If you are a food lover searching Google and Pinterest for pasta recipes, you’ll see that we live in a world full of zoodles. The nutritional benefits that come from replacing pasta with zucchini are quite clear: lower calories, lower carbs, and more vitamins and minerals. They are light, they are refreshing, and they can replace pasta in most every instance. I’m a huge fan and I make them at least once a week!

But I’ll be damned if I sit here and state that I don’t still love a big freakin’ bowl of pasta every now and then.

Spinach Parmesan Pasta

If I could down bowls of mac & cheese or spaghetti with pesto without gaining a pound, my pantry would have every kind of pasta imaginable. I’d also have a season pass at Eataly. (Oh, goodness, imagine if that existed…)

Spinach Parmesan Pasta

If there is something better than a big bowl of pasta, it’s a big bowl of pasta that can be thrown together in about 15 minutes flat. I found this recipe on Two Peas & Their Pod, and fell in love with its simplicity, its lightness, and yet its ability to leave me feeling perfectly full without being overstuffed.

Truth: I ate this for dinner one night. Then I made it for lunch the next day. Then I ate it again for dinner that same night.

Spinach Parmesan Pasta

The zoodles can wait. Give me some damn carbs.

Spinach Parmesan Pasta

(Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod’s recipe for 5-Ingredient Spinach Parmesan Pasta)
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

– 8 ounces thin spaghetti, uncooked
– 5 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 tablespoon butter
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated, separated into two 1/4 cup parts
– Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

1.) Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add thin spaghetti and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water; drain pasta and set aside.

2.) In the same saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add olive oil. Add garlic and cook for two to three minutes or until soft and slightly golden brown. Turn off heat and return pasta to pan. Toss with garlic. Add spinach and toss well until spinach is wilted; slowly add pasta water, if needed, if pasta starts to dry out or spinach is slow to wilt. Toss with one part parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3.) Serve with additional part of parmesan cheese for garnish.

Spinach Parmesan Pasta

I love some good alliteration, don’t you?

Shakshuka is something that I’ve grown a love for, especially as my hatred of runny yolks has cooled significantly over the past few years. About two years ago, for a quick post-work dinner, I impulsively decided to spoon some marinara sauce over some sliced hard boiled eggs, and I found it to be a odd yet satisfying choice. My former roommate Emily (whom I miss every single damn day) had an enthusiasm for Shakshuka, telling me about her love for it and how she’s had it in Israel many a time.

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Oh hey there, typical tiny Manhattan Kitchen…

I now regret not attempting to make a full-size of this recipe when you were around, Em! What a fool I was!

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I promise, if and when I get myself down to Raleigh-Durham to visit you, I’ll make you a skillet. You don’t have to share it with anyone!

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In the meantime, I’ll just craft a recipe for all of us single eaters.

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Shakshuka

Shakshuka [Single Serving] (As Featured on Buzzfeed’s Tasty)

(Serves One…if you were unable to deduce that)

Ingredients:

– 1 to 2 eggs
– 1 cup crushed tomatoes or 1 cup marinara sauce
– 1 tablespoon tomato paste
– 1/4 small yellow or white onion, diced
– 1/2 bell pepper, diced (pick your favorite color!)
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 1/4 teaspoon cumin
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– Cilantro, for garnish (optional)
– Feta, for garnish (optional)
– Salt and pepper, to taste

Before We Get Started…

– It is entirely possible that you don’t have tomato paste. Goodness knows that I normally don’t have any on reserve. You can skip adding it, but I think it adds an extra depth of flavor. If you would like to create your own, there are many articles available via search engines regarding substitutions and creating your own tomato paste. However, for this individual-sized serving, I’d suggest going out and getting that small can of tomato paste. I got mine for 79 cents. Haaa.

– This recipe is best baked in an 8″ – 9″ oven-safe skillet or a ramekin with a 2 cup capacity.

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 375°F.

2.) Pour oil into a large skillet and warm over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and pepper and sauté until onions are translucent, approximately 4 – 5 minutes; if garlic starts to brown too fast, lower heat. Add tomatoes (or sauce), tomato paste, and cumin. Stir to combine. Simmer for 4 – 5 minutes. Transfer tomato mixture to ramekin or oven-safe skillet. (See Before We Get Started…; though it is an extra skillet to wash, it’s much easier to cook the tomato mixture in a larger skillet than a smaller oven-safe skillet.) 

3.) With the back of a spoon, make an indentation in the tomato mixture. Crack egg(s) into indentation, being sure not to break the yolk(s).

4.) Place skillet or ramekin in oven and cook for 18 – 20 minutes or until whites are set and yolks are thick but runny. If preferred, at the ten minute mark, baste egg whites lightly with the tomato mixture, taking care not to disturb the yolk; return to oven to cook for the remaining time.

5.) Remove from oven. Top with cilantro and feta, if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, preferably with thick toasted bread.

I grew up on homemade soups and stews, save for an occasional can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup in the pantry to serve alongside a grilled cheese sandwich. (Ahhh, childhood…) My father was, hell, still is the King of Refrigerator Soups. You know what I’m talking about: He created soups made by throwing whatever leftovers that were in the fridge into a big pot, and he cooked it until everything harmonized. Sometimes, I found the combinations to be a little weird (leftover chicken, black beans, and cauliflower did not appeal to my nine year old self), but I grew to embrace it. Like any lower-middle class family, we were frugal and used every bit of food we had. Nothing went to waste. A roast chicken carcass was turned into stock, and those little chicken bits made for the base of many amazing soups.

I still love to create a good Refrigerator Soup. I am definitely guilty of buying vegetables with grandiose plans in mind. Then, five days later, I’ll return to my fridge to see them sitting in the vegetable crisper, limp and hanging onto life.

Oops.

vegetable soup

Well, into the soup they go!

I am in love with this Shredded Vegetable Soup. I am a big fan of julienne-peeling and spiral-cutting my vegetables. I feel it gives them more oomph and adds tremendous volume to any dish. I am not the biggest fan of large chunks of vegetables in my soup. In this recipe, I opted to julienne peel the vegetables, giving them an almost noodle-like texture within the broth. Additional grains can be added, such as rice or quinoa, but here, I went simple and added Acini de Pepe. Finally, the turmeric and red pepper flakes both give an amazing depth of flavor.

vegetable soup

We’ve been lucky to have a relatively mild autumn here in NYC, but it’s still nice to eat a nice hot bowl of this soup, even if it’s 60 degrees outside.

Feel free to adjust this soup to any variation you choose! This is a base that can be greatly expanded upon.

vegetable soup

Shredded Vegetable Soup
(Serves Two)

Ingredients:

– 1 carrot, julienne shredded
– 1 medium zucchini, julienne shredded
– 2 cups broth of choice
– 1 cup water
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
– 1/4 cup Acini de Pepe pasta
– Dash of red pepper flakes
– Salt and pepper, to taste

Before We Get Started…

– If you do not have a julienne peeler, either thinly julienne slice vegetables, or, alternately, use a regular vegetable peeler to peel long ribbon-like strips.

Directions:

1.) In large pot, bring broth and water to a slow boil. Add garlic, turmeric, and Acini de Pepe. Cook for approximately 10 minutes or until Acini di Pepe is cooked through.

2.) Reduce heat to medium. Add carrots and zucchini to pot. Cook for approximately 90 seconds or until vegetables start to wilt. Add red pepper flakes and stir. Remove from heat.

3.) Serve immediately.

Autumn is in full swing, with crisper mornings, darker evenings, and the near-daily HELL I face while trying to match the perfect pair of skinny pants with coordinating ankle boots. (The WORST, amirite?) One of my favorite parts of fall? All of my local farmers’ markets are laden with apples! I feel that I am a traditionalist, with my favorite kind of apple being a Macintosh. However, I enjoy walking past barrels and crates overloaded with Mutsus, Jonagolds, Honey Crisps, and Paula Reds. I get damn near overwhelmed at my options, on occasion, and just grab four or five of the best looking ones of any type.

apple sauce

New York City farmers’ markets are full of virtually anything you can think of from the agricultural world. Besides apples, I see veggies, eggs, and meats of all sorts. (One day, I’ll buy that organic duck breast from western Pennsylvania, too!) This past Sunday, however, I had to do a double take after I walked past barrel of something that I can not recall ever seeing at a farmers’ market: cranberries! Beautiful, fresh, Massachusetts-bred cranberries! The heart of this native New Englander fluttered. I had a bag full of apples in my left hand, with full intentions of making some plain ol’ applesauce. Cranberry applesauce is a recipe I enjoy making around Thanksgiving. Still, why not now?! I excitedly shuffled over and ran my hands through these ruby-esque pearls of tart fruit. I looked at the prices…and, at $6 per pound, I quickly carted myself up to my local Fine Fine and bought a pound of Ocean Spray cranberries for $2.29.

cranberries

I strongly support small businesses and the agriculture industry. I just need to cook on the cheap sometimes, just like any other Millennial in NYC with an steep rent and massive student loan payments. Haaa. Next time. Next time…

cranberry apple sauce

Cranberry Apple Sauce is such a wonderful autumnal recipe. It makes a great side dish when eating pork, turkey, or chicken. It makes a great snack to keep in the fridge. Pro Tip: I love to eat it warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Try it. Thank me later.

cranberry apple sauce

Cranberry Apple Sauce (As Featured on Brit + Co.)

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
– 3 pounds cooking apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2″ chunks
– 1 cup fresh cranberries
– 3 tablespoons sugar
– 1 cup water
– 1 cinnamon stick
– Juice of 1/2 lemon or two teaspoons orange juice

Before We Get Started…

– In lieu of a cinnamon stick, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried cinnamon can be substituted, depending on how much of a prevalent cinnamon flavor you prefer.

– Frozen cranberries can be used in lieu of fresh ones, but I can not emphasize enough: do not use canned cranberry sauce as a substitute!

Directions:

1.) Place all ingredients into a large sauce pan; bring to a boil.

2.) Reduce to a simmer and cook until apples are tender and cranberries have burst, approximately 30 – 40 minutes. Use a fork to mash any larger chunks of fruit still remaining.

3.) Remove from heat; discard cinnamon stick.

4.) Serve immediately or cool to room temperature and store in refrigerator; this will stay fresh for about a week.