Category: Dinner

Veggie Pasta aka Pasta Primavera

pasta primavera 3

I was watching reruns of Pioneer Woman the other night (exciting night, I know) and on one of the episodes she made a pasta primavera that inspired me to come up with my own version of the dish. I used a lot of the same vegetables she used in her recipe as well as her cooking method. I cooked the vegetables in batches for a short amount of time, just like she recommends. She’s right, if you cook the vegetables too long they get mushy because they continue to cook when you add them back into the sauce. So the veggie part of the dish is very similar to her recipe but the sauce in my version is entirely different. Mostly because I didn’t want to go out and buy heavy cream and half and half, which are two important players in her version of this classic pasta dish. I think my version, although it does call for cream cheese, is probably a tad bit healthier as well.

pasta primavera 1

This is a pasta you can, or at least I can, feel good about eating because there is so much nutrition packed into the dish, especially if you use whole grain or whole wheat pasta like I did. It’s also packed full of veggies like carrots, squash, broccoli, and mushrooms. So even though the sauce is a bit decadent the dish is actually pretty good for you. The ratio of pastas to veggies is pretty equal. It’s also so tasty and very colorful. Just looking at the pasta with all those beautiful, vibrant vegetables is enough to cheer me up. Another bonus of making pasta primavera is it’s a great way to use up veggies in the fridge. (more…)

Spaghetti squash with cheesy mushroom and leek sauce

squash 4

I’ve been wanting to cook with spaghetti squash for a while. Spaghetti squash recipes are all the rage on pinterest right now. I think that’s what got me thinking about cooking with it. I also have TONS of fresh vegetables in my fridge right now that I need to cook up ASAP before they all go bad. I always do this. I buy too much fresh produce because everything looks so good in the store and because I love vegetables. Portabella mushrooms and leeks were among the veggies I purchased this time along with the spaghetti squash. I also bought cabbage, carrots, iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, regular tomatoes, baby zuccini and a vegetable stir-fry mix from Trader Joes (which had tons of yummy fresh vegetables already chopped up for me). Needless to say, I’ve been eating A LOT of veg.

This was my first time cooking with spaghetti squash and it was fun, very easy, and obviously a healthy alternative to pasta. Also, because I wasn’t eating actual pasta, I felt like I could make the sauce a little more decadent. The sauce started out as a classic bechamel sauce (a white sauce consisting of milk thickened by a butter and flour roux) and then I added a whole bunch of sharp white cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese to the already thick and creamy sauce. I also sauteed some leeks and mushrooms and added that to the sauce. It was the perfect accompaniment to the spaghetti squash. If you don’t like spaghetti squash, you can obviously serve the sauce over pasta but really spaghetti squash is so much fun! It’s also so versatile. This will not be my last time cooking with it. (more…)

Cabbage with cumin, turmeric, and red pepper flakes

cabbage 2
Back to veggies! I bought some savoy cabbage with the intention of making Alex Guarnaschelli’s braised cabbage. However I found another recipe for Ethiopian cabbage that sparked my interest so I decided to go that route instead. I wound up changing the recipe quite a bit but the outcome was delicious! This cabbage is spiced with garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric and lots of red pepper flakes. I’m always looking for unique ways to cook vegetables so I’m really glad this worked out. (more…)

Spicy slow cooker pork loin

pork 3

I feel like my recent posts have been recipes for spicy meat dishes. I guess I’ve been cooking a lot more meat lately? Sorry, not trying to be redundant. Anyway, this recipe is especially easy because it utilizes the slow cooker. Gosh I really love the slow cooker. You just throw a bunch of ingredients into it, turn a switch or press a button (depending on what kind of slow cooker you have) and walk away. Then, when you come home you are greeted by this delicious aroma and dinner is ready for you! It’s amazing. Plus any meat you cook in the slow cooker always comes out incredibly tender.

This pork can be shredded easily and will look like pulled pork when it’s done. Serve with rice or make tacos, like I did (see below). You could also use a cheaper cut of pork, like pork shoulder. I just chose the loin because it’s nice and lean. (more…)

Easy, flavorful marinade for beef stir fry

beef 2

I am constantly looking for easy meat dishes I can make. I could live off of carbs and veggies if I had to (I’m all about the side dishes) but Matt can’t so I’m always trying to find dishes that incorporate meat, which is why I’m so happy I’ve found this versatile marinade. It’s an adaptation of Ina Garten’s Indonesian grilled swordfish. I have no idea if this is authentically Indonesian, but I doubt it. Either way, this marinade is so simple and incredibly delicious. You could use it on any kind of meat you like. Ina uses it on swordfish. I’ve used it on chicken breasts before and then grilled them. The chicken came out so tender and full of flavor. This time I tried it on thinly sliced stir fry beef. It came out equally delicious. This is one you will want to keep on hand. I promise! (more…)

Spicy Chipotle Beef

spicy beef 2

When I say spicy, I mean spicy. This recipe actually cuts down on the amount of chipotle peppers I used in the version I made last night. I had used two 7 oz. cans of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in the recipe I made and it about blew my socks off. Growing up in Asia, I can handle the spice so I still really enjoyed it, but for most people I think one 7 oz. can of chipotle peppers is plenty. I love the flavor of chipotle peppers but I am not all that familiar with cooking with them, just eating them. So I really wasn’t sure how many peppers or cans to use. Like I said, two cans turned out to be a bit too much.

I got this idea from a recipe I found on the pioneer woman’s blog but really this version is a different recipe entirely. I actually originally wanted to try this recipe out in my slow cooker but I didn’t plan ahead yesterday. This does take 2-3 hours to cook so be sure to factor that in if you’re making this for dinner. It’s delicious served over a baked potato or rice with a dollop of sour cream and a little extra cilantro.
(more…)

Easy Meat & Mushroom sauce

meat sauce 1

Spaghetti and meat sauce definitely fall under the comfort food category in my book. Especially when the meat sauce is a bolognese and is rich and creamy. Friday was one of those days that just called for comfort food and luckily, I had all the ingredients to make spaghetti and meat sauce.

A lot of meat sauce recipes, although delicious, can be really fattening. Bolognese often is laced with heavy cream. This meat sauce is actually quite healthy. It still had that creamy taste because I used a surprise ingredient, fat free sour cream (Greek yogurt would work equally well). I also “beefed” up the recipe with lots of vegetables, like onions, carrots, and mushrooms and I used a very lean ground beef. I have to say, I wasn’t so sure about adding the mushrooms in but I actually really like the flavor they give the sauce. (more…)

Tilapia with bacon and pea puree

tilapia 1

I’m obsessed with the Food Network and Cooking Channel. I can sit for hours watching people cook. Matt can’t understand this. He thinks it’s the most boring thing in the world. Although we have a lot of things in common, TV is not one of those things. I mean I can’t really blame him. I’m not sure how many men out there like watching cooking shows and the Bravo TV network, although he will watch Million Dollar Listing with me and we both love House Hunters International. (more…)

My version of Baingan Bharta (Indian eggplant curry)

eggplant 10

I love eggplant. It can be a tricky vegetable to cook, but when it’s cooked properly it is delicious. I went a bit eggplant crazy the other day at the grocery store because the eggplants looked so good. I still have some leftover that I need to figure out what to do with before they go bad! After searching the internet for eggplant recipes and not finding anything that really suited my mood, I decided to try my hand at making baingan bharta, an Indian eggplant dish I often order at Indian restaurants. I love eggplant parmesan just as much as anybody but I was in the mood for something more exotic. I’ve been experimenting a lot with cooking Indian food, and although not everything I make has turned out well (I had a bit of a disaster the other day with some spiced stuffed peppers I made), I am learning which spices go well together and so I figured I’d give this eggplant dish a whirl. I’m glad I did, because it came out quite well! (more…)

Smoky spiced potatoes and chickpeas

indian food 2

Some of my favorite meals don’t include meat. I’m not a vegetarian but if I had to cut out one food group it would definitely be meat. I just don’t crave it the way I do other food groups, like carbs, unfortunately. Sunday night’s dinner was yet another meatless meal for me. I wanted something with a bit of an Indian flavor and this is what I came up. In this dish, potatoes and chickpeas are flavored with garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric and red chili flakes. One of the most important components of this dish is the carmelized onions. I let the onions cook probably for about 15 minutes until they turned a deep brown color and became really sweet. This really adds an amazing deep flavor to the dish so be patient as they carmelize. Greek yogurt, cilantro and lime are the perfect finish to the meal and add a nice freshness to the potatoes and chickpeas.

Side note, I also made beef enchiladas, courtesy of The Pioneer Woman, because unlike me, my husband eats a lot of meat. (more…)

%d bloggers like this: