Comfort Pasta with Kale and Ground Beef

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What is it with pasta and the gazillion ways in which you can prepare them! They truly are a star pantry item!

I know I said I am going to try to get back on my healthy wagon, so I think you will appreciate this recipe. Yes, yes, it’s almost the end of January when most of the resolutions fall to the wayside. But, after trying this recipe, eating healthy may not be that difficult after all.

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This recipe is pretty simple, something I concocted while recovering from a mini version of the flu (thankfully short-lived due to Tamiflu). I didn’t quite have the energy to spend an hour in the kitchen, but at the same time didn’t want to be bed sofa-ridden for another meal. So, there I lay making a mental rundown on the items I had on hand, especially the pound of extra lean beef I was going to make chili with before I fell sick.

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So, now that the chili making was off the table till next weekend, I figured I should use up the beef in some form rather than freezing it. Pasta dish it will be! Kale, carrots, mushrooms, beef and a touch of cream and garlic! Simple, yet comforting enough!

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What are you waiting for? Grab the handful of ingredients this recipe calls for and whip up this dish while the pasta cooks! Yes, it is that simple! Go ahead and try it, you might actually end up planning to make it again soon!

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  • Servings: ”4″
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Ingredients
1/2 package pasta of your choice (I used penne)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 pound lean (or extra-lean) ground beef
1 small bunch kale, rinsed and broken into small pieces
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into small cubes
2 cups of slices mushrooms
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
dash of ground black pepper
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons of cream
1/4 cup grated parmesan
crushed red pepper, optional

Preparation
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Season with salt and cook pasta per directions.
2. In a large pot, heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Saute garlic and onion till translucent.
3. Add ground beef and brown the meat, breaking up any large clumps.
4. Add the carrots and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
5. Now, add the kale and mushrooms and saute for another 3-5 minutes.
6. Season with Italian seasoning, black pepper and salt per your taste.
7. Add the cream and grate the nutmeg.
8. Toss with pasta and serve with a sprinkling of parmesan and crushed red pepper, if desired.

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Super Moist Strawberry Bread

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Strawberries?? In January??? Not great, I know! But, they made it into my kitchen and now I needed to find a way to use them up. My kids, who would normally devour them at the first sight, didn’t seem to care too much for them! Perhaps with good reasons!

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I could have frozen them for future smoothies, but I had an urge for baking last weekend! My quest for a good recipe landed me at glazed strawberry bread. Sally’s Baking Addiction has bunch of great recipes and this one in particular hit the chord for using up my berries.

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I give her full credit for the recipe, although I did alter it a bit with substituting half the flour with whole wheat and adding in lemon zest in lieu of cinnamon. Also, I don’t like to overdo with the glaze, so my glaze is just a light drizzle.

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Like it is mentioned in the original recipe, this is a very moist strawberry cake bread. I will probably reduce the sugar a bit next time around – perhaps by a 1/4 cup. It is a great recipe to keep for a few days – that is if you can resist the temptation. Although I didn’t particularly detect the flavor getting more intense after a day (could be because my berries were not at their prime), the taste was still great after 3 days. Yes, we managed to keep ourselves in check!

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Do give this a try. It will be worth it!

  • Servings: ”12-14
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Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, preferably at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk (I made mine using vinegar and milk)
1/3 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 and 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, rinsed and diced into 1/4 inch cubes
1 tablespoon flour

Citrus Glaze (optional)
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan with a cooking spray and keep aside.
2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl and set aside while you mix the rest of the ingredients.
3. Whisk together the sugars and egg until well combined. Add buttermilk, oil, vanilla and lemon zest.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently fold to combine. Take care not to over mix.
5. Toss the chopped strawberries in a tablespoon of flour. Slowly fold in the berries into the batter, leaving a few to top the batter, if desired (as you can see, I did not do that in my attempt).
6. Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan and bake on the middle rack for 50-60 minutes. If you see that the top is getting brown too fast, loosely cover the pan with a piece of foil half way through and continue baking.
7. Test for doneness using a toothpick. Remove pan from oven, let cool for about 10 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
8. While the bread is cooling, prepare your glaze. Combine all the ingredients for the glaze till they are smooth and of desired consistency. Once the bread is completely cool, drizzle the glaze over the top.

Soy Glazed Chicken on a Stick

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Anything on a stick seems to elevate to the top when it comes to perfect finger foods that are enjoyed by all – although not all of them are good for you (was your first thought corndog??!). But this recipe is truly not that bad at all – especially if you use chicken breast although I used bones, skinless thighs!

I don’t know if this belongs to the true “chicken satay” category. I probably have most of the satay marinade ingredients in this, but this is more of a general Asian flavor than any one particular cuisine. Marinade consists of sweet soy sauce (it is like molasses – dark and thick), regular soy sauce, dark sesame oil, ginger, garlic, honey, rice wine vinegar and green onions.

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There is not much to this recipe. Hardest part is probably cleaning the chicken to remove all excess fat and slicing them into long strips. Other than that, you just let the chicken (on the stick) marinate for a while and cook! Don’t discard the marinade. Boil it up to make a delicious dipping sauce for your chicken on a stick!

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Soy Glazed Chicken on a Stick

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients
4 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 tablespoons sweet dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Cooking spray
12 short bamboo skewers
1 tablespoon peanut butter, optional (for sauce)

Preparation:
1. Begin by preparing the chicken. Trim off excess fat and slice into long strips, about 1″ wide. Thread the chicken pieces through the skewers. Set aside in a shallow dish while you prepare the meat. Alternatively, you can marinate the chicken and then thread through the skewers.
2. Prepare the marinade pan by mixing all the ingredients from dark soy sauce through crushed red pepper. Pour over the chicken, cover with plastic wrap and let marinate for about 15-20 minutes.
3. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Remove the skewers from the marinade and drain the marinade into a small sauce pan. Place the skewers in a single layer and cook for 5 minutes on each side. Test for doneness. Alternatively, you can grill the chicken as well.
4. Add about 1/4 cup of water to the marinade along with the peanut butter (if using). Bring to a slow simmer and continue cooking for about 3-5 minutes. If the sauce looks too thin, you can thicken it by adding a bit of cornstarch. Taste the sauce and adjust salt/sweetness per your taste.
5. Serve the chicken with the sauce and a side of rice or salad.

Tri-Flour Fluffy Pancake

 

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Happy New Year everyone! It’s been almost a year since I started with this blog! It’s been a whirlwind of an year, wouldn’t you agree! Anyway, as I start the first weekend of 2015, I couldn’t help but start with a post on an all-time favorite breakfast time! Pancakes! Yes, sure, it takes a bit of time in the kitchen, but don’t you think it is so worth it when you dig your fork into the pillowy soft yumminess!

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On those lazy mornings when I do have some time to linger over a good breakfast, I try to alternate between pancakes and waffles. I especially like pancakes because I don’t have to fuss with them like I need to with waffles! Also, I personally think there are countless more recipes for pancakes than waffles! So, for someone who likes frequent changes, pancakes are probably a better choice than waffles – although I guess you could top a basic waffle with a zillion different toppings. 🙂

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So, this recipe is one of those recipes I happened to try out when I was seeking a change from the mundane basic pancake. This one uses an equal blend of whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and fine yellow cornmeal. The pancake is made pillowy soft with the addition of sour cream and yogurt. And yes, it gets a touch of sweetness from honey!

Feel free to add in grated lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon for a lemony twist to these flapjacks! And top them off with a squeeze of lemon and powdered sugar! Just for this one, please move over syrup!

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Tri-Flour Fluffy Pancakes

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fine yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fat free plain yogurt
1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream
1 cup 1% milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon lemon zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice, optional

Preparation
1. Mix together all the dry ingredients and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine all the wet ingredients until well combined (tip: mix honey with melted butter first as yogurt, sour cream and milk will be too cold to incorporate it well)
3. Gently mix the wet and dry ingredients. If using lemon zest and juice, add them now as well. Don’t over mix, batter will be lumpy.
4. Let the batter sit while you preheat a griddle over medium heat.
5. When hot, dab with a touch of butter or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Add about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake and cook for 3 minutes. When the edges look set, flip and cook on the other side for another 3 minutes or so.
6. Stack the pancakes while you cook rest of the batter. Serve warm with your favorite syrup or a squeeze of lemon juice and powdered sugar.

Enjoy!