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Category Archives: Pasta

The Fifth Day of Christmas: Spiral Pasta with Ground Turkey and Butternut Sauce

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Tonight’s dinner was at Little Man’s Christmas meal request.  He loves pasta.  He would eat it at every meal if I would let him.  His request was actually only one word, “Pasta!”  He did not care what kind of sauce as long as there was pasta involved.

For tonight, I modified my Vegan Butternut Squash Sauce slightly.  The additions make the meal no longer vegan, but I can live with that.  I had the butternut squash cooked and pureed in the freezer, so the meal came together quickly.  The swiss chard was also already in my freezer from my garden this fall.  I didn’t have any fresh basil on hand, so I used dried instead.  It really does make a difference, but dried is better than nothing.

I really like this meal better with ground pork, but the grocery store was out when I was shopping.  Turkey is my second choice.  Just be sure to get the higher fat percentage turkey, or the meat will be too dry for my taste.

Butternut Pasta Sauce
Spiral Pasta with Ground Turkey and Butternut Sauce

One batch Butternut Sauce, prepared ahead of these instructions
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt, to taste
1 lb ground turkey (or pork)
Fresh or frozen swiss chard (or spinach), to taste
1.5 lbs gluten free spiral pasta, cooked

Start a pot to boil and cook the pasta according to package instructions.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic, onions, fennel, thyme, and salt.  Sautee about five minutes.

Add the ground meat and cook thoroughly.

Add the swiss chard.  Wilt if fresh, and warm if frozen.

Pour in the butternut sauce and warm throughout.

Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and serve with a side salad if desired.


Second Sunday of the Nativity Fast: Pesto Pasta with Red Beans

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Today found us finishing a busy weekend.  Yesterday we visited our local monastery for the forty day commemoration for one of the nuns.  It was a wonderfully cold and muddy day.  The children all slept on the way home–the litmus test for a great time.


We finally got out the rest of our advent wreath and assembled it together.  Then we lit the blue and green candles, read our passage from The Liturgical Year for Little Ones, discussed the theme of hope, and shared a little hot carob on this cold evening.  Maybe later this week we will do some of the anchor activities (or this one), while we take a much deserved break from our regularly scheduled homeschool to prepare for Thanksgiving.

Dinner tonight was compliments of John and Buster.  I had errands to run, so they cooked the pasta, sauteed some onions, and tossed it all together with some pesto and cooked red beans.  A simple side salad accompanied this quick Sunday dinner.

My pesto sauce is quite simple.  It’s dairy free, so there is no need for cheese.  There are many combinations.  Play around with your combinations until you find what you like.  I don’t think I’ve ever made the same combination twice, because I don’t measure.


You need:
a bunch of greens and herbs (like spinach, kale, basil, and oregano; not necessarily all at once; just go with your favorites)
olive oil, plenty
salt, to taste
a handful of nuts, optional (pine nuts or walnuts)

Place the washed and trimmed greens in your food processor or high powered blender.  Add a generous pinch of salt and the nuts if you are using them.  Turn on your machine, pulse, and slowly drizzle with olive oil until your pesto looks like pesto.  You may have to scrape the sides of your container a few times to get everything incorporated.  If it seems too oily, just add more greens and herbs until you are happy.  Freeze in meal sized portions (about one cup) if you make a very large batch.  Tonight’s pesto was from last fall’s garden, but I’m hoping to make more in the spring if I have better luck with my basil in the coming year.

Hot Carob – Family Sized Recipe

4 cups hemp, almond, or coconut milk
1-2 Tbsp carob powder, to taste
3-4 Tbsp sugar or honey, to taste

Whisk together in a sauce pan and heat to your desired temperature.


Place all ingredients in your high powered blender (I use my Vitamix) and blend on high about 3 minutes or until warmed to your liking.

Dairy-Free Beef Stroganoff

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When we were studying Russia last week, I knew that I wanted to try a dairy free Beef Stroganoff.  I couldn’t fit it into last week, so I penciled it in for my birthday.  Today not only is my birthday, but the Nativity Fast (our Advent) starts tomorrow.  We begin 40 days of preparation for the Nativity of Christ.  It is a time of prayer and alms-giving; a time for quiet and simplifying life; and a time for vegan meals.

Each year before the fast comes, we get the opportunity to celebrate!  This year Buster made me a pinata and invited friends and family to help us “bust it up.”  My mom and a few neighbors congregated in our garage to reveal the contents of his “Toro.”  Buster spent days making the pinata while attempting to keep it secret.  He even bought the contents with his own money.  I am now the proud owner of a pink matchbox truck, a drawing, a honey candy, and a plethora of unused balloons.  The bull, a shell of his former self, has been relegated to a home in the recycle bin.

Toro Pinata
No, there was not a proper cake.  When the birthday girl has to bake her own cake, sometimes it doesn’t happen.  I was, however, interrupted at the beginning of this paragraph with an offer of carob pancakes before bed.  That is an offer that you don’t turn down!

Back to dinner…

In my opinion, this recipe is better without any dairy replacements.  Long ago, I would stir in goat’s yogurt with good success, but I do not like the results with the non-dairy alternatives.  Trust me on this one.   While it is not a traditional Stroganoff without sour cream or yogurt, I think the sauce is creamy enough on it’s own without the replacement dairy.


I served this sauce over Tinkyada Brown Rice Spirals, but fettuccine would work well, as well as cooked brown rice.  The sides are a simple salad and sauteed mixed greens from the garden.

Beef Stroganoff

1 1/2 lbs pasta, cooked  (or brown rice)
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp salt, to taste
1 lb steak of your choice, sliced (or ground beef if you want to keep it simple)
1 tsp thyme
8-12 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup garbanzo or millet flour
3 cups chicken broth

In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, saute the onions, garlic, and salt.  Saute for about 5 minutes.  Until the onions are beginning to be translucent.

Add the beef and thyme and cook another five minutes until the meat is almost cooked through.   Stir in the mushrooms, and continue to stir until they have softened.

Sprinkle the flour over the meat mixture and whisk until completely combined.  Pour in the broth and stir well.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes until the sauce is thickened.

Adjust salt to taste, then pour over pasta or rice with your choice of sides.

Vegan Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

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When people in your family are allergic to tomatoes, you have to get pretty creative with pasta sauces.  I still have two pesto portions in the freezer from last year, so I will plan to use those soon.  Unfortunately, this year my basil plants didn’t grow as well as I hoped, so I don’t have any new pesto in the freezer this year.  I harvested the last of my basil before our freeze last night and it was only enough for this dish.  Besides garlic and oil, this will be our preferred pasta sauce this year.  Yesterday I cooked and pureed all the hail damaged butternut squash I got from a local farm, so I have plenty in the freezer to make this a quick meal.  A quick meal is exactly what is needed on a day filled with quilting.  I hope to get far enough by Saturday to post pictures.

The most daunting thing about a butternut squash is cutting it.  This link illustrates my favorite method for peeling and dicing this winter squash.  With the number I pureed yesterday, today I actually just cut them in half and roasted them in the oven.  For just one squash I normally boil it.  Also, any extra puree that doesn’t quite make enough for one last portion for the freezer, makes a nice butternut pancake.  Don’t forget to save those seeds and roast them.

Yesterday was a full day with all the squash processing, so we ate leftovers for dinner.  We were running short on sides once we invited my parents for a spontaneous “birthday” dinner, so I prepared this Cuban Yuca to make ends meet for dinner.  Yuca, or cassava, is the plant from which tapioca is made.  It is also great as a mashed potato substitute.
Butternut Squash Pasta Pauce

Today I tossed this sauce with cooked Tinkyada brown rice penne, white beans, sauted garlic, onion, and swiss chard.  Other days we like it with Italian sausage and spinach.  Let me know if you find a combination of vegetables that your family loves.

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
(Enough for 1 1/2 lbs pasta)

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced (about three cups)
1 can coconut milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg
handful of fresh basil, to taste (I forgot to put this in the sauce today, so I wilted it with the swiss chard)
1-2 tsp salt, to taste
1/2 cup nutritional yeast, optional for a cheezy flavor (I remember about half the time, and still can’t decide which way is better)

In a medium sized pot, cover the squash with water and bring to a boil.  Boil until the squash is tender.  Strain and add to your blender when done.

While the squash is cooking you can add all the other ingredients to your blender and prepare your beans and vegetables as desired.

Once all the ingredients for the sauce are in the blender, put on the lid and puree until smooth.

Toss the sauce with pasta and your chosen additions.

Serve with a side salad and enjoy!

Penne with Spinach and Artichokes

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I mentioned this meal last week when I made Penne with Garlic and Olive Oil.  It sounded so good, that I decided to make it this week.  It was fast and easy and doesn’t need a grand introduction.

This time I grilled the chicken in my cast iron pan with a little of the oil, garlic, and onion.  Then I sliced it to serve over the pasta.   After that I tossed a variety of summer squash from our CSA to the still hot pan with a little more oil and salt for a side dish.  We had yellow squash, green squash, and small colorful patty-pans.  Don’t be afraid to get a little color on the chicken and squash while they cook.  They taste so much better with that bit of color.

Normally, I just add a side salad, but the squash was there and needed to be used soon.  Either way, it is a nice meal.

Penne with Spinach and Artichokes

1. 5 lbs Gluten-Free Penne
1/2 cup olive oil
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small red onion, minced
1-2 tsp salt to taste
1 can quartered artichokes, drained
1 bunch spinach  washed and chopped
1 lb chicken breast, grilled and sliced

Start water boiling and cook pasta according to the package instructions.

While waiting for the water to boil, wash and prepare all the vegetables.

Heat the oil on medium high in your favorite deep skillet.  Add garlic, onion, and salt.  Saute until onion is translucent.

Add the artichokes, and saute for one minute.  Add the spinach to the pan and saute until wilted.

Toss the contents of the pan with the cooked pasta.  Add a little more olive oil and salt if desired.

Serve with a side salad and don’t forget to add copious amounts sliced cucumber from the CSA.

Penne with Garlic and Olive Oil

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Tonight’s dinner is one of my fast and easy meals.  Little Man loves pasta and he will eat any vegetable if pasta is included. This meal is very versatile.  You can really include any vegetables that strike your fancy.   Keep the garlic, onions, and olive oil and toss in anything that sounds good.  Another favorite combination at my house is chicken with spinach and artichokes.  I sometimes make this meal vegan by adding cranberry beans instead of meat.

The red onions and squash came from my Bountiful Basket this weekend.  I can’t wait to tell you what I have planned for the curly endive and golden beets for tomorrow’s dinner.  We also got persimmons as one of our fruits.  What is your favorite thing to do with persimmons?

My favorite brand of pasta is Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta.  I buy it and a lot of my gluten free grains in bulk through Azure Standard.  Call them to see if they have a drop site near you.  I am the coordinator for my local drop, so if you know me personally, feel free to talk to me about joining our group.

Garlic Olive Oil Pasta

Penne with Garlic and Olive Oil

1. 5 lbs Gluten-Free Penne
1/2 cup olive oil
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small red onion, sliced
1-2 tsp salt to taste
3 yellow squash, quartered and cut into inch long sections
4 oz mushrooms, slices
1 lb cooked shredded turkey from the freezer

Start water boiling and cook pasta according to the package instructions.

While waiting for the water to boil, wash and prepare all the vegetables.

Heat the oil on medium high in your favorite deep skillet.  Add garlic, onion, and salt.  Saute until onion is translucent.

Add yellow squash, but be careful not to crowd the pan.  Better to cook half at a time and reserve the rest for later to properly brown the squash on all sides. It tastes better that way.   I didn’t follow my own advice this time since I was in a hurry, so take it for what it is worth.

Add turkey and mushrooms to the pan when the squash is almost done.  Cook until the mushrooms are soft.

Toss the contents of the pan with the cooked pasta.  Serve with a side salad and don’t forget to add sliced cucumber from the CSA.