Vegetable Pasta for One (and change)

I love the days that I work from home, because it means that I can have something fresh cooked for lunch. I do love my leftovers, but it is nice to get my lunch out of a pan or a pot, rather than the microwave, when I can.

Today was a work from home day! Enter a delicious pasta meal for one (if you’re REALLY hungry) or two moderately hungry people. Having skipped breakfast, I was REALLY hungry!

I decided on some simple ingredients: pasta, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, garlic, lemon, store bought pesto sauce and seasonings.

I started by boiling my pasta and chopping up some artichoke hearts and slicing some cherry tomatoes (I love both of these foods, so much). They would be good added, as is, but I wanted to cook them up just a little bit in a pan to heighten the flavors.

The vegetables were added to a pan, after spraying a little bit of avocado spray and cooking some minced garlic a bit.

After the vegetables cooked for a while, I added the liquids (cream and lemon juice) to create a light sauce.

The next step was just to toss the cooked pasta in the skillet and mix it all together.

Finally, the pasta was topped with parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

Easy, quick and delicious lunch for one!

Vegetable Pasta for one (and change)

1 serving of pasta (I used spaghetti)
10-15 cherry tomatoes (halved)
2-3 artichoke hearts (from jar)
1 tbsp pesto sauce
cooking spray / oil (I use avocado spray oil)
1/2 tbsp minced garlic
juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon (depending on how much you like – I used a whole lemon)
2 tbsp heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese
Fresh basil

  • Boil pasta as directed, until al dente
  • Spray skillet with a small amount of cooking
  • Put a small amount of cooking spray / oil in pan
  • Add garlic and cook for a few minutes
  • Add tomatoes and artichokes to pan and cook about 5 min
  • Add salt and pepper (just a pinch of each, or to taste)
  • Add cream and warm through
  • Add lemon juice and allow to cook 2 – 3 min
  • Toss in pasta
  • Top with parmesan cheese and basil and serve

Spinach, Strawberry and Prosciutto Salad

Another busy night, which means not much time for cooking. Boiled eggs are the only thing I ‘cooked’. Even still, I did have a meal that I really enjoyed! Spinach, strawberry and prosciutto salad.

It couldn’t be easier – just baby spinach, strawberries, boiled egg, prosciutto, walnuts and Paul Newman’s white balsamic vinaigrette.

Then I added a bit of crumbled goat cheese. Delicious!!

If you have boiled eggs already (I made mine before volleyball tonight – peeled and had them ready to go, in the refrigerator), it’s a very easy salad to throw together!

Chicken Fried Rice

No recipe from dinner last night – but I did want to share what we had. I needed to do something quick, that I could do ahead of time – as we had activities last night. Chicken fried rice was just the thing!

The ingredients were: chicken (only 1 large chicken breast!), jasmine rice, frozen mixed veggies, butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sriracha, egg, green onions and sesame seeds

Ready to go in the fridge until we were home from volleyball. And, lunch for today!

Easy, quick meal that could wait in the fridge and still be delicious!

Chicken and Broccoli Pasta in Cream Sauce

As I have mentioned before, we usually do pasta on Saturday or Sunday, every week. This weekend, with the holiday, we decided to do our pasta on Monday in stead. Chicken and Broccoli Pasta in Cream Sauce, with sundried tomatoes, is what I decided on.

I had half of an onion left from yesterday’s frittata, so I started by chopping it finely. I also went ahead and chopped the sundried tomatoes.

I sprayed a little bit of avocado spray into a large skillet. The onions and garlic were added and cooked until the onions were translucent.

The next step was to add the chicken to the pan.

At this time, I also added the umami seasoning (if you haven’t tried this seasoning, why not?? It is delicious! The only I use, I get from Trader Joe’s).

Once the chicken was cooked through, I added the chicken stock and brought it to a boil. Then added the bag of frozen broccoli and sundried tomatoes. I covered the pan allowing the broccoli to fully thaw out.

Once the broccoli was warmed through, I added the cream, salt and pepper and brought it up to a low boil. I added in part of the cheese at this time and stirred.

Finally, I added the pasta to the skillet and mixed it through – added the remaining parmesean cheese.

The only step left is to serve and enjoy!

Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Cream Sauce

1 box penne pasta
2 chicken breasts, cubed
Cooking spray (I use avocado oil)
12 oz bag frozen broccoli
2 tbsp sundried tomatores, chopped
1 tbsp garlic
1/2 onion
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp umami seasoning
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup grated parmesean cheese

  • Boil pasta as directed, until al dente
  • Finely chop onion
  • Chop sundried tomatoes
  • In lightly sprayed / oiled pan, cook onions and garlic until onions are translucent
  • Add chicken and umami seasoning to pan and cook until chicken is done
  • Add chicken stock, sundried tomatoes and broccoli to pan, bring up heat.
  • Once brocolli is no longer frozen, add in cream, salt and pepper (I use 1/2 tsp each) and bring temperature to a low boil.
  • Add al dente pasta to skillet and mix.
  • Add parmesean cheese and serve

Sausage and Spinach Baked Frittata

On Saturdays or Sundays, we like to do a brunch type meal – rather than a breakfast AND lunch. Frittatas are one of our ‘go to’ meals, for sure. We love eggs and a frittata, often, gives us the opportunity to ‘use up’ smallish leftovers in the refrigerator. Today’s frittata started with some Hillshire Farms sausage that was opened yesterday!

Not a pretty picture, but one that’s real. Also, didn’t use the pre-grated cheese in the picture, I had enough once I grated the block cheese.

For this dish, the first thing you want to do is to slice your sausage – I decided to be ‘fancy’ and slice a few pieces (6 – because my frittatas are usually sized for about 6 slices/servings) diagonally, to put on top of the frittata prior to putting it in the oven.

I, personally, could probably stand more than 1/2 of an onion – but, that might be overwhelming to some, so I stuck to 1/2 of an onion for this dish.

Combine the sausage and onion in a skillet, over medium – high heat.

Cook until the sausage has a sear and the onions are translucent. If you do the ‘fancy’ slices of sausage – cook them separate from the rough chopped sausage and onion, and set this all aside to cool a bit.

Grate your cheese (I ended up with about a cup, shredded, given the amount of block cheese I had left – but, you can just add as much cheese as you like – I am a big cheese lover, so rare is the occasion that I think it is ‘too much’ cheese) and chop your spinach.

In a bowl, whisk your eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Then add the other ingredients and mix well (I usually hold back a little bit of cheese, to top the mixture, as I love how it browns in the oven). Pour the mixture into a lightly greased pie plate (this is what I use) or frittata pan. Top with any reserved cheese and the diagonally sliced sausage.

Bake for 40-45 minutes (or until eggs are cooked through and top is nicely browned).

Sausage and Spinach Fritatta

6 eggs
7 oz Hillshire Farms smoked sausage (1/2 of a 14 oz rope)
1/2 onion
1 cup chopped baby spinach
3/4-1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 tbsp milk (or half and half or cream)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

  • Preheat oven oven to 400 degrees
  • Slice sausage (if you want, slice 6 slices cross ways to ‘top’ the fritatta)
  • Finely chop onion
  • Combine onion and sausage in skillet over medium – high heat. Cook until sausage is seared and onion is translucent – remove from pan and set aside to cool a bit
  • Shred cheese and chop spinach
  • In bowl, whist together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper
  • Add sausage/onion mixure, vegetables and cheese to eggs – mix well
  • Pour mixture into a lightly greased pie plate or fritatta pan
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes (or until eggs are fully cooked and nicely browned on top)

Cheeseburger Pie

This recipe is one that I’ve been cooking for years. Some might even say that it is my ‘signature’ dish. It’s good, comfort food! I can remember having something similar when I was a kid – over the years, I’ve tweaked it and adjusted it to our taste. It’s a layered casserole type dish that makes me so happy (it is PERFECT for leftovers – it just gets better!).

The dish is topped with mashed potatoes, so the first step is to dice up some potatoes and get them on to boil.

Then you will start making the base of the dish – the meat mixture. You’ll add your olive oil to a pan (or dutch oven) and heat it up – then, you add what all good dishes start with – garlic and onion! Cooking the onions until they are translucent.

Next, add the ground beef, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Cook until the ground beef is fully cooked.

The next step is to add the tomato paste, tomatoes and green beans.

Once all of the ingredients for the base of the dish have been added – cook for 10-15 minutes, allowing all the flavors to mix. Reduce the temperature to low-medium heat for the 10-15 minutes.

While the meat mixture is cooking – make your mashed potatoes. I’m a very picky about mashed potatoes and I make mine the way I grew up eating them – with Duke’s mayonnaise as part of the mix. This may not be to your liking (but, if you’ve never tried it – you should!!) – so, just make the mashed potatoes that you’d normally make.

After both components (meat mixture and potatoes) are you complete – you’ll add the potatoes on top of the meat mixture and top with grated sharp cheddar cheese (you can certainly use pre-grated cheese, but it will not be a good as if you grate it yourself !)

Put the baking dish or dutch oven in the preheated oven and cook until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown – change the oven over to broil for the last couple minutes and you’ll have a beautifully browned top to your cheeseburger pie.

If you like, you can top it with fresh basil – but, this is definitely not necessary.

I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe as much as I do – it is, without a doubt, one of my favorite things that I make! And, has always been something that people have loved for me to make!

Cheeseburger Pie

1tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 can french style green beans
1 small can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 large can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning
4 oz (1/2 small block) grated sharp cheddar cheese
Mashed Potatoes (my recipe below)

  • In pan (or dutch oven, if you want less to wash 🙂 ), warm up the olive oil
  • Add onion and garlic ad cook until onion is translucent
  • Add ground beef, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning and cook until ground beef is fully cooked (if you use lean enough ground beef, there is no need to drain the meat, otherwise, drain out the excess oil before next step)
  • Add in tomato paste, tomatoes and green beans and combine – allow mixture to cook for 10-15 minutes
  • If you did the meat mixture in a pan, transfer to a large baking dish – other wise, you’ll use the dutch oven for the next step.
  • Top meat mixture with mashed potatoes and cheese
  • Put in 400% oven for 30 minutes (on the last couple minutes, turn oven to broil to help brown the top).

Mashed Potatoes
8-10 potatoes, diced
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
2 tbsp butter
salt to taste

  • Boil potatoes in salted water, until fork tender. Drain potatoes and return to pot
  • Add butter, milk and mayonnaise
  • Mash with masher to your desired consistency (I don’t like mine too smooth)
  • Salt to taste

Shrimp Fried Rice

While I would much prefer to have fresh shrimp, living inland doesn’t really allow for that very much.

Luckily, you can buy deveined and already peeled shrimp in the freezer section of your grocery store. Not as good as fresh (but cheaper than the ‘just thawed out, because you don’t live at the beach’ shrimp they sell for twice as much at the meat counter, making people think they are getting ‘fresh’ shrimp – you’re really just getting previously frozen, conveniently defrosted, shrimp if you live inland. That said, I will buy the frozen version and thaw it myself – saving at least 50% of the cost of the shrimp!

I try to keep some shrimp in the freezer for nights just like tonight – when I don’t have any other protein already thawed for dinner. Shrimp is easy to defrost at home. I put mine in a colander and just run cool water over it until it is thawed – and it’s ready to go! Enter tonight’s meal of shrimp fried rice!

You can cook your fried rice in a wok or large skillet. It just has to be a pan that can withstand high heat – as one of the keys to a good stir fry is the high temp. Additionally, using cold rice is a way to keep your stir fry from being too mushy. Then, it is just a matter of adding in the vegetables that you like! I cooked the ‘components’ separately for the most part – and then tossed them back together to finish it off.

Shrimp Fried Rice

3 tablespoons of oil (I used sesame oil)
1 lb of shrimp (I used deveined, peeled shrimp from the freezer section)
4 cups cooked, chilled white rice
1 1/2 cups of frozen peas and carrots
1/2 onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups of snow peas
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 eggs
3-4 tbsp (or to taste) low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp Siracha sauce
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt/pepper to taste
sesame seeds and chopped green onions for garnish

  • Get wok hot and add 1 tbsp of the oil to pan
  • Add shrimp and garlic to the pan
  • Cook shrimp until pink (add chili powder and a little bit of salt and pepper during cooking)
  • Remove shrimp from wok
  • Add 1 tbsp of oil to pan
  • Add vegetables to wok and stir for 3-4 minutes, remove from wok
  • Add remaining oil and crack all 3 eggs into oil – quickly scramble eggs in the wok
  • Add rice to wok – try to keep rice touching as much of the wok as possible (to allow for crispiness of the rice) – letting it sit for 3-4 min before stirring.
  • Quickly stir rice around, picking up the crispy bits from the pan
  • Add the vegetables back into the pan
  • Add soy sauce and Siracha and stir, until well mixed (don’t overwork, as you don’t want the rice to become mushy).
  • Serve with sesame seeds and green onions