Mushroom, Chicken and Soba Noodle Soup

I’m a huge fan of soba noodles, they somehow satisfy a serious carb craving without making you feel like you just ate a heavy meal afterwards. Growing up, I was lucky to have a mom who made a lot of authentic, Japanese-style home-cooked meals. One of my favourite meals was always chilled soba noodles in a light soy-flavoured sauce with a sprinkling of dried nori seaweed on top. Although I’ll always love that classic way to enjoy these buckwheat noodles on a hot summer day, the world of food blogging has opened me up to so many different ways of preparing soba noodles, and I’m happy to say that this soup won’t disappoint. It’s healthy and flavourful and oh so good. If you love soba noodles as I much as I do, you should also check out this sesame soba noodle salad..yum!

Mushroom, Chicken and Soba Noodle Soup
Yield: about 6 servings

1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2½ cups mushrooms, trimmed and sliced (shiitake or cremini)
4 scallions, sliced, with white and green parts separated
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tsp. grated fresh ginger (peeled)
5 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
2 cups water
6 oz. soba noodles
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
12 oz. baby bok choy, ends trimmed
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
Kosher salt, to taste

Heat the oil in a stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms, white scallion parts, garlic and ginger to the pan.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chicken stock and water and bring to a boil.

Add the soba noodles to the pot and cook at a boil for 5 minutes.  Stir in the shredded chicken and bok choy and cook 2 minutes more, until noodles are tender and bok choy is wilted and slightly softened.  Stir in the lime juice and soy sauce.  Adjust seasoning with kosher salt if needed.  Top with scallion greens.  Serve warm.

Annie’s Eats, slightly adapted from Kitchen Confidante


Sesame Soba Noodle Salad

Today is a lazy kind of day. I’m lounging, listening to Taylor Swift’s new album on repeat, occasionally pausing my iTunes so I can watch a tear-jerking YouTube video like this one. I’m also daydreaming about owning a pair of theseLouboutins one day and dropping out of school so I can go back to camp next summer. I’ve also decided that I’m going to marry Hunter Hayes just so that he can sing me this song every day.

On lazy days like today, I don’t feel like putting a lot of effort into making a meal. That’s what sesame soba noodle salads are for! Soba noodles cook pretty quickly, much quicker than regular pasta, so by the time you finish chopping up a few things and making a to-die-for nutty vinaigrette, your soba noodles will be ready and you just have to throw everything together! Soba noodles are also a nice change from usual pasta but still satisfying in the carbohydrate department. I love this salad freshly made and as leftovers, served cold :)


Sesame Soba and Noodle Salad


For the Salad:
9.5oz soba noodles
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 loose cup cilantro leaves, minced
1 (12oz) package shelled edamame
sesame seeds (optional garnish)

For the Dressing:
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon tahini
2 teaspoons honey
salt to taste
Directions: Before cooking the noodles, prepare all of the raw ingredients. Chop the bell peppers, thinly slice the green onion (or scallion), and mince the cilantro. Add veggies and herbs to a large mixing bowl.Prepare edamame according to package directions. If frozen, cook for a few minutes in warm water to bring up to room temperature. Make sure your edamame is shelled (no one likes to eat chewy pods!).One the veggies are all prepped, go ahead and cook the noodles. Soba noodles only cook for 4-5 minutes, so don’t wander too far. Once the noodles are cooked, drain in a colander and rinse with cold water immediately.In a separate bowl, whisk together all ingredients for the dressing.Combine noodles, veggies, and dressing in the mixing bowl and toss until everything is well combined. Sprinkle with sesame seeds to garnish, serve, and enjoy!

Daily Garnish


Broccoli Fettuccine Alfredo

When I was in grade 3, I had a friend named Demetria. The only thing I remember about her is that she had shiny brown hair and was Greek. I also remember going to a sleepover at her house, but the only reason I remember that is because during the sleepover her godparents came and gave her Easter presents and I was so jealous because I didn’t have any godparents to give me Easter presents. Anyways, for the longest time growing up I always associated fettuccine alfredo with Greek food, because Demetria’s mom would pack her a hot thermos of the most amazing Sidekick’s version of fettuccine alfredo for lunch almost every day, and so alfredo and my Greek friend were forever linked together in my grade 3 mind.

Now that I’m all grown up I know that fettuccine alfredo isn’t really of Greek origin and that the Sidekick’s version is not exactly an authentic alfredo. I also know that this recipe I’m sharing with you today isn’t really an alfredo, but instead is a lighter, guilt-free version of an alfredo that still has a rich white sauce that screams comfort food. This broccoli fettuccine alfredo uses milk instead of cream, and won’t make you feel guilty about the fact that you lounged around in your sweatpants watching the Food Network all day instead of going for a run. Don’t worry , I won’t tell ;)

Broccoli Fettuccine Alfredo

16 oz. dry fettuccine
16 oz. frozen broccoli florets
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup butter
4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1 cup grated parmesan
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Begin to boil a large pot of water to cook the pasta. When it reaches a full boil, add the pasta and cook for 7-10 minutes or until al dente. When the pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water and then drain the pasta in a colander.

While the pasta is cooking, thaw the broccoli in the microwave and begin to make the parmesan sauce. Mince the garlic and cook it over medium heat in a medium sauce pot with the butter until the garlic has softened slightly (3-5 minutes). Add the flour, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes more. This is the “roux” that will thicken the sauce.

Whisk in the milk. Increase the heat to medium-high. Whisk the milk mixture until it comes up to a light simmer. As soon as it reaches a simmer it will thicken and should be able to coat a wooden spoon (see photos below). Turn the heat off and whisk in the parmesan cheese. Add freshly cracked black pepper, nutmeg, and salt to taste. Make the sauce slightly saltier than you’d prefer if you were eating the sauce alone. Once it’s spread out over the pasta and broccoli it will taste more mild.

Return the cooked pasta to the large pot that it was boiled in (with the burner turned off). Add the reserved pasta cooking water and toss the pasta to loosen it up. Add the thawed broccoli and then pour the parmesan sauce over top. Stir to coat everything in the sauce and then serve!

Budget Bytes

Slow Cooker Marinara

img_2080If you are the kind of person who stocks up on jars of pasta sauce when they go on sale at the grocery store or even just in general find that your pantry is always kept stocked with pasta sauce, than you should definitely try this slow cooker marinara. Pasta can be such a satisfying and quick weeknight meal to throw together and it just tastes that much better with fresh, homemade marinara (no preservatives added!).

img_2067What I love most about this recipe is that you literally throw a few ingredients into a slow cooker and in 8 hours you have a large batch of marinara that you can either serve immediately or freeze for later. The marinara tastes great when served plain over pasta, but if I have the time I love adding cooked sausage or meatballs and maybe even mushrooms and peppers as well. Whichever you prefer, you will not regret having a bag or two of this marinara stored in your freezer for a lazy day :)


Slow Cooker Marinara 

2 (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 medium yellow onion
1/2 tbsp minced garlic
2 whole bay leaves
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the onion into a small dice and mince the garlic (or use pre-minced garlic from a jar). Place both in the slow cooker. Also add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, bay leaves, basil, oregano, and freshly cracked pepper. Stir well to combine. If your slow cooker tends to lose moisture and dry things out, add 1/2 to 1 cup of water as well.

Secure the lid on your slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hrs.

Remove the lid on the slow cooker, stir the sauce, and remove the bay leaves. Season with salt to taste (I added about 1 tsp). Enjoy over your favorite pasta!  Remember the sauce can be served plain over pasta, or you can use it as a base sauce and add it whatever you want, like mushrooms, cooked sausage or chicken, bell peppers, etc.

Budget Bytes

Creamy Avocado Pasta


Fun fact: I hate leftovers.

Actually, not really a fun fact seeing as it only complicates my life when it comes to preparing my meals. I absolutely love when a meal has just been cooked. I feel like it tastes so much better when it’s fresh out of the oven or out of the pan. So when I see that same meal in a container in the fridge, completely chilled, I’m just not as enthusiastic about eating it. As a student preparing all of my meals on my own while away at school, I’m faced with two options: I can take the time every night to prepare a fresh-cooked meal for dinner, or I can save time (and usually money!) by preparing several servings of the same recipe and having leftovers for a few days.  More often than not, the idea of saving time and money wins out, and I’m stuck with my leftovers for now…

Anyways, the point of that story was to let you know how thrilled I was to have found this recipe, for a creamy avocado pasta that can be made in 15 minutes AND cannot be used for leftovers (due to the fact that the avocado sauce should not be re-heated). Although I guess you could eat the pasta cold. I never really thought of myself as a picky eater, but I’m cringing at the thought of cold pasta (that’s not pasta salad).


This meal is very simply and easy to make, and does not require a lot of time or ingredients, making it perfect for people like me who dislike leftovers, or even for those nights when you feel like there is absolute nothing in the fridge that you can make a meal out of. All you really need is an avocado, clove of garlic and a bit of lemon. If you’re making this meal for one, half the recipe below!

Creamy Avocado Pasta 

Yield: serves 2

1 medium sized ripe avocado, pitted
½ lemon, juiced + lemon zest to garnish (zest optional)
1-2 cloves garlic, to taste
½ tsp kosher salt, or to taste
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 oz pasta

Bring several cups of water to a boil in a medium sized pot. Cook pasta until al dente (see package for instructions).

Place the garlic clove(s), lemon juice and olive oil into a food processor, and process until smooth. Add in the avocado and salt. Process until smooth and creamy. Alternatively, if you do not have a food processor, mince the garlic cloves finely and mix well with lemon juice and olive oil. Mash the avocado in with a fork or potato masher and add in, along with salt. Mix well to combine.

When pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse in a strainer and place pasta into a large bowl. Pour on avocado sauce and toss until fully combined. Serve immediately.

**Please note that this dish does not reheat well due to the avocado in the sauce, so serve immediately.

Adapted from Oh She Glows

Baked Ziti

One more week until I’m back home for summer!!  I can hardly contain my excitement. I really do hope I’m not boring you with my countdown. I think I’m just at the point right now where I am so sick of school and studying for exams, and I’m so close to being home for summer vacation that I’m starting to get hysterical. I hope I don’t freak you out.

I’m also at the point where I should be trying to finish all of the food in my fridge and freezer seeing as I won’t be back here for four months when school starts again. Yet I went out and bought 20 oz. of Italian sausage (pretty sure mine was pork, not turkey) and a tub of cottage cheese just so I could try out this recipe for a delicious, cheesy pasta casserole type dish. Trust me, it did not disappoint.

Baked Ziti

1 lb. whole milk or 1% cottage cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 cups), divided
Table salt
1 lb. ziti (or any tube pasta)
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
20 oz. turkey Italian sausage
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
5 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves, divided
1 tsp. sugar
Ground black pepper
3/4 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)
8 oz. low-moisture mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F.  Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in a medium bowl; set aside.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta; cook until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5-7 minutes.  Drain the pasta and leave in colander.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Crumble in the turkey sausage and cook until nearly browned.  Add in the onion and garlic and continue to cook until the onion is softened and the sausage is completely browned.  Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.  Off the heat, stir in 1/2 cup basil and the sugar, and season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl stir together the cornstarch and heavy cream.  Transfer the mixture to the now-empty stockpot over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, 3-4 minutes.  Remove the pot from the heat and add the cottage cheese mixture, 1 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce and 3/4 cup mozzarella.  Stir to combine.  Add the pasta and toss to coat thoroughly with the sauce.

Transfer the pasta to a 9×13″ baking dish and spread the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the top.  Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan over the top.  Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil from the pan and continue to cook until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer.  Cool for 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve.

Source: Annie’s Eats, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, March & April 2009

Mom’s Goulash

Okay, so here’s the deal.

This isn’t my Mom’s recipe, and this definitely isn’t goulash either.

This is a delicious pasta casserole, with layers of meat sauce and cream cheese sauce, coated with cheese. It’s really good and makes excellent leftovers as well.

I used cheddar cheese instead of mozzarella and it still tasted fantastic 🙂

Mom’s Goulash

1 lb. ground sirloin (or ground turkey)
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. dried oregano
Kosher salt
1/3 cup water
1 lb. tube pasta, such as penne
1 cup sour cream
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
½ cup chopped green onions
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Lightly grease a 9 x 13″ baking dish.

Brown the meat in a large skillet over medium heat, crumbling it up as it cooks.  Drain off the excess fat, if necessary.  When the meat is no longer pink, stir in the tomato paste, tomato sauce, sugar, basil, oregano, and salt to taste.  Stir in the water.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil.  Cook the pasta just until al dente.  Drain well and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, cream cheese, and egg.  Mix well to blend.  Stir in the green onions.

To assemble, spread a very thin layer of the sauce mixture over the bottom of the baking dish.  Top with half of the pasta.  Spread half of the sour cream mixture over the pasta, then top with half of the remaining sauce.   Repeat layers with the remaining pasta, sour cream mixture and sauce.  Sprinkle shredded mozzarella evenly over the top.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbling.  Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Annie’s Eats

Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta al Forno

Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta al Forno.

A ridiculously long and complicated name for simple, quick, and delicious meal.

One of my housemates is the kind of person that looks for simplicity in recipes. Once she saw (and tasted) this pasta, and realized how few ingredients she needed, she asked for the recipe right away.

I normally halve the recipe, but I’ve listed the full amount below.

Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta al Forno


2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2-14 oz. cans diced Italian plum tomatoes
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 lb. pasta (tubes)
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, cubed
2/3 c. parmesan


Heat oil in skillet. Add garlic and cook over medium high heat, 1 min. Add tomatoes and oregano and simmer rapidly, stirring occasionally until thickened, 15 min. Add S&P. Meanwhile, cook pasta. Toss pasta with sauce.Place half of pasta in an oiled 9×13” dish. Cover with half parmesan and half mozzarella. Top with remaining pasta, then parmesan and mozzarella. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes.

Source: Annie’s Eats

Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells

These were the first stuffed shells I have ever made.
They were super easy to make and absolutely delicious.
I think they should be on next week’s dinner menu.

Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells


1 12-oz. package jumbo pasta shells
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 15-oz. container ricotta cheese
6-7 oz. fresh spinach, chopped OR 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

1 28-oz. can chopped tomatoes with herbs, including the liquid (I actually ended up needing an extra medium sized tomato as well)


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Cook pasta shells according to package directions.  Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the sausage to the pan, breaking it into smaller pieces as it cooks.  Cook until the sausage is completely cooked through and no pink remains, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Remove from the heat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg, ricotta, spinach, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, basil, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper.  Stir together to combine.  Add the cooked sausage mixture to the bowl and stir until evenly mixed.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Spread a thin layer of the chopped tomatoes in the baking dishes (either three 8×8″ pans, or one 9×13″ and one 8×8″).  Stuff each shell with some of the sausage and cheese mixture, and arrange in the baking dishes, open side up.  Spread the remaining tomatoes over the top of the pasta shells. If you run out of tomatoes, don’t panic. Dice a medium sized tomato, sprinkle with a little bit of salt and pepper, and use in place of the canned tomatoes.

Cover the pans with foil and bake for 30 minutes, until hot and bubbling.  Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.  Bake, uncovered, for 10 more minutes.

Source: adapted from Annie’s Eats

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