Monday, September 8, 2014

Freezer meal: Roasted tomato, sausage and spinach pasta

Hey look!  Apparently, way back in December 2013, I had thought about posting this and got distracted.  Mommybrain, thy name is Honeybee.

This was a super-tasty recipe, which I liked making (and eating).  It also made me smile because it marked the (slow) return of my ability to share my cooking with others (read: forcing friends to be my guinea pigs).  I really enjoy that, so after months of barely feeling up to cooking for us, let alone others, it was a refreshing change.  The idea was to create some freezer meals that we could just heat up quickly later when I went back to work, and to share the love with some of our dear friends who also welcomed a baby just four weeks and one day after G-man arrived!

The recipe really didn't take much modification on my part.  It's posted here, from Canadian Living Cooks (they called it "Make-Ahead Baked Pasta... not descriptive enough.  I like my title better).  I think my only addition was some baby spinach wilted in before baking (you can see this in the pics, below).  I felt like it needed some extra veg.  Feeding a bubs with my own body made me somewhat nutrition-conscious!

Lastly: this meal was brought to you by Costco.  I think only the garlic was purchased elsewhere.  I love that store.

Noticing one more draft from months ago... perhaps for another night...
The finished (if slightly blurry) product.  Mmm, melted cheese.
Sooo, these are out of order.  Deal with it.  All packaged up, ready for the freezer, with reheating instructions written on the labels!
Recyclable (yay, no dishes!) aluminum baking trays, wrapped with plastic wrap (remove before baking!!) and wrapped again with aluminum foil.  Freezer safe!!
Handwritten reheating instructions.  Nobody has time to go back and check the online recipe!
Getting ready for packaging/baking.  The white dish on the right was for our dinner that evening, the other two for later!
Adding in that baby spinach!
Pasta boiling, roasted tomatoes, garlic and sausage at the ready!
Words cannot adequately describe how AHMAZING this smelled.  Roasted garlic, Roma tomatoes, and spicy Italian sausage.  Yet another possible application for Smell-o-vision... or... Smell-o-internets?  Nevermind.
Roasting off some sausage, fresh Roma tomatoes, and two HEADS of garlic.  Yup, this isn't for a first date.
Mmm.  Tasty tomatoes.  These did take a bit of time to chop and seed, but it was WORTH it.

Peanut Stirfry, As You Wish

This post is dedicated to "Sue", one of my favourite coworkers.  She frequently compliments my lunches, which are usually dinner leftovers.  The big joke is that I'll say, "Oh, it was so easy!!"... but I've quickly come to realize that "easy" is a relative term (it's the chopping.  Sue hates chopping!)

Back when I was still expecting my little G-man (he'll be 11 months this week... gawd...), I was hit with a MASSIVE peanut craving.  It has... lingered.  I also had odd cravings for broccoli and tofu.  Sounds like a delicious combo for a stir fry!  So, with the power of the Interwebs, I've thrown together a little recipe.  Here it is.  I added the "As You Wish" in the title because it's endlessly modifiable depending on the veggies you have on hand.  Also, I like the Princess Bride reference.  Sue, try it, and tell me if it meets criteria for "easy" in your books!!

This was not my stir fry.  Ain't nobody got time for food photography with an active little monkey trying to climb into the oven.  This is the best approximation that Google Images could provide.  Photo credit goes to
Peanut Tofu Stirfry, As You Wish
Serves 4
Adapted slightly from

Stir Fry:
  • 1 lb package of extra-firm tofu, cubed (or substitute any other protein.  Chicken, beef, as you wish...)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 cups vegetables, chopped (fresh or frozen.  I like to use broccoli, zucchini, and/or bell peppers.  You could do a bag of snow peas, so there'd be no chopping, Sue ;) Again, as you wish...)
  • 1 cup baby spinach (this is usually pre-washed, but check the package, just in case, ok?  I don't want to be responsible for grit in your stirfry)
  • 2 green onions, sliced finely
  • Noodles, cooked according to package directions (I like to use duck egg "Chinese long life" noodles from the Asian aisle.  You could use Udon.  You could use rice vermicelli.  You could use spaghetti.  As you wish.)
  • Optional: If you've got a handful of peanuts for garnish, great (like in the photo.  It's a good idea.  I'm stealing it)
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (this should be in the Asian aisle in most major grocery stores.  If not, white wine or apple cider vinegar would work in a pinch, though I can't vouch for the results...)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons (or 1/8 cup) brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder*
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger*
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to start... and/or crushed chilies, and/or sriracha.  As you wish)
  1.  Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.  Start boiling water for your noodles (if required per their package directions.  I don't know what noodles you decided to use, so you're on your own here!)
  2. Sauté onion until soft.  Add the 2 cups of vegetables until somewhat softened, but not 100% cooked (if you've got tougher stuff, like broccoli, add that first; softer stuff like mushrooms should go later.  Or you can be like me, say heck with this, and cook it all at once.  As you wish.)
  3. Now is a good time to cook those noodles if need be.  Drain when done.
  4. Add cubed tofu.  Periodically keep tossing it around with the veggies.  I like it when the tofu browns up a bit in the pan.  Mmm.
  5. Stir together the sauce in a measuring cup.  Not going to lie, it'll look a mess (since the peanut butter won't really mix in well).  Fear not.
  6. Add the sauce to the frying pan (which contains your veggies and tofu).  Turn heat to medium low.  Stir well; the PB will melt in nicely.
  7. Add the cooked, drained noodles and toss thoroughly to coat.
  8. Add the baby spinach and toss until just wilted.
  9. Top with sliced green onions and peanuts and serve.
*I know this might be hard to imagine, but I've gotten much less judgey about dried herbs/spices.  When G-man is careening towards the cat food for the third time in as many minutes, finely mincing garlic is the last thing on my mind.  So if you don't have fresh garlic or ginger to chop, or if you've got the jarred/squeeze tube pre-chopped stuff, well, good enough!

Sue, this was for what I had for lunch.  I used a zucchini, half a red bell pepper, and half a yellow bell pepper for the veggies.  You can double the sauce like you mentioned for an extra-saucy version.

Alright, time for a cup of calming chamomile, perhaps an episode of the newly-rebooted Sailor Moon Crystal (yes, I am a product of the 90s), then bed.

Finally settling into mommyhood while still putting tasty dishes on the table,