Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Classic Lasagna

My husband and I both agreed that this was the best lasagna we have ever had. I have always enjoyed the standard lasagna recipe with bottled sauce, cottage/ricotta cheese, etc. but this recipe takes lasagna to a whole new level. In place of the bottled sauce and cottage/ricotta cheese, you make a wonderful homemade red sauce and white bechamel sauce. The two sauces compliment each other perfectly. Once you make this recipe there’s no looking back. It’s truly incredible. So incredible that we had this for dinner on a Monday and the finished the leftovers the very next day, and let me tell you that rarely happens in this household.

This was probably the most time-consuming dinner I’ve made in a very long time but it was well worth the effort. This lasagna does dirty a lot of pots and pans so do yourself a favor and use no-boil noodles, it will give you one less pot to clean.

Classic Lasagna

Red Sauce:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
6 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1/2 large onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

White Sauce:
3 cups milk (not skim, I used 2%)
5 Tablespoons flour
4 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

9 lasagna noodles, boiled for half the time or 12 no-boil noodles
1 pound ground hamburger
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded

Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking pan with cooking spray or with a napkin dipped lightly in olive oil. Set pan aside.

In a large skillet, brown the ground hamburger over medium-high heat. When cooked through, drain and set aside.

In a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and one tablespoon butter. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. When oil/butter is hot, add the garlic, stirring constantly. When the garlic is lightly browned, add the onion and mushrooms. Continue cooking on medium-high heat until the vegetables are soft and browned and the fluid has mostly cooked out. Remove from heat and either using a handheld immersion blender or transferring the vegetables to a blender, blend the vegetables to a paste-like mixture. Return the pot to the heat (pour the pureed vegetables back in, if using a stand-alone blender) and add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Then add the diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir. Cover and let the sauce sauce simmer for 30 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Right before using the red sauce in the lasagna, stir in the reserved ground turkey.

While the red sauce simmers, if using lasagna noodles that need to be boiled, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and boil the noodles for half the time suggested on the box. Once the noodles are cooked, drain, but do not rinse. Add a dab of olive oil to keep them from sticking together. Skip this step if you are using no-boil noodles.

Also while the red sauce is cooking, melt the four tablespoons butter. When the butter has melted add the flour, stirring constantly to combine and letting the mixture cook, while stirring, for a minute or two. Gradually add in the milk, whisking constantly. Add the salt and pepper. Slowly whisk the white sauce, ensuring it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan, while cooking it over medium heat. Continue slowly stirring or whisking while the white sauce cooks and thickens quite a bit, about 5-7 minutes (it may take a little longer but it will thicken).

Preheat the oven to 350° F. To begin layering the lasagna, keep in mind that you’ll have three layers of noodles as well as three layers of the sauces and cheese – so plan on splitting all the sauce and cheese piles into thirds so you don’t run out at the end. On the bottom of your lightly greased baking pan, layer three pre-boiled noodles/four no-boil noodles, slightly overlapping the no-boil noodles. Layer the red sauce, white sauce, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, spreading all to the edges and top with another layer of noodles. Again, layer the red sauce, white sauce, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and top with the final layer of noodles. Layer the sauces and cheeses again.

Cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and return to the oven for 10 minutes more.  Allow to cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


Source: Mel’s Kitchen



PostHeaderIcon Chicken Parmesan

I always get excited when I find a new dinner recipe I can add to our rotation. I made this meal last Sunday and it was so darn good that I had to share it with you as soon as possible. The recipe is technically a “lighter” chicken parmesan since the chicken is baked and not fried, like the traditional version. The panko crumbs are toasted first on the stove with a little oil, then the breaded chicken is cooked at a very high temperature. I love this method for cooking the chicken, it’s very easy and the results are wonderful.

There’s not much else to say about this recipe except you must make it soon!

Lighter Chicken Parmesan

1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
Salt and pepper
3 large egg whites
1 tablespoon water
Vegetable cooking spray
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and cut into halves (4 total)
2 cups marinara sauce , warmed
1/2 shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Combine the breadcrumbs and oil in a 12-inch skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring often, until golden, about 10 minutes. Spread the bread crumbs in a shallow dish and cool slightly; when cool, stir in the Parmesan.

In a second shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together. In a third shallow dish, whisk the egg whites and water together.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, place a wire rack on top, and spray the rack with vegetable oil spray. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge the cutlets in the flour, shaking off the excess, then dip into the egg whites, and finally coat with the bread crumbs, Press on the bread crumbs to make sure they adhere. Lay the chicken on the wire rack.

Spray the tops of the chicken with vegetable oil spray. Bake until the meat is no longer pink in the center and feels firm when pressed with a finger, about 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the oven. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the sauce onto the center of each cutlet and top the sauce with 2 tablespoons of the mozzarella. Return the chicken to the oven and continue to bake until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and serve over noodles, with extra parmesan and marinara sauce.


Source: Brown Eyed Baker, originally from Cook’s Illustrated, October 2006


PostHeaderIcon Baked Meatballs

I found this recipe for baked meatballs last week and I instantly put it on my to-make list since I knew my husband would love it. I mean, don’t all men love red meat? I know it’s a huge stereotype but I think it’s pretty true. Don’t you agree? I’m not a big fan of spaghetti and meatballs but I still very much enjoyed this dinner. The meatballs are very easy to make; you just toss all of the ingredients in a bowl, mix together with your hands, shape into mini balls, place over pasta sauce, and bake for 20-25 minutes. I think I checked my meatballs at 22 minutes and they were perfectly done. I love the addition of panko crumbs in the meatballs, it gives them a nice texture. I halved this recipe and I think it made enough for three people, but it depends on your portion size.

Bite Size Baked Meatballs

makes 30-40 mini meatballs


1 1/4 pounds lean ground beef

1 egg

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup romano cheese

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

3 cups of your favorite pasta sauce



Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, add ground beef, egg, oil, cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, basil and parsley. Mix to combine, gently tossing a few times with your hands. Don’t overmix – it will result in tough meatballs! Spray a large baking dish with non-stick spray and add 2 cups of pasta sauce. Roll beef into mini meatballs (about a tablespoon of beef) and set in sauce. Once all meatballs have been added, sprinkle additional cheese and breadcrumbs over top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through. Serve with additional sauce and whole wheat spaghetti noodles.


Source: How Sweet It Is


PostHeaderIcon Southwestern Pasta Salad

This was my Mother’s Day dinner and it was everything I could have hoped for; delicious, healthy, filling, and vegetarian. I like to cook meatless meals whenever I eat solo for dinner. It’s not that I don’t love meat, I do. I just think most people, including myself, rely too much on meat as their primary source of protein when there are other great sources out there. Like beans! Black beans are my go-to protein when I’m looking to cook meatless. There are so many great vegetarian recipes that I have tried and loved, this is definitely one of them.

This is a great meal to make ahead since the longer you let the flavors blend together before serving, the better it will taste. Make sure you stir it well and add the diced avocados just before serving. This was the second time I made this dish and the only thing I regret about this meal was not making it sooner. I hate when I find a delicious recipe, make it, love it, and then forget about it. Please learn from my mistakes. :)

Southwestern Pasta Salad


1 lb whole grain pasta

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 small can of corn, drained

2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced

6 oz shredded Mexican cheese

1 cup salsa

1/2 cup olive oil

2 limes, juiced

1/2 – 1 teaspoon cumin

1-2 teaspoons chili powder

2 garlic cloves, minced

freshly ground salt & pepper

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 avocado, diced


Cook the pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain pasta, do not rinse. In a large bowl, combine the black beans, corn, tomatoes, salsa, and cheese. Add the cooled pasta and mix well.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cumin, and chili powder. Pour over the pasta salad, add the cilantro, and mix well. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Keep refrigerated until serving. Just before serving, add the diced avocado and stir well.


Source: adapted from Cara’s Cravings