Category Archives: Pasta, grains, etc.

Pasta with chicken, artichokes, kalamata olives and tomato sauce

So after my big personal success last week, I was feeling confident about my ability to go with the flow in the kitchen. I was going out of town for the weekend, so before I left, I decided to use some of the ingredients I had sitting around the house. It was a gigantic, enormous success! If I do say so, I am very proud of myself! Not only was this dish amazing, but I made it up! You should definitely try it.

Pasta with lots of nummies

  • 1 box of pasta, around 14 ounces
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, 14 ounces
  • about 12 ounces of tomato sauce
  • 1 box of frozen artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 15-20 kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • 1/2-1 onion, chopped
  • a few cloves of garlic, diced
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1.5-2 chicken breasts
I started by cooking the chopped chicken breast in olive oil until the pieces were browned and cooked through. I then removed the chicken to a plate and heated up the other tablespoon of olive oil in the pan.
I then added the onion and cooked for a minute or two before adding the artichoke hearts. I continued to cook the onion until it was just slightly browned. Oh, and about this time I started cooking the pasta.
I then added the garlic and cooked for about 30 seconds before adding the white wine. I then let the whole mix simmer for a few minutes in the wine.
I then added the tomatoes, sauce, olives, and chicken and let the whole thing simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
I then served the sauce over the pasta and boy was it delicious!!!

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My very own, made up risotto

This dish represents a big moment for me. It is the first dish that I have officially created all by myself. I’ve made lots of changes to many of the recipes I’ve posted, but the initial inspiration has always belonged to someone else. Essentially, bf and I were in the mood for risotto, I had chicken and broccoli and decided to man up (or woman up) and just make something new. The good news: it was good!!!! Not my best risotto, but tasty and a good culinary moment.

First,  started by chopping and steaming the broccoli for about five minutes.

Then, while the broccoli (1 head) was steaming, I chopped the chicken (about 1.5-2 breasts) and cooked it until it was browned and cooked through.

Then, I emptied the chicken onto a plate and added the chopped onion and garlic (about one small onion and a few cloves of garlic) and cooked in a tablespoon or two of olive until the onion is tender and translucent. I decided to cook the chicken in one pan and use the same pan because then when I added the veggies and later the liquid, I was able to keep the intense chicken flavor. Using my wooden spoon, I scraped the bottom, until the brown bits of heavenly deliciousness had come up into the food.

Next, I added the arborio rice (about a cup) and cooked for a minute before adding 1/2 cup of white wine. I also added about a tablespoon of dried thyme (or more). I cooked the rice until the wine was about absorbed. While I was preparing the chicken and the rice, I put 2 cups of chicken broth (because it’s all I had left) and a cup of water in a small pot. I brought the mix to a very gentle simmer. Once the wine was absorbed, I added the broth in 1/2 cup fulls and stirred until it was just about absorbed, then repeated.

When the rice was ready and the broth was all absorbed, I added the broccoli, chicken, and Parmesan cheese.

Finally, I served up two delicious bowls. I was quite pleased with myself for not blowing up the kitchen or destroying my taste buds. Yay!

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Pasta with Baby Spinach, Herbs and Ricotta

In the spirit of honesty and showing my successes, failures and everything in between, I am going to document this recipe. I hated this dish. I couldn’t even finish my bowl. I didn’t like the spinach in the pasta. I love fresh spinach in salads, but there wasn’t enough of a sauce or dressing to go with the spinach. The herbs were also way too much. The dill especially was totally overpowering. Finally, the ricotta was way to bland to go with everything else. If I was to recreate the dish, I would do goat cheese and some spinach, maybe less or steam it first, and a sprinkling of parsley. So, essentially this dish without the chicken.

I was especially disappointed by the outcome, because the recipe was from Cooking Light, and usually their dishes are so tasty. But, nonetheless, I documented the process.

First, I rinsed the spinach and patted it dry with a paper towel.

Then, while the pasta was cooking, I chopped up all of the herbs.

Once the pasta finished cooking, I reserved about a cup of the cooking liquid, although in the end, I really only need about a 1/2 cup.

In my mini-cuisinart, I blended the ricotta cheese and a half cup of the cooking liquid until smooth.

Next, I mixed everything together in a large bowl.

Finally, I served up two bowls. Bf ate his because he didn’t want to hurt my feelings, but I could barely eat half before I gave up. Yucky!

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Parmesan Polenta and Sausage Sauce

First, I must start by saying, I know my formatting is all weird. I’ve tried all of the technology tricks my little brain can think of. They have failed. Bf is incredibly good at fixing these things, but he is in the midst of finals and can’t help me. However, this dish is freaking amazing. Absolutely delicious. I simply cannot wait until next weekend when he’s done to share it with you. Bf even said it was one of the best things I’ve ever made. That’s some serious praise right there! I only made a few changes to the original recipe (primarily upping the amount of sausage and leaving out the crushed red pepper, which of course bf put back in) and I wouldn’t change anything when I make it again.

Parmesan Polenta and Sausage Sauce

Adapted from Cooking Light 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 sweet Italian sausages
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup quick-cooking polenta
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
First, I removed the casings from the sausage. Then, I cooked up the sausage meat in a tablespoon of olive oil. How, you ask? Great question (not really, but I figured I should explain how I cook sausage meat). I heat up the olive oil before adding the meat. Then I cook one side of the sausages for a few minutes. While the first side is cooking, I use a wood spoon to try and cut up the sausage into several pieces. You can’t quite cut up the pieces, but you can get the meat to begin to separate. Then you flip the sausage and cook the other side for a few minutes and continue to break up the meat. Finally, cook a few more minutes on whichever side isn’t cooked through.
Once the sausage meat is cooked, I added the chopped up onion and cooked for a few minutes until the onion was tender. The timing of the original recipe was a bit off. I had to cook the sausage for a while longer than suggested because it wasn’t pre-cooked. Also, the onion took a bit longer because I just cut up the majority of an onion and I’m pretty sure it was larger than a cup.
I then added the garlic, cooked for about 30 seconds, then added the tomatoes and oregano and simmered for about fifteen minutes. Make sure you stir it every so often so it cooks evenly!
While the tomato sauce was simmering, I brought the chicken broth and water to a boil. Next, I added the polenta and whisked the mix until it was nice and thick. Then, I added the Parmesan cheese, turned off the heat, and whisked until it was well blended.
This is what the polenta looks like when it’s all done.
By this time, the sauce had been simmering for about 15 minutes, so I added the basil and let it simmer for about another 5 until it had thickened a bit.
I then served the sauce on top of the polenta. Yum! We even went back for seconds because it was so tasty!


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Blueberry Banana Oat Cake

The name of this dish is really quite  vague. The dish is more like a chewy, biscuit-mash, thick oatmeal-like bowl of deliciousness. It also takes all of five minutes from start to finish and requires five ingredients. So to sum up, best breakfast/snack ever.

I got the recipe here and made only a few tiny tweaks. Below are the ingredients.

1/2 cup oats

1/4 cup brown sugar

a few vigorous shakes of cinnamon

1/2 cup frozen or fresh blueberries

1 ripe banana

First, I mashed up the banana in a small bowl. I actually could have used an even smaller bowl than I did. Make sure the banana is really mashed- it serves as your liquid in the dish.

 

 

 

 

Then I added the oats, brown sugar and cinnamon and mixed with a fork until the whole thing was well blended. At first you may be inclined to think “there is no way there is enough banana/liquid to hold all of these oats together” but keep going and it will all work out.

 

 

 

Next, I added in the blueberries and gently stirred. The nice thing about frozen blueberries is you don’t have to worry about them breaking up too much.

 

 

 

 

After mixing, I spooned the mash into a pyrex. Mine was about 5-6 inches across. I then microwaved the whole thing uncovered for 4 minutes. Next time I think I’ll do 4:30 so the top is a bit crunchy. However, if you are using a bigger dish and the mash is more spread out 4 should work just fine.

 

 

After letting the dish sit for a few minutes in the microwave to cool and set, this is what it looked like. It was absolutely delicious! I managed to save a little bit for my bf who “mmmm-ed” his way through the entire few bites I avoided. Seriously. You should try this stuff, it’s so worth it.

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Spring Risotto

This recipe was a great find from the latest Cooking Light magazine and it’s absolutely delicious. A little different than my usual risottos, it has some light cream cheese, so it’s a bit creamier, but a great change of pace. Super easy with almost no prep (if you buy the right things) and pretty healthy as well. I can’t speak highly enough about this dish, it was a real winner.

Spring Risotto

Adapted from Cooking Light

  • 1  pound  asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 3/4  cups chicken broth
  • 2  tablespoons  olive oil
  • 1 1/2  cups  chopped onion
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  cup  uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1  cup  frozen shelled edamame
  • 3/4  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/4  cup  1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • a handful of Parmesan cheese

I started by shelling the edamame. I could only find in-shell frozen edamame, so that added some time and pain to my prep process.

 

 

 

 

In order to get a cup of edamame peas, I had to shell all these bad boys. Let me tell you, I had some sore fingers by the time I was done squeezing all these pods.

 

 

 

 

Then I chopped up the onion and added it to a skillet with some olive oil. I cooked the onion for about four minutes and then added the garlic and cooked for a few minutes more.

 

 

 

 

Next, I added the salt, edamame and the Arborio rice and cooked for about a minute.

 

 

 

 

Then I started adding the broth/water mix (which had been heating up while I was preparing everything else). For the first addition, I added a full cup. After that, I added the broth in 1/2 cup-fulls at a time, stirring and letting the rice absorb the liquid before adding more.

 

 

 

While the rice mixture was slowly cooking, I trimmed and chopped the asparagus and then cooked it in boiling water for about 4 minutes. To trim the asparagus you put one hand on the very end of the asparagus (the root side) and then the other hand about half way up the stalk. You gently bend the stalk and let the asparagus naturally break. Depending on the ripeness of the bunch it usually breaks between an inch and 2.5 inches up the stalk.

 

This picture is what the rice mix looked once it was done. I had a little bit of broth left over, but the rice was cooked just right so I didn’t want to push it.

 

 

 

 

Finally, I added the asparagus, pepper and cream cheese. I stirred everything together until the cheese was melted and heated through.

 

 

 

 

I served the yumminess (yes I just made that a word) in bowls with a little sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Delicious!

 

 

 


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Mediterranean Chicken with Potatoes

This dinner was one of my recent attempts to avoid pasta. Based on the ingredients, I thought it would be absolutely delicious. It was good, but not quite as amazing as I expected. It also required a lot of cutting and prep. Finally, it was almost like….stew. Not that that’s a bad thing, it just wasn’t what I expected. This description doesn’t really give the recipe a fair shake. It was tasty, but if push comes to shove and I had to recommend a recipe, this probably wouldn’t be it. But if you are undeterred, here is the recipe and description.

Mediterranean Chicken with Potatoes

Adapted from Cooking Light

  • 4  teaspoons  minced garlic, divided
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 1  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1/4  teaspoon  dried thyme
  • 1/2  teaspoon  black pepper, divided
  • 12  small red potatoes, halved (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • Cooking spray
  • 2  pounds  skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1  cup  vertically sliced red onion
  • 3/4  cup  dry white wine
  • 3/4  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth (in retrospect I’d probably use only a dash)
  • 1/2  cup  chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4  cup  pitted kalamata olives, halved
  • 2  cups  chopped plum tomato
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh basil or some dried
  • 1  (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • Thyme sprigs (optional)

First, I started by cutting up the potatoes into quarters, then tossing with two teaspoons of minced garlic, the salt, pepper dried thyme and olive oil. Then, I baked the potato mix at 400 on a rimmed baking sheet for 30 minutes. Because my potatoes were a little bigger than expected, I’d probably cut them smaller next time or bake them a little longer.

 

 

Bf was then nice enough to cut up the chicken for me into bite size pieces, which I cooked with a little cooking spray until they were browned and cooked through.

 

 

 

 

While the chicken was cooking, I chopped the red pepper and the red onion, and sliced the olives. I also cut up the tomatoes, the rest of the garlic and drained the artichoke hearts, which I put in a separate bowl (because they went into the pot at a later point).

 

 

 

When the chicken was done, I removed it to another bowl and added the sliced red onions to the pot. I cooked the red onion for a few minutes, or until it had started to brown and soften.

 

 

 

 

Next, I added the white wine and scraped up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. I then let the wine simmered for a few minutes until it reduced by about 1/3.

 

 

 

 

This picture shows what the potatoes looked liked when they were done.

 

 

 

 

When the potatoes came out of the oven, I added them, the chicken, the red peppers, olives and the chicken broth to the pot. Then I let the mix cook for a few minutes.

 

 

 

 

After a few minutes, I added the artichoke hearts, tomatoes and last bits of garlic. I also included a little more salt and some dried basil. I let the whole pot cook for a few minutes to let the potatoes soften a bit.

 

 

 

 

I then served two bowls with a little pile of Parmesan cheese. As I’m looking at it, it actually looks pretty good. Maybe I’ll reconsider my prior recommendation…

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