Tag Archives: Pasta

Vegan for carnivores: Easy creamy tomato basil pasta.

My good friend posted the link to this recipe months ago & raved about its tastiness. I was intrigued, so I pinned it, but I never mustered the courage to actually make it.

Because it’s vegan.

creamy tomato basil pasta

Vegan is a dirty word in our house of meat-eaters. But it looks just so tasty, right?

So one day I took the plunge. I had a backup plan in place–a jar of pasta sauce hiding at the back of the pantry–that I considered employing even as the mixture was simmering. How could cashews possibly make a sauce creamy?

But it worked. Oh boy, did it work. Rich, tomato-basil-garlic heaven. & it was easy!!! Now I understand why my friend raved about it. Fellow carnivores (or at least omnivores), please don’t make the mistake I did & wait forever: make this immediately.

Note: while the original recipe says this makes enough for 2 servings of pasta, I’ve coated a whole pound of pasta in it & it’s worked great. I also add a little more tomato flavor.

  • 2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2-4 cloves garlic (I use 2), minced
  • up to 1 tsp. salt, or to taste (if you’re not using raw cashews, they’ll have a bit of salt on them already, so you won’t need as much)
  • water or wine, to thin the sauce if desired (I didn’t)
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh basil, finely chopped (if you, like me, don’t buy fresh herbs often, the small plastic package of basil that hangs out in the refrigerated part of the produce section is just enough for this recipe)
  • up to 1 lb. of pasta of your choice
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes & toss them, seeds & all into your blender. Add the cashews, water, & tomato paste, & puree until smooth.
  2. Add the pasta to the boiling water & cook as directed. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium-low. Add the garlic & saute a couple minutes, taking care not to burn it. Add the contents of the blender. Bring it to a simmer; add the salt.
  3. Let it simmer 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add water or wine to thin if desired.
  4. Remove sauce from heat; stir in pepper & basil.
  5. When pasta is done cooking, rinse, drain, & return to pot. Slowly add the sauce until it looks coated enough for your taste. Stir & serve immediately.
  6. Leftovers refrigerate & reheat well!

Aside from the tastiness, healthiness, & easiness of this recipe, The Toddler Who Won’t Eat Anything ATE THIS!!!

yum!

WIN!

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Roasted squash and bacon pasta.

butternut squash pasta

So am I posting regularly now? I don’t know… Not regularly enough to use a real camera to photograph dinner tonight, apparently. All we have is this Instagram shot. But this is a tasty dish, no matter how blurry or dark it may look. Several people on Facebook asked for the recipe after seeing said Instagram shot, so I figured I’d post it here for the good of all.

It came from Williams-Sonoma’s One Pot cookbook, which has some real gems if you’re looking for meals that are quick but unique. When my mother-in-law first sent it to me (she got it out of the clearance bin at Deseret Book), this was one of the first recipes that caught my eye. But Husband said he didn’t like squash, & besides, winter squash was out of season. So when the southern-hemisphere stuff started showing up in my grocery store, I ignored my husband & made it anyway. Everyone — including him — loved it (ha! So there!), though I will say that (Almost) One-Year-Old preferred gnawing the raw squash to the cooked, seasoned stuff. It takes less than 30 minutes start to finish & only dirties a pasta pot, a cutting board, & a baking sheet, plus some assorted utensils.

  • 2 lbs. butternut or other winter squash, peeled, seeded, & cut into small (1/2-inch) cubes
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved & thinly sliced on a mandoline
  • 4 strips thick-cut bacon (though I used regular and it was just fine)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage (I used scant 1/2 Tbsp. rubbed sage)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 lb. pasta: rigatoni, farfalle, or other chunky shape
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, freshly grated (or… not), plus more for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Toss squash, onion, & bacon with the oil. Sprinkle with sage & season with salt & pepper. Spread in a single layer.
  3. Roast until squash is caramelized & tender & bacon is getting crispy, 15-20 minutes. Remove & set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta & cook according to package directions, making sure to reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water prior to draining. Return pasta to the pot.
  5. Use a wooden spoon to free any of the squash mixture that may be sticking to the foil, then lift the foil off of the baking sheet & use it to funnel the squash into the pot with the pasta.
  6. Toss for 1 minute over high heat, adding as much of the pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce.
  7. Add parmesan, toss, & serve.

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Kiddie primavera. (Or, getting your kid excited to polish off her veggies.)

Weelicious triumphs again!

To minimize mess, I generally buy & cook the short pastas, so when I told The Munchkin we were having “slurpy spaghetti” for dinner, she practically leaped for joy. The many different veggies in this dish are julienned just like the pasta, so she slurped them up just like the noodles. & get this: she was happy about it! She ate them on purpose! “Look, mommy, I’m slurping asparagus!” This, coming from the toddler who enjoys carrots, but will hardly touch zucchini or asparagus. The bowl was polished off. Success!

  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 6 asparagus spears, woody ends snapped off
  • 1 small red bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (original recipe calls for only 1, but it needs more)
  • 1 lb. whole-wheat spaghetti (or, if you don’t have a food processor to julienne your veggies & your knife skills are as atrocious as mine, linguine covers a multitude of sins)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan
  1. Julienne your vegetables with a knife or the shredding blade of a food processor.
  2. Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat.
  4.  Saute garlic 1 minute.
  5. Add veggies & salt & saute an additional 3-4 minutes or until softened.
  6. Drain pasta, reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta water.
  7. Return pasta to pot or place in a large serving bowl. Add veggies, pasta water, butter, & Parmesan; toss to coat.
  8. Let your Munchkins pretend to be baby birds slurping up worms!

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“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”

The Munchkin’s current favorite book is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Our good friend Lauren gave her the “complete” book, which includes the sequel Pickles to Pittsburgh, some time ago, & now that her attention span has caught up, we’re reading it with her at least twice a day.

So when I saw this recipe over at Weelicious, you can imagine that the book was the first thing I thought of. (Her picture’s better than mine.) Meatballs, fun pasta, & mozzarella “clouds!”

 I halved the recipe & there were still leftovers for us. I also used ground turkey instead of chicken because it was cheaper. I’ve re-ordered the steps a little, since the meatballs take longer to prep & cook than the pasta.

  • 1 lb. ground chicken or turkey
  • 1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. mini-wheel or other fun pasta
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1, 28-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 8 oz. Bocconcini mozzarella (“small balls” — or buy the larger balls & then cut them smaller)
  1. Combine chicken, bread crumbs, egg, & 1 tsp. of the salt in a medium bowl. Use wet hands to roll teaspoonfuls into small meatballs.
  2. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the meatballs & cook 3 minutes, turning occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions.
  4. Add garlic to meatballs & cook 1 minute or until fragrant. Add tomato sauce, basil, & 1 tsp. salt (you may wish to add slightly less; I found it a little on the salty side) & cook meatballs in sauce on medium-low 8 minutes or until done through.
  5. Add pasta & mozzarella balls to the sauce mixture & cook until heated through, 2-3 minutes.

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Italian Steak with Zucchini & Pasta.

My Husband The Breadwinner doesn’t cook much anymore: 1) he doesn’t need to with me around, except when it comes to pancakes, & 2) he doesn’t get home from work in time anyway. But this meal is evidence that he can find his way around the kitchen if the occasion calls for it. It’s his mom’s recipe, but he made it for me for my birthday a couple years ago & it was delicious & memorable enough to have me craving it this week.

In my own carnivorous opinion, the steak is really the star of this meal, but if you’d rather go the vegetarian route, it’d taste great with marinated portobellos, or even just by itself! It also heats up fabulously for leftovers.

  • 1 lb. flank steak
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite house Italian dressing
  • 2 cloves garlic, divided
  • 1 lb. pasta
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 med. zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup (or to taste) diced onion
  • 2 cans (8 oz. each) tomato sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • salt, to taste
  • parmesan, to taste
  • chiffonade fresh basil, to taste
  1. Marinate the steak 6-8 hours or overnight in the dressing with one of the cloves of garlic, minced.
  2. Prepare the pasta as directed.
  3. Meanwhile, rub the pepper into both sides of the steak & cook it in a skillet on medium heat, 5-6 minutes a side or until desired doneness.
  4. Meanwhile meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium pot on medium heat & saute the other clove of garlic, minced, & the onion for a couple minutes.
  5. Add the zucchini, tomato sauce, & red pepper, then salt to taste. Cook another 2 minutes, then cover & let simmer on low another 2-3 minutes or until zucchini is tender.
  6. Toss pasta with sauce & zucchini, then place in serving bowls. Sprinkle with parmesan & basil, then spread sliced steak on top.

Picky (or at least skeptical) eater pleaser: Take out some of the pasta before tossing it with the sauce & place it in a section of one of those nifty partitioned plates & a little of the sauce & some zucchini slices in another. Cut the steak into small pieces & place them in a third. The Munchkin preferred to dip her pasta in the sauce rather than having it coated in it already, & even tried a slice of zucchini! As for the steak, it was gone before we knew it. I’d call that a success.



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Resolution-friendly recipes!

For the many of us who have resolved to treat our bodies a little better this year, here are some healthy recipes from the past year. (I can’t believe this blog is already almost a year old!)

More new recipes to come, promise!

I’m making these Chewy, Chunky (& Lowfat!) Oatmeal Bars for us to snack on as we walk around Disney World this weekend. They’re so hearty & delicious (we all love them), it’s hard to believe they’re so low in fat!

Start the day off right with yummy Oatmeal Raisin Pancakes. You just might want to skip the butter syrup.

Now, a couple vegetarian dinners: Pasta with Arugula & Tomatoes

…& Skinny Veggie Ziti.

If your Munchkins are joining you in your resolution, help them get some more veggies with some Veggie Latkes. (I can’t believe how young The Munchkin looks in this picture!)

Then finish it off right with the almost entirely nonfat Skinny Banana Bread for dessert!

Best of luck keeping your resolutions — health & otherwise — this year!

works for me wednesday at we are that family

36th Avenue

Cast Party Wednesday

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Pasta salad a la you.

I LOVE pasta salad. LOVE it. A few weeks ago, I decided I needed to make a batch to snack on during the day, so I decided to poll some of my friends on Facebook: “Best pasta salad you’ve ever had. Ready… GO.” I loved all the variations they came up with! Pasta salad’s endless versatility is one of its many virtues.

My friend Mandy suggested penne, hard salami, mozzarella, & Bernstein Italian salad dressing.

Lauren said orzo, kalamata olives, feta, red pepper, cucumber, & a lemon/EVOO vinaigrette.

Joy submitted “penne mixed with pesto, spinach mixed with ranch/milk, feta, tomatoes, & olives.”

Momo flattered me by saying my pasta salad recipe was her favorite. Isn’t that nice of her?

Stephanie said “orzo with lemon, olive oil, garlic, parsley, and STUFF. Whatever veggies you have on hand. Various parts of animals! STUFF. And CHEESE, Gromit!”

Thanks to a weird olive allergy (just the whole olive, not olive oil…don’t ask) & fear of Listeria while pregnant, olives & deli meats (sorry Lauren & Mandy) were out. But Stephanie’s comment — combined with all the other delicious suggestions — got me thinking. Can you really go wrong with pasta salad? I submit that the answer is NO!

My “usual” pasta salad recipe — the one I bring to parties & barbecues — is generally rotini, Good Seasons Italian dressing mix, tomatoes, feta, & parsley. Maybe a little Italian seasoning sprinkled in. But guess what? I don’t like tomatoes! So this time, since it was just for me, I subbed in red peppers. This is how I made it… do it your own way!

  • 1 pkg. Ronzoni Garden Delight pasta
  • 1 packet Good Seasons Italian dressing mix, prepared according to the packet directions but with a little less water
  • diced red peppers
  • crumbled feta
  • parsley
  • Italian seasoning
  1. Prepare the pasta as directed, then rinse with cold water to stop the cooking & cool it off.
  2. Meanwhile, marinate your red peppers (or whatever crunchy veggies you’re using, like onions) in the dressing for awhile to get rid of that “raw veggie” crunch. You may even want to do this an hour or two before you start with the pasta. This was a great tip from my friend Carolyn!
  3. When you’re ready, toss the pasta with the dressing mixture. Then toss in your other tasty “STUFF,” as Stephanie said, until it tastes perfect.

What’s your favorite pasta salad?

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Pasta with broccoli & chicken in creamy tomato sauce.

My family just came to visit, & after a week of dining out, I was having serious grocery list writer’s block. What to make this week? Especially with Christmas falling in there too? Fortunately, I recalled one of our old favorites that I haven’t made in forever. We call it “Pink Sauce Chicken.”

(Admittedly, this is one of the least flattering photos imaginable. I’m beyond excited about the light scoop My Husband The Generous is “surprising” me with on Christmas!)

So you’re asking, “If it’s one of your favorites, why haven’t you made it in a long time?” The answer is that I got it from the Kraft Food&Family magazine, & they had the nerve to stop making one of the key ingredients. That’s the trouble with semi-homemade: you’re limited by the available ingredients.

But after like 15 minutes of standing in the salad dressing aisle with The Munchkin contentedly munching on a cookie in her green racecar cart (thank you Publix!), I found the substitute. & Pink Sauce Chicken never tasted better!

  • 6 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • Lawry’s 30-minute Marinade in Tuscan Sundried Tomato*
  • 8+ oz. uncooked short pasta (the recipe calls for bowtie)
  • up to 4 cups broccoli florets (we do more pasta & less broccoli)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups jarred marinara sauce
  • 4 oz. Neufchatel cheese, softened
  • parmesan, to taste

* The recipe originally called for Kraft’s Roasted Red Pepper Italian dressing. The 30-minute Marinade does a great job, but has a little less liquid in it, so you need to watch that your chicken doesn’t scorch. If you can’t find the 30-minute Marinade, look for an Italian dressing with roasted red peppers relatively high on the ingredient list.

  1. Marinate chicken in some of the 30-minute marinade for — you guessed it — 30 minutes.
  2. Cook pasta as directed on package, adding broccoli for last 3 minutes (for frozen, last 4 or 5 minutes) of cooking time.
  3. Meanhile, heat 3 Tbsp. of the marinade in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic & heat until fragrant.
  4. Add chicken; cook, covered, 5 min. to a side or until done in the middle. You may need to add more marinade/dressing to keep it from burning.
  5. Drain pasta mixture; return to pot & set aside. Cover to keep warm.
  6. Add pasta sauce & Neufchatel to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted & mixture is well blended.
  7. Coat chicken in sauce, remove from skillet, & keep warm.
  8. Add sauce mixture to pasta mixture in pot; mix well. Transfer to 6 pasta bowls.
  9. Cut chicken across the grain into thick slices. Fan one breast half over the pasta in each of the bowls.
  10. Sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese.

I'm Lovin' It at TidyMom

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Skinny Veggie Ziti.

It looks like I need to adjust my schedule slightly… I usually write my Monday-morning post on Saturday evening, but I just got called to teach the 3-year-olds at church — there are 8 of them & only 1 of me — so guess what I was doing Saturday night? How did it go? Well, let’s just say that I need to prepare more than I did last week. MUCH more.

So here I am, writing my Monday-morning post on Monday night. But it’s worth the wait, I promise!

Have you visited skinnytaste.com? If you haven’t, you definitely need to head over there & browse Gina’s recipes. She’s great at replicating the tastes of favorite meals & decadent desserts, but making them lowfat & better for you! She even includes Weight Watchers points values, for those of you who have the willpower to do that (I applaude you). This is her vegetarian baked ziti recipe. It’s low in fat, delicious (a huge hit with my whole family!), & makes a TON. So as always, I make a small pan (8×8) for now — we still had leftovers! — & freeze the rest for later.

But I’ve been running into a problem lately with my beloved foil pans: as you probably know, tomato sauce reacts with the aluminum, causing the entire dish to taste like you’re eating a can. No good! For tomato-based dishes like my stuffed shells, I had been lining the foil pan in parchment paper & then adding another layer of parchment on top before covering it with foil, but I just discovered something new & SO much easier!

Paper baking pans! I honestly can’t remember who makes them — Hefty, maybe — but I just know when I saw them at the grocery store I NEEDED THEM. They seal up so nicely with their own little lids too, don’t they? The only negative is that they don’t fit into my gallon freezer bags like the smaller foil ones did, so we’ll see how leftovers fare for extended periods in the freezer, but at least there’s no more metallic taste or parchment paper lining! Hooray!

Okay, now for what you really came here for: the recipe.

  • 1 package (usually they’re 14.5 oz.) high-fiber short pasta (we used Piccolini penne because they’re cheap at Costco)
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed & drained
  • 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil (I used 1 Tbsp. dried)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 8 oz. fat-free ricotta (I could only find part-skim, so I used that)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan
  • 2 cups (8-oz. pkg.) shredded part-skim mozzarella
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Spray baking dishes with cooking spray.
  2. Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain & return to pot.
  3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil on medium heat in a medium saucepan. Saute garlic until fragrant.
  4. Add spinach & tomatoes.
  5. Stir in oregano, basil, & salt & pepper.
  6. Pour sauce into the pot with the pasta & mix well. Add ricotta, Parmesan, & half of the mozzarella (1 cup). Mix well.
  7. Spread in bottom of prepared baking dishes. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Put extra dish in the freezer.
  8. Bake 27 minutes (for an 8×8 pan — 30 min. for a 9×13 if you’re not freezing leftovers) or until bubbly, cheese is melted, & edges are beginning to brown.


Get Your Craft On Tuesdays

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Remy can’t even fix this one. But maybe you can!

Who here has seen Ratatouille? Today’s flop-turned-okay lunch reminded me of the scene where Chef Skinner tries to set Linguine up for failure by giving him a dud of a recipe. Remy made it the most amazing thing at Gusteau’s in years; I just made mine edible.

I started with a recipe I found in Parenting magazine for Sesame Chicken Salad that looked promising. It had an Asian-inspired peanut sauce… that ended up tasting like peanut-butter-sandwich pasta. Gross.

I doctored it up to edibility, but I could use your help!

  • 8 oz. pasta that you let your kid pick out to get them excited about trying something new
  • 1 cup snow peas
  • 1 cup shredded cooked chicken
  • 2 carrots, sliced thinly into coins (if serving cold, just grate them & serve them raw in  the pasta)
  • scant 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. cider vinegar
  • pinch ginger
  1. Cook the pasta as directed. Add the carrot coins to the boiling water 4 minutes before the pasta is done, & the snow peas 1 minute before. Drain. (If serving cold, rinse under cold water.)
  2. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl. It may not incorporate entirely; the hot pasta will help melt the peanut butter.
  3. Mix everything well & top with sesame seeds & thinly sliced scallions, if desired.

Okay, team: what can we do to make this good but still kid-friendly? My first thought was red pepper flakes, but The Munchkin can’t take the heat.

Thanks for your help!

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