BAKED RICOTTA DIP

Compliments of Martha over at Seaside Simplicity I bring you her Baked Ricotta Dip. I have found A LOT of uses for the leftovers also. And yes, with just two of us there ARE leftovers. 

The first time I used the leftovers as a thin layer in my Ravioli Lasagna between the first layer of ravioli and the meat sauce.  Next time I will make a batch in a large flat baking dish that can be easily transferred to a thin layer in the lasagna.

The second time I added some leftover Cara Mia Artichoke Bruschetta from Star and 8 ounces of tomato sauce. I then served it over some simple pan seared chicken breast for a complete meal.

BAKED RICOTTA DIP
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Mix all ingredients together.
  • Pour into a 8″ greased baking dish.
  • Sprinkle with additional Italian seasoning and bake about 40 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.
  • Serve with Crostini or sourdough chunks.
VARIATIONS
  • If you don’t like garlic, it can be completely omitted or decreased in amount and you’ll still have a delicious warm cheesy dip.
  • If you love a good strong garlic flavor like we do, mix an additional 4-6 cloves of minced garlic with a tablespoon of olive oil or avocado oil and pour over the top for the last 10 minutes of baking time.
  • For a slightly sweet version, omit garlic and Italian seasonings and add a tablespoon of a good QUALITY honey, with additional honey to drizzle on top, great for brunch!
CROSTINI
  • Cut French bread in 1/2 inch thick slices.
  • Brush both sides with olive or avocado oil.
  • Sprinkle with Italian seasoning (optional).
  • Bake at 400° for 3 minutes, flip and bake an additional 2-3 minutes. 

NOTES:

I didn’t have any crostini, but did have some good sourdough bread that was beginning to stale so used that and it was great!

CHICKEN PARMESAN STUFFED GARLIC BREAD

CHICKEN PARMESAN STUFFED GARLIC BREAD adapted from Tasty

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenders
1 cup flour
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup avocado oil, for frying
2 large baguettes**
Prepared marinara sauce**

  • Place the flour, eggs, and bread crumbs into 3 separate bowls.
  • Roll a chicken strip in the flour, dusting off excess.
  • Dip the strip into the egg, then place into the bread crumbs, coating it completely.
  • Repeat with the remaining chicken.
  • Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat to 350˚.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Fry the breaded chicken strips until both sides are golden brown.
  • Remove from heat and drain on a paper toweling.

GARLIC BUTTER
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 LARGE cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon FRESH parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

  • Whisk everything together and set aside.

ASSEMBLY

  • Slice the baguettes into thirds or fourths, each piece should be about the same length of the chicken strips.
  • Hollow out the insides of the baguette pieces with a knife.
  • Overlap two slices of mozzarella lengthwise.
  • Place a chicken strip on the overlapping region, then fold the mozzarella tightly around the chicken.
  • Push the rolled chicken strips into a baguette piece.
  • Slice the stuffed baguette pieces into 1 inch slices, then place them tightly side-by-side on a baking sheet lined with foil.
  • Brush the garlic butter evenly over the baguette slices, making sure some drips in between the slices.
  • Wrap the foil up and over the re-assembled baguette and bake for 20–25 minutes, until cheese is melted and the top is starting to brown.
  • Remove the foil and serve with marinara!

NOTE:

  • I make a “PINK” marinara that is half traditional red marinara and half alfredo sauce with a garlic crema (recipe below) 😀  The garlic crema is also wonderful to add to any base for any pizza.
  • I also like to use a ‘par baked’ baguette from the bakery.

GARLIC CREMA
1 cup heavy cream
6 cloves to the entire bulb or garlic depending on preference, minced
Combine the heavy cream and garlic in a small saucepan.
Cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently, 10-15 minutes until thickened and fragrant.

UPDATED CHICKEN CACCIATORE

This recipe is one that is so versatile that it can feel like you are eating separate dishes on the same night.  Hubby doesn’t do cooked mushrooms.  I don’t do capers or olives. So, I make the red part of the sauce and then split it in half and prepare each half with the items we like individually. 😀

UPDATED CHICKEN CACCIATORE
6 BONELESS, SKINLESS chicken chicken steaks
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1/3 cup WONDRA all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 pound sliced cremini mushrooms (optional)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, THINLY sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon FRESH and FINELY chopped oregano
1 teaspoon FRESH and FINELY chopped rosemary or thyme
One 28-ounce CRUSHED whole tomatoes
1/3 cup chopped black olives
2 tablespoons drained capers, chopped
1/4 cup torn FRESH basil leaves

  • Sprinkle the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, then toss them in a bowl with the flour to lightly coat.
  • Heat the oil and butter in a large, wide pot over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  • Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a plate.
  • Add the onion and mushrooms to the pot and cook, stirring, until the onion is softened and the mushrooms are lightly golden, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and peppers, stirring, until the peppers are just starting to soften, about 1 minute.
  • Add the wine and bring to a boil, then cook, scraping up any brown bits, until reduced by about half.
  • Add the oregano and rosemary or thyme.
  • Add the tomatoes and their juice and bring to a simmer.
  • Add the olives and capers.
  • Return the chicken to the pot, nestling in the sauce.
  • Reduce the heat to keep the sauce at a gentle simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 5-10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with the basil.
  • Serve immediately.

CREAMY SUN DRIED TOMATO CHICKEN

CREAMY SUN DRIED TOMATO CHICKEN
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup marinated sun dried tomato strips, drained of oil, reserve oil
2 tablespoons marinated sun dried tomatoes oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup white wine
3/4 cup chicken broth/stock , low sodium
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup FINELY shredded Parmesan
1 cup basil leaves, packed
Prepared pasta or mashed potatoes

  • Slice chicken breasts in half horizontally to form 2 thin steaks.
  • Generously sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Heat sun dried tomato oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • 
Add the chicken and cook until golden on both sides and cooked through.
  • Remove to a plate, keep warm.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 15 seconds until light golden.
  • Add wine.
  • Bring to simmer and scrape the bottom of the skillet to mix all the brown bits into the wine.
Let the wine simmer for 1 minute or so.
  • Add the chicken broth, heavy cream, Parmesan and sun dried tomatoes.
  • 
Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until thickened and well combined.
  • Taste sauce and adjust seasoning as needed.
  • Fold in basil leaves.
  • Return chicken into pan, turning to coat in sauce.
  • Serve over prepared pasta or mashed potatoes.
  • Serve immediately with garlic bread to sop up sauce!

CHICKEN FRANCAISE

CHICKEN FRANCAISE adapted from RECIPE 30

This recipe is a flavorful pan seared breaded chicken on a rich lemony, tangy butter sauce.  Some call it French because of the wine and butter, some American and even more Italian according to Wikipedia.  What we know for sure is that it is FLAVORFUL!

4 chicken breast steaks
1/3 cup WONDRA flour
2 LARGE eggs
1 tablespoon heavy cream
FRESH chopped Flat Leaf parsley
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 cup QUALITY white wine
1 cup chicken stock
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons avocado oil
4 tablespoons butter
Juice of 1 LARGE lemon
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • Beat eggs in a large shallow dish.
  • Whisk in the heavy cream and FRESH ground salt and pepper.
  • Add half the chopped parsley to the egg mixture.
  • Add Parmesan cheese to egg mixture, mixing well. Set aside.
  • Heat avocado oil and half of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Dip chicken breasts in the flour, shaking off any excess and then the egg wash and then into flour again.
  • Add chicken to the hot pan and cooking 3-4 minutes per side.
  • Transfer chicken to a hot plate and keep warm.
  • Increase the heat.
  • Add wine and chicken stock, stirring to blend.
  • Add the garlic and lemon juice, cooking several minutes until slightly reduced.
  • Reduce heat to low.
  • Add the remaining chopped parsley and butter, whisking until butter is melted.
  • Return the chicken to the sauce, turning to coat for 30 seconds or so.
  • 
Garnish with parsley sprigs.

NOTE: Use medium sized flattened chicken breasts or thin chicken steaks.

SHEET PAN VINEGAR CHICKEN

SHEET PAN VINEGAR CHICKEN ala Valerie Bertinelli – update ala Tamy
1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
1 1/2 tablespoons avocado oil
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
2 cups mixed color cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup pitted Castelvetrano (the pale green ones – I use Mezetta) olives
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, sliced or minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • Preheat the oven to 425°.
  • Toss the onions with 1/2 tablespoon of the oil on a large rimmed baking sheet.
  • Arrange the chicken thighs on top and sprinkle them all over with the smoked paprika and salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle the vinegar on top and then roast in the oven about 15 minutes.
  • Toss the cherry tomatoes, olives, rosemary and garlic with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, a big pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the mixture to the baking sheet with the roasted chicken and continue to roast until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through, 10 minutes more.
  • Serve the chicken with the vegetables and juices from the baking sheet.
  • Sprinkle with the parsley.

BAKED ASIAGO MEATBALL PARMESAN

BAKED ASIAGO MEATBALL PARMESAN

1/2 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 cup shredded Asiago cheese
FRESH chopped flat leaf parsley, to taste
FRESH chopped oregano, to taste
FRESH chopped basil, to taste
2 LARGE eggs
FRESH ground sea salt and pepper, to taste
3 cups marinara sauce
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Mix ground meats, garlic, breadcrumbs, Asiago cheese, parsley, eggs, salt and pepper together until well blended.
  • Form golf ball sized meatballs.
  • Coat a rimmed baking pan with avocado oil and place meatballs on pan.
  • Bake 20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and cool slightly.
  • In a large cast iron ovenproof skillet (I use my enameled cast iron crock pot) whisk together the marinara and chicken broth.
  • Bring sauce to a SLOW & LOW simmer.
  • Add meatballs to sauce and simmer 4-6 hours.
  • Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top until completely covered.
  • Cover dish and bake 20 minutes.
  • Remove foil and bake an additional 20 minutes until golden.
  • Serve with a side of pasta.

PAN SEARED CHICKEN with CREAMY TOMATO BASIL SPINACH CREAM SAUCE

PAN SEARED CHICKEN with CREAMY TOMATO BASIL SPINACH CREAM SAUCE

Boneless skinless chicken thighs smothered in an easy-to-make creamy tomato basil and spinach sauce.

1 tablespoon avocado oil
4-6 LARGE boneless, skinless chicken thin breasts
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons WONDRA flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons tomato pesto (Barilla or Classico)
1 cup tomato sauce
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups fresh spinach leaves
4-6 leaves fresh basil, chiffonaded
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsely
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • In a large skillet heat avocado oil over medium heat.
  • Generously season chicken thighs with FRESH ground salt and pepper.
  • Dredge in 1/4 cup WONDRA flour.
  • Add to hot oil and cook for 2 minutes until the top side is nicely seared.
  • Flip over to the other side and sear for 2 more minutes on medium heat.
  • Remove the chicken from the skillet to a plate and keep warm.
  • Add garlic to pan and cook 30 seconds or so until fragrant.
  • Add chicken broth, tomato pesto, tomato paste and heavy cream to skillet.
  • Bring to a SLOW boil, stirring regularly.
  • Reduce heat to low simmer.
  • Taste the sauce and add more salt and adjust seasoning as needed.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and whisk together with 2 tablespoons of reserved flour dredge until smooth.
  • Whisk into sauce until smooth.
  • Add fresh spinach, parsley and fresh basil, stirring until spinach wilts and reduces in volume.
  • Add chicken to sauce, turning to coat, increasing heat to medium for a minute or 2 to reheat chicken.
  • Serve over pasta and spoon the sauce over the pasta and chicken.
  • Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

SPINACH ARTICHOKE RAVIOLI LASAGNA

SPINACH ARTICHOKE RAVIOLI LASAGNA  Yields 8 servings

This is a GREAT and super EASY shortcut lasagna that packs an extra punch of flavor!

3 tablespoons butter
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons WONDRA flour
2 1/4 cups WHOLE milk
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1-14 ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained (see notes) and chopped
2 cups frozen spinach, defrosted, drained WELL and chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pounds frozen cheese ravioli (see notes)
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Whisk the flour into the butter and garlic and cook until the mixture is bubbling and golden, 1 minute more. Gradually pour in the milk, whisking constantly.
  • Bring mixture to a simmer then stir in cream cheese, 2/3 cup mozzarella, and Parmesan.
  • Let simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Fold in artichoke hearts and spinach, then add lemon juice and red pepper flakes, if using, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Remove from heat. 
  • Spread a thin layer of your prepared sauce onto the bottom of a 9″-x-13″ baking dish or lasagna pan.
  • Lay ravioli in a single layer in the bottom of the baking dish, then top with half the prepared sauce and a thin layer of cheese.
  • Repeat with remaining ravioli, most of the remaining sauce and another thin layer of cheese.
  • Top with remaining sauce and cheese.
  • Bake 30 minutes, until sauce is bubbling and ravioli are tender.
  • If you’d like the top to be more golden, broil on high for 1-2 minutes.
  • Garnish with parsley and serve.

NOTES:

  • I drain and save the oil marinade to use for future meals.
  • I usually prepare half again as much sauce because we like it saucy 😀
  • By having a choice on the ravioli, it can easily be vegetarian or protein packed with a meat 😀

STUFFED SHELLS

STUFFED SHELLS
24 JUMBO pasta shells
2 CUPS shredded Mozzarella cheese

BALSMELLA (Italian Bechamel)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup WONDRA flour
2 1/4 cups WHOLE milk
1/2-1 teaspoon FRESH grated nutmeg
FRESH ground sea salt and tri-color pepper, to taste

  • Melt butter in sauce pan over medium heat.
  • Whisk in flour cooking 2 minutes until golden.
  • Whisk in milk and nutmeg, bringing to a simmer.
  • Reduce heat and cook, whisking periodically for 10 minutes until thick.
  • Season to taste with FRESH ground sea salt and tri-color pepper.

STUFFING
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1 SMALL onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons avocado oil
FRESH ground sea salt and tri-color pepper
1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup QUALITY DRY sherry

  • Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add onions, cooking 3-4 minutes until softened.
  • Add garlic, cooking until fragrant.
  • Add ground beef and pork, cooking until browned, breaking up meat pieces into fine.
  • Drain off excess grease.
  • Stir in sherry and cook 5-6 minutes until nearly evaporated.
  • Season to taste with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
  • Let cool completely.
  • Stir in Balsamella sauce.

TOMATO SAUCE
3 tablespoons avocado oil
1 small red onion, chopped
24 ounce can whole tomatoes
1 KNORR beef gel packet
3/4 cup moscato white wine
Juice from 1 lemon
5-6 cloves garlic, finely minced into a paste
3 tablespoons Classico sundried tomato pesto
1 teaspoon fresh ground Himalayan pink salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground red pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fresh chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil

  • Heat avocado oil in a large saute’ pan over medium high heat.
  • Add onions and garlic sauteeing until tender.
  • Whisk together the beef gel, wine, pesto and juice from the tomatoes.
  • Add seasonings, blending well.
  • Add tomatoes and gently crush.
  • Bring to a SLOW boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer 2 hours.

ASSEMBLY

  • Spread 3 cups of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 3 quart baking dish.
  • Spoon meat mixture evenly into shells, arranging shells on top of red sauce in baking dish.
  • Cover with foil and bake 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove foil and sprinkle with Mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake another 15-20 minutes until cheese is bubbling and golden.
  • Let rest 5 minutes.
  • Garnish and serve with remaining tomato sauce.

NOTES:

  • I like to cook the shells the day before, chilling in the refrigerator over night so they are pliable and easy to work with the next day.
  • A potato masher helps to make a finely minced meat.
  • If you have any extra meat mixture I either sprinkle it over the shells or freeze to use later in a lasagna.

BAKED ZITI

Like Lasagna, but not all the hassle? Makes Broken Lasagna AKA Baked Ziti or ANY pasta for that matter – it’s all about the flavors 😀

BAKED ZITI Recipe Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 55 minutes Yield: Serves at least 8
1 pound ziti or pasta of your choice
Avocado oil
1/2 pound ground Italian sausage
1/2 pound ground beef or pork
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon FRESH basil, minced
1 tablespoon Garden Gourmet Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
32 ounces marinara (jar or your own homemade)
1/2 pound of grated Mozzarella cheese
1 heaping cup of ricotta cheese
1 cup FRESH grated Parmesan cheese

  • Heat a large pot of water to a hard boil.
  • Add a tablespoon of salt.
  • Add the pasta and cook at a rolling boil, uncovered, until the pasta is al dente—edible but still a little firm to the bite.
  • Drain the pasta well.
  • Toss with a little avocado oil so it doesn’t stick together.
  • Set aside.

 

  • Heat a tablespoon of avocado oil in a large sauté pan on medium-high heat.
  • When the oil is hot, add the sausage and ground beef or ground pork, breaking up any large chunks as it cooks. Brown well.
  • Season with FRESH ground salt and pepper.
  • Drain off any excessive grease, but leave a little for flavor.
  • Add onions and garlic, sautéing until the onions are translucent and beginning to brown, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the basil, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes, stirring to combine and coat well.
  • Add the marinara sauce and stir well.
  • Bring to a simmer.

 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a 9×13-inch casserole pan.
  • Add dollops of half the ricotta cheese.
  • Ladle a spoonful of sauce into the pasta, stir it well and then add the pasta into the casserole.
  • Pour the rest of the sauce over the pasta.
  • Add dollops of the remaining ricotta cheese over top.
  • Sprinkle the mozzarella and the Parmesan cheese on top.
  • Bake for 20 minutes until the top is lightly browned and the cheese melted.

NOTES:

  • I sometimes add small mini meatballs for fun 😀
  • You can substitute dried herbs if that is all you have on hand. Use 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried basil and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme to replace the Italian seasoning.

LASAGNA with MEATY SAUCE

LASAGNA with MEATY SAUCE serves 12
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 small white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 – 14.5 ounce cans whole tomatoes
2 – 6 ounce cans tomato paste
2 + 2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons garden gourmet Italian herbs
1 teaspoon garden gourmet basil
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups lowfat cottage cheese
1 1/2 cups low-fat ricotta cheese
2 LARGE eggs, beaten
1/2 cup FRESH grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons Dried Parsley
1 teaspoon Salt
1 pound Sliced or grated Mozzarella Cheese

1 – 10 ounce package lasagna noodles
salt
olive oil

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.

 

  • Over medium high heat, brown the ground beef and ground pork.
  • Add onion and garlic, cooking until meat is browned and onion is softened.
  • Drain off half the fat.
  • Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons parsley, Italian herbs and basil.
  • Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Simmer 30-45 minutes.

 

  • In a medium bowl, mix cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, beaten eggs, grated Parmesan, 2 more tablespoons parsley, and a teaspoon salt.
  • Stir together well. Set aside.

 

  • Add a generous amount of salt and a drizzle of olive oil to the boiling water.
  • Cook lasagna until JUST “al dente” – DO NOT OVERCOOK!
  • Drain.

ASSEMBLY

  • Arrange 4 cooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of a baking pan, overlapping if necessary.
  • Spoon half the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles and spread evenly.
  • Cover cottage cheese and ricotta mixture with a layer of mozzarella cheese.
  • Spoon a little less than half the meat sauce mixture over the top.
  • Repeat, ending with meat sauce mixture.
  • Sprinkle top generously with extra Parmesan and a bit of the Mozzarella.
  • Bake 20-30 minutes until top is hot and bubbly.