Baked Crab Mac-n-Cheese With Peas

18 02 2015

I love the decadence of crab mac-n-cheese! This recipe offers that rich, comforting flavor, but with a few healthier ingredients. In a meal like this, you can easily swap things like coconut oil in place of butter and whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour, as well as sneak in a veggie like peas. And if you’re an observer of Lent, this is a great dinner to dig into on Fridays!

Baked Crab Mac-n-Cheese With Peas

The following serves 3-4 (adapted from Will Cook For Smiles):

  • 2 cups dry whole wheat penne
  • 1 cup (8 oz) crab meat
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 3/4 – 1 cup white sharp cheddar cheese, grated from the block
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup panko
  • Chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 350. Spray casserole dish with non-stick spray and set aside.

Cook pasta in boiling, salted water according to package directions. Cook to al dente, then drain well and add back to pot. Add the crab meat and frozen peas to the pasta and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt coconut oil over medium heat and add shallot. Saute a minute or two until beginning to soften. Whisk in the flour and cook for 30 seconds to a minute. Slowly pour in the milk and constantly whisk until the mixture begins to thicken. Add the grated cheddar and salt and pepper to taste. Keep whisking, slowly, until the cheese is melted. Off heat, stir in half of the parmesan.

Pour the cheese mixture over the pasta, crab and peas and stir well to combine. Transfer to prepared casserole dish and sprinkle with the panko and the rest of the parmesan.

Bake covered for 20 minutes. Remove cover and finish baking another 5-10 minutes to help brown the top (you may want to up the heat or turn on the broiler). Allow to rest a few minutes before serving, then garnish with chopped parsley.





Butternut Squash Penne With Bacon, Corn and Sauteed Broccoli Greens

6 10 2014

I can’t help but feel like I knocked dinner out of the park tonight with this luscious, Alfredo-like pasta dish that’s healthy to boot! I didn’t use cream, butter or flour – but still achieved the rich and silky consistency we’ve all come to love from Alfredo, thanks to roasted butternut squash puree. I recommend making the puree over the weekend (it’s super easy, just will take an hour or so)…this way you can whip this meal faster during a busy weeknight.

Butternut Squash Penne With Bacon, Corn and Sauteed Broccoli Greens

The following serves 4-6 (adapted from Cuisine at Home):

  • 1 butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed
  • Olive oil
  • 8 strips of bacon, diced
  • Chopped broccoli greens from 1-2 heads of broccoli (alternatively, you could also use kale, about 1.5 cups worth or so)
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • 13 oz whole wheat penne or fettuccine pasta
  • 2 ears of sweet corn, kernels cut off the cobs
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup dry Marsala
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used skim, while the original recipe called for heavy cream – use what you have)
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped nuts like walnuts or hazelnuts
  • Grated parmesan
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet or casserole dish with foil. Lightly coat the squash halves with olive oil on both sides. Place squash, flesh side down on pan. Add 1 cup of water to the pan. Bake squash until tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Scoop flesh from the squash and puree in a Vitamix or blender, discard the skin. At this point you can cover and store the puree in the fridge until you’re ready to make this meal.

In a large non-stick skillet, cook bacon until crisp and remove to a paper towel lined plate. Discard most of the bacon grease, but leave a little in your skillet. Add the broccoli greens or kale and saute until wilted a few minutes. Season with salt to taste and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Remove to paper towel lined plate.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season liberally with salt. Boil pasta in salted water according to package directions, cooking to al dente. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the corn kernels. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then strain pasta and corn.

To the skillet you used to cook the bacon and greens in, add a Tbsp or so of olive oil and heat over medium-high. Add shallots and cool until soft, a couple of minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Deglaze skillet with Marsala and cook until nearly evaporated.

Stir in squash puree (about 2 cups worth, but no worries if you have a little less – the sauce will still be great). Next add the milk and broth, stir to combine and season with salt to taste.

Stir in the pasta and corn, along with 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Add a little at first, then more as needed to reach your desired sauce consistency. Toss the pasta and corn with the sauce over heat for a minute or two. Add sautéed greens and most of the bacon, reserving a little for garnish, and toss well. If your sauce seems a little loose, remove from the heat and allow it to sit for a few minutes which will thicken it up.

To serve, dish out the pasta and garnish with toasted nuts, parmesan, parsley and black pepper to taste.





Spaghetti Aglio e Olio With Marinated Tomatoes

1 09 2014

This past weekend I cooked dinner for a friend’s bachelorette party, and served this fantastically flavorful spaghetti to 15 lovely ladies. I took my grandma’s spaghetti aglio e olio (spaghetti with garlic and oil) up a notch by featuring marinated tomatoes. As you can see from the pic, I made enough to serve an army – but below I show the normal recipe. If you want to serve a crowd like me, you can easily double this and even make most of it the night before. Which coincidentally will not only save you time day of, but will add more flavor to this classic Italian dish.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

The following serves 4-5 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Half a head of garlic cloves, plus a few extra cloves, minced
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Fresh basil, sliced into ribbons about 1/4-1/2 cup worth (stack the basil leaves on top of each other, roll like a cigar and then thinly slice into ribbons)
  • 1 lb thin spaghetti
  • Grated parmesan or romano cheese

Heat oil until it’s hot in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. You don’t want to boil the oil, so just watch it. After a few minutes test to see if it’s ready by dropping a little piece of minced garlic in. If the garlic floats to the top and starts to sizzle the oil is ready. Carefully add the rest of the half a head of minced garlic, and reduce heat to low. Add a good pinch of red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Cook the garlic in the oil until the garlic looks like it’s just about to begin to brown, stirring often. Turn off the heat and move the saucepan to another burner that hasn’t been used. Allow the oil to cool.

Add the sliced tomatoes to a large mason jar along with the remaining minced garlic and sliced basil. Top with the cool oil, along with all the cooked garlic and seasonings in the saucepan. Secure with mason jar lid. The longer you’re able to let the tomatoes marinate, the more flavorful this dish will be. I recommend doing this the day before and just allow the tomatoes to marinate in the fridge. If you want to eat this the day of, try to let them marinate for at least 4 hours.

When you’re ready to serve, bring a large pot of water to boil and add a generous amount of salt. Cook the spaghetti to al dente according to the package directions. Meanwhile to a large skillet over medium heat, add most of the oil from the marinated tomatoes, but don’t add the tomatoes – reserve those for later.

Right before you’re ready to strain the spaghetti, reserve 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water. Strain spaghetti and immediately add it to the skillet. Add some of the starchy water, 1/4 cup at first. Toss the spaghetti in the oil for a minute or two. Add a little more of the starchy water if needed.

Remove from the heat and add the tomatoes and the remaining oil from the mason jar. Toss well. Top with a little more fresh basil and serve along with grated cheese.





Ohio City Pasta With Tomato Cream Sauce and Pancetta

7 08 2014

I highly recommend dining alfresco with this delicious Italian meal! Set up a little bistro on your porch or patio, pour yourself a glass of vino and mangia!

There’s just something about fresh pasta! This savory Ohio City Pasta linguine was compliments of our Fresh Fork Market share, along with some beautifully big tomatoes! Fresh tomatoes cooked down and finished with a little cream is delicious. But top it with crispy pancetta, fresh basil and cheese….and you’ve got yourself one decadent meal!

Ohio City Pasta With Pancetta and Tomato Cream Sauce

The following serves 4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat with inspiration from Food Network Magazine):

  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 4 oz diced pancetta
  • Half a red onion, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Red pepper flakes (use a pinch or more to your liking)
  • 1 and a half large tomatoes, quartered
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup non-fat half-and-half
  • 1 lb fresh linguine from Ohio City Pasta
  • Fresh basil, chopped
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Heat a large skillet over medium and add a drizzle of olive oil. Add pancetta and saute until browned and crisp, 3-5 minutes. Remove the pancetta to a paper-towel lined plate. Add onion to the hot skillet and saute a few minutes until beginning to soften, stirring often. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, a minute. Season lightly with salt.

Meanwhile, puree the tomatoes in a Vitamix or blender. Add to the skillet with the sautéed onions and cook until liquid is almost all evaporated, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add half-and-half during the last few minutes of cooking, and stir to combine.

At this point, cook your pasta in the boiling water. Don’t over-cook it! Because it’s fresh it’ll be done in 1 and a half to two minutes. Drain, and immediately add to the skillet with the sauce. Toss with the sauce over low heat for a minute, allowing the pasta to absorb the sauce.

Serve with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.





Italian-Deli Pasta Salad

28 05 2014

Wish I could take credit for this quick pasta salad, but it’s all Food Network Magazine on this one. Love the idea of using a jar of giardiniera (Italian relish of pickled veggies) – so tasty and such a fast ingredient to use. I just so happen to have an extra jar in the pantry. So when I saw this in my #FNMag, I knew I had to whip this up for our Memorial Day cookout!

Italian-Deli Pasta Salad

The following serves 8 (adapted from Food Network Magazine):

  • 1 lb whole wheat pasta
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (original recipe called for mayo)
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 16 oz jar of giardiniera, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup diced provolone (I suggest sharp provolone)
  • 1 cup diced salami (about 3/4 of a pound) – take some help from your deli, ask them to cut quarter-inch slices rather than giving you a large chunk of salami, this will make your chopping at home much easier!
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions. Drain and rinse pasta under cold water to stop the cooking. Allow to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil and vinegar. Toss the dressing with the pasta, along with the chopped giardinera, provolone, salami, parsley and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This Girl’s time-saving prep tip: Save yourself time day-of, and make most of this salad a day in advance. Chop the giardiniera, cheese and salami and store in individual ziplock bags or containers in the fridge. Chop the parsley and basil and store together in a ziplock in the fridge. Finally, make the dressing and store that covered in the fridge. Then the next day, cook the pasta and mix everything together…now you’re good to go to your party in no time!





Chicken Cacciatore With Lemon-Herb Pasta

19 05 2014

Cacciatore refers to the way this chicken dish is prepared, which is typically braised in tomatoes, onions, peppers, spices and wine. In Italy, the wine used depends on the Region you’re in. The south uses red wine while the North tends to use white, making this versatile…and of course, tasty! Use the crockpot to help make Sunday supper or your weeknight dinners much easier.

Chicken Cacciatore With Lemon-Herb Pasta

The following serves 2-3 (adapted from Cuisine Slow Cooker Menus):

  • 2 whole pieces of quartered, bone-in chicken (leg/thigh), skin removed
  • Salt and pepper
  • Whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for pasta
  • 3/4 cup dry wine, either red or white will work
  • 1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • Handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 package (8 oz) sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • Half a pound of whole wheat wide egg noodles
  • Lemon zest and juice
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter or butter substitute
  • Fresh herbs, such as parsley or oregano
  • Parmesan, grated

After removing the skin, season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Dredge in flour, shaking off any excess. Brown chicken on both sides in 2 Tbsp hot oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat, about 8 minutes. Transfer chicken to a slow cooker.

Deglaze pan with wine, cooking until liquid is reduced by half. Transfer wine to the slow cooker.

Add tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, garlic, Italian seasoning and bay leaf to the slow cooker. Cover cacciatore, cook until chicken is tender 3 and 1/2 hours. During the last 30 minutes, add bell pepper, season with a little salt to taste and cover. Cook until pepper is tender.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add noodles and cook to al dente, according to package instructions. Drain pasta, add back to the hot pot and toss with 1 – 2 Tbsp of lemon zest and juice, red pepper flakes, the butter, a good drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and chopped parsley.

Serve up the pasta with the chicken cacciatore and sauce on top. Garnish with more fresh herbs and parmesan.





Grilled Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Pasta

24 04 2014

I have more cream cheese leftover from the twice-baked potatoes I made last weekend than I know what to do with at the moment! So I turned to Pinterest for inspiration and found my way to this cream cheese based sauce with roasted red peppers, which inspired tonight’s dinner. By using my Vitamix, this delicious and healthy sauce with a kick came together super fast!

Grilled Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Pasta

Grilled Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Pasta

The following serves 4 (adapted from My Recipes):

  • 4 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 13 oz whole wheat pasta
  • 1 package (8 oz) reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 heaping tsp red pepper flakes (this will give the sauce a kick, if you don’t like it as spicy, don’t use as much)
  • Parsley, chopped
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Drizzle chicken with a little olive oil and a little salt. Grill on high heat until cooked through and juices run clear, 6-8 minutes per side. Remove and tent with foil to rest.

While the chicken is grilling, add whole red peppers to the grill and char on all sides. Remove to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to trap the steam. Once cool enough to handle, peel the charred skin away from the pepper, cut in half and remove the seeds, then you’ll be left with roasted red peppers.

Add roasted red peppers, cream cheese, chicken broth, garlic, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt to a high-powered blender. Pulse until smooth. Transfer mixture to a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat until bubbling, stirring often. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Reserve a little of the sauce to top the chicken before you add the pasta.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain, and add pasta directly to the skillet with the warmed sauce. Continue to cook another minute or so. Add parsley and toss until well combined. The sauce might seem a little thin at first, but it will thicken as it sits.

Slice the chicken and serve over pasta topped with parmesan, and a little more sauce.





Baked Spaghetti Pie

16 04 2014

I’ve shared the idea for turning leftover pasta into a frittata-like pie before, however this time I’ve used far less ingredients and baked it rather than frying for a much healthier option. This technique is simple, but makes your leftovers feel like a whole new meal…with a crunch!

Baked Spaghetti Pie

Baked Spaghetti Pie

Baked Spaghetti Pie

Baked Spaghetti Pie

  • Leftover pasta, shown here is leftover spaghetti tossed with a lite alfredo sauce, but you can used whatever you have
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat, low-sodium chicken stock
  • Grated parmesean
  • Chopped parsley
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat a medium oven-proof skillet sprayed liberally with non-stick spray over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the leftover pasta and flatten it out in the pan with the back of a spatula. Fry for 5 minutes until the bottom starts to brown. Add the chicken stock, then transfer the skillet to the oven.

Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip the pie. The trick to flipping is to place the back of a baking sheet on the top of your skillet. Brace the baking sheet with one hand while using the other hand to turn the skillet upside down (be sure to use a pot holder), so the cooked side of the pie slides out on the back of the baking sheet. Next, slide the pie back into your skillet, this time the uncooked side should be in the bottom of the skillet. Continue baking for another 20-25 minutes.

Remove from the skillet and place on a cutting board to cut into pie pieces. Top slices with grated parmesean, chopped parsley, red pepper flakes to taste and a drizzle of oil.





Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi

31 03 2014

This past weekend we hosted an Italian themed dinner party with friends and I was excited to make homemade gnocchi for the first time. I called in the big guns to help teach me….my Italian mother-in-law!

Since this recipe is so easy and is equal parts, you can make whatever quantity you want! Just remember these are dumplings, so a little goes a long way!

Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi

Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi

The following is compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat (and my mother-in-law):

  • 1 cup unbleached white all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese (full, not part-skim)

Sprinkle some flour on your counter.

In a large bowl, combine equal parts of flour and ricotta (start with 1 cup of each) with a wooden spoon or spatula. When it starts to mostly clump, transfer mixture onto your floured counter. Using your hands,  continue to mix until well incorporated and a dough has formed. Add more flour to your hands and/or to the counter if the dough sticks to your hands.

Cut off a 3-inch chunk and set the rest aside. Dust your counter and hands with flour, then using both hands roll the small chunk into a long tube or rope, until it’s about a 1/2-inch thick. Using a knife, cut small dumplings about a 1/2-inch in size. Repeat these steps until you’ve used all your dough.

Dust the small dumplings you cut with a little more flour. Then using the back of a 4-pronged dinner fork, roll the dumplings with your fingers, pressing along the prongs to achieve a ridged effect. You can skip this step if you’d like, but the indents will make it visually appear more like gnocchi, and will help whatever sauce you use stick to the pasta.

At this point you can either cook the gnocchi or freeze to use later. If freezing, lay them on a baking sheet with a towel, dust with a little flour and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Transfer to your freezer and partly freeze them. You can then easily transfer them without sticking to a plastic zip lock bag or sealed container to store in the freezer until you want to cook them.

If you’d like to cook them immediately, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop gnocchi, a handful or so at a time (be sure not to overcrowd your pot), and cook for 2-3 minutes until they float to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon and toss with a sauce of your choice. I’ve made these with a simple marinara, and my mother-in-law has served them simply tossed with melted butter and parmesan cheese – both delicious choices! A meat sauce, pesto or alfredo would also be lovely options.





Braised Cauliflower And Tomatoes With Farfalle

27 02 2014

Cauliflower braised in tomato sauce is an old Italian side dish. In this version, I’ve tossed it with healthy whole wheat pasta to turn it into a complete and delicious, meatless meal. Very simple, yet oh so tasty!

Braised Cauliflower And Tomatoes With Farfalle

Braised Cauliflower And Tomatoes With Farfalle

The following serves 4 (adapted from Lidia Bastianich):

  • 5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly minced
  • 1/2 large head cauliflower, cut into 2-inch florets
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 28-oz can whole san marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1/4 cup drained tiny capers in brine
  • 8 large fresh basil leaves
  • Half a lb (8 oz) dry whole wheat pasta, whatever cut you have or like, I used farfalle
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat 3 Tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, and let it sizzle for a minute. Toss the cauliflower and stir to coat with the oil.

Sprinkle in the olives, oregano, salt and red pepper flakes and stir. Pour in the tomatoes (crush them with your hands right in the pan, it will be less messy than using a masher) and capers, and bring the cauliflower/sauce to a rapid simmer. Cover, and cook 10 minutes. Uncover, and simmer until the cauliflower is tender and the sauce has thickened, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil and season liberally with salt. Cook pasta to al dente, according to package instructions. Drain and add to the skillet with the cauliflower (once the cauliflower is tender). Toss pasta with cauliflower and sauce until well combined.

Drizzle with the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil (if you have a lemon olive oil, it would be a fantastic garnish!), and tear basil leaves into the skillet. Stir to combine, and serve topped with parmesan cheese.

This Girl’s wine pick: I enjoyed this dinner with Milestone, a California Red Blend.