Category Archives: Italian

Sausage, Tomato and Spinach Pasta Bake

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This was one of those pantry/fridge clean out recipes. I hadn’t made it out to the store and Kevin was too tired to stop on the way home. When he came in the door he said he was starving and asked what was for dinner. I was quick to begin the search through my supplies to see what I could come up with. I have certain things I keep stocked so I always have them on hand. Canned tomatoes (crushed, diced, and whole), pastas, and sausage (in the freezer) are pretty much always on hand. I had some leftover baby spinach from salads a few days before. Plus of course I am never without several different types of cheeses.
After about the third time of Kevin asking was was for dinner I told him to hush, I mean I never let him go hungry right? Sheesh all the pressure! I still think it is funny when he gets nervous about what I am making. He has told me several times that I have never made a bad meal. Where is the faith and the love? I mean come on, really?
After this was all done and put on the table all he could say is “Wow that looks and smells really good” *sigh*thank you! Seriously, I think he just loves making me crazy but I keep telling him it is a quick trip and he doesn’t want to push it too far too fast!

Anyway, back to the food. This is a great quick casserole for a busy weeknight. It really takes very little time at all and tastes wonderful. Kevin took the leftovers to work for his boss and himself the next day. That always lets me know he liked it!

Sausage, Tomato and Spinach Pasta Bake
8 ounces short cut pasta (I used Penne)
8 ounces Italian sausage (sweet or hot)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup red wine
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1 can 14.5 ounce diced tomatoes
5 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup Italian blend shredded cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta, and set aside.
  3. Add olive oil to a large skillet and cook sausage over medium high heat, stirring to crumble. When sausage is browned add onion, cook until translucent, add the garlic and cook for an addition 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and scrape up the browned bit from the bottom of the pan. Cook for 2 minutes to cook off the alcohol. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in fresh spinach. 
  4. Combine cooked pasta, sausage mixture, and basil. Place half of the pasta mixture in a small (2 quart) casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Top with the half of the mozzarella and Italian cheese blend. Cover with remaining pasta and top with the remaining cheeses. Bake at 350° for 25 minute.
ENJOY!

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Italian Style Skillet Pie

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The other day I was watching Symon’s Suppers on The Cooking Channel. I adore Michael Symon! I love his sense of humor, his talent, how energetic and caring he is. WOW am I gushing? Ya, I think he is pretty sexy too, but that might just be a foodie thing.
Anyway, I love watching his show. I am always finding things I want to make as soon as possible. He always seems to mix up flavors and give you little surprises here and there. When I saw this dish on his show I liked the sound of it. I had made the potato/cauliflower mash he used for the topping of the pie before and loved it.  I loved the idea of cooking in my cast iron skillet, something I have been wanting to try more and more, and I also loved that it was a “One Pot” meal so I wouldn’t have a ton of dishes to do after dinner. Also, it is a bit of a twist on Shepherds Pie, which is a favorite here.

I have been trying to lighten things up a bit where I can. In this dish I try by using turkey sausage in place of ground beef. The potato/cauliflower mashed topping already did that for me, but if you wanted to sub all cauliflower for the mix of potato and cauliflower you could and that would save more carbs for you. I just prefer the mix as we aren’t big fans of the strong cauliflower taste. I do use butter in this but you just can’t sub anything else in my mind.
It was a fun dish to make for me. I was kind of winging it a bit and when it came out so good, and got Kevin’s stamp of approval, I was a happy camper. He even took it for lunch the next day and I ate the last of it yesterday for lunch, so no waste with this meal at all! 
Italian Style Skillet Pie
Adapted from Michael Symon’s Cast-Iron Ground Beef Pie
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 package Italian style ground turkey sausage (usually come in 1 1/3 package)
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 head cauliflower, core removed and quartered
1 cup chopped celery, plus 1/2 cup celery leaves
1 large onion, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning blend 
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup of red wine
1/2 cup packed fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped (some reserved for topping if wanted)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons room temperature butter
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Fill a large pot with cold water and add the potatoes, cauliflower and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook over moderate heat until tender, about 20 minutes.

Pour the olive oil into a preheated 8-inch cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Allow the oil to heat up, and then add the turkey sausage, salt and pepper. Press the meat into the pan and cook until caramelized, about 5 minutes, and then flip and caramelize the other side.

When the sausage is caramelized, remove it from the pan and set aside. Add the celery, celery leaves and onions and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute or two. Stir in the Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes. Return the cooked sausage to the pan and stir in the parsley. Add a red wine. Remove from the heat and set aside. Adjust seasoning if needed.

When the potatoes and cauliflower are done cooking, drain and mash well. Stir in the Parmesan and butter until thoroughly combined.

Spread the potato mixture over the beef mixture in the pan, and smooth the top to seal in the sausage mixture.

Bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool 10 minutes. Top with chopped parsley leaves if desired. 

ENJOY!


Shared at the Lady 8 Home

Baked Spaghetti

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I know this isn’t the prettiest dish I have presented to you, but it sure was a tasty one! I had no plans whatsoever to make this dish. It came about because I have been trying to be a good girl and use up all of my leftovers. I had marinara sauce left over from making the Caprese Meatball Subs, and the Pizza Balls, and I wanted to use it up. So into my fridge I went, digging for some ingredients to cook up a meal that Kevin would enjoy. Out I came with Italian sausage, mozzarella cheese, and Parmesan cheese. I knew I could do something with that.
I had heard of baked spaghetti before but had never tried it. I do however love pasta carbonara and I figured I would go along those lines to try my spaghetti baking experiment errr experience. I wish there had been some parsley in my fridge, but it came out really good without it.

Again, I think Kevin was a bit skeptical when I told him what we were having. I think it was kind of like;
Kevin – What’s for dinner?
Me – Baked Spaghetti.
Kevin – What?
Me – Baked Spaghetti!
Kevin – What in the heck is that?
Me – It is spaghetti mixed with lots of ingredients and baked in an oven *annoyed look*
Kevin – Smart a……
Of course, as usual, he had to eat his words (pardon the pun) because he really liked it. In fact he liked it so much he took it to work the next day for lunch and took some extra so his boss could have some too. I love it when that happens!!
If you want to make this recipe a bit quicker you could use jarred marinara sauce, but my recipe is so easy and I just love the fresh flavor better. Either way though, I hope you give it a try!!
Baked Spaghetti
16 ounces (1 package) spaghetti noodles
1 pound Italian sausage
1 onion, chopped
4 cups Marinara Sauce (see recipe below)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 ball of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
For the Marinara Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (Recommended San Marzano)
2 6 ounce cans of tomatoes paste
1 cup water
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Mix in half of the minced garlic and cook one more minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomatoes paste, water, half of the chopped oregano, and the bay leaf. (Add more water if sauce seems too thick). Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer. Leftovers can be frozen if needed.

Meanwhile cook the spaghetti per package directions. 

Crumble Italian sausage into a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until no pink remains. Drain fat if needed. Stir in Marinara sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk the eggs, Parmesan cheese, and butter together. Drain spaghetti and toss with the egg mixture. Spray the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish with  non stick spray. Place the spaghetti in the casserole dish. Top with meat sauce and sliced mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and cook an additional 5 minutes or until cheese gets bubbly.

ENJOY

Shared at The Lady 8 Home

Pesto and Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breasts

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So I am still getting used to the new place. Electric stove, small oven, dishwasher that is too close to the oven door. Yes my friends, to open my dishwasher I have to open my oven door first or the handles bang into each other. Nice placement planning right? But Kevin says the house has “character”, which it does, I just miss my big kitchen with a gas stove *sigh* I know you all will probably get tired of hearing me say that but I can’t help it, I am a whiner at times. Especially when it comes to anything that has to do with my cooking. Kevin would tell me to suck it up but nope, not gonna do it. 
OK so off my pity party and on to the food. This meal came out so good. I was nervous *insert previous kitchen whine here* but with Kevin’s help (he has always cooked on electric until I came into his life) he was able to calm my fears and I got this and the side dish done, on the table, and not burned, YAY!!!
I first got this idea from a pin that my daughter shared with me (Oh boy I love Pintrest!). I like to find recipes that I am drawn to but have a different way I want to go with. You can find the recipe I based this off of at Kaylyn’s Kitchen. I knew I had chicken breasts and some of my homemade pesto in the freezer, and fresh mozzarella (there is no cheese better than fresh mozzarella for cooking) in the fridge. I always have seasoned bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese, so this meal was a done deal before it even started!

Yes, the ingredient list was ready to go but not so much the cook. I am still looking for things since the move. I know I packed my meat mallet but for the life of me I couldn’t  find it? Oh I have no doubt I will find it now. A) because I don’t need it now, B) because I just bought a new one. Remember the whole can opener fiasco? Ya well I am pretty sure this will go the same way. It will give Kevin another thing to tease me about, which he seems to live for lately now that I am the only one to pick on (why did I want the kids to move out again?), so I know the bullet is locked and loaded and he is waiting for the kill shot *sigh* I will admit I do kinda deserve it a little bit. Not for being forgetful, he has been with me for almost 5 years so he knows to expect that, but I seriously scared the crap out of him when I started prepping this dish. 
Let me set the scene for you…Kevin is sitting at the table going through paper work oblivious to my muttering in the kitchen and rummaging in the pantry. I probably spent 10 or 15 minutes just digging through things and talking to myself “Did I leave the meat mallet behind somehow?” “No I couldn’t have done that, it is here somewhere” “Well where the heck is it them?!”. Then I remembered watching a Rachael Ray episode where she didn’t use a meat mallet, she used a heavy bottomed skillet. BING (that’s my light bulb moment for those of you that don’t know), I have a heavy bottomed skillet, yessssss! So I grabbed a gallon size ziplock baggie and dug out my skillet. I got the breast positioned in it perfectly and carefully laid it on my cutting board….(do you see where we are going here?) I raised the skillet up high and brought it down on the chicken breast WHACK! I think Kevin jumped from one side of the kitchen table and landed in the opposite side’s chair. 
Kevin – Eyes huge he looks at me and very ummm emphatically says, “WHAT THE *insert your favorite expletive* ARE YOU DOING???” 
Me – “Uummm flattening the chicken”
Kevin – “With what a baseball bat??”
Me – “No *holding up skillet* just this” 
Kevin – “Geez you could have warned me Bobbi”
Me – “Oops….sorry” 
Ya sometimes my gift of gab disappears and I am left with nothing. Although I did warn him that I would be doing it again (and again and again). He went back to his paper work and I beat the poor chicken breasts into oblivion. Every now and then I would hear a grumble from the table, but it worked out fine. On a positive note he does know now I can wield a mean skillet now!!
I am still trying to find the right place to take pictures in the new place and with it getting dark by about 5:30 PM here outside photo’s are not an option, so sorry for the poor picture quality. At least you can see the pesto and cheese oozing out and if that doesn’t tickle your taste buds I don’t know what will!!
Pesto and Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Serves 2
2 good sized chicken breasts
Kosher salt
racked black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 cup pesto (can use store bought)
2 thick slices of fresh mozzarella
2 eggs
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and s pray a baking dish with non stick spray. 
Place one of the chicken breasts in a zipper storage bag and using a meat mallet (or heavy skillet) pound the breast out until it is very thin. About 1/4 inch thick or so. Remove chicken breast and repeat with the second one. Lay breasts on a cutting board and spread a layer of the pesto on each one (use as little or much as your taste desires). Place a slice of the mozzarella at one end of the pesto covered breast, and begin rolling it up, tucking in loose ends as you roll. Secure with toothpicks. Repeat.
Crack eggs in a shallow dish and beat well. Place the bread crumbs and the Parmesan in another dish and combine. Roll the stuffed breast in the egg wash and then in the bread crumb mixture, make sure to coat well.
Place the breasts seam side down in the baking dish and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove toothpicks.
ENJOY!!!

Caprese Meatball Subs

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Pardon the in your face picture, but I think I was trying to eat this sandwich through the camera!! I have been having a love affair with anything “caprese” lately. I adore caprese salad and even turned it into a sandwich with my Open Face Chicken Caprese Sandwich! So the other night Subway was mentioned on my Facebook page as an alternative meal due to the fact that I had a major blond moment and forgot to thaw out the meat I needed for dinner that night. Well Kevin isn’t a big fan of Subway so that didn’t go over to well (plus I really needed to cook so you all would have a post to read). Luckily Kevin agreed to go to the store for me on his way home from work and the meal crisis was avoided. Yay!! But that did give me an idea. 
One of the sandwiches I loved at Subway was their meatball sub. I wanted to make a meatball sub, but add a twist to interest Kevin. If you have been with me for a while you know that he used to despise pesto until he tried my homemade pesto. Now he loves it and I have used it in several recipes. Anyway, I remembered seeing a recipe by Kelsey Nixon for Caprese Meatballs in the slow cooker, so I decided to take that idea and use it for my sandwiches. I didn’t do mine in the slow cooker though. I baked them and finished them in my homemade marinara sauce. 

It seems that I have been coming up with some messy sandwiches in the last couple of weeks. Yes, this is messy but the flavors are so good! The mix of the pesto, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and crunchy bread was over the top. I fill up pretty quickly, especially if I am eating bread, so I had half of my sandwich left and Kevin gobbled it right down. I think the only conversation I got out of him during the meal was mmmmmm and WOW this is really good. I was really glad he liked is since I pretty much made it for him!
The recipe is for 2 subs so if you are making more just double or triple it. But it makes 6 good sized meatballs which was perfect on the rolls I picked up from the bakery and with the cheese and sauce they are very filling. Plus they went really well with a nice glass of red wine!!
Caprese Meatball Subs 

1/2 pound lean ground turkey or chicken
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese, plus some for sprinkling
2 tablespoons egg beaters (or one small egg)
1/4 cup pesto (see recipe below)
1 thick slice of fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 6 cubes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Marinara sauce (recipe below)
2 sub rolls


For the Pesto:
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Toast pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, tossing occasionally to ensure even toasting, about 5 minutes. Combine all of the pesto ingredients, except the olive oil, in a food processor and pulse, drizzle in the olive oil slowly until well combined but still rough-textured (You may not use all of the oil or you made need a bit more to get to the desired consistency). Leftovers can be frozen if needed.

For the Marinara Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (Recommended San Marzano)
2 6 ounce cans of tomatoes paste
1 cup water
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper


Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Mix in half of the minced garlic and cook one more minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomatoes paste, water, half of the chopped oregano, and the bay leaf. (Add more water if sauce seems too thick). Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer. Leftovers can be frozen if needed.


For the Meatballs:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non stick spray

Combine the turkeybreadcrumbs, Parmesan, pesto, salt, pepper and egg in a large mixing bowl with your hands, taking care to not overwork the meat. Form golf ball-size meatballs and stuff each with 1 mozzarella cube. Evenly space the meatballs on the baking sheet. Bake until just starting to brown, 15 minutes.

Remove the meatballs from the oven and place them in the simmering sauce, cover with the lid.

Split the sub rolls and open them slightly, place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until toasty, about 5 minutes.

Place 3 meatballs on each sub and smother with with the marinara sauce, top with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

ENJOY!


Classic Pesto

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Last night was a very labor intensive meal, it took about 3 hours from start to finish. Ok, I will be honest, a lot of that was inactive cooking, but it sounded good didn’t it? I was just proud of myself that I actually planned a head and we weren’t eating dinner at 9 PM!

One part of the meal called for pesto. I love pesto, but have been disappointed in the store bought pesto that I have tried. I have wanted to make homemade pesto for quite some time but since Kevin has expressed a dislike for the green stuff I haven’t given it a shot. I finally decided I was going to make it anyway since I knew it freezes well. I figured I would just put some in my ice cube tray and that way when I wanted some pesto for a recipe I could just pop one and and be ready to go.

I have seen several different versions of pesto. I mean you can seriously make it with any herb you want depending on the flavor profile you want for your meal, but I wanted to make the classic pesto right down to the toasted pine nuts so that’s what I did.

The thing that takes the longest in this recipe is toasting the pine nuts, seriously! I was nervous about burning them because I have seen and heard so many stories about burning nuts when trying to toast them, and that it can happen in a split second. Nobody likes burned nuts so I hovered over them like my life depended on them coming out perfectly. Well maybe not my life but the recipe for sure since I only bought enough for one batch. I guess subconsciously I have a lot of faith in myself.

I was shocked when I finished the pesto and Kevin came out to taste it. Just that he tasted it was a shock, but the big shock was that he liked it! He said that it was way better than any other pesto he had tried and I have to agree with him. I will never buy store bought pesto again when it is so easy to make, tastes so much better, and you can freeze the leftovers for later use. A total win win recipe in my book!

Classic Pesto
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Toast pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, tossing occasionally to ensure even toasting, about 5 minutes. Combine all of the pesto ingredients, except the olive oil, in a food processor and pulse, drizzle in the olive oil slowly until well combined but still rough-textured (You may not use all of the oil or you made need a bit more to get to the desired consistency). Spread on sandwiches or stir into pasta. Freeze leftovers

Pasta e Fagioli

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Hello and happy Friday everyone! I know it has been quite a while since I posted. I have been under the weather for the last week and didn’t do any cooking, so I was so happy to finally cook!! I have been wanting to make this soup for so long but for some reason I just never got around to it. But since I have been under the weather soup sounded soooo good!!

Trust me I was so glad I made that decision. This soup is so good and is going to become one of my favorite comfort foods now. If you like soup and/or Italian flavors you have got to make this. I put crushed red pepper flakes in mine and it just gives it a little heat, but if you don’t like that you can omit them and it would be just as good.

Make sure to have some nice crusty bread to sop up all of that tasty broth, and have your appetite with you too!!

Pasta e Fagioli

  • 2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 pound (about 3 slices) pancetta, chopped
  • 2 (4 to 6-inch) sprigs rosemary, left intact
  • 1 (4 to 6-inch) sprig thyme with several sprigs on it, left intact
  • 1 large fresh bay leaf or 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • Coarse salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans
  • 1 cup canned tomato sauce or canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups ditalini
  • 1 generous handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • Grated Parmigiano or Romano, for the table
  • Crusty bread, for mopping
Heat a deep pot over medium high heat and add oil and pancetta. Brown the pancetta bits lightly, and add herb stems, bay leaf, chopped vegetables, and garlic. Season vegetables with salt and pepper. Add the crushed red pepper flakes, beans, tomato sauce, water, and stock to pot and raise heat to high. Bring soup to a rapid boil and add pasta. Reduce heat to medium and cook soup, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes or until pasta is cooked al dente. Rosemary and thyme leaves will separate from stems as soup cooks. Remove herb stems and bay leaf from soup, add the parsley, and place pot on table on a trivet. Let soup rest and begin to cool for a few minutes. Ladle soup into bowls and top with lots of grated cheese. Pass crusty bread for bowl mopping.

Chicken and Broccoli with Garlic Alfredo

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Last week was Kevin’s daughter’s 18th birthday. Ever since my kids were young they knew that on their birthday they got to request anything they wanted for dinner. What is funny (or somewhat annoying) is that with all of the meals I cook and the variety of food I work with doesn’t seem to matter to them. You would think they would request something extravagant or gourmet. Nope, not my kids, you know what they request more often than not? Chili Mac! Yup good old chili with some mac and cheese thrown in. They can’t get enough of it! When they were little, before I started this culinary voyage of mine, I would actually make a box of mac and cheese and throw in a can of chili and BOOM that was dinner. Once I started experimenting and trying to make things healthier I decided to change it up by making my own cheese sauce and chili. Ummm that was a mistake. They took one look at it and asked me what it was. I told them it was what they had requested. Their reply? No it’s not. *sigh* I give up!!

So you can imagine my surprise when I asked Dakota what she wanted for her birthday dinner and her reply was “I don’t know, something with broccoli in it”. WOW you mean I actually get to cook something? Her only other request was no mushrooms. OK, I can work with that. So I set my mind to work thinking of what she might enjoy. I though about making my Chicken Divan but was afraid it wouldn’t be enough for everyone. Then I remembered she liked Italian food. Hhhmmm something with pasta. I already had chicken and broccoli on the brain so it seemed a logical choice to add my garlic Alfredo sauce to it and put it over some fettuccine. The original Alfredo recipe I came up with included mushrooms so of course I omitted those. I also doubled the sauce recipe because I was making a whole pound of pasta and the last time I made it I used it as a sauce to just cover my Chicken Lasagna Roll Ups.

I was a bit nervous because I rarely get to cook for her. She doesn’t live with us, so pretty much the only time I get to cook for her is at the holidays. I really wanted her meal to be something special and memorable. I guess I was silly to worry because she, along with the rest of us, loved this dish! I would suggest a small side salad to go along with it but that wasn’t on the requested menu plan so we had some garlic bread on the side.

This recipe is super simple and full of flavor. I hope you will give it a try. Maybe for a special family meal?

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Chicken and Broccoli with Garlic Alfredo
1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 for the sauce
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
2 large heads of broccoli, cut into florets
10 cloves of garlic, minced
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
4 cups heavy cream
Fresh ground nutmeg, to taste
1 pound fettuccine noodles
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped


In a large pot heat water to boil, add salt and the pasta and cook per package directions. Drain pasta and reserve in pot.

In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Season chicken breasts generously with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet cooking for about 14 minutes (7 minutes per side). Remove the chicken breasts and set them aside to rest. Once cool slice the chicken breasts in thin slices.

Add the last tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet you cooked the chicken in and raise the heat to medium-high.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the butter and once it melts add the heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, broccoli, and nutmeg. Stir to combine and pepper to taste. Simmer until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chicken to the sauce and cook just long enough to heat the chicken through. Remove from heat and pour the sauce over the pasta. Stir to combine. 

Serve topped with chopped parsley and extra Parmesan cheese if desired.

Spaghetti Bolognese

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I love pasta almost as much as I love Mexican food. Any shape or size, give me a sauce and some Parmesan cheese and I will have at it! Unfortunately not all of my family shares in my love. However, since I do the cooking I am able to pop it on the menu as much as I want. One of the perks I enjoy about being in charge of the kitchen. Plus I can just say “Hey I am a food blogger. I have to give the people what they want”. That seems to quiet them down. 


I  had been wanting to try a bolognese sauce for quite some time. I was just worried because everyone I talked to made it seem like it was such a hard sauce to  make. Once I tried it I asked myself what in the heck took me so long! Yes, it takes a while to make but trust me, it is well worth the work. The sauce is so creamy and rich. It is just a huge hug for your tummy!

This was one pasta that everyone enjoyed. Don’t pass up the ricotta cheese on top either. It was icing on the cake! I will keep this on on the list of recipes to do again. I know you will love it too!

Spaghetti Bolognese

  • 2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms, wiped of grit
  • 1/4 pound pancetta or slab bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups dry red wine 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti (I used tagiatelle pasta though) 
  • Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves
  • Fresh ricotta cheese

Reconstitute the mushrooms in boiling water for 20 minutes until tender, drain and coarsely chop.
Puree the mushrooms, pancetta, onion, celery stalks, carrots, garlic, together in a blender.
In a heavy-bottomed pot add olive oil, bay leaves, herbs and cook gently until fragrant, then add vegetable puree and continue to cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes.
Raise the heat a bit and add the ground pork and beef; brown until the meat is no longer pink, breaking up the clumps with a wooden spoon. Add the milk and simmer until the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes. Carefully pour in the tomatoes, and wine and season with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, then lower the heat and cover. Slowly simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring now and then, until the sauce is very thick. Taste again for salt and pepper.
When you are ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm. Drain the pasta well and toss with the Bolognese sauce.
Serve with a good scoop of fresh ricotta cheese and garnish with some shredded basil, grated Parmigiano and a drizzle of olive oil.

Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce

Standard

This recipe is one that I have used for a few different things. It was actually one of the first recipes I ever wrote to my own liking. I combined 3 different recipes to get it. It was kind of confusing. No wait……did I already list that?…..no I need to double that?……how many people will this feed?…..holy crap what was I thinking??? Ya, that is pretty much how it went. When I first started out I got confused very easily. HA who am I kidding? I STILL get confused, it is just part of my charm.

I was really excited to dust this bad boy off. I have never made it for Kevin and it is a nice comfort food kind of home cooked meal. Lately I have been more about trying to cook healthier and eating more fish and chicken. Don’t get me wrong, you can make this healthier, and I probably should have off the bat. But I wanted Kevin to taste the original before I started changing it up on him I guess.

This was also a recipe that I knew everyone would eat. My Dad is not a big fish lover, well actually he just flat out doesn’t like fish. But remember I got him to TRY the Crabby Mac so at least he gives a bit or rather a bite once in a while. HE was very happy to see this meal. I mean Italian right? You know he was a happy camper!

Like I said, you can “healthify” this meal fairly easily. Substitute lean turkey for the ground beef and low fat or fat free ricotta. Also if you can find the shredded mozzarella in low fat that will help too.

Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce

1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus a bit for drizzling
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
Salt and cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups (2 16-ounce containers) ricotta cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley flakes, chopped
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 box, 12 ounces, Jumbo Shells
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Generously salt the water and add the pasta. Cook just shy of al Dente (a couple minutes short of what the package says). Drain pasta and drizzle with olive oil to prevent the shells from sticking together.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the 2 tablespoons of EVOO, eyeball it. Add the ground beef and break it up with a wooden spoon into small bits, cook till brown. Add the onions, and garlic and cook until the onions begin to become translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir into meat, then add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat to a bubble then turn the heat down to simmer and cover the pan.
In a bowl mix the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley, and salt to taste. Stir until mixed. 
Spoon half of the meat sauce into a 13 x 9 casserole dish, spread it evenly across the bottom. 1 at a time carefully spoon a tablespoon of the cheese mixture into a shell and place on top of the meat mixture in the casserole dish. 
Once the shells are filled top them with the remaining meat sauce, then sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. 
Place shells in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 30-35 minutes until cheese is bubbly and browning. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 4 to 6