Posts Tagged ‘simple’

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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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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This recipe was in the June edition of Bon Appetite.  This recipe is extremely simple and makes good use of summer ingredients.  Summer makes me crave fresh tomatoes.  I’m actually growing grape tomatoes in my container garden this year and can’t wait to make this salad with my homegrown tomatoes.  The tomatoes at the grocery store are great right now too.  If you extremely dislike, (I can’t use the word hate or I’ll owe my kids a dollar), dill, use a different fresh herb.  If you love fresh dill like I do this is a fantastic recipe.  Enjoy!

Dilled White Bean and Grape Tomato Salad

  • 2  15-ounce cans cannellini or great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced or 2/3 cup red onion
  • ¼ chopped fresh dill or combination of dill and basil
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients in a large bowl.  Season with salt (about ½ teaspoon) and pepper.  Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.  This can be made ahead and refrigerated, but be sure to bring it to room temperature before serving.

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Its taken me a while to answer my first request, but here is my recipe for pork chops and apples.  I’ve made this about 25 times.  I always improvise but never really deviate from the basic honey and mustard combo because I like it so much.  You could definitely add different things to the sauce to spice it up. 

I had to use boneless chops because they were the only thing that looked good at the store when I was shopping.  If you are using chops on the bone add a few extra minutes to the cooking time.  I like my cinnamon apples really soft, so I cook them for about 25 minutes total.  If you like a little more texture reduce the cooking time at the end to 4 – 5 minutes.

Honey Mustard Pork Chops

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 pork loin chops ½ – ¾ inch thick
  • ½ cup apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • Salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium – medium high heat.  Season chops on both sides with salt and pepper.  Add chops to hot skillet and cook until browned, 3 – 5 minutes.  Turn chops and brown 3 minutes.  In a small bowl mix together the apple juice, mustard, honey, sage, and salt and pepper to taste.  Add mixture to skillet pouring it over the chops.  Reduce heat to low and cover.  Cook for about 4 minutes, or until just done.  Remove chops to serving plate.  Cook the sauce remaining in pan over medium high heat until slightly thickened and reduced.  Remove from heat.  Serve pork chops with sauce.

Sautéed Cinnamon Apples

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 – 5 Granny Smith or other firm apple, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oil over medium heat; add apple slices to pan and sauté until slightly softened 5 – 7 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium low and add butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Stir to combine and cook for an additional 8 – 10 minutes.

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As you have probably noticed I am not a vegan, but I needed to make a cake for a dear friend whose son has a severe egg allergy. I found this recipe that just happens to be vegan and tweaked it slightly.  The cake is really moist and chocolatey and we never missed the butter and milk.  My whole family loved it. I took one to my in-laws house and my husband’s grandmothers almost got in a fight over it.  It’s great as a snack cake with no frosting or to layer and decorate for a special occasion.  It is a bit more crumbly than a typical cake, so if you plan on making multiple layers and applying frosting be very careful.  

I prefer it with no icing straight out of the 9×13 pan.  A dusting of powdered sugar makes for a pretty presentation.  I have made this cake 3 times now and I can get it mixed up and in the pan before the oven is heated.  It’s super easy, simple and delicious.  It might also be healthy (as healthy as chocolate cake can be).

Vegan Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1  teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 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.  Spray a 9”x13” pan with cooking spray.  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.  Pour into the prepared  9’’x13” pan.  Bake in middle rack of oven for 45 – 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.  You can also bake this in two 8”x”8 pans for 35 – 40 minutes.

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I don’t love salad, but I have found that adding some fresh herbs and avocado can make it really delicious and filling.  I’ve been avocado obsessed lately and I’m convinced they can make almost anything better.   

I also really like to make my own dressing.  It’s easy, fine, not as easy as taking the lid off of a bottle, but still really easy and fresh. 

I keep getting distracted by Dancing with the Stars so here’s the components for a yummy salad, use them  in whatever amounts you like.

  • Mixed Spring Greens
  • Roma Tomato, chopped
  • Cucumber, chopped
  • Chickpeas
  • Fresh Dill
  • Avocado, diced

This is the dressing I had with this salad.  Just whisk it all together.

Honey Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • A variation to the salad is replace the dill with fresh cilantro and the chickpeas with black beans.

    Coming up later this week:

    • Sautéed spinach with leeks and mushrooms
    • Carrot salad with ginger and cilantro

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