Family Recipe: Baked Red Pesto and Roasted Veggie Pasta

This recipe is easy to make, and amazing. It uses Red Pesto, which has a tomato base. It’s warm, filling, and comforting.

The first thing you need to do is roast some veggies. Check my recipe here. I roast 5-ish lbs of veggies each week, so we usually have some in the fridge.

 

Baked Red Pesto and Roasted Veggie Pasta

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Boil salted water and cook pasta per package directions. As you drain, reserve some of the pasta water (about 1/2 cup).
  3. In a large baking dish (11×13) mix roasted veggies, pasta, red pesto, and add pasta water a little bit at a time, until all the pasta is coated. You may not need all 1/2 cup.
  4. Mix in 1/2 of the cheese.
  5. Smooth the mixture down into the baking dish, and bake for 20 minutes covered.
  6. After 20 minutes, top with the remaining cheese and continue to bake uncovered for 10-ish minutes until the cheese is brown and bubbly.
  7. Serve with garlic bread and a green salad.

Serves 6-8. This re-heats well, if there are any leftovers.

Notes:

  • This dish is vegetarian, but not vegan. This is a vegan red pesto, but I’ve not tried it. To make it vegan, use a vegan red pesto and vegan Italian Cheese blend.
  • Pesto is not a nut-free product! If you have a nut allergy, be careful!
  • Feel free to use your favorite pasta (high protein, gluten-free, made from soy, etc). I do not recommend shirataki noodles- They have a weird texture and smell (seriously).

 

12/6/2021 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgLast week’s meal plan didn’t work out as I had planned. We got busy, stuff came up, and we ran out of eggs mid-week. I didn’t have time to run to the store, so…

We’re starting fresh this week. I did some meal prep yesterday, including some egg-free baking (banana bread and chocolate chip cookies). I hit the store for eggs, milk, and butter this morning. We’re ready to go!

With a reorganized pantry, I’ve got some great meals planned for the week.

And I’ve been getting a lot of really great freebies from Social Nature lately too. It’s fun to try new foods.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for a kitchen inventory printable, I have made my own and you can find them for sale here on my Etsy Store.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. They are also into fruit and bagels for breakfast. The Ancient Grain bagels from Einstein Bros. are the current family favorite. I pick them up on Mondays when a dozen is only $7. I slice them and freeze them to keep them from going bad too quickly.

Lunch: I have a plastic tote in the cupboard full of self-serve snacks. I buy treats and snacks in bulk and fill up snack-sized zip-top bags. I’m back to packing lunches again. However, school lunches are free this year, but so far, there is nothing on the menu that appeals to the kids.

Dinner: I am planning some great meals this week. I did some batch cooking yesterday, and got the fridge organized.

  • Monday: Nuggets, fresh fruit (orange and apple slices are on tap), cheese, and crackers
  • Tuesday: Grilled Meatloaf sandwiches (grilled cheese for the kids), fruit, Salad
  • Wednesday:  Vegetarian Enchilada casserole, salad
  • Thursday:   Breakfast burritos (eggs, cheese, potatoes, grilled veggies, bacon or sausage, salsa), fruit
  • Friday: take out (Usually pizza and Chinese food)
  • Saturday:  Leftovers
  • Sunday:  Shakshuka, garlic bread, salad (since we didn’t have it last week)

Please stay safe you guys!

11/29/2021 Weekly Meal Plan

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Kids are back to school and I am back to work this morning!

After a week without any trips to the store, last night I broke down and did a big shop. I found some really cool spice blends at Grocery Outlet and 99 Cents Only, so we’ve got some yummy stuff planned over the next few weeks.

Now that the fridge is working, I’ve been buying a few condiments every trip. This week it was Salsa and Chili/ketchup.

I am pulling everything out of the cupboard this week to do an end-of-year overhaul/purge. Anything that is not expired that we won’t eat I’ll be donating. There is a blessing box about a mile away, and I’d love to fill it up. And of course, anything expired will get pitched. We have a super narrow and deep cupboard, so sometimes stuff gets pushed towards the back and forgotten about.

And I’ve been getting a lot of really great freebies from Social Nature lately too. It’s fun to try new foods.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for a kitchen inventory printable, I have made my own and you can find them for sale here on my Etsy Store.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. They are also into fruit and bagels for breakfast. The Ancient Grain bagels from Einstein Bros. are the current family favorite. I pick them up on Mondays when a dozen is only $7. I slice them and freeze them to keep them from going bad too quickly.

Lunch: I have a plastic tote in the cupboard full of self-serve snacks. I buy treats and snacks in bulk and fill up snack-sized zip-top bags. I’m back to packing lunches again. However, school lunches are free this year, but so far, there is nothing on the menu that appeals to the kids.

Dinner: I am planning some great meals this week. I’ll try and batch cook tomorrow morning (sides, roast veggies, cookies) before work.

  • Monday: Nuggets, fresh fruit (orange and apple slices are on tap), cheese, and crackers
  • Tuesday: Meat loaf, mashed potatoes, garlic bread, veggies
  • Wednesday: Beans, Rice, quesadillas, fruit or salad
  • Thursday:   Vegetarian Enchilada casserole (I’ll post a recipe this week)
  • Friday: take out (Usually pizza and Chinese food)
  • Saturday:  Leftovers
  • Sunday:  Shakshuka, garlic bread, salad

Please stay safe you guys!

Family Recipe: Fruit Salad

The other day I was chatting online with a group of friends and I mentioned making fruit salad. One of my younger friends asked, “Can you send me the recipe for that?”

I’ve never really thought about writing a recipe for fruit salad, since I’ve been making it since I was a kid. It was always a staple at family dinners with my maternal grandparents. My Grandma was known to make a literal punchbowl of fruit salad for parties.

This recipe does not make a punchbowl full.  The nice thing about fruit salad is that you can put any kind of fruit into it, and if you don’t eat it all in one meal, it keeps in the fridge for a few days.

I change it up based on what comes in our CSA box each week, and based on which fruits are in season.

Grammie’s Fruit Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 Apples (any kind but red delicious, those are awful)
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 bananas (not overly ripe or they fall to mush)
  • 3 cups berries, your choice (I recommend 2/1 ratio, sliced strawberries and blueberries)
  • 1 ripe pineapple, cored and skinned. You can also use a can of pineapple tidbits in juice (juice drained off and fed to a kid) if fresh pineapple isn’t available.

Optional, but tasty when in season:

  • 1 cup fresh peaches, skin removed
  • 2 kiwis sliced, skin removed
  • 1 mango, peeled and removed from the pit/core

Note: I don’t like melon in my fruit salad. If you do, add 1-2 cups of your favorite melon (Cantaloupe or Honey Dew hold up well in a fruit salad).

Directions:

  1. Clean, Chop/slice all of your fruit (not needed for blueberries). I try to make each kind of fruit bite-sized, but a different shape. That way it makes for a nice presentation.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the fruit. If you omit the oranges, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and toss the fruit to coat. This keeps the apples from browning.
  3. Serve fruit salad cold as a side dish for any meal. If you like it spicy, serve it with Tajin on the side.
  4. Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days in a covered container.

Talk Back: What are your favorite fruits to include in Fruit Salad? 

New Recipe: Banana Bread in a Cake Pan!

These bananas are perfect for making banana bread!

I’ll admit: I don’t have a loaf pan. I did, but it died. It was metal, and after 10+ weeks of weekly use… ::Sad Trombone:: I know I should buy a glass one (I have my eye on this one), but until then, I’m making do with what I’ve got.

And what I’ve got is a glass cake pan. Specifically a 9×9 glass cake pan, like this one. I looked online for some ideas about baking times and temps and reworked my usual recipe. The best part of this recipe is that the bread is moist, fluffy/airy with a good crumb.  It is not dense or heavy at all.

Banana Bread

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, spray 9×9 glass baking dish with spray release.
  2. In a small dish, mash up bananas, set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter/coconut oil for about 30 seconds-1 minute until light and fluffy.
  4. Add sugar, beat until combined and fluffy.
  5. Beat in eggs one at a time.
  6. Add bananas and vanilla, and blend until the wet ingredients are all incorporated.
  7. Add baking soda and Kodiak Mix. Stir to combine.
  8. Pour into the prepared 9×9 glass baking dish.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Test with toothpick in the center of the bread for doneness.

This recipe makes 1 9×9 cake pan, which is approximately 9-12 servings, depending on how big you like the pieces.

My kids like this bread toasted with either butter or cream cheese. It never lasts long.

New Recipe: Baked Tortellini

00169 (1).jpgThis recipe is dead simple. Make it as complicated as you want. Use jarred sauce, make your own from scratch, or take a jar of sauce and church it up yourself. Whatever.

Frozen pasta, fresh pasta, heck, you can even use the shell stable/dried tortellini. You could use ravioli if you wanted.

You can make this Vegetarian, Vegan, Chock Full o’ Meat, Gluten-Free, it’s up to you.

This is one of those recipes that’s a big hit at potlucks too. It’s pretty inexpensive, and we always have the ingredients in one form or another to make a batch.

Baked Tortellini

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 cups of Red Pasta Sauce.  I usually make a big batch of this sauce and portion some out just for this recipe. If you use jarred sauce, I recommend  you add 3-4 cups of veggies (carrots, onions, celery, bell peppers, zucchini, chopped/diced tomatoes, etc.)
  • 22-30 ounces of Tortellini/Ravioli, cooked per the package directions (this will probably take a couple packages)
  • 2 Cups Italian Cheese blend

Directions:

  1. Cook the pasta per the package directions. Drain.
  2. Pour pasta sauce into a baking dish (I use a 9×13), toss cooked pasta in sauce.
  3. Sprinkle cheese on top.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-ish minutes until food is bubbly, and cheese is brown and delicious looking.
  5. Serve with hot French Bread or Garlic Bread and a green salad.

This serves 8-10 people as a main.

 

If you are vegan, substitute in filled pasta and cheese that works for you.

Family Recipe: Cocoa Brownies

01389.jpgI love this brownie recipe- it is so versatile, and if you bake at all, you probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry.

This recipe is so frugal, so much less than the $3-$5 for a brownie mix.

You can add chocolate chips, mint and chocolate chips (my kids favorite), and they are so moist and rich, there is no need for frosting!

Cocoa Brownies (makes 1 8×8 or 9×9 pan)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. shortening or room temp. butter ( DO NOT USE SPREAD/MARGARINE/OLEO*)
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T. Vanilla
  • 2 T. Milk
  • 2/3 c. AP Flour
  • 1/2 c. Cocoa powder
  • 1/2 t. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • Optional: 1/2 c. chopped nuts, chocolate chips, mint/chocolate chips, peanut butter chips (your choice)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 or 9×9 inch baking dish and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the fat (shortening/butter) with an electric mixer until it’s fluffy, approximately 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add sugar and beat until combined.
  4. Add one egg at a time until combined well.
  5. Add remaining ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in any mix-ins (nuts or chips).
  6. Pour into the greased baking dish and bake 20-30 minutes. 20 for 8×8, 30 for 9×9.

Substitutions

  • If you are Gluten Free, you can use 1 for 1 GF flour
  • To make the dish dairy-free, use your favorite dairy-free milk.
  • The reason that spread/margarine/oleo isn’t used is because of its high water content. It will give the brownies a watery/smooshy texture.

Family Recipe: Alaskan Meatloaf

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This is my great-grandmother’s recipe. I’m not sure why it’s called Alaska meatloaf. My mom made it a lot when we were kids. It’s quick, easy, and everyone likes it!

Alaska Meatloaf
Serves 6-8
Ingredients:
  • 1 lb ground beef (you can use ground turkey is you prefer)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 3 cups cooked rice (I like basmati)
  • 1 jar chili sauce (the stuff that’s like cocktail sauce)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix ground meat, egg, tomato sauce, seasoning and bread crumbs.
  3. Pat into a greased 9″ pie plate, making a meat pie “crust”.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, mix cooked rice, chili sauce, and half the cheese.
  6. Heap onto the meatloaf crust and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  7. Continue to bake until the meatloaf is done and the cheese is melted about 15-20  minutes.

Serve with a green salad or steamed veggies.

 

One Dish Option: You can add 1-2 cups of chopped veggies to the rice mixture. We like carrots, celery, bell peppers, etc.

Family Recipe: Veggie Loaded Pasta Sauce

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I’m always on a mission to add more fruits and veggies into our diet. My pasta sauce recipe is full of veggies: Onions, peppers, carrots, zucchini, celery, fresh tomatoes.

And because I love meaty sauce, I can’t forget the 80/20 ground chuck!

I served it last night with both whole wheat pasta and Italian squash that I ran through the spiralizer (I have this one).

The kids aren’t too big on zoodles, but that’s ok. We paired our meal with a green salad (cucumber slices for the kids), and garlic bread (a family favorite).

 

Veggie Loaded Pasta Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs ground chuck or your favorite ground beef (don’t use super lean beef)
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1/2 c. each chopped or diced: carrots, celery, bell peppers (I used red)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 ripe tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1 large can (28 ounces) fire-roasted tomatoes 
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 t. Shallot pepper seasoning
  • 2 T. Italian Seasoning
  • 4 large zucchinis, spiralized, ends diced and reserved for sauce

 

Directions

  1. Brown meat in olive oil over low, breaking up meat as it cooks.
  2. Add onion, carrots, celery, bell peppers, and cook until soft and onions are translucent.
  3. Add garlic, cook until fragrant.
  4. Add fresh and canned tomatoes, and tomato paste.
  5. De-glaze pan with wine, add seasoning, and small pieces of zucchinis leftover from spiralizing.
  6. Cook on low for 2+ hours, stirring occasionally.
  7. To cook zucchini spirals, steam for 6-8 minutes, drain and serve right away!

 

This sauce freezes well too and gets better overnight in the fridge.  You can also use this sauce to make lasagna.

Family Recipe: Abasitas

I haven’t done a family recipe in a while. My mom made a batch of these recently and sent me home with a few.

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na na na na na na na na na- Bat Plate!

Turnovers, hand pies, pasties, kolaches, whatever you call them, I love them. Eating with your hands is done in almost every other culture on earth, but us westerners tend to frown on it.

 

My mom invented these rich, savory turnovers based on the flavors that I loved as a kid (and still love). It’s a pastry or yeast dough exterior, filled with cheese, chicken, breakfast sausage, and green chilis.

The batch she made last week used crescent dough that was rolled out. You may be able to see the remaining perforation in one of the photos.

In the past, I’ve used my pizza crust recipe (found here). It’s really up to you what kind of dough you use for exterior. Crescent dough is rich and buttery, and I think it works well for this recipe, so it’s what I’m going with. You can get the crescent dough in one large sheet if you want and cut it up, or, we used the regular rolls, and just did 2 crescents per hand pie.

Abasitas 

(Makes 16-20 depending on type of dough used)

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped up (You can also use 1.5 cups of chopped up rotisserie chicken meat)
  • 1/2 lb of Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sausage, cooked, crumbled, and drained of fat
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 4 oz. can Ortega Chilis, chopped 
  • 1 batch pizza dough (recipe linked above), or 4 tubes crescent roll dough

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix first five ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Roll out/unroll dough; Separate into 4 rectangles. Pinch together perforations to seal up.  If you are using another type of dough, roll out on a floured surface and use a sharp knife to cut the dough into approx. 8×5 rectangles.
  4. Place approx. 1/4c of filling in the middle of each piece of dough. Fold over, and seal edges of the dough by pinching edges together, you can also crimp the edges with a fork.
  5. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet (I always use parchment paper– it makes clean up easier) for approx 12-15 minutes until the dough is golden brown.
  6. Remove cookie sheets from the oven and allow hand pies to rest for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Allow to rest a few more minutes before devouring.
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Yummy cheesy filling!

I serve these with a green salad. They are good cold the next day too. They make a great picnic addition.

After they have cooled completely, store them in the fridge or the freezer. You can reheat them in the toaster oven!

They are a great food to batch cook.