Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tortellini In Vegetable Sauce

This was my latest brainstorm recipe that turned out so well that my husband and I could hardly stop eating this. I had a lot of different vegetables that needed to be used up, not enough time to thaw some meat and wanted to do something easy before I had to run off to work in the evening. It turned out that the veggies I had worked wonderful together for this dish, but I really think you could use all different types of vegetables and have a great dish. The cooking time for this is less than 30 minutes and would be a great weeknight meal if you have the veggies already prepped.

Serves about 6 (or 4 adult servings)

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cleaned and finely chopped, including the upper stems
  • 1 pint size container of grape tomatoes (or you could substitute 1  15oz. can of diced tomatoes with juice)
  • 1 large onion or 2 small-medium onions
  • 2 medium carrots, medium diced, or may use baby carrots chopped
  • 2 large celery ribs, chopped
  • 2-3 mushrooms
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • palmful of Italian seasoning/herb blend
  • salt blend like Goya Adobo with pepper
  • 1 pound pasta of choice
  • cream or half and half
  • 2-4 large handfuls of spinach, chopped (or may use 1/2 small package of frozen spinach); may use another type of greens
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup romano cheese, shredded
  • 2-3 low fat string cheese sticks, shredded and then chopped (optional), or may use handful of shredded mozarella cheese
  • chopped parsley for garnish
  • In a large covered skillet, generously drizzle olive oil over the vegetables and season with seasoned salt blend and crushed Italian seasoning. After it has begun to cook and soften a little, cover the pan so the juices do not evaporate out. Stir occasionally and add a little water if needed.
  • While the veggies are cooking, start the pasta water. Liberally salt the water. Cook pasta about 2 minutes less than the recommended time as it will cook in the sauce at the end.
  • As the veggies become tender as you desire, add in the cream gradually until the sauce is lightly creamy- I used about 1/4-1/3 cup.
  • Add in the chopped spinach. 
  • Pull out about 1 - 1 1/2 cup of pasta water as the pasta is finished and set it aside.
  • Add the cheeses to the vegetable mixture and then add in the drained pasta.
  • Combine everything together and add in as much pasta water as you need to make enough sauce to cover the pasta. Cover the pan as it cooks together for a couple more minutes. 
  • Garnish with parsley and serve with a garlic bread or other warm rustic bread.
*Note- if using more sturdy greens in place of spinach, add them in with the vegetables at the beginning since they need more time to cook.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Baking Mix (Biscuits, Pancakes, etc)

Here is another one of the mixes I came up with recently through trying different recipes and incorporating ones that I already use and love. As I already wrote previously, I have been looking for more mixes that are homemade because they are great for saving time, but they also save money and allow me to control more what our family eats. It is hard to find mixes that are part wheat flour and do not use partially hydrogenated oils.

This mix can be used in place of any baking mix in recipes, as well as to make biscuits or make into pancakes (although I have a buttermilk pancake mix I previously posted that I prefer). I also used palm shortening since it is naturally solid and does not turn rancid at room temperature. I had to order palm shortening online (I bought from Tropical Traditions) since it is not always readily available in many grocery stores in the U.S.

Makes about 9 batches of biscuits or pancakes

  • 10 cups flour total (may divide into different types of flour but is best if not using more than 1/2 whole wheat flour)- I used 6 cups white flour, 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour and 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp cream of tartar
  • 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp salt
  • 5 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups shortening or butter
  • 2 cups dry milk powder
  • In a very large bowl or clean bucket/dishpan, mix all the dry ingredients together except the dry milk. 
  • Cut in the shortening or butter until it is mixed throughout the dry ingredients and is about pea-sized
  • Stir in the dry milk and mix together well.
  • Store in a cool dry place in a 1 gallon sized container. If using butter, you should keep it in the freezer or at least the refrigerator.

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To Make Biscuits:
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Mix together 1 1/2 cups of baking mix with 1/2 cup milk in a medium bowl. (Add it gradually and use a little less if you want to make the dough drier so it can be rolled/cut out).
  • Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or just until the tops are golden brown.
  • Remove to a cooling rack.
To Make Pancakes:
  • In a medium bowl, beat together 1 egg, 1 cup of milk and 1 tsp vanilla.
  • Add in 1 1/2 cup of baking mix and stir just until moistened being careful not to overmix.
  • Fry on a greased, hot frying pan or griddle.

Adapted from Baking Mix recipe in Simply In Season, 2009

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Buttermilk Pancake Mix

I love buttermilk pancakes but do not always have buttermilk on hand to use. Sometimes I make soured milk to use, but it takes a little time and forethought. On the SACO Buttermilk Powder container, there is a recipe for Buttermilk Pancakes that we use and really enjoy. I have adapted it and made it into a bulk mix that can be made up and save some time when you are making pancakes. I was able to find buttermilk powder in a 10 pound package much cheaper at one of the local country stores, and I store the extra in the freezer. If you have any stores near you that sell bulk foods, they are probably able to order the buttermilk powder for you at a much cheaper price than the name brands available online or in the stores.

*Note: the label in the picture has been changed since I took the picture and should not be followed for this recipe since I adjusted ingredients in the meantime.

Bulk Recipe Ingredients:

  • 10 cups all purpose flour (or up to 5 cups whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour; may also use 4 cups all purpose flour, 3 cups cake flour and 3 cups whole wheat flour)
  • 1 cup powdered milk
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered buttermilk powder
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
Bulk Directions:
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine/sift together the ingredients, being sure to mix everything together very well.
  • Store in a cool place in a well-sealed gallon container.
Below are the instructions that you can print out on a large label and affix to the side of your container. This way you always have the instructions when you are ready to make pancakes. You may need to copy/paste and adjust according to the size of your labels.

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                            Buttermilk Pancake Mix

To Make Pancakes:    Makes about 10 pancakes (4 inch) 
  • 1 1/2 cups pancake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 - 1 cup water (depending on how thick you like your pancakes)
  • 2-4 Tbsp oil or melted butter
  • Measure 1 1/2 cups of pancake mix into a medium mixing bowl. 
  • In a smaller bowl, mix together egg, vanilla, water and oil.
  • Add liquids into the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened/combined, being careful to not over-mix.
  • Heat skillet or griddle on medium high heat. 
  • Drop 2-3 Tbsp of batter into greased skillet/griddle and cook until bubbles appear around the top of the pancakes. 
  • Flip over and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until other side is golden brown.
Optional add-ins:  1/4 cup applesauce or grated apples or other finely chopped fruit, 1/4 cup coconut or chopped nuts. If using chocolate or other flavored baking chips or berries, toss first in a couple Tbsp of flour to keep them from falling to the bottom of the bowl. 
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Mop It Up Monday 51