BLT Pasta Salad

BLT Pasta Salad
Serves Approximately 16 (one cup portions)

1 pound shell pasta
8 slices of thick-cut bacon (ideally, low sodium)
1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved (or quartered)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
5 ounces fresh arugala
1 bunch green onions, sliced, greens and whites

  1. Bring a large kettle to a boil. Salt the water. When boiling, add the pasta and cook until “al dente”, 8-10 minutes.
  2. While the pasta boils, fry bacon until crispy. Chop and set aside. 
  3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons bacon grease.
  4. Return the skilletto stove over medium heat. Add the garlic and tomatoes, and cook over medium-high heat until the tomatoes begin to soften (2 minutes.)
  5. Drain the pasta, saving 2 cups of the pasta water.
  6. Return the hot pasta back to the kettle. 
  7. Add the arugala and stir gently.
  8. Add the tomatoes and garlic, the green onion and one cup of the reserved water. Stir to mix.
  9. Top with bacon, and more pasta water if you think it needs it. 
  10. This can be served warm or cold.

Nutritional data for one cup:

Calories:         103
Fat:                 2.3g
Sat fat:            0.6g
Chol:              3.8g
Sodium:        47.9g
Carbs:           17.2g
Fiber:              1.3g
Protein:           4.4g

You can increase the health benefits by using a high fiber pasta, but Tammy and I don’t eat pasta that often and we simply prefer the “regular” white pasta.

Don’t forget to listen to my podcast, Make Your Someday Today! It is a motivational and weight loss podcast, featuring interviews with musicians, athletes, artists, entrepreneurs and weight loss success stories from around the world. I also answer listener questions, and beginning with Episode 49, I give my “Recipe of the Week!” 

Angel Hair Pasta and Fried Eggs

Angel Hair Pasta and Fried Eggs
Basic Instructions, you can vary as you wish:
  1. Boil pasta.
  2. While pasta boils, saute mashed garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Toss in panko, let the crumbs toast a bit. Remove to a bowl, grate parmesan on top, mix in.
  3. Return the pan to stove, add more olive oil and mashed garlic.
  4. Drain pasta, add to pan with olive oil and garlic. Toss to coat.
  5. While that continues to cook, place second skillet over medium heat, and spray with cooking spray. Carefully crack 1-2 eggs into it. Cover. Let cook over medium until the whites get firm. (You can add 1 tablepoon water to help steam.)
  6. Place pasta on dish, toss with panko, and gently slide eggs on top.

Mac ‘n Cheese, Baked

Mac ‘n Cheese, Baked
Serves 4

Note: this is not an ooey-gooey cheese-dripping version of Mac ‘n Cheese. It uses relatively small amounts of cheese, but the end result is still a rich-tasting, warm comfort food meal.

2 cups dry shell pasta (8 ounces by weight)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (5 ounces by weight)
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (2 ounces by weight)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (1 ounce by weight)

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Prepare pasta according to directions on package.
  3. Spray a 1 or 1.5 quart casserole with cooking spray (makes clean up easier).
  4. Drain cooked pasta.
  5. Combine pasta and remaining ingredients. Add to casserole.
  6. Bake uncovered, until the cheese melts and gets browned (about 10-15 minutes).

Nutritional data:
Calories:        301
Fat:               6.5g
Sat fat:          3.3g
Chol:             19mg
Sodium:       145mg
Carbs:         43.9g
Fiber:               2g
Protein:       15.6g

As I served it with my Roasted Carrots and Peas.

Chicken Lo Mein

Chicken Lo Mein
Serve 6 (or fewer if there are hungry teenagers involved.)
6 ounces angel hair pasta (dry)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, sliced and quartered
1/2 cup matchstick carrots
1 large green bell pepper, sliced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced (8 ounces by weight)
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1/4 cup Asian Toasted Sesame salad dressing
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 pound precooked chicken, shredded and heated.
  1. Cook pasta according to directions.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large (10-11″ non-stick skillet over med-high heat. Add olive oil.
  3. When the oil is hot, add the onions. Saute for 3-5 minutes, or until they are beginning to become soft.
  4. Add carrots, green peppers, red peppers and mushrooms.
  5. Turn heat to high and add wine.
  6. In a small dish, combine salad dressing and peanut butter. Warm in microwave to melt the peanut butter. Stir together.
  7. Add salad dressing/peanut butter mixture to the vegetables. Stir to coat.
  8. Add chicken. Stir to combine.
  9. Either mix the angel hair into the chicken-vegetable mixture, or portion out the pasta per plate and top with 1/6 of the chicken-vegetable mixture.

Nutritional data:
Calories:        345
Fat:              17.6g
Sat fat:           4.2g
Chol:              60mg
Sodium:        248mg
Carbs:          28.5g
Fiber:             2.3g
Protein:        18.6g

Creamy Chicken and Spinach Pasta

Creamy Chicken and Spinach Pasta
Serves 4
2 cups warm, shredded cooked chicken (or about 8 ounces)
6 ounces dry pasta, some sort of short variety (penne, rotini, etc)
1 cup frozen peas
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup Vidalia onion, diced
2 garlic cloves
1 cup (10 ounces by weight) plain Greek yogurt
6 ounces baby spinach
  1. Prepare pasta according to directions. When the pasta is done, save 1 cup of the pasta water.
  2. Heat the shredded chicken in the microwave (or any other preferred method.) Keep hot.
  3. While you are boiling the pasta, in a small non-stick skillet, add olive oil. When hot, add onions. Saute until they are beginning to become translucent (4-6 minutes over medium-high heat.) Add garlic and stir for an additional minute.
  4. Add yogurt to the onions and garlic. Stir to combine. If it seems too thick for your preference, add small amounts of the hot pasta water.
  5. To quickly and easily thaw the peas, place them in a large colander, and pour the cooked pasta over them. Quickly drain the pasta, and add back to the pasta pot. The pasta does not need to be fully drained.
  6. Add half of the spinach.  Top with onion/yogurt mixture and chicken.  Stir to combine.
  7. Add remaining spinach.  Toss to combine. The spinach will partially wilt under the surrounding heat of the dish.
Note: You could easily use leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. Simply shred it and reheat in the microwave, or in a saute pan with some broth and a bit (1/4 cup) of gravy.
Nutritional data (each portion is approximately 1 1/4 cups):
Calories:      279

Fat:             7.7g

Sat fat:           2g

Chol:            36mg
Sodium:      130mg
Carbs:       32.5g

Fiber:             3g

Protein:        20g

Note: This was the first time I made this dish. Next time, I will add something with another color, maybe some diced fire-roasted red bell peppers.

Salmon and Spinach Pasta Toss

Salmon Fillets
1 pound salmon fillets (4 ounces each)

Season the salmon with your preferred seasoning.  Heat a non-stick skillet, pan fry until cooked, about 3 minutes per side.

Nutritional data, per serving:
Calories:      190
Fat:               9.0g
Sat fat:          1.5g
Chol:            70mg
Sodium:        50mg
Carbs:            0g
Fiber:             0g
Protein:        24g

Spinach Pasta Toss (makes 6 servings, approximately 1 cup each)

1 tablespon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, minced
Black pepper, dried oregano, and dried basil to preference
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
2 cups whole wheat penne pasta
1 cup water
6 ounces V8 (low sodium) juice
2 ounces white wine
4 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes
6 ounces raw baby spinach
2 tablespoons (6 teaspoons) romano cheese

1.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet (10-12 inches).  Add onion.  Saute for 3-4 minutes over medium-high heat, until it begins to turn translucent.
2.  Add garlic, and spices.  Saute for another minute.
3.  Carefully pour V8, water and wine.  Turn heat up, and bring to a near boil. Add pasta, stir and return to a boil.
4.  When boiling, reduce heat to simmer, cover and let cook for 10 minutes or until the pasta cooked to your preference.
5.  Bring heat back to medium. Add half the spinach.  Toss pasta and spinach until the spinach begins to wilt.  Add remaining spinach, and toss until the spinach is wilted.
6.  Serve, with 1 tsp romano cheese on each portion.

Nutritional data, per serving of the Spinach Pasta Toss:
Calories:      159
Fat:               3.7g
Sat fat:          0.7g
Chol:            1.2mg
Sodium:       120mg
Carbs:         25.6g
Fiber:           4.4g
Protein:        5.7g

Lasagna Two Ways

I give you two variations of the same recipe. Life is all about choices. Having a couple options give you more control over your life. Make choices, prioritizing needs, and taking responsibility are frequent topics on my twice-weekly MakeYourSomedayToday podcast, where we talk to successful people in many professions and arround the world, learning their “secrets” of success. 

Spinach Lasagna (in the foreground, served with a green salad and a glass of Cabernet/Syrah blend)
Serves 6
6 Pieces uncooked whole wheat lasagna noodles

2 cups, your preferred marinara sauce
10 ounce box of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 egg
1 1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese
8 slices mozzarella cheese

1.       Preheat oven to 350F.
2.       Mix cottage cheese, egg, spinach and onion.
3.       In an 8×8 baking pan, spread 2 tablespoons marinara sauce.
4.       Break 4 uncooked lasagna noodles to fit the pan.  Reserve pieces.
5.       Spread half the cottage cheese mixture over the pasta.
6.       Lay 4 pieces of mozzarella on the cottage cheese mixture, press down gently.
7.       Spread half the remaining marinara sauce over the mozzarella.
8.       Repeat, using the broken pieces as needed.
9.       Bake for 50 minutes.  Remove from oven, let cool minutes.

This recipe can be in the oven with about 10-15 minutes prep time.
Nutritional content:
Calories:                 270
Fat:                       11.4g
Sat fat:                    4.3g
Chol:                     60mg
Sodium:               798mg
Carbs:                   25.3g
Fiber:                      4.2g
Protein:                 17.7g

Meat Lasagna (in the background)
Serves 6
6 pieces of uncooked lasagna noodles
2 cups your preferred marinara sauce
1 pound ground beef, browned
½ cup diced onion
1-2 garlic cloves
1 egg
1.5 cups cottage cheese
8 slices mozzarella cheese
1.            Preheat oven to 350F.
2.            Spread 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce in a 8×8 baking pan.
3.            Brown meat with onion and garlic.  Drain, mix with remaining marinara sauce.
4.            Mix cottage cheese and egg.
5.            In an 8×8 baking pan, spread 2 tablespoons marinara sauce.
6.            Break 4 uncooked lasagna noodles to fit the pan.  Reserve pieces.
7.            Spread half the cottage cheese mixture over the pasta.
8.            Lay 4 pieces of mozzarella on the cottage cheese mixture, press down gently.
7.            Spread half the remaining marinara meat sauce over the mozzarella.
8.            Repeat, using the broken pieces as needed.
9.            Bake for 50 minutes.  Remove from oven, let cool minutes.
Nutritional content:
Calories:                 362
Fat:                      12.9g
Sat fat:                   6.2g
Chol:                    66mg
Sodium:              907mg
Carbs:                  25.3g
Fiber:                     2.8g
Protein:                36.1g
This recipe can be in the oven with about 10-30 minutes prep time.
Make Your Someday Today is a twice-weekly podcast, where we talk to successful people in all walks of life and around the world on Monday, and then on Thursday, I take a specific message from the previous guest and give my “Trevitorial”, where I help you apply that message to your life. The entire purpose of the show is to help all of us overcome our challenges and fears and become the person we want to be, the person we deserve to be.

Today’s Simple and Easy Dinner

Simple and Easy Beef Stroganoff
Makes 6 servings
1 package Hormel beef tips and gravy (17 ounces)
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
6 ounces Greek yogurt (fat free is what I used)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups uncooked whole wheat wide noodles
Prepare the pasta as directed on the label. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet, saute the onion for 3-4 minutes, then add the garlic and mushrooms. Continue to cook over medium-high until everything is soft.
While preparing the onion-mushrooms, heat the beef tips in the microwave according to label directions (about 4 minutes). Remove from the microwave, and with two forks pull the meat into smaller chunks. When the mushrooms are ready, add the meat and gravy. Stir well. 
Turn the heat off, and stir in the Greek yogurt.
One serving is 1 cup pasta and 3/4 cup stroganoff.
This entire meal took 15 minutes to prepare, from filling the pot for the pasta to serving it. Having one of those Hormel dishes in the fridge is a life-saver on busy days.
Nutritional data:
Calories:            367
Fat:                    9.3 g
Sat. fat:              2.4 g
Cholesterol:       34.4 mg
Sodium:             426 mg
Carbs:                51.3 g
Fiber:                 6.8 g
Protein:              23.8 g
Mint Chocolate Cake
One 18.75 ounce package Devil’s Food Cake mix
One 12 ounce can diet cola
20 Andes candies, chopped
1 Tbsp. milk
One 8-ounce container fat free Whipped Topping
Preheat oven to 350.
Place cake mix and cola in a large bowl and mix with beater at low speed until moist. Increase speed to medium for 2 minutes until smooth. Stir in half of the Andes candies. 
Pour into one 9×13 or two 8×8 pans, sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool cakes. 
Melt the remaining Andes candies with the tablespoon of milk in the microwave. Stir until smooth.  Fold into the whipped topping, and spread evenly over the cakes when cool.
Makes 24 servings. Note: You could also make this into 24 cupcakes.
Nutritional data:
Calories:          128
Fat:                  3.1 g
Sat Fat:            1.5 g
Chol:                0
Sodium:           195 mg
Carb:                23.6 g
Fiber:               0.6 g
Protein:            1.2 g