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Posts Tagged ‘Matchstick Pasta’

Cooking has been a bit difficult lately, especially on a weeknight. I usually get home from work around 5:00, which means that I only have a few hours to play with Julia since her bedtime is 7:30. It also means that I do not want to spend very much time in the kitchen cooking. So I have been searching for quick recipes… I have found a few good ones.

Soup is a good weeknight meal. It usually makes a bunch, which means that you can have it a couple of times during the week. I have been loving this Leek Soup with Dill Oil, which I found on the 101 Cookbooks site. I have altered it a bit… I do not use any butter, I use an extra potato, I leave it chunky, and I do not add any of the items that she suggests (although they would probably be good to add). I have made it numerous times and it’s definitely a keeper. I usually serve it with a pressed sandwich, leftover pizza, or just a few slices of bread.

Gnocchi is one of my favorite foods. It’s comfort food for me, so it is another dish that I make all the time. I love it with pesto, prosciutto, spinach, goat cheese, and either pumpkin seeds or walnuts. I have also made it with a roasted tomato sauce. To roast the tomatoes, you simply slice a pint of tomatoes and add some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, some of your favorite herbs (I use parsley and oregano), and some capers. The capers are key, so do not omit them. The sauce is delicious, especially on gnocchi! :)

Another recipe that is one of my cooking staples is the Matchstick Pasta recipe, which I also found on the 101 Cookbooks site. This is by far the easiest dish to make! During one of my shopping outings I could not find any pomegranate seeds. I was so upset since I was really craving the dish. I decided to try dried cranberries as a substitute… it worked great!

Pizza is another staple… I find myself making it every week. I usually use Bobolis for the crust, which makes it easy. My favorite toppings are pesto, prosciutto, spinach, and goat cheese. A while ago I found this really delicious pepperoni by Applegate Farms, so I decided to try a peperoni pizza. I used tomato sauce, mozzarella, green peppers, mushrooms, peperoni, and a few thinly sliced onion pieces. It was so good! It is now part of my pizza cycle.

In my recent issue of the Whole Living magazine, I discovered a nice quick dish. You simply sautée some garlic with a few sprinkles of pepper flakes, then you add some chopped kale, and sautée it until wilted and cooked through. Lastly, you add some peas and cook them for a bit. Once done, you serve it with some cooked rice and topped with an over-easy egg. It’s so quick and delicious!

Another dish that I would like to mention is the Peanut Sesame Noodles, which I found on the Smitten Kitchen site. I made this dish recently and I was surprised how easy it was to make. I wondered why I do not make it more often. I did modify it a bit. I do not make the sauce in a food processor. I simply whisk it and it works just as well. I do not use tofu… I have topped it with cooked chicken (usually the rotisserie chicken from Wegmans) and shrimp.

If I am really pressed for time, sandwiches with sweet potato fries are my to go dish. I usually keep a bag of sweet potato fries in the freezer… I love the Alexia sweet potato fries. I also keep veggie burgers and fake chicken patties by Quorn. Chicken patties on a bun are a favorite. :)

I hope that a few of these dishes will become some of your favorite weeknight meals!

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I have embarked on a new adventure: pregnancy. (!!!) After being on the fence for about 7 or 8 years, Joel and I finally decided to have a baby.

My nephew played a huge part in our decision. We had a few opportunities to spend time with him over the past year: 10 days in St John in February, 5 days in Chicago in October, and another 7 days in the beginning of November here in Rochester. As soon as my brother and Jack left Rochester, Joel and I looked at each other and we immediately knew that we were ready. A few weeks later, I found myself in Wegmans shopping for a pregnancy test. I knew that I was pregnant (so much for it taking up to a year to happen per my doctor’s comment… HA!). Apparently all the planets aligned and it was the right time. I was ready in every possible way.

My nephew Jack... now does it make sense? I mean... just look at him. :)

My pregnancy has not been too bad so far. I did not experience any morning sickness, which I feel very lucky about. One thing that I have had is food aversions, which has been making my culinary experience a bit challenging.

I am unable to eat any meat, since it smells and tastes horribly. I realized this as I was feeding my kitty his chicken in gravy dinner. His food smelled appalling. Then that same evening, I cooked some chicken. Just disgusting! I am pretty bummed by this since I can no longer eat Bánh Mì sandwiches.

Another thing that I cannot eat is green peppers. Joel and I met for lunch at Chipotle one day and I ordered my usual: two tacos with brown rice, sautéed green peppers and onions, corn salsa, guacamole, and lettuce. I took one bite of my taco and my entire lunch was ruined. I have not had peppers since.

The same happened with nuts (walnuts, cashews, pecans, and almonds). Just no good! Luckily pistachios and pumpkin seeds still tasted ok, since the Matchstick Pasta recipe is on my dinner list pretty frequently and my favorite cereal contains pumpkin seeds. I tasted an almond two weeks ago and it actually tasted good, so I have been snacking on a few lately.

Cooking onions and garlic is also appalling, which is not good since most dishes require these two cooking staples.

The last thing that really bummed me was the aversion to chocolate. Just sad!! I really hope that this changes soon, because I really miss chocolate.

Aside from all these aversions, food still does taste good. Especially Bosc pears, clementines, avocados, blueberries, Pirates Booty Veggie snacks, fish, and salad just to name a few things. So my culinary experience is not completely in ruins.

My belly at 14 weeks.

The last thing that I would like to mention is my growing belly. I frequently find myself rubbing it and talking to the baby. Don’t get me wrong… I have my moments. Sometimes when I look in the mirror it looks like I’ve just eaten 10,000 donuts. But then I remember that it is not true and I feel better. Also, the fact that I have a baby growing in my belly is just mind-blowing! I still cannot believe it. I have experienced a few strange but also amazing things during the past 14 weeks. For example, I knew right away that I was pregnant. I cannot explain the feeling that I had… I just knew. Also, slouching is not too comfortable since I can feel this thing pushing up towards my ribs. I have been told that it will get even worse once the baby gets bigger. Same goes with leaning forward. My bathroom mirror is fairly far from the sink so I have to lean forward to look into it. Whenever I do that, I can feel this ball like thing falling forward towards the front of my belly. So strange! And when I try sucking my stomach in, nothing happens. HA!

My favorite moments so far have been the ultrasounds. I love seeing the baby. The fun part is that the baby was constantly moving during every ultrasound. It is getting ready to pedal, run, and dance. :)

My sweet pea. :)

I look forward to the future experiences that this new adventure will bring. I am sure that there will be many.

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As I wandered around the downtown public market last Saturday, I stumbled upon the most beautiful bunch of basil. “Ooo… I can make pesto!”, I told my friend Kathy who joined me for the market outing. Pestos are some of my favorite dishes to make.

They are super simple, and the result is just delicious. Also, each batch usually makes a fair amount, so you can use it for multiple dishes. It also freezes really well.

My all time favorite pesto is an arugula pesto. My friend Bruce brought me an amazing cookbook from a restaurant that I hope to visit one day. It’s my dream. The restaurant is called Hell’s Backbone Grill and is located in Utah. The restaurant grows all of their vegetables onsite and seeks all of their meats and dairy from local farmers. How amazing is that!! And to add to that, the restaurant is owned by two women. Even more amazing!! :) The cookbook is called With a Measure of Grace: The Story and Recipes of a Small Town Restaurant. I never thought about making pesto with arugula, but it was just delicious! The pesto includes arugula, spinach, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, and salt and pepper. That’s it. It is definitely a favorite.

Toasting the pumpkin seeds.

Another favorite is the pistachio pesto, which is used in the Matchstick Pasta recipe from 101 Cookbooks. I have written about the recipe not too long ago (Matchstick Pasta post). That particular pesto does not require any greens, but it is just as delicious.

Throughout the years, I have experimented with different nuts and greens. The different nuts are what make the pesto more interesting, perhaps more so than the greens. You can use any nut, really. I have tried walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, macadamia nuts, pistachios, and pecans. The possibilities are endless! Also, due to my lactose intolerance, I no longer include cheese in my pestos. I really do not miss it at all. I think that they are just as good without it.

Back to the beautiful bunch of basil… For this particular pesto, I decided to use basil, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and of course olive oil and salt and pepper. I believe that a key enhancement to any pesto is to toast the nuts that you are using. It really brings out the flavors. I also do not like my pesto very oily, so I usually do not use the typical amount of oil. I use just enough to hold it all together. The pesto made a great sauce for a pasta that was topped with grilled chicken and goat cheese. We savored every bite!

I was lucky to find more basil and a bunch of arugula at the market this week. I foresee more pesto in the near future!

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I have not been cooking anything too elaborate lately. I have been sticking to my trusted simple dishes. One of my favorite dishes in the world (yes… I said in the world!) is the Matchstick Pasta. I found the dish a long time ago on the 101 Cookbooks site, and have been making it fairly regularly. It is super simple and amazingly delicious. I am not kidding! I have made it for a fair amount of people and all of them have fallen in love with it.

Matchstick Pasta

The recipe includes a pistachio pesto, kale, pomegranate seeds, and pasta. That’s it!

Pistachios for pesto

The pistachio pesto is very simple to make. Simply add a cup or so of pistachios, some olive oil, and a garlic clove in a food processor, whirl it around until it resembles pesto, and voilà… you have pistachio pesto!

Pistachio pesto

I know what you are saying… kale, really?!?! I promise that if you eat this dish, you will fall in love with it. I have never been a big fan of kale either. I have only seen it used as a plate-decorating piece. But then I cooked it in this dish, and ever since then, I cannot get enough of it. I use it fairly regularly now. It is supposed to be super good for you too, so that is always a plus. :)

I feel very lucky to be able to purchase pomegranate seeds. I am not a big fan of separating the seeds from a whole pomegranate. It is very messy, and the utensils as well as your hands turn red.

Whole-wheat fettucine

My favorite pasta for this dish is the fresh whole-wheat fettuccine. The pasta gives the dish a nutty flavor, which I love. Regular pasta, however, works just as well.

As I mentioned before, I truly love this dish. If I were stuck on a deserted island and this was the only dish available, I would be in heaven. :)

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