Monday, March 28, 2016

Pasta with Roasted Grape Tomatoes and Garlic

Today I thought I would share one of my family's most requested recipes. This one is a real winner...easy and delicious! I've been making this Pasta with Roasted Grape Tomatoes and Garlic for many years. It is a relatively quick meal since it only takes 30 minutes to cook. I make this any time I see grape tomatoes on sale at the grocery store, which happens pretty regularly, so it is pretty cost effective as well. So enough introduction, let's get cooking! 

Start with two containers of grape tomatoes. The ones I usually see at the store are 10 ounces each. If you get a larger container or are using fresh ones from your garden, somewhere between 2-3 cups of tomatoes will work.

Rinse the tomatoes off to clean them and then lay them out to dry. I put paper towels down on a baking sheet and move it from side to side to roll the tomatoes around and dry them off. As with any roasted vegetables, the tomatoes should be mostly dry when they go into the oven so they will roast and not steam. 

Next you will need garlic...a lot of garlic. We are garlic lovers in my house, so there's really no such thing as too much in my opinion. The garlic gets roasted in the oven which mellows out its flavor, so if you're concerned about the large amount of garlic, don't be! It's delicious! I use anywhere from 6 to 12 cloves of garlic depending on their size. My garlic cloves were pretty big this time, so I used 8.  

Cut any very large ones in half, but you don't want them to be too small or they will burn while roasting.

Next take your clean and dry grape tomatoes and cut them in half. 

Add all of the garlic and halved tomatoes to a baking sheet. 

Then drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, dried basil and/or Italian seasoning (I use both!), and red pepper flakes. I have included approximate measurements with the recipe at the bottom of this page, but I have made this so many times that I never measure anything. I simply drizzle on the oil and sprinkle on the seasonings. This recipe is very simple and difficult to mess up.

Next toss everything around on the baking sheet to mix it all up. 

Finally, put the tomato and garlic mixture in the oven and roast them for 30 minutes at 400 degrees, shaking the pan around half way through the cooking time. After I put the tomatoes in the oven, I fill a large pot with water and set it on the stove. When there are about 20 minutes left on the tomatoes, I start heating the water for the pasta. My stove is nothing fancy, so it takes some time to boil water. If yours comes to a boil more quickly, you may want to wait until there are 15 minutes left. Any short-cut pasta will work with this dish. My favorite is orecchiette, but I didn't have any this time, so I used these mini penne I got at Trader Joe's. You will need the whole 16 ounce package. 

Cook the pasta to al dente in salted water. I like to save a little of the pasta cooking water when the pasta is ready to be drained. I'll tell you what to do with that later, so just set it aside for now. Drain the pasta. I put about a 1/2 Tablespoon of butter in the pot I cooked the pasta in and then add back in the drained pasta and toss it around. This is optional, but butter makes everything better! Set this aside so you can get your tomatoes out of the oven. They should be nice and roasted at this point. 

Now this is a little extra step that is totally optional, but I find it gives the over all dish more flavor. I like to take the garlic out of the pan and smash it up with a fork in a little bowl. You can skip the next few steps if you'd like and just toss the entire tomato and garlic mixture with the pasta. 

Then I add a splash of the reserved pasta water...not much, maybe two tablespoons or so. 

Then just stir this up and you will have a sort of roasted garlic "sauce." 

Add the roasted garlic/pasta water mixture to the cooked pasta and stir it around to mix it all up. 

Then add in the roasted tomatoes. 

Then give that a stir to mix it all up. 

Now it's time to add in a good amount of Parmesan cheese and some parsley. Fresh parsley is best of course. I was out of it today, so I used dried parsley. 

And once again, give it a stir! 

And a little more cheese right on top is never a bad idea! 

Now just dish it up and serve...with more cheese on top if you'd like! 

This meal is simple and delicious...give it a try today! My children enjoy it 3-year-old ate 3 helpings and was still asking for more! 

Pasta with Roasted Grape Tomatoes and Garlic 
Adapted from

2 (10 ounce) packages grape tomatoes, halved 
6-12 cloves of garlic (halve larger cloves) 
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
1 teaspoon dried basil or Italian seasoning (or 1/2 teaspoon of each) 
Salt and pepper, to taste 
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
1 pound short-cut pasta (such as orecchiette, penne, farfalle, etc.) 
1/2 Tablespoon butter
2 Tbsp pasta cooking water (optional, but recommended)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 Tablespoon dried parsley 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
2. Toss together tomatoes, garlic, oil, basil, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes on a large baking sheet. 
3. Roast tomato mixture for 30 minutes, or until tomatoes are browned at edges and shriveled and garlic is tender. Shake the pan about half way through the cooking time. 
4. Cook pasta in salted water to al dente. 
5. Drain pasta saving 2 Tablespoons of the cooking water. Add butter and then pasta to the hot pot. 
6. If desired, mash roasted garlic and mix with cooking water. Then add to the cooked pasta and stir to combine. Otherwise just skip to the next step. 
7. Add roasted tomatoes to pasta and stir again to combine. 
8. Add in grated Parmesan and chopped or dried parsley. Stir to combine and serve with extra Parmesan on top. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Frozen Yogurt Drops for Babies and Toddlers!

My son has always been a veggie-lover. The child has more than once requested peas and corn just to eat by themselves as a snack. As a parent who is very concerned about what my children eat, this truly brings me joy. Even today when I cook a meal, he will always eat his veggies before his protein because he prefers them. My daughter enjoyed eating veggies as a smaller baby, and there are some veggies she still enjoys. I can usually get her to eat cauliflower, any kind of roasted winter squash, sometimes sweet potatoes, and she will always eat kale chips. But quite often she will refuse to eat her vegetables at dinner, so I've had to get creative to make sure she gets veggies in her body each day. I have shared several veggie muffin and pancake recipes with you already, like spinach muffins, pumpkin muffins, spinach pancakes, and sweet potato muffins. (Zucchini muffins, carrot muffins, and beet pancakes will be coming soon!) She will also happy drink any smoothie or eat any popsicle even when it has spinach or kale in it. 

Another way I like to sneak veggies into her diet is with yogurt drops. If you spend any time on Pinterest looking at kid-friendly recipes, you've probably seen the method for making frozen yogurt drops, like this one. It's very simple and just involves putting drops of any flavor yogurt on a baking sheet, freezing them, then popping them off and storing them in a bowl in the freezer for a quick, healthy snack. I got the idea to put veggies in the yogurt drops when I had extra baby food that I needed to get rid of. The veggie yogurt drops went over so well that I still make them for her, and she will always very happily eat them! Actually, she thinks they are a treat, so sometimes I even give them to her as a treat after her dinner. (Shh! She doesn't need to know that there are hidden veggies!) 

I thought I would share how I make these yogurt drops for anyone who may also have a vegetable-wary baby or toddler. This is really more of a method than a recipe. I never measure anything, I just put some vegetable puree, some fruit puree, and some yogurt in a bowl and mix it up. You can add some honey or maple syrup to sweeten if you'd like. You can also add spices such as cinnamon for more flavor. If your mixture is too thin, you can add in some ground flax seeds or even some ground oats or baby oatmeal cereal. There is really no way to mess this up! It is a great use up for leftover baby food or any time you are left with a small amount of fruit or veggie puree that you can't think of a use for. I have pureed leftover roasted sweet potatoes to make these as well. 

Frozen Yogurt Drops

1/2 cup vegetable puree (any vegetable) 
1/4 to 1/2 cup fruit puree (any fruit puree, applesauce, or mashed banana) 
2 Tablespoons to 1/4 cup yogurt (I usually use plain whole milk, but any flavor you have will work!) 

Optional add-ins: 
1-2 Tablespoons ground flax seeds or ground oatmeal 
1 Tablespoon honey* or maple syrup 

Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Pour into a zip top bag and cut off a small tip as if you were making a bag to pipe icing. Make small dots of your yogurt mixture on a baking sheet or plate lined with plastic wrap. If you are making a very small batch, a plate will do, but I usually use a baking sheet. (The plastic wrap helps to keep the yogurt from sticking, and makes the whole process much easier!) Make sure your yogurt dots are not touching, or you will end up with a large sheet of yogurt. 

 Some flavor combinations that have been successful with my little one: 

1/2 cup beet puree + 1/4 to 1/2 cup strawberry yogurt 

1/2 cup butternut squash puree + 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce + 2 Tbsp plain yogurt 

1/2 cup butternut squash puree + 1/4 cup peach puree + 1/4 cup plain yogurt + 2 Tbsp ground oats 

1/2 cup sweet potato puree + 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce + 2 Tbsp plain yogurt + 1 Tbsp maple syrup + 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

1/2 cup carrot puree + 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce + 2 Tbsp plain yogurt + 1 Tbsp honey*

*Remember do not use honey if making these for a baby under 12 months old!* 

Peach/Butternut Squash/Yogurt

Beet/Strawberry Yogurt


They look super cute when you pop them off and add them to a bowl. Adding the vegetables gives them a nice bright color, so there is definitely no need for food coloring. 

My daughter seriously can't get enough of these. She would eat them every day! Try these with your little one. They are a perfect finger food!