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Chicken Veggie Rotini

Hey Friends,

I had a dinner brainstorm a bit ago that I wanted to share with you. I was in the mood for a casserole style dish but nothing heavy or super creamy. And I wanted chicken and pasta. To be honest, I really wanted the Carmela’s Chicken Rigatoni from Macaroni Grill (a previous employer of mine), but was too lazy/cheap to drive and spend $14 on one meal at 9 o’clock at night. Hey, at least I’m being honest! 😉

Beth’s Chicken Veggie Rotini!

So the basics of what I wanted were a very light cream sauce, with lots of flavor, and a bunch of diced vegetables mixed in with diced chicken over pasta. Able to be taken in to work easily for lunch as well.

I came up with this (partly due to the specials on produce at the grocery store):

Ingredients
1 box Rotini Pasta
1 bunch fresh asparagus, ends discarded, stalks then chopped into thirds
1 vidalia onion, sliced length-wise into 3″ x 1/4″ pieces
1 apple, cored and diced (thicker chunks)
selection of olive oils and vinegars
1/4 cup mixed shredded cheese
1/8 cup low-fat milk
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced

Cook your pasta until Al Dente (just a little hard still), and then drain and put in a PAM-Sprayed 13×9 pan. You’ll need every inch of this, I promise!

In your same saucepan, over medium heat, bring 2 tspn Blood Orange Olive Oil, 1 tspn Serrano Honey Vinegar, and 1 tspn Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar to a simmer.

Cook your chicken until just barely done (don’t over cook it since you’re going to bake it). Add to your pan of pasta and mix together. Reserve the liquid in the saucepan!

Cook your apple and onion in your reserved sauce, and bring to a simmer (~5 minutes).

Add asparagus and cook an additional 5 minutes, until crisp. Do not drain your veggies, instead scoop with a slotted spoon and add the veggies to the pasta-chicken dish.

In the saucepan with the reserved sauce, add your milk and cheese and heat on low until just blended to make a slightly creamy sauce.

Pour this sauce over the pasta dish. If you want, sprinkle additional cheese over top the pasta dish. Bake for 10 minutes at 350. Serve and enjoy!

Craft You Later,
Beth

Quick Scratch Mac-N-Cheese

Hey Cooking Friends!

For all of you out there that are either cooking for one or two people, and absolutely hate trying to scale down this delicious recipe or that, I have a recipe for you. It is literally 4 ingredients, and takes about 10 minutes. I promise you’ll really enjoy this one! Especially if you like cheese!

Quick & Easy Scratch Mac-N-Cheese! Mmmm!

So I was really in the mood for macaroni and cheese the other night, but I didn’t want it out of a box, and I didn’t want to make a huge thing and bake it – as that takes awhile. So I decided to try my hand at a combo concept of those two styles.

First, I boiled about 1/2 cup of raw elbow macaroni in about 2.5 cups of water (with a dash of salt), on medium-high. I cooked these until right between al dente and mushy, which is how I like my mac-n-cheese. This took about 8 minutes or so, and my visual cue is always that the pasta starts to turn the water a little cloudy. Once it’s done to your liking, turn off the burner, drain the pasta, and return the pasta in the pot onto the still-hot burner.

Immediately add about 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. Stir a bit around to keep the sizzle down. Add about 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter and stir until that melts fully. Now for the cheese. You can use whatever you have on hand, however I used the finely-shredded 4-cheese blend and added about 1/3 of a cup into the pasta, stirring constantly until fully melted. Once that was done, I added just under 1/3 of a cup again, and stirred until it became a nicely cheesy mound of pasta. Yum.

Now pour the pasta into a serving dish, add a pinch of cheese as a garnish on top (not mixed in), and voilà! You have a quick and easy, and delicious, homemade macaroni and cheese dish! If you’re eating alone, this will be plenty. If you’re feeding more than that, just double, etc, accordingly.

If you need more than this to eat, you can take an unshucked ear of corn and microwave it for 4 minutes. Once done, peel the husk and strands off and enjoy that with your mac-n-cheese! I think next time, I’m going to make up a piece of bacon and add that to the mac-n-cheese, along with a dash or 2 of fresh ground pepper. Just to try some variety and add in some protein!

So that is it:

1/2 cup macaroni pasta, boiled to taste
2 tbspn heavy cream (can substitute milk, I just didn’t have any!)
1 tbspn unsalted butter
2/3 cup cheese of your choice, evenly divided (shredded does work best)
dash of fresh-ground pepper, if desired
1 slice of prepared bacon, if desired

1. Boil pasta to desired tenderness.
2. Add remaining ingredients, in order, and mix until well combined.
3. Serve and enjoy!

Servings, with quantities as listed above: 1

Let me know what you think of this quick and easy meal!

Craft You Later,
Beth

Baked Lamb à la Beth

Hello Cooking Friends,

I was in the mood for lamb the other night, and happened to have 4 lamb shoulder chops in my freezer. So I thawed them out, then went hunting some recipe ideas. I looked around for some inspiration of lamb chops, and really just decided to wing it… According to my brother, that turned out to be a good call. Whew and Yay!

Baked Lamb à la Beth!

First take your raw lamb (defrosted if had been frozen), and place in a pan to bake. I ended up using two 8×8 cake pans, because I was planning on doing nut and nut-free versions. Once the meat is in the pan, do the following for EACH lamb chop, in this order: pour about 1 tablespoon of Garlic Olive Oil, 1 tablespoon Rice Vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon Sundried Tomato, Parmesan & Garlic Olive Oil, 1/2 teaspoon Blood Orange Olive Oil, 1/2 teaspoon Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar, 3 shakes Dried Tomato & Garlic Pesto Mix, and 2 shakes Garden Veggie Dip Mix. I’m including the links for 2 reasons: a) you can go buy these exact items if you so chose, and b) so you know what they are & what’s in them so you can find an appropriate substitute! 

Back to cooking. Next, top your lamb-in-the-pan, evenly distributed across all chops, with 1/2 cup diced green pepper, 6 oz diced mushrooms, and 1/2 cup Walnut Chips (1 small package). If you’re only doing half of the lamb chops with nuts, like I did, then just use 1/4 cup Walnut Chips. 

Bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes, and this will get you a medium-well lamb chop dish. Now, before we go on I need to explain something. I do NOT eat any meat raw-in-any-part except sushi. I get my fish well-done, my poultry extra-well done, my lamb and other red meats well done, hamburgers well-done, and so on. I saw the outside of this lamb (granted partly concealed by so much yummy vinegar-oil-veggie goodness), after 30 minutes, and thought it was well done. I sliced into it and it was still a little pink, but I tried it on a whim. It was delicious. My brother likes his meats medium-rare, but he really liked the way it came out as well. So I figured I’d let you all know in case you are in the WELL family like me! 

We had the leftovers for lunch the next day, and microwaving it for 90 seconds made the meat into well done state (but not dried out), which was still just as delicious since the juices of the oils-and-vinegars were still surrounding the meat and veggies.

Lamb with mushrooms, green peppers, oils & vinegars, oh my!

So that is how I made my lamb chops, and they turned out really well, so I recommend you try something along these lines if you like lamb (or steak or whatever other red meat you so chose), particularly with the Dark Chocolate Balsamic added – that just made it, for me. Not too sweet, but not too chocolatey either. Mmmm. 🙂 Let me know what you think! 

Craft You Later,
Beth

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