Category Archives: pasta

tofu mac and cheese

This recipe has been a favorite of my kids for several years.  I love it because it is super fast, I can pronounce all the ingredients, and it’s not day-glo orange.

The pot holder the bowl is sitting on was made by my step-mom.  She is a weaver and has been on several covers of “Handwoven Magazine”.


Tofu Mac and Cheese

  • 12 ounces elbow macaroni, or other short shape
  • one package silken tofu
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups firmly packed grated Cheddar cheese (white, sharp, extra sharp…whatever you like)
  • salt and pepper

Puree the tofu in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Pour into a saucepan and add butter and cheese.  Slowly bring to a gentle simmer over medium low heat, stirring often, and cook until cheese is thoroughly melted.

Cook pasta until al dente, drain.  Combine pasta and sauce.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Recipe from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook.

Using the Weight Watcher Recipe Builder, if divided into 6 servings, each has 10 Points Plus (using 2 cups cheese)


Posted by on August 15, 2013 in pasta, vegetarian


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mrs. j’s sesame noodles

I was paging through my recipe binder and came across this great noodle dish.  My friend Mrs. J made this for an end-of-the-season track potluck and I hounded her until she gave me the recipe.  The kids love it and it can be easily customized with the addition of veggies.  Try steamed broccoli, sliced red cabbage, or sliced radish.

Mrs. J’s Sesame Noodles

  • 1 box Barilla Plus thin spaghetti, cooked al dente
  • 1/4 cup dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. chili oil
  • 1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 4 green onions, chopped

Combine sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and chili oil in a small bowl.  Pour over warm, drained noodles.  Stir in toasted sesame seeds and green onions.  Serve room temperature or cold.  Makes 10 servings.

Using the Weight Watcher’s Recipe Builder, each serving has 7 PointsPlus.


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pasta puttanesca

This sauce is so delicious!  Very quick too, which is just what I was looking for in dinner last week.  Plus, my 10-year-old has decided to become a vegetarian (along with his older sister), so I now have 40% of my household who choose not to eat beef, chicken, turkey or pork.

Pasta Puttanesca

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. anchovy paste
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 20 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. capers
  • 32 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Heat a large pot over medium heat.  Add oil, garlic, anchovy paste,and  red pepper flakes.  Saute until anchovy paste melts into oil, being careful not to brown the garlic.  Add olives, capers, tomatoes, a few grindings of black pepper and parsley.  Simmer 10 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Marcella Hazan.

Using the Weight Watcher’s Recipe Builder, this entire recipe has 13 PointsPlus (the builder did not list anchovy paste, so I used the stats for 3 whole anchovies, canned and drained, which is 1 PointsPlus.  I don’t think the paste has 1 PointPlus, but it’s better to err on the high side).  If you divide the sauce into 6 servings, each is 2 Points Plus.

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Posted by on February 6, 2012 in pasta, points plus, vegetarian


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neapolitan meatballs and sauce

I made this by candlelight last week when the power was out.  Oh, yes, I know how to rough it 🙂

Sometimes I wonder if I’m giving my children a skewed view on food with the importance I put on quality, homemade meals (and then I quickly get over it).  We’ve joked with my daughter that when she goes off to college we will have to send her care packages of artisan cheeses and homemade bagels.  It will probably be hard for her to go cold turkey from home-cooked meals (or maybe this has been my plan all along to make sure she comes home frequently!)

This recipe was given to me by my mother-in-law.  Previously, I posted a different, “lighter” spaghetti and meatball recipe.  In reality, there is only 1 Weight Watcher Points Plus difference between the two recipes.  The other recipe uses a package of chopped spinach in the meatballs, so it would be a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your children’s diet if this is an issue in your house.

Neapolitan Meatballs and Sauce

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 32 ounce can whole tomatoes, blended

In a medium bowl, combine ground beef, oregano, breadcrumbs, and egg.  Season with salt and pepper.  Form into meatballs.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic and saute until golden.  Add meatballs to skillet and brown on all sides.  Add tomatoes and cook at a low simmer until thick, about an hour, occasionally gently stirring.  Makes 5 servings.

Serve over penne or rigatoni.  Top with grated romano or parmesan cheese.

Using the Weight Watcher’s Recipe Builder, each serving of meatballs/sauce has 6 Points Plus (pasta and cheese not included).

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Posted by on January 26, 2012 in beef, pasta, points plus


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spinach, pasta and pea soup

I’m back!  My sister had a beautiful baby boy last Thursday and it derailed my food blogging.  It’s really hard work becoming an aunt 🙂   Nathan Joseph is darling and such a wonderful addition to our family.  And I am thrilled to get my baby fix without having to stay up all night with a crying baby!

I found this in the “Super Fast 20-Minute Cooking” section of Cooking Light’s October 2011 magazine.  It definitely was fast!   Make sure you use the cheese rind and the lemon.  Since it cooks so quickly, it really needs those flavor boosts to season the broth.

p.s. my oven broke again last night! (#@&?!!), so hopefully that won’t derail me as well.  Soup time!

Spinach, Pasta and Pea Soup

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 thinly sliced green onions
  • 4 cups vegetable or fat-free chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • small piece of Parmesan rind
  • 3/4 cup uncooked orzo
  • 1 Tbsp. grated lemon rind
  • 1 (15 oz) can no-salt-added chickpeas, drained
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano, or 1/2 tsp. dried
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 (6 oz) package fresh baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and onions, saute 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add stock, 2 cups water and Parmesan rind; bring to a boil.  Add orzo, lemon rind, and chickpeas.  Cover and cook 10 minutes or until orzo is done.  Stir in oregano, lemon juice, pepper, salt, and spinach.  Ladle 1 3/4 cups soup into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with about 4 teaspoons cheese.

Using the Weight Watcher’s Calculator, each serving has 7 PointsPlus.


Posted by on December 8, 2011 in pasta, points plus, soups, vegetarian


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tomato sauce with porcini mushrooms

I’m down another 1.2 lbs and I’m now in my goal range!  Yeah, I can stop paying every week to weigh in!  My secret?  Pre-track your daily meals (plus snacks) and measure everything!

This is another great recipe from Marcella Hazan’s cookbook Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.  This mushroom sauce just screams “autumn” to me.  Using the soaking liquid from the porcini mushrooms gives the sauce a wonderful richness!

Tomato Sauce with Porcini Mushrooms

  • 2 Tbsp. shallot or onion, chopped fine
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 ounce pancetta or prosciutto, diced
  • 1 can (28 ounces) plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juices
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 cups warm water
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

To reconstitute the mushrooms:  Soak the mushrooms in the 2 cups of warm water for at least 30 minutes.  Lift the mushrooms out, squeezing as much water as possible out of them.  Rinse mushrooms with fresh water, pat dry and chop.  Save the water from the mushroom soak!  Filter the water into a cup using a coffee filter or paper towel.  Set aside.

Put the shallot or onion into a saucepan together with all the butter and oil, and turn on the heat to medium.  Cook and stir the shallot or onion until it becomes pale gold.  Add the strips of pancetta and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring occassionally.  (To make this vegetarian, just omit the pancetta.  I removed some sauteed shallots and made a small pot vegetarian for my daughter.)

Add the cut-up tomatoes with their juice, the reconstituted mushrooms, the strained liquid, salt and several grindings of pepper.  Adjust heat so that the sauce bubbles at a gently simmer.  Cook, uncovered, for 40 minutes, until the fat and the tomato separate, stirring occassionally.

Serve with pasta (usually penne or ridged ziti) and freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano.  Serves 4.

Recipe adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

Using the Weight Watcher’s Recipe Builder, each serving of sauce has 4 PointsPlus.  If you eliminate the vegetable oil, each serving has 3 PointsPlus.

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Posted by on November 15, 2011 in pasta, points plus


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bolognese sauce

Over the weekend we had a household full of teenagers as we celebrated my daughter’s 16th birthday.  She and her friends spent the afternoon wandering the corn maze at the local pumpkin patch (wandering is being polite).  At one point she texts me that they are lost.  I quickly responded “DON’T CALL 911!”  We returned home to carve pumpkins and enjoy a pasta buffet.

This bolognese sauce was one of the three sauces we had at the party.  It has a delicious long-cooked taste for only 2 hours on the stove.  It’s very similar to my long-standing favorite recipe from Marcella Hazan’s cookbook “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.”  Marcella uses a bit more butter, a full cup of wine and a cup of whole milk, so this sauce is a bit lighter.  It may give up a little depth, but my husband who was raised on Marcella has a hard time telling the difference.

Bolognese Sauce

  • 4 oz. pancetta or prosciutto, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, minced
  • 1/2 cup carrots, minced
  • 1 lb. 96/4% lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 (28 oz. each) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup half & half (optional)

In a deep heavy sauce pan, saute pancetta or prosciutto until fat melts.  Add butter, onions, celery, and carrots and cook until soft.  Add meat, season with salt and pepper and saute until the beef has lost its raw, red color (should be very light brown, don’t heavily brown).  Add wine, cook until it reduces down, about 3-4 minutes.  Add tomatoes and bay leaf.  Simmer covered on low, at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Add half & half (if using) and parsley, cook 2 minutes longer.  Makes about 8 cups.

Recipe adapted from (Gina’s Skinny Recipes).  1/2 cup has 2.25 Weight Watcher PointsPlus.

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Posted by on October 17, 2011 in beef, pasta, points plus


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