Oh, pasta bake. It’s been ages since you’ve crossed my kitchen table!
There was a period of time, not long after college, where my friends and I would host dinners at our respective homes and the pasta bake was a regular guest. It showed up with different ingredients every time, but without fail, it fed several starving kids in their early twenties on the cheap. On the SUPER cheap.
I had some ground turkey leftover from another random dinner, so I decided to bring back the pasta bake. Here’s the grown up (yet still pretty ghetto) version.
Just a quick note - for whatever reason my store didn’t have any shredded mozzarella so I bought a random ball of smoked mozzarella thinking I could shred it on my own. Then it ended up being too mushy. SO, I had to chop it up into bits. It was ugly. Use the shredded. ALWAYS.
Ground Turkey Pasta Bake
1/2 lb penne, cooked and drained
1 jar pasta sauce
1/2 - 3/4 lb lean ground turkey
1 c chopped tomatoes
1/2 c chopped basil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 c red wine or broth or water
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 triangles light Laughing Cow Cheese
1/3 - 1/2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
Brown turkey in a large skillet. Add garlic, onion and tomato and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour in pasta sauce and wine/broth/water and stir to combine. Add crushed red pepper and simmer for 3-5 minutes until sauce is warm.
Add triangles of cheese and stir until melted. Remove from heat and stir in pasta, basil and half the mozzarella and parmesan to coat.
Place pasta in a baking dish and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and browned.
I’m not a huge five spice fan, but for whatever reason, I had a container of five spice powder in the cabinet and a bunch of wonton wrappers that needed to be used. This was what happened.
Hoisin Chicken Triangles
1/2 c hoisin sauce
1 tbsp mirin
3 tbsp chicken broth
1/2 tbsp sriracha sauce
1 tsp grated ginger
2 scallions, chopped
1/3 c water chestnuts, chopped
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 1/2 c Five Spice Roasted Chicken, shredded (see recipe)
1 egg, beaten
10 wonton wrappers
Combine hoisin, mirin, broth and sriracha in a bowl and set aside.
Heat sesame oil in a pan and heat chicken and scallions for 3 minutes. Stir in hoisin mixture and cook for 5 minutes on medium low heat. Add water chestnuts and ginger, combine well and remove from heat. Chill for 20 minutes and spread mixture out on a cutting board (you’ll need to do this in batches). Quickly run a knife through to coarsely chop the mixture.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment or foil. Spray with nonstick spray and set aside.
Lay out wrappers and place a heaping teaspoon of the chicken in the center. Swipe egg on two sides of the square wrapper, fold over to make a triangle and pinch sides to seal. Bake for 5-7 minutes on one side, flip and bake for another 5 minutes or until golden brown.
Five Spice Roasted Chicken
1.5 lbs split chicken breast
1.5 tbsp five spice powder
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine five spice, sugar, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Rub all over breast, including under skin. Place on baking sheet and cover loosely with foil. Roast for 20 minutes covered. Remove foil and continue roasting for another 15 minutes.
I had a tub of white miso paste in the fridge (impulse buy, obviously) and according to the internet, miso makes a great glaze for salmon. Excellent.
I basically combined a recipe for a miso glaze I found online with that sriracha maple salmon I made awhile back.
The result was an AWESOME glaze that I will for sure be making again. It was perfect for the salmon…just the right amount of salty and sweet. I’m sure it would be great on chicken as well!
Miso Glazed Salmon with Kale & Butter Beans
2 salmon fillets
2 tbsp white miso paste
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1/4 - 1/2 tsp sriracha
1/4 tsp grated ginger
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 1/2 tbsp sake
drizzle maple syrup
Whisk together miso, soy sauce, sriracha, ginger, garlid sesame oil, sake and syrup in a bowl.
Coat salmon fillets in about half the miso mixture and let marinate for 30-40 minutes.
Place salmon and any extra marinade on a lined baking sheet. Coat with about half the remaining miso mixture. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes depending on how thick your fillets are. About halfway through, baste with remaining miso mixture.
If you want more of a burnt/crusty top, toss it in the broiler for the last minute or two.
Kale & Butter Beans
1 bunch red russian kale
1 can butter beans, rinsed and drained
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 c white wine
salt & pepper to taste
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Add kale and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add wine and butter beans and cook for 3-4 minutes on low, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.
This is a trusty and easy recipe that’s great to make for guests…brunch, dinner or even just as a snack. A friend and I made this a few years ago and paired it with a nice brothy soup for dinner. YUMS.
Leek & Chard Tart
1 sheet puff pastry
1 large leek, chopped
2 stems chard, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
sheep’s milk feta, crumbled
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Saute leek in olive oil until it starts to soften and cook until both chard and leek are soft and slightly browned.
Spread puff pastry on a cookie sheet and top with greens followed by feta. Bake until pastry turns golden brown, let cool before cutting.
I cobbled this together one chilly night last week just because I had some ingredients on hand and was feeling lazy. I’m mostly posting this because I’m incredibly proud of the perfectly soft boiled egg.
I used to make noodle soup like this all the time back in DC and it was basically a hodgepodge of ingredients I needed to use before a weekend away. You can put in whatever you want (it works well with ramen noodles too), but my standards are onion, egg, a green, dumplings, soy beans and fish cake.
Udon Noodle Soup
2 packages udon noodles, cooked
2 eggs, soft boiled and cut in half
3 c low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tbsp white miso paste
1 c warm water
1 bunch bok choy, chopped
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 scallion, chopped
8 dumplings, still frozen
1/4 c edemame, shelled
1/2 c shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp ponzu
1 tbsp oyster sauce
Shichimi tōgarashi (optional
Dissolve miso in warm water and pour into a pot. Add chicken broth, ponzu and oyster sauce. Bring to a boil.
Add onion, edamame and mushrooms. Bring back to a boil for 1 minute. Add dumplings, bok choy and half of the scallions. Cook for about 5 minutes.
Divide noodles among two bowls and fill with soup. Top with egg and remaining scallion. Sprinkle some furikake and shichimi togarashi on top if desired.
I made this a few years ago for Easter brunch at my parents’ house and it seemed to please everyone’s tastebuds. Not bad for a first go at lamb! I thought the pieces we got were a little too fatty, so in hindsight, I’d probably trim them a bit.
Rosemary Lemon Lamb Chops
8-10 lamb chops
1 1/2 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp freshly ground pepper
zest of one lemon
Combine rosemary, salt, garlic, salt, pepper and zest in a bowl. Drizzle olive oil on lamb chops and liberally sprinkle rosemary mixture on each side. Heat a pan over medium high heat and cook chops for 3-4 minutes on each side. Let rest for a few minutes before serving.
Chard. I’ve had enough of it. Our CSA box came with a big bunch of rainbow chard (surprise!) and pasta seemed like the best way to use it up. I just can’t do it anymore. I know it’s a healthy leafy green, but I’m running out of recipes that use chard. GAH! Bring on the spring veggies!!
Penne with Rainbow Chard & Chicken
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 box penne, cooked and drained
1 bunch rainbow chard, chopped
1/4 onion, sliced
1 c cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 tbsp dry sherry
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
Mix lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper in bowl. Stir in chicken and let marinate for 20-30 minutes.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add chicken. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until chicken starts to brown. Add onion and mushrooms and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in sherry and reduce heat. Add chard and cook for 5 minutes or until greens are soft.
Stir in penne and parmesan until combined. Remove from heat and serve.
I lovelovelove LOVE these little cheese puffs! The tapioca flour gives it that gooey texture that makes them so addictive! note: objects in photo seem bigger than they actually are.
Pão de Queijo
3/4 cup corn oil
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups tapioca flour
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded manchego cheese
Bring oil, milk and salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour tapioca flour into a large glass bowl. Using a wooden spoon, slowly stir milk and oil mixture into the flour with a wooden spoon (you will not use the whole mixture) until a firm ball forms. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before using a hand mixer to stir in cheeses. Once cheese is combined, add eggs one at a time and mix well.
Preheat oven to 350. Fill mini muffin pan with about 1 tbsp of batter in each slot. Bake for 20 minutes and serve immediately.
I love guacamole. I love cilantro. I love lime. I love salad. This should come as no shock to you.
I was day dreaming about food the other day and I thought hm, what if I turned guacamole into a salad?? Chopped up avocado, tomato and onion instead of mashing them all together, maybe a little lettuce for fun. Mix all the spices, herbs and lime juice to form a dressing…YESSSS!!
So this was born. I thought it could use a little more avocado so I’d chop up 2 whole avocados next time. I am indifferent about the cucumber. I added it because it needed to be used. I wouldn’t miss it if it wasn’t there.
1/2 c cilantro
1 clove garlic, chopped
Juice of one lime
Juice of one lemon
1 tbsp champagne vinegar
1 tsp cumin
1/4 c olive oil
Salt and pepper
romaine lettuce, chopped
red onion, minced
salt & pepper
Puree all dressing ingredients in a food processor or with an immersion blender. Toss lettuce and onion with some of the dressing. Top with remaining ingredients and a splash more of the dressing if desired.
This is an incredibly fast and easy stir fry to whip up when you’re lazy. You could add baby corn, shiitake mushrooms, tofu, shrimp, chicken…whatever you want. The version I list here was served as a side dish for a veggie-less entree.
Black Bean & Garlic Veggies
2 bunches baby bok choy, chopped
1/2 eggplant, diced
2 tsp black bean garlic paste
1 tsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp broth (I had beef broth on hand so I used that)
1/3 c water
Dry fry eggplant in a large skillet until they start to brown (about 3 minutes). Add broth and bok choy and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
Combine black bean paste, oyster sauce and water in a bowl. Pour into skillet and increase heat to medium high. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately over rice or noodles.
FINALLY! We’re nearing the end of our CSA box. Just in time for the next one to arrive. Ooof.
I thought I’d do something different than just roast the whole bunch of asparagus, so I grabbed some salmon and whipped up this filling dish. Originally I envisioned a pasta dish with smoked salmon, but there weren’t many options at the store so I opted to poach a fillet. Super easy and fast…and way less sodium than the smoked options!
Bowties with Poached Salmon and Asparagus
1/2 lb salmon fillet
2 c water
1/2 c plus 2 tbsp white wine
1 tbsp white peppercorns
1 tbsp dried minced onion
1 clove garlic, halved
1/2 box bowtie pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp whole grain mustard
2 tbsp goat cheese
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces on the bias
1 tsp lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste
In a medium pot, bring water, 1/2 c wine, peppercorns, garlic, onion and salt to a boil. Squeeze half a lemon into pot before dropping into the pot. Place salmon into the pot and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from water and place on a plate. Flake when cool.
Stir together goat cheese and mustard. Set aside.
Saute shallot in olive oil in a large skillet until softened. Add asparagus and cook for 1 minute. Add 2 tbsp wine and goat cheese mix. Stir until cheese starts to melt.
Stir in pasta and a little bit of the pasta water until all pasta is coated with the cheese mixture. Add lemon zest and cook for another minute on low. Serve immediately.
[Insert miscellaneous veggie here] hash is my second go-to meal when I need to use up a ton of vegetables at once (first being roasting). We basically had breakfast for dinner thanks to the strips of bacon that needed to be used as well.
This dish is super simple, mostly hands off, and is basic enough that you could add whatever extra flavors you want. Not into bacon? Take it out all together or sub in something crazy delicious like a shredded braised meat.
The chard in this dish got a little too clumpy, so I suggest chopping it up nice and fine and breaking up the bits as you sprinkle it into the pan. I mean, you could omit the chard all together if you hate greens, but know that I will be judging you from afar.
Root Vegetable Hash
2 carrots, diced
2 turnips, peeled and diced
1 Japanese yam, diced
1/4 c bacon, chopped
3 tbsp scallions, chopped
1/2 c broth or water
2 c chard, chopped
3 eggs, soft fried
Dubliner cheese, shredded (optional)
Brown bacon in a large skillet with a lid (about 1-2 minutes). Stir in carrots, turnips and yam. Cover and let cook on medium for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep the 1/2 c broth or water nearby and add a little bit at a time if you notice the vegetables sticking to the pan.
After about 15 minutes, add scallions and chard and any remaining broth. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover, increase heat to medium high and cook until vegetables are soft and have a little bit of a char to them. Plate and serve with a light dusting of cheese and topped with a slightly runny egg.
Manfriend and I were coming off a solid 24 hours of crappy eating so I declared we were going to have a salad for dinner. My goal was to work with what we already had in the kitchen, only buying a few things to supplement the meal. I knew I needed a substantial salad (a salad sans meat probably wouldn’t fly), so I reached for the bag of shrimp we had in the freezer (the ONLY frozen seafood that hasn’t failed me yet).
This salad reminds me of a blend between a Chinese Chicken Salad and those little side salads with a super gingery soy dressing you can get at sushi restaurants. YUM.
My favorite part of the salad was the shrimp. I think I may need to use this marinade more often!
Asian Shrimp Salad
1 head romaine, finely chopped
1 c cabbage, shredded
1/2 can baby corn, quartered
1 small red pepper, chopped
1 c cucumber, chopped
1 small mineola, peeled and chopped (or 1/4 c mandarin oranges)
1 scallion, chopped
2-3 tbsp cilantro (depending on your taste)
1/2 c celery, chopped
1/2 can water chestnuts
2 tbsp dry roasted peanuts
For the shrimp
15-18 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tbsp lemongrass, minced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp ponzu
1/4 tsp chili garlic paste
For the dressing (this makes way more than you’ll need)
2 tbsp grated onion
1 tbsp grated ginger
1/4 tsp dashi granules
1/4 c water
juice of one lemon
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
Whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.
Combine all ingredients for the shrimp in a bowl and let marinate for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Combine lettuce, scallion and cabbage in a large bowl. Toss with a small amount of the dressing. Top with remaining salad ingredients, add 1-2 tbsp of dressing and toss. Scoop into bowls or plates to serve.
Place shrimp on a small baking sheet and broil until pink. Distribute shrimp evenly on plated salad. Serve with additional dressing on the side.
Lemme be straight with you here. You shouldn’t make this if you’re trying to impress a date. There’s tons of garlic, some anchovy and seriously, broccoli (even when pureed) will find its way between your teeth. Lucky for me, I can flash a cheesy grin sprinkled with green at Manfriend and he’ll (probably) still enjoy my company. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.
This recipe came about because we had a TON of veggies to use before our bi-weekly CSA box was due to arrive. Shocking, right? I’m still amazed that we can’t get through a box of produce in 2 weeks. Anyway, my thought was to turn all the broccoli and kale into one big batch of pesto for future use. I took it easy on the salt since I figured I would probably make a pasta dish with chicken or sausage in the near future.
Pasta with Broccoli & Kale Pesto
For the pesto:
2 small heads broccoli, florets cut off and blanched
1 bunch red kale, chopped and steamed
3 cloves garlic, crushed
6 large basil leaves, chopped
3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1/4 c parmesan, grated
1/3 c olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 box cut pasta (my favorite is pipe rigate), cooked according to package directions
2 anchovy filets, minced
6 cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp white wine, broth or water
1/8-1/4 c pesto
Pulse all pesto ingredients, except for olive oil, with an immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth. Slowly stream olive oil in and puree until combined. Set aside.
Saute anchovy in a large skillet for 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes, adding in wine, broth or water when the pan gets too dry. Once mushrooms start to soften, add pasta and pesto, tossing to coat well. Cook for another minute or to to warm up pesto. Serve immediately with a some parmesan cheese if desired.
I used to get these amazing wheat noodles at A&J Restaurant in Rockville. They were topped with a salty, garlicky ground pork and I just couldn’t get enough of it. For some reason I remembered a friend saying they were Dan Dan Noodles, so naturally that’s what I googled when the craving hit.
They were not Dan Dan Noodles. This recipe did not fulfill my craving for that delicious savory bowl of chewy noodles, but it did introduce me to a yummy and fast noodle bowl!
I used leftover filling from my wonton experiment the other day, but you could easily do this with straight up ground pork or beef. I also used udon noodles because I couldn’t track down any other wide noodles.
Note that this filled 2 small bowls (not enough for Manfriend’s tum), so I’d supplement it with a large side salad or some steamed veggies.
Dan Dan Noodles (Adapted from Appetite for China)
8 oz mix ground pork & shrimp
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp ginger, grated
3 tbsp scallions, chopped
1 tbsp dry sherry
2 servings udon noodles (I used Annie Chun’s)
1/2 c beef broth
1/4 c low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp Chinese black rice vinegar
2 tbsp chili garlic paste
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons sugar
In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together all ingredients for the sauce. Microwave for 1 min just to warm things up a bit (you don’t want it boiling hot). Set aside.
Brown meat in a skillet and add garlic, ginger and scallions halfway through cooking. Deglaze pan with sherry and cook until meat is no longer pink.
Add about 2 tbsp of sauce to meat and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
As meat cooks, bring a pot of water to boil and place udon noodles in pot. Boil for 5 minutes and drain.
Toss noodles in 2-4 tbsp of sauce (start out with a little and add more if you like).
Place noodles in bowls and top with meat. Serve immediately.