A Cornucopia of Flavors

Disclaimer: You will not be able to to stop yourself from eating the entire pot of this dish.

I’m not kidding when I say you won’t be able to stop until the entire pot of Rachel Ray’s Butternut Squash and Parsley Penne is gone (I may or may not be speaking from experience here). It’s just that good.
 
ImageFor this dish you will need:
  • 1 1/2 lbs. pre-cut butternut squash cubes
  • 1/4 c. olive oil, + more for drizzling
  • Salt and pepper
  • Ground nutmeg
  • 1 lb. whole wheat penne
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled, then finely chopped
  • 1 chili pepper, such as Fresno or jalapeño, finely chopped (or you can use 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper)
  • 1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 c. chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • A handful of grated Parmesan cheese

First, preheat the oven to 475°. On a baking sheet, drizzle the squash with some olive oil and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Roast about 20 minutes (or until brown and tender). Then bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the penne and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta; reserve 1 c. of the cooking water. As the pasta cooks, heat 1/4 c. olive oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the parsley, garlic, ginger, chili pepper and scallions and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Then, add the stock and reduce the heat to simmer. Next, add half of the pasta cooking water to the sauce. Finally, add the pasta, parsley leaves, scallion greens, squash and cheese to the skillet and stir to combine. Voila! There you have it–a delicious meal that serves four (or is you’re really hungry serves about 1:).

Test this recipe out and let me know what you think! Butternut squash dishes are perfect for the fall/winter. But until next time, keep eating!

Mac and Cheese Grows Up

Macaroni and cheese is a part of childhood. I’m guestimating that every kid under the age of ten in the U.S. has experienced the joys of this deliciously cheesy pasta creation. But tonight, I made a version that was decidedly adult-like—chicken stock, garlic, and an elegant cheese sauce–making it a delectable dinner for anyone with a driver’s license. It’s Cooking Light’s Two-Cheese Mac and Cheese. Best of all, it was as easy to make as the stuff in the box, but certainly a million times better.

Image

You will need: 10 oz. of elbow pasta (or any pasta to your liking); 2 tbsp. canola oil; 3 garlic cloves, crushed; 2 ¼ c. unsalted chicken stock, divided; ½ c. 2% reduced-fat milk; 8 teaspoons all purpose-flour; 4 oz. 1/3-less-fat cream cheese; ½ teaspoon salt; ¼ teaspoon ground pepper; and 3 oz. extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded.

Cook the pasta according to the package, drain and set aside (my mom has always told me to put a little bit of olive oil on the pasta so it doesn’t stick to the colander).  Then, heat a dutch oven over medium heat; add oil and garlic, cook 3 minutes or until garlic is fragrant; stir in one cup chicken stock and bring to a boil, cook for one minute; combine remaining 1 ¼ c. stock, milk, and flour and stir until flour has dissolved.  Add milk mixture to garlic mixture and bring to a boil, cooking for 5 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. Remove milk from heat; add cream cheese and combine until smooth; add salt, pepper, and cooked pasta. Pour pasta into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle cheddar over the top of the pasta and broil until cheese melts and begins to brown. Let stand five minutes and enjoy!

I was a HUGE lover of Kraft mac n’ cheese (I can easily eat an entire box by myself) and I have to say that this recipe puts me firmly into adulthood. The garlic and chicken stock give this dish a rich, wonderful flavor that is sophisticated, delectable and refined. Check this recipe out and let me know what you think! But until next time, keep eating!

I’m in Love With a Flexitarian

I just have to say…Mark Bittman, I love you.

One of my favorite sources to find recipes has to be Mark Bittman’s column in the NY Times. His recipes are simple yet delicious, making it extremely easy to eat good food that’s healthy for you. His most recent recipe (which naturally I had to make) was Pasta alla Norma—and it was to die for.

Image

For the recipe you’ll need: 1 ½ pounds of eggplant, cut into decent –sized chunks; 1 tbsp. of chopped garlic (I took the easier approach put the garlic through a mincer); 3-4 dried chiles (I left these out but by all means add them if you want a nice kick to your dish); 1 ½ pounds of tomatoes—his recipe calls for fresh but canned work just as well!; 1 teaspoon dried oregano; 1 pound of pasta–I used this amazing big rigatoni from Eataly (my mom and I were calling it “big rig” by the end of the night); ½ cup chopped parsley or basil; and last but not least, ½ cup grated ricotta salata.

Simply cook the eggplant in lots and lots of olive oil (good thing it’s heart healthy!), and season with salt and pepper. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the box. Once the eggplant is nice and brown, remove and sauté the garlic (and chiles if you use them), then add the tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper, and cook until ‘saucy’ (his words not mine).  When the pasta is done, strain and add to the tomato/garlic mixture, top with grated ricotta salata, and there you have it! Pasta alla Norma cooked from scratch. This is a dish that is guaranteed to impress any guest!

If you haven’t seen Mark Bittman’s column in the NY Times, check it out! He takes wonderful ingredients and turns them into a fabulous meal that doesn’t take much time at all. Trust me, his recipes won’t disappoint you. Try some of his recipes and let me know which ones are your favorites—I’d love to blog about them! But until next time, keep eating!

Carbo-Loading Lovin’

With classes almost over, finals coming up, and graduation just around the corner, I decided to treat myself tonight–with a Mediterranean pasta dish. When you put garlic, artichokes, pasta, feta, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and zucchini together you get something pretty close to heaven.

I get most of my inspiration from Pinterest these days, so naturally that’s where I found this recipe. I was led to this wonderful blog. The recipe was titled “Skinny Mediterranean Pasta.” Now normally I prefer recipes with tons of fat, but with my sorority formal tomorrow I didn’t want to take any chances. While there is skinny in the name, you wouldn’t know it! It was simply delicious.

Image

I’m a huge believer of good food that’s quick and easy–and this fit the bill. Boil some water for the pasta (you can choose any type of pasta you like!), then saute artichokes, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, and garlic–I also added sliced olives and roasted red pepper–and cook those until tender. Then add balsamic vinegar and voila! toss it all together and serve with crumbled feta for that added touch. (That was a quick version of the recipe but here is the real one). I made a huge pan and almost ate the whole thing.

I should treat myself to a leisurely, homecooked meal more often–cooking can be such a stress reliever. This recipe would be awesome chilled as well (maybe a lunch on a hot summer day??) If you love pasta like I do, check this recipe out. But until next time, keep eating!