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

Bean & Cheese Enchiladas

If I had to choose a favorite cuisine, it would be Mexican. It’s something that I really came around to during my first pregnancy, and it definitely stuck with me. Sadly, our only local Mexican restaurant closed it’s doors a few months ago – which means we have to drive 40 minutes north or south to go out…and that’s really sucked this time around as far as pregnancy cravings are concerned.

I already have a few really good enchilada recipes up my sleeve, but sometimes you just need something super-quick and easy. That’s where these bean and cheese enchiladas come in. I almost always have all the ingredients on hand to make them, they come together quickly, and they’re filling and delicious.

If you’re worried about spice, don’t be – they aren’t spicy. The green chilies are very mild, but add a nice bite of flavor. I wrote the recipe using canned pinto beans, but I’ve been soaking my own beans lately and doing it the “old-fashioned” way. If you’re down with that – you’ll need about 3 cups of dried beans. I’ll cook them with a smoked ham hock, ham base, or some bacon for a little extra flavor. But,  rest assured they’re great with canned beans too! Also, take a few minutes and make your own enchilada sauce. It literally takes less than 5 minutes to throw together, and the results are so much more delicious (and economical!) than the stuff from the can. Just saying…

They’re gooey and delicious with the use of flour tortillas and plenty of cheese. We all really loved them, Andrew declaring that they’re his second favorite enchiladas – right behind the beef. Which is really saying something considering that my chicken version was the favorite meal in the house for quite a few years!

Broccoli & Cheese Soup

A good recipe for a soup that doesn’t take all day to make is a real lifesaver. Especially one as hearty and filling as this broccoli & cheese version. It takes only a few short minutes to throw together, and the flavors are just out of this world.

It’s rich and hearty, but still doesn’t weigh you down the way many dairy-based soups do. The addition of fresh broccoli really adds a freshness to the flavor, and you can never go wrong adding plenty of cheddar cheese to anything in my book.

My girlfriend came over for lunch about a month ago or so, and I made this served with some crusty bread and a salad. We both loved it, and I’ve been thinking about making it again ever since. It reheats great as well, which is always a plus. Would also be great for a last minute, easy dinner!

Source: slightly adapted from Yammie’s Noshery

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