So, I remember years ago, it was Thanksgiving 2004. My parents and sister decided to join my husband and me at my in-law's house for Thanksgiving dinner. After dinner my parents, sister and I drove to King of Prussia for some Black Friday shopping while my husband spend a few days with his dad at a hunting camp. I was so excited to go to King of Prussia Mall again! A place I had yearned to go to for years, then when I lived in West Chester I was able to frequent often and became quite familiar with this beautiful mammoth. This trip was also exciting for me because my husband and I had just signed the papers to buy/build a new townhouse with a shiny new stainless steel kitchen! After spending 12 hours in a mall full of endless choices I found myself leaving with two small bags. One bag from Pottery Barn with a few Christmas ornaments. And one bag from Williams-Sonoma with a shiny new cookbook filled with healthy recipes! A brand new kitchen and a new cookbook filled with HEALTHY recipes!?!? I could hardly contain my excitement! This could be life-changing!
Fast forward a few months to when we moved into our new house with the shiny kitchen. At that point life was pretty crazy. Not only were we in the middle of a move, but I was also a few months pregnant with sweet little JP! Cooking was the last thing on my mind. And so the cookbook sat....sat on a shelf, then in a closet and most recently in a box in the garage. Sure, I'd made one or two recipes from it but for the most part, this book just got pushed aside for something else.
A few weeks ago when I'd realized I'd eaten a few too many cupcakes I was tempted to buy a new, healthy cookbook. Just then I remember this little gem and started to search for it. I found it in a plastic tote in the garage and I'm so happy I did! Looking through it now the recipes seem FAR less involved and complicated as I thought they were back in 2004. Maybe it's because I'm a much better cook than I was then, but I think alot of it is because so many ingredients are so widely available today compared to 2004 (Broccolini?? Goat Cheese??). Overall, this is one of the easiest dishes I've ever made. There is very little prep work, it comes together very quickly and it's a perfect pasta dish for the warm summer months up ahead. If you don't usually salt your pasta water make sure you do AND make sure you use the recommended 2 tablespoons. You'll thank me later!!
Pasta with Tomatoes, Arugula & Goat Cheese
3/4 pound ziti, fusilli or cavatappi
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 cups loosely packed arugula
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup (1 ounce) fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt to the boiling water before adding the pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Before draining pasta, reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Drain pasta, mix in arugula and place in a warm bowl.
While the pasta is cooking, add olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once oil heats up add tomatoes to the pan and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Place over warm pasta. Add crumbled goat cheese, tossing to combine all ingredients. Add a little of the reserved pasta water if the dish is a bit dry. Season with fresh ground pepper to taste.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Healthful Cooking
What a weekend! I don't know why, but I made myself a kitchen to-do list that was simply insane! I had 14 different recipes on my list and I managed to accomplish 12 of them between Friday night and Saturday night! I was tired but it felt good to cook up some wholesome meals for the weekend and to have leftovers for lunches all week. We are challenging ourselves not to eat at any restaurants during February. What better way to do this than to stock the house with yummy things we love to eat! Some of this weekend's creations included bread, rolls, taquitos, pizza, enchiladas and chocolate chip pancakes - all from Annie's Eats. If you haven't checked her site out yet, you really should! Some of the recipes I'll be sharing here over the next few posts will be Meatballs and Marinara Sauce (which we made into yummy Meatball Sandwiches), Heart Shaped Sugar Cookies, and Baked Potato Soup. I hope you give some of these recipes a try and let me know your thoughts!
The recipe for the meatballs is my mom's tried-and-true recipe. I made 13 meatballs from the batch, but you could easily make them smaller and make 18-20. The marinara sauce is a relatively new recipe for me. I'd been making the same recipe for years and was really sick of it. This new recipe is quickly becoming a family favorite!
Meatballs and Marinara Sauce
Makes 18-20 Meatballs
For the Marinara Sauce
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
2 x 28 ounces cans whole-peeled tomatoes - I prefer San Marzano
1 cup water
1/4 cup fresh basil, torn
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Combine olive oil, garlic cloves and red pepper flakes in a large saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the garlic is golden, about 5-6 minutes. Add tomatoes to pan and crush with your hands or a wooden spoon. Rinse tomato can with 1 cup of water and add to saucepan. Add basil and season with salt. Increase heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, until thick, about 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally.
For the Meatballs
1 lb ground beef (I used 80% ground chuck)
1/2 lb ground veal
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1 cup plain, dried breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I like Parmigiano Reggiano)
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix together with your hands, being mindful not to over-mix. Form into 18-20 meatballs. Add meatballs to the simmering sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, until meatballs are cooked through and sauce is thickened, 1-2 hours.
The finished product with some provolone and a fresh baked roll!
Marinara Sauce: Slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine, March 2010
Meatballs: Mimi's original :)
_In our house Spaghetti Sunday is a tradition...a way of life. It wouldn't be Sunday without a yummy, indulgent spaghetti dish. This dish gives you just that! It's creamy yet light because of the lemon and parsley. Non-lemon lovers need not worry - the lemon flavor is very subtle. Our two girls both asked for seconds. A success!!
1 pound penne pasta
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
Pinch of salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
Pinch of black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
Zest of 1 lemon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite. Drain
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with herbs de Provence and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook the chicken until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and set aside. Pour off any excess oil from the pan. Add the chicken broth to the pan and cook over medium-high heat. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the cream, lemon zest and cayenne. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the pasta, chicken, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, chopped parsley and lemon juice. Toss to coat the pasta and chicken with the sauce and serve.
Slightly adapted from Everyday Pasta by Giada De Laurentiis
Pittsburgh area mom striving to provide clean, healthy, REAL food for her family!