I have always loved pasta’any way, shape or form. It is so easy to prepare, and the stuff you can toss in it is unlimited’just use your imagination. Pasta can stretch a few pantry ingredients to make a wonderful meal. You can also use leftover meats and vegetables to make a super supper in minutes. Just add a salad and bread’Have your kids help and add their ideas. I know’the carbs. Pasta is only fattening if eaten in too large of quantities and too much sauce. It is also a great source of energy, too. Pasta dishes do not have to be thought of as Italian. There are the classic dishes, but I will give you a recipe with a Southwest flavor that I bet you will like. One thing I hear so much is about cooking the pasta itself. Do not boil it to death. Bring the water to a boil and be sure to salt the water. You cannot season the pasta after it is cooked and have the taste you want. When the water is at a full boil, add the pasta and turn the burner off. Stir the pot once, then leave it alone. Check the pasta after a few minutes for tenderness and re-check until it is “al dente” (You have all heard that word.). Classic Fettuccine Alfredo This is not hard to make.. as many of you think. While cooking the fettuccine, make the sauce. 4 tablespoons butter 1 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream 1 teaspoon garlic powder Place this is a saucepan and simmer until slightly thickened. Drain the cooked pasta and add it to the cream sauce and toss to coat. Add eight extra tablespoons of whipping cream and one cup of parmesan cheese. Toss this mixture until well-coated and serve with extra parmesan cheese. Spaghetti Alla Carbonara Sounds fancy-‘don’t it’but it is not. Put one pound of spaghetti on to cook. Then, in a saucepan, cook six ounces of diced bacon and one clove of chopped garlic until garlic is slightly brown. Whisk three eggs in a bowl. When the spaghetti is cooked and drained, pour it into the pan with the bacon and quickly stir in the eggs, adding two tablespoons of parmesan cheese. The eggs should half cook with the heat of the pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with extra Parmesan Cheese. Spicy Tomato Macaroni & Cheese You can tame the spiciness by switching to regular prepared cheese and milder diced tomatoes and green chilies. Cook eight ounces of penne pasta. Sauce 1/4 cup butter 1/2 chopped onion 1 8 ounce loaf Mexican-style cheese, cubed or shredded 1 8 ounce sour cream 1 can diced tomatoes and green chilies (Rotel) Melt butter in large skillet and cook onion until transparent over medium heat. Add cheese and stir constantly until melted. Stir in sour cream and tomatoes. Drain the pasta and add to the saucepan. Toss until coated, then serve. Flavored pasta is so good with just a toss of good olive oil and parmesan cheese. You can add fresh basil, thyme or oregano out of your herb garden. Add a handful of fresh spinach, chopped tomatoes and some toasted pine nuts or walnuts. For a side dish, just heat some oil and add garlic, stir in a 14 ounce can of crushed tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add some heavy cream (about 2/3 cup) along with some of those fresh herbs and you have a wonderful homemade sauce to toss with any pasta. I hope you enjoy these pasta dishes. Happy dining’Barbara.