Posts tagged ‘Easy’

Creamy BBQ Pasta

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The weather has turned cold around here, and autumn is upon us in all of its chilly, rainy glory. So it’s comfort food for us, the kind that warms you up and makes you happy to be watching the rain fall outside.

This pasta is creamy, tasty comfort food at its best and (thanks to the yogurt, which cuts down on the cheese and eliminates the need for cream) it’s also not terribly unhealthy. The BBQ sauce and peppers provide a little taste of summer to a dish that we will be eating all winter long.

Creamy BBQ Pasta
Makes 2 Large Servings

1 cup dry whole wheat pasta, a short variety like penne or macaroni
3 cups water
½ teaspoon oil
1 cup bell pepper chopped (about 1 medium pepper)
½ cup cooked pinto beans (canned beans work fine)
½ cup corn kernels
1 clove garlic
½ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tablespoon prepared BBQ Sauce (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
freshly ground pepper, to taste

  1. In a medium pot, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add pasta and stir a few times to prevent sticking. Boil about 8 minutes or until pasta is the consistency you like. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small frying pan. Add the peppers and saute on medium heat until they are softened and the edges are just starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the cooked pasta, peppers, corn, beans, garlic, yogurt, cilantro, and BBQ sauce. Mix well.
  4. Stir in the cheese, and serve immediately.
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February 27, 2010 at 12:37 pm 3 comments

Creamy Pesto Pasta

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Friends, I present you with not such a great picture of a very delicious dish. I was inspired by a friend who cooked a similar dinner for us in the summer, and I thought that I could make my version a little bit lighter (and use up my cream cheese!) by subbing in cream cheese for heavy cream. It worked perfectly, resulting in a thick, creamy, but not-too-heavy sauce. The fresh taste of the vegetables balances this dish nicely, and it is heavenly when served with some garlic bread, a simple green salad, a nice white wine. You can make your own pesto, of course, but premade pesto makes this so easy to throw together. It’s your call. Either way, you’re in for a scrumptious meal.

Creamy Pesto Pasta
Makes 4 to 6 Servings

3 cups dry whole wheat pasta, a short shape like penne or fusilli
6 cups of water
¾ cup pesto, store-bought or homemade
½ cup Neufchatel cheese or cream cheese
2 cups mixed vegetables, finely chopped
(I used ½ cup each of carrots, broccoli, peas, and bell peppers)
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Bring a large pot of boiling water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until tender, about 6 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. In the meantime, cut up your veggies into small bite-sized pieces. (The vegetables I used worked really well, but I can also imagine green beans, asparagus, mushrooms, or zucchini being especially good in this dish.)
  3. In a large pan, combine the cheese and pesto and heat on low until the cheese is melted. Stir constantly during this process to mix the pesto and cheese.
  4. Add the veggies to the sauce and cook about 5 minutes, or until the veggies are tender but still bright and slightly crisp.
  5. Add the drained pasta to the sauce and toss to coat.

January 23, 2010 at 11:57 pm 1 comment

Simple Potato Soup

This is the soup that my family eats every year on Christmas Eve or sometimes on New Year’s Eve. It’s a super-simple soup with very few ingredients, and part of the fun is adding garnishes to your own bowl at the table. If you want to forego the garnishes, though, it’s still delicious and warming – especially with a bit of green salad and a hunk of crusty bread.

By the way, I’m sorry my posting has been so sporadic this semester. I’m hoping to get back to regular posting now, but we’ll see how this next semester goes!

Simple Potato Soup
Makes 4 – 6 Servings

1 large leek, washed and sliced (white and green parts) – about 1½ cups
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 large baking potatoes, scrubbed and chopped (unpeeled if you like) – about 3 cups
4 cups vegetable broth
½ cup soymilk or cream (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Optional Garnishes:
shredded cheddar cheese
sliced green onions
fresh (or dried) dill
sour cream or plain yogurt

  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the leek, stirring until the green parts are wilted and the white parts are translucent and separated (about 10 minutes).
  2. Add the potatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft enough to be mashed easily.
  3. Blend with an immersion blender or potato masher until smooth.
  4. Add cream or milk (if using) and salt and pepper.
  5. Garnish as desired.

December 27, 2009 at 9:27 pm Leave a comment

Homemade Spinach-Feta Cream Cheese

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Sorry I’ve been absent a few weeks. It’s just that time of the semester, but to make up for it, I have for you a delicious recipe that will make your breakfasts sublime this week.

I love spinach-feta cream cheese. Love it! Sadly, I haven’t been able to find it anywhere in New Haven, even at the decent bagel place around the corner from my house. Always industrious, I decided to make my own, reasoning that this would solve my problem and allow me to control the quality of ingredients that I used. I found organic neufchâtel cheese at Nica’s (the little Italian market near my house) that was only slightly more expensive than the regular cream cheese, and bought a nice, sharp feta from their deli. The spinach came out of my freezer, and the pepper was a last-minute addition that adds a bit of a bite without overpowering the other flavours. In the end, this was more expensive to make than simply buying flavoured cream cheese, but it was delicious and easy to make and definitely worth it if you are (like me) without a source of premade spinach-feta cream cheese.

Spinach and Feta Cream Cheese
Makes about 2 cups

8oz. plain cream cheese or American neufchâtel cheese
1 Tbsp. water
4oz. feta cheese (about 1½ cups), crumbled
1 cup cooked spinach, chopped (from about 4 cups raw)
¼ tsp. pepper

  1. You can use thawed frozen spinach but if you are using fresh spinach, start this way: remove spinach stems, and chop the spinach finely. In a medium pot over medium heat, cook the spinach until it has reduced to about a quarter its original volume but it is still bright green. Set aside, making sure that it is completely cool before using.
  2. With an electric mixer (or a good spoon and a strong arm), beat the cream cheese until it is smooth and creamy, adding water as necessary.
  3. Add spinach, feta, and pepper and stir to combine.
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Enjoy on bagels, crackers, or veggies (cucumber slices are especially good).

November 12, 2009 at 2:17 pm Leave a comment

Sweet Potato Fries with Sriracha Mayo

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Nothing is easier to make than a batch of oven fries. Cut up potatoes, put them in the oven, take them out of the oven. Voíla!

In this recipe, the sweet potatoes are tossed in a bit of oil and spice to add a subtle spice to the sweet flavour of the potato, and they are served (if you like) with a super-simple spicy mayo dip (because if you aren’t going to deep-fry your potatoes, you should at least serve them with mayo, right?).

We like to eat these as a side dish with all manner of entrees, from burgers to baked tofu to chili. It’s a fun and simple way to enjoy what is, in my humble opinion, one of the best winter vegetables out there.

Sweet Potato Oven Fries
Serves 4

1 large sweet potato, about 1 lb.
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon chili powder

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Cut potatoes into long, thin strips. Try to make them as even as possible so that they will all finish cooking at the same time.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the potatoes, oil, and chili powder.
  4. Bake on a cookie sheet for 20 – 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes. (20 minutes should be long enough for them to cook through, 30 minutes should make them a bit crispy on the outside. Test a few with a fork to make sure they are done).

Sriracha Mayo
Makes ½ cup

½ cup mayo or vegan mayo (I really like vegenaise)
½ Tablespoon sriracha hot sauce
2 Tablespoons fresh chives (optional)

  1. In a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients.
  2. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to about 5 days.

October 24, 2009 at 12:13 pm Leave a comment

Beet and Spinach Soup

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It’s tempting (at least for me) to call any beet-based soup a borscht, but this one doesn’t quite fit the bill. For one thing, it is has fewer beets than a traditional borscht recipe, which allows the flavours of the other vegetables to shine through a bit more. For another, it has a great deal of spinach in it, which adds a contrasting texture and contributes to the iron content of the soup.

This is the perfect meal to make as fall sets in. Hearty and warming, it takes advantage of the winter vegetables that are starting to show up in markets and lets you enjoy a bit more spinach while it’s still around, too.

Beet and Spinach Soup
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 small onion, finely diced (about ½ cup)
1 large carrot, finely diced (about ½ cup)
2 celery ribs, finely diced (about ½ cup)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large beet, shredded (about 1 cup)
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed (or 4 cups fresh, finely chopped)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon dried dill
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
plain yogurt for garnish, optional (about 2 Tablespoons per serving)

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, saute the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic in 1 Tablespoon of water (or oil, if you prefer). Cook until the onions and garlic are translucent.
  2. Add beet, spinach, broth, dill, vinegar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer 10 – 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary, and serve.

October 4, 2009 at 10:32 pm Leave a comment

Parmesan-Tarragon Crusted Tofu

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This recipe is one of my favourites for simple, healthy comfort food. It’s based on my mom’s recipe for “breadcrumb chicken,” which my whole family loves. When I asked her for the recipe so that I could make a vegetarian version, I couldn’t believe how simple it was!

The tofu comes out a little bit drier than chicken, so I like to marinate it before breading and I usually serve this dish with some kind of sauce. In fact, one of the things I like best about the recipe is that it can be made really sophisticated with one sauce (say, a romesco sauce or even a good-quality pasta sauce) or really low-key and fun with a something else (we use honey mustard dressing to bring out the potential “vegetarian chicken fingers” flavour of the dish). If you are serving this to kids (or fun-loving adults), you can cut the tofu with cookie cutters before breading to make it into fun shapes – like stars or hearts or even dinosaurs.

Parmesan-Tarragon Crusted Tofu
Serves 4 – 6

1 lb. firm or extra-firm tofu
2 cups vegetable broth or water
¼ cup soy sauce
½ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon dried tarragon, crumbled
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

  1. Cut tofu into 16  pieces. (I usually cut the whole block lengthwise to make the slices thinner. Then I cut each of those blocks in half, and use diagonal cuts to make each of the halves into 4 triangles. If you use cookie cutters, you may not get as many pieces out of a single block of tofu, but the fun is still worth it).
  2. Mix broth (or water) and soy sauce in a resealable container and add tofu. Add more water to cover if necessary. Marinate for 2 hours, or overnight (whatever you have time for).
  3. After the tofu has marinated, preheat the oven to 425F. Lightly oil a cookie sheet and set it aside.
  4. Mix the breadcrumbs, parmesan, tarragon, and pepper in a shallow bowl.
  5. Drain the tofu. Drag each piece through the breadcrumb mixture, making sure it is well coated on all sides.
  6. Place breaded tofu on the cookie sheet, and bake for 10 minutes on each side (or until it is golden-brown).
  7. Serve with desired sauce. (We usually eat this dish with a green salad and sweet potato fries or mashed potatoes).

September 19, 2009 at 1:55 pm 1 comment

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*All entries tagged "vegan" and "gluten free" meet those dietary requirements to the best of my knowledge as long as the vegan or gluten free instructions are followed (where applicable). It is always wise to double-check ingredients (especially when dealing with packaged foods) and to confirm ingredients and preparation methods at restaurants.