Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Two For The Price of One...

Flying solo for a few days this week, I thought it would be a great time to get a couple of "easy breezy" recipes knocked out. Not really "two for the price of one" as there is no money in this...however, it meets my immediate objective to get my own dinner on the table AND it gets our oldest a few more quickies to go to when it's seven at night and you want to eat but you don't want to spend a ton of time. One recipe is a pasta I've made many times when there was little time (or interest) in getting dinner on the table; the other is a new "punt" based on a great lunch I had with a friend. The common denominators: 15 to 30 minutes, start to finish, and spaghetti pasta!

I made a double batch of the pasta and simply added it to the creamy spaghetti I made on the second night, until it was warmed through.

Recipe one is Creamy Spaghetti with Peas and Bacon. I used a brown rice spaghetti but you can use any spaghetti you like. And I used turkey bacon; however, any bacon would taste great! The peas? The frozen variety. So, as you can see, all the ingredients are ones you keep in your fridge, pantry, or freezer so it's an easy go-to dinner...and, truly, I think it may take maybe 20 minutes tops.

While I made this for one, I've bumped it up to four servings for the recipe below...multiply or divide as needed. It's so simple and the ingredients so easy to pull from your kitchen that this dish is a breeze to make for one person or several...

Creamy Spaghetti with Peas and Bacon
serves 4

1 16-oz package spaghetti pasta (I used brown rice spaghetti) may have some left over
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil (less or more as needed for type of bacon used)
1 12-oz package turkey bacon, cut into cubes (less or more depending on how much "meat" you want)
3/4-1 pint half and half (I've used 2% milk or heavy whipping cream...whatever I had)
1 16-oz bag of frozen petite green peas
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese to garnish

1. Bring a pot of water to boil, add salt and drop your pasta in to cook. (Depending on the type of pasta you use, this should take 5-9 minutes...until al dente.) I'll often add pasta direct from the pot; however, the brown rice pasta creates a very starchy water so I drain the pasta before adding it to my bacon/pea mixture.

2. While your pasta cooks, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add turkey bacon and cook until browned (about 2-3 minutes). Reduce heat to low and add half and half after a minute or so (just so your cream doesn't bubble too much right off the bat). Add the half and half gradually, using the entire pint if you want it super creamy and saucy. Add peas and increase heat again to medium-high. Cook until warmed through and taste to see how much salt and pepper are needed. The bacon adds saltiness so it's good to give it a taste before adding your seasoning. Cook just until your peas have cooked through. Turn off heat and wait until your pasta is ready.

3. When pasta is done, drain/rinse it or add direct (whatever you prefer) to the pea/bacon mixture. Turn heat on to low and warm through to meld flavors...just a minute or so. Plate and add a shaving of parmigiano reggiano! 

Number two in this double header is Spicy Stir-fried Veggies and Crispy Tofu over Noodles. Okay...before we go any further, you HAVE to give this tofu "deal-eo" a try (assuming you aren't already a fan). I was never a real fan...then I tasted a few dishes where the tofu was well-seasoned and fried to crispy nuggets and I thought...I kinda like-a. I also love it in miso soup, though it's not crispy. However, the soup is so flavorful that the tofu is nicely of it's great qualities --assuming the flavors of what it's paired with. If you just can't go the tofu whatever...chicken, pork, beef.

Again, this dish uses ingredients you can stock fairly easy. If you don't use all your cabbage greens, just chop them up with some spinach or romaine and top them with chicken, sliced almonds, peppers and sesame dressing and...voila!...another dinner.

Making it even easier, I bought my greens from Trader Joe's...their Stir Fry Vegetable pak with napa cabbage, broccoli and snow peas. And, I got my tofu there too...the savory flavored organic baked tofu. Too easy!! Again...I made this for one this time out (sounds so pitiful...right?) but have noted the recipe here for four.

Spicy Stir-Fried Veggies with Crispy Tofu over Noodles
serves 4

1 16 oz. package spaghetti pasta (I used brown rice spaghetti) may have some left over.
1/4 cup kosher salt
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1 20 oz. package of stir fry veggies, with napa cabbage (I used Trader Joe's)
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder (more or less, depending on your preference)
4 tablespoons roasted red chili paste (I used Thai Kitchen)
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock (more or less, depending on how soupy you want yours)
7 oz. tofu, cubed (I used Trader Joe's Organic Baked Tofu...savory flavor)
3-4 tablespoons soy sauce (you can also add a few splashes of fish oil, if you have it)
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Bring a pot of water to boil, add 1/4 cup salt to water and drop in pasta. Cook pasta until al dente...5-9 minutes depending on type and amount.

2. While pasta cooks, heat 3 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute' until translucent and slightly browned. Add veggies and toss with onions. Cook until veggies are slightly limp and add garlic powder to season. Add chicken/vegetable stock and chili paste. Cook until paste is absorbed and blended in. Add additional chili if you want it spicier; additional broth if you want it soupier. (While you can season this mixture with salt and pepper may want to wait until after you add your tofu as it's browned in soy sauce which will add saltiness to the dish.)

3. Transfer veggie mixture to a bowl and cover to keep warm. Add 1 tablespoon oil and soy sauce to same skillet over medium-high heat (you may need a bit more oil, depending on how much tofu you cook). Add cubed tofu in one layer. Cook until browned on one side, then turn to brown on other side. Once browned, add veggie mixture back to skillet and toss with tofu to warm through. Give it a taste and add salt and pepper, as needed. Remove from heat.

3. Plate pasta and top with spicy veggie and tofu mix.