What’s Cooking Wednesday: Creamy Tomato and Basil Pasta

This recipe is a favorite in our house but, since I don’t eat cheese, we skip the cream cheese. This is such a great dish for summer because it is cold and light. I usually make it in the summer for get-togethers, whether they be at our house or someone else’s. When I made this, I used dried basil because I didn’t have any fresh herbs, and I didn’t have pine nuts either, so I made it without them. I can take or leave them in the dish. They give it a nice crunch, but it’s also nice just with the tomatoes.

2 lb. tomatoes, chopped (about 3 cups)
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Philadelphia cream cheese, cubed
1/4 cup Kraft special collection sun-dried tomato vinaigrette dressing (or Catalina dressing)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 pkg. linguine
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

1. Toss tomatoes with cream cheese and dressing; cover. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
2. Cook pasta as directed on package; drain. Place in large bowl.
3. Add tomato mixture, basil and pine nuts; toss lightly.
4. Keep refrigerated.

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Salty Baked Potatoes and Garlic Broccoli

I love baked potatoes. They’re low in calories and pretty filling, making them a good lunch or dinner option when paired with some veggies. My favorite baked potatoes are the ones you get at restaurants with salt all over the outside and, although I eat potatoes a LOT, I had never figured out how to do that — until now.

I can’t believe I didn’t figure out how to do this before because it is SO SIMPLE. After scrubbing your potatoes, dab them in some canola oil, and rub the oil all over them. Then, you roll them in salt and put them directly into the oven — don’t wrap them in foil. This makes the potatoes a bit crispier AND makes the outside nice and salty.

I paired the potatoes with fresh broccoli, which I sauted with garlic. SO GOOD! My garlic burned, but that’s how we like it. I also added some Morningstar Farms buffalo wings for protein. This is a simple yet YUMMY meal! My husband is still raving about it.

Salty Baked Potatoes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scrub baked potatoes and pierce with fork. Dab them in canola oil, and rub oil all over. Roll in sea salt. Place in oven, and bake for one hour.

Garlic Broccoli
Dice 5-6 cloves of garlic, and break apart one head of broccoli. Saute garlic in pan to release flavor, and then add broccoli. Saute together for 5-6 minutes.

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Sloppy Joe’s

I never used to be a big fan of Sloppy Joe’s, but now? Now, I can’t seem to get enough of them. Seriously. I don’t know WHAT it is, but we eat them at least once a week (plus, you know, leftovers for lunch the next day).

We like our Sloppy Joe’s a little on the spicy side, so we add in onions and jalapenos. Yum! OK, now I’m craving one! What do you like to add to yours??

1 bag MorningStar Griller Crumbles
1 can Sloppy Joe sauce
1/2 onion
15 jalapeno slices (we used the jarred jalapenos)

Brown the Griller crumbles in a pan. Add the Sloppy Joe sauce, onion and jalapenos, and cook until hot.

Next time we may use more jalapenos to give it more spice. It was SO yummy, though! As always, if you try out this recipe, leave a comment and let me know what you thought!

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Veggie Pasta

We have one restaurant in town that is our absolute favorite. It’s a locally-owned place, and they make the BEST pasta with veggies. I could eat it every day. But, since it’s kind of pricey to eat there — especially at dinner — I thought that I could probably recreate that dish. And, I did. And, it was fantastic. I mean, I know I’m biased, but I think it can rival the restaurant’s dish. :)

It’s really very simple. First, make your pasta according to the directions on the box. I usually use penne, but this time we used spaghetti. While your pasta is cooking, chop up the veggies you want to use (we used zucchini, squash, onions and mushrooms) and saute.

When your pasta is done, drain and rinse it, and then add it to your pan with the veggies to toss.

Then, plate and serve! It’s a simple yet yummy meal!

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Cucumber Salad

This is one of my FAVORITE things to eat. I first had it at my mother-in-law’s house, and now I always look forward to visiting the in-laws because she usually has a batch of cucumber salad on hand. When we went to their cabin in the Blue Ridge mountains for Father’s Day weekend, they thought I was weird because I ate it as a midnight snack. It’s just that good. And, it’s super simple to make.

First, chop up three cucumbers and half an onion. I actually didn’t use the full half onion in the mixture because I didn’t want it to overpower the cucumbers.

Put the veggies in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine 2 cups of white vinegar, 1/2 cup of sugar, 4 tablespoons of water, and dashes of salt and pepper.

When the sugar is completely dissolved, pour the mixture over the cucumbers  and onions.

The end result? Yummy cucumber salad! Seriously, this whole bowl might be gone before my husband gets home from work!

3 cucumbers
1/2 onion
2 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
4 TBSP water
salt and pepper to taste

1. Slice cucumber and chop onion. Combine in bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Mix until sugar is dissolved.
3. Pour liquid over cucumbers and onions. Store in refrigerator.

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Spanish Rice

One of our favorite nights is taco night. We usually make tacos once a week or so because they’re so easy, filling and relatively healthy (we use beans instead of meat).

Obviously, we like to have rice with them, but I got to the point where I didn’t like some of the packaged versions of Spanish rice. They just didn’t turn out right. So, we decided to try to make it on our own. And, boy, is our version FANTASTIC! It’s super easy to make (think as easy as making instant rice), and so yummy and spicy.

First, boil 1 cup of water. Then, add 1 cup salsa and 1 cup rice.

Leave on heat for about three minutes, then stir, cover and take off burner. Let rice sit as you would if you were making instant rice. The end result? Yummy, spicy rice!

One cup makes a TON of rice. My husband and I usually can’t finish a pot between the two of us. It’s really good reheated the next day, though!

1 cup water
1 cup salsa
1 cup rice

Boil water, then add salsa and rice. Leave on heat for three minutes, then remove and let sit as you would instant rice. For ingredienst find the deals from weekly ads.