Easy Pasta Meal in a Skillet

Yesterday was a “use it up” kind of day. You know, when you have leftovers in the refrigerator, and maybe a little of something left on the shelf.  I don’t eat pasta often, but I had this amount left over from a while back and decided to use it up.

I do have vegetable based pastas on the shelf, and will be trying them – maybe soon. I’ll let you know how that goes.

The pasta cooked perfectly in the skillet, and the liquid did make a little gravy of sorts. The finished dish tasted good, and that is my main criteria for a meal.

This morning, while typing this up for you, I am listening to pop music from the ’80’s through Alexa. She probably doesn’t know what to think of me, as I have her playing metal, classic and hard rock, easy listening music, oldies, and even the oldies, depending on my mood.

Onto the recipe. I don’t know how much pasta I used, honestly. For lack of a better name, I’m just calling this dish:

Easy Pasta Meal in a Skillet

1 tbsp ghee

about 1 tsp chopped garlic, mine came pre-chopped and in oil. Use what you have on hand.

1/8 pound ground beef

1/2 can peas, a little liquid was left with it and I used that as well, but you don’t have to.

water

egg noodles, or you could use another type of pasta

2 pinches dried parsley

2 pinches dried thyme

sea salt to taste

  1. Heat the skillet on medium heat.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of ghee and heat.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic and cook for a minute, stirring.
  4. Place the ground beef in the skillet and cook while breaking it into small bits. Cook until browned.
  5. Slowly add about 1/3 cup of water, the peas (in liquid if there is any), and the pasta.
  6. Cook all of this, stirring every minutes or two, checking the consistency of the pasta as it cooks.
  7. Add a little more water when necessary in order to keep the pasta cooking, but do not cover completely in water. I did this a few times, you may need to less or more. In the end, my liquid was sort of a thin gravy consistency that just covered the food. There was not a lot of it. You need a little liquid for the pasta to cook.
  8. When pasta almost done to your liking, add the seasonings and give it a good stir.

That’s it. It was an easy meal, and was pretty tasty!

Tips

  • Use whatever vegetables you have on hand. Harder veggies might require more cook time. If this is the case, add it as soon as the meat is cooked and wait to add the pasta.
  • Macaroni, spaghetti, or other pastas could also be used.
  • Try different seasonings if you’d like.
  • Try different types of meat. Leftover roast or sausage, or whatever you have on hand.
  • Look for pasta on sale, and use a coupon when possible. Check your favorite pasta company’s website to see if they offer coupons, check the weekend papers, or try a coupon swap. This is a great way to save money.

Suggestions

Stay healthy and safe, my friends.

~ Shannon

 

 

 

Smashed, Roasted Potatoes

Sometimes it’s just easier to do everything in one pan. Seems I dirty far more dishes when I am home all the time, and I really don’t like washing them once used. So I have taken to making more skillet and baking dish meals so I can keep up with the dishes. Also, I might be guilty of eating straight from the pan sometimes. Maybe. 😉  I mean, it is just me here.

This turned out to be a delicious meal.

Smashed, Roasted Potatoes

1 yellow potato

1 sweet potato

2 baby red potatoes

1 carrot

almond oil

1/2 can of peas, with 2 tbsp of the liquid (or water if using fresh or frozen peas)

a few pinches of dried parsley

a few pinches of dried oregano

sea salt

baked kale chips

  • Wash all the potatoes and the carrot, and pat dry with a towel.
  • Cut out any bad parts, cut the top off the carrot, and chop what is left into bite size pieces. (Yes, I eat the peels from them all.)
  • Place these in a small baking dish with a tablespoon or so of almond oil and a few grinds of salt. Mix it all up, and put into the oven at 350* for about 1 hour, or until they carrots and potatoes are cooked to your liking.
  • Remove from oven, and use a fork to smash the carrots and potatoes. You’re not mashing them all the way, just smashing them a bit.
  • Pour peas over these, and the 2 tablespoons of liquid.
  • Add the herbs, more salt if you like, and crush a few baked kale chips over the top.
  • Bake another 5 or 10 minutes, until the peas are warm.
  • Remove from oven and serve.

Tips

  • Use whatever potatoes and carrots you have on hand.
  • Switch up the seasonings if you’d like to use something else.
  • Use corn or green beans rather than peas if you want. Just remember the green beans may need more baking time.
  • Save money by using leftovers if you have them on hand.
  • Top with anything you like, such as sour cream or cheese, if you eat those things.

Suggestions

Be safe and well, my friends.

~ Shannon

 

Quick Meals for Singles

Being single means I do everything at home, plus work and write. I’m pretty busy and I don’t always have a lot of extra time. Especially during the enjoyable seasons when I am out walking more.

I’m always looking for ways to save time on meal prep. Sometimes this means I have put the time in ahead, other times it means that I just throw something together right then.

When making big meals ahead of time, they can be split into individual servings and then a couple of containers can go into the refrigerator for grabbing quick during the week, and the rest can be frozen. You’d just take one out of the freezer the day before you wanted it and place it in the refrigerator.

I thought I’d offer up some ideas for both.

  1. I love smoothies as a meal. I like mine a little thick, and am learning about fillers. These will mean I still full longer, and won’t need a snack in between meals.
  2. I love cottage pies. And I have the most adorable single-serve pie plates that I found on clearance to make them in. These are one of the foods I make a big batch of, then split between the refrigerator and freezer for later use.
  3. Stuffed squash is another great make-ahead meal that can go right into the refrigerator and be heated in the oven while you are busy doing something else. And, if you are lucky, you’ll have extra stuffing for yet a third meal to place in the freezer.
  4. If you cook up a couple of chicken breasts or some steak, you’ll have a great salad topping any time you want to have a quick meal. Just slice and store in a container in the refrigerator. Also slice vegetables and shred greens to keep on hand. Keeping fresh berries on hand means you can grab a handful to add to salads.
  5. Lettuce wraps are quick and easy.
  6. This super easy chicken soup with crisp veggies.
  7. And this pineapple-keilbasa soup is amazing.

This is all of what I have on the site so far, but I will be working on more 1-person recipes in the future.

You may also enjoy:

Happy Cooking!

~ Shannon

 

Roasted Potatoes & Carrots with Corn + A Smoothie

I’m still loving these Misfits Market boxes. I skipped the Christmas week box because I wasn’t going to be preparing as much food at home,  but I will be getting another box in a little over a week. I still have fresh produce at home that I’m working on eating, and again I’ll only be preparing some of my meals here.

The last box had a good amount of potatoes and carrots, and I had some some other things I had to use up, so this was my dinner the other night. (By the way, I love how colorful everything is.)

(I served the following two items with corn as a side.) (And I had this a few weeks back as well. It’s a good meal.)

Roasted Potatoes & Carrots

Ingredients

three each: small red and yellow potatoes

1 each: small orange, purple, red, and yellow carrots

oil of choice

sea salt

rosemary

thyme

parsley

  1. Wash and towel dry the vegetables.
  2. Cut the top off the carrots, and any bad parts off the potatoes.
  3. Cut the carrots and potatoes into bite-size chunks of roughly the same size.
  4. Lay out on a baking sheet.
  5. Drizzle oil over the vegetables.
  6. Sprinkle salt and herbs over them.
  7. Mix the vegetables on the baking sheet with your hands to evenly distribute the oil and seasonings.
  8. Place in an oven at 400 degrees. Bake 25 minutes.
  9. Take out of the oven and turn the vegetables.
  10. Bake again at 400 degrees for another 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Remove from oven.

During the last few minutes of bake time, prepare the smoothie.

Ingredients

1/2 to 3/4 cup coconut milk

1 small banana

a handful of blueberries

a handful of raspberries

1 tsp pea protein powder

1 tsp ground flax seed

1/2 tsp coconut oil

  1. Put the liquid in the blender.
  2. Add the banana.
  3. Follow that with the pea protein, flax, and coconut oil.
  4. Add the berries.
  5. Blend until smooth, adding more liquid only if necessary.

Tips

  • Mix things up, using items you have on hand to save money.
  • Beets are great roasted, as is fennel, if you’d like to try something different.

Serving Suggestions

  • These two items could be served alongside a salad, rather than corn, for an extra nutrient boost.

Enjoy!

~ Shannon

 

Cottage Pie with Italian Herbs & Baked Collard Green Chips

I’ve enjoyed a different cottage pie every so often since the weather started cooling off, and have made posts here and here about doing so. With the different seasonings I have on hand, and a tweak here-and-there, I can switch things up so making these pies doesn’t get old. The chips I baked the day before. and they were delicious sprinkled over the top.

Something I am trying to do is eat less meat. I’m not ready to give it up, but I’ve been trying to use it more as an ingredient than the main part of a meal. This saves money on the grocery bill. This also means I can use leftovers.

A serving is filling when served with a side salad.

Cottage Pie with Italian Herbs & Baked Collard Green Chips

Ingredients

1/4 to 1/2 pound of ground beef

1/2 a chicken breast

1 large potato

2 small yellow potatoes

6 baby read potatoes

1 medium sweet potato

3/4 to 1 cup of frozen corn

butter or oil

2 Tbsp vegetable stock or reserved sweet potato cooking water.

2 tsp Italian herb mix (dried parsley, basil, and oregano)

2 to 4 baked collard green chips

  1. Rinse the sweet and other potatoes.
  2. Peel sweet potato and chop. Put in a pot and cover with water on medium-high.
  3. Reduce heat when the liquid starts to boil, and cook until fork tender.
  4. Drain the sweet potato, reserving the water, and then mash with a fork.
  5. Pour the water back into the pot and put back on the burner, but do not turn on.
  6. Measure out the frozen corn and add it to the sweet potato water. Do NOT turn the burner on. The hot liquid will warm the corn perfectly.
  7. Chop the other potatoes.
  8. Put in a pot and cover with water, and cook on medium-high.
  9. Reduce heat when the liquid starts to boil, and cook until fork tender.
  10. Drain the potatoes, and then mash with together with a fork.
  11. Drain the other potatoes and mash.
  12. Put oil or butter in a skillet and heat on medium-high until melted.
  13. Add the ground beef.
  14. Brown the ground beef while dicing the chicken.
  15. Drain and rinse the ground beef when cooked through, putting the meat into the bottom of a casserole dish.
  16. Cook the chicken in the same skillet, adding more butter or oil if needed, until cooked through. Drain and rinse, and add the meat to the casserole dish.
  17. Add two tablespoons of vegetable stock or the reserved cooking water from the sweet potato to the baking dish.
  18. Drain the liquid from the corn, spreading the corn over the meat mixture in the dish.
  19. Top with sweet potato and spread out in a this layer.
  20. Top with the other mashed potatoes, spreading it all out evenly over the sweet potato.
  21. Place in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 25+ minutes, until warmed through.
  22. Remove from oven and crumble baked collard chips over the top. (These could also be added when you add the herbs to the mashed potatoes.)

Tips

  • By using the sweet potato water rather than just regular water, you’re getting those added nutrients.
  • By using that water over store-bought stock, you are saving money.

Serving Suggestions

Enjoy!

~ Shannon

 

Cottage Pie Variations

I posted this shepherd’s pie and the variations back in 2013. I still love the original recipe and those variations, but there is more you can do with these pies.

Also, my daughter Zowie pointed out to me that, while these were called Shepherd’s pies while I was growing up, and therefore while she and her sister were growing up, they are actually cottage pies. Why? Because our versions are not made with lamb. If yours are, please continue to call them shepherd’s pie.

These pies can be baked in pans of varying sizes, and they allow for some amount of experimentation. I recently decided to make some for work meals, and these are some of the food combinations I came up with. They are so easy to make.

 

 

  • Ground beef, peas, mashed carrot, and mashed potato.
  • Shredded chicken, corn, mashed squash, and mashed sweet potato.
  • Ground beef, corn, peas, mashed carrot, mashed squash, and mashed sweet potato.
  • Shredded chicken, corn, peas, mashed squash, mashed potato.

I’m trying to get in as many vegetables a day as I can.

I love the little pie plates I bought. They allow you to make serving size pies for easy lunches, and can be packed into lunch sacks once covered. I use reusable methods for doing this, such as bees wax wrapping. I’d like to find some mini baking pans with lids.

Making a cottage pie is easy.

First, cook the meat and add some to the bottom of the baking dish with 1 or more tablespoons of water, broth, stock, or vegetable cooking liquid. Then add mashed, frozen, or canned vegetables, like this:

cottage pie 14

Next you want to add a top layer of your choice: squash, white potato, or sweet potato. And sprinkle on any herbs you want.

cottage pie 9

You can also add a dollop of another topping if you’d like. Be creative. Try new things.

Last, you’ll want to bake the pie(s) at about 350 degrees until they are warmed through. At least 15 or 20 minutes.

Tips

  • Grow what you can to save money.
  • Use store coupons or wait for sales to save money. Better yet, use sales and coupons together.
  • Eat in-season when possible for the freshest food, and to maybe save a little money.

Serving Suggestions

Enjoy the recipe!

Shannon

Sausage & Apple Stuffed Squash

I used leftovers from my Sausage & Apples One-Pan Meal to make stuffed squash today, and it was delicious. I often make extras at one meal to use for other meals over the next couple of days. It makes meal prep a little easier.

I’ve done a few different stuffed squashes, and I just love them. I think my favorite was a chili stuffed squash. I’ll try to remember to post it here sometime. But this one was simply delicious. I love the paring of sausage and apples.

There is a long bake time for these, but it’s well worth it, and it gives me time to start a blog post or do something else.

This recipe actually gives me two meals. I’ll usually eat one for lunch and the other for dinner.

Ingredients

Serves 2

leftovers from yesterday’s Sausage & Apple One-Pan Meal

acorn squash

oil

sea salt

pepper

seasonings of choice

  1. Wash the squash and pat dry.
  2. Take the stem off, and cut in half from top to bottom.
  3. Take out the seeds and the stringy stuff, reserving the seeds for roasting.
  4. Drizzle oil over cut sides of squash and smear it to cover. Not too much oil, but just enough to cover.
  5. Grind salt and pepper over top.
  6. Place cut side down on baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 to 60 minutes, until tender enough to scoop out.
  7. Carefully place each squash on your work and scoop out the inside, leaving enough to create a sturdy bowl.
  8. Put the scooped out squash into a medium size bowl, and put the “bowls” back on the baking dish cut side up.
  9. Add 1/2 of the Apple & Squash One-Pan Meal leftovers to the bowl, covering the rest and putting it back into the refrigerator for another meal.
  10. Grind some salt and pepper over the contents of the bowl, and add any seasonings you like.
  11. Scoop into the squash “bowls”. If there are any leftovers, add them to the leftovers already in the refrigerator.
  12. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or so, until heated through.
  13. Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes before placing on a plate or in a bowl to eat.

Tips

  • Use fresh, organic garden produce when available for the best taste.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve this with fresh, raw vegetables and fruit water for added nutrients.
  • If you have access to an oven or a microwave at work, wrap the second stuffed squash and bring it with you.

 

Sausage & Apple One-Pan Meal #2

At this point, I have a good little stash of squash going. A couple straight from my parents garden. I’m hoping to acquire enough for use this fall and through the new year. One thing I love is stuffed squash, and I’m planning one for tomorrow.

I also have a steady stream of potatoes and apples coming in. It’s great. I’ve made apple and apple-pear sauces for my work meals recently. And now I am ready to utilize more of the potatoes and squash.

The upcoming change of season is the reason. Right about this time every year I start making more and more heartier meals. As I sit here writing, I’m full from one such meal. This is that recipe.

By the way, when I say large potato I mean a huge one. Not sure how much it weighed, but it was a hefty one. Also, I left the peel on the potato, cutting out a couple of small bad parts. And I left the apple peeled, but cored it. Peels have important nutrients too!

Ingredients

oil, ghee, or butter

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 large potato, chopped

1 large apple, diced

1/2 lb turkey sausage, chopped

sea salt

pepper

  1. Allow oil, ghee, or butter to heat in a skillet, then add crushed garlic and stir. Allow to cook for a minute.
  2. Add the potatoes and allow to cook down about half-way.
  3. Sprinkle the apples over the potatoes and stir.
  4. Add the sausage, salt, and pepper, and stir again.
  5. Stir occasionally while it all continues to cook, until the potatoes are done to your likeness.

Tips

  • Use whatever potatoes and apples you like.
  • Try using other seasonings, such as parsley, rosemary, or oregano.
  • Buy fresh from a farm stand if there is one nearby, or a farmer’s market. Or, try a Misfits Market box. (This is an affiliate link. You get a discount on your first order, and I get one on a future one. A win-win! Use this referral code so we can both get a discount: COOKWME-PI4FFE ) This is where I get most of my produce.
  • Plant a garden. This would be the ultimate in savings, and exactly what I would do if I wasn’t renting.

Serving Suggestions

Enjoy the recipe!

~ Shannon

 

What’s-on-Hand Salad

Because I’ve been getting the Madness Boxes from Misfits Market every couple of weeks, I’ve come up with a few salad combinations. All I’m doing is using what I have on hand that week for fresh produce. I’m not adding meat, seeds, or nuts, unless I want something with it when I am actually eating.

This type of salad is also good for using up those odd bits of produce leftover from other meals.

Don’t feel like you have to follow this recipe closely. Just use what you have available.

What’s-on-Hand Salad

Ingredients

mixed lettuce

spinach

cucumber

broccoli

  1. Rinse the produce well. Place on a towel and cover with another one. Press gently to dry produce.
  2. Break the lettuce and spinach up using your hands. There’s no kneed to use a knife.
  3. Slice the cucumber into rounds, then cut into halves or quarters.
  4. Chop the broccoli.
  5. Add everything to a bowl.
  6. Enjoy!

I take this a little further by breaking out the reusable containers and filling each of them with enough salad for a meal or a snack. With these in the refrigerator like this, I can just grab a salad when I want one. Easy-peasy!

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with soup on a cool day.
  • Serve with a meal of meat and potatoes.
  • Add some grilled chicken and seeds or nuts and call it dinner!

Tips

  • Use scraps so nothing goes to waste.
  • Use produce from your own garden to save money.

~ Shannon

 

Busy Cooks Guide to Easy Meal Prep

I know what it’s like, being so busy you don’t have time to prepare healthy meals and snacks at home. Things get crazy-busy sometimes, and there does not seem like enough time to do all that we have to do.

But there are things that will help to make meal prep easy during the busier times life will throw at you, and I want to share with you what tactics I use to create quick, easy meals when life is too hectic.

Spend an afternoon preparing

If you have a few hours, it’s a good idea to prepare some things in advance. Here are a few things I do, depending on the time of year:

  • Make tortilla wraps and place them in the refrigerator between sheets of parchment paper. I find a recipe online for Paleo wraps, and use that.
  • Wash and cut up vegetables. Store in containers in the refrigerator. Use ends and greens when making stock.
  • Place fruit in bowls to grab when you want a snack or are in a hurry.
  • Prepare lunches for work or school so you can easily grab them before leaving.
  • Make a vegetable stock and store it in the refrigerator for use during the week. Any extra can go into the freezer. Use ends and greens, as well as any leftover vegetables that won’t get eaten fresh.
  • Roast a chicken, then cut it up into serving sizes and refrigerate. Freeze what you wont use in the next four days.
  • Make chocolate sauce and store in canning jars in the refrigerator. Use this with fresh fruit if you are wanting a dessert-type item.
  • Make energy balls and store three to a small container.

Buy frozen seafood

I like to check out the frozen seafood section to see what I might be able to use for meals during the week. Scallops and shrimp are easy to prepare, and can be used in many food combinations.

This week I found bags of raw, peeled, deveined, tail-on shrimp for $5.00, so I picked one up. I’ll keep it in the freezer, and take some out whenever I want to make a dish.

What will I use the shrimp for? Any number of things, including:

Make a soup

Soups are a wonderful way to add vegetables to your menu. Just throw the ingredients in a pot on the stove – or in a crock – and cook at the beginning of the week. This could be done on a prep day.

My best friend will cook up a huge pot all at once, and I just love my chicken and vegetable soup and my sausage and pineapple one.

I put servings of soup in small canning jars after they’ve cooled some, and place those in the refrigerator. They are easy to warm when you are short on time, and taste great.

Know what fruits can be stored near each other

A few medium size mixing or fruit bowls will hold a lot of fruit. Place citrus vegetables in one, apples and pears in another, and bananas and grapes in the third. One can be used as a centerpiece at the table, and the other two can be placed at either end of the counter.

School and work lunches

I usually put these together during a prep day, because I’m already doing related tasks. All I’m really doing is packing things up a little differently than in spend an afternoon preparing above.

I have a shelf specifically for work meal items, and organize the containers and other items in a way that makes things easy to grab. I work 5 shifts in four days, and will bring everything I put together on the first day.

While cutting up vegetables, I’ll have five containers reserved for work. Into each of those, I’ll put a few servings of vegetables, a few cut up berries or some grapes, and a serving of meat, unless the meat will be in soup form. In that case, the soups are already packaged as individual servings.

If I will be having wraps, I’ll also store the wraps separately.

Much of the time, to make things easy, I’ll have the same foods for all five meals, switching out different fruits or snacks. Having packets of dark chocolate covered blueberries and cherries helps with this, as does having some energy balls on hand.

Easy meal combo’s utilizing raw vegetables include:

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced strawberries, sugar snap peas in pods, broccoli, carrots, celery, and a small amount of nut butter
  • rice, seasoned ground beef, diced tomato, corn, grapes
  • turkey slices, roasted sweet potato, mashed squash, peas, cranberries
  • veggie wraps, shrimp scampi on the side (to be added to the wrap later), strawberry slices
  • sausage and pineapple soup, carrot sticks, celery with nut butter, cherries

Quick breakfast ideas

While a box of cereal is the ultimate in quickness during our busy mornings, those types of boxed, processed things are not exactly the healthiest of choices. I like to make my own cereal, and it takes less time than making pancakes. Here are a few of may favorites:

Another ideas is to make a batch of Paleo granola to use as cereal during busy mornings. Add half a cup to a bowl, top with fruit and organic, unsweetened coconut, and add nut milk.

Quick snack ideas

Parfaits are an easy snack, and can be refrigerated overnight. Make a couple up during prep day for a quick, easy snack later and the next day. A few options include:

Trail mixes are another great snack option, and can be made up in advance and used throughout the coming week or so. Stored little canning jars, they will be easy to grab.

Quick lunches and dinners

If you have the components from spend and afternoon preparing above, you probably already have the components for a few meals. Buy frozen seafood and make a soup offer other ideas. Here are some more that can be made ahead and warmed later, or made quickly the day you want them:

*****

With practice, meal prep days will go more quickly and you might choose to make more options on that day.

What do you do to keep it healthy during the busiest of times?

Shannon