January 19, 2012 in pasta, pork
Last month my dear husband started talking about stuffed shells. He wanted them to be nothing but pasta shells stuffed with ricotta (just ricotta) and with sauce poured over the top. Informal Twitter poll told me not to do it but I figured I could at least make him a version I could be proud of.
My version has ricotta and sausage and Parmesan and lots of basil! And more cheese on top because duh, pasta needs cheese on top! They were delicious and even the husband had to admit that my shells were better than the ones he had wanted so badly.
I tend to use spicy Italian sausage in my pasta dishes so the sweet sausage was a fun change. If you prefer the spicy stuff, go ahead and use it! Or add some crushed red pepper flakes for a little heat. I made my olive cheese bread with it but the cheesy breadsticks I just posted would be awesome too!
1 12-ounce package jumbo pasta shells
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup onion, finely diced
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 large egg
16-ounces ricotta cheese
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
¼ cup unseasoned bread crumbs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 28-ounce jar pasta sauce
1 cup mozzarella, shredded
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta shells according to the instructions on the package. Drain, rinse in cold water, and set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage to the pan, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon. Cook sausage until cooked through, and no pink remains, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute more. Remove pan from heat.
- Beat the egg lightly in a large bowl. Mix in the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, basil, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and sausage mixture. Fill each cooked pasta shell with some of the ricotta mixture.
- Spread ½ cup of pasta sauce over the bottom of 2 9×13-inch baking dishes. Arrange the stuffed pasta shells in the dishes. Spread the remaining sauce over the top of the pasta shells and top with mozzarella.
- Cover the pans with foil and bake for 30 minutes, until hot and bubbling. Remove foil and bake until the cheese is starting to brown, about 10 minutes.
November 18, 2011 in pasta, sides
One of the things I’m most worried about for Thanksgiving is oven space. Turkey, casseroles, bread that needs to be warmed up – I mean, there’s a lot of stuff that needs some oven time. I have been looking for classic dishes that can be done on the stove and this creamy delicious macaroni and cheese fits the bill. And bonus points to it because it only requires ONE pot.
I really loved this version of macaroni and cheese. I know this is wrong to say, but I am forever searching for a macaroni recipe that has the same texture as those frozen Stouffers ones – and this one does. Tastes exactly like that. And dare I say that because it’s only one pot, it’s just as easy as popping a frozen meal in the oven or even making macaroni and cheese from the box?
A great way to jazz it up would be toasting panko bread crumbs (or fresh ones) in a little butter in a small skillet on the stove, and then sprinkling that over top of the macaroni before serving. It would make it seem more like a baked version with minimal effort.
½ pound (8 ounces) elbow macaroni (or other small, hollow pasta)
¼ cup (4 tablespoons) butter
6 ounces evaporated milk
½ teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
¾ teaspoon dry mustard
10 ounces cheddar, shredded
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce (if using), salt, pepper and ground mustard. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add two pinches of salt to the water, and cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain the pasta, and put it back in the pot, keeping it off the heat.
- Add the butter. Toss until the butter has melted.
- Stir in the egg mixture, and add the cheese.
- Place the pot back on the stove over low heat, and stir the pasta for 3 minutes or until creamy.
October 12, 2011 in pasta
I try not to take many chances in my cooking. And by that I mean that I don’t make “chick food”. Because my husband is not shy and will tell me when something is not manly enough. I’ve learned through the years that if it doesn’t include a large piece of meat or isn’t covered in cheddar, it’s going to be called girly.
But sometimes a recipe calls to me. Like this one. I pinned it forever ago and every time I go to plan a week of meals, I click through and stare at it. Because gnocchi with a fun sausage (I used sundried tomato) and spinach is the kind of thing my dreams are made of.
So I finally took a chance and made it. Verdict? My husband loved it! He said it was weird but he ate it and then ate leftovers the next day! I loved it, the kids loved it, it was an all around winner.
Another bonus? It took no time at all to come together! The gnocchi only requires a few minutes in boiling water and I used a fully-cooked chicken sausage so all I had to do was brown it. Seriously awesome.
Gnocchi with Sausage with Spinach
1 package pre-made whole-wheat gnocchi (about 3 cups)
¼ cup gnocchi cooking water
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small onion, diced
3 links fully-cooked sun-dried tomato chicken sausage, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups baby spinach
¼ cup Parmesan
- Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Reserve ¼ cup cooking water before draining.
- Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until they begin to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add chicken sausage. Allow the sausage to brown and heat through, stirring occasionally. Add in garlic and baby spinach, toss and continue to cook until spinach is wilted.
- Add cooked gnocchi into the skillet with the sausage and spinach, top with the remaining Tablespoon of olive oil and the reserved cooking water. Mix together. Top with Parmesan.
September 15, 2011 in chicken, pasta
I made this spicy bacon ranch pasta a few weeks back and then forgot about it which is shameful because it’s the only thing I’ve made lately that my husband has said, “You should make this again! And soon!”
It follows the formula that I know always works well for my family: pasta, chicken, and dry salad dressing mix. Plus bacon? Yeah, you see why we liked it so much. The recipe came together so fast and I’m thinking it could even be made in the slow cooker (cook the bacon & pasta separately – and maybe use a can of cream of something soup instead of the milk/flour mixture) to make things even easier.
The spicy ranch mix isn’t super spicy so don’t worry about your kids not enjoying it – it has just enough spice to make it interesting.
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
6 slices bacon
2 tablespoons flour
1 package Spicy Ranch Dry Salad Dressing mix
1½ cups milk
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese (plus more for topping)
1 pound pasta (ziti, rotini, shells, whatever you like)
- Cook pasta according to package instructions.
- In a large skillet, cook the bacon until nice and crisp. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat.
- Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and add it to the hot skillet. Cook thoroughly, making sure all sides of the chicken brown. Transfer the chicken to the plate with the bacon.
- In the same skillet (add olive oil if needed), sprinkle in the flour and Spicy Ranch Dry Salad Dressing mix and whisk constantly for about a minute. Pour in the milk, while whisking. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for a couple minutes, until it thickens. Add the chicken, bacon, and Parmesan and stir until the Parmesan melts.
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the pan with the sauce. Stir it all together and allow it to cook for an extra couple minutes just so the pasta absorbs some of the sauce. Serve with extra Parmesan.