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Quick and Easy Bacon-Tomato Penne

April 24, 2014

Bacon Tomato Pasta 1 | Espresso and Cream

Before I share this recipe with you, I should clarify that while a lot of my recipes are on the healthier side, this recipe isn’t winning any awards for being health conscious. However, when I threw this meal together last week for Joe after a trip to the gym, he raved about how delicious it was and demanded that I blog about it. Usually Joe isn’t one to demand I blog about anything, so when he insisted I obliged. In fact, I made a batch of this pasta earlier in the week and put it into lunch containers immediately so that Joe would be able to enjoy lunches at work that were better than turkey and cheese or PB&J.

If you’re a fan of meals that are quick and easy to throw together and require very few ingredients (and really, who isn’t?) then you will love this recipe. I’ve tried it both warm and cold and can say that both ways are delicious, although I do prefer it warm since the flavors are more pronounced.

After making this dish a couple times, I’ve been thinking of ways to add a little freshness to this dish, mainly something green. Although I didn’t add any, a couple handfuls of arugula or a little fresh basil would be a great addition. Let me know if you try it and add anything different to your version, since I’m always looking for ways to adapt dishes and keep things fresh.

Bacon Tomato Pasta 2 | Espresso and Cream

Quick and Easy Bacon-Tomato Penne
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
This is Joe's new favorite dinner, and I don't mind making it because it's so incredibly easy! This makes enough to serve two generously, or three smaller portions. It's usually enough for Joe to eat for dinner one night and have leftovers to take to work the next day.
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 2 cups whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano or basil
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
  2. Meanwhile, cut bacon into small pieces. Place bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until bacon is very crispy and deeply colored. Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon from skillet and transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  3. Add tomatoes to skillet with bacon drippings and cook tomatoes over medium high heat 2 to 4 minutes or until tomatoes are softened slightly. Add butter, oregano and red pepper flakes to skillet along with cooked pasta.
  4. Divide pasta mixture among two bowls. Top with the bacon. Serve immediately.



Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

February 18, 2014


Note: After my post about switching from eating vegetarian to eating meat, I thought an update was in order. After about two months my body really started to reject eating paleo-style. I began to crave the vegetarian fare (and whole grains!) that I was so accustomed to. I have since decided that while it was interesting to give paleo-style eating a go, it isn’t for me and my body. I plan to write a full recap soon, but I wanted to get that out there for honesty’s sake.

Although I’m no longer eating meat, I will continue to be cooking a lot of meat, as I always have. Since I’m not ethically against eating meat, I do try everything that I prepare and share on this blog to make sure that it’s worth posting. My husband, of course, is also a fantastic resource and is always willing to provide his opinion on what he likes and doesn’t like. In this case, Joe was a huge fan of these Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches.

These sandwiches are incredibly easy to make and require very little hands-on time, meaning you can go do other things, like play with your puppy or paint your nails, while your dinner cooks. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but the key to good slow cooker chicken is to use a cut with a little bit more fat, like these boneless, skinless chicken thighs. They become incredibly tender and moist in the slow cooker and shred easily for sandwiches.

Since we love spicy food at our house, I added in a can of diced green chiles to the mix. And a little bit of brown sugar, which I think really rounds out the flavor of the sandwiches and balances the heat of the buffalo sauce.

Oh, and one more thing! A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a recipe over at Pinch of Yum which suggested that you shred your meat and broil it after slow cooking to give the meat pleasant crispiness resembling barbecue. For the longest time my biggest complaint with slow cooker food was that it tasted mushy and, well, slow cooked. This step of broiling the meat was a total game changer. Give it a try and be impressed!


Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches
Recipe type: Slow Cooker Entree
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
This recipe is incredibly easy and makes a great weeknight dinner. I love shredding the meat and broiling it once it has cooked for a little extra texture and smoky flavor. It prevents the meat from tasting like, well, a slow-cooker recipe.
  • 1 package (20 oz) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1½ cups buffalo wing sauce (such as Frank's Red Hot brand)
  • 1 can (4 oz) diced green chiles
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Whole wheat bakery buns or rolls
  1. Place chicken and buffalo wing sauce in a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker. Cook on High 2 hours or Low 4 hours.
  2. Use two forks to shred the chicken in the slow cooker. Stir in the green chiles and brown sugar and cook, uncovered, 30 minutes more.
  3. Turn oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Place shredded chicken on baking sheet and broil 10 minutes or until the ends of the chicken become slightly charred and crispy. Serve on sandwich buns.



Chana Saag with Kale

February 11, 2014


One of my favorite traditions at work is our monthly cookbook club. It’s so fun to select a book, pick a recipe and get together with a bunch of other people who love to cook and discuss what we liked and didn’t like about said book. Sometimes it’s an incredibly successful cookbook club, sometimes it’s only okay.  But that’s the point, right? It’s so rare that I get a chance to make more than one or two recipes out of any given cookbook, so getting to taste 10 to 15 recipes at once really gives a feel for what the book is about and the quality of the recipes.

Our most recent selection was Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. The book is entirely vegan but the part that really knocked my socks off was the fact that I feel I could serve these recipes at a dinner party to vegans and non vegans alike. The recipes were warm and comforting and incredibly filling. Although there is a fair amount of chopping and slicing and dicing involved in all the recipes, they were all fairly easy to prepare and didn’t require many specialty ingredients. Bonus: I don’t think “vegan cheese” or “vegan meat” was used once!

I left cookbook club this month feeling like I had eaten Thanksgiving dinner, though I didn’t feel weighed down or gross (albeit a little too full) like I sometimes do over the holidays. The food was nourishing, light and hearty all at once, and I fell in love with Isa’s casual and funny way of writing a cookbook.

The Chana Saag with Kale that I made for cookbook club was universally one of the favorite dishes that was prepared, and I couldn’t wait to make it again in my own kitchen to share with you. I tweaked the recipe slightly, mainly by adding more kale and slightly different spices to suit my tastes, but the recipe is incredibly forgiving and easy to adapt based on what you have on hand. However, I would strongly suggest not leaving out the lime juice, because the hit of tangy citrus really brings this dish together.

Chana Saag with Kale
This recipe is adapted from a recipe of the same name from Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I fell in love with Isa's version, which calls for kale instead of the more traditional spinach. Kale is heartier and holds up better, which is important for leftovers. Since this makes a lot, there are bound to be leftovers! I like this dish heavy on the kale, but feel free to use less if you aren't a huge fan of kale.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt (plus more to taste at the end)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, more or less depending on desired heat
  • 1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz each) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) light coconut milk
  • 8 cups chopped kale
  • Juice from 1 lime
  1. In large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and cook 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned and softened. In small bowl, combine curry powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, black pepper, garam masala, turmeric and cayenne. Add spice mixture to onions and cook 1 minute more to toast the spices.
  2. Add in the juice from the tomatoes to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot. Crush the tomatoes with your hands as you add them to the pot. Add the chickpeas to the pot along with the tomatoes. Cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, stirring once.
  3. Add in the coconut milk and heat through.
  4. Add the kale and cook 5 minutes more or until kale is cooked and softened slightly.




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