• Lemon Chicken Orzo

    This dish is the complete package of comfort food. The recipe below is doubled to be served as a main dish. If you want this as a side, halve the recipe below.

    Adapted from Salt & Lavender

    Ingredients:

    • 2 TBSP olive oil
    • 4 TBSP butter
    • 1 medium onion chopped
    • 6 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
    • 2 c. uncooked orzo pasta
    • 4 c. chicken broth
    • 4 TBSP lemon juice
    • 2 c. heavy whipping cream
    • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
    • 1 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
    • 6-10 oz. fresh baby spinach
    • Salt & pepper to taste

    Directions:

    1. Add the oil, butter, and onion to a pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion for 3-4 minutes.
    2. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, and orzo. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often (this infuses the orzo with more flavor and toasts it a little).
    3. Stir in the chicken broth, lemon juice, and cream. Once it starts to bubble, continue cooking for 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring fairly often. You will probably need to turn the heat down a bit (to medium or even medium-low). It should gently bubble vs. furiously boil, and you don’t want the liquid to reduce too much before the pasta has cooked.
    4. Stir in the chicken.
    5. Take the pot off the heat, stir in the parmesan and spinach, and cover the pot for 3-5 minutes or until it has thickened up to your liking. Season with salt & pepper as needed and serve immediately.

    Lemon Chicken Orzo:

  • Lemon Linguine – Instant Pot

    Ingredients:

    • 1 tsp. olive oil
    • 4 TBSP butter, divided
    • 4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • 1 TBSP salt
    • 1 1/2 tsp. pepper
    • 4 c. water
    • 1 lb. linguine
    • 10 oz. (or 1 1/4 c.) plain Greek yogurt
    • 1 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese (or more)
    • Milk, if desired to thin

    Directions:

    1. Turn Instant Pot to sauté. Once the Instant Pot says HOT, add the olive oil and 2 TBSP of butter. When the butter is melted, add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Hit cancel.
    2. Add the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and water to the Instant Pot. Break the linguine in half and alternate the direction you place the linguine in the Instant Pot as you add more.
    3. Close the lid, and select manual for 3 minutes. When it beeps after the 3 minutes, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes.
    4. After 5 minutes, remove the lid. Stir the noodles around, and then add the remaining 2 TBSP of butter and Greek yogurt and stir to make the sauce creamy. Linguine will continue to absorb the liquid. Add the parmesan, and add any milk to thin, if desired.

    Lemon Linguine – Instant Pot:

  • Sheet Pan Mac and Cheese

    The creaminess of the mac and cheese coupled with the crispy breadcrumb topping is so delicious!

    Recipe adapted from Damn Delicious

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. large elbow macaroni
    • 4 TBSP unsalted butter
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 medium shallot, minced
    • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
    • 2 c. whole milk
    • 1 c. heavy cream
    • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 16 oz. extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
    • 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan
    • 1 c. Italian Panko breadcrumbs

    Directions:

    1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well.
    2. Preheat oven to broil on high. Arrange an oven rack 6-inches from the broiler. Lightly oil an 18 x 13-inch sheet pan or coat with nonstick spray.
    3. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and shallot, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
    4. Whisk in flour and smoked paprika until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, heavy cream and Dijon until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add more milk as needed; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
    5. Remove from heat. Stir in 2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, Parmesan and pasta until well combined; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
    6. In a small bowl, combine Panko and remaining cheddar cheese.
    7. Spread pasta mixture into the prepared sheet pan; sprinkle with Panko mixture.
    8. Place into oven and broil, rotating the sheet pan a few times, until golden brown and crispy, about 5-6 minutes.
    9. Serve immediately.

    Sheet Pan Mac and Cheese:

  • Best Chicken Meatballs

    Our new favorite meatballs that can be used with so many different sauce recipes. Pictured here with The Best Pasta Sauce.

    I generally double the recipe below for our family and to ensure leftovers.

    Adapted from Pinch of Yum.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. ground chicken
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 c. Italian panko breadcrumbs
    • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan
    • 2 TBSP olive oil 
    • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • black pepper to taste

    Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with foil and a little cooking spray.
    2. Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
    3. Roll the mixture into about 30 small balls. Place on baking sheet.
    4. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove from oven and flip the meatballs so they brown on the other side, and return to oven for another 5 minutes.

    Best Meatballs:

  • 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
    • 3 28-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