Sunday, September 9, 2012

Italian Pasta Bites

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I've been wanting to make this for a long time. My family loves pasta, which is a good thing because it's cheap and easy and we have it at least twice a week.

After I had my two boys, I went on a carb-free diet for about a month, which was honestly about all I could handle. The only thing that kept me sane during that month was Diet Dr Pepper which luckily has no carbs :) Anyway, my husband wanted nothing to do with my diet. He comes from a French-Italian family and the idea of eating no carbs is about as foreign as not breathing. While I ate grilled chicken, salad, and scrambled eggs for a majority of my meals, he gladly piled his plate with pasta and potatoes and bread.

Luckily I'm over that diet. Like forever. I'd much rather amp up my exercise routine than say no to pasta. And this recipe is one of the reasons why.

I used a variety of white cheeses, so it's not your traditional macaroni noodles with cheddar. I also steep fresh rosemary and thyme in the milk before adding it to the sauce to give the dish. The taste is earthy and aromatic. While I like using thyme in dishes, rosemary is a bit tough to eat and I didn't want to ruin the creamy texture of the pasta, so by steeping the herbs in the milk you get the taste without actually adding the herbs to the pasta.

Start by greasing your mini muffin tin with butter and then with a mixture of breadcrumbs and Parmesan. This will give your pasta bites a great crusty, cheesy bottom.


The pasta is delicious on its own. If you wanted to serve it as a side dish, go right ahead. The pasta bites are just a fun way to serve the pasta, especially for a party.


Stuff the pasta into the muffin tins. You'll want to lightly press down so the pasta sticks to each other and keeps its shape. Top with a bit of the breadcrumb and Parmesan mixture.


Doesn't it look delicious! You can reheat the pasta cups in the muffin tin or just on a baking tray for about 5 minutes at 400 degrees. The recipe makes 3-4 dozen pasta bites, depending how much you stuff your muffin tins.



Italian Pasta Bites
by Girls in Aprons

Butter, for greasing the pan
1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 lb elbow macaroni
1 1/2 cups milk
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp flour
1 cup shredded smoked gouda
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzerella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Using a mini muffin tin, butter each mini muffin cup. Mix 1/4 cup bread crumbs and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Add 1-2 teaspoons of mixture to each muffin cup. Spread the mixture around so that it adheres to the butter. Set aside.

Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, pour milk into a small saucepan on low heat and add fresh herbs. Stir frequently until bubbles begin to form around the edges. Turn off the heat and let sit 15 minutes.

In a large pot over medium low heat, melt 3 Tbsp butter. Add 4 Tbsp flour and whisk until butter and flour are combined. Whisk for one minute. Remove fresh herbs from milk. Slowly stir in milk to butter and flour mixture. Continue to cook on medium low heat until sauce starts to thicken. Add shredded cheese a handful at a time and whisk until melted and incorporated. Quickly whisk in egg yolks and salt. Add in cooked macaroni.

Using a tablespoon, place macaroni mixture into prepared mini muffin tins, pressing down lightly. Slightly overfill each cup. Sprinkle remaining bread crumb-and-Parmesan mixture over each cup. Bake for 15 minutes or until the macaroni was starting to lightly brown.

Let cool slightly before removing. Serve warm.

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