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pasta

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Stove-top Bacon Mac and Cheese

Stove-Top Bacon Mac and Cheese

I’m a sucker for mac and cheese. As a kid, I think I consumed a lifetime’s worth of Kraft, only to learn that the blue box was not true mac and cheese. There are people who actually make it from scratch. And come to find out, it’s not nearly as hard as it seems to make.

In fact, when I was in high school, I remember cooking¬†my first real batch of mac and cheese by lamplight in the middle of winter at a camp. Despite feeling very rustic, the combination of cheese, milk, and pasta was enough to hook me into trying it again on my own. I’ve made baked mac and cheese, but this time, I was up for stove-top, without the crunch, but with the bacon.

Stove-Top Bacon Mac and Cheese

Gather
1/2 pound bacon, cooked crispy and diced
8 oz of radiatore pasta, cooked and drained
1 cup of shredded mild cheddar cheese
2 cups of milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon mustard powder
1/4 medium onion, diced

In a large pan on medium-high heat, cook bacon and onions. Once bacon is crispy, remove both bacon and onions from pan, place on a paper towel to absorb oil, then dice. Set aside.

Drain bacon fat from pan, then add butter, flour, and mustard powder. Cook on medium heat under browned and becomes a paste. Slowly add milk, mixing to combine. Cook for another 6-8 minutes, or until it starts to thicken. Add cheddar and cook another 5 minutes, making sure all cheese is melted.

Cheese mixture should be thickened, but still stirrable. Fold in bacon and onions. Then fold in pasta, one third of the pasta at a time until evenly coated. If sauce is too thick, add a 1/4 cup of milk, stir, and cook for another couple minutes. Serve, adding salt and pepper to season as needed.

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Food, Savory

Spaghetti Squash Pasta Bake

Spaghetti Squash Pasta Bake

I was super skeptical about this one. Particularly because I don’t really like squash. I’ve never been a fan. I don’t know if it’s a mental thing or if I really don’t like the taste. But a girlfriend of mine said spaghetti squash was different. She made it a point to tell me that this stringy squash actually didn’t taste like other squash and could be used in place of pasta. Then she lured me in with the promise that I could get my pasta fix in without all the guilt of carbs.

As an Italian, I’m a sucker for pasta. Give me lasagna, Alfredo pasta with chicken and broccoli, or even stuffed shells. The only problem is that all those recipes stick to my hips.

I was unsure of her claim, but thought I’d give it a try. She suggested trying this Spaghetti Squash and Sausage recipe, and while it was time consuming, I did find that it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I also might have removed a few of the low fat options, but I didn’t think that was the end of the world. The squash resembled pasta strands, but it was clearly vegetables. I did get Andy to eat a good portion of it before he complained that I had tricked him, yet again, into eating vegetables. It tasted like an Alfredo spaghetti dish that had been baked and topped with breadcrumbs. So I guess it’s a win.

Spaghetti Squash Pasta Bake

Spaghetti Squash Pasta Bake

Gather:
1 large spaghetti squash
2 Alfresco Spicy Jalapeno Chicken Sausage
1 cup fat free chicken broth
1 cup 2% milk
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp dried, ground sage
2 tsp dried parsley
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400.

Pierce holes into the outer skin of the spaghetti squash, then place it into a microwave safe dish and microwave for about 7-8 minutes. This will soften the squash. Let cool for about 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Lightly coat halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in a baking dish with about 1/2 inch of water and cook for 30 minutes in oven.

Once removed from oven and cooled, use a fork to scrape out the insides. It will fall apart and look like angel hair pasta strands (hence the name). Place in large bowl and throw out the skin.

Remove sausage from casings, dice, and add to bowl.

In a saucepan, melt butter and stir in flour to make a roux. Slowly whisk in milk, chicken broth, and garlic. Bring to a boil, but continue stirring. Lower heat, add in Parmesan and sage. Cool and stir until it has thickened. Pour sauce into bowl with spaghetti squash and sausage. Toss.

Pour bowl mixture into a baking pan that was been sprayed with cooking oil. Top with mozzarella cheese, then top with breadcrumbs and parsley. Bake in oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until it is cooked through and cheese is melted. Remove, let cool, and enjoy.

Food, Savory

Chicken Carbonara a la Roni

chicken carbonara

 

When you’ve got a cup of heavy cream left in the fridge, sometimes you’ve just got to make some pasta.

For the longest time I thought making a cream sauce was hard work. It was this unattainable meal that I just didn’t know how to recreate. So I would buy it in a can for years, until one day I found the basics in an easy recipe: heavy cream, water (or chicken broth), egg yolk, and garlic. Cook it up and bam. Cream sauce. Who knew?? Add some spices to alter the taste and it can be anything you want, even chicken carbonara… which I think I’m going to try to put on a pizza soon…. But for now, it’s going in pasta.

Chicken Carbonara

Gather:
1 pound of chicken, cubed
1 cup of frozen peas
3 strips of bacon, diced
1 cup of heavy cream
1/3 cup of water
1 egg yolk
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 box of linguini, cooked and drained

In a large saucepan cook minced garlic and diced bacon until bacon is crispy. Add chicken and cook until browned.

In a bowl, mix water, heavy cream, and egg yolk. Add to sauce pan with frozen peas and black pepper. Cook for 10 minutes, or until sauce has started to thicken.

Add pasta and parmesan cheese. Stir and cook until sauce is no longer runny and pasta has absorbed the sauce. Serve and enjoy.

Food, Savory

Spicy Cajun Kielbasa Pasta

Cajun Kielbasa Pasta

So this one isn’t entirely made up by me. A long time ago I received a pasta cookbook. It was overly loved and the edges were chewed off by an equally loved pet bird who I like to believe was just trying to help decide which recipe to tackle one day while helping out in the kitchen.

Inside of that lovely cookbook is a recipe for spicy cajun kielbasa pasta made with (of course) kielbasa, peas, and shrimp. And while I love shrimp, I didn’t exactly want to add it into this particular dish. But I did love the fact that it was a white sauce. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not fond of tomato sauces. On chicken Parmesan and inside a lasagna, yes. Dropped over my spaghetti, no.

This recipe turned into one of my go-to meals for when hoards of my male friends would come over and it was my duty to feed them. Depending on how much pasta you put in, you can serve up to six or eight people. (Although with them, three men could finish an entire pan made with a whole box of pasta in a single sitting.) So I’m sharing my altered, feel-good meal with you – a deviliously delicious pasta recipe for those cold winter nights.

Cajun Kielbasa Pasta

Gather:
1-lb link of Hillshire Farms Polish Kielbasa
1 cup of heavy cream
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup of water (optional to swap in chicken broth)
1 cup of frozen peas
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup of white wine (although any wine works)
Olive Oil
1/2 box of linguini pasta, cooked al dente and strained
1/4 cup of fresh grated Parmesan cheese

In a large pan, saute sliced kielbasa on medium-high heat in a 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil until browned. Add garlic and cayenne. Cook for an additional 5 minutes until garlic has released flavor (you’ll smell it) and browned. Add wine to deglaze pan.

In a bowl, mix heavy cream, egg yolk, and water. Add to kielbasa pan with frozen peas. Cook for 7-8 minutes, until sauce starts to thicken. It will still be slightly runny, add al dente pasta and Parmesan cheese. Cook until pasta is coated in sauce and it is no longer runny.

Serve and enjoy.