Savvy Leftovers

Cavatappi with Sausage, Spinach, and Marinara

Let’s admit, it’s been a lot on us to try and come up with creative meals for dinner during our stay-at-home order these last few months. To be honest, we’ve resorted to ordering in twice a week and Taco Bell on Tuesday, which tastes delicious, but nonetheless is wasting money and not the healthiest thing to do. We finally cleaned off and fired up the grill on Sunday and made homemade burgers, hotdogs, grilled vegetables, and I was finally able to try some turkey sausages a company sent to me a few months back (by the way, they are AMAZING – Great American Turkey Co.)

Because it was only my husband and I, there were a decent amount of leftovers. Last night, I decided to make some pasta and throw the sausages in, along with some spinach I had in the fridge. I also remembered I took out frozen marinara sauce I made a few weeks ago so I added that to the pasta too. It was a leftover’s dream! Not only did the marinara taste just as good as it did when I made it, but the al dente boiled pasta (I love using Banza or Jovial pasta – which can be found on Thrive Market –> click the banner to the right or click here) and the spinach and sausages were such a good combination. I hate wasting food, so for this dinner to be a homerun, I was darn proud that I was able to use up food from a few nights ago, and what I rummaged in my fridge and freezer.

If you want to make this from scratch, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 package Banza cavatappi (or preferred pasta)
  • 1 package Great American Turkey Co sweet italian turkey sausage links
    • you can find where they are located on their website! Or, just use a different version of your favorite sausage
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
    • I like to make my own, but when I don’t, I use Rao’s
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Start by cooking the sausages to you preference, I like to grill them during the warmer months but you could always slice them and toss in some EVOO on a skillet. When the sausages begin to brown and cook, about 5-6 minutes, toss in the baby spinach. The spinach will cook down and wilt with the sausage. Set aside.

Bring a pot of water to boil, and add salt when water is boiling. Cook your pasta to desired doneness, with Banza I cook a minute or two less so that it does not fall apart, so the cavatappi says 9-11m, I cooked for just around 8 minutes or so. Drain the pasta and pour back into the pot. Add in the marinara of choice, then add in the sausage and spinach and mix together. Sprinkle with a little bit of parmesan, salt, and pepper and let your taste buds dance and sing. NOMaste healthy and safe friends!

Chocolate Banana Muffin Bars

Can you believe we are already 11 days away from the end of May, and about to enter Summer? I can’t stand how time is flying right now and that our son is two months old. I remember writing recipes in October, basking in the second trimester glory, anticipating what the end result will be, and boy was it a journey (interested in my story? Here’s the link to my blog post).

This recipe was sitting in my notes on my phone for a very long time, probably since September last year, when I wrote it down while I was contemplating what to do with overripe bananas, because regardless of a pandemic or not, I always have at least two bananas that are about to RIP. Scrolling through my recipes I stumbled upon it again and as the ingredients are pretty simple, I decided that it’s about time I make it and see how it turns out – the result is AMAZING. Even my husband said they were good, and he is my biggest critic when it comes to cooking and baking.

These muffin bars are gluten free and made with Thrive Market cassava flour, calls for just one cup of sugar (both coconut and cane), two ripe bananas, and one of my favorite chocolates from Hu Kitchen. What I love about this recipe is that the bars came out so fluffy with a perfectly golden bottom, each bite has a delicate flavor of banana, and the chocolate literally came oozing out. This recipe yields approximately 12 smaller bars, but that depends on how you slice it 🙂

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (you could sub almond or oat milk too)
  • Vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup Cassava Flour
    • You can find my favorite cassava flour on Thrive Market –> hit the banner to the right and it’ll bring you there!
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
    • (I do recommend Hu Kitchen because they are a paleo-friendly and “back to human” style eatery located in NYC but you can find their products here. I LOVE their crackers too!

Preheat your oven to 375* and pre-grease a 9×9″ brownie or baking tin. Begin by adding the wet ingredients into a bowl (eggs, bananas, vanilla, sugars, and milk). Blend to combine. Then layer in the dry ingredients – I like to pour the flour in a bit at a time so that it doesn’t fly everywhere. Mix to combine until smooth, there will be some chunks because of the banana.

Add in the 1/2 cup of chocolate (I coat the chocolate with some flour so that it does not sink to the bottom) and fold in with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Pour into the tin and bake for 20-23 minutes. Let sit and spread on some almond butter, a dollop of whipped cream, or eat them all in one sitting with a cup of coffee and Bravo Below Deck marathon… no judgment. Stay safe friends!

Sausage and Peppers

Peanut butter and jelly. Macaroni and cheese. Donuts and coffee. Okay, the donuts and coffee doesn’t necessarily fit the analogy, but I can always go for a donut when I have coffee it sort of counts. Classic pairings are sometimes even more delicious than getting ultra creative and trying hard in the kitchen. During today’s current reality (I REFUSE to say new normal, because nothing about this is normal, it’s our current reality and if things shift afterwards – hopefully they do – it will be our new reality), it’s damn near impossible to order groceries on whatever site you use, grab a delivery slot, and get everything you hoped for. Sometimes, we have make do with what we have, and that’s what sausage and peppers was for me.

I’m a purist when it comes to certain foods, and sausage is one of them. I’m not a huuuge turkey or chicken sausage fan, I just feel like the flavor in pork sausage tastes better, and it’s higher fat for a reason! Trader Joe’s makes an awesome pork and beef uncured sausage link pack that I am dying to grab again, when I am brave enough to venture to stores. I had a pack in the freezer and decided “THIS is a good time to take these out and make lunch with them.” I had also ordered several bell peppers from the previous week’s grocery delivery, so AHA!… let’s make sausage and peppers. I’d like to take a moment to settle a debate here too: I despise green peppers. There is no room for them at the table: they smell and taste like dirt and are super bitter. I prefer orange and yellow bell peppers and usually have them on hand.

Here’s what you’ll need for this super simple and tasty dish:

  • 1 pkg sausage (I’ll allow turkey or chicken substitutes here), sliced into small rounds
  • 2 medium peppers, julienned (sliced thin)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Your favorite spicy seasoning – I use a fajita mix or cajun mix, I would also use New Bae seasoning from Primal Palate, found here!

Start by heating a large sauté pan with the olive oil. Throw in the peppers and let them cook down until they begin to sweat and slightly brown, this will be around 5-7 minutes. Throw in the sliced sausage and sprinkle in your seasoning. Cook until the sides of the sausage are browned and the peppers are soft.

This dish is perfect on its own, over orzo pasta, paired with rice, or can be tossed with other roasted veggies. I will also say this stays well in the fridge so it’s a perfect stay-at-home meal prep for lunches. Enjoy!

Roasted Broccoli Baked Mac and Cheese

Welcome to 2020: a year of uncertainty, unknown, and lack of clarity. This is also a new decade, with new memories to be made, new things to explore, new opportunities, and new experiences. It’s unfortunate what is happening in our world at this time, and while it takes us out of our comfort zones and forces us to isolate, we remember to cherish the time we have with our loved ones, FaceTime with family we can’t get to physically visit, and look for the silver lining: how lucky we are to be alive right now.

I decided to get back to simple and easy meals, some that really only require pantry or already-at-home items because while everyone stocked up on toilet paper, I was hopeful to just make sure I had enough milk, bread, and eggs in my home. I knew I wanted to make something equally delicious and comforting, so I opted for a staple: Macaroni and Cheese. My pantry always has pasta, heavy cream/milk. I had butter and flour, I also remembered I had some cheese in the house, as well as broccoli. To ramp up the fun in the MAC, I roasted broccoli and threw that in the mix too. It’s ok to drool on your screen, I won’t judge ya.

I love making pasta meals with veggies because it’s just a perfect balance of carbs: complex versus simple starch. Broccoli is a house favorite and we more often than not have it on hand at all times. I tossed the broc in some avocado oil, salt, and pepper and threw it in the oven to bake for 20 minutes, right at the peak of crispiness, since I knew it would cook more and soften in the oven with the pasta. It added a whole other dimension of salt and savory to this dish that I didn’t realize I needed – this will absolutely become a freezer staple in my house.

Ok, enough narrative, here’s the deal with this recipe:

  • For the MAC:
    • 1 pkg macaroni
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 1/2 cups broth (veggie or chicken)
    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • 2-3 cups grated cheese (cheddar: sharp and mild)
  • For the broccoli:
    • 2 cups broccoli florets
    • 2 tbsp avocado oil
    • Salt
    • Pepper
  • Products used:
    • Organic Valley butter, heavy cream, cheese
    • Rao’s macaroni pasta
    • Chosen Foods avocado oil

Toss broccoli in avocado oil (or oil of your choice) and season with salt nd pepper. Bake at 375° for 20m.  Set aside. Boil pasta to al dente (2 minutes less than package).  Strain and set aside. For the cheese sauce, you’ll make a roux, which is flour and butter whisked together. Melt butter and whisk in flour to create a paste.  Add in heavy cream and stock. Bring to a boil then simmer.  Turn off heat and melt in cheese.  Using a oven-safe dish, pour in the drained pasta, then the broccoli, and then pour in the cheese sauce and mix, making sure the broccoli is dispersed evenly and the cheese sauce coats all the noodles.

Sprinkle a little bit more cheese on top and some breadcrumbs (totally optional). Bake for 10 minutes and broil for two to get a nice golden top. Serve and enjoy! PS. There will be leftovers, which is great for working from home 🙂

Pizzadillas

This recipe literally came to me while I was watching HGTV the other night. I saw an ad for Domino’s pizza – which let’s be honest – is kind of OG college pizza (cheesy bread? don’t even get me started), and I got the idea to make quesadillas with the filling being that of what goes onto a pizza. I wish there was a better story behind them, but nope, just my belly saying “DO IT!”

I’m also really glad that I had leftover sauce from the meatballs I made last week, which if you missed, the link is here. I used most of the leftover marinara sauce for the filling of the ‘dilla and layered in some mozzarella cheese, sprinkled oregano, and quaintly placed some slices of pepperoni.

I’m still learning how to use my stove and oven, so one of the bottoms of the pizzadillas did burn, but I’m cool with that. Here’s the deets on the ‘dillas:

  • Start with a package of tortillas (we used Mission just for testing recipe purposes – I’ll make these again with Siete)
  • Get all ingredients out and ready prior to beginning.
  • You’ll need:
    • 1 package sliced pepperoni
    • Dried oregano
    • Mozzarella cheese (grated)
    • Tortillas
    • Really good marinara (I recommend making your own or Rao’s – less sugar and good ingredients)
  • Heat a pan and add the tortilla to the pan, letting it crisp and warm up
  • Spoon some marinara onto the tortilla and spread around
  • Sprinkle oregano, mozzarella, and layer in pepperoni
  • Cover the top with a second tortilla and flip.
  • Repeat for as many pizzadillas as you’d like (my ingredients yielded 4 pizzadillas and we were definitely full!)

I love quesadillas and am looking forward to making more varieties and sharing them with you soon! NOMaste 🙂