Tag Archives: easy recipes

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Pasta Shells

This one is a serious throwback! My sister made a version of these many many years ago, it was one of our very first Pintrest ventures. I thought they were delicious! I’ve been wanting to recreate them for years, but Levi has always been very skeptical. So this week I decided that it’s better to ask forgiveness rather than permission. I mean how could he not like them….chicken-good, pasta- good, basil and garlic- good, cheese- good and I decided that I was going to add a little something extra, Alfredo sauce-gooooooood!

 

And guess what…..of he loved it! This is kind of like a zesty chicken alfredo. I mean who wouldn’t love it? The original recipe doesn’t call for any sauce so the shells end up a little dry. I poured some homemade alfredo into the bottom of the pan and the result was amazing!

Tip- I call for 25 pasta shells because I like to leave myself a little room for error.

Ingredients:

  • 25 Pasta Shells, cooked for a few minutes below package directions. You will want them very al dente. Drain and let cool.
  • 1 lb Ground Chicken
  • 1/2 Onion, diced
  • 1 Cup Basil Leaves
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil (optional- 1/4 cup prepared pesto)
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Flour
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 2 Cups Heavy Cream or Half n Half
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan, shredded
  • 2 Cups Kraft Italian Blend Cheese

In a medium skillet heat up 2 tbsp cooking oil over a medium heat. Add onions and saute until they are soft. Add ground chicken, cook until slightly browned. Remove from heat, stir in cream cheese until fully melted.

In a small food processor add the basil, 2 cloves of garlic and 2 tbsp olive oil. Chop until very fine. Mix in with the chicken. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat melt the butter and add garlic. Cook until butter turns a dark yellow. Whisk in flour, cook for an additional minute. Add cream 1/2 cup at a time constantly whisking. Add parmesan.  Reduce heat to low, let simmer for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

In an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish pour 3/4 of the alfredo sauce. Spoon the chicken mixture into the shells and place in the alfredo. Drizzle the rest of the sauce over the top and top with cheese.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. If you want the cheese to brown turn on the broiler for 1-2 minutes.

Enjoy!

Adapted from Riches to Rags recipe click here for link. 

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Spring Marbled Cake Balls


I wanted to make something bright and fun for spring. What is better than spring colored cake balls?!? The first few times I made cake balls were with my sister. I had never really heard of them before, but we made some pumpkin cake rolls several years ago and I was hooked! I’ve tried several different kinds of truffles and dipped balls. This is my very first solo cake ball though. I am still working on my ball rolling technique.

I wanted to make plenty for all my peeps at work so I baked 4 cakes! Yowza! I also know that these are pretty large, but they aren’t very rich so you can definitely eat a full one. I made my favorite White Chocolate Buttercream and added some Meyer lemon zest and juice. So it ends up being perfectly light and fresh! 


You can definitely adjust this recipe based on how many you want to make. You can divide 1 box white cake mix into 2-4 different colors. You can get 12-24 cake balls out of one cake based on how big you want them.

Ingredients:

  • 2 boxes White Cake Mix
  • 1 box Blue Velvet Cake
  • 1 box Pink Velvet Cake
  • To make them you will need Butter, vegetable oil and water.
  • Yellow And Green food coloring. I prefer Wilton Icing Colors

Frosting:

  • 1 1/2 Cup Salted Butter, softened
  • 2 Meyer Lemons, zest and juiced
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 Cup White Chocolate, melted
  • 3-4 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • Optional: 1-2 tsp Lemon Emulsion

Coating:  2 packages Almond bark

Decorations: Sprinkles, colored candy melts, or whatever tickles your fancy!

Bake cakes according to package directions. I recommend using clear glass pans to reduce the amount of browned edges. Let cool until room temperature.

In seperate bowls break up the different colored cakes into fine crumbs. I used my hands by taking a large piece of cake and moving my hands in circles getting closer and closer. (Maybe it’s time to upgrade to a video blog). Anyways, you’re smart people. You can figure out how to take a whole cake into little crumbs. Remove any browned pieces that won’t crumble and dispose of them into your mastication receptacle. (Maybe I have had too much wine)

To make the frosting. Beat the butter until it’s smooth. Add lemon zest, juice, salt and 1 Cup powdered sugar. Beat until well mixed. Once the melted white chocolate is cooled so that it is just warm to the touch slowly drizzle it into the frosting while beating it consistently. Add the rest of the powdered sugar one cup at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Beat for 3-5 minutes to get your frosting nice and fluffy.

In your cake crumb bowls add 1/2 Cup frosting at a time. Use your hands to mix it in. You will know that you have enough frosting in there if you make a small ball and press your thumb down in the middle and it stays together and doesn’t break apart at the edges.

To assemble:

Take equal parts of each color cake and roll into a ball. I used about 1 Tbsp of each color. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and place the rolled balls on the cookie sheet. Place in the fridge for at least 15-20 minutes.

In a small crockpot or a large bowl melt the almond bark. Use a fork to dunk the chilled cake balls in the almond bark, gently toss around until fully coated. Place back on the wax paper. Add sprinkles or desired decorations immediately. I dunked 3 balls and then decorated them. And so on and so forth. After a few minutes they should be hard enough to be able to be moved onto your serving tray or storage container.


Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting. 

In the season of pumpkin spice everything I thought I would kick off the season with a nice rich chocolatey dessert. These cupcakes are decadent and moist and fluffy and cakey and just plain amazing! I made them earlier this year with sort of a spring theme, but I figured they would be a perfect fall treat!

I took some to work today to share with my awesome team and they got rave reviews! Yay!

Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box Devils Food Cake Mix
  • 1 Package Jello Instant Chocolate Pudding
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 6 oz Chocolate Chips

Frosting:

  • 1 Cup Butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Caramel Melts
  • 2 Tbsp Heavy Cream
  • 3 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1 Tbsp Coarse Salt

To make Cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the cupcakes add the cake mix and pudding into a stand mixer and mix on low. Add oil and eggs. Mix well. Add milk, vanilla and sour cream. Mix well for 2 minutes scraping down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the chocolate chips. It’s very important to make sure that the sides of the bowl are scraped down because if the batter isn’t evenly mixed your cupcakes will have inconsistent texture and bake.

Line cupcake pan with cupcake papers. Fill each cup about 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

To make Frosting:

In a stand mixer beat the butter until smooth. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix completely. In a microwave safe bowl melt the caramel with the cream in 30 second increments stirring in between each round until completely melted. Slowly add caramel with the mixer on low. Add table salt. Slowly add the rest of the powdered sugar until you have a light and fluffy frosting. I had to put my frosting in the fridge for just 5 minutes to get the right texture. Pipe frosting onto the cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle coarse sea salt on top of each cupcake.

Garden Veggie Tomato sauce

I love pasta! It is one my all time favorite foods! We used to have homemade pasta and pasta sauce all the time growing up. I remember my parents kitchen was just complete chaos when sauce making weekend was upon us. Steaming and peeling and crushing and simmering and canning. It was intense, but the James Beard recipe my Dad would use for the meaty sauce was my absolute favorite.

This year we planted our own tomato plants and some onions. I just love my adventures in gardening. My parents had tons of extra tomatoes this year so I got some of those too and some fresh garlic. We did a bunch of research for different recipes and tried a few separate batches before settling on this scrumptious recipe. Man I need more garden space so I can have at least 10 tomato plants and my own garlic bed!

  • 20 big round tomatoes, quartered
  • 5 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium white onion,finely diced
  • 2 green peppers, finely diced
  • 5 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp Sugar
  • 3 chicken bullion cubes
  • 3/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs Rosemary, removed from stem and chopped about 1 1/2 Tbsp
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

In a large sauce pan add the tomatoes, onions, green peppers, garlic, bullion a cubes and sugar. Over a medium heat start to cook down the tomatoes.


Once you have a watery sauce bring it to a simmer. Add the parsley, basil, oregano,  bay leaves, Rosemary,salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Simmer for one hour stirring occasionally.


Remove from heat, remove the bay leaves and then using a handheld immersion blender, blend the sauce until it’s completely smooth. If you don’t have a handheld you can use a regular blender, I would cool down the sauce a little bit first so you don’t burn yourself.

Return sauce to medium low heat, add balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and simmer for another hour stirring occasionally. The sauce should start to thicken up. Salt and pepper to taste and once you have reached your desired consistency remove from heat.

Use some immediately or save it all for later! I used a few mason jars for the fridge and some food saver bags to store the rest.

Whenever I am making a big plate of pasta I brown up some ground Italian sausage, add the sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes, toss in the cooked pasta, add some fresh parsley and grated Parmesean cheese. Voila! Bon appetit!

Crockpot Pork Chops with a Cream Sauce

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These pork chops are mouthwatering, tender fall apart, saucy perfection!  With just a little prep time you will have an incredibly satisfying meal that tastes like you were slaving away for hours!

When we sat down to enjoy these Levi said right away how tasty they were. He even said he loved the sauce, and he is not the biggest sauce person! That was high praise! I knew I had a keeper recipe here.

This meal was pretty quick to prep, which was perfect for me because I had tons of vacation prep to do on Sunday! It is time time for the annual family migration to Lake Vallecito, Co! I love this little getaway because I get to see my sister and her husband. We always have fun playing in the lake, playing board games and just hanging out with great food and good strong drinks. It’s nice to have a relaxing getaway!

While these chops were simmering away in the crockpot I took that time to get the chicken prepped for Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas. And then I fire roasted some tomatillos and jalapeños and whipped up a quick salsa verde. I did save the Rasperry Lemonade Cheescakes for later though. I don’t think those would last the three days before we left without us eating them all!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Thick Cut Boneless Pork Chops
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Mustard
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp Grapeseed oil, or your favorite cooking oil
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 3 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 Tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
  • Ground Black Pepper to taste
  • Fresh or dried basil to garnish

In a medium skillet over medium heat add the oil and onions. Sautée for 2 minutes, add garlic and sautée for another minute. Rub in the salt, mustard and rosemary on both sides of the chops. In the skillet move the onions and garlic to the side. Add the pork chops. Sear on each side for about 2 minutes each side. They should be slightly browned on the outside.

Add the chops, onions and garlic to the crockpot. Cover with chicken stock. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6.

About 15 minutes before they are done take 1 cup liquid and as many onions as you can get out of the crockpot and add to a small saucepan. Over medium heat whisk in the cornstarch. Once that has dissolved slowly add the cream, whisking continuously. Bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally for about 10 minutes. Add black pepper to your preference. The sauce should thicken up enough that it will coat the back of a spoon.

Remove the chops from the crockpot, smother in the sauce and garnish with basil.

I hope you love these as much as we did! Let me know what you think 🙂

Pasta Salad with Pepperoni

***So I made this the first time at the end of the summer and apparently never got around to typing the actual recipe! Oops! Made it again this week and it’s so yummy! I am definitely looking forward to all the leftover snacks 🙂

I know that the season of picnics and BBQ’s is almost over, but I just wanted to share one more summer gem! We made this salad for our side with a beautiful steak. We also took it on our only picnic to the beach this year. It was a pretty windy day so it wasn’t the best outing ever. But after chasing puppy Sven around the beach this was such a refreshing snack!

I will admit that the first time I made this I made the mistake of buying Zesty Italian Dressing, that stuff is too damn spicy! Damn near burned off my taste buds 😦 So as you value your sense of taste, please, for the love of god, do not buy Zesty Italian dressing!!

Ok here is the recipe for this gorgeous tangy bright salad!

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Garden Rotini Pasta
  • 1 cup Frozen Peas
  • 1 cup Frozen Corn
  • 1 Cucumber, diced
  • 2 Carrots, diced
  • 1/2 lb Colby Jack Cheese, diced (or a full pound if you really love cheese!)
  • 1 bag Mini Pepperonis
  • 1 Cup Italian Dressing
  • Optional: Diced green pepper, celery, black olives or finely chopped red onion

Cook the pasta according to directions. I prefer al dents pasta, but if you prefer well done I will not tell you how to live your life 😉

3 minutes before the pasta is done cooking add the frozen peas and corn. Once it’s cooked to your liking then drain the water. Let the pasta sit at room temp for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally to let the heat out. Move to the fridge for about 10 more minutes.

Prep your other veggies and cheese and toss together in a large bowl. Add pepperoni and Italian dressing. Toss to coat.

Remove the pasta mix from the fridge and add about 1 cup at a time to the large bowl, tossing to coat.

And there you have it!

May your summer be filled with sun, fun, family and friends, and great food!

Tortellini Alfredo with Chicken and Brocolli


Here is another super easy weeknight dinner! It’s true that I could spend hours in the kitchen everyday cooking dinner, but I would rather spend time hanging out with the puppies at the park!

I love watching Sven run around and try to figure out how to dog like other dogs. My favorite is when someone brings a dog that loves to play fetch, Sven just loves to chase the dogs and he doesn’t care about the ball at all. That boy just loves running.

So after doing chores and hanging out at the dog park for an hour, sometimes it’s nice to just have an easy meal to throw together.

But we also need variety! So here is a quick and tasty meal to help get you through the week!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 Chicken Breasts, diced
  • 2 Tbsp Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
  • 1 Bag Frozen Cheese Tortellini (19 oz)
  • 2 Cups Broccoli florets
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Flour
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 Cup Half n Half
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1 Cup Parmesean Cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with fresh chopped parsley or basil.

Heat a pan over medium heat. Cover the chicken in the seasoning mix, add oil to the pan, add chicken to the pan. Cook until the chicken is slightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Set aside.

In a large pot, fill 3/4 with water and bring to a boil. Add tortellini and cook according to the package directions. When there is about 3 minutes left add the broccoli. When it’s done drain the water. Set aside.

In a large skillet or pot melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and flour. Whisk until it starts to brown. Slowly add cream and milk while whisking continuously. Bring to a simmer whisking occasionally for about 2 minutes. Add Parmesan cheese. Sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon. If it’s too thick for your taste add a few Tbsp of milk till you reach your desired consistency. Add salt and pepper.

Add the chicken, pasta and broccoli. Stir to coat. Top with your fresh herbs and enjoy!!!

Coq Au Vin

It’s been a little while since we’ve made a fancy meal. And lately a fancy meal means that we are cooking French cuisine! Oui oui!! Tres bien!

The day may come when we branch out from meat cooked in red wine…..but it is not this day!

We were super busy weeding our gardens, tilling the soil and doing some beautification to the flower beds. We also got some seeds for carrots and cucumbers started in little pods. With such a busy day I was really excited that Coq Au Vin is actually a really easy one pot dinner. As far as fancy dinners go this is by far the easiest one we have ever tried! And it is incredibly tasty and would be sure to impress your guests 🙂 I was worried that cooking chicken in red wine would turn the chicken red and it would be weird. But the chicken is seared so it’s juicy and tasty!

I can’t wait to make this with garden fresh veggies!

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices of Bacon, chopped into bite size pieces.
  • 4 Chicken Thighs
  • 1 Medium Onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 Carrots, sliced long ways and then chopped in 1-2 inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 Cups Red Wine
  • 2 Cup Chicken Broth
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Flour
  • Fresh chopped basil or parsley to garnish

In an extra large skillet or a large saucepan fry the bacon till it’s crispy. Remove the bacon and keep it in an extra bowl and leave the bacon grease in the pan. Over a medium high heat add the chicken skin side down  to the pan. Sear the chicken for about 5 minutes on each side. Turn the chicken skin side down and add the onions, carrots and rosemary. Saute for another 3-5 minutes until the onions are soft.

Add the Red Wine and deglaze the pan. Add the chicken stock and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to bring the sauce down to a simmer. Cover the dish and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the chicken and carrots from the pan and keep them in a covered dish. Add the butter to the sauce and whisk in the flour, salt and pepper. Bring the heat up to medium and whisk until the sauce thickens.

Add the chicken, carrots and bacon pieces back to the sauce and stir to coat everything. Serve it up on a bed of rice, noodles or mashed potatoes. Garnish with basil and/or parsley.
  

One Pan Pasta with a Creamy Tomato Sauce

I have a slightly different version of this recipe that I posted a couple years ago. It has salsa instead of tomato sauce, looking back on that Levi and I are just like “what were we thinking?” It just sounds pretty weird. I really wanted to make another one pot meal that would help us cut down on our nightly kitchen cleaning routine.

This recipe is really simple to make and can be ready in about 20 minutes! It’s perfect for families on the go, or if you’re just not feeling super motivated to cook a big dinner. I just started a new running habit with the puppy this week. It’s been quite a few months since I did any type of consistent exercise, so I was pretty pooped after the first couple runs. But I still wanted a delicious dinner!

So this is what I came up with. It was really good for my lunch for the next couple days as well 🙂

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 Italian Style Chicken Sausage, sliced ( I used Johnsonville)
  • 1 Medium Onion, diced
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1 Cup Green Peppers, diced (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil, or cooking oil
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary
  • 16 oz Tomato Sauce
  • 2 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Basil
  • 8 oz Cellantini Pasta
  • 1 Cup Mozzarella
  • Fresh or dried parsley to taste

In a large saucepan heat the oil and rosemary over medium heat. Add the sausage, onion, garlic and green peppers. Sauté until the onions are soft and just starting to brown. The sausage should also be slightly browned. This should take 3-5 minutes.

Add the tomato sauce and basil and sauté for one minute, tossing to coat all the ingredients. Add the chicken broth and cream, bring to a boil. Add pasta and reduce heat to medium.

Cover and simmer for 11-15 minutes stirring occasionally. Once the pasta is cooked, remove from heat and top with the cheese, cover and the cheese will melt as the sauce finishes setting. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve it up and enjoy!!!

Lucky Leprechaun Treats

Any holiday where you get to dress up and get kind of silly is my kind of holiday! St. Pattys day is no exception! Green beer, corned beef and cabbage with a side of Irish soda bread….. Yum! And your favorite dessert with a touch of green food dye 🙂

I made some Green Velvet Cheesecakes and these delicious gems. I can’t even remember the last time I made rice Krispy treats, but these are even better because they are made with favorite cereal, Lucky Charms!

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 10 oz Marshmellows
  • 5 drops Green Food Coloring
  • 6 cups Lucky Charms
  • Non stick spray

In a medium, microwave safe bowl add the Marshmellows and butter. Microwave at 30 second intervals stirring each time until the Marshmellows are completely melted. Stir in the green food coloring. Spray a large bowl with non stick spray, add cereal, pour the melted Marshmellows over the cereal. Use a large spoon to combine all ingredients.

Spray a 9×13 pan with non stick spray and spread out the treats into the pan. I learned the hard way that you should spray your hands or a spatula with non stick spray in order to press the treats down and make them as level as possible. Let them finish cooling for 5 minutes.

Enjoy some luck o the Irish!! Best served with a tall glass of cold milk 🙂