One of the greatest kitchen skills my Mother taught me was the skill of substituting ingredients in recipes. I did not realize until sometime in my 20's that not everyone knows how to do this. I know several wonderfully talented home cooks (and some professionals too) who cannot extrapolate beyond the printed recipe in front of them. That's not a criticism, merely an observation.
The ability to look at a recipe and match up the ingredients in it with ingredients in the pantry that are similar but not the exact items is a learned skill. This recipe is a perfect example. The final dish is simple, with few but specific types of ingredients that are quickly prepared and easily modified into numerous recipes all containing the elements of: cream, starch, vegetable, and protein.
For this recdipe, I used rotini pasta, light cream cheese with grated Parmesan, frozen peas, and Hormel bacon pieces. For stove top tuna casserole, I use elbow macaroni, light cream cheese with shredded cheddar/monterrey jack mix, a large can of tuna, and either peas or frozen broccoli that I've chopped up smaller to heat through faster. But as long as you have something creamy, a pasta or rice, and a colorful vegetable, you can make a fast, easy, and tasty meal..
Creamy Bacon & Pea Pasta
Recipe by Glenna Anderson Muse
- 8 oz Pasta: spaghetti, fettuccine, rotini, penne, shells, or elbow macaroni (regular or whole wheat)
- 8 oz Cream Cheese: Regular, Light, or Fat Free
- 1/2 cup Bacon Pieces such as Hormel Bacon Pieces (or 6 oz can of Tuna or Chicken)
- 1 cup frozen Peas (or blanched diced broccoli florets, green beans, or asparagus)
- 1 cup milk (evaporated, regular, light, or skim, or chicken broth)
- 1 cup shredded Parmesan (or any Italian or Italian blend cheese)
- 1 tsp Cavender's Greek Seasoning or Mrs. Dash or Emeril's or Paula Deen's or other house seasoning mix
- Optional: 1 tsp crushed red pepper or 1 tsp sriracha (rooster) sauce
- Optional: 1 Chicken breast, cooked and diced OR 1 can Tuna
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Prepare pasta in water to al dente and drain. Keep warm.
2. In medium sauce pan, combine milk and cream cheese over very low heat for approx. 10 minutes. Whisk together until smooth. Add rest of ingredents and cook on low for another five minutes or until protein and veggies are heated through.
3. Combine sauce and pasta. Taste and reseason as needed.
Nutrition information for 1/4 pasta using light cream cheese, hormel bacon pieces, peas, and 1% milk: Calories: 416 Protein:: 18 Carbs: 50 Fat: 15 Fiber: 3 Weight Watchers Points: 11