One-Pot Pizza Pasta Bake

I may not be a parent yet, but I am a teacher, so back-to-school in our house is a zero-to-sixty time of year with school days, school nights, and marching season! The concept of the one-pot meal is one that, as a busy teacher and lazy pan washer, I absolutely adore. They’re very user-friendly, especially for the multi-tasker. You fix the meal, cover the pot, and go do something else while dinner cooks…in my case, it’s usually laundry or a cleaning chore of some sort.

I came across a round-up of 15 Best Back-To-School Recipes over at Damn Delicious. If you haven’t come across this blog yet, click to it! It’s full of amazing recipes that are easy to cook and true to the blog title. This pasta bake caught my eye and I knew I had to try it. Including prep time it took about 30 minutes. I adapted it based upon the meat and vegetables that I had on hand.

One-Pot Pizza Pasta Bake

adapted from Damn Delicious

  •  1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz ground turkey
  • 1 medium zucchini; peeled, sliced and quartered
  • 4 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup pepperoni, divided – slice regular-sized pepperoni into quarters, or use the mini ones
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp oregano, divided
  • 1 tsp dried basil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder, divided
  • 8 oz dry rotini pasta
  • sat & pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the ground turkey and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes; break it up as you go so it gets nice and crumbly. Add the zucchini, mushrooms, and half of the oregano, basil and garlic powder. Cook for two minutes until the zucchini starts to get some color. Add half of pepperoni and cook until heated through.
  3. Preheat the oven to broil.
  4. To the skillet add the tomato sauce, pasta, and the rest of the oregano, basil and garlic powder. Pour in 1 1/2 cups water and season with salt and pepper; stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil; then cover, reduce heat and simmer until pasta is cooked, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the skillet from the heat. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese, remaining pepperoni, and parsley on top. Place into the heated oven and cook until the cheese has melted and browns a little (about 2 minutes). Serve immediately!

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This was a hit in our house and my husband said it was ‘really good’, too – so I call that an absolute win. This may sound kind of weird – but this tasted a lot like Hamburger Helper but without all the weird additives in it. It look about as long to prepare, included vegetables and was, well, real food. This dish was good on it’s own, but can be served with a green salad if you want, too. You can also customize the vegetables you use,  especially if you like several toppings on your pizza. You can also adapt this to be meatless but omitting the pepperoni and turkey, and adding more veggies.

It’s a basic dish that’s packed with flavor – and only uses one pot. What’s not to love? Enjoy 🙂

Chicken Cacciatore

Okay – I feel better now 🙂 I made a dish that didn’t fail; granted it’s a tried and true recipe and the previous ones were ones that I hadn’t tried before. Even so, I feel like less of a failure and I feel that it’s relatively post-worthy.

red pot Look at one of my pretty Christmas gifts from my husband! A gorgeous red Le Creuset dutch oven. I’m so in love with it. I’ve been wanting one for quite a while and he remembered…I wasn’t picky about the color, but I do like red things for my kitchen so again, he remembered!

I’m not very well-versed in cookware like this, so I still have a lot to learn in terms of what I can and cannot cook in it. I figure “low and slow” is a good mantra for this pot – soups, stews, and dishes that need at least a good 30-45 minutes to meld together. I am proud of the fact, however, that I remembered that it’s a coated cast iron pot – meaning that you need to wear oven mitts whenever dealing with it or else you risk some major burns.  This is also a step in the right direction for me, as I’m that person that will carelessly forget when a pan has been in the oven, and will accidentally grab it with my bare hands when I’m ready to serve it (my husband will vouch for me on this one).

Anyways – it’s winter time. It’s pep band season. We’re working a lot, and to save a little bit of cash, we need dinners that are going to last us a while so we’re not stopping at the store for a quick meal or even *ugh* fast food. Dinners that are still delicious and (relatively) healthy, but still stick to the ribs to keep us warm. Know what I mean? I thought about something to cook this week with my new pot, and immediately thought of chicken cacciatore!

Chicken cacciatore is “hunter-style” chicken; chicken with mushrooms, onion, and tomatoes. It’s a hearty dish that fills you up, goes a long way and tastes amazing. The recipe that I based my dish off of, however, doesn’t include mushrooms! I think I’ll have to make a note in my cookbook for next time.

Chicken Cacciatore

adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

  • 4 boneless chicken thighs, cut in half
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, quartered (or 4-6 tenders, halved)
  • salt and pepper (just a sprinkle of each)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (based on your preference)
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth/stock
  • 3 tbsp drained capers
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  1. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. On a plate or in a shallow bowl, dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat.
  2. In a large heavy saute pan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and saute just until they’re just brown (~5 minutes). Do not crowd the pan; feel free to brown the chicken in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and wait two minutes. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute until the onion softens. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the wine and simmer until the liquid reduced by half (~3-5 minutes). Add the entire can of diced tomatoes (including the juice), broth, capers and oregano. Stir to combine.
  5. Return the chicken to the pan and coat it in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until all the chicken is cooked through and the flavors have melded together.
  6. Serve hot, sprinkled with basil and with pasta if desired.

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As I said in the recipe, you can serve with or without pasta. This makes a lot of sauce and leftovers reheat really well. I had mine with a piece of baguette from work on the side to pick up any last sauce that was leftover in the dish.

I cannot recommend this recipe enough this time of year – it really warms you up and sticks to your ribs!  Delicious Italian food in the dead of winter. How can you go wrong!? Enjoy 🙂

 

Lemon Parmesan Tortellini

One of the first cooking blogs that I ever started reading was Stephanie Cooks.  Stephanie’s tastes are very similar to my own and I really like her down-to-earth, simple writing style. Her recipes are easy to follow and really user-friendly, too. And, I can’t help but love that she’s also a teacher! 🙂

I too am not the biggest fan of cream sauces, – I feel that they can become extremely ‘heavy’ and almost a little to decadent. The opposite goes for my husband – he loves them and will be the first to admit that I do not cook with them enough! I decided to trust Stephanie’s judgement on the consistency and flavor of this sauce; since I love lemon 24/7, I figured this would be a good compromise for dinner.

Lemon Parmesan Tortellini

adapted from Stephanie Cooks

 

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup broth
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound tortellini
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  1. Heat up a pot of hot water to boil.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, heat up the olive oil. Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the broth and turn up the heat to high. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the cream, lemon juice and zest, and Italian seasoning. Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Once you’ve got your sauce going and the water is boiling, cook the tortellini (according to the package directions).
  5. After about 10 minutes, add the parmesan cheese to the sauce and stir to combine, allowing the cheese to melt. Add the peas, stirring constantly so that they begin to thaw. Add the tortellini to the sauce as they finish cooking. Toss and serve.

 

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As you can see, I added peas to the original recipe to get a vegetable into the main dish. You can definitely leave these out if you wish! This dish was filling and decadent, without being too heavy, as some cream sauces tend to do. The lemon in the cream sauce takes it to the next level and makes this meal really shine on a cold winter’s night. It also came together fairly quickly, which you know I never complain about 🙂

If you’ve been an avid fan of my cooking, I definitely recommend you head on over to Stephanie Cooks! You won’t be disappointed.

Mediterranean Chicken with Roasted Garlic Orzo

Hey look – I’m posting a recipe! Imagine that 🙂

I hope you all are doing well. Sorry it’s been so long! I’m finally getting back into the swing of things. For real this time, I swear!

Chicken, pan-roasted with herbs, is a perfect compliment to garlicky pasta and vegetables. You can’t really ever go wrong with a combination like that. It’s great comfort food for when the weather is starting to change and you want something to savor after a long day. This dish has a great amount of flavor to it and really isn’t too complicated to make – it just uses a few pots and pans. However – please make sure that you read through the entire recipe first, so that everything is timed relatively well and that you have all the ingredients you need!


 

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Mediterranean Chicken with Roasted Garlic Orzo

adapted from For the Love of Cooking and Epicurious

For the chicken:

  • Zest and juice from 1 large lemon (about 2 tbsp juice)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp fresh minced parsley (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, fat removed
  • 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts (if desired)
  • 2 tbsp feta cheese (if desired)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (if desired)
  • Lemon wedges (if desired)

For the orzo:

  • 5 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves (or 1 tbsp dried)
  • 1 cup orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  1. In a large Ziploc bag or glass dish (with lid), combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, and herbs. Add the chicken breasts, then seal/cover and let marinate for at least 30-1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 450*. Tightly wrap the unpeeled garlic cloves in foil so that it makes a little pouch. Place in middle of oven and roast for about 25 minutes. Carefully unwrap garlic and let cool slightly. Remove skin from cloves and mash into a paste. Transfer garlic paste to a bowl and stir in butter and parsley.
  3. Reduce the oven to 375*. Coat an OVEN-PROOF saute pan with cooking spray and heat over med-high heat. Add the chicken breasts to the HOT pan and cook until brown, about 2-3 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Flip the chicken over and place the saute pan into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Keep the marinade, as you’ll need it for later.
  4. As the chicken bakes, begin your vegetables. Caramelize the diced onion by heating a sauté pan over med-low heat with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. (Note – If the pan and/or onion start to get a little dry, add a little bit of water and toss to coat). Continue cooking until the onions are nice and caramelized. Once the onions are just about ready, get water boiling for your orzo.
  5. To your onions, add the grape tomatoes and cook until they’re about to burst (about 5 minutes). Add the baby spinach then season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste. Check on your chicken in the oven; pour the remaining marinade into the pan, and place back into the oven. Continue baking for 5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from the oven and let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing thinly.
  6. The water should be boiling now; cook the orzo until tender and reserve about 1/4 cup cooking water. Drain orzo well and add to garlic mixture with enough reserved cooking water to melt butter and prevent orzo from sticking together. Season orzo with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve by placing a big scoop of orzo into a bowl. Add the vegetables, followed by the chicken. If desired, top with some toasted pine nuts, feta cheese, and fresh parsley. Use some lemon wedges to add a even more lemon flavored, if you wish.

 


 

I feel that this dish was ‘timed right’. Everything seemed to be done at once, and it was a dish were if I needed to walk away and put the wash into the dryer (or some other quick chore), I could do so without anything burning. It was very low maintenance, which was perfect for a Monday evening meal.

It tasted so good that I even hid the leftovers in the back of the fridge, so that I could take them for lunch the next day (my husband takes the majority of our leftovers – I’m not much of a fan of them, but when they’re good, they’re oh-so-good and I have to fight for ’em).

 

Risotto with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Risotto is one of my most favorite comfort foods; one I only discovered about four years ago. I’ve finally started to broaden my horizons and make versions other than my absolute favorite recipe. This one was on my meal plan for a few weeks, as I had some spinach and sun-dried tomatoes that I really needed to use up. But because risotto takes a lot of time – it’s not a meal that you can quickly cook – I kept bumping it further and further back. Finally, I found a little bit of free time to make this version of risotto – I’m very pleased with the result, and I also feel that Liz will be especially relieved that I finally made it!

Risotto with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

adapted from My Favourite Pastime

  •  6-8 cups stock/broth
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups spinach, washed & shredded
  • 6 sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped (mine were vacuum sealed, not in oil)
  • ½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • salt & pepper
  1. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil & butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften.
  2. Add the garlic and rice and stir for about 2 minutes until it just starts to brown a little.
  3. Add the wine and reduce the heat. Stir constantly until the wine has been absorbed.
  4. Add a cup of your stock to the rice, and stir. When the rice has fully absorbed the liqud, add more stock – a little at a time.
  5. One all the stick has been absorbed, your right should be nice and soft, with a creamy texture. Add the spinach and tomatoes. Add salt & pepper to taste, then add the parmesan cheese. Toss into the rice, and serve hot.

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It’s a colorful meal, isn’t it?

I will absolutely make this again, especially once CSA season rolls around again and I have plenty of fresh chard & spinach. If you don’t like parmesan, you can always change the cheese to mozzarella – I think that would taste just as great. I also wonder what this would taste like with a little lemon zest. I ended up taking the leftovers for lunch; I honestly don’t mind leftover risotto, unlike someone else I know 😉

In the meantime, if you’re expecting yet another winter storm, I highly suggest putting this on the docket for dinner. It’s comforting, flavorful and warms you right up!

 

Chicken Piccata

Snowed in.

Snowed in.

Love the view from our front window this morning? Northern Michigan was blessed with a Winter Storm Warning at 10pm last night; between 6am yesterday and 6am this morning, The Weather Channel says we received a foot of snow. I’m about ready to send our plow guy flowers for the great job they’ve done with our driveway this year.

With all the cold, snowy weather we’ve been having lately, I’ve found myself really craving some citrusy, summery, ‘light’-tasting dishes for dinner (minus this past week when I came down with a wicked chest cold and didn’t really want to eat anything except noodle soup).

As you probably know already, I’m a tad obsessed with the free-range, organic chicken breast that is available at our local organic co-op, so that explains all the chicken dishes we’ve been consuming (and you’ve been reading about) lately. I feel I can truly taste a difference…but then again, maybe that’s just the cold meds talking.

This dish – a favorite from the Giada cookbook that I have – hit the spot dead-on.

Chicken Piccata

adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

  • 1 lb. chicken breast, cut into halves
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp flour, for coating
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (I supplemented with the bottled since I ran out of lemons!)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained
  • dried parsley
  1. In a gallon-sized freezer bag, add the chicken breasts and the flour. Toss around to coat the chicken. Shake off the excess flour.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil; wait about 1-2 minutes for the oil to heat up.
  3. To the skillet, add the chicken. When it starts to brown, turn each piece over. Remove and set aside on a bowl or plate.
  4. Turn the heat down to low and add the lemon juice, stock, and capers. Bring the mixture to a boil, deglazing the pan as you go. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
  5. Return the chicken breast back to the skillet and simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Remove from heat and sprinkle with parsley.

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As you can see, we served this with some fresh asparagus, orecchiette pasta, and garlic bread. Overall it is a very easy dish to make – I made it on a Monday evening after going for a run at the gym! It really satisfied that light, citrusy taste that I was looking for.

You can easily substitute veal or pork, if that’s what you’d rather use. I think, however, I’m going to stick with my fancypants organic chicken for now 🙂

Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf

Chicken parmesan has been one of my most favorite foods for as long as I can remember. Serve it with a salad, some spaghetti, and maybe some garlic bread or breadsticks…yum. Then again, I’m also Italian. How could I not like this dish? 😉 It’s another one of those comfort foods that I hold near and dear to my heart. And, with the weather as cold as it’s been (I saw -26 on my thermometer on the way to work. WTF), you all know that I just can’t get enough of comfort food.

But, I’m away from my home anywhere from 8 to 15 hours a day – depending on what band event is going on – and sadly, I don’t have as much time as I’d like to really put some love into weeknight cooking.

That’s where this recipe comes in. It’s one where you can make it ahead of time on a lazy Sunday, or mix up in 10 minutes.  You can fix it, and forget about it for a little while – but still tastes good (unlike some of the meals that my crockpot has been overcooking lately). I believe it put it all together, threw it in the oven, and worked on laundry and grading for a while.

Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf

adapted from What’s Cookin’ Chicago?

  • 1 lb ground chicken (ground turkey is okay, too)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp minced onion (the dried kind)
  • salt & pepper (just a dash of each)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • pasta sauce
  • shredded Italian cheese blend (mozzarella is okay as well)
  • minced/dried parsley
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Lightly grease loaf pan with cooking spray & set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the meat, egg, breadcrumbs, spices (except the parsley), and Parmesan cheese. Mix until combined.
  3. Place the mixture into the greased loaf pan & press down to make a loaf. Top the meatloaf with pasta sauce.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and top with the Italian blend cheese and parsley; put back into the oven and bake until the cheese is nice and bubbly.

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I paired this with a green salad and some spaghetti, mixed up with some garlic scape pesto we had in the freezer – which, may I add, froze really well and was so wonderful to thaw and use in the dead of winter. Our house smelled amazing as this was cooking.bNext time I’m going to make a few batches of this and freeze it, so we have some quick meals for busy nights. Since I have that lovely deep freezer, I have plenty of room! 🙂 The instructions for baking from frozen should be on the original post.

Enjoy! Stay warm!