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For some reason, summer just doesn’t seem very “pasta” to me.   Pasta is just too hearty to eat when it is hot outside.  Or maybe it is the temperature and not the heartiness because I eat cold pasta (pasta salad).  I don’t know.  But that’s not the point anyway.  The point is that it is getting cold in New England!  Hearty meals are welcome in my home again.

At the grocery store yesterday I bought stuff to make lasagna and chili and slow cooker pork.  Look at that menu and try to tell me that winter isn’t around the corner. 

Pasta is just fine when it comes out of the box.  Really, it is.  But it is also pretty darn easy to make from scratch, and it ends up tasting so much fresher and just delicious in general.  So why not throw together a homemade pasta recipe every once in a while?  I don’t have a special machine or anything, so I use a rolling pin and pizza cutter, but that hasn’t caused any problems.  Nobody wants every piece to be exactly the same anyway, right?  Just make sure that you roll it pretty thin because it does puff up a little bit when it cooks.

This time that I made it, I just tossed the pasta with butter and parmesan cheese and then topped with herbs.  But some sort of tomato sauce would be good too.  Or making it into some sort of ravioli or pierogi.  Yum.  Maybe next time.

Homemade Pasta (this serves two, but feel free to double it):

1 cup flour
1 pinch salt
1 egg
1 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp olive oil

In a stand mixer (or if you want to do this all with your hands then more power to you, but be warned that it can be a mess), mix the flour and salt.  Then add in the egg, milk, and olive oil and mix until they are all combined and the dough is a little bit stretchy.  Maybe about 5 minutes. 

Flour a clean surface and put the dough on top.  Adding more flour as needed, work the dough into a ball.  Wrap the ball in seran wrap and let it sit for about half an hour.  Don’t rush this part!  Then, roll the ball out and cut into whatever shape you want.  In salted and oiled boiling water, cook the pasta for about 4-5 minutes.  You can taste it to see if it needs more time.

Programming note:  My brother, Dan, agreed to be a guest blogger while I am down in Baltimore visiting for the weekend.  This casserole was made completely from his memory and ended up really good!  Enjoy!



Please allow me to introduce myself; I’m a man of wealth and taste.

Lindsay has kept a low profile for her dear old brother on Life and Kitchen, but was recently kind enough to allow me (Dan) to takeover and give this culinary blogging game a try. 

While I generally prefer lighter, contemporary American and ethnic dishes (especially Middle Eastern, Thai, and Indian), only one recipe came to mind when considering what to cook for Life and Kitchen: Mom’s Ham Casserole for Dan.  I don’t think it has an official name and the I mostly remember eating it when I was in college, but it left a lasting impression none the less.  I think it might have origins in Mom trying to figure out what to do with all the left over Easter ham.  Mom herself was a lover of green bean casserole, but she was always willing to make the below dish for a starving (existentially) college kid. 

   

As I write this, the snow storm of the century is bearing down on Maryland and wreaking havoc and panic on the tender, warm-blooded souls of the not-quite South.  A perfect time to reach back to our hearty Mid-Western roots, when saturated fat was an object of celebration and a snow day at home with the family was a good thing. 

The Goods
1 Bag of egg noodles
2 Sticks butter
3 Cloves minced garlic
½ Medium minced onion
4 Cups heavy cream
1 ½ Cups mixed Parmesan, Romano and Asiago cheese
1 Ham steak (left over Honey Baked Ham is best)
1 Cup frozen peas
¼ Cup chopped kalamata olives
3 Cups Corn Flakes (not Frosted Flakes)

Noodles

Boil a large pot of water and cook the egg noodles al dente.  The noodles will finish cooking with the alfredo sauce in the oven.  Drain and set aside.

At the same time you are boiling the noodles, begin the alfredo sauce.

Alfredo Sauce

In a large pan on medium heat, slowly melt 1 ½ sticks butter.  Add the garlic and onions and cook for a few minutes, being careful not to burn the butter.  Slowly stir in four cups heavy cream and 1 ½ cups mixed parmesan, romano and asiago cheeses.  Continue to occasionally stir the sauce over medium heat until the cheese is mostly melted (this will take longer than you’d expect). 

Corn Flake Crust

While keeping an eye on your alfredo sauce above, melt ½ stick butter in a large mixing bowl in the microwave (about 30 seconds).  Pour in about 3 cups corn flakes and mix and mash them up really well. 

Bringing it All Back Home

Begin assembling your remaining ingredients in a large casserole dish.  Add the cooked noodles.  Cube the ham steak and chop the kalamata olives and add those too.  Pour in your peas and mix it all around.  Then pour the cream mixture over top and mix to make sure that all of the noodles are coated.  Top it off with the buttery crushed corn flakes and place in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees.  Bake it covered (with foil or a spare baking sheet) for about 25 minutes.  Take off the cover and continue to bake for about 10 minutes to crisp up the corn flakes on top. 

I’d recommend letting the casserole cool for 10 minutes or so to allow everything to settle and avoid scorching your mouth.  This will take some amount of will power, as the casserole will have filled your house with irresistible aromas. 

     

Mom’s casserole reheats very well and can provide a few meals out of the refrigerator (though it’s never lasted long in my presence). 

So kick back and banish those thoughts of swimsuit shopping and your doctor’s stern warnings for just a meal or two and reconnect with the soul nourishing food of our childhood. 

Happy New Year… it’s diet season again!  But no one really wants to give up the foods that they love.  Mac and cheese is just so delicious and comforting and irresistable, as can be seen by the fact that most of it was gone by the time I got to take a picture… but you get the idea of what it looked like before the madness.  The problem is, this wonderful carb-dairy combo can absolutely kill the buttons on your pants.  Literally.  It will pop them right off.  Luckily, Weight Watchers has a recipe that is a really good, adult-tasting, mac and cheese without all of the guilt afterwards.  I’m no spokesperson for WW, but I should note that I like a lot of their recipes!  For this one I switched it over to wheat pasta, which made me feel better about the fact that I added more cheese…

Here is the info (adapted from Weight Watchers): 

1 box (13.25 oz) whole wheat pasta, I used medium shells
3/4 cup fat-free sour cream
1 can (12 oz) fat-free evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups low-fat cheddar cheese, shredded (or use a mix of cheeses if you like!)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
3 Tbsp dried bread crumbs
3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (preferably fresh)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Cook pasta until it is al dente (a little undercooked), drain and transfer to a large bowl. While it is still hot, stir in the FF sour cream.  It smells very sour creamy, but don’t let that scare you!  It will be good in the end, I promise! 

Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it looks like it is about to boil, but isn’t boiling yet (little bubbles around the edge of the pan). Lower the heat, add the 1.5 cups of shredded cheese, and stir them together until cheese melts.  It will only take a couple of minutes. 

Remove it from the heat and stir in the mustard, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Add the cheese mixture to the pasta mixture and stir them together.

Transfer the whole thing to a casserole dish.  I tend to go for a wider, shallower dish so that there is more surface area exposed for the crunchy toping, but you can really put it in any casserole that you please.  Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, and sprinkle the mixture over the pasta.   Bake it for about 30 minutes, or until the top is looking crispy crunchy delicious.  Enjoy!


Ok, so it isn’t summer. A minor detail like that isn’t gonna stop me from making pasta salad! Especially when I have extra pepperoni, mozz cheese, olives, and peas sitting around. I made a pepperoni and black olive pizza the night before this pasta salad took place, and something had to be done with the leftovers. And then there were peas… and they just happened to be sitting in the freezer. So maybe I should call this “Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad.”

Either way, here are the deets:

1 box of whole wheat, short-cut pasta (13.25 oz)
20 slices of pepperoni, quartered (or turkey pepperoni, which is what we had)
1/2 can of black olives
1/3 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded or cubed
Italian Salad Dressing

These ingredients aren’t an exact science. Just throw in however much of what you have. If you love pepperoni then put more in. Hate it? Leave it out. And if you hate pepperoni then tell me now because I have never met a person who doesn’t like pepperoni (and isn’t a vegetarian, of course).

Cook the pasta according to the package and let it cool a bit. We don’t want melted mozzarella, though that could be tasty. Then throw all of the other ingredients in except for the dressing. Once everything is in the bowl and stirred, start drizzling dressing in until you get it to the consistency that you like (maybe about 1/4 to 1/2 cup).

Then put everything into the fridge and let rest for at least an hour. Take it out and taste test it. Some of the dressing might have soaked into the pasta, so add more if needed.

Then you eat it!

I would be happy to have spaghetti and any sort of tomato sauce once a year. It just isn’t my cup of tea. But Jake seems to love it, and I am the greatest wife of all time, so I made it tonight for dinner. This isn’t any fancy Bolognese sauce that has red wine and fancy things. This is just meat sauce. But it ended up pretty tasty, so hold your judgement!

You start with the meat. I used organic ground beef from Costco. I read somewhere that if you want to get the most bang for your organic buck then you should go for meat and milk (and other things where you are eating something that comes from the body of an animal). I’m still working on doing it more often, but this was organic meat. Did that really need a whole paragraph?

So you brown the meat and throw a chopped up onion in to cook with it so that all of the flavors work together. Then I drain the fat and throw in a jar of marinara sauce (homemade sauce would probably be better!), garlic powder, salt&pepper, and basil. Then let it simmer for awhile while the pasta cooks. It is the simmering time that makes a difference here. The longer you can go the better.

Then you can just plate it up and throw some parmesan on top. The nice thing about this dinner is that there is extra for lunch. And leftover pasta is better than fresh pasta (says Austin).

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