Buttery, Herbed Egg Noodles

Since before the sons can even remember they’ve been eating buttered noodles. It was one of their favorite (and most requested) lunches, especially when visiting Nanni’s house. Of course, Nanni will put more butter on your butter. Mean Mommy? Not so fast. Seriously though, buttered noodles were a life saver on more than one occasion for a last minute lunch for one very overwhelmed Mom, especially after we brought son # 4 home from the hospital and I was in the homestretch on summer vacation with two weeks left. We all totally agree, that while buttered noodles are the bees knees, add in some herbs and a dash of garlic, and they’re just plain awesome.

  4 Sons 'R' Us: Herbed Egg Noodles

They’re so simple and incredibly easy to throw together at the last minute. I mean seriously, tender noodles coated in buttery sauce? You can’t go wrong with the addition of dill and thyme. A little garlic gives them the perfect little bit of pizzazz. Besides being a great last minute lunch they also make a great side, complimenting any meaty entree you might throw their way.

Herbed Egg Noodles

Herbed Egg Noodles 2

8 ounces uncooked egg noodles
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried dill weed
1/4 tsp dried thyme

Directions

1. Cook the egg noodles according to the package directions.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt butter. Stir in the garlic, salt, dill and thyme.
3. Drain the cooked noodles and add to butter mixture and toss to coat.

Southwestern Chicken Pasta Salad

Don’t you just love a good pasta salad? They just seem so summery to me. Whether as a light side with dinner, or as a lunch. My favorite though are the heartier versions where I can dump everything in, give it a good solid stir, and after it’s cold… voila! Dinner is served. Pasta salad literally provides endless possibilities for new flavor combinations and ingredients. It makes me so happy, like kid on Christmas morning happy. This particular pasta is one of my personal favorites. It also happens to include one of our favorite ways to season/prepare chicken. It’s so simple too!

 Generously season your chicken breasts with taco or fajita seasoning, and then bake them for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, or until cooked through. While having some on hand does give me an extra excuse to whip up one of our favorite pasta salads, we just genuinely like it that much. I love to dice it up and toss it in with some lettuce to make a nice hearty salad. The hubs uses it to make his own little protein packs to take to work. For the pasta salad though, you can make it all at once, or cook your chicken as much as a couple days ahead of time and have it ready to go.

 4 Sons 'R' Us: Southwestern Chicken Pasta Salad

Seriously, just look at those juicy slices of perfectly cooked chicken.

Have you ever heard the saying, ‘Eat your colors’? Fresh ingredients can be so vibrant, and I’m really starting to notice the burst of intense, natural flavor they add to our meals. My favorite chicken, vine-ripened tomatoes, bacon, and a Mexican blend of cheeses over a bed of pasta. Oh the intensity! They all combine beautifully with just a tiny bit of help from the special sauce.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Southwestern Chicken Pasta Salad 2

Now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for… the recipe!

Southwestern Chicken Pasta Salad

 4 Sons 'R' Us: Southwestern Chicken Pasta Salad 3

recipe adapted from Recipes for our Daily Bread

3 chicken breasts, seasoned with taco or fajita seasoning
1/2 pound of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
12 oz package of spiral pasta
1/2 cup Ranch dressing (not dry mix)
1/2 cup salsa, regular NOT a fruity blend
1 teaspoon taco or fajita seasoning
1 fresh tomato, chopped
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese, or cheddar cheese

Directions

1. Generously season the chicken with either taco or fajita seasoning and bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked through, at 350 degrees.
2. Allow the cooked chicken to cool slightly and then dice.
3. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Set aside to cool.
4. Cook the bacon until it’s nice and crispy. Allow grease to drain by putting the cooked bacon on some paper towels and when cool, crumble it.
5. Chop the tomato.
6. In a a large bowl combine all ingredients, stirring to mix everything together.

That’s it! Told ya, simple. While it’s great straight away, it tastes best when allowed to chill. It’s just as good if made the night before and left to refrigerate overnight.

This recipe was taken over to Fiesta Friday # 24 which is hosted every Friday by Angie on The Novice Gardener.

Spinach Parmesan Orzo

Sometimes the simplest things taste the best. Just like I sometimes need a break from the rigmarole of everyday life, sometimes my taste buds need a break from complex flavor combinations. This orzo is just the thing for times like that. With a simple, yet creamy, low-fat sauce coating the tiny rice-shaped pasta and wilted spinach, it makes a great side dish, especially with chicken or fish, or even a light main meal.  This is the happy place where health & comfort (food) meet.

Spinach Parmesan Orzo

4 Sons 'R' Us: Spinach Parmesan Orzo

recipe adapted from Life Tastes Good

4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3-4 cups of fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat and add 1 cup orzo. Stir until the orzo is lightly browned/toasted. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the orzo is tender and the liquid is absorbed.
2. While the orzo is simmering it is a good time to prepare the spinach. In a large skillet melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add 1 tablespoon minced garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Add 10 ounces of baby spinach and a pinch of salt. Saute until wilted. Set aside until orzo is done.
3. When orzo is done add the spinach and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and mix well. Give it a taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. The Parmesan will add some saltiness to the dish, so be sure to give it a taste to ensure you don’t add too much salt!

Creamy Taco Pasta

Better for you hamburger helper — that’s what we decided this recipe was. Reminiscent of hamburger helper, but without all the preservatives and ingredients you can’t pronounce. Creamy, cheesy, and delicious! If I haven’t sold you on it yet, where can you go wrong with a combination of two family favorites? Tacos & pasta?!  A perfect quick and easy, busy weeknight meal. Be prepared though. Dinner will be silent. Everyone will be too busy eating, or in my case, scarfing down their first helping so they can call dibs on whatever is left in the pot. 

Creamy Taco Pasta

4 Sons 'R' Us: Creamy Taco Pasta

recipe adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

1 pound ground beef or turkey
8-12 ounces medium pasta shells or other small dry pasta shapes
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1-2 tsp minced garlic
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies, drained, or 1 cup salsa
1 packet (4 tablespoons) taco seasoning
3 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp dried cilantro leaves
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet or sauté pan, cook the ground meat over medium-high heat until no longer pink. A few minutes before the meat is cooked through, add the chopped onion to the skillet. Once the meat is cooked through, mix in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and let simmer over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes.
3. Stir in the cooked pasta, cream cheese, sour cream and reserved pasta water, and continue stirring until the cream cheese is melted and the sauce is well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over medium-low heat 3-5 minutes to reduce the sauce a bit if it is still too thin.
4. Toss in the dried cilantro right before serving for some added color and flavor. Serve with a green salad.

 

 

Buffalo Mac N Cheese

Another Lenten Friday came and went, and I came up with another meatless meal for everyone to enjoy. I may have to lose the meat for a few weeks, but I’m not giving up anything in flavor.  This flavorful twist on a classic macaroni and cheese, complete with a crunchy panko topping, definitely delivered.

Buffalo Mac N Cheese

4 Sons 'R' Us: Buffalo Mac N Cheese

recipe originally from Creatively Domestic

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
salt, for pasta water
16 oz (1 pound) small pasta, elbows or shells
3/4 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 1/2 cups half and half (or milk)
16 oz (1 pound) sharp cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles (optional)

4 Sons 'R' Us: buffalo mac n cheese

Come to Mama.

Are you sitting down?

Because you’ll want to grab a spoon and consume this entire casserole dish. BY YOURSELF.

Not in the neighborhood for a meatless meal? No worries. This recipe can still be your friend. Add in some cooked, shredded or chopped chicken, and carry on.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a large casserole dish (9×13 is recommended).
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook macaroni until al dente or the shortest amount of cooking time on the box or less.  Drain.
3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the flour and mustard and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in the half and half, and the hot sauce.  Stir until thick, about 2 minutes. Add the cheeses and whisk in the sour cream.  Stir until smooth.  Remove from heat.
4. Spread macaroni in the baking dish.  Pour the cheese sauce evenly over the top.
5. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave.  Stir in the panko and the blue cheese if using.  Sprinkle over top of macaroni.  Bake until bubbly, about 30 minutes.  Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

{One Pot Wonder} Pizza Pasta

Over the years I’ve learned I can’t ask the sons to spot clean the living room or to clean in general without supervision. Otherwise everything ends up in the toy box. Day old, dirty socks, sippy cups, Dad’s tools, remotes, candy wrappers. You name it, if I can’t find it and they’ve cleaned recently, it’s in the toy box . While it’s frustrating to no end, I do understand the urge. Shoot, even as an adult I have the urge to do things as simply as possible. Their motivator for doing the bare minimum to get by? Usually, the great outdoors is calling their name, or their video games. Mine? Supply and demand. Some days there are just too many things needing my attention, and there’s only one of me with a limited number of hours in the day.

Enter the wonderful world of one pot meals. I simply cannot express the love I have for them. The pleasure I get from knowing I literally just threw a bunch of stuff into a pot and it turned into a delicious meal everyone loves is addicting. I just can’t keep it all to myself. I’ve got to share the love, or in this case, the recipe. Be careful though, the one pot meal craze is contagious!

{One Pot Wonder} Pizza Pasta

4 Sons 'R' Us: {One Pot Wonder} Pizza Pasta

recipe originally from Yellow Bliss Road’

1 5 oz package pepperoni

1 pound Italian sausage
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced green peppers
1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 jar pizza sauce + 1 jar water
1 2 oz. can tomato paste
2 cups beef broth
3 cups small, dry pasta (penne, wheels, macaroni, etc.)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

1. In a 5 quart pot, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add onions and peppers and saute until soft, about five minutes. Add garlic and saute one minute.
2. Add Italian sausage and pepperoni and cook until sausage is no longer pink.
3. Add pasta, beef broth, tomato paste, pizza sauce, water and seasonings. Stir and bring to a boil.
4. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring at least once, .
5. Remove from heat and stir in mozzarella cheese, reserving 1/4 cup for sprinkling on the top. Replace the cover and let sit for five minutes. Garnish with diced green peppers and shredded Parmesan, if desired.

Peanut Butter ‘Lo Mein’ Noodles

The sons go crazy for these easy peanut butter noodles. The first time I made them they looked at the ingredients I was pulling out with total confusion. I think I detected a hint of fear. Sons # 2 kept repeating orange juice & peanut butter? Orange juice & peanut butter?! Like I was some sort of professional recipe butcher-er. Ye sons of little faith…

One bite and his little peanut butter loving eyes lit up with joy! My reaction? A totally juvenille normal , ‘ha ha I told you so!!’ moment. (Everybody has those, right?)

Short on time? Looking for an alternative type of lunch? Trying to appeal to your pickier little foodies? These do the trick.

Peanut Butter ‘Lo Mein’ Noodles

4 Sons 'R' Us: Peanut Butter Lo Mein Noodles

recipe originally from Mom Foodie

½ lb. of dry fettuccine or linguine noodles
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup crunchy peanut butter (natural)
2½ tbs. soy sauce
2 tbs. white vinegar
2 tbs. brown sugar (either light or dark is fine)
½ tsp hot chili sauce (more if you want it spicy)
*optional* squeeze a wedge or two of lime juice into sauce
1 tsp oil
¼ cup sweet onions, sliced
1 clove of garlic minced

Directions

1. Put on pot of boiling water for pasta. Cook the fettuccine to al dente.
2. While the pasta is cooking, whisk together orange juice, peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, chili sauce and lime if you are using it.
3. Heat oil in skillet over med-high, once hot add the onion and garlic. Stir fry, until onion is cooked, but still has a little firmness, not mushy, then add the noodles and stir fry for 2 minutes,
4. Pour the sauce over noodles, and stir to coat, continue folding and mixing the pasta over heat for about a minute.
5. Serve with a splash of soy or Ponzu sauce, or wedges of lime.

Have a larger family? Feeding a crowd? Making for dinner rather than lunch? No worries. The recipe easily doubles to accommodate your needs.

Saucy, Italian “Drunken” Noodles with Italian Sausage, Tomatoes, Caramelized Onions and Red and Yellow Bell Peppers

By far, the hubby’s favorite Thai dish is drunken noodle. I can’t stand the stuff. Too peanut-ty for me. When I saw this, a little light bulb lit up in my head. The perfect compromise! The same noodly texture he loves, drowning in a robust sauce. Plus, being Italian, he’s obligated to like anything with the ‘I’ word in it. Right? right.

The recipe ended up being a smashing success! Everybody loved this. Gourmet flavor for a budget price using ingredients I always keep on hand. Family & Mom approved. If you’re feeling risky, spice it up by adding more crushed red peppers, or try using spicy Italian sausage links. Don’t have sausage? Ground beef will work just fine. This meal is totally forgiving, so feel free to just ‘go with it.’ Don’t you just love a liberating recipe?!

Saucy, Italian “Drunken” Noodles with Italian Sausage, Tomatoes, Caramelized Onions and Red and Yellow Bell Peppers

4 Sons 'R' Us: Italian Drunken Noodle

recipe adapted from The Cozy Apron

4 Italian sausage links, casings removed
1 large onion, quartered and sliced thinly
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
1 orange bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
4 tsp minced garlic
½ cup white wine
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, julienned, divided use
8 ounces Pappardelle or lasagna noodles (broken up), uncooked

Directions

1. Place a large, heavy-bottom pan or braising pot over medium-high heat; add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and once the oil is hot, crumble the Italian sausage into the pan in small chunks (you want to keep the sausage fairly chunky), allowing it to brown in the oil for a few moments on each side; once the crumbled sausage is browned, remove it from the pan/pot with a slotted spoon and place into a small bowl to hold for a moment; next, add the sliced onion into the pan with the sausage drippings, and allow it to caramelize and become golden for roughly 5 minutes or so, stirring to keep it from burning (add a touch more olive oil, if necessary); once the onion starts to become golden, add the salt, Italian seasoning cracked black pepper and crushed red pepper, and stir to combine, then add in the sliced bell peppers, and allow those to saute with the onion for about 2 minutes until slightly tender and golden; next, add in the garlic, and once it becomes aromatic, add in the white wine and allow it to reduce for a few moments, until almost completely reduced; next, add in the diced tomatoes with their juice, and return the browned spicy Italian sausage back into the pan, and gently fold the mixture to combine; allow it to gently simmer for about 3-4 minutes to blend the flavors, then turn the heat off; to finish the sauce, drizzle in about 2-3 good tablespoons of the olive oil to create a silky, rich flavor, and add in the chopped parsley and about half of the julienned basil; stir, and keep warm while you prepare the noodles.
2. Prepare the pappardelle noodles according to instructions on package; then, drain the noodles very well, and add them directly into the sauce, using tongs to gently toss and combine the pappardelle noodles with the sauce and all of the ingredients in it; check the seasoning to see if you need to add any additional salt or pepper.
3. To serve, add equal portions of the “Drunken” noodles to bowls, and garnish with a sprinkle of the remaining julienned basil; you can even top with shaved Parmesan, if desired, and an extra drizzle of olive oil.

Creamy Garlic Pasta

 In my little Italian family we love garlic. Before meeting ( & marrying) my husband, I would have been stingy about how much I added to a dish. Now? It calls for 1 clove? It needs at least 3. It calls for olive oil & garlic? I’m also using my garlic-infused olive oil. The cardinal rule he taught me: You can never use too much garlic. No such thing. My husband eats the stuff by the spoonful. While I can’t go quite that far myself, I really love the pungent stuff. I’m also a recovering cheese addict. Garlic & Cheese, together? Now that’s a beautiful thing! This rich and creamy pasta dish is a match made in heaven. You can be enjoying this delectable pasta dish in a snap, it’s that simple to throw together. The taste is out of this world (and it gives us our garlic fix)! Feel free to top this creamy garlic pasta off with as little, or as much, extra Parmesan cheese as your taste buds desire. I won’t judge you. Besides, if anyone ever tells you you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop speaking to them. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

Creamy Garlic Pasta

4 Sibs 'R' Us: Creamy Garlic Pasta

recipe adapted from The Cheese Pusher

2 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
¼  tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
3 cups chicken stock
½ lb spaghetti or angel hair pasta
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
¾ cup half & half
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, or 2 tsp dried
1 tsp chopped fresh basil (optional)

Directions

1. In a pot, bring the olive oil to medium-low heat. Add the garlic and stir, allowing it to cook for 1-2 minutes. Mix in the butter until melted. Add the salt, pepper and chicken stock. Raise the heat to high and let it come to a boil.
2. Once it’s boiling, add the pasta and cook for as long as the box’s directions indicate. Reduce to medium heat and mix in the Parmesan until completely melted. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream and parsley. Serve immediately.