Gnocchi and Vegetable Soup

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My husband and I recently returned from a dive trip to the Philippines. It was an amazing trip filled with great diving, good friends and TONS of delicious food and drink. That said when we returned home from a week of lush eating and drinking we needed to incorporate a healthy dose of vegetables into the week’s menu. It is not necessarily soup weather where we live at the moment but I could not pass this recipe up. As is my pattern, this is a super easy dish to throw together. Seriously, the most difficult part is prepping the veggies. This recipe will be ideal for brisk fall and brutal winter nights to warm up your core and fuel your body with nutrients. This recipe was adapted from Umami Girl who hosts a wonderful recipe blog.

Serves: 8

Time: 45m to 1h

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch of celery, rinsed and sliced
  • 1 lb bag of carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 (32 oz) cartons of vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 (15 oz) can of white beans
  • 6 oz baby spinach
  • 16 oz package of gnocchi
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top
  • crushed red pepper flakes to top

Directions:

  1. In a large pot heat olive oil over medium-hot heat. Add the onion and celery. Saute until tender/crisp (about 5 minutes) then add the carrots and garlic and cook until garlic becomes fragrant (about 30 seconds).
  2. Add the three cartons of vegetable broth and Italian seasoning. Bring it to a boil. Once boiling turn down the heat to create a simmer.
  3. Once simmering stir in the white beans and spinach. Once spinach begins to wilt add in one gnocchi and cook it until it pops up to the top. I do this in order to taste the broth. Taste your tester gnocchi with a healthy spoonful of broth and veggies. Add salt/pepper to your taste at this point. Once you have the broth up to your standards add in the rest of the gnocchi and cook until they pop up to the surface of the soup.
  4. Dish the soup and top with Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

Digital recipe card:

Gnocchi and Vegetable Soup (1)

Spinach Tomato and Sausage Skillet over Angel Hair Pasta

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I am not a big fan of super saucy dishes unless it is curry. I feel that when things are over sauced it takes away from the real stars of the dish. The big players in this one are spicy sausage and chunky style sun dried tomatoes. The combination of these two offers a degree of savory-sweet (with a kick). It is my favorite flavor combo making this recipe a new favorite in my Rolodex. If you are into bold flavor and a meal that will feed your family for a few days than give this dish a try! This recipe was adapted from a beautiful recipe blog called Julia’s Album.

Time: 35 minutes

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Italian Sausage (I went with spicy but refine to your own taste)
  • 8.5 oz jar of sun dried tomatoes julienne cut in oil (reserve the oil you will use it to cook)
  • a pinch (or more) of red pepper flakes. I tend to like things spicy and opted for upwards to three pinches. Tailor it to your taste
  • 6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • One bunch of fresh basil, chopped (I am aware that “one bunch” is incredibly vague so to clarify just buy a packaged bunch of fresh basil from your market’s produce section)
  • 8 oz fresh spinach
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb angel hair pasta (or whatever pasta you prefer)

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet heat the entire contents the sun dried tomato jar over low heat. Once heated up the temperature to medium and add the sausage and red pepper flakes. Cook until the sausage is no longer pink.
  2. Add Roma tomatoes, basil, spinach, garlic, and salt/pepper to taste. Toss this mixture gently to be sure that all veggies get coated with the tomato oil goodness. Continue to cook until the spinach begins to wilt. Then remove the skillet from heat and cover it.
  3. Cook your pasta per the packaging, drain and add it to your sausage and vegetable skillet. Mix it all together and plate.
  4. One extra and totally optional tip is to reserve some of the spinach (or buy extra) and add crisp spinach to the dish as you plate it. This adds color, nutrients and a wonderful crunch to the dish. I highly recommend.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

 

Mozzarella Filled Meatballs with Pesto

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Not only are these extremely easy to execute but they are also wildly delicious. This recipe has a lot of different flavors that range from bold to simple. They all work really well together. The pesto is very fresh and robust, whereas the gooey mozzarella adds an amazing creaminess. The chicken meatball “shell” ties it all together with crunchy garlic bits and a bread-y base. I wouldn’t recommend serving these with anything too heavy because they are really the star of the show. I served them with steamed vegetables and found them to be the perfect “supporting actors.” By some miracle, we did not eat all of these in one night and were able to get two dinners out of them. They reheat really nicely. This will be a repeat recipe and I can’t wait to get creative with what we serve alongside them.

Serves: 5     Calories: 385.4 per serving   Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh or store bought pesto, (My Fresh Pesto Recipe )
  • 1.5 cups shredded mozzarella or 1/4 of a roll of mozzarella cheese, to roll into small balls
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Mozzarella is a pretty melt-y cheese so if you are using shredded cheese mold the cheese into about 20 small/medium balls. If you’re using a block of mozzarella, cube about 1/4 of the block and roll into 20 small/medium ball shapes. Put these into the refrigerator while you mix up the meatball ingredients. This shouldn’t be too difficult as the warmth of your hands should make the cheese pliable enough.
  3. Mix together the ground chicken, panko, egg, garlic, salt, pepper, and 2-3 tbsp of the pesto.
  4. Form a small/medium sized meatball and press one mozzarella ball into the center. Roll the filled meatball in your hands to make sure the mozzarella is completely covered by the chicken mixture. If you don’t do this well enough the mozzarella will just ooze out in the oven. Repeat until meatball mixture is all used up.
  5. Bake for 13 minutes, or until the meatballs are fully cooked.
  6. You can either toss the meatballs all together with the pesto or you can spoon a bit over each meatball. I chose to spoon a bit over each because I love pesto that I didn’t want any to go to waste. I ended up with quite a bit left over (scrambled eggs anyone 😉 )
  7. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from http://www.sweetandsavorybyshinee.com

Italian Baked Sausage and Pasta

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This recipe had me at pasta and sausage. Who doesn’t love an Italian style bake?! It’s easy and IT’S DELICIOUS! This one seems like it has a lot of steps but it’s actually pretty effortless. I was impressed with how nicely each step came together.

Serves: 6     Calories: 400 per serving    Time: 1 hour 20 minutes 

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz whole wheat Penne pasta
  • 1 lb Italian chicken sausage
  • 1 6 oz. bag baby spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato pasta sauce, we used a sweet basil variation
  • 1 container plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk, we used 1%
  • 1 and 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, we used reduced fat
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • red pepper flakes to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Boil a large pot of water and cook pasta. You don’t want it to be cooked completely because you are going to bake it. You still want a little crunch when you strain it. (DON’T STRAIN UNTIL YOU READ STEP # 6)
  3. Spray a large pan with cooking spray and cook sausage over medium heat until cooked through/browned (approximately 15 minutes).
  4. Add in garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds or until fragrant. Turn off heat, remove sausages, and scrape what sauce and garlic is left in the pan into a bowl.
  5. Slice the sausage into bite-sized disks.
  6. Place the spinach in the bottom of your strainer. When pasta is done, pour pasta and pasta water over the spinach allowing the spinach to wilt.
  7. Pour pasta, sausage, spinach, and tomatoes into bowl with the garlic.
  8. Add tomato sauce, yogurt, milk, 1 cup of the cheese, and spices. Mix very well.
  9. Pour into casserole dish. Top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Cover dish with foil.
  10. Cook for 30 minutes covered. Remove foil, cook for an additional 10 minutes.
*Photo is an original belonging to me
*Recipe adapted from http://www.taylormadebytaylorbee.com/

Zuppa Toscana (copycat recipe)

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Zuppa Toscana recipes are all over pintrest. There are so many that I probably have about 6 different variations pinned in my “recipes to try” board because I cannot decide which one could be better. This winter my Zuppa Toscana recipe problem was solved. My brother-in-law’s wonderful girlfriend, Leah, told me about this amazing soup she and her sister made. I looked at the recipe on her facebook page and thought, “Alright this is it! If Leah thinks this one is the best then it must be the best.” I promptly deleted the other pins so as to not get confused with all the recipes. A few weeks later I made the soup. You guys, I cannot say it enough, this recipe is amazing! What is even more crazy is that we made it without bacon. The plan was to make a big pot of soup and take it over to my father-in-law’s house for dinner. Since he was eating with us I tried to subtract as much sodium as possible which meant the bacon had to go. I would describe this dish as creamy, hearty, spicy, and comforting. There is something to be said about a big ol’ bowl of soup that really does warm the soul.

Serves: 10     Calories: 290 per serving     Time: 1 hr

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Italian sausage, we used the spicy stuff
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, less if you do not like it too hot
  • 3 large russet potatoes, cubed (skin is optional)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 cups of kale, chopped
  • 64 oz of chicken broth, we used less sodium
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1.5 cups of whipping cream
  • 1 hearty tsp of white pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large pan, brown the sausage and stir in the pepper flakes. Transfer to a dish and set aside
  2. To the same pan add the onions and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes, until onions are tender.
  3. Stir in chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil.
  4. Add the potatoes and cook until soft (approximately 20-30 minutes)
  5. Once potatoes are cooked, add the whipping cream, cooked sausage and white pepper. Cook until heated through.
  6. Add kale just before serving.
  7. Dish and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from http://www.bigoven.com 

One Pan Chicken and Veggie Bake

IMG_8484.jpgI love “one pan” recipes. I’m a messy cook so dirtying only a single pan is a huge deal for me. This dish is simple and packs a lot of flavor. I added a few things to the original recipe I found on pintrest so if you are interested in seeing the original you can find that at High Heels and Grills

There were a ton of comments on the original recipe that were about “busts”, but that is because they didn’t use fresh green beans and tried to substitute with weird watery stuff. Please try to stick to these recipes as best as you can because, seriously, this is an incredibly delicious dish. Also, the photo above was taken before the dish was cooked. Your chicken and veggies should not be raw when all is said and done 🙂

Serves: 5          Calories: 375/serving          Time: 15 prep time – 1 hour cook time

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz fresh green beans, rinsed and trimmed
  • 1 lb chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 lb baby red potatoes, quartered
  • 1 zesty Italian salad dressing seasoning packet
  • 1/2 cup of butter, split into about 12 small pads
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, to sprinkle on chicken

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Prep green beans, chicken and potatoes, and toss each with a small sprinkling of Italian seasoning (don’t use all of it just a little bit)
  3. Lay the prepped green beans, chicken and potatoes in a 9×13 baking dish with chicken in the middle (as pictured above)
  4. Place the butter pads all over the dish and sprinkle the rest of the Italian seasoning packet over the dish as well.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste
  6. Bake for 1 hour, then remove and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the chicken. Cover with foil and bake for an additional 3 minutes or until cheese is melted/bubbly.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

*Original recipe belongs to http://www.highheelsandgrills.com

*Photo is an original belonging to me 

Fresh Pesto Filled Tortellini

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This was my first homemade pasta recipe and we all instantly fell in love. The pasta has a perfect combination of bite and chew while the pesto is packed with ridiculous amounts of flavor. Each bite is completely different but equally amazing. It did take me a quite a while to roll out the pasta dough and fill/form the tortellini but if you get someone to help you make these you can bust them out really quick. I know that I will never EVER buy pre-made tortellini ever again.

Serves: 6-8     Calories: w/o sauce – 503…w/sauce – 618    Time: approx. 2 hours depending on how long it takes to fill/form tortellini

NOTE: In the directions when I say “Check out this video I found to help you” or “Recipe Here” that whole sentence is a link to the video. For some reason my “link text” won’t differentiate from regular text.

Ingredients for Pasta Dough:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for Fresh Pesto:

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for (Optional) Light Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 carton of cherry tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters depending on how chunky you want your sauce
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Italian herbs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Make your dough ball. Recipe found here
  2. While dough is resting assemble pesto sauce. Recipe found here
  3. After you’ve let your dough rest, separate it into 4 equal parts.
  4. Keep the parts of the dough you aren’t using right away wrapped in plastic wrap until you are ready to use it.
  5. Sprinkle a bit of flour on your clean and flat workspace. Flatten dough into a thick oval shape with your hands. Sprinkle a bit more flour on top of the oval and roll it flat with a rolling pin working from the center of the dough outwards. Constantly move the dough to keep it from sticking to your work surface.
  6. Once the dough is flat, using either a stencil or pastry cutter or a plain ol’ knife cut out as many squares as you can. Roll up left over dough and cover with plastic wrap.
  7. Take one of the squares and roll it flat again because after you initially cut the shape it will probably contract a little bit. Once flat add about 1/4 tsp of the pesto to the center of the square. Fold the square in half (making a triangle) and pressing the seam together. Using a fork press the edge of your triangle to complete the seam. Roll the triangle to make a crease where the filling is cupped. Take the outer edges of the triangle and fold the across to “hug the filling” and press to seal. I would recommend watching this video I found on youtube to demonstrate how tortellini is rolled.
  8. Repeat with the rest of your dough and store uncooked tortellini in an airtight container for no longer the 24 hours in your fridge or freeze for up to 2 months.
  9. When ready to cook bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook until the tortellini start to float, about 5 minutes or so
  10. If you are whipping up my light sauce just combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium until tomatoes start to “wilt” and let out their juice
  11. Top tortellini with sauce of your choice and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from Kelsey Nixon of http://www.cookingchanneltv.com and Elise at http://www.simplyrecipes.com

 

Chicken Piccata

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I grew up eating chicken all the time and love chicken. My husband on the other hand could live the rest of his life without ever eating chicken again. Because of this my chicken recipes  have to be worth five stars for Perry to even poke his fork at it. This one is totally worthy with the flavorful sauce and semi-crunchy-lightly-crusted chicken. Being totally honest I made the sauce a few nights after initially making this just to drizzle over asparagus.

Serves: 4-6 (depending on how much chicken you buy. We got 4 breasts)   Calories: 160  

Ingredients:

– 1/4 cup of all purpose flour

– 4-6 thin chicken breasts

– 1/8 tsp salt

– 1/8 tsp pepper

– 2 tbsp olive oil

– 2 tbsp capers, rinsed and dried (more depending on your taste)

– 2 medium garlic cloves, minced ( I used 3 large cloves because I love garlic)

– 1 cup of low sodium chicken broth

– 1/2 cup of dry white wine

– 4 strips of lemon zest (fairly long I would say the whole length of the lemon if you can)

– 4 tsp fresh lemon juice

– 1 tbsp unsalted butter, cold

Directions: 

1.) Put flour on a large plate or in a shallow bowl.

2.) Rinse chicken and dry. Season with salt and pepper. Coat only one side of the chicken with flour in bowl/plate. Shake off the loose flour. (we are cutting back calories by only coating one side with flour.. If you want to coat both keep in mind the calories will not be accurate with what I have posted on this recipe.)

3.) Heat 1 tbsp of oil in large skillet over med-high heat. Lay the chicken flour side down and cook for approximately 3 minutes or until golden brown. Flip and continue to cook until no longer pink, approximately an extra 2 minutes. Repete with remaning chicken. When cooked move the chicken to a plate and cover with foil.

4.) Add garlic and capers to the same pan and return to medium heat. Cook until fragrant (20-30 seconds) Stir in a pinch of flour. Whisk in the broth, wine, lemon zest. Cook until thickened, approximately 10 mins

5.) Uncover the chicken and add to the sauce coating the breasts and heating it through for no more than a minute. Remove chicken again.

6.) Turn off the heat and take the strips of lemon zest out of the sauce. Stir in the lemon juice and butter.

7.) Drizzle (or as Perry says “pour”) the sauce over chicken breasts and enjoy!

*Photo is an original taken by me

**Recipe belongs to my long line of ancestors with some edits to lower the fat/calorie content.

Whole Wheat Tortellini with Spinach and Tomatoes

Now that my half semester classes have started my kitchen has been collecting cobwebs. Needless to say, this week’s meals have been a variety of what can be really easy to make, tasty to eat, and great to keep for left overs. We are a whole wheat family so when we see things like whole wheat tortellini on sale we have to buy it. Pasta sauce is “good” but I’ve always felt that it can be overbearing and take away from the hidden flavors of a dish so I’ve made a recipe for my own “sauce.” This dish is perfect for busy moms/dads worldwide!

Ingredients:

-Pinch of salt (for boiling water)

– (2) 9oz packages of whole wheat three cheese tortellinis (or any type of tortellini that you like)

– 10 oz bag of fresh spinach (rinsed)

– 1 whole container of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

– 2 tbsp minced garlic (modify to taste.. I love garlic so I put unnecessary amounts of it in my recipes haha)

– 1 tsp dried rosemary (or any herbs you like)

– 3 tbsp olive oil

Directions:

1.) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2.) When boiling add tortellini and 1 tbsp of olive oil (to keep tortellini from sticking together.) Stirring often cook until soft (approximately 7 minutes)

3.) While cooking the pasta heat (medium heat) the remaning 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a large pan and add spinach. Cook until the spinach is just starting to wilt (approximately 3 minutes) Add the tomatoes, garlic, and rosemary. Continue to cook until the tomatoes start to wilt (approximately 3-4 minutes.) take off of heat and set aside

4.) When tortellini is done drain and toss with a very small amount of olive oil. Put about half of a cup of tortellinis on a plate and top with spinach/tomato sauce.

5.) Enjoy!

**Photo is an original taken by me

Chicken Saltimbocca

Growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia my tastebuds have a great Italian influence. I enjoyed going to the Italian markets and absolutely love the Italian heritage days held in the city/suburbs. Part of the reason the food tastes so good is because it can tend to not be too good for you. This recipe has some changes to the traditional saltimbocca making it a healthy and delicious alternative to Italian cuisine. The pan sauce is to die for! Original recipe is from Giada De Laurentiis of Food Network. The link to the original recipe is below.

Serves: 6   Calories: 227 per serving 

Ingredients: 

– 4-6 chicken cutlets, pounded to evenly flatten

– Salt and ground black pepper

– 4-6 paper-thin slices prosciutto (1 pkg usually has 6 slices which is great because you can use the remaining 2 slices to cook with some asparagus as a side)

– 1 (10 oz) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed

– 3 tablespoons olive oil

– 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

– 1 (14 oz) can low-salt chicken broth

– 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:

NOTE: If you have never pounded chicken with a meat mallet before be sure to start from the middle and work your way outward. Use even semi-gentle strokes. You don’t want to tear the chicken apart 🙂

1.) Place the chicken cutlets flat on the work surface. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Lay 1 slice of prosciutto atop each chicken cutlet

2.) Squeeze the frozen spinach to remove the excess water. Sprinkle the spinach with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, toss the spinach with 1 tablespoon of oil.

3.) Arrange an even, thin layer of spinach atop the prosciutto slices. Sprinkle Parmesan evenly over each. Beginning at the short tapered end, roll up each chicken cutlet as for a jellyroll. Secure with a toothpick.

4.) Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and cook just until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.

5.) Add the chicken broth and lemon juice, and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium. Cover and simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes.

6.) Transfer the chicken to a platter. Simmer the cooking liquid over high heat until it is reduced to about 2/3 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove toothpicks from the chicken. Drizzle the reduced cooking liquid over the chicken and serve immediately.

*Original Recipe can be found at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/chicken-saltimbocca-recipe/index.html

*Photo is an original taken by me