Baked Chicken Alfredo Ziti

The husband loved this dish. I think mostly because it was made of leftovers but totally remade. We had some ziti that was cooked for meat sauce and we had the beer can chicken leftovers. Luckily, we had milk, Parmesan, chicken broth, garlic and some mozzarella too.

I cooked 2 cloves of minced garlic with 3 Tbsp of unsalted butter. Then I added 1 Tbsp of flour and cooked it a bit. Then, I added 1/4 cup of chicken broth and about a cup of milk, a good pinch of salt and a couple shakes of dried oregano. I let it cook until it thickened a bit. I then added freshly grated Parmesan.

In a pie dish, I layered cooked pasta then cooked cubed chicken, then a sprinkling of mozzarella, finished with more cooked pasta and dumped the sauce over all of it. I added a bit more Parmesan and then popped it uncovered in a 375 degree oven for about 17 mins.

I let it sit for 10 mins before serving.

You can add other stuff to. I think some red pepper flakes would be good or cooked mushrooms. My kiddos don’t like either so, it was made just as I said above.

Enjoy!

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Easy Dinners A Week Before Thanksgiving – part 1

I don’t know about you but my counter space is starting to get filled up with preparations for Thanksgiving. With spiced nuts, savory jams, stuffed olives, stuffing, pumpkins, spices, stock, fried onions, and other scrumptious bits waiting for the BIG day taking up space on my counter, it’s super hard to get inspired to cook tonight’s meal. And, I don’t want to spend too much time cooking when I know I’ll be packing in two days worth of stove watching in a week.

So, it’s dinners like clam linguini/spaghetti that I turn to in times like these (it doesn’t hurt that they’re super easy and delicious).

Clam Linguini

Super Easy Clam Linguini

Serves 2.5

  • 15 little neck clams (live)
  • a splash of white wine (and then you can drink the rest of the bottle while preparing and eating your easy dinner)
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 shallot, sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 lemon, cut into super thin slices with the peel
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes (we save these for after the kiddo gets her serving)
  • a pinch of parsley for color and freshness
  • linguini for 3 (you can use spaghetti in a pinch)
  • salt
  • reserved pasta water
  • Parmesan cheese

Start a pot of water over high heat until boiling. Add a good 1 TBSP of salt to the boiling water (this is the only salt in the dish) then add your pasta. Cook according to the package directions.

In a pan, heat your butter and oil. Add shallots and garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 min). Add clams and a splash of your wine. Cover and let steam until the clams open. Once opened, add your lemon and cooked pasta. At this point, you might need to add a bit of the reserved pasta water (I usually add 1 – 2 ladles).

Sprinkle with parsley and serve with Parmesan and red pepper flakes.

Enjoy!!

Burrata in my pasta and salad

I ordered a salad at lunch a while back and was so disappointed. It was a Burrata salad and the chef had added garlic salt to the cheese. The salt and powdery garlic flavor was so over powering, my salad was ruined.

On Sunday, we were shopping for the week’s meals and I saw Burrata. Let’s try this salad again at home.

But salad isn’t my family’s favorite meal (they’ll eat it as a side, more like an after thought or after they’ve eaten all the starches). So, I looked up a recipe and found it can sneak into pasta too.

They liked the pasta better than the salad. But I loved the salad. The creaminess freshness of the cheese was a perfect accompaniment to the juicy mandarins. Try them both.

Burrata Pasta

* Handful of spaghetti (wide noodles would be great too) keep the cooking water
* 3 slices of bacon, cut into 1″ pieces
* 1 ear of corn, kernels cut from cob
* 5 fresh basil leaves, minced finely
* 2 fresh basil leaves, julianned for topping
* 1 tsp salt
* 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
* 1 TBSP olive oil
* 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
* pinch of chili flakes
* Burrata

Cook the pasta in a large pot. Don’t forget to salt the heck out of that water.

While pasta is cooking, mix the salt, breadcrumbs and minced basil. Then add olive oil to the mixture and place in a large non-stick pan and brown. Set aside when it had a nice golden color.

Using the same pan, fry your bacon. Add the corn kernels and cook for about 5 mins.

When pasta is cooked, add them to the bacon and corn pan. Add the chili flakes if you don’t have a little one. If you do, they taste just fine added to individual servings. Add a couple spoons of pasta water and the Parmesan cheese. Once you like the consistency, top it with the Burrata.

Serve with the breadcrumb mixture, chili, basil and Parmesan on the side so people can make the dish to their liking.

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Burrata Salad

* arugula
* mandarins
* blueberries
* basil
* Burrata
* olive oil
*aged balsamic
* pinch of salt

Mix it all together. Add the Burrata. Sprinkle with salt and then add the oil and vinegar.

So refreshing!

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Late Spring Lobster and Mint Pasta

I know. I know. At least I’m back and I have loads to share.

This recipe is so random that it inspired the return just so i can archive it for frequent rotation.

Who knew mint and lobster were delicious together. Oh and be aware, we showered it with Parmesan – a classic “no, no” with seafood pasta. But seriously, you should try it … You might like it.

Lobster and Mint Pasta

(Feeds 2.5)

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* 2-3 lobster tails (ours were tiny and I wish I had 3. Whole Foods has 2 for $12 right now)
* 1 shallot, sliced thin
* 1-2 large garlic cloves, sliced thin
* 2 knobs of unsalted butter (~ 2 TBSP)
* 1 TBSP olive oil
* 7-10 mint leaves, cut thinly
* 2 pinches of red chili flakes
* a handful of spaghetti or linguini (don’t throw out the pasta water)
* salt for pasta water
* Parmesan

Boil a big pot of water for the pasta. Add a large handful of salt to the water prior to adding the pasta. I heard once that the water should be as salty as the sea. If you do this, you won’t need to add any more salt.

In another small pot, steam the lobster tails until they are pink (~5-7 mins). I have this great silicon steamer that fits into any pot. If you don’t have this, put a bit of water in your pot then one small plate (that fits in the pot) facing down and one facing up on top of it. Make sure these plates are heat safe. Then put the lobsters on that plate.

In a pan, melt 1 TBSP of the butter and add the olive oil. Cook the shallots and garlic until tender.

Once the lobster tails are cooked, pull the meat from the tails and slice them into 1″ pieces. Add them to the shallots and garlic. Add the remaining butter. Add cooked pasta straight from the boiling water to the pan. Add a few spoonfuls of pasta water to the pan ~1/4 cup. Cook a bit until the sauce coats the pasta.

Now if you have little ones at home, reserve the chili and mint for the adults to add to their own dishes. Otherwise, add the chili flakes now.

Serve with mint and Parmesan. Mmm!

Orzo Salad

The weather can’t make up its mind. We went from comfort food earlier this week to pasta salad and grilled ribeye last night. And this wonky weather has given the whole family a nasty cold.

I don’t mind either weather type. It’s really this cold that sucks. Who wants a stuffed up nose when all this amazing produce is popping up at the farmers’ markets? I can’t taste a thing!

Well, if you’ll remember from last year’s post about the Summer’s bounty, I live for Sunmer veggies. Heirloom tomatoes kissed by the sun, zucchini and cucumbers and the crunchy, sweet, colorful bells. We haven’t had our first heirloom yet but I couldn’t resist mixing this pasta salad together highlighting the start of our Summer bounty.

And many thanks to my BFF for the salad recipe inspiration years ago during one of our many awesome camping trips. xoxooxox

Orzo Salad
* 1 tomato (if you can get heirloom, do it!), diced
* 1/2 cucumber, diced
* 1/2 red onion, diced
* 1 1/2 cup cooked orzo pasta, cooled
* 1 handful of pitted kalmata olives, sliced
* 1/2 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
* 1/2 zucchini, cut into 4 spears lengthwise and then sliced thinly
* 6-7 leaves of fresh mint, sliced
* 4 leaves if basil, sliced
* 1 handful of crumbled feta
* glug of olive oil and balsamic vinegar (to taste, think like you’re dressing a salad and then add from there)
* pinch of salt and pepper

The key to this recipe is the size of all the veggies and adjusting the oil/vinegar/S&P. Hint: the cucumber and red onion should be little dices no bigger than the orzo.

Now that you have carpel tunnel syndrome from chopping so much. Mix everything together and put it in the fridge to cool.

Enjoy with a grilled steak for an easy (well besides all the dicing) Summer meal.

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A different take on the classic

Carbonara. Just the name sounds scrumptious. I mean the first syllable is “carb”! It’s rich and comforting and it includes pork fat. Pasta Carbonara is so easy to make and is very adaptable to whatever you have in the fridge. The only necessities are eggs, a hard aged cheese, pasta, and some pork belly (bacon, pancetta, etc).

Then your refrigerator is your inspiration. You could add in any sauted veggies – peas, zucchini, eggplant, any alliums (onions, leeks, shallots, etc). What combinations do you like together? Try them out in this rich and creamy pasta dish.

This take on carbonara embraces the approaching Fall weather by incorporating leeks and mushrooms into the recipe. Seriously, this is so good. You’ve gotta try it.

I found the recipe at How Sweet It IsĀ 

I didn’t have any portabello mushrooms but I did have crimini. That was really the only adaptation. Enjoy!