One Pot Pantry Raid Pasta

Pantry Raid Pasta

Last night I had one of those nights where I didn’t really want to go out, nor did I want to buy more groceries, nor did I particularly care to be overly healthy. It was a night where the starving artist looks at what he has and figures something out: pantry raid.

As I stared forlornly at my cabinets I came across a ziplock bag full of bow tie pasta that had been sitting in there for roughly two years. I rarely eat pasta anymore, hence why it has been kicking around for so long. Of course I love it, but it’s just too easy. Too easy to cook an entire pound and eat all of it in one sitting. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. I decided it was time – I was simply in the mood. And it turns out there was just enough pasta for one (three) servings. I was put even more in the mood when I realized I had grated Parmesan in my fridge. Destiny.

Here’s how it went. Boil 2 cups of pasta in heavily salted water according to package directions. I just used my two quart saucepan with lid. While the water heats up, use a strainer to rinse two cups of frozen peas under very hot tap water until they soften. Set the strainer over a bowl to let the peas dry off while the water boils. When the pasta is cooked, strain thoroughly, do not rinse, and return back to the hot pot you just boiled it in. Add two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of olive oil to the hot pasta. Stir to melt the butter. Using a garlic press, mince one or two cloves of garlic directly into the pot along with the peas, 1 cup of grated Parmesan, two teaspoons of Italian seasoning, and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine all ingredients. Add more cheese, butter, and pepper to taste. Devour immediately directly from the pot using the wooden spoon you used to stir the boiling pasta. Starving artist class.

There are of course 10000 variations you could do for this dish. And the best part is that I made it entirely from ingredients that were already in my kitchen. If you’re not in the habit of keeping frozen peas in your freezer, you should start. It is one of my top go-tos when making meals on the fly. And if you happen to have leftover chicken or sausage in your fridge that would send this quick humble little dish right over the top. And for you heat-lovers, try some crushed red pepper flakes mmmmm.

Raid your pantry. Tell me what you find.

No-More-Flaming Stir Fry

No More Flaming Stir FrySo you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been putting up a lot of recipe posts these days. And you’re probably getting sick of hearing about weight loss and bootcamp and self-discovery and health trends and blah blah – where’s the FOOD? The truth is that being in such a goal-focused state, I’m eating a lot of the same things on a daily basis. You’ve read about my juice, you’ve seen my purple smoothie, and you’ve hopefully by now tried my curried roasted veggie and coconut soup. For me, routine is a way of keeping me on track: I find good things that I love to eat and I stick with them. It works for me. Once I reach my goals and summer arrives, no doubt things here at the starving artist will shift. But for now, we’re sticking with good clean eats.

Today, finally, I have a new recipe for you. This stir fry was inspired my new quest to fight inflammation. You heard me mention this yesterday, but some of you may be wondering what the hell I’m talking about. Chronic inflammation is a condition that has been identified as the root of many serious medical problems including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. It is also directly linked to smaller ailments like, oh I don’t know, POOR DIGESTION, asthma, and can even be the source of persistant sinus infections – all of which I suffer from. What causes inflammation? Poor diet. GASP!! Shocking? No. Specifically: wheat, gluten, dairy products, meat, white sugar, processed/packaged/prepared foods, and alcohol to name a few. It’s serious business, kids.

Click the link below for the recipe:

No More Flaming Stir Fry (Recipe PDF)

And here are the main things to notice:

  • Soy Sauce Replacement. We all love putting soy sauce in stir fry. I have a gallon jug of Kikkoman in my fridge. But guess what? Soy sauce is not gluten free. It’s true! Look at the bottle. There are gluten free and raw brands you can find at Whole Foods, but personally I love Bragg’s Liquid Aminos – it’s pure, packed with protein, not fermented, not heated, gluten free, alcohol free, and preservative free. Give it a try. You’ll love it.
  • Turmeric. Did you know turmeric is a superfood? Neither did I, until I started researching and came across this fantastic article. A member of the ginger family, not only is turmeric widely known for its anti-inflammatory properties, it is now being discovered that its chief active nutrient, curcumin, can actually fight cancer, not to mention dozens of everyday ailments. The point: use it!!
  • Brown Rice. I know many people are not fans of brown rice, but that’s usually because they are not buying the right kind, nor are they cooking it properly. Go for short grain brown rice (find it in bulk at Whole Foods) and bake it, don’t cook it on the stovetop. For more detail and the recipe, check out this blog post of mine. Brown rice is gluten free and definitely on the anti-inflammatory list. Just be sure to use modest quantities. Notice there is just a sprinkling in the picture.
  • Coconut Oil. I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy this at Trader Joe’s for a while now. Not only does it have great flavor, it is heart-healthy and has many health benefits. You should avoid vegetable oil at all costs and stick to cold pressed extra virgin olive oil or other organic unrefined nut oils like coconut, walnut, and even avocado (though they are all really expensive).  TJ’s has very affordable cold pressed olive oil.
  • Garlic, ginger, shitake mushrooms, broccoli, onion, Sriracha (chili peppers). All are super anti-inflammatory foods! Yes!
  • Eggs are yummy, but beware you should only eat them 2 times per week, lest they could become a source of inflammation. Pay attention to your body and how you feel when you eat them. I really wanted egg in my stir fry, so that’s what happened. :-)

Hope you enjoy as much as I do. What do you think about all this anti-flammatory talk? Share your thoughts. And let me know how you like the recipe!!

Here are more resources to check out:

Seven Spices/Foods that Could Save Your Life
Anti-Inflammatory Pyramid and Diet
Know Your Cruciferous Vegetables!

Pecan Pesto

I love pesto. But never from a store bought container – no no. Pesto is way too easy and way too fresh to shell out for some chemical-filled processed crap you find in the grocery store. But I’ve noticed that everyone seems to be obsessed with putting roasted pine nuts in their pesto… pine nuts… I’m sorry, pine nuts are really expensive. And I would have no use for them other than pesto, so why would I want to invest in such an item? Most of the time when I make pesto I don’t use any nuts. For me, all I need is basil, garlic, salt, pepper, and cheese. Tastes good to me!

But while I may never be a purveyor of pine nuts, I nearly always have pecans in my cabinet (my absolute favorite nut). So as I was making this batch of pesto, I thought what the hell, let’s toast some pecans and throw them in here. And you know what? It was friggin delicious.

Now I have to tell you, I never measure anything. But here is the approximate recipe:

  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 large container fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans
  • 1/2 cup fresh parmesan or romano cheese
  • big pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper
  • olive oil

All I do is throw the garlic into the food processor and get it chopped up really good. Then I cram everything else into food processor (except the olive oil), turn it on, get it good and ground up, then I stream in olive oil until it reaches the smooth consistency you desire. I like mine a little on the thick side, as you can see.

If you’re not going to use this right away, be sure you store it in the fridge in a container with plastic wrap pressed against the top to help prevent browning. Air = browning.

Stay tuned for a PHENOMENAL recipe to use this with.

Terri’s Chicken Ziti and Broccoli

Well, friends, I’ve decided to make up for my week absence with a down home recipe directly from my mom’s (Terri!) kitchen. This is a real winner – simple and addicting. You’re in for a treat.

For some reason, despite the heat and my being so busy, I got an insatiable appetite for this dish this past week. I haven’t made it in years. It’s one of those recipes that takes me back to childhood. Being the starving artist I’m always fiddling with recipes to enhance them, so I make it a bit different than my mom did. Namely, I use chicken thighs instead of breast – less money and more flavor. I season my chicken with poultry seasoning to add depth of flavor. Also, mom would saute her broccoli in the pan she cooked the chicken in. I like the idea, but the broccoli would never get quite as cooked as I wanted it to. So I just throw it in with the pasta for the last few minutes of cooking to get it nice and blanched, then toss everything together at the end. Really I’m just streamlining the whole process while retaining all the flavor and simplicity.

Hope you approve, ma!

Happy Friday everybody!

Terri’s Chicken, Ziti, and Broccoli (Recipe PDF)

Quick Noodles and Peas

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Last night I was in the mood for two things: 1) a hot meal 2) spending little or no money. I found half a bag of whole wheat egg noodles and decided that noodles with butter, garlic, veggies, and cheese would be perfection. I always have peas in my freezer, I always have fresh garlic, always have an onion, and I usually have some kind of grated cheese shoved in the back of the fridge so that I forget about it and am not tempted to make red sauce. I decided that I wanted something more than peas in this dish, so I did go to the store and buy a $2.50 pack of sliced cremini mushrooms – my favorite. And I had all I needed.

Assembly is, as always with me, a total breeze. Get the water boiling and the noodles cooking. Place two cups of frozen peas in a small strainer and rinse them under hot tap water until the chill is gone and they have softened a bit. Set aside to drain. While the I got outmy large skillet and began to sautee the mushrooms in butter, olive oil, salt, and pepper. When the mushrooms began to soften and darken, I added 1/2 cup of chopped red onion and let it simmer for another 2 minutes. Then came 2 cloves of finely minced garlic (or you can run it through a presser). Finally 2 cups of frozen peas that I rinsed under hot tap water for a minute and allowed to drain