Monday, March 29, 2010

Speaking of Pasta... {GIVEAWAY!!}

If you've followed my blog for any length of time, it's pretty obvious I'm a fan of pasta. No low-carb diets for this kid! Pasta is such a versatile ingredient -- it can be smothered under creamy decadent sauce, wrapped around tasty parcels of cheese or meat, add heartiness to a soup, or even be coated with the lightest oil and herb sauce and it's all still fantastic.

It's that last type of pasta that requires a special kind of pasta. Not the dried stuff you find hanging out on the shelf marked 10 for $10. Nope, you need the fresh stuff tucked away by the cheese in the refrigerated section, or better yet -- fresh made pasta from your kitchen. I've made pasta by hand before and yes, it is incredibly time consuming to roll out and cut the dough. Unless...... you have a handy-dandy pasta machine to do all the rolling and cutting for you. Then it's not too bad.

A couple weeks ago I was contacted by CSN Stores about hosting a giveaway. (They sell all kinds of cool things from kids beds, to health & fitness items, to cookware.) Soooo if you've wanted to try your hand at making your own pasta, here's your chance! With the help of CSN Stores, I'm giving away a CucinaPro Pasta Maker! That's right, you could be making your own spaghetti and fettuccine in no time!

The down and dirty -- Rules and all that Yackity-Yack:

*All you have to do is leave a comment on this post to enter for a chance to win.
*You must include your email or link to your blog when you enter your comment (so I am able to contact you!). Following the random drawing, I will be contacting the winner for your address and all that fun stuff. Winner must respond within 24 hours or another winner will be chosen.
*In your comment, tell us what your favorite pasta dish is, or what you would make with your new pasta machine.
*The giveaway is now closed.
*One winner will be chosen at random using

Make sure you spread the word and let all your friends know! Good luck!

After reading a couple of your comments I just wanted to clarify what exactly you're getting -- a CucinaPro Pasta maker with the spaghetti and fettuccine attachment. Once you discover how much you love your machine and want to expand your repertoire you are able (not required) to purchase other attachments (e.g. angel hair, lasagnette, ravioli, trenette). Hope that clears things up!

Disclaimer: This giveaway was sponsored by CSN Stores.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Basil Chicken Over Angel Hair

I woke up this morning with the full intention of working diligently on a group presentation for one of my classes. Do it and get it done. I had all these grandiose ideas that I would knock it out in just a few hours. This is how it really went:

Got up and puttered on the computer for about half and hour.
Attempted to read a review for my presentation.
Got distracted on the computer for another couple minutes.
Went back to reading for maybe 5 minutes.
Decided I was hungry. Ate Reese's cups.
Went back to reading.
Decided I was still hungry. Drank some juice (hey, it was that V8 fusion stuff, so I got some fruits and veggies in there) and had a granola bar.
Got distracted by the computer again.
Went back to reading.
Husband came home from church. Got distracted.
Attempted to start on a powerpoint.
Decided I was still hungry. Decided to eat some lunch....

And the whole day went like this. Apparently I tend to get distracted quite often when it comes to doing things I'm not very interested in. I mean, watching my husband play a video game is far more entertaining than trying to figure out the physiologic basis behind resistance training.

Kind of like I've already been distracted about 20 times so far writing this. Looks like somebody needs to work on focusing on things. Well, it's not like I can't -- just as long as it's something I'm interested in. Talk to me about politics, or finances or something equally as dry and boring and you will eventually see the glazed look, which means I'm off thinking of ponies, or butterflies, or crap I have an assignment due tomorrow that I totally forgot about.

This is why quick and easy meals are a plus for me. I tend to not get distracted as easily or forget I have water boiling or cookies in the oven or that I'm even making something at all. This recipe falls in to that quick and easy category -- start working on the garlic and onions when you set the water on to boil and by the time the pasta is done cooking, all you'll have to do it toss it in with the sauce.

Basil Chicken over Angel Hair
Adapted from:

1 (8 ounce) package whole-wheat angel hair pasta
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and cubed
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook angel hair pasta until it is al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes, chicken, basil, salt and hot pepper sauce. Reduce heat to medium, and cover skillet. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until mixture is hot and tomatoes are soft.

Toss sauce with hot cooked angel hair pasta to coat. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Yields: 4 servings

I guess I have a thing for pasta, basil, cheese, and tomatoes, as this recipe was very reminiscent of this recipe. Different, but definitely with a similar taste. (Not to mention a little healthier.)

Adam and I both enjoyed this, and as I tend to have all these ingredients on hand, I'm sure this will be making the rounds here again.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 342Calories from fat 69
% Daily Value
Total Fat 7.7g12%
Saturated Fat 2.2g11%
Cholesterol 101mg34%
Sodium 451mg19%
Total Carbs 36.9g12%
Dietary Fiber 1.5g6%
Sugars 3.4g
Protein 30.3g
Vitamin A 20%Vitamin C 24%
Calcium 10%Iron 16%

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dark Chocolate Amaretto Fondue

Every now and again it's always nice to come up with an excuse to eat chocolate. Or, don't even bother with an excuse and just eat chocolate anyways. :) I suppose Valentine's Day is as of good excuse as any... so that's the one we went with.

Over Valentine's Day weekend Adam and I had the pleasure of having my entire family come up to Pittsburgh to visit. Since the "entire family" includes the little man, going out to a nice restaurant (such as the Melting Pot) was kind of out of the question. You know, with the hot burners and curious fingers... not really a good combo. So we decided to wait until mini-man went to bed and then had our own little homemade Melting Pot dessert.

Dark Chocolate Amaretto Fondue
From: Original Recipe

1 (12 oz) bag bittersweet chocolate chips (60% cacao), such as Ghiradelli
3-5 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons amaretto

In a fondue pot, combine ingredients and stir occasionally until melted and smooth.

Serves: 6

We went with pretty traditional dippers -- strawberries, bananas, brownies, and angel food cake. The fruit was the definite winner.

I think next time I would mix the bittersweet with a little bit of semi-sweet chocolate as it was just a little bit on the dark side. Regardless of how dark it was, the 6 of us polished that little pot of chocolate off in no time.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 344Calories from fat 176
% Daily Value
Total Fat 19.6g30%
Saturated Fat 13.5g68%
Cholesterol 23mg8%
Sodium 438mg18%
Total Carbs 33.9g11%
Dietary Fiber 1.9g8%
Sugars 33.2g
Protein 4.5g
Vitamin A 4%Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 11%Iron 7%

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chickpeas with Spinach

Chickpeas with Spinach.... such a simple and unassuming name. Sounds pretty boring and very much like a side dish. Well, if had had gone with that assumption, I would have been wrong on both counts. Between the rice and the chickpeas, it's actually quite a filling dish (although you could easily get away with adding some chicken if you have a massive carnivore in your house). Surprisingly, the tomato paste, chili powder, and ginger give this meal a nice flavorful tweak.

Spinach with Chickpeas
Adapted from: Cooking Light, May 2004

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups onion, diced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups chopped baby spinach
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup hot cooked basmati rice (or white rice)

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, ginger, and garlic; sauté 4 minutes or until mixture begins to brown. Add water and tomato paste; cook 2 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring constantly. Stir in spinach, chili powder, salt, and chickpeas; cover. Reduce heat; cook 5 minutes or until spinach wilts and mixture is heated. Stir in juice. Serve over rice.

Serves: 4

We had this meal a few weeks ago during our "vegetarian" week (happened totally by accident when I was planning the menu, promise). Adam enjoyed it as well and didn't really miss the meat thanks to the chickpeas. That counts as a winner for me! :)

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 612Calories from fat 75
% Daily Value
Total Fat 8.4g13%
Saturated Fat 1.0g5%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 131mg5%
Total Carbs 111.0g37%
Dietary Fiber 21.4g86%
Sugars 14.8g
Protein 26.0g
Vitamin A 36%Vitamin C 25%
Calcium 16%Iron 45%

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spicy Tomato and White Bean Soup

About a month ago, while leaving the gym I passed a maintenance worker who joked that it wouldn't be much longer before I could get back to running outside. Just two days later I wake up to over 14" of snow. And then it just wouldn't.stop.snowing. Once the snow gets over 20" or so, all you really want to do is hole up at home and do absolutely nothing until it all melts away. Too bad that really can't happen and I spent hours out shoveling and cleaning off my car just so I could run simple necessary errands or go to class.

So if I'm not able to keep myself inside all nice and cozy, I have to settle for the next best thing -- a warm and hearty dinner that brings back feeling into my frozen toes (good thing I didn't have any boots when all this snow business happened)

Spicy Tomato and White Bean Soup
Adapted from: Cooking Light, August 2006

1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (16-ounce) can navy beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium poblano chile, halved and seeded
1/2 onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Cilantro sprigs (optional)

Combine 1 cup broth, chili powder, cumin, and beans in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Combine remaining broth, poblano, and onion in a food processor; pulse until vegetables are chopped. Add onion mixture to pan.

Add tomatoes and cilantro to food processor, and process until coarsely chopped. Add tomato mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat; stir in juice, olive oil, and salt. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.

Serves: 4

This is kind of like tomato soup, but kicked up a notch, with beans. The beans and chunks of tomatoes definitely add to the heartiness of the dish, and both Adam and I found it very filling on its own. However, if you must add something with it, the quintessential grilled cheese would go great with the soup.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 492Calories from fat 58
% Daily Value
Total Fat 6.5g10%
Saturated Fat 0.9g4%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 516mg21%
Total Carbs 85.7g29%
Dietary Fiber 33.8g135%
Sugars 13.7g
Protein 28.6g
Vitamin A 101%Vitamin C 42%
Calcium 20%Iron 44%


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