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Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category


Light and Fresh Pasta Meal

Ever have those nights when you really don’t feel like cooking?  I do, we all do – but instead of reaching for that frozen pizza or calling for take-out, turn to some of my quick and easy meals to help sooth your soul!

Tonight was one of those nights in the kitchen for me. We were all hungry, but didn’t feel like making a meal that would take forever, so we opted for a quick pasta dish. Garden tomatoes and basil, capers, olives…and some grilled chicken breast. Talk about a light and healthy meal and oh so delicious!  But, you better hurry out to the market to take advantage of the tomatoes and basil still available….fall is coming on fast.

Try this recipe for a weeknight meal- you won’t regret it!

McConnell Fresh and Light Pasta
3 cups Penne Pasta (whole grain)
1/3 cup kalamata olives, diced
2 T. capers
1/2 cup garden tomatoes, diced
15 basil leaves, chopped
1 lemon squeezed
3 T. olives oil
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 grilled chicken breasts, sliced

Toss everything in a large bowl and serve with toasty french bread!

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The Market Lady, Lane McConnell, will visit the West Plains Farmers Market in West Plains, Mo., Saturday, September 10..  The Market Lady and video crew will begin at 8:00 a.m., with two cooking demonstration incorporating products from the market and will be interviewing producers and consumers for various other segments. 

“I strive to inform folks on the ease of preparing homemade meals for their families through shopping at the market,” said McConnell.  “Consumers can log on to our website or Facebook page to view short videos of interviews with the farmers that grow our food, topics such as food safety, organic, naturally grown and learn how to cook simple meals.”

The purpose of The Market Lady Project is to educate consumers about eating healthy, locally produced food found at their farmers market. 

“The market will offer consumers a great event on Saturday,” said Market Master Laura Esterle.  “We hope that customers will come out to the market and bring their families to watch The Market Lady cooking demonstrations and take part in the market.”

Below is one recipe that The Market Lady will be preparing at the market. Be sure and come out to the West Plains Farmers Market on September 10 to meet the Market Lady and video producer Kelsie Young at 711 Washington Ave.

Zucchini and Squash Penne with Ricotta
1 cup ricotta cheese, room temperature
2 lbs. zucchini and squash
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. lemon juice
3 T. basil or marjoram
Sea salt and peppercorns, to taste
¼ tsp. cracked peppercorns
I lb. cooked penne pasta
Grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare penne al dente.  Sit out ricotta cheese to bring to room temperature.  Slice zucchini and squash diagonal into stripes about ½ inch thick. 

Heat oil in a wide skillet.  Add zucchini, squash and red pepper flakes and sauté for about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, basil and lemon juice and remove from heat.  Season with sea salt and peppercorns.  Add cooked pasta to zucchini and toss.  Season with salt and add ricotta cheese and toss together.  Plate and grate parmesan cheese over the dish.

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Heirloom Tomatoes from the Farmers Market

It’s tomato season and farmers markets are busting with colorful arrays of tomato varieties.  I’m going to be sharing secrets to finding the perfect tomato and I’ve got a tomato dish that is simply delish.

How to Buy Tomatoes
-Don’t worry about tomatoes with weird shapes. Even cracked skin is okay, but leaking juice and soft spots are not.
-Choose tomatoes that feel heavy for their size.
-Smell Tomatoes should smell earthy and tomato-y, never musty or flat
-Taste This is where farmers market shopping really pays off – you can often taste the tomatoes before you buy them.

How to Store Tomatoes
Treat tomatoes gently. Heirloom tomato varieties, in particular, tend to be quite fragile. So don’t pile the tomatoes in a bag where their weight will squash one another, and always pluck vine-ripening tomatoes off their vines (or the vine stem off them) to avoid having the sharp vines poke holes in your precious cargo. But above all never refrigerate tomatoes (one of the biggest mistakes many make). Temperatures under 50° turn tomatoes mushy and mealy.

Now that we know how to choose tomatoes and store them properly – let’s get cooking!

One of my go-to’s in the kitchen for an easy recipe is always homemade tomato sauce.  And, making your own homemade sauce is simple and healthier- as the canned and jarred stuff (which is okay for a substitution occasionally) is full of added preservatives. 

1.) Get Your Tomatoes Started
Both large and small tomatoes work great for sauces – like beefsteak and plum.  First, you will need to remove the skins of the tomatoes.  The easiest way to do this would be to par boil them.  On the bottom of the tomatoes, cut an “X”.  Then, place the tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds or until the skin begins to come loose.  Remove the tomatoes from the water and place in an ice bath (large bowl of ice water).  Once the tomatoes have cooled, remove the skins and chop the tomatoes.

I make a couple batches of par boiled tomatoes and then freeze the cored, peeled tomatoes to cook sauce in the winter as well.  This will allow you to savor the tomato season year-round.

Classic Tomato Sauce

2.) Your Seasonings
When it comes to seasonings I like to say recipes are just “roadmaps” to guide you, but that you don’t have to follow.  I typically add onions, garlic, oregano, basil and olive oil – which are tomato sauce basics. But, feel free to also add parsley, thyme,red wine,  fennel seed and even bay leaf.  I also try and use fresh herbs from my garden, but remember if you use dried herbs use less because the dried version is much more potent.   Want some more zing to your sauce, then try a couple shakes of red pepper flakes.

Saute the onions and garlic, then add the par boiled tomatoes and roasted 3 roasted carrots.  (Yes, carrots.  I always add roasted carrots to my sauce.  I have found it makes a richer tasting sauce.) Add the other ingredients of your choice and cook on medium for about 40 minutes, until thickened.  I puree my sauce in a blender for a smoother sauce, but you can leave in chunky.

Season with salt and pepper.

3.) Store Your Sauce
I freeze my sauce in gallon freezer bags and I also can my sauce throughout the summer.

Savor tomato season year-round with your own homemade tomato sauce.  Check out your local farmers market for a variety of tomatoes to get you started!

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Start with a platter full of local veggies

Over the weekend I pulled out a recipe that I couldn’t wait to try – Pasta Primavera!  I got online to Food Network and printed this great summer time recipe from Giada De Laurentiis. 

This recipe is packed pull of veggies found at your local market.  I added the juice of one lemon for an extra punch.  For leftovers we added some grilled chicken to the mix for a complete meal.  Enjoy!

Pasta Primavera

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

On a large heavy baking sheet, toss all of the vegetables with the oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs to coat. Transfer half of the vegetable mixture to another heavy large baking sheet and arrange evenly over the baking sheets. Bake until the carrots are tender and the vegetables begin to brown, stirring after the first 10 minutes, about 20 minutes total.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Toss the pasta with the vegetable mixtures in a large bowl to combine. Toss with the cherry tomatoes and enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve immediately.

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I made a light and tasty pasta salad at the Aurora Farmers Market that includes fresh products that can be found at a local farmers market.  Watch our cooking video from the market visit and try making this easy Garden Salad for your family this week.

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Serving Up Customers at the recnet Greater Springfield Market Visit

The Market Lady, Lane McConnell, will visit the West Plains Farmers Market in West Plains, Mo., Saturday, July 23 to help celebrate the “Salsa Wars” market event.  The Market Lady and video crew will begin at 8:00 a.m., with two cooking demonstration incorporating products from the market and will be interviewing producers and consumers for various other segments.

“I strive to inform folks on the ease of preparing homemade meals for their families through shopping at the market,” said McConnell.  “Consumers can log on to our website or Facebook page to view short videos of interviews with the farmers that grow our food, topics such as food safety, organic, naturally grown and learn how to cook simple meals.”

The purpose of The Market Lady Project is to educate consumers about eating healthy, locally produced food found at their farmers market.

“The market will offer consumers a great event on Saturday,” said Market Manager Laura Esterle.  “We hope that customers will come out to the market and bring their families to watch The Market Lady cooking demonstrations and take part in the annual Salsa Wars.”

Below is one recipe that The Market Lady will be preparing at the market. Be sure and come out to the West Plains Farmers Market on July 23 to meet the Market Lady and video producer Kelsie Young at 711 Washington Ave.

Zucchini and Squash Penne with Ricotta
1 cup ricotta cheese, room temperature
2 lbs. zucchini and squash
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. lemon juice
3 T. basil or marjoram
Sea salt and peppercorns, to taste
¼ tsp. cracked peppercorns
I lb. cooked penne pasta
Grated parmesan cheese

Prepare penne al dente.  Sit out ricotta cheese to bring to room temperature.  Slice zucchini and squash diagonal into stripes about ½ inch thick.

Heat oil in a wide skillet.  Add zucchini, squash and red pepper flakes and sauté for about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, basil and lemon juice and remove from heat.  Season with sea salt and peppercorns.  Add cooked pasta to zucchini and toss.  Season with salt and add ricotta cheese and toss together.  Plate and grate parmesan cheese over the dish.

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Lebanon Farmers Market

The Market Lady, Lane McConnell, will visit the Aurora Farmers Market in Aurora, Mo., Wednesday, June 29.  The Market Lady and video crew will begin at 8 a.m., with one cooking demonstration incorporating products from the market and will be interviewing producers and consumers for various other segments.

The purpose of The Market Lady Project is to educate consumers about eating healthy, locally produced food found at their farmers market.

“I strive to inform folks on the ease of preparing homemade meals for their families through shopping at the market,” said McConnell.  “Consumers can log on to our website or Facebook page to view short videos of interviews with the farmers that grow our food, topics such as food safety, organic, naturally grown and learn how to cook simple meals.”

“People need good news about local produce and idea’s on fixing it,” said Market Master Trish Matheny. “Home grown, home town.”

Below is the recipe that The Market Lady will be preparing at the market. Be sure and come out to the Aurora Farmers Market on June 29 to meet the Market Lady and video producer and Aurora native Kelsie Young.

Garden Spaghetti Salad
from the White Harvest Seed Co., Hartville, Mo

8 oz. spaghetti, broken into 2 pieces
1 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
2 Cups cooked fresh corn
2 Cups cooked fresh lima beans
2 medium tomatoes – peeled, seeded and chopped
3/4 Cup thinly sliced green onions|
1/3 Cup minced fresh parsley
6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled, then divided

Dressing:
1/3 Cup olive or vegetable oil
3 Tbsp. cider or red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
Dash of pepper

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