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::too easy:: Pasta with Spinach + Beans

There might not be anything better right now than a meal that is fast, cheap, and delicious. I would say healthy for the most part, but I decided to modify the original version of this dish and used butter instead of olive oil.

Moving to the far, far away suburbs means a much longer commute for PTB. It also means that instead of walking home from the train, I am going to pick him up. This has probably hurt our dinners more than I want to admit. Our longer dinners mean we have sometimes pushed eating to past 10pm. That just isn’t going to work. Especially when I am falling asleep by 10:30…

What You Need
Step One
6 oz fusilli pasta
Step Two
8 cups coarsely chopped spinach (approx 4-5oz)
3 Tbsp butter
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup Asiago cheese (approx 2oz)
15oz can white beans, rinsed and drained (any white beans will do, I used Navy Beans)
Step Three
Fresh Ground  Pepper

Really, this recipe could not be any easier. While your pasta is cooking, get together the rest of your ingredients. I tossed them all into one big bowl to have ready.

Since my bowl wasn’t quite big enough, once the pasta is cooked and drained, combine with all step two ingredients in the pot. The leftover heat from the pan will help melt the butter and wilt the spinach as well.

Serve topped with fresh ground pepper.

Serves: 4   Cost: >$2/serving

::quick dish:: Light Alfredo

There are so many things I could list about why I love working at home.  So many.  One of the big ones though is having total control over my daily meals.  When I was working at the mall, lunch was convenient.  Quite expensive, but convenient.  I ate greasy food almost daily.  Blech.  Then I completely switched environments and worked in an office.  One with a “kitchen” that consisted of a microwave, toaster oven, and a sink.  I’m not crazy about microwaving food.  And I think a toaster oven meal requires a bit of planning.  Something I am not the best at.  Especially when getting up at 6am to get going in the morning.  So, once again, I didn’t have the best eating habits.  When we would have leftovers, I would try to remember to take them, but there were countless mornings I would get halfway through my hour+ commute and realize my poor little lunch was sitting all alone on the counter at home.

Now I am home.  Everyday I have complete control over my food.  It is great!  To resist the temptation, I haven’t bought any Kraft Mac & Cheese yet.  I might eat it everyday otherwise.  Guilty. Pleasure.  I do like to default to pasta dishes though.  They are easy to scale for one, I can use one pot, and there is an endless variety.  This week I have been playing with adding different things to a light alfredo sauce.  Nice and simple and cheesy.  Yum.

What I Used
Step One

~1/4 lb whole wheat linguini pasta
1 tsp salt
Step Two
1/2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp heavy cream
salt & pepper
2 Tbsp fresh grated Parmesan
2 sun dried tomatoes, sliced
a bit of fresh chopped basil

In salted water, boil pasta according to package directions.  Reserve about 1/4 cup of your cooking water.  Return pasta to pan and over low heat, toss with step two ingredients.   Use reserve cooking water to adjust sauce consistency.  Enjoy  🙂

Roasted Vegetable & Pasta Bake

Oh my!  Mother’s Day weekend was exhausting for me.  I needed a few extra days to recover this year, so I apologize for the lack of posting earlier this week.  On the bright side, most of Mother’s Day brunch was an absolute hit and I can’t wait to post some of the recipes.  Some others however, need some tweaking before they are presented for your consumption 🙂

Since I haven’t even imported my pictures yet (I told you I needed a break), I thought I would post a recipe that had been inspiration to the Mother’s Day main dish.  I first made this dish last summer during “Family Beach Week”.  We are each responsible for at least one meal, and I thought this would be a great dish for two reasons:

1.  It is a big family, I needed something I could make into a big dish and easily double.

2. I grew up on a meat & potatoes farm diet, I thought a vegetarian dish would be funny

Wondering the results of that night?

1.  It was perfect because we were able to keep mushrooms out of one pan, keeping me happy.

2.  My dad stating partway through his first serving, “It could use some meat”.

So, it was successful.  Maybe if I make it again this year at the beach I will add some meat to satisfy everyone.  But really the versatility of this dish is one of the things that make it so great.  If you want more/different vegetables, feel free. If you want some meatiness, feel free.  Otherwise, I tried to follow Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe pretty closely, although mine is still not as pretty.  

What You Need
Step One

3 zucchinis
2 summer squash
2 red bell peppers
1 large yellow onion
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp Herbs de Provence
Salt & Pepper
Step Two
1 lb penne pasta
Step Three
3 cups marinara sauce
1 cup grated fontina
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Step Four
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat your oven to 450F.  And get your pasta water started.  Cut the zucchini and squash into 1 inch chunks, and the onion and pepper into 1″ strips.

In a large bowl toss all step one ingredients together.  When cooking the pasta, only cook for about 6-7 minutes.  You want it to be undercooked since you will be baking it later.

Spread vegetables into a foil lined baking dish.  Roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until tender.

Once the pasta & veggies are done, combine with all step three ingredients.

Spread into a large baking dish.  Top with remaining parmesan and dot butter pieces around the top.

Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown and crispy.

Serve and enjoy!

Serves: 6-8  Cost: ~$4/serving (6 servings)

::cooking for two:: Chicken Florentine

This is an easy version of a nice creamy, spinachy, chicken dish scaled down for two.  My favorite part is that it seems like a fancy meal….but it is quick and easy.

What You Need:
4 Tbsp Butter
small skillet
medium skillet
Step One
2 boneless chicken breasts
shallow dish with flour
Step Two
1 medium shallot, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
Step Three
1 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup heavy cream
handful of parsley, chopped
Step Four
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained

Pat the chicken dry and lightly pound out (just a little)!  Salt and Pepper and dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess.   Melt 1 1/2 Tbsp butter in the medium skillet over medium heat.  Cook the chicken until brown (~5min/side).  While cooking, chop your shallots and garlic.  Remove chicken from the pan and tent with foil.

Add 1 1/2 Tbsp butter to the skillet, and once melted, add the shallots and garlic.  Scrape up any browned bit on the bottom on the skillet and continue to saute until shallots are translucent (~2 min).

Add wine to the pan and increase heat to medium-high.  Cook until reduced by half, then add cream and reduce by half again.  While the sauce is cooking down, add remaining butter to the small skillet and heat spinach.

Stir parsley into sauce and return chicken and any juices to the skillet.  Divide the spinach between dinner plates.

Serve chicken on top of spinach, topping with any remaining sauce.  Enjoy!

Serves: 2   Cost: $4/serving

::you pick:: Everyday Vegetarian



We eat a lot of chicken in our house.  It really is just a way to eat up a ton of herbs, spices, and crazy flavors.  Plus, it is really really hard to mess it up.  Although – if you ask our neighbor…he may tell you we have had to air our apartment out due to chicken incidents…  Sometimes I feel a little light on veggies, and an episode of Giada’s Everyday Italian last summer got me really excited about some vegetarian dishes.  So here it is.  I narrowed down the 100’s of choices available to four.  Vote for which one we should try that you would like to see on Not Just Take Out!

Update: This poll is closed!  Since it was a tie, we’ll go with my pick!  The Veggie Stuffed Pancakes.  Be sure to vote on the ::you pick:: for this week!

all images courtesy FoodNetwork.com