10/17/19 National Pasta Day!

d885edea4dac6850a5f9bdde459b5c86.jpgDid you know that 10/17/19 is National Pasta Day?

I didn’t. There aren’t tons of freebies. Like… None.

Olive Garden has some sort of shenanigans going on via Twitter, but ain’t nobody got time for that. IF you sign up for their email club, you can get a free app or dessert.

For those of us who don’t have time to chase deals, and want to eat a bowl of plain ‘skettis at home, here are some yummy pasta recipes to try:

The kids have requested Mac and Cheese for dinner- so we’re celebrating!

Recipe: Chicken Meatball Skillet

FullSizeRender(256).jpgThis recipe came to me, as I was staring into the fridge wondering what the hell I was going to do with all spinach my friend gave me.

I used a package of Aidell’s Chicken caramelized onion meatballs, but feel free to use whatever kind of meatballs you like (or make your own!).

Mix it up with whatever veggies you have on hand! Peppers or kale would be great in this dish!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package chicken meatballs (about a dozen, if making from scratch)
  • 1/2 purple onion, diced
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 c. grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise (about 1 package)
  • 3-4 c. fresh spinach
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 T. Thyme
  • 1 T. Rosemary
  • 1 T. air-dried shallots
  • 1 package pasta (I like ziti) cooked per package instructions
  • 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan, saute onion until translucent.
  2. Add garlic, and cook on medium/low until fragrant.
  3. Add meatballs, tomatoes, and herbs. Cook on medium/low, until meatballs are heated thoroughly.
  4. stir in lemon juice and zest. Scrape pan to remove any browned bits.
  5. Toss in spinach, turn to low, and cover with the lid. Allow spinach to cook down by about half- this takes only a few minutes.
  6. Remove from heat, stir in cooked pasta and cheese.
  7. Season with salt and pepper as needed,  and serve ASAP.

 

This is a great 1 dish meal! It’s very filling, but the acid from the lemon and the chicken meatballs keeps the meal feeling very light.

To make this dish Gluten-free: Use GF pasta and make sure your meatballs are GF.

To make this dish Vegetarian: Use meat-free “meatballs”

Recipe: Pesto Chicken Bake

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That’s Basil, the key ingredient in Pesto

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a couple weeks, but with summer vacation and the kids needing to see me, talk to me, touch me every.moment.of.the.day….. I’ve been a little behind.

This is so easy, so tasty, and so cheesy. And it works with almost every dietary restriction:

If you are vegetarian but omit the chicken.

If you are Gluten-free, substitute GF pasta for what’s the recipe.

If you are vegan, use your favorite vegan “cheese”. And remember to check the pesto- sometimes commercially made pesto contains cheese!

Pesto Chicken Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Pesto (I Like Costco’s Pesto) If you want to make it yourself, I like this recipe.
  • 1 Box Farfalle Pasta. I like Banza– It’s made with chickpea flour and is high in protein.
  • 1 T. Butter or Olive Oil
  • 2 C. chicken breast, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces. You can also use rotisserie chicken.
  • 2 c. cheese, divided- I like Italian Blend

 

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a baking dish with spray release and set aside.
  3. Cook pasta per box directions, drain pasta and toss with butter/oil.
  4. Mix Pesto, pasta, cooked chicken and 1 cup of cheese together.
  5. Pour mixture into baking dish.
  6. Top with the remaining 1 cup of cheese.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is bubbly and browned (approximately 20 minutes).
  8. Remove from oven and allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving with crusty bread and a green salad.

Serves 6-8 as a main dish or 8-10 as a side. This is a great dish for potlucks!

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Yum! 

Olive Garden: Buy One, Take One is Back!

Screen Shot 2019-05-29 at 9.53.47 PMOlive Garden in the big kid’s favorite “grown-up” restaurant (aka they have cloth napkins). He saw a commercial for this deal the other day and told me I had to tell the internet about it.

Olive Gardens Buy One, Take One deal is back for a limited time.  The complete list can be found here.

food-pasta-bolognese.jpgThe basics of the deal are that you order a meal to eat in the restaurant from the list above (complete with the soup or salad and breadsticks that you all know and love), and you get to take home another prepped meal  (Spaghetti with Meat Sauce*, Fettuccine Alfredo, Five Cheese Ziti al Forno, or Cheese Ravioli) sans soup/salad and breadsticks (although you usually can snag a couple extra breadsticks in a doggy bag if you ask your waitperson nicely).

And don’t forget that Olive Garden has a loyalty club too! You earn points with every purchase, and points can be redeemed for freebies like non-alcoholic drinks, appetizers, entrees, kids meals, and desserts. You can sign up on their website, or in the restaurant at your table on the little Zoosk kiosks.

 

 

Family Recipe: Aunt Linda’s Mess

file8721293943264.jpgAunt Linda’s Mess, this recipe has been in my family for at least 50 years. When I was a kid we ate it at least once a month. My mother was born on her Aunt Linda’s birthday.  Aunt Linda and her husband live in Minnesota, where the majority of my mother’s family still lives today.  This dinner is what is referred to in the midwest as a “hotdish” and is frequently prepared in an electric skillet. This recipe serves 6-8 with a side dish, like a green salad, or steamed veggies.

This cheesy delicious mess is a great meal for kids and grown ups alike.  I’ve modified it a bit from it’s original form (which calls for Velveeta and canned mushrooms).

I’m not sure if Aunt Linda invented this dish or if she inspired this dish- and no one knows why it’s called a mess.  It reminds me of a cheesy stroganoff. Regardless- No one can say no to this dish!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1C chopped mushrooms (fresh are better, but you can used canned mushrooms if you prefer- just remember to drain them!)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (you can use low fat/low sodium if you prefer)
  • 1/2C+ shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 carton sour cream (or plain Fat free Greek yogurt)
  • 1 package cooked spaghetti (you can use any kind of pasta or macaroni- you want 6-8 cups of cooked pasta)

Directions:

  1. Brown and crumble beef.
  2. Add onion and mushrooms. Sauté until onions are transparent and mushrooms have softened (about 10 minutes).
  3. Add canned soup and cheese.
  4. Cook until the cheese is melted.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream.
  6. Add the cooked, drained pasta and toss to coat the pasta.

You can omit mushrooms if you don’t care for them. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if there are any vegetarian or vegan work arounds for this recipe, since it’s mostly meat and dairy products!

I’ll be posting more family recipes over the next few weeks.

 

Recipe: Lemon Garlic Spaghetti Squash Casserole

file000382147880.jpgWe love Garlic. It’s a good thing that hubs and I both like it, because otherwise this recipe wouldn’t go over too well.

This is my spin on the Spaghetti with Garlic White Wine sauce found here.  It appeared in hubs Facebook feed one day several months ago, he sent it to me, and we’ve been tweaking it to make it our own ever since.

To make it a little healthier, I added in 1 large spaghetti squash. If you’ve never cooked one, I write about it here. It’s super easy to cook, and it’s very yummy

Lemon Garlic Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 2 large white onions, cut into quarters and layers separated
  • 1 T Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large lemons, zested and juiced
  • 4 T butter, divided
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, minced (you can use more or less)
  • 1/2 t. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1/2 T Thyme (I usually have it dried in my spice cabinet, but if you have it fresh, use 5-6 springs)
  • 1 c. Grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 c chicken broth (or pasta water)
  • 1 large spaghetti Squash
  • If you want to add pasta to this dish, you’ll need 1/2 lb spaghetti, 8-10 cups water (to cook pasta), and salt (to salt the water)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Prep spaghetti squash (scoop out the stringy parts and seeds) and bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.

Toss cut up onions in oil, salt and pepper. Bake in a baking dish covered for 20-30 minutes, uncover and bake an addition 10-15 minutes.

IMG_3202.jpgAfter the squash is done cooking, allow to cool for about 10 minutes, or until it’s easy to handle. Scoop the “meat” out and set aside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Baked onions, cooling, along with the butter needed to finish the recipe.

After onions are done baking, set aside.

If you are cooking pasta, start the water to boil and cook pasta as directed.

Zest and juice the lemons, set aside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Heat half the butter in a skillet. Once melted, add the minced garlic and cook on medium for 5-ish minutes until fragrant (watch out, it burns really easily). Add red pepper flakes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3200.jpgAdd Lemon juice and wine, turn up the heat for a few minutes. You’ll want to cook off the alcohol, so about 5-10 minutes at medium high heat. Add the baked onions.

Add 2 T. chicken broth (or pasta water), and the remaining butter, and the Thyme. Once the butter is melted, turn off the heat.

Add the spaghetti squash and/or pasta into the skillet, and gently toss to coat. Add lemon zest, and half of the parmesan cheese. If the mixture becomes too thick, add more chicken broth or pasta water a little at a time.

Top with any additional cheese, thyme, and/or pepper flakes.

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Here is an extra step that makes it a little better (IMO) but isn’t needed: Place skillet under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese on the top is brown and bubbly.

I have made this recipe with both pasta and spaghetti squash.  This last time I made it, I used only 1 serving of whole wheat spaghetti, mostly because I prefer the way it turns out when it has the pasta water in it, instead of the chicken broth.

*If you are a vegetarian, feel free to substitute in veggie broth.

**This recipe can be made with GF pasta.