Monday, October 28, 2013

Bruschetta Chicken Pasta

My kids love spaghetti but sometimes I get tired of the same old recipe everytime.  So I thought back to my previous life of living in a big town and eating at restaurants and remembered how I loved bruschetta pasta at T.G.I.fridays.  So I decided to make up my own recipe for it.  I combined my bruschetta recipe with some tomato sauce, pasta, and chicken and a new recipe was born.  My kids even loved it!

A few notes about the recipe: I had originally pictured it with angel hair pasta but I accidentally grabbed the wrong box.  So the pasta pictured is spaghetti noodles but I changed it in the actual recipe below.  I also would prefer sliced garlic in this recipe instead of minced, but in an effort to get my kids to eat it I minced it up.  If you can get away with sliced it! If you want to add a little "fancy" to this recipe you can drizzle it with a balsamic glaze.  You can check out my recipe for balsamic drizzle here. Finally, the bruschetta can be made a day ahead  and refrigerated to save time when putting this recipe together. Give it a try!

Bruschetta Chicken Pasta
3-4 boneless chicken breasts (grilled and sliced)
6-8 roma tomatoes -chopped (the firmer the better)
1/3 cup fresh basil -chopped
2 cloves garlic (sliced or minced)
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 lb. angel hair pasta (cooked and drained)
shredded parmesan cheese 
balsamic drizzle (optional)

Begin grilling chicken (and keep warm). 

Meanwhile, chop tomato and basil.  Mix tomato and basil with garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Cover and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes to let flavors mix. 

Begin cooking pasta according to package directions.

In a medium skillet, combine bruschetta with tomato sauce.  Heat and simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes. (Don't overcook the tomatoes).  Drain pasta and toss with sauce.  Top with grilled chicken, shredded parmesan, and balsamic drizzle if desired.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fall Favorites: Halloween Fun

Sorry I haven't done a new post in a few weeks.  We are still working on switching my pictures over to my new laptop so that I can post easier!  But I've been cooking up some great new recipes so look for those soon.  Bruschetta Pasta, philly cheese steaks, and pumpkin bread...just to name a few!

In the meantime here are some link to some of the recipes I like to use around Halloween.  Most of them are super easy and my kids love them every year.  As they've grown older they also get excited to help make them all too. Have fun!

Monster Taco Salad
Lil' Smokie Mummies
Ghost Pie
Halloween cupcakes kids can decorate
Chocolate Caramel Apples

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fall Favorites: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Can't remember where I got this recipe but its always a favorite. They mix up quick and are easy to bake. You just put a dollop of the cream cheese mixture in each of the muffin cups and then the pumpkin muffin bakes up around it.  So it looks fancy without a lot of extra work! And I'm all about being fake fancy!

These were not overly sweet so feel free to add 1/4 cup sugar or 2 T. brown sugar to the mix if you want it to be more like a dessert. You could also try a streusel topping like at Starbucks! The possibilities are endless!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, or to taste
1 T.  ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg + 1 egg white
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup whipped cream cheese (I just used regular and whipped it myself)
1 TB confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray muffin tins with nonstick spray. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup whipped cream cheese with 1 TB confectioners sugar. If you are using regular cream cheese...whip it by itself first and then add confectioners sugar. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt and make a well in the middle. In another bowl whisk together the pumpkin puree, sugar, oil, buttermilk, egg, egg white, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredient into the dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way full with batter mixture. Place a dollop of the cream cheese mixture in the center of each muffin. (I thought that I could just set the dollop on top and it would bake down in...but it worked better if I pushed the cream cheese down in the batter a little bit before I baked it)
Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into muffins comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fall Favorites: Pumpkin Donuts with Maple Glaze

This original post was from just a few months after the babies were born.  It was a crazy time of life and I think that's reflected in what I wrote! So as a special bonus I'm going to let you read the original intro in addition to the recipe. Here you go:

Sometimes since the twins were born, it seems like I have a daily fight with myself about whether or not I should have a donut. The fact that I rarely get a shower usually prevents me from going and getting one. So, today as I sat here feeding two babies and craving a donut, I got this idea that I could make myself a donut! Then I thought why in the world would someone with such horrible self control learn to make donuts. This can't possibly end well. But then I remembered I owed it to my blog readers to come up with new delicious recipes. And if I have to sacrifice and eat a donut or two then that is what I'll have to do. So you're welcome. All 5 of you!

I found this recipe on It's from the Neely's who are a husband and wife cooking team that have their own television show. I saw them on another talk show once and they were hilarious.

These actually proved to be quite delicious. Fried dough tends to do that. They aren't, however, your typical light and fluffy donuts. They are pretty dense, much like an old fashioned glazed would be. For all of this small town's faults...we actually have a pretty delicious donut shop down the road from us. My family's favorites are the old fashioned applesauce donuts. These are very similar to that. In fact, if you substituted applesauce for the pumpkin puree and ditched the maple extract in the glaze...I'm pretty sure you'd end up with an awesome applesauce donut.

These were really easy to make but a little time consuming to fry them all up and dip them all in the glaze. Probably a weekend recipe in my opinion. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Donuts with Maple Glaze

Vegetable oil, for frying
3 3/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 T. melted butter
1/2 tsp. almond extract (I used vanilla)
1 recipe Maple Glaze (below)

Maple Glaze:
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 tsp. maple extract
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oil in a large Dutch oven to 375 degrees. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another large bowl, whisk eggs, yolk, buttermilk, pumpkin, melted butter and almond extract until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. The dough will be sticky.

Dust countertop and fingers with flour. Using your hands pat out dough to 1/2 in. thickness. Using a 3 in. cutter, cut out donuts. Use a 3/4 in. cutter for the donut holes. Gather scraps and re-roll. Continue cutting out donuts until all dough is used.

Fry donuts, in hot oil, until golden brown and crisp, about 1 min. per side. (as you repeat the process it seems to take less and less time to cook them through) Drain on wire rack over cookie sheet to cool. Once cool dip tops in maple glaze. Makes about 24 donuts.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fall Favorites: Bow Tie Beef and Squash Skillet

I couldn't decide which recipe to do for Friday favorites this week so I'm doing two! One today and one tomorrow.  Enjoy!

I've said it before and I'll say it again! I hate recipes that require me to use half the dishes in my kitchen. This is a great pasta dish because it all cooks in the same pan.

I love squash and this recipe is loaded with it. They cook up nice and tender and my kids love the squash as much as the noodles! This is another Taste of Home find but I've changed around some of the quantities and directions a bit. I really like that you don't add any garlic or strong spices so you can really taste the fresh veggies. It's a great pasta for summer or winter!

It makes a good sized pot of pasta and since it's got veggies, meat and pasta all in the same recipe I often serve it by itself. Quick and easy.

Bow Tie Beef and Squash Skillet
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
3 cups uncooked farfalle pasta (bow-tie)
1 can (14-1/2 oz) diced tomatoes (drained)
1 can (14-1/2 oz) beef broth (apx. 2 cups)
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2-3 medium yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
1 whole green bell pepper, chopped (apx. 1 cup)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (divided)

In a large skillet, cook beef with salt and pepper until done. Drain. Stir in pasta, tomatoes, beef broth, tomato sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10-12 minutes.

Add squash and green pepper. Recover and cook 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to overcook the squash or it will get soggy. Just cook until pasta and veggies are tender. Add 1/2 cup cheese and cook an additional 2 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve and top with remaining cheese.