7/21/2008

Eating Out--at home

We love to eat out, but:
A) we're cheap
B) it's hard to take three kids to a restaurant.


So, we love to Eat IN!! Those of you who know me are well-aware that I'm a big "pasta bar" fan. I started it a year or two ago and it's a regular favorite around here. You can prepare everything ahead of time, so I love to serve it for a crowd since everyone can have what they want. It's also a great way to clean out the fridge.:) I also have a fabulous no-fail breadstick recipe. I put checkered tablecloths on the table, play some italian music, and we practice our best manners.

Here's one of our favorite "menus" that I made, just print them out and you're ready to go (click image to enlarge). There are some "learn Italian" words on there as well. Email me if you want an editable version (I used Microsoft Publisher).


note: I had someone ask me how you get "pink sauce". That's a secret anyone with little girls MUST KNOW. Just pour a little red and a little white sauce in and voila! It's pink.:)

Pasta Bar
Pasta, any kind
1 jar red sauce (I like Barilla)
1 jar white sauce (I like Classico three cheese alfredo)
Any "toppings" you want (chicken, sausage, mushrooms, peppers, etc...)

Directions:
Ahead of time: Cook pasta according to package. Drain, rinse, and put in gallon ziploc bags. Chop (and cook if necessary) all topping ingredients and put in bowls or baggies.
At dinner: Take everyone's completed "menus". Drizzle a small amount of olive oil in a pan over medium/high heat (I get two pans going at once) and add desired amount of cooked pasta. Add sauce and toppings and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Serve and Mangiamo (let's eat)!

No Fail Pizza Hut Style Breadsticks (from my friend Ruth!)
1 ½ cup hot water
2 Tb sugar
½ tsp salt
½ cup non fat dry milk
1 Tb yeast
~ 3 cup flour ( I often use ½ whole wheat flour)
1/3 cup melted butter

Dissolve sugar, salt and dry milk in hot water. Add enough flour (~1 cup) to make a soupy mixture. When the mixture is no longer hot but still warm add the yeast and stir well. Then add the rest of the flour, enough to form a moderately stiff dough. Knead the dough until smooth. Roll dough into a rectangular shape the size of your baking pan. Spread half of the butter onto the baking pan, then place your dough into the pan and spread the remaining butter on top of the dough. Top the breadsticks with garlic salt, parmesan cheese, salad seasoning salt, or whatever you want. Cut the dough into breadsticks with a pizza cutter and let raise for 10-15 min. Bake at 350 degrees for 20- 25 min. Yum!

Most of you already know I'm a professional opera singer, we listen to a lot of music around here! I don't know why I haven't included a "playlist" before, but here's one for your Eating In Night. Enjoy having fun with the fam!
Pasta Bar Playlist (you can get these all on iTunes):
*Puccini--Musetta's Waltz (Quando m'en vo') from La Boheme
*Anette Funicello- That's Amore
*Verdi-- La Traviata Act 1 Prelude
*Lady and the Tramp--Bella Notte
*The Three Tenors--Encore: O Sole Mio (any version of O Sole Mio is good, but this one is a favorite. They're pretty funny going all "diva" on this song.:))
*Dean Martin-- come back to Sorrento
*Pavarotti--Mattinata (get the Dean Martin version "you're breaking my heart" if you're not that into opera).
*Andrea Bocelli--La Donna e Mobile
*Anthony de Pippa--Funiculi, Funicula