Monday, August 6, 2012

{Mama Recommends}

I haven't done a {Mama Recommends} post in so long. But, a dear friend recently asked if I had any recipes to share. I think she was hinting that she knew how much I loved food and that she was sure that I had tried something new in the last few months. {"Cough it up sister!"} She knows me well. I have tried a few new recipes and I think they are worth sharing.

Today, I'll share two of those recipes.

Full disclosure: A few years ago when I became a gluten free eater, I tried quinoa. I hated it. HATED IT. I tried to like it, but I just couldn't get it down the hatch.

Fast forward to last summer and one of my favorite Food TV people, Giada, made a quinoa recipe on her show. I thought..."Well, dang. If Giada has a recipe, to save face, I'll just have to try it again."

Here's the link to her Quinoa with Black Beans and Hominy.

Before you get all snarky about Hominy {of course I could have lost some of you with quinoa, now you're repulsed by weird corn} you have to at least try it. Bush's makes a can and it's around a $1, so if you're the 1% who won't like it, you won't break the bank.

Here are a few notes:
~#1 RULE ABOUT QUINOA - YOU MUST RINSE IT. Fine mesh strainer and rinse the heck out of it.
~If you don't have grapeseed oil, olive oil will work just fine.
~If you don't have agave nectar, honey will work just fine.
~If you are unsure about the hominy, try the recipe with one can. The ratio is still fine and then you can determine if admit you like it.

The second recipe was one I searched for in the weeks before I had Henry. I knew I wanted to make a few freezer friendly meals for those first months.  We are a family that loves all things pasta. And luckily, I don't have to make two batches of pasta dishes since I have found that Trader Joes noodles and pasta shapes are absolutely delicious. I would dare someone to notice a difference between their brown rice noodle and a regular noodle.

The site that I found it had a lot of good suggestions in the comments to make it "just right". So, here is the recipe with a few notes from me.

Baked Spaghetti Casserole

12-16oz oz spaghetti 
2 jars prepared spaghetti sauce {it calls for 1, but you definitely need 2}
1 lb lean ground beef/italian sausage/ground pork {your choice}
1 tsp Italian seasoning {I used dried basil and parsley}
1 clove garlic, minced
8 ounces cream cheese {room temp}
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated {I used the bag of Publix Italian blend}

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.

~In a skillet, brown the ground beef {or meat of your choosing} until cooked through; drain fat and stir in spaghetti sauce.  Set aside.

~Salt the water and then break spaghetti noodles into 3rds and cook according to directions on packet. {You don’t have to do that, you can keep noodles whole, but I thought it was easier to prepare broken up.} 

~BEFORE YOU DRAIN NOODLES – save 1cup of the pasta water. Then drain the cooked spaghetti and place in a large bowl.  
~Add cream cheese, Italian Seasoning {or whatever seasoning you choose} and minced garlic to the spaghetti noodles.  
~Stir until cream cheese is melted and the spaghetti is thoroughly coated. It will be THICK. ~Thin to a creamy consistency adding pasta water in small amounts {1/4c at a time} until it stirs easily. You shouldn’t need the whole 1c saved, but you’ll want it just in case. The consistency your going for is “stirrability” - thick & creamy, yet easy to stir. {Yes, I made that word up.}
~Lightly butter a 9x13" pan.  
~Spread a small amount of meat sauce in the bottom of the dish.  Put the entire spaghetti mixture on top of the bottom layer of sauce. Then, top with remaining meat sauce.  
~Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.

Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbly.

I always double this recipe. When I bake the frozen one, I bake it at 350 covered for 30min and then uncovered for another 25-30min. 
So, there you go! Let me know if you try either of these recipes. If you alter them in any way, let me know your choices. I always like to hear how people put their own spin on a recipe.

Bon Appetit!

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