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Roasted Red Pepper Baked Ziti

I realized today that the only recipes I’ve shared this year have pretttttty much been pasta, pizza, or things with hollandaise. Have I ruined your New Year’s diet resolution? I’m sorry. But not THAT sorry, because when you eat this roasted red pepper baked ziti you’ll totally forgive me and we’ll all be friends again. (Also, there’s no cream in this recipe! See? HEALTH CONSCIOUS, BAM).

Roasted Red Pepper Baked Ziti

This is a great make-ahead dish: I divided a whole batch into a few individual baking dishes and stored them all in the fridge so I could have baked ziti on demand this week. Grad school classes started again on Wednesday (umm, yuck) and I’ve been in something of an Amazon.com black shopping hole this week picking out new things to help me organize my kitchen and get my cooking life back on track. I can’t wait to show you guys all the fun things I’ve found to help spruce up our teeny tiny apartment kitchen on a broke-grad-student budget! (If you’re interested, you can follow along with #StrawberryKitchenReno on Instagram). Maybe next I’ll “renovate” my closet, since right now my closet is basically a pile of clothes on the floor. BUT BACK TO THE POINT: having ready-made, easy-to-heat up meals has been great this week with all the chaos.

Roasted Red Pepper Baked Ziti

It’s so easy to slip into the habit of ordering food or hitting a drive-through when you’re tight on time or tired after a long day, but I find that I feel sooooo much better if I make time- even just once a week! – to cook big batches of food that will last me through a few days of crazy-busy-tired-grad-school-working-ness. This ziti is DEFINITELY a new staple in that make-ahead-meal rotation, along with meals like Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna, that One Pot Spicy Pasta from awhile back, and this Black Bean Corn and Turkey Chili.

Roasted Red Pepper Baked Ziti

This ziti has a few more ingredients than I generally put in a pasta recipe, and it takes a little time, but it’s TOTALLY worth it. You end up with a rich, creamy, smoky red pepper sauce that tastes OH-so-good with a handful of melty mozzarella.

Roasted Red Pepper Baked Ziti

The challenge with this sauce was figuring out how to make it thick enough without compromising the red pepper flavor. I settled for using a LOT of roasted red peppers and a béchamel with vegetable stock and skim milk, so we have a sauce with plenty of red pepper flavor and a rich, creamy taste that’s actually pretty healthy (as far as pasta sauces go, anyway).

Roasted Red Pepper Baked Ziti

There’s a little bit of light cream cheese in the sauce for flavor and creaminess, and other than that the only cheese here is the mozzarella on top. If you wanted to make this dish vegan, you could use almond or coconut milk in place of cow’s milk, nix the cream cheese altogether, and eat it as is or add some vegan cheese on top and bake it. Want to make it a little heartier? Add some shredded chicken or Italian sausage to the mix. This baked ziti is a nice, simple blank canvas – add your favorite toppings to make it your own!  [read more…]

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Healthier 30 Minute Chicken Spinach Alfredo

ALFREDOOOOOOO. Is there anything better than pasta that’s drowning in butter and cream and cheese and more cheese? I think not. Is there anything worse for that New Year’s Diet Resolution you’re pretending to keep? Probably also not. But hey, I’ve got you (and our TOTALLY REAL, no-I-have-NOT-been-binge-eating-this-pizza 2015 diet) covered.

Healthy 30 Minute Chicken Spinach Alfredo

I lightened up this creamy, cheese-y sauce by nixing the cream altogether and instead using a roux with skim milk. Chicken and spinach add some protein (and other probably-important nutrients, blah, blah) and some color to the mix, and finally we thin the sauce out a bit by recycling some of our nice, starchy pasta water. Creamy? Check. Something green? Check. Hearty and filling? Check. Ready in less time than it takes to accidentally-on-purpose watch JUST ONE MORE EPISODE of Revenge? YOU BETCHA. Lightened-up, still-creamy, even-has-spinach-so-it’s-basically-health-food, 30 minute pasta Alfredo. [read more…]

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One Pot Spicy Tomato Pasta

UGHHHHHH THIS PASTA. I can’t stop eating it.

One Pot Spicy Tomato Pasta

I genuinely do love all the recipes I share here (otherwise I wouldn’t share them with you, duh). But every one in awhile, a real, true, HUMDINGER of a recipe comes along that makes me seriously question how I made it this long in life without it. Like this pizza. Or THIS pizza. Or this soup! Or this other soup! Or, more to the point, this One Pot Spicy Tomato Pasta. That you can totally make in about 30 minutes. Because OMG. [read more…]

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I lurrrrveeeeee pasta.

Shellfish Spaghetti with Pesto Toasted Bread Crumbs

So much. I could eat it for every meal. I could eat it for every DESSERT after every meal. It’s just a pile of carb-y, sauce-y, fantastical deliciousness. [read more…]

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30 Minute Creamy Corn and Tomato Pasta

Quick, easy dinners are the best kind of dinners. This particular dish has only six ingredients (unless you count salt and pepper, which are basically like oxygen or butter or anything else that makes life possible, so obviously I don’t) and takes less than 30 minutes to throw together. It even has cream cheese, which I actually almost never use but is sometimes just completely 100% necessary. In this case, it makes a delightfully creamy sauce that lends a great richness to the simple combo of pasta, corn, and tomatoes.

30 Minute Creamy Corn and Tomato Pasta

I am especially in need of fast and easy meals this month, because I have been traveling nonstop over the last few weeks while still trying to keep up with the whole grad school thing (WHAT was I thinking) and planning this oh-so-awesome conference that you should all go to. I was in Portland with my parents for a few days (HI, PARENTS) and then in Seattle for the International Food Bloggers Conference (full recap coming soon! ish). and THEN I was in Pennsylvania for the Big Harvest Potluck. It was all a whirlwind, but SO much fun. Except now I’m catching up (sort of) on sleep and work and blogging and more work. So cooking a whole big delicious meal, while high on my list of priorities, isn’t really happening. [read more…]

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