Category Archives: Italian

Lasagna Rolls

There’s always room for pasta.  We all love it. Even low-carbers hate the fact they dream about it.  So here’s another way to satiate that desire.  This was a nice change of pace from the traditional layered dish but was just as filling.


8 uncooked lasagna noodles

4 tsp olive oil

1/2 c finely chopped onion

1-8 0z pkge sliced mushrooms

1-6 oz pkge baby spinach

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 c mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/2 c part skim ricotta cheese

1/4 c minced fresh basil, divided

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper


1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 (7 oz) bottle roasted red bell peppers, undrained

1/8 tsp crushed red pepper

1. For lasagna, cook noodles according to package direction, omitting salt and fat. Drain and rinse with cold water.

2. Heat oil in skillet over med-high heat.  Add onion, mushroom, spinach and garlic – saute for 5 mins or until veggies are tender.  Remove from heat and stir in cheeses, 2 tbsp basil, salt and red pepper.

3. For sauce, place your sauce ingredients into a blender and  process until smooth.

4. Place cooked noodles on flat surface; spread 1/3 c cheese mixture over each noodle.  Roll up noodles, jelly-roll fashion, starting with short side.  Place rolls, seam-side down, in a shallow 2 qt microwave safe dish.  Pour 1/4 c sauce over each roll and cover with heavy duty plastic wrap.  Microwave at HIGH 5 mins and sprinkle with remaining basil.  Makes 4 servings of 2 rolls each.

As you can see the sauce, at first, was more watery than I anticipated but I had to let it sit for a bit.  The sauce was fine after a few more minutes.  The rolls were also a bit ‘flatter’ than I expected.  Other than that the taste was great!  I’m sure you can substitute some of the veggies for a meat if you wanted more substance to them.  I served this was a side of sauteed asparagus – yum!   If only I had gelato. . . .

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 393

Fat: 11.7 g

Protein: 19.3 g

Carbohydrate: 58.3 g

Fiber: 5.9 g

Cholesterol: 20 mg

Sodium: 924 mg

Chicken Basil Calzones

So here we are on “I-need-a-shortcut” night.  This was perfect for a quick dinner or for something on-the-go.  Using ground chicken breast is also a leaner alternative to beef but feel free to use ground sirloin if you so desire! The biggest shortcuts here are that you are using prepared pizza sauce and dough.  If you haven’t noticed already I am usually picky about what I eat (as in low calorie = usually means fresh ingredients) and so these already prepped products came from a store that uses only fresh ingredients.  So, naturally, I would encourage the same.

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb ground chicken

3/4 c prepared pizza sauce

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

1/4 c chopped fresh basil

1 (13.8 oz) can refrigerated pizza crust dough

1/2 c shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Heat a large skillet over med-high heat and prep with spray.  Add garlic and chicken to pan; saute for 5 mins or until chicken is no longer pink, stirring to crumble.  Stir in pizza sauce and pepper.  Reduce heat, and simmer 5 mins, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat; stir in basil.  Let stand about 10 mins to thicken.

3. Unroll your dough onto a baking sheet coated with spray. Cut dough into quarters.  Pat each portion into an 8 x 6 rectangle.  Divide chicken mixture evenly among rectangles (place in center); top each serving 2 tbsp cheese.  Working with one rectangle at a time, fold dough in half over filling (don’t worry about stretching it), pinching edges to seal.

4. Bake at 425 for 12 mins or until golden. Makes 4 servings.

These were delicious and filling! I would probably add more red pepper since I needed a bit more kick.  And obviously the variations are endless here.  Have fun!

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 459

Fat: 7.1 g

Protein: 39.1 g

Carbohydrate: 56.4 g

Fiber: 3 g

Cholesterol: 74 mg

Sodium: 919 mg

Three Cheese Baked Penne

I needed something quick and easy before I started work and so I came across this recipe.  Sometimes pastas can come out a bit bland or the sauce too “tomato-ey” or overpowering.  Between the sweet Italian sausage, the three cheeses, and the additional herbs – even my young  son (who has turned out to be my worst critic, go figure) can’t get enough!

Your supplies:

2.5 c uncooked whole wheat penne

2 (4 oz) links sweet turkey Italian sausage

1 c finely chopped green bell pepper

1.5 tsp dried Italian seasoning

1 tsp crushed red pepper

1/8 tsp black pepper

dash of salt

10 grape/cherry tomatoes, halved

1 garlic clove, minced

1 (8-0z) can garlic and herb tomato sauce

3/4 c shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

1/2 c crumbled goat cheese

1/4 c grated Parmesan

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and keep warm.

3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Coat pan with spray.  Remove casings from sausage.  Add sausage and cook 2 minutes, stirring to crumble.  Add bell pepper and next 6 ingredients; saute for 6 minutes or until pepper is tender.  Stir in tomato sauce.  Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.  Add pasta to pan, tossing to coat.

4. Spoon mixture into a prepped 8 in square baking dish.  Stir in mozzarella and goat cheeses; sprinkle with Parmesan.  Bake for 7 minutes or until bubbly and top is browned. Makes 6 (1. 25 c) servings.

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 326

Fat: 10.9 g

Protein: 20.8 g

Carbohydrate: 38.9 g

Fiber: 4.9 g

Cholesterol: 47 mg

Sodium: 641 mg

Pasta Bolognese over Egg Noodles

Having had an impressive Bolognese sauce at Bravo! I wanted to give this one a go in my kitchen. I finally settled on the base recipe found here.

All the goods!

All the goods!

Needed for the sauce:

1 cups grated carrots

1/2 large red onion, diced

1/2 white onion, diced

1 shallot, diced

1/4 cup olive oil

1 pound ground beef

1 tablespoon oregano flakes

1 tablespoon dried basil flakes

1/2 6-ounce can tomato paste

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup red wine

1 tbsp, 1 tsp Worcestershire

salt, pepper to taste

1 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes

1/2 cup half-n-half

Fresh Parmesan cheese

Let us get right to it!

  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  2. Add grated carrots, onions and shallot and cook for three minutes.

    Onions, Shallots, Carrots.. oh my!

    Onions, Shallots, Carrots.. oh my!

  3. Add ground beef and cook for a few minutes until brown.
  4. Mix in oregano and basil.
  5. When the meat is browned and combined with other ingredients add tomato paste and heat.
  6. Add garlic and stir to combine.
  7. Add red wine and stir together.
  8. Add Worcestershire and stir.
  9. Add canned tomatoes.
  10. Finally add in half-n-half, stir, and let simmer for 30 minutes.

And there you have it, you are done! Bolognese sauce over Egg Pasta

Bolognese Sauce Over Egg Pasta

Bolognese Sauce Over Egg Pasta

Enjoyable dish, one that seems to get better after the sauce has sat for a few days. Make some of the kick-ass garlic bread and you are ready to go.

Spinach and Tofu Stuffed Shells

Unless you tell, no one will ever be able to tell that the tofu provides the creaminess in this dish!

You will need:

18 dried jumbo shells

8 0z frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dried

2 tbsp green onion (green and white parts)

1 tsp bottled minced garlic

14 oz soft silken reduced fat tofu, drained

1 c loosely packed fresh basil, stems removed and chopped

whites of 2 large eggs or egg substitute equal to one egg or 1 large egg

2 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

pepper to taste

1.5 c tomato based meatless pasta sauce

12 oz no salt added tomato sauce

2 more tbsp parmesan cheese

1. Cook shells according to package directions and carefully rinse in cool water.  Heat a large skillet over med heat, remove from heat and then spray down.  Cook spinach, green onion and garlic until all liquid has evaporated and spinach is heated through.  Put in a large bowl.  Crumble tofu into spinach and mash/combine well.  Stir in basil.

2. In a small bowl which egg whites and add parmesan cheese, nutmeg, pepper and stir this into spinach mixture.

3. Mix tomato sauces together and place half this mixture in a 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish.  Fill pasta shells with spinach mixture and top with remaining sauce and parmesan cheese.  Bake for 30 mins at 350.  Makes approx 6 servings.  Enjoy!

Assembling the shells. . .

Your end product!

***I would have put in a tad bit more garlic and if you wanted something “heavier” you can use a meat based sauce as well.  Regardless, this was perfect paired with salad and don’t forget garlic bread if you want the whole “complete” Italian deal (refer to Van’s Truly Kick-Ass garlic bread!).

Nutritional Information (per serving – 3 shells):

Calories: 195 (Yup, that’s right!)

Total Fat: 2 g

Cholesterol: 2 mg

Sodium: 374 mg

Carbohydrate: 31 g

Fiber: 4 g

Protein: 12 g

Good Ole Spaghetti and Meatballs

I was asked to make Spaghetti and Meatballs so I thought, hey, why not.  Never did that before now seems like a good time to expand the old recipe book.  To start, I used the sauce recipe that I used in the Kitchen Scrap Lasagna (I mean, why re-intent the wheel on that one) and focused on the meatballs.

Here is what I used:

1/2 lb ground beef

1/2 lb ground pork

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp butter, melted

1/2 cup Italian Bread Crumbs

1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

1 Green Onion, chopped

1 tsp freshly ground oregano, basil and dill (respectively)

1 tbsp minced garlic

Salt and Pepper to taste


1) Preheat oven to 325

2) Take your ingredients and mix until all items are throughly blended

3) Shape meatballs and place on cookie sheet (like so)

Meatballs, lined up.

Meatballs, lined up.

4) Bake for 25 minutes

5) Serve over Spaghetti and top with your sauce of choice

Meatballs, Ready to go!

Meatballs, ready to go!

Meatballs are not all that hard to make – it all comes down to having the base recipe and tweaking as you see fit.  That said, what are your favorite metaball recipes?

What suggestions do you have that can really make an impressive dish out of something so simple?

Have fun.

Fettuccini di Tina

Tina has introduced me to the wonders of dry white wine vinegar. I’ve made a few changes to this knock-out recipe that Tina Culbertson posted a few days back.  Let us get to it!

Required Items for Fettuccini di Tina

2 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced yellow onion

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2/3 cup cold butter, sliced

1 1/2 cups chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/8 cup thin sliced green onion

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon shallot

3 boneless skinless chicken breast

extra virgin olive oil, for brushing

8 oz Fettuccini

First up,  get the water for your Fettuccini up and boiling.  Once you have a rolling boil going, add salt and pasta.  Cook until al dente and set aside (or if you are really good, time it perfectly while the other items are cooking)

Next up the chicken… brush with olive oil and grill to your liking.  Depending on your available tools this may be an actual grill or stove top. Set aside and cover (or time for the sauce).

Now the sauce…

1) Saute garlic and yellow onion in 2 Tbs. butter in a large skillet over medium heat the garlic begins to turn slightly brown.

2) Stir in White Wine Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Water and increase heat to medium-high to reduce your mixture by half.

3) Reduce heat to low and stir in cold butter, one slice at a time.

4) Stir in tomatoes, basil, parsley, green onion, kosher salt, and shallot and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.

And I give you Chicken di Tina.

Tina, thank you SO much for a wonderful dining experience.  I’ve tasted this flavor a number of times and wondered how to pull it off, now I have an understanding. Frankly, the sauce alone could be used for pasta along.


The original recipe called for Goat Cheese to be used as a topping but, yeah, I forgot to throw some on at serving time.  It didn’t matter as the dish rocked!

Kitchen Scrap Lasagna

After several days of cooking and making new dishes I had a number of items left over.  As I did not want to see the food go to waste I decided to make a dish mainly with the items I had leftover. The result is what I am calling “Kitchen Scrap Lasagna”

½ lb chicken breast tenders sliced paper thin
½ lb ground pork
½ lb ground beef
½ yellow onion
1 green onion sliced, diced and chopped (essentially to the consistency of dried oregano)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
2 cans tomato sauce (15 oz)
1 can tomato paste (the wee little 6 oz type)
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon basil
2 tablespoons parsley
6 oz of Parmesan Cheese
2 cups of cottage cheese (small curd)
8 oz shredded mozzarella
12 lasagna noodles

Here we go:

1- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, also bring a large pot of water to a boil. When water is boiling add salt (1 teaspoon) and 12 lasagna noodles.  Cook for 9 mins or until noodles are “al dente” Remove and set pasta aside (all of this is going on when you are doing the other steps, btw)

2- Place 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan, heat and add chicken, pork and beef.  Cook and stir over medium heat for 3 mins.

3- Add yellow onions, garlic oregano and basil, stir and cook for 3 more mins.

4- Remove from heat, drain oil

5- Put meat back into the pan and over the flame, mix in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and paste

6- Simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes while stirring to prevent burning

7- While your sauce is simmering, mix together your cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese and parsley

8- With your sauce ready, in a 9 by 13 oven safe dish spread a coat of sauce.  Then lay down 3 noodles side by side – do not cross..  Add a coat of the cheese mixture, followed by sauce. Repeat once.  Note that I said to make 12 noodles… I only use 9.  In case some stick while cooking it always makes sense to have some extra on hand.  After you lay your last 3 noodles top with sauce, followed by shredded mozzarella cheese.

9- Bake for 45 mins to an hour (depending on how brown you want your mozzarella)

The dish lasagna going in…

Our dish going into the oven

Our dish going into the oven


And coming out, all brown and ready to eat..

coming out

Oh, the baked goodness!


I know you are going to get tired of hearing it but this was outstanding.  Truly.  How good do you ask?  I ate 1/3 of this pan by myself in one sitting. I have never made lasagna before, let alone just throw things together and and think it would turn out to be an edible lasagna. 

A few things to note – I enjoy things a bit more “baked”, hence the darker cheese on top, as I experience a number of flavors that wouldn’t be there otherwise.  Obviosuly you will want to bake to your taste. 

Also, I do not care for Ricotta cheese AND I had cottage cheese left over so I simply used that.  And yes, you’ll be happy to know that cottage cheese has a lower fat content!

The dish takes a bit of time to prep and bake but the payoff is worth the effort.  In total you can expect about 12 servings from a pan of this size.

Oh, and on a side note… I think I may have found the perfect pasta sauce recipe in this creation. 

Hot and ready to eat!

Hot and ready to eat!


Have fun!