Friday, February 11, 2011

Food For Thought

Sometimes I find myself in a bit of a rut.  Doing the same things (laundry, vacuuming, dishes).  Saying the same things ("Please turn that off."  "Please get your shoes on." "Please don't sit on the table.").  And eating the same things (hamburgers, sandwiches, tacos).  After a while, all this hum-drum-ness really gets on my nerves!  I need to shake things up a bit and breath a fresh breath into my daily routine, my conversations and my meals.  And some of that good healthy change comes when we think "outside-the-box".

I'm still working on how to freshen up my days and my words ... but I did find two new pasta dishes that certainly freshened up our meals a few times last week.  My kids love mac-n-cheese ... but Mommy can only handle that once a week for lunches.  So ... the task was to find some pasta meals that the kids liked and that didn't taste like the same ol' same ol'.  I'm happy to say that I was successful!  Thanks FoodNetwork! :)

Here are two meals that will help you think outside "the pasta box" ... and you might be surprised that the kids may ask you for seconds!

Spanish-Style Noodles with Chicken and Sausage
(This recipe is from FoodNetwork Magazine, December 2009 ... with a few tweaks.)

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1 turkey kielbasa, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Salt & Pepper
1 t. oregano
1/3 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 bay leaves
1 small can tomato sauce
2 T tomato paste
16 oz spaghetti, broken into thirds
Parmesan cheese for garnish
(Next time I will add some red bell peppers to the list.)

First, bring your teakettle to a boil.  You will need this later.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil and add the chicken and kielbasa.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then brown the meat on all sides.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat to a plate to cool.  To the same pot, add the onions, garlic, tomato puree (and red peppers).  Stir well and then add the bay leaves.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook this mixture until the onions are tender, about 10 minutes.  Add a splash of water if things start to stick.  Pull out the bay leaves.

The tomatoes and onions mingling ...

Next add the broken pasta to the mixture and stir.  This was a little challenging, but with a little work, I was able to get the pasta coated in the tomato mixture.  Stir-fry this for about 6 minutes until it has turned a nice golden color.

The noodles trying to mingle ...

Add the tomato paste and the chicken and kielbasa back into the pot with enough of the boiling water to cover the noodles completely.  Simmer this mixture until the pasta is tender and the sauce thickens ... about 15 minutes.

Everything hanging out in one big pot.

Sprinkle each serving with a little parmesan cheese.  We had toasted pita chips on the side.

Yes ... that's parmesan from the green jar ... culinary cuisine!

The kids devoured this meal and asked for more ... yeah, Mom!

Cold Curry-Peanut Noodles
(This recipe is from FoodNetwork Magazine, June 2010 ... with a few tweaks, as usual!)

16 oz. spaghetti
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 1/2 T. green curry paste
3 t. vinegar
Juice of 1 lime, plus wedges for serving
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
2 green onions, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 large carrot (or 8 baby carrots!), coarsely grated

All those fresh veggies waiting to be eaten by the kids!

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add the spaghetti and cook it according to the label's instruction.  Ladle out about 1/2 cup of the pasta water and set this aside.  Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse with cold water.  Let drain.

Meanwhile, puree the peanut butter, curry paste, vinegar, lime juice, cilantro, 3/4 cup water and 1 t. salt in the food processor or blender.  Blend until smooth.

Chunky peanut butter and cilantro?!?

Green, creamy goodness!

In a large serving bowl, toss the noodles with the peanut sauce, green onions, carrots and cucumber.  I used salad tongs to mix.  Once the noodles and veggies are well coated, add some of the reserved pasta water to help loosen up the sauce.  Season with a dash of salt and top with extra cilantro.  I served this with toasted pita triangles.  Hmmm ... we appear to be in a pita-rut, too! :)

Seconds, please!

The kids asked for seconds for this meal, too!  I was bummed there wasn't more available for lunch the next day!

Spanish Style Noodles with Chicken & Sausage

Cold Curry-Peanut Noodles


  1. These sound yummy. My son isn't the picky eater in the house, my husband is. He might be willing to give either of these a go.

    visiting from SITS

  2. loved the cold curry noodles, it was sooooo good!
    we made turkey pot pie this week and were so sad it didn't last longer. but there is some more turkey in the fridge...oh good :) xoxox

  3. Ooooo, those look good! We're stuck in a food rut too, I need to try these out! :D

  4. That first dish especially sounds delicious! My kids usually die for spaghetti, but mac & cheese is hit or miss.


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