Creamy Caprese Pasta

There is something about the flexibility of the word “caprese” the sparks my immediate interest whenever I’m looking through recipes. I’ve made caprese skewers, caprese pizza and of course, the world-famous caprese salad. My roommate and her father can vouch for my overwhelming love for plump tomatoes. Her dad grows them himself and they are so perfectly ripe that I MUST cook with them.

 

After receiving my latest batch of tomatoes, I stumbled across yet ANOTHER version of caprese – Creamy Caprese Pasta. The flavors of the plump tomatoes, fresh basil and ooey-gooey mozzarella complement each other so well – not to mention, it was really easy to make and cheap too AND it’s carnivore approved – right Nick? I’m a mean girlfriend and didn’t pair any meat with this dish, but I think it was rich enough to satisfy the taste-buds of a hungry bear boyfriend J.

 

If I can offer one more tip, make a HUGE batch of this stuff. It keeps well and is perfect as lunch the next day or even for dinner with a fresh salad. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound whole wheat pasta (noodles such as penne work best)
  • 1 cup of your favorite pasta/tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese + more for garnish
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes (I cut some in half and left some whole)
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil leaves

The Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Boil water and cook pasta according to directions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat tomato sauce over low heat in a large saucepan. Once warm, stir in heavy cream and grated parmesan.
  3. Once pasta is done cooking, drain and dump into the sauce, mixing to coat and turning off heat.
  4. Fold in mozzarella cubes and tomatoes, then chop 3-4 fresh basil leaves and add them in too.
  5. Once combined, spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and pour the entire pasta mixture into the dish. Top with fresh mozzarella rounds.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly.
  7. Top with additional fresh basil and grated cheese.

Mediterranean Feast

Ladies, brace yourselves: Bikini Season is just around the corner.

That’s right, I put the stinky fish on the table. Even though summer is a season that most people look forward to, some women most women are paralyzed by fear when thinking about slipping (or stuffing) themselves into that itty-bitty bikini. I don’t blame you, we’re all guilty of indulging during the holidays and colder weather… we need to keep warm somehow, right?

So what are our options? Jenny Craig? Cleanses? Food that tastes like cardboard?

I’m not going to suggest against any of the former methods- well maybe the third one, but there are plenty of websites that have yummy recipes that keep the pounds off (yes, I just shamlessly plugged my own blog… oops, I did it again).

Last night, Nick and I made a Mediterranean inspired meal that boasts only 197 calories per serving. I didn’t even HAVE to feel guilty for having seconds… and thirds ;). It was delicious and very fresh tasting. I think the boy-toy agreed.

Mediterranean Kabobs:

1block of super-firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes (non-veg: 1 lb boneless chicken breast)
For the marinade:
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic, crushed
kosher salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper to taste
For the salad:
1 1/4 cups cucumber, peeled
1 1/4 cups diced tomato
2 tbsp red onion, diced
1/4 cup black olives
1 1/2 tsp vinegar
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh dillweed
1 tsp fresh parsley
1/8 tsp dried oregano
salt and black pepper to taste
4 cups shredded lettuce
1/2 cup feta cheese, grated

lemon wedges for serving
Directions:
  1. Marinate the tofu at least 2-3 hours or overnight. If using wooden skewers, soak in water at least 30 minutes if grilling outdoors.
  2. Combine the first 12 salad ingredients (cucumbers through salt and black pepper, not the lettuce) and set aside in the refrigerator to let the flavors set.
  3. Thread tofu on 4 skewers and cook on a hot grill (indoor or outdoor grill) until tofu is cooked though, about 10-12 minutes.
  4. Divide lettuce between four plates, top with tomato-cucumber salad, fresh grated feta cheese and grilled tofu. Serve with lemon wedges.

Pic of Nick’s dish for good measure:

Meatless Monday: Stromboli Night

In my house (and mind) you can’t go wrong with cheese. Let’s just say if I were Barney Stinson, and you challenged me to eat nothing but cheese for the rest of my life, I’d have no choice but to say, “Challenge accepted,” with a big cheese-eating grin on my face. I’m sure Nick wouldn’t be the happiest with the results of said challenge, but I suppose he’d just have to deal. 😉

All jokes aside, a stromboli recipe never fails to exhilarate the taste buds and this recipe did just that. We both made the same exact recipe except Nick added some chicken to make it man-cub friendly. With it’s bubbly cheesy goodness, fresh herbs and crispy crust – this recipe will be repeated, no doubt.

And of course, there is only one word to describe this recipe: Legend-DAIRY.

Ingredients:

(Makes 1 stromboli; for non-vegetarian stromboli, add 2 cups shredded chicken)

1 pizza dough ball
1/2 cup Pesto Sauce
2 cups Spinach
1/2 cup Hothouse Tomatoes, sliced
2 cups Shredded Mozzarella
1/2 cups Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
1 tsp. Garlic Salt
1 tsp. Truffle Oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
Marinara sauce for dipping
Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, on greased counter roll out dough to a rectangle, about the size of a cookie sheet.
2. Spread Pesto all over leaving a 1 inch space from edge
3. Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan on top of pesto. Sprinkle Mozzarella the layer of spinach, last your tomatoes and peppers. This is also where you would add the chicken if making non-vegetarian.
4. Now roll, jelly roll style,  starting at the long end so the end result is a big tube.
5. Place on a greased cookie sheet, make sure seam is on the bottom.  Tuck ends under.
6. Brush with egg. Sprinkle with Parmesan and Garlic Salt.
7. Cut slits along the top to vent
8. Bake until golden brown, 20-30 minutes.