• Slow Cooker Tomato Basil Tortellini Soup

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    This soup is to die for!  It’s delicious served with smoke gouda grilled cheese (our favorite combination)!  All four of us love this soup, and it’s great in the winter AND the summer, which is great because we have so much fresh basil in the summer.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 TBSP olive oil
    • 1 package of petite carrots, diced
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 5 cloves garlic, minced
    • 3 (28 oz.) cans whole Roma tomatoes
    • 1 (32 o.z) carton vegetable broth
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 TBSP granulated sugar (may need to use more–all depends on how sweet your tomatoes are)
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 16 oz. refrigerated three cheese tortellini
    • 3/4 cup heavy cream or half and half
    • Grated pecorino Romano cheese for serving

    Directions:

    1. Heat a skillet over medium high heat; add the olive oil, and then add the carrots and onion and saute until soft; then add the garlic and continue cooking for 2 more minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, in a blender, puree the tomatoes until smooth and add to your crockpot.  When the carrots, onion, and garlic are soft add them to the blender and puree until smooth–you can add some of the tomato puree to help the blender along; then add to your crockpot.  Add the vegetable broth through salt and pepper, and stir to combine.  You’ll likely need to adjust the sugar, salt, and pepper after it finishes cooking.
    3. Cook on LOW for 6-7 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.  Remove lid and add tortellini and cook for 15 minutes or until tortellini are heated through.  Then stir in the cream or half and half, taste and adjust seasoning.
    4. Ladle soup in individual bowls and top with basil and and grated pecorino Romano cheese.

    Slow Cooker Tomato Basil Torellini Soup:
    5star

  • Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and Pepper Pasta)

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    This is some seriously good pasta.  Even Ellie, who doesn’t like much pasta, loves this dish.  It’s peppery and goodness with lots of pecorino Romano cheese.  It goes great with grilled steak, and the leftovers are really good too.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. angel hair pasta
    • salt
    • 2 c. finely grated pecorino Romano cheese
    • 1 TBSP (plus or minus to your liking) freshly ground pepper
    • Good olive oil (we like a basil infused olive oil probably a couple of TBSP)

    Directions:

    1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt the water, add pasta and cook according to package.
    2. Meanwhile grate the cheese.
    3. In a large pasta serving bowl combine cooked pasta, cheese, pepper, and olive oil.  Toss to combine.  Add 1/2 cup or more of pasta water to help melt the cheese and combine.

    Cacio e Pepe:
    5star

  • Pasta Caprese (aka Best Pasta Sauce)

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    We love Italian, but unfortunately the kiddos don’t like ricotta cheese (gasp!).  I have finally found a lasagna like dish that everyone loves, and this has become our go to “lasagna”.  Every time I’ve made this the kiddos have asked for seconds.  That’s a score in my book!

    ******I also make just the sauce from this dish and use it in all my Italian cooking.  It is the BEST pasta sauce…can’t ever go back to the jar stuff…yes, it really is that good!  This is our go to red sauce for all dishes we make.******

    Adapted from Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich.

    Ingredients:

    • 3 TBSP olive oil
    • 4-6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
    • 2 35-oz. cans Italian tomatoes (like San Marzano)
    • Crushed red pepper to taste
    • Salt to taste
    • Sugar to taste (I usually use about 2 TBSP, but it all depends on how sweet or sour your canned tomatoes are)
    • 2 c. freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (I use a fine microplane grater–if you use a larger shred, your amounts will need to be adjusted downward since with the fine grater there is a lot of air taking up the 2 c. space)
    • 1 lb. Campanelle pasta or pasta of your choice
    • 1 lb. pearl mozzarella
    • 1 c. shredded fresh basil leaves

    Directions:

    1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, put the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and blitz until you reach a desired texture (we prefer smooth with some chunkier pieces). Then add the tomatoes and crushed red pepper, if using, to the skillet.  Season with salt and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, to reduce until you get your desired consistency.  We like a thicker sauce, so I simmered for about 30-45 minutes. Taste and add sugar and salt as needed.  Add the Pecorino Romano cheese and stir to combine.  If you use finely grated the cheese the cheese will “melt” into the sauce quite easily.  Taste again adjust seasoning as necessary.
    3. Bring a pot of water to a boil; add salt; and cook pasta according to the box.
    4. When pasta is al dente, add the pasta to the skillet with the sauce, and toss to combine.  Add the fresh mozzarella and chopped basil.

    Serve with garlic bread, salad, and fruit and enjoy!

    Pasta Caprese:

    5star

  • Lemon Chicken Pasta with Broccoli

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    This dish is a one skillet dish…yes even the pasta!  It is extremely flavorful, and we loved the bold lemony garlicky sauce.  Everyone had seconds, even Ellie, who doesn’t eat much pasta.  It’s so good, that it tasted restaurant quality…yes, it’s that good!

    Ethan proclaimed: “This is a keeper”.  There you have it.

    We will most definitely be having this dish again and again.

    Since we love garlic, lemon, and Italian seasoning, I added way more than the original recipe.  If you’re not into those bold flavors as much, reduce those amounts to your liking.

    Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts, cubed
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 TBSP oil
    • 2 heaping TBSP of minced garlic (I use pre-minced garlic in a jar
    • 1 TBSP Italian seasoning
    • 2 1/2 c. water
    • 2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
    • Zest of three lemons
    • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 3 lemons, use the same ones you just zested)
    • 12 ounces penne pasta (I use Barilla or Ronzoni Smart Taste)
    • 2-3 c. chopped fresh broccoli florets
    • 3/4 c. milk
    • 1 heaping TBSP cornstarch
    • 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

    Directions:

    1. Season chicken well with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large, 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until the oil is hot and rippling. Add the chicken and saute, stirring frequently, until the chicken is browned and cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate, keeping as much oil/liquid in the skillet as possible.
    2. Keep the skillet on medium heat and add another teaspoon of oil if needed (I usually don’t but you’ll want to keep an especially close eye on the garlic). Add the garlic and Italian seasoning and stir constantly for about 30 seconds. Add the water, broth, lemon juice and pasta. Stir to combine.
    3. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally just to keep the pasta from sticking, for 10-12 minutes until the pasta is tender – it will cook for a few more minutes in the next step. (Depending on the type of pasta you use, your cooking time may differ, so keep an eye on the pasta so you don’t overcook it).  There will be a bit of liquid left in the skillet; that’s ok.
    4. Add the broccoli and lemon zest. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until the broccoli is bright green and tender. While the broccoli is cooking, whisk together the milk and cornstarch.
    5. Uncover the skillet and stir in the milk mixture along with the Parmesan cheese and reserved chicken. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce has thickened slightly, 1-2 minutes.
    6. Season with additional salt and pepper (this is really important – don’t skip this step!) and serve.

    Lemon Chicken Pasta with Broccoli:
    5star

  • Italian Beef Sandwiches

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    These sandwiches are delicious, and the meat is so flavorful.  Your house will smell divine too!  So easy to make in the crockpot and then toast them up on the oven when ready to eat.  The roasted red peppers and mild/hot pepper rings brighten the sandwiches up and give them delicious flavor.

    Simply great food.

    Everyone LOVED them.

    Everyone REQUESTS them.

    Recipe adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian.

    Ingredients:

    • 3 c. of boiling water
    • 5 tsp. beef bouillon
    • 1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
    • 2 tsp. ground black pepper
    • 2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1½ tsp. onion powder
    • 5 TBSP Italian seasoning
    • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper (to taste)
    • 1 (3 lb.) boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed of most fat

    Sandwich Fixings:

    • 8 hoagie rolls
    • 16 slices provolone cheese
    • 1 (16 oz.) jar roasted red peppers, sliced
    • 1 (16 oz.) jar mild or hot sliced pepper rings

    Directions:

    1. Turn 6 quart slow cooker to high heat.  Add boiling water, beef bouillon and Worcestershire.
    2. Combine remaining seasonings in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over beef broth and whisk to combine.  Add roast and flip to coat both sides.  Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low 8-10 hours.  Shred beef by using two forks to pull it apart.  Stir to coat all beef in the juices.  Cook 1 additional hour covered. (Do not drain)  Really not necessary, so you can skip this step.
    3. When ready to serve:  Slice rolls in half, place on a baking sheet and broil in oven for 2-4 minutes until bread is lightly golden brown.
    4. Scoop beef on toasted roll and top with 2 slices of provolone cheese.  Place back on baking sheet and broil until cheese is melted.  Top with red pepper slices and mild pepper rings.

    Italian Beef Sandwiches:
    5star

     

  • Caprese Chicken Pasta (Caprese Pasta Salad)

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    If you like caprese salad, you’ll love this carprese chicken pasta.  Everyone loved this dish!

    I promise there is chicken in there.  It’s just under all those delicious tomatoes, basil, and cheese.

    ***Note: I’ve also made this dish without the chicken and instead of melting the cheese I just cut the cheese up or use the mozzarella pearls and serve this caprese pasta salad cold. It’s beyond delicious and great for potlucks and picnics.  So flavorful.  

    Recipe adapted from The Novice Chef.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. pasta
    • zest of 2 lemons
    • juice of 2 lemons
    • butter
    • 4 skinless chicken breasts
    • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 TBSP olive oil, divided
    • 5 large garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 10 large basil leaves, finely chopped (the more the better)
    • 8 oz. fresh buffalo mozzarella, sliced in 1/2 inch thick slices
    • balsamic vinegar, to taste

    Directions:

    1. Cook pasta according to directions.
    2. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts and set aside.
    3. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 TBSP olive oil. Add chicken, cover pan, and cook for about 10 minutes. Flip chicken breasts and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked thoroughly (or has reached an internal temp of 165°F).
    4. While chicken is cooking, in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm remaining 1 TBSP olive oil. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add tomatoes and continue sautéing until tomatoes skin starts to soften/wrinkle, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in basil. Set aside.
    5. Once chicken has reached desired doneness, top the tops of each chicken breast with 2 slices of mozzarella. Pour tomato mixture on top. Cover pan with lid once more and let the mozzarella melt, about 1-2 minutes.
    6. When pasta is done, transfer to large serving bowl, and add zest, lemon juice and butter, and mix to combine.
    7. Lastly, drizzle chicken and/or pasta with a splash of balsamic vinegar and serve chicken immediately over pasta.

    Caprese Chicken Pasta:
    5star

  • Copycat Panera Macaroni and Cheese

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    This macaroni and cheese and so THICK and CREAMY.  It really is delicious.  I just wish Ethan would eat macaroni and cheese, because if he did, we would definitely make this more.

    Did I mention that it’s THICK and CREAMY?  And delicious?

    Goes great with barbecue, burgers, sandwiches, and just about everything.

    I’m generally not a fan of leftover macaroni and cheese.  It can be hard, grainy, and the taste just off.  But this recipe heats up beautifully!  If you have leftovers, simply put the leftovers in a pot, add about 1/2 c. milk, and heat over low heat on the stove.  You will never know that it’s leftovers!  Seriously.

    Recipe from Shugary Sweets.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/4 c. unsalted butter
    • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
    • 1 c. milk (I used skim)
    • 2 c. half and half
    • 2 c. shredded white cheddar (I used Cabot seriously sharp cheddar)
    • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
    • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
    • 1 tsp. dry mustard
    • 1 lb. pasta, cooked

    Directions:

    1. Cook pasta according to package directions while making the sauce. Drain and set aside until ready to use.
    2. In a large pot on medium high heat, add butter until melted. Whisk in the flour and cook for about one minute. Reduce heat to medium and add milk, half and half, salt, dry mustard and pepper. Continue whisking until it begins to bubble. Reduce to low and add white cheddar. Stir until melted. Add cooked pasta, stirring until combined. Remove from heat and allow to sit about 5 minutes to thicken. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. ENJOY.
    3. If you have leftovers, when you want to reheat it, add about 1/2 c. milk and cook it on low on the stove top. Worked perfectly.

    Copycat Panera Macaroni and Cheese:
    5star

     

  • Ellie’s Lasagna

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    Steve and I both love lasagna and baked ziti.  Sadly, our children are less than thrilled with either option, so I never make it.  We were at a team dinner (pot luck style) and Ellie said she “loved Coach Anita’s curly lasagna.”  Ellie proclaiming that she “loves” anything pasta is a miracle, so as soon as I got home I emailed Coach Anita for her recipe.

    We discovered that both kids love spiral pasta, and they don’t like baked pasta if it’s too cheesy.  Score!

    Ellie ate it up the first night, but the leftovers went  untouched. Sigh. At least she ate it the first night.

    Ingredients:

    • 16 oz. spiral pasta
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 8 oz. – 16 oz sausage (depending on how much meat you like)
    • 45 oz. jar of pasta sauce
    • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
    • 8 oz. ricotta
    • 8 oz. shredded mozzarella

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350*
    2. Cook pasta (under cook it because it will continue cooking in the oven).
    3. Saute the onion, then add the garlic; then add the sausage and cook through.
    4. Add 1/2 of the jar of sauce to the skillet with the sausage and add the Italian seasoning, and stir to combine; then add the pasta and mix to combine.
    5. In a 9/13 baking dish, add 1/2 of the remaining sauce to the bottom of the dish; then add the pasta mixture to the baking dish; dollop spoonfuls of ricotta into pockets throughout the casserole; then top with the remaining sauce.
    6. Cover with foil (if you like crunchy top noodles don’t cover) and bake for 30-40 minutes, until bubbly. At the end of cooking add the mozzarella cheese and return the dish to the oven but turn the oven off and let the cheese melt.

    Ellie’s Lasagna:

    5star

     

     

  • Skillet Italian Chicken and Pasta

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    Oh my, this is so delicious and so easy…definitely company worthy.  The chicken is so moist and flavorful!  We had leftover pasta (no chicken…it was all devoured), so on another night I reheated the pasta and cooked up some chicken sausage to go along with it.  I cooked up some additional sauce to go along with the leftovers…great 2 meal dinner!

    Ingredients:

    • 12 oz. bow-tie pasta
    • 2 TBSP Olive Oil
    • 16 – 24 oz. skinless chicken breasts, sliced
    • 1 TBSP + 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, divided
    • salt to taste
    • 1 whole medium onion, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 c. chicken broth
    • 1 jar pasta sauce
    • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, if desired
    • 1/2 c. ricotta
    • 1 c. mozzarella, grated
    • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
    • 12 basil leaves, chopped
    • Extra cheeses and basil for serving

    Directions:

    1. Prepare pasta according to directions on box.
    2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and 1 TBSP of Italian seasoning. Add chicken to the skillet and cook until golden brown. Remove the chicken to a plate.
    3. Add onions and garlic to the same skillet and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add broth, then scrape the bottom of the skillet to loosen the bits. Cook for another 2-3 minutes to let the broth reduce.
    4. Add marinara sauce, 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes (if using), then simmer for 10 minutes.
    5. Turn off the heat and add the ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, cooked and drained pasta, and basil. Add the cooked chicken on top. Toss to combine, then add more of any of the above ingredients until the sauce is just how you like it.
    6. Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan and a little basil on top.

    Skillet Italian Chicken and Pasta:

    5star

  • Quick Chicken Cacciatore

    I really love chicken cacciatore, but it takes too long to make.  I found a recipe that reminded me of chicken cacciatore, and it took a fraction of the time to cook.  Everyone devoured their dinners.  Win, win!

    Note: the original recipe (and as pictured) called for celery, but I’ll omit the celery next time.  Add mushrooms if you’d like.

    Adapted from “Chicken Creole” from The Southern Lady Cooks.

    Ingredients:

    • Olive oil
    • 4 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 1 green pepper, chopped
    • 2 zucchini, chopped
    • 6-8 mushroom, sliced (if desired)
    • 1 (14.5 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
    • 1 c. chicken broth
    • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
    • 1/4 tsp. pepper
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. garlic, minced
    • 2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
    • Serve over egg noodles

    Directions:

    1. Heat olive oil and saute chicken pieces until no longer pink.  Remove and keep warm.
    2. In the same skillet, saute the onion, green pepper, and zucchini in the remaining oil until tender.  Stir in the tomatoes, broth, tomato paste and seasonings.
    3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  Return chicken to the pan; heat through.
    4. Serve over hot egg noodles.

    Quick Chicken Cacciatore: