Posts Tagged ‘pasta’

Seconds

October 25, 2010

I’ve been really busy. Life is busy. I appreciate (or try to appreciate) each day.

Work, birthdays, friends, family, house, boyfriend, yoga and cooking fill up 100% of my time and I love it. The only thing that I can think of that’s missing is more time. That’s why balance is really important and to be honest, I’m still working on it.

I guess I’ve always had the whole concept of “time” on my mind. While moving into our new house, I discovered an old diary of mine. The first entry was a poem I wrote on October 6, 1999 titled Seconds:

Seconds

Time lost in each second is time which has disappeared. Lost in the midst of thoughts, only leaving the ticking echo that is often not heard.

I was 15 and probably freaking out about something, feeling ignored. Or just being a teenager.

Now that I look back at it, I would prefer to interpret my poem the complete opposite way. I think everyone could probably do a little bit of a better job appreciating the ticking clock and what life is all about. I’m lucky enough to have learned what this is all about from my dad.

Anyways, that’s my super cheesy life lesson for today.  

Time can also produce delicious food. Like meatballs!

Meatballs are another one of those meals that are pretty easy to make, but do take a little energy and time. Pour yourself a nice glass of wine and play some tunes and they will be ready in no time (no pun intended). I always like to make a huge pot so that there are plenty of leftovers. I also live with two boys.

Meatballs

  • 1 package ground beef (turkey, chicken or pork)
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 carrot stick, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 10 drops Worcestershire sauce
  • Chopped fresh parsley (to taste)
  • Salt, pepper and chili flakes (to taste)
  • 1 jar tomato sauce (homemade or store bought)

(Tip – instead of chopping all the veggies, I just throw them all in a food processor until they are finely chopped. A couple of pulses and you are done)

Heat the oil in a pan. Sauté the chopped veggies until soft. Turn off the heat and sprinkle in the salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, parmesan and parsley. Set aside to cool.

In a bowl, mix the remaining ingredients. Get down and dirty with your hands, they are the best tool for this. When the veggies have cooled enough to touch, stir the mixture into the meat. Mix really well. If the meat looks dry, add a few drops of water for moisture.

Heat up the tomato sauce in a large pot so that it’s ready to go for when you need it. I like to leave this going on medium low heat.

Start forming your meatballs. When all your meatballs are formed, heat a large pan on medium high and gently brown the meatballs on each side (GENTLY lay them in a single layer in the pan and GENTLY turn them). When browned, add them to the simmering tomato sauce. Don’t overcrowd the pan. You may need to do this in batches.

When all of your meatballs have been added to the tomato sauce, cover the sauce with a lid and let simmer for 45 minutes on medium low. Mix every so often to avoid burning on the bottom.

Serve with your favourite type of pasta and garlic bread.  Mmmmmm….

In other news – Rob Ford, REALLY?

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Stuffed Shells

March 23, 2010

For whatever reason, I’ve been really taping into my inner Italian.  After all, who can resist the infamous FWPP (fashion, wine, pasta and pizza)? And yes… I did just make that up.

This week, my Sunday night dinner project had stuffed pasta shells on the menu.  I decided to fill them with a Bolognese/lasagna style meat sauce, complete with copious amounts of mozzarella cheese. Is your mouth watering yet?

I was extremely pleased with the result and really enjoyed the leftovers for lunch today. The assembly did take a little bit of time, but the end result was well worth it!

Stuffing

  • 1 package extra lean ground beef (or chicken, sausage, turkey…whatever you prefer)
  • 1 bottle tomato sauce (to avoid sodium induced jar sauces try this recipe by Jamie Oliver)
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 celery stick, roughly chopped
  • ½ an onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Start by placing all of the veggies that are coarsely chopped into a food processor (if you don’t have one, you can use a grater, but this method will take much longer). Mix until all the veggies are finely chopped.

In a deep pot, heat 2 tbsp olive oil and sauté the veggie mixture for about 5-10 minutes on medium high to build flavour.

Add the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Add the can of tomato paste and sauté for another 5 minutes to keep building on this flavour.

Add the ground beef and stir until browned. Add the tomato sauce and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring from time to time. Let the mixture cool a little bit before handling and then stir in 2 cups of the grated cheese.

Cook the large pasta shells according to package directions.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees and grease a large baking dish or casserole.

Spoon in about a tbsp of the mixture in each shell and then place in the baking dish, in a single layer. Once all the shells are stuffed, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top (add more if you wish). Bake for about 20 minutes until all the cheese is melted and golden brown.

I served them with asparagus that I roasted on a cookie tray for ten minutes while the shells were in the oven. I drizzled them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a tsp of dijon mustard, a minced garlic clove and salt and pepper.

Spaghetti Night

January 3, 2010

Who doesn’t love pasta?

As a kid, I always remember eating spaghetti when my brothers had soccer. Carbs = energy. It was also a meal that I think we all enjoyed and quick and easy to make. I think that almost everyone can think of a childhood memory eating spaghetti with family or friends.

A few months ago, I saw one of Jamie Oliver’s most recent tv specials that revealed a few harsh realities about store-bought spaghetti sauce. Most of the sauces on the market are full of preservatives and copious amounts of sodium. This combination of ingredients is really not good for anyone.

Since its January and the beginning of a new year, I’m going to try to make a few positive (and easy) changes with the food that I eat and make. My spaghetti tonight was inspired by Jamie’s 20 minute tomato sauce, which I encourage everyone to try. It is super easy, delicious and much healthier for you. It also provides you with the opportunity to customize it the way you like it. http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetarian-recipes/the-quickest-tomato-sauce

Here’s how I did mine tonight. I had the time to simmer it for a while, which isn’t necessary, but does help reduce down the flavours a bit more.

Spaghetti Sauce

  • 1 pkg lean ground beef
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (whole plum tomatoes work better…I just didn’t have any on hand)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 of an onion, chopped finely
  • 1 bell pepper, julienned  
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp chili flakes (use less if you don’t want the heat)
  • 1 tbsp italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In a blender or food processor, blend the can of diced tomatoes until smooth. In a saucepan heat about 1 tbsp olive oil and gently sautee the onion and garlic to release the flavour. Add blended tomatoes. Add all the spices and tomato paste and simmer gently.

In the meantime, brown the ground beef and drain off any excess fat. When ready, add the ground beef to the tomato sauce. Simmer on medium low for 1-2 hours (or longer if you want).

About 5 minutes before serving, add the bell peppers. This will ensure that they stay crisp and delicious.

Serve with garlic bread and pasta of your choice. I used whole wheat spaghetti tonight. 

Well it’s back to work tomorrow…with some great leftovers!

Mac and Cheese

January 1, 2010

Happy New Year y`all!

What better way to start 2010 than some southern home cooking. Mac and Cheese pretty much combines many of my great loves all in one single dish. Cheese, pasta, butter and some more cheese. How can you go wrong with that?

I will also argue that Mac and Cheese does not have to be a high calorie, fat drenched dish. I used Skim Milk in place of cream and limited the amount of butter. The end result is still heaven on a plate.

I am also the proud new owner of some fancy new dishes and a 12 megapixel camera. Plating is just going to keep getting better. Thanks Santa(s)!

Mac and Cheese (to feed a crowd…6-8 people)

  • 1 litre skim milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ of an onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed but kept whole
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp light cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • Half a bag of elbow macaroni (about 500 grams)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the Breadcrumb Topping:

  • 1 ½ cups breadcrumbs
  • 1-2 tbsp butter, melted

Start by lightly sautéing the roughly chopped onion and garlic in a little bit of butter or oil. Once soft (about 2 minutes), add in the milk, bay leaves, cream cheese, sour cream, mustard, salt and pepper. Simmer the milk mixture on medium low for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Try not to let the milk boil, a gentle simmer to infuse all the ingredients is what works best.

Cook elbow macaroni until al dente in salted water, drain and set aside. Grease a baking dish and heat oven to 425 degrees.

Pour milk mixture through a strainer to get the onion, bay leaves, etc. out and then pour back into the pot. Combine the butter and flour with a fork (butter needs to be room temperature) and then add into the milk mixture, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Gently cook until the sauce thickens, add the shredded cheddar cheese. Toss in the macaroni and then pour into the baking dish.

Melt the butter for the topping and mix together with the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle on top of the macaroni and bake until golden brown (about 15 minutes).

I served the Mac and Cheese with some homemade creamy coleslaw. Delish!