Pasta with Sausage and Chickpeas ~ ElephantEats.com

I can’t believe it took me til Berkeley was 4 months old, but I finally found the time to cook. I’ve been on the lookout for recipes that seem quick to make, and during December we had a nanny and I was working from home- I really had no excuse. Still, I only found time to make an actual dinner ONE night. Pathetic.

Pasta with Sausage and Chickpeas ~ ElephantEats.com

Honestly, it wasn’t that I didn’t have time to cook, it was that I didn’t have time to pick a recipe, grocery shop AND cook. I need to get my act together, which is going to be really hard now that I’m back at work officially (as of Monday) and I leave at 7:30am and don’t get home til almost 7pm. Any tips? I’m thinking that during the weekend I might need to send Nate to the grocery store and then put him on baby duty while I pump out a couple meals we can eat all week long. This will take some planning though, and I’m not sure if I have it in me yet.

Pasta with Sausage and Chickpeas 3 ~ ElephantEats.com

Most likely I’ll be cooking more meals than I show on here. Taking photos of your meal when you have limited time doesn’t really make sense. Plus, I don’t have my photo lights set up and am a little out of practice now, so forgive my poor photos. 

For a little baby update:

Berkeley 4 month ~ ElephantEats.com

Berkeley has officially been on this earth for a whole 4 months, and it’s really quite hard to believe. He’s SO smiley. He smiles for Nate more than for me, which makes me a little sad, but I think it’s just because I’m more of the “provider” and he’s more of the “entertainer.” That’s not to say he doesn’t smile for me at all, but Nate can always get him to grin. He smiles a lot for the nanny, Nora, too…he loves her which makes me very happy.

BerkeleyCollage

He’s also been “talking” a ton. It’s super cute when I’m feeding him and all of a sudden he’ll stop, look at me and just blabber on about something with a furrowed brow. He’s probably complaining about the nasty formula and asking when he can get some of that tasty breastmilk again. He’s been having some tummy issues so we’re trying a completely broken down formula (and a very $$$ one!) and it’s really seemed to help. I’m still breastfeeding him in the middle of the night though because it’s just easier. He’s been really fussing during that time though so it might have to end soon :(

Berkeley football hat ~ ElephantEats.com

Berkeley is also reaching for and grabbing things now! Shirts, hair, you name it…don’t put it too close or it will end up in his mouth. For a couple weeks he was sucking on his fist non-stop, but he seems to have forgotten about that lately. I still think he might become a thumb-sucker, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

He doesn’t spend a ton of time on his playmat on either his back or tummy because he has reflux…right after he eats we like to keep him mainly upright so he doesn’t spit up too much. Towards the end of that time before he naps, we’ll put him on his back. He only gets tummy time if he wakes up from a nap early and isn’t ready to eat yet. 

Berkeley Christmas PJs ~ ElephantEats.com

He wiggles and kicks a ton when he’s down but hasn’t rolled over yet. BUT…the other day during nap time he was squirming a ton in his swaddle and next thing I knew, he was face down in the crib! Luckily he has great neck strength and was able to lift his head up. I flipped him and put him back and he did it again! You’re not supposed to keep swaddling after that but he hasn’t done it since…it’s been keeping me up at night though because I’m so afraid he’ll do it during the night. I totally wanna ditch the swaddle but I’m so worried he won’t be able to sleep at all without it since his startle reflex is still pretty strong. If he starts flipping over regularly, i’ll obviously have no choice.

We also conquered a few milestones that I was fearing- our first long (2-3 hr) car ride, the first time I got sick and had to still take care of a baby, and Berkeley’s first cold. I managed to make it through all of them just fine. We headed down to my mother-in-laws for Christmas. We fed him his nighttime bottle and then hit the road during his bed time and he slept the whole way. Then we just moved him to his crib when we got there and he didn’t even wake up.

Santa Berk ~ ElephantEats.com

I got the worst cold while there and I feel bad because I’m totally the one who got Berkeley sick. I couldn’t help it because I had to blow my nose all day long, including while I was feeding him. I think if he had been breastfeeding instead of getting formula, he might have escaped getting sick. He was such a little trooper though, even when he was a snotty, congested mess. He got this nasty cough and runny nose but all through it he was still in a good mood! I should be very thankful and hope that this means he’s a very easygoing baby (now that he got his 2 months of colic out of the way). He did have a little more trouble sleeping though so I’m definitely feeling exhausted right now. I’m crossing my fingers because last night he seemed to have slept a little better.

Also now that I’m back at work, we’re figuring out the best way to do a morning routine. The problem is that he fusses in the morning so I put him in bed with me so we can both get a extra couple hours of sleep…but now I have to get up early to start getting ready for work and it’s hard not to wake him up by mistake. He stays asleep when I get out of bed but is up within 5 min since he doesn’t feel me next to him anymore. I’m not sure how to solve this. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. As of last night he slept the second half of his night (after his feeding) without fussing! I felt much better rested in the morning.

Santa Berk ~ ElephantEats.com

 

Pasta with Sausage and Chickpeas
A healthy and quick weeknight meal
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Ingredients
  1. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1 medium onion, chopped
  3. 1 pound fresh hot Italian sausage, casings removed (can use turkey sausage)
  4. 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  5. 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  6. 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  7. 16 ounces small dried pasta (such as malloreddus or orecchiette)
  8. Kosher salt
  9. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
  10. Finely grated Parmesan and lemon zest (for serving)
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add sausage and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add tomato paste to skillet and cook, stirring, until paste darkens, about 1 minute. Add broth; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 15-20 minutes. Add chickpeas and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  4. Add pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce. Cook, stirring and adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 3 minutes.
  5. Serve pasta topped with parsley, if using, Parmesan, and lemon zest.
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Adapted from Bon Appetit
http://elephanteats.com/
 

 Caprese Pasta Salad ~ ElephantEats.com

We’re down at my mother-in-law’s for the long holiday weekend, and her big, bright kitchen inspired me to finally do some cooking.

Making Caprese Pasta Salad ~ ElephantEats.com

I hope that I’m getting this to you with enough notice that you can make it for your big Memorial Day spread tomorrow!

Caprese Pasta Salad 2 ~ ElephantEats.com

Not sure if it’s pregnancy or the weather but I’ve been craving a tangy pasta salad, specifically one with all the flavors of summer. I combined my love of Caprese Salad with pasta into this tasty dish. It’s super easy and quick and can sit out for a decent amount of time, so it’s great for when you have a buffet at your bbq.

Caprese Pasta Salad 3 ~ ElephantEats.com

Also, figured I’d throw in my 23 week pic, although I’m at 25 weeks now ;) Getting bigger every day…

23 weeks ~ ElephantEats.com

23 wks front ~ ElephantEats.com

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Caprese Pasta Salad
Serves 6
A quick and easy pasta salad, full of the flavors of summer!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 lb farfalle pasta, dried (or any shape you prefer)
  2. 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  3. 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  4. 3-4 cloves garlic, minced plus 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  5. 5-6 medium tomatoes (this really depends how much tomato you like), diced with half of the juives removed
  6. 2 handfuls fresh basil, chopped
  7. 16 oz. fresh mozzarella, diced
  8. 1 tsp salt (plus more to taste) and pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to directions until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water, then put in large bowl. Put empty pot back on stove top.
  2. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and oil plus salt and pepper.
  3. In the empty pot, add a couple Tablespoons of olive oil and add garlic. Saute a min until fragrant and lightly brown. Remove immediately and add to olive oil mixture.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes, basil and mozzarella to bowl of pasta.
  5. Add in oil/vinegar mixture and toss well.
http://elephanteats.com/

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole ~ ElephantEats.com

Good news! I got back in the kitchen again this week and actually made and photographed a recipe!

Sorry I’ve been so lacking on recipe posts, I guess I’ve just been really lazy since my Christmas break and haven’t been able to get back into the groove.

This has been compounded by the fact that my computer is at death’s door and I dread having to use it because it’s SO SLOW and the battery dies in about 20 min. I’m going to start using Nate’s computer but it’s a Mac and I’m putting it off as long as possible since I’m a PC girl.

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole ~ ElephantEats.com

But anyway, let’s get to this recipe. I think we all know that homemade mac and cheese doesn’t hold a candle to the stuff in the blue box- although I’m partial to the Velveeta Shells and Cheese variety that comes with the pack of squeeze cheese.

Whenever I make macaroni and cheese from scratch, the cheese sauce looks so smooth, creamy and delicious in the pot, but then after you toss the noodles in it and put it in the oven, it kind of separates and turns to a texture I don’t like at all. It gets kind of dry (which I guess some people like) and just not cheesy at all.

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole ~ ElephantEats.com

Ever since I was little, I’ve loved Velveeta cheese. In fact I just remembered that for breakfast I used to eat an english muffins toasted with Velveeta melted on it and sprinkled with bacon bits. I don’t know how I came up with this, but MAN was it good….and I kind of want one of those sandwiches right now…

Anyway, I know Velveeta is artificially colored and probably so bad for you, but I’m convinced that in order for mac and cheese to be palatable, it needs to contain some of this delightful cheese product. Well this recipe is the best of both worlds. The cheese sauce is made using my favorite artificial cheese, keeping it smooth and delicious even after it’s baked, but then there’s real cheddar sprinkled on top for even more cheesy deliciousness.

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole ~ ElephantEats.com

This particular recipe gets a little kick from the tomatoes with green chiles, and I’ve made it extra healthy by adding loads of veggies. I also added tofu since Nate and I don’t love chicken but I wanted some added protein. You could definitely sub chicken if you’d like.

I could not stop myself from eating this!

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole ~ ElephantEats.com

Zesty Mac 'n Cheese Casserole
Serves 6
A spicy, cheesy pasta casserole chock full of veggies!
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Ingredients
  1. 16-oz. package corkscrew pasta (or whatever shape you like)
  2. 2 tablespoons butter
  3. 1 medium onion, diced
  4. 1 green bell pepper, diced
  5. 8 oz. mushrooms, diced
  6. 1 (10-oz.) can diced tomatoes and green chiles
  7. 10-oz. pasteurized prepared cheese product, cubed (like Velveeta, which comes in a box or shredded)
  8. 10 oz. frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
  9. 8 oz. super firm tofu, cubed and drained- i found a pre-cubed version (you could also sub chicken if you want)
  10. 1 (10 3/4-oz.) can cream of chicken soup
  11. 1/2 cup sour cream
  12. 1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cook pasta for slightly less time than package recommends so it's al dente. It will cook more in the oven so you don't want it to be too mushy.
  2. Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms and sauté 5-10 minutes or until tender.
  3. Stir in tomatoes and green chiles and prepared cheese product; cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Stir in broccoli, tofu, soup and sour cream and stir well. Mix in hot cooked pasta until blended.
  4. Spoon mixture into a 9x13 baking dish; sprinkle with shredded Cheddar cheese.
  5. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly.
Adapted from Southern Living
Adapted from Southern Living
http://elephanteats.com/

Light Lemony Tuna Pasta with Fennel, Capers, and Olives ~ ElephantEats.com

I was recently sent some Ocean Naturals canned tuna to try. I rarely eat canned tuna because I just plain forget it exists, so I was so glad that this reminded me how great it is. 

Canned tuna contains high-quality protein and Omega 3 fatty acids. Tuna, especially canned tuna, is a convenient and versatile way for you to add fish to your family’s diet.

Light Lemony Tuna Pasta with Fennel, Capers, and Olives ~ ElephantEats.com

But I’m sure you guys know all that, right? What I didn’t know was that tuna is often over-harvested and some species are more endangered than others. Ocean Naturals guarantees that all of their “responsibly-caught” tuna is harvested:

  • From target species populations that are healthy and abundant and are currently being harvested at a level that promotes the stocks’ longevity
  • Using catch-methods that limit ecosystem impacts
  • In regions where the fishery is managed by regulatory bodies that help sustain the long-term productivity of all impacted species

Light Lemony Tuna Pasta with Fennel, Capers, and Olives ~ ElephantEats.com

Nate has made me really think about our impact on the ecosystem in general, so it made me really happy to know that some companies are doing their part to preserve it and limit their impact on it. 

Lately I’ve also become overly concerned with what I put in my body, and hate that everything seems to contain something that’s unhealthy either from the packaging or the food itself. For example, it scares me that those plastic water bottles I drink from daily could be leaching chemicals into the water. Well, Ocean Naturals  tuna doesn’t have anything added- it’s simply premium tuna with a dash of salt, packed in either olive oil or water. No fillers, additives, or preservatives. It’s nice to know that some foods don’t have anything artificial added!

Light Lemony Tuna Pasta with Fennel, Capers, and Olives ~ ElephantEats.com

Anyway, since I got sent this tuna, I didn’t want to just make a boring old tuna salad. Nate has been training for the NY marathon (it’s this weekend!) so every Friday is pasta day to fuel his long weekend runs. I decided to make a pasta that incorporated the tuna. It’s kind of based on the flavors of a sandwich he loves at ‘WichCraft Sandwiches.

**I was given these products free of charge, but all opinions are my own. I would never post about a product I didn’t love and plan to use again.

Light Lemony Tuna Pasta with Fennel, Capers, and Olives ~ ElephantEats.com

Light Carrot Dill Cream Sauce for Pasta ~ ElephantEats.com

First of all, let me say that Nate is officially back! Unfortunately there’s still no job, but he’s back nonetheless. While I’m happy to have him back, it was nice to have a fairly empty fridge rather than one stocked to the brim with Trader Joes. Have I mentioned the boy can eat?!

So I took it upon myself to clean out the refrigerator a bit before his arrival. During my cleaning I came across a bag of baby carrots that Nate had bought and never opened. Nate had given me a list of food to get for him before he got home and baby carrots was on it. He claimed the ones in the fridge, though unopened, were no longer edible.

Light Carrot Dill Cream Sauce for Pasta ~ ElephantEats.com

I wasn’t about to waste those carrots! Have you noticed that I’m big on not wasting? :) So when I was deciding on some sort of sauce to make for my homemade farfalle, I knew I wanted to include carrots. Plus, carrots scream Spring to me, and now that daylight savings has come and gone, I know the new season is right around the corner.

Farfalle is good with a cream sauce, so I decided I’d use the carrots pureed in a cream sauce, and then the addition of dill was a no-brainer for a fresh, light taste perfect for Spring!

This sauce is actually very low in calories for a cream sauce. I used carrots to bulk it up and thicken it, and it contains only low-fat milk, not cream. You’d never know from the taste though, the onions, garlic and lemon give it so much flavor!

Light Carrot Dill Cream Sauce for Pasta ~ ElephantEats.com

This recipe made about 3.5 cups of sauce. I found that 3/4 cup of sauce was plenty for the 6 oz of pasta that my farfalle recipe made.

6 oz is three proper servings….but in our household, 6 oz of pasta serves one Nate. So rather than making more pasta, I ate some of the sauce over spaghetti squash and it was delicious for what it was (I.e not pasta).

How beautiful is the color of this sauce? I just think it’s so perfect for Spring :)

Since this recipe made so much, I’m thinking I might use the rest of it in a lasagna. Maybe I’ll layer some zucchini and mozzarella in there? Yum!

Light Carrot Dill Cream Sauce for Pasta ~ ElephantEats.com

Light Carrot Dill Cream Sauce 

Print this recipe!

Yields 3.5 cups 

2 cups baby carrots (about 11 oz)
1 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp flour
1 3/4 cup 1% milk, divided
3 oz. light cream cheese
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
juice of 3/4 lemon
salt (start with 1/2 tsp) and pepper

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add carrots and cook 15 minutes or until soft when pierced. Remove carrots to bowl of food processor but leave water on a low boil so you can cook the pasta later.

Melt butter in the bottom of a medium saucepan. Saute onions until soft. Add garlic and cook another minute.

Whisk in 1/2 cup milk and the flour until smooth. Whisk in 1 cup more milk and bring to a boil, whisking often. When it comes to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Add cream cheese to milk mixture and whisk til melted. Remove from heat and stir in dill. Set aside.

Add pasta to boiling water.

While pasta is cooking, puree carrots and 1/4 cup milk in a food processor until smooth. Add to milk mixture along with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

When pasta is done, drain and add sauce. (I found that 3/4 cup sauce covers 6 oz of pasta perfectly. So that means a pound of pasta should use about 2 cups sauce). However I recommend making a full recipe…the sauce is just so good!