Monthly Archives: April 2010

The Best Pasta Salad

According to Jaime Oliver this is “the best pasta salad.” I beg to differ. It was good, but definitely not the best. However, I LOVE all the fresh veggies and herbs that go into it. It is a very colorful, fresh and healthy pasta salad.

11 oz. small shaped pasta
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
9 oz. red cherry tomatoes
9 oz. yellow cherry tomatoes
1 handful of fresh basil
1/2 cucumber
4 T white wine vinegar
7 T Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta per the directions on the box. Drain, rinse with cool water and place in a large bowl.

Chop tomatoes, cucumber, chives and basil into pieces smaller than the pasta and add them to the bowl with the pasta.

In a small bowl, mix the garlic, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Pour this over the pasta and toss.

Next time: I didn’t prepare the garlic like Jaime’s original recipe. I will definitely do that next time. I also didn’t put olives in mine like his recipe calls for. I might add those as well. Also, I served this as a side dish, but next time I might add some shredded chicken to it and make it a main dish. I might need to make a little more dressing, but I think it would be good that way.

What does the family think? Everyone was just sort of so-so on this dish. I am going to give it another go though and prepare it the way Jaime actually says to make it instead of doing it with all of my little shortcuts.


Filed under Chicken, Make Ahead of Time, Salad

Asian Chicken Salad

This is a great, fast meal on a hot spring/summer day when you don’t want to turn on the oven. I have been making this salad for years, but I think I originally got the idea from one of those Kraft cookbook magazines.

Lettuce greens, rinsed and dried
2 already cooked chicken breasts, shredded
11 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained
Asian sesame dressing
Chow Mein Noodles, a sprinkle of top of each salad

Divide lettuce greens between four bowls.

Divide the shredded chicken breast between the four bowls and place on top of the lettuce greens.

Divide the mandarin oranges between the four bowl and place on top of the chicken.

Wait to put chow mein noodles and the salad dressing on right before being served.


What does my family think? My hubby and I both really like this salad. Our children will eat it as long as they don’t have to eat the Asian dressing with it.

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Filed under Chicken, Definitely Making it Again, Everybody Ate It, Salad, Six Ingredients or Less, Super Easy to Make

Wimpy Burgers

This is a twist on Sloppy Joes, but it’s less “tomatoey”.

1 lb. ground turkey
1 (10.75 oz.) can condensed chicken gumbo soup
2 T ketchup
1 T yellow mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Hamburger buns

Brown ground turkey (or hamburger or chicken-whichever you prefer) in a skillet. When turkey is cooked through, add soup, ketchup, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir until all of the ingredients are thoroughly mixed and heated through.

Serve on buns just as you would traditional sloppy joes.

Did I change anything? Yes. The original recipe called for water to be added to the skillet and then having it simmer for an hour. If you don’t add the water then you don’t need to let it simmer and everyone gets to eat faster.

Variation: If you have trouble finding chicken gumbo soup, you could probably substitute a can of chicken and rice soup.

What did the family think? They will all eat sloppy joes, but this didn’t exactly look like sloppy joes, so I wasn’t sure if they would eat it or not. Everyone ate it though with a minimum amount of complaining from the youngest members of our family.


Filed under Six Ingredients or Less, Uncategorized

Classic Tomato Spaghetti (Version 1)

Don’t freak out when I tell you that this recipe includes tuna and cinnamon. Yep. Tuna and cinnamon in pasta. It is a Jaime Oliver recipe and I tried it just for you. My family unknowingly volunteered themselves as taste testers. This is a simplified version of Jaime’s recipe:

Salt and Pepper to taste
1 lb. dried spaghetti
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes-Italian style
1 can tuna (drained and flaked)
1/2 tspn. ground cinnamon
Crushed red pepper (a few shakes)
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Cook pasta according to directions on pasta box.

In a skillet combine tomatoes, tuna, cinnamon, lemon and crushed pepper and heat through.

Put pasta in individual bowls and pour sauce on top.

Next time: I am not sure I will make this dish again. It was okay, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite. If I do make this dish again I will make twice as much sauce. The recipe above only made enough sauce for my hubby and I. I had to break out a jar of pasta sauce for the kids. I will say, however, that if I hadn’t made the sauce I would have never known there was cinnamon in there. If you are feeling adventurous I would definitely try this recipe. It’s easy, that’s for sure. Jaime Oliver’s website has a few variations on this sauce though, so maybe I will try another one in the next few weeks.

What did the family think? I thought it was just okay as did my hubby. The kids didn’t get to eat it since there wasn’t enough for them which, quite frankly, I think they were totally fine with.

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Filed under Italian, Super Easy to Make

Spinach Tortellini with Tomato Sauce

This is great pasta dish with a little twist…salami.

2 T. olive oil
1 oz. salami, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 28oz. can of San Marzano plum tomatoes, drained (save juice)
5-6 fresh basi leaves
Pinch of sugar
Salt and Pepper, to taste
8 oz. dry spinach tortellini

Cook tortellini per the directions on the package.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the salami and garlic and cook for about one minute. Crush the tomatoes into the skillet using your hands. Let these simmer for about four to five minutes and then add the tomato juice, basil, sugar, salt and pepper. Simmer for a few minutes and stir well.

Drain the tortellini and serve the sauce on top of the noodles. You may want to put the noodles in individual bowls for each person and then put the sauce on. We do that because some people in our house like more sauce than others. Enjoy!!!

This is great with a salad and a glass of wine. Have some parmesan cheese at the table to sprinkle on top.

Did I change anything? I didn’t really change much from the original recipe other than the type of pasta. I think I probably ended up adding more than 1 ounce of salami too. It just didn’t seem like enough.

What does the family think? We will eat pasta in any form, shape or size, especially if it has tomato sauce on top.


Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Easy, Everybody Ate It, Italian

Curried Chicken Salad

If you love chicken salad then you will love this one with a twist, unless you don’t like curry, of course. It is a good dish to fix in the summer when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen. It’s also a great dish to make ahead of time.

2-3 already cooked boneless chicken breasts,
2 stalks of celery
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup real mayonnaise
1/4 c. onion, finely minced
1 tspn. curry powder
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Pita bread (at room temperature)
tomatoes, sliced

Shred chicken in a medium mixing bowl. Add celery, cilantro, mayo, onion, curry and garlic and mix well. This would be a good time to put it in the frig to chill unless you don’t have time then it’s okay to just go ahead and serve it.

Place lettuce in pita halves with slices of tomato and then add the chicken salad. Be careful not to add too much or the pita bread will break.

Next time: I have made this several times and this time it didn’t seem like there was enough curry in it. Next time I will taste it before I serve it to make sure that we can really taste the curry.

What did the family think? Hubby and I like this dish. The boys did NOT. Usually our older one will suffer through whatever I have put in front of him at the dinner table, but he just couldn’t do it. Our youngest went and got the salad dressing from the frig, tore open and ate the pita bread and poured salad dressing on the lettuce that was in the pita. At least he ate the lettuce. 🙂

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Filed under Chicken, Definitely Making it Again, Easy, Make Ahead of Time, Salad

Ground Beef Stroganoff

I love beef stroganoff, but we don’t really eat beef in our house, so I’ve never made it. I was so excited to find this recipe which could easily be made with ground chicken or turkey.

Olive Oil
1 lb. of ground chicken
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3-4 mushrooms, chopped
1/3 c. dry sherry or dry white wine
1 1/4 c. sour cream (room temperature)
1 tspn. lemon juice
1/4 tspn. paprika
8 oz. egg noodles

Cook egg noodles per the directions on the packaging.

Put about one tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and heat to medium high. Sprinkle some salt in the bottom of the pan and cook ground chicken until cooked through.

When the meat is done, drain the fat and put the meat in another bowl. Place a little more olive oil in the skillet and add the onions, mushrooms and sherry/wine. Cook until the onions are soft.

Remove the pan from the burner and stir in the sour cream and paprika. Keep stirring until it is smooth. You may need to add a little water so that the consistency isn’t too thick. Add the lemon juice and then stir in the hamburger until everything is well blended. Add salt, pepper and paprika as needed.

Drain the noodles and serve the stroganoff on top of the noodles. Happy eating!!!

Next time: The only thing I really changed about this recipe is I left out the parsley that was in the original recipe I found on-line. When I made it the first time I did use the parsley and I didn’t like it. It tasted like I had foliage in my stroganoff. I highly recommend leaving it out.

What does the family think? One of the reasons I decided to make this was because our children recently discovered sour cream and they seem to be inclined to eat things that have sour cream in them now. Hubby and I loved this dish. Our oldest really liked it and our youngest just ate the noodles. I will definitely be making this dish again.

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Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Easy

White Beans and Italian Sausage

As I am going through my recipes I am realizing that we eat a lot of Italian food around here. This is what we had for dinner tonight and it was the first time I had ever used this recipe. I made my own version though because the version I found on-line talked about soaking beans and simmering for a few hours. I don’t have time for all that. So here’s my version:

2 15 oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 T olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 1/2 lbs. Italian sausage (sweet, mild or hot)
2 14.5 oz cans of Italian-style diced tomatoes
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat olive oil over medium heat and add garlic. Saute garlic for a minute or so and add Italian sausage. When Italian sausage it completely cooked add beans, tomatoes and red pepper flakes. Keep on burner until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.

Next time: When I made it this time I only used one can of tomatoes. I put two cans in my directions up above because I think it needed more. Also, I used mild Italian sausage this time. Next time I will definitely use a spicier version.

We had this with a baguette hubby had picked up at the store and we had some grapes so I put those on the table as well.

What does the family think? Hubby and I liked it enough to have seconds. The boys ate it, but mostly just ate the sausage.


Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Easy, Everybody Ate It, Italian

Italian Sausage, Peppers and Tomatoes

I use the internet a lot to find recipes. I found this one a while back and I love it because it is super easy and everyone loves it. Here is my variation:

6 whole Italian sausages (hot, sweet or mild)
2 14.5 oz cans of Italian-style diced tomatoes
1/2 large onion cut in thin strips
1 1/2 cups (approx.) frozen bell pepper strips
2 T. olive oil

Place the sausages in a pot of boiling water and cook for about ten minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

Heat olive oil in a skillet and add onions and bell peppers. While onions and bell peppers are cooking cut sausages into “coins” and add them to the skillet. Cook until onions are tender and sausages are cooked through. Lastly, add the tomatoes and cook for about five more minutes on medium.

Variations: You might want to add one can of tomatoes and see if that is just right. Some people might prefer two cans…it depends on how much you like tomatoes.

We always have this dish with some fresh Italian bread or a baguette. You can dip the bread in the bowl to soak up some of the juices. Yummy!

What does the family think? Hubby and I love this dish. The boys mostly just eat the sausage.


Filed under Definitely Making it Again, Everybody Ate It, Italian, Six Ingredients or Less, Super Easy to Make

Whole Chicken Crock Pot Recipe

It doesn’t get any easier than this. I found this recipe on-line a few years ago and have made several variations, but this is the simplest one I have made. Simple is good. We have this at least twice a month at our house. It is a great dish to have on a night when you know you are going to be busy or getting home late. It’s done when you get home AND your house smells FANTASTIC!

Poultry Seasoning
1 large roasting chicken
1 small lemon

After making sure there aren’t any gizzards, etc. in the cavity of the chicken, cut the lemon in half and place both halves of the lemon in the cavity of the chicken then place the chicken in the crockpot. Sprinkle a little bit of salt, pepper and poultry seasoning on the chicken. Put the lid on the crockpot and cook on low for 4-8 hours. (Ours is usually done within five hours at the most.)

Variations: You can put just about any reasonable spice on this chicken that you want to and it will turn out tasting great. You could use paprika, lemon pepper, garlic salt, thyme, cayenne…get creative.

We usually have this dish with a veggie that can be prepared quickly and some bread and butter with honey on it. Again, very quick, but yummy.

What does the family think? Hubby and I love this dish. It is definitely a comfort food in our house. Our boys aren’t huge chicken fans, but they’ll eat it.


Filed under Chicken, Definitely Making it Again, Easy, Everybody Ate It, Six Ingredients or Less, Uncategorized