Monday, September 30, 2013

Light Pumpkin Pasta with a bonus of Pumpkin Cream Cheese

That white girl will totally be me.  I hope you all are prepared for this; I held out as long as I could.  If you don't like pumpkin you might want to skip out on this blog until the end of fall (don't do that, I have some cool crafts coming up).

My mother once told me never to give out my best recipes.  It will insure that you are always invited to parties as long as you know how to make it and no one else does.  Well, pumpkin pasta is one of my best tricks, and everyone around me knows that if they invite me to a party in fall, they will get a ton of it.  It hurts a little bit to put this one out there, but I am a pretty giving person, and you all deserve to be able to try it.  

However if I stop getting invited over to places in the Fall, you will never get my other great seasonal staples. >:(

Well, now that my little warning is out of the way, here it is: my fall staple, pumpkin pasta.  I have only had one person that was iffy about it, but it was this last time I made it and I didn't have the right wine or sausage.  Many people make faces when I tell them about it, but savory pumpkin dishes are awesome.  Even people who hate pumpkin enjoy this dish.

Pumpkin in ALL THE FOOD!
The first time I made this, it took hours.  Tweaking the flavors, adding things and adding more things, washing utensils I didn't think I would need anymore.  It was a mess.

Luckily, I now have the recipe perfected to my tastes, and everything runs a lot smoother.  It only takes about an hour to prep and cook.  With the directions in hand, it shouldn't take you much longer than that either. 

It is also low mess dish.  A pot, pan, cutting board, and a few tools and utensils.  I should warn you though, it is another one of my dishes that can feed a small army.  There are about ten servings at about 275 calories per serving.

It pairs well with whole grain breads and spinach salad with fresh cut apples in it.  If you use a dressing for this, use a light vinaigrette.  I used to make a homemade pomegranate dressing for this salad, but I have been hesitant to buy a pomegranate after a mold incident two years ago.  Perhaps I will take one for the team for you all and give you the recipe for that one too...  

Anyways, here is the recipe.  I highly suggest you try this one out.

1 pound sweet turkey sausage links (it is also pretty good with pork if you absolutely cannot find turkey, just not as healthy)
1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
1 medium onion, small dice (cut it into squares the size of playing dice if you can)
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup low fat half and half
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat a large pan with olive oil and brown the sausage until fully cooked in the center (this is a good time to chop up the onion and garlic while you are waiting)
2. Remove sausage from pan and add onion and garlic to pan
3. Cook over medium heat until the onions begin to brown
4. In a large pot, bring water and salt to a boil for the pasta (make sure to pour it in as soon as it starts boiling, don't forget until the end like I have)
5. Slice sausage and cut each little round in half
6. Add bay leaf, sage and wine to the pan.  Simmer for about 3-4 minutes
7. Add pumpkin and chicken stock to the pan, bring to a simmer
8. Reduce heat and add half-and-half, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper
9. Return sausage to the pan and simmer for about 5-10 minutes
10. Remove bay leaf and pour over drained pasta
11. Mix together and enjoy!

So anyone who cooks with a lot of pumpkin (that might just be me) will look at this recipe and say "Hey!  One cup is not a whole can of pumpkin!  What am I supposed to do with the rest of this stuff!"  No worries, I have your back.  I will be posting more recipes that don't take a whole can and other little things you can do with it all season long, but I didn't want to leave you hanging.  

Here is the bonus recipe: Pumpkin Cream Cheese

This is so easy to make, and it only takes about a minute.  It is so good on bagels, and it is versatile enough to use it on anything you would use regular cream cheese.  You can use whatever cream cheese you want to, just keep in mind that original and honey flavors work best.  If you are using honey flavored, make sure to taste it before you add additional honey.

Leftover pumpkin from previous recipe (the amount can vary if you have left over pumpkin from something else, make sure it is at least 2/3 a cup.
8 oz cream cheese (I used non fat for a healthier treat)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon honey

1. Combine ingredients in a large bowl and mix until the mixture is homogeneous (fat free cream cheese is a littler harder to work with, if you have a few white pieces left the world won't end and it will still taste good)
2.  Taste and adjust flavors to your liking
3. Store in a tight opaque plastic container 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Pintester Movement: Glitter Shoes

Hey guys, guess what?  It is time for another Pintester Movement hosted by the Pintester Sonja Foust!  If you have never visited her blog, you should check it out.  She is hilarious and tests all the pins you know you have wanted to try.

For the Pintester Movement a bunch of bloggers test out pins and post their results.  This time around I decided to finally try the glitter shoe craft by Pixie in Pumps and try to save my favorite pair of shoes.

I have had these awesome classic black heels since I was in high school.  Amazingly, they are still structurally sound.  However, my water heater went a while ago and all of my shoes were kept near it.  I threw them all away, except for this pair.  I shamefully still tried to get away with wearing them despite the damage to the leather.

Hey, no one could see it at night, right? :(
I knew that bad habit had to stop, so what better way to bring new life into them than by turning them into stellar glitter shoes?

The first step is to sand them down a bit.  I also had to remove the little bows with a seam ripper (I managed to stab myself doing this).

You can really see how bad the leather was after I sanded down the parts that were bubbling.
After that, you just mix up some mod podge with some fine glitter.  I used gloss, like the original blogger.  She really didn't say how much glitter to use, so I just dumped it in until it looked like fairy paste.

It's really hot pink, my camera didn't pick up on the color well.
I painted it on in three coats, getting chunkier and chunkier each time because I was getting tired.  Over all it didn't take too long.  About two hours, including trying to get those little bows off.  It would have probably been faster if I covered the areas I didn't want to have glitter like the tutorial said, but I am a rebel.

I do my best work on my kitchen floor

After the first coat, I wasn't too sure that it was going to come out right.  If you are trying this pin, just keep at it and keep on playing with the glitter to mod podge ratio.  It takes quite a bit of glitter to get a good coat.  

They actually came out really cute.  I always wanted a fun pair of statement shoes, but I was too cheap to make a commitment like that.  I added on an extra layer of mod podge to seal them after they were done and put on some new bows.

I wore them to meet a friend at the movies on a rainy day.  They held up perfectly!  I am sure that they can get scraped up if you stumble in them, but it will only take a touch up of mod podge and glitter to fix them.  How easy is that?

It was sunny 5 minutes before I had to leave. Florida summers...
If you have some old shoes that you were going to throw out, I would definitely suggest that you try this.  I am tempted to find out what else this can work on >:3

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lighter Shrimp Thermidor

Sorry for the late post.  I have been nursing a migraine since yesterday, but I have finally came to terms that it is not going to go away anytime soon.  Anyways, I had a bunch of frozen shrimp in my freezer that had to get used, and my step-father was coming down to visit, so it had to be in something he would eat.  He is not the biggest fan of healthy eating of any kind, but I managed to sneak him this lighter version of the normally heavy dish.  He was none the wiser.

I also used some of the sauce to make chicken thermidor for my boyfriend.  He really doesn't like shrimp.  Normally I am the mean girlfriend that says "too bad, this is what I made", but I was feeling nice that night.

The dish is rather easy to make; however, there is a bit of cleanup at the end of the night.  two pots and a cutting board.  Okay, it is not that much cleanup, but I am lazy when it comes to dishes.  I do everything in my power to pawn it off on my poor boyfriend.  Hey, I do the laundry at least!

You start off by boiling water for the pasta while making the sauce.  Remember to always season your pasta water.  It really does make all the difference.

Also, if you don't have a high heat rubber spatula, I highly suggest you invest in one.  You won't be disappointed.  It is my single most used kitchen tool aside from my knives.  It makes not burning delicate sauces much less intimidating and lets you mix up all the edges.

You cook the shrimp right in the sauce (if you are using chicken, you have to cook that first in a separate skillet).

Then you just toss it all together once the pasta is finished and drained.

Finished shrimp thermidor

Okay, okay, you are supposed to use angel hair pasta for this, but I didn't have any in the house so I used linguine.  I didn't feel like going out for one easily substitutable ingredient, sue me.  If you never had shrimp thermidor, it is really good.  The capers really help to give the sauce a lighter feel to it and helps prevent it from overpowering the shrimp.  I never actually tried it out with chicken before, but I stole a bite and it was actually just as good.

Finished chicken thermidor

Here is the recipe for you to try out!

8 oz whole grain angel hair pasta
12 oz shrimp, tails off (the small ones work best) OR 12 oz chopped chicken, cooked
10 oz broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened original almond milk
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup water
2 T butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 t capers
2 t brown mustard (dijon, or horseradish)
1 t tarragon
1 t seafood seasoning
2 T flour
2 T grated Parmesan cheese

1. Fill a large pot with water to boil for the pasta.  Remember to season the water and add the pasta when it starts to boil.  Angel hair doesn't take long to cook, so check it often.
2. Heat a large sauce pan and add the butter, garlic, capers, and mustard.  Cook on medium for about a minute, or until you can really start to smell the garlic.  Stir.
3. Mix in the wine, lemon, almond milk, sour cream, tarragon, broccoli, and seafood seasoning.  Simmer for another minute.
4. Add shrimp (or chicken) and continue to simmer until the shrimp is fully cooked.  About 4 minutes.
5. Whisk together flour and water in a cup with a fork.  Pour into sauce and simmer until thick, stirring occasionally.  It should take 6-7 minutes.
6. Turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan.
7. Pour sauce over drained pasta and serve.

This dish goes really well with dark breads and salads.  I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Tuscan Turkey Sausage Soup

Guess what?  It is September.  Know what that means?  It is officially time for fall food.  What better way to start than with a nice hardy soup?  Tuscan turkey sausage soup is so good for you.  It is stuffed full of vegetables and whole grains.  It is also delicious.  My boyfriend hates soup, but he loved it.  It also got my coworkers seal of approval.  

 Tastes like comfort and warmth.
The best part is, you can make it all in one pot!  Well, if you have a huge pot that is.  I don't know what happened to mine.  I am pretty sure my neighbor has claimed it.  Don't worry about the amount it makes; it freezes very well.  Then you can have fresh preservative free soup whenever you want!

Two big pots = one huge

Also, it doesn't take all day to make.  Yes, the longer you cook soup, the better it taste.  But this stuff is so full of flavor, you won't even notice.  

Here is the recipe:

2 lbs sweet turkey sausage (getting the links is fine if you have to, just empty them out)
1 lb whole grain bow-ties (or any fun shape of your choosing)
4 quarts chicken stock
3 carrots, chopped
6 oz fresh spinach
15 oz can chickpeas, drained
2 cans of diced tomatoes (15 oz a piece, don't drain)
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced 
1 T dried basil 
1 t red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese 

1. Add carrots and sausage to a large saucepan and cook until the sausage is browned
2. Add onion and garlic, cook until carrots are tender
3. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, chickpeas, basil, red pepper, and pasta.  Bring to a boil
4. Reduce to a simmer and cook for at least 15 minutes
5. Add spinach, season, and cook until tender
6. Serve and top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.