Category Archives: Pasta

Turkey Chili Mac

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I wanted to come up with a more creative title for this recipe but at the same time, this one seemed appropriate. “Chili Mac” is kind of a lazy way of saying chili macaroni or chili mac and cheese, and that’s what this meal is – simple and lazy, but oh so delicious. I know I just posted a pasta recipe last week, but oh well. Pasta fits in well to my work schedule.

To me, two of the most comforting meals are chili and pasta. They’re both filling, stick-to-your-ribs kind of food and I love that they’re also both one-pot meals where you get a bit of every ingredient in each bite. Those kind of meals are my favorite (along with stir-fry), rather than having your protein separated from your veggies which are separated from your carbs/starch.

Pasta is an easy, go-to meal when you’re busy or tired, and chili may take a bit longer but makes for great leftovers. So the combination of the two is simple, filling, and so satisfying. I wasn’t quite ready to post a soup recipe yet, but the weather is certainly starting to change, so this chili mac recipe seemed like the perfect way to ease into fall.

The idea for this recipe was inspired by Skillet Chili Mac on Deep South Dish. It instantly appealed to me, but I made a few minor adjustments to make it a little nicer on your waistline. I opted for ground turkey over ground beef, and eliminated the sausage. I also used slightly less cheese than the recipe calls for. To make this recipe even healthier, you could use low-fat cheese and whole wheat or whole grain pasta. Think of this Turkey Chili Mac as a combination of American Chop Suey and chili, or as chili with pasta shells added. It’s filled with flavorful ground turkey, pasta, tomatoes, beans, cheese, and notes of cumin and chili powder.

Turkey Chili Mac
adapted from Skillet Chili Mac on Deep South Dish

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Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 a red bell pepper and 1/2 a green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 1/2 cups dry shell pasta (or macaroni)
  • 1 Tbsp each cumin and chili powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 15. oz can diced tomatoes (I like fire-roasted)
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 4.25 oz. can diced green chiles
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced (or half a pepper for less heat)
  • 1 cup kidney or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • optional toppings: scallions, sour cream, avocado

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Directions:

  1. In a medium-large cooking pot, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil. Cook diced onion for 10-12 minutes, until softened, and add diced peppers. Cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic at the end, sauteing for another 2-3 minutes and then remove from heat.
  2. In a separate pot or pan, cook ground turkey. You can do this in the same pot as the veggies if you wish, but I wanted my turkey to get nice and browned. While turkey is browning, begin cooking your pasta.
  3. Once turkey is browned and cooked throughout, add to pot with veggies. Stir in spices and cook over low heat for a few minutes until spices become fragrant. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, green chiles, and chopped jalapeno pepper. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until extra liquid has been absorbed and chili has thickened. Add beans in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
  4. Stir cooked pasta into chili and remove from heat. Don’t forget to test-taste and adjust any spices as needed. Top off with cheese and serve with optional toppings and enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚
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Start by sauteing up your veggies and garlic

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Brown your ground turkey and add to veggies, along with spices

Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and chiles. Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans near the end.

Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and chiles. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Add beans near the end of cooking

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Stir in pasta shells and cheese

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Top with scallions and enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

Creamy Chicken Sausage & Spinach Pasta

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I’m back from another two week hiatus. Last weekend I moved into my new apartment and was too tired to even entertain the thought of creating a recipe for this blog, let alone cook it. I’m glad I had Labor Day off from work because I definitely needed it. Each time I move I come to the realization that I have too much stuff. Then I slowly forget and when it’s time to move again I’m reminded of all the junk I own. My roommates thought it was a little ridiculous that about half the stuff I own is kitchen supplies… oops. I guess it’s about time I sort through my belongings and give unused things away.

I’m slowly settling into my new apartment but occasionally have to go searching for something I misplaced. I’ve mostly been making lazy meals like pasta or freezer meals but Sundays are a good time to prepare meals for the work week, so today I gathered my motivation and made this pasta.

This Creamy Chicken Sausage & Spinach Pasta is a light and delicious meal perfect for weeknights. It combines flavorful chicken sausage with sauteed spinach, veggies, and a light ricotta cream sauce. It heats up nicely and will keep you full for hours. I like that it’s simple enough to throw together during a busy work week, but also nice enough to make for guests.

Creamy Chicken Sausage & Spinach Pasta
makes 3 – 4 servings

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • 3 – 4 baby bella or white mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 – 5 cups fresh spinach
  • 6 – 7 oz. pasta (roughly half of one 13.25 box of rotini or penne)
  • 2 chicken sausage links, cut into half moons
  • For the sauce:
    • 2 tsp butter or olive oil
    • 1 small clove garlic, minced
    • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
    • 1/4 cup skim milk
    • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
    • 1/2 tsp basil
    • salt, to taste

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    Your ingredients

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This is the chicken sausage I used. So good!

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over low heat and add sliced onions. Cook for about 10 minutes, until softened, and add red pepper and zucchini. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted, and remove from heat.
    *Alternatively, you can steam the spinach in the microwave. Place spinach in a large bowl with about 1 tsp of water and microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until spinach is wilted. Stir into cooked veggies.
  2. Cook your pasta according to box directions. While pasta is cooking, fry up your chicken sausages until lightly browned on each side. After pasta is cooked and drained, and the sausages are finished cooking, stir them to the pan with the veggies.
  3. To prepare the ricotta cream sauce, begin by sauteing the garlic in the butter or olive oil for 1 – 2 minutes in a small saucepan. Add in remaining ingredients for the sauce and stir until cheese begins to melt, simmering over low heat. The sauce will look lumpy at first, but will become smooth and thick. Once sauce is done, after 3 – 5 minutes, pour over the pasta, sausage and veggies. Stir to combine and serve with some extra parmesan cheese ๐Ÿ™‚
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Saute up those veggies

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Cook your spinach until wilted

Frizzle up some chicken sausages

Frizzle up some chicken sausages and also begin to cook your pasta. Once pasta and chicken sausages are done, stir them in with the veggies.

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Prepare your ricotta cream sauce by sauteing the minced garlic in a bit of butter or olive oil. Stir in ricotta, milk, parmesan cheese, basil, and salt. At first it will look lumpy like the photo on the left. Simmer over a low heat, stirring, until sauce smooths out like the photo on the right.

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Pour the sauce over the veggies, sausage and spinach and stir to combine. Serve with some extra parmesan cheese and enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

Easy One-Pot Pad Thai

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I’m back with another internet recipe. Maybe I’m not feeling especially creative in the cooking department lately, but that’s okay because this recipe is awesome and it’s a technique I think everyone should know about.

If you frequent Pinterest or cooking websites as much as I do, you may have seen the One Pot method of cooking pasta. The pasta and toppings – such as tomatoes, onions, and basil – are all cooked together in one pot and the liquid evaporates by the end, making for one flavorful pasta. This method kind of blew my mind. It almost doesn’t seem like it should work, but after reading through dozens of comments on the blog, I saw how satisfied people were with the recipe and thought maybe I would try it.

Then I stumbled upon One Pot Wonder Thai Style Peanut Pasta and knew I had to make it. A Pad Thai-style dish, all made in one pot and under 20 minutes? Yes please! My family loves Pad Thai and usually gets four orders of it when we get Thai take-out. I’ve been toying with the idea of making my own Pad Thai for a while now, but often the ingredients can be somewhat obscure and the recipe intimidating. I was a bit skeptical that this one-pot method would work – what if there was too much liquid left at the end and the noodles were soggy? – but this recipe also had many positive comments and so off I was to cook it.

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I have to say, I couldn’t be more pleased with how this dish came out. It may not be 100% authentic Pad Thai, but it was sure packed with flavor and one of the best dishes I’ve had in a while. Noodles and veggies are cooked in a broth with peanut sauce and other Asian flavors, and come together to make a delicious dish reminiscent of Pad Thai. I adjusted the original recipe slightly to suit my taste, but mainly stayed true to it. I also added some shrimp to mine, which I thought complimented the dish well, but alternatively you could add chicken, tofu, or just stick with the noodles!

Easy One-Pot Pad Thai
adapted from One Pot Wonder Thai Style Peanut Pasta Recipe on Apron Strings

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Ingredients:makes 5 – 6 servings

  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 oz. fettucine or linguine*
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • Peanut Sauce:
    • 2 Tbsp peanut butter (I used crunchy)
    • 1.5 Tbsp soy sauce (or fish sauce for a more authentic flavor)**
    • 1.5 Tbsp brown sugar
    • 1 Tbsp honey
    • 1 tsp sesame oil
    • 1 tsp curry paste
    • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
  • 4 cups chicken or veggie stock (or water)
  • optional: 1 lb. raw shrimp, shells removed
  • juice of 1 lime (about 1.5 – 2 Tbsp)
  • to serve: extra scallions, chopped cilantro, and peanuts

*Most dried pasta comes in 16 oz. packages – just use your best judgment to take 3/4 of the box. Also, white pasta is recommended for this recipe as whole grain or rice pasta has differing cooking times.

**In addition to fish sauce, authentic Pad Thai also uses tamarind paste, a sour-flavored condiment that can be found at Asian grocers, and bean sprouts. Feel free to add these things if they’re available to you!

Directions:

  1. In a large (3 – 4 quart) pot, heat 1 Tbsp canola or olive oil over low heat. Add sliced onions and cook for about 10 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally. Add minced garlic and ginger and cook for an additional 3 – 4 minutes. Turn off heat.
  2. Add the noodles on top off the cooked onions, garlic and ginger, along with the veggies, scallions, and peanut sauce. Pour your 4 cups of chicken or veggies stock on top. Cover with a lid and turn heat up to high. Once it’s boiling, return to a simmer and cover loosely with lid so some steam can escape.
  3. Cook for 10 – 12 minutes, or until most of liquid has evaporated, stirring every 2 minutes. If including shrimp, add halfway through cook time. Dish is done once pasta is cooked and a small amount of liquid remains at the bottom (it’s good to keep some liquid – it makes for a nice gravy over the pasta).
  4. Serve with extra scallions, cilantro, and chopped peanuts and enjoy!
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Begin by sauteing your onions, garlic, and ginger.

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Place noodles on top of cooked onions, along with veggies, scallions, and peanut sauce. Cover with the 4 cups of stock or water and bring to a boil, covered.

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Once boiling, return to a simmer and cover loosely with a lid. Cook for 10 – 12 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes, until pasta is cooked and most of liquid has evaporated. If using shrimp, add halfway through cook time.

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It’s okay to leave a little liquid at the bottom – it’s tasty and makes for a nice sauce over the noodles.

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The finished product!

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Add the chopped scallions, cilantro, and peanuts and enjoy!

Summer Vegetable Lasagna

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This is a dish I’ve been wanting to make for a while and I’m glad I finally got around to it, but man, I could have picked a better day to do it. I made this dish on Friday, another 90ยบ day, and using both my stove and oven probably pushed the temperature in my kitchen to close to 100. Luckily the weather has cooled down a bit for the time being, but I know the heat will likely return soon enough. This is my first summer since I got into cooking that I live in a house with no central air, and I now realize why my mom wouldย  avoid cooking on hot nights in our old house.

This recipe was actually inspired by a meal I used to get at the dining hall back in college. In the vegetarian section, they often served a Vegetable Lasagna with a white sauce. I really liked all the vegetables in it, and having a white creamy sauce rather than the traditional tomato sauce I was used to growing up. Most of the vegetables I chose to use in my version are at their peak during the summer and so it seemed like an appropriate summer dish – other than having to cook in this crazy heat!

This Summer Vegetable Lasagna is filled with fresh summer vegetables, such as zucchini, bell peppers, and spinach, and held together with a creamy garlic ricotta cheese mixture. Nixing the meat and loading up on vegetables makes this dish a lighter choice than traditional lasagna, and still tastes delicious the day after so it’s perfect for making head of time. You can use any assortment of vegetables you’d like, and switch up the sauce, too.

Summer Vegetable Lasagna
makes 1 8 x 8 dish, or approximately 6 large /9 small servings

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Ingredients:

  • 5 cups assorted vegetables, sliced into 1/2-inch strips. I used:
    • 1 medium yellow onion
    • half a red bell pepper and half a yellow pepper
    • half a medium eggplant
    • half a zucchini
    • 4 baby bella mushrooms
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 9 lasagna noodles, cooked to al dente
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 2-3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1.5 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup scallions, chopped
  • spices: a dash of dried basil, red pepper flakes, and salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzerella cheese and 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese, mixed together
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Your ingredients, plus the tomato sauce and lasagna noodles

Directions:

  1. Begin by sauteing your vegetables in 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Stir often and cook for about 15 minutes, or until veggies are beginning to get tender. Add in half of the garlic, saute for an additional 2-3 minutes, and remove veggies from heat.
  2. While veggies are cooking, cook your lasagna noodles to al dente.
  3. When your vegetables and noodles are done cooking, preheat oven to 375ยบF and lightly spray an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. You will probably need to trim the ends of your noodles to fit in the dish.
  4. Prepare the garlic ricotta mixture by combining ricotta cheese, remaining minced garlic, scallions, and spices. Taste and adjust any spices you find necessary. Stir in beaten egg.
  5. Spoon 1/4 cup of tomato sauce onto greased baking dish and spread evenly. Layer 3 lasagna noodles on top and spread half of garlic ricotta mixture on top, along with another 1/4 cup of tomato sauce. Next, layer with half of the spinach and then half of the sauteed veggies. Sprinkle with one-third of the cheese. Repeat this process for the next layer.
  6. Top off with 3 more lasagna noodles, the remaining cheese, and a few vegetables (if desired). Bake for 20 minutes covered in foil, and then another 10 minutes uncovered or until cheese is completely melted. Let sit for a few minutes before serving, and enjoy!
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Begin by sauteing up those veggies

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and preparing your garlic ricotta mixture using the ricotta cheese, minced garlic, chopped scallions, spices, and egg. You will also want to cook your lasagna noodles during this time.

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Preheat your oven to 375 F and begin assembling your lasagna. First spoon 1/4 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of your baking dish.

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Next, lay down your lasagna noodles over the tomato sauce and then spread half of the garlic ricotta mixture on top, along with another 1/4 cup of tomato sauce (which I forgot to picture).

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On top of the ricotta, place half of the spinach and half of the sauteed vegetables. Sprinkle a third of the cheese blend on top.

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Repeat this process, and then lay down one more layer of lasagna noodles, and finish off with the remaining cheese and a few veggies if desired. Bake for 20 minutes covered, and then 10 minutes uncovered or until cheese is melted. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

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Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

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This is a recipe I stumbled upon on Pinterest, only to find out it comes from Ina Garten. Barefoot Contessa is one of my favorite shows on the food network. I love Ina ‘s calm demeanor and her versions of classic dishes. This particular recipe has awesome ratings on Foodnetwork.com and seemed like a perfect dish for the beginning of the summer.

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables includes roasted bell peppers, onion, and eggplant, served over orzo and finished off with feta cheese, fresh herbs, and a light lemony dressing. After reading through the comments on this recipe’s Foodnetwork page, I tweaked some of the ingredients a bit and left out the pine nuts but overall tried to keep all the wonderful flavors intact. You can view the original recipe here,and you can even watch a video of how it’s done.

My mom makes an orzo pasta salad with tomatoes, black beans, corn and feta which we always enjoy at home. This recipe reminds me a bit of my mom’s orzo, but perhaps with a Mediterranean twist. I like dishes like this because they can be served hot or cold, for lunch or for dinner. You can also play around with the ingredients and incorporate your favorite vegetables or herbs. This recipe makes a large batch, so if you’re cooking for a smaller crowd you may want to cut it in half like I did.

I’m not a big fan of traditional pasta salad, but I loved this dish. The tangy dressing and salty feta perfectly balance the sweet roasted vegetables, and the combination of the basil and scallions is just right – not to mention how wonderfully colorful it is. This recipe will definitely be making an appearance at any cookouts I attend this summer.

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables
slightly adapted from Ina Garten’s Orzo with Roasted Vegetables seen on Barefoot Contessa

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Ingredients:
serves 6 (but can be easily cut in half)

  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small eggplant, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 pound orzo
  • 4 scallions, chopped + 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 8 oz. feta, crumbled
  • For the dressing:
    • 1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons – I used slightly less, closer to 2-3 Tbsp)
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • salt and pepper, to taste

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425ยบF. Prepare the chopped vegetables and garlic by tossing them with enough olive oil to coat (about 3 Tbsp) and arrange them on a large baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring once or twice, until veggies are tender and lightly browned.
  2. While the veggies are roasting, cook your orzo according to box directions. After draining, transfer to a large bowl and toss with the roasted vegetables.
  3. To make the dressing, simply whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Pour over the orzo and vegetables and stir to combine. Let cool to room temperature and then add the scallions, basil, and feta.* Serve as a side dish or for lunch or dinner.

*Ina says it’s important to pour the dressing over the orzo while it’s hot because it will absorb more of it, and I also read in the comments that letting the dish cool to room temperature makes for the best flavor.

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Toss your chopped veggies and garlic with olive oil and bake at 425 for 30-40 minutes. While your veggies are roasting, begin cooking your orzo.

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Once your veggies are tender and browned, they’re done. I cooked mine for about 35 minutes.

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Prepare the dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, 1/4 cup of olive oil and salt and pepper.

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Combine your cooked orzo and veggies, and stir in lemon dressing. Let sit and cool to room temperature.

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When your orzo has cooled, add crumbled feta, chopped basil and chopped scallions. Stir to combine.

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Serve your orzo as a side dish, or as a meal. Yum!

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๐Ÿ™‚

Also, just wanted to mention that the other day my blog reached 100,000 views. Thank you so much to all my readers out there! It makes me so happy to be able to share my favorite recipes with all of you ๐Ÿ™‚