Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta 16

I’ve gotten into the habit of occasionally buying those hot roasted chickens from the grocery store.  They’re just so darned cheap and handy, not to mention tasty.  Last weekend, the Pie was out of town, and sometimes I forget to actually eat when he’s not around, so I bought the chicken to give me some incentive.  One leg at one meal, one leg at another, and I was set.  But I still had the body of the chicken left to deal with.  I dismantled the remainder of the carcass, including the breasts, and whipped up this quick pasta dish to greet the Pie when he came home.  He went back for seconds so I think I did a good job.

So.  Chicken.  You’ll need about 2 cups shredded chicken.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta 2

About 1 cup ranch dressing.

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An onion, some garlic, and a head of broccoli.  Chop those up.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta 1

Cook 4 slices bacon.

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Make them super crispy and then put them somewhere to drain.

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Start your pot of boiling water to make your pasta.  You’ll need enough noodles for four.  I used linguini.

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Grab a pot and chuck in a few tablespoons olive oil.  Add in the onions and cook until translucent and smelling fabulous.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta 5

Then add in the broccoli and garlic and stir that as well.

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Next, add in a few pinches dry mustard and pepper and paprika (you’ll see the paprika added in a later photo but that’s because I had to wait for the Pie to pick it up from the store on his way home).

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Pour in about 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup cream, and the 1 cup ranch dressing.

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Chuck in the chicken, then cut up the bacon and chuck that in as well.

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Stir that to heat things up.  You’re not really going to want to cook this for a long time.

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Then add in a few tablespoons pesto.  And some more cream if you want it thicker.

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Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.  Dump the sauce over top and toss to coat.  Serve immediately, although it’s equally fantastic the next day.

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Creamy Pasta with Roasted Squash and Sauteed Mushrooms

Creamy Squash Pasta 20

I think this dish will make your Friday night, especially if it’s one of those nippy nights that is a portent of cold evenings to come.  This will serve a family of six happily.  Here’s how I did it, but feel free to add your own flair.

Creamy Squash Pasta 1

To begin with, roast 2 heads garlic and half an orange kabocha squash with olive oil and salt and pepper at 450°F for about 40 minutes.

Creamy Squash Pasta 2

While that’s on the go, dice up 2 small onions, and slice up a whole package of white mushrooms.

Creamy Squash Pasta 3

And grate a 150g package of asiago cheese.

Creamy Squash Pasta 4

When the squash is roasted, chop it up into little cubes after peeling off the skin.

Creamy Squash Pasta 5

I popped the roasted garlic cloves out of the head and sliced them up as best I could.

Creamy Squash Pasta 6

Here I defrosted about 2/3 cup of the frozen pesto we have on hand (if you grow a lot of basil, you make a lot of pesto).

Creamy Squash Pasta 8

Now, this is not a sauce you want to make well in advance.  I suggest making it right before you serve it and your pasta water is already on the boil.

In a skillet, melt a knob of butter with a dollop of olive oil over medium high heat.

Creamy Squash Pasta 9

Add in your mushrooms and sautée them until they’re browned.

Creamy Squash Pasta 10

Chuck those mushrooms in a bowl for now.

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Add your diced onions to the skillet and cook until softened.  Then you can chuck the mushrooms back in, together with your garlic and roasted squash.

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Give that a stir.  Already it smells amazing.

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Then chuck in your pesto, as well as 4oz (half a 250g package) plain cream cheese.  Stir that until it’s all melted and lovely.

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Pour in about 3/4 cup whipping cream, as well as 1 cup milk (or any combination of dairy you wish — that was just the amount of cream I had to get rid of).

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Add the cheese and stir until melted and incorporated.

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Toss with your cooked pasta and serve immediately.

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You can garnish it with whatever you wish! Even nothing!

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Turkey Meatball Rigatoni with Pesto

Turkey Meatball Rigatoni 19

Happy Canada Day!  Today is a holiday here in the Great White North.  Last Monday was also a holiday for those of us in Newfoundland, and I cooked this recipe up on that particular day.  We are trying to consume the contents of our pantry and freezer before we move (and we’re doing a pretty good job) so this gets rid of a chunk of the stuff in there.

Turkey Meatball Rigatoni 1

Anyway, my landlord is doing some renovations to her house, which is directly behind ours, and she needs our yard for access.  The first thing I said to the Pie when he got up and joined me in the kitchen last Monday morning was, “Oh good, you’re clothed — there’s a man in our tree.”  And there was.  And there were several in the backyard.

Morning View

And in the front yard.

Rock Collection

And in the side yard.

Gravel Road

And everywhere.  All.  Day.  Which made Gren very grumpy.

Couch Potato

And all the shops were closed so we had to make do with what was around for our dinner.  So start making up some meatballs, okay?  Preheat your oven to 375°F and grab a baking sheet. Ignore the small highway being created in your backyard.

Dirt Road

Finely grate up a medium-sized carrot.  Chuck that in a bowl.

Turkey Meatball Rigatoni 2

Slice up some green onions.

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Then dice ’em.  Chuck those in the bowl with the carrots.

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Then add a few spoonfuls minced garlic.

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Plop in 2 eggs.

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And about 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs.

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Give that a thorough stirring.

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Add in some ground turkey, seasoned with salt and pepper.

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Stir that all together, then use your hands to squish it into golf-ball-sized meatballs.

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Plop those onto your baking sheet and let those cook in the oven for 20 minutes.

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To test for doneness, cut one open and see that there’s no pink inside.

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Grab yourself some pesto, too.  However much you want.  I like lots.  You can buy it or make it yourself, it’s up to you.

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And slice up some tomatoes.  I used grape tomatoes here.

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Boil up a pot of water and cook up some pasta.  We used rigatoni, because it was something we needed to get rid of.

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Drain the pasta.  Dump the tomatoes and the meatballs into the pot with the pasta.

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Add the pesto.  Stir like there’s no tomorrow.

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Serve it up hot!

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Spaghetti Squash “Pasta” with Bacon, Mushrooms … and Squash

Spaghetti Squash with Squash 16

It’s only after he spends the evening helping me put all this together that the Pie tells me he doesn’t like spaghetti squash.  Well, too bad.  I like it just fine.  And it’s a great gluten-free pasta replacement.  Plus it’s good for you and stuff.  Not to mention kind of cool.  This recipe involves a bit of pre-preparation, but then you can just toss everything together at the end and it looks like you planned it or something.

Start by preheating your oven to 400°F.  Put a cooling rack on a baking sheet and line it with BACON.  However much bacon you want. Alternately, you could fry this up, but I figured I’d do all the cooking parts at the same time, plus I needed the stove top for the other stuff.

Spaghetti Squash with Squash 1

Take a spaghetti squash, cut it in half and scoop out the stringy bits and seeds.  Brush with olive oil, salt, and pepper and place cut side down on another baking sheet.  I also cut up another, non-spaghetti squash I had lying around and put that on the sheet as well.

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Shove the bacon and the squash into the oven.  Let the squash roast for about 45 minutes, until it’s all tender and smooshy.

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Cook the bacon, flipping halfway through, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it’s as crispy as you like it.

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Gren tried being extra affectionate with the Pie in the hopes he might get some bacon.  His dastardly plot was unsuccessful.

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While that’s on the go, cut up some other vegetables.  I used an onion, cut into strips, and some mushrooms, sliced.

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I sautéed the mushrooms in a bit of butter and caramelized the onions in olive oil on low heat.

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Then I chucked the bacon (chopped) in the pan with the onions and mushrooms and left that on a low heat while I prepared the squash.

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I cut up the other squash into cubes and tossed that into the pan.

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Then I took a fork and went to work on the insides of the spaghetti squash.

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I love how it really looks like spaghetti.

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Then I chucked all that into the pan as well and tossed it.

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Added in a jar of basil pesto, gave it a good stir.

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Tada.  It ain’t pretty but b’y was it tasty. Especially with a bit of parmesan cheese dusted over top.

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Summer Fresh Pasta

Summer Fresh Pasta
This quick meal is great for when you don’t have a lot of time and the gloomy summer weather outside has you craving a few carbs.
Summer Fresh Pasta
Plus it’s another method of eating the hated sausages.
Summer Fresh Pasta
And an excuse to eat more cheese.
Summer Fresh Pasta
Start a pot of water a-boiling and cook up pasta, such as farfalle, penne, or rotini.  Cook enough for four or five people.
Summer Fresh Pasta

Slice yourself up half an onion, a red pepper, and a handful of mushrooms.  Set the pepper and mushrooms aside for now.
Summer Fresh Pasta

Sauté the onion with a spoonful or two of minced garlic until softened.

Squeeze in the contents of three hot Italian sausages and cook, stirring to break up the sausages, until the meat is no longer pink.
Summer Fresh Pasta

Add in your peppers and mushrooms and stir for a few minutes longer.
Summer Fresh Pasta

Drain your pasta and stir in 1/2 cup pesto.
Summer Fresh Pasta

Add in your sausage and vegetables and a further 1/2 cup pesto and toss to coat.
Summer Fresh Pasta

Serve hot or cold, garnished with grated parmesan or romano cheese.
Summer Fresh Pasta

Pesto Pasta with Veg

HAPPY CANADA DAY!  Be safe and well today!

This recipe is a good and quick one if you are heading out to your local festivities today.  Of course, if you’re in Ottawa today, the third-largest party in the world (supposedly, the first-largest is New Year’s Eve in Kuala Lumpur, second is NYE in Times Square, NYC, and the third is Canada Day in our nation’s capital) is going to be extra big with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in attendance.  You’re going to want to make sure you eat enough to have energy for the party.

The Pie wants me to let you know that normally, we use pesto that we’ve made ourselves from scratch, but that this year is a bad one for our basil, so we went with store-bought instead.  But he wants you to know that normally we don’t stoop to such levels.

Set a pot of water a-boiling and fry up a couple (or a few) boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  If you have leftover chicken lying around, this will do as well. 

Once the chicken is cooked through, cube it up.

Leftover bacon?  I know, it’s like a mythical creature.  But we had some.  So I shredded that.

We had some asparagus and cauliflower lying around, so I cut those up into bite-sized pieces as well.  Whatever vegetables you have on hand will do, of course.  Red peppers, perhaps, or onion.

Chuck enough pasta in your boiling pot to feed four and cook it according to the package instructions, usually for 10-12 minutes.  We used whole wheat spaghetti here, but penne and rigatoni would work equally well.

For the last two minutes of your pasta cooking, chuck in your vegetables, just to get them a wee bit soft.  If your vegetables are already cooked, I would skip this part, otherwise they might get soggy.

Drain the pasta and toss in your meats, as well as about a cup of pesto (the store-bought stuff, at least.  If we’d made it from scratch we probably would have used less).

Toss well to coat the pasta and circulate the vegetables and meat, then serve, topped with grated parmesan cheese.

Utterly fantastic the next day as well.  You can serve it hot or cold!

Garbage Soup with Squash, Spinach, Beans and Barley

Don’t let the name of this soup turn you off: it’s just a moniker my mother applied to any soup she made out of what was left in our refrigerator.

This week I had leftover spaghetti squash from my earlier experiment, as well as leftover cavatappi pasta from our spaghetti night.  What to do . . . ?

The nice thing about soups is they’re dead easy.  I filled a large pot with water and set it to boil.  I added a few heaping spoonfuls of Knorr Vegetable Stock (I use the powder instead of the liquid because I usually can’t use a whole carton before it goes bad and I don’t like to waste it).

Let the soup simmer for a couple of hours on medium-low.

I peeled and chopped a large parsnip and a small turnip (actually a rootabega but who’s checking?) and chucked them in the pot, together with a handful of pearl barley and about a cup of dried white beans.  I also added about a cup’s worth of frozen spinach to the mix, as well as the leftover squash and pasta.  There was already a significant amount of basil in the pesto that was on the squash (as well as the hazelnuts and parmesan cheese), so I didn’t add any other herbs to the mix.  When we eat it we usually add salt and pepper to suit our individual tastes.

Once I got the soup boiling, stirring often, I turned it down to a simmer, medium low, for about two hours, until the beans were cooked and the rootabega was tender.

We ate it hot with tabouleh sandwiches, and it was great.

My dad got me these bowls for Christmas. I am Big Al.

I let the rest of it cool and ladled it into yogurt containers for storage.  I find the yogurt container is a good standard measure for freezing, as it contains about two full servings.

Yogurt containers are a good size for two servings.