pasta and bread

HEAVEN!  pasta, noodles, bread, potatoes, and rice… are pure HEAVEN.  I HEART CARBS!  I’m one of those people that will NOT give up carbs during a diet (I’d die if someone told me I had to give up carbs).  Everything in moderation.  I’ll decrease my carbs intake but I won’t cut it out of my diet completely.  I have given up rice one lenten season and then potatoes another lenten season and it was TORTURE.  I have thought about giving all carbs up together for 40 days, but I just don’t know about all that… (yeah I know, I sound horrible)

One of my favorite all time breakfast sandwiches is a Italian Egg Sandwich.  I came across it while looking for recipes on foodnetwork.com.  With the right type of bread (ciabatta, focaccia, french, italian, etc.  basically anything with a crunchy crust) this meal is WONDERS.  You can easily use sliced bread, but I suggest toasting it well so you can get the crunch texture against the egg and sauce.  Also, I add proscuitto or ham to this dish for some added protein, and of course some spinach (I didn’t have either in my photo, so I did without them).

Italian Egg Sandwich (by Giada DeLaurentiis)

INGREDIENTS
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large egg
Salt and pepper
1 slice rustic white bread (1/2-inch-thick)
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
1/4 cup warm marinara sauce, drained of excess liquid (store bought or homemade)

DIRECTIONS

Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a heavy small skillet over medium heat. Crack the egg into the skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the white is firm and the yolk is almost set, about 4 minutes. Season with salt.

Meanwhile, toast the bread until golden brown. Rub the garlic over the toast. Sprinkle with the Parmesan. Spoon the drained marinara sauce over the Parmesan. Top with the egg. Place the open-faced sandwich on a plate and serve.

When I’m away for a week or two, the refrigerator is bare.  The husband will buy the essentials if he needs them or just go out for dinner.  So when we got back from Virginia for my girlfriend’s wedding/work week, there wasn’t much in the refrigerator, so I had to do the pantry/freezer challenge game.  Thank goodness for pasta, cheese, eggs, and frozen vegetables and meats.  😛  Yes I always have that in stock.

We actually haven’t gone out for Italian in a while.  Just haven’t tried any Italian places here.  Olive Garden is good, but I can’t say we know where it is and it’s just much cheaper and HEALTHIER to cook your own Italian foods using the internet as a tool to look up Italian recipes.  When I first started to learn how to cook I’d always use chicken breast.  Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Katsu, etc.  You name any type of chicken breast dish, I probably would have made it.  I used Tyler Florence’s chicken parm recipe because it’s just packed with flavor.  I however did not use the marinara sauce as part of this recipe.  I had on hand some marinara sauce in the pantry (I did have canned tomatoes I could’ve used but I was just lazy) and used that to pour over the chicken parmesan as well as incorporate that into my faux baked zitti.  I say faux because I didn’t have any ricotta cheese to make this.  I just used mozzarella and parmesan and mixed that into the sauce and pasta.  And to be healthy, I cut up some lettuce, sprinkled some parmesan cheese and almonds on top and drizzled some olive oil and balsamic vinegar to make a simple salad.

Chicken Parmesan (adapted by Tyler Florence) with Faux Baked Zitti

The recipe below is just for the chicken portion.  Remember I used store bought marinara.  So feel free to go to foodnetwork.com for the original recipe.  My variations are in red.


INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts (about 11/2 pounds)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon water
1 cup dried bread crumbs
1 (8-ounce) ball fresh buffalo mozzarella, water drained
Freshly grated Parmesan
Dried Italian seasoning
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Get the ingredients together for the chicken so you have a little assembly line. Put the chicken breasts side by side on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them. Pound the chicken breasts with a flat meat mallet, until they are about 1/2-inch thick. Put the flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. In a wide bowl, combine the eggs and water, beat until frothy. Put the bread crumbs on a plate, season with salt and pepper, as well as dried Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and onion powder.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high flame in a large oven-proof skillet. Lightly dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, and then dip them in the egg wash to coat completely, letting the excess drip off, then dredge in the bread crumbs. When the oil is nice and hot, add the cutlets and fry for 4 minutes on each side until golden and crusty, turning once.

Ladle the tomato-olive sauce marinara (store bought or homemade) over the chicken and sprinkle with mozzarella, Parmesan, and basil. Bake the Chicken Parmesan for 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Serve hot with spaghetti or baked zitti (see recipe below).

Faux Baked Zitti

INGREDIENTS

Penne or Zitti pasta
Store bought marinara sauce
Parmesan and mozzarella cheese (shredded)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook pasta based on instructions on the box minus 2 minutes for al dente (as you’re placing this into the oven to cook for a little longer).  When cooked drain the pasta and put back into the pot.  Pour the marinara sauce onto the cooked pasta.  Sprinkle some (not all) cheese into the pot.  Stir to incorporate all the ingredients together.

Take a cake pan or casserole pan and grease it.  Place the pasta into the dish, top with remainder of the cheese and place it into the oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling.

My husband and I are carb eaters but we can’t finish a box of pasta between the two of us in one sitting so I usually just use half the box and use the other half for later.  I didn’t go to the supermarket the next day and had given the chicken parm leftovers to my husband so I decided that I wanted pasta still but include some frozen veggies, but I didn’t want to do a simple primavera pasta (plus I didn’t have any tomatoes or bell peppers for that).  I decided to make baked veggie pasta with bechamel sauce and of course with salad.  This top the salad was topped with sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese.  Drizzled of course with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Veggie Pasta Bake

INGREDIENTS – measurements are estimate as I did this to taste and was for two servings

2 tbsps Butter
1 Garlic clove, mince
1 tbsp Flour
1/2 tsp, ground nutmeg
1/4 cup Half and Half
salt and pepper.
Shitake Mushrooms (you can use fresh or dried.  I used dried mushrooms and rehydrated them), sliced
Chopped Spinach (you can use frozen or fresh.  if using frozen, make sure you squeeze out the water)
Frozen peas, veggies
Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese

DIRECTIONS

Cook pasta based on instructions on the box, minus 2 minutes for an al dente bite of pasta.  Drain pasta.

Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.

Meanwhile, heat a sauce pan over medium heat.  Melt butter in pan.  When the butter is melted, place minced garlic into the pan.  When the garlic is fragrant add flour into pan to make a rue.  When the flour has cooked through (the brown the flour, the nuttier the flavor), whisk in the half and half into the pan until thickens.  When the sauce thickens, add nutmeg and salt and pepper.   Turn off the heat and add the vegetables and pasta.  Mix thorough and place into a oven-proof pan.  Sprinkle parmesan and mozzarella cheese over the pasta.  Place into oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling.

Pretty easy through your pantry into a pot recipes right?  There’s another pasta I’m dying to try soon that I found on seriouseats.  Will post it as soon as I try it.

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