5 CHEESE PASTA

5 CHEESE PASTA adapted from Red Drummond serves 8

1 pound fusilli or similar type pasta
6 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 tablespoon chopped FRESH thyme
1 large shallot, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, FINELY minced
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Fontina cheese
1/2 cup W
hite Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese
FRESH ground black pepper
1 cup mozzarella balls, halved
3 green onions, sliced thin

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Add the fusilli and cook for 1 to 2 minutes less than the package instructions.
  • Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain and set aside.
  • Cook the bacon in a cast iron skillet over medium heat until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon remove to a paper towel-lined plate and remove all but 2 tablespoons of the grease from the skillet.
  • Add the thyme, shallots and garlic to the skillet and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the wine and cook until mostly evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the cream and heat until bubbly, 30 seconds.
  • Gradually add the Fontina, cheddar, Romano and Gruyère in handfuls, letting each combine with the cream before adding the next.
  • Add the pasta to the skillet along with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Toss everything together, thinning with the reserved pasta water if needed.
  • Divide the pasta into lightly sprayed with non stick cooking spray individual gratin dishes or 1 baking dish.
  • Place casserole on a baking sheet.
  • Divide the mozzarella pearls over the top of the pasta.
  • Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to broil.
  • Broil 3-4 minutes on the center rack until the mozzarella pearls are brown and the pasta is bubbling.
  • Remove and garnish with the cooked bacon and sliced green onions.

SPINACH ARTICHOKE CHICKEN

SPINACH ARTICHOKE CHICKEN adapted from REE

2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons avocado oil 
4 thin-cut chicken breast steaks
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
WONDRA flour, for dredging
1/2 red onion, diced 
2-3 cloves garlic, minced 
Two 8-ounce jars quartered artichokes, drained WELL 
3/4 cup white wine 
3/4 cup heavy cream 
1 cup grated Parmesan
One 4-ounce jar diced pimientos, drained WELL  (optional)
3 cups baby spinach 
1 MEDIUM lemon, juiced 

  • Heat the butter and avocado oil together in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Generously sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper, dredge with flour lightly and add them to the skillet.
  • Cook until nicely browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.
  • Remove to a plate.
  • Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and stir until slightly softened, about 30 seconds, then add the artichokes and cook, stirring, until the artichokes are hot and the onions are translucent, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Pour in the wine and stir, then add the cream and more black pepper adjusting seasoning to your tastes.
  • Let the sauce come to a simmer, then add the Parmesan and cook for a minute to thicken.
  • Add the pimientos if using, spinach and lemon juice, then stir  1-2 minutes until the spinach has wilted.
  • Nestle the chicken back into the skillet, spooning a little sauce over the top.

RANCH CHICKEN QUESADILLA FOLD OVERS aka STACKED TACOS

I’d been making something similar to Ree Drummond’s version of these for several years now that we called stacked tacos. When I saw her recipe in a magazine it reminded me how much we enjoyed these. For some reason they are a cold weather meal for us that we made regularly when we were back east 😀

RANCH CHICKEN QUESADILLA FOLD OVERS aka STACKED TACOS
6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1-2 cups rotisserie chicken pieces
2 cups of shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 batch Jalapeno ranch dressing
4 (8-10) inch flour tortillas
2 tablespoons butter
Salsa, for dipping
Sour cream, for dipping

  • On each tortilla make a slit from the center to the edge.
  • Spread a dollop of the dressing over the entire tortilla.
  • Toss chicken pieces and green onions with the remaining dressing.
  • Arrange a layer of chicken pieces over one quarter of the tortilla.
  • Fold tortilla over chicken.
  • Add a layer of cheese to the quarter of tortilla that overlaps the chicken.
  • Sprinkle the crumbled bacon over the cheese.
  • Spread a thin layer of salsa on the next layer.
  • Fold last quarter of tortilla over the cheese and bacon layer. You should now have a stacked triangle looking quesadilla.
  • Press down gently to secure the pieces.
  • Heat butter in large skillet or griddle over medium high heat.
  • Grill each quesadilla, carefully flipping to toast and crisp until both sides are golden, the cheese is melted and the chicken is heated through.
  • Serve with salsa and sour cream.

JALAPENO RANCH DRESSING
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups mayonnaise
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon crushed parsley flakes
2 tablespoons Penzey’s California crushed jalapenos
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

  • Whisk all together and chill overnight before serving if you have time. The flavors meld together better with time.