Posted in Bake, Beef, Casserole, Pasta dish, Sauces, Tips/Hints

Make Ahead Day 4


  • Cook the entire recipe in advance and refrigerate overnight.  When ready to heat, cut into individual serving sizes and microwave.
  • Assemble the casserole and refrigerate overnight.  Either remove the casserole from the refrigerator a few hours early to come to room temperature before baking or bake for about 45 minutes right from the refrigerator (extra baking time may be necessary if you place the cold casserole in the oven).

Baked Macaroni with Meat

Baked Macaroni with Meat

Serves 8

Preheat oven 350o

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Estimated Values per Serving:

Calories: 320                        Fat:4 grams                           Points: 6

Ingredients:

½ onion – chopped

½ pound (8-ounces) ground turkey meat

½ pound (8-ounces) 93% lean ground beef

¼ cup water

½ cup wine

1 cup canned diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon dried basil

½ pound (8-ounces) penne pasta (*)

½ cup egg substitute

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Cream Sauce:

2 cups fat free half and half

2 cups skim milk

½ cup flour

¾ cup egg substitute

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Heat a large skillet on medium heat, spray with cooking spray and add onion.  Sauté for about 5 minutes until soft and browned.
  2. Increase heat to medium high and add turkey and beef and sauté until cooked and browned.
  3. Add water, wine, tomatoes, tomato paste, nutmeg and basil and simmer until half of the liquid is absorbed.
  4. Remove from heat, spoon into a bowl and cool.
  5. Boil water in a large pot and add penne.  Cook until al dente (about 5 minutes).
  6. Drain, rinse and add to bowl with meat mixture.  Stir in egg substitute and parmesan cheese.
  7. In a saucepot, whisk together half and half, milk egg substitute and nutmeg.
  8. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly and thick.  Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese.
  9. Pour half of the sauce into the meat and pasta mixture.

10. Spray a 13-inch X 9-inch casserole with cooking spray and spoon in meat mixture.

11. Pour the remaining cream sauce on top and bake for 30 minutes until browned.

(*) Use high fiber pasta

Posted in Bake, Casserole, Main Courses, Pasta dish, Sauces, Tips/Hints, Vegetables

Make Ahead – Day 2


Tips for Cooking Ahead:

  1. You can cook the vegetables and pasta, and sauce and combine in the casserole dish to bake later that day or the next day.  If you refrigerate the casserole overnight, take it out for several hours before baking it so that it can come to room temperature.  This will reduce the baking time to 30 minutes.
  2. You can bake the dish just before broiling the parmesan that morning and leave out.  Heat for 10 minutes, covered, then broil for the last 5 minutes right before serving.
  3. You can bake the casserole the night before and refrigerate it overnight.  The next day, take it out several hours before baking it so that it can come to room temperature then bake for 15 minutes, covered, add the parmesan cheese and broil for 5 minutes.
  4. You can cook the entire recipe that morning or the night before then divide into individual serving sizes and microwave.

Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables

Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables

Serves 6

Preheat oven 450o

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Estimated Values per Serving:

Calories: 320                        Fat: 4 grams                          Points: 5

Ingredients:

1 eggplant – cut into 1-inch pieces

Salt

1 zucchini – cut into 1-inch pieces

1 red bell pepper – cut into 1-inch pieces

1 large onion – cut into 1-inch pieces

Olive oil cooking spray

12 ounces penne pasta (*)

¼ cup flour

3 cups skim milk

¼ cup egg substitute

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ cup + ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese – separated

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Place towels on the countertop and sprinkle generously with salt.  Add eggplant pieces on top, sprinkle more salt on top then cover again with paper towels.  Let eggplants sit out on countertop to “sweat” for about 20 minutes.
  2. Rinse eggplant well with water and add to a large mixing bowl with zucchini, peppers and onions.  Spray with cooking spray and toss.
  3. Spray a large baking pan with olive oil.  Spread vegetable mixture in a single layer on baking pan and roast in the oven for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned and soft.  Reduce oven heat to 400o.
  4. While vegetables are roasting, bring a large pot of water to boil and add penne pasta.  Cook until al dente for about 5 – 6 minutes.  The pasta should still be firm and slightly cooked.
  5. Drain penne and add to a large mixing bowl.  When vegetables are cooked, add to the penne and toss.  Set aside.
  6. In a large saucepot, whisk together flour, milk, egg substitute nutmeg, ½ cup parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.  Heat stovetop to medium low and, stirring constantly, cook until the mixture has come to a boil and is thickened.  Remove from heat.
  7. Spray a large casserole dish with olive oil cooking spray and add the vegetable pasta mixture.  Pour half of the milk mixture in and toss.  Pour the remaining milk mixture on top, cover and bake at 400o for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove cover from the casserole, sprinkle on ¼ cup of parmesan cheese and broil on high for about 5 minutes until the top is bubbly and browned.
  9. Remove from oven and serve hot.

(*): Use high fiber penne

Posted in Pasta dish, Vegetables

Penne with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes


Penne with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Penne with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Serves 6

Preheat oven 300o

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Estimated Values per Serving:

Calories: 230                        Fat: 4 grams                          Points: 4

Ingredients:

1 pound cherry tomatoes

3 cloves garlic – sliced

1 tablespoon fresh basil – sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup parmesan cheese

½  pound (8 ounces) penne pasta (*)

Directions:

  1. Spray baking pan with olive oil cooking spray.  In a mixing bowl, combine cherry tomatoes and garlic.  Spray tomatoes with olive oil cooking spray and toss. Spread onto the baking pan.
  2. Roast tomatoes and garlic for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and cover to keep warm until penne is cooked.
  3. Cook penne according to package directions and drain.
  4. Combine penne with tomatoes, basil olive oil and parmesan cheese and toss together.  Serve hot.

(*) Use high fiber penne.

Posted in Main Courses, Pasta dish, Slow Cook, Tips/Hints

Spicy Chicken Sausage with Penne


This is a great easy meal that can be made ahead of time.  I cooked the sauce in the morning and heated it 10 minutes before dinner while the penne was cooking. 

Spicy Chicken Sausage with Penne

Spicy Chicken Sausage with Penne

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 to 2 hours

Estimated Values per Serving:

Calories: 400                        Fat: 7 grams                          Points: 8

Ingredients:

1 package (12 ounces) chicken sausage with jalapenos and red peppers – coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic – minced

½ cup white wine

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons fresh basil – chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

½ teaspoon dried oregano

8 ounces (1/2 box) high fiber penne pasta (*)

Directions:

  1. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat, spray with cooking spray and add sausage.  Sauté for 5 minutes until browned.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add wine, scraping any pieces from the bottom of the pan and cook until it comes to a boil.
  3. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and basil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 to 2 hours.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  4. 20 minutes before serving, add oregano and continue to simmer.
  5. 10 minutes before serving, bring water to a boil on high heat and add penne.  Cook 8 – 10 minutes or until done.
  6. Strain penne and pour into a serving platter.  Spoon sausage sauce on top and serve.

(*) “Smart Pasta” with 7 grams of fiber per serving.

NOTE: the sausage sauce can be made in advance and reheated when ready to serve.

Posted in Pasta dish

Pasta with Basil and Capers


Passa with Basil and Capers

Serves 4

Prep Time:

Cook Time:

Estimated Values per Serving:

Calories: 110                        Fat: 6 grams                          Points: 2

Ingredients:

½ box (8 ounces) penne pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

*¼ cup vinegar from olive jar

1 clove garlic – minced

1 tablespoon capers – minced

1 tablespoon fresh basil – minced

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Boil pasta according to package directions and drain when cooked.  Add pasta to a large serving bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic and capers.  Pour dressing on top of pasta and stir.  Add basil and parmesan cheese and toss lightly.
  3. Serve immediately.

*Look for olives that are pickled in vinegar.  If you do not have a jar of pickled olives, you can substitute your favorite flavored vinegar instead.

Posted in Pasta dish, Vegetables

Company for the week…


Italian Pasta and Bean Salad

Our friends from Texas are visiting us for the week and should be arriving soon.  I planned a simple dinner for them since I know they will probably be tired from traveling all day.  So tonight, I am making pork loin cooked on the BBQ, Caesar’s salad and Italian pasta salad. 

Enjoy summer with friends.

Italian Pasta and Bean Salad

Serves 12

Pre p Time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 8 minutes

Estimates Values per serving:

Calories = 220                                              Fat = 3 grams

Ingredients:

1 (12-ounce) box of pasta

½ cup low fat mayonnaise

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon anchovy paste

2 cloves garlic – minced

½ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 (14-ounce) can of artichoke hearts – rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped

1 (15.5-ounce) can of chick peas – rinsed and drained

1 (15.5-ounce) can of red kidney beans– rinsed and drained

½ cup low fat shredded mozzarella cheese

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

8 ounces cherry tomatoes – cut in half

Pepper to season

Directions:

  1. Boil a large pot of water and add macaroni.  Cook about 8 minutes until done and drain water.
  2. While pasta is cooking, whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, sugar, anchovy paste, garlic, paprika and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. 
  3. Add pasta, artichoke hearts, chick peas, kidney beans, cheeses and tomatoes and gently toss together.  Add pepper to season.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and serve cold.
Posted in Fish, Pasta dish

Clammy


Yesterday our friends gave us extra live clams that they did not use from Sunday.  I was worried that they would die overnight (something no-one wants to experience) so I dropped them into a big pot, added beer and wine and cooked them.  I figured that I’d come up with some idea for dinner tonight.  As a result, clams became the inspiration for tonight.

I love clams casino but the clams I cooked last night were way too big.  Generally speaking, the bigger the clams, the tougher they get.  I looked to see what normally goes in clams casino, used a lot of the same flavors and came up with this idea.  Unfortunately, I am not sure how my family liked dinner because I rushed out of the house for an appointment as soon as Dean arrived home. 

Enjoy and happy clamming!

Penne with Clams Casino Sauce

Serves 6

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

24 large clams

1 bottle (12 ounces) beer

1 cup (8 ounces) white wine

4 slices turkey bacon – chopped

1/2 cup minced onion

1/4 cup chopped celery

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups reserved clam liquid

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 (14.5 ounce) box of penne pasta

¼ cup Italian style bread crumbs

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Place clams in a deep saucepot.  Add beer and white wine and bring up to a boil on high heat.  Cook clams until they are opened.  NOTE: If 1 or 2 do not open, discard.
  2. Remove clams from pot and cool to room temperature, reserving 2 cups of the liquid.
  3. Remove clams from their shells, discarding the shells, and chop the clam meat.  Set clam meat aside.
  4. Heat large sauce pan on medium high heat, spray with cooking spray and add chopped bacon.  Cook bacon until browned.  Reduce heat to medium, add onion and cook about 5 minutes until soft.  Add celery and cook an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute then add the reserved clam liquid, water, oregano, parsley, paprika and chopped clam meat. 
  6. Lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until clams are tender.
  7. While sauce is simmering, cook penne as per the package directions.  Drain and rinse.
  8. Add penne to the sauce pan with bread crumbs and stir.  Remove from heat, spoon into serving platter, sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and serve.

Estimated Values per serving:

Calories  = 165                                             Fat = 4 grams

Posted in Pasta dish, Poultry

Light and Easy…


We thought we might go out to eat tonight but plans were changed and I had to decide the last hour what we were having.  I decided to do something easy since time was running out.  Pasta dishes are great meals to make when you are pressed for time or haven’t planned in advance.  So tonight we had Chicken and pasta with Spinach.

Chicken and Pasta with Spinach

Serves 4

Preheat oven 425o

Prep and cook time 25 minutes

Ingredients:

2 garlic cloves – peeled but left whole

½ box rigatoni pasta

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts – cut into bite sized pieces

¼ cup scallions, green parts only – chopped

2 tablespoons fresh parsley – minced

½ cup white wine

1 ½ cup fat free chicken broth

1 tablespoon cornstarch

½ pound fresh baby spinach leave – coarsely chopped

¼ cup parmesan cheese – grated

Directions:

  1. Wrap garlic cloves in aluminum foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes.  When done, mash roasted garlic with the back of the spoon and set aside to combine with chicken broth.
  2. Boil water and cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain pasta and set aside.
  3. Heat large skillet on medium high heat, spray with cooking spray and add chicken.  Sauté for about 10 minutes or until chicken is browned and cooked.  Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.
  4. Add scallions and sauté for about 2 minutes.  Add wine and parsley, scarping any bits from the bottom of the skillet.  Cook wine mixture for about 5 minutes or until reduced by half. 
  5. In a small bowl, mix together chicken broth, corn starch and garlic.  Add to skillet, stirring until thickened and bubbly.  Add pasta, chicken and spinach to the skillet and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Remove skillet from heat, toss in cheese and spoon onto serving platter.
Posted in Fish, Main Courses, Pasta dish, Sauces, Saute`

Taking advantage of the sales


Well I don’t usually buy something as expensive as snow crab legs for dinner but our local grocery store had an amazing sale on snow crab legs, I just couldn’t resist. If you don’t have a great sale going on and want to try this recipe, you can substitute canned or fresh lump crab meat or a poached fish instead.
If you are substituting with a fillet of fish, just pour a little sauce on top at the end and serve it with potatoes or another side dish instead of setting it on top of pasta. Also, it is best to cook the sauce at the last minute. I was experimenting with the sauce this afternoon and set it into the refrigerator. When I went to reheat it, it was too thick and I had a little bit of a hard time getting it back to it’s original form. Since the sauce takes less than 10 minutes to cook, it’s worth not cooking in advance.

Here is the recipe for Snow Crab with Penne.

Snow Crab with Penne
Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 pounds frozen snow crab claws
1 tablespoon capers – minced
1 teaspoon prepared mustard powder
2 tablespoon white wine
½ cup fat free half and half
1 ½ cups skim milk
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon tarragon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 pound penne pasta

Directions:
1. Heat water on high heat in a large pot until boiling and add snow crab legs. Cook until water comes to a boil again. Remove crab legs and from shells and break up meat into small pieces. Set crab meat in a large mixing bowl, cover and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine minced capers, mustard and wine. Set aside.
3. In a saucepan, mix together half and half, flour, tarragon, salt and pepper. Add wine/caper mixture and turn heat on low.
4. Heat sauce mixture, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to steam. Increase heat to medium low, continue whisking, until mixture is bubbly and thickened (about 5 minutes).
5. Remove sauce from heat and pour on top of crab. Gently fold sauce into crab meat, being careful not to break up the crab meat too much.
6. Boil a pot of water and cook penne according to directions on box. Drain, rinse and set into a serving platter.
7. Spoon crab sauce on top of pasta and serve.