Tag Archives: pasta

Shells with Spinach,Toasted Pine Nuts & Ground Almonds {and HAPPY birthday, MJ}!}



Good morning, bright & early! Gabs must be going through a growth spurt because we are back to waking up every 4-5 hours at night- pack on those pounds girly, I need more of you in my life!



I was browsing Pinterest  for dinner ideas a couple nights ago and saw a delicious-sounding recipe for pasta that I decided needed to be in my belly that night. I swapped a few ingredients, added a few more, and viola! Dinner is served.



Lately all the recipes I’ve been sharing are dinner recipes, and that’s because I can’t stand the idea of turning on my oven to bake something sweet when it’s 90 degrees outside (not complaining!). Plus, I’ve eaten all of the chocolate chips in the house. By myself. Intervention please!



Now that I’m done bemoaning the fact that my sweet tooth is taking over my body, I’ll focus on dinner. This was a perfect spring dish that totally hit the spot, and wasn’t too heavy for a warm day. I had made (what I thought was) more than enough for the two of us for dinner, but by the time we put down our plates, somehow it was all gone.



Sometimes when I try new things in recipes, I don’t tell Joey about it until after we’ve eaten because I don’t want it to negatively sway his opinion about the meal. Sneaky me 🙂 This time, the secret ingredient was ground almonds mixed into the pasta. Sounds weird, I know. I saw it in a cookbook a while back and have been wanting to try it ever since! The almonds are ground pretty finely, so it adds a lovely texture and nutty flavor to the pasta.

Joey, a few bites in, totally called me out on it. “Are there almonds in this? It tastes kind of nutty.. what did you put in this?” I tried to judge the situation. Is it too early to tell?? He’s only had a few bites… But I ‘fessed up and he gave it two thumbs up! Whew. Maybe because he’s now an almond farmer? Whatever, I’ll take it!

Try it out and let me know what you think! I used this recipe– but did not use thyme, and added lightly toasted pine nuts, grilled chicken thighs with S&P, about a 1/3 a cup of finely ground raw, unsalted almonds. 


P.S. my running buddy kindly notified me of my pregnancy brain  mom brain (is that a thing?) and reminded me that the Modesto Pregnancy Center 5k is THIS Saturday! I knew it was May 4th, but somehow that still felt a long ways away. We may be walking instead of running because of my injured feet and my running buddy is pregnant, but the goal is the same! There’s still time to donate!

P.P.S And more importantly, it’s my BEAUTIFUL niece’s first birthday today!! That little girl is one of my favorite people on this earth. I am so bummed to be missing her birthday party this weekend in Texas, but soon they will be moving back here for a year so I will give her a big birthday squeeze in a month!! 


I got her this shirt thinking it was a safe buy, since I was the only aunt! Totally forgot about Tim’s sisters- oops! MJ, lets pretend the shirt says that you are my favorite niece!! 🙂 



Is she not the cutest thing ever?? Love you MJ, and happy Birthday sweet girl!

Leave a comment

Filed under Baby, Family, Food Stuffs.

Cold Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is one of my happy-foods. I absolutely love it! It’s so fresh and delicious and perfect for summer time. I’ve made several, but I have to toot my own horn a little- this one was bomb. and I made a ton of it. This is what was in it:

There’s red onion in there too….somewhere….

I really wish I had a picture of this zucchini. I can’t believe you can only see a teensy part of it in the picture- but when M went to Israel, she left her garden unharvested which means her zucchini turned into monsters. Seriously. I think she had 3 of them and they were all over 2 feet long and about as big around as….I don’t even know. I’m looking around for something to compare it to, and there is nothing. It was huge. My thigh maybe? Which helps you not at all. If I think of something I’ll letcha know.

So, I cut off the end of the zucchini and cut it into cubes and threw it in a frying pan with some olive oil, garlic powder (cuz I didn’t have any garlic salt), salt, and pepper. I like it with a little crisp on it so it was in there for awhile. While the zucchini was frying, I got the asparagus broiling in the oven with a little olive oil and pepper. (I didn’t cut the asparagus because I got the skinny ones, not the thicker ones.) Again, I like that crispy too. So both of these veggies were cookin for most of the time I was chopping the cold stuff.

Oh, I just love love love asparagus. I could eat it every day. Just not when it’s 6.99 a pound.

Doesn’t this look so yummy?!? See how toasted it is? I love it when it has that char on it. MMmmmm….I’m getting really sad- I have none of this left.

So while these yummy greens are toasting away, I chopped the tomatoes, red onion, and bell pepper into pieces. For cold pasta salad, I cut them a little larger than if I was cooking them in a hot dish. Then I cut the green onions and mix all these in a bowl til everything else is ready. The salami I got was really thick which turned out to be really good- initially I was going to used sliced salami cut into strips, but having a thicker cut worked out because I cut it to the same size as the veggies (maybe a little smaller) and it tasted really good that way.

By now the pasta and hot veggies were done so I drained the pasta and let them both rest/cool for a bit.

Once this is cooled down (or in our case, starving and ready to eat no matter what the temperature is) mix the pasta with the pesto, (my favorite) Red Bell Pepper Italian Dressing, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix it up with all the veggies and enjoy!! Oh it was so good. I can’t even describe.

I decided to just take a picture of what’s left of the monster zucchini (duh) next to a water bottle so you can get an idea of the size of this thing. I cut off about 6 inches for this recipe.








See?! Steroid zucchini. Tasted amazing. 🙂

Here’s the huge bowl this recipe made-








Another thing about my pasta salads- I like a ratio of half veggie to half pasta. That’s just me.

Ohhh it was so good. I might just have to run to the store to replenish my ingredient list….








I also served it with some Sun dried tomato bread from Panera, toasted up of course 🙂








People, it was so good. I can’t say it enough. Let’s just say this, Curtis doesn’t eat leftovers. He ate these leftovers. Yes, this is how I judge my cooking. 😉


Cold Pasta Salad

Half a box of pasta (I use whole grain)

1/2 red onion, chopped

2 large bell peppers, chopped

2 large tomatoes, chopped

1 bundle green onion, chopped

1 pound asparagus

3 cups zucchini (cut into cubes)

2 cups salami, thickly cut into cubes

1 cup (approximately) pesto

1 cup (approximately) Red Bell Pepper Italian Dressing

salt, pepper, and garlic salt (or powder) to taste

Cook pasta. Broil asparagus until thoroughly cooked. Fry zucchini on the stove until cooked. Cut all other vegetables and meat into similar size pieces. Once the pasta and veggies are done cooking, let them chill in the fridge. Once they are chilled, mix seasonings, dressing, and pesto into the pasta noodles. Then add all vegetables and meat. And eat it ALL. (We didn’t really eat it all- I shared it with Adrienne, I promise! And we had leftovers)

Side note: The earlier you make this, the longer it can chill and really be a cold pasta salad.

Leave a comment

Filed under Food Stuffs.

Sesame Peanut Chicken Pasta

I have a fear of weird ingredients.

If I can’t pronounce the ingredient, I usually end up kind of… ignoring it. Or, if I think I have a close substitute for what the recipe calls for, I just sub it out. ( Sesame oil vs. olive oil? Eh, same thing.) Usually, it ends up working out okay and we still enjoy the meal. But I am always a little disappointed, thinking maybe if I had just followed the recipe, it would be all I had hoped for.

Those ‘eh, its all the same’ days are behind me now, because of this recipe. I had this sesame peanut pasta a few weeks ago when I was in Michigan for that wedding. My Aunt Jodi whipped this up for dinner one night during that wedding week, and I hadn’t arrived yet so my first taste was having it cold for lunch the next day. Every single bite had me spellbound. Incredulous. Very protective over my own portion. Spurned cousins had to go dish up their own plate because this girl was not sharing. Every single ‘weird’ ingredient is there for a good reason!! It makes the dish complete- and if you decide to forgo the foreign spice here, or the nut oil there, your final product will be missing a little something.  I was ready to go to any store I needed to get the ingredients for this!! So I asked my aunt for the recipe, and encountered a little problem.


My aunt warned me when we sent this email to me that 1.) She doesn’t measure. Ever. 2.) Her recipes are based on what she has in the kitchen, so they come out different everytime. 3.) Sometimes they turn out awful- especially if she is a little too liberal in her substitutions, see #2. (I seriously doubt #3, because I’ve never witnessed an awful anything come out of her kitchen.)


You can imagine this made me a little worried, because I am the type of person that follows the recipe precisely. (except the weird ingredients, before.) I need exact measurements!! So what you have here is a precisely followed, loosely described recipe that will rock your socks off. And its good hot OR cold. And for breakfast.


(disregard how I splatter ever ingredient all over my stovetop. That’s not a worm in the grate there, promise )

Get cookin! It’s so easy, don’t let the Asian ingredients intimidate you.


Sesame Peanut Chicken Pasta

serves 6-8. Or 2, with lots of leftovers. 🙂

Boil 1 pound of pasta (we used WW spaghetti)

In a hot skillet, add 1-2 Tbsp of vegetable oil. Add one thinly sliced onion. Saute until translucent. If you are using raw chicken, at this point, add boneless chicken, cut into chunks. (My aunt suggested thighs, but all we had was breasts and it worked well too!) Continue to cook until the chicken is no longer pink. Remove chicken from pan.

Add to the onions & drippings:

3-4 Tbsp Sesame oil

2-3 cloves garlic

1 Tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1/2-2/3 cup Peanut butter

3 Tbsp honey

1-2 Tbsp. mirin or soy sauce (I used soy)

1/2 cup roughly chopped peanuts

1 Tbsp red pepper flakes

Bring together over medium heat, and add water to thin a bit. (I probably added about 2/3 to 1 cup). Toss in 1 bunch of chopped green onion, and a 1/2 head of shredded cabbage. My aunt used green, I used red because it’s what I had. It tasted great, but the color had Joey a little hesitant for a while. He got over it and ended up addmitting that he loved the cabbage 🙂

Saute for a few minutes with the lid on. This helps to wilt the cabbage faster. Now is the time to add the chicken back in and stir it all up! Now you can add a little more water or chicken stock to make sure its nice and saucy. Pour over the cooked noodles and mix it all together! Eat immediately, or chill and eat later. Or do both, like we did. If you like it hot, add a little more crushed red pepper flakes on top.


1 Comment

Filed under Family, Food Stuffs., Uncategorized