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Quick & Easy Mediterranean Pasta

Let me start this post by saying I made G a double layer ice cream cake for his bday last weekend. Eating that cake was the second most excited I saw him in the last 2 days. The MOST excited was when the Kentucky Wildcats won the NCAA championship last night. GO CATS!!!!

Last night I was heading to Hooters (where I, incidentally, ate some fried pickles) to watch the game with him so I had to throw together a quick dinner for the girls. This is the fastest pasta dish in the world.

SO easy. Everything is available at Trader Joe’s. In fact, I got this idea from Trader Joe’s as they used to have a pasta in a box with these ingredients except you had to add a whole s-ton of olive oil & water to the dehydrated stuff for the dressing. M used to love it but all good things came to an end as they do at TJ’s and they no longer sell it.

1. Chop pitted olives as small as you like them. Same with the tomatoes. Mine came julienned so I just left them alone!

2. Cook your pasta of choice according to package directions.

3. Drain pasta & then return to pot. Add the olives, tomatoes & a handful of crumbled feta.

Toss & salt to taste. I added a couple of tablespoons of olive oil too!

Not the prettiest dish but VERY tasty & simple!

 

Quick & Easy Mediterranean Pasta
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4
 

Pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives & crumbled feta. When you have exactly 20 minutes to make dinner and no fresh veg in the house!
Ingredients
  • 1 lb pasta
  • 2 TBSP olive oil (or to taste)
  • 1 c julienned sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 c chopped kalamata olives
  • ¾ c crumbled feta

Instructions
  1. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions.
  2. Drain & then return to pot.
  3. Add tomatoes, olives & feta & toss to combine.
  4. Taste & adjust amounts to your liking including a pinch of salt if needed.

 

Israeli Couscous Salad with Pine Nuts & Parsley

You know those days dinner sneaks up on you yet you STILL refuse to boil noodles again? This is the dish for those days…

Wait: isn’t couscous a form of pasta? D’OH!!!! At least some veggies have snuck in here. Or is it sneaked?

You need:

INGREDIENTS:
1 TBSP butter
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 c pine nuts
1/2 c shallots (or onion if you have no shallots), finely chopped
1-1/2 c Israeli couscous
1/2 cinnamon stick (or 1/4 tsp cinnamon)
1 dried bay leaf
1-3/4 c vegetable broth (I used vegetarian chicken flavored bouillon)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c fresh parsley, minced
1/2 – 1 zucchini, finely chopped (OPTIONAL)
zest of 1/2 lemon
black pepper, to taste
small handful of crumbled feta cheese

NOTE: you can omit the zucchini or substitute any other veg you want to use up: broccoli, carrots, corn, frozen veg, greens (add these just before the broth as they need a shorter cooking time). Just be sure the veg is chopped finely.

This is so easy. I didn’t take pictures of the process as I was in a huge rush to feed the girls.

1. Over medium-low heat, melt butter in a large saucepan. Add pine nuts & stir until golden brown. WARNING: only a minute or two max! Remove from heat & put aside in a small bowl.

2. Using the same saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Saute shallots until golden (for about 3-4 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add zucchini or whatever other veg you have on hand! Cook for another minute or two. Add couscous, cinnamon stick and bay leaf, and stir often until couscous browns slightly. Yes, the couscous is uncooked when you first put it in!

3. Add broth, bring to a boil, then simmer covered on low until broth has been absorbed and couscous is tender.

4. Remove from heat and stir in parsley, pine nuts, lemon zest & feta. Season with black pepper to taste.

This is REALLY yummy and great the next day!

Maddie is on a high carb diet.

Israeli Couscous Salad with Pine Nuts & Parsley
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 2-4
 

Tasty warm salad or side dish! You can adjust the amount of veggie to your liking.
Ingredients
  • INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • ½ c pine nuts
  • ½ c shallots (or onion if you have no shallots), finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 c Israeli couscous
  • ½ cinnamon stick (or ¼ tsp cinnamon)
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1-3/4 c vegetable broth (I used vegetarian chicken flavored bouillon)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ c fresh parsley, minced
  • ½ – 1 zucchini, finely chopped (OPTIONAL)
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • black pepper, to taste
  • small handful of crumbled feta cheese
  • NOTE: you can omit the zucchini or substitute any other veg you want to use up: broccoli, carrots, corn, frozen veg, greens (add these just before the broth as they need a shorter cooking time). Just be sure the veg is chopped finely.

Instructions
  1. Over medium-low heat, melt butter in a large saucepan. Add pine nuts & stir until golden brown. WARNING: only a minute or two max! Remove from heat & put aside in a small bowl.
  2. Using the same saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Saute shallots until golden (for about 3-4 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add zucchini or whatever other veg you have on hand! Cook for another minute or two. Add couscous, cinnamon stick and bay leaf, and stir often until couscous browns slightly. Yes, the couscous is uncooked when you first put it in!
  3. Add broth, bring to a boil, then simmer covered on low until broth has been absorbed and couscous is tender.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in parsley, pine nuts, lemon zest & feta. Season with black pepper to taste.

Notes
This would be enough for 2 people as a main dish or 4 as a side. Great for leftovers!

Guess where I got this? The back of the Trader Joe’s package!! I don’t trust these things normally but this is great. I just made a few adjustments.

Chunky Cauliflower Cheddar Soup

Hoo boy – I bought this head of cauliflower at the Farmer’s Market on Wednesday because it was $1.00. I thought I’d roast it and eat it, standing at the counter, while the kids ate their noodles. But then I realized, since I had a loaf of rustic bread all ready to pop into the oven, I better make a soup to go with it.

Last time I did a cauliflower soup, it was a creamy one with cheddar cheese and a potato. Alas, I had no potatoes having used them up in my Gardener’s Pie last week so I checked out another recipe. It was easy! I was able to do this while unloading the dishwasher, helping someone to various art supplies spread far & wide across the house, and picking up all the toys scattered across the backyard.

But I’m glad you didn’t see the kitchen/house afterwards!

YOU NEED:

INGREDIENTS:
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2-3 carrots, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1-1/2 heads cauliflower, roughly chopped (I only had 1)
2 tsp fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried parsley flakes)
2 quarts low-sodium vegetable broth (I used Vegetarian Chicken Bullion)
2 tsp dijon mustard
2/3 c grated cheddar cheese
4 TBSP butter
2 c whole milk
6 TBSP all purpose flour
OPTIONAL: 1 c half & half

1. Saute onion in olive oil over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until browning, stirring occasionally.

2. Add carrots & celery and cook for another 4 minutes.

I used a red onion because I had it! To me, it made no difference.

Lookit how cute and tinily diced those carrots & celery are.

Tinily?

3. Add the cauliflower & parsley. Hoo boy it’s time for me to get a new parsley plant. I need two going at all times as my poor parsley can’t keep up with the demands placed upon it. This is all I could get!

That “undead” finger is actually my pinky. So photogenic!

I only had one head of cauliflower but next time I’ll use 1-1/2 heads as my soup needed more.

Turn heat way down, cover & cook for about 15 minutes on LOW. Feel free to stir every so often.

4. Add 1 or 1-1/2 quarts of the broth. Save that last 1/2 quart to decide if you need it or not depending on how you like your soup. Heat to boiling, then turn down heat and simmer.

5. Melt butter in a small saucepan. I used the same soup pot I started my soup in until realizing that pot was way too small. So there are a few onions in there. No bigs!

6. Now whisk your milk & flour together. Add that mixture to the melted butter, stirring to combine. **Now here’s an option for you: add 1 c half & half to the white sauce you just made. I didn’t do that b/c I never have half & half in my house.** You will have a thickened sauce. Pour that milk/flour/butter mixture into the soup and stir.

7. Add 2 tsp dijon mustard to the soup as well as 2/3 c grated cheddar cheese. I think mine needed the cheese because I used 1% milk instead of whole milk. If you use whole milk AND half & half, you might want to omit the cheese. Or add it! What, me worry?

Let soup simmer for another 15 minutes. Add salt & black pepper to taste!

Serve with rustic bread

& grated cheddar to top.

Thank you.

Bea ate 2 bowls of soup. Btw: who noticed the dog bite on her (camera) left cheek?

 

Cauliflower Cheddar Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 6
 

Hearty, cheesy soup that goes perfectly with a crusty piece of bread on a cold night!
Ingredients
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1-1/2 heads cauliflower, roughly chopped (I only had 1)
  • 2 tsp fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried parsley flakes)
  • 2 quarts low-sodium vegetable broth (I used Vegetarian Chicken Bullion)
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • ⅔ c grated cheddar cheese
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 2 c whole milk
  • 6 TBSP all purpose flour
  • OPTIONAL: 1 c half & half

Instructions
  1. Saute onion in olive oil over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until browning, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add carrots & celery and cook for another 4 minutes.
  3. Add the cauliflower & parsley.
  4. Turn heat way down, cover & cook for about 15 minutes on LOW. Feel free to stir every so often.
  5. Add 1 or 1-1/2 quarts of the broth. Save that last ½ quart to decide if you need it or not depending on how you like your soup. Heat to boiling, then turn down heat and simmer.
  6. Melt butter in a small saucepan.
  7. Now whisk your milk & flour together. Add that mixture to the melted butter, stirring to combine. **Now here’s an option for you: add 1 c half & half to the white sauce you just made. (For extra creaminess…)** Regardless of the half & half, you will have a thickened sauce. Pour that milk/flour/butter mixture into the soup and stir.
  8. Add 2 tsp dijon mustard to the soup as well as ⅔ c grated cheddar cheese. I think mine needed the cheese because I used 1% milk instead of whole milk. If you use whole milk AND half & half, you might want to omit the cheese. Or add it! What, me worry?
  9. Let soup simmer for another 15 minutes. Add salt & black pepper to taste!
  10. Serve with rustic bread & grated cheddar to top.

Notes
If soup is too chunky, puree ⅓rd of it using a blender or immersion blender. Be CAREFUL if you use a regular blender as the heat can make it explode out! It never happened to me – it happened to a “friend” of mine.

Adapted from two different recipes at The Pioneer Woman & Annie’s Eats.

Red Cabbage & Carrot Slaw (No Mayo!)

This afternoon I wrestled two tiny heads of red cabbage out of the garden. They’d stayed about the same size for two weeks now so I assumed they were DONE. Since all I had in my cupboard were some carrots, onions and a ginormous bag of CA grown garlic (COSTCO!!! wink wink), I looked on the internets and found this mayo-less slaw. You remember a few weeks ago I posted a mayo-friendly broccoli slaw. G did not like that one. Here’s this one, G. Just for you, Baby!

You need:


Looks like I am plumb out of maple syrup but I had another full one in the cabinet. Also, forgot to put the sesame seeds in the pic.

INGREDIENTS:
Slaw
1/2 a red cabbage (I used a whole one since my cabbages were so teeny tiny), sliced thin
2 medium carrots, shredded (I used 4 small ones)
1 small onion, sliced thin
3 green onions, sliced
Dressing
2-1/2 TBSP rice vinegar
1 TBSP maple syrup
1 TBSP crushed red pepper (OR hot chili paste)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp salt
2 TBSP toasted sesame seeds

1. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust anything to your wildest desires! It will be kind of thick due to the sesame seeds. Yum!

2. Combine slaw ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle 3/4ths of the dressing over it and toss to coat. Add more if desired!

3. Let your slaw sit for about 15 minutes before serving if you have the time!

TASTY!!!

Red Cabbage & Carrot Slaw (No Mayo!)
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4
 

For the non mayo lovers in your house/party – a refreshing, slaw with some ZING!!
Ingredients
  • Slaw
  • ½ a red cabbage (I used a whole one since my cabbages were so teeny tiny), sliced thin
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded (I used 4 small ones)
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • Dressing
  • 2-1/2 TBSP rice vinegar
  • 1 TBSP maple syrup (or agave or ½ TBSP brown sugar)
  • 1 TBSP crushed red pepper (OR hot chili paste)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 TBSP toasted sesame seeds

Instructions
  1. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust anything to your wildest desires!
  2. Combine slaw ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle ¾ths of the dressing over it and toss to coat. Add more if desired!
  3. Let your slaw sit for about 15 minutes before serving if you have the time!

Slightly adapted from Korean American Mommy.

Shaved Fennel Salad

 

Hope you all had fun last weekend! All I remember doing was jumping in a jumper with a bunch of little kids and hiking in the noon day sun WITHOUT sunscreen or hats. Real smart.

Here’s a tasty, simple little salad I made last Friday. I saw the fennel at the farmer’s market last Wednesday and at $1 a bulb it seemed a good deal.

You know who got me into fennel? My dad. He makes a really good salad.

Here’s what you need:

INGREDIENTS:
1 medium-large zucchini, sliced into paper thin coins
2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed & shaved paper thin (or as thin as you can get them!)
2/3 c loosely chopped fresh dill
1/3 c fresh lemon juice (about 3 juicy lemons)
salt
4 or 5 generous handfuls of arugula
1/2 c pine nuts, toasted
1/3 c feta cheese, crumbled
OPTIONAL: Honey

1. Combine the fennel, zucchini and dill in a bowl.

Toss with the lemon juice, olive oil, and 1/4 tsp salt.

Just EXACTLY enough lemon juice, any extra carelessly spilled

Set aside and let marinate for 20 minutes, or up to an hour.

2. Just before serving salad, put the arugula in a large bowl. This is also from my garden – from last summer if you can believe it. It’s been producing since then. Wow!

3. Scoop all of the marinating veg on top of the arugula and pour as much of the lemon juice dressing as desired on top of that. Toss gently. Adjust dressing to your taste with more lemon juice, salt or pepper. If the lemon juice is too sour – add a bit of honey.

 

Not THIS!!!

4. Sprinkle pine nuts & feta on top & toss gently. Serve!

Shaved Fennel Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4
 

Light, tangy, crunchy salad!
Ingredients
  • 1 medium-large zucchini, sliced into paper thin coins
  • 2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed & shaved paper thin (or as thin as you can get them!)
  • ⅔ c loosely chopped fresh dill
  • ⅓ c fresh lemon juice (about 3 juicy lemons)
  • salt
  • 4 or 5 generous handfuls of arugula
  • ½ c pine nuts, toasted
  • ⅓ c feta cheese, crumbled
  • OPTIONAL: Honey

Instructions
  1. Combine the fennel, zucchini and dill in a bowl. Toss with the lemon juice, olive oil, and ¼ tsp salt. Set aside and let marinate for 20 minutes, or up to an hour.
  2. Just before serving salad, put the arugula in a large bowl.
  3. Scoop all of the marinating veg on top of the arugula and pour as much of the lemon juice dressing as desired on top of that. Toss gently. Adjust dressing to your taste with more lemon juice, salt or pepper. If the lemon juice is too sour – add a bit of honey.
  4. Sprinkle pine nuts & feta on top & toss gently. Serve!

 

Source: Super Natural Every Day



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