December 20th, 2011

Lasagna Roll Ups, or Lazy Man’s Manicotti

Whole wheat lasagna roll-ups with mushroom-three-cheese filling and marinara sauce

All rolled up and nowhere to go...except the oven.

Let’s talk filled pasta.  Ravioli, tortellini, manicotti, stuffed shells…come to my mouth.  Let’s make hot, gooey, saucy memories.  Filled pasta is the best.  Especially cheese-filled pasta.  And the more cheese, the better.  The only problem with manicotti and stuffed shells is that they’re kind of a pain to make, and the pre-made frozen ones are mediocre at best.

Enter lazy man’s manicotti.  Which is actually nothing like manicotti other than that it’s some sort of pasta with some sort of filling, topped with some sort of sauce.  Moving on….

Last week I told you about boring, versatile, marinara sauce.  I even gave you a few ideas of how to spice it up and make it something really delicious.  Today, I’m going to show you something to actually do with that sauce.  I chose the boring style since this is a “lazy” dish, but you can dress it up however you want.  Although, I say it’s lazy but I made the sauce and the ricotta from scratch.  But that’s just because I prefer homemade ricotta to store-bought and I’m kind of a cheapskate.

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December 12th, 2011

The Only Marinara You’ll Ever Need

Basic marinara sauce, prepped for freezing

Prepped for freezing

Last week I mentioned how our household prefers a lot of flavor to bland food.  Today, I’m going to share with you one of the most plain recipes in my repertoire: plain, boring marinara sauce.  But its simplicity is exactly why it’s so perfect.  This basic marinara is the perfect base for all kinds of tomato sauces.  You can leave it plain if you’re serving it with something else that’s flavor-intensive, or if you’re feeding it to picky palates (like small children and people who complain their throats burn from mild salsa).  And if you’re really pressed for time, the sauce is still good on its own.  It just won’t kick your taste buds in the butt.

This is a Magazine Mondays post since the recipe is adapted from the January 2005 issue of Gourmet Magazine, and is meant for making ahead.  It was used in the magazine article, “Easy Week” for mussels and pasta.  I usually just freeze most of it in 2-cup portions and then thaw them as needed, mix in meat or other seasonings, and toss it with a perfect two-person pasta dish.  I’ll give you some ideas to get you started after the jump.

Basic Marinara

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, January 2005. Makes about 5 cups.

  • 2 med onions
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 28-oz cans whole tomatoes in juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Sugar to taste
  1. Cook onions and garlic in oil in a 4-5 quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring until softened, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes, including juice, and salt, then simmer gently, uncovered, stirring and mashing tomatoes with a potato masher occasionally until sauce is thickened and reduced to about 5 cups, 1 to 1 ¼ hours.
  3. If sauce tastes too acidic, add sugar and cook 5 minutes more.

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May 23rd, 2011

Magazine Mondays: White Bean & Tuna Pasta

White Bean and Tuna Pasta

Flash = crappy photo

Hello, dear ones! It’s been a crazy couple of weeks.  We just spent the weekend out of state, checking out the venue for our wedding ceremony since it was the same weekend as our wedding (May 19, 2012!).  I also had to do some research on reception venues, and pick a florist.  All with a tired and cranky toddler in tow!

We got back home Sunday night, and while The Grump took The Munchkin home, I went grocery shopping – and after a 4 hour drive following a day of walking and note and photo taking, I was exhausted!

I had planned this White Bean & Tuna Pasta as dinner because it was simple and quick, but after all that I ended up with the beginnings of a migraine. So TG ended up making dinner while I rested, and I didn’t feel up to setting up my tabletop tripod, so please forgive the crappy picture I took with my flash.

This pasta dish was alright, but truth be told, we didn’t follow the recipe exactly.  It calls for capers, anchovies, and cherry tomatoes on top of the white beans and canned tuna.  I didn’t have the first two ingredients at all, and forgot the cherry tomatoes so we substituted drained canned diced tomatoes.  TG could have added parsley but I guess he didn’t realize we had any, and we don’t have arugula, but I would have used spinach.  So, this really isn’t the recipe in the magazine at all.  Oh well, I’d had a good intention.

I plan to make it again, true to the recipe, and then decide whether I like it or not.  It’s not much of a recipe anyway, just a blurb in the May 2011 issue of Bon Appétit.  I’ll provide the “recipe” after the jump, but in the meantime, Allyson of ReTorte joined me in this week’s Magazine Monday, which Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice graciously let me host this week!

Allyson made Chicken, Red Onion, Kalamata, and Mushroom Pizza using a crust recipe from Food Network Magazine and also Guy Fieri’s Soft Pretzels from the same magazine.  Both look amazing!

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December 12th, 2010

Irish Baked Pasta

Irish baked pasta: the closeup

I've got my pot o' gold riiiiight here.

Whew. What the hell happened? November was a crazy crazy month and December is heading that way too.

I’m so sorry I haven’t been keeping up. I’ve been barely staying afloat of everything in my life! I’ve had to miss some work for various things that came up, and have been working overtime to try to make up some of the hours. On the plus side, we did get to spend Thanksgiving weekend in Ohio with my friends and family so I am happy about that.

I missed cooking, baking, and telling everyone about it. I’ve been struggling to keep up with all your blogs, however, catching up on my overflowing news feed on the weekends and commenting when I get a chance.  Forgive me for my quiet both here and on your sites.  I hope to get things rolling again soon.

Here’s how behind I am: remember my post about Irish week down the page a little bit? This is one of the things we made that week.  These photos have been sitting on my hard drive that long.  Almost two months! But I remember this pasta well.

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July 4th, 2010

Linguine with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Linguine with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Linguine with Fresh Tomato Sauce

When I was first starting to learn to cook in my early days of college, I lived and breathed Food Network.  I always had it on while I was cooking, I believed if it was said by Alton Brown then it was the holy word of the food god, and I determined that some day I would go to culinary school for the pastry arts so I could make things as beautiful as Gale Gand.  And I got 99% of my recipes from

A lot has changed.  Now I don’t have a TV, so watching Food Network is a bit difficult.  I don’t need it as a crutch anymore, anyway.  Although I still adore Alton Brown’s scientific approach to cooking, I’ve found versions of food that I prefer to his.  And I rarely visit anymore;  most of my recipes come from elsewhere on the web, Bon Appétit, or various cookbooks I have on hand.

This recipe is the main thing I have left from those early days.  It remains my favorite pasta sauce – simple, colorful, and oh so flavorful.  Being oil based, it never makes the pasta soggy, so letting it sit in the refrigetator for a day or two lets the flavors meld better and permeate the noodles with vibrant taste and color.  I used to make a full batch when I lived alone and happily have lunch for the next 3 days.  For a family, I highly recommend doubling the recipe and eating it cold for lunch the next day.  Or two.

P.S. – Please forgive the photo quality; the lighting was as usual very poor and my wrist did not want to cooperate with photography so I was unable to spend much time creating ideal conditions. I’m happy I was able to provide a photo at all!

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