Pasta Arrabbiata

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It feels like it’s been some time since I’ve done a meatless Monday post, let alone cooked a meatless meal on a Monday. While searching for clean-eating recipes for the week, I stumbled upon this one from Yummily Yours that I had to try since I’m still in the quest for finding the perfect natural (aka unprocessed) marinara sauce. 

It’s crazy how little amount of time and effort it takes to make a marinara. I like more chunks of tomatoes and less “sauce” in mine, so I don’t necessarily puree the tomatoes – just halve them and cook or bake. Tomatoes are magical like that. 

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So Arrabbiata is a spicy sauce that is made from garlic, tomatoes, and red chili peppers cooked in olive oil. I laid low on the red chili peppers and used chili powder myself because I was going to have the children try the sauce, but my husband deemed it an “adult meal” and now I know next time to actually use red pepper FLAKES, not ground chili. I left it as it’s intended to be cooked in the recipe below though. 

I was most thoroughly excited about learning how to get that “restaurant shine” you see often see in pasta dishes when I tried this recipe. The secret? Add a little under half a cup of the water you cooked your pasta in to the skillet you’re cooking your tomato mixture in. Who would have thought?!

Pasta Arrabiata
Serves 3
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 8-ounces linguine pasta
  2. 1/4 cup olive oil
  3. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  4. cherry tomatoes , sliced into halves
  5. 2 tablespoons chilli flakes
  6. 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  7. grated parmesan, for topping.
Instructions
  1. Bring a large saucepan to a raging boil and add pasta. Cook according to package.
  2. In the meantime, heat olive oil in a skillet over med-high heat. Add minced garlic, allowing to saute; 3 minutes. Next add the tomatoes and cook until they appear softened and the skin looks slightly broken.
  3. As pasta is finished, drain all but 1/3 of pasta water if possible. Add just pasta to tomatoes and mix well, adding salt and pepper for taste if desired. Next add pasta water, stirring so that the water and olive oil are combined. This sound appear to thicken the sauce some.
  4. Garnish with chilli flakes and parsley, stirring again to combine. Serve with grated parmesan strips overtop.
Adapted from Yummily Yours
Adapted from Yummily Yours
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Ranch-Style Cobb Salad

 

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If you’re like me, you’ve gone through your Pinterest feed for what feels like a gazillion times looking for some sort of “different” kind of lunch to prepare for the week. I often like to base my mid-day meals around salads or something close to, as lunch is when I like to get the majority of my greens and vegetables intake. 

With today being Labor Day, the kids being home from school and a local Arts Festival going on; I wanted to get my grocery shopping done early yesterday so that I could successfully complete all my Sunday chores today and not having some spill over into the first of the week and delay any fun or relaxation for today. I started my meal-plan planning extra early because so. (Remember… fail to plan, plan to fail!) – and while things didn’t go as planned (one child is sick), my food was still ready today so I didn’t have to worry about screwing up on my new dietary!

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I don’t feel like I get my share of enough egg-protein, or at least I don’t feel like I have lately. So when I opened my laptop this morning I made sure to search for a recipe that would require at least one egg or more. I can always make the staple recipe for egg salad; I could prepare it blind-folded, but I wanted something that had a little more taste to it. One where by Tuesday afternoon, I’m already sure that come Wednesday’s lunch time I will be wanting anything BUT what I’ve already got prepared. And so I ran across this recipe for a Cobb Egg Salad from Lemon Tree Dwelling that had one key ingredient that won me over – dry ranch dressing mix. I like to use my dry ranch with yogurt for a healthier take on ranch dressing for dipping some veggie sticks in. If you love ranch, you can’t really go wrong with this dressing mix.

Another great thing about egg salad is how quickly you can prep it. Sure, if you’re not much of an hard-boiled egg peeler it can take *some* time, but I promise with practice and correct technique you’ll get the knack of doing it. Afterall, it took me months but I finally got it and I can proudly say that today I peeled 6 eggs in under 10 minutes. That’s an accomplishment! The rest of the ingredients though – super easy to assemble and throw into a bowl. Almost too easy. 

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Ranch-Style Cobb Salad
Serves 3
If egg salad and cobb salad were to meet in an alley, and egg happened to have brought ranch with him and cobb, arugula lettuce - this would be the outcome. Enjoy this recipe with rye crackers, as a salad or on a sandwich. Perfect for both parties and for meal-prepped lunches for the week.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Ingredients
  1. 6 large eggs, hard boiled and peeled
  2. 4 pieces cooked turkey bacon, crumbled into small pieces
  3. 4 tablespoons lite mayonnaise
  4. ½ dry ranch dressing mix
  5. ¼ cup grape tomatoes, diced
  6. ¼ cup celery, diced small
  7. ¼ teaspoon green onions, sliced thin
  8. ¼ cup chopped arugula lettuce
  9. ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Hard-boil your eggs; bringing your pot of water and eggs to a raging boil over medium-high heat. When this has happened, turn off heat and cover pot with a lid allowing to sit for 12 minutes. Run cold water over eggs before attempting to peel. After eggs have been peeled, chop into small pieces.
  2. Using a large mixing bowl add eggs, bacon, tomatoes, arugula and cheese. Next add mayonnaise and dry ranch dressing mix, stirring gently but combining well. Serve or store in a tight-closed container for later.
Notes
  1. Original recipe can be found at Lemon Tree Dwelling (www.lemontreedwelling.com) - I added a few extra vegetables, etc of my own to their own delicious recipe.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Meatless Monday: Margarita Pasta

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Holy smokes! I can’t believe it’s already Monday again. I know that the previous week was short because of the holidays but I’m still trying to gather myself together enough to start this week. I intentionally posted this meal today because it is Meatless Monday and my version of this pasta does not have any meat. Who needs it?! There’s enough flavor in the “sauce” as is. If you feel you must have some sort of protein, feel free to add chicken.

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Anytime I know a meal is a skillet-cook, I get excited. My husband bought us this fancy s’mancy gas range for the new place and I am dying to cook on it. I absolutely love the taste of anything gas cooked. Some don’t think there is a difference; oh there is, and I compare it from cooking on an indoor grill to cooking on an outdoor grill. You know the difference once you take that first bite.

I imagine a gas grill also makes a skillet picture just a little more fancy s’mancy looking too.

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My favorite part about this meal is that you’re using all fresh produce. The only thing really considered processed is the noodles and you can make those yourself if you want to be COMPLETELY clean and have a lot of spare time on your hands! I have a pasta maker. I’m not quite a pro at using it yet so I will save myself the embarrassment and just use store bought penne pasta until I have correctly learned how to use it to create presentable noodles.

Enjoy!

Margarita Pasta
Serves 4
A delicious serving of pasta that is sauteed with homemade clean sauce over a hot stove.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups uncooked penne pasta
  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  4. 2½ teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
  5. 5 roma or 2 cups of tomatoes, chopped
  6. ¼ cup tomatoes, chopped and slightly pureed (optional)
  7. ¼ cup fresh basil, sliced
  8. ½ cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta accordingly.
  2. In the meantime, using a large skillet combine olive oil and butter over med-high heat. Allow to cook, stirring frequently 1-2 minutes or until it begins to sizzle. Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds, followed by tomatoes and basil. Allow to cook for 2 minutes so that juices combine well.
  3. When pasta is finished cooking and has been drained, add to skillet and stir well to mix. Add parmesan cheese and stir again. Serve immediately.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Southwestern Tortilla Soup

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I know that it’s the beginning of summer and it’s probably a little too hot outside for soup. Over 90 degrees too hot. I still don’t care. I’ve been craving some good ol’ slow-cooker chicken tortilla soup for some time now and this is the week I have it for dinner three days in a row since my husband is out of town. 

I call this my favorite dump meal; because that’s basically what you’re doing – dumping all the ingredients into a slow-cooker. Other than shredded the chicken later on, there is no real effort needed to go into preparing this. You’d never guess that though by how good it tastes!

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Southwestern Tortilla Soup
Serves 6
A flavorful soup that's easy to prep and cooks throughout the day, leaving your home smelling delicious.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
8 hr
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
8 hr
Ingredients
  1. 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  2. 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  3. 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  4. 10-ounce can rotel
  5. 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  6. 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  7. 15-ounce can sweet corn, drained
  8. 1 package taco seasoning
Instructions
  1. Add chicken breasts to to slow-cooker, followed by all other ingredients. Stir well to combine.
  2. Cook on low for 7 hours. Remove chicken from slow-cooker and shred into small pieces using two forks. Return to slow-cooker and cook for an additional hour.
  3. Serve with shredded cheese, lite sour cream and tortilla soups.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Homemade Medium Salsa

Can you go an entire summer without making some homemade salsa of your own? I can’t. I get the itch to create some as soon as I know the local Farmer’s Markets are open for the season. I know the ingredients are available year round in the grocery stores, but I feel more bountiful when the salsa I make is either from my own backyard growing, or from someone else’s. 

So I started seeds inside back in March, but because we are still in the middle of remodeling our new home, I didn’t have anywhere to store the plants outside and unfortunately they perished inside. Gutted, but I guess this year’s summer will be more about planning and building a special place for them to grow in the years to come. Luckily, I have perennials that I have planted that are absolutely flourishing outside right now to keep my green thumb busy. 

Homemade Medium Salsa
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Prep Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 6-8 large tomatoes, diced (keep the juices if you like your salsa more on the juicy side)
  2. 1 medium onion, diced
  3. 1 jalapeño, seeds removed and diced
  4. 2 tablespoon minced garlic, or two garlic cloves diced
  5. 2 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
  6. 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  7. salt, for taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl. Chill for 30 minutes to an hour before serving.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Natural Marinara Sauce

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Spaghetti is a household staple as far as dinner for at least 2 nights per month. Sometimes even as frequent as once a week, depending on how good the spaghetti itself (or sauce) is. I like to compliment my pasta with homemade meatballs that have been soaking in marinara sauce for hours ala crockpot.

 
Because I’m doing my best to avoid as much processed food as possible, I’ve decided that spaghetti for me is best as natural as possible. The kids’ aren’t especially big on raw tomatoes, so they stick with the traditional spaghetti marinara, but I can get my husband to eat his spaghetti natural because he does like raw tomatoes. Phew, nothing like a night where you AREN’T the only oddball plate at dinner.

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The great part about natural sauce is you can mix and choose whatever ingredient to add to it as you like. I, personally, like just a slight hint of kick so I add crushed red pepper to mine. That also helps it to not taste too bland, as it can; tomatoes are good, but let’s be honest, they aren’t really flavorful.
 
Suggested Ingredients: 5 diced roma tomatoes, minced garlic, extra virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper, dried oregano, dried italian seasoning, crushed black pepper, salt.
 
Directions
1. Add all ingredients into a processor and only process for a few seconds. This allows the mixture to not only mix, but liquify just slightly. You do want some whole tomatoes.
 
 
Note: Processing is optional. Sometimes I just mix in a bowl and eat as is.