I leave soon for vacation with my family (yay!)
and I needed to find a dinner for tonight
that would use up the ingredients already in my kitchen
as opposed to picking up anything at the store.
This was the status:
I knew I had spinach that was going to go bad.
I didn’t want to thaw any of the ground turkey in the freezer because I knew it would be too much for one meal.
I had a 5oz can of tuna
and a box of penne in the cupboard.
Time to get creative.
I took half an onion and chopped it…then added a tsp or 2 of minced garlic and sauteed it in a pan.
While I was waiting for that to cook up and become tender, I measured out 5 oz of Ronzoni Smart Taste penne
and threw it into a pot of boiling water:
I took some fresh spinach (I just grabbed a big bowlful…you can use however much you like)
And sauteed that on the stove at the same time
in order to get it wilted.
While all of those burners were busy, I took the last burner and set out to make a light cheese sauce to bring the ingredients together.
My mom taught me long ago how to make a roux, but I don’t really keep butter on hand anymore so I had to improvise.
I put one tablespoon of olive oil into a pan and added two tablespoons of white wheat flour to it. I let it come together and thicken and slightly bubble.
Normally I would add fat free milk at this point.
But I was out.
And all I had was buttermilk. It would have to do.
I had planned on using 1/2 cup milk but I knew buttermilk was higher in fat and calories
so I used 1/4 cup buttermilk and 1/4 cup water in its place.
With the burner still on and constantly stirring the oil/flour mixture, I added the 1/4 cup of buttermilk. It was pretty thick so once it came together and looked creamy, I added the 1/4 cup of water right away.
I decided it was still really thick and would go a lot farther if I thinned it down, so I stirred in another 1/4 cup water.
I did all of this very slowly because you want the sauce to be creamy and not taste like flour so it is important that you take your time.
Then I measured out 50 g of reduced fat cheddar cheese using my food scale
and added this to the roux.
It became very cheesy at this point (captain obvious anyone?) which it does NOT do when you use the real butter, but it was still creamy enough to use as a sauce.
By this time, the onions and garlic were ready and the spinach was wilted. I added the sauteed onions and garlic to the cream sauce.
I drained the can of tuna and added that to the mixture as well.
I drained the spinach thoroughly and then I prefer my spinach in smaller bites as opposed to big pieces so I chopped it up:
then added it to the mixture as well.
I drained the pasta and combined all of the ingredients together.
It was super creamy and smelled delicious.
Sidenote: I always season as I go and I do each component on its own before I combine them.
For this recipe, I added garlic salt and pepper to the pasta as well as to the cheese mixture. I also seasoned the pasta with basil and parsley.
Since this is a meal for later tonight, I put it in a casserole dish
(this is a 1.5 quart dish so pleeeenty for just the 2 of us!)
and set out to make a parmesan-bread crumb topping:
I mixed 4 tsp of parmesan and 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs in a bowl
and added it to the top of the pasta dish:
I can’t wait to try this after my run tonight!
(Full disclosure: I did sneak a bite or two as I was putting it in the casserole dish and the flavors were amazing!)
The calorie totals for one serving of this dish (serves 2 total):
You could also leave off the breadcrumb topping and it would shave 75 calories making the total per person only 486!
These are huge portions (which I love) but you could also divide this into thirds to save on some calories(with breadcrumbs – 374 and without breadcrumbs – 324 if you split it 3 ways).
Lots of options!
I can’t remember if I mentioned that I got my husband to run with me 2 nights ago! It was awesome!
We had to bring my daughter with us in our not-so-great jogging stroller, but we took turns pushing so it wasn’t too bad.
(I say that now, but I was so much more uncomfortable when I was pushing than not…I felt it gave me bad running form).
At the very least, I felt like it would suck enough running and pushing a stroller
that running on my own would feel just that much more amazing!! haha
We did 3.1 miles together and Joe did great, especially for not running in a long time.
He even sprinted the last half mile pushing the stroller!
Tonight I have a longer run (6-8) so we are going to run again, but I told him I thought he should only do 5.
Everything I read says that the biggest mistake new runners make is pushing too far, too soon.
He’d rather challenge himself and run whatever I run, but ending up with an injury is not the best idea
so I think I talked him out of it.
It is so great running with him, though, because he is so super supportive of me.
He felt great when we were done and kept thanking me for getting him out there to run
(there were just a couple of excuses right before we left haha).
It feels so great to be such positive influences on each
and I know we are on the right track.
If we are pushing each other this much, I know we’ll rub off on our daughter eventually, too.
My non-scale-victory for the day
I was trying on some of my summer/vacation clothes as I was packing for Myrtle Beach and I came across this dress:
and it fit! (easily!)
This is important because this dress was one I fit into before my wedding, when I had lost the full 90 pounds.
I definitely didn’t even come close to fitting into it during the 4 months between my wedding day and getting pregnant (hey, we had already relaxed into married life, what can I say?)…
and obviously not during the 9 months of pregnancy…
and my daughter just turned 9 months old…
so it has been almost 2 years since this fit me!!
The funny thing is, I am at least 10 pounds heavier now than back then and it still fits…
which tells me how much muscle I have gained and how much fat I have lost.
Sometimes these are the reminders we need
instead of just that number on the scale.