How to cook pasta perfectly in a 5 easy steps, plus tips on cooking it ahead of time (without making it soggy!). Perfect this, and perfect the easy dinner conundrum.
A one-stop shop for Halloween treats, from homemade candy to a spooky Halloween dinner the kids will love!
You know when a recipe is good? When it's delicious, fast, and endlessly adaptable, like this Skinny Alfredo Sauce. Adaptable may not have been on your list of recipe virtues, but here are a couple of important reasons why it should be. First, learning how to make one easily adapted dinner recipe actually means learning how to make several of them. Following a fast recipe is a time-saver, but knowing it like the back of your hand and being able to bang it out without thought or much effort takes things to another level. And relieves stress. We like things that relieve stress. Another reason that I love adaptable recipes is because you can keep the ingredients for it on hand with a higher likelihood that you'll actually use them. So lets say that you buy the broth, milk, cheese and pasta to make Skinny Fettucini Alfredo, but end up deciding that you don't feel like eating that. No problem! Add a bunch of frozen veggies for creamy pasta primavera or steam some chicken, red pepper and onion with cajun spices and make this Skinny Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta. Dinner—and your ingredients—saved without waste or take out. It's a beautiful thing. (more after the jump)
I don't know if you've noticed that I haven't been posting many pasta recipes lately. See, I have this problem. It's a pasta problem: Once I start eating it, I cannot stop—especially if it's tossed in a rich tomato sauce or creamy sauce with cheese. So, even though my family loves pasta—like loves it—they have been suffering from not-enough-pasta syndrome. I got complaints. Saw signs of withdrawal. And have even watched them wolf down an excess of pasta while at restaurants where, finally, it was available to them. I was depriving them and, honestly, myself, and have decided that it's time to deal with my pasta problem. You probably thinks that means I'm ready to work on some willpower. Well, you're wrong. At least that's not my immediate plan. Right now, I've decided to think of ways to lighten up my favorite classic pastas like this "skinny" Fettucini Alfredo. Someone on my One Hungry Mama YouTube channel asked me to share more pasta recipes (doh!) and it was the perfect time to come clean about my problem and share this recipe. Because if I can help just one other person who has a pasta problem too, it's all worth it. (more after the jump)
I found myself in a quandary the other day. I didn't feel like cooking, I had already cooked pasta on hand, and I really (really) wanted Middle Eastern food. What's a hungry mama to do? Why, make this Pasta with Lemon Yogurt Sauce and Buttered Pine Nuts, of course. (more after the jump)
I almost never feed my boys a separate kids meal. I can't lie: partly it's on principle. Mostly, though, it's about keeping things easy for me. It's about doing and eating what I want. Every once and while, though, making a quick, separate kids meal works out better for me and, when it does, I go for it. This weekend, I wanted to take my time to prep a big birthday meal that the grown ups would eat later in the evening with a special guest. Instead of cooking early and having the meal sit, I threw together a summer pantry meal for the boys, got them to bed, and then sipped on a Aperol Spritz while prepping lamb kabobs, pilaf, string beans with yogurt and pine nuts, and a spinach salad with dates, almonds and quick pickled red onion. That was easier. That was what I wanted. On occasions when I make separate meals for the boys, I rely heavily on my pantry. In the winter, that means digging through my cupboard and freezer like I did for this all-pantry dinner recipe. In the summer, when produce is abundant and easy to have on hand at all times (I'm looking at you zucchini), I can throw in some fresh produce. This Pasta with Zucchini and Chickpeas is a perfect example of a quick meal that I can make in 15 minutes, any night of the week, all summer long. And, by the way, it is delicious enough that the some of the late-dining grownups couldn't resist a pasta appetizer, so don't think this is just a kids meal. (more after the jump)
I'm on a serious Italian food kick. Ever since returning from Italy, we've been feasting on easy summer pestos, meatballs, fresh mozzarella and tomato salads, prosciutto sandwiches, and even fruit and mascarpone dessert pizza! Having just been in Bologna, one of my biggest cravings has been meat sauce. Having just returned from an eating vacation, I've also been wanting to lighten up. So, unlike my restaurant-style approach with Chicken Marsala, I riffed on classic bolognese to make a healthier version. This Mushroom and Lentil "Bolognese" sauce is not meant to taste like a stand in for real meat-sauce, but it is just as hearty and full of umami flavor as the real thing. Totally delicious and satisfying. (more after the jump)
The holiday pressure is on, but I'm determined to make more room for fun this year. It's not that I haven't wanted to have fun other years. It's just that I've had a hard time letting go. Determined to "do it all"—I'll be more organized this year; I'll start a few weeks earlier—I've missed out on a lot of the joy of one of my favorite times of the year. To make room for fun, I'm pushing some of my normally high ranked priorities down the list. Maybe you think you know what comes next. Family dinners, meal planning, nutritionally balanced plates: they can all move to the side during this busy time. Right? Nope! For me, well balanced family dinners are particularly important during this time when so much of the food we'll be eating out is so, well, unbalanced. And meal planning? There is no way that I can put well balanced meals on the table, especially during busy times, without being disciplined about meal planning. Even if that means scrawling ideas on a piece of paper that I keep tucked under a wad of knotted, unwashed hair. My meal plan keeps me sane. So, yea, some priorities get temporarily demoted, but others get reconfigured. They take a new, more flexible shape that helps me fit in other, very important and highly time sensitive to-dos like holiday shopping, baking cookies for Santa, and playing hooky from after school classes to sip hot cocoa and hit a train show (or two). Reshaping my approach to dinner means planning around the absolute simplest, fastest meals in my repertoire. It also means cooking a whole lot of one thing and getting comfortable with leftovers. This Tuna Puttanesca? Twice in three days. Good thing it's so delicious! (more after the jump)
When I was much younger and just discovering my love of cooking, I stayed away from anything purposely healthy. If an expertly cooked dish called only for healthy ingredients and a light touch, all the better, but I loathed the idea of healthy being the point. People who loved food the way that I loved food embraced butter, oil, cream and cheese and knew how and when to use these ingredients. And if it meant using them in abundance, so be it. The afraid would miss out, but not me. I told you: I was young. As you can imagine, with this attitude, Cooking Light magazine held very little interest for me. Until a dear friend—who loves food—encouraged me to reconsider. She assured me that some of the recipes did, in fact, call for butter, cheese, and all of the good stuff that I refused to strike from my repertoire. And some did not. Either way, the recipes were about achieving great flavor using rich ingredients strategically. I was intrigued. And then rapt. One of my first forays into the Cooking Light archive brought me to a recipe for Baked Pasta with Butternut Squash and Bacon that sounded too good to pass up. It called for bacon. It called for pasta. It called for cheese! It was all in there, thoughtfully considered. I tried it and became an instant devotee. (more after the jump)
Halloween is in full swing at chez One Hungry Mama. In fact, we've already done some celebrating! Check out this Halloween video to see my kids' favorite Halloween dinner party playdate recipes in action. I'm a SUCKER for Halloween. It's one of my favorite holidays. I'm not into blood and gore, but I do love me a spooky vibe. With little ones, though, I've had to choose benevolent ghosts and smiling pumpkins over tombstones and skeletons. Bo-ring! Now that my boys are getting older, it's time to start introducing them to Halloween hungry mama style. (lots more—and a serious laugh—after the jump)
Check out the latest installment of my school lunch video series. This week's lunch idea is as good for little ones as it is for big kids, teens, and even grown ups! One of the best parts of my school lunch video series is all the comments I've gotten from high schoolers about wanting more ideas for packed lunches that work for them. How awesome that older kids are looking for healthy lunch options when they can't find them at school? (Very!) Since there was no way I was willing to let my teen fans down, I whipped up some easy-to-pack rice, grain, and pasta lunch bowls. The best part of these is that they work just as well for little kids as they do for big ones. In fact, start packing lunches for work, mamas—these are awesome for grown ups, too. (more after the jump)
I was going to post something else today, but I've shifted things around to share last night's dinner. It's not the prettiest meal I've ever made, but it is wholesome, healthy, and took 20 minutes to cook. I also used only ingredients from my pantry and freezer, and everyone like it. Last week was crazy, then we went away for the weekend. By the time I returned home on Sunday night, I had no meal plan, no food in the house, and a busy week of work ahead. Ever been there? I'm thinking that you have, which is why I've interrupted our regular programming to bring you this service announcement: A thoughtfully stocked pantry will SAVE you. Maybe you've heard this message before. Maybe it doesn't seem like much of a revelation. But I'll tell you this: when you're able to whip up a tasty dinner like this one with a protein-rich pasta and side veggie, you'll feel pretty amazed. Since I want you to be amazed by yourself and your cooking skills, let's break down last night's dinner, Pasta with Tuna and Chickpeas with Butter Sautéed Artichokes and Peas: (more after the jump)
This is my new favorite cupboard pasta. Other than having fresh mint on hand—which I try to do in the summer to garnish berries, mix into smoothies like this Strawberry, Lychee and Mint Smoothie, and flavor simple syrup—this is an entirely pantry meal. And, yes, you should stock your pantry with artichoke hearts and black olives, too. Because, when you do, you can whip up a dinner like this in just about a half hour. All hail a well stocked pantry! (more after the jump)