Pesto Pasta Salad

August 14, 2013 § 3 Comments

My body has no idea what time it is. I came back from vacation overseas, was a little jet lagged the first two days, got sick for one night, then started back to work on night shifts. My internal clock is just confused.

The last few days when not working I’ve been waking up at just crazy early times, like 4:30 or 5 no matter what time I went to bed. Bottom line is I really love waking up early. I read a little, make a good breakfast, cross some stuff off my to-do list before 7. I know I could up that early all the time but it’s not as good if I have to use an alarm clock.

One morning early I decided to make this Pesto Pasta Salad, like way before is appropriate for even lunch time. But whatever, I can deal with some taste testing of pasta salad before 10 am.

I picked the pretty easy way of making this. Some pre-made pesto from Trader Joes, canned cannellini beans. The longest part was waiting for the water to boil to make the pasta.Also, this is the kind of pasta salad that is SO MUCH better when you let it sit in the fridge for awhile. The flavors really mesh and it gets really delicious. Although its still good right away.

Make this for your next picnic, or when you need a few days of leftovers for work. Enjoy!

Pesto Pasta Salad
from Better Homes and Gardens
Ingredients
  • 8 oz elbow macaroni
  • 1, 8 oz jar of basil pesto
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2, 15 oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • 2 oz parmigiano-reggiano cheese, shredded or shaved
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
To Make
1) Put pot of water on to boil. Cook the macaroni just until al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water.
2) While pasta cooks, in a small pan toast the pine nuts until fragrant. When pasta is ready, in a large bowl mix beans, macaroni, half the cheese and half the pine nuts. Add in the pesto and mix until well combined. Stir in the arugula, then top off with rest of cheese and pine nuts.
3) If not serving immediately, cover and chill until ready to eat. Enjoy!

Pizza Sauce

July 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

It’s Friday. Therefore you should make a pizza. Logical? Totally. And to put on top of your pizza? This sauce.

It’s literally the easiest sauce to make in the world. No lie. Canned tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs (dried or fresh), salt and pepper and some balsamic. (Not pictured? A pinch of sugar). And you can work with whatever tomatoes you’ve got on had. The original recipe calls for crushed, but if you have diced or whole, no big deal; just drain about half the liquid then blend the sauce.

Now, toppings to go on top of the sauce is a whole other ball game. My husband is a meat man; pepperoni, sausage, the more the better. Me? I’m all about the veggies and fancy cheese, goat cheese and corn is my latest favorite. A little arugula is also right up my alley. Our only compromise is Hawaiian pizza. Canadian bacon and pineapple is our happy place for sharing. But we both agree on this sauce.

Ingredients:
  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp italian seasoning (or fresh herbs if you have them)
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp garlic
  • 1-2 tsp sugar
  • S&P to taste
To Make
1) In a medium sauce pan add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste (to make sauce as thick as you like, start with a little and add more as you need), seasoning, vinegar, sugar and garlic.
2) Simmer over medium high heat until sauce bubbles slightly. Add S&P to taste and extra tomato paste to thicken. Simmer about 20 minutes until your pizza is ready to make. Can be kept refrigerated for 1 week or frozen. Enjoy!

One Pot Pasta

June 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’ve probably talked about this before but I am a huge leftover fan. Like, fo real. I rarely make a meal without planning to have a meal for work. In fact, I’ve cooked a whole meal with the sole purpose of having it for leftovers.

I did this with this one pot pasta recipe. I made it at about 3 in the afternoon just so I would have some for work this weekend and ended up eating a whole bowl of pasta in the middle of the day. Second lunch? First dinner? Yep, it was that good.

This is a super simple meal. Solid ingredients that come together to make really tasty, salty pasta with lots of veggies. And you only get your cutting board and one pot dirty. Win-win-win.

You layer your pasta, a can of diced tomatoes and a sweet onion into a pan. Part of the magic of this is that you use broth to cook the noodles instead of water. I used some homemade vegetable broth but you could use chicken broth too. Finally, add the spices. Let it boil and cook until all the liquid evaporates and you’ve got a meal. Feel free to eat it in the middle of the afternoon, or the next day if it lasts.

One Pot Pasta
Ingredients
  • 1 box of whole wheat linguine
  • 1, 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 sweet onion, cut into pieces
  • 1 large bunch of basil, ripped into pieces
  • 2 tsp diced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp dried oregano (or fresh if you have it)
  • 1 tsp 21 seasoning salute (from Trader Joes)
  • 4 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 box cherry tomatoes
  • parmesan cheese
To Make
1) In a large pot layer the linguine, diced tomatoes, sweet onion, and basil. Pour over broth. Add spices (garlic, red pepper, oregano, seasoning), salt and pepper, and olive oil.
2) Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. After it boils, cover, reduce to a simmer and let cook another 10-15 minutes. Stir frequently while it simmers. Reduce until just a little bit of liquid is left at the bottom of the pot, to your preference. Towards the end add the cherry tomatoes so they get warm and a little soft.
3) Serve in large bowls, add S&P as it needs and top with parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Spinach Smoothie

April 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

Ikea has a bunch of awesome stuff for summer right now. I bought some bright yellow napkins, pineapple glasses and flamingo cocktail napkins and this stripped towel you see above. It got me super excited for this summer. This smoothie is perfect for summer, and also for all the time. It gets you a servies of veggies and two of fruit. What is better than that?

In an effort to eat healthier (some good tips from this article) I’ve been trying to add veggies to my breakfast. This smoothie is typically the way I do that. To make it? One banana, cut into pieces. Roughly half a cup of blueberries.

Some kefir, or yogurt. About 3/4 cup depending on how thin you like your smoothie.

Finally a heaping cup of spinach. That’s the good (read: healthy) stuff! BLEND that situation up. Delicious. It’s fantastic.

Spinach Smoothie
Ingredients
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 heaping cup spinach
  • ~3/4 cup kefir or plain/vanilla yogurt

To Make

1) Put ingredients in a blender. Mix until smooth. Enjoy!

Almond Butter Granola

April 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’m a little upset with the general public. No one told me almond butter was so GOOD! I decided to branch out the other day at good ‘ol Trader Joes and buy some and I’m a little hooked. So far I’ve enjoyed it by itself, on an apple and in this granola form.

This almond butter granola is what sold me. Its a fantastic combination of chewy, sweet and delicious. And since you know i’m obsessed with granola (see this, this and this) it should come as no surprise that I love this. You know what other health food thing I’m into? Chia seeds. They’re full of omega 3s and fiber apparently. I’ve been into putting them into smoothies lately. In fact, I made one with my nephew and told him they were bugs and he was really into them.

Go ahead and make a double batch of it to start because one isn’t enough. It’s even a good base and you could add lots of extra delicious things I’m sure. Banana chips if you’re into that (I’m not), cocoa nibs, peanuts, whatever you want! (from Shape)

Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp almond butter
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 cups oatmeal
To Make
1) Preheat oven to 325* and spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray.
2) Put almond butter and honey in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds to soften. Mix well, then add in cinnamon and vanilla extract. Once those are well combined stir in chia seeds and oatmeal.
3) Spread on cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice, until golden brown. Let cool on cookie sheet and store in airtight container. Enjoy!

Easter Dinner

April 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

I realize that Easter was a few days ago. However, I was not as on top of this post as I should have been. On Sunday, my trusty sous chef (my husband) and I prepared an easter feast for a group. It was really fun. Here is what I made:
Strawberry and Spinach Salad with 
candied walnuts from my Mom (sort of like this one)
 Scalloped Potatoes from T.Flo
Raspberry and Peach Crisp (adapted from my old recipe)

The most helpful thing when prepping dinner was that I had to be super organized. I made the cookies and hard boiled the eggs the day before. Also, I cooked dinner at someone else’s house so I had to bring all the ingredients and measured out things the night before. My husband said Easter was a good holiday to start with because it’s not up to par with Thanksgiving or Christmas, so I feel a little bit more ready to tackle something else. 

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

December 26, 2012 § 1 Comment

I’m experiencing a case of the post-Christmas blues. You know that feeling, the day is over, decorations are still up but you know they have to come down soon, no more countdown emails in your inbox. Thankfully I’m still with my family or I’d really be depressed.

This is that time when comfort food is needed. Comfort food with a twist. It’s the goodness of mac and cheese, creamy, warm, filling but with an added bonus. A little bit of the sweet healthy goodness that is butternut squash.

And the breadcrumbs really add an extra crunch to the top. I think you’ll really like this. My one recommendation with this is to make sure you have your ingredients prepped (i.e. peel, de-seed and chop your butternut squash) before starting. It just makes the actual cooking it part much smoother.
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Ingredients
  • 3 cups uncooked pasta shells
  • 4 cups 1/2 inch cubed butternut squash (uncooked)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 chicken stock (or vegetable)
  • 1 and 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 6 oz grated fontina cheese
  • 2 oz grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp brown butter
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
To Make:
1) Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta shells until al dente. Preheat oven to 375.
2) While the water is boiling, heat olive oil in an oven proof skillet or pan. I used my dutch oven because it’s what I had. Once pan is hot add the butternut squash, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Next, add the chicken stock and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes until squash is fork-tender.
3) Mash the butternut squash using fork, or mixer, or potato masher until smooth. Stir in the milk, 4 oz of the fontina cheese and the parmesan cheese until melted and well-combined. Finally add the brown butter.
4) Stir in the shells until mixed in. Top with bread crumbs and extra cheese. Bake in oven for 15 minutes, turn on broiler for the last few minutes until bread crumbs are browned and mixture is bubbly. Let sit for a few minutes then spoon into bowls. Enjoy!

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