“The countdown to success always starts when you make up your mind to take one step forward.” ~ unknown

Let the countdown begin!

We have around two weeks left until we get to see our sweet bundle of joy!!

This also means my husband has about 1 week or so left of me cooking at home for a while. 🙂

So when I ran across this recipe on Lindsay’s blog – Normal Cooking – I knew I must make it for him because one – it’s simple and two – it has Italian sausage in it and he loves Italian sausage.

This is his favorite Italian sausage:

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Italian Pasta Skillet

(adapted from Normal Cooking)

  • 12 oz Italian sausage, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic and Oregano, undrained
  • 1 can (8 oz) Tomato Sauce
  • 1-1/4 cups hot water
  • 8 ounces pasta of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian Seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 pkg (6 oz) baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Brown sausage in a non stick skillet.

Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, seasoning and pasta. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in spinach until it wilts. Stir in cheese until melted.

Serve with more cheese sprinkled on top

photo-10He really loved it and I’m glad because it was so very easy to make!

-abp

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“What Romantic terminology called genius or talent or inspiration is nothing other than finding the right road empirically, following one’s nose, taking shortcuts.” ~ Italo Calvino

I love Chicken Piccata!

It is a very light meal that has a punch of big flavor. It’s not a hard meal to make but it’s not the quickest to throw together either. So when I was on my usual daily quest for new time saving recipes I came across this recipe – Chicken Piccata Skillet Pasta and I thought – how can that be bad?!? It combines one of my favorite meals with pasta and in one pan!

You should know I must be taking this “my life is about to really change” to heart because I used to would have never considered using pre-cooked chicken but I did this time and let me tell you – I will do it again!

Chicken Piccata Skillet Pasta

(adapted from Plain Chicken)

  • 12 oz cooked, chopped chicken ( I used the pre-cooked bags of Tyson grilled chicken you find in the refrigerated section)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp dried minced onion
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 8 oz pasta
  • 3-4 Tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

In 12-inch skillet, combine chicken, pasta, onion, garlic, heavy cream, lemon juice, chicken broth and pasta. Bring to boil. Cover and reduce heat.

Simmer for 15-18 minutes, until pasta is tender. Stir in capers and parmesan cheese. Cook over low heat about 5 minutes.

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So, so easy but oh so good!

-abp

“Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it each day, and at last we cannot break it.” ~ Horace Mann

Well, today I’m sitting here killing time as the guys for AT&T are installing U-Verse throughout the house.  I’ve never had anything but cable so I’m a little wary but hopefully it will be a good change.

Really, why does anything to do with cable/internet have to be so complicated?

While I’ve been sitting here (before they cut off my internet – please oh please work when they re-hook-up everything) I have found several new recipes to try! 🙂

But today I’m going to tell you about last nights dinner.

Chicken Cutlets with Tomato Cream Sauce

(adapted from Southern Living Magazine)

  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 lb chicken cutlets
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • ¼ cup loosely packed sage leaves
  • ½ large shallot, sliced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth 2 medium  tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 8 oz hot cooked thin spaghetti
  1. Stir together flour and cornstarch in a shallow dish. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in flour/cornstarch mixture.
  2. Cook chicken in 2 Tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels.
  3. Heat remaining oil in skillet; add sage. Cook, stirring often for 2-3 minutes or until crisp and fragrant. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.
  4. Add shallots and saute until tender. Add wine and cook until mixture is reduced by half, stirring to loosen all brown bits.
  5. Add broth, next 2 ingredients and chicken.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium/low and simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened. Sprinkle with cheese.
  6. Serve over pasta and sprinkle with crumbled sage leaves.

*****being pregnant, I do not have wine on hand like I normally would so I used 1½ cups chicken broth and added it when it calls for wine and cooked it down.********

DSC03831DSC03834I very much enjoyed this meal! I will say I thought it to be a little mild but would be perfect to serve to people who might not like “bold” flavors.

-abp

“When not eating, I like shopping; although I’m afraid I’ve become a bit of a cliche.” ~ Arabella Weir

For a girl who really loves to shop – I thought I was going to love registering for baby items.  After all, I had a blast working on my wedding registry.

Wrong.

It was so stressful! Do you have any clue how many choices of baby stuff they have out nowadays???

3 hours and one stress headache later I left Babies “R” Us.

And I still have to do Target.

Now Lily Pads/Baby Bundles – a local baby boutique, will be a different story. That’s for the fun, cute, frilly items. I could do that all day long.

After all that stress I need comfort food. Which usually consists of some kind of pasta. This meal is no exception.

Beef Ragu (adapted from SlenderKitchen.com)

  • 2.5 pounds lean beef chuck, trimmed of fat
  • 1 ribs celery, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano or thyme, chopped
  • Wide noodle pasta
  1. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic to the bottom of the crock pot.
  2. Season your beef liberally with salt and pepper and add it to the crock pot.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 6-8 hours until beef is fork tender. Serve over your favorite pasta.

Beef Ragu

Hope all is well!

-abp

“One man’s poison ivy is another man’s spinach.” ~ George Ade

Ok, so I’ve been MIA for a little bit.

I have a good excuse – I was out of town for close to a week and as I’ve explained before I am not one of those people who claims to be able to do it all.

I can’t and I know it.

So what is takes to get everything taken care of to get out of town and everything it takes to get it all straightened out when you get back has kept me busy.

I’m pretty much back in the swing of things so tonight I am making Shrimp Scampi with Roasted Peppers and Spinach.

This is a Publix Apron Meal that I ran across while making this weeks grocery list.

Shrimp Scampi with Roasted Red Peppers and Spinach

  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 oz parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz linguene
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Gia Russa sweet pepper bruschetta topping
  • 12 oz shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp pepper, divided
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 6 oz baby spinach

Cook and drain pasta.

pasta

Saute garlic in oil until it slightly browns.

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Add shrimp, topping, pepper flakes, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper. Cook and stir for 1 minute.

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Add broth and cook for 2-3 minutes or until reduced by half and shrimp are pink and opaque.

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Reduce heat to low and add in butter, spinach, cheese and remaining salt and pepper. Cook and stir until butter and cheese is melted and spinach is wilted.

DSC03349DSC03350

Add in pasta, stir to coat and heat through.

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Serve and spinkle with a little extra cheese.

Scrimp Scampi with Roasted Peppers and SpinachScrimp Scampi with Roasted Red Peppers and Spinach.  pooreamy.com

I found it odd that this shrimp scampi did not have lemon in it and to be honest, I missed it.  I would add a couple tablespoons of lemon juice to the next batch.

Hope everyone’s week has started out well!

-abp

“Man is not truly one, but two.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

I think I have a split personality.  I love the opposite ends of every spectrum. I’ll go all out with Christmas decorations but love that single candle in the window. I adore a black tie affair but cherish my no make-up Mondays. I’ll spend $$$$ (I’m ashamed to say) on a purse but will buy a $5 pair of shoes at a thrift store and love them both equally. The list goes on……..

I’m having a cat scan on my head next week – it will be interesting to see what’s up there.

The same goes with food – my Thanksgiving Turkey this week is going to be a royal, time consuming affair and I’m going to love it. But last night I made a quick and easy baked ziti recipe that I found on the back of the zita pasta box.

It’s my new go to meal.

Back of the Box Baked Ziti

  • 1 (16 oz) package of ziti
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
  • 1 (26 oz) jar tomato and basil pasta sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tablespoon prepared basil pesto
  • cooking spray
  • 2 cups Italian blend cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375º.

Start by cooking pasta according to directions.

Saute meat and onions in large skillet over medium-high heat. Once cooked, drain off excess grease.

Stir in pasta sauce, tomatoes (I squished these a little with my hand first), Italian seasoning, and pesto into meat mixture. Reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix sauce with pasta.

Spray 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray and pour mixture evenly into dish.

Top with cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through and slightly browned.

yummo!

Let countdown to Thanksgiving begin!!!!

abp

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

What a week!!

There is so much going on and it’s not even officially the holiday season!

The past six months just seem like a blur to me – 4 major events – our wedding, the reception a couple months later, our honeymoon to Italy and my surgery. Thrown into that were football season (tailgating), getting a new house in shape and my new blog ( 🙂 )

Don’t get me wrong! I have loved every minute of it! Well, except the surgery, although I did enjoy the time off from work – that was awesome!. It’s just everything is going so so fast! I can’t believe Thanksgiving is 2 weeks away!! And it will be my first officially Thanksgiving in my new house! YAY!

ohmygoodness, ohmygoodness, ohmygoodness!!!

Starting then I’m pretty sure we will be having all kinds of traditional holidays foods for the next several weeks but this week and next weekI’m sticking to the normal everyday things I like to make.

You know I LOVE pasta and you know I LOVE Mexican food. So why not combine them??

When I came across this recipe on Pinterest – I knew I must try it!

Chicken Taco Pasta (adapted from Bev Cooks)

Serves 4-6

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbs. favorite taco seasoning
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can drained and rinsed kidney beans (or black)
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 roma tomato, diced
  • 2 cups pasta shells
  • 4 oz (half a block) cream cheese
  • 2 Tbs. greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro
  • coarse salt and pepper

(FYI – the pictures below are a double recipe)

Start by putting pasta onto cook according to directions. Reserving 1/3 cup pasta water.

Brown your chicken over medium-high heat. (I must admit, I’m not really a fan of what ground chicken looks like while it’s cooking)

Add onion, garlic and taco seasoning. Cook for 5 minutes.

Next add corn, beans, green chilies and salt/pepper to taste. Cook another 5 minutes.

Add diced tomatoes and toss to combine.

Stir in cream cheese and yogurt.

Combine meat mixture with shells. Add pastas water bit by bit if it is to thick.

Serve with plenty of fresh cilantro.

This recipe was very filling and had great flavor but I must warn you – wear your chopping gloves because there’s a whole lot a choppin’ going on!

I can tell you – my wrist wanted to revolt against me.

But it was worth it. 🙂

abp

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.” ~ Helen Keller

Ok, I am feeling adventurous today – maybe it’s the wisdom I feel because I’m a year older this week…….

In any event – I am trying a recipe I found in bon appétit. Although I love reading this magazine – this will be the first recipe out of it that I have ever attempted. They are usually a little too involved, they include ingredients that are either too hard to find or too expensive or they are something that not a whole lot of people would have to eat on an average day.

But alas, I found one that I thought would be a good fit for me and my family, especailly coming off our trip to Italy.

Garganelli with Fennel and Pork Shoulder Ragù. (sounds fancy, huh??)

I did change up a few things though.
The first being the garganelli pasta which is a hand shaped egg based tubular pasta. Well, I’ll be using dried penne pasta. Also – I do not like the taste of fennel so I replaced that ingredient with celery which is common replacement because I’m one of many who is not of fan of the licorice flavor.

So with that being said, here’s what we got.

Gargnelli Penne Pasta with Fennel Celery and Pork Shoulder Ragù

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ cups minced celery
  • 1½ cups minced onions
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1½ cups dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 6 ounces (half a can) diced tomatoes
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 8 oz Penne pasta
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil

You start by mixing the pork and 1 tsp of salt by hands until sticky, cover and chill for at least 2 hours.

After chilling, roll pork mixture into 8-9 large meatballs (about 1/4 cup each).

Heat olive oil in large, heavy, deep pan over medium-high heat.  Cook meatballs until all sides are brown. Adjust heat so the brown bits on the bottom do not burn.

Drain meatballs on paper towel lined plate. Reduce heat to medium and scatter celery, onion and garlic in pan. Return meatballs to pan and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, or until vegetables are translucent and juices have evaporated.

Add wine, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan and bring to a simmer.  Cook for about 15 minutes or until the wine has reduced by 3/4.

Add the chicken broth and tomatoes. Return to a simmer, once again scraping up brown bits.  Continue to simmer with the lid slightly ajar for about 2½ hours, stirring occasionally.

When finished cooking, remove meatballs and break up into small pieces and season with salt and pepper. Then return to pan.

Add cook pasta to ragù, mix well.

Serve topped with cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Such a hardy and unique meal.  It tasted very authentic – and I can say that since I still can taste all that yummy food with had in Italy (more on that next week).

This took a little time but it was well worth it!

Hope everyone has had a great week! TGIF!!!!

abp

“I love a rainy night, I love a rainy night, I love to hear the thunder, Watch the lightning when it lights up the sky. You know it makes me feel good.” – Eddie Rabbitt

I hate that I have been MIA for the passed few days but I worked late on Thursday and then the weekend was just crazy busy! In a good way – there just was not any time to sit down at the computer.

Also, I did try a cookie recipe but it was a FAIL. So I didn’t post about that. 😦

It’s been quite rainy here and I love it. Maybe I’m weird but rain makes me happy. Granted I would not want it all the time but I welcome it most anytime – as long as I’m not on a trip sightseeing. Or at the beach. Or Disney World. Or driving a long way. Ok, well maybe I just like it to rain when I’m home or at work or at church. There is something comforting about it.

As fun as the weekend has been and as much as I love to go out and eat, I’m happy to be back in the kitchen.

Tonight I’m trying a Paula Deen recipe. Two actually.

Quick Italian Salad and Chicken Pesto Pasta

The salad is simple.

Grab a bag of Italian blend salad mix and a cup of halved cherry tomatoes. Toss.

(I totally forgot to add the tomatoes in – duh)

Next whisk up the following in a bowl.

  • 1 envelope of zesty italian dressing mix
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of prepared ranch dressing.

You then drizzle the dressing over salad and refrigerate any leftovers up to 2 weeks.

Of course I must add Parmesan cheese and croutons.

For the Chicken Pesto Pasta you will need:

  • 1 (16-ounce) package fettuccine (didn’t have – so used linguine)
  • 1 pound fresh chicken tenderloins (I used cutlets)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup prepared pesto (I used around a ½ cup)

First, cook fettuccine according to package directions, drain, set aside.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

Remove and cut into ½ inch pieces.

Add onion and bell pepper to skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until tender.

Next, add squash and zucchini and cook and additional 3-4 minutes.

Stir in cream and pesto and cook for 5 minutes – so it is slightly thickened.

Add pasta and chicken, toss to coat and to warm back up.

Serve with garlic bread or these Parmesan Knots that I really like to do – I’ll have to share that recipe with you sometime soon!

As I mentioned last week – the peanut gallery will not be getting dessert since they are getting dinner but I do hope to be making a Creamy Peanut Butter Tart later in the week they can taste test for me!!! Keep an eye out for that!

****This is my take on the pasta (fyi – the peanut gallery loved it), I think the sauce was missing something. That was one reason I added more pesto. I believe it needed to be finished off with wine or chicken broth to give a little more flavor, maybe saute some garlic with it too. It was a little bit too much just cream for me. Get what I’m saying? – no kick. It was really good but next time I make it – I will doctor it up. But hey – that’s just me, some people like it more on the tame side. ****

I hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend. These weeks are just flying by!! Christmas is just around the corner and that makes me hyperventilate.

Don’t get me wrong – Christmas is my favorite time of the year! It’s just that I will be hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner – that plus 3 trees and a Christmas village. Whew. I’m tired just thinking about it……..

~Catch ya later~

abp

“I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray, I hear it in the deep heart’s core.” – William Butler Yeats

Fabulous day! For starters, the weather could not have been better – it felt like fall when I walked outside to get the paper.

NO humidity!!!!

So after coffee and a couple loads of clothes, it was off to Church – the service was great, as usual. 🙂

Then it was home to shed the spiffy duds and off to the lake with a quick stop at KFC’s drive through – have you tried their new chicken bites??? If not, I recommend you do – yummy!

The next few hours were spent bobbing around on our floats working on our tans, yapping away with my mom and the hubby as he read on the dock. It really is the simple things in life that make it special.

When I returned home (a touch pink) I really wanted to cook something simple and light. So I decided on Spicy Lemon Butter baked red snapper and a lemon orzo salad with asparagus and tomatoes.

The salad is adapted from SparkRecipes.com – lots of good healthy recipes on this site. The snapper recipe is from my dear friend Dianne, who whipped this up last time she was at the beach and she passed it on to me. (Thank you D.C.!)

Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Tomatoes

  • 6 oz of orzo pasta
  • ½ bunch of skinny asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • ½ pint of grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley minced
  • kosher salt (to taste)
  • fresh ground pepper (to taste)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Start by boiling 2 large pots of salted water.

Cook orzo according to package in one and blanch the asparagus for 2-3 minutes in the other. Drain pasta and remove asparagus with slotted spoon to an ice bath to stop the cooking process.

Combine orzo, tomatoes and asparagus in large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper.

Mix all ingredients together and then stir in Parmesan cheese.

This can be served warm, room temperature or chilled. I liked it chilled – great summer salad!

The snapper (bought from my fish man, Bayou Joe) was super easy and very flavorful!!

Place the snapper skin down in baking dish. Pour 1 stick of melted butter over the filets, sprinkle with cajun seasoning, garlic salt and cover with lemon slices.

Bake at 425° for 25 minutes.

There you go! Simple and healthy!!

Now I’m off to watch the Olympic Closing Ceremonies!!

Hope everyone had a super fabulous weekend!

abp