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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Pasta/Pizza

RECIPE: Dessert Ravioli

…AND FOR DESSERT, RAVIOLI!

Yes, ravioli. Even better, ravioli you can make yourself with the help of a great pasta-maker to teach you how. It’s not just deliciously gratifying, but it’s a good workout too. Rolling fresh pasta dough until it’s as thin as a sheet of paper is not for the “where’s-the-remote?” in you.

New York City’s renowned Chelsea Market recently nabbed a new restaurant and shop: Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina.

Rana is Italy’s leading fresh pasta company, and its artisan shop offers great dining, select Italian ingredients and designer kitchen accessories. Each pasta served at the restaurant, as well as those that can be purchased to cook at home, is house-made, fresh from scratch.

Lucky for us, Giovanni Rana is generous with his expertise and will share his secrets with eager learners. In our class, we learned how to make tiramisu ravioli for dessert.

 

Preparing chocolate ravioli. Photo courtesy Giovanni Rana.

 
Pasta-making classes are held once a month and guide you through each step of making your own filled pasta. Individual “stations” are set up for each student, complete with all of the ingredients and tools needed. You begin by learning how to carefully blend the dough ingredients, then get ready to knead and roll—and roll and roll some more.

By the end of the session, you’ll have your own creation packed up for taking home, after which you enjoy a dinner made for you by Rana’s chefs, some wine and a take-away bag of products and recipes.

Although there may not be a Rana shop in your area, scout out a local cooking school or culinary program that’s nearby. It’s fun to do, it’s delicious to eat, and it’s made by you.

By the time your skills become second nature, you’ll be able to delight your family and friends with—yes—tiramisu ravioli as a sweet finale to dinner.

—Rowann Gilman

 

Preparation for tiramisu ravioli. Photo
courtesy Giovanni Rana.

 

RECIPE: RANA’S TIRAMISU RAVIOLI

This recipe makes 14 to 16 ravioli, or about two servings. You can double the recipe, and freeze any excess for up to six months. Serve the ravioli with crème fraîche, mascarpone or ice cream.

Ingredients
 
For The Dough

  • 100g #00 flour (fine flour for baking)
  • 1 egg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 10g instant espresso powder
  •  
    Filling

  • 50g ricotta
  • 50g mascarpone
  • 20g semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 20g instant espresso powder
  • 10g marsala
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  •  
    For The Dipping Sauce

  • 50g fresh washed, hulled strawberries, dried and cut in halves
  • Optional: brown sugar
  • Optional: fresh mint leaves
  •  
    To Finish

  • Canola oil
  • Confectioners sugar
  • Preparation

    Make The Dough

    1. PLACE the flour on a floured surface and make a well in the center. Break the egg into the well and mix it with a fork. Add the salt and instant espresso powder; blend with fingers until dough forms a rough shape.

    2. BEGIN to knead and fold the dough over and over until it forms a smooth ball, about 8 to 10 minutes. Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.

    Make The Filling

    1. COMBINE all of the filling ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, mixing with a wooden spoon until thoroughly blended.

    Make The Dipping Sauce

    1. PLACE the strawberries in the bowl of a food processor; blend until berries are puréed. If desired, add brown sugar and/or fresh mint to taste. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve; set aside.

    Assemble The Ravioli

    1. REMOVE dough from refrigerator. On a heavily floured surface, begin to roll and rotate the dough, turning it over after every few rolls. Continue until dough is perfectly even (smooth hands over dough to feel any difference in its thickness) and extremely thin.

    2. FOLD the dough in half, then bring the top half upward. Starting about an inch from the halfway fold and left edge, place filling 1 teaspoonful at a time, slightly rounding each, on the bottom half of dough. Leave 1 inch between each mound of filling. When filling is used up, moisten the dough between each spoonful using a pastry brush and water. Be careful not to use too much water; use just enough for the top layer of dough to stick.

    3. GENTLY LIFT the top half of dough and place it over the bottom half. Press between the mounds of filling where dough has been moistened, making sure both layers of dough stick together. Using a hand ravioli cutter, cut out the individual ravioli and place them on a floured surface, keeping them apart.

    4. HEAT about 1 inch of canola oil in a heavy skillet until very hot. Fry the ravioli for about two to three minutes on each side until dough is firm. Remove from skillet and drain very well on paper towels or a brown paper bag. Let cool.

    5. SERVE the ravioli sprinkled with confectioners sugar and a small bowl of the dipping sauce on the side.
     
    MORE DESSERT RAVIOLI & OTHER PASTA

  • Butternut Squash & Maple Syrup Ravioli with Pears, Apples, Walnuts & Rum Raisin Ice Cream (recipe)
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly Ravioli With Cinnamon Ice Cream (recipe)
  • Other Sweet Pasta Recipes: Chocolate Fettuccine Mont Blanc, Dessert Lasagne, Songbirds’ Nests, Chocolate Spaghetti, Fettuccine Alfredo With Crème Anglaise, Fettuccine With Chocolate Sauce, Manicotti “Cannoli,” Orange Spaghetti, Pumpkin Ravioli With Mascarpone Sauce, More
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Corn On The Cob Toppings

    You can trade the butter for healthful olive
    oil. Photo courtesy CornTater.com.

     

    If you’re like most people, you spread butter on corn on the cob. It’s a tradition.

    But traditions can be updated. If you like butter, consider adding flavor with a compound butter: chipotle butter, herb butter and numerous others (recipes).

    What if you want to avoid the calories and cholesterol? You’ve got tasty options:

  • Fresh chopped herbs: basil, parsley, rosemary, sage, etc., sprinkled on straight or mixed into olive oil
  • Crumbled cotija or feta cheese, or grated parmesan
  • Flavored salt or seasoning: Cajun spice mix, garlic salt, Mrs. Dash, Old Bay, etc.
  • Olive oil flavored with chipotle, cumin, curry or other spice
  • Pepper and lime—black pepper or cayenne
  • Pesto
  • Salsa
  • Vinaigrette
  •  
    Would you like to add something to this list?

    IF IT’S FRESH, TRY IT PLAIN

    Immediately after harvesting, the sweet sugars that make corn so appealing begin to convert to starch. If the corn is several days old, there may not be much flavor left. So people pile on the condiments to add flavor.

    If the corn is fresh and sweet, it needs absolutely no topping. Try it: You may discover that nothing beats the pure, farm-fresh sweetness of a plain ear of corn. You can even eat it raw—something we do while waiting for the rest of the ears to cook.

    You can boil or microwave corn, but grilling enhances its sweetness. The heat caramelizes the sugar in the kernels. You can brush it with olive oil and then add the seasonings prior to grilling, or hold the seasonings altogether.

     

    SHOPPING FOR CORN

    Many of us were taught by Mom to pull back the husk of the corn and look for….well, what are you actually looking for? There’s nothing to see but the size and color of the kernels (white, yellow, mixed), and that’s not going to impact your purchase decision. At worst, you’ll notice that a few kernels are missing at the very top of the ear. That’s not a defect: It’s how nature grew that particular ear.

    Pulling back the husks is the worst thing you can do. Exposing the kernels to air makes them dry out, and worse, spurs the conversion of the sugar to starch. You shouldn’t husk corn until right before cooking it. So forget what Mom said—she was only passing along bad information.

    Instead:

     

    You should never peel back the husk—it speeds the conversion of the sugar to starch. The silk peeking out it is an indication of freshness. Photo courtesy eHow.

     

    Check the husks and the exposed corn silk (the tassel) for freshness. The more straw-colored/lighter the silk that peeks out from the husk, the fresher the corn. The exposed silk is the first thing to dry out and show age, as it turns to brown and black.

    That doesn’t mean an ear with black silk won’t be sweet—we’ve had plenty of delicious corn where the silk had turned black. It’s just an indicator: If you have a choice between ears with pale silk and those with dark silk, go for the pale. But if the tassel is missing, beware: It’s probably older corn, and the seller has peeled the outer husk leaves and removed the tassel to make it look better.

    Then, look at the husks. Are they bright green, or do they look drier and blotchy? Pale silk and bright husks are the answer to which ears you should pick.

    Now the big “however”: Chances are, all the corn you’re looking at in a store was harvested at the same time. The real choice lies at farmers markets or roadside stands, where you can compare the corn from different growers.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Linguine with Clams and Asparagus

    Linguine and clam sauce with asparagus.
    Photo courtesy Dole.com.

     

    Before asparagus season ends, get your fill by adding it to your favorite dishes. Here’s an example of how easy it is, courtesy of Dole, which adds its fresh asparagus to the classic pasta dish, linguine with clam sauce.

    Consider using whole wheat linguine for fiber and flavor. If asparagus season has passed, add green beans or snow peas.

    This recipe makes 4 servings; prep time 10 minutes; cook time 25 minutes.

     

    RECIPE: LINGUINE & CLAM SAUCE WITH ASPARAGUS

    Ingredients

  • 8 ounces linguine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 package (8 ounces) sliced mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed of woody ends and chopped into 2” pieces
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 can (10 ounces) whole baby clams, drained (juice reserved)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BRING a large pot of water to a boil. Cook linguine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Meanwhile…

    2. HEAT the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes until mushrooms begin to brown.

    3. ADD the asparagus, carrots and two tablespoons of water. Toss to combine and cover skillet. Cook 4 minutes longer.

    4. ADD the tomatoes and the clam juice. Cook uncovered 1 minute longer. If the pasta is not yet cooked, remove vegetables and clams from heat and cook pasta until it is al dente.

     

    Use whole grain linguine for added fiber and flavor. Photo courtesy Pennsylvania Macaroni Company.

     

    5. DRAIN pasta and add to the vegetable mixture along with the reserved clams. Raise heat to high and cook 2-3 minutes longer until pasta is thoroughly coated and most of the liquid is absorbed. Plate and serve.

    LINGUINE vs. SPAGHETTI vs. FETTUCCINE

    Do you know the difference between popular pasta cuts and shapes? Discover the different types of pasta in our delectable Pasta Glossary.

      

    Comments

    CINCO DE MAYO RECIPE: Mexican Lasagne

    Mexican lasagne, a crowd-pleasing recipe.
    Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.

     

    Here’s a fun and tasty Tex-Mex comfort food dish for Cinco de Mayo, from Taste Of Home: Mexican lasagne, which adds Mexican flavors to the classic Italian dish. Serve it with a big green salad.

    The correct spelling of the word, by the way, is lasagne, ending with an “e”; lasagna ending with an “a” is an Americanization.

    MEXICAN LASAGNE RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 can (16 ounces) refried beans
  • 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies or finely chopped jalepeños (more if you like things hot)
  •  

  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons hot salsa
  • 4 cups (16 ounces) shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese or a Mexican cheese mix, divided
  • 12 ounces uncooked lasagna noodles (we used whole wheat noodles for better nutrition)
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) mild salsa
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream
  • 1 can (2-1/4 ounces) sliced ripe olives, drained
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped, optional
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COOK beef in a large skillet over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the beans, chilies, taco seasoning and hot salsa.

    2. LAYER 1/3 of the noodles and meat mixture in a greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese. Repeat layers twice.

    3. COMBINE salsa and water; pour over top. Cover and bake at 350°F for 1 hour or until heated through.

    4. TOP with sour cream, olives, onions, tomatoes if desired and remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, 5 minutes longer. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before cutting. Yield: 12 servings.
     
    VARIATIONS

  • Substitute corn tortillas for lasagne noodles, 6 per layer, overlapped.
  • For a lower beef:bean ratio, use just 1 pound of ground beef and 32 ounces of refried beans.
  • Provide self-serve garnishes: fresh cilantro, sliced green onions, green and/or black olives, hot sauce, salsa, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt and/or tortilla chips.
  • Serve with a side of guacamole.
  •  
    WINE PAIRING

    Enjoy this recipe with a medium-bodied red wine such as Chianti, Malbec, Sangiovese or Zinfandel.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Recipes For Leftover Pasta

    We made one box too many of pasta last night, thinking our guests would eat as much as we did. Now, what to do with all that leftover pasta?

    If it hasn’t been sauced, there’s got lots of flexibility. Whether you have long form pasta (fettuccini, spaghetti, etc.) or short forms (elbows, penne, rigatoni, etc.), you can turn it into a completely different dish.

  • Buttered noodles. Season with garlic and/or fresh parsley and serve them as a side or a bed for grilled meats, fish, or stew.
  • Casserole. Casseroles are a catch-all for all types of ingredients. Toss the pasta in with whatever else you have in the fridge.
  •  

    Leftover pasta is a delicious addition to soup.
    Photo courtesy House Foods.

     

  • Cold sesame noodles. There’s no reason you have to use spaghetti in an Italian-style recipe. Thai peanut sauce, traditionally served with spaghetti, tastes equally delicious on bowties, wagon wheels and other short cuts.
  • Frittata. Combine the pasta with eggs, veggies and some cheese for a breakfast, lunch or light dinner dish. Here’s a recipe.
  •  

    A spaghetti frittata. Photo courtesy
    HonestFare.com.

     
  • Green salad. Mix short cuts in with the greens, and trim long cuts into shorter bites.
  • Pasta cole slaw. Mix cut-up long form pasta with shredded cabbage and your favorite cole slaw dressing.
  • Pasta salad. Cut long pasta into bit-size pieces as needed. Mix the pasta with your favorite veggies and a delicious vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar or Dijon mustard (how to make vinaigrette). Fresh herbs add the magic. Here’s are recipes for an easy pasta salad with tomatoes and spinach, and a Caprese pasta salad with mozzarella.
  • Soup. Long cut or sort cut pasta works well in any soup or broth.
  • Tuna-pasta salad. Pasta stretches that can of tuna very nicely. Here’s a southwestern-style tuna pasta salad recipe.
  • Sauce switch. Serve the pasta with a completely different sauce—a white sauce like clam sauce if you originally served a tomato sauce, or a vegetable puree—they’re all delicious atop pasta, and pumpkin purée is a nice touch any time of the year.
  •  

  • Stir-fry. Toss the pasta into the pan or wok with the veggies and protein. If you’re using long cut pasta, trim it into manageable strands.
  •  
    WHAT IF THE PASTA IS ALREADY SAUCED?

    Instead of simply reheating and serving, look for way to enhance the dish. For example:

  • Top with grilled, sautéed or steamed bell peppers, eggplant, mushrooms and/or onions.
  • Stir in sautéed spinach or chard.
  • Add capers, olives and optional anchovies.
  • Add a protein: crumbled bacon, diced chicken, prosciutto or ham, sliced sausage, etc.
  • Switch up the heat with minced chiles, hot sauce or salsa.
  • Use a non-traditional cheese, like crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese; or add diced mozzarella cubes.
  •  
    Do you have a favorite use for leftover pasta? Let us know.
     
    SEE ALL THE TYPES OF PASTA IN OUR DELICIOUS PASTA GLOSSARY.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Soba Noodles & Soba Salad

    Soba noodles typically are served on a flat
    plate like pasta; but here, it’s swirled into a
    stylish dome. Photo © Lulu Durand | IST.

     

    Unless you live in an area with good Japanese restaurants, it may be difficult to find a dish of soba noodles. But if you check in a natural foods market or online, you should be able to pick some up and cook your own.

    Soba dishes are appealing party fare, from bowls of noodle soup meant to be slurped with gusto, to a mix-your-own cold soba noodle salad with four, six or more optional ingredients with which to customize one’s dish.

    Soba is the Japanese word for buckwheat; the thin noodles are made from buckwheat flour. As with all pasta, soba noodles can be served warm or chilled (think cold sesame noodles and pasta salad). Here are some popular recipes:

    HOT SOBA NOODLE DISHES

  • Soup: A bowl of dashi broth, filled with soba, is typically topped with sliced green onion and a tempura shrimp; add a fried egg, sunnyside up, and you’ve got tsukimi tororo. You can customize the dish with mushrooms, nori strips (seaweed) and/or western ingredients such as kale or spinach.
  •  

  • Stir fry: Topped with a stir fry of baby bok choy, bell peppers, green onions, snow peas and a protein (chicken, fish/seafood, tofu).
  • Fish dishes: Seared ahi tuna with a sesame crust (recipe) or miso-poached cod are wonderful on a bed of soba. Asparagus or snow peas add complementary color and flavor.
  •  
    COLD SOBA NOODLE DISHES

  • Hiyashi soba: One of our favorite ways to enjoy soba is this “mix your own” concept served with dishes of optional ingredients. These mix-ins or toppings can include fresh cilantro, green onion slices (scallions), natto (fermented soybeans), nori strips, okra slices, oroshi (grated daikon radish), purée of yamaimo (Japanese yam) and a pitcher of dashi. You can add some optional heat, such as minced birds eye chile. Add a fried egg, sunnyside up, and you’ve got yakisoba.
  • Mori soba: Plain chilled soba noodles served on a flat basket or a plate.
  • Zaru soba: Mori soba topped with shredded nori seaweed.
  •  
    Soba salad, cold soba mixed with vegetables and sesame oil-soy sauce dressing is a contemporary fusion concept served outside Japan. House Foods, makers of premium tofu and organic tofu, has provided the recipe below, which uses traditional Japanese ingredients.

    But you can extend the fusion with western ingredients: hard-cooked egg, julienned ham and cheese, strips of roast pork or poultry, leeks or red onions instead of green onions, sliced red radishes…anything goes.

    In fact, one conceit for a soba noodles party is to have each guest bring a creative ingredient to mix in.

     

    RECIPE: SOBA NOODLE SALAD WITH TOFU

    Add optional asparagus and/or snow peas, diagonally cut, for another dimension of flavor. Adjust the ingredients to suit your taste. For example, we prefer more red bell pepper and green onions on the salad, and less sugar in the dressing.

    This recipe serves 6.

    Ingredients

  • 1 block extra firm tofu (14 ounces), drained, patted dry and cut into ½ inch strips
  • 8 ounces soba noodles, uncooked
  • 1 medium cucumber, cut into 1/8-inch-thick julienne strips
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, julienned
  •  
    For The Dressing

  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 2½ tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons green onions (scallions), minced
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (how to toast seeds)
  •  

    Uncooked soba (buckwheat) noodles. Photo © Maria Lapsha | Fotolia.

     

    Preparation

    1. TOAST sesame seeds: Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add sesame seeds; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant. Immediately remove seeds from hot pan to avoid over-toasting.

    2. COOK noodles in a large pot, following package directions. Drain and rinse well under cold water. Set aside and refrigerate.

    3. SPRAY oil on a nonstick pan and grill tofu. Set aside and refrigerate.

    4. WHISK together the dressing ingredients.

    5. TOSS together noodles, cucumber, red bell pepper and optional asparagus and/or snow peas.

    6. Add tofu strips and mix well.
     
     
    RELATED RECIPE

    Try this recipe with conventional wheat noodles: Japanese somen noodles with dipping sauce.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Enjoy Pasta More Often

    Add lots of veggies to make pasta a healthy
    dish. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk
    Marketing Board.

     

    It’s National Nutrition Month, so we’re giving some credit to a food that’s often on the “avoid” list: pasta.

    Jackie Newgent, RD, CDN and a consultant to Barilla pasta, has pointed out a few facts that should be of interest to any pasta lover. The good news is, you can and should incorporate pasta into your diet regularly. The only trick is to be sure that the recipe and the portion size confirm to approved guidelines for “healthy pasta.”

    PASTA ALONE DOES NOT ADD POUNDS

    Excess calories create excess fat, not healthy portions of pasta. Pasta is a good complex carbohydrate food. Several studies have shown that a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat are crucial for maintaining a healthy weight and reducing risk of diseases. A 2009 study from Harvard School of Public Health and Pennington Biomedical Research Center found that reduced calorie diets with carbohydrates ranging from 35%-65% of the diet were equally effective for weight loss as other diet options.*

     
    The key to enjoying healthy pasta dishes is the recipe:

  • Add nutrient-rich pasta “partners” to the recipe that are high in fiber or protein and low in unhealthy fats: beans, fresh herbs, lean poultry, seafood and vegetables.
  • Load up on the veggies. Pasta provides a delicious base to incorporate more vegetables into one’s eating plan.
  • Skip the heavy cream sauces loaded with calories and cholesterol and use a tomato sauce, pesto or olive oil and garlic.
  • Look beyond enriched white flour pasta to better-for-you whole-wheat pasta, and take a look at Barilla Veggie, a line of pastas made with 25% purèed vegetables. There’s one full serving of vegetables in each 3.5 ounce portion. It’s a great way to sneak veggie servings to those who avoid their vegetables.
  •  
    PORTION SIZE = 2 BASEBALLS

    The other key to a healthy pasta meal is keeping portions right-sized. A healthy portion is one to two cups of cooked pasta, the size of up to two baseballs. Use these two tricks:

  • Serve the pasta in a smaller bowl or on a smaller plate to make it look like a larger portion. Take a look at these wide-rim pasta bowls: They’re just the thing. And you can use them for portion control with far more than pasta.
  • Extend the portion size with vegetables. Make one-third to one-half of the dish steamed or sautéed vegetables: asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, cherry tomatoes or diced tomatoes, mushrooms, peas, squash, zucchini and/or other favorites. Pasta Primavera is the perfect way to enjoy pasta.
  •  
    PASTA IS LOW SODIUM & CALORIE FRIENDLY

    A one- to two-cup serving of cooked pasta is calorie friendly (about 200 calories), low in fat (about 1 gram, with no saturated or trans fats), cholesterol free and low in sodium (unless you add salt to the cooking water).

    You can build toward your recommended daily 47g of whole grains with whole grain pasta. Whole wheat pasta has 4g or more fiber per two-ounces of dry pasta. Check the label: Some brands, enriched with flax seeds, have double that.

    Pasta is a cornerstone of one of the world’s healthiest diets, the “Mediterranean Diet” of Italy, which nutritionists consider to be one of the world’s best ways to eat.

     

    AL DENTE PASTA KEEPS YOU FULLER LONGER

    According to Oldways, a non-profit organization that promotes healthy eating, and the International Pasta Organization, there’s a reason not to overcook pasta: Cooking pasta to al dente, still slightly firm, allows you to reap the full benefits of pasta’s already strong ability to increase satiety, delaying hunger pangs and providing fuel for working muscles long after meals.

    Due to the special protein structure of traditional pasta dough, pasta has a low to medium glycemic index (GI) value depending on cut, which means that the body digests it more slowly than most other carbohydrates. That’s true for pasta that’s made from either soft or hard wheat.†

    PASTA IS A SUSTAINABLE FOOD

    Plant based foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains and pasta, are beneficial for our bodies while also providing the smallest environmental impact.‡

     

    Chef Michael O’Boyle of Chicken Fried Gourmet does pasta the best way: 1/3 pasta, 2/3 veggies. Photo courtesy ChickenFriedGourmet.com.

     

    So you know what you’ve got to do: Use a dairy-free sauce, add lots of veggies and measure your pasta portion size. And enjoy pasta as often as you like.

    *Source: New England Journal of Medicine, 26 February 2009; 360(9):859-73.

    †Source: Oldways.org.

    ‡Source: Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition, Enabling Sustainable Food Choices The Double Pyramid.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Vino De Milo Gourmet Pasta Sauce & Bruschetta

    We first discovered Vino de Milo in 2005. It was a new line of gourmet tomato sauces for pasta and other dishes. Each flavor had a different wine in the recipe. It was a delight atop our pasta, chicken, eggs and tofu, and wonderful for gift-giving to cooks and non-cooks alike.

    But not every new product line survives and thrives. Some of our favorites have gone with the wind.

    That’s why we’re so pleased that Vino de Milo has grown and expanded, with bruschetta toppings, salad dressings and salsas.

    Today, we re-endorse the wonderful pasta sauces and the bruschetta toppings, both made from top-quality tomatoes that are so naturally sweet, no sugar is added. (Americans consume a ghastly 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, much of it from “hidden” sugar added to prepared foods.)

    Read the full review.

    You can purchase the products online from iGourmet.com:

  • Bruschetta topping, 16 ounce jar, $5.99/jar
  • Pasta sauce: 16 ounces, $5.99/jar; 25 ounces,
    $8.99/jar
  •  

    With bread in the freezer and bruschetta on the shelf, you always have an impressive appetizer or snack. Photo by Vitalina Rybakova | IST.

     

    To find a retailer near you, just email your zip code to sales@vinodemilo.com or phone 866.589.6456.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Heart-Shaped Pizza

    Here are two tasty Valentine tips from The Pampered Chef:

    It’s easy to share the love with mini heart-shaped pizzas for Valentine’s Day. Whether for lunch, dinner or “breakfast pizza,” you’ll have a hit on your hands.

    HEART SHAPED PIZZA RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • Refrigerated pizza dough
  • Pizza sauce
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Toppings of choice: mushrooms, olives, pepperoni,
    sausage, etc.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to at 425°F.

    2. DIVIDE refrigerated pizza dough into quarters and shape into hearts.

     

    An easy treat for Valentine’s Day. Photo courtesy ThePamperedChef.com.

    3. BAKE on a lightly oiled cookie sheet for 12-15 minutes. (This recipe used the Stoneware Cookie Sheet from ThePamperedChef.com).

    4. REMOVE from oven and add sauce, mozzarella and toppings.

    5. BAKE for 2-3 more minutes or until cheese melts.
     

    DIETING ON VALENTINE’S DAY?

     

    A Valentine sandwich. Photo courtesy
    ThePamperedChef.com.

     

    Congratulations for passing by all the not-so-great-for-you simple carbs.

    Instead, enjoy slices of apple, pear or other complex carbs (whole grain bread counts) and use a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to make them festive.

    The photo shows a “Valendine sandwich” with a filling of peanut butter and a few raisins.

    You can also use the cookie cutter to make a cutout in bread, pancakes, whatever.

    Go for it!

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Indulge In Smaller Portions

    Don’t bring a serving dish to the table:
    Spoon out portions into—or directly bake
    them in—ramekins. Photo courtesy Blake’s
    All Natural.

     

    Healthcare professionals and everyone who’s successfully kept off weight will tell you: You don’t have to give up your favorite foods. Just eat them in small portions.

    Unfortunately, we live in a “supersize me” culture. When we pay to eat out, we want our money’s worth: We’re pleased by huge portions and comment negatively on smaller ones. Research shows that, although people are more aware of the higher calorie intake of large portions, they tend to feel justified eating the amount that’s put in front of them.

    But when you cook at home, your advantage is the ability to control the amount of food they prepare as well as the portion size.

    With that, our tip of the day is: Make it mini.

    One way to ensure smaller portions is to buy smaller muffin tins for cheesecake, cupcakes, muffins, potato and pasta dishes, starchy sides and other carb-laden treats.

     

    Or, bake mac and cheese or scalloped potatoes in ramekins or parchment cups. We put our PaperChef Parchment Cups—Tulip Cups and Lotus Cups—to use. Beyond baking with ease, parchment cups are great for portion control with an attractive presentation.

    Steer away from bringing a serving dish or pot to the table. Pre-fill parchment cups, ramekins or other small dishes with individual portions and bring them to the table, where everybody gets one. To avoid seconds, pack any extras from the recipes into portion-control cups and stick them into the freezer.

    This recipe is by Matthew Kadey for PaperChef.com.

    MINI MAC & CHEESE CUPS

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup (250 ml) whole-grain elbow pasta
  • 1½ cups (375 ml) shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoon (about 150mL) grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) low-fat milk
  • ? cup (80 ml) plain low-fat yogurt, preferably Greek-style
  • ½ cup (125 ml) chopped sun-fried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) chopped chives
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) grainy or Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml)salt
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) panko (Japanese-style) bread crumbs
  • 12 PaperChef Tulip Cups
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COOK the macaroni according to the package instructions, until al dente.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F.

    3. DRAIN the pasta, return it to the pot and stir in the Cheddar cheese and ½ cup of the Parmesan cheese.

    4. LIGHTY beat the eggs and stir in the milk and yogurt.

    5. ADD the egg mixture to the pasta mixture along with the sun-dried tomatoes, chives, cayenne, nutmeg, mustard, salt, and pepper. Mix well.

    6. DIVIDE the mixture among 12 parchment cups (this recipe used PaperChef Tulip Cups).

    7. HEAT the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.

    8. STIR in the bread crumbs and cook until browned, stirring regularly.

    9. STIR the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese into the toasted bread crumbs, sprinkle over the pasta mixture and bake until set, about 15 minutes.

    10. COOL for 5 minutes before unmolding.

     

    MINI SCALLOPED POTATO CUPS

    Ingredients

    This recipe yields 12 appetizer-size servings.

  • 1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup fat-free half and half
  • 1 cup shredded Jarlsberg or Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup each sharp Cheddar and smoked Gruyère cheeses
  • 1/2 cup 1/4-inch diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup real bacon bits or crumbled pieces
  • 1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  •  

    Use ramekins to control portion sizes. Photo courtesy PotatoGoodness.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F and spray 12 small ramekins with nonstick cooking spray.

    2. PLACE potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl; cover and microwave on HIGH for 6 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Meanwhile…

    3. MELT butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute more. Slowly stir in half and half, cooking until mixture is smooth.

    4. ADD cheeses, a little at a time; then stir in remaining ingredients.

    5. SPOON into prepared ramekins and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.
     
    Do you have a favorite portion control tip? Please share!

      

    Comments

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