Category Archives: pasta

Lightened Up Lasagna Soup

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TGIF!! It has been a long week here. Well, a long couple of weeks actually. This flu that is flooding the country found it’s way to my house and,even though I had the shot, I got hit hard by it. Kevin on the other hand, who didn’t get the shot, was fine. Although there was quite a bit of hand washing, Purell usage, and banishment to the sofa for a few days. It’s OK, I was as comfy as I could be considering the circumstances. A trip to the ER, IV fluids, and Tamiflu helped me to kick the worst of it. But the residual cough is a killer. My heart and prayers go out to everyone that has/is suffering from this! 
Now, on to the good stuff, the food! I was so happy when I was able to (and had the desire to) cook again. It seemed strange to be back in my little kitchen after so long away. But cooking is like riding a bike right? So I jumped back on and peddled away.
I had been eyeing a recipe by Paula Deen for Lasagna soup before my desire to eat anything more than jello and popsicles kicked in. So that was the first thing I wanted to make when I felt better. However, and I do so love Ms Paula, it was packed full of fat and calories! So I tackled the challenge of trying to remove a bit of both from the recipe. 
I am so very happy to announce that even though the fat and calories were reduced, the flavor was not. This is some seriously good soup guys! Even Mr “Soup is not a meal” raved about it and ended up finishing his bowl and part of mine. He was also very happy to package the leftovers in a freezer bag for a future meal. I was, as you cam imagine, very pleasantly surprised! 
I myself referred to this soup as a little bit of heaven in a bowl, so you know how I felt about it. Seriously though, give this soup a try, you will not regret it I promise!!
Lightened Up Lasagna Soup

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound Italian turkey sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken stock
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I used 1 teaspoon)
6 broken whole wheat lasagna noodles
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, packed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese, plus some for sprinkling

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large sauce pot  Add the sausage, onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is crumbled and browned, approx 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salt, and crushed red pepper. Bring the soup to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the noodles, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in mozzarella, basil, and the Parmesan. Ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle with a little extra mozzarella cheese if wanted.

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Philly Cheese Steak Mac and Cheese

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This recipe came about from the request of several people on my Facebook page. I had an impromptu survey asking what Mac and Cheese everyone would like to see me come up with and this was the overwhelming winner. I mean it was a landslide! I was excited. I love Philly Cheese Steaks and Mac and Cheese so the idea of smooshing them together made me a very happy camper. I mean, is there such a thing as too many Mac and Cheese recipes? I think not! I am thinking I should create a label for the blog for just my Mac and Cheese recipes. I am very curious to see how many I have!
For many people, myself included, Mac and Cheese is a comfort food. We know it might not be the lowest calorie dish (ssshhhhh if we don’t say it out loud it isn’t true!), but it isn’t a dish we have all of the time so we can splurge in those times when we just need a warm hug for our tummy right?

I really thought long and hard about this recipe. I mean there are so many views on what a true cheese steak is. Most people I know that are from Philly love the original cheese steak. It is just cheese and steak, usually the cheese being a cheese wiz type product. Some prefer the provolone instead. I have been reminded by my best friend, who is from Philly, that if you order a cheese steak in Philly you do not get onions, mushrooms, and peppers on it. They are items you have to request. So I guess my recipe does not reflect a true authentic cheese steak but I love onions, mushrooms,and peppers, so this is my loose interpretation. To my wonderful Philly fans, you are welcome to leave out the veggies, I will not be offended. But I am telling you, yummmm yummmmm, this was great with those veggies I promise!!
It was hard for me to not just eat this off of the spoon!!
Philly Cheese Steak Mac and Cheese

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cups milk
1/2 cup shredded white American cheese
1/2 cup shredded Provolone cheese
1 cup shredded yellow Cheddar cheese
3/4 pound good quality deli roast beef, sliced as thick as bacon, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small bell pepper, chopped (any color, I mixed green and red)

10 to 12 cremini mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
Butter flavored non stick spray

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt water and cook pasta to al dente.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, mushrooms, peppers, and garlic. Saute for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the mushrooms have softened and given up their liquid. Add the roast beef and continue to cook until the beef is heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Heat a sauce pot over medium heat. Add butter to pot and melt, whisk in flour 1 minute then milk. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, thicken sauce 5 to 6 minutes. Melt 2/3 of the combined cheeses into the sauce.

Preheat broiler.

Drain pasta and return to hot pot. Toss hot pasta with chopped meat and veggies to combine, stir in cheese sauce and coat. Transfer mac n cheese to casserole and top with remaining cheese. Spray the top with the butter flavored spray and sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Brown under broiler 3 to 4 minutes, serve.

ENJOY

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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!

"Ghoulash" for #Halloween

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Hello and happy almost Halloween. Halloween has always been a favorite of mine, ever since I was little. We were pretty broke while I was growing up, but my Mom always had fun creating costumes for me out of whatever we had on hand or Goodwill finds. I think that is why I ended up being so creative with my kids. I loved making their costumes and come up with crazy ways to decorate the house. Shoot I have even dressed my dogs up (yes…yes, I am one of those people).
I know I have told you that my Mom wasn’t much of a cook (love you Mom) but my Grandmother prided herself in a lot of her traditional holiday meals. Well they were our traditional meals, meaning meals she always made for certain holidays. She always made a huge batch of oyster stew for New Years, fresh bread at Easter with the glazed ham, and this was one of my favorites that she made for Halloween. I can remember when I got older I asked her why she called it “Ghoulash” and she said it was because it was frighteningly good! Gotta love Grandma!!

But she was right. This is the perfect comfort food. It warms you from the cold October nights (well they were cold in Nevada…and here in Washington too), but it is so good you want to eat bowl after bowl of it! I tried to lighten it up just bit by using ground turkey instead of beef, and just a dollop of low fat sour cream on top instead of stirred in. You could do away with the sour cream altogether but it would be hard for me to have this meal without it. 
So give this dish a try on Halloween night. Send your kiddos out trick or treating with a nice warm full tummy. That way they won’t be tempted to eat the candy while they are out and there will be more for Mom and Dad to scavenge through hehehehe.
Do you have any traditional holiday dishes? I would love to hear about them!
“Ghoulash”
1 package lean ground turkey (usually about 1 1/3 pound)
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken stock
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons died marjoram
3 bay leaves
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flake (optional)
1/2 pound elbow macaroni (I used whole grain pasta)
Saute the ground turkey in a dutch oven, over medium-high heat, until no pink remains. Add the onions and garlic. Stirring occasionally, cook until the onions are translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the chicken stock, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, paprika, cumin, marjoram, crushed red pepper flake, and bay leaves to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Stir well. Place a lid on the pot and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and add the elbow macaroni. Replace the lid and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened up. 
ENJOY!!!

Pasta with Caramelized Onions, Brussels Sprouts, and Apples

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I have been trying to come up with some new side dishes that include ingredients that you might not think about using together. I of course have a difficult time not using pasta or rice because, well I a just a huge pasta lover. Rice runs a close second. So I knew I wanted to start with one of those as a base. Pasta of course won the battle. Caramelized onions are another love of mine and I like to use them in many of my dishes. Shoot, sometimes I just caramelize a bunch of onions to have in the fridge so I can use them on sandwiches or in omelets.
Just over this past year or so I have discovered that I really enjoy Brussles sprouts. When I was a child I couldn’t stand them. Mostly because all my Mom did was steam them with no seasoning. I didn’t like that strong cabbage flavor, I didn’t like them hard, and I surely didn’t like the smell of them cooking! So when Kevin and I were looking through some food magazines before Thanksgiving last year, we ran across a recipe using Brussels sprouts and Kevin told me liked them and wondered why I had never made them, I decided I needed to let my childhood aversion of them go and give the little green guys another shot.
OK so now I have pasta, onions, Brussels sprout, but I knew I wanted another level of flavor. I decided with the bitterness of the Brussels sprouts, and the smokiness of caramelized onions, i wanted to add something sweet to balance it all out. What came to mind? Apples. I mean I do live in Washington and right now you have a difficult time going anywhere without tripping over an apple! OK I am exaggerating a bit, but there are a butt ton of apples available in Washington right now!!

I had the major players for the dish but now had to think about how I wanted to put it all together. I of course turned to my favorite liquid, wine! I don’t know which I do more of, cook with wine, or drink wine. I am a huge wino errr wine connoisseur and really enjoy trying different wines to boost the flavors in some of my day to day dishes. While I was cooking with Heather (my son’s girlfriend) last night she asked me what things she could do to pep up some of the less expensive dishes she might be making. I told her that a little splash of wine, fresh herbs, or even lemon juice, can give a dish a whole new life.
So now we are down to make this dish. When Kevin came home and asked what was on the menu I told about the dish I had come up with. He gave me a funny look. When I questioned him as to why the look. He said it sounded good but he would have never thought to put those things all together in a dish. He said he was still very excited to try the dish, especially when I told him I had decided to add bacon as well. Bacon makes everything better right? I just thought the saltiness would be a nice addition and remembered a dish I made last Christmas that had Brussels sprouts as well as bacon in it and they played very nicely together.
Now we are down to make this meal. I was making my Pesto and Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breasts as well, so I had many dishes, pots, and ingredients all over my kitchen counters. OK remember I told you my new kitchen is small? I mean it is seriously small! Like so small you have to go outside to change your mind small!! Now that you know that, picture counters covered, and two people in the kitchen, one of which is on the verge of a panic attack! Why was I loosing my cool? Well again you have to remember I have never cooked on an electric stove. WOW who knew that it is sooooo different from gas and why did they not beat  this information into my head?
I prepared the chicken easy enough, minus the heart attack I damn near gave Kevin (see above linked recipe for my attempt on Kevin’s life), and had all of my veggies chopped and ready to go. I cooked the bacon and removed it to drain. Then place my little green buddies cut side down in the bacon dippings to get a nice browned edge on them and crisp them up a bit. Once they were browned I was going to add my onions and then cook them both down a bit to caramelize them. However my stove had another plan for the dish. After placing just a few of the sprouts in the pan I realized that they were going to burn before I could get the others in the pan to join them. Now I am trying to grab sprouts out of a hot pan and panicking trying to figure out how I am going to get them to cook evenly. Kevin calmly stepped in and took over. He removed the pan from the heat long enough for me to place all of the Brussels sprouts in it and then returned it to the heat. 
I know it seems simple, but at the time I was arguing because the pan should be hot to sear the Brussels sprouts and I was cooking it the way I always do. Mind you I was saying these things in the middle of bouncing around and muttering like a mad woman saying things like “wait..will that work” “but….I never do it that way” “God bless America this is going to burn” and (almost in tears) “I am going to ruin this dish”. Yes, not my coolest moment folks. But I allowed Kevin to take over for a bit, and he smoothly took me to a calmer place and I was able to step in and take over. Finishing the dish without another hitch, and feeling like a complete idiot for my previous freak out. He just smirked at me. Hey he owed me one right?
Pasta with Caramelized Onions, Brussels Sprouts, and Apples
6 slices of bacon, chopped
10 to 12 ounces of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and vertically halved
1 medium onion, sliced
3/4 cup chicken broth (can sub Vegetable stock for a vegetarian meal)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 apple (recommend Honeycrisp), cored and chopped
1/2 box of spaghetti noodles
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste


Cook bacon in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp.  Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, reserve.

 Increase heat to medium-high, place Brussels sprouts cut-side down in the pan and cook without stirring, until sprouts begin to crisp and brown, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and toss to combine with the sprouts, cooking and stirring occasionally, until onion begins to turn a golden brown. Add the broth, wine, andapples, scraping up any fond from the bottom of the skillet, and bring to a fast simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium,  cook 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta per package directions, reserving ¼ cup of the cooking water. Transfer pasta to the skillet with the sprouts and liquid and toss continuously over medium-high heat for an additional 1-2 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add reserved cooking water a bit at a time if needed. Add the Parmesan cheese, season with salt and pepper and  top with reserved bacon.

ENJOY!!

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Turkey Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats

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My son’s girlfriend brought over these huge zucchinis from her Mom and Dad’s garden. I love zucchini but these bad boys were big! I thought about frying them in slices and making some kind of spicy dipping sauce but I just hated to take those big beauties and fry them. Then I thought about the stuffed peppers I made and thought that the stuffing would work so well using the zucchini in place of the peppers. I mean the stuffing already has gated zucchini in it so I knew the flavors would be awesome. Plus it was taking a nice fresh veggie and keeping it on the healthy side. My stuffing uses turkey sausage and low fat cheese. 
When I ran the idea by the rest of my housemates everyone thought it sounded like a winner so that was enough for me, the decision was made. Then with Kevin’s father having to be placed in a nursing home, and us wanting to be there at mealtimes as much as possible so we can make sure he is eating, The ingredients just sat in my refrigerator. To be honest when I pulled them out last night was afraid that they wouldn’t be usable anymore and I would be making a trip to the store. But I wouldn’t be able to replace those big beautiful zucchinis. I crossed my fingers and pulled them out of the fridge. Yesssss they were fine, just like I first got them, thank you Lord!!! 

They came out better than I ever could have expected, they really did! I wish now I had made more. I just cooked the two large (extra large) zucchinis halved. So I had leftover stuffing. The original recipe was enough stuffing for 6 bell peppers so if you have 6 zucchinis it would be perfect. I also subbed yellow squash for the zucchini in my original recipe because I was already stuffing zucchini I wanted something else in the mix. 
Like I said, these came out so much better than I could have ever imagined. Kevin loves my stuffed peppers and he said he may just like these even more. Wow now I am in competition with myself! I love it!!
Turkey Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats
6  large zucchinis
1 (28-ounce) can of Italian tomatoes
2 medium yellow squash, grated
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup low fat mozzarella for the topping
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
4 cups chicken stock, plus and extra cup for baking.
1 1/2 orzo (rice shaped pasta)
1 pound turkey sweet Italian sausage ( I used Jennie-O)
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Pour the tomatoes in a large bowl and break apart using your fingers or potato masher. Add the squash, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.

Bring the 4 cups of chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the orzo and cook to package instructions. Use a fine mesh sieve to transfer the orzo to the large bowl with the vegetables, reserving the chicken stock. Stir to combine the orzo and veggies and pour the chicken stock into a 3 quart baking dish.

Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the inside of each zucchini, leaving about 1/4 inch of flesh in each one. If zucchinis will not stand up use a knife to shave off a bit of the bottom to make it even. Set zucchinis into baking dish with all of the chicken stock. 

Mix 1 cup Pecorino Romano with the 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves. Set asaide.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, crumble and brown the turkey sausage until it is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add the onions and minced garlic. Saute until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika, cayenne, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste. Add the orzo mixture and cook for about a minute to warm. Remove from the heat and spoon the mixture into the zucchinis. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle each zucchini boat with the cheese parsley mix. Return to oven and cook an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Remove from the oven and allow the zucchinis to cool about 5 minutes before serving.

ENJOY!!

Farfalle with Sausage and Tomato Cream Sauce

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Funny little story. There once was a food blogger that jumped into blogging with both feet. She was so excited to find something that made her so happy, she really felt she had found her calling. She cooked many many meals making her family feel as though they might burst at the seams. She typed her little fingers off creating post after post that she hoped would not only entertain her readers (all 50 of them) with her words, but with her recipes as well. She had no method to her madness. Just cook, cook, cook, write, write, write, post, post, post. And then one day she decided to organize her photo files, you see she had become much more organized in her meal planning and posting, and felt it was past time for the photos to be organized as well. When what to her curious eyes appeared, but several photo’s of food she had cooked that she had never posted. ARRGGG she thought cursing at her computer screen, “How could I have missed posting these?”. Moral to the story? Be more organized and also, don’t talk to your computer screen because if someone hears you you might end up heavily medicated!

Yes my darling foodie friends, that crazy absent minded blogger is me, and the oh so lovely (that would be sarcasm my friends) photo is one of the very first photos I took for my blog. It is nice to see I have improved just a bit. The recipe though, it is still fresh and new, and just as good as it ever was. 
My friend Ann from Sumptuous Spoonfuls told me yesterday that I am the Queen of pasta. It made me giggle a bit. I don’t know if I am the Queen but I sure do love to eat it! I also love quick and easy recipes that your whole family will love. I think this one fits into that category quite nicely. I hope you agree!!
Farfalle with Sausage and Tomato Cream Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage (sold in bulk or links with casings removed)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can of whole Italian tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cup heavy cream (can sub fat free evaporated milk)
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt
1 box farfalle (bow tie) pasta
Grated Parmesan for garnish

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to the post.

Meanwhile heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the sausage until it is no longer pink. Add the onions, garlic, and crushed pepper flakes. Cook until the onion is soft, and sausage has browned. Add the tomatoes and using a potato masher smash them to break them up (or squeeze them in your hand, just be careful of squirting juice). Then add the cream and salt to taste.

Reduce heat and simmer until the mixture begins to thicken a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the pasta and continue to cook until the pasta is thoroughly heated through. Ladle into deep bowls, garnish with chopped parsley and grated cheese.

ENJOY!!



Lemon Basil Pasta

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Last week, for Food Star Friday, I made Giada De Laurentiis’s Shrimp Fra Diavolo. But I wanted to make a pasta to go with it (of course since I am a pastaholic). I knew I had  lemon and basil, and figured they would play well together along with the flavors of the shrimp. They really really did. As a matter of fact I loved the pasta so much I had leftovers that night and added some bacon to it topped with a fried egg (fried eggs are another new obsession). I seriously want to come up with more recipes using this pasta dish as a base, I really really love the freshness of the lemon and basil together. 
The family felt the same way. Kevin always tell me I make too much pasta (ha like there is such a thing), but this did not end up being too much after everyone had seconds. I was lucky I hid a little bit of it so I could enjoy my late night pasta dish!
If you are looking for a side dish for a fish or seafood recipe I would highly recommend this one!

Lemon Basil Pasta

  • 1 pound spaghetti 
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan (a couple good handfuls)
  • 3 lemons, juiced and one zested
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, 1/4 cup chopped, 1/4 cut into chiffonade for garnish 
  • Salt 
  • Cracked black pepper


  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package instructions. Reserve a cup of the starchy pasta water to thin the sauce if necessary, drain pasta and return to the pot. While the pasta is cooking, whisk the oil, Parmesan, and lemon juice in a large bowl to blend. 

  • Toss the pasta with the lemon sauce, add a 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water at a time as needed to moisten. Stir in the 1/4 cup chopped basil. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon zest and remaining basil. 

  • ENJOY!

Creamy Latin Style Pasta Salad for #laborday #sundaysupper

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Happy Labor Day everyone! I was trying to think of something different than my usual BBQ regulars. I knew we were grilling steaks and making a spinach salad but I wanted a pasta salad, because well, I love pasta. I decided to go to my Southern California roots do something with a Latin/Mexican flair. I was watching Simply Delicioso with Ingrid Hoffman and saw a pasta that she was working on and it gave me TONS of ideas. But you know that as a food blogger I can never leave anyone’s recipe alone, so off my little mind went with ingredients dancing in my head. I figured go big or go home, so I threw all of my favorites at this pasta, well not ALL of them, but most of them. Wow, who knew that my little thoughts would go so far?

I love it when my little mental foodie trips take me to a good place, and this of surely did! There is creaminess, spicyness, all of the things you would want from a great side dish. I know I have said we love things hot here, but trust me this is not too hot. You will love every bit of this pasta salad. I will bet money on it!! Kevin said that from now on if someone asks us to bring a dish to a BBQ this is the one we are bringing!!

Creamy Latin Style Pasta Salad

1 pound curly pasta (rotini, cavatapi)
1/2 fat free condensed milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup diced ham
1 cup crumbled Queso Fresco (can sub feta) cheese
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves (a good handful), chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, diced

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, cook according to package directions. Drain, place in a large bowl and set aside.

While the pasta cooks, combine the evaporated milk, oil, Queso Fresco or feta, cilantro, lime juice and some salt and pepper in a blender. Puree until the dressing is smooth and creamy.

Place the drained pasta in a large bowl. Add the ham, bell peppers, onions, jalapeno, black beans, and avocado. Pour the dressing over the pasta and gently mix it into the salad. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours before serving.

ENJOY!!!

Labor Day Cookout Recipes:

Starters & Snacks

Main Dishes

Salads & Sides

Drinks

Desserts

Wine Pairings

  • Labor Day Cookout Food And Wine Pairings byENOFYLZ
Please be sure you join us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper. We’ll be meeting up at 7:00 p.m. EST for our weekly #SundaySupper  live chat where we’ll talk about our favorite cookout recipes!
All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us throughTweetChat!
We’d also love to feature your Cookout recipes on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers!

Pasta with Chicken and Garlic Cream Sauce

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This was another one of those meals that you just come up with on the fly. I kept trying to think of something for dinner and nothing was jumping out at me. Do I want fish, chicken, steak, pasta? So I decided to throw a few things in a hat and just draw the winner that way. I picked chicken and pasta so that was my jumping off point. I knew I had shredded chicken in the fridge because they had rotisserie chicken on sale at the store so when they do that I will buy a few, shred them, and freeze them to have as a quick chicken addition to a meal.

Then I hit the pantry and found a box of farfalla, yay the main ingredients were found! So back into the fridge I went to see what goodies I had to throw in to the party. Fresh basil…check…..fresh oregano….check….heavy cream..hhmmm this is going to be good! I always have onions and garlic (Duh you’re a food blogger Bobbi) so of course they had to come to the party too.

This ended up being such a simple, easy meal, but had so much flavor and made my tummy happy. I do have to confess I am a pasta girl so you know if there is a noodle in it somewhere I am smiling! In the end, this is a quick and easy meal for a night when you are on the go and need something fast but flavorful

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Pasta with Chicken and Garlic Cream Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 package short pasta like farfalla
1 medium onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup chicken stock
1 heaping tablespoon of fresh basil, chopped plus a few leaves cut in a chiffonade for garnish
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded chicken
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add pasta and cook to package directions. Drain pasta and return to pot.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Then add the onion, stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook one more minute. Add the chicken stock, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced by about half. Add the cream and cook for an additional 8 to 10 minutes, until the sauce is reduced and thick. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cook for an additional minute or until the chicken is heated through.