Weekly Meal Plan – Spring Showers and a Full Freezer

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Well my hubbers is off to work again and I’m feeling like his time home was a bit of a write off. We had such great plans of picnics and fish and chips and pretty much none of it happened. We all managed to get sick and between naps there was no time to head out. It did however give me some great time to write a few new recipes. A couple are ready to share so will show up over the next few weeks and the rest require more tweaks before going public.

This week I need to do some serious freezer clearing. I was a little shocked by how much has accumulated in there. Normally with meal planning very little is left in my fridge or freezer by the end of the week but I think with my trying to write some new recipes I got a small backlog. Plus, I can’t throw anything away so I end up with the most random things in there. Fortunately/unfortunately the weather is very spring like and rainy here so I’m thinking it will be a perfect week to clear out the freezer with some hearty meals. This will also save me a few bucks for some cute spring dresses for when it does get sunny.

Monday

Lunch – Crackers, cheese and cut veggies with dip

Dinner – Chicken Soup
In my freezer I discovered chicken bones and veggie scraps I was obviously intending for a soup that hasn’t happened yet. I’ll start the stock early in the afternoon by roasting the bones and veg in the oven until golden brown and then moving it all to a pot of water to simmer on the stove. I know I have some veggies that will be happy to join the pot and I’m sure there is some chicken hiding somewhere too.

Tuesday

Lunch – Peanut butter, jam and banana wraps with apple slices
A tortilla spread with a smear of peanut butter and jam then rolled around a banana. I may even add some cheerios or granola in for some texture.

Dinner – Pierogies, sausages and sauerkraut
I love sauteed onions and plain yogurt on the side.

Wednesday

Lunch – Ham and tomato grill cheese with veggies and dip

Dinner – Fish tacos
I have some multi-grain Tilapia fish sticks that work great. They’re huge pieces so 4 is good for me and the kids. I serve the fish in tortillas with shredded cabbage, cilantro, diced tomatoes and a lime sauce. The sauce is really easy: 1 tbsp mayo, 1 tbsp plain yogurt, half a lime and a little salt.

Thursday

Lunch – bagels and cream cheese with apples slices and peanut butter

Dinner – Vegan satay pizza
A friend is bringing me this over to try and I’m really excited. It sounds like an amazing pizza with cilantro, peanut sauce and yummy veggies. I may steal the recipe if I fall in love.

Friday

Lunch – Tuna sandwiches

Dinner – Chili mac with cornbread crust
I need to use up some frozen chili and cornbread muffins. I’m going make a basic mac and cheese, mix in the chili and then top with the crumbled muffins. I think it should be pretty nummy.

Saturday

Lunch – Egg salad on buns with carrot sticks

Dinner – Meatball subs with Caesar salad
I made these a few weeks ago and they were delicious. I’m using meatballs and sauce from my spaghetti recipe that I froze last time I made it. Cut the top off a sub bun (old school Subway style) and place a row of meatballs in. Cover with sauce and grated cheese. Place in a 400F oven for about 10 minutes, remove and top with their lids.

Sunday

Lunch – Waffles and fruit salad
I love brunch so I’ll give the kids some fruit to tie them over and then make waffles, sausages and fruit salad

Dinner – Veggie Taco Salad
I’m hoping for a little sun at the end of the week and with some heavier meals throughout the week this will be a great ending

Hope this makes your life a little easier, at least the food part. I’d love to hear about how your family plans their meals.

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Vegetarian Black Bean Taco Salad

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Taco salads are great for so many reasons. They’re easy to make, taste fresh and delicious and feel satisfying. I usually always make mine with chicken but in my goal to reduce our meat intake at home I thought I would try to make a vegetarian version. One of my biggest pet peeves about vegetarian cooking is when a recipe just takes out the meat and calls it a day. I feel like I can tell that something is missing so I wanted a salad that can stand on its own and that you wouldn’t even consider adding chicken to. I think I nailed it and I hope it’s a hit at your home too.

The dressing has a tonne of flavour and would be a great vinaigrette for any salad. There’s lots of fresh vegetables  and  enough protein that you feel completely satisfied. Minus the cabbage and salad greens and this would even be a great salsa. Even though my son can handle a bit of spice I added the jalapeño after removing a portion for him. He loved it and finished his plate.

Vinaigrette

Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp Agave or honey
2 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 clove  finely chopped garlic
salt to taste

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and thoroughly whisk together.

Salad
1 540ml can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 cup diced red pepper
1 cup cooked corn
1 cup diced tomato
2 cups shredded purple cabbage
1/2 a finely diced jalapeno

I used frozen corn cooked in the microwave for 3 minutes and then drained. 
Add all of the ingredients to the bowl with the vinaigrette and allow it to all mingle and fall in love. I let mine sit about 15 minutes before serving. 

Black Bean Taco Salad

Black Bean Taco Salad

You can stop here and this is a great vegan salad that stands completely on its own. For our dinner we layered the bean salad on organic salad greens, topped with tortilla chips and a sprinkle of grated cheese. It was awesome, delicious and so easy to make. I will definitely make this a part of our regular meal plan.

Vegetarian black bean taco salad

Weekly Meal Plan – Hubby’s home

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I made it through my first two weeks alone with the kids in months and successfully I think. We all are completely intact and I managed to get meals on the table every day. Personally, this last one was a huge win and a whoot, whoot to my successful meal plans.

This week I have my husband home. When he works away we try to cram as much in as possible so we are eating out a few times. Partially for convenience and partially because for me eating is part of the adventure. The rest of the week we’re at home spending as much time together as possible. I’ve picked meals that are easy so I’m not spending too much time in kitchen and a few family favourites too.

Monday

Lunch – Coombs market
My favourite market up-island. We’re planning a hike up that direction so lunch and a little shopping sounds perfect. My son also loves it because they have goats that live up on the roof and what almost three year old wouldn’t think that was awesome.

Dinner – Gnocchi, turkey sausage and peppers
Gnocchi are delicious little potato pastas. They cook like a regular pasta and then I sauté them with the sausage and peppers. I found a sundried tomato and basil sausage that I think will work perfect for this.

Tuesday

Lunch – Bagel sandwiches

Dinner – Pulled chicken sandwiches with coleslaw
Use left over or rotisserie chicken and coat with your favourite bbq sauce in a saucepan over med-low heat, (I have an amazing bbq sauce recipe I’ll share over the summer!). Make a quick coleslaw with shredded cabbage, grated carrot and a dressing of roughly 2 spoons mayo, 1 spoon vinegar, a sprinkle of sugar and salt. Place the bbq’d chicken on a bun top with coleslaw and voilà, pulled chicken sandwiches.

Wednesday

Lunch – Picnic for Newcastle Island
I’m making veggie wraps with hummus, fruit salad and will have some snacks of chips, trail mix and juice.

Dinner – Trollers Fish and Chips
Working in Alberta doesn’t give hubbers much chance to eat yummy fish so since we’re going to be in Nanaimo it only makes sense to stop at Troller’s after our busy day exploring.

Thursday

Lunch – Pita and tzatziki with Greek salad

Dinner – Spaghetti and Meatballs
I’m not sure why but all my son wants to eat with daddy home is spaghetti and meatballs, or sketti and meatballs. I Can’t even maybe say no to this.

Friday

Lunch – Chicken quesadillas
I’ll use the last of the rotisserie chicken I bought, pesto, diced tomatoes and cheddar

Dinner – Pepperoni, mushroom and green pepper pizza

Saturday

Lunch – Ham sandwiches

Dinner – Creamy chicken and vegetable tortilla casserole
I’m having my parents over for dinner and with a salad this is a great family meal

Sunday

Brunch – I’m making waffles, fruit salad and bacon

Dinner – Chicken and Root Vegetable Fries
I want to get a little more chicken for when my hubby is gone so this will be a great last dinner before he heads back to Alberta.

Baked Scotch Eggs with Chicken Sausage

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This was an experiment based on the fact I did nothing Eastery food wise but knew that lots of people would have left over boiled eggs. I have never tried a scotch egg but have been fascinated (really??) by them for way too long and finally decided to try my hand at making them. Typically they are made with pork sausage and deep fried. Since I like to eat lighter fare but love the idea I thought chicken sausage would work perfectly.

They were super yummy and my son loved them. I see them being a great brunch item or as part of a lunch. I’ve seen scotch eggs on menus as part of a ploughman’s lunch, which are generally meats, cheeses, pickles, bread and a bit of salad. I think lunch guests would be  impressed with a spread like that and honestly they aren’t much work.

Ploughman's lunch

Ploughman’s lunch

Scotch Eggs

7 Free Range Eggs
1 package (400g) of ground chicken thighs or ground turkey
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground sage
pinch nutmeg
pinch marjoram
pinch thyme
or 3/4 tsp poultry seasoning to replace sage to thyme
1 tbsp brown butter
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp paprika

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Scotch Egg Loveliness

Preheat the oven to 350F

In a large saucepan cover six of the eggs with about an inch of water. Bring the water to a rolling boil, reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid. Cook for six minutes and then place the eggs into cold water.
In a mixing bowl combine the ground chicken with 1 tsp salt, and the spices. In a small sauce pan over medium low heat melt the butter and allow it to become brown without it burning. Add the browned butter and mix in to the ground chicken mixture.
In a shallow bowl combine the panko, paprika and 1 tsp of salt. Prepare a breading station with three bowls. The first has your sausage mixture, second the last egg beaten, and the third is the panko mixture. Also have a sheet pan ready for your finished eggs. I lined mine with parchment paper but they aren’t messy.
Remove all the shells from the eggs and one at a time cover in a thin layer of the sausage. Place it next in the egg bath and roll it around. Then move the eggy egg to the panko and roll the egg around gently to form a crust. Place on the baking sheet and move on to the next egg.
Once all your eggs are ready place in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes making sure the sausage is thoroughly cooked.

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Delicious

Weekly Meal Plan – Another Solo Week

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Well I managed to make it through the first week of my hubby away. It’s been a big adjustment but one that we’re doing pretty well with. I’ve actually been able to get to some of the projects I’ve been putting off for ages. Boredom is a good motivator.

Last week’s meal plan worked great for getting dinner on the table quickly so this is another week of super quick and easy meals. Hope it works for your family too.

Monday

LunchBagel with cream cheese and cut veggies

DinnerDinner at my parents house. We didn’t do Easter dinner this weekend so I get ham and scalloped potatoes tonight instead.

Tuesday

Lunch – Picky plates
Since I go grocery shopping today, lunch will be an assortment of whatever is in the fridge. I try to make sure I have a few veggies, a little fruit, some cheese, crackers and maybe some yogurt.

Dinner – Chicken Burgers
I’ll use the same recipe as my Mediterranean chicken meatballs but make them into patties. I’ll serve them in pitas with tomatoes, cucumbers, sprouts and some tzatziki.

Wednesday

Lunch – Tuna sandwiches with carrot sticks

Dinner – Breakfast Burritos
Scrambled eggs, sausages in warm tortillas, topped with shredded cheese, diced tomatoes and some hot sauce on mine

Thursday

Lunch – Veggie sandwiches with cheese and veggie chips

Dinner – Meatball subs
Sub buns filled with meatballs and sauce that I made and froze last week then topped with grated cheese and toasted under the broiler. For the meatball or sauce recipe click HERE.

Friday

Lunch – PB and J paninis with yogurt and bananas

Dinner – Chicken pesto pizza with diced tomatoes and artichoke hearts

Saturday

Lunch – Grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches

Dinner – Veggie Hash and poached eggs

Sunday

Lunch – Leftovers of some kind
Guaranteed that there is something in the fridge that we can eat

Dinner – Masala Sloppy Joes
My hubby will be home so I’m looking forward to something yummy and that takes a little more time.

There’s one more week of dinners and easy lunches. Hope this makes your life a little easier and tastier. If you’d like to see how I create my meal plans click HERE

Spaghetti and Meatballs with Veggie Fortified Sauce

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One of my favourite meals is spaghetti and since my son is a meaballaholic this dinner is a guaranteed hit in our house. This is not a super fast dinner, even with a few short cuts so I save it for a night I have lots of time or a weekend and then freeze the leftovers for a meal later on. The sauce freezes fabulously so I divide it up into dinner size portions with the meatballs in it. I find the meatballs are slightly dry if frozen on their own so a brilliant person (my mom) suggested freezing them in the sauce, Genius!

The sauce has lots of veggies in it so it can also completely stand on its own as a vegetarian spaghetti. I start with a mirepoix of carrots, celery and onions, which is the base of any good sauce and sounds extremely cooky when you can throw it into a sentence, and then add zucchini and peppers as well. I have shortcutted the long cooking time a truly spectacular sauce needs by adding pre-made jarred sauce to the mix. This gives the sauce that ‘I’ve been making this all day’ flavour in a lot less time. I haven’t included it in this recipe but if you have any leftover red wine (leftover???) it brings a little more depth to the sauce  if you add it after the veggies and cook it for a few minutes before adding the tomato sauce.

Meatballs

400-500g ground beef
400-500g ground pork
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup shredded parm
1 egg
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 cloves grated or finely diced garlic
2 tsp salt

Before beginning making the meatballs let the meat sit out for at least 15 minutes so your hands don’t freeze mixing the meat

Preheat your oven to 350

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl until thoroughly mixed. Form into balls using your hands to form the shape. These can be browned first in a saute pan over med heat and then placed in a baking dish or if you have children running around they can be placed directly into the baking dish. Cover the dish with tinfoil and bake for 30 if browned or 45 if not. I usually “test” one to make sure they are cooked through.

 

Spaghetti Sauce with Veggies

2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced onion
1 cup grated zucchini
1 diced yellow or orange bell pepper
1 large clove crushed garlic
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp oregano
1 bay leaf
1 398 mL can of tomato sauce
2 cups of your favourite pasta sauce

Warm the olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium low heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery and saute until the vegetables are softened and have some colour. Stir in the crushed garlic, zucchini, pepper and herbs and cook until it all smells wonderful, (about 4-5 minutes). Pour in both types of sauce and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the meatballs and warm through. Serve over your favourite pasta and top with a little parmesan cheese.

If you have a bit more time I would suggest adding one cup chicken stock and continuing to simmer until the sauce has reduced and become thicker, about 45 minutes. The flavour will be intensified and that much better.

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Spaghetti and Meatballs

 

I hope this becomes a staple in your house too. It’s not a difficult meal to make and the sauce and meatballs can be used in other dinners as well. If you would like to see how spaghetti and meatballs fits into my weekly meal plan please click here

Green Bean and Ham Casserole

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A good casserole is something everyone needs to have in their cooking arsenal. It can be an easy meal for a big crowd, a meal for a family that can’t think about cooking or a week night dinner that can be used for lunches. I’ve loaded it with green beans and used yogurt in the sauce so it’s healthier then many casseroles while still being rich and creamy.

Finished casserole in dish

I made this recipe for the first time years ago. It was for a close friend who had a new baby and one of my gifts to them was dinners that they could just heat and serve. If I remember right, her and her husband finished it off immediately and were both super happy not to have to think about cooking. I still make this regularly, sometimes reducing the recipe so we aren’t up to our armpits in casserole.

1 450g box of farfalle pasta

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup yogurt
1/3 cup softened cream cheese
1 cup milk
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 clove crushed garlic
1.5 cup grated extra old cheddar cheese
3 cups sliced green beans (I used frozen, fresh works too)
2 cups cubed ham
pepper to taste

Cook the pasta al dente (still a little bone to it) and set aside. Whisk together the first six ingredients. Mix in the cheese and then combine with all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Stir together well and pour into a large casserole dish. Top with bread crumb mix and bake in a 350F oven for 1 hour.

Panko topping

1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and sprinkle over your casserole before baking.

Casserole with Dinosaur

I hope you find lots of use for this casserole and your friends and families enjoy it as much as mine have.

If you want to see how this dinner fits into my weekly meal plan check out my post, Weekly Meal Plan – Meals That Bring a Little Love to the Table

A Taste of Newfoundland

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My sister in law came into town this week and when I looked at our dinner plan, it was fried egg sandwiches. Not exactly a dinner I want to serve to out of town family. Since hubbers is feeling homesick and the theme for the week is comfort food, I decided to try my hand at making a traditional Newfoundland Jiggs Dinner. This is a Sunday supper/special occasion kind of meal with Irish roots. The meal consists of a roast chicken/turkey or beef roast, mashed potatoes, salt beef , an assortment of vegetables that are boiled in the water the salt beef is cooked in, dressing or stuffing as I call it, peas pudding (it’s like a really thick pea soup) and gravy. It’s accompanied with mustard pickles, pickled beets and sometimes cranberry sauce. Some regions of Newfoundland have their own unique variations but this is a pretty typical Jiggs dinner where hubby is from.

This is not a meal I have any experience in making and I wasn’t really sure how to go about it. Unfortunately, cooking is not my SIL’s (sister in laws) favourite so we had to make a few calls back East and check out a blog, A Cook’s Life, to get it all figured out. I wasn’t able to replicate my mother in laws dressing but other than that I personally think I did a lovely job. I was even happier that my hubby and his sister liked it.

There isn’t a lot of prep to this dinner but at the end there is a huge hurry of activity to bring it all together. I would suggest either having a partner to help you pull it together or have a tight plan to get it on the table before it gets cold.

This meal will serve 4-6

Salt Beef and Vegetables

3-4 pieces navel salt beef
1/2 a large turnip
1/2 a green cabbage
4-6 carrots, peeled
1 cup yellow split peas

Normally you would need to soak the salt beef in water overnight, changing the water at least once. Since I got a late start my father in law suggested that I boil the beef and then change the water and let it soak. I have always found salt beef too salty (funny that, it starts with 226% of your recommended daily sodium intake) so I boiled it twice and then soaked it hoping to reduce the salt more.

After again changing the water I put the water to boil with the beef about 2.5 hours before supper time. Place the split peas in a peas pudding bag, if you don’t have one it can also be tied up in a tea towel or cheese cloth, (My husband told me his cousin has used a sock). Don’t tie the bag so tight that the peas are packed tight against each other. I made this mistake and the pudding wasn’t able to cook.

Cut the vegetables into large chunks. I cut the turnip in three, the cabbage in three and the carrots in half. About 30 minutes before dinner I added the cabbage and turnip and about 15 minutes before I added the carrots. The cabbage and carrots are served as is, the peas pudding is mashed with a bit of butter and turnips are also mashed with butter and pepper to taste, no salt:)

Roast Chicken and Dressing

Since it was just the four of us I decided to do a small chicken, that was too small to stuff. I rubbed olive oil on the skin and generously seasoned it with salt and pepper. It then went into a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. I used my meat thermometer to make sure the chicken reached 165.

Like I said this wasn’t my MIL’s dressing but more similar to what I grew up eating. If you have Newfoundlander’s coming to dinner you may want to check with them for their recipe.

1/2 stale loaf of French bread
1 finely diced onion
1 finely chopped stalk of celery
1 tsp Savoury
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 cup melted butter
salt and pepper
hot water

Buzz the bread in a food processor until it is broken down but not crumbs. Add the onion, celery, seasoning and melted butter. It should be moist and clump together without being wet. If it doesn’t stick together use the hot water to moisten the bread mixture until it does stay together. Since I wasn’t able to stuff the chicken I then put the whole mixture into a baking dish, covered it with tin foil and placed it in the oven and the same time as the chicken.

Gravy

Drippings from the roast
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup liquid from salt beef
up to a tbsp of flour
pepper to taste

In a sauté pan combine the drippings with the stock and salt beef liquid. In a small cup mix 1 tsp of flour with a bit of the liquid to create a lose slurry. Over medium heat bring the liquid to a simmer and stir in the slurry. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue to simmer. Stir regularly with a whisk to prevent lumps. The gravy should begin to thicken, if it is not thickening or not thickening enough make another slurry with an additional tsp and repeat until the consistency is gravy like. Season with pepper and serve immediately.

I used a big platter to serve everything family style. I like the way it looked and then all the different parts kept each other warm as it was getting to the table. One day I’ll get around to buying a gravy boat too and I won’t have to use my measuring cups.

My husband comes from a place that has such a strong cultural identity and more than anything this meal shows how a dinner can bring a person home or to a place that feels like it. I don’t love every part of this dinner but I will make it happily for my family and friends to share that feeling with them and to make sure that my children feel that same connection to the place their dad is from.

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Weekly Meal Plan – Meals that bring a little love to the table

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This last week has been dreary and rainy. We’ve been stuck inside for awhile and, I think, are all going a little squirrelly Add to that a non sleeping baby and I’m pulling every easy card I have for the next week. It’s going to be all about food that makes me feel good, wraps me in a warm blanket and tucks me in, plus that I can make with my eyes closed if I have to.

Isn’t it interesting that food can reflect and impact our emotions and feelings. Certain meals transport me back to childhood and hug me with the warmth of my own mom taking care of me. Others are nurturing to my spirit, either with warming flavours or with hearty ingredients. Both are what we need this week and I hope these meals can be there for you too when you need that little bit of extra food love in your life

 

Monday Night

Fried Egg SandwichesI could honestly eat fried egg sandwiches everyday and have sometimes. I like to use a lovely whole grain bread toasted with mayo, a perfectly fried egg, layers of tomato, avocado, lettuce and cheese. Doesn’t that sound like love between two pieces of bread? My mom is also a huge fan and has been known to serve them to company.

Tuesday Night

Chard, Bacon and Tomato Pasta Easy to make and delicious. I love the green flavour that chard has and I feel like I’m eating something that is both healthy and decadent at the same time.

Wednesday Night

Mediterranean Chicken Meatballs, tzatziki and Greekish SaladEasy fast and makes me think of family. Funny, we’re Dutch, Scottish and English but we seem to gravitate to Greek restaurants for family dinners. I can picture a blue and white checked table cloth and time with family as I think about making this dinner.

Thursday Night

Green Bean and Ham CasseroleFrom an old Cooking Light recipe that I’ve adapted. It reminds me of a chicken and broccoli casserole my mom made, (only because it’s a casserole, all similarities end there).

Friday Night

Italian Chicken Meatball and Pepper PizzaThis has become a staple and regular in my rotation lately. I’ve switched to making my own meatballs from ground chicken and it’s amazing. This dinner just makes me smile with its deliciousness. Definitely a spirit lifting dinner

Saturday Night

Going out nightWe haven’t been out for a single meal since I started this blog, which has been great for our budget and makes it so I don’t feel a bit bad about treating myself to an easy dinner elsewhere.

Sunday Night

CurryI’m going to experiment with a fish curry. I have a general idea in my head and if it works I’ll have the recipe up soon. Even thought experimenting sounds a little out of the comfort food, easy theme of the week, stretching my creative cooking muscles brings me joy and is almost meditative. If you are using this meal plan this week I’d suggest using the Indian spiced sloppy joes until I have it done:)

That’s what comfort food looks like for me. I’m sure your family and friends have their own dishes that bring a little love to the table and I’d love to hear what they are, so please share. If you are wondering how I do my meal plans here’s how: Meal Planning Basics

Bacon, Chard and Tomato Pasta

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My favourite meal, hands down, is pasta. I would probably eat it almost every night if I could come up with enough ideas. Fortunately/Unfortunately hubster wasn’t raised eating the stuff and will tolerate it only if it’s bloody good. So, since this is a pasta I make on a regular basis I can promise it is bloody good. To me it satisfies all the requirements: creamy, flavourful, has vegetables and of course bacon, which makes everything wonderful. This is also a great pasta to add to. It can completely stand alone and would also be delicious topped with seafood or a grilled chicken breast.Sneaky fingers in Pasta

I like to think it’s healthy, at least mostly. I used Barilla whole grain pasta for the first time and it was surprisingly good. There is lots of fresh chard and tomatoes and only a little bit of bacon per serving. Initially I used whipping cream for the sauce and it tasted fantastic but I can get the same results by using whole milk and cream cheese and reduce the overall calories and fat of the dish without taking away any flavour. I also never have whipping cream on hand and since I don’t like buying things I won’t use, the cream cheese and milk are more practical. It’s definitely not something you should eat every night but I don’t feel a bit guilty eating a huge plate.

I find this a great one when I have tomatoes that are starting to go a little squishy.

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Update

I made this the other day but didn’t even have cream cheese on hand so I came up with a third version. Version one was the fattening reduced whipping cream version that I cannot eat unless I am committed to an hour run, but if you are wanting to try that one just omit any thickeners, cream cheese or milk and use one cup of whipping cream that you allow to cook down and thicken on its own. It will be delicious! Version three uses flour to thicken the sauce. Same recipe just without the cream cheese.

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I thought I’d share both and then if you’re like me and forget something at the grocery store or just decide you want to do the same thing a different way, you now have two options, well three if you aren’t afraid of a little whip cream 😉

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Version 1 (Cream cheese)

1 Tbsp Olive oil
6 slices bacon
1 cup diced onions, about 1 onion
1 Tbsp crushed garlic
2 cups diced tomatoes (2-3 medium sized tomatoes)
4 cups roughly chopped chard (1 bunch)
1 cup whole milk
3 Tbsp cream cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 box Barilla (about 200g) whole grain spaghetti or your favourite pasta
Prepare the  following the instructions on the box

Slice the slices of bacon into 1/4 inch bits and cook over medium heat  until crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside on a paper towel.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat sweat the onions. Once they have become translucent add the garlic and cook about one minute. Stir in the tomatoes and continue cooking until they are soft. Add the chard and cook until it has wilted down.

Reduce the heat to medium low and stir in the milk. Melt in the cream cheese than add the parmesan. Allow the sauce to simmer and reduce down until it can coat the back of a spoon. Combine with the pasta, top with the crispy bacon and serve immediately. 

Garnish with additional parmesan at the table

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Version 2 (flour and milk)

Same ingredients but you will need an additional Tablespoon of butter or olive oil and 2 Tablespoons of flour

Follow the same instructions until it’s time to add the milk,

Stir in 1 Tbsp of butter or olive oil. 

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetable mixture and stir until it is completely mixed in.

Warm the 1 cup of the milk about 1 minute in the microwave and slowly add in, stirring regularly. The sauce will begin to thicken as it cooks

Add the parmesan cheese and serve once the sauce has thickened enough to coat a spoon.

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So now you have two ways of using chard and tomatoes in a yummy pasta that kids and parents will all enjoy.

I hope this becomes a favourite at your table too and I would love to hear what you thought.

If you would like more meal inspiration come check out my Facebook page. I post nightly meals and ideas for feeding your family and friends