Thursday, April 30, 2015

Grilled Vegetable Pasta in a Garlic Broth with Basil

You know how they say you shouldn't go to the supermarket hungry? Well you also shouldn't try to write a food blog post when you are hungry. I am sitting here staring at the picture of this pasta and the only thought I have in my head right now is how badly I'd love to eat it.

So after giving you one tip, I'm going to let the pictures do the talking in this post. The next time you grill veggies for dinner, make extra so you can chop them up for this pasta dish the next night. Not only will you save time and have dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes, you'll get the great flavor of grilled veggies infused into a light and fresh pasta dish.

Grilled Vegetable Pasta


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Leftover grilled veggies, chopped
  • A few cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 c low sodium chicken or vegetable broth OR 1/2 c pasta water
  • 8 oz pasta
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • Optional: fresh mozzarella, chopped


  • Cook pasta until done to your liking; drain, reserving 1/2 c of the pasta water (unless you are using broth)
  • Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat
  • Add the garlic and tomatoes; sauté 2-3 minutes being careful not to burn the garlic
  • Add the veggies and toss to warm
  • Add the broth or pasta water, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a low simmer.
  • Add the pasta and toss with the veggies.
  • Top with basil and mozzarella

Friday, April 24, 2015

Lemony Spinach and Chic Pea Soup

Although it's spring I still love to make soup for lunches. I look for lighter recipes using a lot of vegetables and fresh flavors, like lemon and cilantro.

This soup that I came across in Cooking Light sounded like the perfect spring soup, and it was. It was filling for lunch and was healthy, too, so I felt good about it. I loved the lemon with chic peas and spinach - a new perfect flavor combination for me!

I made only a few changes to the original recipe, including using less orzo so it wouldn't be packed with pasta. Enjoy!

Lemony Spinach and Chic Pea Soup
Source: Adapted from Cooking Light
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 c uncooked orzo
  • 1 Tbsp grated lemon rind
  • 1 15oz can chic peas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 6 oz fresh baby spinach
  • Optional: 1/3 c Parmesan cheese
  • Heat a large saucepan over high heat.
  • Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat.
  • Add garlic and onions; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  • Add chicken broth and 2 cups water; bring to a boil.
  • Add orzo, lemon rind, and chickpeas. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until orzo is done.
  • Stir in oregano and next 4 ingredients (through spinach).
  • Ladle 1 3/4 cups soup into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with about 4 teaspoons cheese.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Creamy Pasta with Bacon

If I'm going to make a comforting pasta dish, I'm really going to go for it and forget about low carb, low fat, etc. It has to be creamy, rich and hearty, cheesy, and the addition of bacon never hurts.
Whenever my friend Jen comes to visit I always make a creamy pasta dish one of the nights, and since it was still freezing cold when she was here the last time, I was excited to make a comforting dish.

I was inspired by this recipe for Pasta with Mascarpone, Garlic, Spinach and Crumbled Bacon from the blog Week of Menus. I changed up a few ingredients and some of the steps and was so happy with the final dish - it was exactly what I wanted it to be.

Note - the mascarpone doesn't have much flavor, so if you are going to use it as a base for your sauce, I suggest using a second cheese and also some stock instead of the reserved pasta water.

Creamy Pasta with Bacon
Adapted from: Week of Menus
  • 1 lb of bowtie pasta
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3/4 c frozen peas
  • 1/2 c mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 c low sodium chicken stock
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Black pepper
  • Cook pasta until done to your liking; drain and set aside.
  • In the meantime, heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Discard all but 2 Tbsp of the bacon grease.
  • Lower the heat the medium and add the olive oil. Add the garlic; sauté 1 minute.
  • Add the peas and mix, followed by half of the broth
  • Whisk in the mascarpone until creamy, adding broth if it gets too thick
  • Add the Parmesan cheese and black pepper to taste
  • Add the pasta, tossing to coat
  • Top with the crumbled bacon and serve immediately.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Guinness Pulled Pork

My rarely-used crock pot may start to get a workout after it was used to make this pork. We just had it last week and I already want it again - it's that good. So good that I had 2 sandwiches at dinner, as did my husband and best friend.

The pork starts with a simple rub - I added a few things to the original recipe to spice it up a bit and also increased the quantities. Then you layer sliced onions in the bottom of the pot, top with the pork and then pour in the Guinness. I think I spent 8 minutes on the prep.

Here is the pork before I poured in the Guinness -

The pork became so tender while cooking that I didn't even need to pull it out to shred it - I just used a fork and my tongs and barely needed to use any effort to make it fall apart.

The three of us all built our sandwiches differently - I put some cole slaw on the bottom of the bun followed by the pork and then some Sweet Baby Ray's original BBQ sauce. My friend kept it simple with just pork and sauce while my husband layered his with cole slaw, pork, and dill pickles.

The leftovers are amazing... make another sandwich or make my favorite, NACHOS!! Enjoy!
Guinness Pulled Pork

  • 1 large white onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1.5 Tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or more! 
  • 1 tsp freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 4 pound boneless pork butt, shoulder or loin cut into chunks so it lies flat in the pot
  • 1 (14 oz) can Guinness
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (or soy sauce if you don't have Worcestershire)
  • For serving: rolls, pickles, cole slaw and your favorite BBQ or Hot Sauce 
  • Lay the onions and garlic over the bottom of the pot
  • Mix together all of the spices and then rub generously over the pork.
  • Place the pork over the onions and then pour in the Guinness and Worcestershire
  • Cook on high for 6 hours and then turn to low for 2. Shred and keep warm until ready to serve.
  • Serve with pickles, BBQ or hot sauce and cole slaw.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Grilled Thai Chicken Salad

Grilling season is finally here in the Northeast! This opens up an endless number of meal options as we grill everything - meat, fish, veggies, potatoes, even noodles in a foil packet.

I tend to eat healthier when we grill. No creamy, cheesy sauces; no breaded chicken or chops, and nothing fried. My favorite grilled meal is marinated chicken with a hearty salad, like this Thai Chicken Salad. I actually made this one last fall and can't wait to fire up the grill to make it again soon.


Grilled Thai Chicken Salad
The Marinade -
  • 1/2 c rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • A few dashes of cayenne pepper
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce

The Salad
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 bag broccoli slaw
  • 1/2 head of bok choy, chopped (except for the top 2-3 inches)
  • 3 green onions
  • 1/2 cucumber, chopped
  • Optional: cilantro
The Dressing
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • juice from 1/2 of a lime
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tsp spicy Thai chili sauce
  • Mix the marinade ingredients and pour over the chicken. Marinate in the fridge for at least 8 hours.
  • Mix the salad ingredients; keep cold until ready to serve.
  • Make the dressing shortly before dinner - just mix everything well, taste and adjust.
  • Grill the chicken until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Remove from the grill and let rest at least 5 minutes. Slice and serve.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Skillet Baked Rigatoni

This is an almost one pot meal - it all cooks in the skillet after the pasta boils in a pot. Two pots though, that's still a pretty easy cleanup!

I used the Skillet Lasagna recipe that I recently made as inspiration. I mixed instead of layering, but everything else was pretty much the same.

It took about 25 minutes to prep, and that includes the time to boil the water and cook the pasta. After that it goes into the oven for 20 minutes, giving you plenty of time to wash the one pot and then open a bottle of wine.

Skillet Baked Rigatoni

  • 12 oz rigatoni
  • 1 lb ground beef (I use 96%)
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 14 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 8 oz of your favorite tomato sauce
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 6 oz part-skim ricotta
  • 8 oz shredded Italian blend cheese (mozzarella and Parmesan)
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 2 pinches of black pepper
  • Handful of chopped fresh parsley (or 1 Tbsp dried)
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil; salt and then cook the pasta according to directions. Drain.
  • Heat a large sauté pan (oven safe) over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook, crumbling, until almost cooked through.
  • Add the onions and garlic; cook, stirring, 2-3 minutes
  • Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer for a few minutes.
  • In the meantime, mix the ricotta, 6 oz of the shredded cheese, ricotta, salt and pepper
  • Remove half of the meat mixture (just to make it easier to mix without making a mess) and pour half of the cooked pasta to the skillet as well as half of the cheese mixture. Stir to coat.
  • Add the rest of the meat, pasta, and cheese mixture; mix.
  • Top with the remaining shredded cheese.
  • Cover and bake on 400 degrees for 20 minutes.