Gnocchi Alfredo

My wife is a big fan of gnocchi. Who isn’t for that matter? I remember when she had some dental surgery done she had to eat some soft food, or heck jello for that matter (which she wasn’t having any part of), so I decided to make her a homemade batch of ricotta gnocchi. She fell in love with it from that day, and so did I. Soft, pillow like dough made from potatoes and a bit of flour, I mean what is not to love and love to make for that matter. So on a recent trip to a store, we saw this package of gnocchi. I typically would never buy something like it, but my wife and I both looked at it and said ‘should we try it?’. This is where the gnocchi alfredo came into play.

Gnocchi Alfredo Recipe
Gnocchi Alfredo Recipe

Before I was going to make the homemade alfredo sauce, I was really torn to make a sage and brown butter sauce (one my kids totally love), but to me that is a bit seasonal and I had no sage growing as it is winter in Wisconsin. That’s when I knew my kids would love a creamy and cheesy alfredo sauce. They devoured this pasta.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of gnocchi (make your own, or try store bought)
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cup of milk
  • 3/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper, to taste

Now the gnocchi we tried was from Costco. It was from Maffei, and something we have never tried before. You can try any brand if you want and it is typically found nowadays in your frozen section, or refrigerated pasta section at your grocery store. Again, if you don’t want to go that route, make your own. It’s not difficult, and in all honesty the texture is better when done homemade.

Maffei Gnocchi
Maffei Gnocchi

Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. This will take a handful of minutes, so make your alfredo sauce as this is happening. Grab a good spoonful of course salt and add it to your water as well.

Let’s make the sauce.

To another sauce pan, bring it to medium heat and add in your butter. Let that begin to melt, then toss in your garlic. Let that cook a minute or so and once the butter is melted and slightly bubbling, stir in the flour. Mix well so that it forms a nice paste. Cook this for another minute or two but be careful not to overcook the flour. You want a light blonde, if that, for this sauce. Remember, it’s alfredo sauce.

Add in the cream, and milk, and continue to whisk until the flour breaks up, and begins to thicken. Once that sauce begins to thicken, add in the parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper, and continue to whisk. Lower the heat, and stir occasionally while you add your gnocchi to your boiling, salted water.

This particular gnocchi took about 1 1/2 minutes to cook. Once these babies were floating, I removed with a slotted kitchen spider, let the drain, and added them directly to the alfredo sauce. Once all added, stir them gently into the sauce, and serve family style.

My family devoured this stuff. Creamy, cheesy, garlicky. It was right up everyone’s alley. The store bought gnocchi? Uh, not a big fan but something that was quick to make during a busy work night. The sauce. Make the sauce. Enjoy.

Lasagna Soup

My family is a big fan of lasagna, I mean who isn’t? I have made many attempts at putting a little twist on the classic, and this one is no exception. The temperature has dropped in Wisconsin, and we are settling in for the hibernation season, so I figured that I would come up with a soup, a lasagna soup at that. What I didn’t know is how much my family would love this recipe. I was a bit suspect on my kids eating it as they are not big soup eaters, but all I can say is that went up for seconds, two days in a row. Yep, it was that good.

Lasagna Soup Recipe
Lasagna Soup Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 lb of ground chuck, cooked and fat removed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 7 cups of chicken stock, more if you want it to be more ‘soupy’
  • 1 whole onion, thinly diced
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 jar of marinara sauce
  • 5 sheets of lasagna pasta, broken
  • 1 bag of shredded mozzarella cheese, use to your liking
  • Grated parmesan cheese, to your liking

Start by getting a medium sized soup pot on the stove, and heat it to medium heat. Toss in the ground beef, and cook until browned, breaking it up along the way. Once cooked, strain and remove all of the fat. Return the ground beef back to the stove, and toss in the onion. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add in the salt, pepper, chili flakes, and Italian seasoning. Give a good stir, then toss in the garlic, and tomato paste. Cook the tomato paste for a couple of minutes, then add in the diced tomatoes, chicken stock, and marinara sauce. Give this another good stir, and bring to a gentle boil. Once boiled, reduce the heat to medium-low, then add in the broken pasta sheets.

Lasagna Soup Ingredients
Lasagna Soup Ingredients

Cook for about 20 minutes or until the pasta is nice and tender.

When you are ready to serve, ladle into your soup bowl, shower with parmesan and mozzarella cheese, and dig in.

This is everything you love about lasagna, but in soup format, and what’s not to love about that! Hope you enjoy, and stay warm!

Squash Lasagna

At the season’s end of our last farmer’s market, I decided to load up on a variety of squash. I’ll admit that I am not too big of a squash lover, but I did it for my wife, as she is the one that likes them. But as I stared at the delicata and butternut squash, I decided I would roast both of them. That’s when the idea came into play, probably because I was searching for ideas for dinner and something everyone would love and agree on, and that’s when I thought of lasagna. Lasagna with a twist that is. Who doesn’t love a great dish of lasagna? What no one knew is that I had a good couple of cups of that delish, roasted squash, and ever better I did not tell them until after they devoured a couple of slices. Yep, that’s where my kids are now, two slices, and eating me out of the house.

Squash Lasagna Recipe
Squash Lasagna Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 delicata squash, sliced in half, seeds removed
  • 1 small butternut squash, sliced in half, seeds removed
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, rubbed onto sliced squashes
  • 9 sheets of lasagna, oven ready, or par boiled
  • 1 lb ground chuck, cooked and fat removed
  • 2 mild Italian sausage links, casing removed, cooked and fat removed
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/12 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 pinch of red chili flakes
  • 15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups of your favorite tomato sauce

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Add the squashes to a baking sheet, and cook flesh side up for about 45 minutes, or until fork tender. Once the squash is cooked, scrape out, and mix into a bowl. You will only need about two cups, but feel free to use more or less based on your preference.

Start by cooking both of your meats. Feel free to combine these in a large skillet. Break apart the meat as it is cooking to prevent large clumps. Strain the meat mixture, removing the fat, then return the meat back on the stove on medium heat. Add a pinch of salt, some cracked black pepper, the red chili flakes, and the garlic powder. Give a good stir, cooking for a minute or two, then add in your sauce. Stir, and let this reduce down a bit, cooking for about 10 minutes.

To another mixing bowl, add the egg, ricotta cheese, the squash, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and half of the parmesan cheese. Give that a good mix so that the squash is fully incorporated into the cheeses.

Now let’s get to this lasagna. Take a good ladle of your meat sauce, and add to the bottom of your lasagna dish. Add the lasagna sheets. Mine fit three to the pan.

Squash Lasagna Ingredients
Squash Lasagna Ingredients

Next, be generous and add enough of the ricotta and squash mixture to cover the pasta sheets. Lightly sprinkle on mozzarella cheese, then more meat mixture, pasta cheese, more ricotta mixture, more cheese, more sauce, then remaining pasta sheets. Cover with meat sauce, the cover with cheese. Shower with the remaining parmesan cheese.

Spray the back of some aluminum foil with some cooking spray. I’ve found this to prevent all of that wonderful cheese from sticking onto the foil when removing from the oven.

Cover the baking dish, and place into a 375 degree oven, cooking for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil, and continue to cook for about 20 more minutes or until the cheese is nice and golden.

Let cool for about 10 minutes before slicing into squares.

The end result was everything that is wonderful about a great lasagna, but there was that bit of hidden sweetness from the blended squash that made this one even better. After the kids were finished eating (as well as my wife), I said “So how did everyone like the squash?”. They had confused looks on their face, but all replied that they had no clue it was in there, and loved every bite. What’s not to love about that? Gotta get the good stuff in there somehow, I was successful on that front. Hope you enjoy!

Pizza Montanara

I’ve probably said it before, but I will say it again. If there were a couple of things I could eat on a regular basis, it would be pizza and tacos. There are so many different ways to make either of those, and the toppings could be endless, hence why I could rotate those on a daily basis. Maybe it is the hand food, who knows. But there is one pizza known as pizza montanara that I’ve been wanting to make for the kids as they love a thicker style crust. This pizza is not only a thing of beauty, but it may have been one of the better pizzas I’ve made, and I’ve made a lot of pizza, trust me.

 

Pizza Montanara Recipe
Pizza Montanara Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of your favorite pizza dough, tossed into a size that will fit into your large skillet
  • Canola oil, enough to fill about 1 inch of your skillet
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • your favorite pizza sauce
  • fresh basil, optional
  • sliced pepperoni, to your liking
  • mozzarella cheese, to your liking
  • grated parmesan cheese, optional

Now these pizza toppings are to my family’s liking, but use your favorite toppings.

Once you have your dough shaped, and about 1/4 inch thick, take a fork and poke the dough all over. This will assist when cooking in the hot oil from having it balloon out.

Pizza Montanara Ingredients
Pizza Montanara Ingredients

Heat your large skillet on medium heat. Add enough oil to be about one inch in depth and bring that up to about 350 degrees. During this time, heat your oven to 450 degrees, along with a sheet pan.

Once the oil is heated, carefully add it to the skillet, and fry the dough for about 2 minutes, then using some tongs, carefully raise it out and flip it to the other side, cooking an additional 2 minutes. It should be a bit stiff and a light golden brown.

Raise the cooked dough from the oil, and let any excess oil drip back into the skillet. Now I know what you might be thinking, that this is going to be an oily mess, but trust me it does not. As a matter of fact you would probably think this was a pan style pizza, or deep dish style if you did not tell anyone how you made it.

Next, add the pizza to your pizza peel, and add the sauce, onions, pepperoni, and cover with the mozzarella cheese.

Pizza Montanara Recipe
Pizza Montanara Recipe

Slide onto the preheated baking sheet and cook for about 5 minutes or so or until the cheese is nice and melted and the sauce is heated through.

Remove and shower with parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

The end result was nothing short of fantastic. As much as I love thin crust pizza, along with pan and deep dish pizza, this was something in between all of that, and it was way too easy to make. My family loved this one, and I will be making many more in the near future. Hope you enjoy!