#TBT – Clam Spaghetti

Here is one of my family’s favorites that comes together quickly and is a great choice for a meal when you have guests. The sauce cooks in the time it takes to prepare the pasta, and if you keep canned clams on hand, you probably have everything else you need to make it. It is good served alone, but is even better (and more balanced) if you add garlic bread and a salad.  

For the original post, click here.


Weight Watchers – 12 Last Minute Meals

I am doing something a little bit different today in my series of Weight Watcher posts.  One of the hardest parts of doing Weight Watchers (or any other avoiding-processed-food plan) is what to fix for dinner on busy days.

Sometimes life gets in the way of your good intentions to plan your meals out ahead of time and fix delicious balanced meals for your family.  When that happens it is so easy to just order in a pizza or hit the closest fast food place.  If you have a few staples that you keep on hand all the time, you can avoid that and still quickly feed the hungry hordes. I am not posting WW points here, because there are so many variables in the ingredients. This may also be a good time to use some of those extra bonus points to minimize your stress level. Here are a few suggestions (I have included what you need to have on hand):

Fried burritos (flour tortillas, refried beans, cheese) These come together in literally five minutes’ time and are surprisingly good.  It is always a plus if you have some leftover cooked meat (my favorite is a crisp slice of bacon) to add to the filling, and salsa, chopped onion, diced tomatoes, sour cream, crumbled feta and/or shredded lettuce to top them with.  If you need more info, click here.
Leftovers buffet bar – This was actually one of my kids’ favorites when they were growing up.  All the leftovers were put on the counter, and everyone got to select how much of what they wanted (first come, first served).  Try to have plenty of raw veggies and/or fruit available to round out the meal.
Soup and sandwich (canned soup, sandwich makings) A traditional favorite is tomato soup and grilled cheese, but any kind of soup pairs well with a sandwich.  You can also use tortillas, English muffins, biscuits or even crackers to make the sandwiches.
Snacky dinner (crackers or bread, cheese, cold meat, raw veggies, fruit)  Set out an assortment of whatever you have on hand, and it is a plus if you add a dip.  Try to make sure it is somewhat balanced with a grain, a protein, and fruits and/or veggies.

Feta  Pesto Pasta  (pasta, cooked chicken, feta or goat cheese, tomatoes of any kind, and pesto sauce).  This comes together in about 15 minutes.  For the recipe, click here.       
Kayte’s Motley Rice (uncooked rice, chicken broth or bouillon, veggies, salad dressing).  If the veggies are raw, make sure they will cook in the same time as the rice.  For the recipe, click here.
Homemade Ramen Soup (broth or bouillon, frozen mixed or leftover cooked veggies, oregano, ramen noodles or uncooked thin spaghetti, soy sauce) So much better than the packaged kind!  For the recipe, click here.
Hamburger Gravy (ground beef or turkey, Cream of Whatever soup, and something to serve it over – bread,  rice, potatoes, quinoa) It’s a plus if you add veggies. For a recipe, click here.
Breakfast Tacos (tortillas, eggs, bacon, cheese – cheddar and/or feta, tomatoes, onions, lettuce or cabbage).  I often eat this for a meal other than breakfast.  I like to top mine with shredded cabbage instead of lettuce, but either one works.  Sour cream is also a great addition.  For the recipe, click here.

Clam spaghetti  (spaghetti, butter, canned clams, garlic, parsley, Parmesan cheese, lemon pepper) This makes a good meal for unexpected company or just a last minute meal for your family.  The sauce is done in the time it takes for the pasta to cook.  Don’t skimp on the Parmesan cheese or the lemon pepper! For the recipe, click here.
Fried rice (cold cooked rice, veggies, egg, soy sauce)  This is a great way to use up little bits of  veggies and cooked meat if you have cold cooked rice on hand.  The recipe (click here) is just guide since you can add just about anything.

Breakfast for dinner  (eggs, bacon or sausage, bread, pancake mix, frozen waffles, French toast)  This, too, was a family favorite when my kids were growing up. Let your imagination be your guide – even a bowl of cereal can work. Add some fruit to make it even more special.

Here are some previous posts in the Weight Watchers series:

Black Bean and Quinoa Salad

It is way too hot here to get excited about cooking, but in the process of trying to use up some leftovers, I came up with a great summer dish.  I had leftover cooked quinoa, black beans and a little bit of pico de gallo salsa.  I mixed them all together and sprinkled a little feta cheese over the top, serving it cold.  It makes a perfect summer meal!
Black Bean & Quinoa Salad
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup pico de gallo*
  • 1 cup black beans (rinsed well)
  • Feta cheese to taste (optional)
Mix together everything except feta, then sprinkle feta on top if using.  This makes 2 generous servings.  Feel free to multiply as needed for more servings (no adjustments necessary).
*Substitute 2/3 cup diced tomato, 1/3 cup diced bell pepper, 1 tablespoon lime juice, and some chopped cilantro if you don’t have pico de gallo. Add salt to taste.

#TBT – Kayte’s Motley Rice

In keeping with my recent theme of featuring quick and easy meals for summertime, Kayte’s Motley Rice is a perfect side dish for grilled meat or fish of any kind, a main dish with the addition of any kind of cooked protein, or even a stand-alone vegetarian dish.  It’s a great choice for the novice cook, inexpensive, and an excellent way to use up small amounts of various leftovers.

For the original post, click here.

#TBT – Clam Spaghetti

Although I love to cook, when the weather is hot and the days are long, the last thing I feel like doing is standing over a hot stove.  Clam spaghetti is a good choice since it comes together in minutes, and it is also a perfect solution when cooking for company.  It is something I have been making for years, and it has become a family favorite.  For the original post, click here.

Kayte’s Motley Rice (aka Everything But the Kitchen Sink Rice)

I’ll admit it: I’ve become a chicken broth hoarder since my mom discovered it can be reduced and frozen in bouillon squares (directions here). I stopped counting after 48 squares, which is enough to make 48 cups of chicken broth. That’s just crazy. But the fact that they are all contained in one gallon sized freezer bag assuages my guilt.

Now I find myself looking for fun ways to use my bounty of bouillon. I’ve found that you can throw it in just about anything as a flavor enhancer, but by far my favorite current use for it is in this rice I’ve invented. It makes a perfect side to almost anything, is completely customizable, and a great way to a) sneak some vegetables into reluctant family members and b) clean out random remnants from your fridge/freezer. Basically, you cook your rice as directed on the package, substituting the liquid with a combination of bouillon cubes, water, and a salad dressing/marinade of your choice. To do this, I simply place the frozen bouillon cubes in my measuring cup then start adding salad dressing and water until I reach the desired amount of liquid. Use whatever ratio of rice:water that is called for on your chosen package of rice. I ran out of Italian dressing this last time, so added some of this citrus marinade from Costco. This gave the rice an amazing sweet hint that even my 10 year old appreciated and commented on. The pictures really don’t do this rice justice, it is bursting with flavor.

I parted with 2 of my frozen bouillon cubes for this.

Another Costco win.
Kayte’s Motley Rice, pork carnita taco, and random slices of apple. Don’t judge.
I served this with carnita tacos (recipe here) and apples, which is admittedly weird but I’m that desperate to sneak fruits and veggies into the hoodlums I live with. I get less guff if it’s on a dinner plate and I’m sitting at the table watching them eat it, for some reason. You probably think I’m referring to my children, but my husband is just as bad.

Kayte’s Motley Rice

1 cup jasmine rice
1 cup frozen/leftover mixed veggies (peas, corn, etc.)
1/4 cup diced onion (optional)
1/2 tsp dried oregano (optional)
1.5 cup total combined liquid and bouillon:
     2 cubes bouillon (use vegetable bouillion for vegetarian)
     1/2 cup Italian dressing (any oil/water based dressing works!)
     1/2 cup balsamic citrus basil marinade
     *enough water to reach 1.5 cup mark

Add all of the above ingredients (still frozen) to a saucepan and bring to a boil. (Cook according to rice package directions.) Cover, simmer for 15 minutes, then stir and fluff with a fork.

Any other ideas for random ingredients that I should add to this? 

Ramen Noodle Soup

When my kids were growing up, one of their favorite snacks or quick meals was the packaged Ramen noodles.  It was cheap, quick, tasty and they could make it themselves.  I like them, too, but I don’t like all the extra ingredients.  Since I have been trying to clean up what I eat, I don’t buy them anymore.  
I am fortunate to have a large Asian market close by, and I was fascinated by the large assortment of noodles they carry.  As I looked at them, I thought that it couldn’t be too difficult to make my own Ramen noodle soup. I have tried several different kinds of Asian-style noodles by now, and will continue to experiment with others.  Some of the packages have English translations, but many of them don’t.  Below is a picture of what I used this time, and it had no English so your guess is as good as mine as to what kind they were.

Ramen Noodle Soup
Serves 1

  • 2 cups broth (chicken, beef, vegetable)
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables
  • Pinch of oregano
  • Dried noodles
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce (or to taste)

Add oregano to broth along with vegetables and cook until vegetables are tender.  Add noodles and simmer until done (it doesn’t take long), then add soy sauce and serve.
Feel free to change anything you like in the above recipe.  I used my homemade bouillion to make the broth. Use whatever veggies you have on hand or prefer.  If they are fresh, maybe stir fry them in a little sesame oil instead of boiling them.  It is also a great way to use up leftover veggies.  I added oregano just because it seemed like a good idea. Thyme or basil would also be good choices.  If you don’t have Ramen-type noodles, use thin spaghetti or angel hair instead.  To make it more substantial, add small pieces of cooked meat or seafood, although I find it pretty filling without.  This is the perfect recipe to experiment with to make it your own!