Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad

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Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad
slightly adapted from Creme de la Crumb

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 lb. cheese tortellini pasta, fresh or dried, cooked per package instructions
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 (14-oz. can) quartered artichoke hearts, drained, roughly chopped
  • 4 oz. sliced kalamata olives
  • 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Greek Dressing

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced or grated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Method

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar, cover and shake well.

In a large bowl combine tortellini, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, artichoke hearts, olives, feta cheese, and basil. Pour dressing over the top, then toss to combine.

Serve or refrigerate immediately. Best fresh but can stay good 4 to 5 days.

NOTES

I cannot. stop. making this. Best pasta salad I’ve ever made. Awesome contribution to a potluck, sure, but I keep making it over and over for lunches and dinners just for myself – and probably will keep doing so for years to come. SO GOOD.

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Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

IMG_1201IMG_1199IMG_1200Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
  • 1-1/4 pounds ground chicken or turkey
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley (plus a touch more for garnish)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 jar (or 2-1/2 cups homemade) marinara sauce
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) grated mozzarella

Method

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with nonstick spray.

Combine the panko, Parmesan, chicken, egg, olive oil, garlic, parsley, oregano, basil, salt, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Gently combine using your hands until just incorporated.

Divide the meatball mixture into 30 golf ball sized rounds and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes, then flip the meatballs over to brown on the other side; bake another 8 minutes.

Add the jar of marinara to a large ovenproof skillet. Add the meatballs to the pan, sprinkle with the grated mozzarella, and bake until the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.

Serve over cooked pasta or on top of crispy bread.

Lasagna Hamburger Helper

IMG_0989IMG_1004Lasagna Hamburger Helper
slightly adapted from Jo Cooks

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 8 oz. dry mafalda pasta (SEE NOTES)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Method

In a large, deep skillet, brown the ground beef over medium-high heat until it is well browned and no longer pink. Drain off any excess fat, if needed.

Add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the skillet and stir. Season with salt, basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper, and cook until the onion gets soft and translucent, about 3 minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes, pasta, and chicken broth and stir everything together. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium low. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through; most of the sauce should be absorbed.

Stir in the cheese and cook for another 30 seconds to a minute until the cheese melts. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

NOTES

So freaking good. This was the last of Steve’s helper meal nostalgia tour. At this point, I think I have made every recipe from when we were kids, plus a couple extra. List below.

If you can’t find mafalda pasta nearby (I CANNOT), then buy two boxes of Lasagna Hamburger Helper and just use the noodles from that! That was a brilliant “duh” suggestion from Steve when I couldn’t figure out how I was going to buy the right kind of pasta. Two helper boxes end up being cheaper than buying the specialty noodles online, so it’s a win. Alternatively, you can use any kind of shaped pasta like penne, fusilli, rotini, etc.

Other Homemade Helper Recipes:

Philly Cheesesteak Hamburger Helper

IMG_0654Philly Cheesesteak Hamburger Helper
adapted from Dinner Then Dessert

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 8 ounces brown mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 cups beef or chicken broth
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 4 ounces provolone cheese slices, chopped (or 4 ounces shredded)
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley, for garnish

Method

Add the ground beef to a large deep skillet over medium high heat. Cook until a brown crust appears before breaking the beef apart. Saute until no longer pink.

Add the onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring periodically, until the vegetables are soft and the mushrooms have released their liquid. Add the garlic and stir another minute.

Add the broth, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and black pepper to the pan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then add macaroni. Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 5-7 minutes or until noodles are just barely al dente (do not overcook), stirring once to make sure nothing is sticking. Remove cover, reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for another 5 minutes to thicken before serving. Turn off the heat, add in the provolone cheese and stir until melted and well combined. Garnish with minced parsley. Serve.

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NOTES

Just adding to my Helper meal repertoire! I never thought I would have so many homemade versions of the boxed meals Steve and I subsisted on throughout our early life, but here we are. This one might actually be my favorite. Creamy, savory, and the glorious taste of philly cheesesteak in a simple one-pot. Will make again and again.

Other Homemade Helper Recipes:

 

Sausage, Tomato, and Pea Pasta

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Sausage, Tomato, and Pea Pasta
very slightly adapted from Good Fast Eats from Belly Full

Ingredients

  • 12 oz small shaped pasta, like rotini or small shells
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb Italian sausage (bulk or links, casings removed) (I used my homemade version)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 (15-oz.) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • Grated parmesan for serving (optional)
  • Red pepper flakes for serving (optional)

Method

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta to al dente, according to package instructions.

In the meantime, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and sausage; saute, breaking up the pork into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until no pink remains and the onions are softened, about 4 minutes. Season with a couple grinds of salt and pepper, the crushed red pepper flakes, and oregano.

Add in the tomatoes with their liquid, and chicken broth. Turn heat down to medium and gently simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the pasta is done cooking. Add the peas along with the half and half; mix and warm through.

Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Stir in the sausage mixture until thoroughly combined. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately, with grated parmesan and red pepper flakes, if desired.

NOTES

Another winner from my dear friend Amy. Really, it was a no brainer, since I never met a sausage pasta I didn’t like. This was awesome – and, as with all the recipes from her book – quick and easy as well.

Chicken Parmesan Pasta Skillet

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Chicken Parmesan Pasta Skillet

Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 oz short pasta (penne, rotini, ziti)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Method

In a large skillet or dutch oven heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook and brown for 8 to 10 minutes or until onion is soft and chicken is nearly cooked through. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the pasta, wine, broth, tomatoes, basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the Parmesan cheese and the bread crumbs; set aside.

When the pasta is tender, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and then the parmesan and bread crumb mixture.

Broil for 3-4 minutes or until golden and crispy. Remove from oven and sprinkle parsley on top. Serve.

NOTES

I’ve been wanting to do a dish like this for a long time. I absolutely love my pan-fried-then-oven version of chicken parm with spaghetti, but that’s more of a weekend endeavor. This skillet is perfect for a weeknight when I am craving the flavors, but don’t want to make a ton of effort. Absolutely fantastic.

One-Pot Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta

 

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One-Pot Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta
slightly adapted from Belly Full

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 ounces cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 3 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 8 ounces thin spaghetti, broken in half
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes with herbs, julienne cut, in oil, drained
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (or sub 1 tablespoon lemon juice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz) grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Method

Heat oil over medium-high in a very large skillet with a lid. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper, then add to the pan and saute until cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add mushrooms and garlic to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes, until the mushrooms have softened. Raise heat to high; add in white wine and allow to reduce by half. Pour in broth; bring to a boil.

Stir in the pasta, cover, and cook for about 9 minutes, until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid has absorbed.

Uncover and mix in chicken, sun dried tomatoes, and lemon zest. Season with the red pepper flakes and a few grinds of salt and black pepper, to taste. Add in cream and warm through. Stir in the mozzarella, Parmesan, and parsley.

Serve immediately.

NOTES

This was AMAZING. Pictures do not do it justice. Nothing I could say about it could do it justice. All I will say is that of the 29 recipes I have posted so far this year, this might top the list as my new favorite of 2016. Go. Make. This.