Wednesday, June 3, 2015


We have pasta night once a week, usually on Friday.  Last Friday we had other plans, so pasta night got bumped, and Daddy doesn't have any leftover past for his lunches.  So, I scheduled pasta night in earlier this week.  Hey, it breaks up the routine, right?  Most of the family really likes spaghetti, but some also like chicken fettuccine alfredo.  So, when I make alfredo sauce, I usually do a red sauce, too.  This Tuesday was one of those nights where I made a big batch of pasta and sauce.  Leftover pasta is always good, it freezes well, and makes for great non-sandwich lunches.  The bread is crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside- great for dipping in pasta sauce, soup, or herb oil.

So, here's my pasta night recipes....

Italian Bread
2 pkgs (4 1/2 tsp) yeast
2 1/2 C warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
7 C flour, plus some for kneading
1 egg white, 1 Tbsp water, cornmeal

Mix yeast, 2 cups flour, salt and sugar in large mixing bowl.  Add warm water and stir until blended. Stir in next 5 C flour until too hard to mix.  Pour onto floured surface and knead in the rest of the flour, until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Oil the mixing bowl well with olive oil.  Place lump of dough in bowl, cover with moist flour-sack towel, and set in warm area.  Let rise for at least 1-2 hours.  Separate dough and place on well-oiled baking stone or baking sheet. Mix egg white and water, and brush mixture on top of loaves. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Allow to rise for 1 more hour, at least.  Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown and hollow-sounding when tapped.  Cool for 15 minutes before slicing with serrated knife and serving.
An alternate method is this: After kneading, divide dough in 2-4 round balls.  Place on greased baking stone or in a dutch oven, or roll into log and place on greased baking sheet like a french baguette. Brush with egg white wash and sprinkle with cornmeal. Cover with moist towel, and allow to rise several hours (all day or overnight).  Follow baking directions as above. Makes 2 large round or long loaves, or 4 shorter, thinner baguettes.

Chicken Alfredo Sauce
1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 stick (1/2 C) margarine or butter
1 C Half and half or evaporated milk
2 cups Parmesan and/or Romano cheese (1 regular size sprinkle can)
2 Tbsp parsley
Italian seasoning (basil, oregano, thyme) to taste
2 cloves minced garlic, or garlic powder to taste

In large sauce pan, cook and shred chicken, garlic, and seasonings.  Add butter and milk. Stir in cheese until mixed and melted through.  Serve over fettuccine or other pasta.

Easy Meaty Red Sauce
1 lb ground meat (beef, turkey, or sausage, or a mix of meats)
1 can or jar of cheap spaghetti sauce
garlic powder

Brown meat in large frying pan or saucepan.  Add spaghetti sauce and spices to taste.  If you use fresh spices from your kitchen garden or farmer's market, you will need 1/2 to 3/4 less than you would dried seasonings (1 or 2 sprigs of each fresh herb and 1-2 cloves garlic).  Simmer for 10-15 minutes to let the flavors marry.  Serve over spaghetti or other shaped pasta.

Serve your meal with green beans (with or without bacon, turkey bacon, or Bacos), and a simple green salad.  We like to pretend to keep our meals "authentic", so we drink grape or apple juice on past night, served in fun plastic goblets.  Of course, you can't truly enjoy pasta without listening to some Pavarotti, Bocelli, Paul Potts, Three Tenors, Il Volo, or other Italian and operatic music! Slainte!