Thursday, October 28, 2010

Taco Pasta Toss

I got a lot of good feedback the last time I posted a Rachael Ray recipe, so I figured, let's do another one! This recipe is a great way to satisfy your pasta and Mexican cravings all in one meal. It's a real crowd-pleaser!

I left out the jalapeno, because I wanted to keep things on the milder side for the kids, and the coriander, because I didn't have any on hand.

Taco Pasta Toss
Source: Slightly adapted from Rachael Ray

1 lb. penne rigate pasta, regular or whole grain
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. ground beef sirloin
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, halved, seeded if desired and thinly sliced crosswise, optional
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp. chili powder
1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. ground coriander, optional
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup tomato paste
1-1/2 cups MSPI-friendly chicken or beef stock
Your favorite MSPI-friendly taco toppings

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and return to the pot.

While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, the jalapeno, garlic, chili powder, cumin and coriander; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the onion is softened, 6-7 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste for 1 minute, then stir in the stock.

Add the sauce to the pasta and toss. Place lid over the pan for a few minutes, which will give the pasta time to soak up the sauce. Divide pasta onto plates and top with your favorite taco toppings.

Tip: Got leftover chili? You can use it as your sauce. Warm it up on the stove, add some stock to thin it out and toss it with pasta. Quick, easy and cheap -- two meals in one!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

Just in time for Halloween! These little two-bite cookies look impressive but are super easy to make. Your kids (and you!) will love them. I made a batch for a Halloween party during Libby's gymnastics class, and they were a huge hit. Run out and pick up a bag of candy corn before they're all sold out!

The original recipe calls for butter. I substituted half MSPI-friendly margarine and half butter-flavored shortening. I do that with cookies because I prefer the results and texture of the cookies, however, you can use all margarine or all shortening.

And just a little FYI about candy corn, there's a chance for dairy cross-contamination on some brands of candy corn, so read labels carefully if that is a concern for you!

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies
Source: Adapted from Everyday Food

2 tbsp. MSPI-friendly margarine, very soft
2 tbsp. butter-flavored shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
About 36 candy corns

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place margarine, shortening and sugar in a medium bowl; beat until combined. Beat in egg yolk, vanilla, baking powder and salt. Add flour, and mix until a dough forms.

Using a teaspoon-sized measuring spoon, scoop out level teaspoons of dough, and roll into balls (chill dough briefly if it becomes too soft to handle). Place balls on baking sheets, 2 inches apart.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are firm and cookies are dry to the touch (do not let cookies color), 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove from oven; gently press a candy corn into center of each cookie (surface of cookies may crack slightly). Cool on sheets 1 minute; transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Chocolate variation: Reduce the amount of flour given in the recipe to 1/2 cup. Add 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder along with the flour in step 1, and proceed.

Tip: I made a full batch of plain and a full batch of chocolate at the same time in separate bowls. That way I can get all the measuring out the way and keep my workspace a littler tidier.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Black Bean & Corn Salad

Recipes like this one leave me asking, "Is this a salad or salsa?" Honestly, who cares? Just eat it!

You could easily serve this as a side salad or as a salsa with tortilla chips or on top of your favorite Mexican dishes. It's all good!

Black Bean & Corn Salad
Source: Slightly adapted from Delish

1 (15.5-oz) can, black beans, rinsed & drained
1-1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed or 1 can corn, drained and rinsed
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Toss lightly until well mixed. Let stand at least 15 minutes if using frozen corn, for corn to fully defrost. Can be served immediately, or best when refrigerated at least 1-2 hours, or overnight, to allow flavors to meld.

Tip: Got some tomatoes on hand? Feel free to throw them in, too!

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Monday, October 4, 2010

Super Easy Kielbasa Bites

It's football season, which means you'll probably be invited to a party or two where copious amounts of food will be present. What's a girl on the MSPI diet to do? Bring something yummy she can eat!

Don't be fooled by this not-so-great picture, these little bites are delicious and only two ingredients! You might even want to make a double batch -- they will disappear incredibly fast!

Super Easy Kielbasa Bites
Source: Lauren's Kitchen (Her pics are much more tastier looking!)

1 package MSPI-friendly kielbasa sausage
12 oz. can ginger ale

Chop the kielbasa into half-inch slices. Place in a medium to large skillet and pour the ginger ale over the top. Bring to a slow boil and then simmer until brown and caramelized and all liquid is gone, stirring occasionally -- about 45 minutes to an hour.