Monday, May 1, 2006

The Comfort of Pasta

Today for an after-school snack, I made the kids some homemade fritters. I hardly ever get out the deep fat fryer. In fact, almost never. And really, the only occasion that brings it out is when Mommy makes donuts. Now usually those donuts are cheater donuts. Refrigerated biscuit doughm cut into circles, deep fried until golden brown, and then shaken in cinnamon sugar. Donuts were a rare treat growing up, and I love sharing that treat with my kids. Abigail knows when she sees the fryer come up from the basement, it's time for donuts. However, a few days ago, I caught this post over at Orangette, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. How could I? And lucky for me, except for the fact that I was out of yogurt, this recipe calls for on-hand ingredients.

So I had the fryer going when Abigail and Evan got home. Abigail was beyond excited, and quite honestly, I lost count of how many she actually ate. Evan, of course, nibbled at one and put them aside. There is just no pleasing that child. (But hey- he's finally coming around to the humble apple.) The fritters are just as Orangette describes them. Very light lemony flavor, with just a touch of sweetness that, oh yes, keeps you coming back for more. I do think that when I make them again, I would like to add just a tiny bit of lemon zest to the batter, but other than that, five stars here. And there will be a next time. You can find the recipe here.

On to dinner.

I headed to the store to pick up...I didn't know what... I had just finished lunch not to long ago, and tonight was difficult to come up with inspiration. I was browsing the meat case, but nothing grabbed me. I paused twice at the Italian Sausage and started thinking about baked ziti, and then continued on. I stopped at the ground turkey. Ah. How about pasta with turkey meatballs. Easy, simple. Perfect. So I headed over to the pasta, remembering that Zander recently displayed a disgust for long spaghetti- actually near tears because he didn't like it. I was reaching for a box of fusilli when I saw my inspiration in the form of Manicotti shells. Okay. Back to the dairy case for Ricotta and Mozarella, and then back to the pasta aisle for the marinara. (Hey sometimes a shortcut is good.)

I got back home and flipped open EveryDay Italian by Giada De Laurentiis. Beef and Cheese Manicotti struck my eye and of course, I had everything I needed except for parsley. I can live without the parsley. This dish went together very quickly, and I chastised myself for being out of foil pans. I could have easily split this into two dinners and frozen one for another time, or for someone else. I had dinner assembled while Zander napped, and other than the fritters, it freed up my afternoon for playing and dishes. And the result is that this is a keeper recipe. I did add an Italian Dried Herb blend to the cheese since I was out of fresh parsley, but I really think this recipe would pop with the addition of fresh herbs. I would add fresh basil and parsley for sure, and some red pepper flake would be a nice addition too. Perfectly comforting and delicious. You can find the recipe here, but I did make a few changes not in the recipe. I used part-skim ricotta, and half the mozarella cheese. I also left off the butter, and used freshly grated Romano instead of the parmesan- hey that's what I had to grate up. So I did manage to significantly reduce the fattiness of the dish. And of course, I used my ground turkey instead of the beef.

So that's it for tonight. I must go and make a shopping list now since I really need to make a big run. Tune in to tomorrow to see what I've selected for my Iron Chef Challenge.

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