Homemade Pasta

Homemade pasta is totally where it’s at. You’ll never want to go back to the store bought stuff and you won’t believe how simple it is. Only 3 ingredients to fresh, delicious pasta from scratch.
Homemade Pasta 10
Last week Noah and I were making macaroni salad and he was pretty insistent that we make homemade noodles for it. I’ve been loving his interest in cooking and photography lately so I didn’t want to discourage him by saying no so we did a little negotiating and I promised him that we would make some on the weekend. He asked every single day if it was the weekend yet. The kid doesn’t forget anything. So finally when Saturday rolled around it was time and he was over the top excited. Like couldn’t stop moving or talking or dancing on the counters excited.

So we got to work mixing the flour and salt then made a well for the eggs.
Homemade Pasta 2
Homemade Pasta 1
Then he “lightly” (or as lightly as a 4 year old can) whisked the eggs in the well.
Homemade Pasta 3
And started to pull in the flour from the sides of the well and mixed until a shaggy dough was formed.
Homemade Pasta
Then it was time to knead the dough. I lost him for awhile on this one since it was “boring” and he doesn’t like to get dirty (he gets that from his mama, kneading is the worst). Slowly add in water as needed for the dough to come together. Then cover and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Homemade Pasta 4
We then divided the dough into 6 pieces and rolled them out starting with the lowest (thickest) setting and continued to smaller settings until we reached the desired thickness.
Homemade Pasta 5
Homemade Pasta 8
Homemade Pasta 6
Homemade Pasta 7
Then, what he was most excited about, we cut the pasta using the fettuccine attachment.
Homemade Pasta 9
Homemade Pasta 11
Although the process takes a little bit of time and planning, it probably took us about an hour, the end result is definitely worth it. And keep in mind I had an active 4 year old helping me which added some time.

Plus, I got to check off another item on my Top 100 (I admit I’ve made fresh pasta before but have never photographed and shared it here). I’ve kind of neglected the list lately so it was nice to have accomplished something there. We may just have to start fresh pasta Saturday’s around here.

Homemade Pasta
serves 4-6

3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
4 eggs

1. Mix flour and salt then make a mound and make a well in the center.

2. Crack eggs in well then whisk lightly. Slowly pull in flour from the well walls until a shaggy dough is formed.

3. Knead dough until smooth and elastic (5-7 minutes), adding water by the tablespoon if it’s dry. Then cover with clean towel and let rest 15 minutes.

4. Divide into 6 pieces, work with one piece at a time and keep remaining pieces covered. Flatten into a rectangle and pass through pasta roller on lowest setting, fold in half then pass through the roller another 2-3 times. Crank to next setting and pass through another 3-4 times, then again on the next setting. Lay on floured surface then cover with a towel. Proceed with remaining pieces. Switch to the pasta cutting attachment (we used fettuccine) and pass each pasta sheet through. Place cut pasta on a floured surface and cover with a towel while you complete the remaining pasta. Boil 2-3 minutes in salted water.


Pizza Stuffed Shells

IPizza Shells 2

How was your Valentine’s Day? I spent mine with my favorite 4 year old boy and it was so much fun. We went out to lunch then drove around town trying to find a bowling alley that didn’t have a high school bowling tournament going on. Apparently that’s the thing to do on Valentine’s weekend. We finally found a place and bowled a game and played some arcade games. I don’t often get to spend time alone with him so it made for a really special day. When we got home we made heart shaped pizza and watched a movie. The perfect way to spend the day with my love.

Speaking of pizza, it is hands down a favorite amongst my guys. They literally would eat it every single day if I let them. And we may have this weekend but that’s beside the point. I like pizza as much as the next guy but my favorite carb comes in the form of pasta. When I think of the hardest food for me to give up, it’s always a toss up between pasta or cheese. Either one would be pretty disastrous in my world.
Pizza Shells 1
These shells are stuffed with ricotta and diced pepperoni then smothered in a quick homemade marinara and sprinkled with mozzarella cheese. They can be filled with any of your favorite toppings to create your favorite pizza in pasta form. Although we love our traditional stuffed shells, I have to say these are even better. This dish comes together pretty quickly for an easy weeknight meal and you could even double the recipe and freeze half for another time. Who knew combining our favorite carbs would be so so good?

Pizza Stuffed Shells

For quick marinara:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. tomato sauce
3 oz. tomato paste
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/4 cup water
1/2 Tbsp. sugar

12 pasta shells, cooked al dente
15 oz. part skim ricotta
1 egg
2 Tbsp. parsley, minced
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 oz. diced pepperoni
1 cup shredded mozzarella

1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add in the remaining marinara ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes. Puree, if desired.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a small mixing bowl, combine ricotta, egg, parsley, parmesan, salt, pepper and pepperoni. Divide filling evenly between the shells.

3. Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a 9×9 pan and place shells in pan. Ladle 1 cup of sauce over the shells and top with mozzarella. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil then bake for another 15 minutes.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs 4
Noah had his first day of preschool a couple weeks ago and we did lots to celebrate the big day. It mostly revolved around food because that’s how we roll around here. Big, fancy breakfast, out to his choice of restaurant for lunch (HuHot of course) and his request of spaghetti and meatballs with bell peppers for dinner.
Spaghetti and Meatballs 1
I have a meatball recipe I usually go to for spaghetti but I thought I would switch it up and try something different. I’ve always wanted to try the combination of beef and pork for meatballs so I went on the search and decided on an Ina Garten recipe since you can’t really go wrong with anything she makes. I did adapt the recipe to make them clean by switching white bread for whole grain and using only olive oil to cook them in. Still super delicious and I couldn’t tell the difference. I also opted to make my favorite spaghetti sauce rather than the recipe she included.
Spaghetti and Meatballs 5
This recipe makes a lot so you can cook them through step 2 then cool and freeze them. Or just wait until next week for a delicious way to use the leftovers.

Ina Garten’s Meatballs
recipe adapted from Ina Garten

1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1 cup fresh whole grain bread crumbs (4 slices, crusts removed)
1/4 cup seasoned dry whole grain bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 extra-large egg, beaten
Olive oil
Sicilian Spaghetti Sauce (prepared without the ground meat)*
Hot cooked whole wheat noodles

1. Place the ground meats, both bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 1-inch meatballs. You will have30 to 32 meatballs.

2. Pour  olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don’t crowd the meatballs. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels.

3. Place meatballs in spaghetti sauce and simmer for 30 minutes, or until co0ked through.

*I subbed 3 tablespoons organic cane juice for the 1/4 cup sugar in the sauce to keep it clean.

Veggie Lo Mein

Veggie Lo Mein 4
When Joel is out of town or has to work late, I almost always make some kind of version of this. Whether it’s all veggies or chicken and broccoli, it’s always my go to meal. He’s not a big veggie guy if you guys haven’t figured that out by now.
Veggie Lo Mein 5
This is quick and easy to make while making sure your 3 year old isn’t throwing a baseball in the house and the baby isn’t crawling up the stairs or chewing on cords. Not that I know from experience or anything.
Veggie Lo Mein 3
Since I’ve always preferred pasta over rice, lo mein is far superior to fried rice in my book. And this is so filling it’s a meal in itself. Perfect for those crazy, busy summer days!
Veggie Lo Mein 1
Veggie Lo Mein
recipe adapted from Chinese Food DIY

6 ounces vermicelli, uncooked
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3-5 cups chopped bok choy (I couldn’t find any so I used cabbage mix)
1 cup low sodium fat free chicken broth
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup coarsely shredded carrot
1/4 cup chopped green onion
Additional low sodium soy sauce

1. Cook pasta 1 minute less than package directions.

2. Meanwhile, heat a wok or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat then coat with cooking spray. Add sesame oil, garlic and bok choy and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, soy sauce and crushed red pepper and stir fry 1 more minute. Add carrot and stir fry another minute.

3. Stir in pasta and cook for a minute until thoroughly combined and heated through. Add more soy sauce if desired.
Veggie Lo Mein 2

Cauliflower Mac-n-Cheese

Cauliflower Mac-n-Cheese
Since I’ve started dieting, the thing I’ve missed the most by far has been pasta….and bread. But mostly pasta. I’m kind of a carboholic if you hadn’t noticed by now.

A big pasta craving struck recently so I went to my pasta pinterest board in hopes that I had something somewhat healthy there that I could add to the menu for that week. And I was totally in luck when I came across this cauliflower mac-n-cheese recipe.
Cauliflower Mac-n-Cheese
Skim milk and some reduced fat cheeses along with cauliflower combine to make this a lightened up and filling mac-n-cheese. I love that the cauliflower adds lots of bulk and replaces some of the pasta. That way, I can still get my pasta fix but not overload on it. Plus there’s cheese so that’s always a win.
Cauliflower Mac-n-Cheese
Cauliflower Mac-n-Cheese
recipe slightly adapted from Eat Yourself Skinny

1 (12 oz.) box elbow macaroni (I used veggie pasta)
1/2 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
4 Tbsp. reduced-fat grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz. grated sharp cheddar
4 oz. fat-free cream cheese
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.   Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt liberally. Add macaroni. When there are 5 minutes remaining for the macaroni, add the cauliflower. Reserve 1/2 cup of the water then drain macaroni and cauliflower.

2. In a small bowl, combine Italian breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan cheese and the chopped parsley.

3. Dump cheddar, cream cheese, 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, milk, salt and pepper in the pot you used to boil the macaroni. Mix in the macaroni and cauliflower.  Stir until combined and cheese is completely melted.  Add reserved water.

4. Place in a 9×13 baking dish and top with bread crumb mixture (I used fun, colorful mini loaf pans for part of it and an 8×8 pan for the remaining pasta).  Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes, or until bubbling and the crumbs are browned.

Fried Ravioli

Fried Ravioli
What’s better than pasta? Pasta coated in breadcrumbs, fried and dipped in marinara sauce. I made these up along with some pizza poppers for the Super Bowl last weekend. This is a little off topic but I made the poppers with Pillsbury garlic breadstick dough this time and omg were they good. Definitely recommend doing that asap.

Back to the ravioli. These are super simple to whip up and only require a few ingredients making them the perfect appetizer for your next gathering. I only let myself have one then proceeded to drool as Joel ate a hefty amount of them.
Fried Ravioli
These are definitely better with fresh ravioli (5 cheese is my favorite) but if they aren’t available frozen will do. Try these crispy little babies out, you won’t be sorry.

Fried Ravioli
recipe from What’s Gaby Cooking

1 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 box store-bought ravioli, thawed if frozen
2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
marinara or pizza sauce for dipping

1. Heat oil over medium heat. Meanwhile, place the milk in a one bowl. In another bowl (I use a pie plate), combine both breadcrumbs with the 2 Tbsp. parmesan.

2. Dip the ravioli’s in the milk then into the breadcrumb mixture until fully coated. Fry, a few at a time, until golden. Drain on a paper towel then enjoy with marinara or pizza sauce.

Smoked Gouda and Sharp Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese

Smoked Gouda and Sharp Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese

Ok, so I know I have been talking about how I’ve been eating super healthy lately but I keep sharing recipes that say otherwise. Well, that’s because most of the healthy recipes I’ve tried have just not been blog worthy. Blah, do you guys have any healthy meals that taste really good? I’ve been striking out.

What I really want is to stuff my face with a bowl of this cheesy goodness. For real. I actually made it a few months ago but I’m still dreaming about it.
Smoked Gouda and Sharp Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese

Cheese is one of my favorite things and could pretty much be its own food group in our house. I love a classic cheddar and reach for it almost every time I’m making something cheesy. That being said, I don’t really discriminate and gouda is one of my favorites to mix it up. So naturally when I saw this recipe I knew it HAD to happen.

I saved this recipe for when my cheese loving family came over for dinner. Well, everyone loves cheese but my dad and we all thinks it’s just wrong. So we make cheesy things anyway. We always make sure there is something he likes so don’t worry that the poor man’s taste buds get ignored. But seriously, not liking cheese is beyond my comprehension.

This mac-n-cheese is smoky, cheesy, creamy, sharp and delicious. It would be so yummy with a pulled pork sandwich during the Super Bowl. Gah, I may have to change my menu to include it. So good.

P.S. shout out to my niece Faith who is 5 today! Happy Birthday you sassy girl!

Smoked Gouda and Sharp Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese
recipe from Just a Dash

4 cups dried macaroni
1 egg beaten
4 Tbsp. butter
¼ cups all-purpose flour
2-½ cups fat-free half and half
2 teaspoons dry mustard
⅓ pound smoked gouda
½ pound cheddar cheese
¼ pound  sharp cheddar
½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoons ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Cook macaroni until very firm. Drain and rinse with cool water.

3. Grate all of the cheese, reserve.

4. In a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly. Don’t let it burn.

5. Slowly whisk in the milk and dry mustard. Once all cream has been incorporated cook until very thick. Reduce heat to low.

6. In a small bowl, beat egg.Take 1/4 cup of the sauce and slowly pour it into beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs.

7. Pour egg mixture into sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth and uniform in color.

8. Add in all but 1 cup of cheese and stir until melted, then stir in salt and pepper. Taste sauce and add more seasoning if desired. Mix should taste salty, add more salt if needed. Add back in drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine. Pour mix into a greased baking dish, top with remaining cheese and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.
Smoked Gouda and Sharp Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese