CARROT ORECCHIETTE

For a nice change of pace in the spring and summer I try to make lighter AND healthier dishes. I ran across this recipe at the dentist office and instantly fell in love after a few adjustments for our tastes, especially with my new restrictive diet! I’m ALWAYS looking for more flavor and it has been hard to come by – until now!

CARROT ORECCHIETTE serves 4

1 pound large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/8 inch rounds
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
2+2 tablespoons cup avocado oil
4 ounces dry orecchiette pasta
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3-4 sprigs FRESH thyme
2 tablespoons FRESH chopped chives
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • Preheat oven to 475°.
  • Cover a baking sheet with foil or a silicone mat.
  • Add carrots to a large bowl.
  • Drizzle with 2 tablespoons avocado oil.
  • Generously season with the salt and pepper.
  • Toss to coat well.
  • Spread carrots onto baking sheet in an even layer.
  • Nestle thyme sprigs randomly into carrots.
  • Bake 8-10 minutes until tender and carrots are beginning to curl at the edges.
  • While carrots are roasting cook pasta per package directions. DO NOT ADD THE SALT OR FAT.
  • Drain pasta WELL.
  • Add pasta to large mixing bowl.
  • Add vinegar, 2 tablespoons avocado oil.
  • Lightly season with salt and pepper.
  • Toss to coat.
  • Remove thyme sprigs.
  • Add carrots and GENTLY toss again.
  • Divide among the plates.
  • Top with chives and Parmesan cheese.
  • ENJOY!

TEX-MEX MAC-N-CHEESE

TEX-MEX MAC-N-CHEESE
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 can shoepeg corn kernels
1 medium Vidalia onion, small dice
3 small sweet red pepper, seeded, small dice
1 can original ROTEL tomatoes with green chiles, drained WELL
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, cold
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
FRESH ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound mini rigatoni or pasta of choice, cooked al dente
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
OPTIONAL GARNISHES
1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
Minced cilantro leaves
Pickled jalapenos, drained and minced

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Add the butter, corn, onions, red peppers, garlic and 1 teaspoon of salt to a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, sauteing until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the cumin, chile powder, cayenne pepper and flour, stirring frequently 3 to 4 minutes until roux forms.
  • Pour in the cold milk in a steady stream, stirring vigorously until the mixture is smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until mixture starts to thicken, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the cheddar and Monterey Jack. Cook until the sauce is smooth and creamy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the scallions, tomatoes, peppers and rigatoni, mixing well to combine.
  • Pour into a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish.
  • Sprinkle with panko crumbs evenly over the top and cover with foil.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling.
  • Remove to a cooling rack and let rest for 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Garnish with the Cotija cheese, jalapeno and cilantro.
  • Serve immediately.

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CHICKEN PARMESAN CASSEROLE

CHICKEN PARMESAN CASSEROLE
1/2 pound penne pasta
3/4 pound chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
Wondra flour for dredging
Fresh ground black pepper and salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1/2 batch marinara sauce (recipe below)
1 1/4 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 slices Provolone cheese

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray 9×9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Cook pasta per package directions on the al dente’ side. Drain and set aside.
  • Combine flour and seasonings in a ziplock bag.
  • Heat butter and oil in skillet until sizzling.
  • Dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture, shaking off the excess.
  • Add chicken pieces to hot oil and quickly sear all sides.
  • In a large bowl gently combine sauce and pasta with the majority of the Mozzarella and Parmesan reserving some for the top.
  • Gently fold in chicken pieces and stir to coat.
  • Spread ingredients evenly into baking dish.
  • Top with provolone slices followed by the remaining Parmesan and Mozzarella.
  • Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes.
  • Uncover and return to oven baking another 10-15 minutes until cheese is bubbly and brown.
  • Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

SAUCE
1 tablespoons avocado oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 small red onion, chopped
24 ounce can whole tomatoes
1 KNORR beef gel
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 sauteing 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.

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BUFFALO CHICKEN LASAGNA

BUFFALO CHICKEN LASAGNA

Barilla ready to bake lasagna noodles
1 tablespoon avocado oil
3/4 pound ground chicken
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small carrot, grated
1 small stalk celery, diced
1 can ROTEL original tomatoes, drained VERY WELL
2 tablespoons chicken broth
3/4 cup Frank’s original Hot Sauce
8 ounces ricotta cheese
FRESH ground salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
3/4 cup bleu cheese crumbles
3/4 cup grated jack cheese
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 small egg, beaten

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray a 9×9 deep baking dish with non-stick spray.
  • In a large skillet heat avocado oil over medium high heat.
  • Add chicken, onion, carrot and celery, stirring until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are soft.
  • Add garlic and cook a minute more until fragrant.
  • Stir in tomatoes, hot sauce, chicken broth, salt and pepper.
  • Reduce heat to low simmer, cover and cook 45 minutes.

 

  • In a mixing bowl stir together the ricotta cheese and egg until smooth and well blended.
  • Add parsley and bleu cheese mixing until well blended.

 

  • Toss together the jack, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses.

ASSEMBLY

  • Add 1/3 of chicken mixture to baking dish.
  • Top with a layer of lasagna noodles.
  • Add a thin layer of chicken mixture.
  • Top with a layer of the ricotta mixture.
  • Top with a layer of the cheeses.
  • Repeat layers 2 more times.
  • Cover and bake 20 minutes.
  • Uncover, bake another 20-25 minutes until bubbly and cheese is golden.
  • Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

LINKING TO: CELEBRATE YOUR STORY, CRAFTASTIC MONDAY, DISHING IT & DIGGING IT, NIFTY THRIFTY SUNDAY, SHOW & TELL, SUNDAYS AT HOME, SUNDAY’S BEST, THAT DIY PARTY, JCOOKING & CRAFTING WITH J&J, INPIRATION MONDAY , INSPIRE ME MONDAY , MADE BY YOU MONDAY, MAKE IT PRETTY MONDAY, MELT IN YOUR MOUTH MONDAY, MERRY MONDAY, MIX IT UP MONDAY, MOTIVATE ME MONDAY, PROJECT INSPIRED, SHOW AND SHARE, TUTORIALS & TIP, DIY TUESDAYS, LOU LOU GIRLS FABULOUS PARTY, THE SCOOP, TREASURE BOX TUESDAY, TUESDAYS AT OUR HOME, TUESDAYS WITH A TWIST, CREATIVE INSPIRATIONS, SHARE YOUR CUP , WINTER BLUES WEDNESDAY, WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY, SHOW ME WEDNESDAYS, WOW US WEDNESDAY , CREATIVE CIRCLE, DAGMAR’S PARTY, HOME SWEET HOME, FAVORITE THINGS, GRACE AT HOME, HOME MATTERS, PIN JUNKIE PIN PARTY, TALK OF THE TOWN, BLOGGER’S PIT STOP, HANDMADE HANGOUT, PRETTY PINTASTIC PARTY, SHARE IT ONE MORE TIME, SWAY SHAREFEST, WHAT TO DO WEEKENDS PARTY, BOUQUET OF TALENT PARTY, INSPIRE-BE-INSPIRED, RAE GUN BLOCK PARTY, I’M LOVIN’ IT, THIS IS HOW WE ROLL THURSDAY, FULL PLATE THURSDAY, FOODIE FRIDAY, SOUPER SUNDAY, BETH FISH READS, SATURDAY SPARKS, AMAZE ME MONDAY, INSPIRE ME TUESDAY, SHARE YOUR STYLE, OVER THE MOON

SLOW COOKER SPAGHETTI CASSEROLE

This is a very altered recipe from the Southern Living Slow Cooker cookbook. I changed amounts, flavor profiles and we really think it was for the best. There was no garlic in the original recipe and they used cheddar cheese! So NOT Italian!

SLOW COOKER SPAGHETTI CASSEROLE makes 6-8 servings
1 pound ground chuck (for something spicier, use Hot Italian Sausage)
1 LARGE shallot, diced
15 ounce jar CLASSICO Four Cheese Tomato Cream Sauce
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup Wondra flour
12 ounces evaporated milk
1/2 cup FRESH grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh ground salt and pepper, to taste
8 ounces uncooked spaghetti, broken into pieces**
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
avocado oil

  • In a large skillet over medium high heat a small amount of avocado oil.
  • Add ground chuck and diced shallot. When just about browned add garlic and saute’ a minute more.
  • Drain off all fat and return meat to pan.
  • Add CLASSICO sauce to meat and blend well.

 

  • In a small sauce pan over medium high heat, melt butter.
  • Add flour, whisking until golden.
  • Slowly whisk in evaporated milk until well blended and thickened.
  • Remove from heat and add Parmesan cheese.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

  • Lightly spray the slow cooker with non stick spray.
  • Spoon half of meat mixture into slow cooker and spread evenly.
  • Top with half of the spaghetti pieces.
  • Spoon half of Parmesan cheese mixture over the spaghetti pieces and spread evenly.
  • Top with half of the Mozzarella cheese.
  • Repeat layers.

 

  • Cover and cook on LOW 4 hours.
  • Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
  • Serve with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

NOTE**: I can sometimes find “pot size” spaghetti which is just half size spaghetti so much less mess with breaking and they fit in the slow cooker perfectly.

SINFUL ULTIMATE MAC & CHEESE

SINFUL MAC & CHEESE adapted from Incredible Recipes from Heaven
MAC & CHEESE
1 pound macaroni
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
12 ounce can evaporated milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 cups freshly grated cheddar cheese
8 slices provolone cheese
1 cup sour cream
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • Prepare pasta al dente per package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish.
  • In a large skillet melt the butter over medium high heat, and whisk in flour stirring occasionally until golden.
  • Reduce heat and whisk in the milk, mustard, cornstarch, evaporated milk and all seasonings, one at a time, stirring constantly until it reaches a boil, allow to simmer while still whisking occasionally until SLIGHTLY thick
  • Remove from heat and whisk in cheddar cheese until melted.
  • Add macaroni and lightly toss until evenly coated
  • Pour half of the macaroni and cheese into greased baking dish.
  • Layering evenly with provolone cheese followed by an even layer of sour cream.
  • Pour remaining macaroni over sour cream then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

PANKO TOPPING
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1/4 cup pwdered Parmesan cheese

  • In the skillet melt butter in avocado oil over medium high heat.
  • Add breadcrumbs and stir in the Parmesan cheese.
  • Cook until crumbs become a golden brown.
  • Sprinkle over top the mac & cheese
  • Bake 25-30 minutes until bubbly and cheese is melted.
  • ENJOY!

Submitted to FULL PLATE THURSDAY @Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.

TUNA NOODLE or CHICKEN NOODLE CASSEROLE

TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE
1 large can tuna, drained WELL (a combination of salmon and tuna works well also)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 small can evaporated milk
1 bunch green onions, chopped or sliced thin
1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups cooked egg noodles or pasta of choice
1 can Le Seur peas, drained WELL (optional)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese**
1 cup crushed potato chips##
Fresh ground salt and pepper, to taste

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Whisk together soup and milk until well blended.
  • Fold in tuna, onion, garlic, peas and cheese.
  • When well blended gently fold in noodles and pour into a prepared baking dish.
  • Top with crushed potato chips and bake 30 minutes until bubbly and heated through.

NOTE**Gram’s original recipe called for 1 cup velvet cubes, but I never touch the stuff so adapted it to real cheese

NOTE##Grams always used potato chips, but I also like to use a buttered bread crumb or cracker mixture.

 

CHICKEN NOODLE CASSEROLE
1 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (can substitute a LARGE can of chicken)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 bunch green onions, chopped or sliced thin
1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups cooked egg noodles or pasta of choice
1 can Le Seur peas, drained WELL
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese**
1 cup crushed potato chips##
Fresh ground salt and pepper, to taste

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Whisk together soup and milk until well blended.
  • Fold in tuna, onion, garlic, peas and cheese.
  • When well blended gently fold in noodles and pour into a prepared baking dish.
  • Top with crushed potato chips and bake 30 minutes until bubbly and heated through.

NOTE**Gram’s original recipe called for 1 cup velvet cubes, but I never touch the stuff so adapted it to real cheese

NOTE##Grams always used potato chips, but I also like to use a buttered bread crumb or cracker mixture.

SHARING with FOODIE FRIDAY and TASTY THURSDAY.

CHILI MAC CASSEROLE

CHILI MAC CASSEROLE
3/4 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
1 pound ground sirloin
1/2 pound ground pork
1 large shallot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can petite diced tomatoes (DO NOT DRAIN)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 ounce can chopped green chiles, drained
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 cups shredded cheese of choice (I use cheddar or a jack and cheddar mix)
2 green onions, sliced

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray 9×9 baking dish with non-stick spray.
  • Cook macaroni al dente per package directions. Drain.
  • While macaroni is cooking, brown beef and pork in large skillet along with shallots and garlic.
  • Drain off all fat in a colander.
  • Add tomatoes, chiles, black beans, tomato paste and seasonings to skillet and blend well.
  • Add meat back in, stirring to blend.
  • Add macaroni and gently stir to combine.
  • Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish.
  • Baked covered 30 minutes until bubbly.
  • Uncover and add cheese, baking another 5 minutes until cheese is completely melted.
  • Sprinkle with green onions for garnish.

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SPAGHETTI CARBONARA

Last weekend we went to dinner with my uncle at Olive Garden.  Usually I love Olive Garden, but this meal was not so.  My husband and I both ordered their Carbonara with chicken and shrimp.  It was the blandest, most flavorless pasta I had ever eaten.  It really left me craving an authentic style Italian Carbonara so I decided to make some here at home that was more similar to one of my favorite Italian restaurants from our old town. I added a bit of chopped chicken scallopini for some extra protein.

SPAGHETTI CARBONARA

1/2 pound spaghetti
4 large slices pancetta, diced small (quality bacon works also)
1 egg + 2 yolks
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 tablespoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper

  • In a large pot, add the salt to the water and bring to a boil.
  • Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente.
  • Reserve some cooking water and then drain it.

While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat.

  • Add bacon and sauté for around 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  • In a bowl, beat the egg and the yolks with pecorino cheese and a sprinkling of pepper.
  • Add the drained spaghetti to the skillet with the pancetta and toss for a minute or so over medium heat.
  • Transfer into the bowl with the eggs/pecorino mixture, stirring until the egg sauce thickens.
  • Add some cooking water if the sauce is too thick or more cheese if it’s too liquid.
  • Season with some fresh ground black pepper and a sprinkling of cheese.
  • Serve immediately in a warmed bowl.

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CHICKEN HORSERADISH MAC & CHEESE

CHICKEN HORSERADISH MAC & CHEESE

8 ounces macaroni or campagnelle noodles, prepared according to package directions
1/2 pound bacon, diced
1 large shallot, diced small + 2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided 2 1/2 + 1 1/2
3 tablespoons WONDRA flour
2 teaspoons DIJON mustard
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups small diced rotisserie chicken
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon creamy horseradish
1/3 cup Boar’s Head Horseradish Cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup grated Gruyere Cheese
2 cups EXTRA sharp white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Asiago Parmesan Cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian Parsley
1/3 cup finely crushed Keebler Club crackers
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 tablespoons powdered Parmesan Cheese

  • Preheat oven to 450°.
  • Lightly butter a 9×9 baking dish.
  • In a large skillet brown bacon until crisp and crumbly.
  • Remove bacon with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  • Add shallots and garlic to bacon drippings, sauteing until soft.
  • Add the 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter.
  • When butter is melted whisk in the flour making a roux.
  • Whisk in the mustard.
  • Whisk in creamy horseradish.
  • Gradually and alternately add the milk and cream, whisking constantly.
  • Add the salt, blending well.
  • Bring to a SLOW rolling boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Strain into a large mixing bowl and discard any solids.
  • Add ALL cheeses quickly, stirring constantly until melted and a smooth consistency.
  • Add in the cooked noodles, chicken pieces and 3/4 of bacon pieces stirring to coat.
  • Fold the noodle mixture into the baking dish.
  • Blend together 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter, powdered Parmesan Cheese and crackers.
  • Sprinkle on top of noodles.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes until bubbling and golden brown. During last 5 minutes top with remaining bacon pieces.
  • Remove from oven, cover with foil and rest 10 minutes before serving.

 

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PAN SEARED CHICKEN BREAST & WILTED SPINACH with PARMESAN PASTA

PAN SEARED CHICKEN BREAST & WILTED SPINACH with PARMESAN PASTA
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced*
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 ounces white wine
1 lemon, juiced
4 ounces bacon, diced
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
3 cups fresh spinach, washed and stemmed
spaghetti, cooked and well drained
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 large tomato, diced
*While I prefer fresh garlic, I have found that the roasted jar garlic is a great substitute, especially in the winter.
  • Brown bacon until crisp.
  • Add onion slices and garlic, sauteing until tender.
  • Move bacon and onions to the sides and add butter.
  • When butter is melted, add chicken and brown well on both sides.
  • In the meantime, prepare the pasta per package directions.
  • Remove chicken, keeping warm.
  • Add spinach and saute’ until spinach wilts.
  • Move spinach to outer sides.
  • Toss pasta with wine and lemon juice.
  • Mound pasta in center of pan.
  • Top with Parmesan cheese.
  • Layer chicken pieces over top.
  • Serve immediately.

LINKING TO: CELEBRATE YOUR STORY, CRAFTASTIC MONDAY, DISHING IT & DIGGING IT, NIFTY THRIFTY SUNDAY, SHOW & TELL, SUNDAYS AT HOME, SUNDAY’S BEST, THAT DIY PARTY, JCOOKING & CRAFTING WITH J&J, INPIRATION MONDAY , INSPIRE ME MONDAY , MADE BY YOU MONDAY, MAKE IT PRETTY MONDAY, MELT IN YOUR MOUTH MONDAY, MERRY MONDAY, MIX IT UP MONDAY, MOTIVATE ME MONDAY, PROJECT INSPIRED, SHOW AND SHARE, TUTORIALS & TIP, DIY TUESDAYS, LOU LOU GIRLS FABULOUS PARTY, THE SCOOP, TREASURE BOX TUESDAY, TUESDAYS AT OUR HOME, TUESDAYS WITH A TWIST, CREATIVE INSPIRATIONS, SHARE YOUR CUP , WINTER BLUES WEDNESDAY, WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY, SHOW ME WEDNESDAYS, WOW US WEDNESDAY , CREATIVE CIRCLE, DAGMAR’S PARTY, HOME SWEET HOME, FAVORITE THINGS, GRACE AT HOME, HOME MATTERS, PIN JUNKIE PIN PARTY, TALK OF THE TOWN, BLOGGER’S PIT STOP, HANDMADE HANGOUT, PRETTY PINTASTIC PARTY, SHARE IT ONE MORE TIME, SWAY SHAREFEST, WHAT TO DO WEEKENDS PARTY, BOUQUET OF TALENT PARTY, INSPIRE-BE-INSPIRED, RAE GUN BLOCK PARTY, I’M LOVIN’ IT, THIS IS HOW WE ROLL THURSDAY, FULL PLATE THURSDAY, FOODIE FRIDAY, SOUPER SUNDAY, BETH FISH READS, SATURDAY SPARKS, AMAZE ME MONDAY, INSPIRE ME TUESDAY, SHARE YOUR STYLE, OVER THE MOON