Tag Archives: pasta

Chicken Pot Pie Mac & Cheese

25 Apr


I’ve been back in Detroit for almost two weeks and Spring has definitely come through here and there but it’s still not in full swing. This comforting dish is nice on a rainy, cool spring evening and reminds me of the saying “April showers bring May flowers” because of how colorful it is,  incorporating fresh spring produce. This was my beau’s brainchild and I’d say an experiment gone

Time: 1 hour           Serves: 10


  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast (b/s), poached in 2 1/2 cups chicken stock, shredded*
  • 8 oz. elbow quinoa pasta, cooked al dente (or short cut pasta of your choice)
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 celery stalks, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced (about 1 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup corn, frozen
  • 1 cup fresh peas
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour (or flour of your choice)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • sea salt & black pepper, freshly ground  (I used about 1/2 tsp each)
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 8 oz. New Zealand white cheddar, shredded – divided
  • handful pea sprouts, for garnish

How to make it

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare 1 13×9 or 2 8×8 or 2 quart casserole dishes with cooking spray.
  • Melt butter in a large 5 qt. pot. Add onion, cook until softened. Add carrots, cook for 2 minutes. Add celery, cook for 1 min. Add garlic, cook for 2 minutes. Add flour. Cook until a lightly brown roux forms around the veggies.
  • Slowly add stock, and whisk to incorporate. Remove from heat. Add shredded chicken, mayo, cooked pasta, corn peas, and half shredded cheese. Mix to incorporate. Pour into casserole(s), I set one aside at this point to cool completely to freezer for another great dinner.


  • Top with remaining cheese. Bake on middle rack for 15-20 minutes until bubbling. Transfer to top rack and turn on broiler. Broil until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Allow to set for 5-10 minutes before serving. Garnish with pea sprouts.


Italian Food

10 May

Italian Food, by Shel Silverstein, Every Thing On It

Oh, how I love Italian food.
I eat it all the time,
Not just ’cause how good it tastes
But ’cause how good it rhymes.
Minestrone, cannelloni,
Macaroni, rigatoni,
Spaghettini, scallopini,
Escarole, braciole,
Insalata, cremolata, manicotti,
Marinara, carbonara,
Shrimp francese, Bolognese,
Ravioli, mostaccioli,
Mozzarella, tagliatelle,
Fried zucchini, rollatini,
Fettuccine, green linguine,
Tortellini, Tetrazzini,
Oops—I think I split my jeani.

Me too! And if that wasn’t enough to choose from, check out some of my other Italian-inspired recipes: Spinach Ricotta Gnudi, Italian Wedding Soup, Pesto Chicken & Vegetable Pasta and stay tuned for my next post.

Penne Pasta Bake

27 Feb

I was trying to replicate a pasta dish I had a couple weeks ago. This wasn’t quite it but was great in itself. My sister said she’d gladly pay for it in a restaurant so I must have done something right 🙂

Time: 25 minutes              Serves: 4-6


  • 2 cups penne pasta, cooked according to instructions ( I salted & added a bit of olive oil in the water)
  • 2 cups marinara sauce (store bought or home made, my recipe: marinara sauce)
  • handful of fresh basil leaves, cleaned & torn
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • **Please note: these measurements are approximations and not exact. When I made this I used a couple handfuls of pasta which I think equals out to 2 cups as listed. Prepare it according to your liking in terms of sauce:pasta:cheese ratios.

How to make it

  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • Mix cooled pasta, sauce, basil, and half of the cheese in a bowl. Transfer to an 8×8 casserole dish and top with remaining cheese and place in oven. Bake for about ten minutes, until the cheese melts through.
  • Change setting to broil @ 400F and broil for about 2 minutes or just until the top begins to brown slightly.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool momentarily. Top with crushed red pepper to taste.

Pasta Orleans

21 Feb

I’ve been so nostalgic for New Orleans cuisine which made this oh so satisfying. It is Fat Tuesday, after all. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Time: 30 minutes            Serves: 4


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley, divided
  • 8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 oz. Andouille sausage, halved & sliced (I used Trader Joe’s chicken variety)
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 3/4 pound large shrimp, peeled & deviened (I removed the tails)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp Creole seasoning blend + 1 tsp
  • about 2 cups alfredo sauce – I used one batch of sauce from Fettuccine Alfredo
  • 8 oz. linguine, cooked al dente (I used garlic basil from Trader Joe’s)

How to make it

  • Heat oil in large skillet (big enough to house pasta & sauce, etc) over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring. Add sausage and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and cook about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 tbsp parsley & spinach, toss and cook until just wilted. Remove pan from heat.
  • Heat butter in a medium skillet. Add shrimp and season with 1/2 tsp of blend and turn. Cook 2 minutes, season and turn. Cook another 2 minutes. Add remaining parsley and toss. Remove from heat.
  • Combine 2 tbsp seasoning blend with sauce and mix well to incorporate.
  • Add pasta to skillet with sausage & veggies. Add sauce and toss to coat.
  • Divide between 4 dishes & top with shrimp.

Pasta in Lemon Cream Sauce with Salmon

17 Feb

Several weeks ago we went to a local restaurant that we’ve been to many times. They had a dish on special that sounded quite delicious but I was disappointed to find after ordering that it was bland and not very good at all. I was determined to take the ingredients and turn them into what I thought they should be. The results were delicious! This would also be great tossed with crab meat/tuna fish/shrimp.

Time: 25 minutes         Serves: 4


  • 8 oz. short cut pasta (I used rotini)
  • Lemon Cream Sauce

  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice (depending on how tart your lemon is and your personal tastes)
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or additional stock)
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cornstarch if needed for thickening (I used about 2 tsp)
  • Salmon

  • 4 salmon fillets, 4-6 oz. each
  • sea salt and pepper to taste (freshly ground if possible)
  • olive oil spray
  • Vegetables

  • 1 leek, well cleaned & trimmed – white and light green parts only – cut in half & sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 medium zucchini. diced (about 3 cups)
  • 4 cups packed baby arugula
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • salt & pepper to taste

How to make it

  • Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  • Salt 2-3 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Cook pasta al dente.
  • Lemon Cream Sauce

  • Heat butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add shallot and saute, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and continue to saute, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to let garlic brown too much, turn heat down if needed. Add lemon juice, zest, chicken stock and wine and stir. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer until reduced by half, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in cream and cream cheese and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add cornstarch if needed, whisking well to incorporate.
  • Salmon

  • Place salmon fillets on lined baking sheet. Spray generously with olive oil (or brush on if you don’t have spray). Season to taste with salt & pepper. Place in oven and cook for about 10 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork.
  • Vegetables

  • Heat butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini and leeks and saute, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add arugula, salt and pepper and toss just until wilted. Remove from heat.
  • To serve, toss pasta and vegetables with sauce. Divide into portions. Serve each with salmon on top or along side. Enjoy!

Creamy Lobster Pasta Nova Scotia Style

13 Feb

An elegant dish that is so simple & quick to prepare – perfect for a romantic Valentine’s Day main course.

Time: 15 minutes          Serves: 2


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 4-6 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 oz. fresh lobster tail meat, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock (can sub vegetable or seafood stock) or half dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 3/4 tsp cornstarch
  • 4-6 oz. pasta, cooked al dente (I used fusilli)

How to make it

  • Combine stock and cream. Stir in cornstarch and set aside.
  • Heat oil until smoking in skillet over medium heat. garlic, mushrooms, lemon juice, mustard powder and salt. Saute, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes. Add lobster, parsley,  and stock mixture. Stir fry until lobster is heated through. Toss with pasta. Enjoy!

Chicken Veggie Casserole

7 Feb

A rich, comforting dish chock full of vegetables.

Time: 30 minutes               Serves: 6


  • 8 oz pasta (I used Rotini)
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 6 oz spinach, steamed lightly (about 3 minutes)
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut in quarters and sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 4 oz. tomato puree, divided
  • 1 cup chicken stock, divided
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp corn starch
  • 2 1/2 tbsp cold water
  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast (about 6 oz)**
  • 1/4 tsp pepper + more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp salt + more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Emeril’s Essence
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

How to make it

  • I cooked my chicken in advance in the Crock Pot so I could shred it up. You could use store-bought rotisserie chicken or cut the breast in cubes and cook it in the pan with the vegetables, following the onions. In this case, you’ll only need half the amount of tomato puree & chicken stock. If you want to cook chicken in the Crock Pot, rinse chicken & pat dry. Spray inside of crock with non-stick cooking spray. Cut in half and place at bottom of crock. Pour 1/2 chicken stock over it and top with 2 oz. tomato puree, distributing evenly across the two pieces. Cook on high for 4 hours. Transfer from pot to another dish and shred using two forks. It should come apart easily. Season with salt & pepper to taste & set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 8x8inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
  • Cook pasta for about 4 minutes. Drain & set aside.
  • Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add onions and saute until they begin to brown slightly, stirring occasionally. Turn heat down to medium-low, add garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add zucchini and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, add mushrooms & cook for another 2 minutes. Finally add the spinach, season with salt & pepper, stir well and remove from heat.
  • Heat butter in a medium stock pot over medium heat. Once melted, add chicken stock, milk, and remaining tomato puree. Season with pepper & Essence.
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine water & corn starch and whisk until smooth. Add to stock pot. Turn heat to medium-low and add 1 1/4 cup cheese. Mix well then remove from heat. Add vegetables, chicken, and pasta. Stir well. Spoon mixture into casserole dish.
  • In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs & remaining Essence. Top casserole with remaining cheese & bread crumb mixture. Bake in oven for 30 minutes. Cool for about 10 minutes & serve.

Italian Wedding Soup

19 Jan

Hearty and comforting without being heavy, perfect to warm your belly and heart on a cold winter evening. This is my interpretation of an Italian-American classic. It takes some time but is well worth it.

Time: 1 hour+           Serves: 8+


  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1 leek, well cleaned & trimmed – white and green parts only – cut in half & sliced
  • 4 cups small broccoli florets (about 1 average size head broccoli)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound/6 cups packed curly kale, roughly chopped
  • Parmesan rinds if you have them
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2/3 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 1 cup small pasta (I used stars but orzo or Acini di pepe work well)
  • 1/2 batch Lemon Herb Turkey Meatballs (mini version)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • grated or shaved Parmesan cheese

How to make it

  • Heat oil in a large stock pot over low-medium heat. Add fennel and saute for 10-12 minutes until beginning to caramelize, stirring occasionally. Add leeks and continue to saute for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add broccoli, kale and Parmesan rinds (if you have them). Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until broccoli starts to turn bright green. Add minced garlic to the pot; season with salt, pepper & red pepper and cook stirring for 2-3 min. Pour in chicken stock to cover and add thyme. Bring to a simmer.
  • Simmer for at least 30 minutes but up to 1 1/2 hours. Remove thyme branches and Parmesan rinds.
  • About ten minutes before ready to serve, brown meatballs in about 1/2 tbsp each canola oil and butter for about 5 minutes. Add to soup pot and cook for an additional 6-8 minutes.
  • Cook pasta according to package instructions, it should take about 5 minutes.
  • Remove soup from heat and stir in lemon juice. Serve with a couple of spoonfuls of pasta and top with parsley and Parmesan.
  • *Note: Serves 8 1 1/2 cup entree portions or 12 1 cup appetizer portions.

Rigatoni Bolognese

9 Jan

Rigatoni is a perfect match for this meaty, flavorful Bolognese which is my interpretation of a centuries-old sauce.

Time: 30 min prep, 2 hours+ cook        Serves: 6


  • Sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced celery, about 2 stalks
  • 1 cup diced carrots, about 2-3 carrots
  • 2 cups diced onion, about 1 large
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, diced
  • 1 cup dry red wine (I used Merlot)
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with liquid
  • Ricotta Topping

  • 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp garlic chives, chopped
  • splash basil oil (I used Kenzoil – olive oil seasoned with fresh basil & garlic. (If you can’t find this product, just combine 1 tbsp olive oil with about 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil and two minced garlic cloves.)
  • 1/2 pound Rigatoni

How to make it

  • Sauce

  • Heat oil in a 5qt stock pot over medium heat. Add celery, carrots and onion and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and saute another 2 minutes, stirring. Add beef and pork and break up as it browns. Cook until most of liquid is gone. Season with salt and pepper. Add thyme, oregano and mushrooms and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring. Add wine and cook until reduced by at least half. Add tomato sauce & tomatoes, stir, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for at least 1 1/2 hours (the longer the better), stirring.
  • Ricotta Topping

  • Combine ingredients and mix to combine. Refrigerate if not using right away.
  • Cook pasta al dente 10-15 minutes before ready to serve. Toss with sauce. Top each serving with a dollop of the Ricotta topping.

Balsamic Sauce Pasta

26 Dec

A little something different to do with pasta. A fairly quick and light preparation perfect for a dinner after all those holiday feasts.

Time: 15 minutes        Serves: 4


  • 8 oz. pasta of your choice (short is better)
  • 2 specialty sausages (I used chicken with provolone & sun-dried tomato)
  • 1 small head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed (I used green & white)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • shredded/grated cheese, optional (I used Asiago)

How to make it

  • Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain.
  • Meanwhile, cook sausage over medium heat in a skillet with about an inch of water at bottom of pan. Cook about 5 minutes on each side. Remove & sliced once cool enough to handle.
  • Meanwhile, boil a pot of salted water. Add broccoli and asparagus and cook about 5-7 minutes for firm vegetables (longer if you like them softer). Drain.
  • For the sauce, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add flour and whisk with a fork until well incorporated. Add Balsamic and whisk until well incorporated. Add chicken stock and stir well. Add salt and peppers. Cook until reduced about half.
  • To serve, add sausage and veggies to sauce and then serve over the pasta. Top with cheese if desired.