theboxexperiment

Attempting to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Orzo Pasta Salad July 7, 2011

Filed under: Dinner,Vegetable — theboxexperiment @ 9:06 pm
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This is one of our favorite summer salads, I first found it on Food Network from Giada De Laurentiis.This is a fresh, light, tasty salad. It is an easy make ahead dish and keeps really well in the fridge for a few days. It’s a quick dish to make, the longest part is waiting for the pasta to cool off slightly. Some like this dish on the warm side (not hot!) and on the cool side. So if you don’t want to wait, you can make this while it’s warm.

Great for a summer potluck or a picnic at your favorite water-side place. It’s also fantastic for a quick weeknight dinner.

Quick Note: the recipe below makes a very large amount of this stuff, I would make the full recipe if I were feeding 4+ people (it’s normally perfect for about 6 with no leftovers). For just the 2 of us, I cut the recipe in half and we have enough leftovers for another full dinner side.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb orzo pasta
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups baby spinach (about 3 oz)
  • 3/4 cup feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 12 fresh torn basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (sunflower seeds, cashews, and macadamia nuts work well as well)
  • 3 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
Steps
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heats.
  2. Add the pasta. Cook until tender but still firm to the bite (about 8-10 minutes).
  3. Drain pasta and set aside to cool.
  4. Once the orzo is cool, transfer to a large serving bowl.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients.
  6. Toss gently to combine.
  7. Enjoy
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Macaroni and Cheese June 21, 2011

Filed under: Dinner,Lunch,Vegetable — theboxexperiment @ 10:47 am
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My youngest sister, AbEm, is in town and is a very active kid, so yesterday she and I went on a hike at Great Falls on the Maryland side. We had planned on doing the Billy Goat Trail Section A but I ran a 10 mile race on Saturday and my legs were still very sore. The B.G. trail is supposed to be a good hike, but with some steep rock scrambles that I was worried about being able to do. So we went on a flatter hike, the Gold Mine Hike. It was so beautiful, everything was the bright green and because it was a weekday without many people there we got to see 15-18 deer. The first on our drive in, then one that was about 5 feet from us on a trail, and a family of 5 (2 babies, 1 mom, and 1 male)!  The gold mine is slightly disappointing (mostly because we didn’t do enough research about it before we headed out.) It was in operation from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. The mine doesn’t look like much, at this point its a falling down shack with a chain link fence around it. Post-hike research says the mine shaft is dangerous so the average hiker is prohibited from getting close to it.

It was a good long hike so we were quite hungry by early afternoon and were very excited for the mac cheese that we planned to make. This is by far the best macaroni and cheese recipes I have ever made. It came from JEM’s family and both AbEm and J love it. It is flavorful, cheesy, and very easy to make (though a bit time consuming). This is a make ahead type dish. Depending on your schedule you could make the pasta ahead of time or make all of it ahead of time then seal it and bake it later. If you need to travel with it, you could also make it, bake it for half the time, wrap it up, and finish baking it when you get to your place.

 

 

Pasta w/ Meatballs! May 8, 2011

Filed under: Dinner,Meat,Poutlry — theboxexperiment @ 9:18 pm
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Happy Mother’s Day to all the mother’s out there. We celebrated the day working on the house and then we headed over to be with JEM’s sister’s family and my in-laws. To help keep the day easy for both mom’s we offered to cook dinner. Keepin’ it easy and yummy we made meatballs, fettucine, and garlic bread. Tonight I used store-bought sauce to save time, but it is better with homemade sauce, though I’ll save that for a future post.

Ingredients (for 6 plus 2 babies)

  • 2 1/2 lbs meatloaf mix (could substitute ground chicken or turkey but the spices might need to be adjusted)
  • 1 box spaghetti/fettucine/linguine/pasta on hand
  • 1/4 of a large Vidalia onion (chopped small)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4-1/2 c. plain bread crumbs
  • 1 tbls dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tbls dried basil
  • 1 tbls dried oregano
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 jars of pasta sauce of choice (we used Spicy tomato and basil)
Steps:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350*.
  2. Mix meat, onion, egg, bread crumbs, and all the spices together.
  3. Ball the meat into sizes of your choice I tend to like them bigger, JEM likes small, so we compromise and place on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 350* for 3o mins. Half way through flip them over.
  5. While the meatballs are baking, boil water for the pasta (salt and oil if you want–I always do).
  6. Once the water is boiling add the pasta.
  7. Also while the meatballs are baking, start heating the sauce on med-low.
  8. Once the meatballs are done, add them to the sauce. Allow them to finish baking in the sauce, if needed, otherwise allow the flavors to combine (I always keep them in there for 10-15 mins).
  9. Once everything is cooked, ENJOY!
 

Penne w/ Vodka Sauce April 27, 2011

Filed under: Dinner — theboxexperiment @ 9:49 pm
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This is one of my absolute favorite dishes. There is a pizza/pasta place in my hometown where I get it most often (Michelangelo’s Pizza, Pasta and Things gotta love family Italian cooking). We went home for Easter and I picked it up for Friday night…I was in heaven.

I actually got the idea to cook this years ago when visiting a high school friend at Dartmouth. He snagged a recipe from his mom and we made it for a bunch of his friends. (It’s on this trip that I discovered how awesome mozzarella balls and balsamic is). If a college boy can do it…I knew I can too 🙂

I made this for the first time a few months ago, but last night JEM made it for me as part of a celebratory dinner. He did a GREAT job, it was unbelievable and paired very nicely with garlic bread and champagne.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion OR 2 to 3 shallots
  • Scant 3/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper OR 1 dried red chili, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with the liquids
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 3 Tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil
  • Shaved or grated parmesan cheese, to garnish
  • Additional fresh basil leaves (optional)
Steps
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and keep warm.
  2. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add onion to pan; sauté until tender.
  4. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and garlic; sauté 1 minute.
  5. Add vodka (when cooking with alcohol, there is always a chance it catches on fire, so be very careful); bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes or until liquid reduces by about half.
  7. Stir in short 1/2 teaspoon salt, broth, and tomatoes; bring to a boil.
  8. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.
  9. Remove skillet from heat and let cool slightly.
  10. Pour tomato mixture in a blender. (Remove center piece of blender lid–to allow steam to escape; and secure the lid on blender.) Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatter), and process until smooth.
  11. Return tomato mixture to pan.
  12. Mix in cream, then cook the sauce for 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  13. Remove from heat. Stir in cooked pasta and basil.
  14. Enjoy immediately.
Pictures coming soon!!!
 

Asian Noodle Salad with Peanut Sauce and Lime February 28, 2011

Filed under: Dinner,Poutlry,Snack,Vegetable — theboxexperiment @ 7:50 pm
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This recipe was adopted from an awesome cookbook, Everyday Greens by Annie Somerville. My dad bought this for us around the time we moved into the house. It is a wonderful collection of vegetarian recipes that Greens Restaurant in San Francisco serves. Often when I go home to NY, my dad has made another fabulous salad and they generally come from this book. Now when he comes visits us, I’ll have fabulous dishes waiting for him!

Tonight was our first foray into cooking tofu. I leapt in headfirst, spearheading the tofu movement in the house, JEM followed more reluctantly. I think it was definitely a success for me. JEM wasn’t totally opposed to it, but would prefer chicken. If you are definitely not a tofu fan, it can easily be switched out with bite sized pieces of chicken breast.

This is also an easy make ahead type meal. The sauce can be made ahead of time (omit the ginger till right before serving) and the pasta can be made a day ahead of time (toss a bit of oil or some reserve cooking water in to keep the noodles from sticking together).  The rest comes together fairly quickly.

Main Dish

Ingredients

  • Peanut Sauce (recipe follows)
  • Spicy Peanuts (recipe follows), coarsely chopped, about 3/4 cup
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1/2 pound firm tofu, cut in 1/2 in. thick slices (1 med-large chicken breast)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, thinly sliced on the diagonal and cut into match sticks, about 1 cup (or use chopped baby carrots as we did)
  • 1 pound dried linguine (or, as we used rice noodles. It would have also been awesome with rice)
  • Radish, peeled, thinly sliced on the diagonal and cut into match sticks, about 1 cup (ended up not using b/c JEM isn’t a radish fan…and ours wasn’t so hot anymore)
  • 3 or 4 scallions, both white and green parts, sliced on the diagonal, about 1/2 cup (ended up using white onion…scallion would have been better)
  • 2 small broccoli crowns, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cups of snap peas, chopped into small-ish pieces.
  • 1/2 oz fresh ginger, thinly sliced and cut into thin match sticks about 1/4 cup
  • 1/3 cup of coarsely chopped cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Hot pepper flakes

Steps

  1. Make the Peanut-Ginger Sauce and the Spicy Peanuts
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt lightly.
  3. Cook the pasta, rice, or noodles until tender.
  4. Drain in a colander, rinse under cold water, and shake off extra moisture.
  5. Pour a thin layer of oil (about 1/4 in deep) into a saute pan and heat until just below the point of smoking, when the first wisp of vapor appears.
  6. Fry the tofu until gold and crisp, ~3-4 minutes each side. (Pre-heat oven to 350* F, lightly oil the chicken, salt and pepper both sides, bake for 20 mins–keep an eye on it, it changes every time we do it.)
  7. Place the tofu on paper towels to drain and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
  8. When cool enough to handle, cut into thin strips.
  9. Toss in a small bowl with 1/4 cup of the Peanut-Ginger Sauce and set aside.
  10. Steam the veggies until tender.
  11. Place pasta in a large bowl with the tofu, veggies, ginger, cilantro, and half of the spicy peanuts.
  12. Add the Peanut-Ginger Sauce, the lime juice, 1/2 tsp of salt, and a pinch of pepper flakes.
  13. Gently toss to coat the noodles.
  14. Add pepper flakes to taste.
  15. Sprinkle the remaining peanuts over the salad and garnish with sprigs of cilantro to be fancy.

Peanut-Ginger Saucethis will keep for a long time in the fridge (according to the authors). If you make it ahead of time, omit the ginger at the time and add it right before serving.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. smooth, NATURAL peanut butter
  • 1/2 c. light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 c. peanut oil
  • 1/3 c. rice vinegar (can use Apple Cider Vinegar with a bit of sugar as a substitute)
  • 1/4 c. of tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. of water
  • 1 tbls grated fresh ginger (I accidentally omitted this and it was still pretty awesome)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pinch of cayenne

Steps

  1. Puree everything in a blender until smooth

Spicy Peanuts–we actually omitted these because we don’t have raw peanuts on hand. They do however sound fantastic. Definitely sound great to have on hand and the authors say they keep well in an airtight container–so bake away!

Ingredients

  • 1 c. raw peanuts
  • 1/2 tsp peanut oil
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Steps

  1. Preheat the over to 325* F
  2. Toss everything together in a small bowl
  3. Roast on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes, until the mixture smells nutty.
  4. Set aside to cool.
 

Mac and Cheese February 27, 2011

Filed under: Dinner — theboxexperiment @ 6:52 pm
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This post was some how deleted with the magic of the internet, so I’m re-posting a shorter version.

Mac cheese is a wonderful soul food that is easy to make to feed many people. This is also one of the best recipes I’ve seen. JEM’s mom passed the recipe on to me and I’ve passed it on to my family. Recipes like this one meant to share, enjoy!!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs margarine
  • 1/2 cup unsifted flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 5 cups milk
  • 2 blocks (4 cups) of grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 16 oz macaroni cooked 6 min, drained
  • 1/2 cup italian or Panco bread crumbs
  • Onion to taste

Steps

  1. In saucepan melt margarine over low heat.
  2. Stir in flour, salt, mustard, and pepper until smooth.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Gradually stir in milk until smooth.
  5. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat about 12 minutes or until thickened.
  6. Remove from heat.
  7. Stir in the onion and the cheese until the cheese is melted.
  8. Turn macaroni into greased casserole.
  9. Pour cheese and onion mixture over macaroni; mix well.
  10. Sprinkle bread crumbs over top of the casserole.
  11. Bake 375 oven 25 minutes or until topping lightly browned. (We generally broil the mac cheese for the last few minutes to really make sure it gets browned.