Tortellini Pasta Salad…

Tortellini Pasta Salad

Guess what? It’s 70 degrees here! Finally! Us Texans aren’t used to such cold, freezing weather; in fact, usually by now, most of us have already planted our gardens, trees, and flowers for the Spring/Summer. Not this year, however. This winter has been brutal! I read that we’ve surpassed something like 60 days of below freezing temps! I remember last February, Joel and I wore shorts and took long, sunny walks with Cassidy several days out of the month. Not this year.

Oh well. Hopefully the cold, wintry weather is on its way out and warm, sunny weather is here to stay for awhile. To celebrate our day of sunshine and warm breezes, I made this pasta salad for lunch. It’s so easy- just throw everything together and let it sit in the fridge for awhile. SO yummy!

Tortellini Pasta Salad 2

Tortellini Pasta Salad

8 oz. cheese tortellini, cooked, rinsed, and cooled
2 cups fresh broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 small can sliced black olives, drained
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup bottled Italian salad dressing

Blanch the broccoli in boiling water for about 5 minutes, just long enough so that it’s still nice and crunchy, but starting to get a little tender. Transfer from boiling water to a large bowl filled with ice water (this stops the cooking process and helps the broccoli to retain its bright green color).

Toss the cooked pasta with broccoli and all other ingredients and stir to combine. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour; preferably 3-4. Serves 4-6.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

**you could also throw in some frozen peas, chopped red onion, scallions, yellow corn…whatever veggies you like! It’s so versatile!

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Asian Spaghetti…

Quick and easy Asian Spaghetti made with angel hair pasta, crisp veggies, and a light sauce. The perfect side dish for any Asian-inspired meal!

Asian Spaghetti

Alright, folks. It’s a new year and I’m feeling good and ready to jump back in! Luckily, I’m no longer struggling with morning (aka: 24 hour) sickness and I’ve begun to regain a lot much of my energy that the first trimester robbed me of. I’m 16 weeks along, and we’ll find out in about 3 weeks if Cassidy will have a little sister or brother. We can’t wait! I’ve been getting back into the kitchen lots more and cooking healthy meals again (for awhile, Taco Bell was my only friend…). Now that I’m feeling better, I get to look forward to throwing Cassidy’s 2nd birthday party in a few weeks! She’ll be having a Curious George themed party and I’m soooo excited to put it all together!

I want to thank you all for being patient with me as I cope with the challenges of pregnancy and toddler-wrangling. I appreciate you all so much and can’t tell you what your readership means to me. So, before my hormones run wild and I start getting all teary-eyed (it happens a lot, really), I’ll go ahead and switch gears- let’s talk about food!

Asian Spaghetti 2

As I said before, I went through a phase where the only things I could stomach were junky, carb-y, really bad-for-you things. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a half-eaten chocolate cake and a package of Soft Batch cookies in my kitchen right now, but now that I’m feeling so good, I’m really focused on eating healthier foods, along with lots of fruits and vegetables. One of my favorite go-to meals is my Asian Glazed Salmon, and this Asian Spaghetti goes perfectly with it! Light, crisp, and full of flavor. I love the crunch of the snow peas and carrots, and the light soy sauce dressing is super quick and easy. Perfect for a healthy weeknight dinner!

Asian Spaghetti

8 ounces angel hair pasta
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup fresh snow peas
3/4 cup shredded carrots
4 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the mushrooms, snow peas, carrots and onions in oil until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, sugar, and cayenne. Drain pasta. Add pasta and soy sauce mixture to skillet and toss to coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

Recipe Source: Taste of Home

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Tortellini Spinach Bake…

A quick and easy baked pasta dish with cheese tortellini, fresh spinach, and yellow peppers tossed in a creamy, tangy tomato sauce. Perfect for busy weeknights!

Tortellini Spinach Bake

Cassidy is currently pushing through 4 teeth at once. Her incisors, to be exact. She usually teethes pretty hard (congestion, runny nose, rashes, fever, etc), but this time seems to be much worse. She hasn’t been acting like herself in days, not to mention, her little nose has been like a leaky faucet non-stop. Have you ever gotten ‘eskimo kisses’ from a toddler with a snotty nose? Not the most pleasant, but I’ll be darned if I deny my sweet baby girl her eskimo kisses!

Anyway, with Cassidy feeling under the weather, I haven’t had much time to cook. It’s times like these that I love baked pastas. I can pull out a bag of frozen tortellini and toss it with whatever I have in my fridge or pantry and dinner’s DONE! That leaves me plenty of extra time for cuddles! :)

Tortellini Spinach Bake 2

Tortellini Spinach Bake

1 lb. cheese tortellini
2 large handfuls fresh spinach leaves, washed
1 red or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 26-oz. jar marinara sauce
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the tortellini for about 6 minutes (you don’t want to completely cook them). Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the marinara sauce, then stir in the bell peppers, spinach, and cream cheese.

Add the cooked tortellini and toss to coat. Spread the mixture in the prepared pan and top with the shredded mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake for about 20 minutes, until bubbly. Serves 6.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

Tortellini Spinach Bake 2

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My Mom’s Pasta Salad…

Hi there! Sorry it’s been so long, but thanks for sticking by me and being so patient! Today is the first day I’ve felt like even turning on my laptop in weeks! Hopefully all this yucky sickness will pass soon and I can get back to doing what I love: EATING! For those of you who are interested, I’m at 8 1/2 weeks and the baby is the size of a raspberry! How cute!

Anyway, I’ve wanted to post this pasta salad for weeks now because it’s SO good! It’s my mom’s recipe and she usually makes it in the summer. We had this on our Memorial Day menu along with barbecued chicken, grilled pineapple, baked beans and fresh strawberry pie (I could really go for some of that pie right about now!). Despite having mayo, it’s still really light and definitely not gloppy. The olives are my favorite part, but I also love the crunch of the celery and green peppers- really, every single aspect of it is delicious and you just can’t go wrong with this salad! Try it at your next cookout! You’ll love it!

My Mom’s Pasta Salad

1 16-ounce package spaghetti, cooked and drained
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces chopped pimento
2 cups celery, chopped
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup green olives, chopped
1/2 cup black olives, chopped
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoon lemon juice

Toss the cooked spaghetti with the oil and mayonnaise then stir in all other ingredients. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Recipe source: my mom

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This is the time of year I crave simple, light, quick dishes that aren’t overly heavy and take hardly any time to prepare. Hence, my love for this dish. I had an abundance of fresh mushrooms and a couple of leftover grilled chicken breasts the other night, so I threw together my favorite pasta. Nothing fancy, just angel hair tossed with a little butter and olive oil and topped with grilled chicken and sauteed mushrooms. Ahhhh. I could seriously eat this every night. I know it sounds almost too simple, but it hits the spot every time! The next time you’ve had a busy, long day and need a quick, satisfying dinner- try this!

Pasta with Mushrooms and Grilled Chicken

1/2 pound angel hair pasta
2 boneless chicken breasts
7-8 baby portabella mushrooms, sliced (as much as you like, really)
olive oil
butter
salt and pepper
fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions and drain. Season chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper and grill on medium-high heat for about 6 minutes on each side until cooked through. Slice the chicken into thin slices.

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat and saute the sliced mushrooms for about 5 minutes, until soft. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss the pasta with a few tablespoons of olive oil and butter (again, as much as you like- you don’t want to drown it in oil, just enough to give it some flavor), salt and pepper.

Divide the pasta between two plates and top with the mushrooms and chicken. Sprinkle with parsley. Serves 2.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original (however, I’m sure I’m not the first person to think up pasta topped with chicken ;) )

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Classic Mac and Cheese…

If you were to ask 10 people what the quintessential American side dish is, I’m betting at least 6 or 7 of them would say ‘mac and cheese’. I’m pretty certain it’s most people’s favorite comfort dish. Think about it, when you’ve had a rotten, tiring day and want something easy and comforting for dinner, what do you turn to? For me, no doubt, it’s mac and cheese. Something about that cheesy, gooey goodness makes me feel like a million bucks after just one bite. All my stress melts away. While I do, indeed love the stuff from the blue box, I have to admit, nothing beats homemade. This is a spin on how my mom used to make it, with cheddar and Velveeta cheeses. Yum, yum, yummy!

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

1 pound elbow macaroni pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
salt and pepper
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk (feel free to use reduced fat milk)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
8 ounces Velveeta cheese, cubed

Boil the pasta until al dente then drain and set aside.

While pasta is boiling, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat. Stir in the flour, ground mustard, salt and pepper and whisk for 1 minute. Slowly pour in the milk and whisk constantly until it thickens. Add the cheeses and stir until melted.

Pour the sauce over the macaroni and stir to coat. Serve immediately.

Recipe source: adapted from my mom’s recipe (I’m not certain where the original recipe came from)

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Creamy Southwestern Pasta…

Here’s another one of those versatile, simple meals that requires little time and can be made with things you already have in your pantry. It’s relatively low-fat too! It starts out with a little macaroni pasta and the Sing For Your Supper Holy Trinity – Ro-tel Tomatoes, Mexi-corn and black beans. Throw in a packet of taco seasoning, a little milk for creaminess and cubed chicken and you’ve got a pretty tasty meal all ready to go! Some sliced zucchini or squash would be fantastic in here, too! Any veggies you like! Alternatively, you could use some ground turkey or beef if you don’t have chicken on hand. That’s the beauty of this dish- you can add in or take out anything you want to make it your own!

Creamy Southwestern Pasta

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound macaroni
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes
1 can Mexi-corn, drained (if your grocery store doesn’t have this, regular corn is just fine. This is just corn with green and red peppers)
1 small packet taco seasoning (or you can use a homemade blend)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cheese, divided

Boil the pasta until al dente. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the onion and pepper over medium heat for about 7-10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add in the cubed chicken. When the chicken is cooked through, add in the tomatoes, beans, corn, seasoning and milk. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Stir in the pasta and half of the cheese. Cook for 5 more minutes. When ready to serve, sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Enjoy!

*I also threw in some pickled jalapeno peppers at the end, but if you don’t like heat, leave them out!

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Creamy Taco Mac…

I need to come clean about something. A dirty little secret. Please don’t judge me…..I, Amy-the-food-blogger, like Hamburger Helper. (GASP!) Yep, it’s true. We both do, actually- of course, I would expect hubby to- I think HH was pretty regular in his house growing up. My mom hates it though, and never bought it when we were kids. Maybe once in a blue moon if I begged for it (which, I don’t really think I ever did)- so I didn’t really develop a fondness for it until college, where my roommate Courtney and I ate it quite often. Every now and then I’ll buy a box and make it for dinner – you gotta admit it IS pretty quick and easy when you’re in a pinch! However, recently, a fellow food blogger (and all-around awesome gal!) Ashley, of Delish posted her recipe for Creamy Taco Mac- pretty much exactly like Hamburger Helper, except much better for you (and just as quick and easy!)! I made it immediately and we both loved it! Hubby especially thought it was great (woo hoo!). I’ll never need to buy the boxed stuff again! Thanks, Ashley!

Creamy Taco Mac
- adapted from Delish

1 lb. lean, ground beef
8 oz dry pasta + 1 cup reserved pasta water
1 can (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes
4 Tbsp mild taco seasoning (one packet)
3 oz cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
salt & pepper
cheddar cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta per directions. Reserve one cup of pasta water.

Over medium heat, brown ground beef and drain off fat. Add taco seasoning and diced tomatoes. Allow to simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Add cooked pasta, reserved water, cream cheese and sour cream. Give it a good stir until cheese is melted and incorporated.  Simmer over low heat for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt & pepper, as desired. Top off with cheddar cheese for extra cheesy goodness.

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Nana’s Lasagna…

Ok, say you want really delicious, hearty lasagna for dinner but you don’t have hours and hours to spend on it – this one’s for you!  This is my Nana’s recipe for lasagna and it’s been a family favorite throughout the years. It’s just perfect for busy moms and hard-working people who don’t have the luxury of spending lots and lots of time in the kitchen for dinner. Since you don’t have to cook the noodles beforehand, you can whip it up in practically no time and put a really delicious meal on the table for your kids or your hard-working man (I know my hard-working man really appreciates this- he loves a good lasagna!)! This was perfect for us because I was able to make it for dinner one night, then hubby could have the leftovers for his dinner on the nights I was gone for opera rehearsals (it makes a big ‘ol pan full!). If you don’t like the thought of using store-bought tomato sauce, by all means, use homemade. This is a perfect meal because it’s really comforting, simple and hearty- a real comfort meal in half the time! Give it a try!

Nana’s Lasagna

1 lb. lean ground beef
32 oz. spaghetti sauce (I used one 16-oz. jar Prego Traditional and one 16-oz. jar Prego Basil and Garlic)
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups (16 oz.) ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (plus more for the top)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 8-oz. pkg. lasagna noodles- uncooked

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown meat and drain off fat. Add spaghetti sauce and water. Simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside. Combine ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, eggs, parsley, salt, pepper and garlic and set aside.  In a greased 9×13 pan, pour approx. 1/2 cup meat sauce; cover with a layer of lasagna noodles. Cover with approx. 1 1/2 cups meat sauce; spread half of cheese mixture over the sauce (don’t worry if the layers mix a tiny bit). Repeat layers. Top with the remaining meat sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 55-60 minutes. Remove foil and top with remaining mozzarella cheese; bake for an addition 5-10 minutes. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

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For Once, Not From The Blue Box….

One of my favorite things to eat is macaroni and cheese…..from the blue box. Judge all you want, but I love it. And I always will. However, every now and then I get a hankering for homemade mac-n-cheese; you know, the kind with fresh grated cheddar cheese (not from a bag!) and milk and butter??? Yeeeeeah, that kind! Believe it or not, I’ve actually never made homemade before, for whatever reason. I decided the other night was the night to give it a go. I chose the Pioneer Woman‘s recipe for mac-n-cheese. It looked and sounded really good, plus, the woman knows her comfort food. I was pretty pleased with how it turned out – very, very rich, but quite tasty! It makes a TON, so maybe cut the recipe in half if you’re not expecting an army for dinner. And probably if you are indeed expecting an army, it would be just the right amount. :-)

Macaroni and Cheese
-The Pioneer Woman

4 cups Dried Macaroni
1/4 cups (1/2 Stick Or 4 Tablespoons) Butter
1/4 cups All-purpose Flour
2-1/2 cups Whole Milk
2 teaspoons (heaping) Dry Mustard, More If Desired
1 whole Egg Beaten
1 pound Cheese, Grated (I used half Monterey Jack and half sharp cheddar)
1/2 teaspoon Salt, More To Taste
1/2 teaspoon Seasoned Salt, More To Taste
1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
Optional Spices: Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Thyme

Cook macaroni. Drain.
In a small bowl, beat egg.
In a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly. Don’t let it burn.
Pour in milk, add mustard, and whisk until smooth. Cook for five minutes until very thick. Reduce heat to low.
Take 1/4 cup of the sauce and slowly pour it into beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid cooking eggs. Whisk together till smooth.
Pour egg mixture into sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth.
Add in cheese and stir to melt.
Add salts and pepper. Taste sauce and add more salt and seasoned salt as needed! DO NOT UNDERSALT.
Pour in drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine.
Serve immediately (very creamy) or pour into a buttered baking dish, top with extra cheese, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top (I served mine immediately – I’m not a baked mac-n-cheese kind of girl).


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