Categories
Domestic Church Recipes

Pasta with Stuff

We have a recipe in our family, it’s called pasta with stuff.

Clue’s in the name. It’s pasta with whatever stuff you have in the cupboard or fridge. There’s always a tin of tomatoes, so that goes in first, with some leftover veg (onion, carrot, spinach, pretty much anything can get thrown in there). Some meat, if it needs using up, or a tin of tuna. Olives, if I’m feeling fancy and they’re there; same goes for capers. Let it all bubble together in a pan whilst the pasta cooks, stir together, and you’re sorted. Bonus points if there’s some cheese in the fridge to sprinkle on top.

It’s not glamorous, but it’s cheap, easy, and on the table quickly. Best of all, I can use what we already have, which means I don’t have to go shopping. Win. When I’m busy, tired, ill, or just plain lazy, we have pasta with stuff.

But I always feel a slight twinge of guilt when putting pasta with stuff on the table. It’s not exciting or fancy, it really is the bare minimum required to be called cooking. Usually, I enjoy cooking – it’s my love language, the way I show my husband, family and friends that I care about them, as well as my creative outlet and general relaxation time. Serving pasta with stuff, the very laziest of meals, seems like a cheap getout, like I’m offering the diners the very least of what I can do.

So when my husband asked what was for supper a few weeks ago, I admitted rather apologetically that it would be, “Pasta with stuff.”

To my intense surprise, his face lit up. “Ooh! My favourite!”

I was baffled. I had spent hours fretting that pasta with stuff wouldn’t be good enough, that he deserved something much more elaborate. I couldn’t justify not doing something bigger; after all, I had been at home all day. But sure enough, when suppertime came round he was just as excited for a plate of pasta with stuff as he would have been for any three-course fancy meal I could have placed in front of him.

How often do we waste our worries on things that those that love us most care about the least? Those extra few pounds you grimace at in the mirror is exactly what your children love when they come for a cuddle. Those lines around your lips that you hate reminds your husband of many hours spent laughing, smiling, sharing jokes and cuddles.

Those prayers offered up, muttered quickly or half-asleep because you were so busy cleaning up messes all day, might be the ones God loves most. They’re offered from the heart, and mean as much as a perfectly sung Angelus. Offering our best doesn’t mean being perfect; it means being imperfect, acknowledging our flaws, and doing what we can anyway. And we need to trust in God – and God’s people around us – that we will be loved, not in spite of our flaws, but because of them.

God sees the good in all of us. He sees the beauty in our scars, our exhaustion, our frequent stumbles. He doesn’t merely overlook them, he cherishes them as what makes us each unique children of His.

And at the end of the day, I think that God enjoys pasta with stuff as much as he does a lobster bisque followed by steak and chocolate cheesecake.

Recipe: Pasta with Stuff

Time: about 20 mins

Serves: as many as you like

Occasion: lazy mid-week meal

Ingredients

Pasta, any shape, enough for however many you’re cooking for

Oil, butter, or cooking spray

Onion

Garlic cloves – to taste!

Tinned tomatoes – one tin serves around 3-4 people, depending on how much other ‘stuff’ you’re adding

Vegetables – whatever you have in the fridge. Carrot, mushrooms, and spinach are some of my favourites in this dish.

Optional: meat, such as bacon, chorizo or ham; sausages; minced beef; alternatively prawns or tinned tuna if you prefer fish

Optional: added extras such as anchovies, olives, capers, sundried tomatoes, chillis, wine, herbs – or whatever takes your fancy!

Optional: parmesan cheese, to serve

1.       Put the pasta water on to boil and salt generously.

2.       Chop the onion and fry it in a little oil, butter, or spray until soft. Chop the rest of the vegetables and add to the pan.

3.       Add the meat, if using, and allow to brown.

4.       Pour in the tinned tomatoes and stir until well mixed.

5.       Add the fish, if using instead of meat.

6.       Add any extras that you’d like – including the wine! Allow to bubble, stirring regularly.

7.       Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste, and add the crushed garlic.

8.       Put the pasta in the pan and cook for 8-10 minutes until al dente.

9.       Drain the pasta, add the sauce and serve with parmesan cheese.

If you give this a go yourself, let me know what ingredients you added! I’d love to know if you went more adventurous than me, or tried some completely new flavours. 

Categories
Ink Slingers

Curried Chicken Salad

 

 

The last several months have taken a toll on all of us and has left many of us feeling a bit helpless. While the world rages on one thing we can do is turn inward and minister to our families. We can make our homes a safe and peaceful harbor. When I’m having a particularly difficult time in my life I turn to creative cooking as a positive outlet and as a way of nourishing my family–body and soul. One of our favorite summer meals is a simple chicken salad. Recently I’ve experimented with my tried and true recipe and given it a fresh and spicy twist by adding fried curry spices to the dressing. The result is quite lovely and a big hit with my family.

3 split, bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 small shallot; diced

1 clove garlic; minced

1/2 inch ginger root; peeled and grated

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup mayonaise

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional garnishes: grapes, apple, pistachios, goat cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and bake for one hour or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Remove and rest until cool enough to handle. Remove skin and bones and discard. Cut breast meat into 1/2 inch chunks and place in a large bowl. Refrigerate while the dressing is being made.

In a small skillet melt coconut oil over medium high heat. Add shallots along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and sauté about 5 minutes until soft and golden brown. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for about 30 seconds. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining spices. Sauté and stir an additional 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant and sizzling. Remove from heat and spoon into a small bowl. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes. Add mayonnaise, lemon juice and stir together. Pour dressing over cooled chicken and stir, adding salt and pepper to taste. Chill for at least an hour, allowing the flavors to meld. Serve over a bed of greens and garnish with halved grapes, diced apple, pistachios, and crumbled goat cheese.

Categories
Domestic Church Maurisa Recipes

Light and Refreshing Ceviche

Light and Refreshing Ceviche

I regularly participate in the Catholic Sistas’ “What’s for Dinner” daily post on Facebook. Recently, I posted a comment stating our dinner that evening would be ceviche. Another poster wanted to know what ceviche was and I explained quickly in response and then decided to post the entire recipe here.

Ceviche is a seafood dish in which small pieces of raw fish are cured in citrus juice, thus “cooking” the fish. This dish is quick, easy, refreshing, and even our eight year old will devour it. It has become one of our favorite summer Friday meals. We usually serve this dish over a bed of greens with chips and salsa on the side. Sweet, cold, juicy slices of watermelon round out the meal quite nicely.

1 pound shrimp; cleaned, peeled, and cut into 1 inch pieces
12-24 limes; juiced (12 regular limes or 24 key limes); juiced
1 English cucumber; diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium jalapeño; seeded and diced into very small pieces
1/2 red onion; diced into very small pieces
2 small Roma tomatoes; diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 bunch cilantro; roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Place shrimp into a large bowl and cover with lime juice and let sit, stirring occasionally for 10-20 minutes to “cook”. The shrimp will become firm and opaque as it cures. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Ceviche can be served immediately, or refrigerated for a few hours and served chilled. For food safety it is important to prepare and consume while fresh and will not keep beyond a day in the fridge. Serves 4 as a main dish or 8 as an appetizer.

I absolutely love summer salads, and while Ceviche isn’t a salad per se, I like to serve it as one. The following links are really great summer salad recipes.

Chicken Caesar Salad

Waldorf Salad

The Hungry Man’s Salad: Salad Niçoise

Turkey BLT Salad

Rosemary Chicken, Bacon and Avocado Salad

Chicken Shawarma Salad with Tahini Dressing

Chipotle BBQ Chicken Salad with Tomatillo Avocado Ranch

Thai Beef Salad

If you have a favorite go-to summer salad or dish we’d love you to share it with us in the combox.

Categories
Domestic Church Ink Slingers Maurisa Recipes Resources

Super Simple Sheet-pan Suppers

 

We are one month into a new school year. Are y’all as crazy busy as my family? Looking at my calendar I’m seeing only one weekday night per week in which we have nothing scheduled. How did that happen?

If your family life is anything like ours, dinner can get pretty tricky. Back in the day, crockpot cooking was the solution for busy families, and I definitely have several tried and true crockpot dinners in our rotation. Honestly, though, slow cookery is not my favorite. Today it seems Instapot cooking is all the rage, but I have resisted the pull; mostly because the idea of a pressure cooker freaks me out a little. Recently I’ve discovered sheet-pan roasting and I am in love. An entire supper, fit to feed a crowd, roasted together on one pan and ready in 20-40 minutes. Amen!

Have you tried sheet-pan cooking? If not, I’m sharing my favorite variations today. If you have, feel free to share your favorite recipes in the comments.

Chicken recipes

Moroccan Sheet Pan Chicken

Thai Peanut Coconut Chicken with Pineapple

Greek Chicken with Green Beans and Feta

Jamaican Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

Sheet Pan Cuban Chicken with Citrus Avocado Salsa

Cashew Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

Spanish Chicken with Chorizo and Potatoes

Sheet Pan Chicken and Potato Dinner

Sheet Pan Shawarma

30 Minute Sheet Pan Chicken with Veggies

Extra Crispy Whole Roast Chicken

Sheet Pan Maple Mustard Roasted Chicken

Pork recipes

Baked Apple Pork Chops and Green Beans

Italian Sausage Sheet Pan Dinner

Baked Thin Pork Chops and Veggies

Roasted Vegetable Medley with Sausage

Easy Roasted Pork Tenderloin and Sweet Potatoes

Oktoberfest Sheet Pan Brats with Roasted Vegetables

Beef recipes

Sheet Pan Philly Cheese Steaks

Flank Steak with Garlic Roasted Potatoes

One Pan Broiled Spicy Steak Bites

Deconstructed Sheet Pan Marinated Teriyaki Beef Kabobs

Dump-and-Bake Chinese Pepper Steak

Sheet Pan Steak and Potatoes

Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas

Fish recipes

Roasted Salmon, Fennel, and Bok Choy

Herb Butter Salmon with Blistered Tomatoes and Green Beans

Honey Mustard Salmon with Rainbow Veggies

Sheet Pan Shrimp Boil

Sheet Pan Garlic and Lemon Shrimp, Asparagus, and Fingerling Potatoes

Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas

20-Minute Sheet Pan Shrimp Tacos

Baked Halibut, Mediterranean Style

Lemon Pepper Baked Cod and Vegetables

 

Categories
Domestic Church Ink Slingers Maurisa Recipes

Chicken Caesar Salad

 

During the dog days of summer I could eat salad every day. There is just something about the crisp refreshing flavors of garden fresh greens and veggies that I crave. One of our family favorites is Chicken Caesar Salad. Over the years I’ve perfected our home recipe which relies on a homemade dressing, baked garlic croutons, and velveted chicken.

 

Creamy Caesar-Style Dressing

I make homemade mayo from the eggs our hens lay, but any jarred mayo will do. You may need to add a touch more olive oil and vinegar to get the right consistency.

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I make my own but any mayo will do)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
3 anchovy fillets packed in oil; rinsed and patted dry
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients in a blender. Pour into a container and refrigerate while preparing the rest of the salad ingredients.

 

Croutons

6 slices bread of your choice; remove the crusts and cut the remaining bread into 1-inch cubes
1 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP melted unsalted butter
1/2-1 tsp garlic powder
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Toss bread cubes with olive oil, garlic powder, and salt. Spread evenly in one layer onto a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning every five minutes until cubes are golden brown and crispy. Set aside.

 

Velveted Chicken

Velveting the chicken before sautéing makes for a crisp caramelized exterior and a tender juicy interior. It is important that you do not use a non-stick skillet as the chicken will not properly caramelize.

5 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut evenly into bite sized pieces
2 TBSP avocado oil*
2 TBSP cornstarch
2TBSP all purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl stir together the oil, cornstarch, flour, and salt and pepper. Add chicken pieces and toss until thinly and evenly coated with the mixture.

In a large skillet heat a couple teaspoons of oil until shimmering. Working in batches add the chicken in a single layer with plenty of space between pieces so the chicken will brown evenly. Allow chicken to cook without moving or stirring for 3 minutes. Using tongs turn each chunk to cook on each remaining side until golden brown on all sides and cooked completely through 8-10 minutes in total. Remove chicken from pan to a platter. Add a bit more oil before adding another batch of chicken. Repeat entire process until all the chicken has been cooked. Depending on the size of your pan it may take 2-3 batches to complete. Set chicken aside as you assemble the salad.

 

To assemble the salad:

Cut up 2-3 heads of romaine lettuce. On each plate place 2 cups of lettuce and a large scoop of chicken. Top with Caesar dressing, grated parmesan, and croutons.

In the fall and winter I might add homemade artisan bread to round out the meal. In the summer cool, crisp watermelon is our goto side.

*I just recently learned that cooking EVOO at high heat ruins beneficial nutrients it contains. I’ve switched to avocado oil for cooking, which can handle medium to high heat without destroying it’s nutritional benefits.