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Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

Baked Salmon over Pasta with Vegetables

I finally own matching dishware for a service for 12! I was ecstatic the day I brought them home. Hubby, however, just wanted dinner because it was late by the time I brought the new dishes home. I threw dinner together while I washed a couple of my new salad plates to serve it on.

The dinner was incredibly tasty for something so quick and easy. So much so, that I’ll definitely be making it again sometime when we have the kids. They’ll love the pasta and veggies, and they’re always asking when we’ll be having salmon again because it’s one of their favorite foods. Besides, when “my stepmom’s good food” makes one of your kids’ required “things I like” lists for school, how can you not make them what they like?

BAKED SALMON OVER PASTA WITH VEGETABLES
Serves 2; can be doubled easily to serve more

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stovetop
  • Line a baking sheet with foil
  • Place 2 6-ounce salmon steaks on foil, skin side down
  • Drizzle olive oillightly over the salmon, brushing it to coat all of the meat
    • I have rosemary and pink peppercorn infused olive oil my cousin made for Christmas that I love to use on salmon. I think it adds the perfect hint of spiciness and flavor.
  • Season the salmon generously with salt and black pepper
  • Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes per inch of thickness; I baked mine for 20 minutes
  • While salmon bakes, add 1 cup whole wheat elbow macaroni to the boiling water and cook according to package directions
  • A few minutes before the pasta is done, add 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables to the pasta and continue to boil
  • Once pasta and vegetables are done, drain and toss with 1 Tablespoon butter
  • Divide the pasta with vegetables evenly between two plates
  • Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons shredded Parmesan and cracked black pepper to taste over each serving of pasta and vegetables
  • When salmon is done baking and easily flakes with a fork, take a metal spatula and carefully remove the steak from the skin and place on top of the pasta with vegetables. I don’t grease the foil specifically so the skin sticks to the foil and the salmon steak slides right off the skin.

Baked Salmon over Pasta with Vegetables

The measurements for the pasta and veggies are an estimate. I had leftovers of already cooked macaroni in my refrigerator that I simply warmed up with some frozen vegetables in the microwave. This meal is incredibly easy and fast to put together. The Parmesan is a must with the pasta and veggies, really adding a punch of flavor. Be sure not to under-season the salmon before baking. You need that seasoning to enhance the flavor of the fish.

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Smoked Sausage Pasta Salad

I am always buying meats in bulk and separating them into smaller freezer bags to use later. One item I almost always have in my freezer are smoked beef sausages. They are a super easy meal when I don’t have a lot of time to feed the hubby and kids. I can place them frozen in a pot with 1/2 inch of water, and steam them until heated through. There are many times when I have no time to cook that these smoked sausages end up on a lettuce-packed tortilla, drizzled with mustard, and served with cut up veggies on the side, or my favorite, Pacific Organic brand Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup.

Smoked Sausage Wrap

To turn them into a pasta salad, I steam them, cut them into slices, then mix them with steamed veggies and cooked pasta, and toss it all in my all-purpose red wine vinaigrette.

If you have leftover steamed veggies or leftover pasta with no sauce, then it’s even easier to put this dish together. It’s hearty, filling, super healthy, and a huge bowl won’t break your calorie budget. I like using double the veggies to the pasta in pasta salads. It’s a good way to get my pasta fix, but not overdo it, while still getting a hefty serving of veggies in my day.

SMOKED SAUSAGE PASTA SALAD
Serves 2 large helpings
Downloadable PDF of Smoked Sausage Pasta Salad

  • Cook 2 cups shaped whole wheat pasta according to package directions
  • Drain pasta and let cool to room temperature
  • While the pasta cooks, chop:
    • 2 cups carrots (about 3-4 large)
    • 2 cups zucchini (about 2 medium)
    • 1 cup red bell pepper (1 medium)
    • These were the veggies I used because they’ve been on sale at my grocer’s – use whatever you’d like
  • Place all the chopped veggies into a large, deep skillet
  • Add 2 thawed, whole smoked beef sausages to the veggies
  • Add 1/4 inch of water and steam veggies and sausages for 5 minutes
  • Remove veggies and sausages from heat and drain excess water, if there is any
  • Remove sausages and slice on a slight diagonal
  • Toss veggies with:
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • To combine, mix pasta, veggies, and sliced sausages together
  • Drizzle 2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinaigrette and toss to coat
  • Divide pasta salad between two bowls, and enjoy!

Smoked Sausage Pasta Salad

This pasta salad is loaded with more veggies than pasta or meat, keeping it lower on the calorie count. Using only 1 Tablespoon of vinaigrette per serving also keeps the calorie count lower.

That way, for dessert you can enjoy a serving of this awesome chocolate chip shortbread posted by one of my blogger friends. I made these this week and they are heaven. I split the flour, using half all-purpose and half whole wheat pastry flour, and used mini semi-sweet chocolate chips. So few ingredients, such little effort to put together, yet so unbelievably amazing. The hard part is sticking to just one serving!

Downloadable PDF of Smoked Sausage Pasta Salad

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Spaghetti Carbonara

This was THE best pasta dish I’ve ever made. Ever. It was rich, creamy, and full of flavor. We didn’t have any leftovers from this dinner. The kids loved it and the adults loved it, making it an all-around hit at my house. This will definitely be added to our regular dinner rotation.

Carbonara Ingredients

Bacon

Spaghetti Carbonara

Carbonara Dinner

SPAGHETTI CARBONARA
Downloadable PDF of Spaghetti Carbonara

  • Bring a large pot of water to boil
  • While the water heats, on a separate burner heat in a medium, deep skillet:
    • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • To the heated olive oil add:
    • 10 slices bacon
    • I use the precooked kind because it generates less grease and takes less time to crisp.
    • For traditional Carbonara, use Pancetta. I don’t buy it since it’s so expensive at my grocer’s. Bacon works better for our budget and tastes fine to us.
  • Cook bacon until just crisp
  • Set bacon on paper towels to drain, reserving 1 Tablespoon of the grease in the skillet
  • Mince:
    • 2 shallots
    • 2 cloves garlic
  • To the skillet, add and heat over medium low heat:
    • 1 Tablespoon olive oil to make about 2 tablespoons of grease/oil in the pan.
  • Add the minced shallots and garlic and let cook a few minutes – be sure not to burn garlic
  • Crumble the drained bacon into a medium bowl and set aside
  • Scrape the cooked shallot and onion with remaining bit of grease into the same bowl as the bacon and set aside
  • To the boiling water, add:
    • 1 Tablespoon salt
    • 1 pound spaghetti (I use whole wheat)
  • While spaghetti cooks, whisk together in a medium bowl:
    • 4 eggs, room temperature
    • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
  • Finely chop:
    • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil (or parsley)
  • Once pasta is al dente:
    • Scoop 1 cup of the pasta water out to reserve
    • Drain the pasta from the rest of the water and place in a very large serving bowl that allows room for tossing the pasta
    • Pour the egg/cheese mixture slowly over the pasta and toss pasta to coat
      • You don’t want the egg to scramble, but rather coat the pasta and slowly cook into a creamy sauce with the cheese
      • I tempered my egg before pouring it over the pasta with about 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta liquid
    • Pour more reserved pasta water over the pasta a few tablespoons at a time as needed to thicken the sauce, but not water it down
      • I only used a few tablespoons at this point and discarded the remaining reserved pasta liquid.
    • Once the sauce is coating all the pasta, add the bacon/shallot/garlic mixture and the chopped basil, tossing to combine well
  • Serve pasta with extra shredded Pecorino or Parmesan sprinkled on top and a Caesar salad on the side.

Spaghetti Carbonara

The egg and cheese make an incredibly silky, creamy sauce for the pasta and the bacon, shallot, and garlic add the perfect complimentary flavor. Make sure you DO NOT add olive oil to the pasta while it cooks or just after draining as it will coat the pasta and inhibit the creamy egg sauce from coating it properly.

Our girls had a friend stay for dinner and all three of them packed away large helpings. If you do have leftovers of this, be sure to warm them slowly, so as not to scramble the egg sauce.

What’s your favorite Italian dish to make at home?

Downloadable PDF of Spaghetti Carbonara

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Farmer's Market Kids' Feast

Sometimes my kids just want chicken nuggets with macaroni and cheese. It’s a kid classic comfort food dinner that my kids occasionally crave after some of the more adventurous dinners they love.

They gave me the request for this meal when they came for their weekend visit on Friday. With that in mind, I headed to my local farmer’s market early Saturday morning to buy the week’s necessities. While I was still in recovery from Thursday’s trip to urgent care, I managed to get everything I needed for the week, including a pound of chicken from Smith & Smith Farms, 1/2 pound of aged cheddar from Full Quiver Farms, and zucchini and onion from Johnson’s Backyard Garden.

Chicken

Cheddar

Zucchini

It makes me happy to show my stepdaughters that we can make homemade chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese from items found at our local farmers market. It lets them know there are a variety of places their food can come from, and how much fresher it tastes than the stuff out of a box in the frozen section of the grocery store, with a much smaller ingredients list (not to mention they can pronounce the ingredients). I’m not militant about everything that goes in their mouths, but I do like to ensure the majority of what I feed them is prepared at home with fresh, quality ingredients.

FARMERS MARKET CHICKEN NUGGETS
Downloadable PDF of Farmers Market Chicken Nuggets

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Cut 1 pound chicken breast into bite-sized pieces (about 2-inches)
  • In a medium bowl, mix together:
    • 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
    • 1/2 Tablespoon Original Mrs. Dash Seasoning, or to taste (or use your own mix of seasonings)
  • Toss chicken nuggets in bread crumb mixture until well-coated
  • Place on lightly greased baking sheet
  • Spray lightly with olive oil
  • Bake for 12 minutes
  • Turn nuggets and bake another 10 minutes or until cooked through
  • Serve with favorite dipping sauce

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FARMERS MARKET CHEESE SAUCE FOR PASTA
Adapted from this recipe at Every Day Health

  • In a medium saucepan, heat until simmering:
    • 1 1/2 cups milk (I use unsweetened plain soy milk)
  • In a medium liquid measuring cup, whisk together:
    • 1/4 cup milk (again, I use unsweetened plain soy milk)
    • 3 Tablespoons flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried garlic (or 1 large clove fresh minced garlic)
    • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • When milk is simmering, add flour mixture and whisk until smooth and milk has thickened
  • Add:
    • 1/4 pound shredded aged cheddar
  • Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth
  • Pour over 1 pound whole wheat pasta (I prefer corkscrew pasta so the ridges get filled with the sauce), and toss to coat

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FARMERS MARKET ZUCCHINI WITH ONION SAUTE

  • Thinly slice 4-5 small zucchini
  • Place zucchini in a colander, salt with kosher salt, and let sit over a bowl until it releases some liquid
  • Once some liquid has been released, rinse zucchini and pat dry
  • Chop 1/2 yellow onion
  • In a large saucepan, heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Cook chopped onion until soft, a few minutes
  • Add zucchini slices and cook until heated through
  • Add:
    • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh sage
    • 1 teaspoon fresh marjoram
  • Cook a couple minutes longer, stirring to mix the seasonings well with the zucchini

Farmer's Market Kids' Feast

Younger B exclaimed happily when she tasted the zucchini, immediately asking what was in it that made it so good. She was thrilled to hear it was the sage and marjoram (thank you GG for the starter plant!) from our front porch – my only two potted herbs thriving in the intense heat. Everyone in the family loves this comfort-food meal. It’s delicious and filling without all the junk food fillers.

What’s your family’s favorite comfort food dinner?

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Shrimp Linguini with Feta and Dill

A couple weeks ago, E was having a snack and wanted a book to look through while she was at the table. I handed her my new Real Simple dinner tonight: done! spring/summer 2011 issue of recipes from Real Simple magazine. Though not a subscriber, I’ve always been a fan of the magazine’s clean design, organizational tips, and recipes with very few ingredients. I met a woman back in April at one of the events I organized, and within 5 minutes we were talking about food and she was emailing me a recipe from Real Simple‘s website that she and her husband loved. She raved about it so much that when I saw this collection of recipes from the magazine at the grocery store checkout, I scooped it up without a second thought.

While flipping through the recipes, E asked if I would make a certain one for her. The recipe she chose was worth the cost of this recipe edition of the magazine! Everyone in the house was in love with it! My picture above does not do it justice, so don’t judge the recipe by that. Below is the version I made, which was ever so slightly different than the original.

SHRIMP LINGUINI WITH FETA AND DILL
(originally, Spaghetti with Shrimp, Feta, and Dill, pg 125, Real Simple Magazine dinner tonight: done! spring/summer 2011)

  • In a small bowl, collect the juice and zest of one large lemon. Set aside.
  • In another small bowl, snip/chop 2 Tablespoons fresh dill. Set aside.
  • In a medium, deep bowl, mix 6 ounces crumbled non-fat Feta with a drizzle of olive oil, 1 large clove minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon dried oregano. Set aside.
  • (original recipe called for 3 ounces plain crumbled Feta; I like mine seasoned with garlic and oregano)
  • Measure 1/4 cup olive oil and set aside.
  • Cook 16 ounces whole wheat linguini according to package directions.
  • (original recipe called for 12 ounces plain spaghetti, but I prefer whole wheat linguini)
  • While the pasta cooks, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a medium deep skillet.
  • Add 1 pound peeled, deveined large shrimp seasoned with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, stirring until just cooked through.
  • Turn off heat and add the lemon juice and zest to the shrimp, stirring to coat shrimp.
  • Drain pasta.
  • Add shrimp, Feta, chopped dill, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, and the 1/4 cup olive oil to pasta and toss to combine.
  • Serve.

Shrimp Linguini with Feta and Dill

B and E had seconds of this pasta, they loved it so much. It always makes me happy when they go back for seconds for something so healthy! E graduated 5th grade yesterday and will be a 6th grader next year. I was very proud of her for picking a healthy, light, fresh recipe for me to make. Though she loves junk food too, the fact that she’ll pick a recipe like this and love it lets me know that she is on her way to making healthy food decisions later in life. 🙂

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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I had hoped to post many recipes last week from last Sunday’s Italian feast, but as sometimes happens – I had to devote all my extra time to other areas of my life last week. I am one tired lady. I still have those recipes lined up, so be on the lookout for them, from beets to my new favorite pesto!

And then tonight, just as we were finishing dinner, my mom called and told me to turn on the Weather Channel. Devastating live footage from the tornado damage in Joplin, MO, with other areas of Southwest Missouri still under storms. I grew up in SW MO from birth until I was 19. I have family in Joplin and I hope they’re all okay. I have family and friends scattered through the four-state area and I’m hoping they all stay safe during these storms.

Tonight’s dinner is one I wish I could share with all of them. My thoughts are with everyone in that area of the country tonight.

Pork Spinach Alfredo Lasagna
Best lasagna ever – Pork Spinach Alfredo Lasagna

For those who don’t know, I have started adding meat to my diet after more than a year of inability to digest it. I’m really excited, though am still watching portion sizes. Tonight was my first time cooking pork in well over a year since it was one of the first meats I had to quit eating when my digestive system went haywire. What a recipe to start with – this is soooo yummy!

PORK SPINACH ALFREDO LASAGNA
(Downloadable PDF for Pork Spinach Alfredo Lasagna)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

NOODLES:

  • Fill a 6-quart pot with water and add 12 whole wheat lasagna noodles.
  • Turn heat to medium-high and heat the water until the noodles all settle under the water.
  • Turn heat off before water boils and let noodles sit in the heated water until ready to use.
  • This softens the noodles but allows them to stay al dente. It also keeps them from being too hot to handle with your hands when you’re ready to assemble the lasagna.
  • Allow to sit while you make the filling and sauce.

FILLING:

  • In a food processor, finely chop 16 ounces fresh baby spinach.
  • Spritz a deep, large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium heat.
  • Pour the chopped spinach in the skillet and saute.
  • Add 1 very large clove minced garlic, ground black pepper, and a dash of salt.
  • Saute a few minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Pour spinach into a large bowl and set aside (when cool, use a paper towel to dab the rest of the moisture from the spinach).
  • Add 1 pound ground mild Italian pork sausage to the same skillet and heat over medium high heat until browned, breaking meat into fine crumbles.
  • Drain meat and add to the same bowl as the spinach.
  • Stir in 6 ounces of nonfat Feta cheese until well mixed.
  • Set filling aside.

SAUCE:

  • In a medium saucepan, pour 3 cups cream (I use plain soy creamer) and heat over medium heat until bubbly.
  • In a measuring cup, whisk 1/4 cup cream with 4 teaspoons cornstarch until well blended.
  • When cream is heated, pour in the cornstarch mixture and whisk until thickened.
  • Add one very large clove minced garlic and reduce heat to medium-low.
  • Simmer a few minutes to infuse the garlic into the cream.
  • Slowly whisk in 5 ounces grated Parmesan cheese, whisking until well combined.
  • Sprinkle with ground nutmeg (about 1/4 teaspoon) to taste and whisk to combine.
  • Add about another cup of cream until sauce is desired consistency.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings to taste, then set aside.

ASSEMBLY:

  • Spritz a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish lightly with olive oil, using a paper towel to grease the whole pan.
  • Pour a ladle-full of sauce to coat the bottom of the dish.
  • Line three noodles on the bottom of the dish.
  • Gently spread 1/3 of the filling over the noodles.
  • Sprinkle with shredded Mozzarella cheese.
  • Pour another ladle or two of the sauce over.
  • Repeat with two more layers, then top with last three of the noodles.
  • Pour remaining sauce over the top of the noodles.
  • Bake for 30 – 35 minutes at 375 degrees, until bubbly and top begins to brown.
  • Sprinkle more shredded Mozzarella cheese over the top and bake another 10 minutes or until cheese starts to brown on top.
  • Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Pork Spinach Lasagna with Alfredo Sauce

My eldest stepdaughter, E, looked at me and said, “this is really good,” with her serious, I’m-not-joking face. Jackpot!! Please try this lasagna. It is definitely worth every step. I’ve never been a big lasagna fan, though I’ve always wanted to be, and this is by far the best lasagna I’ve ever eaten.

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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Penne with Spiced Tomato-Pecan Sauce

I love pasta. I’m a carb kinda gal. Tomatoes, garlic, and basil spiced with cayenne is always good. And for a Texas flare, a little added fresh chopped pecans. Topped with shredded Parmesan, and I had dinner.

Tonight's Dinner Ingredients

PENNE WITH SPICED TOMATO-PECAN SAUCE
Printer Friendly Version: Penne with Spiced Tomato Pecan Sauce

  • Fill a 6-quart pot with water and bring to a boil.
  • While the water heats, chop 3 Roma tomatoes.
  • Heat 4 Tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat in large deep skillet.
  • Add 3 large cloves minced garlic, and salt and ground black pepper to taste.
  • Let simmer about 10 minutes or until water is boiling and ready for the pasta.
  • Add 16 ounces whole wheat penne to boiling water, bring back to a boil, and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Continue simmering the tomato sauce, adding cayenne pepper to taste – you want the sauce to have a kick.
  • When the pasta only has a few more minutes and the tomato sauce has thickened, add 1 1/2 handfuls chopped pecans to the sauce, stir, and add two spoonfuls of the pasta water to the sauce to thin.
  • Let the pasta sauce continue to cook while the pasta finished cooking.
  • Drain the pasta and pour the tomato-pecan sauce over the pasta.
  • Toss to coat the pasta with sauce.
  • Add 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese and stir until melted.
  • Serve pasta topped with additional shredded Parmesan and fresh ground black pepper.

Finished off with brownies and some espresso for dessert, and I was one happy girl. The brownies were from a mix that was made of whole wheat flour, egg white, stevia, and other pronounceable, whole, real ingredients.

Brownies

After hubby and his best friend returned from happy hour, they both inhaled a large bowl each of the pasta, mumbling praise at my cooking between bites. 🙂

~Ingredients to nourish the body put together in ways to nourish the soul to share with family and friends to nourish the heart~

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