About Pasta Princess

I live in Northeast Ohio but In my “perfect world” I would be living on the beach in a warm, sunny climate spending my days walking the beach with my dogs, looking for seashells, soaking up the sun getting a great tan, traveling the world, hiking with my camera, and of course, creating new and colorful pasta creations! One of my passions is nature photography. Looking through the lens of the camera, I am totally in the moment; time stands still. I enjoy and appreciate all beauty - music, the arts, nature ... flowers blooming in my flower beds, the dew glistening on leaves in the early morning, the smell of fresh falling rain, the sun as it sets over the ocean and creates a canvas of beautiful colors across the sky. I have learned so much through the years about life, passions and dreams . . . and I’m still learning every day. I love using my creative talents and I find food blogging to be a creative outlet to connect with others and share what I have learned, and to share my passion for creating delicious meals. Enjoy life, enjoy the journey, one moment at a time!

Garlic Scape Hummus and the Best Ever Pita Chips

Garlic Scape Hummus

What is growing in your garden this year?  One of the things I am picking is garlic scape (those cool green spiral thingies that grow out of your garlic plant pictured above).  I am also picking sugar and snap peas and radishes.

Grow garden …grow

Cher's Garden

If you are growing garlic don’t miss out on picking these garlic scapes.  Garlic scape are milder in taste than garlic and are awesome stir fried in a pan with other vegetables, made into garlic scape pesto, or as I just discovered, made into Garlic Scape Hummus.

Garlic Scape Humus

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup chopped garlic scapes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon sea salt
Ground black pepper (to taste)
1 can (15-ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
¼ cup olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

1. In the bowl of a food processor, process the garlic scapes, lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper until finely chopped, scraping the sides as needed.

2. Add the chickpeas and process to a rough puree (the chickpeas will be just about completely mashed).

3. With the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil and process until smooth. Check the consistency; if it is still thick and paste-like, you can add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water to thin it out a bit. Taste, and add more salt and pepper, if desired. Serve with your favorite vegetables, pita chips, etc.

Now don’t say I didn’t warn you … if you make these home-made pita chips you will never ever buy them in the store again.  You will tell yourself  “I’m only going to have one more” … after having had about 10… they are that good and super easy.

Homemade Pita Chips
Ingredients
3 pitas, cut into 8 wedges
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions
Preheat heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut pitas into 8 wedges. Pour olive oil into a bowl and add garlic, salt and pepper. Brush pita chips olive oil and garlic mixture. Arrange pita chips on baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of The Neelys – FoodNetwork

Fun Appetizer – Asian Chicken Cups

Asian Chicken Salad in Won ton Cups

If you’re looking for an easy appetizer that looks elegant and tastes delicious … these Asian Chicken Cups are all that!  An added bonus is that they are fairly healthy.  You can sub out the mayo for light mayo and you have a low fat, healthy appetizer.  ENJOY!

Sesame chicken wonton cups

To make ahead: Can be prepared through step 3 up to 6 hours in advance.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • cooking spray
  • 24 wonton wrappers, about 6 oz.
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari sauce
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • ½ cup thinly sliced snow peas
  • ½ cup shredded carrot
  • ½ cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil and/or cilantro
  • black sesame seeds for garnish, optional

 

Instructions

  1. Place chicken breast in a medium skillet and cover with cold tap water. Place over high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness of the meat. Remove the chicken and let cool. Cut chicken into small cubes.
  2. Meanwhile, Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat two 12 ­cup mini­ muffin tins with cooking spray. Cut corners off wonton wrappers to make an octagonal shape. Gently press wrapper down into each cup. Lightly spritz wrappers with cooking spray. Transfer the pans to the oven and bake until the wrappers are starting to turn golden brown and are crispy and bubbling, 10 to 14 minutes. Let cool completely.
  3. Whisk tahini, soy or tamari, maple syrup and mayonnaise in a medium bowl until smooth. Stir in the chicken and refrigerate until cold, 40 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Stir snow peas, carrot, scallions and herbs into chicken mixture. Divide chicken salad among wonton cups, about 2 scant tablespoons each. Garnish with sesame seeds, if using. Serve immediately.

 

www.healthyseasonalrecipes.com

Asian Chicken Salad in Won Ton Cups

Moroccan Grilled Lamb Kabobs and Orange Couscous

Grilled Lamb Kabobs

Be prepared for a taste sensation.  I never expected this flavor explosion as I took my first bite … this one is a keeper!  ENJOY!

Moroccan Lamb Kabobs with Orange Couscous

Serving Size = 2 – 3

  • About 2 lbs leg of lamb, fat removed
  • 2 onions, cut into big pieces
  • 4 metal skewers
  • (optional: 1 bell pepper, cut into large pieces)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika (Hungarian sweet)
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1/8 teaspoon or so of cinnamon
  • Pinch of allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup of oil (extra virgin olive oil)

Orange Couscous
Serving Size = 3 – 4

  • 1 box of couscous
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • Salt, pinch

Grilled Lamb Kabobs

  1. Cut lamb into about 2-inch pieces. Chop the onion and bell pepper (optional) into roughly the same size. Mix together the next 13 ingredients (shouldn’t be as thick as a paste, but don’t make it too runny either) and then pour over the lamb. Massage into the meat and set aside for about an hour (I’ve cooked immediately though and it still works). I leave it out of the fridge because I want the lamb to come up to about room temperature.
  2. Take the skewers and start with a piece of onion, a piece of bell pepper if you’re using it, a piece of lamb, then onion again and so on. I place an onion on the end when done.
  3. Heat the outdoor grill over medium high and cook to desired doneness (roughly 10 – 15 minutes). Remember to turn it to cook all sides.
  4. Start the couscous by bringing the orange juice, water, salt, and cilantro to a boil. Stir in the couscous, cover and remove from heat. Leave for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. It’s now ready to serve.

Source:  Elsacooks.com

Grilled Lamb Kabobs

Baking up some Love – Valentine Cookie Box

Valentine Cookie BoxWhat the world needs now, more than ever, is love and kindness.  Bake some love for that special person in your life.   Or better yet, bake it, decorate it and surprise someone who would least expect it and make them smile.  A little kindness goes a long way.

I made these with my favorite sugar cookie recipe and filled them with M&Ms.  They could be filled with any candy or even a note.  I baked 5 large heart-shaped cookies.  When the cookies cool slightly, take a smaller heart cookie cuter and cut out from 3 of the cookies – these will be used for your box.  To assemble, I decorated one heart with royal icing for the bottom of the box.  Immediately place your cut out cookie on top, pipe a small line of icing around the cookie and continue until all 3 cookies are stacked.  The last cookie will be your lid.  Let your imagination run wild and decorate however you like.  Most of all … have fun!

Recipe Source food.com

Kittencal’s Buttery Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened (no substitutes)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. For cookies; in a large bowl combine butter with sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond extract; beat using an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy.
  2. In another bowl combine the flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually stir into the butter mixture until well blended.
  3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.
  4. Set oven to 400°F.
  5. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (do not grease cookie sheets use parchment paper only)
  6. On a very lightly floured surface roll out the dough into about 1/4-inch thickness.
  7. Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters.
  8. Place cookies 2-inches apart on cookie sheet.
  9. Bake 4-6 minutes.

(I do not use the icing recipe that come with this cookie recipe.  Most times I use Wilton’s Royal Icing recipe)

Sugar Cookie Box

 

Cutie Pies – Mini Peanut Butter Pies

Peanut Butter Pies - Mini Me

They are cute aren’t they?  Not only are they cute but they are the bomb … satisfying your craving for chocolate and peanut butter all in one luscious bite.  Go ahead, get out your baking supplies and ingredients … you won’t be disappointed.  ENJOY!

Cutie Pies –  PEANUT BUTTER PIES WITH CHOCOLATE CRUST

Ingredients:

Chocolate Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cold
4 tablespoons Crisco
Yolk from 2 large eggs
6 – 8 tablespoons iced coffee (Ice water will work as well.)

Peanut Butter Filling:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 package (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 package (8 ounce) Cool Whip, thawed

Chocolate Drizzle

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon Crisco
Chopped peanuts (optional)

Let’s begin with the crust.

In a food processor (you can also do this by hand if needed), combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt on low until blended. Add the butter and Crisco and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbles. Add the egg yolks and iced coffee and process with slow pulses until the dough forms a ball. Start with about 5 tablespoons of iced coffee and add more until the mixture comes together.

Press the dough into two flatten discs. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Then, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

On a floured surface, roll out your dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Then cut out the dough using a flour shaped cookie cutter. My cookie cutter is 3-inches in diameter petal tip to petal tip. Once your first set of flowers are cut, you can ball up the dough and roll it out again. Repeat until you have used as much of the dough as possible.

Gently press the flowers into an ungreased mini muffin pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 -15 minutes.

Allow the mini pie shells to cool completely in the pan before removing. This will ensure they keep their shape.

While they are cooling, mix up the peanut butter pie filling. Beat the peanut butter with the cream cheese and vanilla until smooth. Then add the powdered sugar, beating again until smooth. Add in the Cool Whip and beat the mixture one final time until smooth.

Add this filling into a piping bag or large plastic bag. Pipe into your cooled chocolate pie shells.

For the drizzle, melt the chocolate chips and shortening in a microwavable bowl (or in a double broiler). Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then transfer to a plastic bag. Snip off a tiny portion of one corner of the bag and drizzle the chocolate onto the filled pie shells. Top with chopped peanut for a garnish.

 Source:  www.inspiredbycharm.com

Peanut Butter Pie Mini Me

Undercover – The Greatest Food Deception of all Time – Chicken Pad Thai with Spaghetti Squash

Chicken Pad Thai with Spaghetti SquashDo you ever have to go “under cover” when cooking dinner for your family?

I have had to go under cover often times.  My husband says he doesn’t like certain vegetables or ingredients and as long as he doesn’t see or know the ingredients 99% of the time he loves it!  This undercover recipe incorporates two foods that he claims to dislike:  spaghetti squash and cabbage!  I make Pad Thai quite often, usually with shrimp, rice noodles and lettuce.  He liked this dish and I had to stop myself from laughing when he tasted it and said rice noodles and lettuce.  And he actually thought I was trying to pass off the chicken as pork which I have done before with success!  Too funny!!

This recipe is a winner and iI can’t wait to make it again; this time with shrimp.

Go under cover and make this … you’ll love it!  ENJOY!

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai
INGREDIENTS:
1 small spaghetti squash, halved and
seeded
Sauce:
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon chile-garlic sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Vegetables:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (12 ounce) package broccoli coleslaw
mix
1 zucchini, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cubed cooked chicken breasts
DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Place spaghetti squash, cut-side up, on a baking sheet.
2. Bake in the preheated oven until squash is tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Shred squash meat using a fork and discard the peel.
3. Combine chicken broth, peanut butter, chile-garlic sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, oyster sauce, ginger, sesame oil, and black pepper together in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Whisk water and cornstarch together in a bowl until smooth; add to broth mixture and continue boiling until sauce thickens, 5 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer sauce.
4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; saute broccoli slaw, zucchini, red bell pepper, green onion, cilantro, and shredded spaghetti squash until tender, about 10 minutes. Add chicken and sauce to squash mixture; cook and stir until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes.
Source:  Allrecipes.com

hicken Pad Thai with Spaghetti Squash-2

Pecan Pie and a Tribute for My Dad

Classic Pecan Pie – so easy to make and one of my favorite pies.  Pecan Pie was also a favorite of my Dad’s!  My Dad passed away December 23, 2014; following the recipe is a tribute I wrote that was read at his service.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Karo Light Corn Syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) pecans
  • 1 (9-inch) unbaked deep-dish pie crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla using a spoon. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into pie crust.
  3. Bake on center rack of oven for 60 to 70 minutes (see tips for doneness, below). Cool for 2 hours on wire rack before serving.  Once cooled, share with someone you you love!

A Tribute for My Dad

From the day I was born I was “Daddy’s Little Girl”. I think a Father and Daughter have a very special bond. I was also his favorite daughter … of course, I was his only daughter! The admiration and love went both ways. I thought the world of my Daddy and as a young girl I couldn’t wait for him to come home from work. As soon as I saw him coming up the driveway I would yell “Daddy’s home” and go running to see him.

My Dad loved to garden and even after working a long day he would go out to work in the garden after dinner. Being a typical girly girl, I didn’t like to get my hands dirty, but that didn’t stop me from following him everywhere he went and helping him to plant seeds in the garden. He used to pay me a penny for every potato bug that I picked off the plants; I amassed quite a few pennies and saved the potato crop!

When I was young he worked for a Dairy making home deliveries. I think what he enjoyed most about his job was that he was able to get out and talk with people. He enjoyed that so much and always had a kind word and a friendly smile for anyone he crossed paths with. What a treat it was when I got to ride in the truck with him to deliver milk! I got to sit up front with him on top of the cooler. When it was my birthday he would open the back of truck and I’d get to pick out any flavor of ice cream I wanted.

Every Sunday afternoon was “game day”. It was designated family time and we would play board games together. Sometimes we would play badminton or he would throw the softball for me to hit. No matter how busy he was he always made time for me, for his family.

Laughter and love filled our home. I remember how he and my mother used to tease each other and laugh around the kitchen table. God filled our home as well and I remember going to church Sundays and seeing him preaching and singing … oh how he loved to sing! I loved standing next to him hearing him singing the hymns.

When talking about my parents I always told people how lucky I was to have such great parents and what a great man my Dad was. I would tell them that he was a minister and how much I admired him. He lived the life he preached, he lived his faith. And what a great example and testimony to God that was!

Throughout my life my Dad always encouraged me, supported me and uplifted me. He was my strongest supporter and showed confidence in me when I didn’t have it for myself and helped to me to be a self-confident young woman. He lived his life as God wanted him to and was a shining example of everything God wants us to be. He was kind, loving, accepting without being judgmental, understanding, loyal, trustworthy, forgiving, sensitive, a good listener, giving, a great sense of humor, patient, steadfast and true. True to himself, his family and first most true to God. I am so proud to have called him Daddy.

Perhaps without knowing it my Dad passed many things down to me. I inherited his love of walking the beach and picking up shells, I inherited his love of gardening and flowers, and his love of antique dishes, glassware and old bottles.

The last word I remember my Dad saying was when he was in Nursing care. I brought him a flower cookie on a stick that I had decorated. He had always encouraged my artistic and creative endeavors and I hoped he would appreciate this or at least enjoy a homemade cookie. He wasn’t speaking much those days and when he did often times you couldn’t hear him or it didn’t make sense. But when I gave him that cookie he looked at it and said clearly “pretty”. Even at that stage he could appreciate what I made. I don’t know how aware he was during the past year but I always held his hand and made sure I told him I loved him.

I am so fortunate and blessed to have had such a truly amazing father – the best Daddy God could have ever given me. I am glad that my Dad is in heaven with God now and at peace. Selfishly, I miss him like crazy and I just wish I could hold his hand again and talk to him. When I was going through a particularly hard time my Dad said to me “the sun will shine brightly again another day”. He was right .. it did. And so today I remember those words and I know the sun will shine brightly again and I remind myself that now my Dad is in heaven singing with the Angels praising God.