Tag Archives: dinner

Baked Spicy Macaroni

12 Aug

I don’t know about anyone else, but when Sunday rolls around, I’m rarely prepared with a dinner dish in mind for that night. I’m still in weekend mode – and weekend mode does not include stops to the grocery store and slaving in the kitchen, let alone thinking about the upcoming week.

However, as my gram would say, sometimes you got to put on your big girl pants and deal with it (life? grocery store? not watching another Law and Order rerun?). So in my search for a good start to our dinner schedule, I found a pasta casserole dish from Giada DeLaurentiis. The dish seemed easy enough and tasty to boot. Annnnd, we weren’t disappointed. The meal was excellent and this dish will be making a regular rotation in our meals.

This dish makes enough for two meals – so be sure to freeze the leftovers for another night.

Baked Spicy Macaroni, c/o Giada Delaurentiis


1 lb elbow macaroni (I used whole wheat)
3 TBSP olive oil
1/2 lb assorted mushrooms, quartered
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, with juice
1 10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 C bread crumbs
1/2 C & 1/3 C grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 C & 1/3 C grated Romano cheese2 TBSP butter, softened, plus 2 TBSP cold butter (cut into pieces)
12 oz mozzarella cheese, cubed
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until tender, but still firm (about 8-10 minutes). Remove from heat and drain.

In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, mushrooms and onion. Cook until mushrooms are tender and onions are translucent, about 7 minutes. Add tomatoes, spinach and red pepper flakes and cook for another 5 minutes.


In a small bowl, mix bread crumbs and 1/2 C each of Parmesan and Romano cheeses.

Take 2 TBSP of softened butter and spread on bottom of casserole dish. Sprinkle half of bread crumb/cheese mixture over butter.

Meanwhile, stir pasta, vegetable mix, nutmeg, and mozzarella cheese together. Add salt and pepper to taste.* Spoon into casserole dish and sprinkle remaining bread crumb/cheese mixture. Add remaining butter to top of dish.


Bake for 35-40 minutes. Serve.


*I added some milk to the dish so there would be moisture in it as it baked.


Asian Noodle Soup

13 Feb

Keeping with my soup kick this winter, I found this recipe in the latest edition of Rachael Ray Magazine. Her recipes aren’t half bad when you get to read them in silence, as opposed to listening to her obnoxious giggle on TV chattering about EVOO and GB and whatever other alphabet soup garbage she’s into.

The recipe reminds me of a pho soup. The next time I make it, I plan on adding some mint, peppers, bean sprouts, fresh spinach and hot sauce to this recipe for a more authentic pho experience.

Just a head’s up that I made some ingredient modifications from the original recipe. I added a soy sauce and garlic salt to give the broth and soup more flavor. Yeah, yeah. It’s a sodium nightmare. Deal with it. I was also liberal with the red curry paste. Lastly, I doubled the chicken, bell peppers and noodles in the recipe to make the soup heartier. The whole kit-n-kaboodle also makes for great leftovers.


Asian Noodle Soup, c/o Rachael Ray Magazine (Jan/Feb 2013)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (you can use bone-in chicken)
6 C chicken broth
2 C water
2 tsp red curry paste
1 tsp garlic salt
3 TBSP soy sauce
2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch of cilantro
salt and pepper
1 lime, cut into wedges for serving
10 oz rice noodles


Over medium-high heat, combine your broth and water. Slice the chicken breasts in half (if they are boneless) and cook with broth until cooked through. About 20-30 minutes. Remove chicken and once it cools, shred it with your fork.

Meanwhile, add the curry paste, garlic salt, soy sauce, salt and pepper to the broth. Add bell pepper and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. Add noodles and cook according to package. Mix chicken back in and serve with cilantro and lime.


Cream of Broccoli and Spinach Soup

22 Jan

With the cooler temperatures last week (not so much this week), I have been drawn to soups. They are easy, satisfying and keep you warm as the night sets in.

I wanted to try this soup, from Rachael Ray’s most recent magazine issue, because I found myself saddled with two large heads of broccoli from our CSA box.

Head’s up for those who made the lentil soup before this soup – I can almost guarantee that your significant other will state “It’s ok… but not as good as the lentil soup.” Take the comment in stride – this soup can seem frou-frou, given that it’s chalk full of vegetables, and not lentils and sausage. Also note, a retort of “Yes, but it’s fat free” won’t necessarily go over well, given your audience.

Broccoli and Spinach Pureed Soup, c/o Rachael Ray Magazine


1 head of broccoli, chopped into one inch pieces
5 oz frozen spinach, defrosted
7 C chicken broth (exchange vegetable broth here for a vegetarian option)
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
7 scallions, sliced (I added a leek to the mix as well)
1 large baking potato, peeled and diced into 1 inch chunks
8 oz plain Greek yogurt, divided (I used fat-free yogurt)
A heavy dash of Thyme (fresh chopped or dry)
Salt & pepper


In a large pot, combine broccoli, potato, garlic, broth, 2/3 of the scallions, leek, Thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 30-35 minutes, until broccoli and potato are cooked through.


Add spinach and mix. In batches, puree the soup using a food processor or a blender.

Add pureed soup back to pot, stir in 2/3 of the yogurt. Heat over low to warm soup back up.

In a separate bowl, mix remaining yogurt with remaining scallions and a dash of Thyme. When serving, add this yogurt mix to the top of the soup.


Leek and Cauliflower Quiche

9 Jan

As most of you know, we receive a bimonthly CSA package full of more fruits and vegetables than we know what to do with.

This past week, we received a bounty of goodies, including lettuce, avocados, oranges, cauliflower, leeks, broccoli, and more. 

When it comes to using up all this produce, if I can find a recipe that has multiple ingredients from the CSA package, I’m on cloud nine. Luckily, a few months ago I tore a quiche recipe out of an issue of Rachael Ray Magazine – a recipe that used both cauliflower and leeks. I thought “what better time to give it a try?” and the meal turned out excellent. Plus the leftovers are great for breakfast and lunch!


Cauliflower, Onion and Leek Quiche, c/o Rachael Ray Magazine


1 frozen pie crust, defrosted1/2 C shredded cheese (I used aged white cheddar)
1 tsp olive oil
1 C thinly sliced onions
3/4 C thinly sliced leeks
2 C coarsely chopped cauliflower
3/4 C chicken broth
1/2 C egg whites
3 eggs
salt & pepper

* I did modify the recipe and included whole eggs, instead of a full cup of egg whites.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place rack at bottom of oven. Roll crust out onto a pie dish and poke holes in crust to keep from rising. Bake crust for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and add 1/4 C of the cheese to pie crust. Bake for another 3 minutes. Remove from oven.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large pan over medium heat. Cook leeks and onions for about 3 minutes, adding salt and pepper as they cook. Add cauliflower and chicken broth and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When finished, allow to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs and egg whites. Add remaining cheese and a dash of salt and pepper.

Mix cauliflower, leeks and onion with eggs and cheese. Pour into pie dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the center is set. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Soup

7 Dec

As the autumn season sets in, I find myself going back to my Crock-Pot for warm and cozy meals. This year I cracked open my “official” Crock-Pot Gourmet Cookbook and found a pureed sweet potato and butternut squash soup. Since then I have made it several times – the recipe is definitely a staple of our weeknight dinners at home.

A disclaimer – as you read this and view the pictures, you’ll noticed I pureed our soup using my KitchenAid mixer. Why? It’s possible that a certain someone *ahem* might have broke the blender the last time she made this soup, and she hasn’t bothered to replace said blender.

Creamy Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Soup, c/o Crock-Pot



1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 lb butternut squash, peeled and diced (you can sometimes find this squash already peeled and diced at the store)

1/2 C chopped onion
1 can chicken broth, divided
1/2 C butter, diced
1 can coconut milk
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp crushed or ground red pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Bread, green onions, Parmesan cheese – as toppers or to dip


Combine potatoes, squash, 1/2 can of broth, onion and butter into Crock-Pot.


Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.


Puree cooked mixture in blender in 1 cup increments. Return pureed soup back to Crock-Pot. Add remaining broth, coconut milk, cumin, red pepper, salt and pepper.


Mix together and recover for about 5 minutes to allow soup to heat through.

Serve with cheese or green onions on top, and/or bread on the side.


Stuffed Bell Peppers

30 Nov

The other week we received yet another CSA package, full of fresh local produce. Included in the mix were two huge bell peppers. Not sure what I wanted to do with them, I eventually opted for a traditional route and got to work on making stuffed bell peppers.

I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of stuffed bell peppers. I don’t like anything overly tomato-y, and have found most other recipes have lacked flavor.

However, this one I found ended up being simple and excellent.

Mr. John’s Meat Stuff Bell Peppers


6 green bell peppers, tops cut away and seeds removed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell peppers
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 cups cooked long or medium-grain white rice
8 ounces tomato sauce


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

(note – online they recommend parboiling the bell peppers. I opted to not do this, and ended up with firmed pepper that had a bit of crunch when we ate them. I prefer the firmer texture).

In a large saute pan or skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and chopped bell peppers and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the beef, pork, garlic, parsley, salt, black pepper, and pepper flakes. Cook until the meat is browned, stirring with a heavy wooden spoon to break up the lumps, about 6 minutes. Add the rice and tomato sauce and stir well. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, to taste.

Pour enough water into a baking dish to just cover the bottom, about 1/8-inch deep. Stuff the bell peppers with the rice mixture and place in the baking dish. Bake until the peppers are very tender and the filling is heated through, 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.


It’s A-Me! A-Marinara Sauce!

6 Sep

Before we start with this post. I want to warn you.

If you are ok with never ever wanting to buy a another jar of Prego (I think their ingredients are Ketchup, Sugar, Molasses, and Diabetes) or even a higher-end variety of sauce, because they all now taste like red-tinted glue, then this is the pasta sauce for you.

I first made this sauce a few years ago, from Giada deLaurentis’s first cookbook.

Full of chopped celery, carrots and onion, seasoned with salt, pepper and bay leaves, this recipe is simple, satisfying, and completely knock-your-socks off amazing.

Admittedly, I’ll eat this sauce by the spoonful without any starchy accompaniments.

Without further ado, let’s amaka soma a-marinana!

Marinara Sauce, c/o Giada deLaurentis


2 cans (32 oz each) crushed tomatoes

1/2 C olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped (I used large green onions as that is what I had on hand. Don’t worry, they were washed and stripped of their outer layer before used!)

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 bay leaf (I always do 2 bay leaves – I love the flavor)

Salt & Pepper


Heat oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan. Add onions and saute until glossy, about 3-5 minutes.

Add celery and carrots and saute for another 5 minutes.

Pour in tomatoes, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 60 minutes.

Serve right away or store in the freezer for future use. This recipe makes about 8 hearty servings, so there is plenty to use now as well as save for later.

Zesty Fusilli and Shrimp

29 Jun

Every week I cruise through my Real Simple cookbooks, looking for fun, easy and gourmet style dinners for Steve and I.

I came across this one dish – a light creamy shrimp pasta dish, with the zest of lemon. I’ve made pasta dishes with lemon in the past, with mixed results, but was intrigued. Very rarely does Real Simple lead me astray, and this meal was no different.

Whip this up, sit outside on a summer evening with a glass of white (I mean, you have to open a bottle for the recipe anyway!) and enjoy a casual-at-home summer date night.

Zesty Fusilli and Shrimp dinner


3/4 LB Fusilli (if you don’t have that, any shorter pasta will do)

2 TBSP Butter

2 Cloves of garlic

2 Leeks (white and light green parts only)

1/2 C white wine

1 C broccolini (this wasn’t in the original recipe, but I like adding greens where I can to my meals)

Kosher salt and black pepper

1 LB peeled and deveined medium shrimp

Zest of 1 lemon

3/4 C non-fat Half and Half (original recipe calls for heavy cream, but I swapped it out for something more waist-friendly)

10 oz baby spinach


Cook pasta as stated on package directions.

Steam your broccolini for 3-4 minutes.

While your water is boiling and pasta is cooking, heat up the butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add leeks, broccolini, pressed garlic, salt and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until vegetables are cooked through.

Add wine and cook until most of it has evaporated.

Toss in the shrimp and lemon zest, cook until heated through. If you are using raw shrimp, cook for 4-5 minutes or until shrimp are opaque.

Add your half and half to the pot holding your cooked and drained pasta, and cook over medium heat until cream is thickened. Add your shrimp and lemon mixture to the pasta, then stir in spinach leaves.


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