Full Dinner Menu: Pasta Jambalaya and Orange Cookies

Pasta Jambalaya_Snapseed2

As winter drags on and we get closer to Fat Tuesday (March 1st this year) my meals tend to take on a Southern feel…Washday Beans and Rice, Chicken and Biscuits, Pulled Pork Sandwiches. I’ll revisit all those recipes in the coming weeks. See if I can adapt any to the Instant Pot.

Speaking of the Instant Pot – I gave my 6 qt to a friend who lost everything in the Marshall fire and bought myself a new 8 qt pot – more soup! More dog food! Hey, an entire chicken can roast in there!

Pasta Jambalaya is such an easy and fun one-pot dinner. My goal with the dinner menus is to have a quick meal planned that doesn’t taste quick and uses fresh foods, versus over-processed frozen or microwave dinners. I think this one really meets that test. It’s full of great flavors and fresh vegetables. And the Orange cookies are a simple dessert, but you can always substitute fresh oranges for a healthier alternative.

On the board:

  1. Pasta Jambalaya
  2. Salad
  3. Orange Cookies

Pasta Jambalaya

  • 12 oz penne pasta
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 cup sliced carrots (I use frozen)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbsp Cajun or Creole seasoning
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4 oz can chopped green chilies
  • 4 oz smoked sausage, sliced (I like Andouille)
  • 4 oz shredded Mexican 4-blend cheese

saucepan Continue reading

Not Turkey: Guest Recipe from Joshua D.

This popped up in my mail just before Thanksgiving from Men Who Cook regular, Joshua D. I thought the timing was perfect since I always post not-turkey recipes after the holiday. So if you’re tired of turkey, Joshua has the perfect remedy:

This was an impromptu recipe too good to not share! One point: how much honey you will need will depend on the sweetness of your tomatoes. True it’s November but this is a good recipe to hold for summer plus if you have spare canned San Marzanos hanging around that will work beautifully!


(Note from TaMara, I changed amounts to serve 4)

  • 12 oz dried penne
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped (or two cans of diced tomatoes, San Marzanos preferred)
  • 3 large shallot, sliced
  • 2 -4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp basil, chiffonaded
  • 1 tbsp oregano, chopped
  • Few drops honey
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup parmigano reggiano

Cook penne in boiling salted water) for about a minute under package directions. While pasta is boiling, cook shallots in a skillet over medium heat. After about 2 minutes, add in tomato with a healthy pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until tomatoes break down, about 4-5 minutes. Add in sliced garlic,wine and herbs and cook for another minute. Drop in honey and stir well. By now the penne should be very toothsome. Add penne to skillet (if water gets into sauce this is good!) and cook together until sauce thickens slightly and penne is done to your liking. Turn off heat and mix in most of cheese. Serve with slices of toasted ciabatta or your favourite bread. Top with more cheese and enjoy!

Joshua De Mers

Spicy Tomato Penne

I’ve been fighting a cold for a while, so I haven’t been doing much cooking.  Can’t smell or taste much, so I figure what’s the point and have a bowl of cereal.  But spicy soups and pastas have been successful when I do cook.

Looking through the W4D cookbook, I decided we needed to have something warm and spicy to get us through the last blast of winter.  Dreaming of fresh tomatoes…..

Spicy Tomato Penne

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 to 5 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tbsp minced hot green chilies
  • 1 ¼ cup tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp basil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 12 oz penne pasta
  • 4 oz shredded parmesan

2 Saucepans

Heat oil in saucepan and add garlic and chilies. Sauté for 2 minutes, add tomato puree, paste, parsley, vinegar and spices. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. It should be slightly reduced. While it’s simmering, boil water for pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain well, pat dry with a paper towel, then add to sauce pan and coat completely. Serve immediately with Parmesan.

Quick & Easy: Sun-Dried Tomatoes w/Penne Pasta

This one is not only simple, but by changing up the meat portion you can make it several times and it will be a completely different meal.  Use chicken, ground beef or even spicy sausage to change things up.  Or go meatless and add some mozzarella chunks to the tomato mixture and let it set 5 minutes before serving to let the cheese marinate.  What makes this a step above is the sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil.  Serve with a nice salad or steamed green beans and you have a complete meal.

Sun Dried Tomatoes w/Penne Pasta & Chicken

  • 12 ounces penne pasta
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh parmesan, grated

large saucepan, skillet, serving bowl, blender

Begin to boil water for pasta. Heat 1 tbsp oil in skillet; add chicken and brown for 15 minutes. Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package directions. Drain and reserve 1 cup of water, keep it hot. Place pasta in serving bowl; mix with a bit of oil & Parmesan. In a blender, add tomatoes, basil, garlic, salt, pepper and ½ cup water. Blend until things are chopped & mixed well.  Add remaining water and stir (don’t blend unless you want a smooth mixture) add to pasta, add chicken or beef and toss.  Serves 4