Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca

Puttanesca originated in Naples in the mid 19th century and is usually made with pasta, capers, tomatoes, garlic and hot peppers. Since I had a spaghetti squash I need to use up, I made this dish. It turned out wonderfully. Below is my own version of this!!

(Hidden under that luscious sauce is the shredded spaghetti squash!)

Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca

Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash cut in half horizontally with seeds removed
  • ½ pound lean ground beef
  • 1 diced jalapeno pepper or red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 2 stems of fresh basil leaves
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup of whole black olives (optional)
  • 2 cups of Prego pasta sauce
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish

Instructions

Drizzle olive oil over each half of squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cut side  down in a Pyrex dish and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven uncovered for 60 to 75 minutes.

Remove squash and let cool before shredding each half with forks. Be careful not to puncture the squash skin! Cover loosely with foil. Let it rest while preparing the sauce.

In a large frypan (or wok – I love using a wok when preparing sauce for spaghetti), brown the beef, stirring frequently. When there is no more pink, add the 2 cups of pasta sauce.

Stir to combine all of the meat, adding the diced jalapenos (optional) or red pepper flakes

Add the pitted black olives and 1 stem of basil LEAVES and stir to combine.

Uncover the bowl of spaghetti squash shreds and pour the sauce the shreds.

Garnish with Parmesan cheese and the leaves from the other basil stem.

Serve.

Slow Cooker Sausage and Peppers

Normally, when I do sausage and peppers, it is in the oven. Since I had time this week I found a slow cooker/crockpot recipe on Pinterest for this method. Come to find out, I liked it much better without having to use the oven. The texture of the sausage was so very different and the peppers were great. Served this with a little side of steamed broccoli. Perfect dish!

FYI…the sausages I prefer are Obertal Argentinian Chorizos, but that is your choice.

Crockpot Sausage and Peppers

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg Italian sausages (5) My preference is Obertal Argentinian Chorizo
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup chunky marinara sauce I substituted a small jar of PACE Medium Salsa
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2-3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Instructions

1. Heat a skillet on medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan.

2. Sear the Italian sausages 2-3 mins on each side until starting to brown. You aren’t trying to cook them all the way through, you’re just browning the outside a bit which always increases the flavor while slow cooking.

3. Lay the seared Italian sausages in the bottom of a slow cooker/crockpot.

4. Add the uncooked sliced onions and peppers on top of the sausages.

5. Sprinkle the garlic salt, black pepper, and Italian seasoning over the top.

6. Spread the marinara sauce or PACE salsa over the onion and pepper mixture.

7. Cook the crock pot sausage and peppers recipe on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7 hours until the peppers are soft and the Italian sausage is cook through. FYI…mine was done at 4 hours on low!

8. The crockpot Italian sausage and peppers are seriously SO delicious as is, but to take it up a notch, take the sausage and peppers out of the slow cooker and spread into a broiler-safe pan and follow the cheese steps in the optional section.

Optional – Add Cheese

1. Sprinkle 1/2 – 3/4 cups of your favorite shredded white cheese, like mozzarella, Monterey Jack, an Italian blend, or Colby Jack would all be great choices.

2. Broil the Italian sausage and peppers mix for 1-2 minutes 4″ from the heat source until the cheese is melted.

Beef and Broccoli

I have always enjoyed this dish in an oriental restaurant, and having found myself with too much broccoli, I searched for how to easily use it up. The ingredients list seems long, but actually it does not take much time as there is no marinating the sliced beef! It gets the flavour from the sauce ingredients. You will obviously notice that there is NO rice. We are trying to cut back on rice these days…

Better-Than-Takeout Beef with Broccoli

  • 1 to 1.25 pounds flank steak, sliced into thin strips, no more than 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or nicely minced
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ginger, or to taste (fresh or dried is okay, use less dried than you would fresh)
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed (light may be substituted)
  • 4 to 6 cups broccoli florets (dependent on preference for broccoli)
  • 2 to 3 green onions, sliced into 1/4-inch-long segments
  • red pepper flakes, optional and to taste
  • sesame seeds, optional for garnishing

To a large zip top bag, add the steak, cornstarch, seal, and toss to coat. Set aside while preparing the sauce.

1 To a medium saucepan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and heat over medium-high for about 1 minute, or just until garlic is fragrant, taking care not to scorch it.

2 Add the soy sauce, water, brown sugar, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and allow it to boil for about 2 to 3 minutes. Then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened and reduced. While it simmers, sear the steak.

3 To a large skillet, add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, and the steak. Cook over medium-high or high heat until steak is cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes, flipping the pieces intermittently to ensure even cooking.

4 Add the broccoli.

5 Evenly drizzle in the soy sauce mixture, noting it will bubble up dramatically. Toss the beef and broccoli to coat evenly with the sauce. Simmer for about 3 to 5 minutes at medium-high, or until the broccoli is as crisp tender as desired.

6 Optional — If your sauce hasn’t thickened up as much as you’d like and your broccoli is done or nearly done, and you want a sauce that clings better and isn’t as thin, simply dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 1 tablespoon water (called a slurry), add it to the skillet, stir for about 1 minute, or until your sauce has thickened to your desired level. Since I used 6 cups broccoli, the natural water and juices that escaped from it thinned out my sauce, so I needed to use a slurry.

8 Turn off the heat, add the green onions, and stir to incorporate.

Optionally, evenly sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

Dump and Bake Meatball Casserole

With a package of frozen meatballs in the freezer, a jar of marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella and rotini pasta in the pantry, this recipe was so easy to throw together. Best part You dont need to precook the pasta!!!

Just make sure those meatballs are thawed before you start the recipe…

Hidden meatballs…

Dump and Bake Meatball Casserole

Total Time 55 minutes         Servings 6 – 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package uncooked rotini pasta
  • 1 (24 or 25 ounce) jar marinara sauce
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 (14 ounce) package fully-cooked miniature (cocktail-size) meatballs (if using frozen meatballs, make sure that they are completely thawed before using)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • Optional: Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped herbs (such as basil, oregano, and parsley for garnish)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. In a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, stir together uncooked pasta, marinara sauce, water, and meatballs. Season with salt to taste; stir. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes.

3. Uncover; stir. At this point you should check the pasta to make sure that it is al dente (firm but just about finished cooking). If it’s still too hard, cover the dish and return to the oven until pasta is al dente. Then move on to the next step.

4. Sprinkle mozzarella over the top and bake uncovered for 5-10 more minutes (or until cheese is melted and pasta is tender).

Leftover Steak Stroganoff

As noted last week, here is the recipe for using up leftover steak of any kind. It was extremely great with the Coffee Rubbed Cowboy steak, but you could use any other steak.

Leftover Steak Stroganoff

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 1 shallot (minced)
  • 1/2 Tbsp garlic (minced)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp ground sage
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp each, salt & pepper (more to taste, if necessary)
  • 1 cup Baby Portabella Mushrooms (stemmed, sliced)
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard (coarse ground)
  • 1 cup leftover prime rib roast (sliced into 2-inch strips)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 8 oz egg noodles (rinsed and drained)
  • 2 Tbsp parsley (chopped, optional garnish)

1 Start with a large, deep frying pan or Dutch oven. Heat the olive oil to medium high heat, then add minced shallot and garlic and cook for 1 minute (just enough to start sweating the shallot). Add butter and melt with the shallot and garlic.

2 Add the all-purpose flour, combine with shallot and garlic until all of the flour is absorbed. Add seasoning (tarragon, ground sage, thyme, salt & pepper) and mushrooms. Stir to combine, then add the beef broth, Worcestershire and Dijon.

3 Stir all of the gravy ingredients, reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer (reducing heat as necessary to maintain a low simmer) for about 10 minutes. Gravy should thicken while simmering.

4 Once gravy has simmered and reduced, slightly thickening, add the sliced leftover prime rib roast meat and cook an additional 2-3 minutes to heat the meat through completely. Remove from heat and add sour cream. Serve immediately over cooked pasta, rice, or potatoes. Top with chopped parsley for garnish, if desired.

Hungarian Goulash

In 2010, we had a great trip to Europe, where we experienced food in several countries. It was in Budapest where we had a wonderful goulash at Paprika Vendeglo restaurant. We had previously been in Prague where we had tasted Czech goulash. Both of us preferred the former for its wonderful goulash, pictured here – served in a small bowl over an open flame with noodles.

Thankfully for Pinterest, I was able to make a tasty Hungarian Goulash recipe which I attempted this week. It brought back memories, sans the noodles/dumplings.

Hungarian Goulash

Ingredients

  • 2 medium onions diced
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 ½ pound stewing beef trimmed and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 cups beef broth or water
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes canned
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 ½ cup carrot diced
  • 3 cups potatoes, diced

1. In a large pot, melt butter and add onion. Cook till translucent. Stir in caraway seeds and paprika and mix well.

2. In a bowl, dredge the stew beef with flour. Add beef to the onion mixture and cook for about 2-3 minutes.

3. Slowly add about ¼ cup of the beef broth to lift the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Then add remaining broth, diced tomatoes (potatoes and carrots if using), salt and pepper.

4. Stir and bring to a boil, cover, then reduce to a simmer for about 1 ½ -2 hours or until tender. Stir

Serve with noodles or dumplings or just plain as I did.

Smorgasbord of Leftovers

Fast approaching the new year...FINALLY! With two holidays in such a short period of time there are bound to be leftovers. Am I right? Indeed we had leftovers from both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at this point. No turkey in this house this year, but we did have hamand roasted duck. I raced to Pinterest as usual and the results were both quick and easy – Classic Split Pea Soup and Duck, Duck Soup. Both were great for the cooler days this holiday season.

  1. Classic Split Pea Soup

Ingredients

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 ribs of celery, diced

3 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 to 1-1/2 cups diced ham

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 to 3 cups water

1 lb (about 2-1/4 cups) dried split peas (I used a jar of cooked white beans)

1 bay leaf

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and sauté until soft, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the carrots, ham bone, diced ham, split peas, chicken broth, 2 cups of water and bay leaf to the pot.

Bring the soup mixture to a slow simmer and cover, leaving the lid slightly askew.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peas have broken down completely and the soup has thickened, 50 to 60 minutes.

Remove and discard the ham bone and bay leaf.

Stir the soup to blend thoroughly and if necessary, add more water until the thickness of the soup is to your liking.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and ladle into bowls for serving.

2. Rachel Ray’s Duck Duck SouP

Ingredients

Bones from cooked duck

1-quart chicken broth

2 cloves garlic, crushed

4 slices ginger

3/4-pound bok choy, sliced OR spinach

1 1/4 cups shredded duck meat

1 1/2 cups cooked rice

1 scallion, sliced

Preparation

In medium pot, simmer bones, broth, 1 cup water; garlic and ginger for 25 minutes; strain. Remove any residual meat from the bones. Return to pot with remaining ingredients; simmer 5 minutes.

Creamy Kielbasa Pasta

Tis the season to be jolly and entertain! NOT! Normally at this time of year we host a “charcuterie” for our snowbird friends. Alas, in these times of COVID, many were not returning to Yucatan. Secondly, we are limited to 4 “guests”in our home at one time. The answer – Host 4 mini charcuteries with our close friends over each weekend with two other couples.

The unfortunate/fortunate part was that with the variety of cold meats and cheeses, etc. I had leftover sliced kielbasa! Pinterest (much better than that Amazon person) – What do I do with the leftover kielbasa which could not be refrozen? The prompt answer – Creamy Kielbasa Pasta IN ONE PAN!

Creamy Kielbasa Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon Oil, (canola, olive, vegetable, etc.)
  • 13 Ounces Kielbasa Sausage, (one large link, sliced into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1/2 Cup White Onion, (about 1 medium sized, thinly sliced)
  • ½ red pepper, diced
  • 8 Ounces Penne Pasta, (or any short pasta, dry)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth, (low-sodium)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Water
  • 8 Ounces Cream Cheese, (cut into cubes)
  • Shredded Asiago cheese

Instructions

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the oil, sausage, red pepper and onion. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes until the sausage begins to brown and the onions soften.

Add the noodles, broth, and water. Stir to combine.

Bring the ingredients to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and continue to cook for 12 to 14 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure the noodles don’t stick together. Don’t let all the liquid cook away. There needs to be a little residual liquid in the bottom of the pan to mix with the cream cheese. After the noodles are cooked to al dente or to your liking, add the cream cheese. Stir until the cream cheese is melted and thoroughly combined. Sprinkle on some of the Asiago cheese.

Serve hot. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Kielbasa Apple Skillet

Thawed a whole package of kielbasa from Costco so that I could slice some up for a little get together with two friends. Needless to say, I di not use the whole package. What to do, Pinterest? Voila…luckily I had some wonderful Granny Smith apples in the crisper. Alas, no apple butter, but I did have some mango chutney to use in its place. The dish was awesome and easy. Oh yeah…this was not turkey kielbasa…LOL

Kielbasa Apple Skillet

Ingredients

  • 14-16 ounces low-fat turkey kielbasa sausage OR pork
  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled and sliced
  • 2 large Fuji apples, sliced into thin wedges
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil, optional
  • 1/2 cup Musselman’s Apple Butter OR chutney
  • 2 tablespoons Musselman’s Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

Preheat a large skillet to medium heat. Add the butter or oil. (If using a good nonstick skillet, no butter is needed.) Slice the onion and apples. Then cut the kielbasa into 1/2 inch rounds. Remove the rosemary leaves from the stems and roughly chop.

Once the skillet is hot, sear the kielbasa pieces for 2-4 minutes, until brown on both sides. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Next add the onions to the skillet. Sear for 2 minutes to soften, then add the apples and rosemary. Allow the apples and onions the cook until soft and brown, but not mushy. Stir gently as to not smash the apples, about 5-7 minutes. Salt and pepper liberally.

Add the sausage back to the skillet, along with the Musselman’s Apple Butter, apple cider vinegar, and 1/2 cup water. Simmer and stir to thicken the sauce for 2-3 minutes. Taste, then salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm.

Southwest Chicken and Pasta Casserole

Another round of what to do with leftover rotisserie chicken…LOL. Just cannot resist a freshly cooked rotisserie chicken, but it usually lasts for three meals with only two of us. Came across this one, as usual, on Pinterest. It was a great marriage of southwest flavours! The recipe made enough to reheat the second day.

Great way to use up those little bits of dried pasta. If you look carefully, you will see shells and penne.

Southwest Chicken and Pasta Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked spiral pasta
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup salsa ( I love Pace Picante Sauce for this recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 can (15 oz) corn (drained)
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans (drained & rinsed)
  • 2 cups cooked shredded/chunked chicken
  • 2 cups shredded cheese

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Don’t forget to salt the pasta water. I use about 1 teaspoon salt.

3. While pasta is cooking, combine sour cream, salsa, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder in a large mixing bowl.

4. Drain the pasta when it’s done cooking and add into the sour cream mixture. Stir to combine. Add in the corn, black beans, chicken, and 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Stir together to combine.

5. Pour into the baking dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Cover with tin foil and cook for 20 minutes.

6. Take the tin foil off and let cook an additional 5 minutes. Garnish with green onions,, sour cream and more Pace Picante Sauce..