So the new year came and went and I have a list of reasons a mile long as to why blogging just didn’t make it in my priority list but hey lets not bore you with that. But since life has been so busy my focus has drawn to how I can make life easier with simple meal options. I might have not been blogging but I have been testing out a lot of different recipe ideas and I am now really excited to share with you some big success.
The first one I want to share is something that has slightly revolutioned the way I cook pasta. So I have seen these one pot pasta dishes making their way on the internet for a while but had never given it a try. But once I did I became addicted. I now make most of my pasta dishes this way. You see the benefit of cooking pasta with only enough water to cook without having to drain it is you preserve the natural starches in the pasta, thus resulting in a creamy pasta without having to add cream. I have made lots of variations of this pasta. I have used all different types of shaped pasta and played around with the filling with things like cooked chicken, prawns. I have added veggies and played around with the cheese and it is perfect every time. It is a winner in our whole family for taste and speed.
One Pot Pasta
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
(4 1/2 c.) water
500g (1 lb) spaghetti
340g (12 oz) cooked sausage, sliced thin (I used kielbasa)
600g (1 1/2 tins) tinned tomatoes
28g (2 c.) fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
115g (1 c.) creamy blue cheese, I used Blue Castello*
*The original recipe calls for Parmesan and I have used this and it great but I found the blue cheese added a creaminess and flavour that our whole family just loved
adapted from Damn Delicious
Well I have to confess that I had hoped at this point I could be giving you the good news update that baby had arrived but sadly she is set on being late like her sister was. So I am trying to keep busy until she decides she is ready. This is the worse part for me because I am a very impatient person and the uncomfortable stage of the last part of pregnancy makes me feel a bit physically lazy while mentally wanting to be productive. If that makes sense. So I am glad this month I have challenged myself to stick to quick meals so dinner doesn’t have to be something I work too hard at.
This recipe utilizes a new addiction for me, spinach pesto. Last week when I went to the store to buy spinach all they had was a massive bag so I was stuck with more then I could use before it went bad so I hunted around for more ideas on ways to use it up. I came across a recipe for spinach pesto. I have always loved pesto but more often then not stuck to the basil version. For me this was even better, especially when used as a spread for a sandwich. The pesto can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for up to one week.
But warning, this dish has so much incredible flavour you might struggle sticking to correct portion sizes. This should have been enough to serve 4 people but sadly didn’t make to leftovers because we just couldn’t resist having more.
Creamy Spinach Pesto Pasta
350g dried pasta
300mL single cream
(1/2 c.) spinach pesto *see recipe bellow
60g (1/4 c.) parmesan cheese
Recipe inspired by Chow.com
Food life with a toddler is a much different experience then it was with a baby. We had such an amazing experience with baby-led weaning it was full of fun learning experiences and messy but fun play. But life with a toddler eater is proving more difficult. We can only assume that she is wanting to gain some sense of control. To say she is being picky about food feels like an understatement. She went from having one of the most sophisticated taste pallets of any child I have ever met to being one of the pickiest. While what she will eat is very healthy it is still very frustrating for me as a parent who just can’t seem to follow her eating needs. There have been times when she has gone for 3 days in a row without eating a proper meal. This child could seriously live off Wheetabix, fruit and raw peas. It is very hard to know how to deal with it. Some people say be firm and not let her “get away” with it and others say don’t put pressure on her because that will only make things worse. I would say I fluctuate back and forth between the two like a bi-polar manic. Well that is at least how it feels. I do find it hard to relax about food with her sometimes because I am so determined to not live with a child that is picky. But I do have to remind myself that she is just 2.
The only thing I can do is offer her food and if she refuses just move on. Often what she won’t eat one night she will eat another so meals that are easy to reheat are a must. I was so happy when I threw this together for her, half expecting it to be yet again a failed dinner attempt, and she actually loved it.
Has anyone else experienced this phase with their toddler? What did you do to get through it and how long did it last for you?
I love cabbage and it is a lot more versatile then I ever gave it credit for. Braised, cooked in a stir-fry, steamed. Or even used as a wrapper like I did with my Napa Cabbage wrapped Chinese Spring Rolls. I have to confess until recently I had only ever had it steamed, which I do love. But now that I have been playing around with it more I find it is making its way to my table a lot more frequently.
Recently I have stared researching more recipes from Eastern Europe. I don’t have much experience with the cuisine from this region of the world and I am wanting to branch out more. I found what I thought was an odd idea from Hungary, cabbage served over noodles. It seems to be quite a comfort dish in that region. So I thought why not cook up my fried cabbage and bacon and serve it over noodles. This turned out to be a great comfort dish and it takes less then 30 minutes to put together. It might seem like an odd complete meal but it is full of flavour and very filling.
Fried Cabbage with Bacon over Buttered Noodles
450g (1lb) shredded cabbage (any variety)
50g (2 oz) bacon, de-rinded and cut into lardons (tiny cubes), or streaky bacon, chopped small
1 medium leek; white only, finely chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt and freshly milled black pepper
113g (4oz) wide noodles
30g (2 Tbsp) butter
Recipe adapted from Delia Online
I don’t know about your house but no matter how organized I try to stay in regards to meal times I still have times that where I have no idea what to cook. Or even worse one of my experiments doesn’t turn out and I need a quick replacement. I have a few recipes that I lean on during these times but this one is by far the quickest and cheapest I have come up with. I always have a basil plant on my window sill and the day I don’t have garlic in my house call a doctor because I must be sick. For times that I am on my own for dinner, which admittedly isn’t that often, this is very easy to make into just one portion size.
What dishes are your go to when you need to throw together something quickly?
Pasta in a Garlic and Basil Brown Butter Sauce
90g (3.2 oz) dry pasta per serving
2 Tbsp butter per serving
1 clove garlic per serving
small handful of fresh chopped basil per serving
Salt to taste