Cookbook Review: Noodlemania! 50 Playful Pasta Recipes

Your kids will enjoy helping with the recipes in Noodlemania! This is a chicken alfredo lasagna roll-up that my son assembled for us. Photo: Patricia Vollmer
Your kids will enjoy helping with the recipes in Noodlemania! This is one of the “Rollin’ Chicken Alfredo” roll-ups that my 10-year-old son made for us this past weekend. Photo: Patricia Vollmer

My family had the chance to check out Quirk Book’s latest cookbook offering: Noodlemania! 50 Playful Pasta Recipes. How did they know I live in a house full of serious pasta and noodle fans? Pasta night at my house is always a winner.

Whether your kids enjoy elaborate pasta dishes, or simply want plain noodles (as I’m sure many of you with toddlers and preschoolers can testify), Noodlemania! covers a wide range of recipes that will put a smile on any kid’s face.

I have memories of spending summers helping my mother cook. She turned me loose in the kitchen and let me test my skills at baking, sautéing and stir frying. Sometimes I’d deliver a winner to my family’s dinner table, but a few times the whole thing went into the trash and we ended up having–that’s right!–pasta.

A sampling of things you can do with noodles to make any kid happy to eat a nutritious dinner. Photos: Patricia Vollmer.
A sampling of things you can do with noodles to make any kid happy to eat a nutritious dinner. From the upper left, going clockwise: “Totem Pole Tortellini”, “Green Martian Noodles”, “Silly Sea Creatures” and “Dinosaur Mountain”. Photos: Patricia Vollmer.

For this review, I turned my son loose with a recipe that caught his attention: “Rollin’ Chicken Alfredo”, which basically is a chicken Alfredo lasagna recipe. My son had a great time doing almost everything with this recipe, except for chopping the chicken (I used a food chopper) and mixing the cheese filling. He assembled the roll ups, placed them in the pan, and garnished them with the Alfredo sauce and mozzarella cheese.

My oldest son rarely wants to be photographed for GeekMom reviews, but in this case, since it involved his favorite food -- pasta -- he was happy to help out and make some "Rollin' Chicken Alfredo" with me. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
My oldest son rarely wants to be photographed for GeekMom reviews, but since this review involved his favorite food–pasta–he happily obliged. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

Several of these recipes are truly unique, but we also found that some of them are somewhat contrived to make them relevant to the cookbook. For example, the “Dinosaur Mountain” dish (pictured above) is merely a serving of pasta, sauce, and cheese with two dinosaur-shaped chicken tenders placed on top. The “Kickin’ Cowboy” pasta is similar, with a veggie-filled pasta salad garnished with a slice of cheddar cheese cut into a cowboy-boot shape.

Some of the recipes seem very labor intensive. If you think boiling your pasta in food-dyed water–thus giving you blue, teal and pink pasta–will inspire your child to eat their pasta, then go for it! You might have to do a lot of fancy garnishing to accomplish your goal, such as individually punching uncooked spaghetti through horizontally sliced hot dogs to accomplish the “Silly Sea Creatures” dish. Or chopping small pieces of black olive and gently perching them on the hemisphere of a cherry tomato to make ladybugs.

My sons enjoyed learning about the lesser-known pasta shapes: spaghetti lunghi con archetto (four-foot-long noodles!), cellentani (long spirals), and cresti di galli (seahorse-like shapes). There’s even a couple ramen noodle recipes, which made my ramen-loving oldest son very happy. Ever tried ramen noodles crumbled on an ice cream sundae? Neither had we!

The cookbook also includes a pasta trivia, cooking tips, and even a recipe for homemade pasta dough.

If your kids are super picky eaters, and you need a way to instill some creative sneaking-of-the-protein-and-produce into the meals, this book is definitely for you. If your kids are beginning to explore cooking, this is also a great book for them.

Noodlemania! retails for $15.95 and is available starting May 14th at major booksellers, including Amazon.

A complimentary copy of Noodlemania! was provided for review purposes.

Patricia Vollmer is the proud mother of two emerging geek sons, ages 12 & 15. She is a meteorologist with the Air Force Reserve and is currently assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Patricia blogs about her family's nomadic military life at Ground Control to Major Mom. Home is always where the Air Force sends her family, which is currently in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Hobbies include running, despite no one chasing her, sharing her love for Disney and Star Wars, and exploring the world with her boys. Ask her why the sky is blue at your own risk.