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Greek Pastitsio Casserole

Greek Pastitsio Casserole

Greek Pastitsio Casserole

Apparently I am on a Greek kick lately.  Gyros on Friday and this pasta dish today.  I hope that you don’t mind.  Maybe I will have to make some kind of hummus this week to keep the string going…probably not going to happen, but maybe.  I do have a can of chickpeas in my pantry.  I have had it on my to do list forever, to try roasting them as a snack.  Need to get my butt in gear and try that.

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Speedy Sauteed Shrimp & Pasta

Speedy Shrimp Pasta

 

Speedy Shrimp Pasta

Everyone is busy on weeknights, right?  We all need a few go to recipes to get dinner on the table quickly, and that the whole family will enjoy.  For me chicken and shrimp are two proteins that 9 times out of 10 everyone will eat.  It amazes me how quickly my 7 year old will eat shrimp, he can’t get enough!  Shrimp has next to no calories, and is really good for you.  So I know I am serving my family something that is good for them.

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Linguini with Beef Ragu Sauce

Meat Ragu 3

Today I am excited to bring you an authentic Italian recipe.  Ginny from Cooking with Chopin, Living with Elmo contacted me about participating in a blogging book tour for a new cookbook called “A Family Farm in Tuscany” I love Italy (even though I have never been), so I was excited to see what this book was all about.

This is not just your ordinary cookbook.  It is full of all sorts of family recipes straight from Sarah Fioroni, and her family.  But is also full of so many wonderful stories, and background about life on their farm, and life in Italy.  You get a true sense of how important food and family is to them.  Plus there is a lot of talk about wine, which is never bad.

I picked your basic meat sauce to make first.  I have a meat sauce that I make, but I know it isn’t authentic, so I wanted to try this out.  It is wonderful.  The quality of tomatoes make a big difference in the sauce.  This is great to eat straight with pasta, or would be delicious in a lasagna.  I can’t wait to try out some of the other recipes in this book.  Fresh bread, fresh pasta, risotto, panna cotta…there really is a little bit of everything.

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Toasted Walnut Pasta for Breast Cancer

Toasted Walnut Pasta 4

Breast Cancer Awareness Week continues.  Today we are moving on to something healthy. Walnuts.  Did you know that walnuts contain the most antioxidants of all nuts.  Antioxidants help protect the body for the cellular damage that contributes to breast cancer, other cancers, and heart disease.  Walnuts are also the richest in omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight inflammation.  Plus they are a great way to get healthy unsaturated fats, which are usually found in fish.

I thought this pasta was perfect to highlight the walnuts, and get a healthy meal.  It is meat free, but still filling from the nuts.  You could use any veggies here.  Saute them in heart healthy olive oil, and serve over whole grain pasta.  A little bit of arugula mixed in would be wonderful.  Arugula is a rich source of certain phytochemicals that have been shown to fight cancer-causing elements in the body. Arugula is also a great source of folic acid and Vitamins A, C and K. It is one of the best vegetable sources of Vitamin K, which provides a boost for bone and brain health. So this really could be a powerhouse of a meal.

I made this for lunch one day, and I loved it.  I am honestly not a huge fan of walnuts, but sauteed in the olive oil, with the pasta, and the zucchini it was just perfect.  A little crunch, and little chewy, salty, savory, and just good!  I think even my meat loving husband would be a fan of this one.   As soon as I get more walnuts, I will be making it for him.

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Jalapeno & Bacon Mac n’ Cheese #SundaySupper

Jalapeno & Bacon Mac n' Cheese 3

This is the time of year for comfort food.  As soon as the weather turns cooler, we all start craving those warm comfort foods.  Today for #SundaySupper Isabel, of Family Foodie is hosting this great “Comfort Food with Lee Woodruff” event.  This is sure to be a fun event.  Not only do you walk away with 50+ comfort food recipes, but Lee Woodruff herself is joining us for the Twitter Chat this evening.  Come join in the fun, and you will have a chance to win 1 of 5 signed copies of her new book, Those We Love Most.

I asked my husband for help with this weeks theme.  He came up with a few ideas, but I thought his Jalapeno Mac n’ cheese was the best.  I did add some bacon to make it even better.  I seeded the jalapenos so it wouldn’t be too spicy, but if you want some serious heat; leave the seeds in.  My husband loves things spicy, so I probably should have left more of the seeds in, but I needed to be able to eat it too :)

Now, I know mac n’ cheese is traditionally a very high calorie meal.  This is by no means a light version, and could be lightened up more, I am sure.  I did try to make it a little more healthy.  I reduced the amount of butter from some other recipes I saw.  I used skim milk, and in place of the cream I used half and half.  Finally, I found a reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese by Cabot that I used.  It was still creamy, and cheesy, and comforting, so I don’t think any calories were missed.  Plus, if you use whole wheat pasta (or a brand made with veggies like I did), you are upping the fiber and protein.

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Balsamic Pasta with Chicken Sausage & Veggies

Balsamic Pasta with Sausage and Veggies 4_labeled

Do you ever see recipes, and immediately make them?  Sometimes I come across a  recipe that is so perfect, I have to make it right away.  This was one of those.  Cassie made a version of this pasta, and I knew we would love it.  My husband loves just about anything with balsamic vinegar, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought about doing this yet.

My husband isn’t all about lots of veggies and no meat, so I had to switch it up a little.  I used some spinach & artichoke chicken sausage I had in the freezer, and just a few veggies.  This was amazing.  Balsamic vinaigrette is one of my favorite dressings, so adding it to pasta was only natural.  The chicken sausage makes it a heartier meal, but still good for you.

I have made it a couple times already, and I know it will be a staple in our house.  You could switch up the veggies to just about anything you have on hand, or what is in season at the time.  Leave out the meat, and this would be a great cold pasta salad.  I served with a little grated Parmesan cheese, but Cassie used goat cheese.  So feel free to switch it up!

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Spaghetti with Kale & Sausage #SundaySupper

Spaghetti with Kale and Sausage 3_

Who doesn’t love it when dinner comes together with just a few ingredients?  For me that usually means less dishes, less clean up, and dinner is on the table quickly.  All good things.  This week that is the theme for #SundaySupper. Dinners, breakfasts, desserts, appetizers and more, all of them with 5 ingredients (water, salt and pepper don’t count) or less.

I made this quick and easy pasta dish, that is full of lots of flavor.  This was my first attempt with kale, and I was a little nervous.  But it worked perfectly with the pasta and sausage.  I know I will be buying kale again and trying it in more recipes.  I used hot Italian sausage, so it would have a little kick, without added ingredients.  Italian sausage, or any sausage really, is great because it has lots of seasonings already in there.  So it cuts down on what you have to add to the dish.

We eat a lot of pasta here.  This is a great one now that the temperatures are starting to cool down at night.  Creamy, spicy, and just a comforting dinner.  If you can’t find kale, I think that spinach would hold up well in here as well.  I don’t have much experience with dark greens, so maybe another green would work well too.  Try it, and let me know!

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Szechuan Chicken and Noodles

Szechuan Chicken and Noodles

I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for new ideas for dinner.  We eat a lot of chicken, but I try to change it up as much as possible.  Stir fries are an easy way to do that, but even that can get a little old sometimes.  Plus I like it to be good for you, so sometimes that can be limiting.  Not too much cream, or butter, or cheese  – you know the good stuff :)   I gotta save my calories for dessert!

As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it.  It was so colorful, full of veggies, and lots of flavor.  And….it is good for you!  It took awhile before I finally got around to making it, but it was worth the wait.  It is a simple, quick, weeknight meal that you can throw together in under 30 minutes.

I used rice noodles that you would make Pad Thai with, because that is what I had.  But really any noodle would work here, vermicelli, spaghetti, lo mein, whatever!  My husband liked to drizzle some hoisin sauce on his.  I tried that with the leftovers, and it really was a nice addition.

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Homemade Pasta and Mother’s Day

bread

homemade pasta

I spent the day yesterday at the zoo with a bunch of first graders.  It was a little crazy at times, but all in all, it was fun.  Luckily, I didn’t have to drive the 60 minutes there and back on the bus, or I might think differently :)

As I said yesterday, I wanted to share my Mother’s Day with you.  I said all along, I didn’t need presents.  What I wanted was to not have to cook and clean all day.  Well my husband went above and beyond with my wish.  On Saturday, he got in the kitchen and started working on some bread.  He decided to go all out and try a Peter Reinhart recipe that involved a starter.


On Mother’s Day, I got to sleep in!!!  My 7 year old is an earlier riser, so sleeping in hasn’t really happened since he was born.  Then they served me breakfast which was homemade waffles topped with homemade strawberry sauce.


After breakfast I got to open my son’s present, which was a ring they had made at school.  He was so proud, and did a great job making it.  My husband gave me Avocado Oil, which I am super excited to try out!  Then we went mini golfing, played arcade games, and rode go-karts.  My 7 year old planned this outing, and it was lots of fun.  For lunch my husband grilled us turkey brats!


After a relaxing afternoon at home the whole family made homemade pasta together.  It was much easier than I thought it would be, and it was fun to have everyone in the kitchen helping.  The dinner was amazing, and the pasta went perfectly with the homemade bread my husband made.


We went for a walk in the gorgeous weather after dinner.  And after my son was asleep, we splurged and had a bowl of ice cream :)   It was an amazing day, and I am so thankful to have these guys in my life.

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Greek Pasta Salad

greek pasta thumb

greek pasta salad

I think I am finally feeling caught up after my busy weekend.  I have groceries in the house, laundry is caught up (well, I could do another load now), the floor is vacuumed, and my kitchen is in good shape.  We have had doctors appointments this week, football practice, and a big report my 1st grader has been working on.  Needless to say, I am ready for the weekend!  Too bad it is only Thursday :(

Remember  awhile ago when I made that Greek Vinaigrette dressing?  This is one of the things I did with it.  It was so good.  I marinated the chicken in some of the dressing, and then I grilled it.  Then I used the vinaigrette again as the dressing for the pasta salad.  I ate this hot and the leftovers cold, it was great both ways.  It was supposed to have black olives in it.  I even had them out on the counter, but forgot to put them in!  I do not like Feta, but if you do, it would be a great addition and make this even more Greek. As for the avocados….I have no idea if they are Greek.  I just like them, so I put them in.

This would be a great side dish for your summer barbeque or to bring to a pot luck.  I would just leave out the meat, and it would be equally delicious!

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