Angel Hair Pasta With Roasted Grape Tomatoes…..

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Ever buy beautiful grape tomatoes with great plans for an amazing salad and you come across them a week later when they are no longer at the peak of their beauty?  (At this point they are looking slightly wrinkled) This is the perfect plan for them!  It takes a little time to roast the tomatoes, but the rest of the dish is a snap.  You can  add whatever veggies you like.  I generally go through the refrigerator and forage for any little bits of vegetables that might be leftover from the week.  Would be delicious with asparagus, spinach, petite peas, shrimp, leftover chicken.  Your choice.  Let’s begin.

You will need garlic.  Lots of garlic.

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You’ll begin by going through the tomatoes, discarding any that are spoiled.  You should have about one cup total.  Give them a rinse.   Bathe them in the following:

4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon of dried or fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon of dried basil
1/4 teaspoon thyme
2 pinches kosher salt
1 pinch black pepper

Mix all ingredients to coat.  Place in a small foil or parchment lined baking dish to keep the goodies close together.  Roast in 225′ oven for one hour.

At this point you can save them in the refrigerator for a couple of days, serve over chicken, fish or rice.  Or you can make an amazing pasta dish!

Simple Summer Pasta with Roasted Grape Tomatoes

12 ounces cooked angel hair pasta or whatever pasta you prefer
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup reserved pasta water
tablespoons olive oil
Grated parmesan cheese

1)  Boil the pasta according to package instructions and reserve one cup of the pasta water.  Under cook the pasta by 2 minutes.  Drain.
2)  Warm a saute pan large enough to accommodate the cooked pasta and liquids over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and the chopped onion.  Cook about 7 minutes, stirring often.
3)  Add the roasted tomato mixture and all juices and herbs/garlic to the pan.  At this point you could add any other veggies or ingredient to the pan.  Add the wine and about half of the pasta water.  Simmer for a couple of minutes.
4)  Add the under cooked pasta to the pan.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  The pasta will absorb the flavor from the tomato juices & wine.  If it appears that most of the liquid has been absorbed, you can add a little more pasta water.  You’ll want some moisture in the pan.
5)  Top with grated cheese and chopped parsley.  You could also add fresh basil.



Missing My Kitchen…..

Hello everyone-

Since I’ve been working in my commercial kitchen, I’ve hardly cooked at home.   You see, I bring dinners home that I’ve prepared for my clients so that I don’t have to cook again when I get home.  Makes total sense, yet…..

I am missing my kitchen.  I do not have a high tech or large kitchen, but it was designed so that every square inch was utilized.  Organized and perfect.  Sure, my stove is old, the cabinets are dark and clearly worn and the sink is porcelain.  It’s where I’ve cooked, a whole lot, over the past 10 years.  It’s served me very well and I’m missing it.  I did, however, make Sunday dinner tonight and it felt good.

I made a quick tomato garlic pasta, a family fav.  So easy.  We grilled a few italian sausages and I warmed some frozen peas.  Delicious.  Reminds me of when I first married Joe and we’d have simple dinners such as this one.  I miss my big boys being younger.  Loved that time with them.  Funny, I started feeling nostalgic when I realized that I may not have fresh garlic.  WHAT? I can’t recall a time in the past 10 years when I’ve been out of garlic!  Fortunately when I went to the bottom of my vegetable bin, I found 3 heads, whew!

I guess I need to follow my own advice about having pantry items on hand, right??

Have a great week!



Veggie Lasagna Rolls…..

I am delighted to share my latest healthy vegetarian recipe!  Why not make ahead for your next dinner party?  Simply pop them into the oven about an hour before you want to serve.  Serve with a nice salad my simple garlic bread.  So good.
The recipe is large, it makes 16 rolls.  One roll will only cost you 5 Weight Watcher’s points, so worth it!  Freeze leftovers for another time or enjoy for lunches during the week.  You will need a batch of marinara sauce or you can use your favorite bottled sauce.

Veggie Lasagna Rolls

1 package lasagna noodles (14-16 pieces)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 medium red bell pepper, finely diced
1 medium zucchini, trimmed and grated
1 medium yellow squash, trimmed and grated
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
16 ounces part skim ricotta cheese
1 egg
3-4 cups marinara sauce or your favorite bottled sauce
4 ounces mozzarella cheese

1)  Boil the lasagna noodles according to the package directions, undercooking by 2 minutes.  Drain and rinse.  Carefully lay them out flat until it’s time to use them.  Refrigerate if you’re going to use them later.
2)  Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the chopped onion and red pepper.  Cook for 5-6 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another minute.  Add the shredded zucchini and the yellow squash.  Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring often.  Pour into a large bowl to cool.
3)  Once the veggie mixture is cool, add the ricotta cheese and the egg.  Mix well to combine.
4)  Preheat the oven to 350′.  Coat a large baking dish with cooking spray.  (You may need an additional dish)  Spread about 1 cup of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the pan.
5)  At one end of the lasagna noodle, place about 1/3 cup of the veggie/cheese mixture and carefully roll the noodle completely around the filling.  Place in the baking dish seam side down.  Stuff the rest of the noodles.  Pour additional sauce over the rolled and stuffed noodles.  Top with mozzarella cheese.
6)  Bake for 40-45 minutes.  Makes 16 rolls.

*Extend the baking time by 10-15 minutes if you make them ahead and they’re cold.
**freezes beautifully.
***Use any vegetables you like.  If you use mushrooms, be sure to cook the moisture out of them.


Have a healthy day!


Slow Cooked Bolognese Sauce…..

Bolognese sauce is one of my absolute favorite sauces for spaghetti and there is something elegant how it rolls off the tongue, isn’t there?  This takes a bit more cooking time than most of my sauces.   Don’t be turned off by the fact that there are chicken livers in the sauce.  They add a deep and rich flavor and they will literally disintigrate while cooking.  I would recommend doubling or tripling the recipe and freezing the extra sauce to enjoy later.

I used my food processor to finely chop the ham and the vegetables that go into the recipe.  I love the texture of the ground meat and the richness of the sauce.  I subbed out turkey ham for the ham.  Either way, you get amazing flavor from the smoked meat.

When cooking the pasta for the sauce,  under cook it by a couple of minutes.  Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining.  Put the pasta back into the cooking pot and add a few ladels of the bolognese sauce with some of the pasta cooking water.  Cook the pasta the rest of the way in the sauce.  That way the pasta will actually absorb the flavor of the sauce.  SO GOOD!  Serve with my simple Garlic Bread aTop with fresh grated parmesan cheese and some

Homemade Bolognese Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 lb chicken livers, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup smoked ham, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, finely chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 pinch of ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

1 lb. pasta

1)  Coarsely chop the chicken livers.  Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat.  Cook the chicken livers for about 5 minutes or until they’re done.
2)  Add the olive oil, ham, onion, carrots and celery.  Cook for about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic, cook for one minute.
3)  Add the ground beef and cook through breaking up large clumps of meat with your mixing spoon.   Add the tomato paste and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
4)  Add the wine and beef stock.  Reduce the heat to low and partially cover with the pot lid.  Simmer for 2 1/2-3 hours, stirring every 15-20 minutes.  Add a little more stock or water if the sauce is too thick.
5)  Add the heavy cream and nutmeg.  Stir well and give it a taste.  Add salt and pepper to your taste.  Serves 6.

Chicken Parmesan…..

This is a scrumptious dinner.    Make the marinara sauce ahead(recipe below).  If you’re having company, bread the chicken breasts and layer with wax paper between pieces, refrigerate.  Simply put into the oven about 40 minutes before you want to serve and follow the rest of the cooking directions.  While the chicken is baking, cook the pasta.  I think the the best way to get the most flavor into the pasta is to under cook it by a couple of minutes.  Drain the pasta and put back into the pan.  Add a couple of ladels of sauce to the hot undercooked noodles over medium heat.  Allow to cook for a couple of minutes.  The pasta will cook the rest of the way absorbing the flavors from the sauce.

Here we go….

Non stick foil line a cookie sheet with sides.  Add some olive oil…

Spread the oil evenly over the foil, set aside.  Preheat oven to 40o’.

Start with a whole, raw chicken breasts.  Trim any excess fat.  Most chicken breasts are quite large so I suggest giving it a horizontal slice.  This will make for more even cooking.

Place your hand on the top of the chicken breast and with a very sharp knife slice through the center of the breast.  (hard to demonstrate here with the camera in my right hand!)

Here you see the chicken breast halved.  Season both sides with a little kosher salt.

You will need three large bowls to coat the chicken.  One for flour, one for beaten egg and water, and one for the bread crumb/parmesan cheese mixture.  Dip into flour to coat, shake off excess….

Then into the egg mixure, allow the excess liquid to run off….

Finally, dip into the bread crumb/parmesan cheese mixture to thoroughly coat.

Place on the prepared cookie sheet and give a light drizzle of olive oil.  Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with cheese.  Back into the oven for 10 minutes.  Serve with marinara sauce and pasta.

Chicken Parmesan

4 chicken breasts, halved into cutlets
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup flour
2 eggs beaten with 2 tablespoons of water
1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Olive oil
8 slices mozzarella or provolone cheese

1)  Preheat oven to 400’.  Trim the fat off of the chicken breasts.   Lay the chicken breast on the cutting board.  Hold the top of the breast with one hand and with a very sharp knife, run it horizontally through the chicken breast.  Season each breast half with a couple of pinches of salt.

2)  You will need three containers.  To the first add the flour, the second the eggs and water (beaten), and to the third, add the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese, mix to blend.

3)  Dip each breast half first into the flour, shake off excess flour.  Dip into the egg to coat.  Finally, into the bread crumb mixture to coat and right onto the cookie sheet.  Once all are on the sheet, drizzle each piece with a small amount of olive oil.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and top each breast with one slice of cheese.  Bake an additional 10 minutes to melt the cheese.  Serve with spaghetti and marinara sauce. Makes 4 servings.



Marinara Sauce…..

Everyone should have a “go to” marinara recipe.  Here you go.  Love this over pasta with fresh grated parmesan cheese.  Add a simple salad and you have dinner.   If you’d like to kick it up a notch, serve it with my homemade garlic bread.  (you’ll find the recipe in breads category)  Why not double the recipe and keep a stash in your freezer for later, always a great idea!  Also makes an excellent meatless lasagna…will share that with you soon.

Here we go….

We  begin with a large heavy pot over medium heat and some nice olive oil.

And lots of onions…two cups.  Cook for about 5 minutes.

We’ll add some seasonings now.  The olive oil will absorb the flavors.  We have crushed red pepper flakes, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Add the seasonings all at once….

And garlic, we need lots of garlic:-)  Cook for a couple of minutes.

Of course, we need tomatoes.  I like using crushed tomatoes for a little texture, tomato sauce, and tomato paste.  Sugar is added to reduce the acidity.

Add the tomato paste.  Cook this in the pan for a few minutes, the tomato paste will start to caramelize and all of the flavors will come together.

Add the crushed tomatoes, the tomato sauce, and a little water.

Finally, the sugar.  Simmer the sauce for about 20 minutes.  Quick and easy!

Marinara Sauce
(no meat)

 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
¼ cup fresh garlic, minced (about 5 large cloves)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 28 ounce can tomato sauce + ½ can water
1 ½ tablespoons sugar

 1)  Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat.  Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes, cook another couple of minutes.

2)  Add tomato paste and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring often.  Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, and sugar.  Simmer for about 20 minutes. 

*add additional water if you’d like a thinner sauce.

Caramelized Onion Pasta with Toasted Panko and Cheese

This pasta is incredibly flavorful and made with simple ingredients.  Serve as a delicious side dish or vegetarian main.  Add whatever you like.  I think it would be outstanding with chopped leftover chicken and petite frozen peas…YUM!

I take an additional step in the process because my guys wouldn’t appreciate identifiable onions and garlic chunks.  I give the mixture a whirl in the blender before adding it to the cooked pasta.  Skip this step if you wish.

Here we go….

We’ll start by toasting the panko.  Preheat the oven to 375′ and give the crumbs a drizzle of olive oil, mix well to coat and spread over a cookie sheet.  Bake for 5-6 minutes. 

They should be golden brown.  Allow to cool completely.

In a small bowl, combine the toasted panko, grated parmesan cheese, and dried parsley, mix well.  Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Caramelize onions until they are golden brown as seen above.  This should take about 25-30 minutes.   Add garlic and 1/2 cup each chicken broth and wine.  Cook for 4 minutes.

Omit this step if you wish.  I blend the onion/wine/broth mixture to a smooth sauce so my guys will eat it.  They love the taste of onions and garlic but don’t much appreciate visible onions or garlic chunks.

It will look like this.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain well and toss the pasta with the sauce.  Top with the panko/cheese/parsley mixture.  The sweetness of the onions and garlic combined with the sharpness of the parmesan and the crunch of the panko will cause a party in your mouth!  Enjoy!

Rotelle Pasta with Caramelized Onions and Toasted Panko

 For the Crumbs:
½ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup coarsely grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley

 For the Pasta:

2 ½ cups thinly sliced onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken broth (or use ½ teaspoon Better Than Bouillon with ½ cup water)
½ pound cooked whole wheat curly pasta (or your favorite kind)

 1)  Preheat oven to 375’.  Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over bread crumbs and stir to evenly coat.  Spread over cookie sheet and bake 5-6 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely.  Once cool put into a small mixing bowl with the parmesan and the parsley, mix well.  Set aside

2)  Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the sliced onions and cook, stirring often until they turn golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Add the garlic, wine and the chicken broth, cook for about 4 minutes.

3)  You may omit this step if you wish.  I put the onion/wine/garlic mixture into the blender so that my people will eat it.  They love the taste of onions and garlic but not necessarily the stringy pieces of onion and chunks of garlic.  It’s a texture thing.

4)  Cook the pasta according to package directions in salted water.  Drain well and gently toss with the onion mixture and top with the panko/cheese/parsley mixture.  Serves 4.

*if you’d like to make this vegetarian, simply substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth.

Simplest Garlic and Cheese Pasta…..

This is sooooo simple!  I use a small cheat on this one.  I use Better Than Bouillon for the chicken stock.  I add it to pasta water to make the simple, flavorful sauce.   I always keep this on hand, I just love using it in quick dishes such as this.  This pasta is one of my boy’s fav’s.  I serve it with roasted pork, chicken, or grilled sausage.

Add shrimp, peas, broccoli, frozen spinach…whatever you like!  Top with fresh grated parmesan or romano cheese.

To start, choose a pasta…any kind you like….

Any of these would be excellent.  It’s a bit more fun when you use a cheese filled tortellini or mini ravioli…this time I used whole wheat spaghetti.
Pasta, olive oil, fresh garlic, dried oregano, bouillon, and fresh grated parmesan cheese….that’s it!  Put a large pot of salted water on medium high heat and cook the pasta according to package directions less two minutes.  Cook time for my spaghetti was 10 minutes, so I set the timer for eight.
When the timer goes off, carefully remove about 1 1/2 cups of water from the pot.  Drain the pasta, I let it sit in the sink until I’m ready for it. 
Into the hot pan, add olive oil, crushed garlic, and dried oregano.  Cook over heat for one minute.  (If you’d like to add raw shrimp, add the oil and cook the shrimp until pink, then add the garlic and oregano and cook an additional minute, remove cooked shrimp from the pan and cover with foil, set aside)   Red pepper flakes would be great here too:-)
Add the reserved pasta water to the pan, bring to a bubble over heat.
Add 2 teaspoons of the bouillon to the pot, stir until dissolved.  Pan should still be over heat.  (add thawed frozen peas, broccoli, or spinach here)


Add the pasta back to the pot.  Cook for 2 minutes.  The under cooked pasta will absorb the flavors in the broth…(add the cooked shrimp to the pot here)
Add the cheese to the hot pasta, mix well.  Enjoy!
Simplest Garlic and Cheese Pasta

½ lb. pasta, any kind, cooked according to package directions less 2 minutes. Reserve 1 ½ cups reserved pasta water before draining pasta.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves fresh garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon
¼ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

1) Cook pasta and reserve 1 ½ cups pasta water. Set aside.
2) Add olive oil, crushed garlic, and dried oregano to the hot pasta pot. Cook for one minute.
3) Add pasta water to pan. Add bouillon, continue to simmer. Add pasta to pot and cook for 2 minutes.
4) Remove from heat and add grated cheese and mix well. Makes about four one cup servings.

YUM!  Enjoy!

Spaghetti and Meatballs…Oh Boy!!!

This is one of my favorite Sunday suppers.  It’s so cozy to fill your home with the smells of simmering homemade pasta sauce and meatballs.  The longer you let the sauce simmer, the better it is.  Add to that tender, flavourful meatballs and oh my goodness, a dinner that will have your family not walking but running to the table!  This recipe is large enough to freeze.  I love pulling this out of the freezer when I don’t feel much like cooking or am pinched for time.

Oh, one more thing…what’s a spaghetti dinner without some killer garlic bread?  See that recipe below.

Homemade Meatballs and Sauce

For the sauce:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 28 ounce can tomato sauce + 1 ½ cans water
2 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

1) Heat a large stock pot over medium heat and add olive oil. Add onions, oregano, thyme, and basil. and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic, cook for one minute.
2) Add tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.   This gives the paste a chance to caramelize or sweeten.
3) Add canned tomatoes, water, sugar, salt, and pepper. Turn the heat down to low and allow to simmer.  Stir every 10-15 minutes.  Prepare meatballs.

For the Meatballs:

1 ¼ lbs. ground turkey 93/7
1 ¼ lbs. lean ground beef
1 cup bread crumbs
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
¾ teaspoon granulated garlic powder
½ teaspoon granulated onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 eggs
1 cup water
1 lb. spaghetti

1) Preheat oven to 375’. Line a cookie sheet that has sides with non stick foil. Set aside.
2) Add meats to a large mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well with hands. (use gloves or meticulously clean hands with no cuts)
3) Scoop meatballs with a large cookie dough scoop. Shape into balls and place on sheet.
4) Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and add immediately to sauce. Simmer 30-60 minutes. Makes about 32 large meat balls.  (be careful not to simmer much longer with the meatballs in the sauce or they will fall apart)
5)  Cook pasta according to package directions less a couple of minutes.  (if they say to cook for 10 minutes cook for 8)  Put the pasta back into the cooking pot over medium heat.  Immediately add a couple of ladles of sauce and cook for two minutes.  The flavor of the sauce will cook into the pasta for the remaining couple of minutes.  Serve immediately.  Top with cheese and serve with a simple salad and garlic bread.  YUM!

*try adding cooked Italian sausages to the sauce for an alternative to meatballs.  Cut them into 2″ pieces.
*meatballs can be frozen with or without the sauce and can be easily used in other recipes.

Vegetable and Mini Ravioli Soup…..

I am in love with this vegetable soup that has an Italian twist.  It is loaded with fresh vegetables and flavorful cheese filled mini raviolis.  The recipe goes together pretty quick too.  I used homemade chicken stock I pulled out of my freezer but feel free to use store bought.  If you want to freeze, don’t add the pasta directly to the soup.  Make enough to add to what you’ll be eating and freeze the soup without the pasta, you can easily add later.  Enjoy with crusty Italian bread or grilled cheese.  Delish!

Vegetable Soup with Mini Cheese Ravioli

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onions, about 2 medium
6 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 medium zucchini, cut into ½” pieces
5 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with juices
8 cups or 2 quarts chicken stock-homemade or store bought
2 14 oz. cans cannelli beans, drained
½ lb. mini ravioli, cooked according to package directions
Chopped parsley for garnish
Parmesan cheese

1) Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add olive oil. Add onions, zucchini, and celery. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook another minute. Add tomato paste to pan and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring often.
2) Add diced tomatoes with juices, chicken stock, and cannelli beans. Allow to come to a low simmer.
3) While soup is heating up, cook the ravioli. It takes about 15 minutes or so. Add a couple of cups of the pasta water to the soup pot. Drain pasta and add to the pot. Taste, you may have to add additional seasoning. Top each bowl with parmesan cheese and parsley if desired.  Makes about 20 one cup servings.
Great with crusty bread or grilled cheese sandwiches.

**You can find mini ravioli at Trader Joe’s.