Saturday, February 16, 2013

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

Again with the pasta recipes!  I know, I know, but like I said, pasta is cheap and will take on any flavor you give it.  Tonight we decided to turn our pasta into one of our favorite chicken dishes, Chicken Cordon Bleu.  So here it is, one of our new favorite recipes!


Chicken (I used 6- 7 pre-cut chicken strips because they were on sale - 1 1/2 cups cooked and chopped.)
Penne (1lb or 1 box)
Ham (1/2 cup chopped or 1 package of deli ham)
Swiss cheese (1 cup + 1/8 cup for top, shredded)
White cheddar cheese (1/4 cup, shredded)
Mozzarella cheese (I used 2 individual packs of string cheese because it was in my fridge and melts nice; diced)
Parmesan cheese (1/8 cup)
1 cup whole milk
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup of beer
Salt and pepper to taste
Flour (used to thicken sauce)


Cook your chicken (in the oven or the stove top.)  You can cut it into bite size chunks before or after you cook it (depends on what cut of chicken you use).  While your chicken is resting, begin to boil your water (salted water) for your penne.  In a separate saucepan, add your butter, milk, and beer.  Begin to simmer over med-low heat.  Once your milk/beer mixture was become hot, remove about 3-4 tbsp into a small bow.  Add 2 tbsp of flour.  Mix until clump free and add back to the milk/beer mixture.  Now add your cheeses (all but the Parmesan and the 1/8 cup of Swiss).  Slowly stir until the cheese begins to melt.  If you haven't already, add your penne to the boiling water.  Continue to watch your cheese sauce so it doesn't stick or burn.  Drain your pasta.  Once the sauce has become smooth, in a large bowl, add your pasta, chopped chicken, and your chopped ham.  Pour the sauce over the top and mix well.  Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees (F).  Pour the pasta mixture into a baking dish.  Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese and remaining Swiss cheese over the top.  Place into oven and bake until the cheese has melted (about 5 minutes).  Remove, cool and enjoy!

*To make this dish interesting, consider adding tomatoes, spinach, roasted garlic or any other veggies that tickle your fancy!
**The beer helps to lower the melting temp. for the cheese (learned that at a fondue restaurant!).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

BLT Pasta Salad

Pasta seems to be our go to meal.  It's cheap and easy to make.  Having a large selection of pasta recipes to choose from is important so you aren't always eating the same thing.  This happens to be one our favorite pasta dishes, BLT Pasta Salad.

1 lb/box farfalle (bow tie pasta)
5 tomatoes (I used Roma)
1 1/2 cup chopped lettuce
6-8 slices of bacon (plus 1 tbsp reserved bacon fat)
1/2 cup of ranch dressing

Boil your noodles in salted water until al dente.  Drain and cool for about 5 minutes.  Add half of your ranch and toss.  Refrigerate for about an hour.  Remove from the fridge and begin to cook your bacon (nice and crispy!).  While the bacon is cooking, if you haven't pre-chopped your tomatoes and lettuce, do so now.  Make sure they are bite size pieces.  Toss them into the pasta.  Once your bacon has cooked and cooled slightly, chop and toss into the pasta.  Mix the remaining ranch with 1 tbsp of the bacon fat.  Pour the dressing over the pasta, toss and serve.  This recipe also tastes really good with Caesar dressing.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

BBQ Pasta Bake

A lot of times when I am short on time, pasta is my go to meal.  It's quick, easy, and filling.  Spaghetti and tomato sauce can get old quick, so I like to try and get creative.  This is one of those dishes that was thrown together last minute, but was a real winner with my family!

BBQ Pasta Bake
Rigatoni noodles (1 lb or 1 box)
Sorry for the blurry pic.  My camera is in Fed Ex's custody still!
Salt (for water)
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. garlic salt
3 tbsp. bbq sauce
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 cup onion
1/2 cup bell pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
12 meatballs (homemade* or store bought)

Boil pasta in salted water until al dente.  In a saucepan, add the remained of the ingredients except the cheese and the meatballs.  Simmer for 15 minutes on medium heat, stir every so often.  Preheat the oven to 325 while the sauce cooks down.  For the last few minutes, add the meatballs.  Next toss the noodles with the sauce and 1/2 cup of cheese.  Pour into a baking dish and cover the pasta with the remainder of the cheese.  Bake for 102 minutes until the cheese has begun to bubble. 
Serve with a salad, by itself, or with any sides you'd enjoy with bbq!  Makes approx. 4-8 servings.
*My meatballs were homemade.  I will post a recipe for them soon!