Archive for the ‘pasta’ category

Bolognese Sauce

February 4, 2011

I love pasta especially with different styles of marinara sauce.  Nothing makes me happier than a pasta and red wine night with some good garlic bread and close friends-especially on a night like it is tonight, about 34 degrees and rainy.  The best part of Bolognese is it is relatively easy to make and then you can sit and smell is simmering away for the next several hours.  It’s so satisfying to walk into your apartment and have the wonderful aroma of comfort food engulf you.  The funny thing about Bolognese is that there is about 100 different ways to make it and everyone has something different to add.  Therefore I took what I know about sauces I like and made up one that uses all the best parts (in my opinion at least!), so I hope you enjoy!

Leigh’s Bolognese

  • 3tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1 celery stalk diced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 1/2tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • salt to taste
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground beef ( I like mine a little meatier)
  • 1 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 28 ounce can diced tomato, with juice
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • goat cheese or other cheese to top

Heat butter in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat; add onion, carrot, and celery and sautè until softened.  Add garlic and cinnamon and thyme and saute another minute or two. Add ground meat and salt; crumble meat with edge of wooden spoon to break apart into tiny pieces. Cook, continuing to crumble meat, just until it loses its raw color but has not yet browned, about 3 minutes.

Add milk and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until milk evaporates and only clear fat remains, 10 to 15 minutes. Add wine and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until wine evaporates, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Add tomatoes and their juice and bring to simmer; reduce heat to low so that sauce continues to simmer just barely, until liquid has evaporated, about 3 hours. Adjust seasonings with extra salt to taste.   Serve over pasta, polenta, or a healthier option that I love lately-spaghetti squash-yummm!  Top with goat cheese or cheese of your choice although I like the creamy aspect of goat cheese with the tang of a wine sauce.


Mushroom Marsala Pasta with Artichokes

July 22, 2010

Seasons make such a big difference in what I’m in the mood to eat.   That being said, pasta is not a big summertime dish for me but the evening thunderstorms combined with the allure of artichokes and mushrooms together was enough to change that.  I’m also a big fan of Marsala wine in dishes.  I’m beginning to be more aware of wine taste and pairings since I’ve begun the quest this summer to be a Sommelier, and even though I wouldn’t pour myself a glass of the Marsala I was cooking with, the taste in the dish still rang true.  Instead try pouring a glass of Pinot Noir or an acidic white wine to counteract the acid in the artichokes.  Hopefully it will make a yummy dish that much better!

Mushroom Marsala Pasta with Artichokes

adapted from

Serves 4 to 6

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped

Optional-I choose to add to garlic cloves in with the onions for a little something extra
1 pound mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and chopped into small bits (I used creminis and baby bellas combined)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1 tablespoon for pasta water
1 cup dry Marsala wine
1 pound pasta ditalini, any kind of small snail shaped pasta will work
1/2 pound frozen artichoke hearts, thawed

**I instead used 2 15oz. cans of quartered artichokes because I thought the dish needed a little extra (plus no thawing time!)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for one minute.

Add the mushrooms and one teaspoon of the salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until all the moisture has evaporated and the mushrooms have cooked down, about 10 minutes. Add the Marsala and continue cooking until almost all the wine has evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Stir in remaining salt. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta and add it into the mushrooms, Marsala and onions Add the artichoke hearts, Parmesan and cream and cook until the artichokes are heated through, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the parsley and pepper, then adjust seasonings to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.

*** I also added some chicken to the dish to make it a little heartier

Chicken and Spinach Ravioli

June 15, 2010

I have to say that one of my favorite purchases in the last 6 months is the KitchenAid pasta roller attachment, which fits perfectly into any KitchenAid mixer (I have used it on my mom’s 30 year-old KA, my 10 year old KA, and my Grandmother’s brand new KA). Today on Food Network, I watched Anne Burrell make a broccoli rabe and ricotta ravioli, and I became inspired to attempt homemade ravioli. I was hesitant about using broccoli rabe, so I decided to wing it and attempt a ravioli with a chicken, spinach, ricotta and parmesan filling.

I was fairly pleased with the results, but still need to play around with the sauce a little to give it an extra wow factor. The filling and sauce are both light and the lovely texture of the homemade pasta makes this recipe a wonderful dish, whether served as an appetizer or a full meal. Serve with your favorite wine and lots of yummy garlic bread!

Chicken and Spinach Ravioli (serves 3-4 people as a main course, and 6-8 as an appetizer)

½ pound of homemade pasta (recipe to be posted in the near future)
8 oz chicken breast, chopped into ½” cubes
½ medium onion, small dice
8 oz frozen spinach (thawed)
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
Salt and pepper, to taste
Freshly grated parmesan cheese, to garnish

4 Tbsp butter
½ cup chicken stock (preferably homemade, but if not, use the low-sodium variety from your grocery store)
4 Tbsp parmesan

1. In a sauté pan over medium /medium-low heat, sweat the onion in a small amount of butter. When the onions are translucent, add the chicken and cook until done.

Let the mixture cool, then either chop it finely by hand or in a food processor. (I usually chop mine by hand instead of the Cuisinart in order to avoid over-chopping, which can cause the mixture to become too mushy.)

2. In a separate bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, egg, and a pinch of salt.

3. Place thawed spinach in a kitchen towel and twist vigorously to get rid of as much water as possible.

4. Combine the chicken/onion mixture, ricotta mixture, and spinach to make the pasta filling. Taste the filling and add salt/pepper as needed.

5. Spoon the mixture into a pastry piping bag or a Ziploc bag and push the mixture down into the bottom of the bag. If you use a Ziploc bag, cut one corner off to pipe the mixture into your pasta. Set the filling mixture aside while you roll your pasta.

6. Take half of your pasta dough and form it into a rectangle, and begin rolling to make the sheets of pasta for the ravioli. If you have a KitchenAid pasta roller, begin on setting 1. You may need to roll the pasta through setting 1 a few times to achieve the desired consistency and width. If your pasta is not wide enough, fold it in half length-wise and roll it through the same setting again.

7. Continue this same process (rolling through the KitchenAid and doubling the pasta over if necessary) through settings 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

8. Cut your #6 setting-width sheet of pasta into 2 sheets that fit comfortably on your work station.

9. Lightly brush the pasta with water (which will act as the glue). Be sure not to use too much water or the dough will stick to your cutting board.

10. Pipe a small dot of filling (I use about 1 Tbsp. of filling per ravioli) onto the top half of the pasta sheets, ensuring that you leave enough space to seal and cut the individual ravioli.

11. Fold the bottom half of the pasta sheet up over the filling, and use your fingers to press the dough together, sealing in the filling. Be sure to get rid of any air bubbles so that the ravioli will cook properly.

12. Using a ravioli wheel, knife, or biscuit cutter, cut your pasta into the desired shape (I used a 2.5” biscuit cutter). Crimp the edges of the pasta together with a fork to completely seal in the filling.

13. Using the 2nd half of the pasta dough, repeat steps 6-12 until all of your ravioli has been made.

14. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously-salted water up to boil.

15. Place the first batch of ravioli into the boiling water, being sure not to overcrowd the pot (this causes the water temperature to drop too rapidly and the pasta does not cook correctly). Cook the ravioli for about 2 minutes. When the ravioli is ready to come out it will float to the top of the pot.

16. Carefully strain the ravioli and have it ready to add to the sauce as soon as possible. If the pasta is left too long in a colander, it will stick together and tear the ravioli apart.

** The sauce should also be made in two batches (1 for each batch of ravioli you cook). **

16. While the ravioli is cooking, melt 2 Tbsp of butter into a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add ¼ cup of chicken stock and reduce slightly. Add 2 Tbsp parmesan and swirl to incorporate. The sauce should be light brown and fairly thin in consistency.

17. Add the hot ravioli to the pan, and swirl the pan, cooking for about 1 minute, or until the sauce has reached your desired consistency. Add more parmesan, if desired, swirling the entire time to be sure it is fully incorporated.

18. Pour the ravioli and sauce onto a plate, and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Clean the sauté pan (the cheese tends to stick to the bottom), then Repeat steps 16 and 17 as necessary for each remaining batch of ravioli.

Easy Mac watch out!

March 26, 2010

This picture basically sums up why women gain weight once they start dating a guy!  All I have heard about lately from Ricky is how much he’s been craving some Easy Mac, which as you can imagine is blasphemy for my ears!  I told him I absolutely refused to pour that box on the stove and call it dinner,  so therefore I was challenged to a duel-me against Ricky’s beloved Easy Mac!   So of course when any brave competitor comes face to face with a challenge, I started my prep work.  I perused several different recipes but to be honest I’m not a big fan of the mac n’cheese recipes that load in the butter and heavy cream that weigh about 10 pounds in your pan and even worse in your stomach!  So I actually completely changed some old recipes I’ve made and added a little of this and a little of that and it turned out just the way I wanted take THAT Easy Mac!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese (altered from Cooking Light’s Creamy StoveTop Macaroni and Cheese)

  • 32oz. box of elbow noodles
  • 2 garlic cloves (divided)
  • 3tbs. flour
  • 2.5 cups milk
  • 2 tsps. Dijon mustard
  • 2tsps. Worcestershire
  • tsp salt
  • tsp pepper
  • 4oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup white cheddar
  • 1/2 cup fontina cheese
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 tbs. butter
  • 1tbs. parmesan

Preheat your oven to 350 and put a pot of water with a sprinkle of salt on the stove to boil.  Pour in your elbow pasta and leave on the stove for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile put your flour, salt, and pepper in a sauce pan over medium heat and go ahead and slowly pour in your milk while whisking.  Bring the mixture to a boil while continuing to whisk. The mixture should begin to thicken and once that happens stir in your cream cheese and reduce heat and stir the mixture until smooth.  Add in one clove of garlic, Worcestershire, and Dijon mustard and simmer for a couple minutes longer.  Remove from heat and stir in freshly grated white cheddar and fontina. Mix cheese mixture with drained noodles.  Pour into a casserole dish.

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan with the other clove of garlic.  Once the garlic becomes infused in the butter go ahead and add your fresh breadcrumbs and stir until the brown slightly.    Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle the bread mixture on top of the macaroni mix and bake for about 20 minutes.  Then turn the oven to broil and broil for just a couple minutes until the bread crumbs brown.

Homemade Pasta

March 20, 2010

Ok so I must confess that ever since I got my pasta attachment for my Kitchenaid, I’ve become a little obsessive about homemade pasta.  Maybe it’s just my ego, but I honestly think it tastes so much better than store-bought!  Spring break from class was over this week and so it was back to the ‘ole grind, but when we made homemade ciabatta bread with parmesan and caramelized onions in baking class this week, I couldn’t wait to bring it home and pair with some homemade noodles.  I have had some fresh herbs in the refrigerator for a couple days and it makes me so sad to throw away fresh herbs because they don’t stay fresh that long (can’t wait to grow them myself in a little garden!), so I decided to experiment with some herbed fettucine noodles.  Make your dough ahead and let it sit for a while before rolling out into sheets.

After rolling your sheets out you can switch your attachment to the fettucine maker and put each sheet through to get your noodles.  You’ll end up with a decent amount of noodles so either lay them out on a towel or hang on a clothes hanger for several hours to dry. Beware of the mounds of hanging noodles that will take over your kitchen pretty fast! Dried pasta will keep in an air tight container for a month or two and is great to have on hand.

Fresh Herbed Fettucine Noodles

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbs. water (maybe a slight bit more but the consistency of the dough should be fairly dry)
  • 3.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1.5 tbs. minced rosemary
  • 1/2 tbs. minced sage
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest

Add eggs, water, flour and salt to the mixer and mix with the paddle attachment for about a minute.  Switch out the paddle attachment for the dough hook and add in your herbs and lemon zest (any combination of herbs would be great).  Knead on speed 2 for about 2-3 minutes.  Take the bowl off the mixer and knead by hand for another minute. Form the dough in a ball and wrap the dough in Saran wrap and let it rest for about 30 mins.  Separate the ball of dough into about four parts and shape each part into a rough rectangle.  Run each rectangle into pasta sheets by staring with the widest setting on your pasta sheet roller.  Roll through the widest setting 2 or 3 times and then go down to about the number 3 setting and roll again another couple of times until you get a smooth sheet.  After all your sheets are rolled switch to the fettucine attachment and ta da-homemade noodles!  Boil in water for only about 2-3 minutes with fresh noodles and top with your favorite sauce.

Giada’s Chicken Penne with Almond Sauce

March 15, 2010

With shows like Worst Cooks in America and What Would Brian Boitano Make, Food Network has pretty much dropped off the radar for me.  I did, however, happen to catch an episode of Giada at Home last Saturday (episode “Play Date”) and knew I wanted to try her Penne in Almond Sauce.  It took me less than an hour to make this recipe (the majority of this time was spent roasting the chicken breasts), so it would be a great one to try on a weeknight when you don’t have hours to spend making dinner!  There are no strong or overpowering flavors in this dish, so this is sure to be a winner with even the pickiest eaters in your house!   (If you are ambitious like my co-blogger, you can make your own pasta, but I stuck with the store-bought stuff!!)

Penne in Almond Sauce
1 pound penne pasta
2 cups (9 ounces) blanched, slivered almonds
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock (**I used homemade chicken stock)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 rotisserie chicken breasts, skinned, boned and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups) (**I roasted my own boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the oven)
1 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 large lemon, zested (**I used the zest of 2 large lemons)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups grated Parmesan (**I grated my own parmesan – it melts better than the bagged shredded parmesan)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Procedure (adapted from Giada’s directions)

If using rotisserie chicken breasts, cut into cubes and set aside. I roasted 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts in a 375 degree F oven (season with salt, pepper, and drizzle of olive oil) until they reached 165 degrees internally. Dice or cut into strips, and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the almonds, chicken stock, olive oil, and garlic. Blend until the mixture is smooth (I let mine blend for about 2-3 minutes). Pour the mixture into a large skillet and turn the heat on to medium.

Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the peas, cream and lemon zest. Cook, stirring frequently for another 3-4 minutes, then add the chicken (mixture will be thick).

Add the pasta, cheese, and fresh basil leaves (reserving a few for garnish) to the sauce. Toss the ingredients together, adding the reserved pasta water, if desired, to loosen the sauce. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

I garnished with chiffonade basil leaves (cut into thin strips), some lemon zest, and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Chicken Marsala Ravioli

March 9, 2010

Nothing is more comforting to me than a yummy bowl of noodles!  That’s why when Ricky’s mom sent me the pasta roller attachment for my brand new Kitchen Aid mixer, I could not wait to attempt to make homemade pasta!  The concept is still a little strange to say.  There are just those certain food items that you just buy…you know, those things like yogurt or cheese-you’d be crazy to make your own!  I guess I have always thought that with pasta.  Well my little world of pre-made convenience items all of a sudden did not seem like much fun and my mind all of a sudden switched to say “why not make it all on your own if you can!”   So that is what led me to Chicken Marsala Ravioli!

I love watching the Oscars, so what could be better than judging all the beautiful, skinny, untouchable celebrities while I stuff my face with carbs!   Now before you stop reading because you don’t have a pasta roller, nor willing to spend the whole day cooking, you can also go out and buy wonton wrappers and they work just as well as rolled pasta although a little thinner in consistency.

adapted from Tyler Florence on foodnetwork


  • 8 ounces chicken breast, cut in strips
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Marsala wine (you can use chicken broth instead of marsala but I don’t think the flavor would be nearly as rich)
  • 4 thin slices prosciutto, sliced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Fresh thyme and parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream


Brown chicken in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic. Deglaze with Marsala. Take pan away from heat source and flambe. Return pan to stove, flame will go out in about 1 minute. (I didn’t flambe my pan and it worked fine, just reduce for a little longer instead). Add prosciutto and herbs. Sprinkle in bread crumbs and 1 tablespoon Parmesan. Drizzle in 1 tablespoon of olive oil to keep moist. Discard bay leaves. Pulse together all ingredients in a food processor. Add egg, cream, remaining Parmesan and olive oil. Pulse again. Chill before filling ravioli.

As far as a sauce go, I actually made the one Tyler Florence recommended.  It worked great with this pasta but I think a pesto or other type of light cream sauce would work just as well.  The recipe I used is as follows:

Mushroom Cream Sauce


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 5 sage leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 ounces portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 leek, roughly chopped


Melt butter in a saute pan over low heat. Add garlic and sage. Season with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms, cook 5 minutes until slightly softened. Pour in cream and heat slowly. When the sauce has reached a velvety smooth consistency, remove from stove. Stir in leek and serve immediately with chicken Marsala ravioli.

I served this with Olive Oil Bread which turned out great so expect to see the recipe to follow!