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Tag Archives: kid friendly

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!

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Fusilli Pasta with Red Pepper Cream Sauce

Pasta. Who says no to pasta? There’s virtually endless “pastabilities” when it comes to making pasta as a meal. You can add vegetables, a variety of meats, different sauces, different shapes of pasta, even alternative pastas such as Banza (chickpea) or brown rice pasta! It’s literally one of the most reliable pantry items that never disappoints.

I’ve wanted to try and make an easy cream sauce and figured being at home lends itself to more experimenting in the kitchen. I had a jar of roasted red peppers and some heavy cream, and decided to throw it into a blender with some dried herbs and parmesan. I will say that this sauce is heavy on the red pepper flavor, so if you aren’t a roasted red pepper fan, this may not be for you. However, I love them so this was incredibly tasty for me (my husband not so much… but hey, ya can’t win them all).

This sauce has layers of flavor: the cream, the parmesan, the peppers themselves, and then the oregano and basil added into it. Tossed with some fusilli pasta – one of my favorites – and it was exactly what my belly needed.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 package of preferred pasta
  • 1 jar roasted red peppers
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried basil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Begin by boiling a pot of water. Salt the water and begin to cook your desired pasta until al dente and strain. Pour into a bowl. For the sauce, blend the peppers, cream, parmesan, and spices together in a blender. Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir to combine. Sprinkle a little more salt, pepper, and parmesan and mix. Serve with fresh basil, a dollop of ricotta, or even some sautéed spinach or zucchini! Plus, this pasta and sauce tastes EVEN BETTER as leftovers the next day. #winning

Barbacoa (Steak) Quesadillas

Day number 49723.6 of quarantine during this global pandemic, and here we are, staying at home, cooking up a storm, and watching reruns of reruns of The Office. Days are blending into the next, and with each day passing a small glimmer of hope appears. I continue to think about the families who lost all their income, the students who are without any source of food, and new moms such as myself navigating parenthood with very limited interaction with family and the real world. What a time in our history, huh?

Over in our home, we love a good Mexican night. What’s not to love? Guacamole, margaritas, and delicious food, such as quesadillas. I didn’t swap anything for these: I used Whole Foods organic flour tortillas, a chuck roast, homemade guacamole and Organic valley mexican blend cheese. THAT’S IT. Barbacoa is traditionally a stewed beef in an oven or a slow cooker, and so that’s what I did. I’ll admit, I started cooking a little late so it wasn’t as tender as I would have preferred, BUT the flavor was spot on and had it cooked for another 2 hours it would have been perfection.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2lbs chuck roast
  • 1 package flour tortillas
  • 1 package mexican blend cheese
  • Beef broth
  • 2 cups water
  • Homemade guacamole or store-bought
    • for homemade:
      • two ripe avocados
      • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
      • 1/4 cup finely chopped tomato
      • half a lime to squeeze in juice
      • salt
  • Cooking spray
  • Chili Powder
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder

First and foremost, prep the chuck roast by patting it dry and seasoning generously with chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Place into the slow cooker and fill with 2 cups of water and 32oz broth (I LOVE Kettle and Fire’s beef broth – it’s delicious and packed with collagen and incredible benefits). Set on low cook for 8 hours, or high cook for 6 hour. You want the meat to be as tender as possible.

When the meat is done, pull apart with two forks or use poultry scissors to cut the meat into smaller pieces (this is what I did). Add the meat back to the stock and let it marinade. Spray cooking spray into a skillet and heat on medium high heat. Take a tortilla and let it begin to crisp. Add in the meat, then a few pinches of the cheese. Let it cook for two minutes on this side. Top the tortilla with a second tortilla and flip. Cook again for another two to three minutes. Repeat until all tortillas are used or to your desire. You can always leave some for leftovers tomorrow. Pair with the guacamole and an extra large margarita 🙂 Enjoy!

French Onion Burgers

The weather is officially changing. Lawns are getting mowed, people are power-washing their homes, and opening up their pools. Yep, it’s almost summertime. That means lots of BBQ meals and dinners outside, except we have to socially distance and wear a mask. Honestly, after a few weeks it’ll feel more “normal,” even though everyday there’s more sadness with lives lost and more confirmed cases. Nevertheless, we persevere and continue to stay at home and cook – so I decided to make burgers!

Something about making burgers puts a smile on my face. Handcrafting the patties, choosing my own seasonings, and throwing them on a grill or a hot skillet gets me in the best mood – and I think we could all use some mood boosting recipes amirite? This burger has four seasonings to it and is donned with some classic caramelized onions and provolone cheese, sandwiched between a hearty potato bun. I had the last of them this afternoon for my lunch because they were THAT good. Also, a side of homemade fries and roasted squash isn’t too bad either. (working to perfect the fries so that’ll come sometime soon!)

Here’s what you’ll need for these burgers:

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 large onions sliced
  • Package of potato rolls
  • Arrowroot or cornstarch (to thicken onions as they caramelize)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • Onion salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Adobo
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Take your ground beef out approximately 20-30 minutes before handling, you want any meat to be relatively room temperature before manipulating. Add to a bowl and add in the seasonings, remember to be generous here as you want the burgers to be juicy and flavorful. Form patties by grabbing a fitsfull of meat and gently pressing into a circle, you don’t need a perfectly shaped patty and you want them to be loose (not super compact). Place on a plate and set aside.

Slice your onions and add to a pan with melted butter. Let them sweat and become aeromatic, stirring and letting the butter marinade into them. They will begin to soften and turn brown around 5 minutes, lower the flame and add arrowroot or cornstarch (arrowroot is a substitute from cornstarch and is less of an allergy than corn, plus it’s considered a healthier alternative and less processed). Continue to cook the onions on a low flame until they become super soft, holding their shape but are a golden brown. Turn off flame and set aside.

Use a non-stick skillet or even a cast iron (I was lazy and didn’t feel like taking mine out) and heat on medium high heat. Spray the pan with some cooking spray and add the burgers (I did three at a time). Cook for 3-4 minutes or your desired doneness. Flip and add the provolone to melt, another 3 minutes. Layer onto the buns and add some onions on top and voila, French Onion burger. Not so bad right? Get that grill going and crack open a White Claw – or a regular beer – and enjoy!

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!