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Jamie Deen's family-friendly pastas and desserts

Growing up in Georgia, Paula Deen cooked dinner for her family every night. Now her son, Jamie, is carrying on the tradition in his own home. Here, the cookbook author serves up a few of his family's favorites: three kinds of pasta, a lemon tart, pecan pie, and jelly salad.

Jack's favorite pasta salad with loads of veggies
Servings:

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

    • 12 ounces wagon wheel pasta
    • 1 cup frozen shelled edamame
    • 2 carrots, well-scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
    • 1 broccoli crown (12 ounces), cut into bite-size florets
    • 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
    • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
    • 1 teaspoon sugar

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepperAdd the pasta to a large pot of boiling salted water. Cook the pasta for 3 minutes less than recommended on the back of package. When the timer goes off, add the edamame and carrots and cook for 2 minutes longer. Next, add the broccoli and continue boiling for 1 minute more.  Drain the pasta and veggies in a colander. Rinse really well under cold water to stop the cooking process. (Make sure you drain off all the liquid so you don't water down your salad.) Transfer the pasta and veggies to a large serving bowl, along with the tomatoes and mozzarella. Combine the oil, vinegar, mayonnaise, sugar, and salt and pepper in a jam jar and shake it until it's all mixed up. Taste and adjust seasoning. Pour the dressing over the pasta, toss well, and serve warm, though you can make ahead if you need to.

Quick lemon and basil linguine
Servings:

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

    • 1 pound linguine
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream
    • Juice from 1 large lemon (about 1/4 cup)
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
    • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
    • 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, plus more for serving

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain your pasta in a colander.  Heat the oil in the same pot you cooked your pasta in. Once it's hot, add the garlic and cook, stirring, until the edges just begin to turn golden brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cream and lemon juice, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Simmer for 2 minutes, then toss in the Parmesan, lemon zest, and, finally, the cooked pasta. Bring the heat to medium and, with tongs, thoroughly toss the pasta through the sauce while drizzling in the reserved 1/2 cup pasta water, just to loosen up the sauce a bit. Season with freshly ground black pepper and turn off the heat. Toss the pasta with the basil right before serving. Serve in bowls, sprinkled with some extra cheese and torn basil.

Tips:

I like to pick my battles when it comes to getting my kids to eat.  While this recipe calls for linguine, if pasta "tunnels" or "wheels" float your kid's boat, then by all means, change it up.

Baked eggplant rigatoni with four cheeses
Servings:

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

    • 1 small eggplant (1 1/4 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 3 cups basic tomato sauce
    • 2 tablespoons torn fresh basil
    • 1 pound rigatoni pasta
    • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced
    • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
    • 3/4 cup grated fontina cheese
    • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.Place the eggplant on a sheet tray, drizzle with the oil, and season with salt and pepper. Toss well to combine. Roast the eggplant until golden, 30 to 35 minutes.Transfer the eggplant to a large saucepan, cover with the tomato sauce, and stir in the basil. Bring the whole thing up to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes to blend all the flavors together. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.Drop the oven temperature down to 350 degrees.Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package instructions.Drain well, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid from the pot. Add the pasta to the eggplant sauce and stir to combine, adding 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid to loosen up the sauce, only if needed. Transfer the eggplant pasta to the prepared baking dish. Stir in the mozzarella and dollop with the ricotta, giving it a gentle stir but not mixing the ricotta completely into the sauce. Top the whole thing off with the fontina and Parmesan. Bake for 35 minutes, until bubbly and golden on top.

Jelly salad
Servings:

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

    • 8 ounces salted pretzels
    • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1 container (8 ounces) whipped topping, thawed
    • 1 1/2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
    • 1 package (6 ounces) strawberry gelatin
    • 2 cups boiling water
    • 2 cups cold water

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 by 9-inch baking pan with nonstick baking spray.Put the pretzels in the bowl of a food processor and buzz them until you're left with chunky crumbs. You'll need 2 cups of the crushed pretzels for the crust.In a medium bowl, mix together the pretzels, melted butter, and sugar.  Firmly press the pretzel mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes. Allow the crust to cool completely, about 30 minutes.Add the cream cheese to a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat until nice and smooth. Sprinkle in the sugar and beat again until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With a rubber spatula, fold in the whipped topping and spread it over the cooled crust, making sure to seal all the edges. Layer the sliced strawberries on top and place in the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour.Place the gelatin in a medium bowl and pour the boiling water over it, stirring to dissolve. Stir in the cold water. Gently pour the gelatin over the chilled salad. Refrigerate until the salad is completely set and chilled, about 4 hours.

The best lemon tart
Servings:

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

  • For crust:

    • 1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
    • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
    • 1/2 cup confectioners
    • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and sliced
    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • For lemon curd:

    • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
    • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 4 to
    • 5 lemons)
    • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 4 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and sliced
    • Confectioners

Preparation

Baking Directions:

To make the crust, toast the almonds in a small dry skillet over medium heat, stirring, until just slightly blond, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool completely.  Add the flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt to a food processor and pulse a few times to mix and break up any lumps in the sugar. Add the cooled almonds and pulse again for 30 seconds, until they are broken up.  Add the butter and pulse until the dough forms small clumps.  Add the beaten egg and pulse in long increments until the dough comes together, bunched up into a few balls. Lightly dust your work surface with flour. Use nonstick baking spray to prepare a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Transfer the dough to the work surface. Lightly knead it a few times to incorporate all the dry ingredients, and then form it into a flat disk. Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared tart pan and up the sides. Chill for 30 minutes in the freezer. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Once chilled, remove the tart from the freezer and place it on a baking sheet. With a fork, prick the bottom of the tart all over to prevent the dough from puffing while it bakes.  Line the tart with parchment paper and place pie weights on top (dried beans will work in a pinch). Bake the crust for 25 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven, remove the parchment and pie weights, and bake the crust for 2 more minutes until lightly golden. (If the crust has puffed during baking, press it back down with the back of a spoon.) Meanwhile, make the lemon curd: In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, whisk together the granulated sugar, lemon juice, salt and eggs. Turn the heat to medium and cook, while stirring, until the curd is thick, about 8 minutes.  (If you're worried about how to tell whether the curd is fully cooked, it's done when it reaches 170 degrees.) Whisk in the butter, piece by piece; the curd will loosen up slightly. Pour the mixture into a large measuring cup.  Carefully pour the lemon curd into the crust. (Do not overfill.) Bake the tart until the custard is set, about 10 minutes.  Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool completely in the pan. Remove the sides from the tart pan and slice the tart. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar to serve.

Salted caramel pecan pie with pretzel crust
Servings:

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

    • 1 1/4 cups salted pretzel crumbs (from 5 ounces pretzels)
    • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
    • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 6 tablespoons, cut into pieces
    • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
    • 1 cup light corn syrup
    • 1 tablespoon flaky sea salt (preferably Maldon)
    • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
    • 2 cups chopped pecans

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.Add the pretzel crumbs, flour, sugar, and melted butter to a medium bowl and stir until combined. Dump the crumb mixture into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate and press it evenly around the bottom and sides of the pan. Place the pie plate on a sheet tray to catch drips and bake for 10 minutes, until the crust is firm.In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter pieces, and sea salt and bring it up to a boil, while stirring. Remove from the heat and cool. Whisk in the eggs, then switch to a wooden spoon to stir in your pecans. Pour the mixture into the pretzel crust and bake for 50 minutes. Cool the pie completely before serving.

Tips:

This pie can be made a day ahead. In fact, you want to prepare the pie with enough time for it to cool and set up. If not completely cool, pecan pies can be runny.

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