Category Archives: Pasta

Dan Dan Noodles

My husband and I love trying new things.  I really wish my daughter would, but as a 5-year-old her list of acceptable foods is a short one.  She has gotten better in the last year about trying new things, but still fairly picky.  While planning our menu for the week, I put a few kid-friendly foods but knew there was one that she would not try.  Dan Dan Noodles.

The blog I found this on says that it’s a copycat recipe from the version served at P.F. Changs.  We love P.F. Changs and after skimming the ingredients, I knew we would love it.  I was right.  It was pretty easy to make, the only change is that I used pad thai noodles in place of the chow mein noodles.  I’m not sure how big of a difference that makes, but there ya go.  We served ours with egg rolls, and this dish was also great as leftovers!

Dan Dan Noodles

Dan Dan Noodles

Dan Dan Noodles
Recipe adapted from Wannabite

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 tbsp. oil
1.5 tbsp. minced garlic
1 package pad thai noodles, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
1 tbsp. ginger, minced
1/2 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 tsp. Thai garlic chili paste
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup water

For garnish:  bean sprouts, peanuts, Sriracha and green onions


Heat oil in a nonstick skillet.  Add chicken and season to taste, cook until no longer pink through.  Remove the chicken and set aside, then add the garlic, ginger and green onions to the pan.  Saute’ for one minute before adding the soy sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar and chili-garlic sauce.  Bring to a simmer.

Combine the corn starch and water and stir into the sauce, simmer until thickened (a couple of minutes).

Once thick, add the chicken and simmer to warm the chicken back up.  Add the noodles to the pan and gently coat with the sauce.  Serve with garnishes of your choice.

Chicken Spaghetti

I recently went on a road trip/girls weekend with some friends and like all good Southern girls, we talked about food at lot!  One of the dishes discussed was chicken spaghetti.  We didn’t even talk long about it, but it stuck in my head and I started craving it!

After about a week I decided I wanted some so I went online to find a recipe.  I found one on Cooking Light and it sounded interesting, a little different.  I didn’t buy all of the different types of mushrooms it called for and just used a packet of regular button mushrooms, and it worked just fine.  It was so delicious, it was one of those things that I couldn’t wait until lunch the next day to eat some leftovers!


Chicken Spaghetti

Chicken Spaghetti

Chicken Spaghetti
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

8 ounces uncooked spaghetti (I used whole grain)
kosher salt
extra-virgin olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp butter
1 pkg. mushrooms
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cups reduced fat milk
4 oz. cubed Velveeta cheese
3 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
2 oz. shredded Gruyère cheese (about a half cup)
1.5 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/3 cup finely chopped chives
Bread crumbs for topping


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente (or to your liking).  Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and set aside, drain the rest of the water off of the pasta and rinse with cold water.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tbsp oil and chicken, season with salt and pepper and saute’ until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove the chicken, add the butter and the mushrooms and garlic.  Lightly salt the mushrooms and saute’ three minutes, or until softening.  Add the flour and stirring constantly, saute’ for one minute.

Gradually add the reserved pasta water, broth and milk to the pan, stirring constantly and bring back to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook for one minute, until it thickens slightly.  Stir in the Velveeta and cream cheese, remove from heat and continue stirring until smooth.  Add the Gruyère, stir in well.  Add the pasta, chicken, peas and chives and toss to coat and mix well.  Scrape mixture into a greased oven-safe 9×13 baking dish then sprinkle bread crumbs over the top.

Bake until the bread crumbs start to brown and is heated through.


Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Alfredo

There are certain ingredients that I just go crazy for and one of them is goat cheese.  I can’t get enough of the stuff, anytime I see a recipe with it I HAVE to try it.  Pair goat cheese with some roasted red peppers and pasta?  Winner!

While this was delicious, I actually found it to be even better the next day as leftovers.  Lots of things are, I guess.  I served this with a nice caesar salad and some garlic butter crescent rolls, yummy!

Roasted Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Alfredo

Roasted Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Alfredo
Recipe from Laurens Latest

2 whole red bell peppers
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fat-free half & half
4 oz. garlic and herb goat cheese
2/3 cup grated Parmigano Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
1/2 lb linguine, cooked
salt & pepper to taste


Roast red peppers under the broiler until the outer skins are blistered.  Remove from oven and cover with foil for ten minutes.  Allow to cool before handling.

While that’s cooling, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil until tender.  Add the half and half, goat cheese and seasonings, stirring to melt the goat cheese in.  Keep warm over low heat.

Uncover the peppers and peel the outer skin and stem off, remove all of the seeds.  Coarsely chop, then add to the sauce.  Use an immersion blender to puree the sauce with the red peppers.  Add the artichoke hearts and parmesan cheese and allow to heat through.  Toss with cooked pasta and serve topped with more cheese.


Christen’s Spaghetti & Meatballs, Slow-Cooker Style!

One of my favorite foods is spaghetti with red sauce.  I could eat it every day and probably not get tired of it.  But I know James would so I try to limit my cooking it to once a month or so!

As you know I have a deep love for my crockpot, so I figured why not try to make my spaghetti in there?  When I make meatballs, I like them to cook in the gravy a long time, that way they aren’t all tough like they are if you cook them in a skillet first.  A slow-cooker seemed the perfect solution for this, and it worked great.  You simply dump all the ingredients into the slow cooker and mix it up well, assemble your meatballs and plop them into the sauce and let it cook.  Couldn’t be easier.  I’m thinking this would be easily assembled the night before even.  I’ll definitely be cooking them this way more often (well as often as he lets me!).

Slow-Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs

Slow-Cooker Spaghetti & Meatballs
My own recipe

1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
4 small cans tomato sauce
2 small cans tomato paste
A couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/4-1/2 cup red wine (optional)
1 tsp white granulated sugar
4-5 fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 1-2 tsp dried Italian seasonings)
2-3 fresh stems of thyme
1 tsp oregano
2 bay leaves
seasonings to taste:  Tony’s, garlic and onion powders, salt, red pepper flakes
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp Italian seasonings
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

spaghetti noodles for serving


Spray the crockpot dish with nonstick spray.  Add all of the sauce ingredients to the dish, mix well.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the meatball ingredients just till mixed.  Don’t over mix, or they’ll be tough.  Place them into the crockpot, sinking them down into the sauce.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  When done, taste for seasoning, remove bay leaves and thyme sprigs, then serve over pasta.


Lightened Up Crawfish Fettuccine

As you probably read in my last post, my brother-in-law (hubby’s brother) is getting married soon and last weekend was the bachelor/bachelorette party.  The guys went to Dallas for some surprisingly tame fun (or so they say – wink, wink).  Us girls stayed here in town and did a painting class then had a lingerie shower for the bride at my house.  When I started planning out the food for the shower, I was looking at it as a big chance to cheat on my diet.

But for once, I’m doing really well on this diet.  I mean hey, it’s February 1 and I’m still ON IT!  That’s a record breaker right there!  I stuck with the basic bones of the menu, but looked for lightened up versions of the recipes.  The recipe I found for crawfish fettuccine was fantastic, a few of the guests at the shower were feeling guilty for getting seconds, until I told them that it was a lower-calorie version.  Nobody could believe it.  So if you’re looking for a nice dish to celebrate a special occasion, or just because it’s a Friday, then here ya go.  I think this would be equally delicious with cooked shrimp or chicken as the protein.

Crawfish Fettuccine

Crawfish Fettuccine
Recipe from The New Holly Clegg Trim and Terrific Cookbook

1 lb fettuccine pasta, cooked and rinsed under cool water
1 lb. crawfish tails, rinsed
1/4 cup margarine
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1.5 cups skim milk
1.5 lb. light Velveeta
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt


  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • In a large pot, melt the margarine and saute’ the onion, bell pepper and garlic until tender, about five minutes.  Stir in the flour until mixed and allow to cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly.  Slowly whisk in the milk, stirring until smooth.  Add the cheese, stirring until evenly melted and then add the crawfish, parsley, salt, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Taste for seasonings then add the pasta, tossing to coat.   Transfer to a baking dish coated with nonstick spray and bake for 15 minutes, or until heated through.
  • Serve immediately.

8-10 servings at 378 calories each.

Warm Pasta Salad with Shrimp

This recipe is another recipe from the MOMS Club Biggest Loser Brunch potluck.  My friend Marci brought it and it was so unusual, but so delicious!  I saved a taste for my hubby and he loved it and said I needed to get that recipe.  Marci emailed the recipe and I made it that same night!

I actually had a lot of the ingredients on hand, so it ended up being a really inexpensive dish to make.  I only used a half pound of shrimp, cut in half and to compensate, I used the whole can of rinsed and drained cannellini beans.  Plus, I didn’t want to end up wasting half a can, what else was I going to do with it?  I’ve never been the greatest fan of whole wheat pasta, but I used it anyway, I bought the Ronzoni brand whole wheat, and it was actually very good.  The recipe below will be without my adaptations though.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Warm Pasta Salad with Shrimp

Warm Pasta Salad with Shrimp
Recipe from Marci G., originally from Cooking Light

1 pkg whole wheat pasta, cooked per package directions
1.5 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
12 oz. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1.5 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 cup canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 tbsp capers


  • In a small bowl, combine the mustard, lemon juice and garlic, whisking to combine.  Slowly add the oil, whisking to incorporate, then add in the salt and pepper.
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the shrimp and cook through.  Add in the spinach, beans, red onions and capers and toss, cooking until the spinach wilts.  Add the pasta and juice mixture, stirring to coat evenly.  Serve

4 servings, 487 calories each

Warm Pasta Salad with Shrimp

Autumn Penne Pasta with Sauteed Brussels Sprouts in a Light Ragu

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m sure:  I hate that brussels sprouts get the bad reputation that they do.  They are our favorite vegetable, we almost always have some in the house!  So needless to say, instead of being skeptical when I saw a recipe for this tasty veggie in the most unusual of places – pasta with red sauce, I was SO excited!

I feel so fortunate that my husband is willing to try new (and sometimes weird) foods.  He never says “that sounds weird” or anything, he’s the best sport!  We both loved this dish and it made enough for us to eat several meals.  The best part is that I only used half the packages of meat I purchased, so now I have the most costly part of the makings of another!  If you’re a fan of the sprouts, you definitely need to give this a try!

Autumn Penne Pasta with Sautéed Brussels Sprouts in a Light Ragu
Recipe from Skinnytaste

1/2 lb. ground Italian sausage (no casings), we used mild
1/2 lb. lean ground turkey
4 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz brussels sprouts (I used frozen), thawed if using frozen
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste (or use some Tony’s)
1 lb. whole grain penne pasta


In a nonstick skillet, cook sausage and turkey over medium heat, breaking up into small pieces as it cooks.  Once fully cooked, set aside in a bowl.

Cut the brussels sprouts in half and then into slices/shreds.  Add 2 tsp oil to the skillet and add the garlic, cooking for a minute until golden, then add the brussels sprouts, salt and pepper and cook until tender and slightly crisp, about five minutes.  Set aside in another bowl.

In the same skillet, add the remaining 2 tsp oil and then add onion and carrot, stirring well to coat with oil.  Cook until the vegetables are golden brown and soft, about ten minutes.  Add the crushed tomatoes, sausage and turkey, bay leaf, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer about 30 minutes until the sauce thickens.

While the sauce is cooking, cook your pasta and drain.

Toss the pasta in the sauce, then add the brussels sprouts.  Toss well to combine and serve topped with ricotta and parmesan cheeses.

Autumn Penne Pasta with sautéed Brussels Sprouts in a Light Ragu

Linguine Carbonara with Bleu Cheese, Asparagus and Artichokes

While dining out, I once heard a fellow diner refer to spaghetti carbonara as “poor man’s spaghetti.”  At first I was a little insulted because that was what I had ordered and enjoying at that very moment.  But really, it is true.  carbonara is SO cheap to make and stretches to a couple of meals (or feed a few people).  And it’s delicious.

I pretty much drooled when I saw the recipe for linguine (my pasta of choice) carbonara with bleu cheese (YUM!), asparagus (mmm) and artichokes (yes please!).  This was no poor mans carbonara.  Well, maybe it is because you are poor once you are done buying the ingredients!  This was a nice change from the norm, definitely delicious, you should definitely give it a try!

Linguine Carbonara with Bleu Cheese, Asparagus and Artichokes
Recipe from Gourmet Day to Day

1 lb. linguine
1/2 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can quartered artichoke hearts (not marinated), drained
1 cup crumbled bleu cheese
1.5 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs, beaten
8 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  You’ll need the water to be ready to add the pasta while you cook your sauce.
  • In a large pan, cook the bacon until crispy.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Add the olive oil to the bacon grease and reduce the heat to med-low.  Add the artichokes and garlic, saute about five minutes.  While the artichokes are cooking, add the pasta to the water.  Add half of the bleu cheese, cream, half and half, red pepper, black pepper and salt to the artichokes and simmer about five minutes, until the sauce thickens some.
  • When only about 3 minutes remain to your pasta cooking, add the asparagus to the water with the pasta and let it cook with the pasta.  Drain the linguine and asparagus, reserving half a cup of pasta water.
  • Add the pasta and asparagus to the artichoke mixture and toss well to mix.  Remove from heat.
  • Add the eggs to the pasta (make sure it’s not over a burner that’s on) and toss quickly.  Add the bacon, the remaining bleu cheese, basil and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.  Toss well to incorporate.
  • If your sauce is too thick, you can add some of the reserved pasta water to thin it, but I didn’t need to.
  • Top with extra Parmesan cheese.

Linguine Carbonara with Bleu Cheese, Asparagus and Artichokes

Vegetable Tortellini Soup

Our weather has been flip-flopping around like crazy lately, but it’s given us enough cool days to put us in a Fall state of mind.  And I don’t know about you, but to me, Fall = pumpkins, apples, chili and soup!

This was a quick and easy soup and it was very fresh tasting.  It was hearty without breaking the calorie-bank.  In other words, it was great!  We served it with some andouille and swiss chard hand pies, but I think it would also be great with a grilled cheese sandwich on a cold night!

Vegetable Tortellini Soup
Recipe adapted from Sing for Your Supper

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup red wine
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 /2 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
a few mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
4 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
1 (12 oz.) pkg cheese tortellini (look in the freezer section near the breakfast items for the best value)
Seasonings to taste:  Tony’s, salt, pepper

In a large pot, heat the olive oil and add the onion and carrots.  Cook until tender and add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Add the wine and deglaze the pot (scrape off any bits from the bottom).  Add in the tomatoes, zucchini, seasonings and broth and bring to a boil before reducing the heat and simmer for twenty minutes or until the vegetables are all soft.  Stir in the spinach, mushrooms and tortellini and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the tortellini is completely warmed through (taste test!).

Vegetable Tortellini Soup

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Browned Butter Sage Sauce

A couple of weeks ago (whew am I behind in blogging!) I went down South to visit my parents.  Before heading back home, I stopped off at Whole Foods to pick up something quick and easy for dinner.  I settled on the butternut squash and already knew I’d want it with a browned butter sage sauce I’d heard so much about.

A quick Google led me to a list of recipes and I picked the one that looked super easy.  That’s how I roll.  After 3 hours in a car with a 3-year-old, I was not in the mood for something lengthy!  This didn’t disappoint and I’m really glad that I doubled the recipe, since my husband and I are pigs.  We ate it all.  That’s how good it was.  I’ll include the single version though.  And since no stores near me sell butternut squash ravioli, I guess I’ll just have to ask Santa to bring me a pasta attachment for my mixer (affectionately known as Sir Mix a Lot) so I can make my own.  Hear that, Santa?  Seriously though, this recipe is GREAT and it’s so dang easy.  Winner!

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Browned Butter Sage Sauce
Recipe adapted from: Emeril Live

1 pkg butternut squash ravioli, cooked in boiling water just until it floats up.
1 stick butter
12 fresh sage leaves
Parmesan cheese, cooked and crumbled bacon and chopped walnuts for serving (optional)

In a large skillet, melt the butter then add the sage leaves.  Cook over medium heat (to med-low), stirring until the butter turns brown.  Remove from heat and toss with the ravioli.  Top with freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, bacon crumbles and chopped walnuts, if desired.

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Browned Butter Sage Sauce