The culinary ramblings of a picky eater.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Creamy Orzo and Veggie Soup

As we get further into fall, I'm beginning to make soups more. It's just how it goes. Haha.

When I make soup for dinner, I try to make it hearty enough to fend for itself. Wimpy soup is no good. That's why I usually try to add a starch, and why my soup often times has a cream based broth. This has both. This is a great "get-rid-of-all-the-veggies-in-your-fridge-and-freezer" soup. I happened to have broccoli and carrots, so that's what made it in the soup. Feel free to adjust. Haha.

The starchy component was a rice-shapped pasta called orzo (which I also had leftover in my pantry). You only need about 3/4 cup, so it's a good use-up-leftover-pasta soup too. I would recommend, however, that whatever pasta you use is either small, or broken into small pieces. It just works better to have small pieces for this one.

You could also add some chicken to this if you'd like a little more meatiness. I would say two chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces. I didn't add this, however, because I am suffering from pregnancy-induced aversion to chicken. It's interesting. Haha.

And with that, away we go!

-4 cups chicken broth
-1 cup water
-1 cup heavy cream, with 1/4 cup reserved
-2 tablespoons flour
-1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
-1 cup carrots, chopped
-3/4 cup orzo
-salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat the chicken broth and water until boiling. Add in the broccoli and carrots and let them cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the orzo and let it cook for several more minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour with 1.4 cup of the cream. Slowly stir into the soup. This will help to thicken the broth slightly. Slowly add in the rest of the cream, stirring to combine.
Let the soup warm up again. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 5 more minutes, making sure everything is hot a cooked through.
Serve immediately and enjoy!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pasta Salad

Our church recently had a picnic, and it was a pot-luck deal. It's always hard to know what to bring to something like that, because you never know what everyone else is going to bring. And you don't want to bring something that is going to be nasty when it gets a little colder or warmer than it's supposed to be. Shudder.

This pasta salad worked out well. It was simple, had no ingredients that would spoil in the sun, and it's great at room temperature. All good things for a pot luck dish. So...yay. Haha. It was pretty tasty, too, I think. Hope you like it!

-16 oz box tri-color rotini pasta
-olive oil, enough to coat the pasta lightly (approximately 3 tablespoons)
-1 link pepperoni (not the slices, but the full link. The chunks work better in this than slices)
-1 small can sliced black olives (like 4 oz or so), drained
-1 carton grape tomatoes
-2 tablespoons garlic powder
-1 tablespoons onion powder
-1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
-1/4 cup grated parmesan, or more to taste

Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Chop the pepperoni into small chunks (I did thick slices, then cut each round into quarters). Cut the grape tomatoes into small chunks as well.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and toss to coat with the olive oil and to incorporate all the ingredients well. Serve immediately or chill in the fridge until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Southwest Pasta

I'm usually a fan of southwestern-type flavors. I guess it comes from my Texas roots. :) So when I decided to make pasta this time around, I decided I would try to make something a little different. Big shocker, huh? Haha.

This was actually semi-inspired by a pasta dish I had at a restaurant in my hometown, which just happens to be the place my husband and I went on our first date. They have a southwestern pasta dish, but it's a little different than mine. I don't even think I could remember everything that was in it, but I could make up my own. So I did. :)

This was actually pretty simple, and I think it turned out pretty well, so I hope you like it!

-16 oz box of rotelle pasta (corkscrew looking pasta)
-3 tablespoons butter
-2 tablespoons flour
-1 cup heavy cream
-1 cup milk (I used 2%)
-2 tablespoons garlic powder
-1 tablespoon onion powder
-1 tablespoon chili powder
-1 can whole kernel corn, drained
-1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 can Rotel tomatoes and peppers, drained

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add in the pasta and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain, return to pot, and set aside.

While pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium/medium-low heat. Add in the flour and whisk to combine, forming a roux. Let it cook for a couple more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the heavy cream and whisk to incorporate. Let the cream heat up, stirring occasionally. The sauce should begin to thicken slightly. Add in the milk and whisk to incorporate. Let the milk heat up as well. The sauce will again thicken a bit. Add in the garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder, and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking another few minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened just a bit more.

Add the corn, black beans, and Rotel tomatoes and peppers to the pasta. Stir to combine.
Pour the sauce over the pasta, and stir to coat.
Serve immediately and enjoy! Yum!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tomato Basil Pizza

Hooray! I finally feel good enough to start cooking again. I'm sure I won't be cooking quite as much as I did before, but at least I can do a few meals a week again. That'll do, I think.

This was very, very easy to make, but it is a "homemade" pizza that I think turned out really well. I'm a big fan of cheese pizza, because I'm picky. Haha. So this was a great alternative to the same-old, same-old cheese pizza. A pizza crust, some pizza sauce, fresh basil, and shredded mozzarella combine to make this very simple, but very tasty, pizza.

-pizza crust (I used a store bought, half-baked crust, but use your favorite)
-approx. 1 cup pizza sauce (I made mine from plain tomato sauce, adding herbs and spices to taste)
-1 sprig fresh basil leaves (a few leaves, in other words)
-shredded mozzarella cheese (the amount will vary based on preference...I used about 1-1.5 cups, probably)

If your pizza crust is raw, half-bake it before adding any toppings.
Once half baked, spread an even layer of the pizza sauce all over the crust. Gently tear the basil leaves and sprinkle them around the surface of the pizza.
The reason I say gently tear is because basil bruises easily, and it doesn't taste as good if it's bruised. Chopping tends to bruise it more than tearing, so just be nice. :)

Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the pizza, and bake according to the crust directions until everything is hot and the cheese is melted and yummy.
Cut in slices and enjoy! Yum!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stuff Even My Husband Can Cook- meal #9

I am very proud of my hubby for putting up with me over the last several weeks. I've basically been a bum who has contributed little to nothing to our household. But he's borne it with as much grace as I suppose one man can, and I am grateful.

This is one more meal made easily by a novice cook. Spread shredded cheese on half a tortilla, fold in half, and broil for a minute or two on each side, and voila! Easy cheesy quesadillas. Served with some sour cream, salsa, quacamole, or any other Hispanic condiment, and you have an even tastier meal. You could also add chicken or beef, as I have done in the past (Chicken and Beef), if you need a little more substance.

This was a great solution to needing an easy meal.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Stuff Even My Husband Can Cook- meal #8

It has been raining here. A lot. Like, there's flooding going on.

It makes me sleepy. As if I needed another reason to be sleepy. Haha.

So my wonderful hubby once again made dinner. Wonderful, wonderful man. :) And what better food to eat during an extended bout of rain than soup. Tomato soup, to be exact, with a grilled cheese sandwich. Yum.

Dh seriously made this whole meal himself. I gently coached him on a few of the finer points of grilled cheese sandwiches, but he managed the execution pretty well. :) He heated up the soup WHILE making the sandwiches, too, so he was multi-tasking and was still successful. I was impressed. Not gonna lie.

The end result was yummy in my tummy, with no effort on my behalf. I mean, what could be better than that? Go hubby! :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Stuff Even My Husband Can Cook- meal #7

I think pasta is one of the easiest things in the world to cook, once you get the hang of it. My poor hubby thinks pasta is hard, because he tends to either overcook or undercook it. He just needs practice. :)

I "supervised" the pasta cooking operation to make sure all went well, and it did. Hubby's a quick study. Haha. This pasta meal was made even easier by the fact that it didn't have a sauce to go with it. You heard me (or saw me, I guess?) correctly, folks. This pasta was tossed in melted garlic butter, then sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese. Amazingly simple, but very tasty (in my opinion), and something hubby could manage.

As a quick aside/anecdote-as a kid, I was even pickier than I am now. I know, shocking. Anyway, as a kid, I hated tomato spaghetti sauce. I think it was the acidity, although at 10 years old I didn't know what that was yet. Haha. So when my mom would make spaghetti for dinner, she would always melt some butter for me to put over plain spaghetti, and I would sprinkle grated parmesan over it. So this is a shout out to my mom, who put up with my picky nature all those years, and made pasta in butter with cheese on it a possibility for me. Haha. Yum!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Stuff Even My Husband Can Cook- meal #6


This is probably another one of those meals I could probably make in my sleep. Which means that my wonderful husband can probably manage it too. Haha.

They sell little taco kits these days, with a seasoning packet for the meat, the shells and directions to heat them up/make them crispy, and following the directions will pretty much get you an edible result. With just a little "supervision" from me, all went well. End result-tacos for dinner!

We were also able to make these mild enough not to upset my delicate pregnancy sensibilities, so that was good too. Haha. So glad they turned out well. Yay!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Stuff Even My Husband Can Cook- meal #5

Have I mentioned that frozen food is my (and my husband's) savior right now? Pulling something out of the freezer and having a full dinner ready in very little time is just wonderful.

And since my husband has trouble with pretty much anything culinary (he'll tell you this himself if you ask him), having fool-proof, step by step instructions on how to reheat a frozen dinner means less stress for him. And for me. I don't want my kitchen to go up in flames. Haha.

There are a lot of great frozen pasta options out there these days. I guess they're just easier to freeze and reheat. But regardless, this one was pretty good. It was a chicken-pasta-and-spinach-in-parmesan-cream-sauce concoction (sounds like something I would make, huh?). For being a frozen dinner, it was actually pretty good, and it just had to be heated up in a skillet. Done in about 10 minutes. Pretty stinkin' incredible. Beats the drive-thru, in any case. Haha. More brownie points for the hubby, too. Well done. :)