Tag Archives: dinner for kids

Pasta alla Formiana

23 Jan Pasta alla Formiana

The first Saturday of December I decided to stay in for the night to start my annual Christmas baking. But before I could start baking I had to make dinner (duh!), and for that I once again went to the kitchen goddess Giada de Laurentiis and her “Weeknights With Giada” cookbook. Before leaving that afternoon for an audition I grabbed the cookbook to make a decision while out. After flipping through the pages I landed on her Pasta alla Formiana. It was a simple recipe (which in my eyes is always a good thing) and it made enough that I’d be able to enjoy leftovers (which I added cheese on top to!) and share with my roommate (and she loved it!). Because of how easy and good it was I ended up making it for my holiday party later in the month.

Pasta alla Formiana Ingredients L-R: Mezze Penne, Salt & Pepper, Oregano, Garlic, Beefsteak Tomatoes, Crushed Tomatoes, Chicken Broth, Olive Oil

Pasta alla Formiana Ingredients L-R: Mezze Penne, Salt & Pepper, Oregano, Garlic, Beefsteak Tomatoes, Crushed Tomatoes, Chicken Broth, Olive Oil

PASTA ALL FORMIANA (serves 4 to 6)

  • 28 oz Can Crushed Tomatoes (1 Can)
  • 1/2 Cup Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 2 Cups (8 oz) mezze penne (or other small pasta)
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Dried Oregano
  • 2 Tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 3 Very Ripe, Extra Large Beefsteak Tomatoes (Giada calls for 5, but I found 3 worked just fine with my 8×8 dish. If using a bigger dish add another tomato.)
  • Vegetable Oil Cooking Spray
  • Shredded mozzarella or other favorite cheese for topping (optional)

Place your oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat it to 450 degrees. Coarsely chop your garlic then pull out your trusty food processor (or blender if you don’t have a food processor) and blend together the can of crushed tomatoes, chicken broth and garlic. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat (less than 10 minutes).

Chopped Garlic

Chopped Garlic

Boiling the crushed tomatoes and chicken broth

Boiling the crushed tomatoes and chicken broth

While you wait for the tomato mixture to boil, slice your tomatoes into about 1/4 inch thick slices. Spray your 8×8 baking dish with your cooking spray and then line the entire dish (the bottom and the sides) with your tomato slices. I ended up cutting a couple of slices in half for the odd spots. You should have about 9 slices left.

Sliced Beefsteak Tomatoes

Sliced Beefsteak Tomatoes

My 8x8 baking dish lined with tomato slices

My 8×8 baking dish lined with tomato slices

My 8x8 baking dish lined with tomato slices

A closer look at the lined baking dish.

Once the tomato mixture is boiling stir in the (uncooked) pasta, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and pour into the tomato lined dish and be sure it fills the dish evenly. With the remaining slices cover the top of the pasta mixture, overlapping the tomato slices so that it’s completely covered. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes.

Pasta alla Formiana

You can see the steam rising from the crushed tomato with uncooked pasta mixture after pouring into the baking dish.

Pasta alla Formiana

I’ve covered the dish with more tomatoes and now it’s ready for the oven!

The tomatoes should be slightly crispy, and yes, the pasta will be cooked. Let cool for about 5 minutes, serve and enjoy! Top with cheese of your choice if you wish.

Pasta alla Formiana

Fresh from the oven, my Pasta alla Formiana smells delicious!

Pasta alla Formiana

Dinner is served! Pasta alla Formiana

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Spaghetti and Beef Meatballs

18 Feb

Meatballs. Such a simple and basic pasta topping and yet it’s something that we don’t make that often in our own kitchens. This certainly was a first for me! It was a cold Saturday evening (remember that cold snap that Los Angeles had?) and I didn’t want to leave the apartment so I was looking through my freezer and cupboards and found about 1/3 pound of ground beef. I didn’t want to just make a meat sauce so I popped open my cookbook Weeknights With Giada and found a super easy meatball recipe! Her recipe was for mini meatball sandwiches, but I just made the meatballs. I didn’t have the corn flakes or the romano cheese but I did have breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, so I substituted them. Don’t be afraid to use substitutions if you don’t have something. You’ll also find my recipe for homemade tomato pasta sauce. This was a super fun and super easy recipe and I highly recommend it, especially if you have kids as they can make it with you.

Meatball Ingredients from L-R: Ketchup, Parmesan, Olive Oil, Egg, Breadcrumbs, Salt and Pepper, Ground Beef, Oregano

Meatball Ingredients from L-R: Ketchup, Parmesan, Olive Oil, Egg, Breadcrumbs, Salt and Pepper, Ground Beef, Oregano

GIADA’S MEATBALLS (makes about 12-16 meatballs)

  • 1/4 Cup Finely Crushed Corn Flakes (I used breadcrumbs)
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped fresh Flat Leaf Parsley Leaves (I used Oregano since I had no parsley)
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp Grated Romano Cheese (I used Parmesan)
  • 1/4 Tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 8 oz. Ground Beef

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Set aside a cookie sheet and line with a parchment paper if it’s not non-stick. In a medium bowl stir together your corn flakes/breadcrumbs, parsley, egg, oil, ketchup, cheese, salt and pepper. Add in your ground beef and mix to combine. I used my fingers rather than a spoon to mix in the beef. Once thoroughly mixed, roll into balls about one inch in diameter and place on cookie sheet evenly spaced apart. They should all fit on one cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Meatball Ingredients

Meatball Ingredients

Meatball Ingredients all mixed together

Meatball Ingredients all mixed together

Mixing the meatball mixture by hand

Mixing the meatball mixture by hand

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Fresh from the oven and still sizzling!

Fresh from the oven and still sizzling!

HOMEMADE PASTA SAUCE

  • 1 Can of Diced Tomatoes (14 oz)
  • 1 Can of Tomato Sauce (8 oz)
  • 1 Tbsp (about) Dried Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp (about) Dried Parsley or Fresh Parsley chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste

While your meatballs are cooking work on your spaghetti and pasta sauce. Put a pot of water on to boil for your pasta. In another medium pot on low heat combine all your ingredients, stirring occasionally. Once your water is boiling add in your pasta (2 oz. for each serving) and cook for about 7 minutes. Let your pasta sauce cook for at least 15 minutes on low heat so that all the flavors are absorbed. I keep mine on the heat until I’m ready to eat. Once your pasta and meatballs are done, serve your pasta with about 4 meatballs and a scoop of hot sauce. Top with fresh cheese and enjoy! I paired it with a delicious red wine I got at a Christmas party gift exchange, Poggiotondo Rosso Toscana 2010. It’s a red blend and while I normally don’t like blends, this one was quite good and I’d readily buy it again.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Sausage and Warm Potato Salad

13 Nov

On a Saturday afternoon I was trying to decide what to make for dinner. I had 3 red potatoes that would soon go bad if I didn’t do something fast though. I pulled out my current favorite cookbook, “The Pleasures of Cooking For One” by Judith Jones, and started leafing through. This was a book that my parents gave me for Christmas last year and is awesome! Judith had worked with the infamous Julia Child at one point in her life so many of her recipes are French inspired. The recipes are mostly pretty simple, and she talks about things like what “half an egg” actually is and making your own soup broths.

So back to my search for red potato recipes. As I leafed through I saw the words “potato salad” and “sausage” and I stopped. It was an uber simple recipe and I had most of the ingredients in my kitchen. So I made a quick run to the grocery store for the sausage (I bought a 1 lb Smoked Sausage from Hickory Farms and cut it into 4 oz pieces and froze 3 of them) and a couple other fresh ingredients needed. Before buying the sausage double check the weight, as Hillshire Farm packages a 14 oz. sausage and not a 16 oz one. While I did discover it was a slightly messy recipe, the final dish was delicious! I paired it with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon from Terrazas de los Andes that my roommate brought back from a restaurant in San Diego. So delicious that a few nights later I unfroze another piece of sausage and made it again. (I had made 2 servings of the potato salad Saturday night.) Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Yummy deliciousness!

SAUSAGE AND WARM POTATO SALAD (2 servings)

  • 2 sausages, 3-4 oz each, your choice of flavor
  • 3 red potatoes
  • 2-3 green onions
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • Red Wine Vinaigrette
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Splash of Red Wine
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste

In a large pot boil 4-6 cups of water. Once it’s at a roiling boil, place your potatoes in the water. Boil until they are tender and a fork can easily go in and out, but they shouldn’t be falling apart. While you are waiting for the potatoes to boil make your dressing and start your sausage.

In a small/medium bowl combine your Dijon mustard, red wine vinaigrette and olive oil and whisk. Then finely chop your green onions and add to the mix, stirring well. Set aside. In a small pan heat about a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add your sausage to the pan once it warms up, rotating it so it’s evenly cooked. It should take about 7-9 minutes depending on how hot the pan is. Once it’s done remove from pan to your plate and turn heat to low. Now comes the messy part…very carefully (slowly) and very close to the pan pour in about a tablespoon or two of your red wine. WARNING: it will splatter and you will be cleaning later (see picture below). Stir around, deglazing the pan. It will become a syrupy mixture. Pour that over your sausage on the plate. Mmmmmm……

By this time your potatoes should be done. Drain over your sink and cut up into bite size chunks on your cutting board. I like to cut the potato in half, then half, and sometimes half again. Since no two potatoes are the same, sometimes I do it each half in thirds. Either way, think “bite size” so you don’t have to cut at the dinner table. Throw into the bowl that has your dressing, add salt and pepper to taste and mix thoroughly. Divide in half for each serving and enjoy! (P.S. Save the clean-up for after!)

The dressing for the potato salad all mixed together.

After adding the red wine to the sausage pan to deglaze. Yummy sauce!

See all those spots? That would be the result of the (hot) olive oil being mixed with the (warm/cool) red wine. It was also on the wall and the rest of the stove top. Oh well.

Kid Approved!

4 Oct

Well it’s official, I am kid approved! I received my first award from the son of my friends Angel Parker and Eric Nenninger at dinner last night (that will be a future post), “Best Cook Ever”. It even came in the awesome form of a hat! I feel very honored.

Best Cook Ever

Getting kids to eat more than chicken nuggets and fries (or Cheerios…) I think, will always be a big battle for parents. And my parents can tell you stories about their own battle with me. Growing up we were always told that we had to at least try everything put in front of us and if we didn’t like it, we knew where the Cheerios were. Well, I ate a lot of Cheerios growing up. And I don’t think I even started eating onions until I was at least 12 or 13. But I was definitely eating “cool” food like hummus by high school. So have hope parents, kids can grow out of eating butter and bread for dinner (don’t worry, I stopped doing that by kindergarten) and grow into adults that love and respect food. Maybe they’ll start their own restaurant or create their own blog. Just be patient and promise me you won’t force them to eat carrot soup. (Sorry mom and dad, but that was the worst thing I’ve ever eaten growing up.)

My first cooking award!

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