Last night was another “clean out everything in the fridge” night. I was away this weekend at a conference and haven’t been to the grocery store in over a week so when I got home on Sunday night I was truly at a loss as to what to make for dinner. I debated calling for Indian take out but my checking account is verging dangerously close to a $0 balance. All my bills happen to come out in the first few weeks of the month and so I always have to be a little more careful in the beginning of the month. So, even though every fiber in my being wanted to call for take out or delivery I decided to open my almost empty fridge and see what I could scrounge up for dinner. (more…)
Pasta and portion control. Two areas of weakness for me. I’m actually going to try to make pasta less because I just can’t control myself around the stuff. This will be tough because pasta is so easy to make and it’s so versatile. On those busy days and nights it’s the perfect go to for a quick and tasty meal. But in an effort to eat less carbs and work on portion control I’m trying to branch out and make other things for dinner. That’s not to say I’m giving up pasta for good though (duh, I’m not crazy) as evidenced by the title of this blog post.
This particular pasta dish is actually quite filling which helps with the portion control aspect. It still requires some self control because it’s so delicious but the whole grain shells, the lean chicken sausage and the fresh spinach do help to fill you up. The wine adds another layer of flavor to the sauce and a pinch of red pepper gives the dish a kick. They say that spicy food helps make people feel more full. I haven’t found that to be true, but you may want to add more red pepper if you think you can handle the heat! (more…)
This year I’ve really been enjoying the flavors of fall. Typically I find fall a little depressing probably because I love summer so much but this year I’ve actually enjoyed it. Not the cold weather, but definitely the food. Trader Joe’s pumpkin ice cream may have something to do with that. Seriously though I’ve recently realized just how delicious all the seasonal fall flavors can be, like the different kinds of squash that emerge, including my new favorite, delicata squash.
This dish is hearty, comforting and is definitely perfect for fall because of the butternut squash. The squash becomes the sauce in this recipe and is tossed with pasta shells and lots of sharp cheddar cheese. Then it’s topped with parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs and baked off in the oven. Quintessential comfort food. There are lots of variations on butternut squash mac and cheese but this is the way I make it. (more…)
I know I’ve been posting a lot of pasta recipes lately but here comes another one and this one doesn’t have anything to do with fall. In fact most of the flavors incorporate traditional springtime ingredients. But, I make no apologies! It’s delicious and quick and wonderful. It’s also a Matt approved meat-free meal.
Between the asparagus, peas and lemon this pasta is full of freshness and bright flavors. The weather has been a bit dreary here in New Jersey and this pasta was the perfect pick-me-up I needed. I happened to have 1/2 lb of penne to use up so this recipe makes a bit less than my usual pasta recipes do. I’m also trying to work on portion control especially when it comes to carbs. I’m always tempted to pile on the pasta and help myself to seconds (and thirds). Cooking less ensures that I will eat less. If you want to use a full pound of pasta, just double the recipe. (more…)
Last night was the first night that really felt like winter to me. I was craving something comforting for dinner and pasta is the quintessential comfort food for me. This recipe combines many comforting flavors, especially for the fall and winter seasons. Butternut squash, Tuscan kale, and spicy sausage make up the backbone of this dish and the flavors go perfectly together.
What I love most about this dish is that the butternut squash actually becomes the sauce for the pasta. It’s pureed with chicken stock, mixed with some half and half and parmesan cheese and simmered until it becomes thick and creamy. I saw this idea on one of Rachael Ray’s shows and thought it was genious. I love butternut squash but I’ve never thought to turn it into a sauce for pasta. I bet you could also use canned pumpkin puree as a substitute if you didn’t have butternut squash on hand. This recipe has many different components and does require a number of steps and ingredients but it is really quite simple to follow and it’s so worth it! I’ve broken down the ingredients and recipe into two parts – making the squash sauce, and assembling the rest of the dish (the pasta, kale & sausage). (more…)
Let’s talk about rotisserie chicken. It is delicious. It is a time saver. It is perfect for lazy cooks like me. One night last week I went to the store and picked up a rotisserie chicken. I got two meals out of it and I probably would have been able to even stretch that to three had I not given my dog a couple generous portions throughout the next few days. For the first meal we simply ate the chicken plain and I served a side salad along with it. Rotisserie chickens give you A LOT of meat so I had to come up with a way to use up the leftover chicken meat. I came up with this dish, spicy lemon chicken pasta. It’s so simple and really quite yummy. (more…)
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.
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…)
This dinner is one of the fastest ones I’ve ever whipped up. The two dishes I created don’t necessarily go together but I happened to be trying to use up left overs so I made them in the same night. One dish, I can’t take credit for. It’s from Trader Joe’s frozen department. The other dish, I can take credit for and it consists of only 5 ingredients.
It started because I wanted to cook up Trader Joe’s frozen Thai lime shrimp skewers to try. However, I had just made couscous the other night and I didn’t feel like making rice. Plus I already had some leftover whole grain pasta from the night before when I made my favorite zucchini and mushroom pasta. So even though pasta and Thai flavored shrimp on skewers don’t go toghether, I decided to use up the leftovers in my fridge. The pasta may sound like a pretty weird concoction but it actually works and it’s so easy to throw together. (more…)
Two pasta posts in a row! I guess I’m on a pasta kick lately. But pasta is one of those things that I just never get sick of. It’s also the ultimate comfort food. Then, when you combine leeks, bacon, and mushrooms in a creamy sauce and pour that over the pasta, it’s pretty much heaven in a bowl.
I have a confession. This was my first time cooking with leeks. I love the flavor of leeks so I don’t know why I’ve never cooked with them before. I guess because they are a pain to clean and always look a little intimidating in the grocery store. Also, I’ve never really made anything and thought, “you know what this is missing? Leeks!”, but needless to say, they really are a delicious veggie. They have a great mild onion flavor and they go really well in pasta dishes and soups. Trader Joe’s also sells pre-trimmed leeks (is that cheating??) and I guess that made it a little easier for me. But I can assure you, this will not be my last time cooking with leeks and next time I may even buy the untrimmed, unwashed version and do it all myself! Sometimes you gotta take risks… (more…)
This may be the best pasta dish I’ve ever made. You won’t miss the meat at all, I promise. The pasta is full of flavor with beefy baby portabello mushrooms, grated zucchini, and freshly grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese. Seriously, I could have eaten the whole thing in one sitting. I ate about half…Self control.
Anyway, make this pasta. It’s delicious. (more…)