Main Dishes, Pasta, Recipes

Cheesy Veggie Pasta

This pasta is creamy and cheesy, and full of lots of summer veggies. What’s not to love?!?

Pasta bursting with all your farmer's market faves and some yummy cheese! Cheesy Veggie Pasta via thepajamachef.com

Ahhh, pasta. If you’re like me, you probably have it at least once a week in some form or another. No matter how you fix it, pasta is always a vehicle for something delicious. Though baked pastas are my FAVE, in the summer, sometimes that’s too much. So this time, I threw in everything from my local farmer’s market and called it a day. I think the combo of mushrooms, red and yellow bell peppers, zucchini, and corn was perfect. I thought about just tossing the veggies with an olive oil or butter-based sauce, but instead decided to try for a lighter creamy sauce. After cooking the veggies, I tossed in some flour and added some milk. After letting it cook down, I added cheese and herbs. I truly wasn’t sure how it would go, and was so happy with the results! In a word, or three… Flavorful, refreshing, and satisfying. Mmm!

Pasta bursting with all your farmer's market faves and some yummy cheese! Cheesy Veggie Pasta via thepajamachef.com

I absolutely inhaled this colorful and light pasta! It’s cheesy and creamy and super wonderful. Unlike some saucy pasta dishes, this one reheated well which was a pleasant surprise. You better believe I hoarded the leftovers and will be making this again soon. 🙂 Enjoy!

one year ago: Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes
two years ago: Double Chocolate Banana Muffins
three years ago: Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
four years ago: Salmon with Lemon, Tarragon, and Garlic Sauce

Cheesy Veggie Pasta

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 4 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1/2 cup corn, cut off the cob
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs – I used dill, basil, lemon thyme, and a tiny bit of mint
  • 3 ounces shredded mozzarella

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add pasta. Cook to al dente according to package directions.

In a large skillet, heat butter or olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, and corn. Season with pepper and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant. Sprinkle flour over veggies and stir to coat. Pour in milk and stir. Constantly stir, cooking until thick–about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

When pasta is cooked, fold pasta into sauce. Sprinkle with herbs and mozzarella. Stir until cheese melts, then season with pepper to taste.

Serve immediately, or toss in an oven safe baking dish and cook until cheese on top crisps up. I think some bread crumbs mixed with butter and lemon zest on top could be magnificent too!

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Main Dishes, Pasta, Recipes

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta

A luscious, creamy baked pasta with crisp bacon, succulent fresh corn, a pop of sweet blueberries, and a crunchy topping made out of a surprise ingredient. Intrigued now?

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta | an easy, cheesy baked pasta with a surprise topping! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.comAt my house, you can’t go wrong with baked pasta. Ben and I can eat an embarrassingly large portion of baked pasta at a single meal. Then after it’s wrapped up for the fridge, we are constantly opening it up and using a fork [or our fingers, sorry Mom] for another bite. There’s just something about baked pasta. From looking at the title of this recipe, Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta, you’ve probably surmised that there’s at least something a little unusual with this pasta dish. Bacon and ricotta… pretty standard fare for Italian food. Blueberries? Now that’s a little odd, but it’s summer so sometimes berries creep into weird places. But then you look at that photo and you’re like, wait… is that oats? On pasta? Ummm, what’s going on? Well, that my friends, is granola. Granola?!?! Well, yes. That’s what my husband said too. Ha!

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta | an easy, cheesy baked pasta with a surprise topping! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.comI developed this recipe as my entry in the Golden Girl Granola Blogger Recipe Challenge. When I first received the package of Bluesberry Granola I planned to use it in a breakfast dish, such as french toast or breakfast quesadillas, or the like. But it’s a contest, and I figured everyone would do that. So I did something different! And guess what? It worked!

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta | an easy, cheesy baked pasta with a surprise topping! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.comThe sweetness of the blueberry, almond, and coconut granola [which is SO delicious, btw] is cut by the salty bacon, creamy ricotta, and the freshly grated Parmesan cheese mixed into the topping. I also mixed in some fresh sweet corn since I can’t get enough of that in the summertime, and a handful of herbs from my garden. Perfection on a plate! This isn’t your average pasta dish… it’s even better! Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

one year ago: Coffee Blondies
two years ago: Pineapple Cream Pie
three years ago: Grandma’s Blueberry Muffins
four years ago: Linda’s Caramel Ritz Bits Crackers

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta

  • Servings: 6
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Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces pasta* [I used Trottole, a curly, thick, corkscrew shape but any small pasta would do]
  • *1 cup reserved pasta water
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup corn [frozen or fresh]
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
  • a small handful of fresh basil, minced
  • a small handful of fresh lemon thyme
  • white pepper
  • sea salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup Bluesberry Granola – from Golden Girl Granola
  • 5-6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10 inch round casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta to al dente according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp, then drain on a paper towel. Chop when cool.

Then, stir together ricotta cheese, corn, blueberries, rosemary, basil, and lemon thyme until combined. [If you don’t have these herbs, substitute about 1/4 cup fresh herbs of choice, or ~1 teaspoon dried herbs.] Season with white pepper and sea salt, then taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Then add egg and bacon and stir again.

When pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain pasta. Fold pasta into ricotta mixture, adding reserved pasta water in 1/4 cup increments until sauce evenly coats pasta. Spoon pasta into prepared casserole dish.

In a small bowl, gently crush granola with the back of a wooden spoon until just broken down. Mix in Parmesan cheese, then sprinkle mixture over pasta. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until heated through. Serve immediately.

Disclosure: Golden Girl Granola sent me one bag of granola of my choice for the purposes of participation in this recipe challenge. I received no further compensation and was not asked or paid to publish positive comments. Please check them out on Facebook and Twitter. You can also find their products in various stores on the east coast. Thank you for the chance to try your granola!

Main Dishes, Pasta, Recipes

Creamy Shells and Yogurt

A few years ago, I made Avocado Soup. It was a cold, gazpacho-esque soup made with yogurt, avocados, and seasonings. Hardly any liquid and served cold, it has gone down in history as one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever served for dinner. Nowadays I would have revamped it as a dip or a sauce, but four years ago it just went in the trash. And with it, my desire to use yogurt as anything more than something to eat with granola or occasionally in baking.

Creamy Shells and Yogurt | thepajamachef.com

With that history of yogurt as a dinner ingredient, it came as a surprise to me when I saw this Creamy Shells and Yogurt recipe online and decided to make it. I know warm yogurt sounds weird, but hear me out. This is totally not what you think. Here, Greek yogurt makes a surprisingly delicious rich pasta sauce when combined with eggs and cheese.

Creamy Shells and Yogurt | thepajamachef.com

As the sauce comes together, it is almost reminiscent of a rich macaroni and cheese. It is truly one of those dishes that you just have to taste to truly understand.

Creamy Shells and Yogurt | thepajamachef.com

The eggs, cheese, and yogurt come together to make a tangy sauce that tastes rich while being actually pretty light, but the true star of the sauce are fresh herbs and lots of lemon zest. I used lemon thyme and mint for my herbs, but you could use whatever you have on hand. I think parsley, basil, oregano, or any of the usual suspects would work perfectly–but do try the minty lemon combo if you can. It is divine! For a little extra something-something I added some kale to the mix. You know how I love my kale!

Creamy Shells and Yogurt | thepajamachef.com

Everything about this dish screams summer, and even though I only made this pasta a couple weeks ago, I’m craving it so badly now and am wondering if I can justify dirtying up the {clean} kitchen at 10:30 pm just for a small bedtime snack. Of yogurt pasta. And this after making Pumpkin Soup for dinner and telling Ben how I just cannot WAIT for apple picking, apple cider, pumpkin chocolate chip mini muffins, and all the joys of fall [which do NOT include football, thankyouverymuch. That’s Ben’s department.]. I am so seasonally confused. I want it all, summer and fall. But most of all, I want a big bowl of Creamy Shells and Yogurt. It is totally a bright and cheery summer comfort food. I am sooo glad to have tried this pasta–hope you will too!

a year ago… Oatmeal Buttermilk Bread
two years ago… Chorizo and Potato Tacos
three years ago… Taco Casserole

Creamy Shells and Yogurt [adapted from Big Girls Small Kitchen]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces shell pasta
  • 8 ounces plain Greek yogurt [whole or 2%]
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup mint, chopped + more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon lemon thyme, chopped
  • 3 green onions
  • zest of 1 small lemon
  • 1 ounce Mozzarella, shredded or cubed + more for serving
  • 1 large handful kale [~1.5 cups]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • crushed red pepper
  • salt

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to boil, then add shells and cook to al dente.

Meanwhile, whisk together yogurt, eggs, mint, lemon thyme, green onions, lemon zest, and Mozzarella. Wash kale, remove thick stems, and tear into small pieces.

When pasta is ready, drain and reserve ~ 1/2 cup cooking water. Return pasta to pot and stir in kale. Then add 6 tablespoons water to yogurt sauce and whisk well to temper egg. Pour yogurt sauce over pasta and kale and stir vigorously to coat. Keep stirring until Mozzarella melts, then season to taste with peppers and salt as desired. Serve with additional mint and cheese as desired.

Time: 20 minutes.

Yield: 3-4 servings.

Linked up with: What’s Cookin’ Wednesday.

Beverages, Recipes

Honey Lemon Thyme Iced Tea

If you were to come visit me, the first thing I’d do would be to have you take a glimpse of our porch. It’s pretty much my favorite thing ever in the summertime.

Honey Lemon Thyme Iced Tea on thepajamachef.com

We don’t really have room [or enough direct sunlight] to grow veggies, but every summer I grow tons of potted herbs. This summer we have rosemary, catnip, lemon thyme, parsley, chocolate mint, and spearmint [RIP summer savory]. I’m a lemon thyme newbie, and I am absolutely positively in loooove. Not only is the sweet and citrusy lemon thyme awesome in a tossed salad, but it makes a mean simple syrup that we’ve been chugging for the past two weeks straight. Seriously. Well, in my favorite Cold Brew Iced Tea… but we are SO addicted. [FYI Lipton has no idea who I am. I just like their Iced Tea.] It is so refreshing, smooth, and fun… a fabulous drink for the summer.

Honey Lemon Thyme Iced Tea on thepajamachef.com

If you’ve never had lemon thyme before, you should get yourself some just for this recipe. It’s wonderfully aromatic and fresh. If you can’t find any, you can substitute common thyme and add the zest of one lemon to the simple syrup. Basically, this simple syrup is a spinoff of my Iced Tea with Ginger-Mint Simple Syrup from last summer. Both are excellent in their own way, but what truly sets this Honey Lemon Thyme Simple Syrup apart is the honey base. Simple syrup is made by dissolving sugar in water on the stove, and infusing it with a variety of fruits, herbs, or any other additions of your choice. White sugar is my go-to sweetener for simple syrup, but I am so glad that I decided to experiment with honey this time for a bit of natural sweetness. It was a rockin’ success–the honey added a nutty, woodsy sweetness and paired perfectly with the tart lemon juice and the herby goodness of lemon thyme.

Honey Lemon Thyme Iced Tea on thepajamachef.com

Now, I haven’t tried this… but both Ben and I agree that a little bit of Bourbon would be an excellent addition to this iced tea for a little grown-up fun. Let me know if you decide to try it that way–but even if you don’t, be sure to make some Honey Lemon Thyme Simple Syrup to flavor your iced tea for the 4th of July or any other special [or ordinary] summer day. Enjoy!

Honey Lemon Thyme Iced Tea [a TPC original]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup + 1 quart water, divided [filtered if you prefer]
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon thyme, roughly chopped
  • 2 large “family-size” cold brew iced tea bags [or the equivalent of regular tea bags if you prefer iced tea made some other way… I like cold brew iced tea cause it’s easy]

Directions:

In a small saucepan, combine honey, sugar, 1 cup water, lemon juice, and lemon thyme. Stir over medium heat for 3-4 minutes until sugar dissolves. Turn heat to low then simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and steep for 20 minutes.

While simple syrup is steeping, prepare iced tea. Combine 1 quart water and tea bags in a large pitcher [mine is probably ~1 1/4 quarts] and let steep for 8-10 minutes, or until tea is brewed to desired preference. Place in refrigerator to chill.

After syrup has steeped 20 minutes, pour syrup through a fine strainer into a large measuring cup or bowl. Refrigerate syrup, strainer and all [to catch any last lingering drops of syrup caught up in the lemon thyme].

After tea and syrup have chilled, stir in syrup to taste. I used a generous 1/4 cup and found that plenty sweet for me, but it was nowhere near Southern sweet tea so if that’s your thing, use more. Store extra syrup in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Time: 2 hours [15 minutes active].

Yield: 6-8 servings tea, 2 cups simple syrup.

Linked with: Weekend Potluck.