Bacon Garlic Shrimp with Pasta and Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Spicy Cream Sauce

“Life is too short, lick the bowl.”

This recipe was inspired by a very similar one I found on Julia’s Album which I encourage you to visit. I’ve been told that only professional chefs can claim to have a ‘signature dish’ so I won’t declare this one as being mine … but I will say that it is probably the best Italian dish that I’ve ever cooked!

Servings: Four

The creamy mixture before adding/mixing the pasta

The creamy mixture before adding/mixing the pasta


Ingredients:
• 6 oz shrimp (70-90 count of small shrimp in 1 pound) , raw, shelled
• 4 oz sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
• salt
• 3/8 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 ¼ cups half and half
• 1 1/8 teaspoon dried basil
• ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
• 1 ¼ cups Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
• 6 oz spinach fettuccine or penne or your favorite pasta
• 2 oz (real) bacon pieces/bits (DO NOT use the artificial kind)

The creamy mixture after adding/mixing the pasta

The creamy mixture after adding/mixing the pasta

Instructions:
1. Note: if using sun-dried tomatoes in oil (in a jar), make sure to drain sun-dried tomatoes from oil, before using them. Reserve 2 tablespoons of this drained oil for sautéing as described below:
2. In a large skillet, sauté minced garlic and sun-dried tomatoes (drained from oil) in 2 tablespoons of oil (reserved from the sun-dried tomatoes jar – see note above) for 2 minutes until garlic is fragrant.
3. Add shrimp, sprinkle with a small amount of salt, paprika, and cook on medium heat for about 2 more minutes.
4. Add half and half, basil, and crushed red pepper to the skillet with shrimp, bring to boil then reduce to a simmer. Whisk the Parmesan cheese into the hot cream and stir to melt cheese, on lowest heat setting, until cheese is melted. Remove the sauce from heat. Add bacon pieces. Add more salt, basil and more crushed red pepper if desired, to taste.
5. In the meantime, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain. Add cooked pasta to the creamy mixture, add more salt, basil and more crushed red pepper if desired, to taste.
Plated and ready to enjoy!

Plated and ready to enjoy!

Stovetop Bowtie Lasagna

“My head says gym but my heart says pasta.”

This recipe was inspired by and adapted from one by Bridget OConnor on her blog, What’s Cooking In The Burbs. I hope you’ll give her blog a visit because it is full of great recipes and her photography is just outstanding.

Every once in awhile I cook a new (to me) dish that I immediately know is going into the “Outstanding Comfort Food” category and this Stovetop Bowtie Lasagna is just such a dish! It is fun & easy to prepare and it will even feed a small army. I’m not too sure about this myself, but some of my family members say it is better warmed over as a leftover than it was when initially served…

Nutrition Alert!!! Bridgit’s original recipe named, Skillet Bowtie Lasagna, is low-fat & low-cal … when I adapted it to become part of my “comfort food category” the modified recipe, Stovetop Bowtie Lasagna, became NOT SO low-fat & low-cal … I just felt like you should hear that warning!

Stovetop Bowtie Lasagna

Stovetop Bowtie Lasagna


Stovetop Bowtie Lasagna – 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients:

1 lb Lean ground beef
2 tsps Crushed or Minced Garlic, divided
8 oz Sliced fresh mushrooms
2 T Olive Oil
16 oz Bowtie Pasta (not the mini-bowties)
24 oz Jar of pasta sauce
1 T Italian seasoning
¼ tsp White Pepper
¼ tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
½ cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
½ cup Mozzarella Cheese, grated
16 oz Cottage Cheese, small curd

Instructions:
Note – A really large pan (I use a 5-qt sauté pan) or a soup pot or even a Dutch oven will be needed to prepare this dish.
1. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
2. Brown the ground beef in 1 tsp of the garlic. Drain and set aside in a bowl.
3. Saute the mushrooms in the olive oil and the remaining tsp of garlic. When soft & browned, drain and return to your large pan.
4. Now add the pasta sauce, Italian seasoning, white pepper, red pepper flakes, the browned meat. Stir well. Over medium heat bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. While simmering, add the cooked pasta and the cottage cheese. Gently stir until all the ingredients are well blended.
5. Top with the mozzarella cheese, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for an additional 10 minutes at which time the mixture is bubbly and the cheese is melted.
6. Now you are ready to serve maybe using a little extra grated Parmesan and chopped fresh parsley to top of the dish.

White Chicken Lasagna Rollups

“Life is a combination of magic and pasta.” F. Fellini

This dish is like heaven on a plate! And like so many Italian pasta dishes, it is just as good, if not better, when you warm it up as a leftover meal.

I have run across this recipe on many websites and blogs so it certainly isn’t an “original”. The version I chose to use (with a few modifications) was on a website named Creme dela Crumb and the author is Tiffany. This is a very good website with tons of neat recipes so I encourage you to visit it when you can….here’s a link.

Last night I made this dish for the first time and found that I had no fresh parsley so I skipped that but I definitely think it is necessary for future meals.

Applying the chicken paste mixture to the noodle

Applying the chicken paste mixture to the noodle


Prep time 30 mins … Cook time 15 mins
Makes 8 individual servings (I thought 2 rollups each were a little too much)
Going into the oven

Going into the oven


Coming out of the oven

Coming out of the oven


Ingredients:

8 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package instructions
2 cups alfredo sauce (store-bought or homemade)
1 small rotisserie chicken or 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 pkg (9 oz) chopped spinach, cooked, drained
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese + ½ cup, divided
4 oz. sun-dried tomatoes, julienne-cut or in pieces
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
optional: fresh parsley, finely chopped

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Lightly grease a casserole dish with cooking spray.
2. Lay cooked lasagna noodles out in a single layer on a clean work surface ( for easy clean up use a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper).
3. In a bowl combine chicken, cream cheese, spinach, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, 1 cup parmesan cheese, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste and mix well using your hands.
4. Spread about ¼ cup (or more) of chicken mixture onto each of the lasagna noodles. Roll noodles up tightly.
5. Pour 3/4 cup of alfredo sauce into bottom of baking dish. Place each lasagna rollup side by side in the baking dish. Pour remaining alfredo sauce over rollups. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with fresh parsley if desired and serve warm.

Time to eat!

Time to eat!

Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken

“Keep calm and crock on.”

The original recipe that inspired this one came from the website, skinnyms.com. I replaced their chicken breasts with chicken thighs and their onion with a shallot. They recommended serving it over angel hair pasta but I thought there was way too much liquid so I served it over rice the first time and orzo pasta the second time … both were very tasty. Folks, this is an unbelievably fantastic meal and involves so little effort on the cook’s part!

Ingredients:

Balsamic Chicken over Orzo pasta

Balsamic Chicken over Orzo pasta


6-8 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs (about 40 ounces)
2 14.5 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
1 medium to large shallot thinly sliced (not chopped)
4 garlic cloves
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1 T olive oil
1 tsp each: dried oregano, basil, and rosemary
½ tsp thyme
ground black pepper and sea salt to taste

Directions:

Pour the olive oil in the bottom of the slow cooker, add the chicken after you salt & pepper each thigh, put the sliced shallot on top of the chicken and then add all the dried herbs and garlic cloves. Pour in the balsamic vinegar and then top with the tomatoes.

Cook on low for 8 hours, serve over rice or orzo pasta sprinkled with fresh parmesan.

Chicken Thighs with Pasta & Vodka Sauce

“If you drink enough vodka, it tastes like love.”

Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, recently presented a dish named Rigatoni with Chicken Thighs. This was the inspiration for my dish only I greatly simplified hers and was still able to come out with a very tasty dish. The important ingredient with this recipe is Chicken Thighs. Most people (especially those who say they hate dark meat) don’t realize how much more flavorful thigh meat is over breast meat. I dare you … take the challenge, be honest, and the thigh meat will win out!

Ingredients:

Salt
16 oz. package rigatoni (or your favorite pasta)
Olive oil, as needed
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup shallots, chopped
1 ½ jars (24 oz. jars) prepared Vodka Sauce (I prefer Prego)
Fresh basil, as needed
Grated Parmesan, for topping

Directions:

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil and put the pasta into it. Cook according to package instructions.

Heat a large skillet until very hot and then generously drizzle in some olive oil. Swirl to coat the skillet, and then add half of the cut-up chicken pieces, spreading them out as you put them in. Do not begin stirring the chicken immediately as you want to get them nice and brown. After a minute or two, flip over the chicken with a spatula and let brown on the other side. Remove to a plate and set aside. Repeat with the second half of the chicken pieces.

Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil, if needed, into the hot skillet and throw in the garlic and chopped shallots and give them a stir. Now add the Vodka Sauce, whisking to deglaze the bottom of the skillet. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the chicken (and don’t forget all of those yummy chicken juices on the plate) to the sauce mixture and continue simmering for another 15 minutes. Toward the end of the cooking process, chop up your fresh basil and add it to the sauce, stirring to combine.

Put the pasta on a platter or in a large bowl and smother with the sauce. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

(Note – be sure to refrigerate and save the unused half jar of Vodka sauce because you’ll want to use it to provide additional liquid when you warm up the left-overs.)

(Note2 – Photos will be posted as soon as possible.)

Shrimp and Scallop Lasagna

“Today I plan to be as useless as the ‘g’ in lasagna.”

This recipe was inspired by a similar dish that Paula Deen prepared on one of her television cooking shows … thank you Paula.

Ingredients:
12 each lasagna noodles, cooked
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, minced
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups half and half
1 cup romano cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound bay or sea scallops, halved or quartered if large
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and uncooked
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 13 by 10-inch aluminum foil pan or baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the lasagna noodles until they are just done, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet and cook the onion over low heat until very soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute more. Over medium-low heat, stir in the flour with a whisk, then gradually add the half-and-half, allowing the sauce to thicken slightly before adding more. When the sauce has thickened to about the consistency of whipping cream, add the cheese and stir well. Add the salt and pepper and stir again. Add the scallops and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, then add the shrimp and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or just until the shrimp turn pink. Turn off the heat.

Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the sauce (no seafood) from the skillet into the prepared pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with 4 noodles, placing them side by side. Spoon 1/3 of the sauce over the noodles, distributing half of the seafood evenly. Layer 4 more noodles, 1/3 of the sauce, and remaining seafood. Cover with the last 4 noodles and the remaining sauce. (For the top layer, do not spoon any seafood on top of the noodles; just use the sauce.) Top with the Parmesan.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, uncovered, until bubbly. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before slicing.

(NOTE- Photos will be uploaded asap.)

Lasagna

“Lasagna is just spaghetti flavored cake.”

Here is another of Karen’s recipes from the Koenig Family Cookbook.

Lasagna on the plate waiting for garlic bread and green beans.

Lasagna on the plate waiting for garlic bread and green beans.


Ingredients:
1 lb Ground Beef
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 Onion, medium, minced
1 dash of Salt and Pepper
1 jar Ragu Spaghetti Sauce
1 can Contadina Pizza Sauce (DO NOT use Pizza Quick Sauce
2 cups Italian blend grated cheese
8 oz Cottage Cheese
1 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded

Directions:
In a sauté pan, brown the beef with the garlic, onion, salt & pepper. Add the two sauces and simmer 1 hour uncovered.

Boil Lasagna noodles according to package directions.

Arrange in a rectangular casserole baking dish in this order: Sauce, Noodles, Provolone and Mozzarella Cheese mixed together, Cottage Cheese, Parmesan Cheese, then Sauce, etc. Ending with Sauce with Parmesan Cheese on top.

Bake at 350-degrees for 30 to 45 minutes.

Taco Stuffed Shells

“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like.” Mark Twain

Taco Stuffed Shells with Black Beans Sprinkled with Cilantro

Taco Stuffed Shells with Black Beans Sprinkled with Cilantro

This dish can be served as the main entrée, or a side for a Mexican dinner, or even as a heavy appetizer. Regardless how you chose to serve it, I promise that it won’t last long on the table.

The recipe version I use was posted by someone named Bobby in 2008 online on BlogChef.net. It has been copied and modified many times now all over the Internet which is a credit to Bobby.

Ingredients:
1lb ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
1 4-oz package cream cheese
12 large (giant) pasta shells
TacoStufdShells1
1 cup salsa
1 cup taco sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese (shredded)
1 cup Monterey jack cheese (shredded)
1 ½ cups tortilla chips (crushed)
3 green onions (chopped)
1 cup sour cream

Directions:
In a saute pan cook ground beef and add taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions. Add cream cheese, cover and simmer until cheese is melted. Blend well. Set aside and allow to fully cool. While meat is cooking, cook the pasta shells, drain and toss well with butter.
TacoStufdShells2
Pour salsa in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

With your fingers, carefully stuff each shell with the meat mixture. Place the stuffed shells in the baking dish and cover the tops of the shells with taco sauce.

Cover with foil and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, uncover, and sprinkle crushed chips and shredded cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses on top. Cook, uncovered, for about 15 more minutes. Serve with sour cream, additional salsa, black olives or whatever you think goes good with tacos!
TacoStufdShells4

Creamy Shrimp Pasta Supreme

“Bless the cook who serves love and laughter.”

When I first chanced across this recipe, it was named Creamy Shrimp Noodle Casserole. To make it sound a little more sophisticated, I changed Noodle to Pasta and Casserole to Supreme. Regardless of what you name it, this dish is ideal for a dinner party or a church potluck

creamy pasta supreme

creamy shrimp pasta supreme


Ingredients:
1 package spinach fettucine (8 to 10 oz), cooked al dente and drained
3 1/2 ounces cream cheese (lower fat neufchatel), cubed and softened
1 1/2 pounds shrimp, medium size, raw, peeled and deveined
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup butter, melted
salt and pepper, to taste
1 can cream of mushroom soup, condensed (low-fat, low-sodium)
1 cup sour cream, light
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup mayonnaise, light
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon parsley, fresh, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:
Preheat to 350-degrees. Combine the noodles and cream cheese in a medium bowl. Spread noodle mixture on bottom of greased 13″ x 9″ glass casserole dish. Saute the shrimp in butter in large skillet over medium-high heat until pink and tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Save the butter but remove the shrimp and set aside. Using the same butter and skillet, saute the mushrooms until they begin to turn brown. Combine the mushrooms and shrimp and spread the mixture over the noodles. Combine the next seven ingredients in the medium bowl. Spread mixture over the contents over the shrimp and mushrooms. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over top and bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until cheese has melted and is bubbly. Garnish with lemon slices and paprika, if desired.

Sherry Buttered Shrimp

“The fondest memories are made when gathered around the table.”

I found this recipe on Recipezaar.com (now Food.com) several years ago and didn’t get around to cooking it until just recently. For our tastes I found that it needed more sauce so I adjusted it accordingly. To quote the attributed author, Julesong, This is so very simple, and so very tasty. Elegant and perfect for a nice, romantic dinner.

Sherry Buttered Shrimp

Sherry Buttered Shrimp


Ingredients:
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (about 8 oz)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced shallot (optional)
8 tablespoons butter
lb medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/8 teaspoon white pepper, to taste
1/2 cup dry sherry

Directions:
In large saute pan, cook mushrooms, garlic, and shallot in butter until tender. Add shrimp, basil and pepper; cook and stir until shrimp are pink (be careful not to overcook!). Stir in sherry; simmer for 3 minutes. Serve with cooked rice or noodles; makes 4 servings.