Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pasta and Pie

I know I was completely MIA from the blog world last week. I'll try to make up for it this week. I've had so much going on recently that I need to catch you all up on.

The first big event was a visit from my sister and her girls. They drove up from Florida for a 3 week tour of Illinois and Missouri. They stopped at my Mom's house first and then came up here on Sunday afternoon. We had a nice visit, except for the fact that the two big girls were suffering from the stomach flu the entire time they were here! Both of them took turns rushing to the bathroom with diarrhea and vomiting.

Kinley (center) sharing a hug with her cousins, Gracie (left) and Claire (right)

Luckily between bouts of sickness they felt completely fine and enjoyed playing with the boys. It wasn't one of those illnesses where you just want to lay on the couch all day, thankfully. So even though we were dealing with two sick girls and a busy, busy one year old we managed to do what we always do when we are together....cook.

Yep, we tried two new recipes that I've been saving for a while and both were a great success. First we made Italian Pasta Bake (from Memoirs of a Munchkin Mommy). This is a great layered pasta dish chocked full of vegetables that only Cainan spotted and removed; healthier than lasagna but with a very similar taste. Then we tried Strawberry Banana Cream Pie (from Joy the Baker). This is a great dish to make to use those fresh strawberries. It has a crispy almost sugar cookie tasting crust, a creamy vanilla custard and slices of bananas and strawberries layered in a pie. Both recipes were easy to make and really delicious. I hope you enjoy them.

Italian Pasta Bake

-PAM Original No-stick Cooking Spray
- 2 cups dry rotini pasta, uncooked (I used whole grain)
- 8 oz Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed (If you don't want as much heat just use regular turkey sausage instead)
- 1 med yellow onion, chopped
- 1 med zucchini, quartered lengthwise, sliced
- 1 pkg (8oz each) sliced mushrooms
- ½ cup shredded carrot
- 1 can (28 oz each) Hunt's Crushed Tomatoes
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 8x8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, cook sausage in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking apart with spoon to crumble.

Add onion, zucchini, mushrooms, and carrot. Cook and stir 5 minutes or until sausage is no longer pink and vegetables are crisp-tender. Add tomatoes and pepper flakes; heat 2 minutes or until bubbling. Add pasta to tomato mixture; stir until pasta is well coated.

Spoon half of a mixture into baking dish. Top with half of the cheese. Repeat layers once more.

Bake 15 minutes or until hot.

Strawberry Banana Cream Pie

2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 ripe bananas, sliced10 fresh strawberries, sliced


1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Tart crust:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoons (9 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold or frozen, cut into cubes
1 large egg yolk

To make the tart crust:Put the flour, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor fit the the blade attachment. Pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the pieces of cold butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. There will be pieces of butter that are the size of oatmeal flakes and butter the size of peas. Beat the egg yolk with a fork and add a little of the egg yolk at a time to the flour mixture. Pulse for 10 seconds at a time. When the egg is in, process in longer pulses until the dough forms clumps and curds. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that may have escaped mixing.

Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and the sides of the pan. Press the crust so that the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes before baking.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of foil and fit the foil, butter side down, tightly against the frozen crust. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust is puffed, gently press it down with your fingers.Bake the uncovered crust for 8 to 10 more minutes on the baking sheet. Keep an eye on the crust. It will brown quickly.Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before filling.
To make the filling:Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan. In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, whisk the yolks together with the brown sugar, cornstarch and salt until well blended and thick. Whisking without stopping, drizzle about 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture, warming the eggs so they don’t cook and curdle. Still whisking, slowly add the rest of the hot milk in a steady steam.

Place the pan over medium heat and, whisking constantly (make sure to get the edges of the pan), bring the mixture to a boil. Boil, still whisking for one minute before removing from the pan from the heat. Mixture will be thick and silky. Be warned, once the mixture starts to boil, it will thicken very quickly. Don’t be afraid to remove the pan from the flame to whisk it smooth.
Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let stand for 5 minutes then whisk in the butter, stirring until fully incorporated and the custard is smooth and silky. Transfer custard to a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap so that the plastic touches the surface of the custard and refrigerate until cold throughout. Custard can be refrigerated up to three days.

When ready to assemble the pie, slice bananas and strawberries into thin, round slices.Whisk the cold custard to loosen. Add a handful of banana slices. Stir.Arrange a thin layer of banana slices on the bottom of the tart shell. Arrange a thin layer of strawberries atop the bananas. Reserve some strawberries for topping the pie. Top with banana custard. Smooth out a refrigerate while you make the whipped cream.

For the topping:With a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat heave cream until it just starts to thicken. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Continue to beat until the cream holds stiff peaks. With a rubber spatula, spoon whipped cream onto banana cream pie filling. Top with sliced strawberries.

Serve pie immediately or refrigerate for several hours before serving. This pie is best served the day it is made, but also isn’t too shabby the next day for a breakfast treat.

This post is linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays and Tuesdays at the Table.

P.S. Despite all the germs floating around my house for 3 days none of us has gotten sick. I've always known we had good immune systems but I didn't think we'd survive this one. :)


Samantha said...

Love strawberries, this pie sounds delicious !

Alexis AKA MOM said...

Oh wow the pie looks so good!!! I think I'll eat it all by myself :)

The pasta bake sounds good too!

Thanks so much, stopping by from TMTT. New Follower.