Spaghetti with Tomato and Garlic

As I was flipping through an Allrecipes magazine (which is amazing by the way), I encountered a meal that had been saved 13, 812 times on the website. Well, for good reason! This dish is so versatile, you can substitute different types of diced tomatoes, herbs, greens, and meats. The original recipe can be found here. I made this dish twice: first without meat and using the original recipe calling for 2 cans of diced tomatoes, and the second time with shredded chicken (leftovers from last night’s tacos) and one can of diced tomatoes. I didn’t have fresh basil the second time around, so I just used dried oregano and basil flakes. The second time I also used thin spaghetti instead of angel hair, and I liked it better. I also added fresh spinach to the sauce while simmering. This is a dish I will continue to make for an easy weeknight meal!

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces angel hair pasta (or thin spaghetti)–about half a box
  • 4 T olive oil (I used about 2)
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed–I used about 2
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 2 (14.5-oz.) cans diced tomatoes–I used Del Monte, plain; you can also use one can only for less sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar (optional ingredient, but I added it!)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil–If you don’t have fresh basil, sprinkle in some dried basil and dried oregano flakes)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil over high heat and add the pasta, cooking until al dente. For angel hair pasta, cook about 4 minutes and drain. For thin spaghetti, cook about 8-9 minutes.
  2. While your pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil (2 T) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute about 30 minutes, until garlic is fragrant.
  3. Stir in the diced tomatoes with their juices, tomato paste, sugar, salt, and pepper. This is also a good time to add in the dried basil and oregano if you are using. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 2 minutes. Add fresh basil if you are using. You can also add fresh spinach here.
  4. Add the cooked pasta to the tomato sauce in the pan and stir. Top with grated Parmesan.

A reader from Allrecipes suggested you add mushrooms or zucchinis too.

 

Here it is without the chicken using angel hair pasta and two cans of diced tomatoes:

 

This is the dish with chicken and spinach using thin spaghetti and one can of diced tomatoes:

 

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Nectarine-Basil Salad

Nectarines, peaches, apricots…use whatever you like in here. I was already making BBQ chicken with nectarine-basil couscous, so I added a side salad!

Ingredients:

  • 1 small head of Boston lettuce, washed, dried, and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 nectarine, cut into chunks
  • 2 T chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 avocado, cut into small chunks
  • 3 radishes, cut into thin coins
  • 1/4 cucumber, cut into thin coins
  • 2 T slivered almonds
  • 2 T chopped sweet onion

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a salad bowl. Serve with your favorite light summery dressing. I used an avocado-cilantro one.

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BBQ Chicken Legs with Nectarine-Basil Couscous

I paired this meal with my Nectarine Basil Salad, and the flavors worked well together. The chicken had a great BBQ taste and was very juicy. The couscous recipe was featured in Cooking Light.

As a side note, I’ve been looking for ways to improve this blog. I’m experimenting with photo filters to tackle this photography issue, so we’ll see.

My friend Tiffany of Cherrise’s Jewelry also suggested I list my recipe steps instead of writing them in paragraph form. I can’t believe I never tried doing that before! It simplifies the cooking process, especially when you’ve got one hand stirring a pot and another testing the meat temperature with your thermometer–all you have to do is glance at the next number. See below for the exciting new changes!

For the chicken:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4-1/3 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 5 chicken legs, skin on, rinsed and dried
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F.
  2. Grab a rimmed baking sheet and line it with two pieces of aluminum foil. The lower layer helps the sheet stay clean and after you’re done baking you can just peel the top layer off and discard.
  3. Spray the top foil sheet with Pam.
  4. Sprinkle the chicken legs with salt and pepper and toss with the BBQ sauce.
  5. Place the chicken legs on the baking sheet. Cover with a third layer of aluminum foil, creating a tent.
  6. Bake the chicken at 400F for 30 minutes. Remove when done. Test the temperature using a meat thermometer. If it’s at 160F, you’re ready to eat!

For the couscous:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 medium nectarine, cut into small chunks
  • 2 T orange juice (I ran out, so I used chicken broth instead)
  • 1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan.
  2. Add the couscous and stir. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, covered, 8 minutes, or until water is absorbed.
  3. Uncover and add the chopped basil, nectarine, onion, salt, and orange juice (or broth).

Stir and enjoy!

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Polenta Basil Pizzas

I found out about polenta a few years ago, and I have decided I do not make it enough. This time I purchased the pre-made polenta and sliced it into 1/2-inch thick rounds.

Ingredients:

  • 1 roll of pre-cooked refrigerated polenta, sliced into rounds
  • Fresh basil, torn
  • White mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozarella cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

Dry the polenta well. Brush olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Grill on medium high for 5 minutes per side, or until dark grill marks appear (they never showed up on mine).

Place polenta slices in an ovenproof baking dish. Sprinkle each slice with the mozzarella cheese.

Arrange the basil pieces on top of the cheese. Layer the mushroom slices or chunks on top.

Bake at 450F for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and mushrooms are browned.

 

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Homemade Chicken Soup

There’s nothing more soothing to an upset stomach or common cold than homemade chicken soup. My family is from Nicaragua, and many homemade chicken soups from Nicaragua use this thing called “naranja agria” as a flavoring, which I absolutely can’t stand. I prefer a lighter chicken soup without a sour taste, so I picked up some bouillon cubes. Unfortunately, they contain a lot of sodium, but the taste is exceptional.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cubes chicken bouillon
  • 6 thinly-sliced chicken breasts, uncooked and cut into small strips
  • 5 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds
  • 5 stalks celery, sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 white onion, sliced in half
  • 1/8 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 10 red potatoes, scrubbed and sliced in half
  • Parsley and basil flakes
  • 10 cups water

Directions:

Bring 10 cups of water to a boil. Add the cubes and stir until they have dissolved. Add the chicken, carrots, celery, potatoes, onion, garlic cloves, peppercorns, and parsley and basil flakes. Boil on medium for 45 minutes. Continue to simmer until ready to eat.

Turkey Meatloaf

73 posts and still no turkey? What’s going on here?! We eat a lot of ground turkey and I like to make meatballs or meatloaf with it.

Turkey Meatloaf:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 chopped white onion
  • 5 white mushrooms, diced
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • salt, pepper, parsley and basil flakes to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced…or garlic powder to taste
  • 1 egg, scrambled
  • 1/4 cup ketchup

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F. Mix all ingredients except ketchup together. Press mixture into loaf pan that has been buttered or sprayed with Pam. Layer ketchup on top. Bake for 1 hour.

Yum!

Meatballs with Mom (without cheese)

Last Friday night I made meatballs for my mom and fiance. She made a great Greek salad, which included feta cheese, black olives, yellow peppers, chickpeas, and chopped lettuce. It was so good no dressing was necessary!

I decided to make the meatballs without cheese this time:

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds meatballs
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • salt, pepper, basil flakes to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients together. Form meatballs that are about 1.5 inch in diameter. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray the foil with Pam. Arrange the meatballs about 1 inch apart. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes.

Serve with spaghetti and salad!

It looked really nice in the end: