Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

Last Night Jenny

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

You know when your past self did something that makes your present self really happy.  Like the way Past Jenny cleaned her room before leaving for vacation.  That made Today Jenny very happy when she got home from her parents’ house.

The worst part of coming back from a trip is unpacking all of the wires that are absolutely critical to my ability to live life.  The phone charger.  The laptop power supply.  The iPad charger.  Can we say “first world problem”?

But also, I’m determined not to take more than one bag when I travel to my parents’ house.  I mean, one bag for my clothes/toiletries.  I have a bag for kitchen tools/ingredients.  And of course, a bag for wii games, computer, etc.  And then usually a cooler.  No biggie.  But sticking to one bag for clothes/toiletries is no small feat.  I’ve left out pajamas and just borrowed from my sister before.  I also never take shampoo of my own.  But my sister has much drier, much curlier hair than I do.  And she has the shampoo to counteract her hair-type.  The kind of shampoo that makes my hair a little crazy.  I’ve missed my shampoo.

While I was home for Thanksgiving, I cooked lunch for my brother and his family.  I made the easiest baked “pasta” in the whole world.

My mom turned me onto this, and it’s delicious.  It’s gluten free on top of that, and you’d barely even notice.  It’s a super simple baked pasta without any pasta.  Use butternut squash for the noodles.  Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

I wish it were more complicated, and I could post some fancy recipe.  But basically…

Baked “Pasta”

  • peeled discs of butternut squash (or half moon shapes from the bottom)
  • your favorite spaghetti sauce (with or without meat)
  • mozzarella cheese

Layer the squash and sauce.  Top with mozzarella.  Cover and cook at 350 for about an hour and a half or until tender.  Uncover and cook until the cheese is just starting to brown.  Just like that.

Sneaky Vegetables

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

That’s what Nate called this dish.  It’s ’cause he hates peas.  He’s done what he can to make SJ hate them as well.  It worked at first, too, but SJ’s resilient.  :)

The problem with vegetables these days is that they’re rarely integrated into the meal.  I’m trying not to get to education-y on you, but integration means that the veggies (and the rest of the dish) taste better because of them.  We don’t do this, though.  We throw veggies on the side, if at all, as a healthy afterthought.  Not the worst thing in the world, but not really appealing to kids (or grown-ups), either.  The creaminess of this sauce, matched with the spiciness of the pepper and sausage, demands the peas and carrots which offer texture, sweetness, and amazing flavor… not to mention health.  Sneak those veggies in!

Photo by ME!

Photo by ME!

So how’d I do it?

  • 1/2 lb. italian sausage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (you could probably got lighter, if you wanted)
  • red wine (optional)
  • 1 jar vodka sauce
  • black pepper
  • red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons “italian” seasoning
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 lb. penne pasta
  • cheese (LOTS of it!)

Brown the sausage.  Add the carrots, then the wine.  Let the wine evaporate as it simmers.  Add the vodka sauce and herbs and spices (go as spicy as you’re willing).  Simmer for a good little bit.  Right before it’s done, add the peas.

Cook the pasta.  You know what to do.

Combine the pasta and the sauce in a baking dish.  Top with oodles of cheese.  I wanted to use Fontina, but they were out at the store.  I opted for mozzarella and Parmesan instead.  Bake at 425 until the cheese is melted and starting to brown.

Blind Date

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Our favorite pasta recipe went out last night.  It seemed only fitting that sausage would be the highlight.  I browned the sausage and then placed on a paper towel lined plate.  I then cooked the onions and garlic in the same pan.  The recipe went on as usual, only I added broccoli and sundried tomatoes when I dumped in the pasta.  The tomatoes were plumped up nicely, and the broccoli cooked perfectly.  I threw in the sausage at the last minute.

Photo by Nathan Clendenin

Photo by Nathan Clendenin

All in all, a success.  No extra seasoning… no fuss.  I highly recommend it.

… some kind of day…

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

I rushed out of the house without breakfast this morning.  I didn’t realize until I was halfway to work, but didn’t stress at all because there’s a cafe in the lobby of my building.  I figured I would just grab a bagel or something.

When I arrived, I parked my car, and enjoyed walking to the building in the rain.  I had an umbrella, and I felt quite sophisticated today.  My hair was doing something nice; I was wearing my favorite coat for the first time this season; and I was wearing my favorite pair of pants which are super comfy but also do very kind things to my body, I think.  And then I stepped in a puddle.  My ankles were soaked, my shoes water-logged.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t look too sophisticated then.  The cafe was closed “due to illness”, and I grumpily made my way to the elevator.  The elevators in our building have mirrors on all four side, and the last thing I need at 8 a.m. is that much Jenny to look at.  Today, I didn’t expect it to be so bad, until I saw that I totally forgot to put on mascara this morning.  That’s right, dark eye liner, no mascara.

The day progressed rather similarly, with huge projects that hurt to think about for too long and a constant balancing act between being critical enough to help people improve and not making them angry.  I was bummed to miss the “5:20 funny” on the radio, even though I was in the car by 5:18.  I also unintentionally made a rather inappropriate gesture at work this evening – thank goodness only my office mate was around and brought it to my attention.

Somewhere in the midst of this day, I decided I needed “comfort food”.  Biscuits, for sure, how about macaroni and cheese too?  And what if there were sausage in the mac ‘n’ cheese?  And some brocoli? And so a meal was conceived.

Nathan Clendenin does not take credit for this photo

Nathan Clendenin will not take credit for this photo

I’m much too ashamed to tell you what is in it.  All I can say is that this was one of the heaviest meals I’ve ever had.  Surprisingly so, too.  I got turkey sausage and whole grain noodles.  It was quite delicious, nonetheless, and definitely hit the spot.  As with anything I make, there turns out to be about 4 times more than I intended, so I’ll be eating the leftovers for days.  Yikes!

... nor this one

... nor this one

Still, it was loads of fun to make, and even more fun to eat.

“Open Relationship” Pasta

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

This is one of my favorite recipes, and I was absolutely floored when I realized the other day that I had never made it for my roommates.  Over two months, and never this super easy, totally versatile pasta recipe?  I repeat recipes like it’s my job, so this was quite the surprise.

Pesto Asparagus Pasta

Photo by Nathan Clendenin

The Pesto Asparagus Pasta was delicious, but it was only the “flavor of the week”. That’s what makes this pasta so special. This basic recipe yields delicious, flavorful, creamy pasta that can be changed according to your mood. Toss in whatever vegetables are in your fridge, throw in your favorite seasoning blend, be a bit more creative and try your own ideas. … because this pasta likes to keep her options open.

Recipe for “Open Relationship” Pasta

Time: 30 minutes


  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ground black pepper
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 c. white wine (optional)
  • 2 c. chicken broth
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/2 lb. pasta
  • 1-2 T. lemon juice
  • 1/2 c. parmesan cheese

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat in large skillet.  Add black and red pepper.  Stir in wine, and cook until the liquid is almost all gone.  Stir in chicken broth, milk, and pasta.  (This is when I usually add the seasoning.)  Cover and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until pasta is tender.  (I wait until the last possible moment to add any veggies, and as much as I hate doing dishes, I even spring for the extra pan to cook the vegetables in to ensure they are tender, but not mushy.)  Stir in lemon juice and parmesan cheese.

*Note that the entire recipe is very vague.  It’s meant to be adjusted according to your preferences.  I like spicier pasta, so I usually go a little heavy on the black pepper.  If that’s not your style, don’t.  It’s up to you.