Spaghetti Squash

Happy New Year!

To start the new year off right, I have a recipe for making spaghetti without pasta!

Whattt?? But you love pasta! Yes, I do indeed love all different kinds of pasta and, as a vegetarian, that’s pretty much all I order when I go out to eat. A good friend of mine recently told me about spaghetti squash and I wasn’t thrilled about it because I’m not a fan of squash in general. Well, I am here to reassure you pasta lovers that the spaghetti squash was a great substitution. It doesn’t taste exactly like pasta but it has the same texture as an angel hair pasta and adding a sauce you can barely taste a difference.

Photo Jan 05, 7 10 18 PM

I got a small one from Whole Foods. Preheat oven to 400. Cut it in half and scoop out the seeds.

Photo Jan 05, 7 12 52 PM Photo Jan 05, 7 15 21 PM

I turned both halves down in a dish. Put in oven and bake for 30 to 45 min depending on the size of the squash.

Photo Jan 05, 7 16 15 PM

After it was done or tender, I took it out of the oven and waited for it to cool before turning them over. Use a fork to separate the strands.

Photo Jan 05, 8 07 19 PM Photo Jan 05, 8 15 17 PM

I put the spaghetti-like strands in a bowl. I made a marinara sauce with baby spinach and added it on top. You can also add shredded cheese too.

Photo Jan 05, 8 33 37 PM It was delicious!

You don’t even have to use a tomato sauce, you can just toss it with olive oil and some salt and pepper. And it’s supposed to be a lot healthier than regular angel hair pasta.

 

Advertisements

Spinach and Nut Pasta

This recipe is very similar to the Spinach Puffs that I made in my last blog..in fact it has most of the same ingredients minus the puff pastry.

Quick question: why are pine nuts so expensive?? Up until this point, I’ve refused to use recipes that include pine nuts because 1. I wasn’t sure where to find them and 2. I’ve only had them in salads. Now I have a third reason because when I finally found some at Whole Foods, I found out that a small package was $10! They come from pine cones right? I guess I should have known since anything sold at Whole Foods is already expensive (hence the nickname Whole Paycheck)…I have a love/hate relationship with Whole Foods..mostly complicated by how much I love their fruits..they are just so good…and there’s one not far from my house as opposed to Trader Joes which is so far I would have to make a special trip to get there..Ok I digress, back to the recipe.

Spinach and Nut pasta: pine nuts, 1 c. any kind of pasta, 2 handfulls of baby spinach, mushrooms, 1/3 of a red onion, 1 chopped garlic clove, 1/2 c. olive oil

2015-09-08 20.24.52

Saute onion, spinach, mushroom, and garlic in pan with olive oil until soft. Add salt, pepper, and pine nuts. Cook the pasta in a separate pot.

2015-09-08 20.40.49

After pasta is done cooking, drain and put in a separate bowl. Add the spinach mixture and mix it all together.

This pasta is super easy and quick to make, I even had leftovers for lunch. Everything about this dish so good and I’m even happy about the pine nut addition!

Tomato Cream Pasta

I believe I’ve said in a past post that my love for pasta goes to the moon and back. Well, just in case you were wondering, my position on pasta remains unchanged. I usually don’t add a lot of things to Ragu but I’ve decided to change it up a little. I went to a restaurant a couple weeks ago and had Penne alla Vodka..it rocked my entire world..Maybe one day I’ll try making it but not today. You know once you’ve had something so good, you don’t want to ruin the memory of it by trying it again? Thats kinda how I feel about cooking sometimes, especially since I’m not a grade A cook, I don’t want to mess up a dish that I have extremely high hopes for. Anyways, I experimented with adding a few ingredients to Ragu’s “Old World Style” traditional red sauce. 

I added: a spoonful of vegetable broth, onion, half and half, Italian parsley (I couldn’t find fresh basil), garlic powder, and traditional Italian seasoning including oregano etc.

Why vegetable broth you ask? I saw it somewhere online that it gives regular red sauce extra flavor, like adding some pasta water. Turns out I could have done without it. Funny story about the half and half: I usually don’t like purchasing ingredients that I know I will only use once..I don’t drink/use half and half regularly, in fact I never use half and half or regular milk (I’m slightly lactose intolerant). However, this is a tomato “cream” sauce so I knew I had to use some sort of creamy substance..so I took a couple (6) half and half creamers from our coffee break room at work..See picture below

2014-08-19 08.22.15

I decided to be fancy and use “bowtie” pasta..but I really should have just used penne.

 2014-08-18 23.19.55

I sauteed the chopped onions for a while before adding 2 cups of Ragu sauce. Then I added the vegetable broth, half and half, chopped parsley, seasonings, salt and pepper. I let it simmer while I cooked the bowtie pasta in another pot.

Below is the final product, the sauce looks a bit chunky here but it was actually pretty smooth. 

2014-08-19 22.01.19

You can also add cheese on top if you’d like. It was pretty good, when I do it again I’ll use more cream (just a few more packets from the break room) and not include the broth at all. While I’m on this pasta kick, I think I’ll try something different for my next post..stay tuned..

Eggplant Parmesan (baked version)

I’ve tried eggplant parmesan at almost every Italian restaurant I’ve been to; and from all these different tastings, I’ve found the ones that I really like are the kind where I don’t really taste the eggplant. Honestly, I’m not a fan of eggplant itself..it reminds me of zucchini which I’m not a fan of either. When I say that I’m not a fan of something, it doesn’t mean that I hate it and will never try it again..It just means that the times that I have tried it, I didn’t like the way it was cooked or presented. Like tofu, tofu can be prepared in dozens of different ways; and the taste of it also depends on how it is seasoned. Anyways, back to the topic, I’ve made this version of eggplant before and really liked it so I am sharing it with you today. Like I’ve said before, I’m not really good at measurements because I just throw stuff together but here are the ingredients I used:

Eggplant Parmesan:

1 eggplant, Italian style bread crumbs, 2 eggs, flour, salt and black pepper, angel hair pasta, Ragu or some other tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheddar and parmesan cheese

20130521_185757

As you can see from the picture, I got a huge eggplant (couldn’t use all of it). I also wanted to experiment with fried onions but it didn’t really work out so ignore them lol.

20130521_190137

Peeled eggplant and sliced very thin

20130521_19133020130521_191335

Set up a station with the flour, whipped eggs, and bread crumbs in separate dishes. Add salt and pepper to the flour. Preheat oven to 375. First cover the eggplant slice in flour, then egg wash, then bread crumbs and put it on a greased baking dish.

20130521_192251 Bake for 20 to 30 min or until golden brown.

20130521_193451

I like using angel hair pasta because it cooks fast, and I add diced tomatoes to the traditional Ragu tomato sauce.

20130521_19565420130522_201544

I added the cheese last. It was all very filling and it didn’t have that eggplant-y taste 🙂 . Next time, I will try frying the breaded eggplant..I like baking though because it is easier for me not to burn myself as opposed to frying where I am prone to splash hot oil on myself. Anyways, I hope you beginner cooks out there find this recipe as easy to make as I did!

My Attempts at Eggrolls

I came across this website and was inspired to try eggrolls. It seemed simple enough and the ingredients didn’t seem to be too obscure..but it turned out to be a bust for several reasons. Here is the original recipe that inspired me: Buffalo Chicken Rolls

Here are the ingredients I used, basically the same:

20121211_182117
 
Quick story: so I go all the way to Trader Joes because I assume that’s where all the healthy food and do-it-yourself eggroll stuff would be. I was surprised to find that they didn’t have eggroll wraps! I ended up just getting the blue cheese, broccoli slaw and like two other items which came to a total of like $30..which shouldn’t surprise me but it did catch me a little off guard. Then, I go to Target because they are supposed to be this upscale version of Walmart that would have exotic foods like eggroll wraps right? Wrong! Next I go to ol’ faithful, Walmart, and lo and behold there were the eggroll wraps! In conclusion, the grass is not always greener..lesson learned. However, it turns out those wraps didn’t turn out so good so maybe the search is still on.
 
20121211_18341720121211_184638
I fried the chikn strips and then marinated them in hot sauce and teriyaki sauce. I also crumbled the blue cheese.
20121211_184949
I put the chikn, slaw, and cheese in the middle of each wrap and followed the instructions from the original recipe on how to wrap them.
20121211_185757
 
20121211_192333
 
Put it in oven (400 degrees) for 12-15 min..I tried to eat it with sweet and sour sauce.
20121211_195636
 
 
It looks decent right? Well the taste wasn’t what I expected..I’ve never had blue cheese straight up like that before and I completely underestimated the strength of that cheese! I did not like it at all..The wrap was chewy in some parts and burnt in other parts..It was just all bad..But guess how many I ate? Almost half of them over the next 2 days..There’s something within me that refuses to waste food. I think it came from my parents always forcing me to clean my plate when I was a child.
 
My second attempt, I wanted to try more traditional Chinese-food type eggrolls.
Ingredients: broccoli slaw, eggs, teriyaki and soy sauce
20121213_124526
 
I put the eggs in the pan with the slaw and seasoned it a little bit.
20121213_125012
20121213_125438 20121213_130054 20121213_131419 20121213_131918
 
And I failed again..The more I think about it, I realize one of the things that make the fast food Chinese eggrolls better is the grease..and the crispy wrap. I had none of those things. Maybe I’ll try again someday.
I don’t want to leave this post on a fail so I also made some pasta from a recipe I got on another blog and it turned out great! Spinach Pasta Casserole << Thanks!
I scaled it down a bit but here are the ingredients I used:
frozen spinach, cheddar, onion, sour cream, mushrooms, mayo, spiral noodles, parmesan cheese
20121218_183457
 
Sautee frozen spinach, onion, and mushrooms. Boiled the spiral noodles, then drain and mix everything together. Add some seasonings.
20121218_190512
 
Put in oven (350 degrees) and bake for 30 min.
20121218_194115
 
20121218_202044
 
Sorry for the bad lighting, but here is the final result with some Texas toast garlic bread and sprinkled with parmesan. It was really really good but I couldn’t have too much at one time. It is pretty rich and since I’m slightly lactose intolerant, I had to be careful not to over do it.
Welp, thats it for now. Let me know if any of yall have ever been successful in making eggrolls from scratch and please tell me your secrets!
 
 
**Update**–After posting this, a few of my friends enlightened me that the only way to make good eggrolls is the fry them..Thats what the Chinese restaurants do so I should’ve known that..No more trying to be healthy with the baking lol

Vegetarian Lasagna

Every banquet or event I go to that is held in a hotel including wedding receptions, I am very limited in my options. Lasagna or a plate of steamed vegetables and rice are usually  the only vegetarian plate options. I’ve never been a fan of hotel catering because of this and I usually love all kinds of pasta especially lasagna. Their rendition is always tasteless..I have to make sure the salt shaker is within reach. Anyways, I have come up with my own recipe for a vegetarian lasagna that tastes great..and get this, it includes a little tofu 🙂

Vegetarian Lasagna: frozen spinach, Morningstar griller crumbles, Ragu tomato sauce, onion, minced garlic, oven-ready lasagna noodles, tofu, and shredded cheese.

Side note: I also occasionally use griller crumbles with tomato sauce on regular angel hair pasta with some seasoning

20121011_195913  20121011_200836

20121011_204559

OK now back to the lasagna: First, I cook the frozen spinach, griller crumbles, garlic, and onion in a frying pan with some olive oil.

20121102_190834

Then, I add the tomato sauce and seasonings like oregano, season salt, etc and mix it together in the pan. In a separate bowl, I crumble the tofu and add some salt and pepper. The reason I decided to add tofu is because it kinda looks like the ricotta cheese that is usually in lasagna and since I’m slightly lactose intolerant, I decided not to have too much cheese..also, tofu makes it healthy right? I use a casserole dish (wipe it with some oil so it doesn’t stick) and start layering. First layer is the sauce/meat mixture and then add the crumbled tofu, then add the cheese. Next layer the pasta..I used the no-name brand lasagna noodles and broke them in half to fit the baking dish. Then repeat the layering until the dish is full (oh yea and preheat oven to 350 degrees)

 

 

 

20121102_19413320121102_19500120121102_195408 <—Cover with foil and put in oven for an hour and then you get the following:

20121103_145234   20121103_145421

It would probably look a little better without layering the last tofu so the white stuff isn’t on top. My husband isn’t a fan of tofu but he really likes this dish because you barely get that “tofu taste”, it kinda just blends in with the rest of the ingredients. And let me tell you, this is delish! Better than any hotel catering, that’s for sure. Enjoy!