Category Archives: Pasta

Food As A Gift

When I was a kid, our family would exchange gift certificates with one another.  I have carried on this tradition with my husband.  For Christmas one year, I made up the cutest coupon book with all of DH’s favorite dishes.

Gift Coupon Booklet

I’m sure that I’ve mentioned this in a previous post… The other day, my favorite guy came up to me with his hands behind his back.  “What do you have there?” I asked; he whipped out his Ravioli coupon.  I could have sworn that he had cashed that in long ago, but I must honor my gift.

Ravioli ready for the deep freeze

Homemade Cheese Raviolis in mass

I can’t recall if I’ve posted my recipe for Cheese Raviolis, Hmmm.  I’ll need to look for that, `cuz these are tasty indeed!!


What I’ve Been Up To

SO, I’ll tell you, the reason that I’ve not been around is that DH and I have been so very busy moving into our new home.  We sold our home and purchased a new-build home, very exciting. While our home was being built, we rented an apartment, fully furnished, but I didn’t have all of my kitchen toys, though we got by 😉  So here is a small portion of meals.


Things I Buy At Trader Joe’s

I LOVE this place!

When my husband and I first moved from Hawaii to “the Mainland”, my sister was telling me that I needed to shop at Trader Joe’s.  Never heard of it… So, I thought, well let’s give this a whirl.

I had some meatballs in the freezer that needed to be used up, DING!

Dinner courtesy of Trader Joe's

Dinner in no time…


Stuffed Shells For A Bereaved Family

A few days ago, one of our neighbors pasted away.  The following day, all of his children and grandchildren arrived, that made for a very full house.  In Hawaii, its customary to take food to the home of the dearly departed, as I’m sure that is the case in many parts of the Country.  Now, mind you, I’m not talking about a plate of cookies or such, we’re talking about a full blown meal for the entire crowd.  But what to make here on the Mainland?  I was on Pinterest and saw a bunch of pins for Stuffed Shells, okay, that’s like Lasagna; I’ve never made this before.  My husband was very excited, knowing that he’d get some too.


Italian Sausage-Spinach-Cheese Stuffed Shells

1 box jumbo Pasta Shells

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

½ C. Onion, minced

¾ lb. bulk Sweet Italian Sausage

2 Garlic cloves, minced

1 egg, beaten

1 (15 oz.) container Ricotta cheese

9 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry

¼ C. Flat Leaf Parsley, minced

1/8 tsp. Nutmeg, freshly grated if possible

¾ C. Parmesan cheese, grated and divided

6 oz. Mozzarella Cheese, grated and divided

½ tsp. Kosher Salt

½ tsp. ground Black Pepper

32 oz. Marinara, more if needed

Cook the pasta as directed on the box.  Drain and place on a greased sheet pan.

In a large skillet, heat the Olive Oil over medium-high heat, sauté the onion and garlic to just translucent; add the Sausage, breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon and brown well, transfer to a large mixing bowl, leaving behind any grease.

Stuffed Shells filling

To the bowl add the Egg, Ricotta Cheese, Spinach, Parsley, Nutmeg, ½ cup of Parmesan Cheese and 4 ounces of the Mozzarella Cheese; combine well.  Fill a zip top plastic bag with the filling mixture and snip a corner of the bag, making a hole large enough to pipe it into the cooked Shells.  Carefully fill each Shell; roll it into itself to resemble a shell.  In a 9X13 inch baking dish, spread about a cup on the bottom, arrange the filled Shells and pour enough Marinara to just cover the Shells (that’s why I say “more if needed”).

this recipe makes alot

the larger pan will stay at our house

Cover the dish tightly with Aluminum Foil and bake in a preheated 350⁰ oven for 30 minutes.  Uncover the baking dish and sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan and Mozzarella Cheeses and bake for another 10 minutes.

As you can see above, I made a larger dish of Shells for DH.  The two smaller pans went to our neighbor’s home with cooking instructions as well as the makings for Salad, Garlic Bread and a bottle of wine for the adults, all packed into a large basket for transport.

Share your food!

Minestrone Soup

I went freezer diving the other day and I found a partial bag of Fava Beans, hmmm, what can I do with these and hide them from DH.  He claims to dislike Fava Beans, well any bean actually, but he eats them quite often and doesn’t realize it, HA!

the ingredients for Minestrone Soup

So, here’s the lineup:

½ C. Macaroni, your choice of shape

1 15oz. can Diced Tomatoes

1-2 Qt. Chicken or Vegetable Broth/Stock, homemade is preferable

1 C. diced Sweet Red Bell Pepper

1 C. diced Carrots

½ C. diced Onion

3 Garlic cloves, minced

6oz. diced Pancetta

2 C. frozen Fava Beans

2 C. frozen chopped Spinach

1 Tbsp. dried Oregano

1 Tbsp. dried Parsley (fresh is always better, but I didn’t have any)

1 tsp. dried Thyme

1 tsp. dried Basil

In a large pot over medium-high, heat about 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil, render the Pancetta to just crisp; removed from the pot with a slotted spoon to a dish and set aside.  Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot and sweat the onions, add the Peppers and Carrots and sauté for about 2 minutes, to a crisp tender; sauté the Garlic til fragrant, adding the dried herbs at this point and stirring for just a moment.  Pour back in the Pancetta, along with all the remaining ingredients, excluding the pasta.  Bring the pot to a boil and reduce to a low simmer; cover partially and cook for ½ an hour.  In a separate pot, cook your pasta as directed on the package; drain and set aside. When you’re ready to serve, add in the macaroni to the pot for about 5 minutes or so, just to warm it.

Top each bowl with some grated Parmesan cheese and a nice Olive Oil.

Chopped Salad with Dimond Bakery Soda Crackers, MMM!

We had a nice lunch of Minestrone and a Chopped Salad with some Diamond Bakery Soda Crackers.

A recipe is just someone’s idea, you take it and make it your own.  If you like a different type of bean, use that.  If you can’t find Pancetta, try Bacon instead.  Use whatever vegetables your household likes.


Four Chicken Thighs Three Ways

I am very frugal, well in some situations anyway.

My husband and I had spent Thanksgiving with Mr. & Mrs. DF’s in Northern Arizona and drove ‘back down the hill’ later on Black Friday.  What to make for dinner then?

Black Friday Dinner

I rummaged through the pantry and found Trader Joe’s Mini Ravioli (they’re dried, cheese filled pasta), okay.  I also spied Trader Joe’s Marinara, yup.  In the `fridge there was half of a jar of Trader Joe’s Basil Pesto.  Yeah, now you’re talkin’, I’m not a big fan of Red Sauce.  A Protein then, how about some poached boneless-skinless Chicken Thighs, cooled and then shredded.

You got yourself dinner in no time, but WAIT!

Homemade Chicken Broth

Don’t throw out that poaching liquor.  I always add aromatics to the pot, like the tail ends of onions, celery, carrots, parsley stems and such (I save all of those in a zip-top bag in the freezer).  Add a Bay Leaf or two, some smashed Garlic cloves and Black Pepper Corns; maybe even some dried Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (it’s that a song?).  Chicken Broth is used in so many different recipes.  Divide it up in, oh I don’t know, maybe cup size containers and freeze it for later use.

So, here’s the third way I STRETCHED those four Chicken Thighs, because we didn’t eat all of it.

Chicken Salad with leftover poached Chicken Thigh meat

Chicken Salad for lunch the next day!  Add some diced celery, onions, parsley, s&p, granulated garlic, a touch of cayenne pepper and then just a hint of mayonnaise.  Any combination of flavors that your household likes.  Serve it as a sandwich, on a Green Salad, or how about as a spread for Crackers?


A Wedding Favor

I haven’t been cooking very much in the past few months, mainly because we’ve been traveling.  After we returned from Hawaii, we took a road trip across the country.  This is something that my husband I really enjoy.

We had been invited to the wedding of the daughter of my DH’s long time friend’s.  The wedding was to take place outside of Toledo Ohio and I saw a perfect opportunity to also visit with some of our family members, see some sights and generally have a great time.  We made the decision to drive the 5300 mile round trip and take our time.  We were gone for 31 days and it was a blast!  I’ll tell you about the rest of the trip later, but this post is about the wedding favor that the Bride and Groom dreamed up.

Homemade Pasta Sauce

Pasta Sauce.  Ah, but not just any pasta sauce.  The Bride’s family is extensive.  Her Uncle and Aunt grew the Tomatoes.  All of the cousins, as well as Mom and Dad, pitched in and helped to make the sauce from her Grandparents’ recipe, can it and make up these gift tags that tells the recipient all about this.  But we were in the know already…

homemade pasta

So, for our first meal back home in our own home, I made up a batch of fresh pasta, browned some Italian Sweet Sausages and added this delicious sauce.

That’s real love.

Tuna “Not Like The Lunch Hall” Casserole

I have this recipe that I pulled out of one of the first issues of Rachael Ray’s Magazine and I adapted it just a bit to our liking, but that’s what recipes are all about, right?

Auntie Doni’s Tuna Casserole 

½ lb. Barilla Whole Wheat Medium Shells

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

4 Tbsp. Butter

1 C. minced Onion

1 C. minced Celery

½ C. minced Red Bell Pepper

1 Tbsp. Flour

½ C. Dry White Wine (like a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, something you would drink, NOT cooking wine, EVER)

½ C. Chicken broth

1 C. Half and Half

1 C. frozen Peas

2 seven ounce cans of Tuna, drained and flaked

1 ½ C. Bread Crumbs (make your own, fresh is better then that stuff in a can)

Cook the pasta to desired doneness, I always take it 1 minute longer than the directions on the box say. Drain well and set aside.

In a large, deep pan (* I have Rachael Ray’s pasta pot, so I use this to boil the pasta and make the sauce, see below) over medium heat, sauté the onions and celery with the Olive Oil and 1 tablespoon of the Butter, for about 3 minutes or so, don’t brown the veg.

Add in the Red Bell Peppers and cook for about a minute.

Stir in the flour and cook for about another minute. Mix in the wine and reduce for 1 minute. Now whisk in the broth and bring to a boil to thicken.

Turn the heat down to low and stir in the half & half; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Throw in the peas, tuna and cooked shells, fold everything together and leave to heat through.

Preheat the broiler.

Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a large microwaveable bowl (I use my big Pyrex measuring cup). This is optional, but I like to swirl in a couple dashes of hot sauce and then mix in the bread crumbs.

Spoon the Tuna mixture into a 9X13 inch ovenproof dish and top with the buttered bread crumbs. Pop the casserole under the broiler just long enough to brown the top and then …

Tuna "Not" Casserole

Let’s eat!

For our new neighbors

This makes too much for the two of us to eat in one sitting, so I split the recipe and this time I put half into a disposable aluminum pan to share with our new neighbors, who I know were too busy to make dinner.

Served with a green salad and the rest of that bottle of dry white wine and that’s dinner or lunch if you like.

When DH asked what we were having for dinner and I said Tuna Casserole, I got, “EW! I don’t like that”. Hmmm, really? Then why is it all gone? AND  why did you ask me, “Why are you giving away good food to the neighbor?”

Rachael Ray's Pasta Pot

*This is my new favorite pot!


Homemade Malloreddus, A Sardinian Pasta

My husband and I were watching one of my favorite TV Chefs, Lidia Bastianich and she made a Sardinian dish, Malloreddus with Sausage and Tomato Sauce. It’s kinda’ like Gnocchi, just not pillowy. I had the Semolina flour on hand, not the Saffron.

At our market they have something I had never seen before, Safflower. I found it in the Spanish section. So I looked it up and it’s what is called ‘bastard saffron’. I gave it a shot. I think that when you make homemade pasta you get the mouth feel and texture that you prefer. My husband likes, thick, chewy pasta, not the skinny strands. I tell you, this fit the bill all right!! For myself, I usually make my serving of pasta with garlic and olive oil and of course cheese. This pasta can be dressed with anything that you like.


Auntie Doni’s Malloreddus 

1 tsp. Safflower

1 1/4 C. Water, divided

1 ½ lb. Semolina flour (you can find it a lot of times in the organic section)


In 1/2 cup of hot tap water, add Safflower; steep for 5 minutes and strain. Add enough cold water to equal 1 ¼ cups.

In a food processor, add the flour; start the machine and pour in the liquid through the feed tube, holding back a little. Run the machine until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 30-40 seconds. The dough should be neither too sticky nor too dry, adjust if necessary with the remaining liquid.

Homemade Malloreddus dough

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, knead a few times and them wrap in plastic wrap and form into a disk. Let stand at room temp for at least a ½ hour or as long as a day in the refrigerator.

Cut the dough into eight pieces and roll out into ½ inch thick snakes; cut off 1 inch pieces from each, like little nuggets.


To add the shape desired, use a hand held grater, turned over with the smooth side facing up. Take a piece of dough and hold it down with your thumb against the top of the grater and push it down along the grater, making an impression of your thumb on one side (it’ll kind of curl into itself) and a pattern of the grater on the other, like making gnocchi.

Shaped and ready for the pot Homemade Malloreddus

Place on a sheet pan sprinkled with semolina flour so that they don’t stick. Cover with a clean kitchen towel until all pieces are completed. These can sit at room temp until you’re ready to cook them or place the tray into the freezer until each piece is solid and then put the pasta in a zip top bag and freeze for later use.  This recipe makes alot of pasta.

To cook the pasta, bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil, drop in the pasta and cook for 6-8 minutes. Dress as desired.



A Different Pasta

Did you feel the Earth move yesterday afternoon?

My husband who says, it’s gotta’ be like how I had it as a kid, dyed in the wool, American-Italian, ate whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce for lunch. I KNOW, RIGHT?!

Good food isn’t bad food, but too much is.  I really just wanted him to try pasta another way.  You know, we may eat this more often.

** did ya’ see how I made all fancy like and plated the pasta into that swirl thing like they do in the restaurants… uuu… yeah right, let’s eat **