Thursday, October 16, 2014



October is National Pasta Month and October 17th is National Pasta Day.  Hosting a home cooking pasta party this weekend would be a great way to throw a casual and entertaining event on a budget!  It’s also a way to transform dinner into a family party too.  Pasta can be served for every course from appetizer to dessert with everyone sampling smaller plates of everything or just simply as the main dish.  It provides energy-rich carbohydrates, fiber, B vitamins and iron.  The only decision left is whether to use convenient packaged pasta for all the dishes or to have additional fun making your own fresh pasta from scratch for at least one.


Here are some tips and recipes with an herbal twist to help with planning:

  • Dried pasta is good with heavy sauces and fresh pasta with light sauces
  • Prepare 1oz dried/2oz fresh per person as a side dish or 1 1/2oz-2oz dried/3oz fresh per person as a main dish
  • Add a bay leaf with salt to cooking water to break down the starch
  • Cook pasta al dente, firm but not hard, then toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.  Remember fresh pasta cooks faster than dried.
  • Only rinse pasta, which stops cooking and prevents gumminess, if it is being served cold



10oz cheese tortellini
2 pints cherry tomatoes
1c black olives
1lb fresh mozzarella, cut into chunks
1/3c red wine vinegar
3/4c olive oil
1Tbs Dijon mustard
2 minced garlic cloves
2Tbs chopped fresh basil
2Tbs chopped fresh parsley
            Cook and rinse tortellini.  Prepare marinade using the vinegar, oil, mustard, garlic and herbs plus salt and pepper.  Set up an assembly line and skewer the cooled tortellini, tomatoes, olives and cheese, then place them in a shallow baking dish; add marinade, cover and chill.  May be sprinkled with parmesan cheese before serving.

2/3c orzo pasta

6 Roma tomatoes

1Tbs butter

1/2c shredded Swiss cheese

1Tbs chopped fresh basil

1Tbs chopped fresh oregano

1Tbs chopped fresh parsley

Salt & pepper

            Cook and rinse orzo.  Cut tomatoes in half, scoop out seeds and drain on paper towels.  Melt butter and then combine with orzo, cheese, herbs and seasoning and spoon into tomatoes.  Serve sprinkled with parmesan cheese.


8oz spaghetti

2 eggs

1 jar marinara sauce

1Tbs chopped fresh basil

1/2c grated parmesan cheese

12 meatballs (packaged or homemade)

            Cook spaghetti and drain then add 2tsp olive oil.  Whisk eggs then add pasta, parmesan cheese, basil and half of the marinara sauce, then stir together until the pasta is completely coated.  Divide pasta evenly by twirling on fork into a greased muffin tin and press each down in center to hold meatball.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Cool 10 mins.

            Heat meatballs in remaining marinara sauce.  Remove pasta cups from tins and top with sauce, meatball and additional parmesan cheese.  Garnish with fresh basil.



12oz pasta shells

1 sweet red pepper

2 minced garlic cloves

2Tbs butter

2Tbs olive oil

1/2c chopped mixed herbs (parsley, thyme, basil, etc.)

1/2c milk

Salt and pepper

            Cook pasta and sauté thin sliced peppers and garlic in butter & oil until tender.  Drain pasta and add to peppers, then add herbs, milk and seasoning and serve.


8oz penne pasta

2Tbs olive oil

1 chopped onion

2 zucchini, julienned

2 carrots, julienned

1 green pepper, julienned

1c halved grape tomatoes

1Tbs Italian herb blend

            Combine all the veggies with the olive oil and herbs, then place on a cookie sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Cook and drain pasta, place in serving bowl, add roasted veggies and toss gently.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.


3c flour

1/3c chopped herb combo of chives, dill and parsley

1tsp salt

4 eggs

1/2c cold water

2Tbs butter

            Combine flour, herbs and salt.  Mix eggs and water and then add to dry ingredients and mix until smooth.  Boil 4 quarts of salted water, reduce heat and add dough by pressing through a colander with a scraper.  Simmer 2-3 mins. stirring to prevent spaetzle from sticking together.  Drain and add to melted butter to coat.



1lb boneless chicken breast

2-14.5oz cans stewed tomatoes

2 chopped garlic cloves

2c fresh broccoli florets

1Tbs chopped fresh oregano

18oz penne pasta

1/4c thin strips of fresh basil

            Cut chicken into 1” strips and sauté in olive oil until slightly browned.  Add tomatoes, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper then bring to boil, turn down, cover and simmer 10 minutes.  Cook and drain pasta then add chicken and sauce plus basil and toss well.  Top with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.


1lb ground beef

1 minced garlic clove

2c beef broth

1-14.5oz diced tomatoes

1Tbs combination of fresh basil, oregano and rosemary

10oz corkscrew pasta

1/4c grated Parmesan cheese

            Brown beef and garlic, then add tomatoes and herbs and bring to a boil.  Stir in pasta and cook 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente.  Stir in cheese and serve sprinkled with additional cheese.


9oz fettuccini

1lb boneless chicken breast

2 minced garlic cloves

1/2c chicken broth

2Tbs chopped chives

8oz cream cheese

Salt and pepper

            Sauté chicken, then add garlic and broth and cook until chicken is no longer pink.  Cook and drain pasta.  Add cream cheese and chives to chicken until heated through and then combine with pasta.


DESSERT RAVIOLI:  Cook cheese ravioli substituting sugar for salt plus 1tsp vanilla, then drain.

Serve with one of the following toppings or simply roll in cinnamon sugar and serve with vanilla ice cream!

  • Hot fudge with chopped chocolate mint, whipped cream & nuts
  • Warm blueberry sauce with chopped lemon verbena & whipped cream
  • Warm orange marmalade with toasted sliced almonds, drizzled with chocolate sauce


1lb manicotti

2-8oz pkg cream cheese

16oz ricotta

1/2c sugar

1tsp cinnamon

1Tbs orange zest

1/2c mini chocolate chips

            Cook pasta with 2tsp sugar and 1tsp vanilla instead of salt in the water, then rinse and set aside to cool.  Combine the cheeses, sugar, cinnamon, orange zest and chocolate chip and pipe into the cooled tubes.  Dust with powdered sugar.


1/2lb cooked egg noodles

1/2c butter

1c sugar

1/2c raisins

1tsp anise seed

1qt milk

1pt heavy cream

3Tbs vanilla extract

12 eggs

8oz ricotta cheese

            Combine all ingredients and spoon into a 9”x13” pan and bake at 350 degrees for  45 minutes or until golden and knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool and serve.



Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing

some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”

I Corinthians 10:31

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