We might have lost an hour today, but we had plenty of time to make this super quick and flavorful dinner.
It might look like pasta with a cheese sauce but there is actually only a half cup of Parmesan in there. It’s pumpkin! And sure, today might have finally felt like spring but this sweet and savory dinner hit the spot.
Penne with Pumpkin Cream Sauce (ours is with rotini) is quick because it has only a few ingredients and minimal chopping and it makes a lot so there are plenty of leftovers. I highly recommend trying it.
This was a basic macaroni and cheese recipe except the sauce is made with a few different cheeses plus Dijon mustard and without any butter or oil. I normally like to add something green to macaroni and cheese, so this stood out as I was looking through the magazine.
We opted for shells instead of penne just because we had them on hand. Otherwise, we followed the recipe exactly. I thought it was pretty good but could use a bit more flavor. Mike’s suggestion was to add more Dijon mustard and I read in the comments on the recipe that maybe adding some crushed red pepper would help. But it was good enough and easy enough for a weeknight so we’ll definitely try it again maybe with a little modification.
Last weekend I actually tried a new recipe. I saw this Spinach Artichoke Pasta from the Pioneer Woman earlier in the week and knew I had to have it.
It was really easy to make. We modified it by cooking the artichokes and spinach together and omitted the panko on top. If I make it again, I’d use two to two and a half cups of milk instead of three because I like a thicker sauce.
We used fresh spinach fettuccine from Fasta Ravioli Company. We mostly followed the recipe omitting the olives and halving the amount of cooking liquid based on a comment on the recipe. We also mixed the basil into the sauce not just using it as a garnish.
This was great. It’s easy, flavorful and way better than any jarred sauce. Next time I might add a touch of sugar to cut down on some of the acidity of the tomatoes, but if I forgot, it’d still be good.
I got a late start to my run after work and wasn’t home and showered until almost 7:30 pm. But we had a perfect, quick dinner planned. In fact, all the prep work for Lemon Basil Bowties can be completed before the pasta water even boils.
Mike doesn’t even like cottage cheese and he likes this recipe. Tonight we also added the juice from the two lemons. The final dish is a perfect balance of creamy from the cottage cheese, sweet from the basil, tangy from the lemon and toasty nuttiness from the pine nuts.
Last night we went to our friend Lisa and Andrew’s house so I brought my favorite pasta salad. This is the first time I’ve made this salad this year and I love the way the kitchen smells while I’m putting it together.
I started making this loosely based on an orzo pasta salad my friend Celeste told me she makes.
chopped up asparagus (I throw it in the pasta water a few minutes before the orzo is done to cook it)
halved grape tomatoes
feta (I used reduced fat)
one lemon zest and juice
shredded or ribbons of basil
I just mix all the ingredients together after the orzo has cooled and refrigerate until it’s served.
If it’s not lemony enough, you can add the juice of another lemon. This salad tastes like spring and summer. It’s refreshing, flagrant and wonderful. It can be a side or it’s own meal.
Last night I made Spinach Macaroni and Cheese inspired by this recipe I found on Pinterest.
I say inspired because there was nothing Weight Watchers friendly about this mac and cheese and I didn’t make them into muffins. But I did love the idea of using spinach in my macaroni and cheese because we usually add broccoli. I was ready to try a different green addition.
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 cups milk (I used skim)
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a mild and sharp cheddar blend)
16 oz. cooked elbow macaroni
2 boxes of frozen shredded spinach thawed and drained
I preheated the oven to 400 degrees and got the macaroni cooking. When it went in the water, I melted the butter in a small pot and then mixed in the flour until it was just cooked through. Then I slowly added the milk, stirring until it thickened (last night it did not thicken as much as I would have liked but I was rushing). Then I slowly added in the cheese, stirring constantly. At this point you can season it with salt/pepper/garlic/nutmeg or pretty much anything you want.
I had my two eggs whisked up in a small bowl and slowly added a bit of the cheese sauce to temper the eggs. After the macaroni was cooked, we drained it, put it back in the pot and added the cheese sauce, the eggs and the spinach. I put it in a greased dish.
Then I baked it for about twenty minutes before sprinkling a bit more cheese on top and broiling it on low for four minutes.
The top was a bit crunchy and the inside was creamy and delicious.
And the spinach was awesome! Like I said, we usually put broccoli in our macaroni and cheese but after mixing in spinach, I might just do that from now on. It was perfect. We have tons of leftovers for this week which is good because we have a busy week ahead.
Mike was away for the weekend and one of my favorite things to do when he goes away is to surprise him with some kind of dinner that he can smell as soon as he walks through the door. Today I decided to use the crockpot since we haven’t used it once this winter.
I decided to go with a simple pot roast. I made it with carrots, onions and mushrooms and threw in a packet of onion soup mix and a large can of condensed tomato soup. The special part of this dinner was that instead of making potatoes, which would be my traditional pot roast side dish, I made a big batch of kasha and bowties.
Kasha is just buckwheat and it’s simple to make by just following the directions on the box. You boil some kind of liquid (I mixed some chicken broth and water since I didn’t have enough broth) with butter and pour it over the kasha which has been toasted in a coating of egg. The kasha then cooks, absorbing the liquid, becoming light and fluffy. And then you just pour it over the farfalle (bowties) and mix it up. A lot of people have onion in their recipes but I’m so picky about how I like my onions so I omit it.
The kasha is nutty and really compliments the pasta well. It tastes great with all the pot roast fixings over top with a bit of the sauce.
This was so good and hearty. Mike loved it too and could definitely smell it when he came home. And we have a ton of leftovers which works out perfectly for this week.
We picked out this recipe because I got three zucchinis at the farmer’s market this weekend. This was a quick week night meal and it was surprisingly amazing considering how simple it was to make.
We used Seviroli frozen ravioli which was surprisingly good. I think that the cheese in frozen ravioli can be pretty hit or miss but sometimes it’s easier to just have it on hand than buy it fresh. We followed the recipe except for the chives because I am not the biggest fan and then we topped our bowls with halved grape tomatoes because we had some left from my farmer’s market haul.
I don’t really love pork. But this recipe is perfect. It gets a crispy sweet glaze on the outside that is perfect. We’ve found that going heavier on the apricot preserves and lighter on the mustard makes it the perfect amount of sweetness. Also, we don’t roast the apricots or leave the glaze for dipping. We just put more on the tenderloin when we flip it halfway through the broiling time.
The pasta (we didn’t have cavatappi but farfalle worked just fine) alone could be dinner but this way we have plenty of leftovers, especially since Sunday night is my knitting night with friends and a quick dinner works out well.