365 Day Photo Challenge- Day 23

cooking, food, photography

So I love to cook.  I’m also a sucker for a one-pot meal, especially if it’s really really good.  And this one is, so I’ve included the recipe (at the bottom) I use and step-by-step instructions for your eating enjoyment!  A big thank you to my hubby who actually found the original recipe on a Disney site to make for family dinner one night when he was in charge.  Shortly after he made it the first time, the site was revamped and the recipe disappeared, so I’ve created a version that’s almost identical.  We make it at least once every 2 weeks.  Apologies to any hard core Italian folks out there who don’t like the idea of cooking pasta in the sauce!  But this is so simple and good, and the dishes are minimal so it really is perfect for a quick weeknight meal.

Nikon D5100, 50mm f1.8 lens, f 2.5, ISO 2000

The finished product, about to be eaten by me!

The finished product, about to be eaten by me!

Step by step:

The Ingredients:

These are my favorites, but any brands will work.  The taste of the finished product will depend on the quality of your ingredients.

These are my favorites, but any brands will work. The taste of the finished product will depend on the quality of your ingredients.

Into the Pot:

Brown your meat.  We use spicy Italian sausage because we like a little kick, but it's equally good with beef.

Brown your meat. We use spicy Italian sausage because we like a little kick, but it’s equally good with beef.

Add the rest of the ingredients.

Add the rest of the ingredients.

Almost done- it looks a little soupy, but it thickens upon standing.  Test the pasta as you get close on time, if it's still firm and the liquid is almost gone, don't be afraid to add more water.

Almost done- it looks a little soupy, but it thickens upon standing. Test the pasta as you get close on time, if it’s still firm and the liquid is almost gone, don’t be afraid to add more water.

Ready to Eat!

Top with the fresh parm.  Grate your own, it really is better!

Top with the fresh parm. Grate your own, it really is better!

This is all my family of 4 (2 grown ups and 2 littles) usually has over.

Perfect for tomorrow's lunch!

Perfect for tomorrow’s lunch!

Super Easy One Pot Spaghetti

Serves 4 (or two grown ups and 2 kids with leftovers)

Ingredients:

1/2 lb Lean Ground Beef or Italian Sausage
1 25.5 oz  Jar of your favorite pasta sauce
2.5 Cups Water
2 Cups Chopped Fresh Spinach
1 tsp White Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 lb Thin Spaghetti or Angel Hair

Freshly Grated Parmigiano Reggiano

In a 6 quart or larger pot, brown your meat over medium high heat.  When it’s thoroughly cooked, add the sauce, water, spinach, sugar, and salt. Give it a stir just to combine.  Break your pasta into thirds and add to the pot.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent sticking to the bottom.  Once it’s boiling, cover and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook stirring occasionally until the pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.  Serve garnished with the freshly grated parm.

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365 Day Photo Challenge- Days 8 and 9

cooking, food, kids, photography

And on the 8th day, momma rested.  On the first day I’ve had to myself since before the holidays where I had lots of time to take photos and put together a thoughtful blog post, I decided to take a nap and do nothing instead.  Please forgive me and accept 2 pictures for today’s post!

So the first picture is of our evening playtime- the boy and the girl working together in their new retro kitchen.  I applied an orange filter in an editing program after the shot, and I think it came out nice!

Nikon D5100, 18-55mm lens, f5.3, ISO 2500

Preparing pretend snacks while Baa enjoys a nice cup of tea.

Preparing pretend snacks while Baa enjoys a nice cup of tea.

The second shot is a new recipe I tried from Cooking Light’s October 2014 edition.  You can check out the recipe here: Tomatillo and Chayote Chicken.  What the heck is a chayote?  Truthfully, I have no idea.  It kind of looks like a cross between a pear and a potato, and has a mild flavor similar to apple.  Think a less woody, sweeter jicima.  It was really good, very tender and flavorful, and the chicken was super moist. I forgot to add the serrano chili which would have made it even better.  Instead I added some chopped pickled jalapeno at the end which nearly made up for it.  It was pretty to look at and even better to eat!

Nikon D5100, 50mm f1.8 lens, f 1.8, ISO 1600

Tomatillo and Chayote Chicken.  Yummy in the tummy!

Tomatillo and Chayote Chicken. Yummy in the tummy!

365 Day Photo Challenge- Day 3

cooking, food, photography

My first shot of the day…literally.  It applies to both the picture and my coffee!  My mug was a gift from my buddy Butternut Blonde (check out her blog!), and I love it.  Today’s post comes with a bonus: my recipe for homemade Salted Caramel Sauce that I use on my coffee each morning. Yum. Enjoy!

Shot with my Nikon D5100, 50mm f1.8 lens, f1.8, ISO 1600, exposure bias +0.3 step

My morning salted caramel latte.

My morning salted caramel latte.

Salted Caramel Sauce

1 cup White Sugar
1/4 cup Water
1/2 cup Butter (room temperature)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 cup Milk or Cream

Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan.  Heat over medium and stir until sugar is dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved, increase heat to medium-high and continue to cook with out stirring.  Swirl the contents of the pan occasionally, and cook until the mixture turns a light amber and smells like caramel.  Add the butter and swirl until melted.  Don’t be alarmed at this step when the whole mixture bubbles up, that’s supposed to happen.  Once the butter is melted, remove from heat and add the vanilla, salt and milk.  Stir until combined. Let set for about 20 minutes, then pour into a squeeze bottle and store in your fridge.

Do not burn yourself trying to eat it straight from the pan….it’s scorching hot.

Great for coffee, also excellent for apple slices or making salted caramel frosting.