Italian Antipasto Salad

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I made this salad for a group of ladies and judging by how little of this was left, it was a hit 😉 The salami and provolone combo is what makes this crave-worthy and I like the different textures of the lettuces. The vinaigrette compliments this salad perfectly, and thanks to the Dijon it stays well mixed for long periods of time. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

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Italian Antipasto Salad – adapted from The Food Network

  • 1/2 head romaine lettuce, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 head butter lettuce, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup rinsed canned red kidney beans, patted dry
  • 1 cup rinsed canned garbanzo beans, patted dry
  • 8 ounces salami, cubed
  • 6 ounces Provolone, cubed
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Red Wine Vinaigrette, recipe follows
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions –

Combine the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

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Red Wine Vinaigrette – adapted from Epicurious

  • 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions –

Pour all ingredients in a 8 ounce jar, replace the lid and shake vigorously.

Re-Post: Italian Mac and Cheese

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I haven’t made this in nearly three years, but it tasted better than I remembered it. The leftovers didn’t last long in our house and  we happily ate them for lunch two days in a row – yeah, it’s that good! 🙂 Thanks for reading, enjoy!

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Italian Mac and Cheese Ingredients – adapted from The Food Network

  • 1 pound penne, ziti or rigatoni pasta
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 12 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 3 – 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheese blend ( I used Fontina, mozzarella, Pecorino Romano and Asiago)
  • 1 – 14 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tsp hot sauce, optional *I used chili flake*
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions –

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt water and cook pasta to a chewy al dente, about 8 minutes.  In a large skillet, brown and crumble the sausage. Drain cooked crumbles on a paper towel lined plate. Return pan to heat and add extra-virgin olive oil, butter, mushrooms and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Saute about 5 minutes, until garlic is fragrant and mushrooms become lightly browned.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Add flour to skillet and stir, cooking 2 minutes. Whisk in stock, then stir in milk. Bring to a bubble, then stir in 2 cups of Italian cheese blend. When cheese has melted into sauce, add tomatoes. When sauce comes to a bubble, remove from heat and adjust seasonings, adding hot sauce if desired.  Combine cheese sauce with sausage and pasta and transfer to a large baking dish.  Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is browned and bubbly.

Portobello and Kale Pesto Pizza

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I needed a vegetarian pizza that wasn’t plain cheese (boring!) for my friend who was coming over for dinner. Anytime we have company over I don’t like to make something that I haven’t made/tweaked/perfected; but I threw caution to the wind and made this amazing pizza. I found this recipe, (surprise, surprise!) on Pinterest! I immediately sent a text to her to see if she was up for it – thankfully she was game for anything! I love when I get to cook for people who aren’t picky 😉

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Verdict: This was seriously good! My friend said it was the best thing she’s ever eaten – maybe that’s just because she’s pregnant and super sweet, but I’ll take it 😉 The kale pesto has rich flavor and a garlicky bite, and the sautĂŠed mushrooms are savory, meaty and absolutely perfect! It’s a new favorite for the both of us, and I’m sure we’ll enjoy this one again soon. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

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Portobello and Pesto Pizza – adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Pizza Dough –

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

Topping –

  • 12 ounces portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1/2 of an onion, sliced
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup kale pesto
  • mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • grated parmesan cheese

Directions-

Pizza Dough –

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine all of your ingredients, and stir until a loose dough forms. Attach the dough hook to your mixer and set the speed to 2, continue kneading adding more flour if necessary. You don’t want the dough to be too sticky, but a little tacky is good. Knead for 5-7 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

After kneading is finished, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently shape it into a ball. Place the ball in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise until doubled in volume – about an hour. Divide the dough into two pieces; you only need one ball for this recipe.

Mushroom Topping –

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil and butter. Add onions and cook 5 minutes, then add the mushrooms to the pan. Continue cooking until the veg is evenly browned and tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and continue to cook down for a few more minutes until the pan is mostly dry. Set aside.

To Assemble –

Place a pizza stone on a rack on the lowest part of your oven. Heat to 475 – 500 degrees.

Flatten your dough into a disk  until it’s as thin as you like it (I like mine around 1/4 inch, and about 12 -14 inches in diameter). Spread the pesto over the dough leaving about 1/2″ border uncovered. Sprinkle with cheese, then top with the mushroom  and onion mixture, and then top generously with more cheese. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until the crust is golden brown, remove from oven and let cool slightly before slicing.

 

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Kale Pesto – adapted from Little Leopard Book

    • 4 cups kale (chopped)
    • 4 – 6 cloves garlic (crushed)
    • 1/4 cup cashews
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1/4 cup parmesan

Directions –

Add the kale, garlic and cashews to a blender or food processor. Blend for 30 seconds. Add the salt, pepper, olive oil and water. Blend until all ingredients have been incorporated (30-60 seconds). Add the parmesan cheese and pulse for 5-10 seconds. Serve with pizza, pasta or your favorite dish.

Super Simple Chili

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I was hesitant to try this one because there are so few ingredients, but all the reviews reassured me that this would be worth making. I decided that it wouldn’t be seasoned enough for my taste so I added a few extras to bump up the flavor. I used one pound each of ground beef and pork, sauteed onion and garlic with the meat, added a six-ounce can of tomato paste along with the tomato sauce. I also had a couple of cups of homemade chicken stock that I didn’t want to waste, so I used that instead of water to loosen the chili up. I didn’t modify the spices (although I should have – there still wasn’t much flavor in this). This is not a “soupy” chili at all but it would be perfect for hot dogs, hamburgers or nachos. Overall, this was as I had predicted – too bland for my tastes! Although, it’s a good jumping off point for those who like to tweak recipes anyway. Thanks for stopping by!

**Click the link for the original recipe.

Super Simple Chili – adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 – 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • homemade chicken stock for thinning, or water
  • 1 – 15 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 – 15 ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • Shredded Cheddar, for serving
  • Chopped onions, for serving

Directions –


Place the ground beef in a large pot and throw in the garlic and onion. Cook over medium heat until browned. Drain off the excess fat, and then pour in the tomato sauce, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and cayenne. Stir together well, cover, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If the mixture becomes overly dry, add 1/2 cup water or stock at a time as needed. Add the beans and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with shredded Cheddar and chopped onions.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

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My sister shared this simple and satisfying recipe while we were vacationing in California. We made four awesome pizzas together and this one was the standout! We used leftover pollo asada that Dad marinated and grilled the day before. Not even he knows what he threw together for it, so I improvised a super simple marinade for my chicken.  I will make this again next week for company – I hope they love it 🙂 Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Pizza – 

For Marinade –

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • grapseed oil
  • juice of one lemon

Mix all ingredients together and pour over chicken breast. Let marinade for at least 1 hour. Cook chicken using your preferred method – we grilled ours. This is more than enough chicken for one pizza. (I used the leftover chicken for buffalo chicken salad)

For Pizza – adapted from Punky Purls

  • 1 ball of pizza dough – at least 14 ounces
  • 1 1/2 cup of cooked and shredded chicken
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • blue cheese crumbles to taste
  • 2 – 3 TBSP Franks Red Hot
  • 2 TBSP butter

Directions – 

Preheat oven to 475 degrees and place a pizza stone on top of a rack set at the bottom of your oven.

Place a skillet over medium heat; add the butter and Frank’s Red Hot. Heat just until butter has melted, then add chicken and coat with buffalo sauce. Turn off heat and set aside. Press dough out into a pizza round about 13 inches in diameter and then dock center of pizza dough. With a slotted spoon remove chicken from skillet and place on pizza dough, making sure you don’t coat the bottom in a thick layer of sauce; unless you like soggy pizza 😉 Generously cover the chicken with your cheese. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until crust and cheese are golden brown. Serve and enjoy!

Spaghetti with Shrimp and Vodka Cream Sauce

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I posted this recipe over a year ago, but I wanted to share it with you all again cause it’s just that good! I made it exactly as the recipe calls for – 1 cup of heavy cream and 1/2 cup of vodka and everything 😉 No worries – I didn’t have two drunk minors stumbling around after they ate this. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Penne and Shrimp with Vodka Cream Sauce – adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 3/4 pounds Penne pasta (I used a pound of spaghetti)
  • 1 pound shrimp (I used 1.5 pounds, we love shrimp)
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 whole onion (small), diced fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup vodka (or white wine)
  • 1 – 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt To Taste
  • pepper To Taste
  • Parmesan cheese

Directions –

Cook the penne pasta until tender-firm, also known as al dente.

Peel, devein and rinse (under cool water) 1 pound of extra large shrimp. Heat about 1 tbsp. butter and olive oil in a skillet. Add the shrimp and cook for a couple of minutes until just opaque. Do not overcook them. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Now, put the cooked shrimp on the cutting board and pull off the tails. Chop the shrimp into bite –sized pieces and set aside.

In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the garlic and onion and sautÊ, stirring occasionally. After the garlic and onions have cooked a bit add your vodka or white wine. Let the vodka or wine evaporate for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. If you would rather not use alcohol, you can use low-sodium chicken broth instead (about ½ cup).

Now add an 8-ounce can of plain tomato sauce. Stir well until combined. Then add 1 cup of heavy cream. Continue stirring. Turn heat down to low and let simmer.

Now add your chopped shrimp back into the tomato cream sauce. Give it a stir and add salt and pepper to taste. Finally add your cooked penne pasta and give it a good stir.

PW’s Baked Ziti

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I don’t normally make a meal for someone when I haven’t made it before, but PW has yet to steer me wrong; so I went for it. I also don’t get many chances to make meals like this, (the hubbs doesn’t like baked pasta dishes!), so when a friend from home group was scheduled for surgery, I thought that this would be a comforting meal for her and her family. This pasta is rich and filling and what you see in the picture is only half of what the recipe makes! I don’t think a 13 x 9 baking dish could have contained it all – so if you have a lasagna pan, you might want to use it!  Thanks for reading, enjoy!

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Baked Pasta – adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 whole Large Onion, Diced
  • 1 pound Italian Sausage
  • 1 pound Ground Beef
  • 1 can (28 Ounce Can) Whole Tomatoes, With Juice
  • 2 cans (14.5 Ounce) Tomato Sauce Or Marinara Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  •  Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 16 ounces, weight Ziti Or Mostaciolli, 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
  • Fresh Minced Parsley

Directions –

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. After that time, remove 3 to 4 cups of the sauce to a different bowl to cool down.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a separate 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 it into the bowl with the cheese mixture and toss to slightly combine (there should still be large lumps.) Add the cooled meat sauce and toss to combine.

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.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbling. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

 

Broccoli Cheese Soup II (with Ham)

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Even before I baked ham the other day, I already had plans for the leftovers! I wanted to make ham and potato soup, but he had a different craving. M loves Panera Bread broccoli cheese soup – I like it too. That’s not the problem…when I have a plan, I’m not immediately flexible to accommodate different ideas! He doesn’t really like my version because it’s not as thick as Panera’s – but I have a feeling they accomplish this by adding processed cheese. After deciding to go ahead with his plan, I quickly looked for a recipe that called for the stuff, but I couldn’t find one. I was in the parking lot of the grocery store, using my slow phone and didn’t have a whole lot of time. This recipe makes a small batch of thick, rich soup – all that half and half kept the base nice and creamy. I usually double my go-to recipe and use whatever milk I have, so it’s much thinner.

Verdict: Okay…this recipe is better than the other one. It’s rich and creamy, thanks to all that half and half! Also, the addition of diced ham (from a new recipe I’ll share soon) was a tasty, meaty and a perfect complement. Everyone loved it and the rolls I paired with it. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

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Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup – adapted from Cookbook-Recipes

  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • Âź cup melted butter
  • Âź cup flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • ½ pound fresh broccoli
  • 1 cup carrots, julienned
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Âź teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 heaping cup of diced ham, optional

Directions:

Saute onion in butter. Set aside. Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and slowly add the half-and-half (this is called making a roux). Add the chicken stock whisking all the time. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender for 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper. The soup should be thickened by now. Pour in batches into blender and puree. Return to pot over low heat and add the grated cheese; stir until well blended. Stir in the nutmeg and serve.

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

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Just in case you didn’t think that macaroni and cheese could get any more decadent…you come across this gut busting concoction! Seriously though – it calls for four cups of cheese and four cups of heavy cream…in order to redeem this a tad, this Momma is going to use half and half instead of all cream. That’s how I roll, folks! 😉 I can’t justify it, even if it is a rare dish in this house. I learned something about myself while making this: handling lobster tails gives me the willies! This was my first time handling raw lobster and the shell grossed me out. My daughter thought the spots on the shell were its eyes! That was kind of funny, but she is always wary of trying new things. I told her lobster is like a huge shrimp, but tastes even better. She ended up eating her entire serving and proceeded to ask if she can take some leftovers to school 😉

Verdict: This came out good, but it could use some more spice. Make sure to season well and taste the sauce as you go. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese – adapted from The Neely’s

  • 4 tablespoons butter, plus 1 tablespoon for greasing dish
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2 small shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups shredded sharp white Cheddar
  • 2 cups shredded Gruyere
  • 2 (8-ounce) raw lobster tails, defrosted if frozen, meat removed from shell, chopped
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley leaves

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Directions –
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and adjust racks to the middle. Grease a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with butter.

In a large pot of boiling salted water over medium heat, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve.

Add 4 tablespoons butter to a large pot over medium heat. Once the butter shimmers, add the shallots and garlic and saute until translucent. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the tomato paste and flour and stir to toast, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the white wine and reduce, by half, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the cream, whisking well to remove any lumps. Add the paprika, cayenne, and bay leaf. Bring the cream up to a simmer and turn the heat to low. Let reduce until the cream is thick and can coat a spoon, about 5 to 10 minutes. When thickened, remove the bay leaves.

Stir in the grated cheeses, a handful at a time, combining well after each addition. Add the chopped lobster meat to the sauce and stir well. Add the pasta and stir. Add to the greased baking dish and sprinkle with the panko crumbs and parsley. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle individual servings with parsley.

Spinach Artichoke Pasta

Every once in a while I make something that isn’t worth making again, and this is a good example. It was bland and I forgot that I really don’t like the texture of wilted spinach – it grosses me out! I bet the hot spinach artichoke dip on the previous post would be amazing poured over pasta. I meant to try it; but when I make the dip, it’s meant for an appetizer and not an experiment 😉 If I ever do I’ll be sure to post about how it turned out. Thanks for reading!

Spinach Artichoke Pasta – adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 6 Tablespoons Butter
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
  • 2 bags Baby Spinach
  • 2 cans Artichoke Hearts, Drained And Halved
  • 3 Tablespoons Flour
  • 3 cups Whole Milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1-1/2 cup Mozzarella Or Monterey Jack Cheese, Grated
  • 1/2 cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth (less Or More)
  • 12 ounces, weight Penne, Cooked Until Al Dente
  • 1/2 cup Seasoned Panko Breadcrumbs
  • Crushed Red Pepper, To Taste

Directions –

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot or skillet. Add garlic and throw in the spinach. Stir it around until it’s wilted, about 1 minute. Remove spinach from heat and set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons butter to the same pot and raise the heat to high. Throw in the halved artichokes and stir it around until they get a little color, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the artichokes from the pot and set them aside.

Reduce the heat to low. Add 2 tablespoons butter to the pot. When melted, sprinkle in flour and whisk until it’s combined. Pour in milk and whisk to combine. Let it cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until starting to thicken. Add Parmesan, Mozzarella/Monterey Jack, salt and pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir to melt, and if it’s overly thick, splash in chicken broth.

Add artichokes and pasta, tossing gently to combine. Gently fold in spinach, then pour the pasta into a serving bowl. Sprinkle the top with crushed red pepper flakes and plenty of Panko breadcrumbs for crunch.