Um….how many boxes of pasta???

I was doing a little cleaning up and I noticed an unusual amount of pasta boxes.  I counted and ended up with 14 – FOURTEEN boxes of pasta!  And that doesn’t count the stuff I have in other containers!  I think I have a sickness.  Is there a meeting for pasta buyers anonymous?

So, I decided that I need to start cooking some pasta.  It’s getting chilly and it’s the perfect meal to be able to heat up the house.  Bear Creek makes a Creamy Chicken pasta mix that I just could eat the WHOLE thing easy.  I was going to go and buy it, but I thought “Huh.  I wonder if I could make it”.  I have never tried to recreate a recipe like this.  The only way I have ever tried was with another recipe – lol.  I didn’t take many pictures because I wasn’t sure it would turn out.  I do have some pictures for you and even something close to a recipe.

I had to think through how I wanted to make this and how I would get it the way closest to what the package is.

I started with a roux.  I added garlic to the butter to get some flavor.  The yellow glob is my version of bouillon.  I added that to kinf of ramp up the chicken flavor.
CCN_Butter

I added flour, but I couldn’t get a picture.  Next, I added the chicken broth VERY slowly.  I would add a little bit, wait for it to thicken up, add a little more, then wait, etc.
CCN_BrothAdded

I wanted to add some milk, but mine went bad.  I used powdered milk instead.  It is gross to drink, but I didn’t notice anything off when cooking with it.  I added the seasonings at this point too.  Parsley, salt and pepper went into the sauce.  I let it boil a bit on and off, but I was constantly stirring to make sure it didn’t burn.  I wanted a really thick sauce and this helped.
CCN_Milk

The original had carrots in it, so I took some of the pre-shredded ones I always have, cut them a little smaller and threw them in to cook.  I  turned down the heat and let it simmer slowly while I finished up the pasta.

See, because I made about 4 ounces of the mini pasta by Barilla, looked at my sauce and went, “Yea……that’s so not enough”.  I had to mix two different shapes which I hate doing.  BUT, I knocked out two boxes of pasta!  WOOHOO!
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Plated (with frozen fish)
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Okay – verdict (drumroll please!!).  It was pretty good.  I couldn’t get the salt correct, but that was a small piece of it.  I actually liked the two different pastas in this.  I liked the carrots, but I should have put them in sooner so they had time to soften up a bit more.  I didn’t add nearly enough garlic.  I think there is something missing, but I can’t put my finger on it.  I think the base recipe is fine, but the seasonings still need tweaking.

Recipe: Creamy Chicken Noodles
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp Chicken Soup Base (I use Penzey’s)
Garlic cloves – I used about 1-2 tsp of garlic from Penzey’s2 tbsp flour
1 cup fat free, low sodium chicken broth
1 cup skim milk
7 ounces dry mini pasta.  If a bigger pasta is used, you may not need as much
Seasonings:
salt, pepper, parsley

Boil the pasta according to the directions on the package and set aside

Melt the butter, garlic, and soup base in a medium potAdd the flour and saute.  Cook for a couple minutes
SLOWLY add the chicken broth
Stir after every addition and wait until thick to add more
After the last of it is added, let it thicken a bit more and add the milk the same way
Taste and season accordingly.  I didn’t actually measure the salt, pepper or parsley.  I just dumped some in and tested, dumped some in and tasted
Let the sauce come to a boil to thicken up even more
Add the noodles and mix

Optional
I added in some shredded carrots.  Other vegetables may be good, too.  I would think broccoli would work well.

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Love in a skillet

Or Skillet Lasagna.  Same thing.  This was perfect on a grey day.  All I was missing was some crusty bread and butter.  And maybe a dog…..or a fireplace….even a boyfriend…..I need someone to do the dishes, silly

Ingredients.  I made a couple changes.  I used Turkey sausage instead of regular.  I have tried this before and it failed miserably, but in here, it worked.  I also just used regular tomato sauce instead of diced tomatoes.  I am not a huge fan of chunky tomatoes and I forgot to get them the three times I went to the store.  I figured that was a sign and just used what I had on hand.  The original recipe used cottage cheese, but I didn’t want my grandmother to come haunt me, so I stuck with the ricotta.  One last thing – that onion?  Yea, I didn’t use it.  I cut it and the middle was ooky.  I used a slightly bigger one
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after cooking the onion and the sausage, you are supposed to put in the other seasonings, then the noodles, then the sauce and water.  Yea, I got it backwards.  Damn noodles were on top.
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Still worked though 🙂
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Three kinds of cheesey goodness!
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This was graat.  Even with the mix up with the noodles, it worked perfectly.  I also used a vidalia onion instead of yellow because that’s what I had.  It didn’t seem to make much difference.  Honestly, I couldn’t tell it was in there.  I cut the parmesan cheese to only about 1/4 cup because I knew it would be WAY to much if I used a cup.  I love parm, but it is just so strong.  I didn’t want to overpower the whole dish.  I get little tastes of it through out the bowl which is perfect for me.  I can’t wait to try this with another type of noodle.  I did like the lasagna sheets, but they were a but unruly to try and stir when they were still hard.  Plus, it’s just not a noodle I have on hand very often (why do I keep spelling it noddle and firefox thinks this is an actual word??).  I think it will work as long as you don’t use the tiny pasta shapes.  Ziti would be good, but orzo would not work in my opinion.

Queso Pasta Bake

Queso Pasta Bake really means cheese sauce and more cheese on top!  This is basically a beefed up mac and cheese recipe – literally – it has beef in it 🙂  I am a sucker for pasta dishes.

Ingredients.  It looks like a lot, but it really is an easy dish to make
QPB_Ingredients

Beef and tomatoes all cooked up and ready to be mixed
QPB_BeefCooking

Cheese Sauce (I was gonna show you the pasta next, but who wants to see plain cooked pasta?  Although, it is curly pasta which is always fun.
QPB_Queso

All mixed up and ready for more cheese!
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Cheeese!  Or should I say Queeeeso!
QPB_ReadyToBake

All baked and lovely
QPB_Baked

This made 8 HUGE servings for me.  So large, I am contemplating giving some servings away.  I liked this.  It isn’t as cheesy as a normal mac and cheese, but it is definitely in there.  I think it could use a little more seasoning, though.  It has a tablespoon of cumin and I added who knows how much garlic, but I still couldn’t taste any of it.  The salsa and rotel contribute some flavor, so it isn’t bland.  Next time, I am going to add some spice and maybe do the cheese sauce at 1.5 recipe.  Using both the rotel and salsa adds a few too many tomatoes for me.  Just one would suffice.  I would probably go for the salsa before the rotel next time because I always have it in my fridge and it has more ingredients than the rotel.  Definitely looking forward to making this again.

Enchilada Pasta Casserole

Because I can’t get enough baking in the southern heat, I decided to make this recipe.  I was originally going to make chicken with mac and cheese, but I didn’t have the ingredients I needed in the house.  Since I am being QUITE lazy today, I needed something else today.  Something easy and this just fit the bill.

Ingredients – I used just some taco seasoning instead of the three listed in the recipe (did I mention I was lazy?).  I also had to measure the ground beef after it was cooked because it was frozen.  I didn’t want to wait for it to thaw, so I threw it in the pan (see a pattern?).
EPC_Ingredients

About to mix everything.  There are no pictures after mixing, because I am telling you – it is GROSS looking.  I am not saying it tastes gross, but is not a photogenic bowl.
EPC_ReadyToMix

Ready to be baked
EPC_ReadyToBake

Done
EPC_Done

It didn’t look anything like the picture from the website when I served my plate
EPC_Plated

 

It was a simple, easy dish.  I, of course, forgot the salt and that was a notable missing element.  It would definitely be better with that element.  It isn’t a bad recipe, but it isn’t something I would see myself making often.  Maybe it was because I used taco seasoning instead of the listed seasonings, but it just didn’t make me sit up and notice.

Almost failed on day 2

Wanna talk about going on the edge?  I made a recipe with COOKED CABBAGE *GASP*.  I could eat coleslaw all day, but not a huge cooked cabbage person.  I decided to take a chance on this recipe.  I am sure you are wondering how I almost failed, not to worry, I am getting to that 🙂

Ingredients – I forgot to include the butter
CON_Ingredients

Cooked noodles.  It was here you were supposed to reserve some pasta water.  I forgot, so I went searching for something.  I almost used some chicken broth in the freezer……waaaaait, that’s not vegetarian.  CRAP!  I didn’t have any wine or vegetable broth.  I just ended up using some plain water.
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Food processor?  We don’t need no stinking food processor!!
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Cooking the breadcrumbs
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Heating the oil.  It was at this point I thought “Crap!  I still need to slice the veggies!!”
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I only used half the cabbage – can you blame me?
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It did shrink quite a bit.  This is the point that you need to use the reserved pasta water to deglaze the pan, except if you are me 🙂
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Ready to mix
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FINALLY!  Feed time!!
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The white spots on the last picture is just parmesan cheese.  Because, if you’re like me, and you go looking for chicken broth in the freezer, you will also leave the cheese in there to get partially frozen.  I also overcooked the noodles a but.  I think it needs to be shocked to stop them from cooking.  It actually worked out because, as I have said, I suck at mixing pasta, but it kept breaking.  I was pleasantly surprise, I really like this.  The onions were so sweet.  I used vidalia instead of the yellow in the original recipe.  I also use some buckwheat noodles instead of the whole wheat pasta.  I thought “sauteed cabbage, sauteed onion.  Japanese noodles!!”  You made the same connection, right?  Right?  Aww…….

 

PS – yes, I know this isn’t on the schedule, but instead of subjecting you to a month a vegetarian recipes, I figured I would just post a bunch this week.  Also to make up for missing last Thursday 😉

Hearty Pasta Dish….In Summer….In The South

I forget where I came across this recipe.  Being the smartest person ever, I decided to make a hearty pasta dish in the middle of summer in the south 😐  One thing before I start, you must love peppers to enjoy this dish

Ingredients
IDN_Ingredients

Cooking the sausage
IDN_Sausage

Cooking the onions
IDN_Onions

Have I ever shown you the easiest way to cut up a bell pepper?  I never use any other method now.  Instead of cutting off the top, cut vertically, like this
IDN_CutPepper1

Continue around the pepper and you end up with slices like these.  No cleaning needed!
IDN_CutPepper2

Another tip?  Cut with the skin side down.  That way, if the skin is a little tough, you won’t smush the pepper flesh.  Enough about the peppers…..well almost.  Peppers in the pot!
IDN_AddPepper

All ingredients in
IDN_AllIn

Everything mixed up with the pasta
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Plated
IDN_Plated

Don’t forget to pour yourself a glass of wine when the recipe tells you to add it.
IDN_Wine

I was kind of wary about it, but I liked the dish.  I think the only thing I would change would be the peppers.  I think they need to be in a smaller size.  I would just cut them in half again to make them shorter.  The sauce is great.  I might try and use dried herbs.  I might use half hot sausage to give it a bit of a kick.  Other than that, wouldn’t change a thing 🙂  I got 5 REALLY big servings out of it – even though the recipe says it makes four.  I don’t know if you could substitute the pasta, but it is hard to find.  I was able to find it at Earth Fare, but whoooo – it was expensive.  Maybe I will just try and make it from scratch next time.

Garlicky shells of deliciousness

I found this side recipe and wanted to try it so bad, I built a meal around it instead of using a main dish.  I found it on Iowa Girl Eats (again).  If you haven’t checked out her site, you really need to go peek.  This is the first of two recipes of hers I will be posting in the next week.  This recipe is for Creamy Garlic Shells.  As a person who has eaten those noodles and sauce packets for dinner on multiple occasion, I was excited to read that she developed something to replace it with real food.  It takes about the same amount of time, too.  Nothing weird – made of stuff I pretty much always have in my arsenal of ingredients……just forgot to include them in the pictures

Ingredients.  Missing: Garlic
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Measured out ingredients.  Missing: Garlic and flour
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Sauce.  Missing: The white bowl in the previous picture
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Finished.  Missing: my fork
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Dinner.  Missing: my second helping 🙂
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Pair this with the steak from the previous post and you got yourself a great dinner!  On the side, corn on the cob.  I actually baked this in the oven in the husk.  325 for 25 minutes for 2 cobs.  I was skeptical, but it actually worked.  The husk and silk just slide right off.  I think when the corn gets bigger, I will have to leave it in for 30 minutes.

I don’t know how else to end this post – lol.  It was good, it was great and easy.  Go make it!