Fresh Tomato and Garlic Penne

Fresh Tomato and Garlic Penne

Today, I bring you one of my favorite old-time recipes from when I first started learning how to cook: fresh tomato and garlic penne.

When I first started learning how to cook, I was also sort of discovering that I liked pasta.  Weird, I know, right?  Like, who am I?  I don’t even know sometimes.  But yeah, I first fell in love with alfredo sauce and after making that a gajillion times, my boyfriend (now husband) urged me to make some pasta with red sauce.  He is partial to red sauces while I could eat any kind of creamy, cheesy, saucy pasta by the bucketful and never really get full.  So we tried some of those jarred sauces, and they aren’t terrible, but whenever / however I stumbled across this recipe, I knew immediately he would like it.

So we made it over the weekend for the first time in, oh, like, 15 years?  😂  I swear, I’m not reaching that far back for recipes because I’m running out of content or ideas.  In fact, I’m reaching that far back because I’m trying to expand my repertoire of vegetarian recipes, and found this old gem as a result of minimalizing one of my recipe binders last month.  It was one of those, “OH!  THIS recipe!  Why did we ever stop making this?!” moments.

And when I took my first bite, I was instantly transported back to my little apartment in Spokane, Washington, where I have a vision of myself wearing khaki overalls (lol whut), sitting at our dining room table that was practically in the family room, watching Jeopardy, sprinkling Parmesan cheese over top of hot penne pasta graced with the sweetest Roma tomatoes, that fresh basil wafting up into my nostrils, and, finally, shoveling forkfuls of this pasta into my mouth.  It wasn’t a bad recipe then, and it’s not a bad recipe now.  And it’s a GREAT recipe to make right now, at the height of fresh tomato season.

I hope you enjoy it!

Fresh Tomato and Garlic Penne

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups uncooked penne rigate pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, for topping (optional)

Directions
1. Cook pasta as directed on package and drain.

2. While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook garlic in oil for 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Stir in chopped tomatoes. Cook 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until tomatoes start to break down and sauce thickens slightly. Reduce heat to low, and stir in basil, salt, and pepper to taste.

3. Toss tomato sauce with cooked pasta. Sprinkle with additional fresh basil and Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Please share!

#52NewEats :: Week 29 :: Beef Bourguignon

Beef Bourguignon

Earlier this year, I mentioned in a post that I joined a really inspiring food blogging group on Facebook.  This group is full of so much fun and positivity.  And, duh, photographic inspiration!  Seeing everyone else’s work cuts both ways for me – on the one hand, I feel like I have so much work left to do; on the other, it is so inspiring to see how others photograph food!

I met Anyonita through this group, and asked if I could make one of her recipes for my blog.  She has a vast selection of delicious recipes on her site, //Anyonita Nibbles//, where she focuses primarily on gluten-free eats.  It was really difficult to choose just one recipe, but this //beef bourguignon// was the winner!

Beef bourguignon is probably one of my husband’s favorite dishes, so I knew I had to make this.  Also, bonus?  It’s a crock pot recipe!  I have made a couple different beef bourguignon recipes over the years that require hours of simmering and watching a pot, with tons of different ingredients, and granted, they were all tasty, but oh so much effort.  This recipe was practically effortless, and I LOVE simple crock pot recipes that I can throw together on a Sunday and have leftovers for lunch at work the next day!

The only thing I did different here was, Anyonita recommends serving with carrots and mashed potatoes, but I decided to put sliced carrots into the stew itself.  I added these to the bacon fat in the skillet just prior to adding the shallots, as they would need some more time to cook down a bit.  Then everything went into the crock pot with some delicious red wine, and oh, what a rich, hearty, delicious beef stew!

This was so easy, and so quick, that it will definitely make my fall rotation of soups and stews.  (I know, I know, it’s the middle of summer and I’m already counting down to fall… it’s my favorite season!)

Y’all go make this recipe, it gets two thumbs up from me!

Please share!

#52NewEats :: Week 26 :: Broccoli Cheese Risotto

Broccoli Cheese Risotto

Since making my very first risotto a few months back and discovering exactly how not hard it was, I have sort of been on a risotto kick.  This is the third one I’ve made, and I can’t wait to try more.  I especially love this one because it’s a good way for me to get broccoli in my system!

Broccoli is my vegetable nemesis.  I don’t mind it, but I honestly could care less for it unless it’s covered in some kind of sauce or baked into a casserole.  We have sauteed it with garlic, roasted it with parmesan, all the healthier ways to eat broccoli, and it’s just, meh.  If I have to eat it that way, I do so begrudgingly.  I am way more inclined to eat it happily if it’s covered in cheese or alfredo sauce though.  😊

Hence, why I really love //this recipe//!!  Broccoli mixed with cheddar cheese risotto means I can eat as much as I want, right?  The first time I made this, I left the florets a little too big, so they took longer to steam to my liking.  But I recently made it for a second time, and had my daughter help me – which she absolutely loved – and cut the florets smaller.  It was all around a little easier to eat, with the small florets matching better with the small grains of rice.  Speaking of my daughter – she LOVES this risotto, but without the broccoli of course.  😂

This recipe is definitely a favorite and has made it into the regular recipe rotation.  Risotto is DEFINITELY weeknight-worthy.  It is NOT that bad.  Especially this one – you can absolutely prep it all ahead of time.  And if you have a kid helping you, you’ll get it done even faster.  I had my daughter stir the risotto (yes I had her do the hard work lol) while I added the stock for her, and chopped and steamed the broccoli, and shredded the cheese.  Thirty minutes or less, easily!

Please share!

#52NewEats :: Week 24 :: Vegetarian Enchilada Skillet

Vegetarian Enchilada Skillet

While I was vegetarian in May, I ate a TON of Mexican recipes.  It wasn’t even really on purpose… okay, maybe subconsciously it was, but… there are just a lot of options out there for vegetarians in Mexican cuisine.  This dish has become one of the ‘keepers’ out of all the new recipes I tried last month!

I was stoked to find this skillet because a) I love skillet meals, can’t beat one dirty pan, and b) I love any opportunity to get sweet potatoes into my diet.  I just learned to love sweet potatoes in maybe the last couple of years #adulting but I still only like them certain ways in certain things.  I don’t eat them with sweet toppings, only savory.  I like them spicy, particularly with smoked paprika, or dipped in //chipotle mayo//.  But I really liked this skillet because the sweet potatoes gave it some heft without making me feel like a slug.  A lot of the vegetarian recipes I ate were so pleasantly filling!

You can find the original recipe //here//.  I tweaked it a little bit and will probably tweak it again next time I make it (next week), by using grain-free tortillas instead of corn tortillas.

🍴  I used Hatch Tex-Mex enchilada sauce and it was soooo yummy.

🍴  I also used 1 cup leftover rice, even though it’s listed as optional – I actually planned it out so that I would make my //Spanish rice// the day prior and set aside 1 cup to have leftover for this dish.

🍴  I did not use mozzarella cheese though (this is Mexican food sacrilege to me, Mozzarella is ITALIAN, if you want white stretchy cheese in Mexican food please use Chihuahua cheese or Monterey Jack cheese!) – I used a mix of Monterey Jack and cheddar.

All in all, a very good dish that I look forward to making again and again!

Please share!

#52NewEats :: Week 23 :: Mexican Street Corn Tostadas

Mexican Street Corn Tostadas

These tostadas were quite possibly my most favorite new recipe that I made when we went vegetarian during the month of May.  Oh GOSH these were so good!  Also, as a result of making this, I was inspired to create a delicious corn dip recipe, so stay tuned for that!  I have already made these twice and have no plans to drop them from my regular recipe rotation!

You can find the original recipe //here//, but I did make a couple of tweaks:

🍴  First, instead of using plain mayo, I used some //chipotle mayo// instead.  I had a batch hanging out in my fridge, and when I was making this, I remembered that one of the Mexican restaurants near me makes their street corn side dish with chipotle mayo instead of plain, and I love it.  That simple tweak made this corn concoction so flavorful!

🍴  I used refried black beans instead of refried pinto beans.  I just prefer their flavor, and I love the way corn and black beans taste together.

🍴  I used crumbled queso fresco cheese instead of cotija, as it’s what I had on hand, but either cheese would work!

 

Please share!

#52NewEats :: Week 22 :: Slow Cooker Enchilada Quinoa

Slow Cooker Enchilada Quinoa

I found this recipe on Pinterest a while ago while looking for vegetarian meals.  I wasn’t sure how ‘on board’ hubby would be with a vegetarian chili-style meal, so when we decided to go vegetarian for a month back in May, I jumped at the chance to make this!

This recipe was very, very tasty, and very filling!  You will definitely want to add chili-style toppings.  I added diced avocado and cilantro, and that squeeze of fresh lime juice really kicked it up a notch.  And the sour cream?  Oh gosh.  Just stir that in and it turns so creamy and delicious!  I was really happy I put the extra toppings on!

You can find the original recipe //here//, and I didn’t do anything to change it!  It was incredibly easy to make!

Please share!

#52NewEats :: Week 21 :: Roasted Tomato Risotto

Roasted Tomato Risotto

Risotto is one of those dishes that intimidates people, and I am not even really sure why.  A few months back, I tried my hand at risotto by making The Pioneer Woman’s //sun-dried tomato risotto//, and it was FABULOUS.  And it was amazingly NOT HARD.

I don’t know if you guys know me?  Or if you’ve ever read this blog before?  But obviously what I love most in this world is slutty food, food that is sinfully creamy and delicious and rich and amazing.  Well, risotto is like, all of those things, so once I learned how to make it I needed to make it become a part of my life.

This was the second risotto I have ever made in my entire life, and I will tell you that it’s really flippin’ easy.  I mean literally, the hardest part is getting all the ingredients ready.  It is NOT HARD to stand at a stove and stir rice until stock is absorbed.  It really is not.

So stop making excuses, and make some risotto.  I highly recommend this one!  You can find the original recipe //here//, and below are some notes about what I did slightly differently.  I do have an idea or two about how I might make a different risotto with some of these methods, so stay tuned to see if that ever pans out.  But this specific risotto is so rich and delicious, and it makes a GREAT office lunch!  Make a batch on a Sunday night and you’re fed for several days!

🍴  So the first thing I did differently was, after I blended the roasted tomatoes and the stock, I strained this mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into the saucepan.  I mainly did this because I don’t have the best blender in the world, so in an effort to get rid of the seeds and un-blitzed tomato skins, I strained it so that it would be more of a stock.

🍴  The other thing I did differently was I omitted the wine, and this is only because I don’t typically have dry white wine in my house, let alone only a little bit of it.  I didn’t add any extra stock at this step or anything.  But I can tell you it was plenty delicious without the wine.

Please share!

#52NewEats :: Week 20 :: French Onion Zoodle Bake

French Onion Zoodle Bake

This dish popped my zoodle cherry. I have been wanting to try zoodles for a while now, but I hadn’t quite found the right recipe until I found this one. I love alfredo sauce too much to cover zoodles with it. I might try a Bolognese sauce on zoodles, but for this month, we need to go meatless because it’s Vegetarian May!

I actually really, REALLY enjoyed this dish. Between my husband and I, we just about finished the whole thing ourselves. I might make a batch and a half next time! The fontina cheese on top makes it so scrumptious. The flavor in this dish was very good and spot-on with a French onion soup. I found myself wanting something crunchy on top – so I think the next time I make this, I will add some of those French’s fried onion strings. 

We liked this dish so much that it is on the menu for Vegetarian May, but I will be subbing out the beef stock for either vegetable stock or mushroom stock (which I have seen at Whole Foods). I hate mushrooms, but I am thinking the stock will give this dish the beefy flavor it needs to fulfill that French onion craving. I will also top with fried onions of some kind for a little crunch. 

You can find the original recipe //here//.

French Onion Zoodle Bake
Serves 2-3 hungry folks as an entree; 4 as a side

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups zucchini noodles
1 small yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup beef broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup fontina cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a skillet preheated to medium heat, melt butter. Place onion into skillet and cook for a few minutes. Add salt, pepper, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and thyme. Stir and cook for another couple of minutes. Add beef broth and cook until onions are golden brown, about 12 minutes. Make sure to stir occasionally to keep the onions from burning.

3. Next, spray an 5 X 8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl combine zucchini noodles and French onion mixture. Pour the French onion zoodle mixture into the dish and garnish top with fontina cheese. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. If the cheese does not brown in the oven, pop it under the broiler for a few minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving. Garnish with fresh thyme if desired. Also, there is a probability that liquid from the zucchini will appear. If so, just drain it off carefully with a spoon before serving. Enjoy!

Please share!

BBQ Chicken Quesadilla

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, I have a yummy Mexican recipe for you!!

A little while ago I made a batch of slow-cooked BBQ chicken for my husband’s work lunches.  And it turned out I’d made just a bit too much.  Like he wasn’t going to eat it all before it went bad.  So I decided to use some of it to make some recipes I’d been kicking around in my head for a while – the first of which was BBQ chicken quesadillas.

I had a really good BBQ chicken quesadilla once at a restaurant downtown.  It was chock full of BBQ chicken and melty cheese and peppers and onions.  That’s kind of what I was going for, but mine are much thinner, because I have an inability to make big fat quesadillas and not have them fall apart when flipping.  I need one of those quesadilla grill baskets or something!  But whatever.  These were plenty good!

I used my favorite //pickled red onions// in this recipe along with some store-bought pickled jalapenos and the flavor was spot-on, exactly what I was looking for.  Little bit of sweet, little bit of heat.  I used pepper Jack cheese too, and a fresh sprinkling of cilantro both inside and on top of the quesadillas.  They were so good!

When Vegetarian May is over I may just make these again!!

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas
Serves 2

Ingredients
4 large flour tortillas (burrito or enchilada size)
1-2 cups shredded BBQ chicken (see Notes)
2+ cups shredded pepper Jack cheese (or mix 1 cup shredded pepper Jack + 1 cup shredded cheddar)
Pickled red onions, drained and dabbed dry
Pickled jalapenos, diced
Minced cilantro
Sour cream, if desired

Directions
1. Heat a griddle over medium heat. Spray one side of one flour tortilla lightly with cooking spray, and place sprayed side down on the griddle. Repeat with one more flour tortilla.

2. Top each tortilla with about a 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Then layer on 1/2 cup or so of shredded BBQ chicken on each tortilla, then pickled red onions, pickled jalapenos, and minced cilantro. Top with remaining 1/2 cup or so of shredded cheese on each tortilla. (I say “or so” a lot because these can be as big or as small as you want. Do it to your preference!)

3. Spray one side of each of the remaining flour tortillas lightly with cooking spray. Place each tortilla sprayed side up on top of each quesadilla that you’ve built.

4. As the cheese melts on the bottom tortilla, use a spatula to peek underneath to make sure the tortilla is not burning. When the tortilla is nicely browned, carefully flip the quesadilla over, and cook until browned on the other side. This can take several minutes, depending on the heat of your stovetop or griddle. Just keep an eye on it, and if it’s not moving fast enough for you, raise heat to medium-high, but then you REALLY have to keep an eye on it.

5. When finished, cut each tortilla into fourths or sixths, and sprinkle with more minced cilantro if desired. Serve with sour cream and enjoy!

Notes
To make shredded BBQ chicken: Place 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts into a slow cooker and cover with a 12oz bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. When done, shred the chicken right in the slow cooker, then serve. Or, remove to differently tightly-sealed containers for leftovers and other purposes.

Please share!