Monthly Archives: February 2012

Bow Tie Pasta Primavera

Now that the entire household has run through the flu, and I have thoroughly disinfected the house, I was actually able to cook a real dinner for the family! I had purchased some fresh veggies on my big trip to the grocery store almost 2 weeks ago! Since we’ve all been sick I haven’t had the opportunity to use them, so I was a little bit concerned that they would need to go to the rabbit.

I checked them over and they were all (surprisingly) still really good! Although, the green beans were not quite as crisp as I like them. The peppers, mushrooms and asparagus were all great.

So, I pulled out a recipe that incorporated all of those, except the green beans. It’s from a recipe book that I have had for twenty years called The Healthy Heart Cookbook. It is a low sodium, low calorie, low cholesterol cookbook.

It is a pasta recipe called Bow Tie Pasta Primavera. It’s a recipe that the whole likes, and since it’s meatless it is a big bonus!

I served it with the green beans, which I roasted in the oven with almonds, brown sugar, low sodium soy sauce and olive oil.

It was a great return to the kitchen! I am really looking forward to getting back into full swing!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.

 Bow Tie Pasta Primavera

  • ½ pound fresh asparagus spears
  • 2 large carrots, scraped and sliced diagonally
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 c sliced fresh mushrooms
  • ½ c chopped onion
  • ½ c chopped red pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces bow tie pasta, uncooked
  • 1 T margarine or light butter
  • 1 T white flour
  • ¾ c skim milk
  • ¼ c no-salt chicken broth, undiluted
  • ¼ c plus 1 T freshly grated parmesan
  • 1 T fresh parsley, chopped
  • Ground pepper

 Snap off tough ends of asparagus.  Remove scales from stalks, if desired.  Cut spears diagonally into 1-inch pieces.

Arrange asparagus and carrots in a steamer over boiling water.  Cover and steam 10 minutes or until crisp tender.  Set aside.

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; add oil.  Place over medium heat until hot.  Add mushrooms, onions, red peppers and garlic; sauté 3 – 5 minutes, or until tender.  Set aside.

Cook pasta according to directions, omitting fat and salt.  Drain well and set aside.

Melt butter in a small, heavy saucepan over low heat; add flour, stirring until smooth.  Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Gradually add milk and chicken broth to mixture, stirring constantly.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly.

Combine steamed vegetables, mushroom mixture, and pasta in a large bowl.  Add sauce, ¼ c parmesan cheese, and remaining ingredients; toss well.  Transfer to a large serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining 1 T parmesan cheese.

Serve warm

Yield 8 – 1 cup servings

Fat  4 (saturated 1.2) / carbohydrate 28.1 / Cholesterol 3 / Sodium 189


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Posted by on February 25, 2012 in Uncategorized


Out to Eat – Pachamamas

At my last writing, I was in bed with the little one awaiting the lab results for the test they had run to see if she had “The Flu”. First, in case you have never had the opportunity to be tested for “The Flu”, or have one of your own children tested for “The Flu” let me explain the test. They take what appears to be a teeny tiny baby bottle brush and stick it as far up each nostril as possible and swirl it around. Now imagine the response of a seven-year old to this. Right.

Well, the test came back positive for “The Flu”. Needless to say, the past week has included very little no cooking on my part. Unless you count the packet of dry soup mix that I opened and added water, then stirred until boiling. No. No cooking.

I do have an exciting tale to tell about my dinner last, however. I had the opportunity to meet a work acquaintance for dinner last evening at a restaurant inLawrence, called Pachamamas. It is a step outside of the normalMidwestfood scene, and offers a seasonal menu designed around locally produced foods. I enjoy to opportunity to eat there occasionally to remind myself that experimenting with a food is a good thing, and that there are places in Kansas that do it right.

For dinner I chose the Toasted Sweet Potato and Cashew Raviolis with Caramelized Brussels Sprouts and Fried Mushrooms. The pasta dough was definitely homemade and the filling was sweet, without being too dessert like. I am an enormous fan of Brussels sprouts, although these were something I could prepare at home. The winner of the dish was the fried mushrooms. Not what I expected at all. Not that I was expecting a bar food. I was not. I was also not expecting the delicately battered (like tempura) flavor bursting attraction that I got. Really amazing. Of course, I had to have dessert. So, I chose the Warm Apple Almond Tart with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Fleur de Sel Caramel. Í’ve had this before. It did not disappoint. I’m quite sure I will, at some point in my life, have it again!

I will most definitely get back to cooking and writing soon. The house has been nearly disinfected and everyone was back to school and work yesterday except the hubs. He was still down with it yesterday but seems to be much better today! Ah!

I know the number of amazing food choices inLawrenceoutweighs the number of amazing food choices in many towns, but if you have the chance to try Pachamamas, you won’t be disappointed.

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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Uncategorized


Broccoli with Cheese

I have spent most of my time since Valentine’s Day caring for sick girls. That has left very little time for cooking. However, that does not mean that we haven’t still been hungry!

I was finally able to get daughter number 4 in to see the Doctor yesterday afternoon. After spending more than two hours in the Doctors office, including lab work to test for the flu, we were off to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. I called the hubs to let him know. After hearing the suspected diagnosis, pending the lab results, he asked what we were having for dinner. My baby had just said that she was sure Egg Drop Soup would make her feel better, because soup is good for people when they’re sick. I ran it by the hubs, and he agreed. Chinese food sounded good.

While I drove across town to our favorite drive-thru Chinese restaurant, the hubs and daughter number 3 looked over the menu. When the hubs called me and told me that he wanted “Broccoli with Cheese” I was a bit put off. Really? I can make Broccoli with Cheese. I like to get things that I don’t know how to make, or are too time consuming, or …but that was his choice.

I grew a little concerned about the hubs choice when I ordered it, and the woman taking my order giggled. Oh, sure. Ameican Idiot orders Broccoli with Cheese. I’m sure that’s what she must have been thinking! When I pulled up to the window to pay, and share the usual banter with the woman (we are NOT regulars, we just come here frequently enough that she knows me) she told me in a perfect blend of enthusiastic pride, that it would be at least fifteen minutes to make the Broccoli with Cheese. They make it hot and fresh each order. With that, my concern turned more to intrigue. What must this be, this Broccoli with Cheese that looks so non-descript on the menu board, that causes so much excitement from the woman at the restaurant that she would giggle. Something so special that I had to pull out of line and park in a special spot, while it was being made. I watched three other cars full of people get their food in the time that I was waiting.

I felt bad that this was making my sick little one wait longer, but she was not complaining one bit. She was medicated, fever down, and awaiting her Egg Drop Soup.

When I got home and the hubs started unpacking the feast I had ordered, I told him the story about how the woman at the restaurant had giggled and become quite enthusiastic at the order of Broccoli with Cheese. So, he took that as a sign to take a bite immediately. After enduring his Oooohing and Ahhhhing long enough, I took a bite. Oooooh. Ahhhh. Mmmmmm. This, my friends, was no ordinary Broccoli with Cheese. This – was special. This – was amazing. After several bites I concluded that one of the secret ingredients must be horseradish of some sort. After a few more bites of his own plated goodness, the hubs agreed.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to spend any time in the kitchen today, and maybe not tomorrow. What I do know is: when I can, I am going to try to recreate that amazing creamy goodness that eludes the average individual going through the drive-thru at this (and who knows how many other) Chinese eatery.

A special thanks goes out to the hubs for being so daring as to order a seemingly mundane dish, so that we could discover this little secret!

I look forward to getting back into the kitchen soon – and to having healthy little ones who are able to eat what I cook!

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Posted by on February 18, 2012 in Uncategorized


Valentine’s Day

I got up early yesterday morning to finish my Valentine’s Day baking. I wanted to make some special muffins for the girls, and to share with my co-workers. They get to hear about all of my baking, but don’t get to partake very often. For several weeks I have been looking for a recipe for muffins made with mixed berries. I adore mixed berries over yogurt with granola. I fell in love with that breakfast delight on a trip toBanff,Alberta,Canadawith one of my girlfriends. So, I wanted to try some muffins with blue, black, and raspberries. Oh, and white chocolate. I searched for weeks to find a recipe and the only recipes I could find with the mixed berries were from countries that use a different measurement system. So, I made up my own recipe for Mixed Berry White Chocolate Muffins. My girls didn’t eat any. They were too busy drinking the pink hot cocoa and eating the giant sugar cookies I had made for them!

The people at work really liked the muffins, as didI.I will have to play around with it a little bit more. The blackberries seemed to implode and make big gooey caverns. Not that I minded, except for the visual unattractiveness.

Mixed Berry White Chocolate Muffins

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup white baking chips, plus additional for topping
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup mixed berries, frozen

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a muffin tin with paper liners.  Mix dry ingredients and add baking chips. Combine egg, milk and butter and stir into flour mixture.  Stir just until combined. Gently mix in berries, being careful not to break up the berries. Do not over mix. Fill your muffin cups about 2/3 of the way full with batter. Sprinkle a few white chips and coarse sugar on the tops. Gently knock the pan on the counter to get rid of air bubbles before baking. Bake for 20 minutes. Set pan on a wire rack to cool for about 5 minutes. Remove muffins from pan to cool completely.

One of the keys to muffin success is to add baking chips with the dry ingredients. This helps to prevent the chips from sinking to the bottom.

After the muffins were done and the cookies all boxed up for 2 of the girls, and cake balls readied for 1 girl, and gluten-free brownies cut into squares, all I had left to do for the school parties was to halve strawberries. I am still amazed at how perfectly hear-shaped strawberries are, when cut in half. Fabulous!

I wanted to make dinner for the hubs that was not in the least bit healthy. I know he tries to endure many of the healthier recipes that I create. I also know that there are a few that he just detests. So, what is love if it isn’t compromise? I chose to show my compromise in the form of making a dinner that I detest! The hubs loves ribs. I am not a grill master. So, I made a recipe that one of my sisters-in-law had made several years ago for ribs in the crock pot. As I recalled people really liked them. So, I put the ribs into the crock pot with the rest of the ingredients to cook through the day. When I got home, all I had to do was make the side dishes. I made “Crash Hot Potatoes” from the Pioneer Woman blog.

I also made southwestern style corn, with onions and diced green and red peppers. Boy oh boy. The hubs was thrilled with the dinner! The potatoes were made to perfection, the corn was flavorful, and the ribs were…ribs. I will say, that the little pieces of meat that I had were tender. The little girls really enjoyed the dinner, too. Except for the corn. The best part of all was that the hubs wasn’t expecting it. He knew that I had been busting my butt on baking and decorating treats for the girls for two days. He certainly wasn’t peaking into a very unassuming crock pot on the counter! A definite win for the wife!

The day was a complete and total success from start to finish, food wise, and otherwise. It was so great, that I can hardly wait for next Valentine’s Day!

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Posted by on February 15, 2012 in Uncategorized


Pre-Valentine Prep

I know people who are constantly trying to reinvent the wheel. Or build a better mousetrap. I like adventure and am up for doing something better, if it can be done. Some recipes are standard. A go-to, or stand-by. So, I should not have been shocked at all last weekend when I asked my two youngest girls, at separate times, what they would like to have to eat over the next couple of weeks. They both said spaghetti and meatballs and pizza. Spaghetti is a regular at my house. In fact, I have already blogged a recipe for spaghetti and meatballs on January 5th, National Spaghetti Day.

Last night when I got home from work I decided it was a good night for Spaghetti and Meatballs. I had a ton of baking to do for Valentine’s Day for school parties. A ton.

I tried to health up my spaghetti and meatballs by using Garden Delight vegetable pasta and using ground turkey breast instead of ground beef. It was really good!

I had already rolled out and baked my heart shaped sugar cookies, had my cake balls in the freezer ready to dip, and had just made a pan of gluten free black bean brownies. There are an awful lot of allergies in my girls classrooms this year, so it was a definite challenge to make sure there were not any nut products or gluten in the treats.

I found the Brownie Recipe several months ago, and was thrilled to have a chance to finally make it. I found it at

I will even let you in on a secret. I had the hubs taste the batter, and he LOVED it. I had him taste the brownies after they were baked, and he LOVED them! I told him later that they were made with black beans and he really thought I was pulling his leg.

The hubs also told me during dinner that if this was healthy, please don’t tell him and ruin it. So, I didn’t.

I will definitely be making the brownies again. They were really fudgy and delish!

Check in tomorrow to see what Valentine’s Day eats we enjoyed!

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Posted by on February 14, 2012 in Uncategorized


Candied what?

While I am out of town on business for a few days this week, I obviously won’t be able to create food at home. I will, however, still be eating! In fact, I went to lunch with a friend yesterday and I got to sample something that she ordered. It is definitely going to be on a “to-do” list for future cooking endeavors. Well, at least part of it will be. She ordered a burger that had candied jalapenos on top. Yes, candied jalapeno pepper slices. They were very tasty. So, look forward to having me work on that in the near future. I can definitely see that as something the hubs would like. Oh, and my dad. And my boss. And…right. You get the picture. They were good!

Since my own lunch was rather heavy yesterday (I had Florentine ravioli) I opted for a protein bar for dinner. Not much to say about that.

I’m hoping that breakfast is more than a power bar, and includes some coffee!

I will try to eat with a sense of thought and adventure, so I can share my travel eating with you, and possibly find other exciting things to re-create when I get back home!

Life’s an adventure…one bite at a time!

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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Uncategorized


World Nutella Day muffins

Wow. This weekend has been busy. I’ve spent time with family, and done some cooking. Oh, and disinfected the house due to the still lingering and maligning nastiness that has decided to inhabit the hubs this weekend! You know, with little ones, the germs just get passed around…

Yesterday morning I got up and made Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins to send with daughter number 2 for the Forensics tournament. Daughter number 1 was coming in to town to judge at the tournament so I was planning on cooking dinner for her and her boyfriend, who came with her.

During the 2 little girls games the hubs started feeling a little less than healthy. By the end of it, it was a good thing we live close to the gym! I had to cancel the plans for dinner…but did NOT want to get the others sick.

I did get to spend some time with them at my mother’s house, which was great!

Due to all of the illness still ongoing, I didn’t make dinner for the family. I bought some broth and flavored water. Mmmmm.

My parents were the greeters at church today. The greeters have to bring a certain number of snacks for the fellowship after church. I had told mother that I would bake some muffins for her. She thought mini-muffins would be the best. So this morning I got up and made some apple muffins. I left the pecans out of the topping. I don’t want any nut allergy issues! I only made 2 dozen mini-muffins, so I put the rest of the muffin batter into my little donut pan. They were fun, and tasted amazing. I will probably make more muffin donuts in the future! Mufinuts?

I had promised daughter number 4, who missed 2 days of school last week sick, that I would bake a banana cake. So, we baked a banana cake!

Also, since it was World Nutella Day today I had promised myself that I would make something spectacular with Nutella! I decided to make Nutella muffins. I looked for a recipe that I liked but didn’t find one, so I made these. They were a HUGE hit with the kids and the hubs! I’m not sure all of them should have eaten them with the lingering tummy troubles, however! I had one with some Nutella hot chocolate. Oh, yeah!

Nutella Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus some for sprinkling
  • ½ cup Nutella
  • 1 cup vanilla soy milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup egg substitute

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease the cups of a muffin pan, or line with paper liners.  Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and 3/4 cup chocolate chips into a large bowl.  Whisk together the Nutella, milk, vegetable oil, and egg substitute.  Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix together.  Fill the muffin cups 2/3 of the way full. Sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top of each muffin and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

I was really pleased with how the muffins came out.

For dinner I made a very tummy friendly supper of baked chicken and mashed potatoes. I accompanied it with lima beans. The chicken was good, but I overbaked it just a bit. I will be more mindful of that the next time. The bland and light dinner did seem to work. I had frosted the banana cake with a vegan cream cheese frosting (made with non-dairy cream cheese) and we enjoyed that for dessert. I am glad that I tried the non-dairy cream cheese. I won’t have to again!

I adapted my chicken recipe from

I didn’t use the same herbs and spices. I really liked the light lemon flavor. It was not overwhelming at all.

It was such a busy weekend of family and food, that I am looking forward to work tomorrow. I sure hope everyone is healthy and ready for school. My poor hands need a break from all of the disinfecting!

I hope you enjoy the Nutella Muffins as much as we did. Next year I guarantee I will have created more amazing Nutella treats. Who am I kidding? I will not be waiting a whole year!

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Posted by on February 5, 2012 in Uncategorized