Pretty Pierogis

When I was in college, sometimes the cafeteria would have pierogies at lunch, or even dinner. They were always plain ‘ole potato filled, and swam in a sauce of butter, oil, and sautéed onions. Now don’t get me wrong, they were delicious, but I just couldn’t bring myself to get them most of the time. I knew that if I did, I would likely be spending the rest of the day with stomach pains, as I really can’t handle a lot of grease. For awhile when I was in elementary school, I couldn’t eat pepperoni pizza, and had to blot my pizza while all my classmates looked at me as though I had three heads. But if I didn’t, I was sure to spend the rest of my night in the bathroom – it was no fun.

Thankfully, growing up my parents always baked pierogies when they were made. Though, they were usually served alongside kielbasa, which is pretty greasy in itself (which is why I barely ate it). In cooking them a few times myself (always the frozen kind, though, I haven’t branched out to make my own), I’ve mastered the art of baking them first, and then just throwing them in a pan with already sautéed onions and cabbage just for a few minutes to mix everything together, leaving it still pretty grease-less (though I’ll admit there is a little).

Apparently mother nature has been confused, and even though it was in the high 70’s last Friday, there has been a snow/rain/hail mixture going on since Monday. So, these pierogies were a great warm and hearty dish to have while it was thundersnowing outside on Wednesday night! While I would like to at some point try and tackle making my very own pierogies (or at least a somewhat passable version of them), for now I’ll just stick to the frozen kind. At least this meal is semi-homemade?

Pierogies with Onions & Red Cabbage
– Serves 2 –

1 box of frozen pierogies, any flavor (I used 4 cheese)
1 medium sized yellow onion, sliced
1/3 cup shredded red cabbage
2 Tbsp cooking oil
2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add pierogies and cook for 15 minutes.
2. In a skillet, heat oil and add sliced onion. Sautee for 5 minutes. Add salt and cabbage, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes until onions and cabbage are soft.
3. Once pierogies are done in the oven, transfer them to the skillet. Combine all the ingredients, and cook together for an additional 5 minutes before serving.

A little spice goes a long way

It’s no secret that I love spicy food. However, I have my limits, and they were met this weekend. On Saturday after a failed attempt at taking my mom out for her birthday dinner, we wound up getting take-out Thai food. When I had mentioned getting dinner on Saturday, February 12th, no one thought to mention to me that it was the Saturday before Valentine’s Day, and every restaurant would likely be crowded. After calling ahead, and still being told we’d wait for at least an additional 30 minutes, my parents decided they would much rather have food before their bedtime, in the comfort of their own home. Not being one to argue, I ordered my usual – Pad Kee Mao, and my fiancé ordered his usual – Pad Thai.

The restaurant we order from, Thailand Restaurant, makes their food hot. They let you know when you order, making sure you know it’s spicy when you ask for it “medium.” My fiancé decided to order it hot. I myself have never ordered hot, only medium. Well, let me tell you, my medium was hot. So before my fiancé even started eating the noodles I could smell the heat, and see the spice all over it. Needless to say he wasn’t able to finish the meal, and spent a portion of the evening downing sugar and drinking milk.

On Sunday, the fiancé decided to make me dinner, and we had a stir-fry. It was really good, except he decided to put two large drops of Blair’s Mega Death hot sauce in it. Big mistake. After mixing in some plain Chobani, it was still just too hot to eat. It was disappointing because it was really good. After fiancé’s bout with his extremely spicy food on Saturday, his concoction on Sunday was no problem for him.

So when I found this Linguine with Zucchini and Chickpeas recipe from Real Simple, a littles spice was more than welcomed. This is a perfect weeknight recipe, since it only takes as long to prepare as it does to cook the pasta. Of course I doubled the red pepper amount, but it was still plenty cool in comparison to my other meals from the week.

There are noodles under there, I swear!

Linguine with Zucchini and Chickpeas via Real Simple
– Serves 4 –

12 ounces linguine (3/4 box)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 small zucchini, cut into thin half-moons
kosher salt
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water, drain, and return the pasta to the pot.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini and ½ teaspoon salt.
3. Cook the zucchini, tossing often, until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Add the chickpeas, garlic, and red pepper and cook until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Toss the pasta with the reserved pasta water and ¼ cup of the Parmesan.
6. Divide the pasta among bowls and top with the zucchini mixture and the remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan.

Semi-Homemade Pizza

While many foodies are purists, when it comes to weeknight dinners, I have no problem admitting my shortcuts. There’s even a show on the Food Network with “Semi-Homemade” in the title. Sure, I don’t wear cute cardigans and prepare my semi-homemade goodies for parties (most of the time) but the general idea is there. I’d say at least one or two times a week I cheat the system and use something that someone else made for me in my meal.

The past few weeks have been slow on the blogging front just because I’ve been so busy. I haven’t had the opportunity to try many new dishes, therefore leaving me with little to talk about – or so I thought. Originally when I started this blog, I figured it would be to post new recipes I try, create, etc. I’ve realized though, that while there are always new and great recipes, there are some I’d like to have more than once! So, sometimes I have a lot of content, sometimes I don’t. I’m in the process of trying to really figure out how I want to handle my blogging. Do I want to do something more on a daily basis, like some of my favorite blogs, Peanut Butter Fingers, Eat Drink Run, and Healthy Tipping Point? Or, do I want to stick to new recipes, yummy restaurants, and things like that? I guess I’ll just have to try it out. Or, maybe I just need to find more time to cook!

Back to the pizza. I’ve found that most refrigerated crusts I’ve purchased are more than passable. It also helps that they come in two packs, so I’m able to get two meals out of it – whether it be two dinners, or maybe a dinner and a breakfast (hello breakfast pizza!). With a few random ingredients in the fridge, I threw together a pepperoni, onion, and pepper pizza with Italian seasonings. In the time it would have taken me to pull up a menu, place the order, drive to pick it up, and then eventually be home to eat it, my entire meal was done. The great thing about pizza is that you can throw almost anything on it. Last week we had a pizza with BBQ sauce, and Monday night was regular tomato sauce (with huge chunks of garlic). You really can customize it just how you crave.

Now that I’ve made a more traditional, and Southwestern styled pizza, I think it’s time to get more creative. I think my fiancé, our wallets, and most importantly our bellies, will welcome a more frequent rotation of homemade pizzas into our lives!

Semi-Homemade Pizza
– Serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are!-

1 premade pizza crust (found in the refrigerated section)
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 green pepper
1 cup any kind of tomato sauce
2 cups shredded cheese
Pepperoni (amount to your liking)
1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp vegetable oil for sautéing

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. Heat pan with oil, and while warming up, slice onion and pepper to desired size. Once pan is warm, add onions and peppers, sauté about 5-10 minutes, adding seasoning half way through.
3. Pour sauce onto pizza crust, spreading evenly. Top with 1 1/2 cups of cheese, followed by pepperoni, and then onion and pepper mix. Layer last 1/2 cup of cheese on top.
4. Bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes, until crust is golden brown (you can lay it directly on the rack)

Pumpkin Cake Cookies

After being out of the baking scene for awhile, I decided to hop back in with what was hands down the easiest recipe ever. Aside from going to the store and buying a box of cookies, I don’t think this could have been easier (and it didn’t require me to leave my house!). This particular recipe comes from PB Fingers, who’s blog I stumbled upon recently. She’s got some super yummy recipes, and I love to see how her wedding plans are unfolding – everything is so cute!

I made a batch of these cookies and decided to bring a bunch to work the next day. Of course, I left some at home to enjoy as well. They were gone in a flash! My co-workers couldn’t stop talking about how great they were, and they were in shock after finding out they only required two ingredients, and a 10-12 minute bake time.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a big skeptical about the whole cake mix + a can of pumpkin = deliciousness, but I’m glad I went ahead with it anyway. All you need to do is combine a box of spice cake mix, and a 15 oz. can of pure pumpkin, plop them on some baking sheets, and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. That’s it! They’re going to be super moist and cakey which is just how I like my cookies. I have every intention of making these over and over again, and you should give them a shot too!

Our Wednesday Routine: Barilla Tortellini

This might sound ridiculous, by every Wednesday for at least the past six months, my fiance and I have dined on Barilla tortellini without fail. Sure, lot’s of families have different themed dinner nights; maybe Thursday is taco night and Friday is pizza. But I’ve never heard of say “Eggplant Pizza Friday,” something so specific as to the exact flavoring. But my fiancé and I have taken it that far. So, each and every Wednesday night we have the spinach & ricotta stuffed tortellini, smothered in red sauce and doused in red pepper flakes, with a salad. Every once in awhile, we throw in some garlic bread.

They are actually really filling too. The bag says they serve 2 people, and that’s definitely more than enough with a side salad. They offer 4 serving bags as well, but we stick with the 2 servings instead. And, they’re always on sale; we get 2 bags for only $5! They aren’t “bad” for you, but it is pasta stuffed with cheese. So, it probably won’t be the healthiest meal you eat all week (or, it might be). I took a nutrition class in college, and the professor said that if the food is cheap, 99% of the time it’s poor quality and isn’t good for you. I mean, sure, the 99 cents you pay for mac ‘n cheese in a box isn’t exactly a healthy meal. But sometimes you just want that quick, easy, comfort. And if you’re pairing it with veggies and plan to do some type of exercise, who cares?! A cheap indulgence should be allowed from time to time!

I’ve often been the type of person that craves the same type of food for a brief period. I’ll go through a sushi phase where that’s all I want. Or maybe a cheeseburger phase. But every Wednesday, I look forward to my tortellini. The reasoning might be twofold; not only are they delicious, they’re super easy. All I need to do is boil a pot of water, dump the tortellini’s in, and let them cook for 10 minutes. Then, I can heat up some sauce, throw together a salad, and dinner is ready!

Because my fiancé does his weekly radio show on Wednesday nights at 90.3 The Core (you should listen – head over to from 9-10p Eastern), we need something quick and easy by the time we get home from work. We stumbled upon these guys one day in the pasta aisle, and it’s been love ever since.

The possibilities for these tortellinis are endless. Add it to some broth and throw in some veggies you’ve got yourself a tortellini soup. Sauté some veggies and throw them in, you have yourself a tortellini primavera! You can always use this as a side versus a meal too, and pair it with pretty much anything. Not interested in a red sauce? What about pesto? Or alfredo? Or maybe a cool pasta salad? Do you see where I’m going with this? These things RULE!

There are definitely other brands of tortellinis available too (such as Bertoli and Buitoni). However, both the fiancé and I have concluded after trying a few different variations, the Barilla Spinach & Ricotta is the best. We even tried the Barilla Four Cheese and weren’t impressed. But, I’d suggest trying some different varieties to find what you like!

Next time you’re in the pasta aisle and are looking for some quick and easy meal options, check out Barilla’s tortellinis, I think you’ll be glad you did!