March 7, 2011
I’ve been flirting lately. Yes, and as you’ve probably guessed, Jim isn’t too happy about it. I think he’d like me to stop, but I know it’s a great thing for everyone involved, so I really don’t plan to quit anytime soon. Oh, maybe I should clarify: I’ve been flirting with vegetarianism. Now, now, don’t get too worried. I have no plan to stop cooking and posting about chicken wings, burgers, steaks, and shrimp po’ boys ANY time soon, but I do think limiting them, while adding in a wider variety of vegetables, is a benefit to our family on many levels, most notably cost and health.
First off, unless you’ve hid yourself in bomb shelter nestled cozily under a rock, you are aware that we’re in a down economy that’s being compounded my an even worse housing market, our condo has been on the market for 2 years!, and events over the world that are resulting in increased costs for food and gas, and, unfortunately, those items also effect one another. By skipping meat in some of our meals, like this egg bake, or making some dinners “meat light” like this pasta I posted recently that has bacon in it, but it isn’t all about the bacon, much to Jim’s chagrin. I would rather we skip, or limit, meat 2 or 3 nights a week and eat high quality animal proteins the other nights, than buy and cook lower quality cuts each and every night.
My desire to serve the highest quality of proteins that I can also feeds, pun intended, into the focus on health I noted above. While I realize that there are mixed messages and studies out there, don’t even get me started on HFCS, we can’t deny that a product from an animal that has been raised humanely and on high-quality feed is going to benefit both your physical and mental health. Hey, I’ll still eat steak, but I’d like to think that that cow had a nice little cow life playing with its cow friends on the farm before becoming my dinner, you know? I strive to buy meats and seafood that are fed a more natural diet and free of added antibiotics and hormones, if not fully organic, but admit that, due to cost, it’s sometimes difficult to do so. (Are you seeing the cycle?) Again though, my answer is not to remove meat products entirely from our weekly menus, but to limit them by the mantra: “everything in moderation”.
That long winded diatribe brings me to today’s post, which, incidentally, I served alongside some delicious organic salmon. I found this recipe on Annie’s Eats, a blog you’ll see I reference quite often, and know I’m not alone, as Annie was recently featured as one of Babble’s
Top 100 Food Mom Blogs for 2011. Way to go Annie! I didn’t make any changes to the dish you see below, with the exception of the noodles used. I’m looking forward to trying it with the Soba noodles feature next time around, but the store I stopped at on Sunday didn’t have them in stock (FAIL!), so I substituted the Somen noodles I already had in the pantry. The original recipe suggests whole wheat pasta as a good substitute too if you’re having trouble finding the Soba as well. We had this for dinner last night, but I enjoyed it even more for lunch today, as the flavors had time to develop, so I think it would be a great addition to a potluck or summer picnic, as it can be served cold or at room temperature.
- ½ cup Soy Sauce, reduced sodium
- 2 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
- 2 Tbsp Canola Oil
- 2 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced, pressed, or zested
- 3 Green Onions, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup Cilantro, chopped
- 1 lb. Soba Noodles, or whole wheat pasta
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 cup Red Cabbage, shredded
- 2 Carrots, peeled and shredded
- 1½ cups Edemame, shelled and cooked
- Toasted sesame seeds, for serving (I used black)
- Combine the soy sauce, sesame and canola oils, vinegar, garlic, green onions and cilantro in a small bowl. Whisk well to blend.
- Cook the soba noodles according to the package directions. Drain well and rinse with cold water.
- Transfer the noodles to a large mixing bowl with the vegetables. Pour the dressing over the top and toss well so the noodles and vegetables are well coated with the dressing.
- Serve cold or at room temperature and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.
February 10, 2011
You know those meals that you labor hours over? The ones with multiple components, lots of chopping, hours of stirring, and intensive effort? Yeah, well sorry to disappoint, but this isn’t one of those. This is one of those quality ingredients, minimal effort, and huge flavorful results. Isn’t the latter ALWAYS better? Don’t get me wrong, I have no plans of giving up baking, salsa chopping, or spending hours, alright days, planning the perfect menu, but even I like a night off every once in a while.
So, what I give you is my adaptation of this recipe from The Year in Food that is a mix of perfectly roasted vegetables with the savory flavor of bacon, over a nutty and spicy bed of pasta tossed with deliciously salty parmesan cheese. Can’t you almost taste it? I knew you could. Seriously though, stop thinking about it, and just go make it. Oh, and for you vegetarians out there, go ahead and skip the bacon, it will be almost just as good. J
- 12 oz. Whole Wheat Pasta
- 1 small or medium head Cauliflower, stem and leaves removed, chopped
- 1 pound Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and sliced lengthwise
- 6 slices Bacon, roughly chopped
- 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
- ¼ cup chopped, fresh Parsley, plus more for garnish
- ½ cup grated Parmesan Cheese, reserving a little for garnish
- ¼ tsp dried chili flakes
- Salt & Pepper, freshly ground, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400⁰
- Heat a pot of water on the stove for the pasta.
- Toss the cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and bacon in one tablespoon olive oil. Lightly salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until browned at the edges and soft in the center, about 20-30 minutes. Turn once about halfway through. And keep an eye on everything so it doesn’t overcook!
- While the cauliflower is roasting, cook your pasta according to instructions on the package.
- When the pasta is ready, drain, reserving ½ cup of the cooking liquid. Return pasta to the pot to keep it warm. Add the two remaining tablespoons of oil to the pasta, then the parsley, and chili flakes. If it’s a little dry, add some of the cooking liquid. Toss gently to distribute everything. Add the cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and bacon and toss again, gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the pasta needs to be reheated, do so over a low flame, stirring to prevent burning.
- Garnish with grated parmesan and chopped parsley if desired.
January 2, 2011
I don’t know about you, but when I think of a fancy meal, I often find my mind wondering toward something that includes crab. So, when Jim said that he would like steak and mac and cheese included in our New Year’s Eve plan, I knew just the way to make everyone happy. Alongside the Two-Bite Beef Wellingtons, I would serve some crab mac and cheese in mini-muffin form.
This recipe from Closet Cooking was a delicious find that I only slightly adapted, and that was due to my being cheap more than anything else. See, the original recipe includes gruyere and fontina cheeses, and when I found them at the store, they cost me almost $20, and I wasn’t prepared to spend that much on one part of one recipe. The block of white brick cheese I chose worked perfectly, as it was mild and smooth and let the spices and crab shine in this cheesy dish, at about a quarter of the price of the originally called for cheeses.
- 1 lb Small Pasta, shells, macaroni, etc., cooked to al dente
- 5 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, divided
- 2 cloves Garlic
- ½ – 1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
- 2 Tbsp Flour
- 2 cups Milk
- ½ cup Cream
- ½ tsp Seafood Seasoning, Old Bay or similar
- 2 Tbsp Mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp Mustard, whole grain
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper, freshly ground
- 12 oz. White Brick Cheese, shredded
- 1 6 oz. can Lump Crabmeat
- 4 Green Onions, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
- ¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a pan. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about a minute.
- Mix in the flour and cook until it turns a light golden brown in color.
- Add the milk and cream and cook until it thickens, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the old bay seasoning, mayonnaise, mustard and season with salt and pepper.
- Mix in the cheese and cook until it melts.
- Mix in the pasta, crab and green onions and remove from heat.
- Melt the remaining butter in a pan.
- Add the breadcrumbs and toss to coat, remove from heat and mix in the Parmigiano reggiano.
- Pour the mac and cheese into a baking dish and top with the breadcrumbs.
- Bake in a preheated 350⁰ oven until golden brown on top and bubbling on the sides, about 20-30 minutes.
September 17, 2010
Every week I make a meal plan. Every week I ask Jim if there is anything he’s like to see on it. Every week he says, “No”. Well, that was until this week when he said, “lasagna”, and I said, “No”. It wasn’t that I didn’t want lasagna; it’s just that I didn’t have the time. I felt badly, and went back to scrolling through recipes, when I came upon this recipe from Ezra Pound Cake.
This was a great weeknight meal to serve with a Caesar salad and some garlic bread. Oh, and of course a glass of wine, but by now that’s implied, right? I was a little nervous, as Jim was looking forward to a “crusty edge”, but he still very much enjoyed it. The recipe made a lot, so I saved some for leftovers, and stashed about half in the freezer for an even quicker weeknight meal in the weeks to come.
- 1 28 oz can Diced Tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 medium Onion, minced
- 3 cloves Garlic, minced
- ¼ tsp Red Pepper Flakes
- ½ Ground Sirloin
- ½ Italian Sausage
- 9 Lasagna Noodles, broken into 2-inch lengths
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- ½ cup plus 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 cup Low-Fat Ricotta Cheese
- 3 Tbsp Fresh Basil, chiffonade
- Pour tomatoes with their juices into 1-quart liquid measuring cup. Add water until mixture measures 1 quart.
- Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add meat and cook, breaking apart meat, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
- Layer pasta onto meat but do not stir. Pour diced tomatoes with juice and tomato sauce over pasta. Cover and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender, about 20 minutes.
- Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Dot with heaping tablespoons of ricotta, cover, and let stand off heat for five minutes. Sprinkle with basil and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Serve.
Servings – 10
WW Points – 6 pts per serving
August 3, 2010
When I was planning the menu for Jim’s 30th birthday party, he had just a few requests: Buffalo Chicken Dip, Yellow Cupcakes with White Frosting, and Macaroni Salad. The first two were things I had made before, but, since I didn’t really care for macaroni salad, I had to go on a search for a good recipe. When I stumbled upon this recipe on The Parsley Thief, I was happy to see that there were elements of actual flavor within the recipe rather than something that produced a bland and over mayonnaised concoction that I was used to seeing.
This was a total hit. Not only did I like, but I received a lot of compliments, and requests for the recipe, from our guests … including the guest of honor. Since I don’t see Jim letting go of his love for this salad, I’m happy to have found a recipe we can both love.
- 1 lb. Elbow Macaroni, or curly pasta
- ½ Small Red Onion, minced
- 1 Celery Stalk, minced
- ¼ cup Fresh Parsley, minced
- 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
- ¼ tsp Garlic Powder
- ½ tsp Chili Powder
- 1 ½ cups Mayonnaise
- Black Pepper, freshly ground
- Kosher Salt
- Cook the macaroni in a large pot of salted water, until 1 minute less than al dente. Drain & rinse under cold water. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the red onion, celery, parsley, lemon juice, mustard, garlic powder & cayenne.
- Add the macaroni & stir to combine. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes, for the flavors to meld.
- Add the mayonnaise, stir well and season with salt & pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 2 days.
August 3, 2010
This is a recipe my mom has been making for years. Light, fresh, and delicious. It’s a great summer side salad for a picnic, BBQ, or just to go alongside some grilled chicken or shrimp.
- 5 cups Corn, fresh or frozen thawed
- 16 oz Orzo
- 1 cup Greek black olives, pitted & halved (black olives work here too)
- 2 Red Pepper, chopped
- ½ cup Fresh Basil, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup Fresh Parsley, coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup Olive Oil
- ¼ cup White Wine Vinegar
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- Cook and drain orzo according to package directions.
- Add all other ingredients.
- Serve cold or at room temperature.
July 22, 2010
I’m definitely not gluten free, but this recipe from the Gluten-Free Goddess caught my eye due to its use of a ton of veggies and quinoa noodles. Quinoa is a great source of protein, and I was interested to taste how it was in noodle form. This recipe didn’t disappoint. I made a few adjustments, as the original poster is “soy free”, but we aren’t, and I had hoisin sauce on hand to use as well. I served the noodles with some Sriracha Poultry Meatballs as a type of Asian Spaghetti and Meatballs.
- 5 oz Ancient Harvest Gluten-Free Quinoa Pasta
- 1 Tbsp Peanut Oil
- 2 to 3 Green Onions, thinly sliced
- 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 1-2 tsp Ginger, freshly grated or zested
- 2 Carrots, sliced into matchsticks
- 1 Medium Zucchini, sliced into matchsticks
- 3 ½ oz Shiitake Mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
- 3 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
- 2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce
- Sea salt, to taste
- 5 oz Baby Spinach Leaves
- 1 Tbsp Parsley, finely minced
- 1 Tbsp Cilantro, finely minced
- Bring a pasta pot of water to a rapid boil. Add a dash of light olive oil. Add the noodles and stir. Cook the quinoa noodles until they are al dente- firm to the bite- not mushy! 4 to 6 minutes. Don’t overcook. I mean it.
- Meanwhile, heat the peanut oil in a large wok style pan or skillet over medium-high heat and add in the spring onions, garlic, ginger, and carrots. Stir-fry until the carrots are tender-crisp. They should be done roughly in 5-6 minutes.
- Add in the hoisin, rice vinegar, and soy sauce and stir to coat. Taste test to see if the carrots need a little salt.
- Drain the al dente noodles and quickly add them into the wok/skillet mixture, tossing lightly to coat the strands. Add or adjust seasonings to taste.
- Add in the baby spinach and toss again- just to heat through to barely wilting- not even a minute.
- Add in half the chopped fresh herbs and toss a bit.
- Plate the noodles immediately, and sprinkle with the remaining fresh herbs.
Servings – 5
WW Points – 3 per serving
June 23, 2010
When I first saw this recipe on Annie’s Eats, I though it looked tasty, simple, and quick, the perfect combination for a busy weeknight meal. When I first made it, exactly as it appears in Annie’s blog post, Jim looked at me and said, “This is probably really bad for me, isn’t it?” When I recovered from the shock that he actually considered whether it was good for him or not, not that he would have stopped eating if I told him his plate was worth 10,000 calories.
Surprisingly, the original dish was relatively healthy, or at least not as high in fat as its creamy appearance and taste might have you believe. With a few additional tweaks, I was able to make this a 6 point per serving dish. Paired with a salad or green vegetable, it makes a very satisfying and flavorful meal that you don’t have to feel too guilty about at all.
- 1 lbs. Ground Turkey
- 8 oz. Small Shaped Pasta, uncooked
- 1 Small Onion, chopped
- 2 Clove Garlic, minced
- 1 (14 oz.) can Diced Tomatoes, drained
- 3 to 4 tbsp. Taco Seasoning (we like Penzey’s Bold Taco Seasoning)
- 2 oz. Light Cream Cheese
- 1/3 cup Light Sour Cream
- Salt and pepper
- 4 oz Cheddar Cheese, shredded
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup of pasta water. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet or sauté pan, cook the ground turkey over medium-high heat until no longer pink. A few minutes before the turkey is cooked through, add the chopped onion to the skillet. Once the turkey is cooked through, mix in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and let simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add in the cooked pasta, cream cheese, sour cream and reserved pasta water, and continue stirring until the cream cheese is melted and the sauce is well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over medium-low heat 3-5 minutes to reduce the sauce a bit.
- Remove from the heat and top with shredded cheddar cheese, if desired.
June 11, 2010
When I saw this recipe on the blog Rock Recipes, I thought it looked delicious, but the 2 cups of cream it called for screamed not too figure friendly to anyone paying attention. I was able to reduce the cream substantially, while still keeping the flavor and a bit of richness. I also used a whole wheat pasta instead of the fresh, as this increased the overall fiber content of the finished dish. We’ll definitely be having this again, and I may be enjoying the leftovers for lunch this afternoon.
Servings: 4 / POINTS Value: 7
- 4 oz Whole Grain Linguine, cooked according to package directions
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces
- 8 oz Cremini Mushrooms, sliced
- 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper to season
- ¼ cup Slivered Almonds, toasted
- 2 oz White Wine
- ½ cup Whipping Cream
- ½ cup Chicken Broth
- 3 tbsp Dijon mustard, a combination of smooth and course ground is best
- 2 Tbsp Parsley, minced
- Heat a large heavy bottomed sauté pan over medium heat. Add chicken breasts, garlic, season with salt and pepper and brown, turning only once or twice, until the chicken is completely cooked through, about 8 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and hold in a warm oven.
- Add the mushrooms to the hot pan and brown, turning only once or twice, cooking for about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the wine, and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir until wine has reduced by half.
- Stir in cream, broth, and mustard. Simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes or until sauce as reduced by half and thickened.
- Add chicken back to the pan along with the cooked pasta. Stir to warm through and add parsley. Sprinkle with almonds as you plate portions to serve.