Archive for ‘Pasta’

June 3, 2020

Hamburger Helper from Scratch

ONE POT LUNCH. Took about half an hour. Made it up as I went along so sorry for lack of precision.

Now that the baby is mostly over her milk allergy, she’s been running around shaking her fist demanding “CHEEEEEZE!!!” all day. Super easy to disguise veggies in here. Also super easy to make vegetarian or dairy free.


  • 1 lb ground beef or beef substitute
  • 1.5 cups chicken or beef broth
  • 1 large carrot, small dice
  • 1 onion, small dice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1-2 tsp paprika, sweet
  • 2 tbs tomato paste (or 1/4 cup tomato sauce? Ketchup?)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbs+ Worcestershire sauce
  • chopped spinach or other veggies
  • 8-10 oz dried pasta (~ half a 1lb box)
  • 1 cup milk/milk substitute
  • 4 slices American Cheese (’cause it melts so easily and is super creamy)


  1. In large dutch oven, heat over medium heat. Add a bit of cooking oil. Coat pan. Add beef, salt generously, and mix in Worcestershire sauce. Mix and brown until most of the pink is gone. Remove and set aside.
  2. Add onions and carrots (because no one wants crunchy carrots, we add it early). Salt and season with bay leaf, parsley, thyme, paprika. Saute for 5 min. Add garlic and continue to saute 1-2 min until fragrant.
  3. Add chopped spinach (I always have frozen spinach in stash), cooked beef, tomato paste, and chicken broth. Salt to taste. Adjust taste: Red wine vinegar if too sweet, sugar or ketchup if too acidic.
  4. Reduce heat to low, stir in milk, then pasta. (We used oatmilk. With regular milk you dont want to heat too much or it’ll curdle. So keep it to a simmer). Pasta wont be completely submerged nor should it. COVER and simmer for 2-3 min more than what the pasta box says. I would use pot gripper and swirl the pot a bit every once in a while to make sure the pasta cooks evenly without opening the cover.
  5. Remove cover and test for al dente. Cover and add more liquid if the pasta is too hard and or dry.
  6. Remove cover and turn off heat. Stir in cheese. Feel free to add more, but 4 slices was perfect for us.

January 12, 2020

Butternut Squash Pasta with Sage and Bacon

I first made this pasta four years ago. Two kids and a bunch of new appliances later, here’s the better and faster version! This use to take over an hour. Now it’s under 30min.

I’m almost too embarrassed to share this, but look at how ugly this dish use to be: old version.

Four years ago, I had a crappy Nutribullet blender which required working in batches. That’s why everything came out chunky. Today, my Vitamix took a few seconds. Pasta also use to take forever. Rental property stoves take 20 minutes to just boil a damn pot of water, then another 10 or so to cook the pasta. So that was another bottle neck. My new multicooker takes 5 minutes to cook pasta. Beginning to end.

Now I have more time for all of life’s other demands! More time to wipe noses and butts and step on legos. And of course, my lovely, appreciative, angel of a son takes one look at his plate and goes “I dont like this dinner, mommy. Cook me something else. How about a lot of bacon?”


Some notes:

  • Toys that will make your life easier:
    • multicooker with a steamer basket,
    • vitamix blender,
    • veggie spiraler
  • I roasted half the squash (or whatever fits on the toaster oven tray) and steamed the rest. I find the steamed half lends a creamier texture while the roasted half gives it a nice caramelized flavor. Feel free to pick one or the other. I prefer using both.
  • I use zoodles for half my pasta for health reasons. We also use barilla veggie pasta that’s 1/4 veggies. Also, maybe my kids are dumb, but they dont notice they’re eating veggies when it’s zoodles. Big leafs of spinach? Much less appealing to toddlers.
  • Timing is everything. Roasting veggies takes the longest. Do that first. Everything else can be done while roasting. Then start up pasta when veggies are done. While pasta is cooking, blend the sauce together. 30 min meal, y’all.


  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 package spaghetti
  • 2 large shallots, thick sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • fresh sage
  • 3-4 slices of bacon
  • ~1 cup chicken stock
  • salt
  • optional: zucchini for zoodles
  • optional: grated parmesan  (I save the little containers that come with Italian take out and keep them in the freezer. Fresh is obviously better but we dont use parmesan often)


  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. PREP SQUASH: Peel and chop off ends. Cut squash in half, where the skinny end and the fat bulb meet. Slice the skinny half into <1/2 cm thick slices. Thinner slices roast faster! Cut bulb end in half again. Scoop out seeds. Chop into large chunks.
  3. Lightly spray aluminum lined pan and place sliced squash, whole garlic, and shallots on pan. Avoid crowding. Place shallots and garlic in center so they dont burn. Roast for ~15- 20 min.
  4. Dump squash chunks into steamer basket of multi cooker. Add 1-2 cups of water to inner pot, insert steamer rack trivet then steamer basket, making sure squash isn’t sitting in water. Steam 7 min. Drain and dump squash into blender.
  5. COOK BACON: Place slices of bacon in a cold frying pan. Turn heat on to medium. Render fat and fry bacon, turning as needed, until brown and crispy. Remove and set aside on paper towel. Chop into pieces. Use fat to fry sage–>
  6. FRY SAGE: Pick off the large pretty leaves from your sage stem. Reserve ugly or small ones and set aside. Place pretty leaves in hot bacon fat over medium high heat. Fry until each side is dark and crisp. I used a chopstick to turn them as they crumble easily when fried.  Remove and set aside on paper towel.
  7. COOK ZOODLES: Dump out most of the bacon fat. In remaining thin coat, heat pan on medium high again, then add zoodles. stir and salt to taste. Remove and later mix with pasta.
  8. COOK PASTA: (multicooker)
    • Unfortunately for spaghetti you need to break the dried pasta in half.
    • Dump pasta in inner pot.
    • Pour in just enough water to cover pasta. Salt.
    • Pressure cook on high for a little under half the time the box says. 9min pasta? Cook for 4. 11 min pasta? Try 5.
    • Drain in steamer basket used earlier for squash.
  9. BLEND SAUCE: Add chicken stock then roasted veggies and several small ugly sage leaves. Blend until smooth, adding chicken stock if too thick. (Honestly I didn’t’t bother to heat the chicken stock as everything else is plenty hot.)
  10. Mix zoodles and pasta, pour over some sauce, mix. Top with parmesan bacon and sage leaves.



December 2, 2011

Vegetarian Lasagna Soup

WARNING: Incredibly healthy and delicious! So if you’re a skeptic and think all things healthy should taste like crap, go away. I’ll keep this secret to myself.

Makes a huge portion. Great for sharing. And giving to friends. Which I had to do because I ate it for 3 days straight, lunch and dinner, and still had plenty left over.

That’s ok. I’ll still make it again. It was that good.

Adapted from this recipe:


  • 8-12 oz package of italian sausage seitan/vegetarian sausage
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 cup egg plants, diced
  • 1+ cup yellow squash, diced
  • 1+ cup green squash, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes, w/ basil
  • 5- 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tbs oregano
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbs white sugar
  • fusilli pasta, cooked
  • low fat ricotta
  • mozzarella
  • shredded parmesan
  • cooking oil of your choice
  1. Heat oil in a 5qt dutch oven or pot. Brown sausage and break it up into small pieces with your spatula. Remove and set aside.
  2. In remaining oil (adding more if necessary), saute onions until just soft. Add garlic, eggplant, and squash and saute another ~3 min.
  3. Then add sausage back in along with all the spices, sugar, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Stir, cover, and let it simmer for ~1 hour.
  4. Spoon cooked pasta into a bowl, fill and cover with the soup, top with a big spoonful of ricotta, slices of mozzarella, and a generous sprinkle of parmesan. Set under broiler until cheese melts and browns. Serve.
October 2, 2011

Sobe Noodle Salad w/ Asparagus and Salmon

Super healthy dinner. Not sure how I feel about asian fusion dishes. It tasted a little strange to me. Asparagus and sobe? Not sure what to make of it.

Adapted from Bon Appetit:


  • 1/2 tbs sesame oil
  • 1/2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs light soy sauce
  • 2 tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 2 servings japanese soba noodles
  • 12 ounces fresh salmon
  • 1 handful of thick asparagus spears, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces
  • several handfuls of baby spinach leaves
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted


  • Mix first 6 ingredients for the dressing in small bowl. Set aside.
  • Cook soba noodles in large saucepan of boiling salted water, al dente. Drain into colander and toss in ice cubes to cool. Set in bowl and mix with some dressing. Toss to coat.
  • Salt/pepper salmon. Pan sear or bake in oven on 375F, tented in aluminum foil, until cooked through. Set aside to cool.
  • Blanch asparagus: boil water in medium sized pot. Add asparagus and boil for 3 minutes. Remove and place in ice bath. Drain.
  • Add spinach and asparagus to noodles; toss to incorporate evenly. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Divide noodle salad among plates.
  • Break salmon into bite-size pieces. Tuck salmon and avocado into noodles on plates. Sprinkle sesame seeds over and serve.
April 24, 2011

Conchiglie w/ Mushrooms and Peas in a Parmesan Cream Sauce

It’s finals time. And what does that mean?

A) embarrassingly high levels of frozen goods consumption
B) similarly high levels of pb sandwich consumption
C) haphazard, recipe-less concoctions in my kitchen. aka procrastination.
D) all of the above.

come on. you saw that coming. (damn you for making me doubt LIFE, all of the above!)

anyway. i dont have a recipe. but this turned out pretty good. or as angeline said as she smacked her lips over my pot of sauce “mmmMM.. like RESTAURANT pasta!”

smart kid. this is why i continue to feed her.

Pasta+ Sauce: 

  • pasta, Conchiglie or the like
  • half and half
  • parmesan, grated
  • corn starch
  • shallots, minced
  • fresh mushrooms, diced
  • frozen peas
  • bacon, diced (freeze the rest. it’s ok.)
  • roasted garlic (optional. baked in toaster oven on 400F until soft and fragrant)
  1. Cook bacon. remove into small bowl and set aside.
  2. In remaining bacon fat, saute shallots until just soft. ~3 min.
  3. add mushrooms and cook until soft. ~5 min.
  4. add a dash of chicken stock if pan getting too dry. deglaze while you’re at it.
  5. add butter then flour to make a roux, or be lazy like me and in a separate small bowl, add corn starch into a bit of cold half&half, dissolve, then add to mushroom mixture. (steph “borrowed” my butter. had to work with what i had.)
  6. return bacon into mixture.  add peas and mashed up roasted garlic if you made some.
  7. continue adding half&half or corn starch until you reach a chunky stew-like consistency. (remember you’ll be adding pasta in later, so you want enough liquid to coat pasta, but you want it thick and not runny so it’ll stick.)
  8. simmer until thickens. (there is always a delay with corn starch..)
  9. mix in grated parmesan.
  10. serve over pasta.

Baked Salmon:
  • lemon juice
  • pepper
  • dill
  • dijon mustard
  • garlic salt
Squeeze fresh lemon juice over fish. Thinly coat in dijon.  Sprinkle a bit of garlic salt, pepper (or lemon pepper if you like the extra acidity), and lots of dill. Place in aluminum foil lined pan and pour a dash of chicken broth into the pan. Just enough to cover bottom of pan. Bake @ 375F ~ 10min.
January 20, 2011

Sweet Potato Gnocchi + Gouda Cheese Sauce

Adapted from theNoshery! lovely site. beautiful pictures.

I honestly  dont remember what i did/didn’t follow on this recipe. but i do know i used store bought gnocchi ):

it was a weekday lunch! didn’t have time.

AND ran out of pretty green parsley.

oh well. despite all these set backs, it was still tasty enough for me to post on here for future reference.


  • easy with the flour and milk incorporation. i had a hard time with lumpies.
  • i used Old Dutch Masters gouda-like cheese. nutty, a bit sharp, and very rich flavor.
  • must learn how to pan fry the gnocchi after boiling. i want that toasty crisp exterior you get at restaurants. i could manage a satisfactory ‘crust,’ but upon moving it would just shed right off the gnocchi and stick to my pan. >:| will try again.

anyway, here it is:

October 23, 2010

Pumpkin and Spinach Pasta

yea. this is me putting off studying for pharmacology.


  • 1/4 small kabocha squash (japanese pumpkin)
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • ~1 tsp cinnamon
  • ~1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 handful of baby spinach
  • 1 serving spinach linguini
  • 1 tbs goat cheese
  • salt, pepper
  • fresh sage
  • 1/4 cup of milk or cream


  • preheat oven 400F
  • cut squash in half, scoop out seeds (roast these in the toaster oven with some cinnamon, salt, pepper, and nutmeg! mmmm…makes the house smell reeeally good). halve again lengthwise, then once more to form 8 wedges. then halve the wedges width-wise (?) into triangles. i used 8 wedges for this recipe and found it more than enough for a one person serving.
  • bake squash in oven for 20-30 min.
  • mince and saute shallots in butter. season with cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pepper. remove from heat and set aside.
  • in a small pot, boil water, cook linguini.
  • while linguini cooks, remove squash from oven (a fork should pierce wedges easily, but not sink into a mushy mass.) cut flesh off of skins (i used a paring knife), cut into cubes, and add to blender. add a dash of milk/cream, sautéed shallots, a couple leaves of fresh sage, and pulse until blended smooth. add more cream if you prefer a thinner consistency sauce. salt to taste. (but not too salty because goat cheese will add another layer of saltiness.)
  • reboil hot pasta water (yea i’m lazy) and cook a handful of spinach. remove when just wilting and plate on top of pasta.
  • spoon pumpkin puree over spinach.
  • add a tbs of goat cheese on top of puree (you can use any other type of cheese. mascarpone blended into the puree. grated hard cheese. be creative. i just always happen to have goat cheese in my fridge).
  • sprinkle on some toasted pine nuts and/or toasted pumpkin seeds.
  • i had a couple of extra wedges of roasted pumpkin so i added that to the plate too. you can also dump them into the blender with the rest of the pureed pumpkin, pulse a couple times, and have some nice chunks in the sauce.

now back to my drug list…

September 29, 2010

Tomato Seitan Ragu with Rapini and Basil Gnocchi

i am not a spontaneous person.

90% of the time when i set out to make a dish, i do mental preparation. at the least, i research existing recipes. at the most, i research technique, ingredient pairings, make and remake shopping lists. then spend way too much time at the grocery store buying shit i don’t need. but that’s another story.

70% of the time out of that 90%, the dish never turns out how i imagined.

i inTENDED to do a baked broccoli rabe and italian sausage casserole-like dish. in a basil-y tomato sauce. mmm.. perhaps with some ricotta and melted mozzarella on top. then i realized i don’t have a casserole dish and my le creuset doens’t come in until next week (and a week is so sO long when waiting for a le creuset…). so i decided perhaps i’ll do a cavetelli or ricotta gnocchi and screw the whole low carb business. but sadly enough whole foods HAD no ricotta gnocchi. or cavetelli. OR basil (wtf man.). so i got basil gnocchi. ok. fine. good compromise. but thEN i remembered i don’t even LIKE italian sausage. so i got me some seitan with italian seasoning. (if i’m gonna be eating carbs tonight, might as well cut back somewhere else, right?)


this was the result.


  • 1 pack frozen gnocchi *
  • large batch of broccoli rabe/chinese broccoli**
  • 1 pack (8 0z) of italian seasoned seitan.
  • 1 can tomato sauce (pre-seasoned)
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • thyme, parsley (optional)
  • comte cheese* **
  • salt

*shelf kind is powdery and gross.

**6 inch diameter, or roughly 25 small individual stalks. keep in mind, less flowering = less bitter. so says Mother Chen. i hack off the stems. leaves have more nutrition anyway.

***or whatever cheese floats your boat. but i find parmesan does not melt very well…i like comte because the nutty, slightly sweet flavor offsets the bitterness of broccoli rabe and the acidity of the tomatoes.


  • dice tomatoes and mince garlic
  • if using sausage, remove from casing
  • pan fry sausage in some olive oil, making sure to break up the pieces evenly.
  • add tomatoes, sauce, garlic, stir and simmer until tomatoes disintegrate.
  • wash broccoli. cut off stems and chop leaves so no piece is larger than ~ 3 inch
  • blanch for 1 – 2 min until just wilting. remove into ice bath.
  • check on sauce. add milk and sugar. stir and continue simmering.
  • re-boil the water and cook gnocchi as per package instructions.
  • drain broccoli and stir into sauce.
  • salt to taste. add more milk/chicken stock if sauce is too thick. add any other seasonings you like. (i added thyme and parsley)
  • plate sauce and grate on a generous topping of cheese. i mean like melting all over the place. this is not a garnish, folks.
  • top with gnocchi.
  • serve and EAT.

the gnocchi is kinda grey and ugly, but it tasted nice and basil-y! i think i would’ve been happier with a lighter, fluffier ricotta gnocchi. guess i’ll have to make some from scratch next time. you knoW… i DID find a rather promising recipe… perhaps i’ll start planning take II.

July 22, 2010

Sesame Peanut Pasta 涼麵

no pics today. sleepy. just jotting down recipe so i remember it. not copied from any one source. this is from much research and compiling many recipes to suit own tastes.



  • 1/3-1/2 cup extra crunchy PB
  • 3 tbs soy sauce (or about one part soy sauce, 3 parts PB)
  • 2 tbs tahini paste
  • 2 -3 tbs agave nectar (thinner, blends better than honey)
  • 1 tbs chinese vinegar (or other vinegar. not balsamic)
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, roasted in toaster oven and minced (raw = too sharp)
  • 1 chili pepper (seeds)


  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 lb chicken thigh
  • 1 batch (3 cm diameter?) linguini (i like spinach!)
  • 1/2 small cucumber, sliced thin
  • equal amounts of carrots (4 baby carrots), julienne
  • 1 green onion stalk, sliced thin
  • other option for toppings: eggs, beaten, pan fried as thin omelet, then slice into strips


  1. cut chicken into strips (easier if still slightly frozen)
  2. boil 1 inch of stock in pot, put chicken in, simmer.
  3. set aside when cooked.
  4. mix all ingredients for sauce
  5. add 1-2 tbs hot stock to melt/blend ingredients.
  6. cook pasta in salted water. drain, toss in ice cubes to cool to room temp.
  7. add chicken pieces and sliced cucumber + carrots, etc
  8. mix with sauce
  9. top with handful of green onions.
  10. serve room temp.
March 24, 2010

i am rather proud of how tonight’s dinner turned out

spinach linguini with yellow squash, crumbled goat cheese, and toasted almonds.
this was the result of my little trip to Central Market yesterday. (:

rather inconvenient that your average food item is not packaged for one. i suppose i will just have to find people to feed. (i have lots of basil goat cheese in my fridge right now and i am not entirely sure how i will use it all…)

next week i shall try the salmon + sweet potato brazilian fish stew recipe i found today. hoorah for having a big kitchen!

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