Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Veggie Spaghetti

Some of my favorite recipes are ones found on the “back of the box.” Come to think of it, two of those favorites -— for baked macaroni and cheese and lasagna — are both from Mueller’s. And that’s where I got this week’s recipe: from the back of a Mueller’s box.

I was making a stir-fry dish recently, using whole grain spaghetti, and I spotted the recipe for veggie spaghetti on the back of the box. The pretty picture made my mouth water. I’m a pushover for a new pasta recipe, and this meat-free recipe looked both easy and healthy.

So I kept the spaghetti box on the counter where I could see it because I didn’t want to forgot to make it. I’m so bad about clipping a recipe and never making it!

I made it for my husband and me for lunch one day last week, and we both really liked it.

I did make a few minor changes to the recipe. Instead of asparagus, I used two small zucchinis, sliced, and I added a few of my chopped fresh basil leaves to the simmering sauce. I also used shaved Parmesan cheese instead of grated; I like the way it melts when sprinkled on a bed of hot pasta!

Veggie spaghetti is simple to make. After cutting and sauteeing the vegetables, I let my pasta water come to a boil and the pasta cook while the easy tomato sauce simmered. In less than 30 minutes, Reggie and I were enjoying a hot meal for lunch and had plenty leftover for the next day. This would be a good dish to make on the weekend to keep in the refrigerator for quick weekday lunches. Just warm up a serving and sprinkle on the shaved Parmesan, and you have a healthy and filling midday meal. We’ve also decided we really like this recipe cold!

Veggie Spaghetti
  • 1 box (13.25 oz) whole grain spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can (28 oz) whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a large skillet, cook peppers, onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until tender, or about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes.
Cook pasta according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, add to simmering sauce, asparagus, mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste.

Combine pasta and sauce and toss with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.


Notes: I used two small, sliced zucchinis instead of asparagus. I added them towards the end of my sauteeing along with the garlic, and they also simmered in the pot. I also added some fresh basil to the simmering sauce and used shaved Parmesan cheese instead of grated. We waited to add the cheese to our individual serving; that works better if you know you are going to have leftovers.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cherries and chocolate

I love a good, moist chocolate cake. I don’t make them often, but it’s nice knowing there’s one waiting for me in the kitchen when I really, really want something sweet and it has to be chocolate.

Over the weekend, I tried a very easy recipe for Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake that is made with no oil. The name alone convinced me to try it because I do love chocolate covered cherries!

Then I saw how easy the recipe was (four ingredients) and decided to make it for our Mother’s Day Batts family gathering Saturday night and offer it alongside a dessert fruit pizza.

This is how simple it is. You mix together in a bowl a box of devil’s food cake mix, a can of cherry pie filling, 2 eggs and a teaspoon of almond flavoring. Mix it and bake it and glaze or frost it, and you’re done. I put a simple chocolate glaze on my cake.

Most of my guests decided to have a slice of both desserts, and I don’t remember seeing anything left on their plates.

I found the recipe for this easy cake in a cookbook from the Tar River Piecemaker Guilting Guild that’s no longer available, but after researching a little, I found out it was the 1974 Pillsbury Bake-Off Grand Prize winner. That cake was named Chocolate Cherry Bars and featured a glaze as well that sounds much sweeter than the one I make.

If you want a simple dessert for a birthday party or just a family meal, give this easy cake a try.

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake
  • 1 18.25 oz. box devil's food cake mix
  • 1 21 oz. can cherry pie filling
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
With a mixer, combine all ingredients in a bowl for 2 minutes until combined.

Pour into a 13X9-inch pan prepared with cooking spray.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Chocolate Glaze
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pour chocolate chips and butter into microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir until chips are blended. Mix in honey and vanilla extract. Frost cake or cupcakes.