Friday, April 29, 2011

Food For Thought

My mom just returned from a whirl-wind trip to Italy, Greece and Croatia.  In just a mere 12 days, she saw such sights as Lago Maggiore in Italy, the site of the Olympic Games in Greece, and the "Pearl of the Adriatic" in Croatia ... and enjoyed a gondola ride in Venice, visited the conical, trullo homes in Bari and enjoyed 7 nights on a cruise ship.  Hence the whirl-windiness of her trip!

I am very excited to see pictures and hear about her many excursions and adventures ... and only wish that she had been able to bring back some of that authentic and delectable food.  Ah well ... I guess I need to start saving my pennies for my own Italian trip.  I figure I have about 25 years to starting planning!

In honor of my mom's world-traveling escapades, I am featuring three meals that she didn't eat while she was there.  But she might have!  I'm not claiming any ethnic authenticity here ... but they are tasty, easy, involve some sort of pasta and you can listen to the "Traditional Italian" station on Pandora and pretend you're in Milan. :)

Ravioli & Peas
(This recipe is from Food Network, March 2011 ... and modified beyond recognition.)

7 slices of bacon, chopped
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 T. tomato paste
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 cup frozen peas, cooked
Parmesan cheese, grated
1 pound frozen ravioli

Prepare the ravioli according to the package directions.  When finished, reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid before draining.

In a skillet, cook the bacon until crisp.  Drain most of the fat off and add the garlic and tomato paste.  Cook for about 1 minute.  Add the cup of pasta cooking liquid to the skillet and let cook for about 5 minutes until the mixture is reduced by half.  Add the evaporated milk and simmer for about 3 minutes until it starts to thicken.  Add this sauce to the pot with the ravioli and add the peas.  Toss well until the noodles are well coated and then top with grated parmesan.

Little cheesy pillows of creamy goodness!

Lemon Alfredo
(This recipe is from Food Network, March 2011 ... and adjusted a bit.)

1 medium shallot, minced
1 T. butter
1 1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 egg yolk
2 t. lemon zest
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Salt & Pepper
16 oz. fettuccine noodles

Prepare the fettuccine noodles according to the package directions.  When finished, reserve about 1 cup of the cooking liquid before draining.

In a skillet, cook the shallot in the butter until golden brown.  In a small bowl, whisk in the evaporated milk, egg yolk, lemon zest and parmesan cheese.  Reduce the heat of the skillet and slowly add the creamy mixture.  Whisk in the skillet until it thickens up, about 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the sauce to the pot of fettuccine and use tongs to mix well.  Top with more parmesan cheese.

Norah loves the creamy-lemony deliciousness!

Greek Pastitsio
(This recipe is from Taste of Home, Jan 2011.  I made a few changes.)

16 oz elbo macaroni
2 lb. ground beef (or lamb)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic clove, minced
2 - 8 oz cans tomato sauce
2 t. salt
1/2 t. oregano
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
6 T butter
6 T flour
3 cups milk
2 eggs, beaten (in a small bowl)

Cook the macaroni according to package instructions.  Set aside when finished.

In a large skillet, cook the meat, onion and garlic.  When no longer pink, add the tomato sauce, 1 t. salt, oregano, pepper and cinnamon.  Heat through.

Grease a 9x13 pan (or 2 9x9 if you want to freeze one).  Spread 1/2 of the macaroni in the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle 1/2 the parmesan cheese over the noodles and then add the meat mixture.  Top with the remaining macaroni and set aside.

Noodles and Meat ...
And more noodles!

In the same pot you cooked the noodles, melt butter.  Stir in the flour and 1 t. salt.  Stir and cook until smooth.  Gradually add the milk and whisk well.  Bring this mixture to a boil and cook for about 3 minutes until it's thickened.  Remove this from the heat and ladle out a small amount into the bowl with the eggs.  Stir this well and then add it back into the creamy mixture.  Bring to a gentle boil again and let cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.

Simmering, Scrumptious Sauce :)

Pour this mixture over the macaroni.  (If making 2 9x9 pans, freeze one now and bake the other.)

A bit of a messy meal to prepare ...

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

But, oh so worth it!


  1. I wish I could follow recipes like you Morgan. These look so yummy!

  2. Okay, my mouth is watering! Italian is my favorite and these recipes look so fun and easy to make. Yum! Thanks for sharing, Morgan! :)

    Reflections on Writing

  3. Nice, you are making my hungry. I think I am making pasta tomorrow night.

  4. oooh that last one looks really yummy!!

  5. Morgan, your mom's trip sounds phenomenal! I'd love take that adventure some day! I've been to Greece, but have yet to visit Italy or Croatia.

    All three of your recipes sound amazing! Pastitsio is a dish that is near and dear to my heart, since my husband's family is Greek, and I was handed the challenge of making it for my grandmother-in-law many years ago. It has since become a favorite of the current generations of our family as well.

    Thank you so much for being a part of "A Little Birdie Told Me..." Tuesday at Rook No. 17!



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