Tag Archive | pasta

Lightened-up Fettucine With Broccoli

Hey there, how’s your week going? Anyone else excited for the long weekend? I am psyched for two extra days off from classes and more importantly, Easter!(Does anyone else think that the best part of Easter are the millions of chocolate bunnies sold everywhere, or is it just me? I may or may not have a slight obsession with Easter candy). Although this is my first Easter away from my family,  one of my best friends from home just sent me a giant package full of my favorite American Easter treats, so at the moment I don’t feel so far away. Thanks Sar! Just look at this package:
I sure have eaten my fair share of m&m’s this week…yikes! Although I know I could happily survive  living off of  Easter candy, I have been eating and cooking other things to balance all of that chocolate out, and lightened-up fettuccine alfredo with broccoli  is one of them.

You might be thinking: light fettuccine? Not possible. Guess what? Possible! Thanks to my unbelievable  Mom, this recipe has been in our family for years now. I’ve been eating this for as long as I can remember, and it seems to get better every time. Its creamy consistency and rich flavor might make you think this dish is indulgent, but it’s truly light in both fat and calories, which is a win-win in my opinion. The best part is that you can customize this dish any way you like. I prefer broccoli in my pasta dishes, so that’s what I added to the pasta base. However, if you prefer cauliflower, peppers, peas, corn, zucchinis, or another vegetable, just steam them up and throw them in. It’s your pick!

For an additional punch of protein, I breaded and baked chicken breasts and then sliced the chicken on top of each portion. This is totally optional, but it added some additional staying power to the dish. Brandon ate the leftovers 3 days in a row…looks like a winner to me!

Lightened-up Fettuccine Alfredo with Broccoli
1 T Margarine
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 T Flour
1 1/3 cup skim milk ( you may need more, but add gradually).
2T light cream cheese
1 ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
4 cups whole wheat pasta (this time, I used rotini)
1 –2 heads of broccoli, steamed(or your vegetable of choice)
2 baked & breaded chicken breasts (optional)

1) Boil your water for the pasta in a large saucepan. If adding a vegetable, chop it up and steam, then set aside. Once the water is boiling, add pasta.

2) Next in a medium saucepan, melt the margarine, then add the garlic and sauté for one minute.

3) Stir in flour, and gradually add milk a small portion at a time, waiting until it thickens each time, stirring with a wire whisk until blended. (As you can see, I got some help in the stirring department!)
4) Cook this for 8 minutes, or until thick.

5) Stir in cream cheese, and cook for 2 minutes.

6) Add 1 cup parmesan cheese, and stir it until melted and smooth.
7) Once your pasta is cooked and drained, place it back into the large saucepan and pour the sauce over the hot pasta, tossing well to coat. Add your vegetable(s) to the mixture and stir. Portion into bowls or dinner plates, and top with remaining ¼ cup parmesan cheese.
8) Lastly, if using chicken, slice and add it to each portion.
This is one of those meals that made me want to keep eating, and eating, and eating. I forced myself to put the leftovers in a container and close the fridge after my second helping…it’s that good!

Do you have a favorite “lightened-up” pasta dish?


Sunday Stuffed Shells

Sunday Stuffed Shells

It’s natural to think that since I’ve lived in the North End “Little Italy” of Boston for 4 years, I’d get sick of pasta…but it’s just not the case. Pizza, gnocchi, and Italian bread have become some of my favorite foods, and I let myself indulge in my favorites. The key is moderation! You can eat anything in moderation. Fortunately, it is possible to make your favorite Italian dishes healthier, without compromising the taste. With the help of part-skim ricotta, part-skim mozzarella cheese, 93/7 lean ground beef, and a healthy tomato sauce, I did just that with these stuffed shells. There’s absolutely no reason to feel guilty about this meal. Plus, it’s great to make ahead on a Sunday (or any day for that matter)and store it in the fridge for the work-week ahead. My taste-testers agreed, this one is a keeper!


1/2 box jumbo shells (you’ll need about 20 shells)
1 lb lean ground beef
2/3 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped (I used canned garlic)
1 jar marinara sauce of choice (I used a “classic chunky tomato” sauce)
1 (15 oz.) container part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg
2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided


1)Cook shells according to package direction. Remove from water and spread on paper towels or wax paper to cool.



2)While the shells are cooking, cook lean ground beef, onion, and garlic; drain off the fat and return to the pot. Stir in pasta sauce.

saucey sauce

3)In a large mixing bowl, stir together ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and egg.

the start of cheesy goodness

4)If shells are cool enough at this point, stuff the shells with the cheese mixture.
5)Cover the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with a thin layer of meat sauce mixture. Now lay shells into the dish. Spoon remaining meat sauce mixture over the stuffed shells, and top with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese.

line em' up


ready to go!

6)Bake, loosely covered in foil, in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted. Remove foil and broil for a few minutes until the cheese is golden brown.

cheesy goodness

Of course, like most any recipe, you can adapt the stuffed shells to your liking. Vegetarian? Don’t include the meat. Want to include some greens? Add spinach to the cheese mixture. Stuffed shells can be made in a variety of ways…but trust me, this way won’t disappoint!