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
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)
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 )
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)
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!
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
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.
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!
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
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.
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).
I realize I’ve sort of been MIA lately, but I have a good excuse – my sweet hubby took off Thursday and Friday to be with me and relax a bit (and wasn’t his timing impeccable? We’ve had nothing but NCAA tournament on for 4 days straight!). We’ve had such a wonderful 4 days together – we cooked together, played games (I’ve almost gotten to the point where I can beat him at Mario Cart…almost), took nice, long walks with Izzy, and he even helped me paint our dining room table! There’s nothing I enjoy more than spending time with my husband (especially when life is SO happy and care-free)! I just hate that he’s back at work now, and unfortunately, my Spring Break is over as well- it’s back to work tomorrow for me too.
While we were enjoying our free time, we decided it would be nice to grill hamburgers and hot dogs; and one of my favorite things to serve with grilled burgers is macaroni salad. Mmmm! Macaroni salad is just one of those foods that puts me in a good mood. It’s crunchy, creamy, slightly tangy…I just love it! I just sort of “threw” this one together and it was actually one of the best tasting macaroni salads I’ve had! Our favorite part is definitely the little cubes of cheese – we loooove cheese! These measurements are just approximations, so be sure to taste as you go along and add additional seasoning or ingredients as needed to suit your tastes.
Creamy Macaroni Salad
1/2 pound macaroni, cooked, drained and completely cooled.
3 small carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1-2 Tablespoons jarred pimento
1/2 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes (we like more cheese, so I ended up using closer to 3/4 cup)
salt and pepper to taste (we like lots of black pepper)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup Creamy Italian salad dressing
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Taste for seasoning. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
Ok, I know this picture is slightly less-than-appetizing (I discovered that no matter what color of plate I tried, this dish just wasn’t very photogenic), but trust me, this sauce is seriously good. And quick. And easy. Got store-bought marinara? Cream cheese? Ground beef??? Then you’ve got creamy bolognese! There’s an “Italian” restaurant in our hometown that my family would eat at practically every Sunday after church. Without fail, I would always order their pasta bolognese (actually not bolognese at all, but it was still really good!); basically, it was a really creamy, slightly spicy meat/mushroom sauce. The other night, while throwing this dish together, I happen to end up with a sauce almost identical to their “bolognese” completely by accident- yay! Oh, and in case you were wondering, this is real bolognese. And it’s good. Really good.
Creamy [Cheater] Bolognese
1 pound lean ground beef
1 jar of your favorite store-bought marinara sauce (I actually used the canned kind)
4 ounces cream cheese
1 small can sliced mushrooms, drained
freshly ground pepper to taste (I like lots!)
pinch Cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound pasta, cooked and drained
In a large skillet, brown and drain the beef. Stir in the marinara sauce, mushrooms, black pepper, cayenne pepper and sugar; mix well. Add the cream cheese and stir constantly until it melts into the sauce. Taste for seasoning. Toss with the cooked pasta and serve immediately.
Well, here in Texas, all anyone can talk about is the “Great Arctic Blast of 2010″ (ok, so they’re not exactly calling it that…yet) – you’d think a deadly blizzard was on its way or something. A little cold breezes coming our way and we all panic. Yesterday at the store, people were buying up groceries like the apocalypse was coming. We Southerners really tend to overreact when a little bad weather hits, but hey, it usually gets me off work, so I’m not complaining. The point is, no one wants leave their house when the weather is freezing cold and icy like this – so what do you do when dinnertime rolls around and you haven’t got a plan? Raid your pantry and fridge and throw something together! By all means, don’t get out in the “deadly” weather – grab some pasta, canned mushrooms, make a little sauce and go from there. That’s what I did with this pasta, and I have to say, this was some darn tasty pasta!
I didn’t measure anything; I just threw stuff in, so bear with me – I haven’t really got a recipe to go by here. Here’s what I did:
I started with these ingredients: one chicken breast, frozen peas, small can of mushrooms, canned chicken broth, spaghetti, heavy cream and parsley.
I started by sauteing my chicken breast in some olive oil, then chopping it into small pieces and setting it aside. In the same pan, I melted some butter (probably 2 or 3 tablespoons), then added a little flour to make a roux. I slowly whisked in a can of chicken broth, then a splash of heavy cream; then seasoned with salt and pepper and added the mushrooms and frozen peas. I cooked my pasta, then tossed everything together (the chicken, pasta and sauce) and topped with some parsley. Voila! Delicious pasta in less than 15 minutes! Simple as that!
If you’ve got the pantry staples on hand (pasta, canned goods, etc), it’s so simple to just throw something together when you don’t want to go to the store (or if the weather is “deadly”). Who knows, you may just invent a new family favorite – I know I did!