Orzo with Red Peppers and Corn

This was a side dish that I served alongside salmon a few weeks ago.  It was a very last minute choice, very good and easy though!

Orzo with Red Peppers and Corn

3/4 cup uncooked orzo

1 Tbsp olive oil or butter

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1.5 cups frozen corn, thawed

1 or 2 tsp Italian seasoning – to taste

Cook orzo in lightly salted boiling water as directed, then drain.  Meanwhile heat oil in a large skillet, add the onion, red pepper, and garlic.  Cook until tender.  Add the corn and seasoning.  Add the cooked orzo and stir it all together.  Serve and enjoy!

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Spaghetti Beef Casserole

This recipe calls for two of the dreaded gelatinous canned condensed soups, but I really don’t care.  I try to buy the low-sodium ones and try to avoid using them more than once a week.   I’ve been making this dish as long as we’ve been married and we really enjoy it!  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – casseroles are just so good, man.

This makes a really big casserole so I divide it into two dishes and freeze one.  Win win!

{Picture was taken before it went in the oven.}

Spaghetti Beef Casserole

Source:  clipped from an unknown magazine over 4 years ago

Ingredients:

1 pound dry spaghetti

1 pound lean ground beef

1 onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 of a jar of pimentos {probably 2 tablespoons} – optional

1 can condensed tomato soup

1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup

1 cup of water {to rinse out the cans of soup}

2 cups of shredded cheese – cheddar or mozzarella or other kind of your choice

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray one large or two medium-sized casserole dishes with non-stick spray.

Cook the spaghetti in boiling water.  Drain.

Meanwhile cook the ground beef, onion, garlic, and green pepper in a really large skillet until beef is no longer pink.  Drain off grease.  Add soups and water and about 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.  Mix together, then add the cooked pasta and stir everything together.

Pour the mixture into the baking dish(es).  Top with shredded cheese.  If you are cooking one large casserole, bake for 30-40 minutes or until hot.

If you are cooking one smaller casserole now, bake it for about 30 minutes or until hot.

Cover the extra casserole with freezer wrap/foil, label it, and place in the freezer to be used within about 3 months.  When ready to use it, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, set out on the counter for about 30 minutes before placing in a 350 degree oven and baking for about 45 minutes to one hour, or until hot throughout.

Bow Tie Pasta with Chicken and Artichokes

I have been on a mission to organize my recipes recently and it is no small task.   Really, it’s a major feat.  I literally have thousands of loose leaf recipes that I’ve torn out of magazines, printed from websites, or photocopied from various books.  I have accumulated them over the past 5 years and the collection is no joke.  Over that time I would try to place them in binders, but they weren’t really in any order.  I would guess that 3/4 of them made it into those clear 3-ring binder page protector things, but the other 1/4 were loosely stuffed in among the pages.  Soup recipes were among dessert recipes, a waffle recipe was next to a casserole recipe.  You get the idea – it was chaos.  I needed to sort it all out.

So, I have been sorting it out and I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  I guess my tastes have changed quite a bit over the years because I was able to throw away many, many pages that I was no longer interested in.  Also on the up side, I rediscovered some long-lost recipes that I’m really excited about.  This was one of those recipes.  🙂

I came across this recipe and wanted to make it because it reminded me of these two summer pasta dishes {here and here} that I made last year, but this recipe uses pantry staples more suitable to winter.

A 1/2 pound of sliced fresh mushrooms was listed in the recipe, but I left them out.

Pasta with Chicken and Artichokes

source:  Taste of Home magazine;  Simple & Delicious Edition Nov. and Dec. 2009

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 pound chicken breasts or tenders, cut into 1/2″ pieces

8 oz bow tie pasta – I used mini

1 medium red onion, chopped

2 tbsp white wine

1 can artichoke hearts; rinsed, drained, and quartered

1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes or Italian style diced tomatoes with garlic, undrained

fresh or dried basil

shaved Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Cook pasta in salted, boiling water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute chicken on olive oil until no longer pink.  Remove and keep warm.

In the same skillet, saute onion {and mushrooms if using} until tender.  Add wine, reduce heat to medium, stir in tomatoes, artichokes, and chicken.  Cook until heated through.  Taste and adjust seasoning with s&p.  Combine with the cooked, hot pasta.  Add basil.  Serve with Parm on top.

Yield:  5 large servings.

Tortellini Soup

Soup is one of the things that I feel confident making without following an exact recipe.  I find it really easy to just add several things, adjust seasonings, and really just wing it with the measurements with outstanding results most of the time.  Soup is also really easy to scale up or down to make a lot or just a couple of bowls.

My mind was racing with additions that would be welcome in this soup.  I think spinach would have been great, but if my memory serves me correctly Tim is not a fan of spinach so I left it out.  Sausage meatballs, zucchini, and celery are a few other ideas.

This was the quickest meal that I have prepared in a long time too, definitely under 30 minutes.  Keep in mind that we like things a little on the zesty side, so omit or reduce the red pepper flakes accordingly.  Also note that you can cook the frozen tortellini right in the soup pot, but I chose to cook it on the side for no apparent reason.

Tortellini Soup

Inspired by The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Ingredients:

1 medium red onion, chopped {can use leeks or white onions}

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1.5 cups frozen peas and carrots

pinch of salt and pepper

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 8 oz can tomato sauce

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 {32 oz} carton chicken broth

water

1 package frozen tortellini {cheese or beef}

1 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp red pepper flakes

Parmesan cheese for serving

Directions:

Cook tortellini in boiling water according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic, cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add all of the seasonings and frozen peas and carrots {if you wanted to add zucchini or celery you would add it now}.  Saute a few minutes, then add the vinegar.  Next add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, about 1 cup of water to rinse the tomato sauce can, and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil and add the tortellini {also add the spinach now if using}.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top.

Cream Cheese Lasagna

First of all, I’m really happy I made this lasagna even though there was one major thing I didn’t like about it.  I actually learned a lot by making this recipe.  In the past whenever I made lasagna, I always used an entire box of noodles, creating several layers and when sliced, the pieces never held their shape and they would go sliding all over the plate.  That fact was part of the reason I started making lasagna rolls most recently – they stay neatly rolled and are easy to serve.  But, this recipe calls for just 6 noodles {I used 8} which means less layers and it held together extremely well when sliced.

Another thing I learned, and probably the most obvious, is that cream cheese makes a wonderful lasagna filling!  I never would have thought of that.  Of course ricotta and/or cottage cheese, mozzarella, and Parmesan are obvious ingredients.  The cream cheese creates a thicker filling, which also helped to hold the layers together I would guess.

Now, the thing I didn’t care for at all – the lemon zest.  I should have went with my gut and omitted it from the start, but I decided to stay true to the recipe.  We could taste the lemon in the very first bites we took.  We did not like it, but were able to get past it and eat it because there was no way I was going to throw the whole thing out!

Lastly, I concluded that the pepperoni is completely optional.  Sure it added nice flavor, but I could have done without it.  Again my gut told me to leave it out, but I used it anyway.  I don’t regret it like I regret the lemon, but I will probably skip it next time.

Cream Cheese Lasagna

Source:  Runs with Spatulas

6 or 8 Lasagna noodles
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup onion, chopped
salt and pepper, for seasoning
1 pound ground beef
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1/4 cup fat-free low-sodium beef broth – I omitted
1 (8 oz) package reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup 2% cottage cheese
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons lemon zest – OMIT
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 (4 oz) package pepperoni or salami slices – I used turkey pepperoni
2 cups (8 oz) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large stockpot over high heat, bring water to a boil. Add lasagna noodles and 1 teaspoons olive oil and cook according to package directions until al dente.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Add in the onion, and cook until they start to become fragrant and soft, about 5 minutes. Add in the ground beef, breaking up into smaller bits with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle with garlic powder and red pepper flakes and cook until brown (about 8-10 minutes) stirring often. Turn off heat and stir in tomato sauce, paste, and broth until the mixture is fully incorporated.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together the cream cheese, cottage cheese, and sour cream. Stir in the eggs until well mixed, then add in the salt, nutmeg, parsley, basil, lemon zest, and Italian seasoning.

Spray a 12x8x2 glass {I used a 13×9 which is why I used 8 noodles} or ceramic baking dish with nonstick spray.  Spread part of meat mixture on the bottom of the pan so it is lightly covered. Layer with 3 {4} lasagna noodles. Spoon half of the cheese mixture over the noodles, spreading evenly across the noodles. Top with 1/2 the pepperoni, followed by 1/2 the mozzarella. Repeat with the remaining meat mixture, lasagna noodles, cheese mixture, pepperoni, mozzarella and finally the shredded Parmesan.

Cover lasagna with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes, dabbing off excess grease from the pepperoni if necessary prior to serving {This wasn’t necessary for me because I used turkey pepperoni}.

Serves: 12

Noodles with Peanut Sauce

I was nursing a sore throat several days ago and I thought a nice warm bowl of noodles sounded like the perfect medicine for lunch one day.  This recipe did not disappoint.  I’ve read similar recipes to this one and they are served cold, so I’m sure this recipe would be great either way.  The veggies that you choose to use are totally interchangeable.  I used a bag of frozen “spring mix” stir fry veggies, but just bell peppers would be fine.

Noodles with Peanut Sauce

adapted from Betty Crocker Bridal Edition Cookbook, page 375

Ingredients:

8 ounces of egg, rice, or spaghetti noodles

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

2-3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tsp dried ginger

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

1 Tbsp oil for stir frying

stir fry veggies of your choice – fresh or frozen

Optional Toppings:

peanuts

sliced green onions

chopped cilantro

Directions:

Cook noodles in boiling water as directed.

Stir the peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, and pepper together with a whisk, gradually add the broth.  {This kinda takes forever because the peanut butter is so thick, but keep at it.}

Stir fry the veggies until crisp tender in a little oil in a large saute pan.  Add the cooked and drained pasta and the peanut butter sauce to the pan.  Toss to combine and coat.

Place in serving bowls and add topping if you choose.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

This meal was heavenly!  It really hit the spot for us on a chilly fall night.  I absolutely loved it and will dream about when I can make it again!  Although it is a very common meal, I had never made a version where the meatballs are cooked right in the sauce.    It was definitely worth the extra time too.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Source:  adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, also seen at Annie’s Eats

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped {I used a white onion}

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 (28 oz.) can tomato puree {I used whole tomatoes}

1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce

1 small can of tomato paste

2 tsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes or to taste

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

2 tbsp. sugar

1/2 cup of water (or more)

For the meatballs:

1/2 cup bread crumbs, divided

1/4 cup milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp. dried parsley

1/2 cup grated Romano cheese {I used Parm}

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper

1 lb. lean ground beef

For serving:
Freshly cooked spaghetti
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Minced fresh basil

Directions:
To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion to the pot and saute until tender, 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, stirring, about 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes, paste, tomato sauce, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and sugar.  Add water to thin the sauce out to your desired consistency.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.  Let simmer for as long as possible {I went with about 1 hour}.  Since I used canned whole tomatoes, I needed to puree my sauce with my immersion blender right before adding the meatballs.

To make the meatballs, in a medium mixing bowl combine 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs with the milk.  Let the bread crumbs soak for 10 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix thoroughly.  Form the mixture into meatballs {I had 21 meatballs).  Add the meatballs to the simmering sauce about 45 minutes before the sauce will be finished cooking.  Cover and let simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, about 45 minutes.

So, my sauce simmered for 1 hour before I added the meatballs and then another 45 minutes with the meatballs.

Transfer freshly cooked pasta to serving dishes.  Top each serving with sauce and meatballs.  Garnish with shredded Parmesan and fresh basil, if desired.

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