to smallest setting) Cut the pasta ribbons into 2-inch squares. Place 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of each pasta square. Lay a second square on top and pinch all around the edges of the pasta until the squares are closed. Drop into the boiling water allow them to cook for about 5 minutes or until the pasta is tender and cooked through. Remove the ravioli from the water and let drain well.

Serve the pasta over a bed of steamed vegetables such as green beans, carrots and peas. Spoon the butter sage sauce over the ravioli and top with a few chopped walnuts.

Hope you enjoy!

Print me!

Rebel Lasagna

15 Feb

When I think of lasagna I think of a rich tomato beef sauce with creamy ricotta and mozzarella. But not this lasagna! Meet “The Rebel Lasagna”! Its made with a creamy cheddar cheese sauce, chicken, thyme and veggies. Careful, it may change the way you think about lasagna.

Lasagna made with chicken and a cheddar cheese sauce
What you’ll need:

1/2 cup of Shredded carrots
1/2 medium onion thinly diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic minced
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 cups cooked chicken chopped
1 14.5 oz can low sodium chicken broth
6 tbsp all-purpose flour
4 tbsp butter
2 1/2 cups skim milk
1 tsp ground mustard
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 box no bake lasagna sheets

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Saute the carrots and onion in olive until tender.  Add the garlic to the carrot and onion mixture and cook for two minutes. Add the cooked chicken, thyme, 2 tbsp flour and chicken broth. Stir well to avoid clumps in the flour. Simmer the chicken mixture for about 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens.

In a saucepan, melt 4 tbsp butter and add four tbsp flour. Stir for 3 minutes to cook out the flour. Gradually add the milk stirring constantly until sauce begins to thicken. Add the ground mustard salt, pepper, and 1 and 1/2 cups of cheese, stir until combined.

In a 9×13 glass pan, spread a thin layer of the cheese sauce into the bottom. This will prevent the pasta sheets from sticking. On top of the cheese sauce line the pan with pasta sheets and spoon half of the chicken mixture on top. Ladle enough cheese sauce to cover the chicken. Top the cheese sauce with a second layer of pasta sheets, spread the other half of the chicken mixture on top, and ladle more of the cheese sauce on top to cover the chicken. Top the chicken with last layer of pasta sheets, ladle enough cheese sauce to cover the pasta sheets and top with the remaining shredded cheese.

Bake in a 375 degree oven, uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the top is browned.

(I placed a cookie sheet a rack lower in my oven to catch any cheese that might bubble over)

Serve with a vegetable of your choice and a side salad.

Enjoy!Rebel Lasagna

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

14 Feb

Like Olive Garden's Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

This is my version of the ever-popular Olive Garden Chicken and Gnocchi soup. Since the first time I had it I was determined to recreate it. 10+  tries later I think I’ve finally got it. I’ve tried using different combinations of chicken stock, cream and milk but the broth was either too watery or too creamy and lacked the chicken flavor. The secret is the Knorr Condensed Stock packets! They flavor the cream with out adding too much water!

.5 cup Shredded carrot
3 stalks of celery chopped
.5 medium onion chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 cup fresh spinach leaves with out stems, chopped
2 cups chopped chicken. (I roasted some chicken thighs, but to make it easier consider buying a cooked rotisserie chicken at your local grocery store)
4 tbsp margarine
4 tbsp flour
2 Knorr Home-style Condensed Chicken Stock packages
¾ gallon whole milk
.5 package frozen gnocchi

Start by sautéing the carrot, celery,  and onion in a large pot until tender. In the last 3 minutes add the spinach and continue to sauté. Once cooked through, remove from the pot and reserve for later.

In a second medium size pan, cover the gnocchi with water and bring to a light boil.  The gnocchi are ready when they begin to rise to the top and are tender. Drain and set aside for later

While the gnocchi are cooking, melt 4 tbsp of butter in the pot we cooked the vegetables in. Add in the flour. Stir well for about three minutes. Next add about half a cup of milk. Stir until there are no lumps. Add one cup of milk and stir until there are no lumps. After all of the lumps are removed, cover and let simmer for two minutes or until it thickens. From that point, add the rest of the milk in, stirring continually for about three minutes. The soup should start to thicken at this point.  Add the two stock packets,  chopped chicken, gnocchi, and the vegetables. Allow the soup to simmer for at least 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

Serve with salad and bread.

Enjoy!

Stuffed Shells

21 Jan

Italian Stuffed Shells

Italian Stuffed Shells

This seems to be a favorite of the guys in my life (Dad, brother, boyfriend). Every time I make them I make a ton because they go so fast! Its a fast and super simple recipe! This is a little “healthier” recipe from my original. But they are still very good; you’ll never know they’re “healthified”.

I love that this recipe is very versatile. I sometimes sneak some chopped spinach in to make it even healthier. Or if we’re not looking to make it so healthy I substitute in some pancetta instead of the bacon.


2 15 oz low fat/partial skim Ricotta Cheese
1 ½ cups of shredded low fat mozzarella cheese (plus a little more for sprinkling on top)
3 tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ lb of cooked chopped bacon (feel free to use turkey bacon, I just had regular in the fridge to use)

2 eggs
salt and pepper
1 tbsp dried basil
1 jar prepared marinara sauce
6 oz (about ½ a box) Jumbo Shells

Cook pasta according to box instructions. Drain and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl combine the first 7 ingredients well.

Spread about ¼ of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish. After the shells are cooled enough to handle, scoop a healthy helping of the cheese mixture inside the shell. After it is filled line the pan with filled shells. Repeat until the shells are gone or until you run out of filling.

(If you are concerned about it being pretty and not getting filling on the outside of the shell, you can fill a piping bag with the cheese filling. Piping is much prettier but I normally skip that and just go for the scooping method)

After the dish is filled with shells spoon the remaining sauce across the top of the shells and top with shredded cheese.

Bake covered in a 300 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until the shells are warmed through.

Enjoy!