Archive for Pasta

Vodka Pasta with Shrimp

Shrimp Vodka Pasta

Believe it or not, I made vodka pasta with shrimp for my family a few weeks ago. Melissa made me touch fresh shrimp recently and literally pull off its legs with my fingers so when I was buying shrimp for this recipe, clearly I was going the “already prepared frozen” route. The uncooked, peeled and deveined shrimp looked too small. I wanted larger shrimp and the only option was cooked, peeled, tail on. Yeah me…I didn’t have to do ANYTHING except defrost it! Yes…one member of the family was irritated that she had to deal with tails herself, but when I told her she was lucky I don’t ever make her clean a whole chicken, she was good. My point in saying this is that you can easily use raw or frozen shrimp, precooked or uncooked for this particular recipe as it was delicious…or so I was told!! 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 20 min. 


9 oz. fresh refrigerated fettuccine

1 T. olive oil

12 shrimp (you can buy frozen that is already cooked and defrost it, or buy uncooked, peeled and deveined)

4 cloves of garlic, crushed, divided

1/3 c. vodka

1 1/2 c. mariana sauce

1/2 c. basil, chopped plus more for garnish, if desired

1/4 c. heavy whipping cream

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

Preparing Vodka Pasta with Shrimp:

Cook pasta according to directions and drain. Set aside. Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add shrimp and half of the garlic (if it’s already cooked and defrosted, you are just heating it up. If it’s raw, cook until done, about 4-5 minutes). Remove shrimp from pan. Add the rest of the garlic and cook for about one minute. REMOVE PAN FROM STOVE and add the vodka (pouring alcohol into a pan that is a directly over a flame could be a recipe for disaster. I did it once….needed baking soda to put the fire out and ruined the dish). Anyway, cook the vodka for about one minute. Add the marinara, basil, cream, salt and pepper.

Shrimp Vodka Pasta

Bring to a simmer. Return pasta and shrimp to pan and heat all the way the through. Serve hot!

Shrimp Vodka Pasta

Important Tips:

When cooking shrimp, remember that when the shrimp looks like a “C” it’s cooked. If it looks like an “O” it’s overcooked! 


If you don’t like seafood, throw in some chicken instead of shrimp!


Grilled Eggplant Pasta

roasted eggplant pasta

Ok, so I know Denise will never try this with her family but I’m just saying that my 5 year old, who had no idea what she was eating, loved it! It’s simple and tasty and beautiful. It could be a main dish or a side dish, your choice.

Level of Difficulty:Easy
Time Required:Prep Time – 10min; Cook Time – 20 min


1 lb spaghetti rigati (I like the grooves)

2 medium sized eggplants

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

Fresh thyme

1 t garlic powder (if I wasn’t cooking on the grill, I’d just roast some garlic cloves with the eggplant in the oven)

Zest of 1 lemon


Feta Cheese

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:


Preparing grilled eggplant pasta:

Get your grill ready for direct heat. If you don’t want to use the grill, you can roast it in the oven too.

Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and garlic powder. Grill flesh side down for about 15-20 minutes.

 grilled eggplant

While it is cooking, cook your pasta. If you need to know the best way to make the best pasta, check out this article.

When the eggplant is done, use a spoon to scrape out the cooked flesh from the skin. Place in a bowl. Add the thyme, lemon zest and parsley. Stir together and mash up the eggplant as you go.

When the pasta is done, drain and add to the bowl with the eggplant but leave a little bit of pasta water too (maybe 1/4 cup). Stir together. Add salt, pepper and olive oil as needed. At the last minute add the feta and serve.

roasted eggplant pasta

 Cut me some slack. Eggplant is probably the one vegetable I am not a huge fan of. If I won’t eat it, my family surely won’t. It’s a texture thing…like seafood! ~Denise

Pastor Ryan’s Pasta Carbonara

My friend Maria always come through with amazing dishes that she brings to our different  “Fests”. This time, she brought Pasta Carbonara which she got straight from The Pioneer Woman.  It was the perfect dish for Baconfest – The Sequel because it was very adult AND kid friendly. Take a look at The Pioneer Woman website for pictures! 


1lb linguine pasta
4 eggs
1 pound bacon or pancetta
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese
8-12 cloves of garlic
1 large onion
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup white wine (or substitute another cup of stock)
1/2 stick of butter
1 handful of parsley
1-2 tablespoons black pepper
Now, as is the case with all good things in our lives, we’ll begin with BACON. 

Preparing Pastor Ryan’s Pasta Carbonara:

First, slice up 1 pound of bacon into pieces about one inch wide. Once they’re sliced, just toss your bacon pieces into a stainless steel pan. Cook until browned and crisp.
While the bacon’s cooking, set a pot of salted water (I use about 2 tablespoon of salt for a gallon of water) on the stove for our pasta. When it comes to a boil add your linguine and cook until al dente, tender-firm.
Next, chop your onion. When the bacon is cooked, scoop it out with a slotted spoon and set it onto a plate. Reserve the bacon grease! We still need that stuff.
Throw the diced onions into the bacon grease. Give the onions a quick stir and let them cook down over a medium-high heat for a couple of minutes.
In the meantime, thinly slice the garlic. After the onions have cooked for a couple of minutes, throw in the garlic. Adding it after the onions have cooked a little will prevent the garlic from burning. After the onion and garlic have cooked for another couple of minutes, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. Discard the grease.
Place the pan back on high heat until it starts to smoke a little. As soon as the pan begins to smoke, pour in the white wine (or chicken stock). Whisk until pan is thoroughly deglazed and all of the brown bits have come off of the bottom of the pan. Add 1 cup of chicken stock. Return bacon, onion and garlic back to the pan. Let simmer over medium heat.
Crack four eggs into a large bowl. Add most of the Parmesan cheese, and rough chop the parsley, adding it into the eggs as well. Leave a little Parmesan and parsley out for a garnish. Mix well with a fork.
Drain the water from your pasta. Be sure the pasta is very hot. Add the pasta to the egg mixture and then add the bacon/onion mixture. Finally throw a ½ stick (1/4 cup) of butter in there. Mix it all together well. Pepper to taste. Garnish with Parmesan and parsley. And you’re done! Enjoy!

Lasagna Bundles

Lasagna Bundles

I wanted to make a new pasta dish for my family and came up with these little lasagna bundles. They are a bit time consuming to prepare, but once they are in the oven, you can sit back and relax knowing that a great dinner is on it’s way!

Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Time Required: Prep Time – 30min; Cook Time – 45 min.


Cheese Sauce:

4 T. salted butter

1/4 c. all purpose flour

4 c. fat free milk (you can use whole milk, but I try to cut the fat)

1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

3/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

3/4 grated parmesan

pinch of salt


1 lb. ground beef

1/4 c. onion, chopped

1 T. fresh thyme, finely chopped

1 T. fresh rosemary, finely chopped

3/4 c. your favorite marinara sauce


1 T. olive oil

1 package lasagna noodles

1 c. mozzarella cheese

2 T. grated parmesan

Preparing Lasagna Bundles:

First, make the cheese sauce: In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth, whisking for about a minute. Gradually whisk in milk and salt until smooth. Bring to a boil and cook, whisking often, until the sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the cheeses. Set aside.

Next, make the filling: Brown the ground beef in a large sauté pan along with the onion. When the meat is brown, add the thyme and rosemary. Drain.  Put into a mixing bowl and add in the marinara sauce and mix well. 

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. Boil a large pot of water and cook the noodles for 8 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Pat dry and lay out on a work surface. Pour about 2-3 cups cheese sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 in. baking dish. Place about 1 spoonful of filling on an end of each lasagna noodle.

Lasagna Bundles

Roll up and place seam side down into the cheese sauce on the baking pan. Repeat until the dish is full.

Lasagna Bundles

Top with more cheese sauce, 2 T. parmesan cheese and 1 c. mozzarella cheese. 

Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes more, or until the cheese starts to brown. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving!

Lasagna Bundles


You can stuff the lasagna bundles with whatever ingredients you like, add some mushroom, make it vegetarian, or use a different meat.

Got Leftovers?:

This reheats very well, so make sure you save the leftovers!

Turkey Tetrazzini for a Crowd

I made this turkey tetrazzini for the retired folks at my church. We were having an amazing speaker so we had a nice crowd of close to 60. Turkey Tetrazzini worked well for a large crowd and for the confined space I had to serve in. I adapted this recipe from a couple of different ones but the predominant recipe was from The Pioneer Woman (Rhee Drummond).

Turkey Tetrazzini for a crowd

Difficulty: Medium due to large quantity

Time: If doing the pasta like I did the night before in smaller batches then about 6-7 hours.

Ingredients for 75:

8lbs spaghetti
20T butter
2 heads garlic
3 onions, diced
3T thyme
6 lbs mushrooms
3 t salt
1 bottle white wine
1 1/2 cups flour
20 cups chicken broth
40oz cream cheese
15 cups cooked turkey or chicken (poached is good, I bought deboned, rotisserie style from my favorite warehouse store to save a bit on time for such a large crowd)
7.5 cups frozen green peas
1 1/2 pounds bacon, cooked and chopped
24 oz grated Monterey jack cheese
20 oz cups grated parmesan cheese
20 oz panko bread crumbs

How to make turkey tetrazzini for a large crowd (75 people)

Cook pasta until almost done. Drain, rinse and set aside. For such a large crowd, I did this the night before in 8 different batches, drained, rinsed, let cool and put in Ziploc bags.

In a really big (industrial size) pot, heat butter over medium-high heat and sauté onion and garlic until tender.  Add the quartered mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook until the mushrooms begin to get soft but are not complete. Add the thyme and wine and cook until reduced by half.

Add the flour slowly and stir. Cook for about 5 minutes then add the chicken broth. Cook until the mixture thickens. This will take a while when cooking for such a large crowd. While you are getting that to thicken, cut up the cream cheese into smaller cubes so it will melt easier.

When the mixture begins to thicken, add the cream cheese and stir it until it mostly blends with the mixture. Add the other cheeses and stir. Then add the chicken/turkey, peas, and bacon. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Place 1/4 of the pasta in a large industrial style cooking container. Add 1/4 of the mixture and stir to incorporate. Top with Panko bread crumbs. Repeat for the remaining pasta and mixture for a total of 4 large casserole dishes.

Turkey Tetrazzini for a crowd

Bake the dishes at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes until the sauce bubbles and the bread crumbs are toasted.

Turkey Tetrazzini for 75

Meal Idea

I served this with a large mixed green salad with toasted pecans, feta cheese, craisins and a raspberry walnut vinaigrette and a piece of garlic bread. A perfect meal.

An Impromptu Asian Noodle Stir Fry

asian stir fry with chicken and mushrooms

Scrambling for a dinner idea that isn’t baked chicken, a vegetable and a starch? Try this for a last minute throw together, serve and enjoy it’s yummy deliciousness. Asian noodle stir fry is always a hit at my house, probably because I don’t think I’ve ever made it the same way twice.

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 30min; Cook Time – 30 min


3 green onions

4 oz wild mixed mushroom blend (if your grocer has it, otherwise whatever fresh mushrooms you like)

Your Favorite Stir Fry Sauce, I used a jarred Pad Thai sauce even though this is not Pad Thai, because it is not too spicy for the kids

2 cups fresh snow or sugar snap peas, cut into bite sized pieces

3 cloves garlic, minced

1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2t sesame oil

8 oz canned bamboo shoots, drained

10oz Asian noodles, I used Chuka Soba (the curly ones) for this dish and they turned out nicely

Vegetable or Sunflower oil

salt and pepper

How to make an Asian noodle stir fry:

This is easy and will be delicious if you stick with the veggies you like. If you don’t like one of the ones above, swap it out with what you do like and just cut it into bite sized pieces.

I like to prep all the veggies before I touch the chicken even though I cook it first. It just helps me feel better about any accidental cross-contamination. Also, in my house, when I’m feeling a bit ‘lazy’ in my parenting, I might keep some of the vegetables separate from each other so I don’t have to fight, I mean, lovingly convince my children to eat something they are not familiar with.

This was one of those lazy nights, so I left the onions, bamboo shoots and mushrooms separate from the sugar snap peas.

I placed 1-2T oil in a skillet and sautéed the mushrooms over medium high heat until they started to wilt. I then added the bamboo shoots and stirred. Then the green onion, garlic and about 2 T of the pad thai sauce and cooked for a couple of minutes and then set it aside.

stir fry with mushrooms

Reusing the empty skilled, I then added a touch of oil and the sugar snap peas and sautéed for a couple of minutes before adding another couple of tablespoons of the pad thai sauce. Again, I set aside. Did a quick wipe out of the skillet, added some more oil in preparation for the chicken.

sugar snap peas in stir fry

I then started a large pot of water to boil for the noodles.

Time for the chicken, here I like to slice the chicken breasts nice and thin for quick cooking and ease of eating.

asian stir fry with chicken

Salt and pepper the chicken and drizzle a touch of sesame oil (just a touch!).  Add to hot skillet over medium high heat and let cook without stirring too much.

asian stir fry with chicken

The water should be boiling by now, so add your chuka soba noodles. They will only take about 3 minutes. Use some tongs to help separate them. When tender, drain and hold until everything else is ready.

When chicken is cooked through, add the vegetables and noodles and enough sauce to coat. Toss and warm everything through then serve. If you are doing a separate, kid-friendly, one, toss in a separate bowl with just the right ingredients.

If you want to ‘kick it up a notch’, drizzle some sriracha on top!!

asian stir fry with chicken and mushrooms

Grilled Chicken and Broccoli Pasta

Grilled Chicken and Broccoli Pasta was something I created after I was going through a Cooking Light magazine and found a recipe for Grilled Chicken Florentine Pasta. I knew if I made a few modifications, my family would enjoy it. I substituted broccoli for spinach. I also used fat free milk instead of whole milk and boneless skinless breasts instead of bone-in breasts to keep it healthier. The kids loved it so much they asked to have the leftovers in their lunch the next day!

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 5 min; Cook Time – 20 minutes

Ingredients for 4:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 tsp. salt, divided

3/4 tsp. pepper, divided

Cooking spray

8 oz. uncooked spagetti

2 T. olive oil

3 T. all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh garlic

1 c. fat free milk

1 c. chicken broth

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

3 c. cooked steamed broccoli

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:


Preparing Grilled Chicken and Broccoli Pasta:

Preheat grill to medium high heat. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Spray grill with cooking spray and grill chicken for about 5 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Cut the chicken into bit sized pieces and keep warm.

Cook the pasta according to directions. Drain well and keep warm.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan, swirl to coat. Add flour and garlic. Cook until garlic is browned (about 2 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add milk and broth. Stirring with a whisk, bring just to a boil and let simmer until sauce is thickened. Add cheese, stirring until the cheese melts. Add remaining salt and pepper. Add pasta, chicken and cooked broccoli. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Grilled Chicken with Broccoli Pasta


You can add any vegetable you want in this. If my family liked peppers, I would add some red ones for color. Shrimp would also be a good alternative to the grilled chicken!

Got Leftovers?:

As I already said, this was put in my kids’ lunch the next day!