Even though some of my recent posts are of complicated food, I’m seriously all about easy, especially when I’m working. One of my family’s favorite is plain old spaghetti.
I do not use regular spaghetti noodles in my house anymore. For health’s sake, we eat shirataki (konjac) noodles I get at the Asian market. There are some similar that you can find in supermarkets in the tofu section, that are part tofu/part shirataki. They have about 10 calories per serving. And because they are so low in calories, you can eat as much as you want and not feel guilty! The ones I use are 100% konjac flour, which is a root vegetable, that is super, super high fiber. So there are 5 carbs per serving, but 5 grams of fiber = zero real carbs for the body. They’re awesome, in our opinion. I’d been eating them for several months when hubby sees me eating spaghetti, and he didn’t get any, and I told him he’d hate the noodles. He tried it and told me I never had to buy “real” noodles again. So here we are a year later, much healthier for it. Now, some people can’t eat them. I have a niece who say they mess up her stomach (probably because of the high fiber) and some people that just plain don’t like them because their texture is a bit “different” than a real flour noodle. I highly suggest giving them a try, though.
Cooking instructions for shirataki noodles:
Always, always, always do this because they are stored in a bag in liquid to keep them fresh. NEVER freeze these. They turn into the texture of straw and will never re-hydrate.
So take your package (we use 2 large packages for the three of us, and there are always leftovers) and empty it into a strainer (must have tiny holes or the noodles will fall through. Rinse very well under hot running water. Then, bring a pot of water to boil. I usually add garlic powder to the water because these noodles soak up any flavor they are exposed to, and it tastes so good. (Have you noticed I’m a garlic and onion lover yet?) Dump your drained noodles into the boiling water, bring back to a boil, and boil 1 minute. Then rinse under running water again. All done!
What I like to do is make whatever sauce I’m putting them in ahead of time and let them sit in the sauce. A couple of hours will do it, and they will have soaked up the flavor of the sauce. You don’t have to do this, and when I’m in a big hurry, I don’t do it. This also works very well for putting them in soup. I have also dried them (on a low-heat non-stick fry pan) and used them in stir fry.
So anyway… Back to spaghetti sauce.
We like it super chunky with lot of veggies. The recipe below is the one in the picture, but it changes with every batch depending on what veggies I have in the fridge.
Easy Spaghetti Sauce
- 1 – 28 oz can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
- 1 – 28 oz can no-salt-added tomato sauce
- 1 can Campbell’s tomato soup – I don’t always put this in, but my mom always did, and it sweetens the sauce just a little bit.
- 1 large yellow bell pepper
- Mushrooms – as many as you want. I had about 6 oz of mushroom pieces/stems in the freezer from when I made stuffed mushrooms, and I threw them all in, plus about 4 oz fresh crimini I had in the fridge that were getting a little old.
- Green onions – 2 bunches, chopped – I normally use 1 or 2 white onions, but I realized I was out of them after I already started cooking.
- 3 Tblsp dried basil
- 2 Tblsp dried oregano
- 2 Tblsp cup granulated garlic – Fresh garlic works well, too (less than this amount) – but you put fresh in at the end of the cooking, and I needed something that didn’t need to be babysat today.
- 2 Tblsp onion powder – I wouldn’t normally use this if I had white onions, but it needed a little more onion because I only had green.
- 2 Tblsp sugar (or Splenda) This is optional, but I find it enhances the tomato flavor.
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes – This is optional, and I only use it about half the time. Today I feel like a little spice in my sauce!
- 2 or 3 star anise – This is optional. My mother always put a little anise in her spaghetti sauce when I was growing up and because hers is still the best I’ve ever had, I do it out of nostalgia.
- 1/2 to 1 can tomato paste if you think it’s too thin and want to thicken it up a bit. Add this in right near the end of the cooking.
Put it all in a 6 qt pot on the stove. Bring it to a boil, lower heat to a very low simmer, and let it simmer as long as you want. Mine will go about 4 hours today.
OR you can put all this in a crock pot and put it on low while you’re at work, and your sauce is done when you get home.
OR you can cook it faster, hotter, to get it done faster (I’ve made it so that it only cooks about 20 min) but you must stir it occasionally so that it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pot.
Parmesan Crusted Chicken
This was taken from the Hellmann’s® website a long time ago and I’ve always wanted to try it. I thought it would go great with spaghetti, and I was right.
- 1/2 cup Hellmann’s® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise (I happen to have a store brand that I used)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I used a Parmesan/Romano mixture)
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1-1/4 lbs.)
- 4 tsp. Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs (I used Panko because that’s what I had in the pantry)
- Onion powder (the original doesn’t call for this, but I think it’s needed)
- Garlic powder (the original doesn’t call for this, but I think it’s needed)
- Pepper (the original doesn’t call for this, but I think it’s needed)
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Combine Hellmann’s® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise with cheese in medium bowl. Arrange chicken on baking sheet (I put cooking cooling racks on the pan to keep the chicken out of the moisture) and season with garlic, onion and pepper on both sides. Evenly top with Mayonnaise mixture, then sprinkle with bread crumbs. (I did a thin layer of mayo, not too thick, just enough to cover the top of the breast)
- Bake until chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 20 minutes.
I found that 425 was too hot for the thickness of my chicken breasts. If you have fat chicken breasts, I suggest about 375 for 30-40 min to get it brown but not burn before the chicken is finished cooking (needs to be brought to 165 degrees internal temp).
*For the second batch I did – they were so good I baked some up for tomorrow to eat with leftover sketti – I butterflied the chicken breasts so they were a bit thinner. 400 degrees for 30 min.