Summer Garden Pasta

One of my favorite pasta combinations!

Summer Garden Pasta

4 pints colorful cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound angel hair pasta
2 cups grated parmesan cheese

In a large bowl combine the halved colorful cherry tomatoes, olive oil, minced garlic, salt and black pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for about 4 hours but no longer.

When ready to serve, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add large pinch of salt and drizzle of olive oil to the water and stir.

Cook angel hair pasta about 3 minutes. Drain. Add the pasta in with the tomato mixture and toss. Sprinkle with chopped basil leaves and grated parmesan cheese. Toss together. Sprinkle additional chopped basil leaves and grated parmesan cheese on top if desired.

Serve hot, warm, room temperature or cold.

CHEW THIS! Baked Spaghetti

Baked Spaghetti

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, January 7th 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Baked Spaghetti is an Italian Classic
Blaise Doubman

If I had to pick my favorite food nationality it would have to be Italian. Although Chinese would have to play an important second role, as well as traditional American food. I love anything and everything Italian, from Ziti to Stuffed Shells and every single one of their desserts. Has anyone tried their lady finger and espresso soaked dessert known as “tiramisu”? Heavenly! Every time there is a celebration around here, and I just do not feel like cooking, which is rare, but it happens, I always pick a nice Italian restaurant. There is something in me that thinks I perhaps have some Italian roots, or maybe even an Italian background somewhere years and years in my background. Maybe I will try one of the ancestry websites and poke around some. Although, I am not really keen on the popular ancestry website where you send in a sample of your blood! I do not want my blood going to some big company that may get hacked or something later. And how is it not guaranteed that my blood will not be used years down the road for cloning purposes! Ha! Can you imagine two of me? My family and friends would not know what to do!

But in all honesty, Italian food makes me think of warmth and comfort, celebrations and togetherness. It may also have to do with the fact that my Grandpa Max and Grandma Deloris ate out quite a bit at Italian places when I was growing up, and I would tag along with them. Recently, when I found out that my cookbook was going to start being sold over at the Warm Glow Candle Outlet in Centerville, Indiana, I immediately wanted to celebrate with my family and friends. I had been working on a baked spaghetti recipe for awhile and decided to perfect it and serve it in celebration. I tinkered around for a while and came up with a recipe that is simple, easy, classic and flavorful! Next time you are thinking about what to make for a celebratory meal, I hope your mind drifts to this recipe and you try it with your family and friends! Feel free to experiment with your favorites types of cheeses and herbs.

Baked Spaghetti with Mozzarella and Parmesan

This dish can be made ahead, wrapped with aluminum foil and refrigerated for up to two days. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to two days. Feel free to substitute different types of cheese for the Mozzarella and Parmesan, such as Ricotta. This is perfect served with a side salad and garlic bread.

16 oz spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound ground beef
Salt, Pepper, Italian Seasonings
28 oz crushed tomatoes
½ cup basil, chopped
½ cup parsley, chopped
2 cups shredded Mozzarella
½ cup grated Parmesan

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions until al dente, drain and set aside. Be sure to boil the spaghetti in lots of boiling salted water. Also add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the boiling water. I do this sometimes to prevent the spaghetti from sticking together once the pasta is cooled.

In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat the olive oil for about one minute. Add the chopped onion and cook for about 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook until you can smell the warmth, which will take about 2 more minutes. Add the ground beef and season to your liking with the salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.

Cook the meat until fully cooked and no longer pink. Drain the mixture and then return to the skillet, still over medium heat. Add in the crushed tomatoes, chopped basil and chopped parsley until thickened and reduced, which will take about 12 minutes in total. You can taste the mixture at this point and add more seasonings if desired.

Toss this with the cooked spaghetti and pour into prepared baking dish.

Top the dish evenly with the Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Place into the preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove and serve hot.

Ask and Answer: I have been getting a lot of messages about my favorite type of “quick biscuits”. I would have to say my favorite recipe would be on page 83 in my cookbook and calls for only 2 simple ingredients. Self-rising flour and heavy cream. You take the 2 ingredients, roll out and cut, place in preheated 425 degree oven and bake for 14 minutes. People will not believe that the biscuits are only 2 simple ingredients and you will have a new secret recipe!

Pasta Fagioli

Originally published on “Blaise the Baker” November 10th, 2017

We are entering cold weather season here in Indiana and nothing to me says “welcome cold weather” like a big bowl of warm and comforting soup! Pasta Fagioli – which basically means “pasta and beans” – is quickly becoming one of my favorite soups! It is hearty, warm, cooks up in no time and is only 4 ingredients! FOUR! Can you believe that? Print this out, save it, bookmark it, whatever you want to do – just keep this recipe and make it this weekend!

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Pasta Fagioli

1 jar “Ragu Chunky” pasta sauce with tomato, basil and garlic
2 cans (19 oz each) white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed but not drained
16 oz ditalini pasta, cooked and drained
4 cups reserved pasta water
4 cups water

To prepare the spinach: microwave the frozen spinach in a microwave safe container for four minutes. Using a fork, cut up and separate. Do not drain the spinach.

To prepare the pasta: cook in a large amount of salted boiling water with a splash of olive oil added. Cook according to package directions.

In a large soup pot over medium heat, combine the pasta sauce, prepared kidney beans, prepared chopped spinach, pasta and reserved pasta water. Bring to a low boil, stirring occasionally.

Add in four cups of water and simmer, stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot. Store leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Enjoy!

Rigatoni Pie

Originally published on “Blaise the Baker” March 22nd, 2017

I first discovered this recipe on “The Food Network” Facebook page and I knew immediately I wanted to try it. I was not sure I would have the patience though to individually place all the rigatoni pastas into the cake pan – but you know what? It was really easy. Might have taken 4 minutes total! Super easy and the end result is really impressive!

This is the perfect recipe for entertaining and the perfect recipe to make with your kids! You can use meat in this recipe – hamburger, sausage, lamb – just make sure it’s precooked and that you add it after the tomato sauce but before the shredded cheese. Fabulous and delicious!

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Rigatoni Pie

1 pound rigatoni pasta
1 large jar pasta sauce, plus seasonings
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Start by spraying an 8-inch springform cake pan with non-stick cooking spray. Wrap the bottom with aluminum foil. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water for 8 minutes. Drain.

In a medium saucepan heat the pasta sauce and add in whatever seasonings you desire. I added minced garlic, red pepper flakes, basil and a pinch of sugar to mine. Let come to slight boil. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Arrange rigatoni pasta in springform pan. The easiest way to do this is turn rhe pan sideways – arrange the pasta building it “up” – sideways – until you reach the top of the pan. Not all of the pasta will fit. That is ok!

Carefully pour the pasta sauce over the rigatoni and level out with a spoon. You may not use all the sauce. Be sure the sauce covers a majority of the top.

If you want to use meat – layer on top now.

Evenly sprinkle with both cheeses.

Place pie on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Place aluminum foil on top of the pie, tenting it slightly. Place in preheated oven for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes remove from the oven and remove aluminum foil. Place back into the oven for 30 more minutes to brown and melt the cheese.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Gently undo the springform pan from the pie.

Cut the pie into pieces and serve.

Enjoy!

CHEW THIS! Mustard Potato Salad and Fresh Pasta Salad

Mustard Potato Salad and Fresh Pasta Salad

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, July 19th 2015 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Summer salads, perfect for picnics and reunions…
Blaise Doubman

One of the most popular recipes on my website is for a “Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad”. It’s the perfect combination of broccoli, cauliflower, mayonnaise, cheese and sweetness. Every time I make it, people go crazy! The recipe also has special meaning to me, because it’s one of the first recipes I developed for my upcoming cookbook. I remember every detail about that salad. I wanted something crunchy, flavorful and a perfect “picnic food” that would travel well. It took a few attempts, but the final result was perfection.

Since the recipe is so popular, it really got me thinking about other cold salads that would also make perfect “picnic food”. I’ve always loved potato salad and pasta salad, but I always thought the store bought kind lacked flavor and punch. I decided to try my hand at making both, so I could share them here with you. The results? Fabulous! I will never buy store bought salads again… and neither will you after making these!

Mustard Potato Salad and Fresh Pasta Salad

These salads can both be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Both can be served cold, or at room temperature. Leftovers can be chilled for up to three days.

For the Mustard Potato Salad…

10 medium potatoes cooked barely tender and diced
1 ¾ cups mayonnaise
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced white onion
7 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and diced
Paprika, for sprinkling

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, yellow mustard, apple cider vinegar, white granulated sugar, salt, black pepper and garlic powder until thoroughly combined.

Pour this mixture over the cooked and diced potatoes in another large bowl and stir together carefully. Next, add the diced celery, diced white onion, and diced hard-boiled eggs. Fold gently until everything is combined evenly. Chill for a couple of hours in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Just before serving, sprinkle on paprika.

For the Fresh Pasta Salad…

1 ¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
2 teaspoons white granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ pound Rotini pasta (corkscrew shaped), cooked and drained
½ cup diced celery
¼ cup diced green pepper (about ½ the pepper)
¼ cup diced red pepper (about ½ the pepper)
½ cup diced green onion

Start by whisking the mayonnaise, white vinegar, yellow mustard, white granulated sugar, salt and black pepper together until thoroughly combined.

Next, add in the cooked and drained Rotini pasta, diced celery, diced green pepper, diced red pepper and diced green onion. Stir together until all ingredients are evenly distributed. Chill for a couple of hours in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Double Batch Lasagna

Originally published May 20th, 2015

I am telling you – this is the BEST lasagna recipe, and the only one you will ever need! Seriously – it is absolutely incredible! And you know what? The best part is it makes a DOUBLE BATCH! This means, one for now, and one for later! Yes, I am using a lot of exclamation points!!! See – here are more!!!

You COULD half this recipe, and only make one pan of lasagna, but why? Let us be honest – you will have the mess anyways, why not make TWO – one for now, and one for later!? Pop the other one in the refrigerator (for up to 3 days), or freezer (for up to 3 months) and throw the other one in the oven for one of the best lasagnas you have ever had! I promise…

Now, this lasagna is very “classic” in flavor. There is not any veal, and there is not any fire roasted tomatoes in this version. It is just a clean, classic and simple version that my family and friends LOVE! Anytime someone is sick, or happy, or pregnant, or divorcing, or ANYTHING in life – I always make and deliver this lasagna! (I took this to my friend Judy – who LOVED it and has requested it at least twice a month…) I typically serve this with garlic cheese bread and a salad. It is also good the next day – cold…or on bread…or toast…or battered and deep fried… Ha! Perfect anyway you slice it…

TRY IT! (You can thank me later…)

I got the inspiration from this recipe from my Aunt…Ree Drummond. You all may know her as “The Pioneer Woman”, but to me, she’s my “Aunt Ree Ree”.

Ok – so I stretched the truth a little. She’s not my Aunt…and I do not know her…but I tell people she is my Aunt just to get a reaction! Ha! but honestly, I DO like mine better. I have changed it to fit what works for ME. MY taste, what I like, how I like to make it and mine makes a DOUBLE batch – DOUBLE the fun!

Before you start – it is easier to get everything together in bowls, sections, however you lay out ingredients before hand…and then start and follow the recipe. Chop the fresh parsley, the basil, beat the eggs, etc. It will be SO much easier. Also – use foil pans. Seriously – it will be so much easier for storage, refrigerating, freezing, etc. Keep in mind though that you really need to keep the foil trays on a baking sheet while in the oven, cutting, etc. – just for safety reasons, spillage, etc. Carry on…

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Double Batch Lasagna

2 pounds ground beef
2 pounds hot sausage
4 tablespoons minced garlic
4 cans crushed tomatoes (14.5 oz each)
4 cans tomato paste (6 oz each)
6 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
4 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
7 cups cottage cheese
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 packages lasagna noodles (10 oz each)

Start by spraying 2 13×9-inch foil baking pans with non-stick cooking spray.

Fill a large pot with water, bring to a boil, and salt the water heavily with Kosher salt, or in a pinch, regular table salt.

Once the water is boiling, put in both packages of lasagna noodles, and coax them all down into the boiling water. Be careful not to break them – in a few minutes time, the noodles will all fit – as long as your pot is big enough – I promise.

Boil them just until firm to the tooth – about 10 minutes. Read the package instructions just to double check on the time for your particular brand.

Drain them, allow to cool slightly, and arrange the noodles individually side by side (over lapping is fine) on your strainer. This is the best way of “laying out the noodles”.

Next, in a large skillet brown the ground beef and hot sausage, over medium-high heat. About half way through the cooking process, add in the minced garlic, and continue cooking the meat until fully cooked and no longer pink. Drain a little of the fat, and then add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, 4 tablespoons of the fresh parsley, the fresh basil, salt and black pepper. Stir, carefully, to combine and allow to simmer on medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally – and tasting occasionally.

In a large bowl, combine the cottage cheese, beaten eggs, grated parmesan cheese, and (why not?) a little more salt and black pepper.

Now – you are ready to layer! The fun part…

Start by arranging four noodles on the bottom of each pan. Layer like this…

About 4 noodles first – on the bottom. Then, a little of the cottage cheese mixture, then the shredded mozzarella cheese, then the meat mixture. Layer and layer in BOTH PANS like this, until you are out of ingredients, and END with the meat mixture on top. Sprinkle on more grated parmesan cheese all over the top of both.

IF BAKING – Place in preheated 350-degree oven for 30-40 minutes on a flat baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes for a “softer” edge lasagna, 40 minutes for a more “crunchy” edge lasagna… I prefer the 40 minute option…

IF FREEZING – Snap on plastic lid that comes with foil container, and place in freezer for up to 3 months.

IF REFRIGERATING – Snap on plastic lid that comes with foil container, and place in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Enjoy!

CHEW THIS! Shrimp Scampi and Angel Hair Pasta

Shrimp Scampi and Angel Hair Pasta

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, December 7th 2014 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Prepare a shrimp and pasta dinner in less than 30 minutes!
Blaise Doubman

How about preparing a complete meal for four to six people in less than 30 minutes? All you need is this recipe and perhaps a side salad and some garlic bread. I was inspired to create something with seafood that was not only delicious, but fast and easy. I also wanted to create a recipe that could be made in less than 30 minutes – from start to finish! And seafood is a miracle food containing a lot of health benefits! Did you know that eating just 8 ounces of seafood per week reduces the risk of heart disease by more than 35%? Did you know that the fatty acids found in seafood can actually make you live longer? Yes – these are scientifically proven facts! How exciting is that!?

My love of shrimp scampi started early. When my Grandpa Max and my Grandma Deloris would take me out for seafood, shrimp scampi is what we would always order. It wasn’t until just recently that I started adding pasta to my shrimp scampi…and I discovered that I loved it even more! Baking it in the oven with grated Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs take it to the next level and add a “salty crunch” to the dish.

Shrimp Scampi and Angel Hair Pasta

Frozen smaller shrimp are best used for this recipe. Adding salt to the boiling water is very important in “flavoring” the pasta. It’s really your only chance to do so. Undercooking the pasta will allow the pasta to finish cooking in the hot sauce and in the oven at the end. I used “Panko” style breadcrumbs for more of a “crunch” but regular breadcrumbs are fine. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

12 oz. precooked frozen shrimp (small sized, cooked, peeled, deveined, tail off)
1 stick of butter (4 oz.)
¼ cup olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
Juice from 2 lemons
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound angel hair pasta
1 tablespoon salt
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup bread crumbs

Start by getting your pasta water ready. Fill up a large pot (about half way) with water and place over “high” heat.

Next, melt the stick of butter together with the olive oil and minced garlic in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Place the frozen shrimp in a colander and run cold water over the shrimp for about 5 minutes, to thaw out the shrimp. Toss the shrimp a few times to ensure even thawing.

Once the pasta water starts to boil, add the 1 tablespoon of salt. Stir gently and then add the angel hair pasta – cooking it only for 4 minutes.

Set a timer for 4 minutes and preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.

Once the shrimp is thawed, remove from colander and place in skillet with melted butter, olive oil and garlic.

Squeeze into the skillet the juice of 2 lemons and sprinkle in the black pepper, stirring well to combine everything. Keep the heat under the skillet to medium.

With the pasta still al dente (meaning still firm to the bite) carefully reserve about ¾ cup of the starchy cooking liquid from the pot and then drain. Return the pasta to the pot.

Add the shrimp scampi and it’s sauce to the pasta and stir really well to combine – distributing the shrimp evenly throughout the pasta.

Add the reserved starchy cooking liquid. (How much you use here will be up to the pasta – but generally you will add about half of what was reserved. When the pasta is slick and glossy – enough has been added.)

Next, spray a medium sized baking dish with non-stick cooking spray, and pour in the combined shrimp and pasta and even out with the back of a wooden spoon.

Evenly top the shrimp and pasta with the grated Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.

Place into preheated oven for 5 minutes, until the top is nicely browned.

Remove from oven and serve hot.