Bored Cook In The Kitchen

Tried and true recipes, new twists on old favorites, and new dishes to expand my family's palate.

Category Archives: Pasta

Mussels In Spicy Tomato Sauce

I’m going to share something weird about myself with you today.  There are many weird things about myself, so this is really just one of them. I hate clams.  Don’t even eat an oyster in front of me.  Blech!

But, I LOVE mussels, and this is my most favorite way to eat them.  Simmered in some butter, wine and garlic isn’t bad either, but in a spicy tomato sauce will always be my first choice.

We made a large bowl of these and sat out on the deck just picking them clean. Delish!

MUSSELS IN SPICY TOMATO SAUCE:

  • 2 lbs. Cleaned Live Mussels **See below how to clean mussels
  • 1 – 24 oz. Can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 Small Onion, chopped
  • 4 Cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
  • 10 – 12 Fresh Basil Leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp. Fresh Oregano, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt, to taste

Begin the tomato sauce in a large skillet.  Add the oil, onion and garlic and sauté until just before the garlic begins to brown.

Add the wine and mix well, scraping up the bottom of the pan. 

Add the crushed tomatoes, red pepper flakes, oregano and salt to taste.  Stir well, place on simmer and cover, stirring occasionally so you don’t burn the bottom of the sauce.

Go through the bag of mussels and discard any mussels that have cracked and broken shells.  If you have any mussels that are slightly open, don’t discard them right away by assuming they are dead.  Tap the mussel several times.  If it’s still alive it will close immediately.  If it doesn’t close after a few taps, discard the mussel since it’s no longer alive.

In a large bowl filled with cold water (I actually use 1/2 of my double-sided sink), cover the mussels with cold water and allow to soak for about 15 to 20 minutes.  Drain the mussels and remove the beards. The beard is a tough stringy substance stuck on the outside of some of the mussels. Grasp the edge of the beard and pull down firmly towards the hinge of the mussel and remove.

Scrub the outside of each mussel with a hard brush to remove any debris or barnacles on the outside of each shell.  Place in a colander and give them a final rinse under cold water and set to the side for a few minutes.

Add your fresh basil to the tomato sauce, stir well, and prepare to add your mussels.  Add all the mussels to the tomato sauce, stir gently and cover immediately.  Keep covered for 3 minutes.  Remove the cover, give another gentle stir, cover and allow to cook for an extra 3 to 4 minutes.  You don’t want to over cook these for any longer than a total of 7 minutes or the muscles will turn tough and chewy. 

Once done, remove any mussels that did not open and discard.  Take the remaining mussels and gently spoon them into a large dish and cover with sauce.  Serve with some sliced lemon for squeezing, sit back and enjoy.

Make sure to use that crusty Italian bread to soak up all that delicious sauce.

You could always serve these over some cooked spaghetti, but I prefer them just the way they are.

  

Fusilli Pasta With Creamy Tomato Sauce

Fusilli is my favorite shape of pasta, and I attribute that to the thickness of the stands and the way it really grabs onto whatever sauce you top it with.

I have many ways of making sauce to top pasta, and this is just one of them.  It’s quick, easy, and delicious. 

FUSILLI PASTA WITH CREAMY TOMATO SAUCE:

  • 1 lb. Long Fusilli Pasta
  • 1 – 24 or 28oz. can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 Medium Onion, chopped
  • 3-4 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream (Half & Half works in a pinch, too)
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese (Yes, you can use the powdery stuff)
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh Chopped Oregano
  • 10 – 12 Fresh Basil Leaves, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. Fresh Flat Leaf Italian Parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp. Dried Pepper Flakes (*Optional)
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste

In a large sauté pan, add the oil, onions and garlic.  Saute until translucent, and if you like it the way I do, I usually let the garlic just begin to brown a bit.  Watch the garlic since it goes from nutty and browned to burnt in mere seconds.

Once done, add the white wine and stir to scrape up all the bits on the bottom of the pan. 

Add the crushed tomatoes, oregano and parmesan cheese and stir well.  Place the burner on simmer and cover.   Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

Meanwhile, in a large stock pot, add water that you have generously salted.  Cover and allow to come to a boil.

Once the water has reached a good rolling boil, add the pasta and stir to prevent sticking.

Uncover the sauce and add the cream, chopped parsley and basil, along with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir well.  *If you are adding the pepper flakes to the sauce, add them now and stir well. 

Once the pasta has reached al dente, immediately drain it and place it in a large bowl.  Remove the sauce from the heat and add this to the pasta.  Stir well and serve immediately.  This is especially good with some garlic bread on the side.

Enjoy!

Baked Stuffed Shells

 This is just one of my oldest son’s most favorite meals to eat.  And it’s simple since you can throw it together early in the day, or even the day before, and then pop it in the oven to bake for a bit when you need a quick dinner on the table.

I’m not going to go nuts about giving precise measurements for this dish because I don’t really have any.  I can give hints of how much of this and that I’ve used, but in all honesty, it’s really just something you can throw together without worrying about being exact with the amounts.  Most of how I cook is really me throwing this and that in together and seeing how it comes out.  If there were one area of my blog I could say I struggle with its coming up with precise measurements for recipes.  While sometimes I’m able to provide that easily, I can’t say it always works out that way.  Sometimes I just need to make something a second or third time before I publish it so that I can really focus on exactly how much of an ingredient I’m using. 

With that being said, use this as a general guideline of ingredients and measuring and don’t make yourself crazy about how much of each you use.  It’s food, folks.  We are meant to enjoy it, not stress over it.

BAKED STUFFED SHELLS:

  • 1 – Box Jumbo Pasta Shells
  • 1 – 24 oz. Container Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 – 16 oz. Block mozzarella Cheese, freshly grated
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Freshly Made or Store Bought Tomato/Pasta Sauce (roughly 4 – 5 cups)
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste

If you are making your own homemade tomato sauce, good for you.  There is nothing else in the world like it.  But, if you aren’t, use whatever brand you prefer.

In a 13″ x 9″ baking dish, spoon some sauce across the bottom.

Cook your pasta shells for half the amount of time listed on the box.  You don’t want them aldente for this dish.  You only want to partially cook these since they will continue to cook while you bake the dish in the oven.  Make sure to salt the water well before cooking the pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, in a large bowl, add the ricotta, 3/4 of the shredded mozzarella, chopped parsley, grate parmesan and salt and pepper.  Stir together well and then spoon into a large Ziploc bag.  You may want to only spoon in half the mixture to work with and then refill it with the rest when you’re done.  It makes the bag easier to manage while you are filling the shells.

Once the pasta is done, strain it and rinse with cold water.  Once cool to the touch, begin filling each pasta shell with the ricotta mixture.  You don’t want to over fill the shell’s, but put just enough in each shell so that you can easily fold the shell so that each open end meets.

As you fill and fold each shell, place them seam side down in the baking dish.  Continue repeating until you have filled the dish. 

Spoon on some tomato sauce, followed by a sprinkling of the shredded mozzarella. 

At this point you can either place them in the fridge until you are ready to bake them, or throw them into the oven and bake them right away.

Place them, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven and bake until heated through and bubbly and the cheese has completely melted.

Enjoy with a salad and some garlic bread!

Note:  I ended up with about 38 cooked and stuff shells.  I was able to fit 27 of them on the first layer of the baking dish.  I covered those with sauce and mozzarella and then added the remaining stuffed shells to the top of them, spaced out as evenly as possible, and topping those with sauce and shredded mozzarella as well.  You can do it this way with the extra shells that don’t fit into a single layer in the baking dish, or you can just make a smaller batch in a smaller baking dish.  Your choice.  Either way, nothing goes to waste.

 

 

 

Pasta Ragu

This is a super easy one pot meal to make for your family.  My daughter looked and said she wasn’t eating it until I had to tell her it was “Cinderella Pasta”.  When she asked why it was Cinderella’s Pasta I told her because the wheels in the pasta came from Cinderella’s pumpkin coach.  I was grasping at straws to try to get her to try it and I knew once she did she would like it. 

Really, it’s more of a ragu than it is Cinderella’s anything.  I made this with diced tomatoes, bulk Italian sausage and ground beef.  Let the ragu simmer on the stove while you boil the pasta water and you have a filling meal ready in no time.  And, okay, I actually used two pots, but one had boiling water in it so I’m not counting it.

Pasta Ragu:

  • 1 lb. Bulk Italian Sausage
  • 1/2 lb. Ground Beef
  • (1) 14.5 oz Can Petite Diced Tomatoes
  • (1) 29  oz. Can Crushed Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 lb. Pasta such as Wheels, Penne, Bow Ties, etc.
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. Dry Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 Medium Onion, Chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Diced
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3/4 Cup Grated Mozzarella Cheese *optional

 In a large and deep skillet, brown the pork and beef breaking up as it browns.  Remove it to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Without washing the skillet, add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent.  Add the meat and all other ingredients to the skillet except for the pasta and the mozzarella cheese.  Stir together well, cover and reduce to a low simmer.

Fill a large stock pot 3/4 with water and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook until just al dente.  Once done, drain the pasta, add to the skillet along with the mozzarella cheese and stir well.  Serve with garlic bread.

Enjoy!

I shared this recipe in the Saturday Swap over at Kim’s blog, Quit Eating Out

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Check it out here for more great recipes!

Baked Penne With Sweet Italian Sausage

I think I’m just going to cook casseroles and one dish meals for the rest of this school year.  Anything that makes my life easier is on my list of things to cook lately.   This was meant to be the week I did two days worth of cooking for my freezer to make my life easier over the next few weeks, but I haven’t even been able to find the time for that.  “Maybe” next week.  At least that’s what I’m promising myself.

This was a quick meal to throw together for this evening and it’s always a big hit.  There is nothing in here that makes anyone complain when they ask me, “What’s for dinner, Mom.” 

I used penne but you can just as easily use rigatoni, ziti, or even elbow macaroni.   This is really nothing more than lasagna in easier form.  I do enjoy making lasagna every now and again, and normally use sliced meatballs or sausage for my lasagna, but this is perfect and simple for when you are short on time.

Baked Penne with Sweet Italian Sausage:

Serves 8

  • 1 lb. Penne Pasta
  • 2 lbs. Bulk Italian Sweet or Hot Sausage
  • 1 27 oz. Can Crushed Tomatoes with juice
  • 1 15 oz. Can Tomato Sauce
  • 12 Basil Leaves, chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 lb. Mozzarella, shredded
  • 15 oz. Container Ricotta Cheese

Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a boil.

In a large sauté pan, begin browning your sausage.  Once evenly browned, drain any excessive fat from the pan.

Add the chopped tomatoes and the tomato sauce to the pan, stir well and bring to a simmer.  Add the minced garlic and basil and stir well.  Allow to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. 

Once water is boiling, salt the water and add your pasta.  Stir well.  Don’t cook the pasta to completion or based on the package directions.  You only want to cook the pasta partially since this is going to bake in the oven and complete the cooking process.  I usually allow it to boil for about 6 to 7 minutes. 

Once pasta is done, drain it in a colander and then pour it back into the stock pot, or into a large mixing bowl.  Now add the sausage mixture, 2/3 of the shredded mozzarella, and the entire container of ricotta cheese.  Stir until fully combined. 

Pour this into a large baking dish – mine was slightly larger than 13″ x 9″ – cover with aluminum foil and allow to bake in the oven for 35 minutes at 350 degrees, or until hot and bubbly. 

Once done, remove the foil and sprinkle the top with the reserved mozzarella cheese.  Return the pan to the oven and allow it to cook until the cheese is completely melted. 

Remove from oven and serve immediately. 

NOTE:  This recipe makes enough for 8 people.  You can either make the full recipe if you have that many to feed, halve the recipe for a smaller dinner, or bake this up in two separate dishes where you can eat one tonight and freeze the other one for a future meal. 

Serve with a side salad and some garlic bread.

Enjoy!

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