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I made up this pasta recipe when I was in college and wanted to use pantry items I already had around.  I’ve been making it for years and I thought it was too boring to post until a friend asked for the recipe recently and his family gave it rave reviews.  It can be made very simply with dry basil and parmesan from the green container, or prettied up with fresh basil and fancy grated parmesan.  I made it the original way most recently and added some beautiful sautéed shrimp.  Other fantastic additions are chopped kalamata olives and sun-dried tomatoes.  You could even toss some spinach with the hot pasta to make it a complete meal.  There is a lot of garlic, so be prepared.

Mary Anne Pasta

  • 1 – 13 oz package spaghetti, thin spaghetti, or angel hair pasta (I used whole grain, but the flavor is better with regular pasta)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons dried basil or about 1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or a dash if serving kiddies
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions, don’t forget to add salt to the cooking water.  While pasta is cooking, in a glass measuring cup, combine the olive oil, garlic, basil, pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.  When the pasta is almost done microwave the olive oil mixture for 30 to 45 seconds.  Watch it closely, it needs to bubble and sizzle for a few seconds, but no longer because it will scorch.  You should be able to smell the garlic before you open the door.  Drain the pasta when done and return to empty cooking pot.  Pour the olive oil mixture over the pasta and toss well.  Add the cheese and toss until combined.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

For sautéed shrimp:  Peel and devein shrimp (about 1 lb).  Toss clean shrimp in a bowl with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 to 1 ½ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning.  In a non-stick pan over medium to medium high heat melt 2 tablespoons butter.  Add the shrimp and saute for about 2 – 3 minutes per side until opaque.  Be careful not  to over cook the shrimp or they will get tough.  Serve with pasta.

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Thank you for a great year!  M.A. Eats had a fantastic first year.  Thank you for reading and commenting.  My most popular post was Vegan Chocolate Cake, followed by Macaroni and Cheese, then Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.  I’m reposting the Chocolate Cake recipe below with instructions for making wonderful cupcakes.  I hope you all had a wonderful 2010 and best wishes for the New Year!

Simple and Delicious Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1  teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup olive oil (or canola or vegetable oil work too)
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place cupcake papers in two standard muffin pans.  Spray the surface of the pan with cooking spray so that the cupcake tops do not stick to pan.  In a large bowl stir together dry ingredients, sugar, flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa.  Add water, olive oil, vinegar and vanilla.  Beat by hand with a fork until combined.  Batter should have a uniform appearance with no lumps.  Fill each cupcake paper 3/4 full.  Bake in middle rack of oven for 20 – 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.  Makes 24 cupcakes.

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This recipe is a great dish for a Meatless Monday or as a side dish.  I adapted it from The Gourmet Cookbook which has the rice topped with deep-fried onions.  Even though the thought of some onion rings sounded yummy, I don’t think this dish needs them.  On its own the lentils and rice make a hearty and healthy dish.  If I could figure out how to make saag paneer I think I could make my perfect vegetarian meal.  I might even become a once a week vegetarian on a regular basis.  Happy lentils!

Lentils and Curried Brown Rice

  • 1 cup lentils picked over and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Combine lentils with cold well-salted water to cover by 2-inches in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook lentils at a bare simmer until just tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain in a sieve and gently rinse under cold water.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add rice and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add curry and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Add 1 teaspoon salt and 2 cups water, bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook uncovered for about 12 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more.  All the liquid should be absorbed.  Remove from heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes.

Transfer rice to a bowl and fluff with a fork.  Add lentils and parsley and toss well.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Serves 6 as a side dish.

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I cannot keep a houseplant alive.  They all die at my hands whether I water, don’t water, diligently pay attention or ignore.  We have one plant in the house, some kind of succulent that refuses to die.  In college I had two cacti that died very soon after I acquired them, although much later on I learned that both my roommates were watering the cacti everyday, so maybe that one wasn’t my fault.  Anywho I seem to have some luck with plants of the outdoor sort, especially my veggies and herbs from last summer.  Growing time will soon be upon us, even though the weather in Cincinnati is pure yuck right now.  So this year I’m going to plan ahead and plant before the middle of June.

I am a landowner, I have a yard, it’s even big enough for a garden, but I choose to plant in containers.  My backyard borders “the woods” as I like to call it, and a large variety of wildlife and insects and other unsavory critters live there making a backyard garden difficult for me to maintain without a 20 foot barbed wire fence. 

Last year I planted and successfully grew tomatoes, red bell peppers, basil, mint, thyme, oregano and parsley.  And yes that is in fact a Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter as you may have seen on tv.  But before you ask incredulously, “Oh my gosh did you actually buy that off the infomercial?”, no I didn’t, I got it from QVC, so there!    

The ability to walk outside your back, or front door, and cut fresh herbs or to pick a fresh tomato is surprisingly rewarding.  I found myself finding and creating recipes so I could use as many of my homegrown ingredients as possible.  

It was also fun for my kids (they’re 3 and 4 and still easily entertained) to help water and pick things too.  We also had this insane pear tree that had so many pears on it that it almost broke in half despite my efforts to prop it up by whatever means necessary.  I even crossed the line into tacky by using PVC pipe to try to keep it upright.  I did not however go so far as to tie it with rope to the drain pipe on the corner of the house, which was suggested.  There would have been no crossing back after that.

This year I plan on planting my container garden again along with some non-container experiments as well.  I’ll let you know how it goes. 

  

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