Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


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Quick Three Cheese Pasta Bake with Homemade Marinara

Time seems to be flying these days! It seems like just yesterday that I updated the blog but here I am, ten days later, wondering where all that time went. Although I am supposed to be reveling in the joy of spring break, I am stuck at home, working on yet another paper. This means that little A is back at daycare, something I was looking forward to avoid for a weak at least. I completely miss spending all my daytime with her and was very pumped about the prospect. But it was not to be.

So, after two days of exclusive mommy-baby time, she went back to her auntie for the major part of the day. Not that she complained. I suspect that she was secretly pleased to run away from boring ol’ me to a place where she can play, laugh and have fun with her friend-ish kind of people. Although I am home alone and all that, I hardly find time to cook. The only thing that pushes me to get on with it is the fact that surviving on water and other liquids is not a diet we are interested in doing at the moment. Hence, I plan my menu a few days in advance and stick to one pot meals as much as my conscience would allow me. Since K is not the complaining kind, I take advantage of him a lot more than I want to admit.
Ricotta Pasta2Yesterday was pasta day. I had a can of diced tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic sitting in my pantry. I bought some ricotta a couple of days ago and a nice ball of fresh mozzarella on dairy run yesterday. I decided to whip up some of my favorite double-duty marinara sauce to make a cheesy (albeit healthy) pasta bake that kind of edged extravagance while managing to be healthy. It was on the higher side of carbs, but with moderation, I knew that I could have my dinner and eat it too (cliche alert!).
Ricotta PastaQuick Three Cheese Pasta Bake

Ingredients:
One can diced tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic

Three pods of garlic, minced

3/4 box of medium-size pasta like Penne or Rigatoni, cooked al dante, drained and a cup of pasta water set aside

One cup part-skim Ricotta cheese

Half a ball of fresh Mozzarella (or one cup of the shredded kind)

Two Tbsp Parmesan Cheese

Half an eggplant diced

Quarter cup frozen peas

One large egg (optional)

Salt

Pepper

Crushed red pepper

Quarter cup Olive oil

Method:
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Heat a saucepan with half the olive oil on medium heat. Saute the minced garlic until it releases flavor. Pour the can of diced tomatoes and let it cook for ten minutes. When done, add salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Transfer to a large salad bowl.

Pour half of the remaining oil in the same pan. Saute the diced eggplant on medium-high heat until it browns and starts to cook. meanwhile, add the ricotta and egg (if using) to the marinara sauce. Mix the peas in with the eggplant before you switch off and add this to the ricotta mixture. Blend in some of the reserved pasta water if you find the sauce to be thick. Fold in the Parmesan cheese.

Mix the cooked pasta with the sauce. Grease a baking dish with the remaining oil. Transfer the pasta mixture and top with the Mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly. I broiled it for a few minutes to brown the cheese but this is only an optional step.


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So Cheesy!

I know, I know, that is a ridiculously cheesy (and by that I mean predictable) title, especially for a post about Mozzarella Sticks. But it is 10pm on a very tiring Sunday night and I have only ten minutes to write this post and go back to my Accounts book… out of which I spent five defending the title. So here we go!

I didn’t know that it was possible- to make a guilt free, lighter version of mozzarella sticks. Until I made up my mind to give it a try. So I read up a couple of methods online, like the ones on Skinnytaste and Food Network and decided to go with my own recipe. I just adapted the temperature and time for baking from the websites, took a deep breath and did it. You should also note that this the first time I am making Moz Sticks of any kind so the success was especially awesome.  I don’t want to talk any more but let this picture do the job:

Featuring for the first time on the blog: the hubster pulling an ooey-gooey cheese stick apart !

Featuring for the first time on the blog: the hubster pulling an ooey-gooey cheese stick apart !

Wonderful, isn’t it? Here is the recipe-

Healthy-Gooey Moz Sticks

Ingredients
Eight sticks of low-moisture part-skim Mozzarella sticks (I recommend Sargento)

One egg, whisked

Quarter cup all-purpose flour

Three Slices of whole-wheat bread

Two tsp dried Italian seasoning

One tsp garlic powder

One Tbsp butter

Cookng spray

Marinara sauce for dipping

Method

Freeze the cheese overnight.

Pre-heat oven to 400° F. Gently blend the bread in a food processor. Heat the butter in a pan and add the bread crumbs when the butter melts. Toast it on medium-low until it is golden-brown. When done, mix the seasoning and garlic powder with it. Assemble the flour, whisked egg and bread crumbs in different dishes. Bring the cheese out. Dip the cheese sticks in the flour and shake of any excess. Dunk them in the egg wash completely and finally, roll them in the seasoned breadcrumbs. Arrange on a foil-lined, greased baking tray and freeze for fifteen minutes (this step can also be done the night before and baked the next day).

spary the tops of the Mozzarella Sticks with cooking spray and bake for five minutes. Turn once and bake again for five minutes. I placed my baking tray on the lowest rack and the sticks came out wonderfully. dunk in marinara and eat while it is hot.
mozarella sticksThat took me half hour to write. Who was I kidding when I said ten minutes?!

Serving Size: One stick

Total Carbs: 7g


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This is it!

It would be an understatement if I say that the last month has been a roller-coaster ride! My little bundle of cuteness arrived exactly thirty days ago and settling down into motherhood has been the hardest and the most delightful (well for the most part) thing I’ve ever done. Apart from days when I have contemplated going back to the hospital, faking a mystery illness, we have all settled down into the groove of things. I am trying not to think of life after the next three weeks. School is scheduled to begin then and I would be away for at least three hours everyday. I don’t foresee any separation anxiety. Just a full, overwhelming plate.

Mommy dearest has been a star in the kitchen and a wonderful support system in the past month. Although we have been having wholesome, albeit very tame, food to accommodate Aarabhi’s sensitive new-born tummy, I have hardly had any time to click pics of it, let alone upload them.

So when I made Pizza on Friday night, I made sure I clicked a couple of pics on the phone. I don’t foresee touching the SLR for food photography for the next few months at least. And as it turns out, I don’t mind it much. I do have a bigger project to tackle 🙂

pizzaThat’s my rustic veggie pizza with fresh mozzarella and basil. I opted for the usual veggie toppings but added pineapple to make it a tad exotic and because, well, Amma and I love it. After making the equivalent of a large and a personal pan pizza, I had dough leftover. Hence, I made a couple of cheesy garlic “cups” for snack this afternoon. It was so easy that it requires no formal recipe. You would understand why as soon as you see the pic below. I adder dried oregano flakes, garlic butter and red pepper flakes for seasoning apart from the (not so) fresh moz again. Mom and Kishore ate it with marinara sauce and deemed it a success.

moz cupsAgain, I apologize for the pics. I do feel a tad guilty for lifting it from my Instagram post. Ah well, I will get over it!

 


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Pizzeria Pizza Rolls

I love party pizza rolls but hate Tortino’s. And every other brand of pizza rolls the grocery store carries. Isn’t that reason enough to make homemade rolls? It is. Especially when it comes out of the oven all gooey, bubbly and makes your house smell like a pizzeria. And to learn that involves lesser time and energy than making pizza does!

I admit it. It looks nothing like store-bought pizza rolls. But once you cut them into little pieces, they end up looking like rustic little tasty treats that you cannot resist.

Rustic Pizza Rolls

Ingredients:

Half homemade/store-bought package pizza dough

One cup homemade/store-bought plain marinara sauce

One tsp dried oregano flakes

A pinch pepper

Quarter cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Method:

After the initial rising process, divide the pizza dough into five portions. Makes ropes out of them. cover them and let them rest while you make the stuffing. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Mix together the sauce, cheese and seasoning. After 30 minutes of rest time, Flatten and elongate the pizza dough ropes into rectangles (I went freestyle as always and don’t remember the dimensions). Spread two Tbsps of marinara mixture, lining the longer side, on one side(okay, did I make sense there?). Close it and seal it with the other side. Grease a baking pan and transfer the ropes on to it. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden-brown on top and the stuffing slightly oozes out of the roll.

When done, take it out and let it be. When cool enough to handle, cut into bite-size pieces. This pizza roll freezes well and lasts up to a month… that is if you can keep them away from freezer monsters that raid in need of a midnight snack 😉