Category Archives: Sauces

Spicy Italian Drunken Noodles

New favorite pasta alert!! I made this for my hubby last night for Valentine’s Day and it was all I hoped it would be and more. Full of spice, flavors, beautiful colors, and the pasta was so silky and delicious. You could lighten this up with turkey sausage, but it was a special occasion, so I went all in.

Begin by warming a couple tablespoons of EVOO in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove casings from 5 spicy Italian sausage links and crumble into medium size pieces.

Once browned, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Now add a thinly sliced onion and cook for 5 minutes or so in the sausage drippings until they begin to caramelize. While the onions cook, thinly slice a red, yellow, & orange bell pepper.

Add the peppers into the pot with the onions along with about a teaspoon of Italian seasoning and cracked salt & pepper.

Once the peppers soften, add in about a tablespoon of minced garlic and a half a cup of white wine. Once the wine has reduced, add a 28oz can of diced tomatoes with the juice and fold your sausage back into the mixture.

To finish the sauce, drizzle more EVOO on top, and about 1/4C of fresh chopped basil leaves & around 2tbl freshly chopped Italian flat leaf parsley.

Prepare pappardelle noodles according to the al dente instructions. Toss the noodles into your sausage mixture. Serve and top with additional basil and shredded Parmesan cheese.

So, so good!!!

Adapted From: The Cozy Apron

Sausage & Spinach Stuffed Shells

I literally hadn’t made these in years and we forgot how amazing they are. They were one of my original freezer meals back in the day. This meal is so easy and tasty – perfect for kids and grownups alike.

Begin by cooking 16-18 jumbo shells about 2 minutes shy of their cooking instructions. Drain and set aside.

Heat a tablespoon of EVOO over medium heat. Add an onion and a pound of Italian sausage and cook through. Add a spoonful of minced garlic, cook for 30 more seconds, and remove from heat. Set aside.

Now combine 7-8 ounces of fresh, cooked spinach or a box of frozen spinach that has been thawed and wrung out with the following: 1 lightly beaten egg, 1.5C grated Parmesan, 1/4C Italian style breadcrumbs, 15oz ricotta cheese, 1tbl chopped fresh basil, and cracked salt & pepper to taste.

Add in your sausage and onions and fold to combine.

Using a 28oz can of Italian seasoned diced tomatoes, spoon a layer into the bottom of a large baking dish. Begin filling your shells and line them close to each other.

Top with the remaining tomatoes.

Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. Bake for 10 more minutes.

Top with shredded parmesan. Serve with salad and crusty bread to complete!🥖🍷

Adapted From: Everyday Annie

Crockpot Pesto & Mozzarella Chicken Pasta

On Sundays we put the lean eating aside for an indulgent family dinner. I look forward to this tremendously.😋

Trying out new recipes makes my heart so happy. As soon as I saw the words pesto, cheese, & pasta I knew this would not disappoint.

I always make my own pesto because it’s super easy and noticeably better, but if you’re short on time you could substitute with a jar variety. My pesto is easy: Simply combine the leaves of 1 basil plant, 1/3C pine nuts, 1/2C shredded Parmesan, 1/2C EVOO, juice of a lemon, and cracked salt and pepper to taste.

Trim 3 chicken breasts and place them in your crockpot. Top with a liberal amount of cracked salt and pepper.

Top with your pesto and one tablespoon of stick butter.

Turn your crockpot to low and let cook for 5-6 hours (don’t remove the lid!).

Shred you chicken and add in 1/2C shredded Parmesan and 1/2lb pasta.

Grate 2C mozzarella. Buying shredded cheese isn’t the same as grating your own. Trust me.

Combine your Parmesan and pasta with the chicken. Top with the mozzarella and cover for an additional 15 minutes.

Serve with grated parm, dried basil, and cracked pepper. Bread and a mixed green salad would complete this meal.😋

Adapted from: The Magical Slow Cooker

Turkey & Spinach Meatballs

So I convinced my husband to do a juice cleanse with me for the past couple of days. About halfway through (in the midst of stomach growling and grumpiness overload), I told him that at the end of the tunnel (today), I would make him anything he wanted for dinner. Much to my surprise he asked for something from the vault…..something I haven’t made in so many years…..something I used to make weekly when we were getting in shape for our wedding.👀

I honestly forgot what they tasted like. That was before I attempted to up my cooking game when I became a stay at home wife. They were part of the menu when there were only about 5 things on the menu. So, I wasn’t sure if they would be worth talking about…but they are!

Start with 2lbs of lean ground turkey in a mixing bowl. Add a pack of frozen spinach (thawed and wrung out with a kitchen towel), 1 large egg, 3/4c Italian bread crumbs, 1/2c grated Parmesan, 2tsp minced garlic, 1/4c milk, & 1/2 of a finely diced onion. With your hands, mix to combine.

Divide your mixture into 4 sections for easy dividing. Now form 12 large meatballs and place on prepared baking sheets.

Drizzle with EVOO and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

These can be served many ways; over sautéed veggies, spaghetti squash, traditional pasta, alone with melted cheese? The possibilities are endless. Tonight, I made homemade marinara and served them over angel hair with pecorino romano cheese. They were so good. Back on the rotation for sure.😋

Adapted From: Rachel Ray

Creamy Sundried Tomato & Mushroom Chicken

This may be the ultimate comfort food without the guilt.I made it last night and am still thinking about it — so, SO good!! It tastes like it must be loaded with butter and heavy cream, but guess what? It’s not!!🎊

Combine 2tbl flour, 2tbl grated parm, 1tsp salt, and cracked pepper.

Slice 2 chicken breasts horizontally and dredge them through your mixture.

Rinse 2 cups of sliced baby bellas and drain an 8.5oz jar of Italian sliced sundried tomatoes (save the oil).

Warm half of the reserved oil into a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add in your chicken for 5-6 minutes on each side until it’s browned and cooked through.

Remove and place on a warm plate.

Pour the rest of your tomato oil into the saucepan. Now add 2tbl of minced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds (until fragrant). Add your mushrooms and sundried tomatoes and cook until mushrooms soften.

Turn your heat down to low. Add in 12oz of evaporated milk. I used reduced fat, however I think fat free would be fine as well. Stir in a couple of teaspoons of Italian seasoning and cracked salt & pepper to taste.

Combine 2tbl milk and 1tbl cornstarch.

Once the sauce is simmering, quickly stir in your cornstarch mixture. Once it thickens, add in 1/3C shredded Parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese melts.

Now add back in your chicken and top with fresh basil.

Serve over pasta, rice, quinoa, veggies, or anything really. Top with more shredded Parmesan and cracked pepper. Try not to have seconds (or thirds!)!😃

Adapted from – Cafe Delites

Homemade Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

So I realize I just published the recipe for tacos using this sauce. It deserves it’s own post. In fact, we are grilling bbq chicken tonight JUST to have it again!

Begin by warming 2tbl EVOO over medium heat. Add 1 large, finely diced onion and cook until it becomes soft and translucent. Then add 3tsp minced garlic and continue cooking for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add 3/4tsp salt and 1/4tsp pepper. Pour in 1/2 cup white wine. Whisk to combine. Now add the following: 1/4 cup tomato paste, 1/4 cup honey, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2tbl Dijon, 1 chopped chipotle pepper and a tablespoon of the adobo sauce that it comes in. Reduce your heat and let that simmer for 25-30 minutes. Now add 2tbl white wine vinegar and 1tbl Worcestershire.

Once it has cooled, pour sauce into a food processor or blender and purée.

We marinated our chicken for 3 hours (but it would’ve kept getting better over time, we’re just impatient) and wow, just wow. You will never buy a jarred variety again.😋

Chipotle BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos with Cilantro Lime Slaw

Honestly this was the first time I had made a new dish in a while. We were attending my cousin’s wedding last weekend and a version of these were served during cocktail hour. My husband and I had at least 3 each (they were minis I swear!) and haven’t stopped thinking about them since. So, we had to give it a try…🌮🌮🌮

I’ll start by saying that there is quite a bit of prep work. Luckily most can be made in advance. I began with a 7lb pork shoulder and trimmed off about 80% of the fat. You will want to soak it in a brine for at least 5 hours. It can soak up to 24 hours, but we couldn’t wait that long.😄

For the brine you’ll need 6 cups of cold water, 1/4 cup of lime juice, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of salt, and 3 smashed garlic cloves.

Once everything is combined and you submerge your pork, cover it and set it in the fridge.

Meanwhile, I went ahead with the slaw prep. Combine 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1tsp Dijon, 2tbl chopped cilantro, 1 lime zested and juiced, 1tbl sugar, and 2 green onions sliced (green and white parts).

Fold in 4 cups of finely shredded cabbage and 1 cup of shredded carrots. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate.

For the chipotle barbecue sauce begin by warming 2tbl EVOO over medium heat. Add 1 large, finely diced onion and cook until it becomes soft and translucent. Then add 3tsp minced garlic and continue cooking for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add 3/4tsp salt and 1/4tsp pepper. Pour in 1/2 cup white wine. Whisk to combine. Now add the following: 1/4 cup tomato paste, 1/4 cup honey, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2tbl Dijon, 1 chopped chipotle pepper and a tablespoon of the adobo sauce that it comes in. Reduce your heat and let that simmer for 25-30 minutes. Now add 2tbl white wine vinegar and 1tbl Worcestershire.

Pour into a blender or food processor and purée.

For the meat seasoning combine: 2tbl brown sugar, 2tsp onion powder, 2tsp garlic powder, 1tsp cumin, 1tsp salt, 1tsp pepper.

You can use an oven or slow cooker to cook the pork, but we used our pressure cooker to drastically speed up the process. If you don’t have one of these magical machines, I HIGHLY recommend you get one!

We used fresh corn tortillas and layered in the shredded pork, slaw, bbq sauce, and topped them with avocado and jalapeños. Wow, talk about an instant favorite! And I’m not sure I’ll ever buy bottled bbq sauce again either. Ah-maz-ing.🙌🏼💃🏻🌮

Adapted From: Fashionable Foods

Spinach Lasagna

Here is yet another version of Lasagna that I love. This is perfect for a rainy, meatless Monday, or a cozy Sunday dinner (like we had last night). In fact, when I started dating my husband 12 years ago, this was one of the few things that I knew how to make; and it’s still a favorite.

Begin with your marinara sauce. Homemade is always better (my recipe is on this blog), but jar is fine if you are in a pinch.

Now you will need the following: 1 box frozen chopped spinach (thawed), 16oz of ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella, 1 cup grated parmesan, 1tbl minced garlic, and 1 egg (slightly beaten).

Ring out your spinach well in a kitchen towel before combining everything into a medium mixing bowl.

Cook your Lasagna noodles according to the package instructions (al dente). I like to use multi-grain but that’s totally up to you. Lay out your assembly.

Layer marinara, then noodles, then mixture. Repeat a second time, finishing with a layer of noodles, more marinara, and top with mozzarella and shredded parmesan.

Bake at 350 degrees covered with foil for 10 minutes and uncovered for another 15 or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with garlic or cheese bread and enjoy!

Classic Chicken Parmesan

We love comfort food in my house and this ranks right up there with all things warm and cheesy. It’s so simple, anyone can do it.

Begin with a couple of large chicken breasts and slice them horizontally. Make an assembly line of 1C of flour, 3 beaten eggs, and 2C Italian style Panko bread crumbs.

Salt and pepper your chicken and dredge them through the flour (pressing the flour in tightly), then the egg, and finally the breadcrumbs. Lay them onto a plate and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.

Now I like to prepare my homemade marinara that is super easy and about a million times better than the store bought variety. That recipe is also on this blog. If you are short on time, the jar variety is just fine.

Warm a few tablespoons of EVOO over medium heat in a sauce pan and add in the chicken. Cook 4-6 minutes per side until the chicken is cooked through.

Transfer the chicken into a prepared baking dish. Slice fresh mozzarella onto each piece.

Set oven to broil and cook until cheese is melted and bubbling.

Prepare the pasta of your choice – I like angel hair with this dish but anything is fine. Lay a spoonful of marinara on top and some shredded Parmesan cheese.

Now place a piece of chicken on top with more marinara, cheese, and parsley. Serve with garlic bread and a Caesar salad. Enjoy!

Cajun Pasta Alfredo 2 Ways

This recipe is one of my favorite pasta dishes. Most of the year I make it as a freezer meal with smoked turkey sausage, however, during the summer it’s devine with fresh local shrimp. 

Begin by melting 4 tablespoons of butter with 2 tablespoons of EVOO over medium heat. Add in a large chopped onion and sauté until it becomes soft. 

Now add a container of chopped baby bella mushrooms, a large chopped red pepper, and a teaspoon of minced garlic. Cook 2-3 minutes. 

Add in either your sliced kielbasa or a pound of uncooked fresh shrimp. Cook until the shrimp turns pink or about 4-5 minutes for the sausage. 

Add 1/2 cup grated parmesan, 1/2 cup heavy cream, and a jar of Alfredo sauce. Stir to combine. Add 1/2-1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you like it) and salt & pepper to taste. Let simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in 12oz penne, rotini, or any pasta of your choice. Top with shredded parmesan and chopped fresh parsley before serving. Pairs perfectly with a mixed green salad and crusty bread.