Baked Vodka Pasta +5 Cozy Pasta + Dessert Recipes To Get You Through The Rest of Winter

I had this recipe ready to go a couple of weeks ago but then COVID hit our house. We are all recovering now but we had a rough go of it. This baked vodka pasta is comfort in a bowl. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did…before we lost our sense of taste and smell. I’m looking forward to spring. More recipes and writing to come. Stay healthy and safe!

Baked Vodka Pasta

Recipe adapted from Alexandra Cooks

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

½ cup vodka

1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes

2 heaping tablespoons of tomato paste

Kosher salt, to taste

Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

1lb penne pasta

Parmesan rind

1 cup parmesan

½ cup heavy cream

16 ounces of whole milk ricotta cheese

8 ounces fresh mozzarella

Fresh basil, optional but delicious

Directions:

Combine the butter, garlic and red pepper flakes in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Stir often until butter is melted and garlic is fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Next, add the vodka and bring to a simmer. Allow the vodka to reduce by one third so cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the tomato paste and mix well.  Next, add the crushed tomatoes, parmesan rind, and a large pinch of kosher salt and black pepper.  Simmer over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the penne and cook for 6 minutes (4 minutes under the al dente time).  Reserve 1 cup of the past liquid and set aside.  Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water.

Remove the parmesan rind from the sauce.  Add some reserved pasta liquid if the sauce seems too thick.  Place the pasta in a large bowl.  Add the sauce and parmesan.  Mix well. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Using a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta and heavy cream.

Add half of the pasta to a 9×13 pan.  Spread ricotta mixture evenly over pasta and top with remaining pasta.  Tear the mozzarella into chunks and spread it evenly over the pasta.  Bake until the top of the cheese is golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Serve with fresh torn basil leaves and more parmesan if desired.  I highly recommend it! 

**Pasta dish can be made a few hours or up to a day ahead of time.  Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to bake. **

**Vodka can be replaced with an equal amount of water and a squeeze of lemon juice. **

Cozy Winter Dinner and Dessert Links

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Tortellini + Chocolate Cake

Winter Squash Lasagna + White Chocolate and Lemon Curd Pavlova

Shrimp Scampi Pasta + Red Velvet Marble Cake

Baked Ziti with Roasted Vegetables + Stewed Cherry Eton Mess

Homemade Mac n’ Cheese + Banana Cream Pie

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pretzel Pie + 5 Pie Recipes to Get You Through the Pandemic

 

 

I made this pie five times before getting it just right.  My kids questioned me and even complained a bit by the fourth try- “Again, Mama?”  I felt bad for them.  How unfortunate they should have to eat this chocolate chip cookie pretzel pie again.  The hardship of it all is immense for them.  I stuck with it even after one unfortunate incident when the slightest comment by my husband regarding the pie lead me to take a deep dive off a raged cliff into the dark spaces of my mind that are quite scary to visit.  I recovered; retrieved the recipe notes from the recycling bin; and tried again.  The fifth time is a charm.  This pie is now lovingly called pandemic pie.  I pushed through until it got better.  We all need to push through until it gets better and if making this pie or any pie helps, go for it.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pretzel Pie

Recipe adapted from A Family Feast

Serves 8

Ingredients:

1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell, store-bought or homemade (I have tried both.  Go with what works best for you!)

2 eggs at room temperature

¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

½ granulated sugar

½ brown sugar, packed

¾ cup or 1+ ½ sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup dark chocolate chips

½ cup milk chocolate chips

A good pinch of kosher salt

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

½ cup pretzels, crushed for sprinkling

¼ cup mini chocolate chips for sprinkling (optional)

Vanilla ice cream (completely optional but excellent with this pie)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325F.  Place the unbaked pie crust into a 9-inch-deep dish pie plate.  Crimp the edges.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixing with a paddle attachment or large mixing bowl with a handheld mixer, beat the eggs on medium-high speed until pale and foamy.  Add the flour, sugars, a pinch of salt, and vanilla.  Mix until combined, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl once or twice with a spatula.  Add the butter.  Continue to beat until the butter is well combined with the batter.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Scrape the batter into the unbaked pie crust.  Spread evenly.  Sprinkle the crushed pretzels and a handful of the mini chocolate chips over the entire pie.

Bake until the pie is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center of the pie comes out with just a few crumbs and melted chocolate, about 50-55 minutes.  (If you see batter on the cake tester it should bake for a few more minutes.)  Check the pie at 50 minutes.  Bake longer if necessary but check every two minutes.  Allow the pie to cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Serve with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream if desired.  Enjoy!

Leftovers can be covered loosely with foil and stored at room temperature.

5 Pie Links To Get You Through The Pandemic

What month is it?  I have completely lost track of time.  Somehow it is May.  May in Massachusetts can vary weatherwise but strawberries and blueberries displayed in the grocery store is a welcome reminder that it is spring.  If you are craving a summer berry pie check out this strawberry pie and this blueberry pie.  If you cannot find fresh berries, frozen works too!

If you are looking for something refreshing, affordable, as well as, ingredients that are easy to find check out King Arthur’s recipe for key lime pie.

Smitten Kitchen has a recipe for a black bottom oatmeal pie that is delicious.  The ingredients are likely ones you already have in your house so no need to run to the grocery store.  Bonus!

My husband and I watch The Daily Social Distancing Show with Trevor Noah every night after the kids go to bed.  This show is truly getting me through the pandemic.  In honor of Trevor Noah and his South African roots here is a recipe for South African milk tart.  It is on my must-make list!  Looks like comfort in a pie plate!