Lasagna stew

Lasagna stew

Lasagna is one of those meals you can make again and again and it always tastes wonderful, but this is a great way to mix it up a bit. Also, lasagna is already pretty easy, but making it as a stew makes it even easier because everything goes into one pot, which eliminates some steps!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 carton (32oz) chicken broth
  • 1 can (14.5oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (15oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 8 whole wheat lasagna noodles, broken into bite sized pieces
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Instructions:

In a large soup pot, brown ground beef or turkey with onion, green pepper and garlic. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and seasonings. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Boil 2 minutes, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, covered. Stir occasionally.

Add bite sized lasagna noodles to soup and cook until tender (about 15 minutes).
When ready to serve, mix in the grated parmesan cheese. Ladle into individual bowls and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese. We served our soup with crunchy sourdough bread crisps!

Chicken and spinach rigatoni pasta

Rigatoni pasta

I don’t usually make pastas very often, but when I do, I make chicken and spinach rigatoni pasta. Seriously. This pasta is amazing. It has pretty much everything I love in one dish.

Instructions:

  • 8 ounces uncooked rigatoni pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 3 cups cubed cooked chicken breasts
  • 1 14 1/2 ounce can Italian diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (8 ounce) containers chive & onion cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup goat cheese

Directions:

Prepare rigatoni according to directions on the box.

Spread oil on bottom of an 11×7″ baking dish; layer on the onion. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or just until tender. Transfer onion to a large bowl.

Drain thawed spinach well, pressing between layers of paper towels.

Stir rigatoni, spinach, chicken and next 4 ingredients into onion in bowl. Spoon mixture into baking dish, and sprinkle with shredded mozzarela cheese.

Bake, covered, at 375 degrees for 30 minutes; uncover and bake 15 more until bubbly.

Chicken and tofu lo mein

LoMein

While I love some Chinese take-out, after perusing the nutritional information on my favorite menu items, I was quite appalled. I thought there had to be a better way to get the same satisfaction out of something home made. Well, have no fear, I have found the perfect alternative!

*Veggie option: Cook without chicken and use Veggie Better Than Bullion

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces Thin Spaghetti; broken in half
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 tablespoon Chicken or Veggie Better Than Bullion
  • 3 tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • Oil; for frying (Sesame oil is preferred)
  • 1 pound chicken
  • 1 package tofu
  • 8 large Carrots
  • 1 Head of Broccoli
  • 1 large Onion
  • 4 Garlic Cloves

 Instructions:

Cook spaghetti per box instructions. Drain and set aside.

Remove tofu from package, place on paper towels and sponge the moisture out of the tofu and set aside.

Using a pot or dutch oven with 1-2 tablespoons of sesame oil, brown both sides of the chicken and cook for about 5-6 minutes on each side. Let chicken cool and slice it into two inch pieces.

Add sliced chicken and tofu into the same pot, fry until completely cooked. Into the cooked chicken, add sauce mixture, cook all together for about a minute, set aside.

Dice carrots, broccoli and onion into two inch pieces.

Using the same pot, sautee onions and garlic until golden brown in one tablespoon of sesame oil. Add carrots and sautee until softened, then add broccoli and cook for about three minutes. Add 1 cup water, and add the Better Than Bullion and brown sugar, stir to dissolve, and let simmer until the water reduces. Add soy sauce and spaghetti, toss, and serve immediately.

Freezer cooking part three: pasta with ground meat and sour cream

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Now that I have introduced you to part one and part two of freezer cooking, I had to share this recipe that is ideal for making ahead. What recipes have you tried making ahead and freezing?

  • 1-1/4 pound Ground Chuck (I used ground turkey)
  • 1 can 15-ounces Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 8 ounces Egg Noodles
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream
  • 1-1/4 cup Small Curd Cottage Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Sliced Green Onions (less To Taste)
  • 1 cup Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown ground meat in a large skillet. Drain fat, then add tomato sauce. 1/2 teaspoon salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Stir, then simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.

Cook egg noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine sour cream and cottage cheese. Add plenty of ground black pepper. Add to noodles and stir. Add green onions and stir.

To assemble, add half of the noodles to a baking dish. Top with half the meat mixture, then sprinkle on half the grated cheddar. Repeat with noodles, meat, then a final layer of cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until all cheese is melted.

Or you can freeze, then bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes!

Freezer cooking part two: turkey tetrazzini

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Last week I introduced a new series of freezer cooking posts, where I show you how easy it is to make big batches of food to store and eat over time. Another thing to note is that lots of recipes can be made ahead, making it easy to plan for parties. I had a few people over to my apartment for dinner this weekend, but I made the pasta a week before and froze it. So all I had to do before they came was stick it in the oven! Saves a lot of stress when you are juggling so many other things!

I had never made turkey tetrazzini before, but it was a great way to use leftover turkey from Thanksgiving! You can also make it with chicken if you don’t have turkey. My favorite part about this recipe are the mushrooms and peas. And then you bake it with the Panko bread crumbs and the top gets crispy…doesn’t get much better than that!

Check out my tips and tricks section for more ideas and details about freezer cooking.

  • 1-1/2 pound Thin Spaghetti, Broken In Half
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 pound White Mushrooms, Quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup White Wine
  • 1/3 cup Flour
  • 4 cups Turkey (or Chicken) Broth
  • 1 block 8 Ounce Cream Cheese
  • 3 cups Cooked (leftover) Turkey, Shredded Or Diced (or you can use chicken)
  • 1 cup Finely Chopped Black Olives
  • 1-1/2 cup Frozen Green Peas
  • 4 slices Bacon, Fried And Cut Into Bits
  • 1 cup Grated Monterey Jack Cheese
  • 1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • Extra Broth For Thinning
  • 1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs

Cook pasta until not quite done – al dente according to package instructions. Drain, rinse, and set aside.

In a large pot, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Add mushrooms and salt, then saute for a couple more minutes. Pour in the wine and allow it to cook with the mushrooms for several minutes, or until the liquid reduces by half.

Sprinkle in flour, then stir the mushrooms around for another minute. Pour in the broth and stir, cooking for another few minutes until the roux thickens.

Reduce heat to medium low. Cut cream cheese into pieces and add it to the pot. Stir it to melt (don’t be concerned if the cream cheese remains in little bits for awhile; it’ll melt eventually!) Add the leftover turkey, the olives, the peas, the bacon, and the cheeses. Stir to combine, adding salt and pepper as needed.

Add the cooked spaghetti and stir it to combine. Splash in more broth as needed; you want the mixture to have a little extra moisture since it will cook off in the oven. If it’s a little soupy, that’s fine! Add up to 2 more cups of liquid if you think it needs it.

Pour the mixture into a large baking dish and sprinkle the top with Panko crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbly and the crumbs are golden brown.

Freezer cooking part one: chicken spaghetti

chicken spaghetti

Cooking on a budget is hard. Cooking for one is also hard. That’s why I like to do “freezer cooking” where I can use what I want now and store the rest for a later date (like on a week that I’m running tight on cash…I get to say, “oh look, I have food in the freezer!”). And sometimes you just gotta make those decisions. New pair of shoes or lots of fresh groceries. Think of the freezer food as your rainy day fund.

Obviously some foods freeze better than others. I like to make pastas, soups, chilis and stews. Another thing to note is that you can store all these foods and keep your fridge stocked with fresh veggies and fruits to give you a balanced meal! You can also store the pastas and casseroles in cheap foil freezer containers from the grocery store, or gallon zip lock bags for the soups and stews to help save space.

There are SO many casseroles out there, and over the series of freezer cooking posts I will introduce you to more ideas, but I had to start with a classic that just has a special place in my memory.

Growing up with just my mom and sister, my mom was unable physically to cook since she is paraplegic. It was well before my interest in cooking began, and my sister and I were still pretty young to be in the kitchen on our own. My mom also had her accident right after she was married, so she didn’t know enough about cooking to even instruct us. So of course my Mimi would save the day by making a bunch of casseroles and freeze them, providing us with a fully stocked freezer up so we would not starve. 🙂

  • 2 cups Cooked Chicken
  • 3 cups Dry Spaghetti, Broken Into Two Inch Pieces
  • 2 cans Cream Of Mushroom Soup
  • 2 cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Finely Diced Green Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Finely Diced Onion
  • 1 jar (4 Ounce) Diced Pimentos, Drained
  • 2 cups Reserved Chicken Broth From Pot
  • 1 teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon (to 1/4 Teaspoon) Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup Additional Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Cook chicken according to your preference, like grilling, roasting or frying and cut the meat into cubes to make two cups. Cook spaghetti according to directions until al dente. When spaghetti is cooked, combine with all remaining ingredients except additional 1 cup sharp cheddar.

Place mixture in casserole pan and top with remaining sharp cheddar. Cover and freeze up to six months, cover and refrigerate up to two days, or bake immediately: 350 degrees for 45 minutes until bubbly. (If the cheese on top starts to get too cooked, cover with foil).

Roasted red pepper and goat cheese Alfredo pasta

IMG_3460

You had me at Alfredo. Oh, wait, goat cheese Alfredo. Even better. Seriously, need I say more?

  • 1/2 pound pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano (parmesan), grated
  • 2 roasted red peppers, coarsely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 handful basil

Cook the pasta as directed on the package.

Melt the butter in pan over medium heat, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the cream, goat cheese, parmesan and roasted red peppers and simmer until the cheese has melted.

Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, garnished with more parmesan and basil.