Category Archives: Pasta!

Roasted Chicken, Rosemary and Goat Cheese Lasagna

  

Let me start by saying I am not a runner.  I never have been.  Being the exercise enthusiast that I am, I will even go as far as saying, I hate running.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’m excited to announce I recently just completed my first 6.5 mile, half relay marathon.  I know. I’ll explain.

Somewhere around the sixth month during my pregnancy is when it happened.  I began to really get the itch.  It was between the period when my knees were giving out on me and dealing with the 20 extra pounds I had gained.  (Well, it was actually a little closer to 25 extra pounds. Ok, ahem…50. Ish. But most of it was water weight, I swear!).

Around that time was when I made a vow to myself that as soon as I was cleared for exercise I was going to tie up my laces and hit the pavement, hard.  It was my way of mentally focusing on getting through the last months as my energy continued to decrease and my self-pity increased.

So, I stuck to my word and just a couple of Sundays ago I completed my first ever marathon.  My two best gal-friends and sister, who are all regular runners, coached me through the whole process from beginning to end.  Everything from how to stretch, how to train, when to train.  What to eat…

I was given strict instructions to eat LOTS of carbs the days leading up to the race.  Biscuits, pizza, dulce de leche bars.  Ok, I made that part up, but the carbs part was true. I ate toast with bananas for breakfast, a powerbar for lunch, and this lasagna for dinner the night before.  And boy did it help me finish.

I’m not exactly convinced it was the carbs themselves that helped, but the fact that the lasagna was so insanely good, and I had leftovers in the fridge waiting for me to eat for lunch after I got back, so I ran that sucker as fast as I could.

The answer, I will never know, but the important thing is, I finished!

 Roasted Chicken, Rosemary & Goat Cheese Lasagna

  • 8 cooked lasagna sheets
  • 1 1.5 lb roasted chicken, meat pulled off and shredded (about 3 cups shredded chicken)
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 large stalks fresh rosemary (about 3 tsp), roughly chopped
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella (2 cups plus ½ cup)
  • 8oz goat cheese log

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the lasagna sheets and set aside while you prepare the sauce.

In a large saucepan melt butter over medium heat.  Whisk in flour and cook to make a roux, about 2 minutes.  While whisking slowly add the milk.  Add the rosemary, nutmeg and 1 tsp kosher salt, and cook stirring occasionally until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Turn heat off and stir in 2 cups of the mozzarella until smooth. Check seasoning, add more salt as needed, and add pepper.

Across the bottom of a greased 8×8 pan, spoon about ¼ cup of béchamel sauce (just to cover the bottom), ¼ of the chicken, ¼ of the goat cheese and then arrange 2 cooked noodles next to each other on top (you may have to trim the lasagna sheets if you are using the standard length).  Repeat this three more times, ending with a layer of noodles on top.  Top with remaining ½ cup cheese, cover tightly with foil and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the noodles are tender.  Remove foil and place under the broiler to brown the cheese on top. 

Serve with crispy garlic bread. Enjoy!

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Filed under All Posts, Goat Cheese, Pasta!, Personal, Recipes, Recipes - Chicken

Lump Crab Pasta with Meyer Lemon and Chive Butter Sauce

 

 

Valentine’s Day or not, there is nothing more romantic than your honey cooking up a nice meal while you sit back, relax and sip your Chardonnay (or IPA). 

In honor of the upcoming holiday I wanted to share an easy dish to impress (or to splurge on yourself) with a little splash of elegance, a hint of seduction and is overall just wildly delicious.  

This pasta covers all the bases with soft and subtle flavors of the butter sauce (also known as a Beurre Blanc) paired with a hint of citrus, and the sweetness of fresh crab is true perfection. 

Add a little chocolate to the mix and I’m pretty sure this is the way to make any suitor fall head over heals.  If you’re lucky, maybe with you too!

 

(If can’t find meyer lemons, you can substitute regular lemons)

Lump Crab Pasta with Meyer Lemon and Chive Butter Sauce

Serves 2

  • 8oz thin spaghetti ( half of a box)
  • 1 lb fresh lump crab meat, picked over for shells and pieces
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 large shallot, chopped fine
  • 1 and 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter
  • 4 tbs chopped chives
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup meyer lemon juice
  • salt, pepper
  • parsley

Begin by cooking pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions.  Drain pasta, and reserve about 1/3 cup of the cooking water.  Set pasta aside.

To make the sauce add the shallots, wine and vinegar in a medium-large saucepan.  Boil until the liquid reduces to just about a tablespoon.  Reduce heat and begin to add the cold butter one tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously, until all of the butter is incorporated.  Turn the heat off and add chives, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt (a generous amount of salt) and pepper.  Mix in most of the crab meat, reserving about 1/2 cup to top pasta with. 

Pour the sauce in a large saute pan and add the pasta.  Heat through and add the cooking water from the pasta a tablespoon at a time to loosen the sauce, if needed.  Check for seasoning and adjust as needed.  Plate the pasta and top with the reserved crab meat, fresh parsley and lemon zest.  Serve immediately.

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Filed under All Posts, France, Pasta!, Recipes, Seafood

Fresh Pesto Orzo Pasta with Spinach, Feta and Grape Tomatoes

If  you’re among the crowds of those who have overflowing basil plants waiting to be used up before the weather takes a turn, making pesto is a great way to use up the leaves and preserve that flavor throughout the winter.  You can easily freeze prepared pesto by omitting the cheese (it doesn’t freeze well) and then adding it back in when it has thawed.

Once you’re ready to use your pesto here’s an idea for a quick and easy weeknight side dish, or add some shrimp or chicken for a flavorful and healthy well-rounded meal!

Orzo Pasta with Spinach, Feta and Grape Tomatoes

  • 1 box orzo pasta
  • 1 package grape tomatoes, sliced in half or quartered
  • 2 cups spinach leaves, chiffinade
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup pesto (see recipe below) or prepared pesto
  • salt and pepper

Basil Pesto

  • 2 cups packed basil leaves
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • salt and pepper

Combine basil, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor.  Pulse until combined then slowly add olive oil until incorporated and smooth.  Stir in cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and cool.   Toss pasta with basil pesto and add remaining ingredients to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.

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Filed under All Posts, Great for a barbeque, Pasta!, Recipes, Side Dishes

Sweet Potato Gnocchi, Maple Brown Butter and Bacon

 A little sweet, a little salty and all around scrumptious, this dish was the perfect remedy to get me through the mid-week, time-changing, coat-wearing-weather blues.  Taking only minutes to cook, I make these delightful little dumplings often — usually with county ham & peas and a quick parmesan cream sauce — however, the delicate flavors of sweet potato and pure sweet maple beautifully captured the essence of this splendid fall season!

Gnocchi is not difficult to make and depending on your choice of sauce and accompaniments, it doesn’t take too long either.  Instead of rolling out your dough and cutting each dumpling, you can save time by placing the prepared dough into a pastry bag and squeeze directly into the boiling water, as pictured below. 

This is great when served as a starter or an accompanying side to the main course.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious.com

  • 1 1/4 pounds russet (baking potatoes)
  • 1 (3/4-pound) sweet potato
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus more for serving
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup sage leaves (from 1 bunch)
  • 3-4 slices of bacon
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons maple

For gnocchi:
Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.

Pierce potatoes with a fork, then bake until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Cool potatoes slightly, then peel and force through mill and onto sheet pan, spreading in an even layer. Cool potatoes completely  

Beat together egg, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Gather potatoes into a mound in sheet pan, using a pastry scraper if you have one, and form a well in center. Pour egg mixture into well, then knead into potatoes. Knead in cheese and 1 ½ to 2 cups flour, then knead, adding more flour as necessary, until mixture forms a smooth but slightly sticky dough.  Place dough in a pastry bag and cut the tip to about ½ inch thick. Set aside and made the sauce and bacon.

*To test the flavor and texture of the gnocchi, take a small portion of the dough with floured hands, form into a ball, and blanch in boiling salted water. When it floats, remove, taste, and adjust seasoning and flour.

Fry bacon:
Fry bacon until crisp and transfer to paper towels to drain. Set aside

Make sauce:
Add butter to skillet and melt over medium heat. When the butter has melted add the sage leaves. Continue to cook, swirling the butter occasionally, until the foam subsides and the milk solids begin to brown. Remove the pan from the heat and add the maple syrup (The mixture will bubble up). Season with salt and pepper.

Cook gnocchi:
Boil a large pot of salted water.  Hold the pastry bag over the water and with a pairing knife cut off 1 inch sections of dough while squeezing into the water (as pictured below).  Continue to work through half of the bag.  Cook until they float to surface and become tender, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to skillet with butter sauce. Cook remaining gnocchi in same manner, transferring to skillet as cooked.

Saute gnocchi in skillet over medium heat, stirring to coat in the sauce.

Serve sprinkled with sage and bacon.

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Filed under All Posts, Appetizers and the likes, Holidays - Thanksgiving, Pasta!, Recipes, Seasonal - Fall, Side Dishes

Macaroni and Cheese Revisited

If you follow this blog, you’ve realized by now that when I told you my husband accuses me of having a secret Mexican heritage, I wasn’t joking.  Give me just about anything and I’ll turn it Hispanic.  In the mood for pizza?  Pepperoni Quesadillas, it is!  Hamburger?  I’ll take mine with extra guacamole, please.  Oh, and my favorite pasta, you ask — Mexican Macaroni & Cheese.  It’s like I’ve died and gone to a really cheesey, Mexican heaven.  Complete with sombreros. 

Mexican Mac & Cheese

  • 1/2 lb macaroni (cooked and drained)
  • Roux (2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp flour)
  • 2 ½ cups whole milk
  • 3 cups + 1 cup shredded cheese (a mix of Monterey Jack, Mild Cheddar, Sharp Cheddar)
  • 2 garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ ancho chili powder
  • ½ chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 cup roasted corn
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 can green chilies
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • cilantro about two tbsp

 

In medium sauce pan whisk together the flour and butter (roux) and cook  for about 5 minutes until smooth.  Add the garlic, milk, cumin, ancho, chili and cayenne.   Simmer for about 10 minutes or until sauce begins to slightly thicken.  Once the sauce thickens, remove from heat and whisk in 3 cups of the cheese until smooth.  Season generously with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350F.  In sauté pan cook onions and corn in olive oil until onions are soft. Add chilies and beans to the pan to combine and then transfer onion mixture into the pot with the cheese sauce.  Add the pasta, tomatoes and remaining 1 cup of cheese and mix well to coat the macaroni.  Transfer to a greased baking dish.  Top with additional cheese if desired and bake for about 25 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.  Top with cilantro before serving.

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Filed under All Posts, Pasta!, Recipes, Uncategorized

Cincinnati Three-Way

 

If you want to know the way to a Cincinnatian’s heart, take them to a Bengals football game, and then give them a good old-fashioned three-way.  

This is how it goes down: Get them geared up in their finest Ochocinco jersey, and then sway them with a piping hot plate of spaghetti topped with chili, and a mountain of finely shredded cheddar.  Add onions for a 4-way, or onions and beans and you’ve got the ultimate 5-way. 

Cincinnati-style chili is an integral part of being a Ohian, and even more so when you’re straight from the nati’ – the chili captial of the world.   I’m not talking about the widespread Texas kind in which you find chunky ground beef with jalapenos and kidney beans.  This is a slowly cooked sauce-like chili that’s rich with spices, such as cloves and cinnamon, and deep in color from the hint of chocolate. 

The original recipe dates way back, and although has remained a tightly kept secret, many people have been able to replicate the chili to an almost perfect clone.  So, I gave it a shot!  The results?  Touchdown Cincinnati!

Cincinnati Chili   

Chili:

  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp tabasco
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Three-way:

  • hot cooked spaghetti
  • finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • chopped onions and beans, optional

(This also can be cooked in a crock-pot on low all-day)

In large dutch oven, brown ground beef and then transfer to food processor.  Pulse for 30 seconds or just until the beef begins to become fine.  Transfer back to dutch oven and add garlic. Cook for about 1 minute.  Add water, tomato paste, chili powder, garlic, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, tabasco, cocoa, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 1 1/2-2 hours.

Pour chili over hot spaghetti and serve with cheddar cheese, onions, beans and tabasco sauce.

 

 

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Filed under All Posts, Ohio, Pasta!, Recipes, Uncategorized

Cheese and Spinach Raviolis with Toasted Pine Nuts and a Brown Butter-Sage Sauce

Happy Monday blog-land!  If you woke up this morning wanting to start this week off right – you’ve come to the right spot!  I had some new toys to play with over the weekend (huge thanks to my future mother in-law and all in attendance at my lovely bridal shower luncheon) and I was finally able to try my hand at making pasta!  I will have to give myself a pat on the back for my first attempt. These swoon-worthy, delectably stuffed ravioli’s just left me hungry for more.

For my first shot I just used the basic pasta recipe straight from the Cuisine Art, pasta attachment recipes. 

For the filling:

  • 1 bag of baby spinach
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 3 tbs parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

Season spinach and saute with butter, garlic and shallots until spinach is cooked down.  Remove from heat and in large bowl mix spinach with ricotta and parmesan cheese.

For the Sauce:

  • Half a stick of butter
  • Handful of fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Pine Nuts
  • Parmesan Cheese

 While pasta is cooking in boiling water, heat butter in large saute pan making a Beurre Noisette (hazelnut brown butter) until color turns brown and nutty in flavor.  Remove from heat and add fresh sage, squeeze of lemon and salt/pepper.

Once the pasta is ready cut directly in half into two sheets.  Spoon out about a teaspoon of the filling onto one side of the pasta sheet and with an egg wash brush the remaining dough.  Place the second sheet of pasta on top and using a cutter (I used a biscuit cutter) cut out circles. Close the edges together by pressing a fork around entire edge.  Let ravioli’s sit for about a half hour and then boil in salted (and small dash of olive oil) water for about 4 minutes.

Pour finished sauce over hot pasta and toss with toasted pine nuts and parmesan cheese to your liking.

  

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