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Posts Tagged ‘pasta’

Not long ago, one of my good friends jokingly told me a story about how excited her kids were when she made a cake “from scratch”—a box cake mix.  I have many good memories of my own mother in the kitchen, making birthday cakes and other special treats (yes, from scratch), having dinner ready when we got home from school and work, and making it seem effortless.

But times have changed.  And try as I might, I am not my mother. 

Running a household is not effortless to me.  I’m tired most days.  Cranky.  Stressed–thinking about work when I am at home, and thinking about home when I am at work.  Wondering when I’ll get the laundry done, the juice cleaned up from the kitchen floor, and if I’ll ever have time again to sit down and watch an episode of Criminal Minds (in peace).

 So in this hustle-bustle life we live, sometimes it’s just easier to buy the ready-made cakes and cookies and whatnot to send with the kids to school.  There are more important things in life than spending hours in the kitchen after getting home from an 8-hour workday.  I’m already missing my Doodle for 40-plus hours a week; the last thing I want to do is give up more play time with him to spend in the kitchen.  These moments are too precious.
 
However, we do still have to eat, and I try to make wholesome meals using as many shortcuts as I can.  I want my son to grow up knowing that “real” food doesn’t come from the Taco Bell drive through or in combination with a Hamburger Helper box (though believe me, I’ve eaten plenty of it in my day).  I want to make real stuff that we actually want to eat. Good stuff that our body needs.  Without slaving in the kitchen for hours.
 
Spaghetti is a staple in our house.  It’s economical, filling, and oh-yeah…thumbs-up approved by our (almost) 4-year old.  And while it is so easy to warm up a jar of Ragu, I can make my own sauce in almost the same amount of time, while adding in a few extra veggies for good measure.  Moms have to be sneaky, and often.
 
 

3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1/2 green pepper, diced

1/4 cup chopped carrots chopped

1/4 – 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

8 ounce can tomato sauce

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. basil

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Pinch of baking soda (to help neutralize the acid)

 

While the water for your pasta is boiling, slice up your veggies.   Sauté until tender. Add remaining ingredients, and stir to combine.  Add cooked meatballs or Italian sausage.  Bring to a simmer, and cook uncovered about 25-30 minutes.

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Carbs are not my friend.  Well, actually they are; just maybe a little too much.  I could probably live off of bowls of steaming hot pasta, warm bread straight from the oven, and my own personal downfall, tortilla chips and salsa.  In fact, I’ve found myself begging my husband to remove the chip bowl from the table at Abuelo’s, or asking him to throw his used, wadded up napkin into the bowl at the end of the meal so I didn’t keep eating them.


Embarrassingly enough, sometimes even that doesn’t stop me.


But not all carbs are bad, and certainly not in moderation.  Especially when you add a lot of vegetables, right?  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.


We have the best mediterranean restaurant near our house, and besides their hummus, my favorite menu item is their pasta salad.  While my recipe isn’t exact, it’s still pretty darn tasty.  Also, this is a great summer salad recipe; you can take it to picnics or barbeques and not worry about it sitting around wilting.

Greek Pasta Salad (printable recipe)

  • 1 box penne pasta
  • 3 dill pickle spears, chopped
  • 1 small jar arthichoke hearts, marinated and quartered
  • 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • feta cheese, to taste
  • your favorite Greek dressing

Place a large pot of water over high heat to boil.  Make sure to salt your water; it helps ensure your pasta does not turn out too bland.  While your pasta is cooking, grab your ingredients:

As soon as your pasta is done, run it under cold water to cool off:

Add your chopped pickles, tomatoes, artichokes, capers and olives.

Then mix with your favorite Greek dressing.  I used this recipe:

Greek dressing, from Our Best Bites

1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 c. white vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. seasoning salt
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (this will not make the dressing spicy, just flavorful)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 c. canola oil (or other salad oil)
1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese
3/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. dry oregano

In the jar of a blender, combine all the ingredients through the garlic. Blend until smooth. While the blender is running, add the oil in a steady stream. Turn off the blender and add the feta and pulse the blender a few times (more if you want a creamier consistency). Whisk in the herbs.

If possible, allow salad to set for 1 to 2 hours before serving, to allow flavors to meld.

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