Quickest and Yummiest Pasta Dinner!

I crave pasta…but, it has to be good. And, for it to be good, it has to be homemade—which does not mean it has to take a long time! My absolute favorite pasta is the Target brand 100% whole what angel hair. Absolutely divine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of pasta (thinner is good, but use what you’ve got)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 28-ounce can of whole or diced tomatoes, pureed to desired chunkiness in blender (or other apparatus of choice)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil flakes

TA DA! Seriously…that’s all the ingredients. Now…the twenty minute countdown to chow time begins.

  1. Heat the oil in a skillet or shallow saucepan over medium to med-high heat. Bring a 4 quarts of water to boil in an 8-quart stock pot.
  2. Chop onion (while oil heats). Throw onion in pot, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and basil. Stir occasionally.
  3. About the time the onion starts to brown, the water will be boiling. Throw 1 tablespoon salt into boiling water (no need to stir; the boiling water takes care of that part for you). Now pour pureed tomatoes into pan with onions.
  4. Add pasta to pot, and stir to make sure the noodles are separated. Stir sauce to scrape up yummy brown bits off of bottom. Continue to stir both, occasionally. In the meantime, set the table and grab condiments (freshly-ground parmigiana can’t be beat).
  5. When the pasta is done, save about one-half cup of the pasta water (just dip a glass measuring cup in there—no need to be precise!!), then drain pasta. While pasta is dripping through strainer, in sink, grab sauce off heat. 
  6. If you’re a mixer, toss both together in large bowl and thin as needed with pasta water. If you’re a separator (my family raises hands), place all three containers on table.
  7. Enjoy! Wash and repeat. Many, many times.

(Optional). Okay—so, your’e thinking—-where’s the veggies?? I’ve got you covered!! Between steps 3 and 4, throw in one pound of chopped fresh broccoli into the boiling, salted water. Count to 60 (okay, one minute), and use a strainer to remove and place in serving bowl. Douse with loads of freshly-ground pepper and continue with step four. See? Healthy AND it only took an extra two minutes!

Roasting Asparagus & Sweet Potatoes

In the interest of frugality, I’ve got to use the veggies that I’ve in my house—before they spoil! Among them included a bag of locally-grown sweet potatoes and locally-grown asparagus. I happen to love sweet potatoes, and have had dishes which I’ve liked with asparagus, but I needed something fast.

Using my favorite kitchen tool, my mini oven (seriously—my very favorite!), I washed/trimmed the asparagus (just the woody ends) and rolled them in some extra-virgin olive oil, added a generous amount of sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper and tossed them in the oven. I think around 425º. After seven or eight minutes, I rotated them around, then popped them back in. Once the tip of a paring knife could slide in/out easily, they were done!

As for the sweet pots, I’ve partaken of many fried strips at restaurants, but had no desire to fire up a pot of oil. So, mimicking the asparagus, I cut them into very long strips, about one inch thick perimeters, followed the same dressing idea and roasted away. Same temp, about the same time.

DIVINE!!

I now find myself wondering how many asparagus stalks and sweet potato sticks one can consume in my sitting without making oneself sick.

Best Carrot Cake I’ve had!

I had a serious craving for cake (no surprise there), but I decided to have a nice carrot cake, so I could pretend I was being healthy. In my quests of late to cut back on sugar, I’ve continued my intrigue with older recipes (pre-1950s) when cakes/muffins/cookies weren’t quite as sweet as they are now–at least in the U.S. In reality, if you pull down a Euro-Baking book, you’ll definitely get recipes with minute amounts of sugar—which I quite enjoy.

I pulled down one of my favorites, The Best Light Recipe,  to review the ingredients. However, I felt it still had too much sugar. Each night that I’m at the gym, I pass the time by watching an episode of Alton Brown on the Food Network; great knowledge and entertainment. Recently, he had done a carrot cake recipe, which is probably what sparked this whole thing…so, I flipped to his recipe.

Comparing the two, they were amazingly similar with only two exceptions: CI had more carrots, AB had less sugar. Success! I combined their efforts and I am delighted with the results!

Clickety here for recipe

My suggestions for change

  1. Use one pound of carrots
  2. Use a 9 x 13 cake pan (the double-layer 9″ took seemingly forever to bake)
  3. I grated the carrots by hand
  4. I used my KitchenAid mixer (too lazy to pull out the food processor)
  5. Use the same weight of flour, but King Arthur Flour Organic 100% White Whole Wheat

Giver her a try and report back!

Eating local…for the satisfaction of it.

There are many arguments as to why (or why not) to eat local, but I propose to do so for this: straight-up and selfish satisfaction. Yesterday, though only 47º outside, I headed to the local farmer’s market to see many vendors who are proud, passionate, and dedicated to their foods. As they should be—they’re beautiful!

I purchased three things: one dozen eggs, one jar of homegrown and home-canned organic strawberry jam, and another of raspberry. Oh, wait. Four things: and a homemade raspberry-rhubarb pie that was heated in a toaster oven while waiting. Wow.

As I escaped the cold to head back to my car, I was filled with such a joy to have exchanged money with the farmer who gathered the eggs just a few days (if not the same day) earlier. Chatting with the berry grower and canner, and hearing the pride in in his voice as he shared about his process. More than anything…I know where my eggs came from. I know where my jam was grown and processed. And, I know that my money went to a good family.

Breakfast was lovely today.

Baked From Scratch