Pasta Bar Birthday Party!

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This past Saturday, we had a pasta bar birthday party for my daughter’s 30th birthday.  It was a fairly easy, inexpensive way to feed lots of people and, best of all, it was delicious!

I have some new recipes to post from the party which I will be doing this week and in this post I’ll tell you how we put it together.

My daughter lives about an hour and a half away.  She bought the perishables and I bought and packed up to her house the produce and a bunch of odds and ends.  I bought buffet pans to keep everything warm after cooking and we used crockpots.  Some things didn’t need to stay warm as well.

For starters we had tortellini with pesto, mushroom, onion, fontina bruschetta, spectacular bruschetta, and bacon wrapped pretzels.

We made 3 types of pasta but found it was too hard to eat spaghetti on your lap so almost all of that was leftover.  The farfalle and penne were gone.  We made sauce with meatballs and plain sauce and alfredo sauce.  Mr. Meat Eater grilled up chicken and sausage which we sliced so each could be added to the plain sauce or the alfredo.  I also sauteed up a big pan of mushrooms.

We had Greek salad and Caesar salad and Tuscan asparagus on the side.  I can’t forget the garlic bread either!

Pasta Bar 1

The starter bar ~ (left to right) tortellini with pesto, mushroom, onion, fontina bruschetta,  spectacular bruschetta, bacon wrapped pretzels.

Party 1

The Alfredo sauce is in the crockpot.  I’m not sure what the glass baking dish has in it ~ one of my daughter’s friends brought it ~ but it was delicious!

Pasta Bar 3

Chicken, sausage (hot and mild), and sauteed mushrooms.

Pasta Bar 4

Greek salad (left), my Mom’s meatballs with sauce (crockpot), Caesar salad.  The asparagus is behind the Greek salad.

Happy Birthday!

This was a fun party to do and I would do it again.  Recipes will be coming this week!

Happy Cooking!

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Red Wine Marinara

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Back in 2008 when I started this blog, this recipe was one of the first that I blogged about.  Unfortunately, there was no picture.  You can see that post here.

I make this sauce every so often and we still love it.  I like to use it over pasta that has ridges so that it *sticks* to the pasta.

I originally got this recipe from Steph that used to post on a food board on AOL years ago.  In fact, she had a website that had great recipes.  After some googling, it looks like she has started a blog ~ here!  At least I think that’s her.

Anyway, we love this sauce!

Red Wine Marinara Sauce 2

Red Wine Marinara Sauce

1 (29 oz) can whole tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1/3 cup red wine
1 shallot, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp sugar
pinch salt
pinch freshly ground black pepper

Crush tomatoes in a food processor or blender ~ I empty the can in a bowl and use my handheld blender than pour into a large saucepan. Add the rest of the ingredients into the saucepan with the tomatoes and stir to combine.

Heat until bubbly over medium heat. Reduce to low heat and let simmer for 1 hour.  I usually half cover the pain to keep the sauce from getting all over the place.

Serve over your favorite pasta.

Makes 4 servings.

Red Wine Marinara Sauce

Happy Cooking!

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Teriyaki Noodles

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I really, really love the site Budget Bytes and I made another recipe from it.

Any kind of oriental noodles are right up my alley so I had to try the teriyaki noodles on Budget Bytes.  They are awesome!  Making the teriyaki sauce from scratch is a huge plus to me since it tastes so much better than bottled sauce.  Plus it make just enough for the recipe so I don’t have extra hanging around in my fridge.  It’s also a very easy recipe to make, which is always a plus!

Teriyaki Noodles

Teriyaki Noodles

Sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsps rice vinegar
2 tbsps brown sugar
1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 inches fresh ginger, minced
red pepper flakes, pinch
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsps water

Vegetables and Noodles:
1 lb frozen stir fry vegetables
8 ozs buckwheat soba noodles ~ I used linguine
1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil

To make the sauce: Mix all the sauce ingredients and whisk to completely combine. I make this ahead and keep in the fridge until I need it making sure to whisk it well before using in the recipe since it separates a bit.

Boil the noodles; drain. Set aside.

In a wok or large skillet, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the vegetables and stir for several minutes to heat up the vegetables. Whisk the teriyaki sauce and pour over vegetables in pan. Let it come up to temperature and it will thicken at this point. The vegetables will be warmed through as the sauce thickens. Once the sauce is thickened and vegetables warm, turn off the heat.

Add the noodles to the pan and mix. I found that using a pair of tongs is the easiest way to mix it all up.

If you have leftovers, store them in the fridge and reheat in your microwave.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Budget Bytes

Teriyaki Noodles 2

Happy Cooking!

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Spicy Shrimp Pasta

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Mr. Meat Eater and I love shrimp so I’m always on the lookout for new recipes.  I found this one on Budget Bytes ~ which is an awesome site and you should visit!  There are loads of great recipes.

I did change this recipe up a little bit.  I used 1 1/2 lbs shrimp since they were on the smallish side and we like lots of shrimp in our dishes.  I used 6 cloves of minced garlic so the dish would be nice and garlicky.   I also used several shakes of red pepper flakes and I really couldn’t taste it too much so if you like food spicy, use more. I think the next time I make this, will get diced tomatoes with garlic or some other kind of spice.

Spicy Shrimp Pasta

Spicy Shrimp Pasta

8 oz fettuccine
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
4 cloves garlic, minced ~ I used 6 cloves, minced
1/2 lb peeled and deveined shrimp ~ I used 1 1/2 lbs
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp salt
Fresh black pepper
Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

Add the pasta to large pot of boiling water and cook according to package directions. Drain.

While the pasta is cooking, put the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

Rinse the shrimp, drain, and add to the melted butter/olive oil in the skillet along with the minced garlic. Saute just until shrimp turns pink. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the tomatoes and their juice to the skillet with the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir and let simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Add the cooked fettuccine to the sauce in the skillet and toss to coat with the sauce. Add back the cooked shrimp and toss to mix again. Adjust salt if needed.

Before serving, sprinkle chopped parsley over the top.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Budget Bytes

Happy Cooking!

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Drunken Noodles

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I had never heard of drunken noodles but I found the recipe on Pinterest and it looked interesting and something that Mr. Meat Eater would really like.

I’m really not a fan of Italian sausage so I left it in bigger chunks so I could pick it out.  I DO love the flavor that it gives to this dish.  It wouldn’t be the same if I left it out.  My store did not have the papperdelle noodles (of course) so I used wide egg noodles.

Drunken Noodles

Drunken Noodles

Olive oil
4 spicy Italian sausage links, casings removed
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsps salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes with juice
2 tbsps Italian parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, julienned, divided
8 ounces Pappardelle noodles, uncooked ~ i used wide egg noodles

Place a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat and add about 2 tbsps of olive oil. When oil is hot, break up the sausage into the pan in chunks and let it brown in the oil on each side.

When the sausage is browned, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and put in a small bowl and set aside. Add the sliced onion into the pan with the sausage drippings, and allow it to caramelize for about 5 minutes, stirring to keep it from burning (a bit more olive oil can be added to the pan, if needed). When the onion starts to caramelize, add the salt, Italian seasoning and black pepper, and stir to combine, then add in the sliced bell peppers, and allow those to saute with the onion for about 2 minutes or until tender.

Add the minced garlic, then add in the white wine and allow it to reduce for a minute or two or until almost completely reduced. Then add in the diced tomatoes with their juice, and add the browned sausage back into the pan, and carefully stir to combine.

Let simmer for about 3-4 minutes to blend the flavors, then turn the heat to low. Drizzle in about 2-3 tbsps of olive oil and add in the chopped parsley and about half of the julienned basil. Keep pan on low heat to keep warm while you prepare the noodles.

Cook the noodles according to pkg instructions. Drain the noodles well and add to the sauce, and gently mix to combine.

Garnish with the rest of the basil.

Source: The Cozy Apron

Happy Cooking!

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Caesar Chicken Pasta

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I really like the flavor of Caesar dressing so I will almost always try recipes that use it.  sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t.  This time it worked great!

This recipe is very easy and can be made at the last minute.  My changes are listed in the ingredients.

Caesar Pasta

Caesar Pasta 1

Caesar Chicken Pasta

2 thin skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, sliced in strips
1 (8 oz) bottle Caesar dressing, divided ~ I used light
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 (10 oz) pkg frozen sugar snap peas ~ i put in microwave for a minute so they would cook faster in the pan
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh spinach, torn ~ I used whole baby spinach
8 oz farfalle (Bowtie) pasta, cooked

In a large skillet, saute chicken in 3 tbsps Caesar dressing until almost done ~  I added a couple more tbsps dressing as it was cooking. Add green onions, peas and carrots to the chicken in the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies are crisp tender or to your liking. Add spinach and cook until it wilts ~ about 2 minutes or so. Toss with the cooked pasta and pour a few tbsps over all while mixing.

Serve with extra Caesar dressing.

Makes 2-3 servings.

Recipe from the cookbook  It All Begins with Breakfast…

Happy Cooking!

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Chicken and Farfalle Alfredo

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I’ve been spending lots of time on Tasty Kitchen and found this delicious and easy recipe.  Tasty Kitchen is affiliated with the Pioneer Woman and has tons of wonderful, user-submitted recipes so if you have some time, have a look!

This recipe is super easy and can be probably made up and on the table in 30 minutes.

Bowtie Pasta and Chicken

Chicken and Farfalle Alfredo

12 ounces farfalle pasta (Bowties)
4 tbsps butter
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup half and half
3 tbsps heavy cream
chicken broth ~ may need of sauce becomes too thick
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsps fresh parsley, minced

Cook pasta according to pkg directions. Drain and set aside.

Salt and pepper chicken breasts on both sides. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsps butter. Add the chicken breasts and cook until golden on both sides and cooked through so that no pink remains. Remove from the skillet and slice into thin strips. Set aside.

Add additional 2 tbsps butter to skillet and then add the minced garlic. Stir the garlic to avoid burning. If it burns, start over. Pour in the wine and let it bubble and reduce for 2 minutes. Add the half and half, cream, and extra salt and pepper, if desired. Whisk until all combined. Allow to heat up and thicken for a few minutes. If it gets too thick, use some chicken broth to thin.

When the sauce looks good, remove from the heat and add the Parmesan to the sauce then put the farfalle i right on top of it. Toss to combine. Add the chicken and continue tossing until it is all combined. If it’s too thick for oyur taste, add a bit of chicken broth to thin.

Adjust seasonings if needed. Top with the minced parsley and serve while hot.

I had some leftover and Mr. Meat Eater heated it up the next day and said it tasted just as good.

Makes 4 servings.

Happy Cooking!

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Cajun Chicken Pasta

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I found this recipe on Skinnytaste and it is so good you won’t know you’re eating a skinny version of cajun chicken pasta.  The only thing I did differently was to use regular linguine instead of Dreamfields.  I just cannot get used to Dreamfields so I’ll stick to the regular.  I think whole wheat pasta would work, too, but whole grains bother my gout so I just stick to regular.

If you haven’t been to Skinnytaste ~ take a look!

Lighter Cajun Chicken Pasta

8 ozs uncooked linguine
1 lb chicken tenderloins
1 to 2 tsps Cajun seasoning ~ use more or less if you like
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 cup fat free, low sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup skim milk
1 tbsp flour
3 tbsps light cream cheese
fresh cracked black pepper
2 scallions, chopped
salt to taste
Cooking spray

In a small blender, mix mix milk, flour, and cream cheese and set aside. Make sure all veggies are prepped. Season chicken tenderloins with Cajun seasoning, garlic powder and salt.

Prepare pasta in salted water according to the package.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; spray with cooking spray and add half of the chicken. Cook until no pink remains and set aside on a plate. Repeat with the other half of chicken. Set all chicken aside.

Add olive oil to the skillet and reduce to medium; add bell pepper, onion, garlic to skillet and saute for 3-4 minutes.

Add mushrooms and tomatoes and saute for 3-4 minutes or until all veggies are tender. Season with 1/ tsp salt, garlic powder, and fresh black pepper.

Reduce the heat and add the chicken broth and pour in the cream cheese,flour/milk slurry and stir for about 2 minutes.

Place the chicken back in the skillet, adjust salt and Cajun seasoning if needed.

Add the linguine and toss to coat the linguine.

Sprinkle the green onions over the top and serve.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Happy Cooking!

Chicken with Creamy Italian Farfalle

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I found this recipe on Pinterest and it looked delicious!  It uses Philadelphia Cooking Cream which I had never used before and I found I like it ~ it tastes quite fresh surprisingly and comes in several different flavors.  I’ll be trying more of them in the future.

The recipe was posted to Pinterest by Jamie Cooks It Up! and I think she said she found it on the Kraft website.  I looked there but didn’t see it.

I changed up the recipe just a bit ~ I used panko instead of cornflakes and 1 can of cream of chicken instead of two.  I’m not a big fan of “cream of” soups but I was too lazy to make my own.  Maybe I should rename A Recipe A Day to The Lazy Cook, LOL!

Chicken with Creamy Italian Farfalle

VIEW PRINTABLE RECIPE HERE!

Chicken:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
5 cups cornflakes, crushed, ~ I used panko
3/4 c flour ~ I didn’t use this
1/2 tsp salt ~ I didn’t use this
1/2 cup milk ~ I didn’t use this either
6 tbsps olive oil

1 (12 oz) pkg farfalle pasta (bowties)

Sauce:
1 (10 oz container) Philadelphia Cooking Cream ~ Italian Cheese and Herb Flavor
2 cans Cream of chicken soup ~ I used 1 can
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
fresh parsley, chopped, optional

Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta.

In a ziplock bag or in between pieces of wax paper, pound the chicken thin.

Place flour/salt mixture and cornflakes onto separate plates and the milk in a bowl. Dredge the chicken in the flour, then the milk, then the cornflakes. I just dredged the chicken into panko.

Place the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. While the olive oil is heating, put the pasta in the boiling water and cook until done. Drain the pasta and set aside.

Place the coated chicken in the pan and cook on both sides until no pink remains. If you need to add more olive oil, do so. When cooked thoroughly, remove the chicken from the pan and cover to keep warm.

Put all the sauce ingredients in the same skillet (no need to drain) and cook over medium-low heat until bubbly. Add the cooked farfalle to the sauce and mix until all the pasta is coated.

Put some saucy farfalle on a plate and add a piece of the cooked chicken to the top. Garnish with parsley if desired.

Makes 3 servings.

Happy Cooking!

Crockpot Lasagna

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Before I forget, I want to thank everyone for all the kind comments and emails I received about Mr. Meat Eater.  We went to the doctor on Wednesday and there is NO cancer but he does have kidney disease.  Nothing too serious at this point but his doctor wants to slow the progression down quite a bit.  Right now that means changing up his meds so perfectly doable and easy.  We have no idea what the future will hold but it could have been so much worse and we are thankful that it wasn’t.

On to the recipe ~ I’ve seen crockpot lasagna recipes flying around the internet for a long time but I never believed it would work OR taste good.  Mr. Meat Eater loves lasagna but I rarely make it because it makes too much for just the two of us ~ I’m really bad about putting some in the freezer for another day and I can only take so many leftovers before I rebel.  I also hate throwing food away so I always look for smaller versions of our favorites.

This is a super easy recipe that I found on Tablespoon and it was posted by girlwhoateeverything blog.  I used a few more noodles than called for since I like the pasta otherwise I made it as posted.

Crockpot Lasagna

VIEW PRINTABLE RECIPE HERE!

1 pound ground beef ~ I use 85%
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 (24 oz) jar spaghetti sauce ~ I think mine was 28 oz and I used the whole thing
1/2 cup water
1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
2 tbsps fresh parsley, chopped, or 2 tsps dried parsley
6 uncooked lasagna noodles ~ I used 8-10 noodles

Cook ground beef and onion in a large skillet. Add garlic and cook for one more minute and then drain. Add the spaghetti sauce and water and simmer for 5 minutes.

Mix the ricotta, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, 2 tbsps Parmesan, egg and parsley in a separate bowl.

In a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker, pour 1 cup of the spaghetti sauce mixture. Place half of the noodles (breaking them to fit) and then half of the cheese mixture on top of the noodles. Cover with 2 cups of the spaghetti sauce mixture. Repeat with the noodles (breaking to fit) and the cheese mixture. Pour the rest of the spaghetti sauce mixture over the top.

Cook on LOW for 4-5 hours or until noodles are soft.

Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and the remaining Parmesan. Cover and let the cheese melt. Turn off the crockpot and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Do NOT cook this on high and do not overcook or it will get mushy.

Makes about 8-10 servings.

Happy Cooking!