Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

Veggie Lasagna

Ok. So this is not the easiest, a little labor intensive.  But, oh so worth it!

Hon says “how can it be lasagna without meat?”.  I say, “Just give it a try, it’ll be good!”.  And it was!   Don’t forget the mozzarella or Provolone cheese for the top!

Just kidding! Not really, that is what the plate looked like when he was done!  Here is before we ate:

First, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Then…

  • 1/2 c chopped broccoli
  • 1/2 c chopped onion
  • 1/2 c chopped carrot
  • 1/2 c chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 c chopped bell pepper (I used sweet red)
  • 14 oz can diced tomato, drained

Mix this stuff together, saute` in 1 TB extra virgin olive oil and set aside.

  • 1 c low fat ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c fresh basil pesto
  • 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 c grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Mix together and set aside.

  • 9 lasagna  noodles, par boiled about 6-7 minutes, drained


  • 2 TB butter
  • 2-3 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 TB flour
  • 2 c flour
  • Salt and pepper

Melt butter over medium low heat, add garlic and cook about a minute.  Whisk in the flour.  Whisk in the milk until slightly thickened (about 5 minutes).  Add 1/4 tsp salt and pepper to taste.

Spray baking dish (9×6 is what I used).  Spread 1/4 c sauce in the bottom of the pan.  Layer as follows:

  1. Noodles
  2. Ricotta/pesto mix
  3. Shredded mozzarella (1/4-1/2 per layer)
  4. Veggie mix
  5. Repeat 1 through 4 three times

Layer the top with mozzarella or Provolone.   Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until the cheese on top is lightly browned.   I was going to add eggplant to the veggie mix but, maybe next time!  This would be perfect with some shredded cooked chicken or perhaps, some shrimp!  Yum!


Read Full Post »

It is my understanding that orecchiette means “little ears”, which is kind of funny when you think about it.  “What did you have for dinner last night?  Ears.”  Hm.

Anyway, in digging through the refrigerator today, I found some bell peppers, smoked sausage and green onions.  I was thinking about a shape of pasta that would hold up to the heartiness of the sausage. I found a box of orecchiette in my pantry.  This little pasta is great for sauces because the little “ears” hold on to the sauce.  I figured if I diced the sausage and veggies, it would go well.  So here we go ~ an adventure in cooking, no recipe needed! (Ok, I did write down what I used for your convenience).  Enjoy!

  • 4 oz lean smoked sausage, diced
  • 1 TB butter
  • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 c sweet bell peppers, diced (I used red, yellow and orange)
  • 1 c green onions, cut into about a 1/2 inch slice
  • 1 c small fresh mushrooms, quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c blanched kale, chopped
  • 1/2 c white wine
  • 4 oz orechiette pasta

Cook pasta according to instructions on the box in salted water.  Drain and reserve pasta water.

In heavy skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add red pepper and cook for a minute to release the heat from the pepper.  Sear sausage in the skillet until lightly browned.  Remove from skillet and set aside.

Add peppers and mushrooms to the same skillet and saute` for a few minutes. Add onions and garlic, saute` another minute or two. Remove veggies to the same bowl the sausage is reserved in.

Add white wine to the skillet along with 1/2 c reserved pasta water.  Using a wooden spoon, scrape any crunchies from the bottom of the skillet.  Let the liquid reduce by about half.  Add the kale and heat through.

Return the sausage and veggies to the skillet.  Add the pasta and toss well.  Cook just long enough to heat through.

On a side note, I really like mustard seeds in my smoked sausage.  I love when I bite into a little mustard seed, feel the pop in my mouth and the release of the yummy spiciness of the mustard!  The sausage I used did not have any mustard seeds in it.  So, I pickled some mustard seeds and tossed them in.  If you want to add these little gems of spiciness to your dish, just do the following:

  • 2 TB mustard seeds
  • 2 TB malt vinegar
  • 1/3 c chicken or beef broth

Mix all in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove the seeds and discard the liquid.  And, there you go!

This dish actually turned out really delicious.  Very colorful too.  The kale was actually an afterthought to give the dish a shot of fiber, but it worked!  There were a lot of textures with the pasta, sausage, crispy veggies and the kale has a texture all its own.  Some people think kale is just for garnish but it is chock full of fiber and vitamins and so good for you!

Read Full Post »

I am so ready for spring!  Granted, this has not been the worst or snowiest or coldest winter we have had.  But it has been pretty dull – ice fishing has been close to non-existent, no snow for cross country skiing.  It has just not been the best winter!

I am looking forward to my morning walks as the earth comes back to life, watching the birds pair up and build nests, the green grass peeking through the brown remnants from winter, the tulips and crocuses sprouting up for early blooms, and of course, the fresh wild mushrooms.  Yes, I am ready for spring.  Ready to get back in the garden,to get dirty and muddy digging in the dirt, planting seeds with the anticipation of picking a a fresh salad or fresh veggies for dinner.  There is nothing better!  Soon, I keep telling myself, soon!

So, something a little lighter tonight.  This is a simple and fast recipe.  I love ginger with carrots, and  it also compliments the pork.  I usually buy a big ginger root from the produce department and store it in a airtight container in my freezer.  When I need fresh ginger, I take it out of the freezer for about 5 minutes, peel a little knob with a carrot peeler, and grate the frozen ginger with my microplane (which by the way is one of my favorite kitchen tools!).  Then I throw the ginger root back in the freezer for next time!  This works great and I know because I have been using ginger this way for at least a decade!

Anyway, there is not much of a story behind this one, only that I like it and it is easy.  I made it a lot when I was in college.  It makes a little pork go a long way in terms of serving portions so it is really kind of a budget meal as well.  I could see it served with crispy won ton skins crumbled on top, but alas, I did not have any on hand.

  • 8 oz boneless pork, trimmed of fat and cut into thin strips
  • 2 TB soy sauce
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tsp fresh grated ginger (alternately, you can substitute 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ginger powder)
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally
  • 1 c fresh snow peas
  • 4 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 2 TB vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 TB fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 12 oz dry linguine

Cook linguine according to package instructions.  In the last 3 minutes of cooking time for the pasta, add sliced carrots to the water and cook with the pasta.  Drain and set aside.

In a bowl, mix the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, ground coriander and pepper. Add pork strips and toss to combine.  Let sit for about 20 to 30 minutes.

In a skillet, heat 1 TB oil over medium low heat.  Add eggs.  You basically just want them cooked through in a round patty kind of thing – not scrambled.  Transfer eggs to a cutting board and cut into strips, about 1/4 inch wide or so (I just rolled mine out of the pan and sliced), Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 TB oil over medium high heat.  Add pork strips with seasoning/marinade and stir fry until slightly browned. Add mushrooms, snow peas and scallions and cook until peas are tender.

Add pasta, carrots and egg strips to the skillet, toss to combine and just heat until the noodles and carrots are heated through.  Toss in cilantro and serve.

And then at this point, I realized I was out of cilantro!  Arrgh!  It was still very delicious but, the cilantro adds a little something to the dish.  Of course, some people don’t care for cilantro and if that is your case, then just substitute fresh parsley (which I had to do here).  Also, bean sprouts would be great here but I did not have any on hand.

Please enjoy and save a buck in the process!

Read Full Post »

I was making some pork tonight with Greek style flavors – olive oil, garlic, oregano and lemon.  It is really delicious.  I got the idea many years ago when  I had Greek ribs at this little restaurant ran by a Greek heritage family.  It was my 5th wedding anniversary and the ribs were tender and so yummy!  They needed no sauce at all!  The flavors had absorbed into the pork and the only thing I wished was that there were more of them!

So, tonight, to go with my pork with Greek style flavors, I decided upon some orzo pasta scented with a little garlic, warmed, with tomatoes, goat cheese, spinach (wilted from the heat of the pasta) and Kalamata olives.  If it was summer, I would add a little fresh chopped oregano leaves at the end.  Oh!  It sounds so good!  Well, really, it is so good!

  • 2 oz feta or goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
  • 2 oz pitted Kalamata olives, quartered
  • 1 big handful fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 5 oz orzo pasta
  • 2 c chicken stock
  • 1 c water
  • 1 tsp minced garlic

Heat chicken stock, water and garlic to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add orzo and cook according to package instructions.  Drain and reserve pasta liquid.

Return orzo to the pot, stir in tomatoes, spinach, goat cheese, olives and 1/4 c of the pasta liquid you reserved.  Stir and serve!

This is so simple, and yet, so good.  The creaminess of the goat cheese with the freshness of the spinach and tomatoes, the saltiness of the Kalamata olives –  it is almost heaven!

On a side note, one of my favorite salads of all time is simply fresh spinach, diced tomatoes and feta or goat cheese.  Toss well.  The juice from the tomatoes and cheese actually make the dressing!  All you really need is a little fresh ground pepper!

Gotta go!  Dinner is ready and I am so hungry!

Read Full Post »

I was in the mood for lasagna tonight but it can be so time consuming!   Anyway, this is a similar dish in that it has pretty much the same ingredients.  I found a recipe a long time ago in a cookbook, Betty Crocker’s A Passion for Pasta, it was a “Cincinnati” version (they use spices like cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice, which I do like, but, not tonight).   I like the concept so I adapted it to leftovers on hand (What do you do with that cooked spaghetti from last night?).  Anyway, I stick to Betty’s version for the “crust”.  I mean, really, if it works, why fix it?

I have also used this same “crust” and filled with chicken or seafood, just used an Alfredo type sauce.  Artichokes are wonderful with these.  Add cheese of your choice!

The “Crust”:

6 oz uncooked spaghetti, vermicelli or angel hair – cooked per the box instructions, drained.

1/3 c grated Parmesan cheese

2 eggs

Spray deep dish pie plate with cooking spray.  Mix eggs and Parmesan cheese.  Add cooked pasta.  Mix well. Press in a pie plate making it look like a pie crust, pressing up the sides of the dish (I find that the best kitchen tool for this is your hands!).  Set aside.

1/2 lb ground meat (beef, chicken, game ~ whatever your heart desires)

1/2 c diced onion

1/2 c sliced mushrooms (I used Chanterelles)

1/2 c chopped bell pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Brown ground beef in oil with onion, mushrooms and bell pepper.  Add garlic, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

1 c ricotta cheese (I used reduced fat)

1/2 package frozen, chopped spinach – thawed and drained

1 to 1/2 c marinara sauce (depending on how much sauce you prefer, use your favorite sauce)

Provolone cheese

Spread ricotta cheese over the pasta “crust”.  Layer the spinach over the ricotta.  Then layer the browned meat mixture.  Pour sauce over.  Cover with Provolone cheese.  I added a little sharp cheddar over the Provolone, just for fun!

Bake in 350 degree oven until the cheese is melted and dish is heated through.  Yum!

The pie was delicious! Reminiscent of lasagna with less work!  Great with a simple salad and perhaps, garlic bread or toast!

Read Full Post »

So, I was in town, doing some after Christmas shopping…  We were planning on heading out on the ice for a little late season walleyes or crappies.  Yo – the phone rings.  “Well, honey, the fish house is sinking so I don’t think we will be fishing tonight!”   Well, by the time I got back from town, the house was off the lake.  Whoo hoo! Everyone is safe!!  Ok, after we wiped the sweat from our brow, we sat down, made a cocktail, and watched other fish houses start sinking.  We actually watched a fish house sink to the roof and then the owners struggle to get it out of the lake!  They made it out safe & sound!  Anyway, wet, cold ~ nothing says “warm me up!” like a little comfort food!  Here you go!  Works with venison, beef, antelope and I would think duck!

  • 1 pound red meat (venison, beef, duck – your pick!), sliced thin
  • 1 c sliced mushrooms, morel, chanterelle or baby bellas
  • 1/2 c slice yellow onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 TB butter, divided
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 3 TB sherry or good red wine
  • 12 oz beef broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 c beef broth
  • 6-8 oz light sour cream
  • 2 TB flour
  • 2 Tb fresh chopped parsley
  1. Saute onion and mushrooms over medium heat.  Add garlic & saute another 30 seconds. Remove from pan.
  2. Season meat slices with salt and pepper, toss with flour.
  3. Add another 1 TB oil to pan and brown meat in oil.  Remove from pan.
  4. You should have about 2 TB oil/fat in the pan.  Add 2 TB flour and whisk until the flour is cooked through, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add sherry and broth, whisk until thickend.  Add beef, mushrooms & onion mixture.  Stir.
  6. Add beef.
  7. Add sour cream and stir in chopped parsley,

Serve over buttered egg noodles.  A salad is a plus!

Read Full Post »