Seriously Simple Seriously Delicious One Pot Pasta

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Other than the cutting board and serving bowl, this was the only dish to clean! Heaven!

As a graduate student, I don’t have much time for cooking or baking. It’s a bit sad, but as I think I’ve mentioned in a previous post — Texas is hot — and turning on my oven only makes my house ¼ whatever the temperature of the oven happens to be. So I try not to turn it up to 400 very often anymore! I know cooler weather is coming, but while my boyfriend tells me about the snow in Colorado, I’m looking at a high of 91 today. 

Last night, however, I was craving some warm filling pasta. And I had a lot of italian-ish ingredients sitting around, so I decided to make up my own modified version of a currently popular recipe on Pinterest, the “One Pot Wonder”.  

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Ingredients! Don’t you just love fresh food from the garden?

This recipe is pretty great, and as easy as the name implies. Just cut up whatever you want, put it all in the pot, and cook until the noodles are ready! My mistake was to cook the whole thing for too long, because my noodles started falling apart after the first serving. I’d recommend either cooking everything BUT the noodles for a few minutes (bring to boil) then add the noodles, or just turn the heat off once the noodles are al dente.

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Full pot! Be patient when trying to get the noodles to fit, they will need awhile to soften up!

You can literally put whatever you want into this. Just keep the staples: ¾ regular package of thin spaghetti/spaghetti/linguini, 4 cloves garlic sliced thin, 4 ½ cups veggie or chicken broth (or water and add salt), 2 tablespoons olive oil, and a can of diced tomatoes (don’t drain). For my version I added: a quartered and julienned red pepper, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper and italian herb mix, a couple extra cloves of garlic sliced thin, and finally I have been growing basil and arugula like crazy in my garden, so I included a large handful of each of those. 

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Might take awhile to get the noodles to soften up because this pot is FULL!

After I cooked everything up and dished it out, I topped my plate with a bit of goat cheese. Because, I love goat cheese! Even without it, this was creamy, probably because you don’t loose any of the starch from the pasta by not draining it. YUM!! Just wish I had someone to share it with.. 😉

 

Something Fishy and Delishy

I crack myself up with that title. I know it’s awful, sorry about it. Hahahaa…delishy.

We rarely cook fish in our house. Something about it intimidates us-perhaps the multitude of times I have completely screwed up a seafood attempt. I’m pretty good at mixing up tuna salad, and sauteeing shrimp for taco night-but that’s about the extent of my experimentation with this wonderful food category. On Monday night my love returned from his trip back home. I though it would be fun to celebrate with a different meal, and so found myself scouring the Sprouts newsletter for meal inspirations. Salmon was on sale, and so, voila! Salmon for dinner. It was also a beautiful afternoon and evening, and we decided grilling it would be the best option. After developing a very simple marinade, which we left the salmon in for about 3 hours, it was grilled and laid on a bed of caesar salad! Homemade croutons to boot. This was one of the most delicious, simple, excitingly flavorful meals I’ve made in a long time. Or should I say, he made, because the marinade started when I was still at work… 🙂

While we enjoyed our meal, outside on a gorgeous summer evening, Cooper played in the next room with his new frisbee. Picture is at the bottom-isn’t he just adorable? But back to the salmon…

The complete meal!
The complete meal!

Grilled Marinated Salmon with Caesar Salad and Homemade Croutons

Ingredients:

  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 TBS + 1 TBS vegetable oil, separated
  • 1 lb salmon filet, skin on
  • A few pieces of french/italian bread (we chose wheat)
  • 1 Heart romaine lettuce
  • Handful of sundried tomatoes (optional)
  • Caesar dressing
  • Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  • Mix up the first 7 ingredients (just 2 TBS of the olive oil) in a large bowl or dish (large enough to fit salmon flat)
  • Place salmon in marinade, coating both sides. Leave skin side up, in marinade, covered in refrigerator for 2-4 hours.
  • About 45 minutes before grilling the salmon, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut up the bread into 1/2 inch cubes (crouton size).
  • Toss in 1 TBS olive oil, add seasonings you like-garlic, salt, pepper were our choices.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, stirring at 5 minutes to assure even cooking.
  • Just before grilling, mix up salad ingredients: chop romaine, toss with caesar, parmesan cheese and sundried tomatoes. Top with croutons.
  • Heat grill to medium-high. Air on medium, so as to not overcook the fish.
  • Place salmon skin side up on grill, slightly off from the heat. Cook 5-7 minutes.
  • Flip and cook for 3-5 minutes, depending on doneness desire (is that a word?) 🙂
  • Remove from grill, allow to cool for a few minutes.
  • Carefully cut salmon into thirds, removing skin as you plate the fish. It should come off with ease!
  • Enjoy (we also made garlic bread to go along with this-yumm!)!

Great company!

Great company!
Doesn't he just look guilty for finding that frisbee?
Doesn’t he just look guilty for finding that frisbee?

Pizza night and Mother’s Day

Tim’s mother and granny are visiting us from Virginia. They have graced us since Wednesday, and unfortunately have to fly back tomorrow. Luckily we are spending Mother’s Day with them currently, which is a treat! Since they have gotten to spend a few night with us, we have had some fun cooking for 4 rather than 2. Last night we were talking about ordering pizza, when I realized we should just make our own! I had gotten a new bread cookbook yesterday morning at one of the many garage sales we visited, and was anxious to adapt a recipe to my own.

The crusts on these pizzas are part whole wheat, part white flour. All high-altitude flour, which is a great thing for us! We decided on chicken as a meat topping, but couldn’t agree on what kind-so we made two different ones! The first is sweet italian chicken sausage, portabello and green pepper with a tomato sauce base. The second is barbecue chicken with barbecue and olive oil base. Both were amazing, though I was personally partial to the sausage. I adapted a version of an “in a rush” pizza crust, which turned out beautifully when slowed down a bit (the rushed version calls for the oven to be preheated to 250 for 5 minutes, and the dough rises in the previously warmed oven for 30 minutes-I just left it on the counter for an hour). 

I also have been off dairy now since February, so I put Daiya cheese on the slices I planned to eat!!

Oh, and Happy Mother’s Day!!

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The Sweet-Italian Sausage, Portabello and Pepper Pizza

Half-Wheat Pizza Crust, “In a Hurry”

(makes 2 pizza crusts)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup warm (110-115 degree) water 
  • 2 ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (plus a dash more for kneading/correct consistency)
  • 2 tsp salt

Directions:

  • You can either do this by hand or with a mixer and bread hook. If using mixer, place yeast and water in mixing bowl off the start. If using hands, just use a large bowl.
  • Put the warm water in bowl, sprinkle yeast over top and let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Add flour and salt, either mix with hands or turn to moderate speed on mixer.
  • Once the mix becomes roughly incorporated, either mix by hand or on low setting for 5 minutes until smooth. 
  • At this point I added a bit of water because my dough was dry, but that might not be necessary for you!
  • Form into two balls, let rise about 1-1 ½ hours until doubled.
  • Use as directed below!
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Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage, Portobello and Pepper Pizza

Two Variations of Chicken Pizza

Ingredients:

  • Full recipe of Half-Wheat Pizza Crust.
  • Corn Meal for dusting pan
  • One small can tomato sauce
  • .5 lb Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage, out of casing and cooked to brown
  • Sautéed portobello and green pepper (we used two small portobello caps and ½ a green pepper)
  • .5 lb chicken breast or cutlets, cubed and cooked through
  • Mozzarella cheese (mozzarella style daiya cheese for me!

OR

  • Any toppings you like!

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  • Sprinkle two baking sheets with corn meal.
  • Take your risen dough and use a rolling pin to spread just under the length and width of the pan. Mine was an inch from the sides of an average cookie sheet.
  • Spread tomato sauce on one dough, all the way around but leave ¼ inch on rim to act as crust.
  • Mix a ratio of 1:3 olive oil:barbecue sauce for the second dough. Spread in same was as before.
  • On the tomato based pizza, spread the chicken sausage evenly, then the portobello, then the green pepper. Top generously with cheese.
  • On the barbecue based pizza, first mix the cooked chicken with enough barbecue sauce to coat generously then spread the chicken on the pizza. Top with cheese.
  • Place pizzas in oven for 7-11 minutes, or until bubbly and beginning to brown!

OR

  • Follow first few steps and top with whatever you want, and bake at same temp for same time!

YAY!

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My daiya cheese slices!

 

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash Monday Funday

First of all, apologies for this being a short post (and a huge gap since the last one) but I’m exhausted! Of course, we had a delicious dinner, so I need to share. Better yet it was a delicious and incredibly easy dinner (like, less than 30 minutes of actual work and 45 minutes of wine/crafting while the oven did it’s thing). So I have to post, right?!

Yesterday we found a nice 50% off package of organic lean turkey meat when shopping for a pre-planned dinner of barbecue and black bean topped sweet potatoes. Naturally, we couldn’t leave it there for someone else. We agreed that Monday night would be ground turkey night. What to do with it though? We’ve gotten some good practice with turkey meatballs, but I wasn’t really feeling pasta. After this weekend I needed a bit of healthy in my life (not that pasta can’t be healthy, in moderation, but I don’t have time for moderation right now-just give me good for me, and give me a lot of it). I sent this link for ideas, but could’t find one I liked. But what I could do was take some inspiration.

Have you been tempted by the healthy spaghetti alternative, spaghetti squash, yet?? I have, but hadn’t committed. 

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Until tonight.

I biked home from work, and made a pit stop at the grocery store. Lucky me, squash was on sale. So was the pasta sauce I love, the organic store brand option! With those items in hand – and ONLY those items (believe me, I was proud of my willpower in a store that sells FOOD) – I headed home to create. The results were tremendous. I didn’t need to use  any oil in this recipe, the turkey cooked up great in my nonstick skillet. The spaghetti squash cooked perfectly in the oven, no real attention needed. It is incredibly easy to make this squash super tasty, and it’s healthy!! One cup of it contains 10% of your daily vitamin C, 9% of your fiber, other minerals and vitamins, and is only 42 calories/10 carbs!! Yes please!

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Browning the turkey and adding the mushrooms-already drooling.

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Wine and tomato basil sauce? Sure.

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Stuffed.

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Baked.

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Destroyed.

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Serves 3-4

Ingredients: 

  • 1 (2 or 3lb) spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 4 oz crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 jar pasta sauce
  • Red wine (to drink, and to splash in the sauce)
  • Handful of cheese (or daiya cheese, in my case!)

Directions:

  • Turn oven to 375 degrees.
  • Cut squash long ways, clean out seeds, place cut side down in roasting pan (I lined mine with foil).
  • Drink wine.
  • Bake for 45 minutes. Kill 30 minutes drinking more wine and playing with your dog (or making crafts!)
  • Heat skillet to medium. 
  • Cook ground turkey until almost all brown. Add in mushrooms. Season if needed.
  • Add pasta sauce and splash of red wineand heat through.
  • Remove squash from oven, flip over halves so they are squash bowls.
  • Scoop turkey mixture into squash halves. You will likely only need half the mixture. We reserved the remaining turkey sauce to put on the spaghetti squash we couldn’t eat, for leftover lunch. You could also cut the squash in half after baking and add more sauce if you are serving 4 people.
  • Top with cheese if you like, and bake for an additional 7-9 minutes.
  • Cut in half again to share, or simply eat out of a half all by yourself! We started on a half each, and had leftovers of course!
  • Drink more wine.
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The end of Lent, the beginning of cheese

H A P P Y   E A S T E R !!

This morning began for me in a condo at a ski resort. Not half bad, right?  Tim and I spent yesterday skiing with by best friend and her brand new fiancé (as of last week-congrats to them!) and soaking up some rays. By soaking up rays, I mean getting light sunburns on our noses and cheeks. Oh well! 🙂

Back to the point at hand-today is Easter Sunday, which besides being an important day to any Christian is also the day in which those of us who practice Lent get to finally eat whatever we’ve given up. And I gave up dairy! Which was pretty difficult, but I discovered very valuable on my digestive system. But you know, what’s good for you isn’t always what you end up doing…and even though I promised myself I would continue to cut dairy out, I have a feeling that will be a hard promise to keep!! So this afternoon when I asked Tim what we should make for Easter Supper, he jokingly suggested Macaroni and Cheese. And I certainly surprised him with my enthusiastic, “SURE!” I hadn’t had cheese in 40 days…why not get my just reward? And I did, indeed. This delicious recipe was adapted from the February 27th recipe in the cookbook, A Year Full of Recipes by LOVEFOOD. It’s baked after being assembled, which gives you that wonderful bubbly, crispy cheese topping that is irresistible. Oh, and we accompanied it with grilled asparagus and filet mignon, which certainly helped set the supper off.

It’s important to be patient when cooking the sauce over the stove. You want it to get to the right consistency or you will have mac n soup.

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If I add the cheese before the sauce sticks more to the whisk, it won’t thicken up enough while baking to hold it all together for me.

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That’s what I want!

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Cheese within, cheese withon. 

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Delicious, baked and broiled, cheesy good-ness.

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Oh, stop.

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I chose my favorite: shell noodles. But use whatever you like!

Totally Baked Mac N’ Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz uncooked pasta noodles 
  • 5 TBS butter
  • 2 ½ cups almond milk (I used plain unsweetened-you can use regular milk of course, but I like the nuttiness of almond milk for this!)
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¾ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 6 oz bag baby spinach, chopped or torn

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cook pasta according to package. Drain and stir in 1 TBS butter to keep noodles from sticking to each other. Cover and keep warm.
  • In saucepan, warm milk and nutmeg over low heat (be sure not to boil).
  • Meanwhile, melt remaining 4 TBS butter in another saucepan over low heat. Mix in flour (will form a paste) and continue to stir for 2 minutes (this brings out a nutty flavor). 
  • Slowly add in milk mixture, whisking thoroughly to avoid clumps. 
  • Continue to cook over low heat, whisking regularly, for 10-15 minutes until sauce consistency is reached (see images above). 
  • Mix in 1 ½ cups of the cheddar, and ½ cup of the parmesan, melting completely into sauce. 
  • Mix in spinach and continue to stir until wilted.
  • Place cooked noodles in bottom of baking dish. Cover with sauce. Top with remaining cheese.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, turn to broil for last 5 or so (just to get that good golden brown top!).
  • Enjoy!

Last call for winter soup

Today is daylight savings-and I couldn’t be more excited to have that extra hour of light after work. It’s no fun trying to motivate yourself to work out after 5pm when it’s already getting dark. I find myself going to the gym and aimlessly wandering around the machines; using this one for a minute…then that one for a minute…then determining I deserve frozen yogurt for working out. Go me!

But with the sun being out a little longer each day now, I’m sure to get out with the puppy and go for more evening runs. We’re also approaching race season in my neck of the woods-and training for a 10k will begin in a week. You will likely hear occasional groans from that coming up.

But through all this exercise, or attempts at, a girl’s still gotta eat! And I still love my vegetarian recipes now and again. The way I see it, you know you’ve hit the jackpot on a vegetarian soup recipe when your self proclaimed carnivore boyfriend asks for it regularly, and you still use veggie sausage long after you’ve reincorporated meat into your diet. With daylight savings comes the end of soup season as well-so I need to get my fix in while I can. I love kale or spinach wilted into soup, and this sweet potato kale soup recipe is just what I need (every other week or so).

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Sweet Potato and Kale Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs sweet potatoes, washed and cubed into 1/4 inch pieces (I keep the skin on-can be peeled if you don’t like the skin)
  • 1 lb white potatoes, washed and cubed into 1/4 inch pieces (same with skin)
  • 1 (14 oz) package vegetarian sausage, sliced (I like Tofurkey Italian Style)
  • 6 cups veggie broth
  • 1 can white beans, rinsed (navy or white kidney-not garbanzo)
  • 1 small head kale, chard or spinach, rinsed and chopped

Directions:

  • Heat 1 TBSP EVOO over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, cook about 5 minutes until softening. Add potatoes and heat for 15 minutes, until beginning to soften.
  • Add broth, bring to boil and continue to cook over medium-low temp, covered, until potatoes are done (about 20 minutes).
  • Add remaining TBSP oil, veggie sausage and white beans, cook additional 5 minutes until heated through.
  • Stir in greens until wilted, serve and enjoy!

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Thanks for stopping by!

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Prost, to a Roast

For my first Christmas morning away from home, I found it necessary to make all the familiar snacks that I had growing up. To me, there’s nothing like food to bring back memories and feelings of warmth. At our house, the tradition is to make Monkey Bread up the night before, allowing it to rise slowly in the microwave overnight, and bake in the morning as the family gathers.

Monkey Bread

Mimosas are poured, and eventually Grammy arrives with the traditional Shrimp and Grits casserole. Side note-the mimosas are my favorite. I’m a foodie, but I can’t resist Champagne and OJ.

Mimosa

When everyone has finally gathered, and the Monkey Bread has come out of the oven (oh so gooey and sinful), we sit with full champagne flutes and wrapping paper begins to fly. There is nothing to me like those hours with family, good food and happy exchanges.

So what to do now that I have gone from a 10 person Christmas morning feast, to just Tim, Cooper and I? Naturally, make enough food for 10 still, eat twice as much as normal, and of course, the mimosas…

Mimosas

But what really set Christmas off for me this year, was our Christmas dinner. As it was my first Christmas away AND as a non-vegetarian, I wanted to do something extra-special. After an afternoon of debating the centerpiece course, Tim and I decided on roast chicken. I personally love a bit of sweet and savory, so a pomegranate sauce sounded great. And it’s the holidays, which to me means spices and herbs. So we have…

Chicken plated

Sage and Garlic Roasted Chicken with Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Pepper Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 lb fryer chicken (thawed)
  • 4 TBS butter, softened
  • 2 TBS sage, chopped (reserve extra sage to stuff in chicken)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 feet twine for trussing chicken
  • Medium-small butternut squash
  • One or two small apples
  • 2 TBS EVOO
  • 2 cups 100% pomegranate juice
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 head broccoli (optional, but goes along as a side very well)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Mix butter, sage, garlic and salt. Rub all over chicken, under skin and in cavity.
  • Stuff remaining sage/garlic in cavity.
  • Truss chicken: Place center of twine behind chicken with cavity facing you. Bring ends over drumsticks toward you, pull under drumsticks and out to the sides, then bring back over and tie in middle. This is also easy to find online if you need more instruction.
  • Prepare butternut squash and apples by cutting into 2 inch cubes (removing all seeds). Toss in light EVOO and a bit of garlic/salt if you like.
  • Place chicken in center of roasting pan, surround with prepared veggies and fruits.
  • Roast for 1 hour 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Heat pomegranate juice and pepper over medium heat until reduced (about 20 minutes). Stir often to ensure it doesn’t burn or stick to pan.
  • After roasting for 1 hour and 10 minutes, pour 1/2 sauce over chicken, reserving rest for plating/serving.
  • Continue to bake 10 minutes. This is also an excellent time to steam the broccoli, if you choose to have it.
  • Remove chicken from oven and let cool 10 minutes before carving.
  • Enjoy!!

  Chicken before

Who doesn’t love a good before and after set?

Chicken after 

Merry Christmas!!!

Cooper w presents

Christmas Eve Eve Spaghetti

About three weeks ago I decided to re-incorporate meat into my diet. That’s right, I’m a “recovering vegetarian”. In reality, I loved being a vegetarian – despite grumbling from family (I can hear you!) – but on a serious budget and with a carnivorous boyfriend, I just don’t have the devotion. All of you vegetarians who are sighing in disapproval, I apologize.

That being said, I am exploring only the yummiest, healthiest meaty recipes. Last night, Tim and I made Turkey Meatballs with Linguine and a beautiful side salad. I couldn’t be happier with the way these babies turned out.

cooking meatballs

Turkey Meatballs with Linguine

Ingredients:

      Main Dish:

  1. 3/4 cup 1% milk
  2. 2 cups French or Italian bread torn into bite size pieces
  3. 1 large egg, beaten
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 1 tsp pepper
  6. 1 tsp italian seasoning
  7. 1 lb lean ground turkey (93%)
  8. 1 1/2 tbsp EVOO
  9. 1/2 lb linguine, cooked as directed.
  10. 1 24 oz jar of your favorite pasta sauce (I love mushroom sauce personally)
  11. *Optional: 2 tbsp of the red wine you are drinking anyway.
  12. Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling if you wish!

    Spinach and Avocado Salad:

  1. 4 cups Baby Spinach Leaves
  2. 1/2 avocado, chopped
  3. 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
  4. 2 Tbsp blue cheese
  5. 1 Tbsp sunflower seeds, walnuts, or pecans
  6. Salt, Pepper, Oil and vinegar to taste

Directions:

  • Place bread pieces and milk in bowl until milk is completely absorbed – about 10 minutes.
  • Once absorbed, mix in turkey, egg and seasonings. Shape into 16 balls (it may seem difficult, because they are sticky and might fall apart-but they will stay together and it’s worth it!)
  • Heat large skillet over Medium-High heat. Begin boiling water for pasta.
  • Heat EVOO in skillet. Cook meatballs over Medium-High heat until light brown, about 5 minutes, turning a few times to cook evenly.
  • Add pasta sauce to meatballs, cover and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    *I add the wine at this point-I love the flavor a small bit of red wine adds to pasta sauce.*
  • Cook pasta according to directions
  • Mix salad ingredients together.
  • Plate, sprinkle pasta with Parmesan and enjoy!!

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