Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


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Quick Three Cheese Pasta Bake with Homemade Marinara

Time seems to be flying these days! It seems like just yesterday that I updated the blog but here I am, ten days later, wondering where all that time went. Although I am supposed to be reveling in the joy of spring break, I am stuck at home, working on yet another paper. This means that little A is back at daycare, something I was looking forward to avoid for a weak at least. I completely miss spending all my daytime with her and was very pumped about the prospect. But it was not to be.

So, after two days of exclusive mommy-baby time, she went back to her auntie for the major part of the day. Not that she complained. I suspect that she was secretly pleased to run away from boring ol’ me to a place where she can play, laugh and have fun with her friend-ish kind of people. Although I am home alone and all that, I hardly find time to cook. The only thing that pushes me to get on with it is the fact that surviving on water and other liquids is not a diet we are interested in doing at the moment. Hence, I plan my menu a few days in advance and stick to one pot meals as much as my conscience would allow me. Since K is not the complaining kind, I take advantage of him a lot more than I want to admit.
Ricotta Pasta2Yesterday was pasta day. I had a can of diced tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic sitting in my pantry. I bought some ricotta a couple of days ago and a nice ball of fresh mozzarella on dairy run yesterday. I decided to whip up some of my favorite double-duty marinara sauce to make a cheesy (albeit healthy) pasta bake that kind of edged extravagance while managing to be healthy. It was on the higher side of carbs, but with moderation, I knew that I could have my dinner and eat it too (cliche alert!).
Ricotta PastaQuick Three Cheese Pasta Bake

Ingredients:
One can diced tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic

Three pods of garlic, minced

3/4 box of medium-size pasta like Penne or Rigatoni, cooked al dante, drained and a cup of pasta water set aside

One cup part-skim Ricotta cheese

Half a ball of fresh Mozzarella (or one cup of the shredded kind)

Two Tbsp Parmesan Cheese

Half an eggplant diced

Quarter cup frozen peas

One large egg (optional)

Salt

Pepper

Crushed red pepper

Quarter cup Olive oil

Method:
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Heat a saucepan with half the olive oil on medium heat. Saute the minced garlic until it releases flavor. Pour the can of diced tomatoes and let it cook for ten minutes. When done, add salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Transfer to a large salad bowl.

Pour half of the remaining oil in the same pan. Saute the diced eggplant on medium-high heat until it browns and starts to cook. meanwhile, add the ricotta and egg (if using) to the marinara sauce. Mix the peas in with the eggplant before you switch off and add this to the ricotta mixture. Blend in some of the reserved pasta water if you find the sauce to be thick. Fold in the Parmesan cheese.

Mix the cooked pasta with the sauce. Grease a baking dish with the remaining oil. Transfer the pasta mixture and top with the Mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly. I broiled it for a few minutes to brown the cheese but this is only an optional step.

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Photography Styling Challenge- Fashion

fashion4I thought I was setting myself up for failure with this month’s styling challenge topic, Fashion. Although I am not all the way up there with couture and all the trend there is to keep up with, I can claim one thing with a clear conscience- I am not all that oblivious either. But styling for a full post that is going to revolve around that seven-lettered word intimidated me. I am not lying when I say that I started mulling over this concept since the February edition of PSC went up.

The first thing I decided on was my muse. Now, I know. A muse should come to you, you don’t get to make that choice. But mine is a very awkward, very shy model and I had to coax, threaten (which bordered on abuse) and bribe him with Thai Red Curry to agree. So after blackmailing him for a few days, the hub-man finally gave in. There was only one problem- he couldn’t care less about fashion. He is oblivious to trends (why shouldn’t he be?) and if it wasn’t for me, his wardrobe would be full of clothes that fall under one of the four color categories- black, white, grey and blue. Although he does end up looking good in what he wears most of the times, I am a color person.
fashion2We had a couple of beautiful days last weekend, thank you, Alabama. So we made the most of the Saturday by going to the park. Apart from getting wonderful shots of Little Miss Bee, I managed to get satisfactory shots of my muse flaunting his shades. I admit that this shoot bordered on minimalism- no extra props and all that- but it came out better than we feared it would. I had to catch Kishore unawares a couple of times but I ended up with good pics.
fashionfashion3I always knew that we were an awesome team! 🙂

Ps: my hovering image probably killed the first picture. I must learn to fade out of my pictures while shooting shiny stuff.

To know more about the photography styling challenge, click here

If you have time, do drop into the other participants’ blogs and take a look at their challenge photographs:
Redesigned By M
At The Corner Of Happy And Harried
My Food Tapestry
Inge Kathleen Photography
A Woven Life
City Girl Searching
A Tree Grows in the Bayou
I Live Under A Rock
Hooked On Homes
MeraKitchen
Miss Wang Photography


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Summer, don’t go!

Dregs of Summer fading on my window...

Summer has not even decided to call it quits but I am already lamenting its end. The end of the season means more than low temperature. I dread the inevitable closet call I need to make. Remember the times when we did not have to worry about updating our wardrobe seasonally? Those days have passed for me.

When Spring dawned, bright and balmy this year, I uttered nothing less than an ecstatic shriek and packed my woolies in a drawer far, far away. I am pretty sure they smirked, obviously aware that I have to fall back on them… eventually. Spring passed, so did Summer, with me happily basking in the glory of tanks and shorts. While people cribbed about the hellish DC weather, I sang happily and ran around, savoring it. But who knew my tryst with the sun would end soon!

We are not done with the sunniness though. But I am a person of melodrama and pessimism. Hence, I moan though the weather people promise us at least a month more of this brilliance. Personally, hate layering. I admit that it seemed very exciting last year when it was all new and novel to me but the ordeal of packing my cottons and taking an inventory of things I have and need to buy is making me pretty dizzy here.

I comfort myself by thinking about the retail therapy it would involve. Until then, let me enjoy the sun while it lasts…