Tag Archives: pasta

Roasted (or Grilled) Veggies & Carb Goodness

First of all, happy father’s day to all the dads out there!

Second of all, here’s a fun recipe that can be made any time of year. Roast vegetables in balsamic vinegar in the oven or toss them on the grill! Summer or winter, this dish is equally delicious.

Third of all, notice a difference on my blog? What do you think of the new header I put together? Yay or nay?

Back to the recipe…

I used a combination of bell pepper, mushrooms, onion, and zucchini. Throwing in some fresh herbs and some chopped Kalamata olives and marinated artichokes gives the dish a tangy bite. Sprinkle with a bit of feta for saltiness and you’re all set to tickle your tastebuds!

Eaten hot or cold, this pasta salad is extremely versatile. A side dish, a lunch or a dinner if you throw in some chicken or beans 🙂 Or these veggies make a delicious side dish on their own, pasta excluded!

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Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad
(Serves 4-6)

1 lb. whole wheat penne, fusilli, rigatoni, etc.
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 orange, yellow or red bell pepper
1 large red onion
2 medium zucchini or yellow squash
8 oz. cremini mushrooms
12 Kalamata olives, halved
1 c. chopped marinated artichoke hearts
1/3 c. feta cheese
2 tbsp. chopped thyme, rosemary, & basil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

If you’re going to grill your vegetables, turn the grill to medium. Chop pepper into quarters, slice onions into 1/2″ thick rings (keeping the rings together), slice zucchini into quarters, and keep mushrooms whole. Basically, you’re keeping these veggies in large pieces so they’re easier to grill and they don’t fall through the grates. Toss with garlic, balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Marinate for about 20 minutes. Place pieces on the grill and grill for about 15 minutes, turning halfway through cooking. You want the veggies to have a nice brown coloring on them, but you don’t want the veggies to be falling apart on the grill.

If you’re going to roast the veggies, chop the veggies into 1/2″ pieces, toss with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the veggies for about 20-25 minutes in a 400 degree oven, or until the veggies are nice and browned (turning halfway between cooking).

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drizzle with olive oil and stir to keep from sticking. Set aside, covered, to keep warm.

In a large mixing bowl, place pasta and cooked veggies. Toss with 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice, artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, and herbs. Sprinkle with feta cheese before serving. Serve hot, cold or room temperature.

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Getting Back on Track

Did anyone eat and drink as much as I did this weekend? No? Guess it was just in our household! It was my birthday this past Friday and I had visitors from Long Island – one of my best friends from college and her boyfriend. Whenever visitors come around do you find yourself eating a drinking more? Drinking including the BEST margaritas in the world? I will share the recipe eventually 🙂

First I’d like to let everyone know a few of the awesome home/kitchen/cooking related gifts I got because I’m excited about them. From my boyfriend a gift certificate to Home Depot (along with a part-shade plant) to start my shady garden on our balcony and a BB&B gift certificate to bulk up my kitchen supplies. Oh, and a Cooking for Friends cookbook from Williams-Sonoma I mentioned I wanted about 4 months ago! From my mom I got an herb garden she planted for me herself filled with my favorite herbs: basil, rosemary, cilantro and thyme 🙂

Also, I received an amazing little notebook from my friend from nursing school which includes some of her own favorite recipes, along with family member recipes (awesome, right?) A cookbook from my aunt which is one she bought when she first got married that has amazing classic desserts and things of the like. And I can’t forget about this sweeeet spoon holder from friends I met through Tim. Cooking + Owls = Love. (Did I ever mention I also have an owl apron?). People know me so well 🙂

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Enough about me rambling. The recipe I’d like to share with you today is a very nutritious and healthy pesto to go over your favorite whole grain pasta, along with some veggies. It’s delicious hot or cold. It’s good to eat when you’re trying to get back on track! Make a big batch to have to eat during the week. Feel free to add beans or chicken slices for some extra protein. Throw in whatever veggies you have on hand!

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Kale-Edamame Pesta Pasta with Green Veggies
(Serves 4-6)

1 lb. short pasta of your choosing
1 small zucchini, diced
10 asparagus stalks, chopped
2 c. washed, chopped kale (stems removed)
10-12 leaves basil
6 mint leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 c. shelled edamame, thawed
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c. Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. walnuts
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare pasta according to package directions in a large pot and cook to your desired doneness – I like al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, in a medium frying pan, splash a little olive oil in the pan. Throw in your zucchini and asparagus and any other veggies you like. Cook until just tender until starting to brown, about 10-12 minutes. Set aside.

When the pasta is done, reserve 1 cup of the salty, starchy water when you strain it. Place back into the pot (or a serving bowl if you want to be fancy) and add veggies. Keep off the heat.

In a blender or a food processor, add all the rest of the ingredients (kale, edamame, basil, mint, cheese, olive oil, walnuts, garlic). Puree until smooth, adding as much pasta water as you need to thin out the pesto to make a sauce. Use salt and pepper to taste. I’d say start out with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and go from there.

Add the pesto to the pasta and the veggies, stir to coat and serve hot or cold!

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Healthier Carbonara

Apparently night shift also doesn’t allow me to write posts either!

This recipe I got from my new-ish Williams Sonoma Weeknight Fresh & Fast cookbook. As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it out. I love carbonara, but the thought of it usually clogs my arteries immediately.

This version is much healthier and absolutely delicious! It comes together quickly, which is also a bonus.

I took some help from the grocery store by buying precut and washed kale, and prediced pancetta. Oh how I love Trader Joe’s!

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Spaghetti Carbonara with Kale
(Serves 4-6)

6 oz. pancetta, chopped
2 large shallots or a medium onion, minced
1/2 c. dry white wine or chicken broth
16 oz. pkg of dried spaghetti, whole wheat or another favorite
4 c. chopped kale (1-2 bunches)
3 eggs
3/4 c. parmesan/romano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add 2 tablespoons-ish of salt. Drop in your pasta and cook to al dente.

Meanwhile, place a large nonstick frying pan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and saute until it begins to brown about 3-5 minutes. Add the shallot or onion and cook until the onion starts to become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the wine or chicken stock and let it boil, stirring up the browned bits at the bottom of the pan for about 1 minute. Add kale and cook until tender about 5-8 minutes.

In a small bowl, add the eggs and beat with a fork. Mix in cheese and about 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper.

Remove 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water and reserve. Drain the pasta. Take the pancetta/kale pan off the heat. Add the pasta. Slowly whisk 1/3 cup of the pasta water into the egg mixture. Add the egg mixture to the pasta and stir until it coats the pasta and makes a creamy sauce, not runny! If it’s runny put the pan back on the warm burner and stir until it just comes together. Cooking it over heat will cause the egg to curdle.

Serve immediately and top with additional cheese, if desired.

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Healthy Meatballs

Do you ever just crave a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs? I did recently, so I whipped up a big batch of turkey meatballs to pair with some whole grain pasta and sauce.

I know pre-packaged meatballs in the freezer section are extremely tempting and usually pretty delicious. But do you ever look at the nutrition info? Usually they have a lot of saturated fat and sodium. So let’s stay away from that.

I used 99% lean ground turkey and put a lot of flavorings in it so you don’t really miss the fat. Now with ground turkey, you can’t just assume that it’s more healthy. You do need to look for the lean stuff!

For the pasta and sauce, I just picked up my favorite jarred sauce, and kicked it up with chopped onion, mushroom and some added red wine. Easy right? Thought so.

This meal comes together quickly, so making it on a weeknight is definitely doable!

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Turkey Meatballs with Mushroom Tomato Sauce
(Makes about 18 meatballs)

1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 medium onion, 1/4 grated, the rest chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 slice whole wheat bread, put in a food processor or blender to make bread crumbs
1/4 c. parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
2 pinches each of dried basil and oregano
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, chopped or sliced
1/2 c. red wine
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
1 box of your favorite pasta
Salt, pepper, red pepper flake
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Start your pasta water and cook according to package directions while you prepare the rest of the meal.

In a large bowl, mix together the turkey, bread crumbs, dried herbs, 1/2 of the minced garlic, 1/4 onion grated, parm cheese (if using) pinch of red pepper flake 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

When the mixture is combined, grab a heaping tablespoon of the mixture and roll into a ball the size of a golf ball. Repeat until all the turkey is used. Pop into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn on the broiler and cook meatballs until they’re browned.

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While the meatballs are cooking, in a large frying pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the rest of the chopped onion, mushrooms, the rest of the garlic and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook until onions are translucent and the veggies start to brown. Add in the red wine. Scrape off all the bits off the bottom of the pan. Turn heat to medium low, then add sauce.

Add the meatballs to the sauce when finished under the broiler. Allow to cook in the sauce for about 5 minutes.

Top your cooked pasta with meatballs and sauce. Sprinkle with extra parmesan cheese if you’d like!

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Roll It Up!

Yep, roll up your lasagna. You might wonder, what’s the point? I think it’s easier to control the portion sizes, and I tend to like a little more pasta with my filling. It’s also just kind of fun 🙂

This recipe is quick, easy, and absolutely delicious. It was a big hit with my guinea pig that I’m living with now. It made a big batch and the leftovers were great for a few days after!

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I used store bought pasta sauce *GASP*. Whatever, store bought pasta sauces are getting way better, and it makes dishes easier to make and faster to put together.

This lasagna is a bit lighter than your traditional lasagna. I used part skim ricotta, 2% milk shredded mozzarella, ground turkey and loads of veggies.

Lasagna Roll Ups
(Serves 4-6)

12 sheets of your favorite lasagna sheets
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 small onion, chopped
2 c. frozen spinach, thawed and extra liquid squeezed out
6-8 cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 8 oz. container of part skim ricotta cheese
1 c. shredded mozzarella, divided
1 pinch of dried basil and oregano
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
Salt and pepper
Red pepper flake

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cook lasagna sheets according to package directions. When cooked, strain and run cold water over them to stop the cooking process.

In a large frying pan over medium high heat, place onions, ground turkey, sprinkle of red pepper flake, garlic and mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until there’s no longer any pink in the turkey, about 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, 1/3 cup mozzarella, spices, and squeezed out spinach. Add 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Look how cheesy and yummy that looks.

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Add in the turkey mixture when cooked. Stir to combine.

In a 9 x 13″ baking dish, pour about 1/2 cup sauce and spread along the bottom of the pan. I used Safeway roasted garlic sauce…I was drawn in by the whole cloves of garlic! I wasn’t disappointed.

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On a cutting board or other clean surface, lay out a few lasagna sheets. Place about 1/3 cup of filling on the edge of a lasagna sheet.

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Roll up and place in the baking dish. Any leftover filling? Just spread it across the top.

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Top with the rest of the jar of sauce. Then the rest of the cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes until the cheese is bubbling brown. Let set for about 10-15 minutes before serving.

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Spice Up Your Pasta Night!

This recipe is quite possibly my favorite pasta dish. My mom and I found it online a few years back when we were trying to find a new spin on pasta.

It remains one of our favorites and is constantly requested by my dad when my brother isn’t around! It’s super simple to make and has a ton of flavor. The leftovers heat up deliciously and taste just about as good as it does fresh out of the pan.

And guess what? It pretty much has all the food groups. So it’s a complete and healthy meal. Good luck eating just one bowl though 😉

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Bowties with Sausage, Sundried Tomatoes and Spinach
(Serves 4-6)

1 box of bowtie pasta
1 pkg. Italian sausage links (usually comes in 5 link packages), hot or sweet (or both!)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c. sliced sundried tomatoes
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/2 c. white or red wine
1 c. chicken stock
A pinch of dried basil and oregano
1/8 – 1/4 tsp. red pepper flake
4-5 generous handfuls of fresh baby spinach
1/4 c. parmesan or parmigiano-reggiano cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to package directions until just before al dente.

In a large pan, heat the pan over medium-high heat. Squeeze the sausage out of the links into the pan and break up into chunks with a spoon or other cooking utensil. When the sausage just has a little pink left, add in the garlic, diced tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, wine, chicken stock and spices. Bring to a boil.

When the sauce has reduced slightly, add in your pasta and spinach. Cook all of your ingredients together until the spinach is wilted and the pasta is cooked through. At the end, add the cheese and stir to combine.

Serve in large pasta bowls and garnish with extra cheese, if desired.

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Easy Lunch for a Week

I’m a big fan of making large batches of meals and then using them throughout the week to have more time to relax. My first week of work I decided to make a large batch of pasta salad for lunches for the week. I’m not a huge sandwich person for lunches, unless it’s from a place like Jimmy John’s.

I was also at the time trying to figure out if I had some sort of wheat or oat allergy, so I picked up some quinoa pasta. You can use any type of your favorite short pasta for this dish. Also use any of your favorite vegetables. The ones I chose are just those that jumped out to me in the grocery store.

Don’t like chickpeas or black beans? Use whatever kinds of beans you like, or cook some chicken and dice it up.

You could also use this dish as a side to dinner. I liked it for lunch because it carries well since there’s no mayo in it. Of course, this means it’s super healthy! This pasta salad takes advantage of really fresh veggies, so it’s pretty guilt free 🙂

Garden Pasta Salad
(Serves 4-6)

8 oz of your favorite short pasta
1 15 oz can of black beans
1 15 oz can of chickpeas
4 small gourmet cucumbers or ½ of an English cucumber, diced
1 handful of grape tomatoes, quartered
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
½ c. diced carrots
¼ c. olive oil
½ lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper to taste
Any other veggies you like chopped into similar sizes: peppers, olives, radishes, mushrooms, etc.

Cook your pasta according to package directions in salted water to your desired doneness. I personally like my pasta al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, chop up all your veggies. In a large bowl, combine all of your veggies, beans, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Let sit. The salt will bring out all the juices of the vegetables and make a delicious coating for the pasta.

When the pasta is finished, strain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain all the excess water out, and add the pasta to your bowl of veggies.

Serve immediately or put into containers for lunch!

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Pasta Bake In a Hurry: Improv in the Kitchen

Cooking in half of a kitchen – meaning one with no sink – is quite a challenge. But I didn’t stop me from making a version of this pasta recipe. Combine that with having to do it in about 45 minutes…with about 1.5″ thick FROZEN chicken. Kitchen challenge is on.

I was planning on making it in the late morning/early afternoon for both Tim and myself… It turned into me whipping it together in under an hour with frozen chicken that I took out this morning before we went shopping for a new refrigerator. This dish would be quicker if your chicken is thawed!

YIKES! Well, when I put my mind to something, I have to do it. I managed to put it together in time to have him take some to work (unbaked… but fully cooked).

I’ll be reheating it for dinner in the oven or under the broiler to get a crunchy top that I want.

I made it sans cheese, because I think sauces get creamy enough with a standard béchamel. Also, I nix heavy creams and full-fat milks and go for the skim option.

If I make this again, I’ll definitely take a little more time with it. So I’ll tell you how I would’ve done it, instead of what actually happened. It tastes great! I tried it when I was packing Tim’s dinner 🙂

Look how cute this attached pair is. PS- like the new countertop? 🙂

Baked Pasta with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
(Serves 6-8)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 pkg. of your favorite short pasta, I used chiocciole
1 bundle of rainbow chard
1 pkg. cremini mushrooms, chopped into chunks
6 sun-dried tomato halves, chopped into ½” pieces
3 large garlic cloves, minced
4-5 c. milk
¼ c. flour
¼ tsp. nutmeg (or… pumpkin pie spice – use what you have!)
1 c. grated parm cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a pot, boil water for pasta. Cook pasta until it’s a little more firm than al dente. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  3. In a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat.
  4. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts, put into the preheated pan. Cook until brown on both sides, and cooked through (about 5-7 minutes/side depending on the thickness of the chicken).
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Separate the chard leaves from the stems. Chop the stems into ½” pieces. Stack the leaves on top of each other. Cut in half lengthwise, then slice into ribbons.
  6. When the chicken is cooked, place to the side. Add about ¼ cup water to the pan to get up the browned bits. Add in your vegetables and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the chard stems are soft. Add in some salt and pepper.
  7. Meanwhile, slice the chicken into strips, then into chunks (however big you like them).
  8. When the vegetables are completely cooked, put aside with chicken.
  9. Add in the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil to the pan. Sprinkle with the ¼ c. flour and mix until combined.
  10. Slowly whisk milk into mixture. Allow the milk to heat up and thicken, stirring constantly. If it doesn’t get thick enough to your liking (think fruit smoothie), add some more flour. Too thick, add some more milk. Now, you can add the nutmeg.
  11. Add in the vegetables, chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and pasta. Stir to combine. Top with parm cheese if you’d like.
  12. Place in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes until the top gets brown.
  13. Cool for about 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Those ridges really hang onto the sauce

Note: Feel free to freeze half of this dish in a baking dish like the recipe suggests. Just cook longer when you want to use it again!

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No Blue, Purple, or Green Box Required.

Who doesn’t like those boxes of Annie’s mac and cheeses with the bunny on the front? Quick, easy, stovetop mac and cheese that’s made of natural ingredients. Appealing. But, what if I told you that you could make something as delicious, if not more delicious?

If you’ve got about 15 minutes, you can make a yummy, homemade mac ‘n’ cheese AND skip a step. The best part is, you know exactly what you’re putting into your body.

I’ve always wondered if you could just cook the pasta in the milk that you’re using instead of cooking in water, draining, then putting milk in. I saw a post on The Kitchn about just that.

So of course, my impatient self jumped inside at the chance of skipping a step. I had to give it a try. I don’t use recipes to the “T” so I kind of improvised.

The results were AMAZING. The sauce got so creamy from the starch of the pasta and I crushed up a couple of fat-free seasoned croutons and sprinkled them on top before I ate it for added texture and flavor.

Stop drooling, your keyboard doesn't appreciate it!

Easy Mac ‘N’ Cheese for One

1 c. of your favorite short pasta, I used whole grain medium shells
1 c. milk, whatever is in your fridge – I had skim and it worked fine
¼ c. onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. of whole wheat flour (or regular)
1/3 c. of your favorite shredded cheese
6 croutons, crushed in a plastic bag (optional)
Sprinkle of nutmeg (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional add-ins: frozen peas (really any veggie you like), crispy bacon, shredded chicken, etc.

  1. Put your milk, pasta, onion, garlic, about 2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, and a sprinkle of nutmeg into a saucepan. The nutmeg is optional because while it does enhance the flavor of creamy sauces, not a lot of people have it on hand, so it’s really not a big deal. (Note: Yes, I know it looks like a lot of milk once it’s all in the pan, but the pasta soaks it up!)
  2. Turn the burner on medium high, letting the milk come up to a slight boil. Stir occasionally so the milk doesn’t scald.
  3. When the milk starts bubbling around the edges, turn the heat down to medium. Cover, and stir occasionally.
  4. After about 8 minutes of cooking, check on the pasta. Taste it. Does it need more salt or pepper? You’re looking for the pasta to be al dente, not completely cooked, but has a little bit of bite to it. At this point, take the lid off.
  5. Sprinkle the flour across the pasta. The more you spread it out, the less chance of clumping. Stir.
  6. Add in your cheese of choice and mix until the cheese has melted and everything is incorporated.
  7. Pour into a bowl and top with croutons. You’ll probably start off with half of the amount you made, but I guarantee you’ll be finishing off that pot!

FYI: I originally made this about a week ago, and last night I made it again, sans cheese… still yummy. Seriously.

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