pasta

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta

Like the years before, halfway into Fall, I actually begin to crave something other than rich soups, stews and casseroles…weird, right?  I also did not want to take the time needed to make a few of those yummy, indulgent dishes.  So instead, it was back to a favorite, trusty 30-minute meal!  Another plus, it’s a bit on the healthier side compared to the latter mentioned too!   Keeping myself in check for that Thanksgiving feast this week!

*Another great thing about this dish is you can easily make it to your liking by choosing regular or gluten-free noodles, chicken, shrimp, halibut or no protein at all!  Please make it your own!

The Starting Lineup

Blackened Chicken

  • 1 lb Chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • cooking oil
  • Fresh lemon

Pasta

  • 12oz pasta noodles of choice, boiled and drained
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jar Roasted Piquillo (or red) Peppers, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup chicken (or vegetable) broth
  • 1/2 cup (8oz) heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled, plus more for garnish
  • Kalamata olives, no seeds
  • Chopped fresh basil

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CHICKEN:

In a bowl, blend all of the dried and ground herbs together.  Squeeze the fresh lemon and a bit of cooking oil over the chicken breast and sprinkle the spice blend evenly over the chicken.   You can pan sear, bake or grill the chicken till cooked through and juices run clear.  Tent with foil and set aside as you prepare the sauce.

NOODLES:

Prepare about 2 minutes less than package directions.   Drain.  Set aside.

SAUCE:

Have a large skillet and your food processor (or blender) at  hand.

In your skillet over med-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter.  Next, add in the onions and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes or until softened.  Next, add the chopped and drained piquillo/red peppers and cook for another 3 minutes.

Transfer the veggie mix from the skillet to a food processor or blender.  Blend till fairly smooth, some chunks left are ok!

To that same large skillet, melt the remaining butter over med-high heat and pour the pepper puree back in.  Next, whisk in the broth, and a pinch of salt & pepper.  Finally, whisk in the heavy cream and parmesan cheese till smooth.

Add the cooked pasta, Kalamata olives, 1 cup feta cheese and fresh cut basil to the sauced skillet, toss to coat.

Serve with the blackened chicken, sliced, over top and sprinkle with a bit more feta and fresh basil.  Enjoy!

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Creamy Pumpkin & Sage Bacon Alfredo

Call me “basic” but come Fall, I sure do love me some pumpkin!  Now I’m not fully crazy, as in pumpkin spice coffee every morning, noon and night crazy.  I do, however, like to use the orange offspring of squash in more creative ways.  Todays “way” is in the form of pasta!

To convince my family my idea was some sort of genius, I also used 2 of the tastiest key words in describing our future dinner, “alfredo” and “bacon”…Yep, that got their attention!

Now sure, this is after all Alfredo so it does contain a bit of cheese, but it’s actually not all that artery clogging and indulgent as you may think.  For one, I used less than 1 cup of parmesan cheese, mainly for the saltiness it brings.  I substituted the heavy cream for it’s lighter cousin, half & half, and if you want to lessen the saturated fat of butter, feel free to use Tresomega Nutrition cold pressed coconut oil!  Plus, lets not forget the health benefits of the sneaked in pureed pumpkin!

Now honestly, this sauce is fantastic on any pasta or fluffy gnocchi of your choice, it would be good on a shoe for that matter.  Though for my gluten free friends, I highly recommend the new GF pasta made by my buddies at Tresomega Nutrition!  It contains no wheat nor corn and is made with organic rice, quinoa and amaranth which keeps that same bite and color of your traditional pasta noodles.  It also doesn’t fall apart when cooked like most of its counterparts!  I’m fully a fan!

Please find out more info on Tresomega Nutrition products here:

  1. http://www.tresomega.com/
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  3. https://www.pinterest.com/tresomega/
  4. https://twitter.com/tres_omega

You can also purchase the Tresomega Nutrition brand at:

  1. http://tresomega.com
  2. https://www.sams.com
  3. https://www.amazon.com
  4. https://www.walmart.com

The Starting Lineup

  • 1lb of your preferred pasta or gnocchi (Tresomega Gluten Free recommended)
  • 8 strips bacon, grease reserved, divided
  • 2 Tbsp butter or Tresomega cold pressed coconut oil
  • 12 sage leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 cups half & half (16oz)
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp each kosher salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup pasta cooking water (optional to thin sauce)
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I tried this recipe with both pasta noodles and gnocchi and BOTH are delish!

Begin this Fall-inspired pasta by chopping, grating and mincing your bacon, onion, garlic and parmesan cheese.

In a large skillet on medium heat, crisp up your bacon.  Once done, transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined dish and set aside while keeping the bacon grease in the skillet.  *There should be about 2 Tbsp of grease.

To that same pre-greased skillet, add to it either the butter or cold pressed coconut oil along with the chopped onions and sauté, about 7-8 minutes.  Turn down to medium-low and then add in the garlic and sage and cook for another 1-2 minutes.  Careful not to burn the garlic, but to slightly crisp up the sage.

**Here you can boil a large stockpot of salted water to a boil and add in your pasta of choice and cook to package directions.

Once the veggie medley is finished (smells gooooood huh?!), you will add in the pumpkin puree while whisking in the half & half to form a creamy consistency.  Next, whisk in the grated parmesan cheese, crisped sage leaves, 1/2 of the cooked bacon, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Cook over low heat till combined and then add in your perfectly cooked pasta.  ***You can also add in the 1/4 cup of pasta water if you’d like a thinner consistency.

Serve warm, with the other 1/2 of cooked, chopped bacon sprinkled overtop, a bit more parmesan and sage leaves if desired.  Enjoy!

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Pan Seared Salmon with Sun Dried Tomato Bacon Cream Sauce

I know this is hard to believe with a recipe title as such, but this meal took less than 30 minutes to prepare and have on the table.  Yes, I tell no tale, less than a half of an hour.

What’s also great about this quick, and arguably almost healthy meal, is that since it’s so quick to cook up, it can be in your weeknight dinner rotation.  Plus, since it’s flavors are so “high-end”, it is also a no-hassle recipe for a dinner party or perhaps even an at home date with your loved one.  *One extra thing, my five year old son ate this up TWICE and even proclaimed, “I just love this stuff”.  Again, I tell no tales…

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 1/2 lbs salmon fillets
  • 3 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4oz sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained, sliced (Plus 2 Tbsp of the oil)
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (regular will work as well)
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup vegetable (or chicken) stock
  • Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • Fresh basil, torn (garnish)
  • Parmesan Cheese, shredded (garnish)
  • Penne pasta, for serving

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Let the Salmon come to room temperature for 15 minutes. Gather all of the ingredients and bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil (for the pasta) while you begin to sauté the diced bacon in a large non-stick skillet.  Remove the rendered, slightly crisped bacon to a paper towel lined dish and set aside.  Also (if needed) drain all but 2 Tbsp of the bacon grease.  *When the stockpot of water is boiling, add in the penne pasta and cook to the package directions.  Drain and set aside till plating.

Bring the skillet with the bacon grease to medium heat and sear the salmon fillets for 2-3 minutes on each side.  Set aside.

To that same skillet, add in the onion, garlic, sun dried tomatoes + oil, paprika, Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper.  Sauté together for about 2 minutes.

Add in the vegetable/or chicken stock over to deglaze the pan and let simmer for a couple minutes.  Pour in the half & half along with the 1/4 cup parmesan and stir together, salt & pepper to taste.  Add the seared salmon back into the creamy, fragrant sauce to bring back up to temp.

Serve this delightful dinner individually plated or family style…Coat the cooked penne in the creamy sauce, place the salmon overtop and sprinkle the freshly torn basil, parmesan and crisped bacon overtop!  Enjoy!!

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Baked Spaghetti Pie

Back when we lived in hot and sunny Arizona, we would frequent a certain Italian food joint that was close to our home.  However, it wasn’t the close proximity that made us end up there, it was my husband’s love for their Baked Spaghetti that brought us.

Fast forward years and years and he still spoke of it…so I began to give it a whirl!  With much success, I give you my version which in using a spring form pan, gives many ooh’s & ah’s at dinnertime!  Looks quite impressive for such an easy recipe!

*If you do not have a spring-form, this recipe works just as well in a casserole dish or deep dish pie pan! 🙂

**Feel free to add in/change ingredients to suit your tastes and what you may have in your pantry and fridge!  I.e. Italian sausage, mushrooms, bell peppers, different cheeses, maybe no meat at all!

The Starting Lineup

  • 16oz spaghetti noodles (boiled 8-9 minutes/drained)
  • 24-32oz jar marinara sauce
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 container ricotta cheese
  • 2-3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning blend
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded/grated
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh basil, torn (optional garnish)

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.  Bring a stock pot of salted water to a boil (for the noodles) while you have a large skillet browning the ground beef with the chopped onions, minced garlic and olive oil.  *Feel free to add a pinch of salt and Italian seasonings of your choice if desired.

Once the noodles have finished (slightly under cook them at about 8-9 minutes, as they’ll finish in the oven), drain and toss in a large bowl with the beaten eggs, parmesan cheese and teaspoon of Italian seasoning.  Set aside.

As the ground beef becomes browned, pour in the marinara sauce of your choosing and stir together.

Now I used a lightly greased 10″ Spring-form pan for this (what you would typically make a cheesecake in), however, you can also use a deep dish pie tin, a 2-quart casserole dish, etc.  Just make sure to spray with a bit of non-stick.  **With the spring-form pan, I wrapped the bottom in foil just to ensure no leakage, which I didn’t have anyway.

First layer in the egg coated noodles and then top with dollops of the ricotta cheese.  Pour the meaty red sauce overtop, finally topping with the shredded mozzarella cheese.   Place your prepared spaghetti pie, covered, into the oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil cover and let bake another 10 minutes.

Once finished baking allow to rest for a good 5 minutes before slicing into.  If desired, top with a bit more parmesan cheese and freshly torn basil.  Enjoy!

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Seared Filet with Roasted Butternut Squash & Blue Cheese Ravioli

My husband and I do not get a lot of “date nights” as we have two young boys, rarely a babysitter and he has the craziest schedule working for the railroad.  No set schedule actually.  All that combined leads me to craving fancy-dressed, wine-filled nights out even more!  That being said, I knew I could do it!  Not the literally leaving my house to enjoy a quiet kid free atmosphere, but create that upscale dining experience here at home!

I already knew I could make a fantastic steak, so I wanted to try my hand at homemade pasta.  Like REAL homemade pasta, no attachment to my Kitchen-Aide or anything.  So out came my flour coated rolling pin and I finally attacked the somewhat scary mound of welled flour and eggs.  You know what?  It wasn’t that hard.   I’ve been scared all these years for nothing!  Now, if I’m making a crockpot meal asking for the filled pasta, then frozen is fine, but for this meal all the slight extra work was sooooo worth it!!

So please, next time you can’t get away, or maybe your budget is a bit tight, please give this a whirl!

The Starting Lineup

Dough

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
    3 eggs
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Filling

  • 1 small butternut squash
    2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
    1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon butter
    1 tablespoon olive oil 
    5-6 sage leaves, minced

Protein (optional)

  • (2-4) Filet mignon or Ribeye Steaks
  • Fresh ground black pepper and kosher salt
  • 2 vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick), softened

 

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Roasted butternut squash and blue cheese filling!

 

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To begin…..

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Next, (this is a great tip!) prick your butternut squash with a fork all over.  Cut off the ends of the squash and place on a plate in your microwave for 4 minutes (if you don’t, this vegetable is extremely hard to cut).  Using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin and then cut in half length-wise.  Discard of the seeds and then cut into rough cubes.  Place on a baking sheet drizzled with olive oil, salt & pepper and place in the oven for 30 minutes until fork tender.

Meanwhile…..

Mound the flour on a clean work surface and make a well with a fork in the center, creating almost a “volcano” in appearance.  In the well, crack the eggs and add in the salt and oil.  Using your fork, slightly beat together while gathering a bit of flour at a time until it forms a dough ball.

Using your hands, start needing the dough until it forms a perfectly smooth ball with a shiny appearance (10 minutes).  Add more flour if it seems sticky or a tbsp. at a time of water if it feels too dry.  Wrap your dough ball with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes.

Now that your butternut squash is roasted, transfer to a large bowl along with the blue cheese crumbles and the salt & pepper.  Mash together with a fork to your desired consistency. Cover and set aside.

With your dough ball, unwrap pasta and cut into four sections. You will work with one section at a time. Wrap the remaining three up in plastic in the mean time. Flour your work surface liberally. Roll out dough with a floured rolling pin, working from the middle and rolling out. Try to get the thinnest and longest piece of dough you can. Keep rotating and turning the dough to prevent sticking. Once your dough is rolled very thin, place a small amounts of the filling {about a teaspoon} onto the dough about 1 1/2-2 inches apart. Fold the top of the dough over the filling. Press the top piece of dough over and around the filling to remove any air bubbles. Now using either a ravioli stamp, pastry cutter or a pizza cutter, cut into perfect squares {you will need to crimp the edges with a fork if using a pizza cutter}. Place on a floured tray and cover with a tea towel as you make these. Form any leftover dough into a ball and place in the plastic wrap to rest. Continue this pattern until all the raviolis are filled and cut out.

To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Drop in your raviolis (4-5 at a time) and stir gently. Raviolis will be finished cooking once they float to the top. Drain.  Once finished add to a warm sauté pan of melted butter, oil and sage that is slightly crisped.  Toss gently to coat.

Now you can eat these delish ravioli’s as is or pair with a great steak!  If you choose the steak route, here is my favorite way..

Set the steak out of the fridge to come to room temp for 20-30 minutes {I did so while I’m preparing the ravioli’s} and heat oven to 400 degrees, rub the steak all over with oil and coat in freshly ground pepper and kosher salt.  Heat your cast iron pan on med-high heat till about smoking.  Add in the butter and then the steaks, let cook (do NOT move) for 4 minutes on each side.  Transfer the skillet with the seared steaks to the oven and let cook for 5 minutes (for medium-rare).  Remove the steaks to a platter and cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  {Here is where I cooked and sautéed the ravioli’s.}  ***Make sure you have a well ventilated kitchen as cast irons smoke something crazy.  You can absolutely grill your meat too if preferred.

So, whether you decide to make this a vegetarian inspired meal or are a true carnivore like myself, you will not be disappointed!  Serve with a great red and you have a true 5-star restaurant meal!  Enjoy!!

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Creamy Mushroom Prosciutto Fettuccine

I was craving a hearty, but not heavy meal, which isn’t easy to do with Italian food.  Usually I end up with meatballs, parmigiana, cheesy manicotti…but not this time!  The fettucine is coated in a light, buttery cream sauce that isn’t too rich and the mushrooms really fool you into having a hearty meat-filled meal.   However, since I cannot fix my hubby’s brain into believing mushrooms can substitute as meat, the prosciutto had to happen!  Frankly, I’m ever grateful for it!  The thinly sliced Italian charcuterie and mushrooms make for such Umami flavor!!

*Umami:  delicious, savory taste.  One of my favorites of one’s five basic taste buds.*

**A nice addition in the Springtime is to add blanched sweet peas or even asparagus to this pasta dish!  Great flavor, freshness and vibrant color!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 8 slices thinly cut prosciutto, crisped
  • 1 lb mushrooms (mixed with any variety of mushrooms.  I used baby bella, portabella and rehydrated shitake)
  • 3 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup chicken stock (not broth, but stock)
  • 1 pckg fettuccine noodles
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Kosher salt and pepper

Garnish

  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Fresh thyme

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Begin by heating the 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Place the thinly sliced prosciutto in a single layer into the hot oil and fry up (similar to bacon) until crisp.  I prefer mine super crispy, but cook to your liking!  Once crisped, transfer to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.

In that same pot, heat the now prosciutto flavored oil to high heat and add in the 1lb of assorted mushrooms, cooking for 7-8 minutes.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and add in the shallots, 1 tsp of fresh thyme and season with salt and pepper.  Sauté all together for a couple of minutes, till shallots soften.  Finally, reduce the heat to low and pour in the chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer and allow to cook down for 5-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook your pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water.  You want the fettuccine to be quite al dente, so boil about 3-4 minutes less than package directions.

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Transfer the very al dente pasta, using tongs, to the pot of mushroom mixture.  Ladle 1 cup of the pasta cooking water into the mix as well.   Crumble half of prosciutto into pot.

Increase heat to medium, bring to a simmer, and cook, tossing constantly, until pasta is now perfectly al dente and liquid is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add cream, return to a simmer, and cook, tossing, until pasta is coated, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, add the butter, and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt if needed.

Transfer to your serving bowl(s) and top with the remaining prosciutto, parmesan cheese and fresh thyme!  Enjoy!

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