Easy Pasta Sauce

We just threw this sauce together tonight for a pasta dinner. My boys loved it. Normally I’m pretty good with measuring quantities of spices, but this time we did just add a little of this and a little of that. So add your spices to taste and enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 5 – 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup red wine (Whatever is on hand, I used a red blend)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • ½ to 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • black olives, chopped – to taste (I used about ½ of a can)

Directions

Heat large (deep) skillet over medium-high heat. Add EVOO, garlic, and onion, cook until onion is soft – about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. Serve over your favorite pasta.

Enlightened Pasta Salad

Magazine purge #8! This is a healthier version of a mayo-based summer pasta salad. It had me at green olives. Rachael Ray, July/August 2013

Ingredients

  • salt & pepper
  • 10 oz short multigrain pasta, such as rigatoni or penne
  • ½ cup lightly packed whole fresh basil leaves, plus ¼ cup torn basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup halved pimiento-stuffed green olives

Directions

  1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, then rinse under cold water. Transfer pasta to a serving bowl.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, in a food processor, puree the whole basil leaves, yogurt, mayonnaise, cheese, EVOO, lemon juice, and garlic, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Pour the mixture over the pasta and toss well to coat. Stir in the tomatoes, bell pepper, olives, and torn basil. Season with pepper and toss gently.

Classic Cheese Fondue

The recipe makes much more cheese fondue than this; we dug in and ate almost the whole pot before I remembered to take a picture!

Now, I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but I love cheese. I could be a vegetarian, but never a vegan, I just couldn’t live without cheese. (My husband and I love to go out for fondue; we always end up getting the full dinner, but we’d both be happy with just the cheese and chocolate I think.)

My fondue pot came with a bunch of different cheese fondue recipes. We made the classic cheese fondue first – we love eating it so much I still haven’t tried any of the other cheese fondue recipes that it came with! One note – our fondue pot is an electric one; I have modified this recipe so you can use it with any type of fondue pot.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Gruyere cheese (not processed), grated
  • ¾ pound Emmenthal cheese, grated (we usually sub Swiss instead)
  • 6 teaspoons cornstarch (I use arrowroot)
  • 1-½ teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • 2-¼ cups dry white wine – not chardonnay (I use Pinot Grigio)
  • 2-½ tablespoons Kirschwasser (to be honest, I don’t use this, it’s such a small amount)
  • Dipping ingredients, cut into cubes or bite size

Directions

Place the grated cheese in a large bowl and toss to combine. Add the cornstarch and dry mustard and toss to coat the grated cheese completely.

Rub the bottom and lower half of the sides of the fondue pot with the cut sides of the garlic cloves. Add the white wine to the fondue pot, and then begin to heat the pot. Heat the wine to a strong simmer (bubbling, but not boiling strongly). While stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or nonstick whisk, gradually whisk in the grated cheeses, sprinkling one handful at a time; don’t add any more cheese until each handful is completely melted and smooth. The mixture will slowly thicken. When all the cheese has been added, stir in the Kirschwasser and serve. Reduce the temperature of the pot at this point to allow the fondue to simmer; it should never boil.

We like to serve our cheese fondue with bread, apples, carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli. Our fondue recipe suggests blanching the veggies to crisp-tender (we just eat them raw), or trying cooked but firm new potatoes. Enjoy!

Mexican Quiche

Another breakfast casserole! Although this one we make a lot to eat for dinner. This one comes from my mom, not sure of the source on it. This quiche does not have a crust, making it easy to put together and very tasty.

It calls for green chiles, if you want to make it hotter, use jalapenos instead for some or all of the chiles.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter
  • 10 eggs [my mom uses 11 eggs]
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Dash of salt
  • Two 8-oz cans green chiles, drained
  • 2 cups cottage cheese (16 oz)
  • 4 cups monterey jack cheese (1 pound)

Directions

Melt butter in 9″ x 13″ pan. Set aside.

In large mixing bowl, beat eggs and add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Add melted butter, leaving pan buttered. Add chiles and cheese. Mix together and pour into pan.

Bake uncovered at 350° for 45 – 60 minutes. (Test for done-ness with a knife. Be sure quiche is set and knife comes out clean.) Cut into squares while hot, but allow to cool slightly before removing from pan.

Note: This may be baked and frozen, reheat covered with foil.

Grilled Avocados

I haven’t made this yet, I grabbed this picture off of the Pinterest link. Looks great!

I have been thinking about trying grilled avocados, and I ran across this recipe on Pinterest yesterday. This would be great as a side to some grilled chicken. Or if you want it as a meatless main, what about serving it over a bed of rice with some black beans on the side?

The recipe suggests using non-fat sour cream. I’m not sure how they make non-fat sour cream, but I don’t think I’d use that.

Ingredients

Directions

Cut an avocado in half, sprinkle with olive oil and lime juice, and place face down on the grill for five minutes. Then fill with salsa and sour cream, and sprinkle on a little more lime juice.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Stuffed Baked French Toast

This french toast is so, so good. I love blueberries, I love cream cheese, and I love French toast, so it’s pretty much the perfect blend. This is another one where you put it together the night before and bake the next morning. With cream cheese, half-and-half, and powdered sugar my Grandma Beckman would have loved this. Although she would have probably taken out the blueberries and used raspberries instead.

This one I clipped from the newspaper several years ago. It states, “A make-ahead showstopper from Catherine Cavoto’s Christmas Breakfast class held at the Seasoned Chef. Serves 8.”

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf French bread
  • 1¼ cup sugar, divided use
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch [I use arrowroot]
  • 6 cups fresh blueberries
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 7 eggs
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 1½ cups half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup powdered sugar

Directions

Cut half of the French bread into 1-inch cubes and place in the bottom of a greased 9 x 13-inch pan. [I sprinkle the bread with a little cinnamon and sugar.] Combine ½ cup sugar and cornstarch until smooth and toss with blueberries.

Sprinkle blueberries evenly over bread.

Stir cream cheese and add ½ cup of sugar, sour cream, marmalade, and vanilla. Spread this mixture very gently over blueberries.

Cut remaining French bread into 10 1-inch thick slices, arrange over cream cheese.

Beat eggs, milk, half-and-half, brandy, remaining ¼ cup of sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and pour over bread.

Cover and refrigerate over night.

Preheat oven to 350°. Bake for 45 minutes covered, then uncover for approximately 15 minutes to allow top to puff slightly and set. Allow to cool slightly. Sift powdered sugar over before serving.

Greek Pasta Salad

I ran across this recipe by accident last week (courtesy of the family kitchen blog) , just in time for a gathering with friends last weekend. This was delicious! No cooking required, except the pasta.

We made a big batch, it was delicious! The olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano dressing was perfect.

Now, this recipe says it serves 6 – 10 people, with only one cup of uncooked pasta. That must mean as a side. This dish has so much going it could serve as a main course.

I upped the quantity quite a bit, we had a gathering of 6 families, and of course made a minor change or two. I will put in quantities where I know them, I eyeballed a few things (which if you know me, this is a miracle of sorts).

Ingredients

  • red onion, sliced thin (you decide how much you want)
  • 1/2 English cucumber, cut into chunks [I used 1½ cucumbers]
  • 3-4 Roma tomatoes, cut into chunks [I used grape tomatoes cut in half; almost a whole pack.]
  • 1 red, orange or yellow pepper, cored and cut into chunks [1 red, 1 yellow]
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives [eyeball, I used ½ Kalamata olives and ½ California black olives for this crowd]
  • 1/2 cup cubed or crumbled feta [eyeball this one]
  • 1 cup dry rotini or other chunky pasta shape [I cooked about 4 cups dry, almost a pound]
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped (optional) [eyeball]
  • juice of 1-2 lemons [3 lemons]
  • extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), to taste
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano, crumbled or 1/2 tsp fresh oregano, minced [eyeball]
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain well and rinse under cool water to stop it from cooking. [I tossed with some EVOO at this point, and then started cutting my vegetables and adding to the pasta, as I wasn’t sure exactly how much of each I needed.]

Combine the vegetables, olives, feta and pasta and toss well. Start dressing it with the juice of 1 fresh lemon, add a glug of olive oil, oregano and salt and pepper. Toss again, and taste to see if you need more lemon, oil or seasoning. Keep chilled until ready to serve, and toss again just before serving.