{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

A quick & easy pasta dinner, don’t shy away at this seemingly odd combination of pasta & peanut butter. These loosely Asian Peanut Butter ‘Lo Mein’ Noodles are a fun food you can serve for lunch or supper, that’ll have the approval of both the kids and the adults.

Peanut Butter 'Lo Mein' Noodles

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Ground Beef Stroganoff with Thyme and Red Wine

I’ve always loved a good beef stroganoff. Typically, I use stew beef, but a few months back we tried it using plain old ground beef (since it thaws and generally cooks quicker) and it was just as big a hit as the original. We’re no stranger to using wine, even beer, in our cooking. Here the red wine adds the ‘oomph’ that puts this beef stroganoff ahead of the rest. This recipe offers gourmet flavor on a budget.

Ground Beef Stroganoff with Thyme and Red Wine

4 Sons 'R' Us: Ground Beef Stroganoff with Thyme & Red Wine

recipe originally from Manilla Spoon

2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
4 tsp minced garlic
1 medium onion, diced
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup chopped Bella mushrooms
2 tsp dried thyme
3/4 cup beef broth
1/2 cup sour cream
16 oz pasta (like penne) or wide egg noodles

4 Sons 'R' Us: Ground Beef with Thyme & Red Wine 2

Directions

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. While the water is boiling heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions and garlic for a minute. Crumble the beef and cook until it’s fully browned. Season with salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and Worcestershire. Stir occasionally.
2. Pour in the red wine. Let boil until it has evaporated.
3. Add in the dried thyme and mushrooms and let cook until the juices/liquid of the mushroom have been released. Pour in the beef broth and stir in the sour cream. Simmer until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, about 5-7 minutes.
4. Either mix the ‘sauce’ with the pasta or serve on top of your pasta of choice. A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top is the perfect piece de resistance.

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.

Pepper Steak over Quinoa

I love the color and crunch this meal gets from the bell peppers. I also love stir-fried anything. It’s a weakness of mine. So an easy to make, at home version of Pepper Steak was right up my alley. I mean, come on, an easy Chinese(ish) recipe with big juicy slices of steak marinated in a yummy sauce and stir-fried with bell peppers and onions? I say, “Winner, Winner… that sounds like dinner!”

This has become a stand-by meal at our house for when weeknights get chaotic and I’ve got to throw the meal plan out the window for the night. An easy to follow recipe that is delicious and ready to eat in 30 minutes? Score. In less time than it would take you to order and receive (or pick-up) somebody else’s pepper steak, you can be seated at the table with your family, already enjoying your very own version, even on the busiest of nights.

Pepper Steak over Quinoa

4 Sons 'R' Us: Easy Pepper Steak

recipe originally from Gimme Some Oven

For Marinade 

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup water
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. corn starch
1/8 tsp. coarsely-ground black pepper (or more/less to taste)

Pepper Steak Ingredients

1 lb. thinly sliced flank steak or sirloin, cut diagonally across the grain into thin strips
2 Tbsp. olive oil
12 mini sweet peppers, thinly sliced (or 2 regular-sized bell peppers, thinly sliced)
2 scallions, sliced diagonally into 1 inch pieces, white and green pieces separated
2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced

Directions

To Make The Marinade:

Add all marinade ingredients to a large bowl or ziplock bag, and stir to combine. Add the sliced steak, and toss in the marinade. Cover/seal and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

To Make The Pepper Steak:

1. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sweet peppers and white part of the scallions, ginger, garlic, and saute for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a plate.
2. Remove half the steak from the marinade with a slotted spoon (reserving the marinade) and saute about 2-3 minutes until browned, stirring occasionally. Transfer steak to plate with the veggies. Saute the remaining steak, then transfer to plate.
3. Add the reserved marinade to the skillet and cook for 1 minute or until thickened. Add the steak, veggies and green parts of the scallions to the skillet, and stir to combine. Cook for an additional minute, then remove from heat.
4. Serve immediately over rice or quinoa.

Baked Gnocchi with bacon, tomato, and mozzarella

This is comfort food at it’s finest. It’s where it’s at and what it’s all about. Little pillows of happiness (gnocchi) are smothered in a delicious tomato based ‘sauce’ with bacon and topped with mozzarella cheese that’s baked to golden-brown perfection. And, let’s be honest, what doesn’t taste better with bacon? Mmm, bacon.

Comfort food for those who need comforting. Even if you’re not in need of copious amounts of comforting, it’s ok to splurge once in a while. Caloricaly speaking, of course.

Baked Gnocchi with bacon, tomato, and mozzarella

4 Sons 'R' Us: Baked Gnocchi

recipe adapted from Simply Delicious

1 16 oz pkg of gnocchi
8 slices of bacon, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 roma tomatoes; fleshy parts diced
1 tsp sugar
2-3 tbsp sour cream
2-3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

Directions

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°c.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, and in the meantime, make the sauce.
3. In a large, hot frying pan, fry the bacon until starting to crisp with most of the fat rendered.
4. Pour off most of the fat then add the garlic and smoked paprika and fry for 30 seconds.
5. Add all of the tomatoes and the sugar and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
6. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream, parsley and seasoning.
7. Cook the gnocchi in the salted water until it starts floating to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the sauce.
8. Transfer the gnocchi and sauce to an oven-proof dish and top with the sliced mozzarella.
9. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes until the mozzarella is melted and golden.
10. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

This meal is easy and perfect for our busy nights. The chicken comes out cooked to perfection with the perfect kick. Customize your ‘kick’ by adding less buffalo sauce or more, to taste. Don’t have buffalo wing sauce? Substitute hot sauce. I heart a flexible recipe!

You’ll want good bread. Life is far too short and unpredictable to suffer through bad bread. Trust me on this. Don’t go sale, don’t go clearance. Go fresh. We made ours using a nice fresh loaf of sour dough, the slices toasted to perfection.

Good butter goes with good bread. Turn these into a delicious grilled cheese version by buttering the outsides of both slices, adding some shredded cheddar and/or blue cheese crumbles to the inside, and ‘grilling’ on a hot griddle until the outside are nice and crisped with melted cheese inside.

These sandwiches are perfect for any occasion: a delicious dinner, a game day snack, you name it!

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

4 Sons 'R' Us: Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 (12 oz.) bottle buffalo wing sauce
2 tablespoons ranch mix seasoning
2 tablespoons butter
1 loaf of sour dough bread, or other crusty bread
shredded cheddar cheese or blue cheese crumbles (optional)
ranch dressing (optional)

Directions

1. Place chicken breasts in a lightly greased slow cooker.
2. In medium bowl, combine the buffalo wing sauce and ranch seasoning.
3. Pour hot sauce mixture over chicken in slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
4. Shred chicken breasts in the slow cooker, or use your paddle attachment and easily shred them in a stand mixer. Stir in butter until melted.
5. Pile buffalo chicken onto toasted slices of crusty bread. Top with cheese and/or ranch dressing, if desired.

Maple Glazed Thyme Roasted Carrots

Do you like your vegetables? On the fence? Turn your veggies into something you love with these Maple Glazed Thyme Roasted Carrots. Tender roasted carrots are glazed with smooth maple syrup, sauteed with thyme leaves, and roasted to perfection. It’s sure to be your go to side dish for any meal.

Maple Glazed Thyme Roasted Carrots

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Healthy Ham & Lentil Soup

A hearty soup that incorporates those holiday ham leftovers you just might have lying around, this Healthy Ham & Lentil Soup is simple, savory, slurp-able Winter weather comfort food. Ladle it into bowls for a filling dinner, pack it into a thermos for a delicious guilt free lunch, or even take a batch to a friend.

Healthy Ham & Lentil Soup

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