Category Archives: Pasta

Spaghetti squash ‘pasta’ with Turkey Meatballs and Tomato-Chickpea Sauce

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I had bought a spaghetti squash a few days ago, and finally got around to making it. I was not sure what to make with it, so I went with the “spaghetti” theme and made turkey meatballs and a tomato-chickpea sauce. Like real pasta only tons more fiber and quite delicious!

Ingredients:
Spaghetti squash

Sauce:
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 can diced tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, diced
Italian seasonings
1 1/2 cups water/chicken stock

Meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey
1/4 cup bread crumbs
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 onion, grated
1/4 cup ketchup
1 egg
1/4 cup blue cheese/parmesan cheese

Step 1: Bake the spaghetti squash face-down for 1 hour at 375 or microwave 10 minutes then bake for 30.

Step 2: Mix all meatball ingredients in a bowl.

Step 3: Cook the chickpeas in a sauce pot for ~5 minutes. Then add the diced tomatoes, water, and seasonings and simmer.

 Step 4: Roll the meatball mix into 1-inch balls and bake on a sprayed cookie sheet for ~10 minutes at 350, or until brown and cooked through. Then add to the simmering sauce.

 

Step 5: When the squash cools, use a fork to pull the strands out.

In a bowl, add the squash, a meatball or two, and pour on some sauce. Enjoy!

Chicken & veggie alfredo

This is just something I came up with on the fly, I was hungry and needed something quick which didn’t take much time to make. My usual on the fly recipe is meat + carb + veggies. When I checked the pantry, I found pasta and alfredo sauce, which I love. Then I had a chicken breast in the freezer as well as frozen spinach. I added some shredded carrot, which turned out to be a great addition as it looked like cheddar cheese but way healthier!

Ingredients:
1/2 pound rotini pasta
1 jar alfredo sauce
2 carrots, shredded
1 chicken breast
1/2 bag frozen spinach

Step 1: Begin boiling the water, and thaw the chicken in the microwave 2 minutes on each side.
Step 2: Boil the pasta 7-8 minutes. Cut the chicken into 1 inch thick pieces and put in a frying pan with 1 tbsp oil. Add any desired spices to the chicken, and cook about 5 minutes on both sides, until browned and chicken is no longer pink.
Step 3: While chicken is cooking, shred the carrots.
Step 4: Drain the pasta. Add the spinach, carrots and cooked chicken. Mix well and ensure it is heated through and the spinach is thawed. Add the alfredo sauce and enjoy!

This was deliciously creamy and fulfilling!

Creative leftovers: Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese

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The best recipes in my opinion are the ones that either get eaten the first time around, or lead to easy leftover combinations. I hate to see food go to waste, and unfortunately when you’re cooking for only 1 or 2 people that can happen quite often.
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You make something that tastes great the first time, and the second time, but by days 3 and up you are sick of it. So it sits in the back of the fridge, hidden by water bottles and fresher produce until you clean out your fridge tri-monthly and get grossed out by the mold and bacteria on it.
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Therefore I try to cook things which easily lend themselves to meal makovers to dress up the leftovers and make it feel like a whole new meal. So I took some macaroni & cheese I’d made earlier, leftover chicken, and bruchetta topping (since the bread was now mush) and mixed it up for a super-easy, quick & healthy lunch.
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Less wasted food = more money in your pocket = win-win.
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Ingredients:
2 diced roma tomatoes
1/4 white onion, diced small
3-4 oz cooked chicken breast (or meat of choice, or no meat if you prefer)
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Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Microwave on high 1-2 minutes. You can sprinkle with extra cheese, or add any kind of cooked veggies you like. Enjoy!

 

Butternut squash mac-n-cheese (Bonus snack)

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So I came across a recipe for butternut squash macaroni and cheese, and since it is getting into the fall season (and sounded delicious) I decided to try it. I had most of the ingredients, I just needed to buy the squash and some cheese. Of course, I made it my own as I always do. You can find the full nutrition info here.
 
Ingredients:
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes (Save the seeds for a bonus snack!)
1 1/2 cup skim milk
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp brown sugar
Sprinkle black pepper & salt
1/2 pound macaroni of choice (I used elbow)
2/3 pound fresh Cheddar
1/2 cup skim cottage cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
 

Step 1: Get water for pasta boiling. Meanwhile, peel and dice squash. Put squash, stock and milk in a pan, simmer 10-15 minutes until squash is fork-tender. Boil the pasta ~ 8 minutes and drain.

 Step 2: Put squash into blender (or mash) to make it smooth. Add salt, pepper, sugar.

 Step 3: Put macaroni into a greased pan, pour squash over top. Add cheeses and mix well. Cover with foil & bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Step 4: Uncover, sprinkle bread crumbs and parmesan on top. Bake uncovered for another 20-30 minutes, until golden and crispy on top.

 Step 5: Let cool, scoop out a helping and enjoy!


Bonus snack!
While peeling and dicing the squash, save the seeds. Rinse thoroughly to get rid of slimy part. Sprinkle sea salt over top. Toast the seeds in the oven at 350 for ~20 minutes, stirring at least once. The seeds are light and smoky, and taste like fall! I could eat bushels of these things!



Shrimp & Bell Pepper Linguini Alfredo. Bonus dessert: Peach Soup

This is a recipe I invented last year. I was in my apartment and starving. Red bell peppers had recently gone on sale, so I had about a dozen. Plus some pasta like most college kids, a jar of alfredo sauce, and half a bag of shrimp in the freezer. That’s how this came about, and it was so good, it remains one of my favorites.
It’s easy to customize too, you can use any kind of fresh veggies, and if you don’t want meat then you don’t need to add shrimp. Also you can flavor the shrimp with whatever you want. This recipe makes about 4-6 servings.
Ingredients:
1/2 lb linguini
1/2 lb shrimp, thawed
2/3 jar alfredo sauce
1/2 red, yellow and orange bell pepper
1 tbsp butter
pinch Thai spices
garlic powder

Step 1: Boil the noodles in salted water with a tbsp oil to keep the noodles from sticking.

Step 2: Add the butter to a frying pan, begin cooking the shrimp. Add whatever spices you like, and stir occasionally.

Step 3: Once boiled, drain the noodles and return to the pot. Add the alfredo sauce and mix. Set aside.

Step 4: Once the shrimp are pink, with a slight brown crust on both sides, add the diced peppers. Mix and put the lid on, cook for ~5 minutes or until tender.

Step 5: Once cooked, add to the noodles and mix everything well. Enjoy!

 

 

Bonus dessert: Peach Soup
From: Cooking for 2, summer 2008, pg. 25.
1 1/2 cups fresh peaches
1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp almond extract

Blend all ingredients together until smooth, and refrigerate until serving. Add a dash of cinnamon on top. Makes 2 servings.

Peach soup: cold, sweet and refreshing!

Goat cheese lasagna

 

Well, as December is chock-full of holidays and I spend half of it at home, I did not do much cooking past the 20th. It’s nice to be at home where someone else cooks for me and does the dishes. Like a restaurant, but with more love and fighting.

Anyhow, it’s 2012 now, time for some more creative kitchen adventures. I’m sure I will have plenty of old standbys like tacos and ramen noodles, but there are also some recipes on my mind I’d like to try soon. Plus, I’ve resolved to eat healthier and exercise more because the holiday weight gain really snuck up on me this year. So hopefully you will see lots of salads, soups and veggies.

Since I have not yet made anything spectacular, today I will post the last meal of 2011 that I made, goat cheese lasagna! This stuff is amazingly delicious, and terribly detrimental to the health of anyone kidney-stone-prone. But I had goat cheese and I love the stuff, so I went ahead and made it anyways as an end-of-the-year treat.

Ingredients:
Lasagna noodles
Pasta sauce
Ground beef
Goat cheese
Ricotta or cottage cheese

Step 1: Boil a large pot of water. Add the noodles once fully boiling and boil for 7-9 minutes. Once al dente, drain.

Step 2: While water is boiling, brown about 1 pound ground beef and drain excess grease. If you want, you can combine the meat and sauce in a bowl.

Step 3: Mix the cheeses together well in a separate bowl.

Step 4: In a baking pan or crock pot, layer the noodles, cheese, sauce and meat. Bake at 375 for 1 hour, or on high for 4-5 hours. You can also sprinkle some mozarella on top.

Then just sit back and enjoy! The salty tang of the goat cheese is phenomenal. I’d recommend adding a layer of spinach in there to healthify it and add extra nutrients.

Cheap and easy comfort food for a crazy week

Between fighting a persistent cough all week, taking the GRE, two jobs, a birthday party and a baby shower, this week and weekend were bound to be hectic. I knew I wanted to make chicken soup to boost my immune system and as comfort food. But for the times when I was not home, I also needed something which traveled and reheated well with minimum expense and fuss.

With the holidays just around the corner, the belt-tightening has intensified in anticipation of gift buying (as well as graduate school application fees!). Therefore, the most logical choice seemed to be pasta. As cheap, tasty and comforting as it gets. So midweek I prepared one large batch of each.

Chicken soup for one: to ward off a cold in a week or less.
2 medium potatoes
2-3 carrots
2-3 stalks celery
1 medium onion
6-10 cups chicken stock or water plus bouillon cubes
1-3 pieces chicken (I used 1 leg quarter)
If you have them or desire them, add sliced fresh mushrooms as well
Optional seasonings: salt, pepper, italian seasons, bay leaf

Dice up the potato and carrot, leave the celery and onion whole. Throw all the ingredients into a crock pot on high for at least 5 hours (to ensure chicken is thoroughly cooked). Spoon solids into a colander. Remove the onion, celery, and any bay leaves if added and throw away.

Separate the chicken from the skin, fat and bones and add meat back to the pot. Add carrots and potatoes back to pot. Boil pasta noodles of your choice to serve with the soup. Enjoy the warm, homey taste and smell.

 

The next day I made a large batch of pasta so that I can pack it in tupperware to take to work. This will last quite a while for me, and may allow a frozen meal or two.
Wheat linguini noodles
1 bag frozen Italian style veggies
1 large can sauce (I used mushroom, which I bought on sale a few weeks ago for 50 cents a can!)

Boil a huge pot of water with a bit of oil and salt added. Toss in the pasta once it is at a rolling boil. Cook the pasta for 8-12 minutes (because wheat needs cooked longer than non-wheat) or until al dente. Add the veggies during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Drain the pasta and veggies and return to the pot. Open the sauce and pour over, mix well. Enjoy!

These both were made with things I had lying about in my cupboards and the freezer. Total, it cost me approximately $2.50 for the pasta, and maybe $2.50 for the soup. So for around $5, I have a full crock pot of healthy homemade chicken soup and a fridge full of about 10 pasta lunches. Not too bad.

Caprese Pasta

If you’ve never had a Caprese Salad, you’re missing out. Layer toasted french bread, thick slices of fresh tomato and mozzarella cheese and fresh basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette, and you have a simple and delicious summer treat.

I decided to adapt that idea into a pasta dish. I have a Basil plant which is on its last leg, some cherry tomatoes from my a friend’s garden, pasta in the pantry, and chicken in the freezer. All I had to buy is the mozzarella.

 
Ingredients:
1 boneless skinless chicken breast (omit for vegetarian)
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup pasta (garden mix rotini)
1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Handful of basil leaves, rinsed
1/4 cup mozzarella
 
Boil enough water to fully cover pasta. Once at a rolling boil, add in the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, melt a few tbsp butter in a frying pan. Cut the chicken breast into chunks. Fry on low heat until the chicken is fully cooked, no pink in the center. Add in diced garlic cloves and turn off heat.
Once pasta is al dente, about 8-10 minutes, drain and put back in the pan. Add the cooked chicken and garlic to the hot pasta. Use the now vacant pan and add cherry tomato halves, a little more butter, basil leaves and cheese cut in cubes. Stir until cheese melts and everything is well mixed. Pour over the pasta and chicken. Mix well and enjoy!
 
 

Shrimp, broccoli, and carrot fetuccini

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I grew up with this dish, so it holds a special place in my heart and palate. It is so easy, but so perfect together.
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This is one of my absolute favorite quick & easy dishes because the flavors complement each other so well. Shrimp, carrot, & broccoli fettuccine with garlic butter.
You will need:
1/2 pound of noodles (I use plain straight pasta)
2 cups peeled and deveined shrimp
4-5 large carrots
1 1/2 cups broccoli
Butter
Garlic
Salt
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Step 1: Thinly slice the carrots (your choice to peel them or not). In a skillet over medium heat, melt about 2 tbsp. of butter and add the carrot slices. They will need to cook until soft to a fork, about 15 minutes.
This is my friend Aris putting his cut-up carrots into the skillet.
Step 2: While carrots are cooking, bring water to a boil and add the pasta of your choice. Amounts always depend on how many you’re cooking for. For one person, a 1/2 pound should be plenty with some left over.
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Step 3: When the noodles are about done (al dente = soft but not total mush. If thrown at a wall, the noodles should stick. Seriously. Try it.) and the carrots are soft when poked with a fork, add the broccoli to the carrots. Sprinkle on some garlic and salt to taste (or garlic salt, for those who are impatient).
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Step 4: If you have pre-cooked shrimp they are the fastest and the last thing to cook. Throw those in a skillet with about 2 tbsp butter to get nice and pink. When the shrimp is pink and warm throughout, and the broccoli has become tender to a fork, you can put all 3 into one skillet until the pasta is done and drained.
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Step 5: Drain the pasta, and pour the shrimp, carrots and broccoli on top. Add in as much butter, garlic and salt as your palette and stomach can handle, and enjoy!