Pasta w/ Navy Beans, Sausage & Tomato

So. Busy. So. Overwhelmed. Wedding. Taking. Over. Life. I’ve been here there and everywhere lately, but tonight I managed to make a decent dinner (last night, I am not ashamed to say, was Papa Murphy’s). This recipe is super easy to throw together and doesn’t take long at all.

pasta with beans sausage tomato

Pasta with Navy Beans, Italian Sausage & Cherry Tomato

(adapted from Good Life Eats)

Ingredients

  • 12 oz whole wheat linguine
  • 1 lb Italian sauage, diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 (15 oz) can navy or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 or 2 cups fresh baby spinach (to your taste)
  • parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

Directions

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain when finished.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, pour olive oil and add pieces of sausage. Cook until heated through. Remove sausage to a plate and set aside. Lower the heat a bit and add minced garlic to the skillet; stir, taking care not to burn. Add cherry tomatoes and cook until juices begin to come out. Pour in the well-rinsed beans and spinach and stir some more.

After 2 or 3 minutes, mix in the cooked pasta and sausage. Serve with grated parmesan cheese, if you know what’s good for you.

Notes

Seriously, start (boiling the pasta water) to finish (plating) I think the whole thing took 20 minutes. And would’ve taken less if I hadn’t initially forgotten about the spinach. I also had plenty of leftovers that I will be taking to work tomorrow. I LOVE not having to worry about what I’m going to eat for lunch at work. All in all, this one couldn’t be easier – enjoy!

Foolproof Chickpea Curry

I made this recipe today for two of my bridesmaids before heading out to do some wedding shoes/centerpieces/jewelry shopping. (Which was very successful! Although took almost 4 hours – these girls have the patience of saints.) Maid of honor is vegetarian and was coming straight from work, so I knew I needed to feed her well. I’m always looking for more vegetarian recipes for my repertoire, especially ones that are not pasta-based, since I eat so much of that already. Enter: chickpea curry.

chickpea curry

Chickpea Curry

(adapted from The Sweets Life)

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 14.5 oz cans chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans), drained & rinsed
  • 1 14.5 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • approximately 5-6 oz fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4  cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice

Directions

Pour olive oil into skillet over medium heat; after it warms, add in all the diced onion. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until clear-ish. Sprinkle garam masala over onions and stir well to coat evenly. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, and spinach. Stir until spinach wilts.

Remove from heat and mix in Greek yogurt along with salt. Add fresh cilantro and serve over hot cooked rice.

Notes

Easy as that! Probably one of the fastest, least-fussy curries I have ever made. I kind of wished I’d made naan to go with it instead of rice though. I also completely forgot the cilantro! I just have dried cilantro around, but next time I will be sure not to forget that step. Sometimes I feel kind of iffy on Greek yogurt, but it is PERFECT here; adds just the right amount of creaminess to every bite. Mmmm. Try this one and let me know how you like it!

P.S. Allow me to emphasize – as with every other Indian dish I’ve posted, this is NOT spicy. You can add chilies or whatever to make it spicy if you want to, but as written, it’s safe for literally every palate.

Crockpot Moroccan-Spiced Beef

Hello again friends! Yeah, it seems like once a week is about as much as I can manage these days – that’s about how often I’m trying a new recipe. Every other night it’s just throwing together whatever I can find.

Tonight we have a beef dish, which I believe may be the first beef dish I’ve posted here. I guess we don’t eat it at home terribly often, but it does have all that protein that V’s diet demands – according to the cookbook, this recipe clocks in at 20 grams per serving and just over 200 calories. And it couldn’t really be easier.

moroccan spiced beef

Moroccan-Spiced Beef

(adapted from Better Homes & Garden’s Ultimate Low Calorie Cookbook)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 – 2 lbs boneless beef chuck pot roast
  • 2 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 a large onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 cups hot cooked couscous

Directions

Trim fat from meat if necessary.

In a small bowl, mix together the curry powder, ground cumin, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle spices evenly over meat and rub in with your fingers.

Place onion at the bottom of your slow cooker; add meat and pour diced tomatoes and beef broth on top.

Cover and cook for 9-10 hours on LOW or 4 1/2 – 5 hours on HIGH.

Remove meat from slow cooker. Serve atop cooked whole wheat couscous.

Notes

The original recipe called for 1 1/2 tsp curry powder and 1 tsp ground cumin, and that’s what I used because I follow directions like a good little novice cook. However, I did not find the beef to be sufficiently “Moroccan” – you couldn’t really taste the spices much at all. So here I have doubled the amounts and that’s how I’ll try it next time. It could also be that I’m not very good at rubbing spices into meat; this was the first time I’d ever done that.

It also called for 3 cups hot cooked couscous, which I thought was just excessive. 2 cups does the job just fine, and you can really use any kind of couscous you like. I just really enjoy saying couscous. It’s such a fun word!

Healthy, Quick Chicken Fried Rice

It’s been a hell of a week, and it’s only Wednesday morning! Hoping things will calm down at least a little after today. I do not like rushing home and having 12 tasks to accomplish – I much prefer coming home, watching last night’s Daily Show, cooking dinner, and reading. But I suppose it can’t always be like that.

Anyway! This meal is perfect for busy weeknights. It will be ready faster than Chang Jiang can deliver to fried rice to your house!

chicken fried rice

Chicken Fried Rice

(adapted from Skinny Mom)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • approximately 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup peas and carrots, frozen (I used frozen peas and fresh carrots, diced)
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 or 2 eggs, depending on how you like it
  • 3 tbsp sesame or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

Directions

Before anything else, start the brown rice in your rice cooker. Get a rice cooker if you don’t have one!!

Pour the oil into a pan on medium heat. Cut chicken breasts into 1/2-inch pieces and add to the pan. While they cook in there, if you’re going to use fresh carrots, now’s the time to start chopping them. If you’re using both frozen peas and carrots, start chopping the onion.

Once the chicken looks mostly cooked, add in the vegetables and garlic. Stir well until the veggies are softened and the onions are clear. Crack the egg(s) into the skillet and scramble into the rest of the ingredients.

Once eggs have scrambled sufficiently, add in the cooked brown rice and pour soy sauce over the whole thing. Mix very very well.

Notes

The original source recipe calls for four cups cooked brown rice rather than two – and only a 1/2 pound of chicken. I found that to be a pretty crazy rice:chicken ratio for a dish that is trying to be healthy, so I kind of reversed the proportions. You could get by with even less rice than I used if you wanted to.

The frozen vs. fresh carrots are just a time/preference thing. I only had fresh ones so it was a simple call for me, but you could cut down on the prep time by using frozen.

Happy eating!

Tuscan Sausage Soup

We’re having sort of a rough time of it, food-wise, in our household lately. Both V and I are attempting to diet, and for him, this means eating a lot of protein. (I haven’t really determined yet what it means for me – apparently so far, not much.) We all know I cook a lot of pasta, which has dubious nutritional value…but I also cook a lot of spinach, which has good protein…I’m just starting to run out of ideas because I have a certain comfort zone when it comes to cooking. HELP! This isn’t good!

I found this one on Foodgawker awhile ago and for some reason had never made it, even though it incorporates several of my favorite things. It seemed like a good choice for tonight, and it was – very hearty and very satisfying. I believe V found it to be sufficiently protein-rich.

tuscan sausage soup

don’t mind the weird spinach stem sticking out.

Tuscan Sausage Soup

(adapted from Dainty Chef)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • about 1/2 cup carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz can cannellini or navy beans
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 lb small pasta such as elbows or shells
  • 3 or 4 oz baby spinach
  • grated Parmesan

Directions

Cut up the Italian sausage into slices about a half-inch thick. Put a little bit of olive oil in the bottom of a deep, large pan and add the sausage slices. After letting it brown for a few minutes, add your chopped onion, carrots, and minced garlic. Cook for a few minutes until softened. Add the broth, diced tomatoes, beans, basil, Italian seasoning, and pasta; bring to a boil and then let it simmer for 7-10 minutes or until the pasta is al dente-ish. Add in the baby spinach and stir around until it wilts. Serve with however much parmesan your little heart desires.

Notes

I love how simple this recipe is, and I love that it’s another one where the pasta cooks in the same pot as everything else so I’m only getting one pan dirty. It’s the little things, I tell you.

Spinach Lasagna

Lasagna has always intimidated the crap out of me. So many steps! So much patience required! Consequently, for a very long time now I have put off making it, despite having more than one serviceable recipe at my disposal. But tonight I did it. It definitely did not turn out perfectly, but it does taste really good and that’s what counts. I’ve never placed a lot of importance on the appearance/attractiveness of food. What’s the point? I’m eating it, not gazing at it framed in a museum.

Case in point.

Case in point.

Spinach Lasagna

(adapted from Easy Lasagna Recipes, via Pinterest)

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese (or if you’re feeling really hedonistic, whole milk)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 box uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 2 boxes frozen chopped spinach (thawed, obviously)
  • 4 1/2 cups chunky tomato/marinara type of sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups grated Gouda or Swiss cheese (slices may be used – I did)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.

Spread about 1 cup of the tomato/marinara sauce in the bottom of the pan. Place uncooked lasagna noodles in a row across the pan. Combine ricotta and parmesan together in a bowl, seasoning with salt and pepper as you like, and then spread about 1/3 of the cheese mixture over the noodles. Top the cheese with the thawed chopped spinach and spread around liberally. Repeat the process until you run out of lasagna noodles. There should be a row of lasagna noodles on top when you run out, but I didn’t manage that for some reason, and in my opinion it’s not that crucial.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. When the time is up, take the pan out and add your grated or sliced Gouda or Swiss. (I cannot STAND Swiss cheese so the Gouda was a no-brainer for me.) Put back in the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown on top.

Notes

Lots to say here. The lasagna noodles I had (Market Pantry brand from Target, whoohoo!) were about an inch too long to fit neatly in my pan so I kept having to break them and trying to keep them somewhat uniform. Obnoxious.

More bothersome – I really don’t know why this recipe calls for frozen chopped spinach. Just convenience I guess? Frozen chopped spinach is pretty bland and unappetizing, if you ask me, and I think fresh spinach would have greatly improved this dish, even though it was still very yummy as written.

The choice between Gouda and Swiss is strange to me also; both seem too sharp to really go with the creamy goodness that is ricotta. The Gouda slices on top were okay, but it was kind of an odd combination for me. I’m not sure what I’d substitute. Whatever it would be, I would probably use the grated or shredded varieties instead of slices, just as a reluctant nod to the dish’s final aesthetics…

Anyway, despite its flaws, I really liked this lasagna and I will definitely be making it again, with the aforementioned tweaks. If you try it, let me know how it goes for you!

Sausage, Vegetables & Roasted Potatoes

Another sausage and vegetables recipe, this time with potatoes instead of pasta. Not sure if you’ve noticed yet, but I am a big fan of Italian sausage. Usually it’s Klement’s – gotta keep it Sconnie, obviously – but sadly Woodman’s was out of Klement’s so today it’s Hillshire Farm Gourmet. Also very good. Also, as it happens, this is another one-pot meal! Hallelujah praise Jesus.

summer vegetables with sausage and potatoes

Sausage, Vegetables & Roasted Potatoes

(adapted from Skinny Taste)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb baby red potatoes, quartered
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 lb Italian sausage, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary

Directions

Pour the olive oil into a skillet over low heat and add the quartered red potatoes. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper; place a tight-fitting lid over the skillet and cook for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, do all that laborious veggie-chopping and sausage-chopping.

Once the 25 minutes is up, remove the potatoes to a plate and set aside. Add the sausage to the skillet and cook until slightly browned; add peppers, onions, and zucchini and cook until softened. Put the potatoes back in and mix it all well. Add more seasoning if you’d like; cover the skillet and cook for 5 more minutes before serving.

Notes

You don’t have to use red potatoes, if you have regular ones on-hand. Nor do you have to use each entire bell pepper; it is a LOT of veggies once all is said and done. But that’s what makes it healthy! Enjoy!

What we like to call “Shrimpittu”

This is the only recipe, so far, that I can really claim as my own. It’s nothing wild – it’s basically a stir fry. But I think the story goes that the first time I was making it, I was actually trying to replicate one of V’s mom’s recipes, and was utterly failing at it…so we called what I ended up with “shrimpittu” because the name of the recipe I was attempting ended in “-ittu” in Kannada.

So this dish holds a bit of a special place in my heart, as one of my first accidental successes in the kitchen. It’s very tweak-able and amenable to changes to suit your tastes. But this is how I do it…

shrimpittu

Shrimpittu

(adapted from yours truly – serves 2-3 people)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 – 3/4 pound frozen shrimp, tail-off and deveined (the quantity depends on your feelings about shrimp more than anything else)
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 2/3 cup carrots, diced
  • a shake of dried basil
  • a shake of turmeric powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cooked whole wheat couscous

Directions

First you need to thaw out the shrimp; what I generally do is put them in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes, which usually breaks up the ice and helps thaw them pretty quickly.

Chop up all your vegetables and put them into a skillet with a bit of olive oil, on medium-low heat. Let them cook for a few minutes until soft. As you’re waiting, boil a pot of water on another burner (adding salt and, if you like, 1 tbsp of butter) and pour in 2/3 cup whole wheat couscous once it reaches the boil. Remove the pot from heat, put the lid on, and wait 5 minutes before fluffing it up with a fork.

Back in your skillet, now you can add the shrimp. Stir it together well with all the veggies and cook until the shrimp are heated through. Add the spices and salt/pepper. Put approximately 1 cup of the couscous on a plate and pour shrimp/veggie mixture on top of it.

Notes

Like I said, I’m a little sentimental about this dish. I also like to fool myself into thinking that couscous is a way healthier alternative to pasta, which may be somewhat true only in my case because I like whole-wheat couscous but cannot stand whole-wheat pasta. So there you have it. Yay carbs!

There are plenty of other spices you could add here (maybe cilantro or oregano) and certainly other veggies (zucchini or spinach). Happy experimenting!

Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

Three posts in four days?!? Man oh man. I guess I’m taking to this blogging thing more than I thought I would – plus, it motivates me to actually cook stuff. Today we have another rather non-glamorous dinner, but it felt right for today, after eating a heavy Easter lunch at my grandma’s…although, truth be told, this soup is somewhat on the rich side, rather heavy on the butter and cheese. No surprise I like it so much.

This is actually also another slow cooker meal. I feel like I use crockpots in a different manner than most people – it’s supposed to be a convenience, a “throw it all in in the morning and come home to dinner all ready” but as I’ve mentioned, I don’t pull that off too often. Apparently I use it more on the weekends. Anyhoo…let’s get to it.

tbps

This soup doesn’t photograph well…sorry.

Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

(adapted from PinFoody)

Ingredients

  • 2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup finely diced celery
  • 1 cup finely diced carrots
  • 1 cup finely diced onions
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 32 oz box vegetable broth
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups half-and-half, room temperature
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Add first 8 ingredients (through the bay leaf) to the crockpot and stir well. Cook on LOW for 5-7 hours.

About 45 minutes before you want to serve, prepare what the fancy folks call a “roux”: melt the butter in a skillet over low heat. Add flour and whisk constantly for about 5 minutes. Pour a cup of the hot soup into the skillet and mix; add three more cups and stir. Pour it all back into the crockpot and add parmesan cheese and warmed half-and-half. Stir everything well; you might need to add more seasoning since the soup has been cooking for so long.

Cook it for another 30 minutes on low. Serve with a baguette warm from the oven. This soup is freaking fantastic for bread-dipping.

Notes

I personally feel the baguette/other similar bread is a crucial accompaniment. That’s really about it!

Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Makhani (Butter Chicken)

Butter chicken is up there with palak paneer as one of the most Indian-newb-friendly dishes. It generally isn’t that spicy, and in this recipe, really isn’t spicy at all – obviously you can tweak it to suit your preferences. The name sounds decadent, like it would just be dripping in gobs of butter, but the butter:chicken ratio here is actually very restrained.

I should probably also use the “admittedly inauthentic” disclaimer here too, as I did with my chicken tikka masala. This is definitely not the traditional way of making chicken makhani – it is the cheater version. This one’s for all my fellow cheaters out there.

butter chicken

Chicken Makhani (Butter Chicken)

(adapted from Canadian Family)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • approximately 2 or 2.5 lbs skinless, bone-in chicken drumsticks or thighs
  • about 2 paratha or naan per person

Directions

Melt the butter in the microwave and pour into your slow cooker. Add all the remaining ingredients except chicken; stir to combine into a smooth gravy.

If desired, season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the chicken pieces to the slow cooker and make sure they are all coated well with the gravy.

Cook on HIGH for 2.5 hours or on LOW for 5 hours. As it gets close to finishing, cook your bread of choice according to its package directions (some are best in the oven, like naan, while paratha is definitely better on the stove).

Notes

It’s seriously as simple as that! I love this recipe because while I like to use my crockpot, I often don’t really have it together enough in the mornings to get everything necessary for a recipe all assembled and into the crockpot before I have to leave for work. Because this only takes 2.5 hours, and I get home around 4:30, I can have dinner ready by 7:00 as there is virtually no prep time.

As I mentioned, this is not spicy whatsoever, but if you wanted to kick it up a notch you could add some diced green or red chilies into the gravy.

Also, just an FYI: this is a MESSY dinner. You need a lot of napkins. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.