Well well well…
I heard this the other day : “So far, 2021 is just 2020 with bangs” and it really resonated with me.
On top of the pandemic, here in Texas we’ve experienced a crazy winter storm….massive power outages, millions without power or water for days. We have been so blessed to have amazing friends here in Houston, two of which took us in on two separate occasions…we stayed with some friends in Katy for a couple of days…then saw that our power was back on. We came home to two pretty awful leaks from burst pipes….so, we were able to stay with another friend (still here as a matter of fact) and feel so loved and grateful! Showers and warmth and good company when so many are suffering and in dire circumstances makes me realize how fortunate we are and that I need to stop taking these things for granted.
Anyway. What do you do when you suddenly have people staying with you and have to cook for more people? And when there are lines out the door to most grocery stores (the ones that are open, anyway)?
The answer is PASTA. And I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love pasta. If you don’t love pasta, stop reading right now and go think about your life choices.
I wanted to share these because 1. They were really good and I will definitely be making them in the future and 2. Because one can be made with mostly pantry stuff and the other is great for a good fridge cleanout. But before we get started, here are some photos of our friend David’s beautiful cat, Watson. We also love his puppy, Koda, but he is not easy to get pictures of!
First up: Lasagna at Lizzie’s
Lizzie and Aaron have three boys and with us showing up that makes 7 people to cook for! So she made lasagna, which is always not only a crowd pleaser but great for feeding a crowd. This is the recipe that they’ve based the lasagna on: https://www.melskitchencafe.com/best-baked-manicotti/
They made two sheet pans of asparagus to go with the lasagna and I don’t generally roast asparagus but I will be doing that now!
To start the lasagna, you use three cloves of garlic with oil (I can almost smell it)…adding in the tomato is easy and it takes 15-20 minutes to cook the sauce, which may seem like a long time, but it’s so worth it. The flavors come together and it’s really lovely. Only a few ingredients but isn’t that usually the best?
There was a bit of a hiccup making the cheese mixture (if that’s what you call it?) They didn’t have eggs BUT Aaron used cornstarch, the eggs are there to thicken, so cornstarch fit the bill. He added about 3 Tablespoons to the mixture.
Obviously, the recipe I posted is for manicotti but Lizzie adjusted it to make lasagna (just swap out pastas) and another (optional but recommended) change is adding in cottage cheese – roughly 3 T.
The oven roasted asparagus came out perfectly; I’m pretty sensitive about the texture, can’t be too soft, but also can’t be too hard, I am suddenly relating to Goldilocks. Anyway these were just right! Roasting asparagus is pretty straightforward – arrange the asparagus on a single layer, cooke at 375 for 20-30 minutes. Sort of depends on the way that you like your asparagus cooked. I will definitely be making asparagus like this again. Lizzie seasoned it with Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel Seasoning – so good! She then sprinkled on some coarse ground salt as soon as it came out of the oven, perfect.
Despite staying with them under unfortunate circumstances I had a lot of fun. Unfortunately, Glen was working the entire time, but I helped Lizzie and the boys with a really cool Pinterest project (well, the very end of it, GREAT timing!), and learned that Star Wars makes cartoons that are quite good, I watched season 3 of Rebels with their three boys and honestly kind of got into it!
This next recipe is a good “clean out the fridge” one – bow tie pasta with pesto, cubed chicken breast and veggies. Obviously, this is started with a couple of garlic cloves and oil, cooked until fragrant, then add in the chicken breast, and vegetables, depending on how long they take to cook: David used brusells sprouts, bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes.
We ended up staying with David for three nights – we went home when we saw that we had power again, but when we got home, found burst pipe and no running water….once again, we have amazing friends, and David took us in (Glen was getting smelly so I was super grateful that he was able to shower). I’m telling you, I’m not expecting weather like this ever again (which might be unwise) but also if we ever get a new house it is going to have a fireplace, SO COZY.
So, back to the bowtie pasta: Sautee the garlic in oil, add in the chicken breast bits. This can take anywhere from 8-15 minutes, so just keep checking. Since brussels sprouts take a bit longer to cook, add those in shortly after you start on the chicken. Any other vegetables can go in once the chicken is cooked, but save the cherry tomatoes for the very end.
The secret ingredient here is cream….heavy cream wasn’t available but half and half worked great! When you put in the veggies, dump in a good bit of pesto (sorry, I can’t be more specific than that) and mix well. After, pour in the cream AND a healthy bit of shredded parmesan cheese (keep some more for plating).
The spices used are equally as important as everything else! My favorite of all was the salt-free extra spicy, although I liked all three. The fourth in the photo is the pesto that he used. The roasted garlic and herb Weber seasoning was great….there were actual bits of roasted dried garlic in it!
All that’s left is to cook the pasta, and add it in with the chicken and vegetables maybe (definitely) add in some more parmesan, and serve!
So there you have it, two easy “throw-together” pastas, and an update…hope everyone has a great weekend!
If you try one of these drop me a note in the comments!