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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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Avocado Wit Beer Alfredo


Have you ever heard of a class called BodyART?  Whoooo-M-G.  It's kicking my boot-ay.  I don't do a lot of cardio workouts anymore, so when I'm done with that class, I'm drenched in sweat and ready to come home, sit on my couch, blast BSB's All I Have To Give because I realized the other day that I still know every word of that song, and tuck into some pasta.

Even though drinking beer is probably frowned upon after one of these classes (and to be honest I don't even have the desire to do that) we all know that I love to incorporate alcohol into different dishes.  This may be a new website, but some things will never change.  The Beeroness, has been my ally when I need some help in this area.  She's got pretty much every area covered, so when I was craving pasta, I relied on her expertise.  Also, I must be the only person who hasn't yet tried avocado pasta since finding it on Pinterest eons ago!  Now this must change!

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Crab Ravioli with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce

I know you want it, so here it is.  Pumpkin.  I am finally falling victim this season's pumpkin bug.  You get some pumpkin! You get some pumpkin!  Everybody gets pumpkin!

Throwback shout out to Oprah.

Hmmm....ok, I'm done.

Just so we're clear, Oprah has nothing to do with this pasta dish that I made for you.  I'm just really getting into the swing of fall.  The Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts staff know me on sight as I stroll up to the counter to order some variation of a pumpkin-flavored drink.  So it's time to bring Fall into my apartment and onto my plate.  Let's get down with this pumpkin sauce today.

I bought this prepared crab ravioli a while ago, but it's been hanging out in my freezer for a few weeks.  I'm currently in a "clean all the things out of my freezer" mode, so obviously, this needs to be made.  Since I'm also in an "add pumpkin to all the things" mode, my two worlds collided in the form of this cheesy, savory dish.

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Taco Pasta

When I moved to my new apartment, I knew I was moving across the street (literally!) from my favorite bar in Hoboken.  What I didn't know was that the N'Orleans-style restaurant next to my favorite bar was being renovated into a Mexican cantina!

Clearly, the gods know that Mexican food is one of my staple food groups.  I scoped out the details about the new restaurant from some inside sources.  There's supposed to be a tequila bar, amazing food, and an outdoor courtyard with a fireplace.  Obviously there will be margaritas.  Sign me up now.

I also found out it was supposed to open in April.  Hmmm....It's now May and from the boarded up front windows, it's not looking like this place will be open in time for one of the best holidays of the year: Cinco de Mayo!

I guess I'm just going to have to make my own Mexican food until my new favorite Mexican place decides to grace us with its presence.  I can wait.  (No I can't, but I don't really have a choice here, do I?)

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Mushroom Pasta with Goat Cheese & Edamame Mint Sauce

The name of this post may or may not be a mouthful.  (Hint: it is.)  Sometimes I'm just not sure what to call things, so I go a little wild.  You like it.  I know you do.

I've been racking my brain for months.  Way too much time has passed by while I attempted to come up with a recipe for some mushroom pasta I snagged a while ago.  I like mushrooms, but I don't love them.  So why did I purchase this pasta?  I don't know.  That's the truth.  I saw a ton of pasta options in front of my eyes and my mind just went blank and I purchased everything.  This may be one of my faults.

Unfortunately, this meant that my mushroom pasta sat all by its lonesome in the pantry for more time than I care to discuss.  I felt a pang of guilt each time I opened the pantry door and pulled something else out to cook.

So I finally put my foot down.  It was time to make this pasta into something tasty.  Yes.  Yes it was.  By this point, I actually had a few recipes earmarked as potential "mushroom pasta" recipes.   I picked up the latest one that had caught my eye and set out to make this thing go down.

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Spring Vegetable Pasta

Every once in a while I try to do an inventory of all the straggler items in the refrigerator and pantry.  This time around, I found some All Mixed Up pasta that I had purchased a while ago.  I think I may be turning into a pasta hoarder, because I know for certain that there's more pasta up there.  It's such an easy purchase to justify.  You never know when you need to whip together a quick dinner for house guests...

OK, so we rarely have house guests.  And when we do, since my roommate and I live in Hoboken we can either walk a few blocks to indulge in dinner or simply jump on the internet to have it delivered to our door within 30 minutes.  I'm working on getting my pasta issue in check.  Truly, I am. The first step is to use up the pasta which is in our pantry, willing and able to feed a family of 8.

As I was looking through the Adventures in all Things Food blog which was assigned to me this month by the Secret Recipe Club, I stumbled across a Spring Pea Pasta recipe.  Now, I've made some sort of pasta dish for several of my previous SRC posts.  I recently swore that I would move away from this approach and make something different.  Uh, but Andrea's pasta calls for peas, zucchini, and cheese.  You know how much I love those things!  Maybe I'll cave for just one more month...

 

Spring Vegetable Pasta
adapted from Adventures in All Things Food Spring Pea Pasta
makes 4-6 servings

Print Recipe

  • 1 zucchini, coarsely grated
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1/2 lb pasta
  • 1 cup frozen peas (you can use fresh peas if desired)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1) Place the grated zucchini in a colander.  Gently toss the zucchini with 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  Let sit for 10 minutes over a bowl or in a sink.  After the 10 minutes are up, gently squeeze out any excess water.

2) In a medium saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the zucchini and tomatoes to the pan.  Cook together for 3-4 minutes.

3) Pour the vegetables into a large bowl and add salt, pepper, lemon juice, and chili flakes.  (Go easy on the salt until the entire dish is compiled.)

4) Meanwhile, place the pasta in a pot of salted, boiling water.  

5) About two minutes before the pasta is at the desired consistency, add the peas.

6) Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 - 1/2 cup of the pasta water.  Pour the pasta in the bowl with the vegetables.

7) Sprinkle in the cheese and toss everything together, adding the reserved pasta water to achieve the desired consistency.  Add extra salt, pepper, lemon juice, and/or chili flakes if desired.

It turns out that this pasta is a great go-to dish for the summer.  It's also quite susceptible to slight recipe changes.  I added some cherry tomatoes, mostly for color purposes, but they ended up providing a sweet, refreshing flavor to the dish.  As usual, I enjoyed the slight snap of the peas and the faint crunch of the zucchini.

Mostly, I was surprised at how much I could taste the butter in here.  Don't get me wrong.  I don't consider this to be a bad thing.  I think it is most definitely a good thing.  And in no way does it overwhelm the lightness of the dish.  But it is there and if you don't like the taste of butter (who ARE you!?!!?) then you may wish to add only 1/2 tablespoon of it instead of a whole tablespoon...

...but seriously, don't you dare cut back on that butter!

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Sweet Potato Macaroni and Cheese with Peas and Bacon

We all know that bacon makes it better.  Who doesn't know that?  You? Oh, well now you know.  It does.

You know what else makes it better?  Sweet potatoes.  Truth.

This month for my Secret Recipe Club assignment, I was matched up to the Veggie Converter blog.  Now I'm not a vegetarian.  However, I don't think Kristi will hold my love of bacon against me.  At least I hope not!

Kristi is a wife and a mom of two kids and makes delicious vegetarian and vegan meals for them.  I really think Kristi and I were meant to be friends in this life.  You may ask why.  This is totally because we share a passion for freezing food.  In Kristi's case, she's trying to feed her family healthy meals on a daily basis.  In my case, I simply don't want my meals to spoil while I'm traveling for work each week.  Freezing allows me to choose a variety of meals to defrost and eat whenever I return.  I like to think of these as personalized gourmet meals.  Kristi knows where it's at.

After much perusing of her blog, I finally decided to make Kristi's Sweet Potato Macaroni and Cheese dish.  As I've already mentioned, I'm not a vegetarian, so I decided to throw some bacon into the mix.  And to make Kristi happy, I also tossed in some peas.  The peas definitely even things out.

 

Sweet Potato Macaroni and Cheese with Peas and Bacon
adapted from The Veggie Converter

Print Recipe

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb fusilli, cooked and drained (I used a "twisted" pasta because the sauce sticks much better than other types of pasta)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons chicken broth (can substitute vegetable broth if you like)
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups sweet potato puree
  • 3 cups milk
  • habanero sauce
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoons paprika
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1-2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 3 cups Fontina cheese

1) Make the slurry: Whisk the cornstarch into the chicken broth until well incorporated.  Set aside.

2) Drizzle the olive oil in a large skillet, over medium heat.

3) When the oil is heated through, saute the shallots for 2-3 minutes.

4) Add the garlic cloves and cook for 1 minute.

5) Pour in the slurry and whisk together with the ingredients in the pan.  Simmer for 1 minute.

 6) Spoon in the sweet potato puree and simmer the mixture for 2-3 minutes.

7) Lower the heat and add the milk.  Stir to combine.

8) Add the habanero sauce, paprika, salt and pepper, to taste.  Don't add too much salt, as cheese will also be added later.

9) Stir until this mixture thickens, about 2 minutes.

10) Toss in the bacon and peas.

11) Add the pasta to the sauce and stir to coat the pasta.

12) Sprinkle in the cheese and continue to stir to incorporate it into the macaroni dish.

13) Add more milk and cheese if you desire a creamier consistency.  Adjust seasonings to taste, if necessary.

If you've been following along closely, you'll notice that I may have taken a few giant leaps and bounds when it came to adapting this recipe.  I sometimes have a hard time leaving well enough alone.  Also, I'm a bit of a cheese-lover so I can't make a recipe unless there's at least twice as much cheese as originally called for.  I think Kristi would approve.

The macaroni and cheese was smooth and creamy.  The sweet potato wasn't as pronounced as I thought it would be, but it was still tasty.  I also think I would add more bacon when I make something like this in the future.  I love love love the addition of peas to this dish.  I think the smoothness of the sweet potato puree, milk and cheese required a little something extra to punch up the texture and the peas provide that missing link.

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Pasta with Curry Spinach Sauce

I didn't set out to make this dish.  What I really set out to do was make use of some wonderful curry and red onion pasta I had laying around the kitchen.  When I started trying to figure out what sauce I wanted to pair with the pasta, I came across a wonderful spinach sauce recipe from Giada.  Let me tell you why it's so wonderful.  It has goat cheese and cream cheese.

I love cheese.  I will eat it just about anytime and anyplace.  Let's just say that I'm always ready.  So when I saw the ingredient list, I was hooked.  However, in my past experience with flavored pastas, I didn't think the curry was going to shine as much as I wanted it to.  In the interest of punching up the volume, so to speak, I added some garam masala to give the pasta a smoky, spicy flavor.  This pasta dish definitely reminded me of Saag Paneer.  If you're a fan of that Indian dish then this will be right up your alley.

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Red Onion Pasta with Spicy Zucchini-Tomato Sauce

Let's be honest.  We all crave pasta.  Who doesn't?  (Pssst...if you don't, you should.)  And even though I just gave you some pasta sauce earlier this week, I just had to hit you with this.  This is some amazing spaghetti sauce that I need to put in your face.

OK, not really in your face. Because that would be weird.  Weird and not so nice.  And I want this to be a nice, welcoming blog space for you.  Let's just say that you would want to put your face in it.

Wait, that's odd too.  This conversation is getting awkward and heading in the wrong direction.

Instead, let's think about fresh crisp zucchini and earthy tomatoes tossed with ever-so-slightly-spicy red onion pasta.  Yes, now this is heading in the right direction.

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Bolognese Sauce

I recently joined a new club.  It's a not-so-secret club called the Secret Recipe Club.

Here's the deal.  Once you join, you're randomly assigned another person's food blog.  From that blog, you need to choose one recipe to make or adapt to your liking. One.  Only one! There are so many recipes to choose from out there, I wasn't sure how I'd do it.

For my first month as a part of the club, I was assigned the Living Lou blog.  I was surprised to learn that Lou is an 18 year old who's infatuated with everything having to do with food.  Let's see.  When I was 18, I'm pretty sure I was only concerned with consuming whatever food was within reach.  And I definitely was not interested in making it.  Clearly Lou's got her life together already.  I'm still working on that.  Let's not talk about it.

What really matters is Lou's food blog.  On her website, she has several recipes that caught my eye, but the one that finally won me over was the recipe for Bolognese Sauce.  This was the perfect choice for me for two reasons:

1. I've been thinking about making a Bolognese sauce for months; and

2. I purchased a ton of pasta recently from Flour City Pasta and obviously needed to make more pasta sauce.

I made a few adjustments to Lou's recipe, but I rarely ever leave a good recipe alone.  You must know that by now.

 

Bolognese Sauce
adapted from Living Lou's recipe
makes 8-10 servings

Print Recipe

  • 1 lb ground turkey (or ground chicken)
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 onion, chopped roughly
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped roughly
  • 1 carrot, chopped roughly
  • handful (~3 tablespoons) basil, julienned
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 5.5oz can tomato paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • habanero sauce, to taste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • black pepper, to taste

1) Add the onion, red bell pepper, and carrot into a food processor and pulse several times until vegetables are desired size.  (You can choose to chop them by hand, but this is much easier.)

2) Meanwhile, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large pot and add all the ground meat.

3) Once the meat is done, add the chopped vegetables and the basil to the pan.  Cook the mixture for about 3 minutes.

4) Toss in the garlic and cook for another minute.

5) Stir in the tomato paste and cook for about a minute.

6) Pour in the crushed tomatoes and stir to combine the sauce.

7) Sprinkle in the salt, habanero, and the spices (oregano, nutmeg, celery seed). Stir.

8) Simmer the sauce for about 45 minutes so the flavors have a chance to blend together.

9) Pour in the milk and stir to combine.  Add black pepper to taste.

10) Toss with pasta and serve.

Wow.  I liked this sauce.  I liked this a lot.  I had some Rasta Pasta in my pantry so I poured the sauce over it and dug in.  (By the way, who knew a sweet potato, red pepper, carrot thyme, and lime flavored pasta blend would be so amazing? Apparently these Flour City Pasta guys did.)

Lou mentioned that this would be a staple in her house during the winter and I tend to agree.  This sauce is warm and comforting enough to get me through the nippy winter weather that has come barging into New Jersey way too early this year.  The meat and vegetables formed a hearty savory/sweet base for the sauce and the tomatoes and seasonings were aromatic and spicy.  As I have several pounds of pasta in my pantry, I will gladly consume all this bolognese sauce until it is extinct.

Thanks for the recipe, Lou!

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