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Posted on Jan 14, 2014 in Food | 9 comments

Creamy Garlic Avocado Sauce

There is literally no food on this green Earth that I find more naturally beautiful than an avocado. When you cut into a perfectly ripe avocado, and twist the two halves apart to reveal that ombre green center… it’s just a damn beautiful fruit, okay? And luckily, it’s also one of the most amazing sources of healthy fat, um, ever. I’ve long been a vocal opponent of the idea that fat makes you fat — it doesn’t! Fat is satiating and a necessary component of healthy meals. In fact, the personal trainer that I trained with told me that a good ratio of nutrients for weight loss is 40/30/30 — that’s 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat! The same amount of fat as protein. BOOM.

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So when I came down to brainstorming for my final Almond Breeze recipe — what will hopefully be the piece de resistance — it was really quite fortuitous that I also happened to have a bulk bag of avocados from Costco ripening away (BEST VALUE EVER. It was like $5.99 for 7 avocados or some nonsense). Because it gave me a chance to revamp a recipe that I believe I originally posted back in the earliest blossoming days of this blog… but I can’t be sure, because it was so long ago that I can’t actually find the post I’m thinking about. (Whoops.)

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Aaaanywho, yes, this is the better, delicious-er, avocado-ier version of my original recipe. I actually intended to serve it over a bed of roasted spaghetti squash, but I got too impatient waiting for the squash to finish cooking, so I ended up eating it with some leftover pasta that I had in the fridge. Yep, the sauce gets done THAT fast and it’s THAT good. And would you believe that it’s UNDER 100 CALORIES per serving?! Believe me, you are not going to want to miss out on this one.

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Creamy Garlic Avocado Sauce
Makes 6 servings of sauce

Ingredients:

2 ripe avocados
1 clove raw garlic
1 loose cup spinach
1/4 cup unsweetened Almond Breeze almond milk
Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. In a food processor or high-powered blender, combine avocados, garlic, and spinach.
2. Pulse until finely chopped.
3. Add almond milk in batches and blend until desired consistency is reached. For a runnier texture, you may need slightly more almond milk.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste, and voila! Toss with pasta, top chicken or fish, or serve as a dip with crackers!

Nutritional information: 99.4 calories, 9 g fat (but it’s good fat!), 5.4 g carbs, 1.3 g protein.

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I’m not going to bother calling it a pasta sauce, because I think that it honestly has tons of possibilities. Toss with noodles, use as sauce for a rice bowl, or top chicken or fish with this creamy green deliciousness. Keep the texture a little thicker and serve it as a dip! (I’d probably add a little lemon or lime juice to maintain it’s freshness if I did that, but I didn’t have any on hand this time around and it really is delicious as is.)

My tip for preserving leftovers is the same as for making guacamole: cover the sauce with a layer of plastic wrap — as in, have the plastic wrap actually TOUCH the food in its container, and then put on the lid. Keeping the air off of the sauce will help keep the top from browning (since, even though it’s still totally fine to eat, browned food never looks appetizing). And bon appetite!

almondbreezelogoThe above post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, but all content is 100% my own.

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Posted on Jan 17, 2012 in Food | 19 comments

Making Pasta

Let us try to sweep past the fact that it took me almost 2 hours to get to work this morning (traffic fail), that I’m operating on roughly 4.3 hours of sleep (sleeping fail), and that even with all my exhausted stumbling around the kitchen this morning, all I managed to bring to work to eat today is a Luna bar and a container of leftover Edible Arrangement fruit (bringing food to work fail). Let us instead focus on happier thoughts. Foodier thoughts. Thoughts that bring us back to yesterday, when I spent the day making fresh pasta for the first time with my family!

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I gave my sister a pasta making attachment for her KitchenAid and a pasta drying rack for Christmas a couple of years ago, but she had never even opened them before last night, haha. We figured it was finally time to put it to use, so my parents and I drove up to Columbia and promptly proceeded to destroy Jenny’s kitchen.

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Admittedly, for the first few rounds with the pasta roller, I was starting to feel about making pasta the same way I feel about cake balls: great if you have the patience, but not worth it. It’s a lot of work!

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You put chunks of pasta dough (generally a combination of flour, egg, water, and salt/seasonings) into the pasta roller, fold it in half, then feed it through over and over again, adjusting the settings so the pasta sheets gets thinner and more uniform each time. Then you have to switch attachment heads if you want to cut the pasta sheets into actual noodles (the set I gave Jenny had a fettuccine and spaghetti attachments). We did two kinds of pasta and two sauces to go with!

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My mom and sister found the recipes for a whole wheat pasta and a basil (!) pasta, and they mixed up the dough while I watched clips of Daniel Radcliffe‘s episode of SNL (teehee). Then I came into assist with the pasta rolling/cutting, general cooking, and sauce-making. We made a garlic cream sauce that was so delicious that my arteries are re-clogging just thinking about it, and a rose sauce with tomato sauce, white wine, and a ton of herbs. Delicious!

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Pasta creeper.

So as I mentioned before, I was a little skeptical at first that the end result would be worth all the effort we were putting into the pasta. Well, I’m delighted to announce that I was so, so wrong. Freshly made pasta is amazing. It cooked in like .085 seconds and was chewy, flavorful, and delicious!

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Oh carbs. How I love you.

Along with the pasta itself, there was the loaf of jalapeno-cheddar bread you see above, and we also did up some chicken, mushrooms, and these incredibly gourmet salads that included spinach, vanilla poached pears, glazed walnuts (I die), and herb goat cheese.

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So, uh, yeah, I’d say it was a pretty successful dinner. I think that you could easily spend hundreds of dollars on a meal like this for 5 people in a restaurant!

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And as if all of that food wasn’t enough (there was tons leftover), my mom brought Crepes Suzette to make for dessert. Whoosh.

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So much amazingness. So making pasta isn’t something that I would do regularly, not only because it is a lot of work (and I don’t own the pasta attachments myself anyway), but because I have a very hard time with portion control when it comes to pasta — especially with this degree of deliciousness! That said, I think that it really is an awesome thing to be able to do if you are entertaining or cooking for a special occasion. It just tastes SO much better than the dried, boxed stuff. And you have infinite possibilities, too! We tried to keep the doughs fairly simple for our first time, but we were spinning off tons of ideas for pastas made with pumpkin, butternut squash, spinach, sundried tomatoes… the list goes on.

Have you ever made/do you make your own fresh pasta?

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Posted on Oct 20, 2011 in Food | 62 comments

A Worthy Replacement

There’s no denying the fact that I am a pasta lover.

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Rigatoni, farfalle, rotini, spaghetti, linguini, rice noodles, egg noodles…

Take a bite!

Just give me some sort of noodle and some kind of sauce to go alongside it, and I am a happy, happy girl. Unfortunately, eating tons of this carb-y goodness isn’t exactly conducive to the whole weight loss thing I’m still attempting to complete. Especially when the aforementioned sauces generally tend to be buttery and creamy and oh-so-artery-cloggingly delicious.

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While I do have a few healthy pasta recipes that are delicious and nutritious in my arsenal, I still have a big problem with proper portioning. A mere two ounces of spaghetti is supposed to be a serving, and that’s simply never enough.

Day 206 - Pasta in a Jar.
(photo by ben)

So a couple nights ago, I finally decided to bite the bullet and try out yet another fad I’ve been seeing grace the healthy living blogosphere for a while: spaghetti squash!

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I recognize that these photos look like ish because I forgot to swap lenses, but please just bear with me. After all, I’ve got a MIRACLE to share here!

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Because surely nothing less than a miracle could be responsible for a vegetable tasting almost exactly like pasta, right? Label me officially flabbergasted.

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I split a spaghetti squash in half, de-seeded it, and sprinkled salt & pepper over it. I then threw both halves onto a baking sheet and baked/roasted/whatevered them at 375 degrees for 20 minutes… but then got really, really impatient when it wasn’t cooked by then. Soooo, I put them on a plate and finished them in the microwave – 5 minutes on high with a paper towel draped on top. Obviously if you were a non-crazy person, you might actually look up appropriate cooking times and/or methods, but hey, it worked out!

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Once cooked through, the flesh becomes soft and the spaghetti-shaped strands (hence, er, the name. Duh.) just pull away from the sides. You get a TON of “noodles” out of a single squash. The picture above shows the amount I got from only one of the halves!

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I cooked up a sauce with ground turkey, onion, garlic, broccoli, and spinach — in a tomato sauce + alfredo sauce base. Then I added a splash of almond milk to thin it out, seasoned it, and voila! I won’t lie: of course the texture is a bit different than real pasta. But the squash tastes SO much like spaghetti, I honestly could NOT believe my tastebuds! It barely has a squashy (haha) flavor at all, and pairs SO well with sauce. I was hesitant at first to jump on the spaghetti squash bandwagon, but now? Well, consider me a convert.

spaghetti squash
(source)

Want to hear the best part? A cup of spaghetti squash has — are you ready for this? — 42 calories. FORTY-TWO CALORIES! Compare that to the 200+ calories you’d likely be looking at with the same amount of whole wheat pasta, then go try this magical vegetable for yourself. I may still need to work on my portioning problems, but at least with this I can overeat guilt-free, hahaha.

Have you tried spaghetti squash before? Have you used it as a pasta replacement/substitution? There are only a few substitutions that are really worthwhile (plain greek yogurt for sour cream is one of them), but this has definitely made the list.

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Posted on Sep 23, 2011 in Food, Recipes | 17 comments

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

Yesterday was just one of those days. You know, the kind of day where nothing’s in particular is wrong, but nothing’s really right either. But then again, with sushi the day before, the bar was set pretty high.

I woke up thinking it was Friday, the weather was decidedly dreary, and I was generally in just a hum-drum mood. So after trying (and failing) to lift my spirits with far too much caffeine throughout the day, I came home and knew I had to take action. Time for some kitchen therapy!

Chop chop

Chopping soothes the soul.

Aromatics

As does mincing. And dicing. Gotta keep those knife skills “sharp”! (Badoom-ching!)

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I also roasted my first peppers! After only ever buying the pre-roasted kind that comes in a jar, it turns out it is pretty much the easiest thing ever: turn oven onto broil. Put peppers on baking sheet. Broil for 10 minutes, turning twice, until charred.

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Let cool (or, if you’re feeling masochistic, make the same mistake I did and don’t, haha), then peel off the skin. Typing out those words may make me feel creepy, but it’s oddly therapeutic!

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Slice, dice, and done! Meanwhile…

'Shrooms
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Let’s make some magic. The result?

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A pasta dish that ended up being simultaneously hearty and light, and totally hit the spot! Funny how my idea of “kitchen therapy” has evolved from eating my way through an entire box of Thin Mints in one sitting, eh? I think I may be an even better emotional cooker than emotional eater, haha. The only thing I thought was missing was a touch of fresh basil… which I would have gladly added had my basil plant not been vanquished by my black thumb. Oops.

Black Thumb
R.I.P.

Regardless, it still turned out great! Just the thing to lift my melancholia (well, finally getting to watch the season premiere of Modern Family might also have been a factor.) Behold:

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
Print this recipe!

This easy pasta is robust and creamy, tasting far guiltier than it is! I like a little zest, but you can make this as spicy as you like. Pair with shrimp or chicken, or enjoy on its own!

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

3 cups whole wheat fusilli (or pasta of your choice)
2 cups diced or sliced roasted red peppers, diced or sliced (or both!)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup sliced mushrooms (I used baby bella)
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 cup milk or cream of choice (I used unsweetened almond milk)
1 teaspoon dried basil
Sriracha, optional
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Set pasta water to boil. Broil peppers if necessary. Cook pasta to preference/according to instructions on the box.

2. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan to medium heat. Sauté garlic and onions with seasonings (basil, salt, pepper) until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for an additional 3 minutes, or until mushrooms are soft.

3. Add the roasted red peppers, stewed tomatoes, and sriracha (if using.) Add almond milk and bring sauce to a simmer. Reduce sauce until it is of desired thickness, about 5 – 7 minutes.

4. Combine with pasta, and enjoy!

Take a bite!
Bon appetit!

Have a fantastic weekend!

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Posted on Sep 8, 2011 in Dear Diary, Fail | 32 comments

Panic

So. Yesterday. Hrm.

You may have caught a few glimpses of how things were progressing on Facebook and Twitter.

I’ll sum up the events of the day in case you don’t want to wade through what is sure to be rather hysterical by saying this: the day was not a good one. And I have nobody to blame but myself, which just makes it worse (it’s always better when you can blame SOMEBODY else!)

The day started off innocuously enough. A bit rainy, a bit trafficky, but nothing I couldn’t handle. After all, I had started my day with toast smothered in Dark Chocolate Dreams so it couldn’t be that bad, right? Er, wrong.

Let’s start with the part where I am an idiot, and ventured out into the drizzle and rain (umbrella-less, of course, because only a sensible person would have brought an umbrella with them) to meet my dear friend Lizzie for lunch. We were all set to try a brand spankin’ new pizza place in Chinatown called District of Pi which I was obviously excited for, since I was willing to trudge through the doldrums to get there, haha. Of course, since this is me we’re talking about, upon arriving I was forced to come to the horrifying realization that we aren’t meeting for lunch until tomorrow.

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Womp. Womp.

Unwilling to shuffle my shame back to the metro and get even MORE wet (although at this point that probably wasn’t really possible), I took a cab back to the office in an attempt to run away from my own stupidity. But okay, I felt moronic and looked like a drowned rat, but all in all it wasn’t the worst thing. I was still in a mildly elevated mood, minus the being cold and wet thing, and the day was over halfway done at this point.

Enter my journey home.

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I’ve told you in the past how I don’t really like to drive. Blame it on the fact that I’m young, or that other people like crashing into me (they really do!), or that I’m a half-Asian woman driving a car with the turning radius of a military tank, but I just don’t really dig it. That being said, I have been driving to work lately because I discovered that A) it’s easy to drive to my office and B) the metro is so fracking expensive ($9 a day really adds up!)

Of course, the only reason I don’t actually mind driving is because my office is literally right across the street from the 395 ramp. The entirety of my commute is spent on the highway, and not trying to make sure I don’t turn the wrong way down a one-way street with tiny signs and stoplights on the side of the road instead of overhead. Yeah, I don’t really dig “regular” DC driving.

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So I’m sure you can all imagine my absolute delight when I learned that the massive amount of rain that has already half-ruined my day, has also flooded the highway and backed up traffic at my exit up the wazoo so I couldn’t even turn onto it. My boss had told me that there’s another on-ramp just up the street a little ways, so I headed in that direction to try to make my way back to the highway. I think you can imagine what happened next.

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What ensued was an hour of silently freaking out as I managed to get myself more and more lost in the streets of DC. Somehow I made my way from L’Enfant Plaza to the Mall, to Dupont Circle, to the weird little sideroad that follows alongside the Kennedy Center, all the while crushing my iPhone in my hand as I begged the Maps app to save me. Somewhere in my third traffic circle, I started tearing up (expected), hyperventilating (unsurprising), and shaking (unexpected). I couldn’t stop driving though — where was I going to pull over? — and somehow I finally made it back to a recognizable road.

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I pulled into my driveway and literally burst into tears, hahaha. Let’s just say I’ve never been so happy to see this face:

Wisdom

I really thought that the day’s chain of sucky events was going to send me tailspinning into a binge of epic proportions, but surprised even myself when I didn’t. Maybe I really am growing up. Instead of burying my crummy day in Baconators, I cuddled extra long with the dogs, took a real shower (since I’m not sure that being rainsoaked quite counts), and then made myself some “comfort” food:

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Still tweaking the recipe on this one, but my efforts resulted in a warm, creamy bowl of pasta which is just what I needed to nurse my emotional wounds a little.

Now if only the sun would come out.

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