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Tag Archives: pasta

Easy Baked MAC (Mac-n-Cheese)

It’s the holiday season, and there’s nothing better than seeing family, friends, and eating a ton of different foods. It’s the third night of Hanukkah, and while I didn’t make latke’s this year (which you can find my recipe from last year here), I did toy around with something anyone celebrating any holiday would love, MAC AND CHEESE.

There are a ton of different ways to make mac and cheese (or as I simply call it MAC), and I usually start by making a roux. A roux is a base for sauces such as a cheese sauce: you take chopped onions and butter, sauté until fragrant and translucent, then add flour and it makes a paste. Then, you pour in some cream/milk/alternative to milk and stock, and bring to a boil. This will thicken; turn the heat off and layer in the shredded cheese until fully blended and combined. Yeah, this recipe is labeled EASY MAC for a reason, because we skip the roux step. We use four ingredients and it’s done in one pot. You heard me, ONE POT.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 lb or box of pasta – I used Banza’s wheel shaped pasta (this is a chickpea flour pasta and it is delicious – find it here)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp grass fed butter
  • 1 and 1/2 cups mixed shredded cheese – I used Organic valley cheddar, sharp cheddar, and mozzarella.
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Breadcrumbs – to top off prior to broil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Cook your preferred pasta to the desired doneness, since Banza is gluten free I cooked two minutes below the recommended time on the box as I prefer to have pasta more al dente. Strain and rinse.

Add back into the same pot and turn the heat onto medium. Pour in the milk and butter, stirring the pasta in and coating. Have patience here, the butter will take some time to melt. Sprinkle in the cheese a little at a time, stirring to combine frequently. Keep the heat between medium and low, so the cheese melts and coats all the pasta.

Set the oven to broil. Pour the MAC from the pot into an oven friendly casserole dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, plus a pinch more shredded cheese bc #yolo. Broil for three minutes, check after three because it can go from nicely brown to “OMG I BURNT IT” in a matter of minutes. Serve immediately and scarf down because this baby will go fast at your dinner table! NOMaste and Happy Holidays! <3

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Baked Ziti

Happy fall everyone! Gosh, it’s been a while since I’ve been on here blogging but I have had a pretty good excuse… I’m 15 weeks PREGNANT! Which then means, for my first trimester I was having a significant problem with keeping food down and even wanting foods other than bagels, pizza, and snacky foods. Now that I am cruising into the second trimester, I am slowly getting back into cooking and experimenting with a variety of different foods, and have always wanted to create a simple but delicious version of Baked Ziti.

This recipe features two of my favorite products from Organic Valley, a company that I hold dear to my heart. I love their values and mission to ensure all of their coops are pasture raised and do not cut corners, which is clear when you drink their milk or use their eggs. For this particular baked ziti, I opted for regular pasta, marinara, some dried seasonings (oregano and parsley) and ricotta and eggs from Organic Valley.

To start, I boiled a pot of water and cooked the pasta to al dente, about a minute less than what the box suggested. I strained the pasta and added it to a 9×13 pyrex baking dish, pre-lined with some marinara. I mixed in the ricotta, fresh mozzarella, and more sauce. I repeated this step until it was fully coated with sauce and ricotta. One thing I’ve learned from experimenting with baked ziti in the past is ensuring that there is plenty of sauce and ricotta so that it does not dry out.

Preheated the oven to 375 degrees. I dolloped some ricotta on top, sprinkled my Organic Valley cheese on top. Once the oven preheated, I baked the ziti for 15 minutes, then turned the oven to broil and broiled the ziti for 7 minutes just into most of the cheese turned brown. My husband, who is a pasta aficionado, even commended me for this one. Looks like I’ll be making this again soon. NOMaste 🙂

Baked Ziti

Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword baked food, baked ziti, pasta, traditional
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 8 people
Author nomastehungry

Ingredients

  • 2 containers Organic Valley ricotta cheese
  • 1 box Pasta (I used mezzi rigatoni)
  • 1 24oz jar Rao's marinara
  • 2 cups Organic Valley shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring 5 quarts of water to a boil. Add salt to water and pour in pasta. Cook to desired doneness or box directions. Once done, drain pasta.

  2. Line a 9×13 pyrex baking dish with marinara sauce.

  3. Pour drained pasta into dish. Pour more marinara sauce, scoops of ricotta, and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese into the pasta and mix well.

  4. Continue to add marinara and ricotta until the pasta is fully coated and wet. Sprinkle with dried oregano and parsley.

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  5. Spread mozzarella cheese on top. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

  6. Turn oven to broil and broil for 7 minutes until cheese is melted and browned. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Use gluten free pasta if you desire!  Banza works very well!

Chicken Alfredo

If there’s one thing to know about me, it is that I am not much of a sauce person. I’m not one to order a pasta in a marinara sauce, or make a sauce (although I have a killer red sauce, or gravy, that I should make sometime soon). However, I am a lover of all things cream. I use cream in my coffee in the morning, and if I can make a sauce that incorporates cream (such as a tomato cream sauce) I’ll do it. I figured it was finally time I tried an alfredo sauce.

Alfredo, after speaking with a few colleagues today, is not high on the “Oooh, that’s what I’m craving” list. It tends to be very heavy and laden with sugar and additives. Unfortunately, for things to live on shelves, additives and artificial ingredients are required. What I love about cooking and creating is using fresh ingredients and quality brands. I’ll say time and time again, quality is what matters. I’d rather spend my whole paycheck on items that make me feel good, and brands that stand by their product every single time. To make this alfredo, I used fresh parmesan that I grated (by hand), grass-fed butter, grass-fed cream, sea salt, and fresh cracked pepper. I also added in garlic powder. Simple and quality ingredients to make one decadent and rich (and surprisingly not heavy) sauce.

Let’s talk about the chicken. I took organic boneless, skinless chicken thighs and cut them into smaller chunks. I seasoned with paprika, turmeric (hello anti-inflammatory benefits), sea salt, and garlic powder (I <3 garlic). I let the chicken sit for a while to marinade in the seasoning. The chicken turned a gorgeous golden color as it sat in the spices.

I heated a pan and added olive oil. Layering the chicken into the pan, I set the heat to medium and seared the chicken for several minutes on each side, then quickly tossed each piece around until each piece turned less pink. I poured in chicken bone broth (I love Kettle and Fire) and turned the heat to low. A while ago I purchased these chopped basil cubes by Dorot, and I wanted to use them up so I tossed two of them into the chicken as well. I covered the chicken and let simmer for 35-40 minutes on a low flame, stirring and turning the chicken to be sure it does not stick.

Once the chicken was done cooking, and the alfredo sauce finished thickening, I made the Banza pasta and tossed it altogether in a bowl. I cracked fresh pepper and dried rosemary on top to garnish (even though I should get comfortable using parsley or other garnishes) and it was so delicious. I’m quite proud of how far I’ve come with cooking, and hope you are able to enjoy this meal with family and friends, just like I did! NOMaste.

Cheesy Orzo and Broccoli

Who has two thumbs and LOVES mac and cheese? This girl! I also really just love cheese in general, and what’s funny about that is that when I was in high school, I would always tell a friend of mine that I did not like cheese. In reality, I love it, I just have particular types that I dislike… like gorgonzola, blue, and goat cheese. Sorry y’all.

This is one of the most delicious and easy recipes I’ve played with, because it’s a homemade cheese sauce with boiled orzo pasta and broccoli. I have a secret too: I boil the broccoli in the SAME pot as the orzo cooks! *gasp* It’s just easier this way, and when it’s all mixed together, the broccoli chunks break down and coat the pasta in a light green colors… it’s good I swear 🙂

The cheese sauce is made with a Roux: a simple mixture of butter and flour with simmered milk. I take three tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of cassava flour and whisk together until its fully combined with no lumps. Then I add in milk and chicken stock and simmer until the liquid becomes a bit thick. I turn the heat off and pour in all the cheese. I used mild cheddar for this. Sprinkle salt and pepper into the mix and voila, you have a cheese sauce!

For the pasta, I made regular orzo and boiled as per package instructions. I threw in the broccoli at the same time so both ingredients finished simultaneously. I drained in a strainer and added back to the pot. I poured the cheese sauce into the orzo and broccoli and stirred. At the last second I decided to add another cup of cheese because #yolo and the results were a deliciously cheesy, creamy, pot of lovely orzo and broccoli. Nomaste!

Cheesy Orzo and Broccoli

Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword broccoli, cheddar, cheese, orzo, pasta
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8 cups
Author nomastehungry

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg orzo
  • 1 16oz bag sharp or mild cheddar cheese
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk or creamer
  • 1 cup chicken stock/broth
  • salt
  • pepper

Instructions

Cheese Sauce

  1. In a small sauté pan, heat and melt butter.  When butter is melted, add in the flour and whisk until blended.

  2. Add in the milk and chicken stock.  Bring to a rolling boil and stir frequently.  Keep at this heat for 5-7 minutes.

  3. Turn heat off and add in cheese.  Stir to blend and melt.  Add in salt and pepper to taste

Orzo and Broccoli

  1. In a 3-4 quart pot, fill the water 3/4 of the way and heat on high.  Let water boil and add salt.

  2. Add in the orzo and broccoli and cook together until al dente (around 8-9 minutes).  Drain in a strainer in the sink and add back into the pot.

  3. Layer in the cheese sauce and stir until fully coated.  Add in 1/2 cup more of cheddar and mix.  Serve immediately.

Ma’s Chicken Scampi

It’s my husband’s birthday on November 20th, and ever since we’ve moved in together 6 and a half years ago, I’ve made this dish for him every birthday.  This recipe is called Ma’s because it’s my mom’s recipe. I always loved when she made it, and I’m so grateful to have seen the women in my life duplicate it so I can have it etched in my memory forever.

I have a love-hate relationship with this one, because it tastes so damn delicious, but it takes forever to prepare.  Sure, I can go the easy route and just bread cutlets and cut them up afterwards, but where’s the fun in that?  The term “Scampi” actually refers to tiny shrimp from the seas, but nowadays, the term Scampi refers to the style of cooking: a light fry in a shallow pan in oil until golden.  Traditionally, this dish is made with garlic, butter, and white wine, with a pinch of parmesan and cream.  I leave out some ingredients and stick with the big guys: garlic and crap-ton (yep, it’s a word) of buttah!fullsizeoutput_1066

Let me start by saying the trick with this dish is pacing – you have to be cognizant about timing the chicken and the pasta water, and how long the pasta cooks so it all finishes at roughly the same time.  I start out by taking 3 meaty chicken breasts and slicing them into “nugget” form.  I dip the chicken nuggets into the beaten egg, then into breadcrumbs (no skimping out on the carbs here), and set aside.  Olive oil is the choice of fats for frying the chicken, but start out with a small amount, just enough to coat the bottom (the oil with sputter if it’s not evenly distributed).

Fry a few pieces at a time and, this is important, be quick with the chicken.  They’re small pieces so they’ll burn fast.  Each piece takes about 2m per side.  As the second batch of chicken cooks, I turned the pasta water on to boil. This dish is always best with fresh pasta, which we’re grateful for at our little Italian market that opened up the block.  The water boils, add in salt, and dump in the pasta (we used Rigatoni).  Continue to fry the chicken and set aside on a paper-towel-lined plate.

Once all the chicken is done, take the garlic (3 cloves roughly chopped) and add to the pan with 3 (yes THREE) tablespoons of butter to melt.  I really feel like garlic and butter are the perfect combination for any recipe, especially as a sauce.  This dish calls for a lot of oils and butters, which thankfully is part of my diet on the regular, so no difference to me.  Mix around with a spoon and scrape the bottom of the pan to get the remnants of the chicken mixed in as well. *Wipes drool from mouth*.  Throw in the chicken to mix around in the butter-garlic sauce, strain the pasta (about 9-10m until al dente), then add the pasta directly to the sauce/chicken.  Stir together until all noodles are coated.  If you need more butter, DO IT.

Serve immediately with garlic bread, some roasted veggies, and top with a dollop of ricotta. Buon Appetito!

Ma's Chicken Scampi

Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword Chicken, italian, pasta, scampi
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Resting time for chicken 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs Chicken breast or 3-4 breasts
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 pkg (16 oz) pasta fresh is better!
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 cloves garlic rough chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large pan or skillet, drizzle the olive oil into the pan to coat the bottom.

  2. Clean the chicken breasts, trim of excess fat, and slice into "nugget" style.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

  3. Pour breadcrumbs onto a plate and crack and beat the eggs in a separate bowl.

  4. Create your assembly line: (left to right)

    Chicken - Egg - Breadcrumbs.

    Dip the chicken into the egg and then into breadcrumbs, coating both sides well.  Put breaded chicken nuggets on a separate plate.  Repeat until all chicken is breaded.

  5. Turn stove on for the pan with oil to medium.  Place 6-7 pieces of chicken in the oil at a time, monitoring the chicken as it cooks.  Chicken will cook quickly; turn chicken pieces over when sides are lightly brown (about 2m).  repeat for all chicken and set aside on paper towel/plate.

  6. Meanwhile, take a large pot and fill with water.  Place on stove. Turn flame onto high to boil water. Add salt pasta to boiled water and cook for time described on package (9-10m).  Drain pasta and set aside.

  7. Take chopped garlic and 3 tbsp of butter and add to pan that chicken cooked in.  Heat on medium-low flame and melt butter, sautéing the garlic.  Add chicken back into garlic-butter sauce and stir.  Add in pasta and stir to coat all noodles. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

We used fresh ricotta to add to the pasta on top, if this fits your fancy, feel free to do so!