Weeknight Dinners

Organic Black Bean Spaghetti with Heirloom Tomatoes

I’ve had some serious writers block lately, but I felt the need to share this meal with you since it was super flavorful and easy. It’s perfect for weeknight cooking and a healthy alternative to some of the carb filled pasta we normally eat.

Black bean pasta is relatively new and trendy. This brand cooks up like a typical pasta would in boiling water for about 6 minutes. Be careful how you boil/simmer. It’s actually more of a simmer now that I think about it. The pasta boils and gets very frothy, easy to spill out of your pan (which happened to me twice while I was making this).

Ingredients

  • 1 box of Explore Cuisine black bean spaghetti
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 1 package crimini mushrooms, rinsed and quartered
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 small container cherry / small tomatoes, rinsed and quartered
  • 3-4 basil leaves, torn
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • 1/4 cup cotija cheese, crumbled (I really like this brand – it’s found almost everywhere, too)
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. In a small non-stick skillet, melt the tbsp of butter over medium hi heat. Add the mushrooms and garlic powder and let them cook for about 5-6 minutes until they are soft and smell good.
  2. In a large pot, boil your pasta water. Add pasta and cook for about 6 minutes.
  3. Drain and add the pasta back to your hot pot and add the olive oil to prevent sticking + add flavor.
  4. Add salt and pepper to pasta.
  5. Stir the mushrooms in the pan and turn the heat off if they are done.
  6. Serve the pasta in individual bowls and top with
    1. tomatoes
    2. basil
    3. cotija cheese
    4. mushrooms
    5. lime
    6. chives
  7. Yield is 6

This dish is VERY filling. I served a “normal” pasta size serving to each of us, and none of us finished. Black bean pasta is more filling than just regular pasta, so start small. The mushrooms were great – they added a “meatiness” that the dish needed. And the cotija cheese MADE this dish flavorful.

If you don’t have time for anything else, pop open a can of salsa and dump is over the pasta, sprinkle the cotija cheese and BOOM you have dinner.

Kids approved. Loved it. When eating it tho, it’s a bit of a mind game. You’re literally eating flavors that taste like Mexican burrito bowl, but you see pasta and think YUM SPAGHETTI AND CARBS = COMFORT + FAT PANTS.

This was perfect for a case of the Mondays!

Enjoy your week!

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Weeknight Dinners

Zoodles & Marinara Sauce

Healthy pasta is my kind of pasta. Zoodles. Zucchini Noodles. Have you heard about these vegetarian noodles made from green herbs and vegetables?

Well RonzoniΒ noodles are not exactly fresh Zoodles because that would require me to use an attachment on my Kitchen Aid mixer that I do not have (or have time to do tonight); however, these noodles are very similar and have zucchini in them.

Actually, it’s a great combo of spinach, zucchini, broccoli, parsley and kale. This product is 100% nut free. And not made in a facility with other nuts.

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At first, we were not sure about green pasta. I mean, green is my favorite color, but for pasta?! Certainly this pasta looks and sounds healthy AND for sure then they would taste bad. Right?!

Wrong. The good news is that this pasta tastes 100% like regular pasta, only you’re getting some sweet nutrients along with it.Β  Three servings of vegetables to be exact. That’s A LOT!

And, if your kiddos are picky eaters when it comes to fruits and vegetables, this is a great way to substitute some key nutrients while still eating something familiar, pasta!

We paired this with classic Campbell’s Prego Marinara sauce and some Parmesan with watermelon balls and strawberries on the side. It was a quick night tonight since we had double pick up from school, scholastic book order sorting and dance rehearsal.

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Not a pretty picture, but we did have clean bowl club all around! Kids loved it for sure. We’ll be buying this brand again.

If you check out the Ronzoni website, they have a TON of great recipes for how to use these noodles with cold salads, too. Perfect for summer time picnics and parties πŸ™‚

 

Weeknight Dinners

Chicken Taco Soup

Tacos are so hot right now.

If you’re a taco, you’re hash-tagged every Tuesday, you’re the go-to for weeknight cooking, you are a pantry staple, and you’re devoured within seconds of being served.

If you’re a taco, you’re trending + extremely popular + accessorize well with others. You may even be on a cool t-shirt.

Basically, Tacos are the new black.

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So what’s taco soup?

Tonight, Carter decided to re-name this soup to Chicken Taco rather than Chicken Tortilla because, “Mamma, this is just like a taco in my soup bowl.” And he’s right! We poured a little soup in the bowl, topped with crushed tortilla chips, cheese and avocado. Essentially, a taco!

I took a few recipes and mashed them together to create this one. I’m sure you’ll have everything in your pantry already – and if you don’t, it’s not a big deal…..

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 cups of crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can corn
  • 3 tsp kosher salt
  • lots of fresh ground pepper

Garnish

  • cheese
  • avocado
  • chips (Tostitos are nut-free. Trader Joe’s are NOT nut-free)
  • tortilla slices
  • jalapeno
  • cilantro
  • lime slices
  • sour cream if it’s too spicy for your liking

Directions

  1. In a dutch oven over medium-hi heat, add your onion, garlic and bell pepper. Saute until soft, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken stock, black beans, corn, tomato, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. While it’s simmering, prepare your chicken. I like to cut the chicken into small cubes, about the same size as the rest of the ingredients in the soup. It’s easier to eat that way πŸ™‚
  4. Cube the chicken and add it to the soup.
  5. Simmer for 20-30 minutes and let it thicken.
  6. Sample your soup and adjust the seasonings as needed. Usually, you’ll need more salt, especially if you use unsalted chicken stock, like I do πŸ™‚
  7. Serve with desired garnishes.

The yield on this is about 8. To change it up for left over night, try serving this over jasmine rice, couscous or quinoa. You could also omit some liquid and serve in bibb lettuce wraps for a super healthy crunchy taco.

I love this soup. It’s super hearty, healthy and comes together very quick. It’s a good way to clean out your fridge. Weekly, we have sliced bell pepper in snack size bags, and I did have some left over this week that I threw in here, so no waste! Our fridge is pretty empty now and it’s time to start planning what we’ll be eating for next week πŸ™‚ I hope you are enjoying this weekend with the ones you love the most πŸ™‚

 

 

Weeknight Dinners

Roasted Vegetables & Quinoa

There’s that word again. Quinoa. Keen-wah.

What is this stuff?

Well, quinoa is considered to be a whole grain but it is a seed that can be prepared like rice or barley. Quinoa is cool because it’s flexible and can be used in many different recipes and the flavor is neutral so it goes with lots of cool things. Just like the color black. I love black. When in doubt wear black. With more black.

Kids love quinoa, I call it pasta balls because it’s basically the same thing. If you make quinoa with a flavored liquid, like vegetable stock or chicken stock opposed to just water, you’ll enjoy it so much more.

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This week we wrapped up the Cara Clark Nutrition 10 Day Challenge and quinoa was a big part of our meals. So we made a giant batch and used it every other day with recipes.

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Roasted Vegetables & Quinoa was easy and very filling. Here’s the recipe from Cara Clark. If you haven’t checked her out yet, you should! She’s the best when it comes to making easy healthy meals and staying active while managing small people and work! She’s amazing and honest and I love that about her.

Ingredients:

  • Β 2 sweet potatoes, rinsed, peeled and cut into french fry strips (yum)
  • 1 red onion, cut into slices / half moon shapes
  • 1 head of cauliflower, rinsed and chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, rinsed and woody ends trimmed by breaking
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and fresh pepper
  • 1 cup of quinoa, prepare according to package

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400* and line 3 baking sheets with foil.
  2. Once all of your veggies are rinsed and chopped, place them on the lined baking sheets. I noticed with this recipe that I had a TON of vegetables. The thing about roasting is that your veggies need room to roast. If they are crowded on the pan, they will only steam and wilt.
  3. Swirl your olive oil across the baking sheets a few times and sprinkle with salt and pepper. use your hands to toss + coat the veggies. This is so they do not stick to the pan and crisp up.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes and check on them. Flip them around making sure they aren’t burning.
  5. Bake for 15 more minutes or until your level of doneness.
  6. Make your quinoa according to package directions.

:::Extra protein:::

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We made some chicken breast tenders to add some protein to this dish. It was not my favorite, but here is what I whipped up at the last minute.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound chicken breast tenders
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Kim Crawford white wine

Directions:

  1. In a large fry pan over medium heat, add olive oil and swirl to coat your hot pan.
  2. While your pan is heating up, put the tenders in a bowl and coat with the oregano, garlic, onion powder, parsley and s+p.
  3. Add the chicken strips to the pan. Feel free to add more herbs as you see fit. I like to add stuff until it starts to smell good. I tend to use more herbs because you cant really mess those up. Garlic and onion, not so much, those can kill your food in a big hurry if you over use them.
  4. Cook on medium heat for about 4-5 minutes each side. You’ll see the pan start to get dirty, so this is where Kim comes in.
  5. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup Kim Crawford to deglaze your pan and get all the crunchy bits off. This makes washing your pan so much easier when you’re done cooking.
  6. If you don’t have white wine, just use chicken stock, or vegetable stock. Just make sure your cooking liquid matches the color of your meat πŸ˜‰

The kids ate everything on their plates, and so did we. They did need some sauce though because no matter how hard I try to make decent chicken, it always turns out DRY. And mine was dry. So BBQ did the trick. Sweet Baby Rays is safe for nut allergies.

There you have it. Weeknight cooking. It was a lot easier than it looks. My advice would be to skip the chicken and use a store bought chicken strip like Dino Nuggets and focus on roasting some healthy veggies. Quinoa is a no-brainer, just make it.

Have a great week πŸ™‚

Weeknight Dinners

Roasted Root Vegetables + Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage

Are you in your back to school routines yet? Going crazy? Drinking too much coffee? I’ve got a time saver recipe for your weeknight eats that will have everyone clearing their plates….if they are OK with roasted vegetables. Which, if you haven’t roasted your veggies before, you SHOULD. They taste SO MUCH BETTER. This recipe is Kid approved!

20170906_170337.jpgIf you have random almost expired vegetables in your fridge, this is a good way to use them all up and make a fairly healthy meal at the same time. I love roasted root vegetable night. Usually I choose 3-4 different vegetables, one whole onion, and a sausage of some sort. The recipe below is one that I just made up tonight and we had clean plates all around. It’s very easy and fast, perfect for weeknight cooking.

Roasted Root Vegetables + Sweet Turkey Italian Sausage

  • 1/2 cauliflower cut into small pieces
  • 1 bag mini carrots
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 4 parsnips, peeled and cut approx. same size as your carrots
    • parsnips are friends of the carrot – if you haven’t had them, you’re in for a real treat. They literally roast up to taste like sweet candy. Literal candy. Not lying. they are gobbled up every. single. time. Do it. Buy them + roast them.
  • 1 package / pound of sweet turkey Italian sausage, sliced into mini rounds
    • I chose Applegate turkey/chicken sausage in the cold case section, and they tasted amazing + they are NUT-FREE! You can find them at Whole Foods, and most other grocers organic/healthy eating sections.
    • Brats also work for this if you have them on hand, so do hot-dogs. Really, any type of sausage works. And it can be fresh/raw. It roasts for so long, it doesn’t matter.
  • 2 tbsp evoo
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • salt + pepper
  • non-stick spray

Directions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 425*
  2. Line two baking sheets with foil and spray with non-stick spray
  3. Arrange your vegetables how you like them on the trays
  4. Roast for 30 minutes, check on your stuff, flip around and roast for approx 15-30 more minutes, depending on how crispy you like it.
  5. Tonight I left mine in for a full hour since I like it a tad crunchy.

I had a giant pot of spaghetti noddles left over from the other night, too. So we had that as a side. I warmed up the following:

  • Plain noodles
  • 1/4 cup of Kim Crawford
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP olive oil,
  • Salt, pepper,
  • 1 TBSP Italian seasoning
  • a few grates of Parmesan.

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Rice also works as a side. Other things that you could roast include:

  • Zucchini
  • Broccoli
  • Mushrooms
  • Eggplant
  • Brussel Sprouts (slice in half)
  • White onion
  • Mini potatoes
  • Red potatoes
  • Turnip
  • Kohlrabi

The key with roasting is you want to make sure the stuff is approximately the same size and density. For example, tonight I had bigger stuff on one tray and smaller stuff on another because I knew the cooking times would vary slightly on each of those. Just like cooking Dino Nuggets and Tater Tots, the Dino Nuggets always finish first, so different baking sheet.

The bummer part of roasting is that everything generally looks the same color. If you don’t care about plate presentation, this is not a big deal. I felt “off” with having a lot of brown/white stuff on my plate, so I added a green salad and red tomatoes. Made me feel a little better. Crazy lady, I know.

Have a great week – I’ve got a busy little Thursday and Friday at the kid’s schools and hopefully a fun weekend with a move and mini-golf! New recipes next week and I’ll post menu board inspo to Instagram, nutfreemomblog.

Cheers!