Category Archives: pasta

mushroom ravioli & recipe fails

Just when I start to think that someday I’ll be a good enough cook to be a personal chef in LA, I have a huge recipe failure and I’m swiftly brought back to my Minneapolis (and winter) reality.

(source)

Take the sun-dried tomato & mushroom alfredo I made recently. It wasn’t horrible, but it made me want to add mushroom ravioli to the menu the next week just so I could redeem myself. I thought I was being creative and heath conscious as well as finally getting around to using the Hoosier Mushrooms from Lori and the Buitoni Ravioli I received as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program. It was all going perfect in my mind – a nutritionist-ed alfredo sauce made with ricotta, sun-dried tomatoes and dried mushrooms over mushroom ravioli…

But when I tasted the sauce it needed something. So we added some 1/2 & 1/2, a few more spices and it tasted ok. I should have just given up then. Nixing the whole sauce idea all together would have been a good decision. But it was a decision I didn’t make and so mushroom ravioli with sun-dried tomato & mushroom alfredo it was.

When I tried the ravioli plain, I realized that it didn’t need ricotta, sun-dried tomatoes or more mushrooms. It would have been perfect with a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh parmesan cheese.

So I picked up some more Wild Mushroom Agnolotti, this time knowing it needed nothing but a sprinkling of cheese. And it was delicious with just that.

Sigh. I guess part of being a good cook is knowing when to leave good things alone – something I’ll be working on.

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Filed under cheese, eating experiment, mastering the art of, pasta, product review, Recipes, Uncategorized

beef & vegetable noodle stir-fry

We often hear that eating healthy, fresh foods is too expensive and that it’s much cheaper and easier to pick up fast food on the way home then to make a meal at home.

One of my goals is to dispel this myth. Eating healthy doesn’t mean slaving away at the stove or breaking the bank. What it does take is some planning ahead, a little creativity and a love for great food.

The next time I make a stir-fry I’ll be reviewing a wok set sent to me by CSN Stores. CSN Stores has everything from dishes to dining room tables. Look for the review and a new stir-fry recipe coming soon!

Here is a meal that is well-balanced, comes together quickly, tastes great and costs $10.20 for four servings! ($2.55/person)

Even better? The pasta and vegetables were organic and the beef passes the Whole Foods Meat Quality Standards.

Money-Saving Tip: Add frozen veggies to your grocery list! They won’t go bad, they are often cheaper and have just as many nutrients as fresh ones!

Beef & Vegetable Noodle Stir-Fry – 4 servings

  • 4 oz whole-grain spaghetti
  • 16 oz bag of frozen Chinese Stir Fry Vegetables
  • 8 oz skirt steak
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sriracha (if desired)

Prepare the pasta as directed.

Heat large pan over medium heat. Coat with cooking spray. Add steak to pan and season with salt & pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board to rest.

Meanwhile prepare the sauce. Mix together soy sauce, sesame oil and sriracha.

Add the frozen vegetables to pan and saute for about 6 minutes, until cooked through.

Turn off heat and add pasta and sauce to pan. Toss to combine. Slice steak into thin slices and serve over pasta.


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Filed under great meals, pasta, protein, Recipes, sriracha, Uncategorized, vegetables, whole foods, whole grains

salmon burgers with greek salsa

I’ve decided that salmon burgers are my new freezer staple. I love the idea of having salmon once a week and having burgers in the freezer makes this so attainable. I can take them out as needed, they are ready in minutes and obviously very tasty.

They can be dressed up or dressed down, depending on the occasion. Greek salsa is on my “dressed up” side and is the perfect topping for the perfect burger. Try my orzo salad to round out the meal!

Greek Salsa – for 2 salmon burgers

  • 1/2 cucumber, seeded and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 Tbsp red onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp feta cheese crumbles
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • pepper

Combine all ingredients in small bowl and toss together. Set aside and split mixture between burgers.



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Filed under cheese, pasta, Recipes, salad, vegetables, whole foods

blue cheese & olive pasta salad

My Mother is the Queen of pasta salads. Literally. She has enough pasta salads in her arsenal to get through the whole summer without repeats. Many of them are worth repeating however, so she’ll find a way to squeeze them in.

As a child, I remember being fond of some, like chicken curry pasta salad, and not so fond of others, presumably this one as I hated both blue cheese and olives at that young stage of life. Now I’ll take the blue cheese & olive combo anyway – fried, in a salad, a martini or preferably all three at the same time. 🙂

I’m finally starting to understand the great meal that is the pasta salad. Easy to throw together, tastes even better the next day and no oven required. Just thinking about pasta salads reminds me of summer dinners as a kid, eating on the porch. While I rarely eat on my balcony these days, I may just serve up a bowl of this and head out to the sun for a summer lunch worth dreaming about.

Blue Cheese & Olive Pasta Salad – 6-8 servings

  • 2 cups farfalle pasta (I used Barilla PLUS)
  • 6 oz can of black olives, halved
  • 2 cups green grapes, halved
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz blue cheese crumbled
  • 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
  • juice of one lemon
  • salt & pepper

Cook pasta as directed. Set aside in large bowl and let cool.

Mix mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt & pepper until smooth in small bowl. When pasta is cool, add other ingredients and dressing to bowl. Toss to combine.

Refrigerate overnight if possible. Serve cool or at room temperature.

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Filed under cheese, in season, olives, pasta, Recipes, Uncategorized, whole foods, whole grains

orzo salad with zucchini & feta

Orzo is not as easy to find as one might expect. Maybe Minnesota has too much Norweigen influence and prefers lefse over orzo but once I finally tracked some down, the hope of finding a whole-grain version was long gone. As long as I left the store with orzo, I would worry about fitting in whole-grains later.

I wanted to come up with a salad that was light, but flavorful and this turned out just as I had hoped. Bright and citrusy flavor, full of good-for-you zucchini, and a touch of pasta for good measure. Because you can never have too much pasta. And I’m not even Italian!

Orzo Salad with Zucchini & Feta – about 2 servings

  • 1/4 cup orzo
  • 2 small zucchini, cut into half length-wise and then into 1/4-1/2 inch slices
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 Tbsp feta cheese crumbles
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Greek Seasoning
  • salt & pepper

Prepare orzo as directed. Set aside in medium sized bowl.

Heat large pan and spray with cooking spray. Add zucchini and garlic to pan, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, until golden brown. Add to bowl with orzo and let cool.

Prepare dressing: mix olive oil, lemon juice and greek seasoning. Whisk until combined and pour over orzo and zucchini mixture. Add feta crumbles and toss until combined. Let cool and serve cool or at room temperature.



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Filed under cheese, great meals, in season, pasta, Recipes, salad, vegetables

artichoke ravioli pasta salad

My grocery bills have been ridiculous recently – something that doesn’t make me happy but my typical excuse? The blog and my general love of good food. Regardless of the excuse I use, I had some frozen artichoke ravioli in the freezer that had been there for at least a year. Meaning that I would have to forgo that beautiful pumpkin & sage ravioli that I saw at the store and use what I have. Repeat: use what I have. (Repetition means your learning, right?)

Despite the large amount of ice crystals in the package, along with some cucumber and artichokes, it hardly felt like I was cleaning out the freezer. I couldn’t wait to have the leftovers for lunch. See, I’ve learned already.

Artichoke Ravioli Pasta Salad – 2-3 servings

  • 1-9 oz package artichoke, cheese & olive ravioli (I had a Trader Joe’s version)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced cucumbers, halved
  • 1 cup quartered artichokes
  • 2 Tbsp kalamata olives, sliced

Prepare pasta as directed. Let cool. Separate pasta onto plates and top with cucumbers, artichokes, olives and drizzle with shallot dressing.

Shallot Dressing

  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper

Whisk all ingredients together until emulsified.

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Filed under great meals, grocery shopping, olives, pasta, Recipes, salad, Uncategorized, vegetables

clam linguine

Cooking with clams was new to me, but they are so simple, I’m not sure why I was so hesitant! All I needed was the motivation of a recipe and a free night to spend a little time in the kitchen.

The pasta was delicious with a bit of spice from the chiles, smoky flavor from the bacon and briny flavor from the sea. All of the flavors that I so often desire, over some chewy, whole-grain pasta.

Linguine with Clams – 2 servings

  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  •  3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 chile (medium heat), sliced
  • 1 lb little-neck clams
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 Tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 6 oz whole grain linguine (I used fresh)

Cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, crumble and set aside.

Add olive oil,  garlic, chile, clams and wine to pan used for bacon and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until clams have opened and released juices. Remove clams and set aside.

Meanwhile cook pasta as directed, saving cooking liquid.

Add pasta, 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid, bacon, 2 Tbsp parsley and toss until sauce has thickened. Divide pasta onto plates and top with clams and additional parsley.

Healthy Hint: Pasta is something that the taster and I can both overeat without even realizing it. An easy solution? Only making the number of servings we need! No leftovers mean no extra or bites or servings!

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Filed under bacon, great meals, herbs, pasta, Recipes, seafood, Uncategorized, whole foods, whole grains