Caprese Pasta

Out of a kid’s cookbook came a wonderful fresh dinner. Kirk had picked up a copy of Cooking Class: 57 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Make (and Eat!), for Walker to look over.

cookingclass

Chapter six is “My First Dinners”, a collection of fun recipes, ranging from easy (1 spoon) to harder (3 spoons) recipes. Honestly, these are adults friendly for making and for taste buds as well.

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Caprese Pasta (as adapted from pages 102)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound small pasta shapes
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, diced (can be fresh or traditional)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Ground black pepper
  • Fine sea salt

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add in pasta, cook for time on package. Drain and shake off.

Meanwhile, toss together the olive oil through garlic in a large mixing bowl. Add in about ¼ tsp ground black pepper and a pinch of salt.

Add pasta, toss gently to combine. Taste for seasoning, and serve.

Serves 6.

Cheesy Zucchini Rice

Comfort food with lots of veggies? The kids loved it with no complaints. Something about when one grates zucchini, I get nearly no complaints. Keep the veggies nearly invisible and they hoover it down….

Cheesyzukerice

Cheesy Zucchini Rice

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • 4 cups broth
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 3 small zucchini, grated
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced (3 or so large cloves)
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated (8 ounces)

Directions:

Heat a tall saucepan over medium, add in oil and rice, cook for a few minutes, stirring often, to toast the rice.

Add in the broth, bring to a boil over high, stirring often. Put on a lid, reduce heat to medium-low, cook for 20 minutes. Turn off heat, set aside.

Melt butter in a saute pan over medium, add in onion, cook until tender. Add in garlic, cook for a minute. Add in zucchini, let cook for a few minutes, until softened. Sprinkle with pepper.

Fold in rice, gently stirring to combine. Add in cheese, folding in till it melts. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 8.

Spring Asparagus and Pea Pasta

With 10 asparagus plants in the ground this year, I can dream of the coming years when I can go out and snip a treat in spring. Until then, at least I can buy tender bundles and enjoy a delicious spring pasta. Simple, rustic, and yet and impressive dish!

SpringPasta

Spring Asparagus and Pea Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and diced
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 16 ounces fusilli pasta
  • 3 cups fresh asparagus, trimmed, cut in 2″ pieces
  • 12 ounces petite frozen peas, thawed
  • 6 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, cook pasta as directed on package. In last two minutes, add in asparagus. Put peas in colander, pour pasta over and drain. Return pasta to cooking pot.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together parsley through olive oil. Drizzle over pasta, toss to coat. Add in cheese, gently fold in.

Serves 6 to 8.

Spaghetti with Shaved Brussels Sprouts

Simple rustic dinners can be so satisfying….

Brusselssprouts

Spaghetti with Shaved Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients:

  • Fine sea salt
  • 16 ounces spaghetti
  • 10 – 16 ounces shaved brussels sprouts
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper, divided
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add spaghetti, cook as directed. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, drain pasta.

Heat oil in a large non-stick saute pan over medium-high. Add brussels and ½ tsp salt, stirring often until softened and turning golden, about 10 minutes, Add garlic, 2 Tbsp butter and ¼ tsp black pepper, cook for a minute longer. Transfer sprouts into a heat safe bowl.

Return pan to heat, add in remaining 1 Tbsp butter and crack in eggs. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on top and remaining ¼ tsp black pepper. Cook until eggs are done, to your liking.

Once pasta is cooked and drained, return to pasta pot along with the brussels sprouts, lemon zest and juice and the reserved pasta cooking water, tossing to combine. Add in the cheese slowly, tossing to coat.

Serve pasta in shallow bowls, topped with an egg.

Serves 4, with leftover pasta (you can of course cook more eggs if desired!)

Note:

Shaved brussels sprouts are becoming easy to find in many grocery stores, near the bagged salads. If you can’t get them, buy a pound of sprouts, trim the bottoms and thinly slice or use the side cutter on a box grater.

Vegetable Curry

Curry sauces needn’t be feared – they are easy to pull together, and the beauty is you can put most anything in a curry sauce. The veggies I used are just a start, use what you have on hand. As for flavor, this is a very mild curry. A little heat would have been my taste – but I wanted the boys to enjoy it as well. So we sprinkled on hot sauce after 😉 If you want it spicier, add in some fresh chile peppers (such as Thai ones), or use a little red pepper flakes.

VegetableCurry

Vegetable Curry

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup shredded coconut + 1 cup water
  • 1 cup water
  • 14 ounce can coconut cream (or full fat coconut milk)
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 5 gold or white potatoes, chopped
  • 1 pound zucchini, quartered and sliced
  • 15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt, to taste

Directions:

Combine the coconut and water in a small pan, bring to a boil, reduce to a low simmer for 10 minutes, set aside.

Heat a large pot over medium-high, add in oil. Saute onion until tender, add in garlic and ginger, saute for a minute. Add in curry powder, tomatoes (with liquid), water, coconut cream, simmered coconut with its liquid, vegetables and chickpeas. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, keeping mostly covered, for 20 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.

Stir in lemon juice and salt to taste.

Serve with hot rice and naan bread…….

Serves 6 to 8.

Sweet & Sour Sauce

If there was one abomination I’d love see disappear, it would be the nasty candy cane red “sweet and sour” sauce served in Asian restaurants – or worse, in bottles at the store. It is rarely sour, and has so much artificial red dye, it is a migraine waiting to happen. A good basic sweet & sour sauce is easy to make. Keep it on hand for a week or so, in the refrigerator, for dipping rolls into, or add it to a stir fry right at the end, for an amazing dinner.

sweetnsoursauce

Sweet & Sour Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 20 ounce can pineapple chunks or tidbits, in juice
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar (plain)
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3 Tbsp ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp lower sodium soy sauce (gluten-free if needed)
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • ½ tsp powdered ginger

Directions:

Drain pineapple juice, measuring out 2/3 cup, reserving the rest. Add the 2/3 cup juice to a saucepan with rice vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often.

Meanwhile, stir the cornstarch into the remaining pineapple juice (it will be 1-2 Tablespoons worth). Stir the cornstarch into the boiling sauce, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium, stirring until thick. Take off the heat.

If using as a stir fry sauce, stir in the reserved pineapple. As a dipping sauce, use pineapple in another recipe.

Makes about 1 cup sauce.

Cheesy Rice and Veggie Casserole

Originally I was going to use quinoa and then right as I started dinner, I realized I had forgotten to stock up. So rice it became! You can use either, if you choose quinoa, use 1 cup quinoa, rinsed, instead of the rice. Cook the same.

Cheesyrice

Cheesy Rice and Veggie Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 2 cups water
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp dried onion
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into coins
  • 2 pounds zucchini or yellow summer squash, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, preferably unsalted
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 8 ounces grated cheddar cheese, regular or sharp

Directions:

Add water, sea salt, dried onion, and garlic to a small saucepan, bring to a boil. Add in rice, stirring. Return to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook covered for 20 minutes. Set aside.

While the rice is cooking, steam the carrots and zucchini, until tender-crisp, about 10 minutes. Take off the heat, add in peas. Fluff up rice, add to a large bowl and gently toss with the vegetables.

Preheat oven to 350°, lightly oil a 9×13″ baking dish.

Melt butter in saucepan, over medium heat. Whisk in flour, cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly pour in milk, whisking smooth. Cook until thickened, whisking often.

Take off heat, whisk in pepper and 6 ounces of the cheese. Taste for salt.

Pour over the rice, stirring gently to combine. Spread rice in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted on top.

Serves 6 to 8.

Dry Cream of Mushroom Soup Mix

This dry mix can be use as a soup base, added to dry recipes and more. Have it on hand and never need to go to the store to buy the sad soup in a can….

Coms

Dry Cream of Mushroom Soup Mix

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry milk
  • 6 Tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cup dried shiitake mushrooms, crumbled
  • 2 Tbsp veggie broth mix
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried onion powder
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper

Directions:

Mix dry ingredients together.

Makes about 20 Tablespoons, or 4 batches worth. Store in an airtight container, such as a mason jar, shake well before using.

To make soup:

Add 5 Tablespoons dry mix to 1 cup water, heat over low till thickened, whisking preferably, constantly.

Note:

For best results, look for dried mushrooms not imported from China. Any edible dried mushroom can be used, shiitake’s tend to be more affordable. White button mushrooms can be dehydrated easily at home, if you have a food dehydrator.

One Pot Caprese Pasta

I was feeling the need for a late summer dish, in the middle of winter. And paid $$ for that pleasure: greenhouse grown tomatoes and basil from Canada are never cheap in January – but so worth it. At the same time, while the base ingredients were not cheap, considering it served 6 amply, it was still an affordable pleasure. (The basil? $4 Tomatoes? $4 Cheese? $5 Ack!) Walker, our 4-year-old, had 3 servings! Anytime my children keep asking for more helpings, it is well worth the indulgence.

CapresePasta

One Pot Caprese Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 4 cups broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 8-12 ounces small tomatoes, cut in halves or quarters
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 16 ounces dry pasta
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella balls (such as Ciliegine size), cut into bite size pieces

Directions:

Heat a large pot over medium, add oil and onion, saute until onion is tender.

Add in remaining ingredients, except for mozzarella cheese. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-high, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.

Take off heat, stir in mozzarella cheese, and serve.

Serves about 6.

One Pot Beyond Chicken Creamy Pasta

Craving a hearty winter pasta dish to whisk you off to carb-coma land? If you haven’t tried Beyond Meat’s faux meat products, keep an eye out for them.

BeyondChicken

One Pot Beyond Chicken Creamy Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 4 cups lower sodium broth
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 16 ounces linguine, broken in half
  • 1 package Beyond Chicken
  • 4 ounces cheese, shredded  (see below)

Directions:

Heat a deep skillet or stock pot over medium, add oil, onions and bell peppers, saute until tender. Add in broth and half & half, bring to a boil.

Add in pasta, stirring well. Return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer mostly covered, for 10 minutes. Stir in cheese till melted.

On preparing Beyond Chicken:

There are two options – follow the package directions for best texture/taste and add in at the end, or you can add the frozen product with the broth step.

Notes:

Any melting cheese will work.Cheddar or a Co-Jack work well. There are 3 flavors of Beyond Chicken, so you can play with the flavors.

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