Army Pasta (aka Orecchiette)

According to Wikipedia, the pasta Orecchiette (singular, orecchietta… but really, who eats ONE piece of pasta???), “is a kind of home-made pasta typical of Puglia or Apulia, a region of southern Italy. Its name comes from its shape, which resembles a small ear.”

At our house we think they look like little WWII Army helmets.   Little Army helmets of whole wheat pasta yumminess.

One day I will post the real recipe for my bolognese sauce, but tonight I was tired.  So I cheated.  A lot.   No chopping, no dicing, no fresh, no mess, and it was really good nonetheless.

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Homemade Sauce with Little Army Helmets of Love

1 lb ground sirloin

1 pkg Orecchiette pasta (I used the whole wheat Dellalo organic. Grabbed it at Whole Foods this weekend in Chicago, but I think in p-town you can get it at Fresh Market)

1 can (32 oz) san marzano crushed tomatoes

1/2 small can (or 2-3 Tbs in a tube) tomato paste

2 Tbs dried italian herb seasoning

1 Tbs dried onion powder

1 Tbs dried garlic powder

1 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp dried oregano

Brown the meat until cooked and start the water for the pasta.  When meat is cooked add the tomatoes and the paste and the herbs.   Stir until the paste is cooked then simmer on low and add the pasta to the boiling water.  Once the pasta is cooked and the seasoning is right on the sauce, you are ready to go!

Quick. Easy.  And you can freeze the leftover sauce.

Oh, in case you were wondering, only 33 days until the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook is released.  LOVE HER!  And not just because she sent my 89 year old grandma a birthday card.  Really, it happened.  More on that later…

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Baked Meatballs and BFFs

This week is my first annual 39th birthday!  Thanking God for our many blessings this past year and praying that the next would bring health, wisdom, and provision for our family.

I am determined to rock 39. And hopefully my skinny jeans once this meal gets worked off!  (But tonight I’m in yoga pants.  Because I can.)

My personal chef, aka Mom, made meatballs and mashed potatoes for my birthday dinner on Sunday. Yum-O. This was comfort food at its best growing up and she made 90 of them for family dinner. That’s right… 90 meatballs. And I didn’t take a picture because I was too busy eating them. So. Darn. Good. Thanks Mom!!

Mom’s Meatballs (makes 20 meatballs)

1 1/2 lbs ground chuck

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs

1 egg

1/2 c milk

1/4 chopped onion

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp sage

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1 T worchestshire

2 small cans Campbells tomato soup

1 soup can of water

Mix together everything but the soup and the water and form into 1-inch meatballs.  Place in a 9×13 pan and pour tomato soup and water on top.  Bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours (cover for first 30 min) until no longer pink.   If you want it a little thicker just uncover a little faster.  At our house we eat them with mashed potatoes.  Weird I know, but it totally works.  You can also bake them without the tomato sauce on a baking pan and then freeze them for a quick meal during the week. Sometimes mom throws them (pre-cooked) in the crockpot with a bottle of BBQ sauce.

While I recover from my food coma, I’m crazy excited about this weekend: WIUGW14. For those of you not named Kathy, Laura, or Andi, that’s Western Illinois University Girls Weekend 14. Frankly it has nothing to do with WIU other than that’s where I met 3 of my favorite people. We get together for a weekend every fall and this year we are meeting in Chicago.

I. Cannot. Wait.

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Special thanks to my BFF Beth for the super cute birthday card and for not giving up on me all those years I cried through church camp when we were kids.  You deserve a medal.  (And I will use BFF no matter how old I am.  Because we all stay 12 years old in some ways!)

Honey Chicken (and a Magnum bar)

According to Pinterest, I have 319 “pins” on my Cooking board, 20 pins on The Sweet Stuff board, 40 pins on Vegetarian….blah blah blah.

In reality, THIS is what I actually make off of Pinterest on a regular basis, with a few healthier adjustments.  It is oh so good and I promise we eat more than rice or soup! It’s just been a crazy couple of weeks and I needed something quick.

Honey Chicken and Fried Rice

for the chicken:

1 lb chicken breasts or tenders, diced into 1-inch pieces

1/8 cup ketchup

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce (sometimes I use a little less)

1/2 cup honey (we use the raw honey)

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350.  You can also do this in the crock pot on low for 3 hours but really, if I’m going to use the crockpot it’s an all-day kinda thing! Mix everything but the cornstarch.  Put the chicken in an 8×8 pan or a small pyrex pan, sprinkle with a couple tablespoons of cornstarch and stir.   Pour the sauce over the chicken. Bake for 35-45 minutes until no longer pink, stirring halfway through.  Serve over the rice. The sauce will be a little thin but we like to spoon it over the rice! You can adjust the onion, garlic, and pepper flakes to your tastes.

for the rice:

2-3 cups cooked fluffy white or brown rice (we use the whole grain, slow cook so it’s a little sticky but healthier)

1 cup steamed peas

1 cup steamed broccoli

2 eggs

low-sodium soy sauce (or honey sauce from the chicken)

Heat the rice in a skillet or wok if it’s not freshly cooked (supposedly leftover rice works better but I just make mine while the chicken cooks.) Make a hole in the center of the rice and whisk the 2 eggs and pour in the center, scrambling until cooked.  Stir in the veggies and mix with the rice and the eggs.  Add pepper and soy to taste.  (Sometimes I add a little sautéed onion and garlic too before starting with the rice and the eggs.)

Then we had another magnum bar.  Baby steps people.  Baby steps. ~s

2 Steps and A Magnum Bar

So last night we had Magnum Double Caramel bars for dessert. (See the “About” page…ha)

Yep, not even 24 hours after posting that we were back to our healthy cooking we had ice cream. Covered in chocolate. Then dipped in caramel. Then dipped in more chocolate.  In my defense, I did not buy them.  My mom snuck in and put them in our freezer as a surprise.  

And it was totally worth the 3 mile walk we had to take afterwards.

So today we decided 2 steps forward and one step back and we are pushing forward again. Which meant stir fry for dinner!

Thanks to http://www.faithfulprovisions.com, the blog that introduced us to Ponzu sauce. It’s citrus-y soy goodness. We watch our sodium so we use a limited amount, but it is the BEST (and easiest) marinade for steak. You can find it at Fresh Market in the Asian food section or at Alwans. The original recipe came from the Faithful Provisions blog and we altered it over time until we found a combo we loved.  Sometimes I add minced garlic to the marinade but it was day 2 of a 3-day weekend and I am lazy.

Stir Fry

12 oz lean steak, sliced thin
1/8-1/4 cup Ponzu sauce
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 red pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced (I had leftovers from making pizza yesterday)
1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame
1/2 can pineapple tidbits
whole grain brown rice
2-3T plum sauce

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Slice and marinade the meat. On the weekends I do this step right after lunch. If it’s last minute, just give it about 30 minutes. Or I’ll prep everything including the veggies the night before.

Let the rice do it’s thing according to the package while you chop the veggies. (I always look at the rice time and then adjust everything backwards so it’s all done at once…it just depends on how crisp you want your veggies.) Saute the veggies (not the edamame) in olive oil and then set aside. Add the meat and brown. Add the veggies back in and let it simmer on the lowest setting, if it starts to dry out just add a little water (or more Ponzu).  About 10 minutes before the rice is done I add the edamame and 1T of plum sauce and 2-3T of water and steam/simmer until the edamame is cooked and the liquid is gone, you may have to adjust the heat. Add the pineapple. Fluff the rice and add 1-2T of plum sauce to the rice, stir and then serve.

I have also used broccoli and corn and potatoes….pretty much whatever I have in the fridge. It’s always yummy and a good way to use up leftover veggies.

Tomorrow we might try quinoa and bean burgers on homemade pretzel buns. Fingers crossed. This could get messy.~s