Pasta with Kale, Kalamata Olives, Dried Cranberries, Toasted Garlic & Feta

Meatless Monday, cheers! My husband thinks he doesn’t like today, but he does. He just doesn’t want anyone to know. He’s from the mindset that you must eat meat at every meal. I’m not sure why this is. But a lot of people are like that! If vegetarianism were about eating a salad all the time, I’d think I’d have to eat meat too, but it’s not. There are so many fabulous dishes out there that are so crazy packed with flavor, you just don’t miss the meat. Really. I speak the truth. And my husband will tell you the same, via ESP, so that he wouldn’t have to say it out loud, I’m sure of it.

http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com

This recipe was fairly easy enough, not much to it prep wise, which is super nice! I had a meeting tonight so I wanted something easy to throw together before I ran out the door in an effort to beat the traffic… ahhhhhhh, the LA life. The only thing was that I hadn’t timed the cooking of the spaghetti in with the cooking of the sauce, so my husband had to finish that part up, which means I DIDN’T GET TO EAT ANY! At least not hot, the night of. I actually ate it cold the next day. I love me some cold spaghetti! It was good cold and I’m sure it would have been great hot. You’ll have to let me know!

As for the ingredients, I love garlic. My husband finally had the nerve after a few years to tell me he did not love it, so I cut up two garlic cloves instead of an entire head, and I used half the amount of onion because, again, I always seem to have extra large onions, so now I’m cautious. This recipe had so much flavor! How could it not with garlic, cranberries, kalamata olives & feta? I think I would make this again. I’d like to try it hot and fresh. I’d give it 4 stars, but I’m on the quest for a plethora of five star recipes!

 

Pasta with Kale, Kalamata Olives, Dried Cranberries, Toasted Garlic, & Feta

Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
Ingredients
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 large bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound spaghetti or other pasta (we use whole wheat)
1/2 cup sliced Kalamata olives
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook garlic, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer garlic with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Cook onion in the remaining oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add dried cranberries and cook until plumped, about 1 minute.
2. Add kale leaves into onion mixture with water and 3/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook, covered, over medium-high heat until almost tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water and drain pasta.
4. Toss pasta with kale, kalamata olives, and 1/2 cup pasta water. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle feta cheese and garlic chips over the pasta dish and serve warm.

“I Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat” Ragu Over Tagliatelle

Seriously! I can’t believe it’s not meat! Ok, well, it’s been awhile since I had beef so maybe it’s not that tricky, but it sure has a great texture and it looks like ground beef! I thought I’d be able to trick my husband, but I got too excited about how it looked, I told him what it was called before he took a bite. He’s not a huge cooked tomato fan, but he’s a trooper. He said he liked it, and I believed him.

www.marthastewart.com/

Now, this is a Martha Stewart recipe so it’s complicated and involved. I don’t think she does anything simple, does she? I did start this earlier than normal so it could have the full two hours to simmer and acquire the full intensity of flavor. I admit, after I put this in my menu planner, I set the calendar on my phone to remind myself… and then, funny thing, the alarm went off, I read the message and thought “what the heck?”. Haha! My brain is full, packed to the brim I tell you. Shoot, if it weren’t for my menu planner and my Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Crock Pot Wednesday, I’d have no idea what day of the week it was! Know what I’m saying?

I halved this recipe because there’s 2 1/2 of us and we don’t often have time for leftovers. It made plenty for four people. I made garlic toast (literally buttered bread with garlic salt & oregano sprinkled and popped in the toaster oven) and a veggie, but a salad would be great with this too. And heck, don’t let that Grenache go to waste! I think I’d make this again, but I’m not quite sure. It was good, but 5 stars good? I don’t know. Will I toss this recipe? No. It’s good to have a homemade spaghetti sauce recipe on hand. Cheers!

“I Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat” Ragu Over Tagliatelle

http://www.marthastewart.com/893506/i-cant-believe-its-not-meat-ragu-over-tagliatelle

Ingredients

  • 1 large red onion, very coarsely chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, very coarsely chopped
  • 4 medium ribs celery, very coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound cremini mushroom caps
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 (1-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 4 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine, such as Grenache
  • 1 teaspoon Herbes de Hebron or herbes de Provence
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds Tagliatelle pasta
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving

Directions

  1. Place onion in the bowl of a food processor; process until finely chopped. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Place carrots and celery in the bowl of a food processor; process until finely chopped. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Place mushrooms in the bowl of a food processor; process until finely chopped; set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil, cloves, cinnamon stick, pepper, basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme in a large pot over medium-high heat; cook until cinnamon stick begins to unfurl, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add onion and 2 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring, until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and celery; stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is browned, about 12 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is released, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is slightly reduced, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add 1 cup water and wine; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours for a deeper flavor, adding an extra 1/2 cup water after one hour. Add Herbes de Hebron and butter; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add remaining tablespoon salt to boiling water and return to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions, until al dente. Drain and add to pot with ragu; toss to combine. Serve topped with freshly grated cheese.

Crockpot Lasagna Soup

Crockpot Lasagna Soup

It seems as though I’ve been on a cooking hiatus. Perhaps I have. February was a crazy month what with the holidays, illnesses and my birthday. Hopefully we are back on track so things can get settled and we can move forward. However, my daughter came down with a fever yesterday. And I, unknowingly, sent her to preschool… oops. After I picked her up, we went to Whole Foods and we were saying out in the parking lot, how hot it was (yes, I did just say it was February). Then we went inside to the produce section and she was suddenly freezing, like night and day in a matter of seconds. I laughed and told her it felt good in there. She kept going on about how cold she was so I said “do you have a fever?” and kissed her forehead and guess what? It was warm! I gave her my yoga jacket and she was still freezing. When we got home I tried to take her temp with one of four thermometers we had that had a semi-working battery and got three different readings, but the first, 100.7, was enough to let me know she definitely had a fever! She said she was too tired to eat, so I sent her to bed without lunch and she fell asleep the second her head hit the pillow. Once she woke up, she progressively got worse until she was in tears because her head hurt so badly. I gave her acetaminophen and within the hour she was feeling much better. I ran to the store to get yet another thermometer since my husband went on hunt #2 to find batteries for the thermometers we had and came up empty handed. Yes, a few weeks ago I went to a couple of different stores looking for batteries and everywhere I went, they were out! All I can conclude is that they stopped making those sizes… I should google that.

Anyway, I woke up at 12:30 to check on her and her temp was 103.6. She woke up and seemed fine so I took off all the blankets (bad idea they were, I realize) and by the time I came back with the acetaminophen, her temp had gone down to 103.3. *phew* I sat with her for a while cause that’s what a worried mom does, and she eventually said “you can go now, mom”. (“OK, my mini-teenager…”.) An hour later I checked her temp again and it was somewhere in the 101 range so I could sleep!

So that’s what is going on here, fever and endless cartoons. And endless cleaning for me.  Weeee. But back to my cooking hiatus! What better way to ease my way back into cooking then to crockpot? Do it during the day when you have the time and energy and voila, when you’re hungry, dinner is ready! I’ve tried and failed too many times to know that returning to cooking after a hiatus and attempting to cook at dinner time often ends up in eating out or a frozen something-er-other. I set out to make the soup, only to have endless distractions with a sicky and texts and phone calls and moths (later my friends, later) and blah, blah, blah, that I ended up throwing it all on the stove and turning it on low. This wasn’t a five star meal, and I ‘m not sure I would even rate it a 4 star. Though I wouldn’t give it 3 stars because it was much better than that! Don’t get me wrong, it was really good, but it wasn’t anything I’d be interested in making again. I didn’t think it was  “wow, wow, wow!” If you’re watching your calorie intake, this would be a good soup for you, especially if you made it with ground turkey, or even cauliflower or a veggie mix. The only significant fat is the meat, and then the cheese if you decide to add it at the end.

As I was prepping the soup I realized a few things: a) my shopping list failed me and didn’t tell me I needed ground turkey OR chicken stock, so I made the soup minus those two things and when I could, I ran to the store and b) that the kiddo wouldn’t eat it with the onions and my husband doesn’t like cooked tomatoes, so I pulled out the hand blender and whirred away until it was all blended. I then browned the turkey in a separate pan and added it at the same time I added the chicken stock and the shell pasta, which by the way, I bought quinoa shell pasta in an attempt to begin reducing our gluten intake.

Crockpot Lasagna Soup

Adapted from: www.familyfreshmeals.com

Ingredients

1 lb.  ground turkey

3 cups chicken broth

4-5 cloves of garlic, minced

1 T dried parsley

1 T dried basil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes

1 6 oz. can of tomato paste

1 cup tomato based vegetable drink (like a V8 type drink)

2 cups uncooked shell pasta

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup water

Optional topping- shredded parmesan or mozzarella cheese

Directions

First mix together the can of tomatoes, and tomato paste in crockpot.

Next add broth, ground turkey, garlic, parsley, basil, onion, V8 and salt & pepper.

Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours.

When 30 minutes are left of cooking time, add in the 1 cup of water and noodles. Stir to combine. Put lid back on and continue cooking for 30 minutes.

Turkey Burgers a.k.a. Cheater Day

Not imaginative, I know. And yet another meal we’ve had before, many, many times! But here’s the deal. We are working on living on a budget, which means eating out a lot less. *SIGH* We love to eat out. Love, love, love it! I especially love it when I don’t feel like cooking, which is often when I’m pressed for time. So what does one do when you used to go out when that happened? Cook something fast and easy, that’s what! I’ve been trying to freeze leftovers for situations like this, but sometimes that’s not practical. Like today. We visited my parents this weekend and came home on Sunday. I knew I wasn’t going to feel like cooking after spending 3 1/2 hours in the car and there wasn’t going to be enough time for heating up something in the oven, so I planned turkey burgers! They cook in about 15 minutes, so while they’re cooking, I’m slicing cheese, tomatoes, pickles and washing the lettuce. This time I “fried” an egg to put on top of my husband’s burger to change it up a bit! He LOVED it!

I super cheated this time. I bought frozen turkey burger patties from Trader Joes. I could make my own, and if I ever think ahead enough, I will. I have an amazing meatloaf recipe that makes super flavorful burgers, which I’ll share one of these days!

Crock Pot Lasagna- It’s Another Keeper!

My husband loved this recipe. Loved, loved, loved it! I took our daughter and went out of town this weekend and he told me he ate it for two lunches and a dinner while we were gone. Now that is a high rating from him if he ate it for four meals!

I didn’t halve this recipe because I wasn’t sure what would happen to it, other than be super flat, and ended up freezing the other half for another dinner when I don’t feel like cooking. (Our freezer is filling up fast!) Another note about this recipe is that I waited too long to get it started and I turned it on high for about an hour to an hour and a half and then turned it to low for two hours. One section of the exterior got a bit dark or, um, burned, but the rest of it was fine, so I guess you can just watch it if you are in a rush or just chance it and cut it off if need be.
Again, my thought that lasagna is hard to make was squelched! I mean, how hard is mixing and layering ingredients?! Maybe I think it’s hard because if you order it in a restaurant you have to wait for it, making my brain think it’s hard work, rather than it’s just a made-to-order menu item? No idea. But it’s not hard, at all.

I’ll make this again because it was so good and easy. And my husband will be happy! And wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. He finished his dinner and said “That was so good! Too bad we’ll never see it again!”. Ha! WRONG!

Slow Cooker Lasagna

Adapted from cuteasafox.com

Ingredients

1 pound ground turkey breast
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
3 15 oz cans tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 oz)
1 container (15 oz) part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
15 uncooked lasagna noodles

Directions

1. Cook sausage and onion in 10-inch skillet over medium heat 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sausage is no longer pink. Drain.

2. Stir in tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and salt.

3. Mix 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese with the ricotta and Parmesan cheeses. (Refrigerate remaining mozzarella cheese while lasagna cooks.)

4. Spoon one-fourth of the sausage mixture into 6-quart slow cooker. top with 5 noodles, broken into pieces to fit. (Note: I just put one layer of noodles, in my slow cooker it is usually less than 5 lasagna noodles)

5. Spread with half of the cheese mixture and one-fourth of the sausage mixture. Top with 5 noodles, remaining cheese mixture and one-fourth of the sausage mixture.

6. Top with remaining 5 noodles and remaining sausage mixture.

7. Cover and cook on Low heat setting 4 to 6 hours or until noodles are tender. Note: Do not try to cook on high, the outside edges of the lasagna will burn. Trust me on that one.

8. Sprinkle top of lasagna with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Cover and let stand about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Cut into pieces and serve.

 

Open Faced Enchilada Veggie Quesadillas

It’s Taco Tuesday! So I decided to give these Open Faced Enchilada Veggie Quesadillas a try. I wasn’t sure what to expect, enchilada? Quesadilla? Humph. Whatever, they seemed easy enough!
First of all, I have to get this under control: onion. I follow the recipe, but I’m not sure if my onions are on steriods or not. When it says “one whole onion”, I use one whole onion, but I’m thinking a whole small onion is what they meant. It was like we were having enchilada onion quesadillas. I’m not a fan of raw onion (unless it’s minced and I can’t tell), but cooked onion is fine, at least used sparingly it’s fine! I had to take most of it off my dinner. In fact, there were so many onions I was thinking “fajita” should be added into the title somewhere.

tastykitchen.com/blog/

Anyway, when my husband saw dinner he said “Mexican Pizzas?”, which is exactly what they reminded me of! What a much simplier way to say it! As I tried to take a bite, I wondered what on earth I was doing wrong… then my husband said “how am I supposed to eat this?”. I told him “very carefully!”. It wasn’t until after dinner that I noticed a) they were smaller flour tortillas then I used (I used the Trader Joes Organic Whole Wheat Olive Oil Tortillas (hey, that’s almost as long as the title!) and b) the picture of them cut up. Ha!
As for it being kid friendly, it depends on the kid. My kid won’t even eat cooked onions, so I just took them and the bell peppers off and she gladly ate it up. I suppose you could even add black beans for some extra protein. I’d say I’d do that next time, except there won’t be a next time unless I feel like experimenting because as tasty and easy as these were, there are just too many recipes and so little time!

Open Faced Enchilada Veggie (Fajita) Quesadilla (Mexican Pizzas)

Ingredients

  • 4 whole Flour Tortillas
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 whole Onion, Thinly Sliced
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt To Taste
  • ⅛ teaspoons Black Pepper To Taste
  • ½ cups Green Bell Pepper, Diced
  • ½ cups Yellow Bell Pepper, Diced
  • ½ cups Red Bell Pepper, Diced
  • ¼ cups Enchilada Sauce
  • ½ cups Black Olives, Chopped
  • 1 cup Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
  • ¼ cups Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
  • ¼ cups Sour Cream For Garnish

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 F. Place tortillas on an ungreased baking sheet, lightly spray with cooking spray and prick all over with a fork. Bake for 5-6 minutes, until they are puffed and begin to turn golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Keep the oven on. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced onions to the skillet, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions turn translucent and begin to caramelize (about 8-10 minutes). When the onions are almost done, add the diced peppers and cook just until they begin to soften. Remove skillet from heat. Spoon about 1-2 tablespoons of enchilada sauce over each of the baked tortillas. Top with the onions and veggie mixture, olives and cheese. Place it back in the oven and cook for 5-6 more minutes, until the cheese has melted. Remove from oven and garnish with fresh cilantro and sour cream.  http://tastykitchen.com/blog/2013/03/open-faced-enchilada-veggie-quesadillas/

Crock Pot Chicken Stew

This is a big, fat, unfortunate “no way” for me. (Even though the picture looks delicious!) However, I LOVE big flavor so if you don’t love big flavor, then give this one a try! I am always on the hunt for crock pot meals and since I don’t eat beef or pork and am not super crazy about beans, it’s pretty dang hard to find a crock pot meal that I can make!

Crock Pot Chicken Stew

mummydeals.org

 

I found this blog that referred to this blog as the “Top 10 Slow Cooker Meals of 2012”, so I checked it, and low and behold it was mostly chicken meals! Woo Hoo! Except, after saving them all to my meal planner and I then reading the blog, I discovered that the woman was from England… which, stereotypically, means meals that are most likely not full of flavor. Or so I am thinking. We shall see. However, the first of all the crockpot meals I planned, this was a big sad dinner. It was totally flavorless which could be because I don’t eat pork and therefore used turkey bacon, and unfortunately it cooked too long, which was my fault because I did one hour on high because I was yet again in a hurry (I need a time management manager!) and then 1 hour on low and I only made three chicken breasts. Anyway, I should have known there wasn’t much flavor just by the simple ingredients. If you are one to tweak recipes to your liking by adding things, please do. I will not make this one again because there are too many recipes and so little time!

Crock Pot Chicken Stew

adapted from mummydeals.org

 Ingredients

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 slices bacon cooked
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms/ 8oz container
  • 1 small bottle of white wine I used zinfandel. (I mean the teeny tiny bottles that are 6.3oz)


Directions

Add the bacon to the bottom of the crock pot.

Place the mushrooms on top and add the chicken breasts on the top.

Pour the wine over and then fill the bottle with cold water and pour that over the whole thing.

Cook on low 4-6 hours or high 2-3.

Open the slow cooker and sprinkle in some corn starch to thicken. Stir fast to thicken the sauce.

Cook for another 15 minutes.

Serve with bread.