Lasagna

I have had my share of missteps while attempting to make the perfect lasagna. It seems so easy right? Just layer a ton of ingredients into a pan and bake it, and out comes oozy, cheesy, decadent Italian-Americana on a plate, right? Not for me! I have made too-dry lasagna, too-soggy lasagna, noodles undercooked on the sides and can’t cut them lasagna (that was on a Christmas Eve–I made them again), overflows into the oven and burns lasagna, takes all day and just tastes ok lasagna, and then I finally had a day when I made it just right. I took it out of the oven, let it sit for just a few moments, sliced into it, and there it was! Savory and flavorful, cheesy but not obscenely cheesy, with enough texture to hold its shape, I give this recipe to you and say, enjoy! It took many trays of disappointment for me to get here!

Lasagna

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Fresh Pasta

Making fresh pasta is a pretty memorable experience. You take some of the simplest ingredients around, and with a little time and love, you create the quintessential crowd-pleasing food–but even better, because it’s fresh! Some of my favorite memories of making fresh pasta are with my mom and brother when my husband was working all weekend, and we made so much pasta that we couldn’t be bothered to cut all of it, so huge lasagna sheets abounded! Another time, my husband, friend Cristina and I made fresh pasta and three different sauces for a dinner party, and it’s safe to say we impressed everyone. And just recently, my sister-in-law reminded me how much I love to make it when she invited our fam over to try out her KitchenAid Mixer pasta rolling and cutting attachments–fancy! Whether you have the attachments or just a rolling pin and a knife, this recipe will work for you. I love to make the dough in my food processor, but you can also do it the old-fashioned way by making a pile of flour and a well with the wet ingredients in the center, gently working the wet ingredients into the flour with a fork. And to cut it, you can use a knife, a hand-cranked pasta machine, or one you attach to your mixer. Whatever way you get there, have fun and make some memories!

Fresh Pasta Dough

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Turkey Meatballs

My love of meatballs goes back to my days as a visiting kid at my Italian grandmother’s house on Long Island. We never, I mean never, went hungry over there, and were offered a meatball, or a “meat-a-ball” almost as soon as we came in the door. We would pull up a seat at the table that consistently could seat 12, and savor our bowl of meatballs, extra sauce, and homemade pizza bread. Then we raided the fridge for the peanut butter cups tucked in there! I needed to recreate that comfort food for my boys. Little did I know that it would become one of their favorite meals, so I couldn’t always wait until the weekend to make them. I have been experimenting and perfecting this recipe for years, and I have it down to the essentials…give it a try and I hope you love them. My guys prefer the more tender texture of turkey to beef, plus it’s much lower in saturated fat. It just translates into being able to eat this more often!

This meal is absolutely do-able on a weeknight. Try it!

This meal is absolutely do-able on a weeknight. Try it!

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Minestrone Soup

This soup is like therapy. Both preparing it and eating it will make you feel better about what ails you. I decided to try this recipe after seeing Ina (we’re on a first-name basis now, me and Ina Garten) prepare this on her show, Barefoot Contessa, and she included it in her latest cookbook, Foolproof. I changed just a few things (for example, I use regular bacon instead of more expensive pancetta, and I chopped up fresh basil and tossed in a parmesan rind instead of using store-bought pesto), and the results spoke for themselves. My family finished the pot and requested I make it again! You will think I am making this up, but my 4-year-old ate his whole bowl and my almost 2-year-old (gasp–he is getting big too fast) got seconds! We paired it with my husband Mike’s homemade sourdough bread and some crisp Pinot Grigio. Magic.

P.S. Mike and I go to see Ina this week at her book signing, I can’t wait!

Dive in and be healed!

Dive in and be healed!

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Seafood Spaghetti

Happy New Year, everyone! I’m back and ready to inspire some amazing dishes for 2013. This dish comes fresh from my new cookbook obsession: Lidia’s Favorite Recipes. I am working on cooking my way through this petite powerhouse of an Italian cookbook. It has all the ingredients that make me love cookbooks: clearly written, well-tested recipes, and ingredients you can truly find at the supermarket. I haven’t made it past the crave-worthy pasta section yet, but I swear I will someday. I only changed a few things to give my own spin on this dish, I hope you try it and love it as much as my family did. It was our Christmas Eve dinner and it made us feel very celebratory!

Brimming with fresh seafood, there's nothing better than this steaming bowl of pasta.

Brimming with fresh seafood, there’s nothing better than this steaming bowl of pasta.

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Pasta with Quick Mushroom White Sauce

Sometimes it is just great to know that you can make a delicious dinner faster than one can be delivered to you, and this is one of those recipes. You can use store-bought fresh pasta such as ravioli, boiled dry pasta of your choice, or even homemade fresh pasta. For busy weeknights, I am currently obsessed with Buitoni’s Wild Mushroom Agnolotti. I was watching Top Chef (in my opinion the best show on TV!) and Richard Blais, one of the eventual champions, was commenting on something they were eating back at the house after a long day of competition as delicious. I paused my DVR and got close enough to the TV to read the label, and it was the Wild Mushroom Agnolotti. I thought, if it’s good enough for a house full of chefs, it is good enough for me! My mom always said I was really easily influenced by advertising! Oh well!

This creamy sauce comes together in less than 20 minutes. Dinner: check.

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