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Posts Tagged ‘affordable’

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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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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Don’t be afraid of the parsnip!  Think of the parsnip as carrot’s pale cousin.  Parsnips are not only tasty, but they are loaded with potassium and are a good source of dietary fiber.  They also add a lovely texture to pureed soups.  This soup combines parsnips and sweet potatoes for a savory and slightly sweet flavor.  I used chicken broth in mine, if using vegetable broth the soup may turn out slightly darker.  To make this a one pot meal add the optional chickpeas.  This goes great with fresh crusty bread.

Sweet Potato and Parsnip Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 leeks, including light green parts, finely chopped
  • 3 – 4 parsnips peeled and sliced
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, about 1 pound total weight, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed (optional)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (for garnish)

In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil.  Add the leeks and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the parsnips, and potatoes and saute about 3 more minutes.

Add the tomato paste and stock.  Partially cover the pan and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 25 – 30 minutes.  Add the chickpeas if using and heat 3 minutes longer.  Add salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.

Puree soup in a blender or food processor or process with a handheld blender until smooth.  Return soup to pan and reheat gently.  Stir in 2 tablespoons of the parsley.

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with remaning parsley.  Makes 4-6 servings.

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I found this chicken recipe on epicurious a few months ago and just got around to trying it last week.  It’s fairly simple, the chicken has to marinate for at least 4 hours or preferably longer, and the mashed potatoes are very easy.  If someone in your house is lactose intolerant, like my husband, try using chicken broth in place of the milk in the potatoes.   

 Fragrant Orange Chicken

1 chicken cut up  (I can always find this at the grocery, sometimes it’s called “pick of the chick”)
Zest and juice of 3 oranges
1/4 cup honey

3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons cilantro

Place the chicken in a large bowl.  Combine remaining ingredients and coat chicken. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 4 hours.  Remove chicken 30 minutes before cooking.  Preheat oven to 375°F.  Arrange chicken in a shallow roasting pan.  Pour 2/3 cup of the marinade into the pan.  Bake chicken for 1 hour.
Transfer to a platter. Serve with Scallion Mashed Potatoes.

Serves 4 – 6

 Scallion Mashed Potatoes

2 pounds russet potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 bunch scallions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces on the diagonal (reserve 1/4 cup for garnish)

Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks.  Place in a large saucepan with water to cover.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat slightly, and simmer until very tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain well, then mash with the butter and milk.
Season with salt and pepper. Stir in scallions. Serve immediately.  Serves 4.

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Oven roasted broccoli?  That sounds weird.  Don’t you roast things like beef, pork and wild boar?  Why would I roast broccoli?  Because its delicious!  Roasting the broccoli brings out a nutty sweetness that is different and delicious.  Don’t be scared when it gets a little brown on the edges, this is a good thing.  If you buy the whole crown of broccoli with the stalk like I do, (its cheaper), don’t throw the stalk away!  That was too dramatic, but the stalk is yummy.  Be sure to cut about an inch or so off the end and peel the remaining stalk with a veggie peeler and slice.

Oven Roasted Broccoli

  • 2 – 3 crowns fresh broccoli, separated into florets, and stalk peeled and sliced if using
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 375°F.  Line a baking sheet (with sides) with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Spread broccoli out on pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until edges of broccoli are browned.

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I can’t remember when I first tried hummus, but I’m fairly certain I was an adult at the time.  I would guess that people have been eating it forever in other parts of the world, but I can remember having a hard time finding it at the local supermarket about 10 or so years ago.  Now you can find it in about 25 flavors in every grocery store in the US.  The only thing that annoys me is that a little tiny tub of it can be $4.00 – $5.00.  Hummus is beans and a few other things.  Beans are cheap!  Cheap as dirt!  Maybe even cheaper!  As long as you have a Cuisanart (or other food processor) why not make it at home?  So I looked up a recipe and gave it a whirl, (the jokes are just pouring out today!).  The basic recipe makes 3 cups of hummus, so I left half plain and used the other half to make a sun-dried tomato version which is fantastic with celery. 

This recipe is from The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook.  It claims you can have this ready in 6 minutes.  It took me about 15 minutes with a 3-year-old helper.  Since it’s from Cooking Light there is no olive oil in the recipe.  They used liquid from the chickpeas as a substitute to save a few calories.  I made mine this way and it was really good, but didn’t have the richness of store-bought.  Use olive oil in place of the chickpea liquid if you prefer.

Tahini is sesame seed paste. I found it in the “International” aisle by the Middle Eastern food.  It smells just like peanut butter but has a slightly bitter, rich flavor, and there is no sugar.  I might be wrong about it smelling like peanut butter because I haven’t been close to an open jar of it in 5 years.

Basic Hummus

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, undrained
  • 3 small garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon tahini
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 medium lemons)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • Sea salt

Drain chickpeas, reserving ¼ cup liquid, and set aside.  Drop garlic through food chute with Cuisanart running; process 10 seconds or until minced.  Add chickpeas, reserved ¼ cup liquid, tahini, lemon juice, water and about ¼ teaspoon sea salt.  Process 3 minutes or until smooth, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.  Serve with pita triangles or raw veggies.  Makes 3 cups.

Sun-dried Tomato Hummus

To make the sun-dried tomato version, remove about half the basic hummus from Cuisanart bowl.  To the remaining 1 1/2 cups hummus add 4 – 5 sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil and about 1 tablespoon of the oil/vinegar from the jar.  Process until smooth.

* Excluding garlic and sea salt, it cost me about $2.50 to make 3 cups (24 ounces) of basic hummus.  The tahini is the most expensive component at $5.99 for a 16-ounce jar.  This recipe used about 2 ounces.

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So my summer tomato craving has extended to canned tomatoes.  I use jarred pasta sauce often, but every once in a while I like to make my own sauce.  This is a 40 minute meal from start to finish.  You could cut down on the prep time by simply browning the ground beef and adding it to the sauce instead of making the meatballs.  My kids love meatballs so we almost always make them.  I used fresh basil and oregano from my yard for this recipe.

You may find it strange that I use oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs in my meatballs.  I wanted to use something whole grain that served the same purpose and oatmeal is great alternative.  Just be sure to use plain quick cooking oats.  Start heating your pasta cooking water after you get the meatballs in the pan so that it boils while the sauce simmers.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

For Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef (ground round or leaner)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons quick cooking oatmeal
  • ¼ milk
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper

Sauce:

  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 28 ounce can peeled crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup total fresh basil and oregano leaves roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper

Mix together the meatball ingredients with a fork until well combined.  Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a 12 inch non-stick pan (I like Calphalon’s hard anodized 12 inch sauté pan).  Form 1”meatballs adding them to the pan as you form them.  Make sure to leave some room in between each one.  Brown well, about 4 minutes, flip them carefully and brown the other side.  Remove meatballs to a paper towel lined plate to drain.  Pour all but about 1 tablespoon fat from the pan and add onion and garlic.  Sauté until fragrant, about 90 seconds and add the chopped fresh herbs.  Sauté briefly then carefully pour in the canned tomatoes.  Season with about 1/8 teaspoon of salt and a few turns of the pepper mill.  Bring to a simmer.  Add the meatballs back to the pan and very gently stir to submerge most of them in the sauce.  If you like your sauce thinner cover the pan and turn heat to low.  If you like a thicker sauce like me, leave the pan uncovered and the heat on medium low.  Simmer for about 10 minutes while your pasta cooks. Serve with whatever kind of pasta you like and parmesan cheese.  We like the non-fancy kind in the green can.  Serves 5.

New Camera = lots of pictures 🙂

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