Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

Vegetarian Moussaka

Let me just say that we are a family of carnivores… meat eaters… whatever… I’m just saying …

However, once in a while I come across something veggy that sounds interesting. So the questions always¬†are “Will it taste good?” and “Will it fill my husband up?” The answer for this recipe is YES!!!

Once again I was sucked in by the marketing. The picture of this recipe was so yummy looking! It was tasty as is although I did add a bit more cheese because cheese makes everything better! *Note my pictures are not as pretty as the cookbook! ūüôā

Here is the recipe:

Vegetarian Moussaka

Source: Great Taste Low Fat, One -Pot Meals by Time Life Books

Serves 4


  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth, defatted
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 eggplants (@ 8 oz each), cut lengthwise into 1/4″ thick slices
  • 8 oz orzo
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups low fat milk
  • 3 oz part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (@ 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 oz can no-salt-added tomato sauce

How to pull it all together:

  • Preheat¬†oven to 425¬į. Spray 2 baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.¬† In a large bowl, combine the broth and vinegar. Add the eggplant, tossing to coat.¬†
  • Arrange the eggplant slices on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until soft.
  • Meanwhile (at the Batcave lol) in a large pot of boiling water, cook the orzo until just tender, drain well and set aside
  • In a large saucepan, heat the oil until hot but not smoking over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened, @ 7 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly until light golden, @ 4 minutes.
  • Gradually whisk in the milk and cook, whisking frequently, until the mixture is slightly thickened, @ 4 minutes longer.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the orzo, all but 2 tablespoons of the mozzarella, the oregano, rosemary, salt and pepper
  • Spray a 9×9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Line 2 sides of the dish with eggplant slices, leaving a 2 inch overhang. Spoon the orzo mixture over the eggplant, fold the eggplant ends over the mixture, and pour the tomato sauce on top. Bake for 20 minutes, or until moussaka is piping hot. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons mozzarella on top and bake 2 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Fat:9 grams

Calories: 423

Sat Fat: 3.2

Carb: 68grams

Protein: 19g

Cholesterol: 16 mg

Sodium: 522 mg

**You can unhealthify this recipe and maybe make it more flavorful. You know what to do! ūüôā

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mac and cheeseSo, if you have not been fortunate enough to visit a Cracker Barrel before, you need to put it on your list of places to go.

I don’t remember the first one I went to… but I know it was down south as there are no Cracker Barrels that I know of on Long Island… where I am…. so sad!

You can shop for quirky, country things… buy those penny candy sticks… find those birthday cards with the almanac of what happened and what things cost the year you were born… and get some wicked good mac & cheese! (The chicken and dumplings are awesome too… FYI).

The results came in from my testers and¬† this is the best mac and cheese recipe so far! ¬†It even beat Ina’s Grown Up Mac & Cheese! GASP! I know! I know! But my fellow Barefoot Bloggers, it’s true… it’s true…. we all liked this one better than Ina’s Grown Up Mac & Cheese! Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

Here is the recipe… I got it from another cookbook that my mother in law sent me… This one called More Super Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur. It’s got some great stuff in it… as you will see in posts to come. I made this as part of a football watching party…. since I don’t watch football I needed something to do… So I cooked! I made this with some honey mustard wings so keep your eyes open for the post on that one!


Cracker Barrel Macaroni N’ Cheese

From: More Super Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur

Makes 4-6 side servings



  • 3/4 cup elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded Colby cheese

How to pull it all together:

  • Pre-heat¬†broiler to Hi
  • Cook pasta in 4 cups of boiling water for 8 minutes or until tender; drain off water
  • Melt butter in 10″ skillet over medium heat. Whisk in flour and continue whisking until bubbly. Add milk, salt, and black pepper and stir until the milk begins to bubble.
  • Add cheese, and then turn off the heat. Whisk sauce until cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.
  • Stir in the macaroni, then set skillet under broker for 2-3 minutes, until several browned spots appear on the surface. Remove pan from the oven, let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Cheese will thicken as it rests.

Note: I didn’t use a skillet as I doubled the recipe for 4 of us for a main meal. I made the sauce in a pot, then mixed the sauce and the macaroni in a baking dish. It worked out fine!


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100_1921Sigh…. BIG SIGH….. wow… I am so sad to say that this one was a big bummer! No one liked it at all really. Not sure why… I followed directions to the “T”…. maybe we’re just not fans of sun-dried tomato? I don’t know… it wasn’t so bad you would spit it out… but I certainly wouldn’t go back for seconds…. I’ll have to check and see what the other Barefooters said about this one….


Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Source: Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Serves: 6-8


  • 1/2 lb fusilli pasta
  • kosher salt
  • olive oil
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes, medium diced
  • 3/4 cup good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, medium diced
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

For the dressing:

  • 5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • 1 teaspoon capers, drained
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves, julienned

How to pull it all together:

  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water with a splash of olive oil to keep it from sticking together.
  • Boil for 12 minutes, or according to directions on the package
  • Drain well and allow to cool
  • Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and chopped sun dried tomatoes.
  • For the dressing, combine sun dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.
  • Pour the dressing over the pasta , sprinkle with¬†Parmesan cheese and basil and toss well

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spaghetti-al-bianco-2The little trivia portion for this recipe says that “When Italians feel the need to look after themselves, they cook “al bianco”, or “white” food without the acidity of tomatoes.”¬† So, since 1. I’m part Italian and 2. I’m not feeling well as I’ve got a cold, I decided to try it out.¬† And it did make me feel better! Ah, the magic of Italian food!¬† Now, I’ve never had spaghetti al bianco before so I have nothing to compare it to but this was really, really good and a nice change from tomato sauce!¬† It was super easy to make too!¬† Saute the veggies and add the meat, mushrooms, and stock and let it simmer. How hard is that? It’s not!¬† The end result is a light pasta dish, with just a hint of lemony freshness at the end.¬† Seriously, it does make you feel better…. as did the glass of wine I had with it!

So, since hubby is away and I have enough for like 8 servings I’ll be eating this for a while.¬† Too bad he missed out!

Here is the recipe:

Spaghetti al Bianco

Source: Good Cooking, The New Basics by Jill Dupleix

Serves 4 (but those are big servings)


  • 1/3 oz dried wild mushrooms ( I used a full 1 oz of dried porcini)
  • 1 leek, trimmed
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 thyme sprigs ( I may have added extra? I wasn’t sure what to do.. do you pull the little bits off the stem? throw it in whole? I ended up doing a bit of both… it was good anyway)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 1/2 lb lean ground beef ( I only used 1 lb as that is what I had.. it was fine)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • sea salt & pepper
  • 2 cups hot stock or water (I used 2 cups of beef stock made with one of those Knorr cubes)
  • 14 oz spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving

How to pull it all together:

  • Soak the dried mushrooms in 1 cup boiling water for 30 minutes.¬†
  • Finely slice the leek and celery, finely dice the carrots.
  • Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan and cook the leek for 5 minutes.
  • Add the carrots, celery, thyme, and parsley, and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the beef and cook, stirring, until nicely browned.¬† Sprinkle with the flour, sea salt, and pepper, and stir for a minute or two to cook the flour.
  • Add the mushrooms with their soaking water, discarding any sediment. Gradually stir in the hot stock or water, then simmer, partly covered, for 45 minutes or longer. ( I simmered for @ 1 hour)
  • Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling, salted water until al dente-tender but firm to the bite.¬† Drain well, then toss with the meat sauce and add the grated lemon zest. (Don’t leave out the lemon zest, it makes the dish in my opinion)
  • Serve with grated Parmesan

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When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore!¬† Sorry, don’t you just have to sing Italian when eating/cooking Italian? We like to listen to Mob Hits & Louis Prima in our house when we do!¬† With that said, this recipe was¬†really yummy! I have never bothered to follow a meatball recipe. They all seemed kind of plain… so I would “wing it” each time. I’ve never had really bad results.. sometimes they are really delicious, however they come out different every time I make them.¬† Sometimes they are too wet, some too dry, some too much flavor, some not enough you get the idea. This recipe was awesome! Even with the substitution I made (I used 1 lb pork instead of 1/2 pork and 1/2 veal, since my grocery store over here didn’t have veal) it was excellent.¬† I’ll definitely keep this recipe around and keep it in mind when I want to make sauce. I would probably double the recipe for the sauce as it didn’t make that much… Also, I ended up with a lot more meatballs then expected. I probably just made them too small…. Oh well, we’ll definitely have these again!

Oh yeah, the other “tweaks”¬†I made:¬† I had to season my own breadcrumbs since they don’t sell them over here. I added garlic powder and onion powder and Italian seasoning to the crumbs. Not sure how much, I just eyeballed it.

Also, I don’t fry (at least when it’s not necessary), and I didn’t feel it was necessary for this recipe. I used instead @ 2 tablespoons of olive oil and olive oil cooking spray as needed.

And, I used extra lean ground beef and extra lean ground pork for the meatballs¬†but they were still juicy and flavorful. I think that is it on my “tweaks”.

Here is the recipe:

Real Meatballs and Spaghetti

Source: Barefoot Contessa Family Style, Ina Garten


For the Meatballs:

  • 1/2 lb ground veal¬†¬† (I couldn’t get veal so I did 1 lb of pork )
  • 1/2 lb ground pork (see above)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup fresh white bread crumbs (4 slices, crusts removed)
  • 1/2 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 extra-large egg, beaten
  • Vegetable oil
  • Olive oil

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup good red wine, such as Chianti
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For serving:

  • 1 1/2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
  • Freshly grated Parmesan

How to pull it all together:

  • Place the grounds meats, both bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl.¬† Combine lightly with a fork.¬† Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs.
  • Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and 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 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.¬† Discard the oils but don’t clean the pan.
  • For the sauce, heat the olive oil in the same pan.¬† Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5-10 minutes.¬† Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.¬† Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes.¬† Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt and pepper.
  • Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25-30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.¬† Serve hot on cooked spaghetti and pass the grated Parmesan.


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