Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

Deployment Carbonara

November 21, 2009

This is a post from my new general blog Home for the Holladays. Enjoy!


I’ve eaten a lot of pasta during this deployment. It’s easy, it’s filling, and you can make it in small portions. At first I mostly just ate pasta with olive oil, salt & pepper & parmesan cheese but after a while I started experimenting with other simple options.

I absolutely LOVE Spaghetti Carbonara….to me it’s basically like an adult macaroni & cheese. What’s not to love?!? When I feel like a traditional Carbonara I make this recipe that I featured on my old food blog. But one day I was craving Carbonara and didn’t have any bacon or parmesan cheese. What I did have was goat cheese so I experimented and ended up loving the result!

In this case I used Lemon Goat Cheese, which gives the pasta a great lemony flavor but you could use any flavor of goat cheese! Or, if you just have plain goat cheese and still want lemon flavor you could add a squeeze of lemon juice to the pasta.

Lemony Spaghetti Carbonara {aka Deployment Carbonara}
Source: me


  • 8 oz. spaghetti, half a package {I use whole wheat}
  • 1 egg
  • 2 oz. lemon goat cheese, half a package {or any flavor goat cheese you prefer}
  • Salt to taste
  • Lots of freshly ground black pepper


Boil water and cook spaghetti noodles according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, crack the egg into a small bowl and beat well with a whisk. Crumble the goat cheese into the beaten egg and then mix well with the whisk. It’s okay if there are still lumps of goat cheese…just get them incorporated together. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to the egg mixture. Set aside.

Once pasta is al dente, drain water and then IMMEDIATELY place pasta back in the hot cooking pot. Quickly pour the egg & cheese mixture into the hot pasta and immediately stir to combine. Timeliness is key here because this is the only way you are “cooking” the eggs. If you don’t do this quickly you will be dealing with raw eggs in your pasta…not good.

Add more salt & pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Makes 3-4 servings…depending on how big your servings are. ūüôā

Libby wanted some Carbonara too.


Pasta, Pesto, and Peas

June 15, 2008

So I’d like to apologize in advance for being so totally late on getting to this week’s Barefoot Blogger’s event. We were supposed to post our recipes this past Thursday but here it is Sunday and I’m just now posting. Why you ask? Well, this week’s recipe called for us to make homemade pesto which requires lots and LOTS of fresh basil. Fresh basil at my local grocery store comes in TINY portions and costs a lot. I searched and searched for farmer’s markets or other places where I might be able to buy basil in bulk to no avail. So I sucked it up, halved the recipe so I would only have to buy 2.5 cups of basil, and went shopping.

My pocket book may be hurting but my tummy is happy! This was a delicious pasta dish that we enjoyed for lunch but would also make a great take-along dish to a pot luck or barbecue. You could also throw in some chicken and make a dinner out of it.

The only problem I had with the recipe was that I found it to be kind of confusing. The pesto part of the recipe makes 4 cups of pesto but the pasta part of the recipe only calls for 1.5 cups of pesto to be processed with the mayo, lemon juice, parmesan, and spinach. I just wish it only called for you to make the amount of pesto that you need for the recipe. I ended up freezing the leftover pesto but the LAST thing I really needed was more stuff to fill my already too full freezer with. If I had paid attention to the recipe I would have cut down the pesto recipe to only make the needed amount for the pasta and saved my money on that darn basil! Grrr! Oh and unless you’re taking the recipe to share with an army of people, definitely halve or even quarter the recipe because it makes tons!

Pasta, Pesto, and Peas

Source: Food Network (Ina Garten)

3/4 pound fusilli pasta
3/4 pound bow tie pasta
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 cups pesto, packaged or see recipe below
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 cups good mayonnaise
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
1/3 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook the fusilli and bow ties separately in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 to 12 minutes until each pasta is al dente. Drain and toss into a bowl with the olive oil. Cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the pesto, spinach, and lemon juice. Add the mayonnaise and puree. Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta and then add the Parmesan, peas, pignolis, salt, and pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve at room temperature.

1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.

Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.

To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. Store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.

Yield: 4 cups

Spaghetti Carbonara

June 12, 2008

I don’t think I had ever had Spaghetti Carbonara before last night. I had heard of it but I guess it just never caught my attention on a menu. The other day when I was looking at Joelen’s blog I saw she had made Spaghetti Carbonara from scratch. This time it caught my attention…pasta, bacon, egg, cheese, and basil. Sounds right up my alley!

And it was! The only complaint I had was that it was a little bland but I fixed that by adding lots of salt, pepper, and dried basil (since I only had a small amount of fresh on hand). Overall though, it was a winner.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Source: America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound bacon (6-8 slices), halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 3/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
3 small cloves garlic, minced
1 pound spaghetti
sea salt
ground black pepper
basil, chiffonade for garnish

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, set heatproof serving bowl on rack, and heat oven to 200 degrees. (I just microwaved my serving/mixing bowl for 5-7 minutes to keep it nice and hot.) Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil in large stockpot.

2. While water is heating, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until shimmering, but not smoking. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and crisp. about 8 minutes. Add wine and simmer until alcohol aroma has cooked off and wine is slightly reduced 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm. Beat eggs, cheeses, and garlic together with fork in small bowl; set aside.

3. When water comes to boil, add pasta and 1 tablespoon sea salt; stir to separate pasta. Cook until al dente; reserve 1/3 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta for about 5 seconds, leaving pasta slightly wet. Transfer drained pasta to warm serving bowl;l if pasta appears dry, add some reserved cooking water and toss to moisten. Immediately pour egg mixture over hot pasta, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes or 3/4 teaspoon table salt; toss well to combine. Pour bacon mixture over pasta, season generously with black pepper, and toss well to combine. Garnish with basil and serve immediately.

Tilapia Piccata with Orzo

May 13, 2008

Edit: For some reason, Snapfish (the website I use to host my pictures for my blog) has decided to replace my picture of Tilapia Piccata with a picture of my Fajita Enchiladas. I apologize for the confusion this may cause. Keep scrolling down to see another Tilapia picture.

Tilapia Piccata

We are not fish people. I will just start out with saying that. It’s not our thing. However, fish has definite health benefits and it’s light and relatively cheap. That being said, I resolved to try and incorporate one fish dish per week and I thought a safe way to start would be with a very mild fish like Tilapia in a no-fail preparation like Piccata. This recipe is from a March 2007 Cooking Light magazine and is quite good. I still couldn’t help but think it would have been better with chicken or veal but that’s just the fish-hater inside of me. So I guess what I’m trying to say is for fish, this was very good. ūüôā

Tilapia Piccata

Source: Cooking Light magazine March 2008


8 ounces uncooked orzo (about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup white wine
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon drained capers
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain; stir in tomatoes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, parsley, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Set aside and keep warm.

Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and flour in a large shallow dish. Dredge fish in flour mixture. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish to pan; cook 1 1/2 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Remove fish from pan; keep warm.

Add wine, juice, and capers to pan; cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to pan; stir until butter melts. Serve fish with sauce and pasta.

Yields 4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet, 3/4 cup pasta mixture, and about 1 tablespoon sauce)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 461(24% from fat); FAT 12.5g (sat 6.4g,mono 3.1g,poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 41.7g; CHOLESTEROL 108mg; CALCIUM 30mg; SODIUM 512mg; FIBER 2.6g; IRON 1.6mg; CARBOHYDRATE 45.3g

Tilapia Piccata

Spaghetti with Italian Meat Sauce

March 30, 2008

Italian Meat Sauce

I had a craving for homemade slow-simmered spaghetti with meat sauce so I started looking for recipes online. Then I realized that the other day I had starred a recipe for meat sauce that Annie featured on her blog. Hmmm…seems like we have similar tastes because I keep starring recipes that she has featured! Anyway the original recipe was from Cook’s Illustrated which is one source that I ALWAYS can count on for amazing recipes. The recipe was delicious with a few slight spice additions that I made. Also, it doesn’t call for you to slow-simmer the sauce for hours but I did anyway. I feel like it can’t hurt…all it does is blend the flavors that much better! I was surprised by how thick the sauce was but it helped it adhere to the pasta really well.

Simple Italian Meat Sauce


Except for ground round (which tasters found spongy and bland), this recipe will work with most types of ground beef, as long as it is 85 percent lean. (Eighty percent lean beef will turn the sauce greasy; 90 percent will make it fibrous.) Use high-quality crushed tomatoes; our favorite brands are Tuttorosso, Muir Glen Organic, and Hunt’s Organic. If using dried oregano, add the entire amount with the canned tomato liquid in step 2. The sauce makes enough for nearly 2 pounds of pasta. Leftover sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.

Makes about 6 cups

4 ounces white mushrooms , cleaned, stems trimmed, and broken into rough pieces
1 large slice high-quality white sandwich bread , torn into quarters
2 tablespoons whole milk 
  Table salt and ground black pepper¬†
1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef (see note and related content)
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 large onion , chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
6 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used more-probably a full teaspoon b/c we love spicy!)

I also added about 1 tsp garlic salt, 1 tbsp salt, 1 tsp dried basil, and 1/2 tsp onion powder…it would have been bland without these additions, in my opinion!

1 tablespoon tomato paste 
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes , drained, 1/4 cup liquid reserved
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano leaves  or 1 teaspoon dried oregano (see note)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes 
1/2 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup)

1. Process mushrooms in food processor until finely chopped, about eight 1-second pulses, scraping down side of bowl as needed; transfer to medium bowl. Add bread, milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to now-empty food processor and process until paste forms, about eight 1-second pulses. Add beef and pulse until mixture is well combined, about six 1-second pulses (I didn’t add the beef to the food processor b/c we only brought our mini-processor to Arizona with us. I just mixed the milk/bread mixture in with the beef by stirring with a wooden spoon in a bowl).

2. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add onion and mushrooms; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are browned and dark bits form on pan bottom, 6 to 12 minutes. Stir in garlic, pepper flakes, and tomato paste; cook until fragrant and tomato paste starts to brown, about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup reserved tomato liquid and 2 teaspoons fresh oregano (if using dried, add full amount), scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Add meat mixture and cook, breaking meat into small pieces with wooden spoon, until beef loses its raw color, 2 to 4 minutes, making sure that meat does not brown.

3. Stir in crushed and drained diced tomatoes and bring to simmer; reduce heat to low and gently simmer until sauce has thickened and flavors have blended, about 30 minutes (I simmered on low heat for about 3 hours). Stir in cheese and remaining teaspoon fresh oregano; season with salt and pepper to taste.Source: Cook’s Illustrated

I took this picture to show the ridiculous portion of food Alex put on his plate but it ended up being a really cool action shot of him grating fresh parm! ūüôā

Italian Meat Sauce

Compliments of Trader Joe’s

March 3, 2008

I *heart* Trader Joe’s!!! I have wanted to visit a Trader Joe’s ever since my college retail marketing class where we watched a video praising TJ’s for their business practices that have made them so successful. Unfortunately, there are no (I mean *zero*) TJ’s in the entire state of Texas. What is that about?!?! Texas is the 2nd biggest state in the continental United States!! What a rip-off! However, I now live in Arizona in a part of Arizona that is just about an hour from Tucson where there are *FOUR* TJ’s in the metropolitan area. Can I get a “WOOOOHOOOOO!!”? Thanks.

We took a little trip to TJ’s this weekend and bought ohhhh a LOT of stuff. We were absolutely in shock at how CHEAP that place is! We totally expected it to be at “specialty store” prices but oh were we ever wrong. The prices were awesome and the selection was amazing. As an example, we bought 6 bottles (yes, we are alcoholics) of really yummy wine for……..are you ready?………$3.50 per bottle! What?!? Who does that?!

Ok I won’t go on anymore about how amazing TJ’s is since some of you who read this may be unfortunate enough to not have any TJ’s in your state. But this meal I am (finally) featuring in this post was compliments of Trader Joe’s and it was oh so delicious.¬† We had TJ’s Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage (OH. MY. YUM.) with TJ’s Frozen Gnocchi with Red Sauce (Pretty yum).¬† We will DEFINITELY purchase more of TJ’s chicken sausages. Those things were amazing!!! Thanks TJ’s! You’re my new BFF!

TJ's Gnocchi & Sausage

Chili Cheeseburger Macaroni

March 3, 2008

This recipe was just OK in my opinion but when I told my husband I didn’t think it was “blog-worthy” he said that he disagreed. I really wasn’t a fan at all but Alex liked it and wants me to make it again so here it is. The good thing is it’s a Weight Watchers recipe but you can’t tell that by tasting it (Alex had no idea). I’ll make it again for him but I’m just not so into it for some reason. Thanks though to the blog One Tiny Pink Kitchen for posting a recipe that was a hit for my hubby! Please excuse the photo…it’s not exactly the most photogenic meal!

Chili Cheeseburger Mac

Chili Cheeseburger Macaroni
(Source: adapted from WW etools)

2/3 lb extra lean hamburger
2 tsp chili powder
2 small onions, chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes

2 1/2 cup tomato juice

1 1/2 cup uncooked macaroni, elbow
3/4 cup low fat cheddar cheese, plus a couple small pinches for garnish
cooking spray

Coat a large skillet with cooking spray. Cook beef and onion over medium-high heat until meat is browned, about 10 minutes. Drain off fat.

Stir in undrained diced tomatoes, tomato juice, chili powder. Bring to a boil. Stir in macaroni (uncooked), return to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until macaroni is tender and mixture has thickened, about 15 mintues. Mix in the cheese and combine until melted. Yields about 1 1/2 cup per serving.

Total POINTS: 5

**This recipe also called for a can of kidney beans but we left this out. If you decide to put them in, you will need to add 1 point per serving.

You call that Spicy?!?

February 12, 2008

Tonight I made Spicy Chicken and Orzo Skillet out of the Pillsbury Simply One Dish magazine I purchased the other day. As I mentioned in the previous post, my husband and I love spicy food so we were excited to try this. I was definitely disappointed in the “spice-factor” though. I ended up having to “kick it up a bit” as Emeril would say and it still wasn’t all that spicy. I love the fresh veggies in the recipe and the array of colors. I wasn’t sure if I would like the garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas) in it but they didn’t bother me at all. I don’t know that they added anything to the dish other than making it more filling, which it definitely was! My husband, Alex, also brought to my attention how it’s actually a very healthy dish too! I will include the nutritional info at the bottom of the page (as written in the magazine). Overall it was good and hubby gave it a thumbs up but next time I will add even more spices.

Spicy Chicken and Orzo Skillet

Alex gave it the thumbs up!

Alex Thumbs Up!

And, just for kicks, Maddie was mad she didn’t get any.


Spicy Chicken and Orzo Skillet (Source: Pillsbury Simply One Dish magazine)

Makes 4 servings. My changes in Italics.

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin bite-size strips
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 c. baby carrots, quartered lenthwise
  • 1 small onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 3/4 c. uncooked rosamarina or orzo pasta
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (I used at least a full tsp. if not more)
  • I added 1 tsp of garlic salt
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (14 oz) chicken broth
  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves, cut into thin strips

1. In 12 in skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken and garlic; cook and stir 3 minutes. Add carrots and onion; cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until all vegetables are crisp tender, stirring once.

2. Stir in all remaining ingredients except spinach. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of liquid is absorbed and orzo is tender.

3. Stir in spinach; cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer or until spinach is wilted.

Per Serving (1 1/2 cups): Calories 480; Total Fat 11g; Sodium 530mg; Dietary Fiber 8g