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
I have done so much soul searching about this blog and where it needed to go. And after a much needed posting where I expressed to you my feelings I felt inspired by the responses enough to come to a decision. I am continuing to blog, doing what I love but in doing so I am going to set things up a bit different. You see my purpose for starting this blog was initially a challenge to improve our food budget and eat healthier. One of the many things I loved about this blog is how it felt to be challenged and even more so how it felt to succeed. I also loved when I would hear from readers how I had inspired them to change their spending and cooking habits.
So I have decided two things, one I won’t be blogging quite as often as I was per month so as not to overwhelm myself but secondly every month I am going to give myself personal challenges and sometimes asking you to challenge me so focusing on quality postings rather then quantity. So every month with my new challenge I will post within the rules of my challenge and push myself to grow even more. As I am about to become a mother again one recurring challenge is going to be how to make sure I continue to provide us with meals that are easy to put together so it fits into our crazy lives. Along with the new focus I am hoping to launch a new redesign which is going to be very recipe orientated to make it easier for people who use this blog as their cookbook, like I do, to find the recipes they want. Thank you everyone for your impute over the past month and I hope you enjoy the journey with Small Wallet, Big Appetite.
So Challenge number 1 for October is going to be 30 minute meals. This month I want to focus on meals that from start to finish take only 30 minutes or less because lets face it when you have a family and/or a busy career you don’t always have the time to assemble more complex meals. This pasta dish was very kid friendly and makes enough for 6 portions which for us is perfect because that means it fed us for two nights in a row which gave me a night off from cooking. Served with a different vegetable side each night it satisfied both the toddler and the adults in the family.
500g (1 lb) lean minced beef
1 medium onion, minced
1 garlic, clove
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
225g (8 oz) uncooked pasta any shape
750mL (3 c.) reduced-sodium beef stock
150mL (3/4 c.) milk
3 Tbsp ketchup
1 tsp mustard*
80g (1 cup) shredded cheddar cheese
*If using English mustard like I was be aware you might want to use less as it will be very hot. I use about 1/3 tsp of English mustard
I had heard of doing a lasagne in a crock pot but I hadn’t tried it before and I have to say I might start having lasagne a bit more often with it being so easy in the crock pot. I also got to learn something new, besides cooking the lasagne in the crock pot. Here in the UK people have never really heard of using ricotta cheese in their lasagne. Instead they use a cheese sauce layer. I haven’t yet tried this but it sounds really good and it also sounds like an even cheaper way to make lasagne as I always have the ingredients on hand to make a quick cheese sauce. This recipe is one that uses ricotta but I promise I will be attempting the UK version soon and hope to share that with you.
Originally I was going to make it with just the spinach, but after noticing I had a chorizo sausage to use up I amended my recipe last minute. It tasted like a cross between pizza and lasagne, even my toddler who right now is being a little bit picky about spinach devoured a portion. Coming home after a long day at work the smell of this lasagne filled the house and put a smile on both my husband and I’s face. Another trick to make this even easier for a busy work day is I put the lasagne together the night before and put the crock pot pan into the fridge. So all I had to do in the morning was put it back onto the base and switch it on.
It doesn’t matter how many times I see images from a disaster I am shocked every time. I just can never get use to the immense devastation that is left behind after disasters both man-made and nature. I hope I never lose that, I hope that there never comes a time that I look at an image of what use to be an entire row of houses now left in ruins and thing, ‘Oh well it happens.’ And then move on.
If that ever happens then I know that I have gotten to a dangerous place on complacency that I never want to be in. I know we are bombarded with these sad images all the time, and it can be so easy to just flip the channel or walk away. But if we do that then we are walking away from ourselves. Because every one of those people could be us one day, disaster isn’t prejudiced it could happen to any one of us. So that is why this week Sunday Supper is taking some time out of our day to ask you to stop and look at the images and do something about it. When hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast of the USA it left a wave of devastation unmatched in that area. Many people have lost so much and sadly too many lost the ones they loved. But it is at times like this that sometimes we can be reminded about what is amazing about the human spirit. When people join together to help out their neighbours or even complete strangers. Sunday Supper decided to share with you two organizations that we would like you to consider sending some support to and I am SO proud to say that the organization my parents work for was one of them.
My parents have worked with Hope Force ever since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast seven years ago. This organization not only has such an amazing heart for the people they work with they are also very experienced and skilled in this kind of disaster recovery. But unlike some of the big organizations they don’t have the financial backing to do as much as they would like and rely 100% on donations. They need our support in order to touch the lives of those effected by this storm. Both Hope Force and Sandy Relief Fund are actively working in the communities of New Jersey and I would ask you to consider blessing them with much needed funds so that they can continue to work in these communities.
The Sunday Supper crew are sharing with your their favourite comfort dishes to give to people when in need. Whether it is a simple loaf of bread of a casserole to heat later. Sometimes the gift of food can bless the lives of those who are hurting. This dish is so easy to put together for a family in need of some good comfort food. Just skip the baking stage and wrap up in foil, giving it to the family with baking instructions.
Spaghetti Pizza Bake
340g (12 oz.) dry spaghetti
1 tsp. salt
130g (4.5 oz.) pepperoni*, sliced (about 30 slices)
1 (26 oz.) jar basil & tomato pasta sauce (or your favourite)
56g (1/4 c.) grated Parmesan cheese
226g (8 oz. ) mozzarella
Handful of fresh basil
*chorizo was more readily available to me when I went shopping so I substituted it this time.