Category Archives: Pasta

Chicken Noodle and Cheese Dinner

P1050828Want an easy dinner that everyone will love? Try this: Chicken and noodles, covered in a creamy sauce, and then topped with cheese.

That sounds pretty simple, right?

Well, it is!

It’s true- there is nothing fancy about this dinner, and there is nothing difficult about this dinner. But, there is a lot delicious about this dinner- and my kids and husband love it when I make it! And that is what makes it a keeper.

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Meat Sauce (made with fresh tomatoes)

P1040767I love Italian food! In fact, spaghetti with my mom’s homemade sauce is still what I ask Mom to make every year for my birthday dinner- and that has been my request almost every year since I was a little girl.

So, imagine my dilemma when I found out that my husband, Tim, really did not care for Italian dishes- particularly red sauce. He’s not a picky eater. But, he’s fairly adamant about this.

Well, for the first half of our marriage, I really did not fix very much “red sauce” meals other than the occasional lasagna or homemade sauce when I just really really craved some beloved Italian, but I knew he wasn’t enjoying those meals.

But then, a year or two ago, I decided that I was going to try to come up with a sauce that he enjoyed- so we could both be happy. Surely I could change his mind with the right recipe!

So, after playing with it a little bit, I came up with this fresh sauce. Tim now ASKS me to make it and loves eating it! Woo-Hoo!!!! Welcome back to the table, Spaghetti!

I either use tomatoes directly from our garden, or in the fall and winter, I use tomatoes that I have preserved by freezing. (you could also use canned, if that’s all you have available.) This sauce is not a thick sauce like you might find in the bottled variety. It is much thinner, due to the fact that I only use tomatoes- no prepackaged tomato sauce or paste. It is also very full of meat- ground beef in our case, though you could also use sausage, if that’s what your prefer. Other fresh ingredients like peppers, fresh herbs, garlic and onion also add delicious flavor.

Every now and then, I might play around with a different sauce, like this Roasted Tomato Sauce, but this one here is definitely my go-to and favorite. It also makes great left-overs, since the flavors have all that time to meld together even more.

Please note, too, that sauces are one of those things that might take different amounts of ingredients each time- and you can add more or less of something to make it better fit your tastes. But the amounts I’ve included here on the blog, are a good standard to start with. Add as you see fit for your family!

A homemade sauce is a labor of love. It does take more than 20 minutes to whip together. Allow at least an hour to let it simmer. And depending on where you are starting in the process with the tomatoes, allow another 30 minutes-1 hour to put it together.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Here’s what you need:

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Roasted Tomato Sauce and Meatballs on Spaghetti

spaghetti

How does Spaghetti with an absolutely homemade sauce (not even canned tomatoes!), made-from-scratch tender meatballs, on top of spaghetti with Parmesan cheese sound for dinner? Yum!

And if the taste wasn’t reason enough to prepare this dish, the aroma that will fill your house while the veggies are roasting in the oven is just intoxicating. Open your windows and soon the whole neighborhood will be over to see what’s cooking!

Here’s the overview:

Forget the store-bought stuff. (Who wants high fructose corn syrup in their sauce anyway?) This sauce is made with fresh tomatoes, garlic, onions, and peppers- this would be a GREAT way to use summer produce from the garden! It is so simple and does not require a lot of time cooking on the stovetop in order to get good, deep flavors. By roasting the tomatoes and other veggies, the flavors become concentrated and deep in a short amount of time.- and the oven does all the work.

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Creamy Cheese and Broccoli Rotini (stove-top)

P1030373Have you noticed that I have a lot of recipes that include the word “creamy” in the title? I guess I’m not very creative when it comes to descriptive names. But it just goes to show that creamy dishes are definite favorites in our household. And if it ain’t broke- don’t fix it!

But really, this one is a winner- we all like it a lot. I love that it is quick and easy to throw together- no baking required. It’s all done on the stove-top (with just a few seconds under the broiler). This is also one of my favorite meatless dishes. I like to try to do at least one meatless dish each week to help the ‘ol wallet out.

So, what is it? It is whole wheat rotini, along with broccoli and cauliflour, coated in a creamy garlic white sauce- similar to alfredo. (but alfredo generally uses parmesan cheese in the sauce).  Then topped with a generous amount of mozzarella cheese.  Continue reading

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Recipes 002Macaroni & Cheese has to be in the top 5, at least, in the comfort food world. This creamy version is no exception! I have always used this particular recipe as my “go-to” for mac and cheese- and it is often requested for birthdays and get-togethers in my extended family. Kids (and adults) love it, as there are no funny chunks or flavors or hidden pieces of this or that tucked inside. No- this is plain and simple mac and cheese at its unadulterated best!

Perhaps you usually think of Macaroni and Cheese as a side, but I almost always use this recipe as my Main Dish. I generally try to have 1 meatless meal on the menu each week, and I think this dish works perfectly for that. For the meal, serve it with a green vegetable and muffins or pinto beans. (My mom makes mac and cheese with pinto beans and stewed tomatoes. I LOVE that! But, since I’m the only one in my household that will eat stewed tomatoes- I don’t get to make it that way. Poor me.)

So, without further comment, here is the recipe for this thick, creamy, cheesy, hot and steaming, bubbling macaroni and cheese!

8 oz. macaroni (I like to use whole wheat to boost up the nutrition)

2 Tbs. butter

2 Tbs. flour

1 tsp. salt

2 1/2 cups milk

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided

paprika

Bring water to a boil. Add macaroni, and cook according to your package instructions. Drain. Place in a lightly greased casserole dish. (an 8in, 11x7in or a 2 qt. will work fine)

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Once melted, stir in flour and salt until the flour is fully incorporated with the butter

Add milk

Using a whisk, which will help to break up the clumps, stir almost constantly until the mixture thickens.

Add 1 1/2 cups of cheese and stir until melted (and just as a side note, I almost always prefer to use freshly grated cheese. I think it makes a big difference in the texture of the sauce)

Now pour all of the sauce over the macaroni and give it a little stir to make sure there is sauce in all the cracks.

Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over the top

Sprinkle with Salt and Pepper, to taste.

Lightly sprinkle with paprika (optional)

Now bake, uncovered at 375 for about 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly.

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