Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Here is a quick one for you.  Great for potlucks, picnics, or week day lunches.  This is really a no-fuss side that if you can boil water, you should have NO problems giving a try!

Mediterranean Pasta Salad - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Mediterranean Pasta Salad - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Ingredients
1 lb rotini pasta, al dente (or your favorite pasta salad pasta)
1 16 oz sundried tomato vinaigrette (I used Kraft)
1 8 oz jar of sundried tomatos in oil, drained, rinced, and chopped
1 14.5 oz can of artichoke quarters, drained and chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 small  red onion, diced
8 oz of feta cheese
2 teaspoons dried oregano

Directions
Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl or tupper ware and that’s it. 

Store in the fridge.

*This pasta salad tastes better if you make the night before and let it chill in the refrigerator.  It tastes even better 2 days later!

Make Now and Freeze For Later

Nesting hit me this weekend.  One day it was in the form of cleaning and the next it took the form of cooking.  Here are the recipes I used to make several casseroles and breakfasts to freeze for later.  And, I have to tell you, having food and meals already taken care of, takes such a huge weight off our shoulders!

First things first, I have one complaint for the grocery stores.  Can all the products and brands get together and decide on the same quantities to offer their products in?  I wanted to make 12 muffins.  Well, the muffins come in packs of 6, the sausage in packs of 8, the cheese in packs of 11 or 20, and the eggs in packs of 12.  So I ended up making 8 muffins with sausage, egg, and cheese and 2 muffins with just egg and cheese.  The same thing happens with hot dogs and hamburgers.  Grrr, anyways…

One extra step I took for all of this was buying disposable casserole and meat loaf pans.  This will allow for easy clean up when the time comes to actually eat these dishes which will be another huge time saver once the baby is here.  It also allows me to still have the use of my glass casserole dishes, in case I actually have time to do some cooking.

The List
Turkey Sausage, Egg, and Cheese English Muffins
Turkey Meatloaf
Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf  
Pioneer Woman’s Baked Ziti
Chicken Manicotti 
Chicken Baked Spaghetti – didn’t have time to get to this one.  Will post if I get to it! 

  
Turkey Sausage, Egg, and Cheese English Muffins 

Ingredients
12 english muffins (I bought the whole grain for an extra hearty muffin)
12 turkey sausage patties
12 eggs
12 slices of cheddar cheese
pepper

Directions 
-preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray
-Crack 1 egg into each muffin hole
-Use a fork or whisk to pop the yolk and sprinkle a bit of pepper onto each egg
-Bake in the oven for 25-30  minutes until the egg is cooked through. (The eggs will be well done.  I know we all prefer our eggs cooked differently, but because these are going to be frozen, it’s better just to bake them completely)
-Remove eggs from oven, run a knife around each edge, and the eggs will pop out easily.
Open and layout all 12 english muffins
-Add 1 turkey sausage patty to each english muffin
-Add 1 slice of cheese to each english muffin
-Add 1 egg to each english muffin
-Add the top of the english muffin to finish
-Wrap each in foil and label for later

-Optional- add the reheating directions and date to a large freezer ziplock and add all of the muffins wrapped in foil to that freezer bag.  This helps me keep the freezer organized.

Ready to Eat Directions
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
If muffins are thawed, bake in the foil for 15-20 minutes
If muffins are frozen, bake in the foil for 30-40 minutes 
*You could also microwave these, but you must remove the foil first.  Also, the upside to baking in the oven, the muffins will toast up!

Turkey Meatloaf
Ingredients
1 egg
3/4 cup of milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 cup quick cooking oats
1/3 cup italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 pound lean, 99% fat-free ground turkey

Sauce
2/3 cup ketchup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard

Directions
-Spray 2 mini meatloaf pans with non-stick spray

-In a large bowl, whisk the egg and milk together.  Then add the cheese, oats, breadcrumbs, onion, and seasoned salt…stir to combine.  Add the ground meat and mix with your hands.  (Don’t over mix, or the meatloaf will be tough)

-Split the meat mixture into 2 portions and set in the greased baking pans.

-In a small bowl, stir the ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard together.  Spoon over each of the loaves.

-Cover with foil and label with date and reheating directions




Ready to Eat Directions

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Bake uncovered…
-If defrosted, bake for 40-45 minutes, until meat is cooked through and juices run clear
-If frozen, bake for 55-60 minutes, until meat is cooked through and juices run clear

*You could easily make this into 1 whole meat loaf.  But I decided it would be better to split these into 2 different meal portions.
*I‘ve made these into mini-meatloaves also, check out that recipe here. 

Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf   
Source: What’s Cookin, Chicago?
 
Ingredients
1 lb ground chicken or turkey
1 egg
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 small onion, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pasta sauce (homemade or store bought)
1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese blend

Directions
-Spray 2 mini meatloaf pans with non-stick spray

-In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic, onion, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. (Don’t over mix, or the meatloaf will be tough)

-Split the meat mixture into 2 portions and set in the greased baking pans.

-Top the meatloaf with pasta sauce.

-Cover with foil and label with date and reheating directions

Ready to Eat Directions
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Bake uncovered…
-If defrosted, bake for 40-45 minutes, until meat is cooked through and juices run clear
-If frozen, bake for 55-60 minutes, until meat is cooked through and juices run clear
-Top with shredded mozzarella and place back in the oven for 10 minutes, until cheese is melted.
-Allow meatloaf to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving

Chicken Manicotti
With this one, I already had extra filling from the last time I made this in the freezer.  So I thawed it out, cooked some manicotti noodles, stuffed them, placed in a casserole dish, covered with sauce, sprinkled some cheese, covered with foil (labelled with date), and place it in the freezer.

Here is the entire recipe again, but the original post can be found here.  

Ingredients

1 8 oz package cannelloni or manicotti

4 cups finely chopped cooked chicken (32 oz / 2 lbs of raw chicken)
1 8 oz containers chive-and-onion cream cheese

1 8 oz containers regular cream cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1 cup / 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon seasoned pepper
1-2 24 oz jars of favorite marinara sauce
Top with Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of dried oregano


Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.


In a large bowl, add chicken, cream cheeses, spinach, mozzarella cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic salt, and pepper. The original recipe says to stir…I say, get your clean hands dirty and mix it yourself.  Like you would a meatloaf.


Slice the pasta lengthwise on one side, through the other side (you should be able to lay the noodle flat) Spoon about 1/2 cup chicken mixture into each shell, gently roll up the manicotti / pressing cut sides together. Place, cut sides down, in 2 lightly greased 9 x 13  baking dish. 


Pour marinara sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle with dried oregano and parmesan cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated.

**FYI** So I bought a different brand of manicotti for the 3rd batch and the cooking directions said to boil for 9 minutes (the other brand said 7).  And after 9 minutes, those things were falling apart!!!  I still assembled the dish, but it was not as pretty as the other 2.  Sometimes you can’t trust the box directions!  
 
Pioneer Woman’s Baked Ziti
Source: The Pioneer Woman

When I first read over this recipe, it sounded like it would take forever and a lot of work to make my own sauce.  But, I was pleasantly surprised.  The sauce was simple to throw together and let simmer for 30 minutes.  And of course I had the added plus of my house smelling like spaghetti.  You could easily brown meat and add your favorite jarred marinara sauce to cut down on time.
 

Ingredients
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 whole Large Onion, Diced
1 pound Italian Sausage (I forgot this!)
1 pound Ground Beef
1 can (28 Ounce Can) Whole Tomatoes, With Juice
1 jar (28 or 32 Ounce) Marinara Sauce
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
Salt And Pepper, to taste
16 ounces Ziti Cooked Until Not Quite Al Dente
1 tub (15 Ounce) Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
1 1/2 pound Mozzarella Cheese, Grated
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 whole Egg

DirectionsFor the sauce:
-Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat.
-Add onions and garlic and saute for several minutes, or until starting to soften.
-Add Italian sausage and ground beef and cook until browned.
-Drain off fat, leaving a bit behind for flavor and moisture.
-Add tomatoes, tomato juice, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes.
-Stir and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.
-Cut off the heat and let the sauce cool down, but remove 3 to 4 cups of the sauce to a different bowl to cool down.

-In a separate large bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, 2 cups of the grated mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, and salt and pepper. Stir together just a couple of times (do not mix completely).
-Drain the pasta and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking and cool it down.
-Pour the pasta into the bowl with the cheese mixture and toss to slightly combine (there should still be large lumps.)
-Add the cooled meat sauce from the pot and toss to combine.

Assembly:
-Add half the coated pasta to a large casserole dish or lasagna dish.
-Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the top, then top with half the remaining mozzarella cheese.
-Repeat with another layer of the coated pasta, the sauce, and the mozzarella.
-Cover with foil, label with date and reheat directions

Reardy to Eat Directions
-Thaw out the casserole
-Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
-Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, or until bubbling.
-Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.
      

Chicken Manicotti

Adapted from: Southern Living
Need a yummy recipe to make ahead of time and freeze for later?  Or a delicious dinner to bring to a friends house that just had a baby?  This meal is perfect and won’t disappoint.  My chef AND family friends who just had a baby approved this one!

The filling is what makes this dish, and honestly, you could use the filling for just about any pasta dish.  Like stuffed shells or lasagna.  The filling would make a great alternative for people who don’t prefer ricotta.  When I first read this recipe, it sounded labor-intensive.  But once I assembled 1 manicotti, I was able to crank them all out in less than 5 minutes…and I made a double batch!  There is even enough filling to make a third…lucky us 🙂

An added plus…people will think you slaved all day in the kitchen, stuffing the manicotti yourself. The slicing open and rolling it back up trick is an awesome time-saver.

Chicken Manicotti - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife
Not as photogenic as I’d hoped! 🙂

Chicken Manicotti - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife
Ingredients
1 8 oz package cannelloni or manicotti
4 cups finely chopped cooked chicken (32 oz / 2 lbs of raw chicken)
1 8 oz containers chive-and-onion cream cheese
1 8 oz containers regular cream cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1 cup / 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon seasoned pepper
1-2 24 oz jars of favorite marinara sauce
Top with Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of dried oregano

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

In a large bowl, add chicken, cream cheeses, spinach, mozzarella cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic salt, and pepper. The original recipe says to stir…I say, get your clean hands dirty and mix it yourself.  Like you would a meatloaf.

Slice the pasta lengthwise on one side, through the other side (you should be able to lay the noodle flat) Spoon about 1/2 cup chicken mixture into each shell, gently roll up the manicotti / pressing cut sides together. Place, cut sides down, in 2 lightly greased 9 x 13  baking dish. 
Pour marinara sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle with dried oregano and parmesan cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated. 

**FYI-UPDATE** So I bought a different brand of manicotti for the 3rd batch and the cooking directions said to boil for 9 minutes (the other brand said 7).  And after 9 minutes, those things were falling apart!!!  I still assembled the dish, but it was not as pretty as the other 2.  Sometimes you can’t trust the box directions!

Chicken Cacciatore

Adapted from:  Skinny Taste
 
Chicken Cacciatore, such a classic and comforting meal.  Which got me wondering, what exactly is cacciatore?  It turns out, “cacciatore” means “hunter” in Italian.  And preparing a dish “hunter-style” includes tomatoes, herbs, peppers, and wine (optional of course!).  If you are from north Italy you’d use white wine and if you are from south Italy you’d use red wine.  But this is America, so I’m going to use whatever is in the fridge.  And considering my dude loves to hunt and fish, this could be the perfect meal to convince him the crock pot is magnifical!


And it was.  He didn’t say it, but silently going back for seconds…almost as large as the first portion is all the validity I need!  And another chef pal was over at the house, tried a spoonful of this goodness and said it was pretty tasty.  I know I’ll be making this on many cold nights this winter!

Chicken Cacciatore - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Ingredients

4 large chicken breasts (I also added a pack of chicken legs just because)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes 

1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 bay leaf

1/4 tsp turmeric
Crushed red pepper to taste (optional)
salt and pepper

Parmesan cheese
Fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Directions
Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to slow cooker.

Add the tomatoes, onions, peppers, oregano, basil, bay leaf, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper to the crock pot and give it a little stir.

Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

Remove the lid, give it another little stir, and cook for an additional hour on high to thicken the sauce.

Enjoy over pasta, rice, or with a side of bread.

Top with Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, etc.

Creamy Baked Ziti Casserole

Back when I shared this post, I froze the leftover spaghetti sauce.  That’s all gravy, but how many of you freeze food with every intention on eating it in the future and then don’t?  We are guilty of this.  So I was determined to do something with this leftover sauce besides chuck it in the trash in a few months.  

The beauty of cooking with leftovers is, all I need from the grocery store was cheese.  Everything else was already at home in a cabinet or freezer so my grocery bill was awesome.  While at the store I came across something new I’d never seen before, Philadelphia Cooking Creme.  You can find it directly beside the cream cheeses.  So I decided to just give the Italian cheese and herb flavor a whirl. There are so many interesting flavors to try out, I can’t wait to try more!  So if any of you have cooked with this stuff and have any yummy recipes to pass along, please email them to me.

Creamy Baked Ziti Casserole
Creamy Baked Ziti Casserole
Ingredients
1 lb dried ziti
1 10 oz tub Philadelphia Cooking Creme – Italian Cheese and Herb
1-2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 cup italian bread crumbs

Directions
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees 

-Cook ziti according to directions on box
-In a large pot, heat spaghetti sauce until heated through.
-Add 3/4 the tub of Philly Cooking Creme and 1/2 a cup of mozzarella to the spaghetti sauce. Stir until cheese is melted.
-Stir the ziti into the pot with the cheesy spaghetti sauce.
-Add the mixture to a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Add the rest of the Philly Cooking Creme to the top of the baked ziti, just dab it on with a spoon.  Sprinkle shredded mozzarella and parmesan over the top, then the breadcrumbs. 

-Cover with foil, and baked in the oven for 25 minutes.

-Uncover the dish and continue to bake until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.

Pasta Salad

I can’t believe I haven’t posted this recipe yet.  My sisters and I ate this ALL the time growing up.  Still do actually.  No one else’s pasta salad has ever come close to this one because it is the best!  It is the perfect dish to bring along to a cook out or potluck, or make a batch of it to eat throughout the week.  The salad takes almost no time to throw together, so when I’m in a pinch to make something this is my go-to side dish. 
Ingredients
1 lb box of tri-color spiral pasta
1 16 oz bottle Zesty Italian Salad Dressing (I use Kraft)
1/2 a 2.26 oz bottle of Salad Supreme Seasoning (I use McCormick)

Add whatever veggies you like or have on hand, chopped up of course. 
Suggestions:
Carrots
Green onion
Red Onion
Bell pepper
Celery
Broccoli
Colliflower

Directions
-Cook pasta according to package directions.
-Add all chopped vegetables, dressing, seasoning, and cooked pasta to a bowl or a food storage container.  Stir to combine.  
-Cover and refrigerate.  Eat once it is cool but flavors will develop more overnight.
*If mixed in a food storage container, it is fun to put the lid on and just shake it!  Fun job for the kiddos.

A Greek version:
Use Greek dressing instead of Zesty Italian
Add fresh basil or dried oregano instead of salad supreme
Add cherry tomatoes, olives, sweet peppers, feta cheese.

Yum!

Two-Timing Spaghetti Sauce

Today is Nate’s day off and we are going to see Spider Man tonight at the I-Max, double score!  I’m not sure who I’m more excited to see Andrew Garfield or Emma Stone.  Who doesn’t love Emma Stone?  Even though she has become more and more glammed up recently, I still like the girl-next-door look about her.  All that is keeping me from tonight is…well…my job!

On Friday I had a raging craving for homemade spaghetti sauce.  I think I even dreamed about it the night before.  So as soon as I got off work, I drove to the store and picked up some ingredients.  I haven’t cooked much…at all… since I’ve been pregnant.  Nothing is appetizing right now unless I’m craving it.  So it made sense to me to make a HUGE batch of sauce.  That way, I could freeze a ton of leftovers to later on.

Everyone has their own spaghetti sauce recipe that they love and I have made several sauces that were all fine, but wasn’t what I was looking for.  I finally nailed it!  I’ve got MY spaghetti sauce recipe.  I couldn’t stop eating spoonfuls of it out of the pot while it was simmering it was so stinkin’ good!

When I was adding the ingredients and popping the wine cork I couldn’t help but sneak a swig.  BIG MISTAKE…it was so delicious!  I had to force Nate to drink the rest of the bottle so I wouldn’t be tempted to have 10 more swigs that my blob would not appreciate.  (I know, I’m a terrible wife for forcing my husband to drink some wine 🙂
Two-Timing Spaghetti Sauce

Two-Timing Spaghetti Sauce

**This recipe makes about 12 cups of sauce, so feel free to half this recipe!

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 large carrots, finely chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lb ground sausage (I mix 1 package of hot and sweet sausage)
2 cups of red wine
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonade
2 6 oz tomato paste
2 28 oz whole peeled Roma tomatoes, crushed
2-4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
-In a large stock pot or sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add the carrot, celery, garlic, and onion.  Add a pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Cook and stir occasionally until the onions are translucent.

-Add the ground sausage to the same pot and break it up with a wooden spoon.  Cook and stir together with the veggies until the meat is cooked through.

-Pour in the red wine and stir together with the meat and veggies.  Scrape the bottom of the pot with the back of your spoon and let the wine cook for 1 minute.  Then add the tomato paste, whole-peeled tomatoes, parsley, and basil.  Stir together and bring to a simmer.  
-Reduce the heat to medium-low or low and simmer for at least 30 minutes until the sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally.  **The longer you simmer the better, I simmered for 1.5 hours.

FYI about Whole-peeled Roma Tomatoes – When shopping for a can of whole-peeled roma tomatoes it is easy to be fooled.  Some cans say “Whole-peeled Roma shaped Tomatoes”…which of course means, the tomatoes are not roma.  Feel free to buy these as well because they are cheaper, but just know they aren’t roma tomatoes. Also, do not take the common short cut of buying diced tomatoes.  They actually add more chemicals to the can to “preserve” the diced shape.  So when you add it to the sauce, the tomatoes don’t melt into the sauce like whole-peeled does.  Tricksters.  How do I crush and squeeze my whole tomatoes?  I dump the can(s) into a bowl and reach my  hand into the juice and squeeze each tomato submerged in the tomato juice.  I find if you do it this way, juice doesn’t squirt everywhere.

Lasagna Roll-a-tini

I love when you get a hankering for something in particular.  You have no question in your mind what you want to cook for dinner.  Makes life so much easier!  Last night, I could’ve named my first child lasagna if it meant that was what I would be eating for dinner!  

These little roll ups are vegetarian delicious!  I don’t even think Nate realized they didn’t have meat in them, or that I added a zucchini… And by using low fat ingredients, this meal is healthier than your average lassagna, which to me, only means I can eat more 🙂

Lasagna Roll-a-tini

Ingredients
1 lb box of lasagna noodles
1 24 oz jar of marinara sauce
8 oz of fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 zucchini, grated
2 eggs
2 cups low-fat mozzarella, shredded 
1 32 oz low/reduced-fat ricotta cheese
8 oz parmesan cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, mix the eggs, ricotta, 1/2 of the mozzarella, 1/2 the parmesan, parsley, salt, and pepper together in a bowl.

In another bowl mix together the marinara sauce, mushrooms, zucchini.

Once the pasta is cooked and drained, lay a noodle flat and add a spoonful of the cheese mixture and the sauce mixture.  Roll the noodle up and place in a 9×13 casserole dish, seam side down.  Repeat this step until you are out of noodles! (last night I fit 14 into the dish)

(I usually halve the cheese mixture, and freeze one half for a later use.  Makes another weeknight meal SO much easier!  Also, if you have extra rollatini’s that won’t fit in the dish, freeze those as well!)

Pour the extra sauce over the rollatini’s (if you like it saucy you may want to add more, whatever!) and sprinkle the other 1/2 of mozzarella and parmesan over the top. 

Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.  Then uncovered for 10 more minutes or until the cheese is nice and melted.  Let the lasagna sit for 5 minutes before eating.

Chicken Mac and Cheese

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Every week is crazy in some way, but some just find away to top all the others.  That was this week for me.  However, I did make this yummy casserole on Monday.  Not the most photogenic casserole in the world, but it was the cheesiest, and that was all I was hoping for!

Chicken Mac and Cheese

Chicken Mac and Cheese



Ingredients

1 pound skinless, boneless, chicken breast halves
1 – 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces dried mostaccioli, ziti, or penne pasta
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups milk
8 ounces gouda cheese (2 cups)
4 ounces swiss cheese (1 cup)
2 cups soft sourdough or French bread crumbs
2 ounces finely shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese (1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
salt and pepper

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. In a large skillet cook chicken, Italian or desired seasoning blend, salt, and pepper in hot oil over medium heat until chicken is no longer pink.* Remove chicken from skillet; set aside.
2. In a large pot or kettle cook pasta according to package directions until just tender. Drain; return pasta to pot.
3. Meanwhile, in the same skillet in which chicken was cooked, cook onion and garlic in 3 tablespoons hot butter over medium heat until tender. Stir in flour until well combined. Stir in tomato paste. Add milk. Cook and stir until mixture is thickened and bubbly; reduce heat. Add the shredded cheese. Stir until cheese is almost melted. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add sauce and chicken to cooked pasta in pot; stir to coat. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart square or rectangular baking dish.
4.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl stir together bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and 3 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle crumb mixture over pasta mixture. Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until crumb mixture is golden and edges are bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings.

Chicken Florentine Artichoke Bake


When I think of casseroles the word “classy” does not come to mind.  They are quick, simple, and easy to clean up…perfect for a week night dinner.  I came across this recipe and thought it looked classy enough to make for a dinner party.  So I tested it out and not only does it look much better than your normal casserole, it tastes darn good!  I guess you could call this a “classerole”…don’t all laugh at once 🙂

And before you say this is not a festive dish for valentine’s day…it sure is!  ARTICHOKE HEARTS, the best kind of hearts there are!  Happy Valentine’s Day to you all! Hope your day is full of hugs, kisses, chocolate, and yummy food!

Chicken Florentine Artichoke Bake


Chicken Florentine Artichoke Bake

Ingredients
8 ounces dried bow tie pasta
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (8 oz.)
1 14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 10 ounce frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1/2 cup oil-packed dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. 

In medium skillet cook onion in 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat about 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; set aside.

In bowl whisk together eggs, milk, seasoning, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, and crushed red pepper. 

Stir in chicken, Monterey Jack cheese, artichokes, spinach, tomatoes, half of the Parmesan, cooked pasta, and onion. Transfer to a 13x9x2-inch baking dish or 3-quart rectangular casserole.

Bake, covered, 20 minutes. 

In small bowl combine remaining Parmesan, bread crumbs, paprika, and melted butter. Sprinkle mixture over pasta. 

Bake, uncovered, 10 minutes more or until golden. Makes 6 to 8 servings.