SUN DRIED TOMATO PESTO SALAD

SUN DRIED TOMATO PESTO SALAD yield 8 servings

Simple ingredients make an elegant looking side dish for any picnic or BBQ. This is the perfect pasta salad for a quick bite or pick me up!

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 25 minutes

1 pound penne pasta (or large pasta shape of choice – cavatappi works well too), prepared al dente per package directions in salted water, drained WELL
1/2 cup basil pesto
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes drained and chopped
1/2 cup FRESH grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup micro greens of choice
1/4 cup diced red pepper
FRESH salt and pepper, to taste

  • Whisk together the pesto and vinegar.
  • Toss pasta with pesto mix.

  • Add sun-dried tomatoes tossing to combine well.
  • Fold in micro greens, diced red pepper and Parmesan cheese. 
  • 
Chill in fridge until ready to eat.


NOTE: This makes a full meal just by adding some chopped salami, pepperoni or rotisserie chicken pieces.

ITALIAN BOLOGNESE STUFFED PEPPERS

ITALIAN BOLOGNESE STUFFED PEPPERS
2 EXTRA LARGE red or orange peppers, halved
1 pound ground beef
2 shallots, diced SMALL
2 cloves garlic, minced
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons Garden Gourmet Italian herbs
1 1/2 – 2 cups marinara sauce
2 cups prepared dilitani or small shell pasta
4 slices mozzarella cheese

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Coat baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Halve peppers tip to root. Clean out seeds and ribs.
  • Brown ground beef and onion together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drain off grease returning meat to pan.
  • Add garlic, Italian herbs and marinara sauce, simmering 5-10 minutes.
  • Stuff pepper halves with meat mixture.
  • Layer remaining meat mixture into the baking dish.
  • Arrange peppers on top of meat mixture in baking dish.
  • Top each pepper with mozzarella cheese.
  • Coat one side of a piece of foil with non-stick cooking spray. Cover baking dish.
  • Bake 35-40 minutes until tender and hot. Remove foil during the last 10 minutes.

NOTE: This prepares well in advance of baking making it a great weeknight meal.

BAKED MACARONI & CHEESE

Mac & Cheese is ALWAYS a favorite in MOST households! This one is a simple version that is quick to make and in the right dish looks elegant enough for company.

BAKED MACARONI & CHEESE

PASTA
2 teaspoons kosher salt 
1 pound elbow macaroni with ridges 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Butter a 2-quart casserole dish.
  • Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large saucepan.
  • Add the salt and macaroni.
  • Bring the water back to a boil and cook the macaroni until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain WELL.

CHEESE SAUCE
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 shallot, diced
4 tablespoons WONDRA flour 
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 
2 cups WHOLE milk 
2 cups grated sharp Cheddar (or mix with some Jack cheese if you prefer, but we like the strong sharp)

  • Melt the butter in a 1-quart saucepan.
  • Add shallot, sautéing until soft and translucent.
    Using a wire whisk, stir in the flour and salt, stirring and cooking over medium heat until the roux bubbles and the flour turns pale brown, about 3 minutes.
  • Slowly whisk in 1 cup of the milk and then whisk in the remaining 1 cup milk followed by the vinegar.
  • Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens.
  • Add the cheese and stir until it melts.
  • Add the drained macaroni to the cheese sauce and mix thoroughly.

TOPPING
heaping 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted 

  • In a small bowl, stir the breadcrumbs with the butter until the crumbs are moistened.
  • Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the prepared baking dish and top with the buttered breadcrumbs.
  • Bake until the dish bubbles around the edges, about 15 minutes.

LEFTOVER PRIME RIB BEEF STROGANOFF

At the price of meat these days I am trying to use every single little piece and let nothing go to waste! So far our Christmas dinner Prime Rib has also become Prime Rib quesadillas, prime rib barley soup, prime rib beef stroganoff, Prime Rib dip sandwiches and prime rib hash. And the Christmas eve turkey breast also became hot turkey sandwiches, cold turkey sandwiches and turkey tetrazinni.

LEFTOVER PRIME RIB BEEF STROGANOFF serves 4
Prep 5 minutes Cooking 15 minutes Total Time 20 minutes

1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 SMALL shallot, minced
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon WONDRA flour
½ teaspoon FRESH chopped tarragon
½ teaspoon dried ground sage
½ teaspoon FRESH chopped thyme
FRESH ground salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup Beech Mushrooms stemmed, sliced small
3/4 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon QUALITY Worcestershire sauce
½ tablespoon Dijon Mustard (OPTIONAL)
1/2 cup leftover prime rib roast, sliced into 2 inch strips
1/8 cup sour cream
4 ounces egg noodles, prepared per package
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped parsley or chives (OPTIONAL)

  • Heat the over medium high heat deep skillet.
  • Add minced shallot and garlic and cooking for 1 minute to start sweating the shallot.
  • Add butter and melt with the shallot and garlic.

  • Sprinkle flour over the shallot and garlic until all of the flour is absorbed.
  • Add seasoning tarragon, ground sage, thyme mushrooms and salt & pepper to taste stirring to combine.
  • Add the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard if using, blending the flavors.
Reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer (reducing heat as necessary to maintain a low simmer) for about 10 minutes. Gravy should thicken while simmering.

  • Once gravy has simmered and reduced, slightly thickening, add the sliced prime rib pieces, stirring to coat.
  • Cook an additional 2-3 minutes to heat the meat through completely.
  • Remove from heat and fold in sour cream.
  • Serve immediately over cooked pasta, rice, or potatoes.
  • Top with chopped parsley or chives for garnish.

Turkey Tetrazzini ~ Memories past

This recipe was originally posted in January of 2010. BUT, it needed a MAJOR picture overhaul!! I’ve also made a few updates over the years to make the recipe more “scratch made”.
When I was a kid and just starting to do the majority of the family cooking we had a set group of recipes that were the “weeknight” recipes. One of those recipes that was especially popular during the holidays was Turkey Tetrazzini. We also substituted ham and chicken for the turkey throughout the rest of the year.

Back then I prepared the recipes exactly as they were written and they were okay, but the Tetrazzini recipe used ALL Velveeta and canned mushrooms and stuff I wouldn’t think of putting into my body now so it was my goal to create the same recipe in a more health oriented way, but still easy for a weeknight meal.

TURKEY TETRAZZINI
2 tablespoons butter
1 LARGE bunch green onions OR 1 LARGE shallot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped small
8 ounces spaghetti or linguine, broken in half and cooked al dente
FRESH ground sea salt and pepper to taste
2 cups shredded turkey pieces**
1 can cream of celery soup (see soup substitutes)
1 cup WHOLE milk
1 cup grated mild cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Melt butter in a skillet.
  • Saute onions and celery just until tender.
  • Add soup and milk, stirring to blend. Cook just until thick.
  • Add cheddar cheese.
  • Add salt and pepper.
  • In the bottom of an 11×7 baking dish scatter first the pasta and then the meat pieces.
  • Pour soup mixture over top.
  • Top with Monterey Jack cheese.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes.

NOTE: ** ham and rotisserie chicken work well too

Casseroles tend to call for a can of some form of “cream of” soup.  Since those soups tend to be full additives and preservatives I came up with some quick and easy substitutes that are homemade as you needed.

CREAM SOUP SUBSTITUTES

Do you hate buying canned soups for use in recipes? Do you want something healthier and less costly?  These recipes make perfect substitutes for 1 can of soup.

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk or other liquid (as specified in variations)

  • Melt the butter in heavy saucepan. 
  • Blend in flour and salt. Cook until bubbly. 
  • Remove from heat and gradually stir or whisk in liquid. 
  • Return to heat and cook, constantly stirring until smooth and thickened.

VARIATIONS

  • Cream of chicken: Use 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup chicken broth as the liquid. Add 1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning or sage.
  • Cream of celery: Saute´ 1/2 cup chopped celery and 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion in the margarine before adding flour. Use milk for liquid.
  • Cream of mushroom: Saute´1/4 cup finely chopped mushrooms and 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion in margarine before adding flour. Use milk for liquid.
  • Tomato: Use tomato juice as liquid. Add a dash each of garlic salt, onion salt, basil, and oregano.
  • Cheddar cheese: Use milk for liquid. Stir into the finished sauce 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese and 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard.
  • Cream of shrimp: Drain the liquid from a small can of tiny shrimp into a measuring cup. Fill cup with milk to measure 1 cup of liquid. Add a dash of pepper, onion salt, curry powder, and paprika to the finished sauce, and stir in the shrimp.

SHRIMP SCAMPI PASTA

SHRIMP SCAMPI PASTA

Shrimp Scampi always sounds a bit decadent and eat out at a restaurant date night meal to me, but is a super easy to make at home.

The prep time is only 20 minutes followed by 20 minutes of cook time and VOILA’ dinner is ready. Light the candles and serve.

1/2 package (8 ounces) linguine pasta
1 + 1 tablespoons butter
1 + 1 tablespoons avocado oil
1 shallot, FINELY diced
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch red pepper flakes (Optional)
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
¼ cup dry white wine
1 small lemon, juiced
1/8 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; cook linguine in boiling water until nearly tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain.


  • Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon avocado oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Cook and stir shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes in the hot butter and oil until shallots are translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Season shrimp with kosher salt and black pepper; add to the skillet and cook JUST until pink, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Remove shrimp from skillet and keep warm.


  • Pour white wine and lemon juice into skillet and bring to a boil while scraping the browned bits of food off of the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon.
  • Melt 1 tablespoon butter in skillet.
  • Stir in 1 tablespoon avocado oil into butter mixture, and bring to a simmer.
  • Toss linguine, shrimp, and parsley in the butter mixture until coated.
  • Season with salt and black pepper.
  • Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil to serve.


CHESSE BURGER PASTA

CHEESE BURGER PASTA serves 4-6

1 pound QUALITY ground beef
1 SMALL onion, diced
½ cup QUALITY ketchup
½ teaspoon garlic powder
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
2 cups elbow pasta uncooked
2 cup beef stock
1½ cup grated Havarti, cheddar or Fontina cheese, grated cheese
diced tomatoes, for garnish
diced red onion, for garnish
diced pickles, for garnish
diced jalapenos, for garnish
shredded lettuce, for garnish

  • Place a large lidded saute pan over medium heat.
  • Let pot heat up for 2 minutes before crumbling ground beef into pot.
  • Sauté ground beef for 2 minutes.
  • Add onions, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  • Once beef is ¾ browned stir in ketchup.
  • Saute for 3 minutes, then add dry pasta. stirring together while gradually adding in the beef stock.
  • Cover sauce pot and cook for 20 minutes.
  • Remove lid and lower heat to medium low.
  • Add grated cheese and stir until melted.
  • Top with personal garnishes.
  • Serve and enjoy!

BEEF STROGANOFF on a BUDGET

When I was a kid I was served beef stroganoff on a fairly regular basis. NO ONE told me it was the middle class version of stretching a dollar. It was pretty good in my opinion, but I was a kid, what did I know? 😀

When I grew up and read the recipe in a “real” cookbook, I was amazed to find that it wasn’t actually made with ground beef LOL 😀

Taking the budget a step farther, my folks used canned mushrooms. I didn’t even know what a FRESH mushroom was until many years later. I will tell you I have NEVER EVER liked canned mushrooms. They also used them in chop suey YUCK!!!!! They also used dehydrated onion and garlic.

This version with REAL veggies and a QUALITY ground beef is really good though. It may not be a great picture, but the flavor made up for it.

BEEF STROGANOFF on a BUDGET
3/4-1 pound QUALITY ground beef
1 cup sliced FRESH mushrooms
1 LARGE shallot, FINELY chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 + 3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons WONDRA flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup sour cream
3 cups prepared egg noodles
1/2 cup chopped parsley

  • In a large skillet brown the ground beef until crumbly.
  • Drain off excess fat and set aside for the moment.
  • Melt 1 tablespoon butterin the same skillet.
  • Add shallots, garlic and mushrooms, sauteing until soft.
  • Remove veggies with a slotted spoon adding to the meat.
  • Melt the remaining butter in skillet.
  • Whisk in flour salt and pepper, whisking until golden.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in milk.
  • Add meat and veggies back into skillet.
  • Return to heat, reduce heat and cook, constantly stirring until smooth and slightly thickened.
  • Fold in sour cream, prepared egg noodles and parsley.
  • Serve immediately.

GARLIC and LEMON CACIO E PEPE

GARLIC & LEMON CACIO E PEPE
8-10 ounces thin spaghetti, uncooked
1/2 cup butter
FRESH sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoon FRESH ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Juice of 1 LARGE lemon
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup pasta water
1 1/2 cups FINELY grated Parmesan cheese

  • Prepare pasta al dente per package directions in a large pot of salted water.
  • Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
  • Melt butter in large skillet.
  • Add pepper and sizzle in butter for a minute.
  • Add garlic and lemon zest, sautéing 30 seconds or so until fragrant.
  • Add pasta 1/2 cup of pasta water and cooked pasta, tossing to coat.
  • Add most of the Parmesan cheese, tossing to combine.
  • Add more pasta water as necessary to make a creamy butter sauce.
  • Stir in lemon juice and season with FRESH ground sea salt to taste.
  • Garnish with reserved Parmesan cheese.

SHRIMP PAD THAI

This recipe is the PERFECT downsized recipe for 2! This flavor combination offers a complex salty AND sweet yet spicy AND pungent flavor with just enough acidity from the lime for balance in the sauce. Add in the sauteed shrimp, the scrambled egg, salty peanuts and crunchy bean sprouts and scallions that balance out the texture and flavors for a complete meal.

SHRIMP PAD THAI
SAUCE
2 LARGE limes, juiced, about 3 +/- tablespoons
3 tablespoons water
2 1/2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons avocado oil (or other neutral oil)
3 teaspoons rice vinegar (I often use seasoned – flavor of choice)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • Whisk all together and set aside.

NOODLES & SHRIMP
4 ounces WIDE rice noodles
1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 shallot, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 LARGE egg, lightly beaten
1 cup bean sprouts
2 tablespoons crushed dry roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons FRESH chopped cilantro (for garnish – optional)

  • Bring 4 quarts of water to boil.Remove from heat, add rice noodles and let stand 10 minutes until noodles are tender. Drain noodles and set aside.
  • Pat shrimp dry.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add shrimp and a pinch of salt, sauteing 2-3 minutes until shrimp are opaque.
  • Transfer to a plate.
  • Add remaining oil to skillet.
  • When oil is shimmering add shallots and garlic, sauteing until light golden brown.
  • Add in egg and cook 20-30 seconds until scrambled.
  • Add noodles, tossing to mix.
  • Add sauce, tossing continually to coat for 1-2 minutes until well blended and coated in sauce.
  • Add bean sprouts, peanuts, scallions and shrimp, tossing to coat.
  • Serve immediately.

NOTE: As a quick cheat I use pre-prepared yakisoba noodles from my butcher to replace the rice noodles.

SHEET PAN MAC & CHEESE

SHEET PAN MAC & CHEESE
2 LARGE cans evaporated milk (12 ounce)
1 cup cubed Velveeta pieces
2 1/2 cups grated Cheddar
2 1/2 cups grated Gruyere
1 teaspoon dry mustard (optional)
1 tablespoon Frank’s original hot sauce
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1 pound macaroni, cooked according to package instructions
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Nonstick cooking spray

  • Preheat the oven to 425°.
  • In a saucepan over a medium heat, add the evaporated milk, processed cheese, 1 cup of the Cheddar, 1 cup of the Gruyere, the dry mustard if using, the hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste, whisking until the cheeses are melted and the mixture is smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and stir to coat and combine.
  • In a small bowl, toss together the remaining cheeses.
  • Remove the sheet pan from the oven and carefully spray with the cooking spray.
  • Pour the mac and cheese from the saucepan into the sheet pan and spread evenly.
  • Sprinkle the cheese mixture evenly over the top.
  • Bake until the cheese topping is fully melted and the mixture is bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes.

CLASSIC PASTA SALAD

This is the PERFECT and the EASIEST pasta salad, a true classic for any pot luck, BBQ or church supper.

CLASSIC PASTA SALAD – 8 servings

2 cups ROTINI or elbow macaroni, cooked per package directions
1 SMALL can Le Seur peas, drained WELL
2 LARGE eggs, hard boiled and diced
2/3 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 SMALL mini red peppers, diced
1/3 cup FINELY diced red onion
2 celery ribs, FINELY diced
3 tablespoons chopped FRESH parsley leaves
1/2 cup SMALL diced extra-sharp cheddar cheese
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste

  • In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.
  • Fold in pasta, peas, eggs, bell pepper, onion, celery and cheese.
  • Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Cover and refrigerate for AT LEAST 2 hours before serving.