Pasta Fagioli

We are entering cold weather season here in Indiana and nothing to me says “welcome cold weather” like a big bowl of warm and comforting soup! Pasta Fagioli – which basically means “pasta and beans” – is quickly becoming one of my favorite soups! It is hearty, warm, cooks up in no time and is only 4 ingredients! FOUR! Can you believe that? Print this out, save it, bookmark it, whatever you want to do – just keep this recipe and make it this weekend!

Pasta Fagioli

1 jar “Ragu Chunky” pasta sauce with tomato, basil and garlic
2 cans (19 oz each) white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed but not drained
16 oz ditalini pasta, cooked and drained
4 cups reserved pasta water
4 cups water

To prepare the spinach: microwave the frozen spinach in a microwave safe container for four minutes. Using a fork, cut up and separate. Do not drain the spinach.

To prepare the pasta: cook in a large amount of salted boiling water with a splash of olive oil added. Cook according to package directions.

In a large soup pot over medium heat, combine the pasta sauce, prepared kidney beans, prepared chopped spinach, pasta and reserved pasta water. Bring to a low boil, stirring occasionally.

Add in four cups of water and simmer, stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot. Store leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Enjoy!

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Rigatoni Pie

I first discovered this recipe on “The Food Network” Facebook page and I knew immediately I wanted to try it. I was not sure I would have the patience though to individually place all the rigatoni pastas into the cake pan – but you know what? It was really easy. Might have taken 4 minutes total! Super easy and the end result is really impressive! 

This is the perfect recipe for entertaining and the perfect recipe to make with your kids! You can use meat in this recipe – hamburger, sausage, lamb – just make sure it’s precooked and that you add it after the tomato sauce but before the shredded cheese. Fabulous and delicious! 


Rigatoni Pie

1 pound rigatoni pasta
1 large jar pasta sauce, plus seasonings
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Start by spraying an 8-inch springform cake pan with non-stick cooking spray. Wrap the bottom with aluminum foil. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water for 8 minutes. Drain.

In a medium saucepan heat the pasta sauce and add in whatever seasonings you desire. I added minced garlic, red pepper flakes, basil and a pinch of sugar to mine. Let come to slight boil. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Arrange rigatoni pasta in springform pan. The easiest way to do this is turn rhe pan sideways – arrange the pasta building it “up” – sideways – until you reach the top of the pan. Not all of the pasta will fit. That is ok!

Carefully pour the pasta sauce over the rigatoni and level out with a spoon. You may not use all the sauce. Be sure the sauce covers a majority of the top.

If you want to use meat – layer on top now.

Evenly sprinkle with both cheeses.

Place pie on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Place aluminum foil on top of the pie, tenting it slightly. Place in preheated oven for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes remove from the oven and remove aluminum foil. Place back into the oven for 30 more minutes to brown and melt the cheese.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Gently undo the springform pan from the pie.

Cut the pie into pieces and serve.

Enjoy!

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Double Batch Lasagna

I am telling you – this is the BEST lasagna recipe, and the only one you will ever need! Seriously – it is absolutely incredible! And you know what? The best part is it makes a DOUBLE BATCH! This means, one for now, and one for later! Yes, I am using a lot of exclamation points!!! See – here are more!!!

You COULD half this recipe, and only make one pan of lasagna, but why? Let us be honest – you will have the mess anyways, why not make TWO – one for now, and one for later!? Pop the other one in the refrigerator (for up to 3 days), or freezer (for up to 3 months) and throw the other one in the oven for one of the best lasagnas you have ever had! I promise…

Now, this lasagna is very “classic” in flavor. There is not any veal, and there is not any fire roasted tomatoes in this version. It is just a clean, classic and simple version that my family and friends LOVE! Anytime someone is sick, or happy, or pregnant, or divorcing, or ANYTHING in life – I always make and deliver this lasagna! (I took this to my friend Judy – who LOVED it and has requested it at least twice a month…) I typically serve this with garlic cheese bread and a salad. It is also good the next day – cold…or on bread…or toast…or battered and deep fried… Ha! Perfect anyway you slice it…

TRY IT! (You can thank me later…)

I got the inspiration from this recipe from my Aunt…Ree Drummond. You all may know her as “The Pioneer Woman”, but to me, she’s my “Aunt Ree Ree”.

Ok – so I stretched the truth a little. She’s not my Aunt…and I do not know her…but I tell people she is my Aunt just to get a reaction! Ha! Anyways, her recipe can be found here – http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/06/the_best_lasagn/ – but honestly, I DO like mine better. I have changed it to fit what works for ME. MY taste, what I like, how I like to make it and mine makes a DOUBLE batch – DOUBLE the fun!

Before you start – it is easier to get everything together in bowls, sections, however you lay out ingredients before hand…and then start and follow the recipe. Chop the fresh parsley, the basil, beat the eggs, etc. It will be SO much easier. Also – use foil pans. Seriously – it will be so much easier for storage, refrigerating, freezing, etc. Keep in mind though that you really need to keep the foil trays on a baking sheet while in the oven, cutting, etc. – just for safety reasons, spillage, etc. Carry on…

Double Batch Lasagna Blaise the Baker

Double Batch Lasagna

2 pounds ground beef
2 pounds hot sausage
4 tablespoons minced garlic
4 cans crushed tomatoes (14.5 oz each)
4 cans tomato paste (6 oz each)
6 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
4 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
7 cups cottage cheese
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 packages lasagna noodles (10 oz each)

Start by spraying 2 13×9-inch foil baking pans with non-stick cooking spray.

Fill a large pot with water, bring to a boil, and salt the water heavily with Kosher salt, or in a pinch, regular table salt.

Once the water is boiling, put in both packages of lasagna noodles, and coax them all down into the boiling water. Be careful not to break them – in a few minutes time, the noodles will all fit – as long as your pot is big enough – I promise.

Boil them just until firm to the tooth – about 10 minutes. Read the package instructions just to double check on the time for your particular brand.

Drain them, allow to cool slightly, and arrange the noodles individually side by side (over lapping is fine) on your strainer. This is the best way of “laying out the noodles”.

Next, in a large skillet brown the ground beef and hot sausage, over medium-high heat. About half way through the cooking process, add in the minced garlic, and continue cooking the meat until fully cooked and no longer pink. Drain a little of the fat, and then add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, 4 tablespoons of the fresh parsley, the fresh basil, salt and black pepper. Stir, carefully, to combine and allow to simmer on medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally – and tasting occasionally.

In a large bowl, combine the cottage cheese, beaten eggs, grated parmesan cheese, and (why not?) a little more salt and black pepper.

Now – you are ready to layer! The fun part…

Start by arranging four noodles on the bottom of each pan. Layer like this…

About 4 noodles first – on the bottom. Then, a little of the cottage cheese mixture, then the shredded mozzarella cheese, then the meat mixture. Layer and layer in BOTH PANS like this, until you are out of ingredients, and END with the meat mixture on top. Sprinkle on more grated parmesan cheese all over the top of both.

IF BAKING – Place in preheated 350-degree oven for 30-40 minutes on a flat baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes for a “softer” edge lasagna, 40 minutes for a more “crunchy” edge lasagna… I prefer the 40 minute option…

IF FREEZING – Snap on plastic lid that comes with foil container, and place in freezer for up to 3 months.

IF REFRIGERATING – Snap on plastic lid that comes with foil container, and place in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Enjoy!

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Chew This! Shrimp Scampi and Angel Hair Pasta

HAPPY SUNDAY! Today’s the official publication of my “CHEW THIS!” column in “The Courier-Times”! I am SO excited to be sharing this delicious, quick AND easy MEAL with all of you!

Be sure to pick up a copy TODAY and let me know what you think of my “LESS than 30 minute meal…”

For STEP BY STEP pictures (to show you how quick and easy it really is, visit my Facebook page – http://facebook.com/blaisethebaker)

Also – let me just send out a big SHOUT OUT to everyone for the AMAZING responses I got from my last column about Thanksgiving traditions! I loved hearing and reading about all of your favorite traditions and recipes! Keep that wonderful feedback coming – I thank you for it!

Shrimp Scampi and Angel Hair Pasta

Shrimp Scampi and Angel Hair Pasta

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, December 7th 2014 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Prepare a shrimp and pasta dinner in less than 30 minutes!
Blaise Doubman

How about preparing a complete meal for four to six people in less than 30 minutes? All you need is this recipe and perhaps a side salad and some garlic bread. I was inspired to create something with seafood that was not only delicious, but fast and easy. I also wanted to create a recipe that could be made in less than 30 minutes – from start to finish! And seafood is a miracle food containing a lot of health benefits! Did you know that eating just 8 ounces of seafood per week reduces the risk of heart disease by more than 35%? Did you know that the fatty acids found in seafood can actually make you live longer? Yes – these are scientifically proven facts! How exciting is that!?

My love of shrimp scampi started early. When my Grandpa Max and my Grandma Deloris would take me out for seafood, shrimp scampi is what we would always order. It wasn’t until just recently that I started adding pasta to my shrimp scampi…and I discovered that I loved it even more! Baking it in the oven with grated Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs take it to the next level and add a “salty crunch” to the dish.

Shrimp Scampi and Angel Hair Pasta

Frozen smaller shrimp are best used for this recipe. Adding salt to the boiling water is very important in “flavoring” the pasta. It’s really your only chance to do so. Undercooking the pasta will allow the pasta to finish cooking in the hot sauce and in the oven at the end. I used “Panko” style breadcrumbs for more of a “crunch” but regular breadcrumbs are fine. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

12 oz. precooked frozen shrimp (small sized, cooked, peeled, deveined, tail off)
1 stick of butter (4 oz.)
¼ cup olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
Juice from 2 lemons
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound angel hair pasta
1 tablespoon salt
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup bread crumbs

Start by getting your pasta water ready. Fill up a large pot (about half way) with water and place over “high” heat.

Next, melt the stick of butter together with the olive oil and minced garlic in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Place the frozen shrimp in a colander and run cold water over the shrimp for about 5 minutes, to thaw out the shrimp. Toss the shrimp a few times to ensure even thawing.

Once the pasta water starts to boil, add the 1 tablespoon of salt. Stir gently and then add the angel hair pasta – cooking it only for 4 minutes.

Set a timer for 4 minutes and preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.

Once the shrimp is thawed, remove from colander and place in skillet with melted butter, olive oil and garlic.

Squeeze into the skillet the juice of 2 lemons and sprinkle in the black pepper, stirring well to combine everything. Keep the heat under the skillet to medium.

With the pasta still al dente (meaning still firm to the bite) carefully reserve about ¾ cup of the starchy cooking liquid from the pot and then drain. Return the pasta to the pot.

Add the shrimp scampi and it’s sauce to the pasta and stir really well to combine – distributing the shrimp evenly throughout the pasta.

Add the reserved starchy cooking liquid. (How much you use here will be up to the pasta – but generally you will add about half of what was reserved. When the pasta is slick and glossy – enough has been added.)

Next, spray a medium sized baking dish with non-stick cooking spray, and pour in the combined shrimp and pasta and even out with the back of a wooden spoon.

Evenly top the shrimp and pasta with the grated Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.

Place into preheated oven for 5 minutes, until the top is nicely browned.

Remove from oven and serve hot.

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