Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken Pasta

There is no denying that I have been on a mission, for several years now, to find the perfect recipe that comes even remotely close to Red Robin’s Sante Fe Chicken Pasta, which unfortunately they replaced it with Southwest Chicken Pasta and there is absolutely no comparison between the two, I’d rather have the original Sante Fe Chicken Pasta.

Sante Fe Chicken Pasta had a great kick to it, a creamy alfredo sauce with chipolte peppers, sweet red and green peppers. slivers of sautéed red onion served over a bed of penne pasta and grilled chicken breast on top – YUMMY!  Over the years I’ve tried several “Sante Fe” type recipes and they just don’t come close enough for me so, I keep trying.

When I found this recipe, Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken Pasta, on Pinterest through allthecooks.com; http://www.allthecooks.com/crockpot-buffalo-chicken-pasta.html.  I did make just a few minor additions, I added sliced red, green and yellow peppers (half of each one) along with a small red onion slivered.  I tossed it in about an hour before dinner was scheduled to be ready.

I knew this wasn’t going to taste like the Sante Fe Chicken Pasta I was craving but it sure did look delicious and I was hoping that the buffalo wing hot sauce would give it enough of a kick for me.  I’m happy to say this recipe was quite delicious and easy to make.  Go ahead, give it a try.

Crock Pot Buffallo Chicken Pasta

CROCK POT BUFFALO CHICKEN PASTA

What You’ll Need:

1 pound ·  Chicken breasts, bite-sized pieces

1 can · Cream of chicken soup

½ cup · Hot sauce, like for buffalo wings

1 ½ cup · Shredded mozzarella cheese

½ cup · Crumbled blue cheese

Sliced red, green and yellow peppers

Sliced red onion – thin

3 cup · Uncooked penne pasta

1 ½ cup · Sour cream

Directions:

  • Season chicken with salt and pepper and put in crock pot
  • Add soup and hot sauce and stir
  • Cook on low 4-6 hours or high 2-3 hours
  • About an hour before adding the cheeses and sour cream add your onion and peppers
  • Stir in cheeses and sour cream
  • Turn off crock pot
  • Cook pasta according to package directions – Drain.
  • Add to crock pot
  • Stir well and serve

Source:   allthecooks.com; http://www.allthecooks.com/crockpot-buffalo-chicken-pasta.html

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Tuscan Pasta With Tomato-Basil Cream

As I grow older I become more focused on the quickest way to getting a tasty dinner on the table without going for greasy, cold, take out burgers.  It’s become even more important since I’ve gone back to work part-time and  I’m also picking Eric up from school three days a week.  I’m dealing with rush hour traffic on two freeways trying to get from southwest suburbs of Detroit to northeast suburbs and not walking through the door until 5:30 p.m. or 6:00 p.m.,  I don’t want to spend a lot of time hanging out over the stove.

Now that Walt is taking sandwiches to work instead of leftovers, I have eliminated the need to cook at least one day a week, sometimes two.  Another day or two we use the crock pot so dinner is ready as soon as I walk through the door.  We generally go out to dinner one day a week so that leaves me with 3-4 days that I actually have to plan meals that I prepare when I get home.  It’s not always easy to come up with meals that I can make quickly and still be tasty when reheated for Walt as he walks through the door a few hours later.

This recipe is quick, easy and tasty.  It started with a bag of ravioli, a jar of Alfredo sauce, a splash of wine, a little basil and parmesan.  What made it perfect?  The fresh chopped up tomatoes right out of our garden.  Try it….you’ll love it too!

Tuscan Pasta With Tomato Basil Cream

TUSCAN PASTA WITH TOMATO-BASIL CREAM

What You’ll Need:

1 (20-oz.) package refrigerated four-cheese ravioli*

1 (16-oz.) jar sun-dried tomato Alfredo sauce

2 tablespoons white wine

2 medium-size fresh tomatoes, chopped**

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Garnish: fresh basil strips

Directions:

  • Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, pour Alfredo sauce into a medium saucepan.
  • Pour wine into sauce jar; cover tightly, and shake well.
  • Stir wine mixture into saucepan.
  • Stir in chopped tomatoes and 1/2 cup chopped basil, and cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
  • Toss with pasta, and top evenly with 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Garnish, if desired.

Source:  http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/tuscan-pasta-with-tomato-basil-cream-10000001646355/

Michigan – One Morning – 4 Seasons Passing Through

Spring is coming….spring is coming….”I have to chant this today since the temperatures are going down instead of up, the wind is getting stronger and the rain had turned to a light sleet which is now snow. Spring is coming….spring is coming, what’s that saying “in like a lion, out like a lamb?” Ok, let’s hope this is a preview of how March will arrive in the next nine days so that by the end of March, and when spring truly does arrive on March 20, March temperatures will roll into April gentle as a lamb. Only in Michigan can you preview four seasons in one morning.

I think the interview I went to yesterday went a little better than the one last week, at least this time the interviewer actually came out and said “So, I have to ask.” “Why, would someone with your experience and background, want what could be considered an entry-level position?” “You could do so much more with your background.” So we spent about five minutes talking about why I want this role, how my background and experience will benefit them and why I want an entry-level role. She said she appreciated my honesty and I made sure to reiterate my stand on why I am the ideal candidate for this role in my “thanks for the interview” letter. We’ll see what happens.

On Saturday my bestie Tina made my morning.  I was enjoying a cup of coffee Saturday morning when I heard my phone chime that I had received a text.  At first when I saw it was Tina I held my breath for a second, we don’t usually weekend text so when I saw her name I sort of held my breath for a second.  Ok, quick sidebar….yes I am a creature of habit, I do not do well with surprises or things that happen out of the natural scheme of things that make up our lives.  So yes…her text made me pause for a second.

Ok..ok…back on track.  So I received a text which was actually a photo:

Vanilla Coconut Muffins

Tina decided to make the “Vanilla Coconut Muffins” on Saturday morning so she sent me a photo and a quick note to let me know that she made the muffins, she used coconut milk (yes I was jealous, I didn’t have any when I made mine), the house smelled delicious, she ate three mini muffins because she couldn’t wait and she thought they were so good she took some over to her neighbor.  Woohoo!!  I’m excited because Tina also had made the “too die for” blueberry muffins a while ago and I forgot to tell her to spray the top of the muffin tin as well so that when the blueberries melt and burst as they bake they don’t stick to the top and rip when you try to get them out.  Of course I was excited when the Vanilla Coconut Muffins were a hit.  Way to go girlfriend!!

Today I am going to share another tortellini recipe with you.  Just when I thought there couldn’t be another sauce we would like for our tortellini I stumbled across this one on the Taste of Home site.  It’s fast, easy and delicious….three of my most favorite things when I cook.  It’s a perfect dish to make for those “Meatless Monday’s” or better yet for Friday night dinners during lent.  Try it, this dish won’t disappoint and it reheats exceptionally well.

TORTELLINI WITH TOMATO CREAM SAUCE

Tortellini

What You’ll Need:

1 package (16 ounces) frozen cheese tortellini

1 small onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed      and squeezed dry

1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Additional grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions

  • Cook tortellini according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute onion in oil until tender.
  • Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
  • Add the tomatoes, spinach, basil, salt and pepper.
  • Cook and stir over medium heat until liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in cream and cheese. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes or until thickened.
  • Drain tortellini; toss with sauce.
  • Sprinkle with additional cheese if desired.

Yield: 6 servings

Source: http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Tortellini-with-Tomato-Cream-Sauce

 

 

Knockoff’s And Copycats

It’s Thursday, grocery shopping day.  I am not looking forward to going out into the 11 degree weather with a wind chill that makes it feel like 2 degrees.  On top of that we had a “dusting” of snow; a dusting, there is no dust about it, it’s snow, it doesn’t matter that it finely covers everything!!  Spring cannot get here fast enough!  I feel bad for the homeless and people who have to work outside.  It is just way to cold.  I doubt that today will be one of those days that I only wear one of Joshua’s school hoodie sweatshirts so that I don’t have to have a heavy old winter coat in the store.  Even though it’s just a quick run from the car to the store and back again, it’s still too cold.

A few nights ago I made a new Alfredo sauce, one that was supposed to have been restaurant quality.  Have you ever gone to a restaurant and said “WoW, I really wish I could make this at home?”  Sometimes we try to recreate a meal either on our own by throwing things together that we think made up this great taste or we do an internet search looking for “Knockoff” or “Copycat” recipes.  But what exactly is a “knockoff/copycat?”  Lots of people who post knockoff or copycat recipes claim that their recipe is the real deal, that it is the recipe your favorite restaurant uses to make the dish you just have to have at home.  Most of the time that just isn’t true, generally knockoffs are a copy or imitation of something popular, most of time it falls into the imitation category.

Although I have never tried Olive Garden’s Alfredo sauce, I am strictly a chicken scampi girl when I go to Olive Garden, I was very interested when I found the recipe below on Pinterest.  I mean come on, heavy cream, cheese, butter, garlic; at the very least it’s the basics for any Alfredo sauce.  But again, to clarify, I have no idea what Olive Garden Alfredo sauce tastes like so I can’t tell if you this is the real deal. I can tell you that there are well over 306,000 internet entries claiming to be the recipe for Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce.  Going through the first half-dozen recipes that popped up, none of them resemble the one listed below.

The original recipe, which the source link below my recipe will take you to, actually makes a gallon of sauce enough to feed fourteen.  Walt and I certainly could not consume a gallon of Alfredo sauce so I had to make some adjustments which are what I have listed below in the recipe posted today.  Even with the adjustments that I had to make this was a pretty tasty sauce, I think the fontina cheese is a great addition.

As with almost all Alfredo sauces my biggest complaint is when you reheat it the next day, the cheese separates and the butter pools, this one does as well.  I have to say that the only Alfredo sauce I have found to reheat well is the one from The Avenue, a little restaurant that Walt and I like to go to; I actually look forward to eating the leftovers the next day.

This recipe is worthy of a try. It won’t replace my “go to” Alfredo sauce but I’m glad I gave it a try.  Is it the Olive Garden’s recipe?  I’ll never know.  Does it taste like Olive Garden’s Alfredo sauce?  I don’t know, but if you’ve had Olive Garden’s Alfredo sauce give this recipe a try; let us know what you think.  We love your feedback!

Have a great Thursday everyone!

 OLIVE GARDEN ALFREDO SAUCE

Alfredo Sauce

What You’ll Need:

2 oz. milk

1 Pint heavy cream

4 tbsp. butter

1/2 tbsp. flour

4 oz. Freshly grated parmesan cheese

1 oz. Fontina cheese

3/4 tbsp. minced garlic

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

Directions:

  • On medium heat, add butter, garlic, and flour until butter is melted. Do not brown garlic
  • Whisk in the heavy cream and milk until hot
  • Slowly add the freshly grated cheeses into the hot cream mixture
  • Finally add the salt and pepper
  • Stir often to make sure no cheese settles at the bottom
  • Simmer until all the cheeses are melted and the sauce reaches the desired thickness. Do not let this sauce boil, or it will begin to separate and the cheeses will become grainy
  • Turn heat off or on low before serving

Source:  http://italian.food.com/recipe/olive-garden-alfredo-sauce-173712?scaleto=.25&mode=null&st=true

Hungry Hungry Hippo….Whack!

When you think about hippo’s or see them in the zoo, what’s your first impression?  Mine is that they are quiet, laid back.  Actually they appear pretty lazy, floating around in the water like some kind of Navy Seal on a mission only their beady little eyes and ears poking above the water.  His or her butt alone can weigh a half a ton…..why don’t they sink?

Hippo’s lay around basking in the sun all day then at night they go off munching on grass and water plants, taking their time enjoying a leisurely meal for about 5 or 6 hours!  Hippo’s do not appear to be in any hurry to get anywhere.  In fact, hippo’s are pretty inactive, they live a sedentary life unless of course they are eating.  Eating is probably the most active they get all day!!

Which brings us now to a game with hippo’s…Hungry, Hungry Hippo’s.  Have you heard of the game “Hungry, Hungry Hippo’s?”  We have and for the life of me, based on my limited knowledge of the Hippo world, I wonder why would anyone create a game for hippo’s much less one where the hippo’s head snaps across the playing area so that it can consume the most marbles?  Quite frankly, if you threw a marble at a hippo he’d probably walk or float right by it and never give it a second look.  He certainly would not chase it, he doesn’t have that kind of motivation!

All three of my darling grandbabies love this game…….Josh, Kaylee and Eric.  And it doesn’t matter if you don’t want to play this noisy, crazy, silly little game, they have two hands are very willing to play it alone.  There is no escaping the constant clicking of the black handle that makes the plastic mouth snap open on the plastic base as it each hippo tries to consume the most marbles.  It is a “nail across the blackboard” annoying little game.

But I have to share with everyone that Saturday morning Eric sat on the livingroom floor for almost 30 minutes and played this silly little game by himself laughing hysterically.  Belly laughs, the kind that make you laugh just because he is laughing.

Which brings us to the real reason why this game hasn’t mysteriously disappeared, accidentally cracked, or better yet…..the reason the marbles always seem to find their way back into the box and not into the trash.  Because honestly, as much as I’d like to “whack” this loud, silly little game I can’t so I won’t.  If I did I would miss out on hearing the cutest, most genuine laughter and giggles that escape from my grandbabies when they play this obnoxious silly little game.

Which means when Josh, Kaylee and Eric are in their thirties and they bring their children to visit, I would miss out on the opportunity of a life time to share a funny story with my great-grandchildren.  Stories about their daddy or mommy and how they would sit for hours playing a game where hippo’s ate marbles and they thought it was hysterical.  It would be a shame to miss out on that.

So Hungry Hungry Hippo game, you’re safe for now…..thanks to the grandbabies that are here now and the ones that will bless my life in the future.

What’s in jeopardy of getting “whacked” is the recipe I made last night…Broccoli Cheese Tortellini.  I found the recipe on Pinterest which linked to the Taste of Home website and the original recipe by Darlene Brenden – Salem, Oregon;  http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Broccoli-Cheese-Tortellini#.UDsILpeiw31.pinterest.

The recipe sounded pretty good, the dish in the photo looked yummy so I decided to make it.  Maybe it was my “tweaking” but I don’t think so.  I added a little garlic, a pinch of nutmeg but instead of fresh broccoli I used frozen simply because I had it in the freezer.  I think my mistake was switching my tortellini, instead of Risetto Tortellini I used Piernino Tortellini, we didn’t like it, it cooked up tough.  I knew as soon as I opened the bag it was different from Risetto it was my first clue.

On a positive note, Walt liked the sauce, he like the broccoli.  I have to somewhat agree, I’m a little on the fence with the sauce, but it could simply be because the tortellini was so tough I overlooked the taste of the sauce, I’m not so sure I liked the broccoli in the sauce which is odd because broccoli is one of my favorite veggies.  Another plus is that this is a quick prep, quick cook recipe.

I think at some point I may try this again and will follow the directions exactly as written.  I will also purchase my regular tortellini.  Please don’t let our experience keep you from trying it.  If  you do decide to give it a try drop us a little note and let us know how it turned out for you.

Broccoli Cheese Tortellini

Broccoli Cheese Tortellini

Broccoli Cheese Tortellini

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup fresh broccoli florets
  • 2 packages (9 ounces each) refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 2-1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley

Directions:

  • In a large saucepan, cook cream and broccoli, uncovered, over medium-low heat for 5-6 minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender.
  • Meanwhile, cook tortellini according to package directions.
  • Stir 2 cups cheese and pepper into broccoli mixture. Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted and mixture is thickened, stirring occasionally.
  • Drain tortellini; add to sauce and toss to coat.
  • Sprinkle with parsley and remaining cheese.
  • Yield: 6 servings.

It’s A Small World After All

I cannot believe how fast this week has flown, July 27, I want to slow summer down just a bit unfortunately if  I were even capable of doing that I would slow down the arrival of my good friend Teresa.

Teresa, who has been working in Paris since October of last year, is coming home from Paris on August 4th for a week….I cannot wait!!   Although we Skype when we can (I still cannot believe I do this and my kids don’t) and from her balcony I’ve seen Paris at night  (because of the time difference) it just isn’t the same.  I need to give her a hug, to see her in the flesh.

I know that Teresa’s family is going to want a big chunk of her time so I hope we can squeeze in a lunch or even coffee!!  I don’t care what it is as long as we can chat for a little bit.

I met Teresa when we both worked for Johnson Controls.  When I left and went to a competitor because my facility was shutting down, I was pleased to find out that my new company was also interested in Teresa and were pursuing her to join them as well.  Eventually she did.  Teresa and I have been friends for almost 10 years…time flies!

Teresa’s been a really good friend, holding my hand and having my back through a few really tough times.  Between Teresa and my best friend Tina, I know that I always have someone in my corner.

Teresa and I share a few of the same doctors.  When she was searching for a new gynecologist, I recommended mine and she loved her.  When she was looking for a primary physician I recommended my clinic and she started seeing one of the other doctors there.  After a while, not happy with mine, I switched over to the physician Teresa was seeing.

The one thing we never discussed was our dentists.  Wednesday I went in for my cleaning, I love getting my teeth cleaned.  My dental hygienist is Stephanie, she is the daughter of my Dentist, Cherl.  I have been going to them for over 12 years, I found them through a co-worker when I moved into this house.  I love Cheryl, she is the best and so is Stephanie.

After my cleaning, Cherl came in to do her exam and we started talking about what we had all been up to since the last time I was there.  Cherl said she, Stephanie and her other daughter had recently returned from Paris and while they were there they met a friend for dinner.

I told them I had a friend living and working in Paris, that she would be coming home for a visit soon.  I mentioned that Teresa had been offered an opportunity to go and work in Paris and took it.  Never mentioning her name, I talked about Teresa and her job, who she worked for, how long she had been in Paris, etc., Cherl asked me what my friend’s name was.

When I said it was Teresa and her last name…..Cherly said “OH MY GOD…That’s who we met for dinner.”  “We’ve known Teresa for years!!”

We all started laughing.  As long as Teresa and I have been seeing Cherl we’ve never crossed paths or had the opportunity to discuss our dentist.  Then, one trip to Paris, a trip to the dentist for a cleaning and our worlds intertwined.    It’s a small world after all……

Last night I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make.  I thought about grilling chicken breasts and making my delicious chicken salad for sandwiches but they were calling for rain all day so I opted out of that idea.

Much to my surprise Walt’s suggestion was the Taco Bell $5.00 box since this was grocery shopping day………ummmm no.  So I rustled through some new recipes and my favorite recipe sites.  I came across this, Chicken Sorrento, on the Campbell’s Kitchen site it sounded delicious and the reviews were all positive.

I won’t say that I “never” use jar sauce because I have.  There was a time that I was the queen of doctoring up a jar of Prego Traditional or Mushroom sauce, so much so that people actually thought it was homemade.  After a few years the “cheating” on my pasta sauce really got to me so I switched back to making my own.

I will admit that I did pause just a little bit on this recipe because of the jar sauce….but the fact that it was grocery shopping day helped nudge me into trying it.  Since you never know how well grocery shopping will go I wanted something that would be quick and easy.  Plus it was supposed to rain all day and the thought of something cooking on the stove, filling the house with spices (even from a jar) sounded soothing.

By now most of you are getting to know my cooking style….haha….I’m the tweaker.  Yes, I did tweak this recipe but not the way you might think.  Instead of slicing the chicken breasts on top of the pasta I sliced it ahead of time and added it right into the sauce.  I added the cooked penne right to the skillet and mixed it all together.

Note: The recipe calls for 4.5 cups of uncooked penne which is really 16 oz./1 lb.  16 oz of pasta is way too much.  We don’t like dry pasta, we like our pasta covered in sauce but not so that all the sauce is absorbed by the pasta.  I made a pound of penne but only used half, I’ll use the rest today for a pasta salad for tonight’s dinner.

Chicken Sorrento
Campbell’s Kitchen

Chicken Sorrento

http://www.campbellskitchen.com/RecipeDetail.aspx?recipeId=60745&INTCID=Panel_3___Collection___Budget_Busters-Chicken_Sorrento&page=3

From: Campbell’s Kitchen

Prep: 20 minutes Cook: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

Balsamic vinegar is the secret ingredient that takes this sautéed chicken and pasta dish to a whole new level…chopped basil and grated Parmesan add the finishing touches that make it irresistible!

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 pound skin-less, boneless chicken breast halves

1 jar (24 ounces) Prego® Veggie Smart® Chunky & Savory Italian Sauce

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

3 cups penne pasta, cooked and drained (about 4 1/2 cups) *NOTE: 16 oz. of Penne Pasta

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  • Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes or until well browned on both sides.
  • Remove the chicken from the skillet.
  • Stir the sauce and vinegar in the skillet and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often.
  • Stir in the basil.
  • Return the chicken to the skillet.
  • Reduce the heat to low.
  • Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Slice the chicken.
  • Serve the chicken and sauce over the penne.
  • Sprinkle with the cheese.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Hello family, friends and fellow bloggers.  Hope everyone had a great weekend.

The beginning of the week here in Michigan is getting off to a hot and humid start….not complaining, I’ll take hot but maybe with  just a little less humidity.  I think today is going to be one of those days when I go outside just to check on my patio and porch planters and make sure the water in the water features has not evaporated and then stay inside where it’s cool.

Our garden is growing and doing well even with lack of rain.  Walt makes sure that everything gets watered regularly.  It’s nice to see that Joshua’s watermelon which got off to a slow start for some reason is now beginning to take off.  I just hope it produces something, our little guy has such high hopes.

Josh also planted corn which may turn out to be one of the few corn crops in Michigan this year.  He has about 24 stalks that have taken off and so long as we can keep the birds out of them hopefully this year he will be able to enjoy the rewards of his efforts.

I have mentioned in previous blogs that my dad grew up on a farm.  He has lots of stories about life on the farm, my favorites are the one about the haunted house and the other one is about a duck.  I’ll save those for another blog.

When I was a child, any time we traveled either up north to my grandparents cottage or even if it was a Sunday family drive to the country, my dad would always comment on the corn crops.  I grew up hearing “You know your corn is going to be ready if it’s knee-high by the fourth of July.”

It’s what I said to Walt the first time he tried to grow corn in our garden (until the squirles and birds helped themselves) and it stuck with him too.  So when Joshua asked how we would know if the corn was growing like it should Walt turned to him and said “Dzia Dzia says you’ll know your corn will be ready if it’s knee-high by the fourth of July.

Now anyone and everyone who knows Papa Walt knows that the man is never at a loss for words.  That was true until the day we were in the garden in the middle of June and Papa made that statement to Joshua.  Josh turned and looked at Papa, looked down at papa’s knee’s then his own and said “Who’s knee’s papa….mine or your’s?”

It was actually quite comically watching Papa search for the answer, it took him a moment for him to recover.  Of course he told Joshua it was his knees and we hoped that the corn would be at least that high by July 4th.  The weeks passed and every Saturday the boys would go out to check the progress of the corn.

A few days after the 4th of July when Joshua got back from his little get-away up north with Mio and Kaylee, the first thing he wanted to do was to check his corn.  He looked at me and said “Come on grandma, we’ve got to see if my corn is knee-high.”  So out the door he ran to the garden to check on his corn…..

Joshua’s Corn
Knee High By
The 4th Of July

Phew….knee high by the 4th of July.  Josh is so excited and checks his garden every time he is here.  We are all looking forward to enjoying his corn!

Everything in our garden’s (yes plural, we have two) are doing well, tomatoes, pepper plants, cucumbers and more.  I love having chives in garden, there is nothing better than going out and cutting them fresh from the garden for a recipe.

That’s what I did for today’s recipe which calls for fresh chives.  I was looking for a new sauce for ravioli, I wanted a white cream sauce, something quick and easy.  My search turned this one up on an internet search….it was on the Better Homes and Gardens website and it now joins the other two ravioli sauces as one of our favorites.

What I really like about this recipe is that it gives you options to choose from a variety of cheese and herbs.  My choices made a delicious sauce.  I used fresh parsley and chives, the cheese I picked was Asiago.

Creamy Vino Sauce

Creamy Vino Sauce

Makes: 6 servings
Serving size: 1/ cup sauce

Start to Finish: 20 mins

What You’ll Need

What You’ll Need

2   tablespoons finely chopped onion

2   cloves garlic, minced

2   tablespoons butter

1   tablespoon all-purpose flour

½  teaspoon salt

1/8  teaspoon ground black pepper

1 1/4cups whipping cream

½ cup dry white wine

½ cup shredded or crumbled Pecorino Romano, Parmesan, Asiago, Gorgonzola, and/or provolone cheese

2 tablespoons snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil or chives or 1 tablespoon snipped fresh sage, thyme, oregano, or rosemary

1 lb bag Ravioli

Directions

In a medium saucepan, cook onion and garlic in hot butter over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

Onions and garlic

Stir in flour, salt, and pepper.

Add flour, salt and pepper

Add cream and wine all at once.

Add wine and cream at the same time

Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.

Cook and stir until thick and bubbly

Add cheese.

Add cheese – stir until blended

 

Cook and stir for 1 minute more.

Stir in chives and parsley.

Stir in chives and parsley
(Or your choices)

 

Serve over cooked ravioli

 

Ravioli WIth Creamy Vino Sauce

 

 

Michigan Weather Reality Check………

Happy Friday family, friends and fellow bloggers!!

I love the movie Moonstruck with Cher and Nicholas Cage……I watch it every time it reruns.  One of my favorite scenes is between Ronny Cammareri (Cage)  and Loretta Castorini (Cher).  Ronny is Loretta’s future brother-in-law.  While Loretta’s future husband is off to Italy to see his dying mother, Loretta visits Ronny to try to repair a rift between Ronny and her husband to be.  Upon meeting an attraction is immediate and soon they find themselves spending time and a night together.  The next day Ronny tells Loretta that he loves her……Loretta slaps his face twice and says “Snap out of it!”

That is exactly what happened to me today by Mother Nature.  Just as I was comfortably settling in to the great weather we’ve been enjoying in Michigan over the last several weeks Mother Nature decided to drop the temps to the 50’s, she pulled out the heavy cloud blanket which covered up the sun, and decided it was time to take a long shower.  It’s Mother Nature’s way of saying “Snap out of it kid, you live in Michigan….anything is possible, I just want to remind you of who’s in charge.”

Mother Nature……..your message has been delivered loud and clear.  It’s chilly, it’s damp, and I am not sure that the sweater I am wearing is going to do it, I may have to pull out one of the pull over sweatshirts I have from Joshua’s school.  Instead of running around barefoot (which is how I spend most of my summer), I put on a pair of the knitted booties my mom makes and am now seriously considering adding thick socks to the mix.  I have closed all the windows and I hate to admit it I have also thought about turning the furnace back on “just to get the chill out.”  Turning on the furnace is a last resort, before that I could always bake cookies or brownies and a hang out in the kitchen which then turns out to be a win-win situation….warmth and goodies!

I cannot believe that this day is going by so fast it’s already 1:00 p.m. and I’ve accomplished nothing except emptying the dishwasher, having a cup of coffee and a few pecan sandies, catching up on some of my favorite blogs (I am really behind in my reading), and I am just now in the middle of writing today’s blog.  It wouldn’t be so bad if I woke up at 11:00 a.m. and had accomplished all of that, but I’ve been awake since 6:30 a.m.!!  I’m going to blame it on the weather!

So…in an effort to keep motivation going and blood flowing to increase body heat, I am going to correct an error from a previous post, give you me recipe for today and then log off, throw in a load of laundry and work on one of the craft projects I started for the yard.

In my May 24, 2012 blog “Summer Is For Family, Food and Fun,” I listed the wine we had with dinner that night.  In an effort to help me, Walt got the empty bottle and spelled out the name which I typed as he read it off.  Unfortunately the letters are not easily identifiable and he misread them which I realized when I saw the empty bottle in the recycle bin.  So here goes….the wine was a white wine, Duca d’ Amalfi – 2010 – Valdadige – Bianco.  It’s a delicious Italian wine with hints of pear and peach, it really is delicious.  I purchased it when I attended a private wine tasting and now wish I would have purchased a few more bottles.  I am currently trying to find out if my local wine shop, who carries just about everything, has this in stock, if not I can order it on-line.

My recipe for you today is Parmesan Chicken Scampi, it’s one of our favorite dishes.

Parmesan Chicken Scamp

Parmesan Chicken Scampi

Chicken

1 lbs. boneless chicken breasts

1 cup italian style bread crumbs

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Miracle Whip Salad Dressing

Directions for Chicken

  • Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees
  • Combine bread crumbs with Parmesan cheese – mixing well
  • Spread chicken with miracle whip salad dressing (you can use mayo as well)
  • Dredge chicken breasts in bread crumb/Parmesan mixture
  • Brown in oil – drain
  • Bake for 30 minutes – checking to make sure it is cook through- adjust bake time to longer if necessary
  • Keep warm

Vegetables

Slice vegetables of choice, I used:

  • Red onion cut in half then thinly sliced
  • Half of red pepper thinly sliced
  • Half of yellow pepper thinly sliced
  • Half of orange pepper thinly sliced

2 tsp olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp butter

¼  tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

3 cups chicken stock

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

¾ cup heavy cream

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Sauce Directions

  • Heat olive oil in a pot
  • Add garlic and vegetables – 2 to 3 minutes
  • Mix in the butter until it melts
  • Add salt, pepper and chicken stock
  • Raise heat and bring to a boil
  • Add pasta and stir well
  • Reduce heat
  • Add Parmesan and mix until melted
  • Add cream and parsley – mix well
  • Cook over medium heat until heated through and sauce thickens slightly
  • Add pasta of choice (I used 1-lb Angel Hair Pasta)
  • Mix and serve

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND EVERYONE!

Down But Not Out……….

Hello family, friends and fellow bloggers, I’ve missed all of you!!

It was not my intention to be away for this long (12 days), we celebrated Joshua’s 8th birthday on March 4 and I was looking forward to sharing our day with all of you on Monday the 5th but when I woke up on Monday morning I wasn’t feeling quite like myself.  A sore throat had set in, achy, headache, so I decided to take it easy for the day.  Tuesday I had no motivation and once again put the blog as well as other things on the back burner.

Waking up on Wednesday (March 6th) to beautiful spring weather I forced my self to run some errands and then came home and decided to clean out the flower beds under my kitchen windows.  I just couldn’t let all that beautiful weather go to waste!  Unfortunately that was the trigger and the beginning of a week of a sinus infection and bronchitis.  I can not remember a time of being so down and worn out so when my doctor said “Bed rest and lots of it” for the first time I did not argue with him.  All my energy was zapped.

After 5 days of antibiotics for the sinus infection, steroids for the bronchitis, codeine for the cough, and a lot of sleep, today…..finally….I feel a little more like myself.  We have beautiful weather here this week, perfect spring like weather with temperatures in the low 70’s today woohoo!!  So I have to admit that I was not surprised when Walt realized this morning that I was getting my back to my ole self he informed me as he walked out the door……….”No yard work!”  He knows me so well.  I have to agree with him though, although I am no longer coughing up a lung, I am still coughing up about a thrid of a lung and I do still feel just a little bit unsteady on my feet.

Needless to say there has not been a lot of cooking going on around here.  In fact…..almost none for over a week!   I bet you’re thinking, “Oh, no recipe today.”   Ahh, but there is.  Taking pictures while cooking has become routine, everyone is getting used to it, kind of….sort of.

Here is one that has been in the archeive waiting for a day like today when I don’t have one from the night before.  It is a great pasta dish that I found way back in 2008 on Hunts.com.  We’ve been making this for years and we love it.  Made with Italian sausage, spinach and canned pasta sauce (I know I wasn’t sure either when I first saw the recipe), it is filled with flavor, is quick to assemble, quick to cook, and ohhhh so delicious!!

Mediterranean Penne and Sausage 

MEDITERRANEAN PENNE AND SAUSAGE

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces dry penne pasta, uncooked (12 oz = 3 cups)
  • 1 pound Italian pork sausage links, casings removed
  • 1 can (24 oz each) Hunt’s® Roasted Garlic & Onion Pasta Sauce
  • 1 can (6 oz each) Hunt’s® Tomato Paste
  • 1 can (2.25 oz each) sliced ripe olives, drained
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pkg (6 oz each) fresh baby spinach
  • 3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (3 cups = 12 oz)

 

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, brown sausage in large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to break up sausage with spoon.  Drain.
  2. Stir in pasta sauce, tomato paste, olives and water.  Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 5 minutes, or until heated through, stirring occasionally.
  3. Drain pasta; place in large serving bowl.  Add sauce and spinach; mix lightly.  Add cheese; stir until slightly melted.
Simmer sauce, sausage, olives for 5 minutes or until heated through

Simmer sauce, sausage, olives for 5 minutes or until heated through

 

 

Add sauce - mix

Add Spinach - mix slightly

Add mozzarella cheese - mix well

Delicious!

Flowers, Wine and Pasta Spiced Up Our Valentines Day

Hope everyone had a nice Valentines Day yesterday.  I had a great day, I saw all three of my little darlings (grandbabies) which brightens any day.

Our Valentines Day, Walt’s and mine, was a little bit of everything.  There were flowers (the tulip bouquet Walt sent me), wine, a delicious and spicy pasta dish (definitely a keeper) and cheesecake with cherry topping.  Oh, I guess I should clarify……….the pasta was our “spiced up”, don’t think you’re getting more than that.  It was a very good day and evening.

Walt always remembers Valentines Day with flowers, he always has from the very first Valentines Day we celebrated together.  Every year I am always surprised when they arrive, I really don’t expect them.  I guess I just figure that at some point it may stop, but after nine years of marriage and 3 years of courting, they still keep coming.  Not that I  have had many, but Walt is the only guy who makes a big to do about Valentines Day, my birthday and our anniversary.

But I have to say it’s been a very, very long time since I can even remember a Valentines Day that I was alone.  My first husband was not a “buy you flowers” kind of guy.  He didn’t get into the holidays.  But once we had John and Nikki it didn’t matter.  I had them, and from the time they were born it was all about the little holidays.  They were only 10 days old on their first Valentines Day but I made sure they had little stuffed bears.  As they grew older and began going to school I started getting handmade Valentines from them, I have a box full of stuff downstairs in storage.  Kids art….the best!

Actually it was after my divorce that I started, kind of sort of, celebrating Valentines Day.  You see I have a best friend, her name is Tina and after my divorce she made it her mission in life to make sure that I was never alone during the holidays, any holiday, even made up holidays like Sweetest Day in October.  If the kids were celebrating with their dad, Tina was on my case about what I was doing.  If I was dating someone she was less likely to be a pest about it (I say this lovingly), but if I was not…..she was right there planning a night on the town.

Tina is kind of like a kid sister, she is several years younger than me yet sometimes she seems light years older in wisdom.  We have been through so much together, I can’t imagine not having her in my life.  It’s funny how things work out, that we would both find our selves not in committed relationships at the same time, so if we were both alone on Valentines Day Tina would plan a night out.

I’m not talking Burger King, Big Boy, Coney Island, or the local dive that is so dark no one knows you’re in there.  We went to some really nice, fancy restaurants and had a blast!!  We would order drinks, a nice dinner and dessert, even the one they set on fire at your table!!.  We would laugh and speculate what we thought the couples around us thought about our night out.  I have to say that my funny friend sometimes gave people the wrong idea when she would refer to me as “snookums.”  Yes….yes she did.  I would turn beet red and then we would burst out laughing.  In some “fringe” type universe Tina and I are probably a couple.

If Valentines Day happened to fall on a Friday or Saturday we would go out for our nice dinner then we would go back to the corner bar in New Boston.  I lived on a ten-acre farm for a bit, you know, four corners, blinking light, small town.  After our dinner we would meet up with friends, couples who celebrated together then headed to the bar, people we knew in passing, and a lot of times we would make new friends playing darts and pool.  There were even times we would met friends a karaoke bar in another town and sing the night away.

Good times, really, really great times, I’m laughing to myself just thinking about some of the crazy things we’ve done.  My point in sharing this is a couple of things.  Number 1, best friends who are that loyal are hard to find.  If you have that type of relationship with your best friend, do all you can to take care of it.  Tina is my Ethel, my Shirley, my Costello…..maybe it’s the other way around.  I don’t know…..I just know that she always has my best interest at heart, even when we disagree.

Ken (Tina’s husband) and Walt both have strange schedules do to the nature of their jobs.  I would bet my last dime (maybe I should make it a dollar) that if Tina and Ken were still living in Michigan instead of Colorado, Tina and I would have had dinner together last night.  I will admit, don’t get mad Tina, no one knows you on here except my family and they all think we’re crazy anyway, Tina did text me yesterday with a Happy Valentines Day.  Following that, she did recall all of the great times we’ve had in the past.  For us Valentines Day means tons of fond memories.

My 2nd point?  If you don’t have a significant other in your life right now or if you and the love of your life can’t be together, think outside the Valentines Day candy box!!  Grab some girlfriends, grab your sisters, go out and have a blast….have a nice dinner, go to a movie, get a mani/pedi together, go shopping.  Whatever you do, remember, it’s just another day…….and great memories are waiting to be made.

On to our recipe……..I found this on Pinterest and it is absolutely delicious.  I have been trying to find something comparable to the now discontinued Sante Fe Chicken Pasta from Red Robin and although this is different, I am very happy to say it has replaced my need to search for a knock off Red Robin recipe.

I am becoming more and more drawn toward purchasing a rotisserie chicken instead of buying chicken breasts when a recipe calls for shredded or cut up cooked chicken breasts.   I can purchase a rotisserie chicken for $4.99 with my Kroger card, use the breast meat for my recipe and then have left over chicken so I can make chicken salad or chicken sandwiches, resulting in at least 3 – 4 meals (1 dinner and 2-3 lunches) from one chicken.  For me this is much better than spending $4.99/lb. for chicken breasts which will only give me enough chicken for the recipe resulting in dinner that night and lunch the next day.

That’s what I did for this recipe, I bought a rotisserie chicken and it worked our really well.  I only used the chicken breast meat for this recipe.

I don’t know how this whole Pinterest thing goes, but I used the recipe that was posted by “teamcarroll,” who’s blog is “Pearls, Handcuffs, and Happy Hour.”  The recipe is from her post on Pinterest, the photo’s are mine as I made the dish.

Ok, so hopefully I’ve covered all the copyright laws, if I’m not on for a few days, someone check the jail……see we liked it that much I’m willing to take a chance.

Chicken Enchalla Pasta (“Pearls, Handcuffs, Happy Hour”)

2-3 chicken breasts, cooked & shredded {or shredded rotisserie chicken…I used the breasts}

2 tbsp. olive oil

 

2 garlic cloves, minced

 

1 medium onion, diced

 

1 red pepper, diced

 

1 {4 oz.} can diced green chiles

 

1/2 tsp. salt

 

2 tsp. chili powder

 

1 tsp. cumin

 

2 {10 oz.} cans green chili enchilada sauce

 

2/3 cups red enchilada sauce

 

2 cups shredded cheese {I used colby & monterrey jack}

 

1 cup sour cream

 

1 lb.  Penne pasta

Directions

Cook chicken, drain, and shred {or shred your rotisserie}.  Meanwhile boil pasta according to package and chop the veggies.

Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet and cook onions for about 3-5 minutes.  Add garlic & red pepper and cook for another 3-5 minutes.

Saute" onion, garlic and red pepper

Add cooked chicken, green chiles, cumin, chili powder, salt, & enchilada sauces.  Let sauce simmer for about 8-10 minutes.

Add cooked chicken, spices, sauces and chopped chilies

Add cheese and stir until the cheese is melted and heated through.

Add cheese, stir until melted

Add the sour cream.  DO NOT BOIL, sour cream will curdle

Mix well and heat until heated through

Add sour cream - DO NOT BOIL - Sour cream will curdle

Drain Pasta – Return to pot

Pour pasta sauce over penne and mix well

Serve with sour cream and green onions

OTHER TOPPING SUGGESTIONS   

Avocado

Chopped Tomatoes

Black Olives

This makes a lot of pasta but it reheats very well in the microwave the next day.