Oodles of Noodles . . .

When we had to go gluten-free for my husband’s sake, it curtailed some of our convenience shopping. Gluten-free pasta is only, usually, as the price and the price is higher for a relatively good-tasting pasta. One brand actually had a pretty good egg noodle gluten-free version but it tended to fall apart a bit and cost over $5 for 12 ounces.

Our favorite meals have always been either chicken or beef soup enriched in taste with the addition of egg noodles. I discovered two gluten-free flours that actually work great on making homemade egg noodles and the noodles hold their shape and you can’t tell the difference between the gluten types. I will now share my ‘secret’ with you! Better Batter Gluten-Free flour has been a staple in my cupboard for the last ten years. I have made birthday cakes and cookies using it and have never been found out even from gluten-loving friends. However, for homemade egg noodles, Authentic Foods – Steve’s GF Bread Flour is my all-time favorite for making those noodles now.

BUT, how does one make gluten-free egg noodles? I was hoping you’d ask as it is one of the easiest recipes in the world and works with either the recommended gluten-free flours or regular flour if you have no dietary restrictions. I have to warn you, however, the recipe is one where you might have to make minor adjustments as you go along as dry/wet weather can change the outcome otherwise.

Basically . . .

2 cups of our flour of choice – gluten-free or regular
Eggs . . . I say just ‘eggs’ as this could take anywhere from four to six eggs before you obtain a malliable dough. The dough should be kneadable but not stiff or wet. It should be relatively easy to roll out and if you have to struggle to do so and feel your biceps getting painful exercise, you probably should have added a bit more egg.

That’s the recipe. To be adventurous, you can add a bit of paste-type bullion for more flavor or some dried herbs that might enhance the flavor of the soup or stew you are serving it with.

As for the rolling out, you can go really thin or a thicker version. A pizza cutter is great for quickly turning your dough into strips. ALSO, if you are making something like a vegetable soup and you would like a bit of pasta to add some more substance to the finished produce, you can use tiny cookies cutters for circles or even a suitable lid from some handly bottle in yoru cupboard.

Once you’ve made all your decisions on the pasta use, etc., start the rolling out and place the cut dough on a parchment paper lined baking sheet so they can dry a bit, In fact, you can made the noodles earlier in the day and with a few lengths of papertowel to cover, let them sit on the counter until you need them for dinner.

If you are using the noodles for soup, add them to the soup pot before serving. Keep stirring when you put them in to cook to prevent sticking. They usually take about three to five minutes and they are ready.

If you want to have the noodles with stew, just before you are ready to serve dinner, bring a big pot of salted water to a medium boil, add a couple tablespoons of olive and stir in your noodles to keep them separated, drain, rinse with cold water and then either add them to your stew or serve the stew over a portion of the noodles.

Lent? When Was Christmas Over?

There is a rumor going around that Lent is just about upon us! Time to think about the ‘give-ups’ and the extra prayers that are needed in this spiritually declining world. One of our annual ‘give-ups’ is taking meat out of the diet on both Wednesdays and Fridays. On the surface, it seems it might be a little too easy but after six weeks of coming up with meatless meals for both days of the week plus insuring my husband has meatless meals and snacks for his work lunch, the challenge makes itself known.

One of our favorite go-to meals has been a quick pasta meal with a salad. It is meatless and somewhat less in volume than a usual evening meal and seems to provide all the nutritional perks and sacrifice to keep us strong for Lent!

Lenten Pasta

1 pounds of spaghetti (or any shape you might prefer)
3 eggs
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan and/or Romano
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
Salt & black pepper to taste
1/4 cup butter

Cook the spaghetti until almost done, drain, and stir in the butter, garlic, salt, and pepper until the butter is melted.

Lightly beat the eggs and stir into the pasta. If the pasta has cooled down too much, turn on a low heat to warm. Immediately after adding the eggs, mix in the cheese and stir to combine. If you like a creamier outcome, you can add a bit of milk to taste.

Great quick meal on a day when dinner time approaches before you are ready for it!

It is a very versatile dish in that you can add some chili flakes, drained tuna, use cheddar instead of the Italian cheeses, add some finely-diced parsley, some fresh mushrooms braised in a bit of butter or olive oil . . . Basically, look in the cupboard, see what you have, and you can come up with an original entree.

Budget Meal in a Hurry.

Quick Budget Meal

1 pound spaghetti
10 peeled cloves of garlic
1/2 stick butter
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 to 1 cup chicken broth – depends on how saucy you want it!
Freshly ground pepper
Fresh basil (optional), shredded in strips
Salt to taste
1 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan Cheese

Smash the garlic with the flat of a knife blade and finely chop. Smashing the garlic helps release the flavor. Very gently saute the garlic in the butter until the garlic is soft but not browned.

Meanwhile, boil the spaghetti until it is just barely done. It will cook a bit more in the final preparation and you don’t want mushy pasta. Drain, and put spaghetti back in the pot. Add the garlic,/butter, broth, and mix thoroughly. With the stove set on a low flame, add the eggs and quickly stir them in so they cook and spread out evenly. Add the cheese, pepper, and basil and mix. Add salt and serve immediately.

This is a nice meal for a meatless Friday and goes well with a big salad and some sour dough bread, lightly toasted.

Interesting thing about Fridays and no meat. Everyone (I hope!) strictly observes them during Lent but seem to think that it does’t apply the rest of the year. Unfortunately, many pastors have not been clear on this. Meatless Fridays have not exactly been changed but we are offered the option of choosing another form of penance for Friday. Too many Catholics I have talked to seem to view meatless Fridays as a thing of the past. The ‘rule’ is that unless you come up with a definite alternative, you should still refrain from meat. We have found it more of a penance and less of a strain on our brains to observe all Fridays as a meatless day.