Category: Pasta


I confess!  In the interest of saving money, I’ve been shopping at Lucky’s and other stores promising good quality organic boneless chicken at lower prices than Fresh Market.  This Little Big Meal offer called out to me, so I decided to splurge.  Guess what?  There really is a difference in the taste and texture.  I will start shopping the Tuesday sale again religiously in the interest of better tasting chicken!  This meal was super easy.  The website said to fry the chicken up in a skillet with a little oil.  Besides the fact that the thought of standing over a hot stove frying chicken didn’t appeal to me, it also sounded a bit greasy.  I opted for a baked method and the results were amazing.  I am on board every time they run this Little Big Meal deal.

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1 Little Big Meal – which includes:

4 large butterflied chicken breasts with light breading

1 jar sauce (the LBM deal was for a brand called Lucini, but they were out – I chose Cucina Artica fresh spinach cooking sauce – very good straight from the jar, but I always taste and doctor it up)

1 pack Fresh Market shredded Mozzarella cheese

My add ins:  sherry, butter, and jarred pesto sauce for sauce, bread, butter, oil, and pesto sauce mix for the garlic bread, and shredded 6 Italian cheese for on top.

1 box DeCecco pasta (I chose cavatappi)  FYI DeCecco won the blind taste test on America’s Test Kitchen as best tasting pasta.

1 package chop salad (again they were out of what it was supposed to be, so I got baby lettuce to make myself lunches for salad this week)

I also made some garlic bread from wonderful sourdough rolls I picked up at their bakery.

  1.  Line baking sheet with foil and brush with oil (I use a grapeseed sunflower blend).
  2. Place chicken pieces on sheet and drizzle with oil.  By the way, the picture is 1/2 of one of the chicken pieces, so it’s a lot of chicken.
  3. Bake at 400 F, setting the timer for 10 minutes to rotate pan and check for even cooking.
  4. Meanwhile, boil water for pasta and heat sauce in pan.  I doctored the sauce with a couple splashes of sherry.
  5. Chicken will be golden around the edges after about 25-30 minutes total cooking time.  Remove from oven and spoon sauce over the pieces, reserving the remaining sauce to mix with the cooked pasta.  After adding the pasta to the sauce, I added in 2 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp. pesto.
  6. Top chicken pieces with shredded cheese.  I had a little 6 cheese Italian on hand, so I used that and some of the Mozzarella.
  7. Return to oven and allow cheese to melt.
  8. For the garlic bread, I mixed melted butter, oil, and Knorr creamy pesto mix and dipped the pieces of bread in it, and baked them first on the lower rack, and then switching out with the chicken towards the end.

The Little Big Meal sells for $20.00 and is supposed to feed four.  We have some leftovers, so the kids are happy!  It’s a lot of food.  I also opted not to make a salad to go with, opting to use it for my lunches instead.  I did purchase the rolls to make the garlic bread for an additional $4.00 investment in the meal.

All in all a success and a great reminder of why the Fresh Market chicken is worth spending a little more!

 

 

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1 package RPs Pasta Company or other fresh lasagna sheets

2-3 lb. ground meat, browned and drained (I cook and freeze cooked ground meat when it’s on sale)

2 onions, chopped

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 c. chopped sweet peppers

1 jar marinara

2 Tbsp. pesto

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

4 c. leftover cooked quinoa

1 container ricotta cheese (2 lb)

1 packet Knorr pesto sauce mix – or Italian seasoning and Parmesian cheese

1 egg

1 package (8 oz) shredded Italian 6 cheese

SAM_3070I bought some fresh gluten free lasagna noodles.  It didn’t say how many sheets are in the package, so I worried that I couldn’t make enough layers, so I decided to try something new, inspired by pastitsio. By the way, the package has 12 sheets, enough for three layers!

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I cook the sauce overnight in the crock pot.  This step isn’t necessary, but it certainly adds another layer of flavor that can’t be replicated any other way.

Day 1:  The Sauce:

2-3 lb. ground meat, browned and drained (I cook and freeze cooked ground meat when it’s on sale)

2 onions, chopped

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 c. chopped sweet peppers

1 jar marinara

2 Tbsp. pesto

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

Combine ingredients in crock put.  Cook overnight 8-10 hours on low.  The house will smell amazing.

Day 2:  The Lasagna –

4 c. leftover cooked quinoa

2 c. cooked sauce

Combine quinoa and sauce.  Add a little more sauce if it looks too dry.

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1 container ricotta cheese (2 lb)

1 packet Knorr pesto sauce mix – or Italian seasoning and Parmesian cheese

1 egg

Combine cheese, pesto sauce mix and egg.

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Spray DEEP lasagna dish, and spread quinoa mixture into bottom.  Top with layer of half of the ricotta.

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Place layer of noodles on top of ricotta.

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Top with sauce in a thin layer.

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Top with layer of noodles.

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Top with remaining ricotta.

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Layer the last of the noodles.

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Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with shredded cheese.

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Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes.

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We really loved this.  My daughter suggested stuffing peppers with a quinoa mixture like I used for the first layer and I can’t wait to try it.

I made garlic toast using Texas toast multigrain bread and premade garlic spread.

Yummy!

SAM_3033

A friend surprised me with a ham on Easter, so I threw together this yummy meal.

Glaze:

1/2 c. maple syrup

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 large can crushed pineapple in juice, drained reserving juice

Put pineapple in the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish, place ham cut side down on top of pineapple, and pour reserved juice over ham.

Cook ham according to package directions.   I did mine tented with foil for about an hour at 300 F before removing the foil and putting on the glaze.  Then I poured the mixture of maple syrup, brown sugar and mustard over ham and raised the temperature to 400 F.

After putting glaze on ham, cut up zucchini into cubes and toss with salt, pepper, and olive oil to taste.  Do the same with the cubed butternut squash.

SAM_3032

Spread vegetables on two small baking sheets and when you remove the ham from the oven, pop them in.  Lower the temperature to 325.  They will take about 20 minutes.

Put water on to boil for spaghetti.  Add minced garlic and salt to water.

The veggies and spaghetti were all done almost at the same time.

Toss the drained spaghetti with a little butter, and then toss with the zucchini and squash.  I kept them separate because I have a finicky eater who hates squash!

 

 

sam_2969

Today was food preparation Sunday.  I did my shopping yesterday (following the great, inspiring sales this week), and prepared food today.  The meatballs are a combination of several meats and I made them jumbo, like mini meatloafs.

3 lb. ground beef

1 lb. ground chicken

1 lb. ground turkey

1/2 lb. ground pork  (optional)

2 tsp. baking soda mixed with 2 Tbsp. water

2 c. crumbled cornbread

2 eggs

1/4 c. sweet pickle relish

1/4 c. pesto

3 Tbsp. steak seasoning

1 lb. ricotta cheese

1 jar spaghetti sauce (I used Gia Russa)

4 oz. each ricotta salada and fontina cheeses, shredded

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Combine meats with baking soda water and add in relish, pesto, seasoning, ricotta cheese, and seasoning.

Prepare 13 x 9 baking dishes by spraying with cooking spray.

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Using large scoop, form meatballs and put into baking dishes sprayed with coconut oil.

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Bake at 375F for 40 minutes until internal temperature is 165F.

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Pour  spaghetti sauce over cooked meatballs and top with shredded cheese.  I used ricotta salada and fontina.

 

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Meanwhile as part of food prep Sunday, I browned the remaining ground meats I bought (about 3 lb. total) to freeze and use in a future meal.

I bought a variety of sauces on a clearance sale at the local market and put boneless chicken breasts and thighs into large containers and coated them with the sauces and froze the chicken for future meals.  I only used half of the meatballs I made for tonight’s dinner.  I froze the rest for another night.

 

I served the Jumbo meatballs tonight with a tortelloni that was on a BOGO sale at my local supermarket.  I also bought their spinach ricotta ravioli, and everyone loved the freshness of this delicate pasta.  I will go buy more before the sale ends!

rana-tortelloni

All in all, a successful food preparation Sunday, ending with a delicious, easy meal made of ingredients bought on sale!

sam_2969

 

sam_2730

2 Tbsp. walnut oil

1 large sweet onion,  coarsely chopped

1 C. coarsely chopped sweet peppers

8  chicken cutlets

1/3 c. super chunky peanut butter

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 Tbsp. sweet thai chili sauce

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

1 Tbsp. minced ginger

1/2 C. water

Combine peanut butter, soy sauce, lemon juice, chili sauce, and water in sauce pan.  Heat until peanut butter melts.

Place chicken cutlets in baking dish.

Brush with walnut oil and a little of the peanut sauce.

Bake 350F for about 20 minutes (until internal temperature is 165F).

Meanwhile, boil water for noodles (I used whole wheat angel hair pasta)

Heat oil in large skillet or dutch oven.  Add onions and peppers.  Cook over medium low heat until softened.

Add peanut butter sauce to cooked onions and peppers.  Chop cooked cutlets into bite sized pieces and add in.  Heat through over low heat.  Add more liquid if needed.

When noodles are done, drain, reserving a little pasta water just in case, and top with chicken, peanut sauce and veggies.

This was a huge hit.  Those who love hot foods added some red pepper flakes.

sam_2706

1 jar Alfredo sauce

6 Southern Fried Chicken Boneless Breasts

1 Package Broccoli Slaw

1 lb. elbow macaroni

2 Tbsp. pesto

6 slices cheddar cheese

1/4 c. shredded cheese (I used ricotta salata and parmesian)

Bake Boneless Breasts (I used Tyson) according to instructions.  Meanwhile, boil macaroni.

Place broccoli slaw in the microwave and cook 4 minutes on high.

Drain macaroni and stir in pesto.  Stir in alfredo.

Layer half of the macaroni in a 13 x 9 baking dish.

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Top with cooked broccoli slaw.

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Top with chopped fried chicken.

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Top with remaining macaroni.

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Top with cheese and bake at 350 F for 35 minutes.

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Pasta alla Norcina

Okay, so I am totally food obsessed and spent the last couple of days binge watching America’s Test Kitchen.  I already know it will totally be worth it, even if I just try the Pasta alla Norchina!  The picture above is from the America’s Test Kitchen website.  I haven’t actually tried the complete recipe, but I have tried the trick about cooking the ground eat as a burger and then chopping it up and finishing the cooking of the meat in the sauce.  I made a lasagna that had ground pork and turkey that were cooked according to the directions for the meat in this recipe and will never again suffer through chopping ground meat as it cooks with a spatula.

Here is the America’s Test Kitchen recipe for Pasta alla Norchina.  If you get a chance to watch the video, it is worth watching!

4 tsp water

1 ½  tsp. salt

¼ tsp. baking soda

Incorporate water, salt and baking soda into 1 lb. ground pork.

Let rest for 10 minutes

Add the following to the pork:

1 tsp garlic

¾ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

¾ tsp. black pepper

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Smear the meat up against side of the bowl  for approx 15 seconds to blend all the seasonings all the way through.

Form into large patty – place on greased dinner plate and set aside.

Place  oz. cremini mushrooms in food processor and chop finely about 10 pulses.

Heat 2 tsp oil in skillet

Brown both sides of the pork patty, but leave raw in middle – about 2 minutes per side

Meanwhile cook pasta.

Transfer patty to cutting board and chop into fine pieces.  Place in bowl and add ¾ c. heavy cream.

Add oil to skillet and cook mushrooms w/ 1/8 tsp salt about 8 minutes till nicely browned.

Add 2 tsp oil, 2 tsp garlic, ½ tsp. rosemary, ½ tsp. black pepper.  Cook 30 seconds.

Add ½ c. dry white wine.  Cook until wine completely evaporates.

Meanwhile drain pasta and reserve ¾ c. pasta water.

Once wine is evaporated, add sausage cream mixture and ¾ c. pasta water.  Simmer approx 3 minutes until pork is fully cooked.

Turn off heat and add in ¾ c. pecorino until melted and smooth.

Pour over pasta.

Add 3 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley and 1 Tbsp. lemon juice.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Add more pasta water if it looks too thick.

Serve immediately.

 

SAM_2642

1 package Pastamore Thai Citrus Ginger Linguini

2 packages al fresco Roasted Pepper & Asiago Chicken Sausage

2 packages Eat Smart Vegetable Stir Fry

1 large sweet onion, chopped

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. butter

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper blend

Heat water for pasta.

Slice sauce and chop onion and set aside.

Heat olive oil in large skillet and cook onions and sausage until onions are translucent and sausage is golden.

Meanwhile cook vegetable stir fry in the microwave and cook pasta in heated water.  It cooks very quickly, so put it in only when the sausage and onions are close to done.

Toss sausage with cooked vegetables, adding in butter and salt and pepper.

Toss with pasta and serve immediately.

We all loved this!  Some of the kids added some heat with red pepper flakes or sweet thai chili sauce.

 

 

Boo Hoo

This is how I feel about not getting a picture of tonight’s dinner because it was such a success and I still wanted to share the recipe.  The sweetie in the picture is my youngest grandson who has just been told by his mom that he can’t put the bathroom rug in his mouth!  Calling it a fusion dish is a stretch.  The only non traditional ingredient is the pad thai noodles.

2 packs Kame pad thai rice noodles – the soft wide kind

2-3 cups shredded leftover chicken

1 jar Fresh Market alfredo sauce

1 large sweet onion, sliced thinly

Salt

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. pesto sauce

2 Tbsp. parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp. tuscan seasoning – with red pepper flakes if you like a little heat!

When I put chicken alfredo on the menu plan for tonight, I originally planned to use some spaghetti my cousin had given me recently.  (She’s dieting and avoiding pasta).  When I looked more closely, though, the pasta was ginger, citrus!  Not exactly what I would want in alfredo.  The only other noodles I had on hand were the pad thai rice noodles.

The pad thai rice noodles are best cooked in oil in a skillet.

Cook onions in olive oil with a little salt and some of the tuscan seasoning until they were softened and translucent.  Add butter and pesto, and continue to cook until nicely browned.  Add in chicken and noodles, stirring until well blended.  Pour alfredo sauce over it all and heat through.

Before serving, sprinkle with remaining tuscan seasoning and parmesan.

My son, Austin, said this was the best alfredo ever!  Easy add ins:  peppers, mushrooms, spinach.  YUM!

 

 

SAM_2634

1/2 sweet onion, sliced

1/2 green bell pepper, sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, sliced

1/2 lb. honey ham, chopped

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. butter

1 tsp. smoked paprika

2 boxes large shells

2 jars cheese sauce (or 3 c. homemade)

2 c. shredded sharp cheddar

1/2 c. panko bread crumbs, seasoned to taste (I used 1 Tbsp. Tuscan seasoning)

2 Tbsp. butter

Put water on to boil to cook shells.  I add salt and minced garlic in the water for extra flavor.

Saute ham, peppers and onions in olive oil until soft and translucent.  Add butter and sprinkle with smoked paprika or barbecue seasoning.

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Drain cooked shells, reserving a little pasta cooking water to swish around in jars to get the remains of the cheese sauce.

Place half of the shells in a prepared 13 x 9 baking dish.

Layer ham, pepper and onions evenly over shells.

Top with remaining shells.

Sprinkle with cheese.

Place butter in pan used to cook ham and veggies and melt over medium high.

Add panko crumbs and seasoning.  Stir regularly until toasty and brown.

Sprinkle over cheese.

Bake at 350F for 25 minutes.

 

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