Category Archives: Pasta

Dalyn’s Tomato Ragu – aka “Awesome Sauce”

Dalyn’s Tomato Ragu – aka “Awesome Sauce”

The best way to make your house smell amazing is NOT to hose it down with Febreze or incense… but put a crap load of olive oil into a pot on the stove and put the following ingredients into said pot. Anyone who can smell will walk into your house (like my good friend Lizz) and say “oh my god – it smells amazing in here! What IS that?” Here’s how to make that happen… But this recipe is NOT for the faint of heart. It takes an afternoon of dedication to make this one happen… are you up for it?

Dalyn’s Tomato Ragu – aka “Awesome Sauce”

3 pounds of tomatoes (i had 14 medium sized ones)
1 large onion
3 large carrots
3 celery stalks
10 cloves of garlic (yes 10)
1 cup shredded zucchini (optional)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 – 4 teaspoons kosher salt (more to taste)
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
5 sprigs of fresh basil
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups white wine
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (store bought is fine)

In your food processor place the blade AND the grater on top. Throw in onion, carrots, celery, garlic (zucchini if you have it).

In a large pot or Dutch oven, line the bottom of the pot with at least 1/4 – 1/2  inch of olive oil (more is better). Rise to medium heat. When hot throw in the veggie puree, add 2 teaspoons of salt and saute for around 15 – 20 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar. Add thyme, oregano, pepper. Saute for 10 more minutes. Add white wine. Degalze for 10+ minutes.

Put a big pot of water on to boil. Core the tomatoes and score the bottoms (see pic) and place into boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds.

Remove and let cool. When cool enough – peel and puree in food processor…If you have a food mill or something that can remove the seeds – do it – if you don’t have one it’s ok.

Add tomato puree to pot and then add sugar and Parmesan cheese . Keep stirring and continue to simmer on low for around 2 hours. YES 2 HOURS. This is how you get an amazing tasting sauce…. the flavours come together amazingly. Oh and you have to go stir it every 15 minutes…
my friend called it ‘Awesome Sauce” (see her licking the bowl picture).
Takes a long time recipe – but SO WORTH IT.

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Authentic Style Alfredo Pasta with Roasted Veggies

Yes it’s Valentines Day. Zol offered to bring home some burgers for dinner and somehow it just didn’t feel right eating that tonight. I popped Graye in the van (in the POURING RAIN) and headed up to our local Italian specialty shop to see what I could find for a nice dinner. I decided to make an authentic style Alfredo sauce and pasta (no cream) with some extra veggies and pancetta thrown in. In looking up the proper way to make this sauce I found out “Alfredo” created it for his pregnant wife that wasn’t interested in eating much of anything – how appropriate for me right now at 32 weeks! I slow roasted the tomatoes and baby onions and last minute I threw in some asparagus and portobello mushroom slices as well. All the veggies can be made ahead of time and thrown in with the pasta at the very end.

Authentic Style Alfredo Pasta with Roasted Veggies
Serves 2 (images show ingredients for 1 serving. I was doing a test run)

Ingredients:

Pasta – your favorite type
Cherry tomatoes
15+ baby onions
2 cloves of garlic
Asparagus spears
1 portobello mushroom
Basil chopped
1/2 cup of butter softened
2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese
Olive oil
1 cup pancetta diced

Heat oven to 300 degrees.

Slice tomatoes in half and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Lay them out on a cookie sheet cut side up. Season with salt and pepper. Throw halved onions into the same bowl and toss with remaining garlic and oil. Place cut side down on cookie sheet. Bake for 35 minutes and remove onions. They will squeeze out of there skin casings quite easily.

Continue to bake tomatoes until soft and starting to caramelize (another 35 minutes?). You can add your asparagus and mushroom slices for the last 15 minutes (be sure to put some olive oil on them). Remove and set aside.

In a large pot bring salted water to a boil and add pasta. In a sauce pan saute the diced pancetta until it starts to crisp up a bit.

In a large bowl mix grated Parmesan into the softened butter.

When pasta is done drain and place in bowl with all of your veggies (don’t forget the basil!) add pancetta, toss some more. Plate immediately. Sprinkle some fresh Parmesan on top and serve with some toasted or grilled baguette bread.

I brushed mine with garlic con fit and grilled it in a frying pan. Very tasty! The key is to serve it right away, you don’t want it sitting around too long or the butter starts to get greasy.

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Toddler Food – Beety Yammy Cheesy ‘n Tomatoey Pasta!

The last few weeks have been a tad stressful. We moved, and for anyone that knows us that is not a simple task. Having a two year old that doesn’t really understand what is going on makes life that much more difficult – oh and the fact that I’m 7 months pregnant. In the process of the move I ran out of something that has been a  lifesaver for me – my toddler food baggies that i made up a month ago! Here’s a link to them all. I was resorting to Kraft Dinner at some points, as nothing was unpacked for cooking her something healthy. I quickly saw a change in her taste buds and anything healthy was quickly going out the window. Now that we are settled in I decided to spend some time making a crap load of the baggies again. I try to cram as many healthy veggies and protein into them as I can and this recipe is jammed packed with both!

Toddler Food – Beety Yammy Cheesy ‘n Tomatoey Pasta

32 Servings

Ingredients:

Veggie Sauce

1 large can or bottle of your favorite tomato sauce
1 large beet
1 medium yam or sweet potato
1 medium onion
1 1/2 cups of frozen peas
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup soft or medium firm tofu (optional)
2 packages of different pasta (rigatoni and penne)
olive oil
salt n pepper

Cheese Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
salt n pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Chop up beets and yams into 1/2 inch cubes. Toss with a splash of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for around 30 minutes, checking half way through and tossing them around. They should start to caramelize and get golden when they are done. (Caramelizing the beets and yams will bring out the sweetness in these veggies)

Following instructions for pasta cook each bag/box separately in salted water. When pasta batch is done, drain and place in bowl and toss with a bit of olive oil to keep them from sticking together.

While veggies are roasting, dice onion and garlic. Saute in a tablespoon of olive oil on medium low heat till soft and translucent. Set aside when done.

Cheese Sauce:
In a medium saucepan melt butter. Add flour and whisk for around a minute. Slowly add milk, stirring till it thickens, then add more. After all the milk is added and the sauce has thickened, turn off the heat and add grated cheese. Season with a little salt and pepper.

In your food processor blend the beets and yams, peas, sauted onions and tofu. Add a little pasta water if it’s too chunky. Heat up your tomato sauce a bit in the pan you used for the onions.

Toss pasta with the tomato sauce and blended veggies, then add your cheese sauce.

Mix everything together really well and then separate into mini bags for freezing.

If the mixture seems to saucy, don’t worry. The pasta really absorbs a lot of the sauce. Give it a taste… nice and sweet, but packed full of goodness!

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The Best Spaghetti and Meatballs

I randomly watch TV almost my entire day as I go about doing other things… cleaning, cooking, child rearing. Oh who am I kidding… The Food Network is an old standby when nothing else of interest is on. A show called ‘Chef at Home’ with Canadian Chef Michael Smith is one of the few shows that doesn’t quite grate on my nerves. His meatball recipe caught my eye a while ago and I decided to try it out. They were AMAZING. So juicy and flavourful. I’ve made them several times since and have come up with a tweaked version that I just love. What makes these little babies awesome is the breadcrumbs that have been soaked in milk and my addition – a mixture of 3 types of meat instead of just ground beef. Sorry my vegetarian friends, this recipe is strictly for meat eaters…

Ingredients:

1 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup milk
3/4 lb ground Beef
3/4 lb ground Pork
1/2 lb ground spicy Italian sausage
(around .30 kg each. You could use all beef, no pork)
1 ½ onion peeled then grated on a cheese or potato grater
6 cloves garlic finely minced
2 egg yolks
1 small bunch parsley chopped
1 cup grated parmesan optional
salt n’ pepper to taste
2 pinches of nutmeg
olive oil
(picture shows recipe being halved)

Put the breadcrumbs into a small bowl and pour the milk over them. Stir to combine then set aside the mixture until the crumbs have absorbed all the milk. It will look like baby food. The wet breadcrumbs keep the meatball unbelievably moist!

Place all of the ground meat (the spicy Italian sausage is a must!) into a large bowl and add the grated onion, minced garlic and egg yolk, parmesan. Add the breadcrumb mixture, nutmeg and parsley. Season with salt (around 1 teaspoon), pepper and nutmeg and mix well with your hands.

Form into 1.5 inch large meatballs.

Pre-heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When it’s hot add a splash of olive oil (or garlic con fit), enough to cover the bottom. Add the meatballs!

Patiently sear them until they are well browned on all sides, turning every few minutes. I lean them up against each other when I get to browning the sides. Do your best to brown all sides, but if having trouble doing so place in a 400 degree oven and bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until golden brown – keep your eye on them!

Drain off any excess fat and crack a can or jar of your favourite tomato sauce and simmer until the meatballs have cooked through about 15 to 20 minutes. Cook the spaghetti in a big pot of boiling salted water, drain without rinsing.

Serve pasta with the meatballs and sauce,  garlic bread and/or side salad to compliment this nicely.

This recipe is doubled up and yields 4 cups or around 34 meatballs. It can be easily halved. I like making lots as I freeze the uncooked meatballs in ZipLocks for future quick dinners. Place uncooked meatballs on a baking sheet and place in freezer until frozen (around an hour). Remove and put them in freezer bags!

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Toddler Food – Veggie Packed Spaghetti n’ Cheese

It’s 12:15pm and somebodies ready for a nap. Sorry make that two somebodies are ready for a nap, or maybe one takes a nap and the other takes a shower and goes to the bathroom by herself for once? But what about lunch for the little one? There’s nothing like pulling out a little baggy of homemade goodness from the freezer, popping it into the microwave for 1 minute and watching your little one devour it. A full belly at my house before a nap means an extra half hour of sleep! And I’m all for that.

The following recipes can be made in tandem (the other one is coming soon. Having touble posting it). It will take around 2 hours but trust me – it’s so worth it. OK to be honest the clean-up SUCKS. BUT you will get 30+ single servings. And that’s GOLD on the days you don’t feel like making anything special. They are also great to leave/give to your babysitter when you are out. Give ‘em a try?

Ingredients:

375g of whole wheat rigatoni (1 full box) cooked in well salted water
3 Tbsp of olive oil
1 small head of broccoli
1 carrot
1 stick of celery
1 small zucchini
1/2 of a medium onion
1 package of soft tofu
1 can or bottle of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 cup of grated cheese

Put on a large pot of salted water and start cooking pasta. When it is done, strain it and toss with a little olive oil in a bowl (or pot) and put aside. (i cooked two kinds of pasta separately and then mixed them together afterwards)


You could use any combo of veggies that are on their last legs in the fridge… cauliflower, bell pepper… etc… Put the grater disk on your food processor and cram in all of the veggies. In a big frying pan heat up your oil and add all of the veg and saute for around 8 to 10 minutes or until they are soft and pretty much cooked.


Add spaghetti sauce and tofu (really squeeze the tofu through your hands, you don’t want big thick chunks that baby might get weirded out by!). Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes on low heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Turn off the heat and add grated cheese. If you still feel the sauce will be too chunky for your toddler, dump it all in the food processor again and give it a few pulses.

Mix the sauce with the pasta, let it cool a little bit and then separate into small snack bags for freezing!

I find it easier to open up a whole bunch of the little baggies beforehand and have a wet cloth on hand when it comes time to try and close them. Good luck and enjoy!

Oh yeah… the clean up sucks… arg!

But a very happy Graye!

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Toddler Food – Beet Yam ‘n Cheese Casserole

Attempt to make this while making the above recipe…? Then you’ll have two meals to choose from.

Ingredients:

375g of whole wheat macaroni (1 full box) cooked in well salted water
1 beet
1 small yam or sweet potato
1 package of frozen chopped spinach

2 tbs butter
1/2 onion diced
3 tsp flour
2 cups of milk
1 1/2 cup grated cheese
salt and pepper

Put on a large pot of salted water and start cooking pasta. When it is done, strain it and toss with a little olive oil in a bowl (or the cooking pot) and put aside. (I cooked two kinds of pasta separately and then mixed them together afterwards)

Peel and chop up the beet and sweet potato into 1/2 inch cubes. Place them in a bowl and fill half way with water. Microwave on high for 6 to 8 minutes or until they are soft enough to purée. Defrost the package of frozen chopped spinach and then squeeze out as much of the liquid in it as you can in a stainer. Place all three ingredients into your food processor and pulse until smooth (add a little milk if it seems too thick to mix).

In a medium saucepan melt butter and saute onions till they are soft. Add flour and whisk around for 2 minutes. Slowly add cold milk. Allow sauce to thicken (but continue whisking) before adding more milk. Season with salt and pepper and then remove from heat. Add 1/2 of the puréed mixture and then the grated cheese. (I had some left over tofu that i added as well for more protein) Give it a taste. Would you eat it? Maybe add a bit more seasoning?

Mix the sauce with the pasta, let it cool a little bit and then separate into small snack bags for freezing!

You also only used half of the veggie mixture. Put the rest in a container and freeze for future use of the same recipe.

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Spinach and Mushroom Ravioli

I’ve never made my own pasta and frankly – I never intend to. In reading the above title I can imagine that you are thinking you’ll have to make your own to make this ravioli happen, but not to worry, you don’t. EGGROLL WRAPS. $2.68 at my local store for a package that had way more than I needed. And they taste GREAT.

So this recipe is taken from the kitchen of Giada De Laurentiis. I have a really hard time watching her show. She drives me nuts. Maybe if her tits weren’t hanging out every episode I wouldn’t be so bothered? Anyways, I’m giving these guys a go! Now just a quick note – i DOUBLED my recipe, so the images will have twice as much ingredients going on.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons for boiling water
6 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/4 cup mascarpone
1/3 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnishing
6+ egg roll wrappers (6 1/2 by 6 1/2-inch squares)
1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
1 cup burnt butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large saute pan heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Get the oil really hot, to the point of it almost smoking. Add the mushrooms and season them with salt and pepper. Cook until all the liquid has evaporated from the mushrooms, about 6 minutes. It almost looks like you are frying them as there’s a lot of oil, but don’t worry the spinach will soak it up. Add spinach and cook for 2 more minutes.

Remove from heat and dump the mixture into your food processor. Give it a few quick pulses till you get a coarse texture. If you don’t have a processor you could chop it all up on your cutting board. Place in bowl and add in the mascarpone (holy this stuff wasn’t cheap!) and Parmesan cheese. Check for seasoning and set aside.

A note about seasoning: Your guests shouldn’t HAVE TO. Don’t be afraid of adding a little extra if you think it will taste better… it probably will. It’s embarrassing as a guest to have to salt and pepper your food!

Split apart one of the wrappers on a cutting board. (I pulled one out not realizing it needed to be pulled apart and ended up with a REALLY thick ravioli! See above image) Brush the entire piece with the egg wash and don’t be too stingy. Using a tablespoon, arrange 4 little mounds  of the filling on each wrapper 1-inch apart.

Place another wrapper directly on top, and press around the filling and sealing the edges with the tips of your fingers. Using a fluted ravioli cutter (I used a weird veggie cutter I had, you could just use a knife), cut out squares of ravioli. Each filled wrapper will yield 4 ravioli, giving you a total of 12 ravioli. Place aside on a lightly floured dish as you continue to make them. Now this recipe says you end up with 12 and I have no idea where they get that number from because half way through using the stuffing I had 24 ravioli!

In a large pot, bring to a boil 4 quarts of salted and oiled water. You want the water to taste like ocean water! Carefully add small batches of ravioli, about 5 to 6 at a time. This will prevent them from crowding in the pot and sticking together. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Using a spider strainer or slotted spoon, carefully remove the ravioli and place on a plate. Cover with foil to keep warm and continue cooking the remaining ravioli.

The recipe called for a tomato sauce but I thought it would just cover up all the wonderful flavours, so I drizzled some burnt butter over them and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. TO.DIE.FOR. They really were great. It’s a great light meal with a simple side salad and some French bread for a nice date night or have just a few people over. Give it a go? *d

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