• 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

  • Ginger Scallion Noodles

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    This side dish is so simple yet so good.  We seem to always have a batch in the fridge, whether for a dinner side or just to snack on.  Sometimes the simplest dishes are the best.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
    • garlic, minced
    • 3 inch piece of ginger, minced
    • 1/3 c. grape seed oil
    • 6 TBSP vinegar (we use 3 TBSP seasoned rice vinegar and 3 TBSP ancho vinegar from a local specialty shop)
    • 2 tsp. soy sauce
    • 2 6 oz. packages of Wel-Pac Chinese Chow Mein Stir-Fry Noodles (or any egg noodle or any noodle you like)

    Directions:

    1. Combine green onions through soy sauce in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Meanwhile, boil a pot of water, add salt and then add noodles and cook according to directions.
    3. Drain and rinse noodles with cold water and then add to mixing bowl.  Toss to combine.  Serve chilled.

    Ginger Scallion Noodles:

    5star

     

  • Beer Mac-n-Cheese and Beer Bread

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    If you like homemade mac-n-cheese you’ll definitely enjoy this version made with beer and bacon.  It’s so creamy and so flavorful.  If you don’t like bacon, leave it out, but bacon is a favorite in our house.  It was kid approved by the man-cheese eating kiddo (the non mac-n-cheese eating kiddo wasn’t home for dinner).  I added chipotle Tabasco to mine and that put it over the top for me!

    Beer bread: we’ve been making it for quite some time.  It is beyond good and beyond delicious and beyond easy!  We usually make a loaf, but this time we opted to make biscuits.  We’ll stick with the loaf from here on out because the biscuits didn’t have the same moist tenderness that the loaf has.

    Beer Mac-n-Cheese recipe from A Spicy Perspective.

    Beer Bread recipe from Food Network.

    Beer Mac-n-Cheese

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. elbow pasta
    • 12 oz. Shiner Bock (or favorite beer)
    • 8 oz. cream cheese (I used cream cheese with Greek yogurt)
    • 1 lb. cheddar cheese (not preshredded)
    • 1 c. crumbled bacon

    Beer Mac-n-Cheese directions:

    1. Place a large pot water on the stove to boil. Once boiling, add generous amounts of salt and add pasta; cook pasta al dente. Drain and set aside.
    2. Meanwhile, pour a bottle of beer in a skillet. (Choose a light crisp beer that you like to drink.) Turn the heat on high, and add the cream cheese in medium sized chunks. As the beer starts to simmer, break the cream cheese into pieces with a whisk and whisk into the beer.  Add the shredded cheese and whisk until completely smooth.
    3. Once the pasta is cooked and drained, pour it into the cheese sauce. Reduce the heat to low, then stir and cook another 3 minutes to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste.
    4. To serve, scoop the beer mac and cheese into bowls and sprinkle with crumbled bacon.

    Beer Mac-n-Cheese:
    4star

     

    Beer Bread

    Ingredients:

    • 3 c. self rising flour
    • 1/2 c. sugar
    • 12 oz. bottle of Shiner Bock beer (or favorite beer)
    • 3 TBSP melted butter

    Beer Bread Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 375*F.
    2. Butter a loaf pan and set aside.
    3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and beer and mix well. The mixture should be sticky. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 55 minutes. At the last 3 minutes of baking, remove from oven, brush the top of the loaf with butter and return to oven.

    Beer Bread:
    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

  • 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

     

  • Classic Deli Macaroni Salad

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    I pretty much love all pasta salads, and this one is so very good.  It definitely tastes like it came from the deli.  It’s great for summer as a side for sandwiches or grilling out.

    Recipe from Center Cut Cook.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. elbow macaroni
    • 1.5 c. mayo
    • 3 TBSP sour cream
    • 3 TBSP cider vinegar
    • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
    • 2 tsp. sugar
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
    • 1.5 c. finely chopped celery
    • 1 red bell pepper, diced
    • 1/4 c. finely chopped parsley or cilantro

    Directions:

    1. Cook pasta according to package directions; then drain and rinse under cold water until the pasta has cooled. Drain well.
    2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine mayo, sour cream, cider vinegar, yellow mustard, sugar, salt, and black pepper.
    3. Combine the macaroni with the dressing; then stir in finely chopped celery, diced red bell pepper and finely chopped parsley or cilantro.
    4. Chill for 1 hour before serving.

    Classic Deli Macaroni Salad:

    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:

     

     

  • Herbed Pasta Salad

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    I love pasta salad, and I especially love pasta salad that has bold delicious flavors.  This pasta salad certainly has bold delicious flavors.

    I’m not sure why it’s a common sentiment that a little bit of dried herb goes a long way, but I think that’s the furthest from the truth.  I think if you use just a little bit of the dried herbs, your food won’t have much flavor, and we’re all about flavor!  Don’t be scared off by the amount of dried herbs…trust me, it’s delicious!

    A friend of mine made a similar pasta salad for an event we went to, and while she didn’t have a recipe, she told me what she put it, and this is my version.  This is a great one to bring for a potluck or picnic too.

    Ingredients:

    • 14.5 oz or 16 oz pasta of choice
    • 1/2 c. olive oil
    • 1/3 c. rice wine vinegar
    • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
    • 4 tsp. dried oregano
    • 2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 2 tsp. dried parsley
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 4 oz. crumbled feta
    • 1 lb of grape tomatoes, halved.

    Directions:

    1. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat; then add salt and pasta, and cook until al dente; then drain.
    2. Meanwhile in a large bowl combine olive oil through feta and stir to combine.  Mix so that some of the feta actually breaks down in the dressing (emulsifes) and the dressing becomes a bit “creamy;” then add the tomatoes; then add the pasta.  Toss to combine and taste.  Correct seasoning to taste.

    Herbed Pasta Salad:

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