Archives for posts with tag: pasta


Homemade Mac and Cheese is a bit time-consuming; so, you have to plan ahead. But, it is really easy to make and really delicious.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a casserole dish or other large baking vessel with butter.

2. Grate 2 1/2 to 3 cups or so of your favorite cheese (the more cheese the cheesier your mac and cheese will be) — cheddar, jack, mozzarella are all good choices. Feel free to use a combination of cheeses.

3. Fill a pot with water and some salt. Boil water. Add about a pound of your favorite pasta. Cook according to instructions on the pasta box. Drain pasta and set aside.

4. While to pasta cooks, add 2 tablespoons of butter to a medium-sized saucepan. When it melts, add 2 tablespoons of flour. Cook the flour on medium-low heat for a few minutes. Add 2 cups of non fat or whole milk. Simmer for 15 minutes. Take off heat and add 2/3 of the grated cheese.

5. Combine cheese sauce and pasta in the a large bowl or the pot you used to boil the pasta. Add half the mixture to you baking dish. Sprinkle some grated cheese on it. Add the rest of the pasta and cheese mixture. Sprinkle remaining grated cheese on top. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.


I love Pad Thai.  I think I have cut out a million recipes for Pad Thai from various magazines over the years.  One day I was at the market and saw some rice noodles and I really wanted to buy them; but, I wasn’t sure what I would make with them.  Then, I noticed recipes on the back of two different boxes one for Pad Thai and and another for a stir fried rice noodle dish.  I thought I could follow the Pad Thai recipe on one box and add the homemade sauce on the other box.  Last night, I was dying for some Pad Thai.  I got the two boxes out, mixed the recipes, added the ingredients I had on hand, and presto — lazy person’s Pad Thai was born.  I call this a lazy person’s recipe because it is really easy to make and it includes ingredients you probably have at home already.

The first step is to soak 1/2 pound of rice noodles. I used a fairly thick rice noodle.  The box for the noodles said to soak the noodles for 20 minutes in hot tap water.  That didn’t seem to work; so, I added boiling water and let the noodles soak for 30-40 minutes.  They were still stiff when I took them out of the water; but, they loosened up a lot when I stir fried them with the veggies at the end.

Next, make your sauce.  The sauce is made of three ingredients:  fish sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar.  This is why I think of this as a lazy recipe.  Many Pad Thai recipes include tamarind paste and other ingredients that I know I will use once and then forget until they go bad and I have to throw them out.  If you like Thai food; then, fish sauce is a good thing to have on hand.  It adds a nice saltiness that is a bit like that secret briny salty flavor you get from melting anchovies into a sauce.  It is inexpensive, it doesn’t go bad, and it is a good flavor enhancer.

Then, stir fry your veggies in a bit of oil.  If you are using broccoli, snap peas, carrots or other long cooking vegetables then stir fry for a few minutes then add a 1/4 cup of water and allow the veggies to steam until they are tender.  If you are using baby spinach or other quick cooking vegetables you can add them at the very end of the recipe.  After your long-cooking veggies are almost done, add cubes of firm or extra firm tofu.

Add one to two slightly whisked eggs.  Allow the egg to firm up and then scramble it with a spatula.

Add your softened rice noodles. Stir fry the noodles until they soften.  Then add the sauce and stir fry for another minute.  Add fresh chopped cilantro, chopped roasted peanuts, slices of lime.

Enjoy!  This isn’t the most authentic or most complex-tasting Pad Thai; but, it is easy and versatile.  You can add other vegetables.  You could take out the tofu.  You could add fresh mint, bean sprouts, chopped scallions or try other nuts.  Have fun!

Lazy Person’s Pad Thai

Adapted from Thai Kitchen & Taste of Thai recipes


1 tablespoon fish sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

a couple of handfuls of broccoli florets

a couple of handfuls of snap peas, thinly sliced

4 ounces extra firm tofu, drained and dried and cubed

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 pound of thick rice noodles

1/4 cup of chopped cilantro

1/4 cup of roasted peanuts, chopped

2 limes, sliced into 8 wedges

1.  Soak rice noodles in boiling water from 30-40 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.

2.  Make sauce — mix fish sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar in a small bowl.

3.  Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add broccoli and snap peas (or whatever firm vegetables you like — carrots, etc).  Stir fry for a minute or so.  Add 1/4 cup of water and let the vegetables steam in the water for a few minutes.  Add the tofu and stir fry it for a few minutes.  Add the eggs let them set for a minute or so.  Then, scramble the eggs with a spatula until they are fully cooked.  Add the noodles and stir fry them until they are just limp.  Add the sauce and mix it with the other ingredients for almost a minute.  Add cilantro and peanuts (and quick cooking greens like baby spinach — if you like).  Serve each portion with two lime wedges.  Note:  You could also add bean sprouts and/or chopped scallions at the end as garnishes.

My son isn’t a very good eater.  I read this article in the New York Times about this woman who lets her sons pick a dish to cook once a week.  I thought that might be a good way to get him to eat more.  I was reading Food 52 digest and I came across a recipe for baked pasta with cheese and tomatoes.  I modified the recipe to make it more pleasing to a young palate  — I took out the gorgonzola and added more mozzarella cheese so it would be gooier.  I discussed the recipe with my young chef and he approved.

The other thing I liked about this recipe is that children can make most of this dish with a bit of adult help. First, we boiled 1/2 pound of penne — any other short noodles would work. I drained the pasta. Meanwhile, the Junior Chef mixed a cup of cream, 1 cup of chopped canned tomatoes, 1/2 bag of Trader Joe’s Quattro Formaggio mix which equals 6 ounces of a mix of shredded parmesan, asiago, fontina, and provolone), 1/4 pound of thinly sliced mozzarella cheese, and a pinch of salt.  We poured the mixture into a small baking pan and let it cook at 500 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Junior Chef dotted the top with some butter and a bit more sliced mozzarella.

I took it out of the oven after the cheese looked bubbly and light brown.

The Chef was very pleased with his work.

I really enjoyed cooking with my son.  It was nice for him to have something to do while I was making dinner.  And, he was very proud that he could make dinner.  I may make this a weekly event.  Maybe next week, I can convince him to put some more vegetables into the lasagna — maybe some spinach or broccoli.  We’ll see.

Crazy Mixed-Up Lasagna

Adapted from Food 52 — Al Forno’s Penne with Tomato,Cream & Five Cheeses

Serves 4 (can easily be doubled)


1 cup of heavy cream

1 cup of chopped canned tomatoes in heavy puree

6 ounces of a mixture of shredded asiago, fontina, provolone (like Quattro Formaggio from Trader Joe’s)

2 tablespoons of ricotta cheese

1/4 pound thinly sliced mozzarella cheese

a pinch of kosher salt

1/2 pound penne

2 tablespoons of butter, sliced thinly

1.  Heat oven to 500 degrees.

2.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

3.  In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except the pasta and butter.  Reserve a few slices of mozzarella.  Stir well to combine.

4.  Cook the pasta according to instructions on the box.  Drain the pasta and add it to the mixing bowl, toss to combine.

5.  Place mixture in a small baking dish.  Dot with butter and the reserved mozzarella, and bake until brown and bubbly on top, 10-12 minutes.  Keep on an eye on this while it is baking; because, baking times may vary.

I have been experimenting with various skillet mac and cheese recipes.  My goal was to find a recipe that is as easy or easier then the stuff in the box.  I was discussing my quest with my friend (and co-conspirator in the kitchen) Eva.  She said that she just puts cream cheese and shredded cheese on hot pasta to make a mac and cheese for her daughter.  Based on this information, I went to the internet and searched for recipes that had pasta and cream cheese and I stumbled upon a recipe on that made a sauce for pasta by putting milk, parmesan cheese, and cream cheese in the microwave.  The microwave!  I always forget to use my microwave.  So, I took the recipe, tweaked it a bit, and created this recipe that is so easy that a 3 year old can make it in 10 minutes or less (depending on the cooking time for the pasta).

First, fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil.  Put the pasta of your choice in the pot of boiling water and cook it according to the instructions on the box.  I prefer small shapes like macaroni, shells, bow ties, etc.  Then, put 6-8 ounces of cream cheese in a medium-size bowl with 3/4 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, and about 3/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.  Put the cheese mixture in the microwave for about 2 minutes.  The sauce should look smooth and creamy.

At this point, I add a bit more shredded cheddar cheese and stir it into the sauce.  This isn’t necessary; but, I am a cheese freak and I like my mac and cheese extra cheesy.  When the pasta is ready — drain it.

Pour the cheese sauce over the hot pasta and stir well.


The only problem with this recipe is that it may be too good and too easy.  I find myself making it at odd hours of the day when no one else is around.  And, when I am not making it — I am thinking about making it.  So, be careful!

10 Minute Mac & Cheese


6-8 ounces of cream cheese, cubed

3/4 cup of milk (I use non fat)

1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1- 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

1 pound of pasta (preferably small shapes)


1.  Boil a large pot of water and cook the pasta according to instructions on the packaging.

2.  Put cream cheese, milk, parmesan cheese, and 3/4 cup of cheddar cheese in the microwave for about 2 minutes.  Check the sauce after 1 1/2 minutes to make sure it isn’t overcooked.  When the sauce is smooth and creamy take it out of the microwave.  Stir in more shredded cheddar cheese to taste.

3.  Pour cheese sauce over pasta and stir well.

Every once in awhile I run across a recipe and I wonder why I never thought of putting those ingredients together in that way before.  This occurred to me when I stumbled across a recipe for pasta with creamy avocado sauce that I found on the Tasty Yummies blog.   I think of this as vegan pesto; because, it tastes a bit like pesto without using dairy products such as cream or cheese.  Or, you could think of it as guacamole pasta.  Whatever you want to call this — it is quick, easy & good.  So, start by boiling your pasta of choice.  The recipe on Tasty Yummies uses organic brown rice pasta — I used whole wheat spaghetti.  This recipe makes enough for 2 people; so, if you need to feed more people just double it or triple it, etc.

While the pasta is cooking, put the juice of 1/2 of lemon, 2-3 garlic cloves, and 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a food processor and process until smooth.

Add a medium sized pitted and peeled avocado, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, and 1/4 cup of fresh basil (or a cup of baby spinach).  Process until smooth and creamy.  If it the sauce seems too thick whiz in a bit more olive oil.  And, you can add more salt to taste.

When your pasta is done, drain it but reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water.  Add the sauce to the pasta and add pasta water until it reaches a saucy consistency.

Serve the pasta topped with a bit of lemon zest, some crushed red pepper flakes, and a bit of chopped fresh basil.

Creamy Avocado Pasta

from Tasty Yummies


1 medium sized ripe avocado, peeled and pitted

1/2 a lemon juiced + lemon zest to garnish

2-3 cloves of garlic, to taste

1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, or more to taste

1/4 cup of fresh basil (or 1 cup of baby spinach)

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

2 servings of pasta

Crushed red pepper flakes

Fresh basil for garnish

1.  Cook your pasta, drain it, and reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.

2.  While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce by putting the garlic cloves, lemon juice, and olive oil in a food processor.  Process until smooth.  Add the avocado, basil (or spinach), and salt.  Process until smooth and creamy.  You may want to add more olive oil if your avocado is very firm.

3.  Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss until fully combined, add pasta water a bit at a time until the sauce is the right consistency — not too thick and not too watery.  Garnish with lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and a bit of chopped fresh basil.

Makes 2 servings.

The other night I was hungry, lazy, and wanted to keep my kids occupied while I was cooking.  I cooked some pasta and thawed some tomato sauce I made this summer. I got out my ramekins and sprayed them with some Pam.  My child helpers and I put the cooked pasta and sauce into the ramekins.

Topped the pasta with mozzarella cheese.

Popped it into the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

And, yum, super cheesy baked pasta.  This is very easy and very quick and a good cooking project for children.  You could add various types of pasta, sauces or different cheeses to this.  You could even add some cooked peas, cooked broccoli, or cubes of ham.  Have fun and enjoy!

Baked Pasta Shells and Cheese


1 pound of pasta

4 cups of pasta sauce

2 cups of mozzarella cheese


6 small ramekins (3 3/4 inch diameter)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook pasta and sauce.  Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and spray with Pam.  Mix pasta and sauce.  Add pasta with sauce into ramekins.  Top each ramekin with a small handful of mozzarella cheese.  Bake for about 10 minutes — until the cheese is melted.  Let cool for a few minutes.

It is chanterelle mushroom time here in Northern California.  My friend, Lynn, gave me these beauties that her husband found on a hike.

I decided to make some pasta with them.  I looked in the refrigerator and I had some fresh thyme, creme fraiche, and bacon.  This collection of goodies was getting me hungry.  So, I cooked the bacon in a skillet  until crisp and then added the mushrooms and thyme and cooked the mushrooms until they lost all their moisture.  I cooked some pasta and reserved the pasta water.  Pasta water is a great help in making a sauce out of some cheese or roasted vegetables.  It adds some moisture and makes the sauce stick to the pasta.  I drained the pasta, added the mushroom/bacon mixture, and added spoonfuls of creme fraiche wetted with pasta water.  And, voila, a delicious warm winter meal.

Chanterelles, bacon, creme fraiche, and thyme — these are ingredients that were meant to be together.

Chanterelle & Bacon Pasta with Thyme & Creme Fraiche

1 pound of pasta

4 slices of bacon, diced

1 pound of fresh chanterelles, chopped

salt and ground pepper to taste

4-6 tablespoons of creme fraiche

1-2 teaspoons of fresh thyme, chopped

1.  Cook bacon in a pan over medium high heat until just crisp.  Add chanterelles and thyme and cook until mushrooms lose their moisture.

2. Meanwhile, boil water and cook pasta according to instructions on box.  Drain pasta and reserve about 1/4 cup of pasta water.  Put drained pasta in empty pot.

3.  Add chanterelle/bacon/thyme mixture to pasta.  Add 1 generous tablespoon of creme fraiche and add 1 tablespoon reserved pasta water to turn the creme fraiche  into a sauce.  Keep adding creme fraiche and pasta water until the sauce is the thickness that you like.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Note:  Creme fraiche may sound like an expensive or exotic ingredient; but, it is getting easier to find.  I got creme fraiche at Trader Joe’s.