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Pork Dragon Noodles

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I may or may not have a current obsession with Asian-inspired dishes.  I blame Trader Joe's Chicken Chow Mein.  It's a super quick and tasty dish that I've been making and taking to work for lunches.  I add my own spices because I can't leave a packaged and preserved dish alone.  FYI - you should most definitely amp up your packaged dishes with additional spices.  No regrets.

At any rate, I've been trying to beef up my workout game over the past few weeks and so the timing of this new carb-loving phase in life is quite appreciated.  My favorite noodles are vermicelli, but I also really love ramen noodles.  I've definitely indulged in a few (aka several) bowls of ramen noodles over the course of high school, college, graduate school, and at various other points in my life.  I always have a stash of Cup o' Noodles with me, or some other similar version of the same thing.  I mean, if you haven't tried Cup o' Noodles yet, how are you even getting through life right now?

Here, we're elevating our packaged ramen noodles.  We're discarding the fake seasonings and tossing in our own, along with a protein to help create a balanced meal.  This dish is nothing short of amazing.  The only issue I had was that I felt it only made 2 servings.  This might be a personal gluttonous issues though....Ever since making this, I'm now obsessed with eating all the noodles in sight!

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Pork Dragon Noodles
makes 2 generous servings or 4 smaller servings

Print Recipe

Dragon Sauce -

  • 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic

Pork and Noodles -

  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 6 oz ramen noodles
  • 3 green onions
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, crumbled
  • olive oil, optional (see note in instructions)

1) In a bowl, whisk together the sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, and garlic.  Set aside.

2) Add the ground pork to a large sauce pan and saute over medium heat until fully browned.  (Note - I didn't need to add any olive oil to the pan to saute the pork, but if your pork is lean, then you may need a drizzle to keep it from sticking to the pan.  If you have quite a bit of oil after browning the meat, drain the excess oil and )

3) Once the meat is browned, pour the sauce into the pan.  Add in the crumbled almonds.  Allow the pork and nuts to simmer together for ~5 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced by half.

4) Meanwhile, boil a pot of water for the ramen noodles.  Once the water is boiling, add in the noodles and cook according to the package directions.  Once done, drain the noodles.

5) Add the noodles to the saucepan and toss everything until combined.  Sprinkle the sliced green onions on top and serve right away.

--recipe from Budget Bytes

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Cheeseburger Gnocchi

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I like winter.  I really do.  But I'm SO READY for summer!

I just can't deal with these continuous Nor'Easters, or even just the cold weather in general.  After a few days of being in New Orleans and wishing it was warmer there, I returned to the NY area and was immediately smacked with cold wind to the face.  Note to self - Appreciate the warmth when you have it!

This cold is driving me to continue to cook warm and hearty food.  I know I should be living for salads at some point but I just can't bring myself to eat only greens just yet.  I'm still here for my slow cooker, saucy, carb-loaded meals.  It still feels like winter outside, right?  So why not?

I've had this cheeseburger gnocchi recipe on my radar since last winter.  It's honestly been that long but I'm nothing if not committed to food.  I finally got a chance to make this recently and it was basically one of the best decisions I've made in 2018.  Pats self on the back.  If you want to live your best life, I suggest you also get into this.  You can eat a salad tomorrow.

 

Cheeseburger Gnocchi
makes 4-6 servings

Print Recipe

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 16 oz package potato gnocchi
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • 2 cups diced onion (about 3/4 - 1 whole onion)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (10-oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken broth (or water)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions


1) Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the gnocchi in a single layer and cook until browned and toasted on one side.  Shake the pan to move the gnocchi around and brown the other side of the gnocchi for 2-3 minutes.  Note that you may need to do this in batches and you may need to use tongs to help you turn the gnocchi.  Move the pasta to a plate and set aside.

2) Turn the heat to high and drizzle the extra virgin olive oil to the pan.  Add the beef to the pan and then pour in the salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, mustard powder, and red pepper flakes.

3) Toss in the onion and garlic.  Stir until the beef is browned, the seasonings are incorporated and the onions are golden.  Drain any excess fat in the pan.

4) Pour tomatoes and broth or water back into the pan.  Add in the toasted gnocchi and stir everything together.

5) Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to medium low.  Allow the gnocchi to simmer for 5 minutes, or until the gnocchi is softened and the liquid in the pan is mostly absorbed.

6) Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream and 1/2 cup of cheese.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese and the scallions on top of the gnocchi dish.  Cover the pan for 5 minutes to allow the cheese to melt.  Serve warm!

--very slightly adapted from Kevin & Amanda

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Pumpkin Sausage Pasta

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Here she is!  I told you the pumpkin was coming.  It was inevitable, right?

Fall is here!  Also, can I please direct you to my favorite McSweeney's post - It's Decorative Gourd Season.  Warning, it's not safe for work.  I first read this years ago, but every Fall I re-read it and I still get a kick out of it.  Mostly, it's funny because it describes myself during the Fall season.  I'm not ashamed.

After I made this, I couldn't actually eat any of it unfortunately, because I had gone to the dentist and decided to bleach my teeth.  Did you know that you can't eat anything with color for 24-48 hours afterward?  So this pumpkin pasta was a no-go.  Sad face!   You know what else I couldn't have? COFFEE and RED WINE!  Two of my staples in life.  I'm crushed.  I mean, I know these are the reasons that I had to bleach my teeth in the first place, but that's really not the point I'm making right now.  Sadness!

Just because I wasn't able to enjoy this doesn't mean that I would deprive you of having it.  Please go forth and enjoy this pasta because it's super tasty and flavorful (so I've heard).  Note that it's not a super fast recipe since there is a time period where you need to simmer the sauce (yours truly definitely did not read that part of the original recipe...), but be aware there is a bit of down time when making this.


Pumpkin Sausage Pasta
makes 6-8 servings

Print Recipe

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound Italian hot sausage, casings removed
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 10 garlic cloves, sliced thickly
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 3 cups chicken stock, separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 pound of pasta (penne or penne rigate recommended)
  • 6 tablespoons shredded mozzarella
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese for topping (optional)

1) In a large skillet, pour in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over high heat for 2 minutes.  Place the sausage in the pan and break into smaller pieces.  Cook the sausage for a few minutes, until it is mostly cooked through.

2) Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage from the pan and place in a medium bowl.  Place a plate on top of the bowl to keep the meat warm.

3) Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the oil from the pan. Pour in the remaining 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and allow to heat for 1 minute.  Add in the onion, garlic, and sage.  Saute the mixture for 5 minutes, until the onion and garlic soften and start to brown.

4) Pour the sausage back into the pan and stir everything together to incorporate.  Pour in 1 cup of the chicken stock.  Allow to cook for about 5 minutes.

5) Stir in the pumpkin puree and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.  Pour in the remaining 2 cups of the chicken stock and add the cinnamon.  Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn the heat down slightly and allow the mix to continue cooking for 25-30 minutes.

6) In the meantime, cook the pasta per the directions on the package.  Drain the pasta, then add it back to the pot.  Pour the sauce into the pot and allow to simmer over medium heat for about 3 minutes, so all the flavors will meld together.  Stir in the mozzarella cheese.

7) Taste the pasta and add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, if using, to taste.  Before serving, grate fresh Parmesan cheese over the pasta.  Serve warm.

--recipe slightly adapted from Lemons and Lavender

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Baked Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Spring is here and I know it's not exactly the time to start indulging in a lot of pasta because "getting our summer body ready" season is ALSO herrrrrreeeeee.  But I would like to point out that if you must eat pasta during this time (which is something that I feel like I must do), then this should be your first choice.  It's not as heavy as you might think.  I also really like to take this to work because it fills me up sufficiently for lunch and I seldom feel the need to eat a whole chocolate bar in the afternoon.  Not that I would ever eat a whole chocolate bar in the afternoon.  I definitely have not.  Not at all.

So anywho, I'm throwing you some pasta goodness with this here baked dish.  I've made baked ziti before, but not quite like this.  Since this pasta is pretty thin, the cheese and sauce was incorporated nicely into each and every bite.  I may always need to eat my spaghetti and meat sauce in a baked form from now on!

 

Baked Spaghetti & Meat Sauce
makes 6-8 servings

Print Recipe

  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup + 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, separated
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt & freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • basil, julienned, for topping
  • cooking spray


1) Preheat oven to 350F.

2) Use the cooking spray to prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Set aside.

3) Drizzle the olive oil into a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until translucent.

4) Add the ground beef to the pan and allow to cook through for ~5 minutes.  Use a spoon or spatula to break up the meat as it cooks.

5) Sprinkle the garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano to the pan and allow to cook for 2 minutes.

6) Slowly pour in the marinara sauce and allow the mixture to cook for 10-15 minutes.

7) In the meantime, boil the water in a large pot over high heat.  Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the package.  Once cooked, drain the pasta and add to the saucepan with the meat mixture.  Stir together until the pasta is fully coated in sauce.  Add salt or pepper to taste, keeping in mind that extra cheese will be added in the next step.

8) Move half of the pasta to the baking dish.  Use a large fork to twirl the pasta into 6 mounds.  Sprinkle the pasta with 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

9) Repeat the previous step with the remainder of the pasta and sauce, adding another 1/2 cup of mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese on top.

10) Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.  Sprinkle another 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella on top of the pasta.  Return to the oven until the cheese is melted, another 5-10 minutes.

11) Top with basil, oregano, and freshly cracked black pepper before serving warm.

--recipe slightly adapted from Shutterbean

Ravioli in Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

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I didn't choose the pumpkin life / The pumpkin life chose me...

What? Can you tell I'm getting sick and my mind is going loco?

Even though we're done with Fall for another several months, do not think that I'm done with pumpkin/squash recipes until then.  In fact, this is my new favorite recipe.  At least until next week's recipe comes along.  But seriously, I'm in love with this super easy pumpkin sauce.  If you're unsure, I'll confirm for you that you need this in your life.  If you are one of those weird people who hates pumpkin...well, then I just don't know what to say, except that I'm sorry you're missing out on this fabulousness.Yesterday we had an unexpected snow day, which makes it even more important to curl up with a blanket and enjoy this warm ravioli.  Not that I did that last night.  I'm talking about a friend.  This is truly one of those easy recipes that comes together in minutes and allow you start relaxing as soon as possible.
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Creamy Corn Basil Pasta

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** I actually wrote this post yesterday, but I unfortunately was not able to get a wifi signal which would allow me to upload my photos. Soooo, let's just pretend that I wrote this today.  OK?  Great!**

Fun fact:  I'm writing this as I'm sitting on a train from London to Scotland.  Woohoo!  I just spent a few well-needed vacation days exploring London and sight-seeing.  Now I'm off to experience Scotland for the first time!  Oh.  Yeah.  There will be another post to recap this trip, but more to come on that later.

At this current time, I'm sipping tea and / for castles outside my train window.  Did I mention that I'm eating a virtual TON of food?  Because I am.  Fish and chips, puddings, Indian food, desserts, etc…It’s been one food experience after the next and I’m not mad at it.  The temperature has been sort of temperamental.  The first day was sunny and scorching hot, while the following days exhibited highs of mid-to-low 60’s.  Thankfully I was prepared for both types of weather.  I am definitely missing the last days of summer in the US though!

Before I left home for this UK trip, I whipped up a recipe for Creamy Corn Basil Pasta that is just scrumptious!  I’m going to have to make this more often in order to make it through the dog days of winter.  You know it.  Winter is coming!  Ugh.  At least we can snuggle up at home and continue to experience bites of summertime.

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One Pan Enchilada Pasta

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I need more one-pan (or one-pot!) meals in my life.  Seriously!  Because it is almost February and that means that approximately 1/12 of the year has flown past me.  My FOMO (fear of missing out, if you don't know the term) is at an all-time high.  I want extra time to do all the things!

Can you tell I just had a cup of coffee?  My caffeine high is showing.

So anyhow, you may have realized that nowadays I'm posting some pretty quick-to-make recipes.  Yep.  I need as many of these as possible in my life.  In this case, I have a Mexican theme going on here.  Yaaaasssss to all things Mexican.  Well, except that huitlacoche dish.  In case you don't know, this is fungus.  Corn fungus.  I'm gonna leave that right here and move on.  Say yaaasssss to everything ELSE Mexican!  Here we have some seasoned ground beef, enchilada sauce (or seasoned tomato sauce if you're in a pinch), corn kernels, and shredded cheese.  Add in some pasta and all is right in the world!

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Rigatoni with Marinara & Ricotta


Are we ready for Fall?

What I'm really asking is if we're ready for all the Fall recipes I have planned for you.  I'm in between jobs this week (starting my new gig on Monday!) and I've basically channeled my energy into cooking as much food as a human can.  I'm also saving some energy for working out, hanging with friends, and trying to weasel my way into a Yoga & Kitties class (WHY is this class full on the only day I can go to it!).

I want to kick things off with a simple pasta dish.  This is one of those recipes I've had on my "to make" list for a very long time, but I put it off because it's so simple!  Yes, I know that doesn't make sense, but it's true.  The other day, I was reminded how such simple dishes could be amazing.  I was out at a restaurant where I ate pasta tossed with cheese and black pepper.  It was to-die-for!  I didn't even order the dish and I might have eaten almost half of it.  My baddddd.

But back to this rigatoni.  I'm so glad I got around to making it finally because it was every bit as delicious as ALL the reviews indicated.  I'll never again underestimate the power of simplicity.

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Broccoli & Cheddar Mac & Cheese

Broccoli and Cheese Mac & Cheese

Happy New Years everyone!  I'm wishing you all the best for 2015!  Now on to the food.   It's not time for our New Year's resolutions yet, right?

This recipe is quite different from those that I usually post.  I really try to make as much of my recipes from scratch when possible.  I really try to refrain from using processed foods and the like if I can.  However!  Sometimes exceptions must be made!

Let's also be clear that I have nothing against processed food.  In fact, I may have visited McDonald's twice in one day this past Sunday.  I know, I know! Long story short, I was hungover from attending a Steelers game (AFC North Champions!) and then celebrating until 2am.  Who do I think I am cavorting until the wee hours of the morning?!?!  Of course, this was followed by an 8am work call the next day...which was followed by a 6 hour drive back to Hoboken.  Sooo, in this case, I made a few concessions.

Anyhow, I've had a box of macaroni and cheese sitting in my cupboard for a few months.  Since I was in my never-ending clean-out-the-pantry mode, I decided I'd better make something with it before it expires.  I absolutely hate throwing away food so I knew something needed to be done.  I recalled that Shutterbean had posted a few of her variations on boxed macaroni and cheese a few months ago, so I quickly flipped to that recipe post to check out my options.  If I have to use boxed mac and cheese, I may as well do it in style!

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One Pot Cheeseburger Casserole

 


My, my, how things have changed.

My old roommate visited me (and a bunch of other people in the NYC area) this past weekend.  Now, I don't usually go out and party as much as I did when I first moved to this area a few years ago, but seriously, I could not handle all the events and all the drinks of last weekend.  Note that by "all the drinks", I'm talking about two per day, for three days in a row.  I can't hold my liquor anymore.  And I get tired so easily!  Ugh.

Sooo, it looks as if I'm that girl now.  Well, not exactly that girl because that would imply that I got wasted and embarrassed myself.  I chose the classy way out by just downing as much water as possible after my second drink.  Let's just say that it was an eye-opening weekend.  I learned something about myself for sure.

What I also ended up (re)learning this weekend is that I love cheeseburgers.  I hardly ever order them when I go out to eat but when I whipped up this cheeseburger casserole, I fell in love all over again.  Aren't cheeseburgers a necessity during the summer?  It is super quick and easy to make this casserole and there is no actual grilling involved.  That's a must for me, seeing as my only direct access route to the outdoors is via my fire escape.  The Hoboken police generally frown upon grilling on those...

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