Category Archives: Pasta

Molly’s Braised Kale and Spaghetti

Made this last night for supper, and it was good, though incredibly garlicky.  I had some curly kale to use up, and though her recipe calls for lacinato kale, I found that the curly worked well when I braised it a bit longer than the 20 minutes she calls for, with a little bit more liquid too. 

No picture from me- but Molly’s story about kale is a good read (as expected).


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Filed under 30 min. or less, Clean Eating, Main dishes, Pasta, Side dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Tangy shrimp-&-scallop pasta

I find it a bit discouraging that as spring is just starting, I get sick.

Deathly sick. 4-days-at-home-in-bed-and-drugged sick. Eat-nothing-but-PB&J-or-macaroni-and-cheese-that-your-husband-made sick.  There was no cooking, no post-writing, no picture-taking. Nothing besides a lot of coughing and a lot of sleeping.

But now, I’m feeling better. I felt good enough last weekend to make a pot of chicken stock, loaf of sourdough, and homemade pasta to go with this creamy seafood sauce.  Really, it sounds more impressive than it is. 90% of sourdough is waiting.  Same with chicken stock.  Making homemade pasta is much easier than it sounds.  Plus, this dish only takes 30 minutes, fridge to table.

But even though this supper is fast enough for a weeknight and not TOO damaging to your diet, it’s worthy of homemade pasta, too.  Maybe it’s just me, but any sort of seafood sauce feels dressy and special and worthy of homemade pasta.  Add a decent bottle of white, some crusty bread, and a salad with olives and onions, and you’ve got instant specialness.

What makes this different than a seafood alfredo or similar heavy-hitting white sauce is making a thinner (read: less fattening) sauce that is tossed directly with hot pasta, allowing the a lot of the sauce and flavor to be soaked right up by the noodles.  Reserve some extra pasta water; you can add more to thin down the sauce and increase the pasta-soakage. Or add white wine– it’ll compliment the lemon and the seafood.  You can also toss your sauce and pasta together in a big skillet with high sides, or in a large pot that you use to boil the pasta water.  (My 10-inch pan with 3-inch sides was just perfect for the full recipe.)

Tangy shrimp & scallop pasta
from this website

Serves 3-4

1/2 pound dry pasta, or homemade pasta with 3 eggs
1/2 pound shrimp, raw or cooked, deveined and de-tailed
1/2 pound bay scallops
2 T. butter or olive oil
1 small onion or scallion
2 garlic cloves
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 to 3/4 c. pasta water
4 oz. cream cheese or low-fat substitute
1/3 c. sour cream
1/2 t. dried red pepper flakes
3 T. freshly chopped parsley or 1 T. dried parsley (optional)
salt and pepper

If using frozen seafood, throw it in a bowl of cold water to start defrosting.  Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for pasta. While waiting for water, melt butter in a large skillet with high sides over medium heat, and dice onion and garlic. Add pasta once water is boiling.

When butter is melted and hot, add onion and saute 3-4 minutes, until onions are soft and nearly translucent; add in garlic and continue to cook for 2 more minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high, and add the lemon juice and pasta water to the onions. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the sour cream, cream cheese, and red pepper, and whisk or stir briskly to make a smooth sauce.  Allow to simmer for another 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add salt and pepper to taste (I used ~1/2 t. salt and freshly ground black pepper).

While all this is happening, keep an eye on your pasta.  Once it’s cooked al dente, drain almost all of the water, put it back into the pot, and set it off the heat with the lid on.  Also drain your seafood if you were defrosting.  With the sauce simmering, add in the seafood (and more pasta water if your sauce is getting thick); continue to stir and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, just enough to cook scallops through and turn shrimp pink (if using raw).  Reduce heat to medium and add the pasta to the sauce pan, tossing carefully to coat pasta with sauce and mix in seafood. Cook for 5-7 minutes, allowing pasta to soak up most of the sauce. Stir in parsley before serving and serve with grated Parmesan, if mixing fish and cheese is your thing (and believe me, it is my thing!).

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Main dishes, Pasta

Penne à la Vodka

I was surprised by this dish.  I had never had penne à la vodka, but I expected… well, honestly, I expected a bit more.  The vodka flavor was subtle, which I was pleased with.  But there isn’t much for herbs in many penne à la vokda recipes that I looked at.  Some basil, a dash of red pepper flakes, and… that’s it.

Not that it wasn’t good, because it was. It was very good.

Just… simple.  And I liked it.  I could use more simple.

Penne à la Vodka
Adapted from Rachel Ray, via Smitten Kitchen

Serves 4

1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 c. vodka
1 c. chicken stock
1 can crushed tomatoes (32 ounces)
Coarse salt and pepper
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
16 ounces penne pasta
1/2 c. heavy cream
20 leaves fresh basil or ~1 t. dried basil

Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots; saute for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the vodka to the pan and reduce vodka by half, stirring (this will take 2 or 3 minutes).  Add the chicken stock and tomatoes. Bring sauce bubbling and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper and add red pepper flakes

While sauce simmers, cook pasta in salted boiling water until cooked to al dente. Stir your simmering pasta sauce occasionally.

Once the pasta is nearly ready, stir the cream into sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat. Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil.  Serve with freshly grate parmesan (optional).

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Main dishes, Pasta, Vegetarian

Homemade egg noodles

I’ve heard nothing but great things about homemade noodles, but, aside from spaetzle, had never made them. But they’re really easy and not very time consuming! Egg noodles were a breeze and I plan to make them again soon. I ate them with a chicken stew that I should be posting soon. :)

Homemade egg noodles
from Stolen Moments

2 c. flour
1 t. salt
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 T. cold water + 1-2 T. more

Heap the flour in a shallow bowl or on a cutting board; sprinkle salt over flour. Make a well in the middle of the flour. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, and 2 T. water. Pour the eggs in the middle of the flour well and carefully cut in flour, starting with the outside edges.

Use your hands to form the dough into a ball and knead 10-15 times. Add water by the teaspoon if absolutely necessary, but you want a stiff dough- not tacky.  Roll out on a lightly floured surface until desired thickness- I made mine thick, between 1/4 and 3/8 inch.

Roll up the dough like rolling a jelly roll. Cut 1/4 inch slices all across the length. Unwind carefully; cut to desired length. Lay out to let dry for at least 20 minutes before boiling.


Filed under Main dishes, Pasta, Side dishes

Tortellini & Artichoke Salad

My wonderful sister-in-law came to visit one hot summer weekend and she was gracious enough to make this salad for us! We served it with smoked ribs, baked beans, and crispy oven-fried potatoes. So good!

I had to run a few other errands while she made it, so I don’t have any fun prep pictures. I’m also guessing on some of the measurements- particularly the dressing. Add a little at a time- you can always add more!


Tortellini & Artichoke Salad
from Krista McC.

1 bag frozen tortellini
1 6-7.5 oz. jar marinated artichokes
1/2 red pepper
3-4 green onions
1 small jar sliced black olives
4 slices bacon
1 bottle creamy Italian dressing

Cook the tortellini according to the instructions on the packages; drain and set aside to cool. Chop the artichokes into bite-sized pieces. Dice the red pepper and green onion; fry and crumble the bacon. Drain the black olives and cut in half (optional).

In a large bowl, carefully fold all of the ingredients except the dressing with a spatula. Add the dressing a little at a time; fold thoroughly to cover all ingredients. Cover and chilli in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight. Keeps for 4-5 days covered in the fridge.

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Pasta, Summer

Basil-Walnut Pesto

My basil has been attempting to take over my entire garden. Okay, exaggeration… but it was looking quite fierce compared to the nearby tomato plants. I went out on Sunday to prune it, and ended up bringing in nearly four cups of basil leaves! Insane!

I was far too lazy to bike to the store and pay a stupidly-high price for mediocre pine nuts, so instead I toasted some walnuts and put together this lovely pesto. Delish with chicken, pasta, on baguette or other french bread, for crostata, or even on whole-wheat Ritz crackers with a little extra sprinkle of grated parmesan. [Puttin’ on the Ritz? Guilty as charged.]

Basil-Walnut Pesto
adapted from the lovely Elise at Simply Recipes

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
3-4 fresh garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To toast nuts: Set oven to 400 degrees. Coarsely chop nuts, and spread out evenly on a baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 3-4 minutes, then shake the nuts around on the pan. Do this two or three times, and be sure to take them out before they smell like they’re burning!

Combine the basil and walnuts, and pulse a few times in a food processor.  Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese, fresh black pepper, and a generous pinch of [kosher!] salt, and pulse again until blended.  Can be served immediately, but it’s really good if chilled in a tupperware or covered bowl in the fridge for a few hours, just to let the flavors really blend.


Filed under 30 min. or less, Condiments, etc., Pasta

CE: Harvest Grains side-dish

I found a bag of Harvest Grains blend at Trader Joe’s last weekend and have been excited to try it out. Funny thing– the couscous and orzo are made from whole wheat flour, which  makes the red quinoa and  baby garbanzos the only whole grains in the blend. But still, this was fantastic! The spinach and red pepper orzo and yellow baby garbanzo beans added great color, and the garbanzos retained a crunchier texture than the couscous and orzo.

I prepared a slightly-upgraded version compared to the instructions on the bag, and was incredibly surprised when N loved it. He actually went back for seconds!   We served this with parmesan-baked fish (fresh walleye and bluegill) and baking powder biscuits with SF rhubarb strawberry syrup. Mmmmm. :)

tjs harvest grains1

Harvest Grains side

1/2 bag of Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains blend
1 1/2 c. chicken or veggie stock
1/4 c. water
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 clove garlic
1 T. olive oil
1 T. lemon juice
fresh parmesan to garnish

Combine the stock, pepper, paprika, and cayenne in a medium sauce pot and bring to a boil.  Press the garlic, and add the garlic and olive oil to the pot along with the half bag of Harvest Grains blend. Bring back up to a boil; reduce heat and keep at a simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, most of the liquid should have evaporated or been absorbed by the grains. Stir in the lemon juice and allow to continue to simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, and serve hot with freshly grated parmesan on top.

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Clean Eating, Pasta, Side dishes

Aaaand… it’s winter.


I woke up to this:

October 12th and it's WHITE???

What the H, Wisconsin?! Just 3 days ago I posted about officially feeling fall-like, and now you hit us with THIS??

I'm in denial. This isn't actually real.

This calls for a hotdish. Something carby, cheesy, hot, filling, and substantial. Not just any ordinary hotdish will do. I threw together this Chicken Parmesan Hotdish based on one of da hubs and mine favorite meals- and what we had in our kitchen. There was no way I was going outside!

Definitely comfort food

Chicken Parmesan Hotdish

16 oz. jar of marinara, or 1 batch homemade marinara (recipe below
12 oz. cooked rigatoni, macaroni, mafalda, or whatever you have on hand (we use whole-wheat rigatoni)
1 c. cooked chicken
1 c. mozzarela, coarsely grated or shredded
1/2 c. parmesan, grated
sprinkle of thyme and oregano (optional)

Heat oven to 350 and grease the sides of an 8×8 dish. Spread cooked chicken out evenly along the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with 1/3 c. mozza. Cover with cooked pasta, sauce, remainder of mozzarela, parmean, and spices. Cook for 35-40 minutes until brown and bubbly.

Marinara sauce

4-5 large tomatoes, or 3 cans of tomato sauce
1 T. tomato paste
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T. green pepper, chopped finely
Salt, pepper, oregano, basil, thyme, and parsley, all to taste

Peel the tomatoes in a hot-water bath and chop well (if applicable). Sautee the onions in olive oil in a large skillet; add the garlic and pepper when onions are soft. Sautee for 3-4 minutes; add spices and cook briefly, about one minute. Stir in the tomatoes or tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Whisk in tomato paste, and allow sauce to simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and add spice as needed. If sauce is thicker than preferred, slowly stir in 1 T of water at a time; if too thin, add in a small amount of tomato paste while simmering. Can be used as a spaghetti sauce base, pizza sauce, or dipping sauce.

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Filed under Chicken, Clean Eating, Pasta