SAVORY NOODLE KUGEL

Noodle kugel is a traditional Jewish holiday dish that is USUALLY served sweet. BUT, I needed a side dish and wanted something more flavorful and less than boring the mashed potatoes or rice. I just love the tender goodness of a warm kugel so decided to try making it into a savory side dish. Potato kugel is the traditional savory route, but the noodles really oomph it up a notch with my family.

SAVORY NOODLE KUGEL

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided, plus more for the pan
8 ounces cooked al dente egg noodles, rinsed and cooled
FRESH ground sea salt and trim-color pepper
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 LARGE eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup SMALL curd cottage cheese
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 cup baby Swiss or Gruyère cheese, grated, divided
1/2 cup plain Panko breadcrumbs

  • Heat the oven to 350°.
  • Butter 9×9 or 1½-quart casserole dish.
  • In a medium bowl, toss the noodles with 3 tablespoons of the butter; season with paprika, salt and pepper.
  • In another medium bowl, whisk the eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, chives, and ½ cup of the Gruyère to combine.
  • Add to the noodles and fold to combine; lightly seasoning to taste with salt and pepper as needed.
  • In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs and the remaining 1 tablespoon of the butter; season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
  • Arrange noodles into the prepared pan.
  • Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the noodles.
  • Top with the breadcrumbs.
  • Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the edges are bubbling, the crumbs are browned, and the center is completely set. If it begins to brown and crisp too much add a loose layer of foil until the last 10-15 minutes.

AMISH COUNTRY CASSEROLE

The beauty of casseroles is that the sky’s the limit. You CAN make them up as you go! Whether you are trying to clean out the refrigerator or recreate your grandmother’s budget leftover dinner at the end of the week this is a category of recipes that has no end.

With fall approaching we are entering the CASSEROLE phase of the year. This Amish Country Casserole I adapted from LOU LOU GIRLS is ALL about the comfort!! It can easily be made ahead of time and tastes wonderful whether you bake it and serve it now or freeze it and bake it later!

AMISH COUNTRY CASSEROLE
1 (12 oz.) bag medium bow tie noodles or pasta shape of your choice
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground sweet Italian sausage
1 can CAMPBELL’S condensed tomato soup
1 can CAMPBELL’s cream of ANYTHING soup (your choice, though I like either mushroom or celery)
1 cup WHOLE milk
FRESH ground sea salt & black pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 
1/2 cup sweet Vidalia onion, diced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, FINELY minced
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese or cheese flavor of choice (I often use Jack)

  • Preheat oven to 350°. 
  • Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non stick cooking spray and set aside.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions and drain well.
  • In a large skillet melt butter, add onions and cook a couple minutes before adding beef, cooking crumbly.
  • Drain off grease.
  • In a large bowl stir together tomato soup, cream of anything soup, milk, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and minced garlic.
  • Fold in pasta and ground beef mixture.
  • Spread mixture into prepared baking dish.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes.
  • Then top with grated cheese and serve with a salad.

MUSHY PEA RICOTTA STUFFED SHELLS

MUSHY PEA RICOTTA STUFFED SHELLS

These mushy pea and ricotta stuffed shells are a TRUE comfort food for a crisp fall evening!

18 to 20 JUMBO shells
1-2 tablespoons avocado oil
3/4 cup mushy peas – from leftovers preferably
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese + extra for garnish
2 LARGE garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound QUALITY sweet Italian sausage
1/2 pound LEAN ground beef
3-4 green onions, sliced thin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, more for the pasta water
FRESH ground sea salt & black pepper, to taste
2 cups homemade tomato marinara sauce (you can use jarred sauce, but we prefer homemade from the garden)

  • Preheat the oven to 425°.
  • In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta shells for 10 minutes, until al dente. Drain and drizzle with a little avocado oil to keep them from sticking together.
  • Brown sweet Italian sausage, ground beef and green onions until meat is cooked through and crumbly. Drain off grease well!
  • In a large bowl, combine the mushy peas with the ricotta, pecorino, garlic, oregano, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, salt, FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Spread the marinara in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
  • Stuff each shell with the filling and place in the dish.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Uncover and bake 5 minutes more until cheese is browned and bubbly.
  • Serve with more marinara on the side.

NOTE: This recipe freezes well for an easy weeknight meal!

  • After assembling the shells in the baking dish, cover tightly and freeze.
  • To thaw, transfer the dish to the fridge about 10 hours before you plan to serve it.
  • Remove from the fridge and let sit at room temp while the oven preheats.
  • Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, or until thawed and warmed through.

CRACK CHICKEN CASSEROLE

One of my grandmothers used to say there were two ways to things – Her way or the wrong way. This “attitude” became a family “sore” spot a good deal of the time as there are always multiple ways to reach the same end results. For me it always seemed to resonate with recipes… LOL fast forward to this recipe and she was in my head about the best way to write this up.

There really are two ways to make this, the short way and the LONG way, which is my preferred method because I find it the most flavorful is to make the chicken in the slow cooker the day before you want to assemble the casserole.

Not much to look at, but SUPER delicious!

CRACK CHICKEN CASSEROLE (the short way)
8 slices thick cut bacon cooked crispy and crumbled
4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (or crock pot crack chicken)
2 cups dried egg noodles, cooked per directions on box and drained
1 package dry ranch dressing mix
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup red or orange pepper, diced
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese divided
1/2 cup Darigold Mexican sour cream
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (omit if using crock pot crack chicken)

1/3 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
1 1/2 cup corn chex, crushed
1/4 cup butter melted
2-3 green onions thinly sliced for garnish, optional

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray, set aside.
  • In a large bowl combine the bacon, chicken, cooked noodles, ranch seasoning, onion, red pepper, cream cheese, 1 cup of the cheddar, sour cream and mayonnaise until well blended.
  • Spread into the baking dish.
  • Top with the remaining cheddar.
  • In a small bowl mix together the corn chex with the butter and top the casserole with this mixture.
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes until bubbly.
  • Let cool slightly, garnish with optional green onions and serve.

CROCK POT CRACK CHICKEN
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders
1 package ranch dressing package mix
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar or cheese flavor of choice – Nacho, sharp, Vampire Slayer, etc…

  • Add chicken to crock pot in a single layer if possible.
  • Sprinkle with ranch dressing powder.
  • Place cream cheese block as a whole on top.
  • Cover and cook on low 6-7 hours.
  • Remove cover and shred chicken while stirring in cream cheese at the same time.
  • Add cheese and stir to mix.
  • Serve on buns, croissants, tortillas, in the above casserole or use it to make tacos next Taco Tuesday!

CREAMY PARMESAN CHICKEN & PROSCIUTTO


1 + 2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon WONDRA flour
1 tablespoon avocado oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4 pieces prosciutto
1-2 cloves garlic, FINELY minced
1/2 cup FRESH small green peas
1 teaspoon red chile flakes, crushed
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1 LARGE lemon, juiced
2 cups penne pasta
1/4 cup FRESH chopped Italian Leaf parsley
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup FINELY shredded Parmesan cheese

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
  • Add pasta cook al dente, 9-11 minutes.
  • Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.
  • In a large skillet add a drizzle of oil over medium high heat. Add prosciutto slices in a single layer, cooking 2-3 minutes per side until crispy. Do not clean pan.
  • Drain on paper toweling.
  • Pat chicken dry and generously season with FRESH ground sea salt, black pepper and crushed red chile flakes.
  • Add butter to skillet.
  • When melted add garlic sauteing 30 seconds.
  • Add chicken steaks sauteing 2-3 minutes per side until cooked through.
  • Transfer chicken to cutting board.
  • Whisk flour into drippings.
  • Add cream cheese and heavy cream to skillet, whisking to combine.
  • Adjust seasoning to taste.
  • Add lemon juice and parsley, stirring to blend.
  • Add pasta and peas, folding in to coat, cooking a couple minutes until warmed through.
  • Slice chicken breasts into strips.
  • Plate pasta.
  • Top with chicken slices, prosciutto and Parmesan cheese.

RECIPE REVIEW
TASTE: Creamy and full of rich flavor.
TEXTURE: Al dente noodles and crispy chicken in a creamy sauce are the star of this meal.
EASE: Easy to Moderate.
APPEARANCE: Appetizing and visually appealing.
PROS: Great meal for company.
CONS: None that I found!
WOULD I MAKE THIS AGAIN? DEFINITELY Yes.

SKILLET PASTA with VODKA SAUCE

SKILLET PASTA with VODKA SAUCE
1 bunch green onions or 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups vodka pasta sauce, homemade or jarred – your choice
3 cups homemade beef stock
12 ounces penne pasta
1/4 cup chopped marinated sun-dried tomato pieces
1/2-3/4 cup quartered marinated mozzarella balls
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • Coat 12 inch non-stick skillet with non-stick cooking spray. I like to use my heavy enameled cast iron crock pot skillet.
  • Heat over medium-high heat.
  • Add beef, sweet Italian sausage, most of the green onions (save some for garnish), FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper to taste, cooking 8-10 minutes and breaking up the meat into small crumbles until meat is cooked through.
  • Add garlic and stir 30 seconds until fragrant.
  • Drain the meat and discard the grease.
  • Add 1/2 cup of the sauce and water to skillet. Bring to boil.
  • Add pasta and red pepper flakes.
  • Cover 10-12 minutes and cook JUST until tender.
  • Stir in meat and remaining sauce, cooking a couple minutes to heat through.
  • Gently fold in Mozzarella ball pieces.
  • Top with scallions and serve immediately.

CHICKEN PARMESAN SPINACH ARTICHOKE BAKE

Turn your favorite party dip into a hearty casserole meal that will satisfy EVERYONE!

CHICKEN PARMESAN SPINACH ARTICHOKE BAKE serves 8

3 cups chicken rotisserie chicken **
2 shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound fusilli pasta, uncooked
12 ounce container spinach artichoke dip
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
16 ounces frozen baby spinach, THAWED & SQUEEZED DRY
3 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray 13×9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Mix together the artichoke dip, onions, garlic, spinach, chicken pieces and 1/2 cup of the cheese until well blended.
  • Add chicken stock and blend well.
  • Fold in pasta.
  • Cover with foil and bake 30-35 minutes, stirring a time or two.
  • Remove foil and sprinkle evenly with remaining mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan.
  • Bake 5-10 minutes more until cheese is melted and pasta is tender.
  • Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

NOTES:

  • You can make this more of a side dish by deleting the chicken pieces.
  • Another alternative is to season and grill the chicken first and then shred it. It adds another depth of flavor.

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.

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.