Tuesday, July 22, 2014

One Pot - Garden Vege Creamy Pasta

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I tried a recipe that I found on Pinterest that really caught my attention.  It is called One Pot Zucchini Mushroom Pasta.  I had to try it.  I'll share the link HERE because this blogger actually has an actual recipe on that blog post.  I am SO GLAD I saw this pin.  It's fantastic!  Impressive to say the least!  And the pictures just reel you in.  Mmmmm!   


I'm just going to tell you how I did it since I love the method to making this dish.  I never thought of cooking the pasta AND the vegetables together in one pot!  Talk about a "duh" moment!  


I LOVE recipes that I can make my own.  I especially love when I can use whatever I have on hand in my garden or in my pantry to come up with something delicious to eat.  This is one of those kind of recipes.  You can use whatever vegetables you have and whatever kind of pasta you have, and have something really, really delicious!


Basically you cook the chopped vegetables and the pasta in salted water all together in one pot.  Then you dump off a little of the water (not all of the water), add some cream and some parmesan, stir well, and put a lid on it.  There it sits to thicken as the pasta absorbs some of the liquids still left in the pot. 


The greatest part about this recipe is that you can use whatever pasta you have at home and whatever vegetables you have at home, and ... well... make something to eat!  How wonderful is that?  It tastes fresh and yet light and wonderfully creamy.  I was completely shocked at how just a little bit of cream and a little bit of parmesan cheese (and I used the kind in the green can for heaven's sake!) can turn out a dish grand enough to serve to company.  I'm sure you could use a little bit of fresh cheese, like cheddar, mozerella, or even (eek) that strange processed orange "cheese" in the box, if that's all you have.


I would think this would be a great way to encourage little ones to eat their vegetables.  What little kid doesn't want to dive into macaroni & cheese?  So... maybe the mac & cheese has a "few" extras in there.  What's such a big deal about that?? LOL  -  (My kid, personally would have freaked, but probably if I had started her younger - say two years old, she might not have been so freaked out about seeing veges in her mac & cheese.)


OK... enough la - de - dah... here's how I made One Pot Garden Vege Creamy Pasta AT HOME MY WAY:



One Pot - Garden Vege Creamy Pasta

  •  Chopped fresh vegetables (I used some frozen peas and they were great), such as zucchini, asparagus, carrots, green beans (not canned), green pepper, yellow squash, mushrooms
  • Boxed pasta (spaghetti, ziti, penne, shell pasta, bow tie pasta, whatever you have) (You don't have to use much.  I just used a small bundle of spaghetti a little bigger than a quarter.  If using small pasta like macaroni, penne, - 1 cup of pasta would suffice.)
  • Cream, milk, or half & half (I used cream, which at the store they call "whipping cream") (Less than 1/4 cup will be needed.)
  • Salt
  • Water

Instructions: 

Place the chopped vegetables in a pot.  I was serving my dish as a side so I used a small/med saucepan.  Feel free to use as many vegetables as you want.


Cover with water enough that you will be able to add pasta to the pot, and so that the pasta will be able to float freely in the water swimming around comfortably in there.  I covered my vegetables with a good 2 inches of  HOT water.

Heat the water to boiling.  Salt the water (making sure to get enough salt) and add the pasta:


Stir a few times as the pasta starts to cook and comes to a boil so that it doesn't sink to the bottom or all stick together in one big gob.

Lightly simmer/boil for 8-10 minutes until the pasta is just cooked done - not super duper soft.  (Take a taste of the pasta halfway through the cooking process to see if you have enough salt.  If not, add a little more salt.)  Remove from the stove, turn off the burner.

Dump off some of the water.  I used a cracked lid so that I didn't lose any pasta/vegetables as I drained off some water.  Dump off the water until it is just below the surface of the cooked pasta/vegetables.  Do not drain all the water off.  Leave some water in there.

Add some cream or milk.  How much will be relative to how much pasta/vegetables you are cooking.  I used less than 1/4 cup.

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Stir. 

Place the lid on, making the sure burner is off, and let sit for about 10 minutes or until the pasta has absorbed all of the water.

Stir occasionally.

Serve with additional parmesan cheese.

(My ratio of vegetables to pasta is a little off.  I would have liked more vegetables but I didn't know just how to do it the first time.  The meal was STELLAR though!  Definitely going to make this often!)




Enjoy!


Gina


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Monday, June 23, 2014

Frozen French Fries - Loaded - Cooked on the Grill - WHAT?

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Rebecca wanted to try a recipe for making loaded (frozen) french fries on the grill the other night.  These turned out WONDERFUL so I had to put them on my blog.  We served them with shish kabobs, which we also made on the grill. 


We often bake our french fries.  We hardly ever fry anything anymore so if we have crinkle cut fries, I usually bake them on a cookie sheet.  Our temps here in mid Missouri have been approaching 90 so I really wanted to keep all of the cooking outside if possible.


Cooking frozen french fries on the barbecue grill sounded a little far fetched.  I couldn't imagine it (but it was on Pinterest so it had to work LOL)!  My fear was that they wouldn't get done at all ...but when your kid gets excited about cooking something and wants to do it all HERSELF, who am I to argue?  Not me!  Not only did these loaded fries get done, they were divine smothered in cheese, bacon, and green onions.  We topped that already over-the-top side with sour cream- YUM.  Healthy?  Not so much.  But DELICIOUS?  Yes! And it kept all the cooking outside for supper so that was something too, right?


These would be great tailgate food or appetizers!  I'm just sayin'..


Here's how we made Frozen French Fries (loaded) on the Grill - AT HOME MY WAY:



Frozen French Fries (loaded)
on the Grill

  • Frozen fries (we used crinkle cut)
  • Butter/Margarine (1 Tablespoon per packet.)
  • Seasonings (salt/pepper/onion powder/seasoning salt- your choice)
  • Foil
  • Toppings (we used grated sharp cheddar cheese, sliced green onions, bacon)
  • Sour cream (to be added at the table) (optional)
Instructions:

(NOTE:  We put these on the grill BEFORE THE MEAT so that we were sure they were going to get done.)

Tear off a sheet of foil .  Place one or two servings of fries (frozen) in the center of each foil "packet".  Sprinkle on seasonings. Make little foil bowls around the fries - not sealing but leaving open on the top.  Cut the margarine into small cubes and place all around on the fries.  

Place the packets on indirect heat on the hot barbecue grill and cook for approximately 20-25 minutes or until fries look done.  

Sprinkle with green onion slices, bacon, cheese.  Let heat until melted.

Can add sour cream at the table.



I shared this post AT (come ON OVER to find LOTS of great ideas):


A Bright and Beautiful Life


Enjoy!



Gina



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Monday, June 16, 2014

Ditch the Box - Homemade Cold Cereal / Granola

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I used to pretty much think you only ate granola sprinkled on things.  I like to eat it sprinkled on yogurt, on Homemade Yogurt Parfaits, and applesauce, or for snacking by the handful - but but then I read on a blog somewhere about eating it with milk, in a bowl, like boxed cereal.  Duh... I'm not sure why that never occurred to me but I am so glad I tried it.  It's super delicious!

You know how cereal commercials always go on and on about their products not getting soggy in milk?  Well, homemade granola NEVER gets soggy.  And there's no weird ingredients to keep it from getting soggy.  Just good old fashioned homemade goodness like toasted oats and nuts that don't get soggy anyway. 

I actually stopped buying cold cereal years ago  and subbed into our breakfast options things like Chocolate Chip/Blueberry Muffins, Frozen "Toaster" French Toast, homemade smoothies, toast, and things like that.  I actually was a big cold cereal fan.. and not the healthy stuff.  I favored things like Crunch Berries, Cocoa Puffs, and Sugar Smacks (eek! LOL).  But I love this just as well!  Seriously! I sometimes crave a bowl of cereal with icy cold milk, especially when the weather heats up - so I was tickled to try homemade granola and milk as a homemade cold cereal.

My favorite way to eat granola as cold cereal is with dried blueberries.  I get these at my local Walmart.  Dried blueberries aren't as dry as raisins.  They still offer lots of juicy blueberry punch!  I also like sliced bananas in my cold granola/milk.

This post is not a new recipe.  This is the same Perfect Granola recipe that I have always made.  (I look forward to trying some recipes for chocolate granola because I really love chocolate cold cereal, but I haven't found a recipe I'm sold on just yet.)  

Here's how I DITCHED THE BOX of cold cereal and make Homemade Cold Cereal - Perfect Granola AT HOME MY WAY:


PERFECT GRANOLA - cold cereal

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/2 cup oil (I use Canola) 
  • 1/2 cup honey 
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon 
  • 2 tsp. vanilla 
  • 7 cups oats (I use old fashioned, NOT quick cooking) chopped pecans, sliced almonds, etc. (just make sure your combined oats/nuts only equals 7 cups)
Instructions:

In a small pot, mix brown sugar, oil and honey.  Bring to a low bowl.  

Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon and vanilla.

In a large bowl, mix oats/nuts.  

Pour heated liquid ingredients over.  Stir well.

Spread coated oats/nuts into a 10 x 13 pan (I use a broiler pan for this.  I either spray it with cooking spray first or use a sheet of parchment paper - which I fold up and reuse over and over each time I make granola.)

Bake at 375° (make sure the oven is fully preheated) for 10 minutes. 

Take out and stir.

Return the pan to the oven.  Turn oven off. 

Let sit in the off oven until golden brown (stir occasionally) - another 20 minutes or so.  Remove it from the oven if it looks like it's getting too toasty.

Let cool before mixing in any dried ingredients, fruit, chocolate chips, etc.

I store mine in a glass jar.  It keeps for a month,. at least.



Enjoy!




Gina




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