BACON RANCH CHICKEN CASSEROLE

BACON RANCH CHICKEN CASSEROLE
8 ounces pasta, prepared per package instructions
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 small shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound shredded rotisserie chicken pieces
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
12 ounces evaporated milk
1 Hidden Valley ranch dressing seasoning mix
1/3 cup Sweet Baby Ray’s hot sauce
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

  • Preheat oven 350°.
  • Spray 8×8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

  • In a large skillet cook bacon until crisp. Remove and drain on paper toweling.
  • Add shallots and garlic, quickly sautéing.
  • Drain of excess grease.
  • Add chicken pieces and cook several minutes until golden and cooked through.
  • Whisk together the milk, ranch dressing mix and hot sauce. Pour over chicken and stir together.
  • Remove from heat and add the pasta, mixing well.
  • Top with 1 1/2 cups of the cheese and most of the bacon, stirring to combine.
  • Pour into prepared baking dish, top with remaining cheese and garnish with remaining bacon.
  • Bake 15-20 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden.
  • Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

PEPPER PASTA SALAD

PEPPER PASTA SALAD
PREP & COOK time 20-30 minutes Serves 6-8 as a side dish

1/2 pound pasta shells (DO NOT USE GLUTEN FREE)
10-12 mini peppers (red, orange and yellow combo)
1 shallot, chopped
1 small bunch radishes, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons QUALITY Italian dressing
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Frank’s original hot sauce
FRESH ground Sea Salt and Black Pepper

  • Cook pasta per package directions. Drain and rinse WELL with cold water until completely cool.
  • While pasta is draining WELL slice or dice peppers, radishes, shallot and chives.
  • Toss pasta with peppers, radishes, shallots and chives.
  • Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, apple cider vinegar, Italian dressing, hot sauce and garlic powder.
  • Pour mayonnaise mixture over pasta, tossing to coat well.
  • Season to taste.
  • Sprinkle with dill.
  • Chill 6-8 hours.

NOTE:

  • Hard boiled eggs are a nice optional addition. When I use these I also add a sprinkle of paprika instead of the dill.
  • You can also shredded rotisserie chicken and turn this into a meal which serves 4 instead.

COWBOY GOULASH

COWBOY GOULASH
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1 large carrot, small chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon avocado oil
4 cups beef broth
1 can original Rotes tomatoes
1 small can green chiles, drained well
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
sour cream

  • Heat oil over medium high heat.
  • Add beef and brown.
  • Drain off grease.
  • Add carrot, onion, garlic and bell pepper sautéing until soft.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add broth and hot sauce.
  • Cover and bring to a FULL simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Add Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes and green chiles.
  • Return to a simmer for another 20 minutes.
  • Serve with warm tortillas or corn bread and a dollop of sour cream.  Sometimes we serve it over pasta, rice or mashed potatoes.

 

LEMON SHRIMP FETTUCCINE

LEMON SHRIMP FETTUCCINE

3/4 pound medium shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1 small fennel, cleaned, halved and sliced – save chop fronds and keep separate
12 ounces fettuccine, prepared al dente (save 1/4 cup hot pasta water)
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved
2 Meyer lemons, Juice of LARGE Meyer Lemon + slices for garnish
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • Whisk together the cream, lemon juice and egg yolks.
  • Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Heat avocado oil in skillet over medium heat.
  • Saute shrimp for 90 seconds. Remove shrimp and set aside to keep warm.
  • Add the fennel pieces and saute for 2 minutes.
  • Add the snap peas and saute another 3 minutes until peas are tender and fennel is browned.
  • Add cream, 1/4 cup pasta water, prepared fettuccine and shrimp into pan.
  • Turn off heat and stir together until well blended and sauce thickens.
  • Season to taste.
  • Garnish with fennel fronds and lemon slices.
  • Serve immediately.

NOTE: Meyer lemons are a bit sweeter than regular lemons so if you can’t find a Meyer lemon, use half of a regular lemon and half of a tangerine.

FRENCH ONION PASTA BAKE

This recipe is for recipe experiment night.  I was looking for a tasty alternative that I could also use as leftovers for my lunches.  I am happy to report that it was a success!
FRENCH ONION PASTA BAKE
6 ounces penne pasta
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon avocado oil
8 ounces button mushrooms, 1/4 inch slices
1 large shallot, halved and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Better than Chicken bouillon
4 ounces heavy cream
2 tablespoons Marsala Wine
3-4 FRESH thyme sprigs
3/4 cup seasoned croutons, crushed
4 ounces shredded Mozzarella

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Spray baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Prepare pasta al dente.
  • Drain pasta WELL and set aside.
  • In a large skillet melt butter and avocado oil.
  • Add mushrooms, onions and garlic. Season with FRESH ground salt and pepper, stirring and cooking 10-12 minutes until caramelized and deep brown.
  • Whisk together the Marsala wine, cream, two-thirds of the thyme, and the bouillon base.  Add to the mushroom mixture stirring and blending together until heated through.
  • Fold in the pasta and then half the cheese.
  • Spread into prepared baking dish.
  • Top with remaining cheese and crushed croutons.
  • Bake 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and golden.
  • Top with remaining thyme.

NOTE: Penne pasta works best, but any other similar sized pasta would work well too.

CHICKEN BLT CASSEROLE

CHICKEN BLT CASSEROLE serves 6
12 ounces Barilla cellentani or rotini pasta
6 slices bacon, chopped, cooked until crispy
3 cups rotisserie chicken pieces
2 cups alfredo sauce (homemade or jar** – your choice)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups micro arugula
2 large green onions, sliced thin
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray 3 quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Cook pasta al dente per package directions. Drain well.
  • In a large mixing bowl toss pasta with chicken pieces.
  • Add alfredo sauce and toss until well coated.
  • Season to taste with FRESH ground salt and pepper.
  • Fold in green onions, bacon pieces and tomatoes.
  • Cover and bake 25 minutes.
  • Top with cheese and return to oven uncovered for 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • Enjoy.

NOTES:

  • This recipe is good leftover. BUT is BEST FRESH because of the lettuce and tomato. 
  • RAGU makes a basil alfredo that is super yummy!

CHICKEN CAESAR MAC & CHEESE

CHICKEN CAESAR MAC & CHEESE
3 cups dry elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions and drained
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons WONDRA flour
1/2 teaspoon FRESH ground sea salt
1/4 teaspoon FRESH ground black pepper
1 cup milk
1 1/4 + 1/4 cups shredded SHARP cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
3/4 cup Ken’s Caesar salad dressing
1 1/2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken pieces
10 pieces bacon, diced, cooked and crumbled

  • Add cooked macaroni, chicken and 3/4 of the bacon pieces to a large baking dish.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Lightly spray a 13×9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat.
  • Whisk in flour, salt and pepper until smooth and golden.
  • Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a SLOW boil, stirring constantly until thickened.
  • Stir in the cheeses (except the 1/4 cup SHARP) until well blended.
  • Stir in dressing.
  • Pour mixture over macaroni and chicken and fold together until well coated.

TOPPING
1/3 cup Panko
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon minced FRESH parsley

  • Toss Panko crumbs and melted butter until well blended.
  • Sprinkle over the macaroni mixture.
  • Top with remaining cheese.
  • Top with remaining bacon pieces.
  • Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

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.

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.