Pasta

Cheesy Beef & Noodle Casserole

One of the benefits of being a starving artist is the innate ability to justify long periods of inactivity. The inspiration isn't there, so you wait. And wait. And wait some more. Before you know it, when inspiration finally hits, it's been almost a year, and the weight to make something special of the late arriving but interesting idea looms large. "Don't screw it up" is top of mind, so you dive in with gusto leavened with a light touch, and as few distractions as possible. That's what's perfect about this casserole. It's full of flavor, easy to make, and almost impossible to screw up. If art were as easy as this tasty dish, I wouldn't still be a starving artist. Sorry StudioHotplate has been on such a long hiatus, but if I'm not in the studio, the hotplate goes unmanned. Anyhow, I'm back, inspired, and so is this Cheesy Beef & Noodle Casserole.

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Ingredients

  • 12 ounces egg noodles uncooked
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 & 1/4 lbs lean ground beef I used 90% lean
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 16 ounces canned tomato sauce
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then add the egg noodles and cook according to package directions. While your noodles cook, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. While the noodles are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat, then add the ground beef to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, breaking up the meat with a spatula.
  3. Next, add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the onion has softened and beef is cooked through.
  4. Now, add the tomato sauce and Italian seasoning to the beef and stir to combine.
  5. Drain the noodles and add to the pan with the beef, then toss to combine.
  6. Finally, pour the beef and noodle mixture into a 9"x13" baking dish that's been coated in cooking spray, top with cheddar cheese, and bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  7. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Light 1-Pot Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

The Starving Artist is an uncle, but not a dad. However, for the past week I've played "Uncle Daddy" while babysitting my niece and nephew. Nothing in my life prepared me for this horror. Have you seen teenagers eat? And their pickiness, where does that come from? Crap! I've gotta cut this short. It smells like my nephew is trying to start a fire somewhere. While I deal with that, try out this Light 1-Pot Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo. It's the only thing I made all week that all three of us liked.

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Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, grilled or baked, then sliced
  • 1 pound fettuccine noodles
  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Dash of pepper
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Parsley

Directions

  1. Grill or bake the chicken breasts in whatever manner you prefer. I used a grill pan on the stove. Once cooked, set aside and cover to keep warm.
  2. While your chicken cooks, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta, cooking according to the directions on the box.
  3. Chop the garlic and add it to the boiling water with the pasta.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, add the yogurt, salt, Italian seasoning, and red chili flakes. Mix well.
  5. Once the noodles are cooked through, turn off the heat, strain, and return the noodles to the hot pot. Add the butter and toss so the pasta is coated.
  6. Now, carefully add the pasta to the yogurt mixture and stir until the sauce is evenly distributed.
  7. Finally, sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and give it another toss. Serve with slices of chicken breast on top, a sprinkle of parsley, extra cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and a tiny pinch of nutmeg.

Spaghetti with Lemony Wine Sauce

Too much turkey. Too much pie. Too much wine. Too much family. And way too much talking. I'm all Thanksgivinged out, and thankful for the chance to hole up alone for a quiet weekend in the studio. I'm also thankful for this light, super easy pasta after several days of heavy Thanksgiving leftovers. You will be, too.

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Ingredients

  • Salt
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • 2 large lemons, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • Leaves from a handful of fresh thyme (about 5 sprigs), plus more for garnish
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add a generous pinch of salt, and cook the spaghetti 1 minute less than the package directions instruct. Before draining the pasta, reserve 1 cup of pasta water for later use.
  2. Meanwhile, mince the garlic and zest the lemons, then cut the lemons in half and add the juice to a small container so it's ready to go.
  3. Now, heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, about a minute. Add the red pepper flakes and stir for a few more seconds.
  4. Next, add the lemon juice and white wine, increase the heat to medium-high, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, then add 2 tablespoons of the pasta water, add the butter, and turn off the heat once it's melted.
  5. Finally, add the pasta back into the pan, followed by the lemon zest and parmesan cheese, tossing to coat all the spaghetti with the sauce. Add more pasta water as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Serve topped with additional parmesan cheese, thyme, and red pepper flakes, if desired.

Farmers Market Pasta

For the first time in a good while, I've got nothing ironic, funny, or sarcastic to say. It was a long, hard week, and the energy normally funneled to my wit bone was sucked out of me at work. But I do have pasta, and some beautifully fresh tomatoes I picked up at the farmers market. Oh yeah, and wine. I have wine. Thank God for wine, the weekend, and this super light, super easy pasta.

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Ingredients

  • A handful of spaghetti
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bunch basil, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt, to taste

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, cook the spaghetti according to package directions.
  2. While the spaghetti cooks, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Combine the chopped tomatoes, basil, minced garlic, and olive oil in a large bowl.
  3. Drain the pasta and add it into the large bowl. Toss to combine, and add salt to taste.

Lemony Alfredo

"Art. Food. Whatever." That's StudioHotplate's simple motto, and it's never been more accurate than the past week or two. If you've followed StudioHotplate of late, you'll know life has tossed a challenge or two in the direction of your favorite Starving Artist. Without wheels, I've had to drastically simplify my already simplified life. For the moment, necessity demands that life revolves around bus routes. The bus to work. The bus home. The bus to the laundry. And time permitting, the bus to the grocery. That's a boatload of busses to squeeze into a day. And with all that squeezing, my cupboard has gotten pretty bare. But necessity is the mother of invention. It's also the cousin of inspiration, and when taken to the extreme, the step-sister of desperation. The result is this desperately inspired and inventive pasta. I think you'll like it. I've been eating it for three days straight, and I'm still looking forward to another bowl.

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Ingredients

  • 2 medium lemons
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 pound dried linguine or fettuccine
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, finely grate the zest of the lemons on a microplane, then set the zest aside. Quarter 1 of the lemons (reserve the second zested lemon for another use). Add the pasta to the pot and cook until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the lemon pieces, cut-side down, and sear until all cut sides are browned, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the lemon pieces from the pan and juice them when cool enough to handle. Set the used lemon pieces aside to use as a garnish with the pasta when serving.
  3. Next, add the cream to the pan and bring to a simmer. Add half of the Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper, stir to combine, and remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Add the pasta, the remaining Parmesan, the reserved lemon juice, and 2/3 cup of the pasta water to the pan of sauce. Place the pan over low heat and toss until the cheese is melted, adding more pasta water as needed to reach the desired sauce consistency.
  5. Finally, remove the pan from the heat and toss in the reserved lemon zest and dill. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed, then dig in.