Pasta Puttanesca

I’ve heard some very interesting stories about this Italian dish. The name literally translates to, “Whore Style Spaghetti”. One story is that the ingredients were so cheap, it was a staple for Italian night walkers. Another is that prostitutes would make this pungently aromatic, spicy dish and place it on their window sill to draw in men. Whatever story is true, the dish is truly alluring.

I’ve wanted to try my hand at Pasta Puttanesca since I first saw A Series of Unfortunate Events. It’s extremely inexpensive, and utterly fool proof. There is a basic recipe here, but the point is that you put in what you have or what you feel like. My ingredients vary a tad from the basic recipe, but it’s mighty fine.

Puttanesca 1

| Pasta Puttanesca

Serves 2

1 TBS olive oil

1/2 TBS minced garlic

1 TSP red pepper flakes

1 – 16 oz can of diced tomatoes in juice

2-3 TBS chopped sun-dried tomatoes

2 TBS capers

1/4 C kalamata olives, roughly chopped

a dash of salt

2 servings spaghetti, cooked

Puttanesca 4

Saute garlic, crushed red chili flakes and capers in olive oil on medium heat for about 3 minutes. Pour in the can of tomatoes and add the rest of the ingredients plus a couple tablespoons of water. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the sauce reduces a little, add in cooked spaghetti and stir well to incorporate.

Puttanesca 2

Serve and enjoy!

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Warm Cabbage & Fennel Salad

Normally, when I think of salad, I definitely don’t think of warmth on my plate. I think of cool, crisp leaves with sweet tomatoes, creamy avocado and crunchy onions with some sort of a tangy dressing.

Warm Cabbage and Fennel Soup3

But, when April is almost over and it’s still snowing, thinking of a summer salad sort of depresses you. Monday and Tuesday it snowed about 5 inches, but today I am not complaining. Almost all of the snow melted late afternoon yesterday, and with this 50 degree weather today and my 10 day forecast, I believe we’re in the clear {knock on wood, cross my fingers, say a little prayer}.

Warm Cabbage and Fennel Soup4

So when I’m craving a salad, but the weather isn’t cooperating {don’t get me wrong – it’s possible to have a cold salad when the weather’s cold – just doesn’t feel right to me}, a warm salad is the way to go.

I have been eating a lot of cabbage over the last week. For one, it’s cheap as dirt, and two, read this.

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|Warm Cabbage & Fennel Salad

serves 4

1 head white cabbage

2 fennel bulbs

1/2 red onion, roughly chopped

1/2 TSP minced lemongrass

a TSP olive oil

a pinch of S&P

Cut the fronds off the fennel, then quarter and cut 1/4 inch slices. Begin to saute the fennel and onions in olive oil on medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the fennel and onions are cooking, quarter the cabbage and slice into ribbons. When the fennel and onions begin to caramelize, toss in the cabbage and lemongrass with a few TSP water. Cover, raise heat one or two notches, and stir every few minutes for a total of about 10-15, or until cabbage has wilted and begins to brown {add a TBS of water at a time if the veggies are sticking to the pan}.

Remove from heat, add S&P, tossing to coat.

Warm Cabbage and Fennel Soup6

Enjoy!

Smoky Sweet Potato Hash with Kale and Black Beans

So, I literally just realized that I am writing another post about sweet potatoes. Seriously? Good thing they are quite versatile.

Sweet Potato 8

And also, kale? Kale is the trend when it comes to health food these days, and I can totally see why. Kale has more iron than beef {that’s awesome news for those with deficiencies}, more calcium than a glass of milk, and significantly more vitamin C than spinach, among many other things.

Purple Kale

Kale, for me, is better cooked. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eat it raw, but I prefer it cooked, and this combination is not only a huge handful of many super foods, but also freakin’ delicious. Plus, it’s a one-pot meal, perfect for those lazier days.

Purple Kale1

| Smoky Sweet Potato Hash with Kale and Black Beans

serves 2-3

1 TBS olive oil

1 large sweet potato, chopped into very small pieces

1/4 red onion, chopped

7 oz black beans {half a can} drained and rinsed

3 large Kale leaves, cut into thin ribbons

a dash of salt

a dash of cayene

1/2 TSP smoky paprika

In a large skillet on medium-high heat, cook in an even layer the sweet potatoes, covering. Stir every couple of minutes for about 15 minutes total.

Add in the chopped onion and continue cooking for a couple more minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the beans with the spices, again in an even layer after being well incorporated, and cover for another couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.

When everything is nice and somewhat crispy, add in the ribbons of kale, and cook until just wilted.

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Enjoy!

Roasted Fennel and Carrots

I have a love/hate relationship with meat. I love the way it tastes {like, love. Mmmm…. bacon} but every once in awhile, my tender heart gets rocked when I think about what I’m eating and how it got on my plate.

That being said, this is not a political post whatsoever, just a little announcement that I’m not eating meat at the moment. Or longer, I’m hoping. But don’t freak! Husband is still a caveman, so I will post what I make him, and you will have to go by his word whether or not it’s delicious {and lucky for you, he’s particular}.

So here’s a little veggie dish that is just delightful. Yep, I said it. Delightful. It causes you to be full of delight. Plus, it really is light. I’ve talked about fennel before, but it is such a uniquely flavored plant that goes extremely well with the sweetness of carrots. Add in a burst of extra flavor from the fennel seeds, and you have yourself a masterpiece of a meal.

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| Roasted Fennel and Carrots

12 large carrots

3 fennel bulbs

2 TSP olive oil

1 TSP lemon juice

1/2 TSP fennel seeds

1/8 TSP salt

a dash of cayenne pepper

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Peel the outer layer of the carrots, and cut them in half. Cut off the greens from the fennel bulbs and wash. Slice the fennel bulb in 1/2 inch slices, then in half again going the opposite directions. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, fennel seeds, salt and cayenne. Drizzle the mixture over the carrots and fennel in a large baking dish and toss to coat.

Pop the dish in the oven for 35 minutes or so, stirring about every 10 to 15. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

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Enjoy!

Simplify

Remember when I said 2013 is going to be the best year yet {well, not those words exactly}? Well, I feel like it truly has been.

I have taken deep looks into my life and changed things that have needed changing for so long. One of those changes is to “simplify”. I have had a sign in my kitchen that reads “simplify” for a few years now, but have never really thought about what that meant. To me, it means a lot. Internally, it means getting rid of things that take times away from the ones you love. One of my first acts of simplifying that I did this year was deleting my Facebook. Oh gosh, did THAT feel good!

Simplify

There are others ways to simplify, too. I figured, if I’m simplifying my life, I need my atmosphere to be simplified also. I am getting rid of tons of stuff in my home, from decorations to clothes.

Here is a link to my items for sale. Hope you like some of them and maybe even buy a few! {I will be adding more as the day goes by}

Enjoy!

Modest Squash & Chicken

I found something I have never found before. Maybe I had just never looked hard, but as I was picking out different kinds of squash one day – yellow summer squash, zucchini – I came upon this little oddball called Mexican Gray Squash. It looked pretty normal, just as though it was a hybrid between the two I had already gathered. Partly green, partly yellow, not really gray, but the skin’s strange pattern gave off a fuzzy, dull look; the impression of gray, if you will. Maybe that’s where the name came from.

At any rate, it was becoming a rather cold evening, and I don’t know about you, but I think squash is perfect for cold weather {which is funny, considering it’s called summer squash}. I don’t know why, but I have had this thing for years now, about always thinking about the Oregon Trail {and I always play the game on my phone when I can’t sleep}. Anyway, I could just imagine the pioneers eating dishes like this: unsophisticated, honest and uncomplicated . Maybe we are the ones who are unsophisticated – after all, everything we do has to be done with such detail and ferocity, taking up so much time. How much more time must they have had on their hands than we do to spend doing what they love. That’s pretty sophisticated to me.

I wish to live simply, modestly like that.

Modest Squash and Chicken

Serves 2.

| Modest Squash and Chicken

2 chicken breasts

1 zucchini squash

1 yellow squash

1 Mexican gray squash

1 TBS olive oil

1/2 TSP lemon juice

1/8 TSP salt

1/8 TSP pepper

1/2 TSP dried thyme

1/2 TSP dried rosemary

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and cut each squash into little 1/4 inch slices. Drizzle about a half a TSP of olive oil in the bottom of a round baking dish or pie dish and rub around the surface with a paper towel until thinly coated. Arrange the squash in a circular pattern around the pie dish, leaving a gap in the middle. Place the chicken breasts there.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary and thyme and drizzle over the top of the chicken and squash. Sprinkle the salt and pepper evenly over the whole dish.

Place the dish in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes. Broil on high for an additional 2-3 minutes to get a slight crunch on the squash.

Serve immediately.

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Enjoy!

Soup in Summer? Oh, yes I did!

I don’t know why, but every summer, I have this deranged, insatiable need to create a soup.

What?

Yeah, weird, I know. But this is what I’ve come to terms with: I think that the hidden sanity beneath all of this oxymoron-esque foolishness is because it’s easy – you don’t need 3 pans on 3 burners; just one. Contrary to what one might think, it actually keeps the house cooler. Very important when you’re living in an unairconditioned house. Yes. Very important.

This happened to me last summer, too. I repeatedly made chili, adding to the dumbfounded-ness of my then almost-husband. Honestly, I don’t blame him. Who would want to eat hot, spicy chili in 100 degree weather {although some Asian cultures believe that if you’re cold, drink cold beverages, and if you’re hot, hot beverages to balance the body temperature. Could they be right?}?

However, I think this soup I am about to acquaint you with might actually make you think that soup during summer is a sensational idea! Very fresh, clean and light, this soup is, making up for it’s lack in coolness. I was inspired to make this soup by my parents’ best friends who, every year, as far back as I can remember, they had us over for dinner on New Years Day and we had this Portuguese soup. I don’t know their exact recipe, but I tried my hand at it…

What you’ll need:

14 oz or 1 Package of Polska Kielbasa

1 Head of Kale {shall we go into the health benefits of this one? It would be a long conversation}

1 – 15 oz Can of Cannellini Beans, drained { they are really the same as great northerns, so if you have those, use them – however, great northerns do have less impressive nutritional values. Trust me – I studied the two cans in the grocery store aisle for 5 minutes, while people stared}.

1 – 15 oz Can of Kidney Beans

1 – 10 oz Can of Medium Heat Rotel Diced Tomatoes {can you tell I like this stuff?}

1/2 of a Red Onion, diced

1 C of Mushrooms, quartered, stems cut off

12 C of Water

S&P to taste

Put those 12 cups of water plus that can of Rotel {do not drain}  in a very large, deep pot on High, to get it boiling. While you’re waiting, chop that Kale coarsely, and add to the water. Slice up those Kielbasa links, and also add.

Drain & rinse well, both the cans of beans. Toss those in the pan, after the kale has begun wilting, along with the quartered mushrooms and diced onions. Once everything has mingled nicely, liberally S&P to taste {trust when I say liberally – there is, after all, 12 cups of water in there}. Close that sucker up with a lid.

Bring the heat to a simmer for an hour to an hour and a half.

You remember this recipe from last week? Here’s where it comes in handy with that toast. Make the toast according to instructions, dip in this ambrosial soup, and let your taste buds cheer. And they won’t even know how good it is for you. Sometimes I feel like my taste buds are kids – as soon as they know it’s healthy, they don’t want anymore! Okay, that’s a lie. But it’s that good! Try to trick your tongue!

Shhhh! It’s our secret ;).

Enjoy!

*Statistics are approximate and can be calculated on www.recipes.sparkpeople.com

  8 Servings
Amount Per Serving
  Calories 264.2
  Total Fat 14.4 g
  Saturated Fat 5.0 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 1.8 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 6.5 g
  Cholesterol 33.2 mg
  Sodium 1,524.3 mg
  Potassium 486.5 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 21.0 g
  Dietary Fiber 7.3 g
  Sugars 1.6 g
  Protein 13.7 g
  Vitamin A 221.4 %
  Vitamin B-12 13.4 %
  Vitamin B-6 11.6 %
  Vitamin C 57.6 %
  Vitamin D 1.7 %
  Vitamin E 4.2 %
  Calcium 12.5 %
  Copper 15.5 %
  Folate 10.1 %
  Iron 16.2 %
  Magnesium 10.5 %
  Manganese 25.6 %
  Niacin 12.0 %
  Pantothenic Acid     6.6 %
  Phosphorus     15.2 %
  Riboflavin 14.4 %
  Selenium 15.6 %
  Thiamin 14.5 %
  Zinc 10.2 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.