Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad


Tri-color Rotini

I hope everyone had a happy and safe Fourth of July celebration with lots of delicious food. 🇺🇸 It’s been a while since I posted a new recipe (I’ve taken a little hiatus in the kitchen), and thought I’d share this one I made yesterday. It can be a nice main or side dish, and is yummy both warm or chilled. I kept this pretty simple which made it quick and easy, but you can add your favorite vegetables, and/or chicken or tofu… lots of possibilities. I used tricolor rotini, but feel to go with whatever pasta you’d like (bowtie, penne, small shells, etc.).

The sun-dried tomatoes are used to make a “pesto”, which I decided to do without the use of a food processor. It was a little more work, but I wanted chunkier bits incorporated into the salad and I think it was perfect.

This serves 3-4, so double the ingredients if needed.

Ingredients

  • 6 oz. (about half a box) of tri-color rotini
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 oz. goat cheese
  • 6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Basil, for garnish

Directions

  1. Combine your finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes, cheese, garlic, olive oil and balsamic in a bowl and stir very well.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  3. Drain pasta and reserve some of the cooking liquid.
  4. Toss the pasta with the tomato pesto, and season with salt & pepper, to taste.
  5. Fold in 1 1/2 oz. goat cheese, until melted and well incorporated, and add the cherry tomatoes.
  6. Crumble the remaining goat cheese and sprinkle on top.
  7. Garnish with fresh basil.

Sun-dried Tomato Rotini

 

 

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Easy Baked Chicken Wings


Boiled & Baked Chicken Wings

I came across a great recipe for lower-guilt chicken wings back some months ago, and have been making them this way ever since. The fact that these come out crispy, are baked instead of fried, and are super easy to throw together, makes me love ’em even more. I do switch up the sauce at times, using one of my favorites from a wing place back home in Rochester, New York (Country Sweet Chicken and Ribs), and also just regular barbecue sauce and honey. Whether you use the sauce in this recipe, or your favorite, I think you’ll love this cooking method and how great these wings turn out.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chicken wings (I used wings & drumettes)
  • 1 cup peach jam
  • 2-3 tbsp. chili paste
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450° and line a baking sheet (with sides) with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Trim off any extra fat from the chicken wings.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding 1-2 tablespoons of salt to the water.
  4. Place the chicken wings in the boiling water, and boil for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove the wings from the water to a wire cooling rack placed over a baking pan. Let the wings dry for a few minutes before patting them dry with paper towels (the drier the chicken wings are before you begin to bake them, the crispier they will become).
  6. Place the chicken wings on the baking sheet in a single layer.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Flip the wings over, and bake an additional 10 minutes.
  8. In a large bowl, stir together the peach jam, chili paste and lime juice. Reserve half of the mixture in a separate bowl to be used as dipping sauce when you serve the wings.
  9. Place the hot chicken wings in the large bowl with the remaining sauce. Stir and toss to coat the wings completely with the sauce.
  10. Transfer the wings to a plate and serve with the reserved dipping sauce, blue cheese or ranch and some celery sticks, if desired.

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Buffalo Cheese Dip


I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and Happy 2015!! As I’ve mentioned in some previous posts, I receive a ton of recipes emailed to me on a regular basis from various online sources, and saw one I wanted to try, especially since the big “Game Day” is approaching and I know people are always looking for new dishes to serve up at Super Bowl parties. The great thing about this recipe (by Pillsbury) is there are only five ingredients; well, really four… one is an optional garnish. The one thing I did differently from the original is heating up the dip. I tried it both cold and hot, and in my personal opinion, it’s much better when warmed. You can also add some shredded chicken, if desired.

Ingredients

  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 4-5 oz. crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 cup Yoplait® Greek 100 plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup Buffalo wing sauce
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions (optional)

Directions

  1. In large bowl, beat cream cheese and all but 2 tablespoons of the blue cheese with electric mixer on medium speed about 30 seconds or until combined.
  2. Add yogurt and wing sauce; beat 30 seconds longer.
  3. Transfer to serving bowl. Top with 2 tablespoons reserved blue cheese and green onions. Drizzle with additional wing sauce, if desired.
  4. For the heated version, follow steps 1 & 2, transfer to a greased casserole dish, and cook in a preheated 350° oven for approximately 35 minutes or until hot. Stir, then top with the reserved blue cheese and green onions.
  5. Serve with celery sticks, carrot sticks, cauliflower, broccoli, tortilla chips, or chicken strips.

Yields 16 servings

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Oh-So-Yummy Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake


I owe you all some new recipes, but in the meantime, I thought I’d share this AMAZING holiday cheesecake!!

Cooking For Love

You wouldn’t know it by the weather here in Southern California right now, but it IS officially fall, and Halloween and Thanksgiving are right around the corner. And, as much as I adore summer, I have to admit, I’m a big fan of both holidays, especially turkey day because of all of the incredible food! Last year, I was invited to someone’s house for the holiday, and was in charge of bringing a couple of dishes – one being dessert. Since I’m a huge cheesecake lover, I decided to go with a pumpkin cheesecake, and I must tell you, it received rave reviews! That same cheesecake actually won a bake-off contest at work! Need I say more? Rest assured, this recipe will not disappoint, and people will be asking you for it!

Topped with low-fat whipped cream, candied pecan pieces and drizzled caramel.

Ingredients

  • 38 Nabisco Ginger Snaps, finely crushed…

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Five Ingredient Chicken with Sweet and Spicy Broccoli


5 Ingredient Chicken and Sweet & Spicy Broccoli

I realize it’s been two whole months since I posted a recipe so am way overdue. I made this delicious meal last month, and it’s super easy to put together. I cooked the chicken on top of the stove, but you can definitely use the grill if that’s your preference.

Ingredients

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. chile paste (like Sambal Oelek)

Directions

  1. Preheat burner to high.
  2. Using 2 tbsp. olive oil, cook chicken for 4-5 minutes without moving them, then turn over and finish cooking on the other side.
  3. Transfer chicken to a small plate or bowl and set aside.
  4. Combine vinegar, soy sauce, honey and chile paste in small saucepan. Stirring with a whisk, bring to a boil, and continue cooking for four minutes or until reduced to 1/3 cup.
  5. Pour sauce over chicken, as much or little as desired.

Sweet and Spicy Broccoli

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. package of broccoli
  • 2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. dark sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

Directions

  1. Cook broccoli using your favorite method. (I prefer to steam)
  2. Combine all ingredients (except broccoli) in a small bowl, stir well and drizzle over broccoli.

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Honey Chipolte BBQ Chicken Sandwich


Honey-Chipolte BBQ Chix Sandwich

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July with your family and/or friends, and you got to indulge in some really good eats! I came across this recipe yesterday, and it looked so good, I just had to make it. I tweaked it just slightly to suit my taste, and it came out incredibly delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 
  • 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts 
  • 1 (7-oz.) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic 
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup canned tomato puree*
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 sandwich rolls
  • 1-2 slices Swiss cheese (or you favorite kind)

Directions

  1. Combine water, 1 tsp. cumin, 4 sliced garlic cloves, and chicken in a large saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 10 minutes or until chicken is done. Drain, and place chicken on a cutting board. Cut chicken across grain into thin slices; keep warm.
  2. Remove 1 tbsp.  adobo sauce from can; set aside. Remove 1 chipotle chile from can; remove seeds, finely chop and set aside. Reserve remaining chiles and adobo sauce for another use. (If you want more heat, remove 2 tbsp. adobo sauce and use 2 chiles.)
  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp. minced garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until just beginning to brown. Add 1 tsp. cumin; sauté 1 minute. Stir in tomato puree; cook 4 minutes or until mixture thickens to a paste-like consistency, stirring constantly. Stir in reserved 1 tbsp. adobo sauce, 1 chopped chipotle chile, vinegar, honey, Worcestershire, and 1/8 tsp. salt. Add sliced chicken to sauce; simmer for 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
  4. Preheat broiler.
  5. Split rolls in half; arrange in a single layer, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Broil 1 minute or until lightly toasted. Remove top halves of rolls from baking sheet. Divide chicken mixture evenly among bottom halves of rolls, and top chicken mixture evenly with cheese. Broil chicken-topped rolls 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven, top with roll halves and serve immediately.

* A substitution for tomato puree is to use 2 tbsp. of tomato paste mixed with 1/2 cup water.

Honey Chipolte BBQ Chick Sammy

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Baked Cod with Basil Chive Yogurt Sauce


Cod with Basil Chive Yogurt Sauce

Last weekend, I stopped at my neighborhood Smart & Final for just a few things, and decided to pick up some frozen Cod. I typically prefer my fish to be fresh, but when in a pinch (or I’m being lazy), I’ll grab some frozen. I wanted something light, but flavorful so perused a bunch of recipes for both fish and different types of sauces. I like this Cod dish as it has some crunch on the top while remaining healthy since it’s seared quickly then baked. As for the yogurt sauce, I find it be a nice complement to the fish in terms of flavor points and adding some additional protein. I suggest making the sauce first (directions further down) so it’s ready when the fish is done.

Ingredients 

  • 2 (6-ounce) cod fillets
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, for egg wash
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1/8 tsp. dried thyme)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Place the fillets on a sheet tray or rack so the fish can release its natural juices.
  2. Place the bread crumbs into a shallow dish.
  3. In a separate shallow dish, add 1 beaten egg. Season both sides of the fillet with salt and pepper. Once seasoned, brush the belly side of the cod with the egg. Dip the egg side into the panko bread crumbs.
  4. In a cast iron skillet, add grapeseed oil. Before placing fish into pan, make sure the skillet is very hot. Sear only 1 side of the fish (the side with the bread crumbs). Once the 1 side is seared, place the skillet in the oven for about 4-6 minutes until cooked. *If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, use a regular skillet, then transfer to a greased baking dish, and increase the time to about 10-12 minutes.
  5. Once the fish is cooked, flip it over and add the lemon juice, butter and sprig of thyme. Let melt and baste the fish with the juice.
  6. Remove from pan, place onto plate and top with sauce.

Chive Basil Yogurt Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/8-1/4 tsp. garlic powder, depending on your garlic preference
  • A pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • The finely grated zest and juice of a 1/2 small lemon
  • 4 tsp. of dried parsley
  • A small fistful (about 3 tbsp.) of fresh basil, stems removed, chopped
  • A thumb-thick bundle of fresh chives, chopped (or approx. 1 tbsp. dried)
  • 1/2 cup thick natural yogurt; use full-fat Greek yogurt if calories aren’t an issue
  • 1 tbsp. good-quality light mayonnaise, such as Hellman’s (optional)
  • Salt and milled black pepper

Directions

  1. Stir mustard, garlic, salt, lemon zest and lemon juice in a small mixing bowl, mix/mush well.
  2. Add parsley, then very finely chop the basil and chives, and add them to the bowl.
  3. Stir in the yogurt and mayonnaise (if using), and season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Seared & Baked Cod

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Pennette Lasagna


Pennette Lasagna

A couple of weeks ago, a coworker friend of mine brought me in some of his homemade lasagna and it was incredibly delicious. It took me a few meals to finish it as I like to eat pasta sparingly; however, when it was gone, it left me yearning for more, so I decided to make some and improvise with the ingredients I had on hand, which included pennette pasta. If you’re not familiar with pennette, they’re simply a shorter and thinner version of penne pasta, and have ends that are cut at an angle. I threw this together without doing a lot of measuring (and made a small serving), but am providing my best guesstimate on the amounts I used. To be honest, I was a little nervous how it would turn out, but much to my delight, it was truly scrumptious. 

Ingredients

  • 3/4 container (around 11 oz.) of ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup 2% mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 tsp. fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic 
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups pennette pasta
  • 2-3 cups prepared marinara or pasta sauce
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan
  • 1/4 cup Mexican Style Four Cheese Blend

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add pasta, cook for 8 minutes (they won’t be completely done but they finish cooking in the oven).
  3. Drain and set aside.
  4. Mix together ricotta and egg, then add mozzarella, parmesan, basil, oregano, garlic and salt.
  5. Spray a small baking dish with Pam (I used a small 5″ x 7″).
  6. Put a layer of marinara in the bottom of your pan, sprinkle some red pepper flakes and then 1/3 of the noodles (lay them flat), spread the ricotta cheese mixture on top of the noodles, put a layer of sauce on top of the cheese, add pepper flakes, top with 1/2 of noodles, repeat process again, and finish with remaining sauce and the Mexican 4 Cheese (there should be 3 layers).
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover for the last 5 minutes of cooking.
  8. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.
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Classic Southern Deviled Eggs


Happy Spring! For some reason, I was having a craving for some deviled eggs over the past week, so decided to whip some up yesterday. I know there are many different ingredients you can add to the yolk mixture… horseradish, dill, onion, hot sauce, etc., but decided to go with a more traditional recipe. For this one, I used regular yellow mustard, but feel free to use spicy brown or Dijon, but either way, I think you’ll find these little gems are really delicious.

Deviled Eggs

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Smoked Spanish paprika, for garnish

Directions

  1. Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan and cover with enough water that there’s about 1 1/2 inches of water above the eggs. Heat on high until water begins to boil, then cover, remove from heat and leave covered for 15 minutes. Rinse under cold water continuously for 2 minutes.
  2. Crack egg shells and carefully peel under cool running water. Gently dry with paper towels. Slice the eggs in half lengthwise, removing yolks to a medium bowl, and placing the whites on a dish or serving platter.
  3. Mash the yolks into a fine crumble using a fork. Add mayonnaise, relish, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper, and mix well.
  4. Fill eggs whites evenly with the yolk mixture using a fork, spoon or pastry bag.
  5. Sprinkle with paprika and serve, or store covered in refrigerator. 

Deviled Eggs

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Creamy, Dreamy Chili Mac & Cheese Casserole


Chili Mac & Cheese

I decided since I was off work today, and it was a long & grueling week due to our fiscal year-end crunch, some comfort food was definitely in order. I was thrilled and honored when I was asked by Ragú® earlier this week to create my own spin on their Chili Mac recipe, so I chose to add the ooey-gooey goodness of cheese, both Colby Jack and cream cheese, in addition to some sautĂ©ed chopped onions, to turn it into a hearty, creamy casserole masterpiece. This is serious comfort food at its best! If you’re a meat eater, and enjoy mac and cheese, you will truly love this dish!

Feel free to substitute cheddar if you’d prefer, and/or to turn up the heat on this dish, you can increase the chili powder to two tablespoons or add some red pepper flakes.

Tra-Dish Logo

Were you aware that each jar of Ragú® Old World Style® Traditional Sauce is made with 11 juicy tomatoes making it its richest, thickest recipe. Ragú® has the Authentic Italian taste American family’s love and a variety of great tasting, quick and easy-to-make family favorite recipes. Visit Facebook.com/RaguSauce for additional quick, easy and delicious recipe ideas. Also visit www.RaguSweeps.com to enter the Ragú Better and Better Sweepstakes for a chance to win great Authentic Italian themed prizes and a grand prize trip to Venice for a family of four.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked & drained
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 jar (1 lb. 8 oz.) Ragu® Old World Style® Traditional Pasta Sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups Colby Jack cheese, shredded
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Cook macaroni according to package instructions.
  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, and cook onions for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add ground beef and cook until browned, stirring and breaking up into small pieces.
  5. Stir in pasta sauce, chili powder, and salt and pepper, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, covered.
  6. Stir in cream cheese until blended, then add cooked pasta, and 1 cup of Colby Jack cheese, and mix until well incorporated.
  7. Transfer mixture to a 9×13 baking dish, and cook in oven for 15 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
  8. Remove dish from oven, sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese, and place back in the oven for about 5 minutes, until cheese begins to melt.
  9. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.
  10. Enjoy!

Creamy Chili Mac & Cheese Casserole

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