Here's My Answer

Tag Archives: pasta

It’s Sunday!  And this is the perfect meal for a Sunday night!  However, it’s 3:20 and I am just now starting this, so by the time I finish it and post it, it’ll be too late to plan to make tonight.  So maybe you can make this next Sunday… or just any other day, it doesn’t have to be Sunday.

Sometimes I get tired of jarred spaghetti sauce.  I’ve managed to find a couple that we really like and tend to stick to, but every once and awhile we’ll live on the wild side and get something different.  And even less frequently, I’ll make it at home.  Spaghetti used to be one of our go-to meals, especially in the winter, but we haven’t been eating it quite as much (probably because it’s the last thing I want to eat when it’s 104 outside) because we have been trying not to eat much meat, especially red meat.  But, I couldn’t remember the last time we ate spaghetti, so I decided it was time.

The spaghetti sauce I make is essentially the same sauce I make for both lasagna and mostaccioli, only I don’t add any water.  I think it’s a really delicious sauce and luckily, it doesn’t require a whole lot of extra work!

All you need is a jar each of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, a couple spoonfuls of tomato paste,  some chopped onion, a little seasoning and of course, meat and pasta!

You start by sauteing the onion and then adding the meat to brown.  Mix in the tomato paste (I always think it’s easier to mix it in before adding the sauce and diced tomatoes) and then add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.  Mix that all together and sprinkle in your seasonings and then you let your sauce simmer for about 5-10 minutes.  Like I said, it’s really not that hard!

I love this sauce on spaghetti.  I think it’s great by itself like that.  As I said before though, this is the sauce I use in my lasagna and mostaccioli.  If you do that, you just need to add about 1 can’s worth of water so the pasta has something to soak up.  For lasagna, you simply layer sauce, lasagna noodles, ricotta and mozzarella.  For mostaccioli, it’s even easier!  You layer sauce, pasta and mozzarella!  I love all three dishes using this sauce.  It’s very flavorful and it’s something that I like to make when I’m really in the mood for cooking, but don’t want to get too crazy!

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
Makes 4-6 servings (4 big servings or 6 small ones)

1- 14.5oz can of tomato sauce
1- 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes
2-3 tablespoons of tomato paste
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1 pound ground beef
Garlic powder and Italian seasonings to taste (I did about 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning… I think.  You can also use a couple fresh garlic cloves, finely chopped)
Enough pasta for however many people you are serving.  I’m very bad at figuring out how much to make, so you can figure this out on your own!

Cook pasta according to directions on package.  Drain and set aside.

In a large, deep skillet, saute the onions in  the olive oil.  Cook on medium heat until onions start to get transparent.  If you are using fresh garlic, add it at this time and saute for only an extra minute.  Add the ground beef and cook until it is no longer pink.  Add the tomato paste and mix until pretty well combined.  The mixture will be gloppy, but it’s ok because… next you add the tomato sauce!  I like to add it slowly so I can get it mixed pretty evenly.  Once that is thoroughly mixed together, add the diced tomatoes.  Stir a little bit more and sprinkle in your seasonings.  Carefully stir everything and let it simmer on low-medium heat for 5-10 minutes.  Check your seasonings, add salt and pepper if needed.  Simmer for another minute.  Serve over pasta and, of course, with garlic bread!

Well, it’s Sunday night and I’m pretty much flat out of brain power.  I cannot for the life of me think of what we should eat for dinner this week, so instead of researching meal ideas, I’m just going to write about a meal I made earlier in the week.  Do you ever get in those moods where nothing sounds good?  Except for maybe some nacho cheese and Wholly Guacamole… and lobster mashed potatoes from that really expensive restaurant you went to 3 years ago… and anything from Thanksgiving dinner… or that filet crusted with peppercorns from your anniversary dinner at another really expensive restaurant 2 years ago….

I think I’ll stop now.

Anyway, I think we actually ate this meal last week.  To be honest, with as much as we have had going on, all the days seem to blend right together.  Most of my time has been spent working from 4am-12pm,  running errands, cleaning the house, cleaning out my closet, taking stuff to Goodwill, making lists of stuff I need for vacation, reorganizing all the stuff on our kitchen counters, taking naps (because anyone who works that early earns a nap), and then just doing random things that somehow take so much more time than you think they should… anyway, enough of the pity party.

I had gotten the idea for this meal from Whole Foods’ website again, however, their recipe was much more involved.  I wanted to change it into something simple and quick and that required only a few ingredients rather than a list of 15.  It turned out super well, minus the fact that I got a little carried away with the garlic.  I love meals like this that are easy and can be thrown together at the last minute and use ingredients that most people already have at home.

It only requires some spinach pasta (you could substitute regular pasta, but I think the spinach is best for this dish), fresh spinach, canned artichokes, some olive oil and a clove of garlic.  Easy enough!  It takes hardly anytime to cook too because all you are doing is cooking the pasta (which spinach pasta takes only a couple minutes to cook) and essentially warming up the veggies in a pan.  There are a few dishes involved, but if you convince your hubby to do them, you won’t have to worry about how many dishes there are.

This is a great, fresh, summery meal that anyone can make in a jiffy (haven’t used that phrase in a good 6 years).  You only need about 20 minutes start to finish and that includes chopping the garlic and cleaning the spinach.  It’s a light meal but you still leave the table feeling satisfied.  This could make an excellent side dish to a piece of grilled salmon or chicken, but I think it was great as a meatless main dish!

Fresh Spinach and Artichoke Pasta
Makes about 4 servings, depending on how much pasta you use

1 can of quartered artichoke hearts, drained
Couple handfuls of fresh spinach leaves, rinsed and big stems removed
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped (I used 2 bigger ones and it was just too much for me)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
A few handfuls of spinach pasta (I have no clue how much I used as I just dumped whatever was left in the package, just make enough for whoever is eating it and then leftovers)

Cook pasta according to package.  Drain and set aside when fully cooked.

In a large saucepan or deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic.  Cook for a couple minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.  Add the artichokes and saute for a few minutes.  Add the spinach leaves and toss only for a minute, then stir in the pasta.  Serve and enjoy!

I’m an Alfredo sauce lover.  I have used the same sauce recipe forever that came from my mom.  It’s dependable and always delicious.  However, last week, when I decided I wanted to make Alfredo sauce, I had waited till the last minute to find the recipe, only to realize I didn’t have it written down.  Crap.  It was right around dinner time and I didn’t want to bother my parents because they were probably eating, so I jumped on the internet and searched “Alfredo Sauce” in all of the food blogs I follow.  I stumbled upon this recipe that came from Annie’s Eats.  And… woah… was it good!

I did make some changes because I didn’t want to use all heavy cream like the recipe calls for.  I can’t justify being that unhealthy when we are pairing it with spinach pasta and plain grilled chicken.  It was too much for me to bear.  I hate eating meals that lead me to feel guilty for at least the rest of the night, if not the whole next day.  So I used Half & Half and skim milk!  And threw in a little flour to help thicken it.  And it worked!!  It was super creamy, super delicious and super NOT horribly fattening!!  I was so excited!

I love Alfredo sauce because it’s such a simple sauce that you can pair it with a lot of different things!  For instance- spinach pasta!  I love spinach pasta and we were lucky to have gotten this giant bag from my mom for a random treat that she does quite frequently. My new favorite thing is getting fresh pasta from the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings, and I think any one of the pastas would go great with this Alfredo sauce.  You don’t have to be boring and use just plain pasta!  I swear!

Anyway… this is, as I always say, a fantastic, quick meal.  You could make the pasta and sauce as a side dish to any meat, but I liked throwing the grilled chicken on top.  Let’s face it, anything covered in this Alfredo sauce will be wonderful.  It’s a really quick sauce to make too.  I actually finished it way before the chicken was done grilling, that’s how quick it is!  Anyway, you could make this for a Meatless Monday (without the chicken of course), that could be good too!  This is a great meal to add any of the meat of veggies you like to make it your own!

Spinach Fettuccine Alfredo with Grilled Chicken
Adapted with healthier changes from Annie’s Eats.
Makes about 4 servings if you are like me and don’t cook enough pasta.

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons butter
1-2 tablespoons flour
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 cup Half & Half
1/2 cup skim milk
1 1/2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to directions on the package, when done drain and set aside.  Grill the chicken while waiting.  Add any seasoning, salt, pepper and grill until cooked through.  When done, slice and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, making sure to not burn it!  Add the flour and whisk for a minute until you basically cook the flour flavor out of it.  Add the Half & Half and milk.  Simmer while stirring frequently to avoid burning the milk on the bottom of the pan.  Cook for about 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens.  Add the Parmesan cheese.  Mix until melted.  Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss.  Serve on a plate with the grilled chicken on top!


Uh…. woah.  Have you ever planned to make a meal and were excited about it but you were a little worried because it was … different?  Yea.  That’s how I felt about this.  However, my mind was totally blown by this meal.  For reals.  I couldn’t believe something could be THAT good.  It was so good that we ate a whole 9×13 pan of this stuff in about 2 1/2 days.

Yea.  That says something.

There’s a chance you are thinking “uhhh Mexican?…  Lasagna?…. I’m not so sure about that…”  And I can completely understand that.  But you will be amazed when you make this dish by how, uh, well, amazing it is.  It’s cheesy, beany, little bit spicy, mexicany and pasta-y.  Yep.  It’s awesome.

And believe it or not, it’s crazy easy to make.  All you have to do is chop up a couple veggies, throw them in a bowl with canned tomatoes, beans, enchilada sauce, corn and some seasoning and then assemble the lasagna!  There’s no cooking the sauce, no messy ricotta cheese and you use the no boil lasagna noodles so it’s even easierrr!!

Now, you could definitely add some meat to this dish, or some shredded chicken, but I thought it was so great without that!  I found the recipe from a blog I follow, but I made some changes.  Mostly, I added an extra can of beans, a green pepper and a jalapeno and some enchilada sauce.  I was really pleased with these changes.  I felt that they made sense and I’ll definitely make it the exact same way when I make this next (because I will make this again).  But like I said, you could brown up some meat or get a roasted chicken from the store and shred it and add it to the filling mixture.

…But then it wouldn’t count for Meatless Monday …. sooo…. do as you wish. 😀

Anyway, make this meal as soon as you possibly can.  I mean it.  It will literally be the only thing you want to eat for 5 days straight.  But then you’ll run out.  It’s ok though, you can always make more.

Mexican Lasagna
Adapted from A Couple Cooks with changes
Makes about 8 servings depending on size of your servings

About 9-12 “no boil” lasagna noodles (you might want more or less depending on how you assemble your lasagna)
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 green pepper, diced small
1 large jalapeno, diced small
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1- 28oz can of diced tomatoes
3 green onions, chopped
1 handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 can of enchilada sauce
8 oz shredded cheese (I used a mixture of Monterey Jack and Medium Cheddar)
Hot Sauce
Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Chop the green onions, green pepper, jalapeno and cilantro.  Toss into a large bowl.  Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, half the can of enchilada sauce, a few dashes of hot sauce and sprinkle in some of the garlic powder and oregano.  Mix all the ingredients together, add seasoning as needed along with the salt and pepper.

In the bottom of a 9″ x 13″, pour the rest of the enchilada sauce and spread around.  Add a couple spoonfuls of the filling mixture too and spread around.  Place 3-4 lasagna noodles down.  Cover the noodles with 1/3 of the filling mixture.  Cover with 1/3 of the shredded cheese.  Add the next layer of lasagna noodles and repeat the filling and cheese.  Add the last layer of lasagna noodles an then cover with filling and cheese.

Pop in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, covered with foil.  Remove the foil at the end of that 30 minutes and bake for another 5-7 minutes until the cheese starts to brown.

Serve and good grief… enjoy!

Hello strangers!

I would like to start off by saying the following 2 statements:

  1. It’s hard to write a blog post when you are busy watching a puppy’s every move.
  2. It’s also hard to write a blog post when you have no internet due to that puppy chewing on your internet cable out in the backyard.

Phew… Ok, I’m glad I got that off my chest.  I’ll just leave those 2 sentences be so you can sit and ponder them for awhile and think about what they truly mean.  I’ll give you a  hint: puppies are like babies, only worse (maybe, I don’t know yet).

On to the important stuff….  I have a whoping like 7 posts to catch up on and since I came home early from work today and I’m not working tomorrow so that I can mentally prepare myself for climbing through mud, jumping in dump trucks filled with ice, climbing wooden walls, running through mud, getting shocked by electrical wires and everything in between all of that…. I should be able to catch up on a few posts!  Woo hoo!

This was an incredibly easy meal.  And it was much better than I expected it to be.  I originally got the idea for it when I saw this recipe a few weeks ago.  But when it came down to it, it seemed FAR more complicated than it really needed to be.  So what did I do?  I used some of the same basic ingredients but simplified it by a TON.  You can thank me later.

Have I told you that we love artichokes?  I can never remember.  If I haven’t said that, well, then this is news to you.  If I have said that, well, then it’s old news and get over it.  Ok.  So we love artichokes.  And I’ve learned that artichokes go really well with pasta!  So when I found that recipe, I got really excited to try something new.  But like I said, it was just too complicated.  I wasn’t in the mood for cooking fresh artichokes, because quite frankly, they require a lot more work than opening up a can and draining it (sorry, but sometimes I get lazy).  I also can’t stand lemon in savory dishes.  Yuck.  If I eat anything lemon, it better be in a dessert or in my iced tea or water.  So before I even made it halfway through reading the recipe, I knew I wasn’t going to follow it.  Me version is so much simpler.  All it requires is pasta, canned artichokes, garlic, butter and white wine.  Yep!  It really doesn’t get easier than that.

(MMMmmm butter!!  Doesn’t butter just make everything a little bit better!?)

And like I said, it’s so delicious.  All the flavors really go together and compliment each other.  And the wine really brings it over the top.  I chose to use a Chardonnay, technically recipes say “white wine” but I get so irritated because there are a million white wines!  But I asked Brad what he thought would go best and he suggested Chardonnay.  I do think it went perfectly with the garlic and artichokes.

I’m not kidding, this meal is super quick and super easy and it will really surprise you because it is that good.  It’s perfect for a summer day when you don’t want to spend all evening cooking in the kitchen.  It’s also a perfect meal to enjoy sitting out on your porch sipping your wine next to your hubby.  Perrrrrfection!

Artichoke Pasta
Very loosely based on this Tasty Kitchen recipe
Makes 4 smaller servings

2 cans quartered artichoke hearts, drained
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter, separated
1/2 cup Chardonnay, maybe more if you’re feeling wild
1/2 pound pasta
Parsley for garnish

Cook pasta according to directions on package. Drain and set aside.

In a large saucepan, or a deep skillet, melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter.  Add the chopped garlic and saute for just a minute or two.  Be sure not to burn the garlic!  Add the white wine.  Let it simmer for a few minutes, then toss in the artichokes.  Stir and simmer for another couple minutes until the artichokes are hot.  Add the pasta, mixing everything together and then add the last 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter.  Allow that to melt, stir the dish and serve with chopped parsley!  Soo easy!!

Well, I’ve spent most of my week trying to NOT be sick.  Nothing is more stressful and upsetting than starting to have symptoms of being sick less than TWO WEEKS before TOUGH MUDDER.  I have been freaking out on the inside, while trying to hold it together on the outside.  I’ve been drinking more Kombucha than what is probably good for me, I’ve been gargling down Airborne like my life depends on it and I’ve been drinking more water than I think my bladder can handle.  Along with blowing my nose non-stop.

And after all of that… I have still manged to wake up this morning with green stuff coming out of my nose, achey joints and back and literally sounding like I’ve been smoking since I was a baby.  However… I am DETERMINED to power through this.  I’ve been training for months for the damn Tough Mudder and I’m not going to let some silly cold get in my way!

See?  I’ve gotten tougher since we started this whole training process!  But I wanted everyone to know that I was sick, so that’s mainly why I wrote about it.  I’ll be fine.  Once I get some proper (stupid) medicine in me, I’ll be good to go.  I have to be because I have some serious baking to do today that you’ll all learn about in about a week!  Hhmmmm

I promise, I didn’t just make this post to write about being sick.  I want to tell you about my first time making and eating Pasta Carbonara!  Yep!  Never made it, never had it!  I was skeptical of it, definitely had my doubts… but I am here to say that it turns out, pasta carbonara is pretty good!  The whole raw egg thing freaks me out.  No wait, it’s not raw, the egg is cooked by the heat of the pasta, but either way, I have been scared to try it due to that factor.

We went to the Zionsville Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning (we drug Cash along with us, he was quite a hit) and stocked up on fresh, homemade pasta and bacon straight from the farm.  I was hoping to find peas, but I didn’t want to have to mess with taking them out of their shell (plus we had a bag of frozen peas at home), so I didn’t get any of those and we already had a dozen brown eggs in our fridge.  So what I had hoped to be an all farmer’s market meal, turned into a half farmer’s market meal.  But that’s ok.  The important stuff came from the farmer’s market, so I was able to come to terms with it.

For those of you who don’t know what pasta carbonara is, allow me to enlighten you.  It’s pasta (wow!) with bacon and peas and then a cream sauce made of, well, cream and eggs.  But you don’t cook the sauce.  You simply pour it over the hot, cooked pasta and let that heat cook the eggs.  I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious it was.  It’s a very creamy pasta dish with wonderful saltiness from the bacon (don’t even bother adding any extra salt) and a teeny hit of sweet from the peas (I love peas).

Remember how in my welcome post I said there are some healthy recipes and some not so healthy recipes?  Weeeelllll…. this will be one of those not-so-healthy ones.  But it’s ok.  We’re all allowed to eat heavy cream and bacon every once and awhile.  But I did try to lighten this up by using half cream and half skim milk and it still turned out delicious.  I felt a little better after eating an entire plate of it, knowing that I only used half of the heavy cream.  Yea… I focus on the little things.

Anyway, go make this dish sometime.  It’s a really great pasta dish and even better with fresh pasta.  I can’t wait to go back to the market and buy all the different kinds they have!  Enjoy!

Pasta Carbonara
Makes about 4 servings
Adapted from Pioneer Woman

12 ounces pasta
8 pieces of bacon, chopped
1/2 of an onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 eggs
3/4 cups parmesan cheese, grated
3/4 cups heavy cream (to make it healthy, do half of that cream, half of that milk)
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup peas

Fry up the bacon in a skillet until crispy.  Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel lined plate.  Pour out all of the bacon grease, but don’t wipe out the pan.  Return the skillet to the stove and reheat.  Add the garlic and onion and saute until golden brown.

Cook your pasta according to the directions.

In a bowl, mix together the eggs, heavy cream (and hopefully milk), parmesan and salt and pepper.

When the pasta is finished, drain (but reserve about 1 cup of pasta water, just in case) and pour into a bowl.  Slowly add the egg mixture while constantly mixing (you need to do this otherwise the heat of the pasta might scramble the eggs).  Sauce should be thick and coat the pasta, but if you want it a little thinner, add a little bit of pasta water at a time.

Stir in the cooked bacon, peas and cooked garlic and onion and you are done!!  Serve immediately… however I did find that it’s pretty good the next day!

Don’t panic if you don’t know what this is.  I’m going to be honest, when I first stumbled upon this recipe in a Food Network Magazine a few months ago, I was clueless.  I had never heard of it before, but when I read through the list of ingredients, I knew it was up our alley.  It’s a Mexican dish with pasta.  Brad actually described it chili with spaghetti in it.  Bingo.  It’s a lot like chili with spaghetti in it.

The chili aspect comes from the canned tomatoes (fire roasted… mmm), onion, green pepper, jalapeno, kidney beans, and the chili powder and cumin.  Mix all that up, add some chicken broth, and cilantro and then throw in some spaghetti and you have…. Sopa Seca!

This is a very satisfying meal, the beans and the pasta really fill you up.  No, seriously, they really do fill you up.  I got excited and gave myself a huge bowlful and couldn’t even finish it!

You could make this meal on a weeknight for sure.  It’s quick and easy.  Not a whole lot of work involved and it definitely doesn’t take long to cook.  I sort of changed up some of the recipe.  The grocery store was out of poblano peppers (yea, how does that happen?) so I had to improvise with a green pepper and 2 jalapenos.  Umm let’s see, I also only used half an onion.  A whole onion, to me, is way too much.  Also, the original recipe calls for cheese.  We skip this.  I think this dish is better without the cheese, but that’s just me.  You can go to the website (I’ll give the link below) and compare if you want, but I, obviously, like the changes that I have made!

Sopa Seca
Adapted from Food Network Magazine
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeds removed and chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
8 oz (half a package) whole-wheat spaghetti, broken into thirds (I used just regular because it was leftover from the Naked Tomato Sauce)
1- 14oz can of fire roasted tomatoes
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1- 14 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 big handful of cilantro, stems removed and coarsely chopped

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Toss in the onion and peppers and cook for a few minutes until slightly soft.  Add the chili powder, cumin and salt.  Cook for another couple minutes.  Add the uncooked spaghetti and try to toss (this is much more difficult than you would think).  Try to let the pasta toast for a few minutes in the pan, but don’t worry if this doesn’t really work.  I never has for me.

Add the tomatoes and simmer until the liquid is gone.  Then add the chicken broth, bring heat to high and let boil.  Once it boils, reduce heat to medium low and simmer until the pasta is fully cooked (about 6 minutes).  Add the beans and most of the cilantro and simmer for another minute or two until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Divide among bowls and top with a few sprinklings of cilantro.

%d bloggers like this: