Creamy Pasta Bake

When I am at home, I mostly live off the Good Housekeeping diet. I.E 9/10 meals which I consume come from the magazine.

It it my mums cooking bible, but for good reason- every recipe they publish works perfectly and tastes good. It is her (and now my) go-to source of family meals. It is where my favourite halloumi bean stew was born from.

Mum and dad both work at the hospital for the NHS, this means our dinner conversations often revolve around what has happened there that day, it’s not quite Holby but has it’s moments. It also means they work long hours, so tonight I thought I would sort out tea. Cue, Good Housekeeping for this pasta bake.

Creamy Pasta Bake- The Vegaquarium

I adapted the recipe slightly to include some of my favourite things, and changed the white sauce recipe to my staple one. Speaking of white sauce, once you can make it you can make so many dishes! So it’s worth learning.

You will need:

  • 75g butter
  • 75g plain flour (always match the quantities of butter and flour)
  • 900ml milk
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 500g pack of your favourite tortellini, or GHK suggests spinach and ricotta
  • 150g peas
  • 4 freshly chopped chives
  • 1 small broccoli tree
  • 3 x salmon or white fish fillets, skinned and cut into chunks
  • 50g cheddar to top

1) Set the oven to 180 degrees C, gas mark 6.

2) Melt the butter in a heavy bottom pan on medium heat, then stir in the flour. Remove from the heat and start to pour in the milk a little at a time while stirring so it all combines and there are no lumps. Stir in the mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

2) Add the tortellini to the white sauce. I used a 400g pack and made up the rest with regular pasta, I also used scissors to cut the tortellini in half and it worked nicely.

3) Take off the heat and fold in the fish, peas, broccoli and chives before pouring into an ovenproof dish. Top with cheese and bake in the preheated oven for 20 mins or until bubbling and golden.

4) Serve to your hungry, tired family for brownie points!

Creamy avocado pasta

One hungover day, when the time for porridge and cereal was long behind me, I decided to make this meal my breakfast (technically). But I would do it again! I know, another pasta dish, but this one is special and I’ve been meaning to try something like it for ages!

The thing I like about this pasta is that it is so creamy you feel like it should be a huge calorific bomb, but it is actually pretty green and healthy! If you don’t like avocado, don’t ditch me just yet, as this is avocado in a whole new light.

My recipe serves 2, but you can double or tripple your ingredients, make up a huge batch of this stuff and feed it to your friends, family, pets, I reckon it would go down a treat.

I would have liked to have made this with spagetti, but penne was all my cupboard had to bare.

You will need:

  • 125g of your favourite pasta
  • 2 soft ripe avocados
  • 1 squeeze of lemon
  • 1 tbs mayonaise
  • 30g grated parmesan
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • pinch of black pepper and pinch of salt
  • Peas or spinach (optional)

To be honest, the recipe from here requires little explanation!

  1. Cook your pasta for 10 minutes in boiling water, and remember to add your peas about 3 mins before the end!
  2. Meanwhile mash or blend up the avocado, mayo, lemon, pepper, salt, and garlic into a big paste. Then stir in your pasta and parmesan.
  3. Finish with more seasoning to taste and serve with a garnish if you are feeling posh/pretentious like me. Told you it was pretty simple, so no excuses not to try.

While I am here, I feel I would also like to show the cake I made my friend Jessica yesterday. She is an avid fan on Strictly Come Dancing, has been to see it twice, and will end up on the show one day… we hope. Therefore the obviously the only appropriate cake was Strictly themed. I was going to do a whole post on it, but after the trauma of it nearly looking like shiny football, spraying shimmer in my eye , getting red food dye everywhere and spilling silver balls all over the floor, it became too much to re-live. It is a very nearly disco ball, but the sponge should taste good.

Happy birthday Jess!

Posh Mac and Cheese

I would like to dedicate this blog post to my house mate Bridget. Last night I returned from a night out where, by the way, I proudly performed a top rendition of Shakira’s Wherever Whenever. I think she embodied me. It was 2:30am and to my amazement she was cooking a cheese sauce from scratch and making a macaroni cheese! Fair play to her, I can barely manage to butter toast at that sort of time.

Anyway, since then I had been craving a mac and cheese, so I decided to make my own. However at a slightly more normal time…

You will need:

  • 40g of plain flour
  • 40g of butter
  • 1 pint milk
  • 250g grated cheese
  • 30g parmesan
  • 2 slices of that fake plasticky cheese (Ok this really isn’t posh…)
  • 250g pasta tubes
  • 2 balls of frozen spinach, you can get it in the frozen veg aisle and it’s genius
  • handfull of chopped tomatoes
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 2 chopped spring onions

1) Cook your pasta for 10 mins and leave until needed. Then set your oven to 200 degrees.

2) Make a roux by melting the butter in a saucepan, then stirring in the flour. Cook that for 2 mins before pouring in the milk bit by bit and whisking. Bring it all to the boil, then turn it down and keep whisking until it thickens into a gloopy sauce. This takes about 15 minites.

3) Stir in all of your cheese, including the plastic one which you may want to slice up. Leave a little bit of parmesan to go on top!

4) Pop in the spinach balls, and while it defrosts in the sauce fry off the tomatoes with oil and sugar. The sugar may sound strange but it works! Fry them till they’s squidgey and add them to the cheesy sauce.

4) Put your pasta tubes and the sauce in a bake-proof dish then top with the cheese and spring onion. Grill for 10 mins. Then serve. I had mine with avocado which worked really well. Oh I also put Quorn chicken in incase you are wondering what the chunks are! But that is definitely optional.