How Do You Do Pasta?

Our friends from Foodstand gave us a quick look at pasta just in time for National Pasta Day this Saturday, October 17th. They make a good point about the decline in its popularity due to the prevalence of lower carb, higher protein diets. Even our Private Cooking Classes show its #1 cooking class, Pasta Perfect, move to #3 just behind our Farm-To-Table and Easy Entertaining classes. So as a self-proclaimed pasta connoisseur, have at it this weekend. Go pasta crazy! There’s always Monday!

Don’t Be an Impasta – via Foodstand

Here’s our recipe for the perfect meat sauce. I used a traditional dry pasta, Spaghetti in the following pic. As noted in the recipe, a true Bolognese should be served with flat, wide pasta such as Tagliatelle, Linguine, or Pappardelle. Check back in a few days and I’ll have my fresh Tagliatelle recipe up. Until then, enjoy!





By Chef Flo

2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Carrot, finely diced
1 Onion, medium, finely diced
1 Celery, stalk, finely diced
1 Garlic Clove, sliced
2 ¼ # Ground Beef, 15% fat or less
5 Roma Tomatoes, small to medium-sized, concasse (seeded & diced)
1-8oz can Whole Peeled Tomatoes, rough chopped, reserve liquid
1 cup Red Wine, favorite table wine
1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
Kosher Salt & Black Pepper TT*
Grated Parmesan Cheese TT*, garnish
Parsley, finely chopped TT*, garnish
*TT means “To Taste” or season to your liking.

In a large heavy bottom saucepan, sauté carrots, onions, celery, and garlic in olive oil on medium heat. Cook until soft and translucent. DO NOT BROWN!

Add ground meat to vegetable mixture. Cook on high and stir frequently to break apart ground meat. Cook until properly browned.

Once meat is cooked, add concasse tomatoes and sauté until softened. Then, add chopped whole peeled tomatoes, reserved liquid, red wine, and Italian seasoning. Simmer over low to medium heat for about 30 minutes or when liquid is reduced by half.

Once ragu is reduced, take off of heat. Season with Kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Garnish with parmesan cheese and parsley. Serve with your favorite flat or wide pasta. Enjoy!

Makes 5-7 Servings

Serve with 1 ½ # (uncooked) Tagliatelle, Pappardelle, or Linguine; cook as directed.

Alternative Meats:
You can substitute a mixture of ground meats such as beef, pork, and veal. Use any combination adding up to 2 ¼ # of ground meat.

HEARTy Soups And Stews

Moving to New Jersey from Las Vegas was, in my mind, not going to be such a big transition. I know that weather and overall vibes would definitely change but since I grew up here I didn’t think it would be such a big ordeal. I lived in Vegas since 2006. That’s a whopping seven some-odd years to get accustomed to a certain way of life. Again, I did move to New Jersey in 2009 for at least eight months for work and a life hiatus. (Mind you, I moved back to Vegas because I couldn’t take the weather) Now that I’m rambling on, let me get back to my point. This pre-winter chill is getting me down. Not spiritually or mentally, but physically. I totally fell off my Plantstrong™ diet once I moved out here. The temptations of cuisines and the like that were new and that I haven’t had in a while grew too strong to withstand. I gave in to my stomach and I let my amazing way of life diminish. I was weak!

When the holiday season began, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to jump on right now. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year was coming, I wouldn’t be able to turn away those yummy temptations.

But then, I thought to myself, if I want to get back on it, there’s no time to waste, just do it, JUMP!

The longer I wait the longer the list of excuses I’ll most likely have to continue to stray away. So here I go…I’m JUMPING!

The easiest type of food to make and best tasting are definitely those hearty soups and stews. It takes no time to create these amazing dishes and oh my, does it do a body good. I’m going to be listing a few of my favorite recipes that I’ve came across the past year that I’ve been eating Plantstrong™. With these cold days here  in New Jersey, these dishes make me feel both powered up and toasty on the inside. Definitely cures the common cold! Try one, two, or even all these recipes. Let me know what you think, along with any variations you’ve made to accommodate those foodie taste buds and for the picky children! Enjoy!

Plantstrong™ Recipes:

Engine 2 Mexican-Lime Soup

Variation: I love to add 1 or 2 (depending how much you love legumes) cans of red kidney beans! Makes it a thicker soup plus adds more Vitamin C and Potassium to you meal.

Engine 2 Savory Lentil Soup

Variation: Hot sauce, hot sauce, and more hot sauce! I love  hot sauce, it’s the condiment I have next to water on my dinner table. Add your favorite hot sauce to this dish and it’ll totally make it brighter and more refreshing! Now, just watch out for the sodium content. My favorite is Cholula! Remember the thing with sodium in recipes, think about all components of your meal before adding salt. A lot of condiments and canned products may be packed with sodium. Keep and overall eye on the salt so that it doesn’t overwhelm the dish.

Engine 2 Mushroom Stroganoff

Variation: This is perfect as it is. Thanks, Engine 2 team! For all you gluten-free eaters, just replace the flour and pasta with brown rice flour (add one extra tablespoon) (can be found at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods Market) and Lundberg’s Penne Brown Rice Pasta then you’re all set!

WFM Hearty Greens Soup and Bowtie Pasta and Tomatoes

Variations: First and foremost, to make it Plantstrong™, make sure you eliminate the oil, salt and the cheese. Just cook with a little vegetable broth and you can top it off with some nutritional yeast. If you can’t find escarole or rainbow, green, or red chard, by all means use some kale and spinach (my go-to greens).  This recipe can be a little bland so what I do is just add a teaspoon or two of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar to make this soup pop with much flavor.

WFM Creamy Curry Cauliflower Soup (My Favorite)

Variations: At the very end, I like to add a bit of cooked red lentils. It makes it a whole other character with that extra addition, trust me! And if you like just just a tad bit, bolder, I like to use a tablespoon and a half of garam masala. It can be found in the spice aisle and Whole Foods Market. This addition makes it your own!


Alright, so there’s the list of amazing soups and stews that will keep you warm through the winter holidays as well as power up your heart, body and soul. This is what I’ll be having this week to come so if you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line. I’m open to comments, questions, and concerns. Leave it here in the comments section or email me at!

Thanks and happy healthy eating!

-Chef Flo


[SMN HEALTHY HOLIDAY Recipes] Italian Sausage and Squash Bolognese

Take this easy recipe to any Holiday party and I promise, you’ll be a hit! It’s amazing flavors of seasonal squash and amazing spices like fennel seed and oregano. If you like a traditional Italian bolognese then you’ll be sure to love this as well. The holidays couldn’t taste any better.

My favorite part about this is that your kids would never know the difference. All the squash in this dish is packed with Vitamin A, C, & E, potassium, and fiber. YUM with all the healthy benefits!

So first, pick you favorite winter squash. I recommend using either a butternut squash or an acorn squash, they have the best flavors for this recipe.

How to cook the squash (so that you never used canned squash again!): Preheat your oven to 375°F. Rinse your squash. Cut in half and remove seeds and the rest of the innards. Rinse again and pat dry with a towel. Season lightly with just salt and pepper. You’ll get a chance to season the dish once you cook the bolognese. On a baking sheet/tray, lay the squash cut side up and lightly drizzle with some olive oil. Depending on the size or your squash and type of oven you have, roast your squash for about 25-35 minutes or until fully cooked or tender. Set aside to cool. Once cooled off, scoop out flesh and set aside in a bowl. Place cooked flesh in a blender or food processor and pulse until squash is a thick puree. Set aside until ready to use! (This can be done up to 4 days in advance. Just keep it refridgerated in an airtight container. Or your can freeze it and keep it up to a month or so.)

So now that you know how to roast your own squash at home, go ahead and never ever use canned pumpkin or squash again!

Italian Sausage & Winter Squash Bolognese Ingredients (good for 8 servings): 1 lb of cooked squash (puree) or 1 large butternut squash or 2 medium acorn squash; 1 1/2 lbs of mild or hot Italian sausage (remove from casing); 1 1/2 lbs of penne pasta or your favorite short cut pasta (would be great with Tagliatelle as well); 3 tbsp olive oil; 1 medium onion; 3 cloves of garlic; 2 tsp fresh sage; 2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes; 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock; 1/2 cup heavy cream; 1 cup parmesan cheese; parsley (for garnish); salt and pepper TT.

If this sounds like something you want to serve up this holiday season and would like the recipe, just leave a COMMENT here on this blog, EMAIL me at, TWEET me at @servemenow, or LIKE me and on!

Stay tuned for more Healthy Holiday Sides! Happy Cooking!