Goulash

I’m always on the lookout for easy recipes that require minimal ingredients. They’re great for those nights on the fly for our family, when what I’ve planned on the menu for that evening hasn’t turned out…for one reason or another. Y’all know what I’m talking about! Dishes like these, where I have all the ingredients I need handy in the pantry, are a lifesaver.

Oddly, I’d never had goulash before. To me, it was very reminiscent of Beefaroni – which reminds me of school lunches and childhood. Ground beef and macaroni are simmered in a rich, lightly spiced tomato sauce until it’s a thick stew. It’s classic lowbrow comfort food, but it’s delicious.

I’d imagine it would be great with all kinds of things thrown in as well… veggies, different proteins, beans, cheese, you name it! Definitely a great base for one of those clean out the fridge nights…

I like the simplicity of the basic version, though. Not to mention that when it’s made with ground sirloin and whole wheat pasta, it’s not terribly bad for you either. Better than the “heart attack in a sack” you might end up with otherwise on those busy nights.

Source: adapted from Feral Kitchen

Jambalaya Pasta

Now that school is back in session, and fall sports and activities are underway, on weeknights it can be hard to find time time to prepare a proper dinner in the kitchen on those evenings when you have a million things going on.

This quick Cajun-inspired pasta dish is just the ticket to get a delicious meal on the table fast, that the whole family will love. Kielbasa is sliced and sauteed with some garlic, onion, and green peppers. Then seasoned with a bit of my homemade Cajun seasoning. A quick pan sauce is made with the addition of tomato sauce and cream, and then it’s all tossed together with cooked pasta to make for one delicious meal. Dinner is done in twenty, you can’t beat it!

I like to serve it with something green on the side to bump up the veggie factor – something like a nice green salad or a side of steamed broccoli are great ideas. Add this to the menu soon for a night when you need something quick, but filling! You won’t be disappointed.

Jambalaya Pasta

12 oz Farfalle (bowtie) pasta
1 Tbsp butter
1 lb Kielbasa, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 cup heavy cream
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
3/4 cup white wine or chicken broth
1 (15) oz can tomato sauce
kosher salt
black pepper
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

In a large pot, boil water for pasta. Salt water. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Add butter to large skillet and melt over medium-high heat. Add kielbasa and cook, stirring occasionally until nicely browned. Remove from pan and set aside. Add onion and green pepper to the pan and saute until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and Cajun seasoning and cook for an additional 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add chicken broth to skillet, making sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Let liquid reduce by half, about three minutes.

Stir in tomato sauce. Add cream and heat to almost bubbling, then reduce heat to low. Return the kielbasa to the sauce. Let sauce simmer for 5 minutes. Add cooked pasta to the pan, as well as the parsley, and freshly grated Parmesan. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.

Source: adapted from Plain Chicken

Mongolian Beef

Another take-out fake out favorite for you guys today! Mongolian beef is one of my favorite things on a Chinese menu, but I usually don’t order it because the beef is so tough and fatty. By making it at home you can choose the cut of beef that you want, ensuring a lean and tender bite.

In this case I used a sirloin that I cut down into thin strips. A quick stir fry with some garlic, ginger, and a quick sauce made up from things in the pantry. 10 minutes from start to finish! I served on a bed of white rice with some steamed broccoli on the side.

I really don’t think you could order out as quickly as you can have this on the table. And, it’s much better for your family, obviously. We love our fake-out take out nights around here!

Source: adapted from Food Network Magazine, March 2010

 

Homemade Hamburger Helper

As the third-trimester winds down, and we get closer and closer to the due date – I’m getting tireder and tireder of just about everything, cooking included. So, a go-to easy meal like this one is a lifesaver on those nights when I’m just exhausted.

I’ve always secretly loved a bowl of Hamburger Helper, but hated the fact that I couldn’t pronounce half of the things on the ingredients label. Not to mention the astronomical sodium content…and, the fact that you feel like you have a lead pellet sitting in your stomach for hours afterwards. I knew I could do better at home!

So I set out to make a homemade version, and I tried a few before I finally settled on one that I really loved. It takes the same amount of time to bring together as the box you buy in the store, and is about a million times better – both on the health front as well as taste. Ingredients like basic spices in your pantry, milk, pasta, and lots of freshly shredded cheddar cheese are the only things on my ingredient list.

You could easily pre-mix a few batches of the spices and pasta together and store them in a resealable bag to have them ready to go – making this dinner even quicker and easier. It always feels great to kick yet another boxed processed mix to the curb!

Source: adapted from Food.com via Iowa Girl Eats