cold pesto pasta with chicken and sun-dried tomatoes

cold pesto pasta with chicken and sundried tomatoes_

cold pesto pasta with chicken and sundried tomatoes_So I have this friend who is as obsessed with sun-dried tomatoes as I am with kale, and we all know how obsessed I am with kale, so you can only imagine. He puts sun-dried tomatoes in anything and everything, scrambled eggs, pasta, chicken dishes, cookies and brownies, you name it (just kidding on the last two, but I wouldn’t be surprised)!  Sun-dried tomatoes haven’t been in my pantry for the past couple of years, not because I’m not a fan, but I guess I sort of forgot about them.  Since I’ve been reintroduced to them, I’ve fallen in love with them once again.  They really add that extra punch of flavor to any dish, and I love their chewy texture.  I especially love them packed in olive oil, they’re so good that I could literally eat them out of the jar (and I have).  I think I’m becoming as obsessed with them as my friend, and who knows, I may be adding them to my next kale salad or topping them on my next pizza.

My friend’s obsession reminded me of one my favorite cold summer pastas, which yes, include sun-dried tomatoes.  I’ve seriously been making this pasta since 1994, and it’s still a pasta that I look forward to each summer.  The combination of pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and kalamata olives is amazing!  It’s the perfect pasta to bring to a picnic or potluck, and an easy weeknight dinner as it can be made ahead of time. I love it when I can come home after a busy day, open the fridge and have dinner all ready to go. All you have to do is pair this pasta with a salad and a baguette, and you have yourself the perfect meal for a hot summer night.

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ham and gruyere stuffed french toast

ham and gruyere stuffed french toast

ham and gruyere stuffed french toastEaster is just around the corner and this ham and gruyere stuffed french toast is the perfect entrée for Easter brunch or dinner.  Actually in my opinion, this stuffed toast is good anytime of year and anytime of day. I baked this up the other night for dinner and it was amazing, and needless to say it got the double thumbs up from both of the kids. Eli was literally licking his plate, of course he slathered his piece with maple syrup, but he was still licking his plate, and that makes any mom happy. Sometimes breakfast for dinner is the best!  This french toast is perfect for those that like a sweet and savory combination. To get the sweet, you just add some maple syrup.  I love the sweet and savory combination for breakfast or brunch, but for dinner I tend to omit the maple syrup and go for more of the savory route.  Eli on the other hand likes the maple syrup on all occasions.

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rosemary skillet chicken

rosemary skillet chicken

rosemary skillet chickenOk, here’s a recipe for all of my chicken loving readers out there, and I know there are quite a few of you.  You guys have been so patient with my quinoa craziness lately, so I found this recipe just for you, and I guess selfishly for me, because my family and I do love chicken.  This is the perfect weeknight chicken recipe folks.  The marinade comes together in a flash and can be made ahead in the morning, so when you get home from work or just from a long busy day, all you have to do is roast up the chicken.  The chicken takes under 30 minutes to roast up to perfection, but tastes like a chicken that has been cooking for hours.  The chicken is moist and full of flavor from the rosemary and garlic marinade. Oh, and let’s not forget about the amazing sauce, or should I say gravy, because it tastes like gravy everyone. It’s the perfect sauce for dipping a popover in.  The sauce is made up of chicken broth, fresh thyme, shallots and garlic, and just adds that extra yummy factor to the chicken. I’ve made this recipe twice in the past week, and I have to tell you that I’ve had some pretty happy campers in the house.   

I paired this with some traditional popovers one night and my rosemary and sea salt popovers another night, as well as some broccoli rabe that I sautéed in shallots and a bit of olive oil.  This chicken dish is definitely ranking up there as one of our favorite weeknight meals. The kids love it because it tastes great, and I love it because it’s easy.

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simple weeknight chicken soup

simple weeknight chicken soup

simple weeknight chicken soupSo, I’m back, well sort of. I’ve realized during this brief hiatus that I really missed my blog and I really missed all of you.  This blog is a part of me and a part of me that I don’t want to quit or give up on just yet.  I’m a person who loves to share with people, sharing just makes me happy, so I’m going to keep sharing with you all my recipes as well as my journey. There are a lot of changes going on in my life right now, some changes that are amazing and others that are difficult, so I don’t know the frequency of how often I will post, it may just be two times a month or it could be more, I’m just going to play it day by day.

I also wanted to also say a huge THANK YOU to you all.  I was amazed by all of your supportive comments, emails and for those of you that came up to me in person and shared what you loved about the blog. I didn’t realize how many wonderful and loyal readers I had, and I want to thank you all for reaching out these past few weeks. Each one of your comments and emails really touched my heart, and made me realize that I truly have a real audience of readers who were going through the same life struggles as me.  We’re all on this journey of life together, and we’re here to support and love one another and I truly feel supported and loved by you all, so THANK YOU!   I will slowly share my journey with you all over time, but for now, I’m just wanted to share with you all this simple and easy weeknight chicken soup that has quickly become a family favorite.

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Barefoot’s weeknight bolognese

Barefoot's weeknight bolognese

Barefoot's weeknight bologneseOk, so maybe this isn’t the best recipe to post the week after Thanksgiving since we’re all pretty much fooded out, but I’m posting it now because I know there are a lot of you who love and need easy family approved weeknight dinners. December is all about indulgence to me, so let’s go ahead and indulge, celebrate and eat to our hearts content!  Doesn’t that sound fun?  This is the perfect bolognese for those busy weeknights, as it only takes 45 minutes to pull together, and the sauce tastes like a sauce that’s been cooking on your stove top all day, not for just 30 minutes.  The orecchiette pasta is perfect because it really holds the sauce in those little pockets.  I’ve tried this sauce with regular spaghetti and it was good, but we prefer it the orecchiette pasta.

This is a great pasta to serve up if you’re entertaining friends because it feeds a crowd, especially if you pair the pasta with some crispy garlic bread and a caesar salad.  When I make this pasta up for just the 4 of us, we have pasta for 2 nights, which is great because you all know how I love two-nighter meals.  I just re-heat the leftover pasta in my cast iron skillet, and it tastes amazing!  It’s actually a bit better the next night as all the flavors really have a chance to gel.  You do want to make sure to use a robust wine for this recipe, as the wine really brings out the flavors in the sauce. Also, make sure you add that last 1/4 cup of wine at the end because it truly makes the sauce.

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coconut-lime pork tacos

coconut-lime pork tacos

coconut-lime pork tacos I know the name for these tacos sounds a bit strange, but believe me, they don’t taste strange, in fact they taste pretty darn amazing.  I never thought coconut milk, lime and pineapple juice would be a winning combination with ground pork, but they really compliment the pork, and add a nice tropical flavor. The coconut milk while adding flavor and richness to the ground pork, also helps to keep it moist. These tacos may look complicated, but they’re not.  You can have these on the table in less than 30 minutes, making them another easy weeknight meal.  Who doesn’t love that?  Please don’t be scared off by the long list of ingredients listed below, most of the ingredients are spices, in fact, I had most of the ingredients on hand the first time I made these up, except the pork, coconut milk and pineapple juice.

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pasta with kale, lemon and toasted walnuts

pasta with kale, lemon and toasted walnuts

pasta with kale, lemon and toasted walnutsToday I’m giving you all a tasty, healthy, easy, family approved and under 30 minute weeknight pasta two ways (whew, that was a lot in one sentence).  I mean who doesn’t love that?  It’s actually the same recipe, but I’m using two different types of pastas as well as cheeses.  The family approved and kid friendly version uses regular spaghetti and grated parmesan.  The “mommy” and teenage (I say teenage because Zoe loves this version as well) version uses whole-wheat spaghetti and Pecorino Romano cheese.  Both ways are tasty, it’s just an individual preference.  I love both versions, but prefer the whole-wheat version because the pasta has a great nutty flavor and is a bit chewy, but chewy in a good way, and the Pecorino Romano cheese adds a bit of salty flavor to the whole-wheat pasta.

whole-wheat pasta with kale, lemon and toasted walnuts… 

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roasted red pepper panini with cilantro-lime mayo

roasted red pepper panini with cilantro-lime mayo

roasted red pepper panini with cilantro-lime mayoI just showed you all a post on how to roast red peppers, so I thought I would show a great way to make use of them, since you probably have a few extra ones lying around.  This is seriously one of my favorite vegeterian paninis, and now that red peppers are in season I find myself making this sandwich up all the time, yes all the time, because I’m addicted!  This panini is overloaded with flavor from the roasted red pepper, smashed avocado, juicy heirloom tomato and the cilantro-lime mayonnaise. It’s truly as satisfying as any panini made with meat, (ask my meat loving hubby) and it’s a great meatless Monday sandwich to pair with your favorite soup or salad.   Who knew that a veggie panini could  be so satisfying and taste so good :)

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parmesan-crusted pork chops

parmesan-crusted pork chops

parmesan-crusted pork chopsIt’s back to school time everyone and fall is just around the corner and nothing says fall cooking like skillet pork chops. These pork chops are crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside, just like you want a pork chop to be.  So basically, if you like pork chops, then you’re going to love these.  I made these up a couple of weeks ago because I realized I didn’t have any pork recipes on my blog, gasp.  We tend to lean more towards chicken and buffalo and I completely forgot about the other white meat, pork, so I decided to whip up one of our favorite pork chop recipes.

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citrus-marinated chicken

citrus-marinated chicken

citrus-marinated chickenOk, I have to say that this is one of my favorite chicken recipes ever, and Zoe and Eli both agree with me. We tried this the other night, gave each other the thumbs up and said that this chicken was totally blog worthy and need to be posted sooner than later. The chicken is just so moist and full of flavor from the citrus marinade and I love how crispy the skin gets from cooking under the broiler. This is going to be one of my new go-to recipes for chicken, and the best part is that it can be made year round because it’s cooked under the broiler. You could also grill it up or even sear it in your cast iron skillet and then bake it off in the oven.  I can see paring this chicken with roasted cauliflower or brussels sprouts in the fall and kale mashed potatoes in the winter. This chicken is total comfort cooking anytime of year…. 

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pesto-yogurt roasted chicken drumsticks

pesto-yogurt roasted chicken drumsticks

pesto-yogurt roasted chicken drumsticksI love chicken recipes like this where all you have to do is throw together a few simple ingredients and then let the chicken sit and marinate all day. This is the perfect weeknight meal because it can be assembled ahead of time and only take 30 minutes to cook up. You have flexibility here, you can either throw together the marinade the night before, early in the morning or late in the afternoon, and then when you get home from work or running the kids around, you just throw it in the oven to roast for 30 minutes. While the chicken is roasting, you can assemble the rest of the meal. Now, how easy is that?

We love chicken drumsticks anytime of year, but for some reason we eat them more in the summer. I think it’s because they make the perfect picnic and backyard fare. You can enjoy them hot out of the oven, warm or better yet cold. I love throwing the cold leftover drumsticks into my kid’s school lunches. They’re a no fuss lunch that my kids happily devour.

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one-pan pasta

one-pan pasta

DSC_0027Isn’t this above picture just beautiful and doesn’t it make you want to try a batch of this pasta tonight?  I mean look at all of those fresh ingredients and all that color. I saw a photo similar to this in the most recent edition of Martha Stewart living and it looked so cool and challenging to me. I mean a one-pan pasta, who had ever heard of that (not me)? I seriously wondered how it was all going to work, and I have to say that I was a bit skeptical. I will also admit that the first time I made this pasta up, it didn’t turn out so great, as the pasta was overcooked. I was under the assumption that ALL of the water had to evaporate, so I cooked the pasta way too long and it was a bit over-done. We all really loved the flavors in this pasta though, so I vowed to try it again. Well, the second time around proved to be the charm. The pasta came out perfectly al dente and it created this thick creamy sauce that coated every strand of pasta.

This is the perfect weeknight throw together at the last minute sort of pasta. Literally, you throw all of the ingredients into one pan and cook away. Can it get any simpler than that?  I don’t think so. This pasta is fresh, healthy, full of flavor and a great meatless Monday pasta to add to your recipe box. It’s got the family seal approval in our house. There’s a bit of a kick in the pasta due to the red pepper flakes, so if you’re super sensitive to spicy things, then you might want to cut the 1/2 teaspoon down to a 1/4 teaspoon.  Eli could handle the spice though, so that should tell you something. Ok, let’s do what the Italians do and make up this one-pan pasta.

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buttermilk roasted chicken

buttermilk roasted chicken

buttermilk roasted chickenIt’s so nice to have an arsenal of quick and easy weeknight meals that don’t taste like they were quick and easy to make. I want to serve my family healthy, real food during the week, but I don’t always have the time to make something elaborate. I have a boatload of easy week-night meals in my repertoire, and this chicken dish is one of those. This is one of those chicken dishes that you will make at least once a month, if not more. It’s one of my favorite chicken recipes because you can throw the marinade together in less than 10 minutes and then let it sit anywhere from 8 to 24 hours. It’s a great make-ahead dish, perfect for a weeknight dinner or fancy enough for a dinner party…. 

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easy skillet sausage and white bean stew

easy skillet sausage and white bean strew

DSC_0034-3Let’s face it, we’re all busy, and coming home at the end of a hectic weekday and cooking up an elaborate meal is not really anyones’ idea of fun. We’re not living in June Cleaver reality here. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun cooking up a nice meal when there’s time, (like the weekend) but on most weeknights I prefer to keep things simple, tasty and quick.  This stew fits that bill. This is an easy one-skillet, one-bowl weeknight meal. It can be made in approximately 30 minutes (give or take a few) and you only dirty up one pan, yes you heard me right, one pan, oh, and a cutting board (but that doesn’t really count).

When I made up this stew for the first time, I have to admit that I was a bit nervous that my kids were not going to like it.  I mean it’s basically a stew comprised of beans, onions, spinach and some sausage. Well, I’m happy to say that they loved this stew.  They were definitely part of the clean plate club, as every last ounce of stew was gone (slurped up by their bread). John loved this stew as well, and had leftovers the next night and said they were even better.  I loved it because it tasted great, but even more so because it was a one-bowl meal, and I only had one pan to clean up afterwards.  Easy, healthy and simple dinners like this make me one happy mama.

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spaghetti squash tacos

spaghetti squash tacos

spaghetti squash tacosI know there are many of you who have been patiently waiting for this recipe ever since I showcased it in my weekly menu post last week. Thanks for being so patient and I hope that these tacos make your wait worthwhile. I love it when I find a new family approved and easy weeknight meatless dinner (that was a mouthful). It’s so nice because I try and strive to have at least 2-3 meatless dinners a week, if possible. I want to make meatless nights fun and tasty and full of variety for the family, not boring and something that no one looks forward to. I truly have found the best recipes since I started my meatless search, and these tacos along with my Paul McCartney refried bean tacos are keepers!

Paul McCartney's refried bean tacosI was originally hesitant to try these tacos because even though I like spaghetti squash, I don’t LOVE it as a substitute for good old pasta, (I’m truly a carb girl) and neither does my family. We eat as a substitute once in a while because its healthy.  So, I finally picked up my reserved copy (after months of waiting) of Smitten Kitchen’s new cookbook from the library. I opened it up and this particular recipe grabbed my eye. Deb’s photo was amazing and really made me want to eat these tacos. I also loved that Deb was not a huge fan of spaghetti squash being a substitute for pasta either. She did feel differently about spaghetti squash when she made these tacos though. The squash really captures all the flavors from the chili spices and lime and it pairs wonderfully with all the toppings, plus it looks so pretty. I felt that if Deb and I were both in agreement that spaghetti squash is not a great substitute for pasta, then I might agree with her about these tacos, so I was game to give these a try.

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easy skillet chicken parmesan

easy skillet chicken parmesan

easy skillet chicken parmesanHere’s an easy weeknight chicken parmesan recipe that can be made and on your table in under 30 minutes, and the added bonus is that it can all be done in your cast iron skillet, making clean up a cinch! It’s also flour-less and egg-less and gluten-free to boot!  My foodie friend Amanda kept telling me that I needed to try this recipe.  I already had my favorite chicken parmesan recipe that was passed down from my mom, so I was a bit hesitant to try a new one.  I then remembered that I have a recipe blog, and my readers may want some variety, so I gave it a try. I’m so glad that I did because it was fantastic and John and the kids gave it a double thumbs up. I gave it a thumbs up due to taste as well as ease.  I still love my classic chicken parmesan because I love the crunchy bread coating, but I love this one just as much, so bonus!

This is basically another pantry meal. Most of the herbs I either had in my backyard or in the fridge, I had some leftover tomato sauce, and I always have cheese on hand, so all I needed to pick up was the chicken breasts.  I really love easy meals that I can throw together at the last-minute.  It’s just helpful to have an arsenal of those easy pantry recipes on the nights when you’re pulling out your hair wondering what to make.

So, I know you all were anticipating the turkey meatballs recipe today, but ever since I posted this photo on my weekly dinner menu, I’ve had numerous emails asking me to please post this recipe soon. I then decided to be nice and post it today instead of making you wait one more week. I figure the meatballs will be perfect for next week’s Super Bowl as they make a great meatball sub.

easy skillet chicken parmesan

easy skillet chicken parmesan

recipe from Giada De Laurentis
serves 4

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh italian parsley – I used flat leaf parsley
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise and lightly pounded
  • 1 1/2 cups basic tomato sauce, or your favorite tomato or marina sauce
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese – We like our cheese, so we used 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 cup shredded or grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces – The recipe called for 2 tablespoons but I used about 1 1/2

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Let’s prep the ingredients.  Prep your chicken, measure out your cheeses, measure out your sauce, cut up your butter and rinse and chop up the rosemary, thyme and italian parsley.  In a small bowl add the 3 tablespoons olive oil and then mix in the chopped herbs along with a pinch of salt and pepper.

DSC_0013-2Get out your chicken and brush each side with the olive oil and herb mixture.

DSC_0119Heat a heavy large oven-proof skillet (I used my 12-inch cast iron) over high heat.  Add the chicken and cook just until brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.  This step may take longer if your breasts are a bit thicker.

DSC_0137Remove the skillet from the heat.  Spoon the tomato sauce over and around the chicken.

DSC_0025Top each breast with a bit of mozzarella.  Then sprinkle each breast with some shredded or grated parmesan cheese. It’s really an individual preference here with how much cheese you want to add.  We like cheese as you know, so we tend to go a bit on the heavier side.

DSC_0027Sprinkle the butter pieces over the chicken breasts.

DSC_0153Pop the skillet into the oven and bake until the cheese melts and the chicken is cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.  The timing will vary on this as well depending on how thick your chicken is.  You really just want to make sure that the chicken is cooked through.  I always use a meat thermometer to test my chicken, as I will not eat undercooked chicken.

easy skillet chicken parmesanIf you want your cheese a bit browned on top, pop it under the broiler for a minute or two until you see the cheese brown up.

DSC_0024Serve this up with some crispy garlic bread and a nice big salad.  We love it served alongside my lacinato kale salad.  Feel free to play with this recipe to suit your dietary needs, add less cheese and butter if you want a healthier or lighter version.

Three cheers for another easy weeknight meal!

easy skillet chicken parmesan

Rating: 51

Serving Size: serves 4 people

easy skillet chicken parmesan

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh italian parsley - I used flat leaf parsley
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise and lightly pounded
  • 1 1/2 cups basic tomato sauce, or your favorite tomato or marina sauce
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese - We like our cheese, so we used 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 cup shredded or grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces - The recipe called for 2 tablespoons but I used about 1 1/2

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Let's prep the ingredients. Prep your chicken, measure out your cheeses, measure out your sauce, cut up your butter and rinse and chop up the rosemary, thyme and italian parsley. In a small bowl add the 3 tablespoons olive oil and then mix in the chopped herbs along with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Get out your chicken and brush each side with the olive oil and herb mixture.

Heat a heavy large oven-proof skillet (I used my 12-inch cast iron) over high heat. Add the chicken and cook just until brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. This step may take longer if your breasts are a bit thicker.

Remove the skillet from the heat. Spoon the tomato sauce over and around the chicken.

Top each breast with a bit of mozzarella. Then sprinkle each breast with some shredded or grated parmesan cheese. It's really an individual preference here with how much cheese you want to add. We like cheese as you know, so we tend to go a bit on the heavier side.

Sprinkle the butter pieces over the chicken breasts.

Pop the skillet into the oven and bake until the cheese melts and the chicken is cooked through, about 3-5 minutes. The timing will vary on this as well depending on how thick your chicken is. You really just want to make sure that the chicken is cooked through. I always use a meat thermometer to test my chicken, as I will not eat undercooked chicken.

If you want your cheese a bit browned on top, pop it under the broiler for a minute or two until you see the cheese brown up.

Serve this up with some crispy garlic bread and a nice big salad. We love it served alongside my lacinato kale salad.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2013/01/easy-skillet-chicken-parmesan/

pasta bake with pancetta, tomato sauce and mozzarella

pasta bake with pancetta, tomato sauce and mozzarella

Come on, take a good look at that pasta, the cheese is all melted and browned on top, the sauce is clinging to each pasta shell.  I just want to take a bite right now, though I don’t think it would taste to good at 6:00 in the morning.  I’m sure there are many of you that aren’t cheese fans or think a dish like this might not be too good for the old waistline, I get it, but I also believe life is about moderation and if you have balance, then you can eat just about anything (real food that is).  For the rest of you that are licking your choppers, this dish is pure comfort bliss, especially on a cool fall or winter night.

Yes, there’s a lot of cheese in this recipe, but I love cheese, so that made me happy.  If you’re not a cheese fan than this might not be the pasta for you. I balance this rich meal by serving up a large vegetable portion on the side, so I don’t fill up on just pasta. I either serve it with a nice big kale salad or kid friendly caesar salad, or some sort of dark green vegetable, like broccolini. You could also whip up some garlic bread to serve on the side.  This is definitely a two-nighter meal or the perfect meal to serve a crowd.  I baked it in these cute individual caserrole dishes, but it’s truly the perfect pasta to be baked in a large casserole dish.

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orecchiette pasta with pesto, sausage and green beans

orecchiette pasta with pesto, sausage and green beans

orecchiette pasta with pesto, sausage and green beansDon’t judge this pasta by the above photo.  This pasta tastes much better than it looks. Trust me!  I have made it 3 times so far, and it’s been a hit each time.  Eli’s words the other night, “mmmmm, this is just so good.”  That’s all I needed to hear.

This pasta is one of those super easy, weeknight throw together pastas. I prepared it and had it on the table in under 30 minutes. It’s also a one-bowl meal, which makes it even better. Another thing I love about this pasta is that the green beans cook with the pasta.  You just throw them in for the last 3 minutes with the pasta and drain them both together.  LOVE IT!  If green beans aren’t in season, I use broccolini or broccoli rabe in place of the green beans.  I just cook the broccoli rabe for the last minute of the pasta’s cooking time!  I also love using rigatoni pasta!

pesto pasta with broccoli rabeI went easy on myself and bought the pesto. Yes, even Marin mama cuts corners on dinner.  Paradise Foods has the best pesto, and sometimes (a lot of the time) I don’t feel like making my own, so I just buy theirs.  I do have some great pesto recipes that would work well with this pasta. If you’re up for making your own, you could try my basil pesto and even my walnut pesto. Both of them would be great additions, but I’m assuming that most of you will go the store bought route for your pesto, so go for it!  We can’t be Martha all the time, right?  Sometimes you have to weigh the pros and cons.  Do I want to make some brownies or pesto, hmmm, difficult choice there, mmmm, not really.

orecchiette pasta with pesto, sausage and green beans:

recipe adapted from Real Simple
  • 1 box of orecchiette or rigatoni pasta
  • large bunch of green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces –  I never measure out my vegetables.  I go vegetable heavy, as we could all use more veggies in our diet. Just grab yourself a big handful or two, and call it a day.  I use baby broccoli or broccoli rabe if green beans are not in season.
  • 4 Italian, turkey or chicken sausage links or 3/4 pound of ground sausage – I used classic Italian style sausages 
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup pesto - I used 1/2 cup as we love pesto.
  • 1/2 cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • splash of olive oil
Wash and trim your green beans into 1-inch pieces.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.  While the pasta water is cooking, cook up your sausages.  You can either grill them or sauté them in a pan. The grill master was not home, so I cooked mine in the skillet.  Heat about 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat, (if your pan seems dry, add more oil) add the sausages and cook, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, 8-10 minutes.  Let the sausages cool a bit and then slice them into thin slices.Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the green beans during the last 3 minutes of cooking time.  If you’re using broccolini or broccoli rabe then add them in for the last minute of cooking time.  

I loved this step because it was all done in one pot at the same time!  How efficient!  Reserve a cup of the pasta water.

I put this part in, but I tend not to use to much pasta water as it makes my sauce to watery.  I also don’t shake my pasta out when I drain it.  I drain it and then immediately return it to the pot, so there is always some extra water there anyway.

Drain the pasta and green beans together and return them to the pot.  Add the sausage, pesto, parmesan and some of the reserved cooking water to the pasta, and toss to combine.  Add more cooking water if the pasta seems dry.Serve the pasta up into individual bowls and top them with some fresh parmesan.

I make sure that each bowl gets a good amount of green beans. This is a pantry pasta, so you could really just throw in just about any vegetable.  Frozen green peas, broccolini, broccoli, asparagus and spinach are some good choices.

pesto pasta with broccoli rabe

 

orecchiette pasta with pesto, sausage and green beans

Rating: 51

Serving Size: 4-6

orecchiette pasta with pesto, sausage and green beans

Ingredients

  • 1 box of orecchiette or rigatoni pasta
  • large bunch of green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces - I never measure out my vegetables. I go vegetable heavy, as we could all use more veggies in our diet. Just grab yourself a big handful or two, and call it a day. I use baby broccoli or broccoli rabe if green beans are not in season.
  • 4 Italian, turkey or chicken sausage links or 3/4 pound of ground sausage - I used classic Italian style sausages.
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup pesto - I used 1/2 cup as we love pesto.
  • 1/2 cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • splash of olive oil

Instructions

Wash and trim your green beans into 1-inch pieces.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.

While the pasta water is cooking, cook up your sausages. You can either grill them or sauté them in a pan. The grill master was not home, so I cooked mine in the skillet.

Heat about 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat, (if your pan seems dry, add more oil) add the sausages and cook, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, 8-10 minutes.

Let the sausages cool a bit and then slice them into thin slices.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the green beans during the last 3 minutes of cooking time. If you're using broccolini or broccoli rabe then add them in for the last minute of cooking time.

I loved this step because it was all done in one pot at the same time! How efficient!

Reserve a cup of the pasta water. I put this part in, but I tend not to use to much pasta water as it makes my sauce to watery. I also don't shake my pasta out when I drain it. I drain it and then immediately return it to the pot, so there is always some extra water there anyway.

Drain the pasta and green beans together and return them to the pot. Add the sausage, pesto, parmesan and some of the reserved cooking water to the pasta, and toss to combine. Add more cooking water if the pasta seems dry.

Serve the pasta up into individual bowls and top them with some fresh parmesan.

I make sure that each bowl gets a good amount of green beans. This is a pantry pasta, so you could really just throw in just about any vegetable. Frozen green peas, broccolini, broccoli, asparagus and spinach are some good choices.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/09/orecchiette-pasta-with-pesto-sausage-and-green-beans/

spaghetti with cheesy broiled tomatoes and basil

spaghetti with cheesy broiled tomatoes and basil

spaghetti with cheesy broiled tomatoes and basilHere’s an easy weeknight meal that the whole family will enjoy, and the best part is that you can have it on the table in less than 30 minutes.  Yes, you heard me right, dinner in under 30 minutes. What mom or dad doesn’t like that?  Another great thing about this pasta is that it’s made with fresh and whole ingredients, so you can feel good about feeding your family a quick and easy dinner.

The heirloom tomatoes topped with parmesan and mozzarella taste like mini pizzas, but without the crust.  My kids even begged for thirds on the tomatoes.  I used heirloom tomatoes, but you can also use beefsteak, roma or vine-ripe tomatoes, whatever tomato strikes your fancy.

These tomatoes would also make a great side dish or appetizer.  I think they would even taste great topped on a pizza crust with some pesto or olive oil as the base sauce.  OK, I think I just created a new recipe for pizza Friday.  I love when that happens!

spaghetti with cheesy broiled tomatoes and basil

spaghetti with cheesy broiled tomatoes and basil:

recipe adapted from real simple
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 2-3 large heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes - If your kids are not fans of spicy things, than I would go with the 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn or julienned, plus more for serving
Cook your pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot.
While your pasta is cooking, turn on your broiler and slice the tomatoes into 1/2-inch thick slices.  Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet and arrange the tomato slices in a single layer. Sprinkle each tomato slice with the following ingredients in the following order:
  • salt 
  • pepper -you don’t have to add this to the kid’s tomato slices
  • grated parmesan 
  • mozzarella cheese

I would top each one with an even amount of both cheeses.  
Why not get the kids involved and have them top their tomatoes with the cheese, its like topping a pizza.  Its fun and gets them excited to eat tomatoes.

Broil the tomatoes until the cheese is bubbly and golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Don’t these tomatoes look insanely good?

In a small saucepan or sauté pan, heat the 3 tablespoons oil with the chopped garlic and red pepper flakes over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.Add the garlic oil, 1/4 cup torn or julienned basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a dash of pepper to the cooked pasta and toss to combine.  Serve the pasta up into individual bowls and top each bowl of pasta with the cheesy tomatoes, some fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese.

The tomatoes are filling, so 2 tomato slices per bowl is plenty, but you may want a third, and that’s ok.That’s it folks.  How easy was that to throw together?  If you’re making this into a two-nighter meal, then you will want to make up some fresh cheesy tomatoes the next night.  I served this pasta up two nights in a row. It was super simple, as I just had to throw the tomatoes together while the pasta was re-heating. 

If your kids love pizza and pasta, then they will love this recipe.  

cilantro lime chicken tacos with mango avocado salsa

cilantro lime chicken tacos
cilantro lime chicken tacosThese cilantro lime chicken tacos are the BOMB!  This is the recipe that I raved about in Friday’s mango avocado salsa post.  If you like chicken and tacos, then you will love this recipe.  These tacos were rated a 10+ in my house.  Everyone had 2 tacos and some people, (I’m not mentioning names) wanted a third.  The chicken is so moist and flavorful from the cilantro lime marinade, and top it with the mango avocado salsa, well, you have yourself a winner.   

I got this recipe from a blog that I have been following for some time called, For the Love of Cooking.  Pam has been blogging for years, and she has so many recipes that you could literally make a new recipe every day for a year and then some.  Every recipe that I have made from her blog is a winner.  I love that Pam gives her kid’s honest opinion on each dish, as it helps me to know if the dish is going to be something my kids will eat.   

This recipe is super easy to make, and pretty much a make-ahead meal, perfect for entertaining. You can marinate the chicken in the morning and then just grill it up that evening (don’t marinate it for more than 6 hours though). The mango avocado salsa literally takes 5 minutes to whip up.  

DSC_0145

cilantro lime chicken tacos with mango avocado salsa:

recipe slightly adapted from for the love of cooking
serves 4 to 6 
printer friendly version
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of any fat
  • juice and zest of 3 limes 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 small red onion or 1/2 of a large red onion, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • package of whole grain corn tortillas
  • cotija cheese or queso fresco
Click here for the mango avocado salsa recipe.
Prep all of your ingredients.  
Chop up your cilantro, zest and juice up your limes, mince your garlic and chop your red onion into small chunks.
You can either mince your red onion by throwing it into a food processor or mince it by hand.  I find it easier to just throw it in the processor, and let it do the work.
In a medium bowl, mix together the lime zest and juice, olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, minced red onion, red pepper flakes, chopped cilantro and a pinch of salt and pepper.  
Put the chicken breasts into a ziploc bag and pour in the mixture.  Zip up the bag, and give it a couple of shakes to make sure that all of the chicken breasts are evenly coated.  
Put the bagged chicken in the refrigerator and let it marinate for 2-4 hours or up to 6 hours. 
Note:  I wouldn’t recommend marinating the chicken breasts for more than 6 hours, as they will get a bit rubbery.  If you want to make this a true make ahead meal and marinate it for more than 6 hours, then you can pick up some boneless chicken thighs.  They will take in the marinade beautifully and can handle marinating overnight or for more than 6 hours.     
Once the chicken has marinated, call upon your grill master (that would be my husband) to get the grill nice and hot.  Grill the chicken breasts about 7 minutes per side or until thoroughly cooked (when they reach an internal temp of 165 degrees).  Chicken breasts vary is size so it usually takes longer than 7 minutes per side, that is why I always test my chicken with a meat thermometer.  
DSC_0002Let the meat rest for at least 5 minutes, and then slice the  chicken breasts into thin slices.  
While the chicken is resting, throw the tortillas on the grill, and grill them until slightly charred and pliable, about 20 seconds per side.

cilantro lime chicken tacosThese tacos are not complete without the mango avocado salsa, seriously, it adds so much flavor.  

Top each tortilla with the sliced chicken, mango avocado salsa, cotija cheese or queso fresco and some fresh cilantro.  My kids and hubby honestly loved this dish.  The chicken was super flavorful, and topped with the mango salsa, it was a real treat. 

Ina’s summer garden pasta with video tutorial

Ina's summer garden pasta with video tutorial (1 of 1)-3
Ina's summer garden pasta with video tutorial (1 of 1)-3
Ok, here is my first attempt at a “homemade” cooking video.  When I say first attempt, I mean first attempt.  Zoe and I pulled this together yesterday afternoon, and there weren’t any re-takes, we shot and edited with what we had.  I’m proud to say that this video was filmed and edited by my 12 year old daughter, Zoe. Yay Zoe!  Zoe is always shooting videos with her friends, and editing up a storm, so I asked her if she might want to earn a few bucks by filming some videos for the blog this summer. I think she did a wonderful job, and all in all, for our first video, I think it turned out pretty good.  Making your first video is like putting together your first blog post or posting your first photograph.  It can be a bit intimidating, but you have to start somewhere, so here you go.  The video has a cute ending, so stick with it.

I hope you enjoyed the video portion of this recipe (geez, I sound like a stewardess on an airline). For those of you that want the classic recipe post, I have added that as well below.

I seriously love Ina Garten, and have quite a few of her recipes on this blog. Her recipes are easy to follow and perfect for the “everyday” cook. This pasta one of my favorite summer pastas, as the ingredients are simple and fresh and the flavors are amazing. This pasta is the perfect make-ahead meal. The tomato marinade take literally 5 minutes to assemble and it can sit out anywhere from 4-10 hours at room temperature. The longer it sits the better. It’s also the perfect meal to serve up at a dinner party, because it’s virtually a one-bowl meal (less dishes to clean up) and so easy to prepare because all you have to do is throw in the capellini right before serving (the capellini only takes 3  minutes to cook). Instead of slaving over the stove, you can spend quality time relaxing with your friends. Now, that sounds great to me!

Ina's summer garden pasta with video tutorial (1 of 1)-4

Ina’s summer garden pasta:

Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home
Serves 6

NOTE: I cut the tomato portion of the original recipe in half, as 4 pints of tomatoes were a bit too much for us, and my kids really don’t want a bowl full of tomatoes. 
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (4 large or 6 medium cloves) 
  • 10-12 large basil leaves, julienned, plus extra for serving 
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta or capellini
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Below are the ingredients that you will need for the tomato marinade.
Wash up the cherry tomatoes and basil.  Cut the tomatoes in half.  
Slice up the basil into thin strips.
 Combine the cherry tomatoes,1/2-cup olive oil, minced garlic, chopped basil,1/2-teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1-teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground pepper in a large bowl and toss to combine.  
Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for a minimum of 4 hours.  
Just before you’re ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the capellini and cook according to the directions on the package (be careful, as it only takes 2 to 3 minutes to cook capellini pasta).  

Drain the pasta well and add to the bowl with the cherry tomatoes.  Give the pasta a toss and then add in the 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese and mix together.  
Serve up the pasta in large bowls and top with some Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
Ina's summer garden pasta with video tutorial (1 of 1)-3
Another thing I love about this pasta is that you can usually get two nights out of it (at least in my family).  Serve this up with some crispy garlic bread and you have the perfect simple summer meal.  

 I chose not to speak in the video because honestly, I’m not ready to do that yet.  Every time I hear myself on video I cringe.  I say the words “you know” and “like” too much, so I have to work up the confidence to do a talking cooking video! 

Ina’s summer garden pasta with video tutorial

Rating: 51

Serving Size: serves 6

Ina’s summer garden pasta with video tutorial

NOTE: I cut the tomato portion of the original recipe in half, as 4 pints of tomatoes were a bit too much for us, and my kids really don't want a bowl full of tomatoes.

Ingredients

  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (4 large or 6 medium cloves)
  • 10-12 large basil leaves, julienned, plus extra for serving
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta or capellini
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Instructions

Wash up the cherry tomatoes and basil.

Cut the tomatoes in half.

Slice up the basil into thin strips.

Combine the cherry tomatoes,1/2-cup olive oil, minced garlic, chopped basil,1/2-teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1-teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground pepper in a large bowl and toss to combine.

Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for a minimum of 4 hours.

Just before you're ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the capellini and cook according to the directions on the package (be careful, as it only takes 2 to 3 minutes to cook capellini pasta).

Drain the pasta well and add to the bowl with the cherry tomatoes. Give the pasta a toss and then add in the 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese and mix together.

Serve up the pasta in large bowls and top with some Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/07/inas-summer-garden-pasta-with-video-tutorial/

Paul McCartney’s refried bean tacos

Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos

Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos One of my challenges is to find some new meatless dinner recipes that the whole family will enjoy, besides your typical pasta.  Don’t get me wrong, I love pasta, but I want to offer other meatless alternatives for the family.  I’ve been trying to cut back on our meat intake to just a couple of days a week, and it’s been easy to find recipes that John and I like, but it’s been a bit harder to find recipes that the kids will enjoy as well.  

I recently picked a new favorite cookbook called, Meat Free Monday, and came across this refried bean taco recipe from Paul McCartney.  It was said to be one of his favorite recipes, so I decided to give it a try.  

So how did these tacos go over with the family?  The kids & hubby rated them a thumbs up!  I rated them a thumbs up as well due to the taste factor, but also because I had dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes.  These tacos are the perfect weeknight meal because everything can be made and assembled in less than 20 minutes, and chances are you have most of the ingredients on hand in your pantry. Double thumbs up to Paul! 

Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos

Paul McCartney’s refried bean tacos:

recipe from Meat Free Monday
serves 4-6

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 ounce can of refried beans or a 17 ounce box - the Fig beans come in a 17oz box and I used the whole box – I also like and most often use Amy’s Organic Refried Beans.
  • 4 medium tomatoes, chopped – I used Italian plum tomatoes
  • pinch or two of sea or kosher salt 
  • 1 package of whole grain corn tortillas or taco shells – Paul used hard taco shells in his recipe, so feel free to use hard taco shells
  • Monterey jack cheese
  • 1 lime
  • *Optional – 1-2 teaspoons hot chili sauce – I did not add this because the kid’s do not like things to spicy

Below are most of the ingredients you will need to make the tacos.  
I really love beans from Fig Food Company as they are organic, and come in BPA free packaging.  I have a stocked pantry full of their cannellini, garbanzo, and black beans.   
You can find these beans at most Whole Foods.  
Update:  I’m finding that these beans are becoming hard to find, so I often use Amy’s Organic Refried Beans.
Below are the three ingredients you will need for the actual filling, so easy!
First, chop up your onion, and then de-seed and chop up your tomatoes.
 Not sure how to de-seed and chop an Italian plum tomato?  I will show you how.  
Cut your tomato in half lengthwise. 
Then quarter it.
Take a small knife and scoop out the seedpod.
 Lay the tomato skin side down and cut into thin strips lengthwise. 
It’s much easier to cut tomatoes on the inside than the outside.
Cut the strips crosswise into small pieces.
Heat up the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  
Add the onion and cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently until the onion is soft but not colored. 
Stir in the refried beans.  Add in the chopped tomatoes and cook until heated through.  Season to taste with some salt.  
If you like your tacos spicy, add the 1 to 2 teaspoons of chill sauce to the refried bean mixture.
John wanted a bit more spice so he diced up a jalapeno pepper and topped his taco with it instead of making the mixture spicy for the whole family. 
Below is a picture of the refried bean mixture.  
I know it’s not the prettiest picture, but I wanted to show you what it looks like.
Its time to heat up your tortillas.
You can heat up the tortillas 2 ways.  
Throw the tortillas on the grill, and grill them until slightly charred and pliable, about 20
seconds per side.
Don’t feel like turning on the grill?  Then turn on your stove.  Set your burner to low and put the tortilla on top of the grate and cook for about 20 seconds per side.
You don’t have to heat up the soft tortillas, but they taste so much better when you do.
Now comes the fun part, assembling the tacos!
Top each tortilla with the bean mixture and then add your favorite fixings.
Make sure to squeeze some fresh lime juice on each taco.
Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos
Here’s what we topped our tacos with.
I topped mine with Monterey jack, sliced avocado and cilantro. 
The kids topped theirs with Monterey jack, sour cream and cilantro.
John topped his with Monterey jack, some diced jalapeno, sliced avocado, sour cream and cilantro.
We paired the tacos with some roasted asparagus (surprise, surprise).
Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos
These were so good that I had some leftovers for lunch the next day. I paired the tacos with some strawberries and blueberries fresh from the farmers market, so good!
Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos
Do you try and have a meatless day during the week?  If so, what are some of your favorite recipes?

Paul McCartney’s refried bean tacos

Rating: 51

Serving Size: serves 4-6

Paul McCartney’s refried bean tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 ounce can of refried beans or a 17 ounce box
  • 4 medium tomatoes, chopped - I used Italian plum tomatoes
  • pinch or two of sea or kosher salt
  • 1 package of whole grain corn tortillas or taco shells - Paul used hard taco shells in his recipe, so feel free to use hard taco shells
  • Monterey jack cheese
  • 1 lime
  • *Optional - 1-2 teaspoons hot chili sauce - I did not add this because the kid's do not like things to spicy

Instructions

First, chop up your onion, and then de-seed and chop up your tomatoes.

Not sure how to de-seed and chop an Italian plum tomato? I show you pictures in the post, but also explain how to below.

Cut your tomato in half lengthwise.

Then quarter it.

Take a small knife and scoop out the seedpod.

Lay the tomato skin side down and cut into thin strips lengthwise.

It's much easier to cut tomatoes on the inside than the outside.

Cut the strips crosswise into small pieces.

Heat up the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the onion and cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently until the onion is soft but not colored.

Stir in the refried beans. Add in the chopped tomatoes and cook until heated through. Season to taste with some salt.

If you like your tacos spicy, add the 1 to 2 teaspoons of chill sauce to the refried bean mixture.

Its time to heat up your tortillas.

You can heat up the tortillas 2 ways.

Throw the tortillas on the grill, and grill them until slightly charred and pliable, about 20

seconds per side.

Don't feel like turning on the grill? Then turn on your stove. Set your burner to low and put the tortilla on top of the grate and cook for about 20 seconds per side.

You don't have to heat up the soft tortillas, but they taste so much better when you do.

Now comes the fun part, assembling the tacos!

Top each tortilla with the bean mixture and then add your favorite fixings.

Make sure to squeeze some fresh lime juice on each taco.

Here's what we topped our tacos with.

I topped mine with Monterey jack, sliced avocado and cilantro.

The kids topped theirs with Monterey jack, sour cream and cilantro.

John topped his with Monterey jack, some diced jalapeno, sliced avocado, sour cream and cilantro.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/06/paul-mccartneys-refried-bean-tacos/

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini (1 of 1)-4

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini (1 of 1)-4Here’s another easy-peasy one-bowl pasta dish that is kid and hubby approved! Who doesn’t like that? This was showcased on Oprah’s site as a super foods meal. I think it was showcased as a super foods meal due to the walnut pesto and broccolini. I don’t think the sausage was contributing factor to that title, but that’s ok, because the sausage was the contributing factor to my kids rating this dish a 10. Hey, you have to throw something kid friendly in a dish that has walnuts in it, at least in my house. This pasta is similar to my broccolini, sausage and orecchiette pasta, but a bit different with the walnut pesto serving as the base sauce. I loved the addition of the walnut pesto and the toasted chopped walnuts. The pesto clings to the pasta and the chopped walnuts add a healthy & nutty crunch to the dish!

The walnut pesto can be made ahead of time. I made mine earlier in the day so when it was time to cook up dinner, I had one step completed. I also made another batch to store in the freezer for another last minute dinner idea. This pesto freezes well because there is no added cheese. You really don’t miss the cheese in this pesto either. To freeze the pesto, just brush small glass container with some olive oil, pour the pesto in, seal it up and throw it in your freezer.

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini (1 of 1)-2

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage and broccolini:

Recipe adapted from Oprah
serves 4 to 6

for the pasta:

  • 1 pound rigatoni or your favorite pasta- you can also use a whole-wheat or whole grain pasta to boost up the nutritional value
  • 4 sweet italian sausages (about 1 pound), casings removed
  • 1-2 bunches broccolini or baby broccoli, tough ends trimmed
  • shredded pecorino romano cheese for topping the pasta
  • 1/4 cup toasted and chopped walnuts for topping the pasta
  • walnut pesto (see recipe below)

for the walnut pesto:

  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

DSC_0022Let’s first prep all of the ingredients. Peel your garlic clove, wash and dry your basil leaves, wash and trim your broccolini and toast up the 1/2 cup walnuts. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, 1/4 cup for the pesto and 1/4 cup to top the pasta. My favorite way to toast nuts is by using a frying pan. Some people like to toast them in the oven, but the frying pan seems to work better for me.  Heat a medium sized frying pan over medium heat. Add walnuts to the hot, dry pan and cook, watching constantly and stirring frequently, until walnuts start to brown and smell toasted, about 5 minutes. Let the walnuts cool. Reserve 1/4 cup of walnuts for the pesto and chop the rest of the walnuts, and then set aside. You will use these to top the pasta.

Remove the sausages from their casing. All you have to do to remove the sausage from it’s casing is to cut a slit down the length of the sausage and then peel it open and remove the sausage. You’re going to literally push and tear it out of it’s casing. You might have some casing left on the sausage, but it doesn’t matter.  You can always remove the sausages from their casings ahead of time and reserve the sausage in a sealed glass container. I tend to do this earlier in the day, so when it comes time to make dinner, I have one less thing to do.

Now its time to make the walnut pesto.  Like I said earlier, you can make this pesto earlier in the day or even the day before.

DSC_0003Combine the 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, 2 cups basil, peeled garlic clove, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in the bowl of a food processor.

DSC_0008Process and while the motor is running, drizzle in the 1/2 cup olive oil to form the pesto; set aside. Note: If you don’t have a large food processor and only have a mini prep, then you can put all of the ingredients plus the 1/2 cup olive oil into the mini prep and whiz away. Pour the pesto into a ramekin or small glass dish.

DSC_0698Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, while the water is heating up, you want to cook up your sausages. Place the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the sausage breaking it up into pieces with a spoon, until browned. Remove the browned sausage with a slotted spoon and place the sausage onto a paper towel lined plate.

DSC_0029Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the broccolini during the last minute of cooking time. Basically if your pasta says it will be done in 13 minutes, then set a timer for 12 minutes and then add the broccolini for the last minute of cooking time (making it a total of 13 minutes). I loved this step because it was all done in one pot at the same time!  How efficient!  Drain both the pasta and broccolini  together.

DSC_0032Put the pasta and broccolini back into the pot and add in the cooked sausage and the pesto.

DSC_0043Serve the pasta up into individual bowls and top with some freshly grated pecorino romano cheese and chopped walnuts.

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini (1 of 1)-4

This pasta tastes great leftover as all of the flavor combinations have had a change to mingle. My kids were not complaining when I served this up again the next night.

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini

pasta with walnut pesto, sausage, and broccolini

Ingredients

    for the pasta:
  • 1 pound rigatoni or your favorite pasta- you can also use a whole-wheat or whole grain pasta to boost up the nutritional value
  • 4 sweet italian sausages (about 1 pound), casings removed
  • 1-2 bunches broccolini or baby broccoli, tough ends trimmed
  • shredded pecorino romano cheese for topping the pasta
  • 1/4 cup toasted and chopped walnuts for topping the pasta
  • walnut pesto (see recipe below)
  • for the walnut pesto:
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

Let's first prep all of the ingredients. Peel your garlic clove, wash and dry your basil leaves, wash and trim your broccolini and toast up the 1/2 cup walnuts. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, 1/4 cup for the pesto and 1/4 cup to top the pasta. My favorite way to toast nuts is by using a frying pan. Some people like to toast them in the oven, but the frying pan seems to work better for me. Heat a medium sized frying pan over medium heat. Add walnuts to the hot, dry pan and cook, watching constantly and stirring frequently, until walnuts start to brown and smell toasted, about 5 minutes. Let the walnuts cool. Reserve 1/4 cup of walnuts for the pesto and chop the rest of the walnuts, and then set aside. You will use these to top the pasta.

Remove the sausages from their casing. All you have to do to remove the sausage from it’s casing is to cut a slit down the length of the sausage and then peel it open and remove the sausage. You're going to literally push and tear it out of it’s casing. You might have some casing left on the sausage, but it doesn’t matter. You can always remove the sausages from their casings ahead of time and reserve the sausage in a sealed glass container. I tend to do this earlier in the day, so when it comes time to make dinner, I have one less thing to do.

Now its time to make the walnut pesto. Like I said earlier, you can make this pesto earlier in the day or even the day before.

Combine the 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, 2 cups basil, peeled garlic clove, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in the bowl of a food processor.

Process and while the motor is running, drizzle in the 1/2 cup olive oil to form the pesto; set aside. Note: If you don't have a large food processor and only have a mini prep, then you can put all of the ingredients plus the 1/2 cup olive oil into the mini prep and whiz away. Pour the pesto into a ramekin or small glass dish.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, while the water is heating up, you want to cook up your sausages. Place the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the sausage breaking it up into pieces with a spoon, until browned. Remove the browned sausage with a slotted spoon and place the sausage onto a paper towel lined plate.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the broccolini during the last minute of cooking time. Basically if your pasta says it will be done in 13 minutes, then set a timer for 12 minutes and then add the broccolini for the last minute of cooking time (making it a total of 13 minutes). I loved this step because it was all done in one pot at the same time! How efficient! Drain both the pasta and broccolini together.

Put the pasta and broccolini back into the pot and add in the cooked sausage and the pesto.

Serve the pasta up into individual bowls and top with some freshly grated pecorino romano cheese and chopped walnuts.

This pasta tastes great leftover as all of the flavor combinations have had a change to mingle. My kids were not complaining when I served this up again the next night.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/03/pasta-with-walnut-pesto-sausage-and-broccolini/

beer-braised chicken verde tacos

tacos

Let’s talk Mexican!  Who doesn’t love Mexican food? I personally don’t know anyone that isn’t fan of Mexican fare.  Living in the bay area we have access to some amazing Mexican restaurants, and we frequent them quite a bit. I love cooking Mexican at home as well, and have really branched out from just making tacos and burritos. I remember when we first moved to California, 15 years ago, the only Mexican food I ate was a bean, rice and cheese burrito.  I’m so glad I got out of that rut and tried some new and exciting flavors.

My husband introduced me to this recipe.  I saw the title, beer-braised chicken, and thought beer, really John?  Is this something the kids and I are going to eat?  It sounded to me like a “manly meal” not a “family friendly” meal.  I took a bite just to please him and was pleasantly surprised that I really enjoyed it.  The kids loved it so much that Zoe ate 3 tacos and Eli ate 2 (that’s a big deal for him as he usually eats about 1). You don’t taste the beer in these, in-case there are those of you that are worried about that. The chicken is super moist and really mild in flavor.  Don’t be scared off by all the ingredients. Most of them are just spices that you most likely have lying around the house.

Another great thing about this dish, besides the fact that it tastes great, is that it is a two-nighter meal and it can be made ahead of time.  Who doesn’t love that?  Oh, and it’s a great weeknight meal because it takes about 30 minutes or so to throw together.  

beer-braised chicken verde tacos:

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Mexican issue
serves 4-6

  • 1 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or olive oil - I used olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion – I used a yellow onion
  • 5 garlic cloves – minced
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 12-ounce bottle Mexican Beer – I used Pacifico 
  • 1 14.5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 4oz can diced green chilies – you can always use the fresh stuff
  • 1 4oz can diced jalapeños – you can always use the fresh stuff
  • package of corn tortillas

Make ahead or leftovers?  You can make this chicken verde ahead of time and store it covered in the refrigerator till needed.  All you have to do to re-heat it is to put the chicken mixture in a saucepan over low heat, and stir occasionally.  The liquid will come out from the chicken and make a sort of sauce for the chicken to simmer in.   

 Let’s prep our ingredients, shall we?
Cut up your onion, combine all your spices and salt into a small bowl (as you will be adding them at the same time), mince up your garlic, wash and prep your chicken (cut off any fatty parts) and open up your canned goods and the beer.
In a 4-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic; cook and stir for 3 minutes. 
 Add butter, and your spices of cumin, coriander, chili powder, oregano & salt.  
Cook and stir until butter melts.
Add beer, fire roasted tomatoes, green chilies and jalapeños.  Bring to a boil.  
Add chicken. Return to a boil and then reduce heat.  
Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink, stirring a few times.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken from the cooking liquid to a cutting board.  
Gently boil the cooking liquid, uncovered, for about 10 minutes more or until thickened, stirring occasionally.  
Meanwhile, using two forks, shred up your chicken.  Put shredded chicken into a medium sized bowl.
 Add 1 cup of the reduced cooking juices to the shredded chicken and stir to combine.  
You can use this mixture as a filling for either quesadillas or hard or soft-shelled tacos.  
We chose small soft shelled corn tortillas. 
To warm them up, we wrapped the tortillas in tin foil and cooked them at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Insert your favorite taco fixings.  

We love topping ours with shredded red cabbage, queso fresco and lots of cilantro.These tacos are family approved and rated a 10+ in our house.  Whenever I make these, all I hear from the troops is, “thanks for making these mom, they’re so good.”  

cheesy baked tortellini & homemade marinara sauce

cheesy baked tortellini & homemade marinara sauce

cheesy baked tortellini & homemade marinara sauceWant an easy-peasy weeknight meal your whole family will enjoy?  I bet you’re saying yes, yes, yes!  Well, read on, because my whole family loves this pasta and I love it because it’s tasty of course, but so quick (under 45 minutes) and easy to make. This is definitely a family and kid friendly meal.  It’s cheesy, hence the title, cheesy baked tortellini. This pasta is rated a 10+ in my house and has quickly become a family favorite.

Life is getting busy around our house, and during this busy time I have to prepare my weekly dinner menu in advance. Zoe now has lacrosse, dance and cotillion 4 nights during the week so goodbye (for now) to sit-down family dinners, and hello make ahead and easy meals.

On Sundays, I put together a list of potential weeknight dinners and I also try to cook a two-nighter meal as well.  When life is busy, I don’t want to compromise on eating nutritionally, nor do I want us eating takeout every night. I want to offer my kids their veggies and a fairly balanced and nutritious meal.  To accomplish this, I try and find recipes that I can either make ahead, that will provide dinner for 2 nights or ones that can be put together in a flash.  This tortellini pasta matches all three of that criteria. You can throw it together in less than 45 minutes. You can also make it earlier in the day, cover it with foil, refrigerate it and then re-heat later that evening.  Oh yeah!!!  I’ll be honest with you all and let you know that we end up using a jared sauce the majority of the time.  I don’t always make the homemade marinara sauce, and that’s ok!  My favorite jarred sauce to use for this pasta is Rao’s homemade Marinara.

cheesy baked tortellini & homemade marinara sauce

cheesy baked tortellini & homemade marinara sauce:

Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis Everyday Pasta
Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 cups marinara sauce – store bought or homemade – I made a homemade version from Giada the day before- recipe to follow below.  I have also made this recipe a number of times with different store bought sauces and my basic tomato sauce.
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 pound cheese tortellini
  • shredded mozzarella or smoked mozzarella cheese, - The recipe called for 2 ounces, but really, who measures out their cheese?  Just top your dish with the amount of cheese you want.  
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese - I also did not measure this.  I just topped each casserole with some parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the tortellini.  Lightly oil an 8x8x2-inch baking dish or 4 individual gratin dishes.Below is what mascarpone cheese looks like.  It resembles a soft cream cheese.In a large bowl, whisk together the marinara sauce, mascarpone cheese, parsley and thyme.Stir all the ingredients together. Its best to mix everything with a spatula because you’re going to have to press the mascarpone cheese against the sides of the bowl to get it to soften up. Once you mix all the ingredients together, it goes from this beautiful red color above, to this not so pleasant orange color.  I’m not even going to go there and tell you what it reminds me of.Cook the tortellini until just tender or al dente, about 2 minutes.  I used frozen tortellini and the 2 minute cooking time was perfect.  Drain.  Add the tortellini to the sauce and toss to coat.

Transfer the tortellini mixture to the prepared baking dish or dishes.  Not a great photo, but you get the step involved.
  Top with the grated parmesan cheese and smoked mozzarella or regular mozzarella cheese.
Cover the dish or dishes with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the cheeses melt on top, about 10 minutes longer.
Note: The cheese will be melted, but will be white in color.  If you want your cheese to be browned and crispy like these photos, then turn on your broiler and place the pasta under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese browns up.
cheesy baked tortellini & homemade marinara sauce
 That is it folks!  How easy was that dish to prepare?
I paired this up with a salad for John and I, and some broccoli for the kids.
This dish was a two-night meal for my kids and I (not the hungry hubby).  I just covered their leftovers in their gratin dishes, and re-heated them in the oven the next day.
I’m actually re-heating up their leftovers as I write this post.
Here they are eating their leftovers!  Happy as clams!
If you want to make your own marinara sauce then you can follow along with me below!
This sauce is great because it can be made day ahead of time, and it’s fairly easy to whip up.  The only thing that really takes time is chopping up all the veggies.  This is a wonderful marina sauce that you can use as a base for just about any Italian meal.

Basic Marinara Sauce:

Makes about 2 quarts
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped – I used yellow onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled & finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 – 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 dried bay leaves
Prep your ingredients.  Chop up your onions, garlic, carrots and celery.

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.Add the celery, carrots and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Sauté until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour.Remove and discard the bay leaves.  Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste.

Let the sauce cool, and then refrigerate or freeze it.  This sauce freezes very well so I saved 2 cups for the above recipe, and froze the remaining amount for a later date.
The sauce may be stored frozen for up to 3 months.

If you don’t want to make your own sauce, use your favorite store bought brand.  I’ve done that on many occasions and the tortellini tastes just as amazing.

Chicken with Shallots

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Here’s another wonderful kid approved chicken recipe from you guessed it, Ina Garten. I tend to make a lot of her recipes because they’re easy and they always turn out amazing. This particular recipe was from her cookbook, How Easy is ThatI usually make a chicken dish once a week for my family as it’s economical, easy to prepare and my kids just love it.  This dish was a bit messy and a bit grease splattering, but the smiles and thumbs up from my kids and hubby made it all worth it.

I just found out an interesting fact about chicken skin here at my friend Em’s blog that you might want to check out.  It’s made me re-think having an occasional bite of crispy skin.  My kids were psyched that they got to eat their skin last night, as that is really the best part, right?

This dish is paired with a shallot and lemon sauce that is amazing!  I even rolled my popover in it after my chicken disappeared.  The sauce really makes this chicken stand out, so make it!

Chicken with Shallots:

Recipe from Barefoot Contessa
serves 4

  • 3 to 4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on (6 to 8 ounces each)  - The chicken breasts from my grocery store are huge, so we typically get 2-3 breasts
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine – Pinot Grigio works great
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots 
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon fine kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Lets get our ingredients prepared.  Mince your shallot, squeeze up your lemons to get your lemon juice, pour your 1/2-cup wine, slice up your room temp butter. Rinse and pat the chicken dry with the paper towels and sprinkle them generously on both sides with salt and pepper.  Make sure that the chicken is dry, as that helps it to brown up in the skillet. 

In a 12-inch cast iron skillet or oven safe skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat for 2 minutes, until it begins to smoke. Place the chicken breasts, skin side down in the skillet and cook for 4 to 5 minutes without moving, until golden brown. 
 Raw chicken photos, gotta love them!  
The below photos show 2 chicken breasts, as I was making a smaller batch to photograph for you all. 
Using tongs, turn the chicken breasts skin side up and place the skillet in the preheated oven.  Roast the chicken for 12 to 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (when they reach an internal temp of 165 degrees).
Please remember that this is an estimate on cooking time since chicken breasts vary in size.  Keep an eye on the chicken and cook accordingly. 
Meanwhile (while the chicken is cooking), in a medium sauté pan, combine the white wine, lemon juice, and shallots and cook over medium-high heat until only 2 tablespoons of liquid remain in the pan, about 5 minutes. If the sauce reduces too much, add an extra splash of white wine or water.   
Honestly, just keep an eye on the sauce and you shouldn’t need to add any additional wine or water.  
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Add the cream, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and bring to a full boil.  
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Remove the sauce from the heat, add the diced butter, and swirl the pan until the butter is incorporated.  Don’t reheat or the sauce will break! 
The sauce will be a creamy yellow and pinkish color.  
Pour your sauce into a small bowl and set aside until the chicken is finished. The sauce may not look pretty, but it tastes amazing!
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Serve up the chicken breasts and have each person spoon the desired amount of sauce over their breast, or you can pour the sauce over all of the breasts. We served these up with popovers and roasted cauliflower.
DSC_0143Everyone in my family was part of the clean plate club.  I even found members of my family lapping up the remaining sauce with their popovers.  

Ratings:
Zoe rated this dish a 10+++.
Eli rated this a 10+++ as well.
John and I loved it as well.

lemon chicken breasts

lemon chicken breasts

Oh Barefoot, how I love your recipes.  Your recipes are always simplistic, delicious and comforting.  Truly, I do love the Barefoot.  Her recipes always come out fantastic and they are not complicated.  I’m not a fan of complicated recipes.  I want something that tastes amazing, is fresh but easy to replicate.  I have 5 of the Barefoot’s cookbooks and go back to them quite often for new and old recipes.  

Two of my favorite recipes from her are her chocolate cake and broccoli lemon pasta.  The chocolate cake is my go-to cake and whenever I make this cake for people they beg me for the recipe. It’s rich and moist and oh so chocolaty.  I will never try another chocolate cake recipe because this one is the bomb. The broccoli pasta is a weekly staple in my house.  It’s one of those dishes that I could make in my sleep.  My kids beg for this dish after we get back from a trip because it just reminds them of home.

I recently received a new cookbook of hers called, How Easy Is That, and I decided to make one of her famous recipes, lemon chicken breasts.  I have seen this recipe on various blogs and it always looked so scrumptious to me. 

I paired this chicken with the roasted fingerling potatoes that I posted the other day and some roasted cauliflower.  This was a very traditional meat and potatoes meal but healthy at the same time.  The perfect winter comfort food dinner.

Lemon Chicken Breasts:

Recipe from Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy Is That
Serves 4 with leftovers (2 adults, 11 year old and 7 year old)

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic (about 8-9 cloves)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt plus more to rub on chicken
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 3-4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on (6 to 8 ounces each) - I used 3 chicken breasts here as the breasts I bought were huge –  Note: we are not fans of the skin but I cooked the chicken breasts with the skin on to keep them moist.  We took off the skin after these photos were taken.
  • 3 lemons total (2 for zesting and for lemon juice and 1 for cooking with the chicken)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and mince your garlic & zest and squeeze your lemons.

Warm the 1/4 cup olive oil in a skillet pan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute but don’t allow the garlic to turn brown.  Turn off heat and set aside.

Get a 9 x 12 inch baking dish out and add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt.


Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts and place them skin side up over the sauce.  Brush or rub the chicken breasts with the olive oil and garlic mixture (use all of the garlic here) and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper.  Cut the lemon in 8 wedges and tuck it in among the pieces of chicken.   

Sorry for the raw chicken picture below.  It’s not the prettiest picture.
 Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, unit the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned.  If the chicken isn’t browned enough, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes.  Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  
 Garnish with fresh thyme if your presenting it to guests as it makes the chicken look so pretty!
 Make sure to pour some of the pan juices over each chicken breast when you are serving it up as it adds a bit more juice and flavor to the chicken.  I actually poured all the pan juices into a serving bowl and the we each spooned up some and added it to our breasts throughout the meal.
 My family rated this meal a 10.  I hope yours will enjoy this as well.
Now, how easy was that?
 
Do you have any Barefoot Contessa cookbooks?  

If so, what is your favorite recipe of hers?

chicken enchiladas with pumpkin sauce

chicken enchiladas with pumpkin sauce
chicken enchiladas with pumpkin sauceJohn and I have become huge fans of Mexican cooking since moving out to California 15 years ago.  The Bay area has so many amazing and authentic restaurants to choose from that we rarely cook Mexican at home.  Now that I am blogging about food, I realize that I need to get out of my comfort zone and try some new dishes.  I recently asked a friend what type of dish she would like to see on my blog next, and she said anything Mexican.  So I listened to her request and perused through my stack of cookbooks for some Mexican inspiration.  I stumbled upon this pumpkin enchilada recipe in my Everyday Food cookbook, and since it was fall, I decided to try it.  I love anything with pumpkin and this sauce looked so savory and rich.  I have always had pretty good success with recipes from Every Day Food, so I knew it would turn out decent (fingers crossed).


This dish had since become one of our family’s favorite dinners.  Every time I make it, I get a thumbs up from the family.  The corn tortillas add so much flavor and texture to the dish.  It’s the perfect blend of spices and flavor.  We love serving these alongside a nice big salad, like my kid friendly caesar salad.  

This is also another great make ahead meal.  This dish can be assembled up to 8 hours ahead of time; refrigerate, covered with tin foil or plastic wrap, until ready to bake (add a few minutes to the cooking time).  You can also make the sauce ahead of time and cover and refrigerate it. Cook and shred the chicken and add the scallions and salt to it and refrigerate and cover till you’re ready to assemble the enchiladas.  When its time to then make the enchiladas, all you have to do is warm up the tortillas and assemble the enchiladas.

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chicken enchiladas with pumpkin sauce:

Recipe from Everyday Food
makes 8 enchiladas

  • 2 decent sized chicken breasts, bone in, skin on or 1/2 of a rotisserie chicken
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 jalapeno chile, quartered, ribs and seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 8 corn tortillas (6-inch)
  • 3 tablespoons grape seed oil – or another high smoke-point oil such as peanut or canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (6 ounces)
UPDATE:  I wanted to let you all know that I was at the grocery store today and noticed that the organic pumpkin (shown below ) now comes in BPA free cans!  Yippee!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a rimmed baking sheet.  Rub them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast the breasts for 35 to 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  I always use my meat thermometer here and take the chicken out when it reaches an internal temperature of 165º.       Want to know a super cool trick for shredding chicken? I learned this step from my good friend Carolyn.  While the chicken breasts are still pretty warm, (you really want them warm to hot for this next step to work) remove the skin from chicken and then using a knife, slice the chicken breast off of the bone.

Get out your kitchen aid mixer, throw the chicken breasts into the bowl and put your paddle attachment on.

DSC_0005Turn the mixer on to speed 4 and in approximately 20 seconds you will have shredded chicken. Super cool right? I didn’t believe it either till I saw it with my own eyes.  See, now you can believe it as well because there’s proof in the below photo.

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Note: The original recipe called for 1/2 of a rotisserie chicken so you can also use that if you wish.  We’re not fans of dark meat in this house, so I always just roast up some breasts when a recipes calls for shredded or cubed chicken.  I learned this trick from the Barefoot.

Note:  For time efficiency, the chicken can be roasted and shredded up ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until needed.  

Once your chicken has been shredded, it’s time to start assembling the enchiladas. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees for the enchiladas.

As you know, I like to prep all my ingredients ahead of time, so lets get prepping!  Slice up your scallions, peel your garlic, chop up your jalapeño chile and grate your fresh cheddar cheese (you can just buy the cheese grated as well).In a blender, add 2 1/2 cups water, the pumpkin puree, garlic, jalapeno, chili powder, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and puree until smooth (hold top firmly as blender will be quite full).

Pour 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a rectangular baking dish.  In a medium bowl, combine the shredded chicken and scallions and season generously with salt and pepper.Now its time to heat up your corn tortillas so they do not break apart while rolling them.  I learned this amazing trick from simply recipes and it works every time.
In a medium sized skillet at medium-high heat add 2-3 tablespoons of grape seed oil.
Add a tortilla to the pan.  Cook for 2-3 seconds, lift up the tortilla with a spatula, add another tortilla underneath.
Cook for 2-3 seconds, lift again, both tortillas, and add another tortilla underneath.
Repeat the process with all the tortillas, adding a little more oil if needed. This way you can brown and soften the tortillas without using a lot of fat. You do this process to develop the flavor of the tortillas. As the tortillas brown a little, remove from the pan one by one to rest on a paper towel, which absorbs any excess fat.
Lay the tortillas on work surface; mound chicken mixture on half of each tortilla, dividing evenly.  Its best to put the chicken to one side of your tortilla and roll it up from there.
Roll it up as you would a sleeping bag.
Roll up each tortilla into a tight log; place seam side down over the sauce in the baking dish.
 Pour the remaining sauce on top.
I didn’t use all of my sauce here as I thought there was too much.
I poured what I thought was enough sauce and then threw away the rest, so just use your judgement here.Finish by topping the enchiladas with the sharp cheddar cheese.Bake the enchiladas uncovered in a 425 degree oven until the cheese is golden and the sauce is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes before serving.   
DSC_0099 Top your enchilada with a dollop of sour cream and serve with a vegetable of choice or a nice green salad.  I must admit it wasn’t the prettiest dish I’ve ever made, but it sure got rave reviews on the taste, and we ate it happily two nights in a row.Kids and hubby also requested that I make it again, very soon.
Adios Amigos!
chicken enchiladas with pumpkin sauce

Serving Size: makes 8 enchiladas

chicken enchiladas with pumpkin sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 decent sized chicken breasts, bone in, skin on or 1/2 of a rotisserie chicken
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 jalapeno chile, quartered, ribs and seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 8 corn tortillas (6-inch)
  • 3 tablespoons grape seed oil - or another high smoke-point oil such as peanut or canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (6 ounces)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Rub them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the breasts for 35 to 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. I always use my meat thermometer here and take the chicken out when it reaches an internal temperature of 165º.

Want to know a super cool trick for shredding chicken? While the chicken breasts are still pretty warm, (you really want them warm to hot for this next step to work) remove the skin from chicken and then using a knife, slice the chicken breast off of the bone.

Get out your kitchen aid mixer, throw the chicken breasts into the bowl and put your paddle attachment on.

Turn the mixer on to speed 4 and in approximately 20 seconds you will have shredded chicken.

Note: The original recipe called for 1/2 of a rotisserie chicken so you can also use that if you wish. We're not fans of dark meat in this house, so I always just roast up some breasts when a recipes calls for shredded or cubed chicken. I learned this trick from the Barefoot.

Note: For time efficiency, the chicken can be roasted and shredded up ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until needed.

Once your chicken has been shredded, it's time to start assembling the enchiladas. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees for the enchiladas.

As you know, I like to prep all my ingredients ahead of time, so lets get prepping! Slice up your scallions, peel your garlic, chop up your jalapeño chile and grate your fresh cheddar cheese (you can just buy the cheese grated as well).

In a blender, add 2 1/2 cups water, the pumpkin puree, garlic, jalapeno, chili powder, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and puree until smooth (hold top firmly as blender will be quite full).

Pour 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a rectangular baking dish.

In a medium bowl, combine the shredded chicken and scallions and season generously with salt and pepper.

Now its time to heat up your corn tortillas so they do not break apart while rolling them.

In a medium sized skillet at medium-high heat add 2-3 tablespoons of grape seed oil.

Add a tortilla to the pan. Cook for 2-3 seconds, lift up the tortilla with a spatula, add another tortilla underneath. Cook for 2-3 seconds, lift again, both tortillas, and add another tortilla underneath.

Repeat the process with all the tortillas, adding a little more oil if needed. This way you can brown and soften the tortillas without using a lot of fat. You do this process to develop the flavor of the tortillas. As the tortillas brown a little, remove from the pan one by one to rest on a paper towel, which absorbs any excess fat.

Lay the tortillas on work surface; mound chicken mixture on half of each tortilla, dividing evenly. Its best to put the chicken to one side of your tortilla and roll it up from there.

Roll it up as you would a sleeping bag. Roll up each tortilla into a tight log; place seam side down over the sauce in the baking dish.

Pour the remaining sauce on top.

I didn't use all of my sauce here as I thought there was too much.I poured what I thought was enough sauce and then threw away the rest, so just use your judgement here.

Finish by topping the enchiladas with the sharp cheddar cheese.

Bake the enchiladas uncovered in a 425 degree oven until the cheese is golden and the sauce is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Top your enchilada with a dollop of sour cream and serve with a vegetable of choice or a nice green salad.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2011/12/chicken-enchiladas-with-pumpkin-sauce/

orecchiette pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe

DSC_0003-3

DSC_0003-3First off, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to those of you that are viewing my blog and making some of my recipes.  I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when a close friend, stranger or mom at school comes up to me and tells me that they are making one of the recipes from my blog that night. I love hearing their comments on how much their family enjoyed the recipe or how easy it was to make.  

The biggest request I keep getting from people is to keep posting more yummy & easy weeknight dinners.  Dinner is the one meal that people struggle with. I get it, we’re all busy running around all day and to have that nagging “what to make for dinner” question hanging over our heads is not fun!  

Well, I’ve got you covered for dinner tonight. I have whipped up an easy, family approved one-bowl pasta dish.  This pasta is one of those pantry pastas that I cook quite often because I usually have all of the ingredients on hand expect for the fresh broccoli rabe. 

Below are the 6 ingredients you will need in addition to some fresh olive oil.

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orecchiette pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe:

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

  • 1 to 2 bunches broccoli rabe, stems trimmed – You can also use baby broccoli or broccolini 
  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 italian sausage links, casings removed or 3/4 pound of ground sausage – I used classic italian style sausages
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes – I used a bit more than a pinch of red pepper and it was spicy in a good way, but not too spicy for the kids
  • freshly shedded Parmesan cheese

Let’s prep the ingredients.  Wash and trim up the broccoli rabe, remove the sausage from it’s casings and mince up your garlic cloves.  

DSC_0009Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the broccoli rabe during the last minute of cooking time.  I loved this step because it was all done in one pot at the same time!  How efficient!  Drain both the pasta and broccoli rabe together.

DSC_0016Meanwhile, while the pasta is cooking, heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and then add the sausage.  DSC_0001-2Cook the sausage breaking it up into pieces with a spoon, until browned and juices form.

DSC_0006-2Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

DSC_0008-2Add the drained pasta and broccoli rabe to the pan with the sausage mixture and toss to coat with the juices. 

DSC_0034Serve up the pasta into individual bowls.  Make sure to scrape all those goodies off the bottom of the pan.  Top each bowl with a nice heaping of fresh Parmesan and some fresh ground pepper for the adults! 

My kids and hubby loved this dish. They all rated it a 10!  I hope that your family enjoys this easy weeknight pantry pasta!

Green Bean and Shallot Ravioli

green bean and shallot ravioli

green bean and shallot ravioliI saw this recipe in the November issue of Whole Living Magazine and I knew I had to make it.  I mean I was literally salivating over this recipe and 5 others.  These recipes were shown as Thanksgiving side dishes for vegans and vegetarians.  I thought to myself as I was staring longingly at the photos, when did I start getting excited over vegetable dishes?  Who is this girl?  I use to get excited over a juicy burger, fries or any sort of sweet, (well, I still get excited over sweets) but vegetables?  This is all recent and very strange for me.  I’m honestly considering becoming a vegetarian.  I would prefer a beautiful homemade (not those frozen things) veggie burger to a beef or turkey burger any day. I’m more excited to eat the veggies that I am going to prepare for Thanksgiving than the actual turkey.  My taste buds are definitely changing, maybe its California and that fact that the produce here is so unbelievably fresh and delicious.One thing I love about this recipe is that it’s another easy pantry pasta.  All I had to purchase was the green beans, as I had some shallots, almonds and ravioli at home and I grabbed a fresh lemon from our lemon tree.  I’m finding that if you keep a well stocked pantry, all you need to do is run out for the fresh vegetables. Onions, shallots, nuts, squashes and pastas keep for some time, so stock your pantry with them and you will always have them on hand when your inspired to create a yummy last minute recipe. If green beans aren’t in season, no worries, you can substitute broccoli rabe instead.DSC_0018Eli and Zoe rated this dish a 10+++.  John and I literally devoured it, so it ranked high with us as well. This is definitely a recipe that is going to be made again and again in our house. Moms, this is an easy throw together pasta for those busy weeknights.green bean and shallot ravioli

 green bean and shallot ravioli:

  • 1 large bunch of green beans, trimmed - We like our veggies, so I grab a hefty bunch. If green beans aren’t in season, feel free to substitute broccoli rabe/baby broccoli
  • 1 bag (22oz) of frozen ravioli - I get the Whole Foods ravioli as it’s just $2.99 a bag, what a steal!
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted – I just throw in a big old handful and call it a day.
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
First toast up the sliced almonds. To toast them, just put some sliced raw almonds in a dry skillet set over medium heat, and swirl them around in the pan for a few minutes until they become golden brown in color. Reserve them to the side.
toasting almondsNext wash up and trim those green beans. Aren’t they just beautiful?  They’re so vibrant and green.  I tell you, mother nature makes the most beautiful food.Peel and slice your shallots into thin slices, set aside.  Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.Throw the beans into the salted and boiling water, (you’re basically blanching them) and cook the beans until just tender 3-5 minutes (depending on the size of your green beans). I always cook my beans for exactly 3 minutes and they are perfect!   If you’re using broccoli rabe, then you will only want to cook it for 1 minute.  

Note: Timing can vary depending on the size of your vegetable.  There is only one sure way to tell if your vegetable is done: put it in you mouth and eat it.Transfer the beans with either a slotted spoon or mesh strainer to a bowl of ice water, to stop the cooking of the beans.Drain the beans, dry them off, and then set them aside.  

  Add the ravioli to the cooking water, (the same water that you used for the green beans) and cook according to package directions.  Drain and set aside. 

Meanwhile, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until golden and crispy, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the green beans, ravioli and almonds to your pan and toss to coat. I like to turn the heat down to low and cook the ravioli for a minute or two so that it browns up a bit. Turn off the heat, take your lemon half, and squeeze the juice over the pasta.  Serve up the pasta into individual bowls and add some fresh shredded parmesan.  Make sure to scrape all those goodies off the bottom of the pan.  

green bean and shallot ravioliThis is a wonderful one-bowl meal your whole family will enjoy! 

Green Bean and Shallot Ravioli

Rating: 51

Green Bean and Shallot Ravioli

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of green beans, trimmed - We like our veggies, so I grab a hefty bunch. If green beans aren't in season, feel free to substitute broccoli rabe.
  • 1 bag (22oz) of frozen ravioli - I get the Whole Foods ravioli as it's just $2.99 a bag.
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted - I just throw in a big old handful and call it a day.
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Instructions

First toast up the sliced almonds. To toast them, just put some sliced raw almonds in a dry skillet set over medium heat, and swirl them around in the pan for a few minutes until they become golden brown in color. Reserve them to the side.

Next wash up and trim those green beans.

Peel and slice your shallots into thin slices, set aside.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.Throw the beans into the salted and boiling water, (you're basically blanching them) and cook the beans until just tender 3-5 minutes (depending on the size of your green beans). I always cook my beans for exactly 3 minutes and they are perfect! If you're using broccoli rabe, then you will only want to cook it for 1 minute.

Note: Timing can vary depending on the size of your vegetable. There's only one sure way to tell if your vegetable is done: put it in you mouth and eat it.

Transfer the beans with either a slotted spoon or mesh strainer to a bowl of ice water, to stop the cooking of the beans. Drain the beans, dry them off, and then set them aside.

Add the ravioli to the cooking water, (the same water that you used for the green beans) and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until golden and crispy, about 3-5 minutes.

Add the green beans, ravioli and almonds to your pan and toss to coat. I like to turn the heat down to low and cook the ravioli for a minute or two so that it browns up a bit.

Turn off the heat,take your lemon half, and squeeze the juice over the pasta.

Serve up the pasta into individual bowls and add some fresh shredded parmesan. Make sure to scrape all those goodies off the bottom of the pan.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2011/11/green-bean-and-shallot-ravioli/

Penne a la Vodka

penne a la vodka
penne a la vodka

OK, we turned back the clocks yesterday and we had our first California rain on Saturday.  In my book that means it’s officially fall and time to start breaking out our favorite comfort foods. Here’s a pasta staple at our house, Penne a la Vodka!  This dish is a classic in my book and it’s SO delicious. The best part about this recipe is that I usually have everything on hand to make it, which makes it an easy dinner fill in.  Make sure you serve this up with some warm crusty bread to soak up all that yummy sauce.  This pasta tastes even better the next day as the penne soaks up all the sauce overnight.  

Penne a la Vodka:

serves 4-6
recipe from from Rachel Ray

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3/4 cup vodka
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes 
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 16-ounces (1 box) pasta, such as penne rigate or any curly type of pasta
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • fresh basil, shredded or torn 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Prep all your ingredients, measure out your vodka, chicken stock and heavy cream. Mince the garlic cloves and the shallot.

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 Add the oil, butter, garlic, and shallots to a medium-sized skillet set over medium heat. 

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Gently sauté the garlic and shallots for about 3 to 5 minutes, (or until they start feeling soft) to develop the shallot’s sweetness.

DSC_0012-2Add your 3/4 cup vodka to the pan.

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Reduce the vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes or longer.  Note: The first time I made this sauce I went by the time estimate and did not really check to make sure the vodka was reduced.  Well, you can guess, my sauce tasted like vodka and I had to throw it away.  So please make sure you reduce it by half.  

TIP:  To make sure the vodka is reduced by half other than looking at it, just smell it and if you smell vodka, then it needs to be reduced a bit more. You want to smell the shallots, garlic and butter, not the vodka.

DSC_0029-2Once the vodka is reduced, add in the 1 cup chicken stock and the can of tomatoes.  Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer.  Season with salt and pepper.  Simmer the sauce for about 10-15 minutes to thicken it up a bit.

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While the sauce simmers, cook your pasta in the salted boiling water until cooked to al dente (with a bite to it).  Drain pasta and then return pasta to pot.  

 After the sauce simmers and the pasta is finished cooking, stir the 1/2 cup cream. 

DSC_0041-2Let the sauce return to a boil and then immediately remove it from heat.  It’s not the prettiest looking sauce, but it tastes great!

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Add your sauce to the pasta and toss to coat. 

DSC_0049-2Serve up a heaping amount of pasta into each bowl.  Add your fresh basil and Parmesan and enjoy! 

DSC_0060-2-2I hope this pasta becomes a staple in your house!

Penne a la Vodka

Rating: 51

Serving Size: serves 4-6

Penne a la Vodka

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3/4 cup vodka
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 16-ounces (1 box) pasta, such as penne rigate or any curly type of pasta
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • fresh basil, shredded or torn

Instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Prep all your ingredients, measure out your vodka, chicken stock and heavy cream. Mince the garlic cloves and the shallot.

Add the oil, butter, garlic, and shallots to a medium-sized skillet set over medium heat.

Gently sauté the garlic and shallots for about 3 to 5 minutes, (or until they start feeling soft) to develop the shallot's sweetness.

Add your 3/4 cup vodka to the pan.

Reduce the vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes or longer. Note: The first time I made this sauce I went by the time estimate and did not really check to make sure the vodka was reduced. Well, you can guess, my sauce tasted like vodka and I had to throw it away. So please make sure you reduce it by half.

TIP: To make sure the vodka is reduced by half other than looking at it, just smell it and if you smell vodka, then it needs to be reduced a bit more. You want to smell the shallots, garlic and butter, not the vodka.

Once the vodka is reduced, add in the 1 cup chicken stock and the can of tomatoes.

Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

Simmer the sauce for about 10-15 minutes to thicken it up a bit.

While the sauce simmers, cook your pasta in the salted boiling water until cooked to al dente (with a bite to it). Drain pasta and then return pasta to pot.

After the sauce simmers and the pasta is finished cooking, stir the 1/2 cup cream.

Let the sauce return to a boil and then immediately remove it from heat.

Add your sauce to the pasta and toss to coat.

Serve up a heaping amount of pasta into each bowl.

Add your fresh basil and Parmesan and enjoy!

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2011/11/penne-a-la-vodka/

Broccoli Lemon Pasta – Kid rated a 10

Broccoli Lemon Pasta - Kid rated a 10

Broccoli Lemon Pasta - Kid rated a 10Looking for an easy, family friendly, one-bowl pasta dish?  Look no further because this pasta fits the bill.  This is my weekly go-to pasta because it’s super easy to make (I could literally make this blindfolded) and it’s a one-bowl meal. It’s one of those pastas that my kids request often and I happily make.  It’s our family’s favorite comfort food.

Zoe often brings the leftovers to school for lunch and I now have to pack a huge container as all her friends all want a forkful.  This pasta is the dinner of choice at all sleepovers.  You have to believe this is good if a bunch of 12 year olds are preferring a bowl of broccoli pasta to pizza!

Broccoli Lemon Pasta:

recipe from Barefoot Contessa
serves 6

  • 4 broccoli heads or 3 bunches of baby broccoli – use as much broccoli as you want here, the more the merrier
  • 1 box of your favorite twisty pasta – we like to use cellentani
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 2 garlic cloves)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • freshly shredded parmesan cheese
  • freshly ground pepper (for the grown ups)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pinenuts or toasted walnuts

 

I love to prep all my ingredients ahead of time so they are ready to go when needed.  Wash and chop up the broccoli into small florets, zest the lemon, mince the garlic and squeeze your 1 tablespoon lemon juice; set aside in small bowls.  I put the lemon zest and minced garlic into the same bowl because they both get used together later.  Get out a small glass measuring cup and add the 2 teaspoons of salt and set aside.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil for the pasta. Below are two ways to cook the broccoli.  Pick the one that works best for you.

Put your broccoli in a steamer over about and inch of water (or however you steam your broccoli). Put the lid on and steam away.  I like to steam my broccoli while the pasta water is cooking so I get it out of the way.  We like our broccoli to be a bit underdone so it has a bit of a crunch.  You want to make sure not to overcook or undercook it.  Once my broccoli is cooked, I pour it in a bowl and put it aside.

Here’s my new favorite way to cook up the broccoli or baby broccoli. I throw the broccoli in for the last minute of the pasta’s cooking time. So, if the pasta cooks for 8 minutes, I throw the broccoli in at 7 minutes and then drain the pasta and broccoli together.  NOTE:  If one minute seems too short then throw it in for the last two minutes.  One minute definitely works for baby broccoli and broccolini.  Meanwhile, while the pasta is cooking, melt 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium low heat.   Once the butter has melted, add the garlic and lemon zest and cook for about 1 minute.  Pour this mixture into the glass measuring cup (the one the salt is in) and then add in the tablespoon of lemon juice, mix the ingredients together.Once your pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the bowl that the broccoli is in.  Add the lemon mixture (see above) and mix everything up together really well so all the pasta and broccoli is coated with the lemon mixture.  Serve the pasta up into individual bowls.  I make sure that each bowl gets a good amount of broccoli and then I add the pasta.  I top the kids pasta off with some freshly shredded parmesan and I add freshly ground pepper and toasted pine nuts to John’s & my bowl.  The pepper just adds a bit of flavor and the pine nuts add a nice nutty almost meaty sort of crunch.

Broccoli Lemon Pasta - Kid rated a 10The kids rate this dish a 10!  The broccoli tastes amazing as the lemon gives it such a nice flavor and takes away the bitterness.  I can honestly say that I’m not the biggest broccoli fan when it’s just steamed, but I can eat a whole bowl of broccoli when its made this way.  You might even want to make this lemon sauce and just add it to a mess of broccoli one night.

I hope this pasta becomes a family favorite in your house.

Broccoli Lemon Pasta – Kid rated a 10

Broccoli Lemon Pasta – Kid rated a 10

Ingredients

  • 4 broccoli heads or 3 bunches of baby broccoli - use as much broccoli as you want here, the more the merrier
  • 1 box of your favorite twisty pasta - we like to use cellentani
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 2 garlic cloves)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • freshly shredded parmesan cheese
  • freshly ground pepper (for the grown ups)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pinenuts or walnuts

Instructions

Prep all of your ingredients. Wash and chop up the broccoli into small florets, zest the lemon, mince the garlic and squeeze your 1 tablespoon lemon juice; set aside in small bowls. I put the lemon zest and minced garlic into the same bowl because they both get used together later.

Get out a small glass measuring cup and add the 2 teaspoons of salt and set aside.

Below are two ways to cook the broccoli. Pick the one that works best for you.

Put your broccoli in a steamer over about and inch of water (or however you steam your broccoli). Put the lid on and steam away. I like to steam my broccoli while the pasta water is cooking so I get it out of the way. We like our broccoli to be a bit underdone so it has a bit of a crunch. You want to make sure not to overcook or undercook it. Once my broccoli is cooked, I pour it in a bowl and put it aside.

Here's my new favorite way to cook up the broccoli or baby broccoli. I throw the broccoli in for the last minute of the pasta's cooking time. So, if the pasta cooks for 8 minutes, I throw the broccoli in at 7 minutes and then drain the pasta and broccoli together. NOTE: If one minute seems too short then throw it in for the last two minutes. One minute definitely works for baby broccoli and broccolini.

Meanwhile, while the pasta is cooking, melt 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium low heat. Once the butter has melted, add the garlic and lemon zest and cook for about 1 minute. Pour this mixture into the glass measuring cup (the one the salt is in) and then add in the tablespoon of lemon juice, mix the ingredients together.

Once your pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the bowl that the broccoli is in. Add the lemon mixture (see above) and mix everything up together really well so all the pasta and broccoli is coated with the lemon mixture.

Serve the pasta up into individual bowls. I make sure that each bowl gets a good amount of broccoli and then I add the pasta. I top the kids pasta off with some freshly shredded parmesan and I add freshly ground pepper and toasted pine nuts to John's & my bowl. The pepper just adds a bit of flavor and the pine nuts add a nice nutty sort of meaty crunch.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2011/10/broccoli-lemon-pasta-kid-rated-10/