Posts Tagged ‘pasta’

Ravioli and Tomato Soup with Homemade Rosemary Bread

October 30, 2009

It’s definitely that time of year! 

Although I don’t usually think about dinner before sometime in the late afternoon, these cool, crisp, fall mornings make me dream of hot cups of tea, big warm blankets, and piping hot bowls of hearty soup served with thick slices of warm, crusty bread…ummmmmmmm!

As usual, I knew we would be headed out the enjoy the last bit of sunshine so I needed something easy to whip together for when we got back, hungry and tired, from enjoying a pretty fall evening at the park.  Early in the day I took about 10 minutes to toss the ingredients for Rosemary Bread into the bread machine and let it go to work, filling the house with the divine aroma of rosemary and freshly baked bread.  If Glade could capture that scent and put it into one of their candles they would make millions! 

About 5:00p I pulled out my stockpot, did the necessary chopping and dicing, and started my soup base…I think that took maybe 10 minutes?  Letting it sit on the stove and simmer for a while allows all those delicious flavors to combine, and when we were ready to leave I just turned off the burner and put the lid on.    When we got home, fingers and noses chilly from running around the park and enjoying the fall weather, there was our soup, ready and waiting…it took no time at all to flip the burner on to warm it back up and add in the remaining ingredients (pasta and spinach) which only needed brief cooking.  And of course, that beautiful loaf of rosemary bread, waiting to be served in thick slices, toasted and smothered in slabs of melted cheddar cheese.

Soups are perfect “make ahead” meals and most can be easily adapted to a crock pot.  Serve with any sort of bread you have on hand…*even sandwich bread can make delicious toast (see below).  Pull out your favorite soup recipe or try this one to get you stared!  This is a slightly modified recipe I pulled from the 10/2007 issue of Cottage Living:

Ravioli and Tomato Soup with Rosemary

  1. In a stockpot, saute 1 chopped onion and 3 minced garlic cloves with olive oil until onion turns translucent and garlic begins to brown.
  2. Add 1 can diced tomatoes, with liquid (stewed also work) and stir together
  3. Add 1-2 tsp crushed dried or fresh chopped rosemary, 1 tsp basil, and 6-8 cups chicken broth; bring to a boil and let simmer on low.  You can pause here if you are not ready to eat yet…continue to step #4 about 15 minutes before you want to serve soup.
  4. Add pasta  – 12 oz tortellini or 9 oz ravioli (chicken and/or cheese filled) – and cook for length of time indicated on pasta package (usually 8-12 min).  In the last 5 minutes add 1-3 cups chopped spinach (fresh is best) and let soup continue to boil gently until pasta is cooked and spinach is wilted.
  5. Serve with warm bread and slices of cheddar cheese. 

*If all you have is sliced sandwich bread, you can still make a delicious toast…spread with butter or olive oil, sprinkle with rosemary or other dried herbs, top with a slice of cheddar cheese and broil/toast until cheese is melted. 

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Marinara Chicken with Pasta

October 22, 2009

Dinner plans began tonight (as they do many nights) by digging through the fridge in search of bits and left overs needing to be used up.  Tonight I found a about 4 ounces of leftover stewed tomatoes  from our meatloaf a couple nights back, and some Little Caesars Crazy Bread from last nights pizza picnic at the lake.  Sound like something Italian to me…Marinara Smothered Chicken with Parmesan Pasta, Side Salad and Bread Sticks.  And for dessert, fresh tapioca pudding with strawberries.

First, a most fabulous super quick recipe for marinara!  (My handy-dandy Betty Crocker was mum on this subject, so this my own version…which turned out oh-so-wonderfully if I do say so myself!)

  • In a food processor or blender mix together any sort of tomatoes (I used stewed, but fresh or canned diced would work just as well I’m sure) with some Basil (fresh really adds something special if you have it on hand) and Oregano; add enough white wine to get the consistency of a spaghetti sauce.  We usually have a bottle of white wine open in the fridge, but if you don’t have any on hand try using olive oil instead which will make for a delicious “red pesto”.
  • I found starting with about 4 oz of stewed tomatoes I ended up with just the perfect amount of sauce to smother two huge chicken breasts.

~ MARINARA CHICKEN WITH PASTA~

Time in Kitchen:  about 20 minutes / Total prep+cook time: 30-40 minutes depending on thickness of your chicken breasts

  1. Set a pot of water on to boil for your pasta…add some salt and it will boil faster.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F
  3. Mix up marinara sauce in a food processor or blender.
  4. Pound chicken breasts thin and place in baking dish; drizzle with olive oil and slide them around a little to coat each side.  Sprinkle each side with a mixture of bread crumbs and grated parmesan cheese.  Smother with homemade marinara sauce and top with grated mozzarella.
  5. This should have taken about 10 minutes and your water is now boiling :-)
  6. Toss pasta in to boil and slide chicken into the oven, uncovered.
  7. While chicken and pasta are cooking, this is a great time to make a side salad or veggie dish, warm up bread or make toast, and make up a quick desert (pudding, sliced fruit or toss a pan of brownies into the oven since it’s already at the right temp!)
  8. Pasta and chicken will be done roughly at the same time; pasta will need between 12-20 min and chicken will need between 20-30 minutes depending on thickness of your chicken breasts.
  9. Drain pasta and toss with a little butter and grated parmesan
  10. Plate everything up and enjoy!

Quick Pesto

October 9, 2009
Basil PestoI love spinach salad, however there always seems to be that last serving left we never get to before it starts to droop.   Try this quick and easy pesto recipe for a fresh addition to your supper…and a budget friendly way to keep aging veggies out of the trash:
  • about 2 cups fresh spinach (it’s ok if it’s a bit wilted!)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/8 -1/4 cup olive oil…start with a little and add until desired consistency

Combine all ingredients together in a blender or small food processor, and in two minutes you will have a delicious pesto!  If you don’t have fresh basil on hand, experiment with dried herbs…crushed dried basil, Italian Seasoning, cilantro, crushed rosemary…pick your favorite, but start with just one until you know how the flavors will combine.

Tip:  freeze extra pesto in ice cube trays and then store in the freezer in an airtight container; each cube is about 1 oz

Garlic and Olive Oil Vermicelli with Chicken and Fresh Basil

October 6, 2009
Galic and Olive Oil Vermicelli with Chicken

Galic and Olive Oil Vermicelli with Chicken

I was out for a bike ride with my family this evening about 5:30 when we decided we wanted to go to the gym and then run some errands afterwards…I hadn’t planed anything for dinner yet, but no trouble!  We needed to leave within an hour, which meant I had exactly 30 minutes to get supper on the table.  Plenty of time! 

On the menu tonight…

Garlic and Olive Oil Vermicelli with Baked Chicken and Fresh Basil, served with Salad and Parmesan Toast:  20 min

  1. Leftover baked chicken from Sunday dinner (always make double when cooking meat so you will have leftovers) – a couple minutes in the microwave and it’s ready to go.   Use whatever meat you have ready; pre-sliced and ready cooked ham and turkey are great to have on hand for just such occasions.  Warm a couple of slices per serving. 
  2. Pasta Roni Garlic and Olive Oil Vermicelli – cook on stove top according to package directions; ready in about 12-15 min from start to finish.
  3. Salad/Side– While pasta is cooking, prep your side dish – I threw together a quick salad of fresh spinach, feta cheese and grape tomatoes, drizzled with Greek Vinaigrette.  Use what you have on hand!  Any salad makings will do, or a pack of frozen brocoli florets or a can of  green beans thrown in the microwave with a little butter and seasoning. 
  4. Bread– if you happen to have frozen dinner rolls on hand, this would be perfect ( a friend turned me on to Sister Schubert’s and I love them!), otherwise use sandwich bread!  Brush sliced sandwich bread with a little olive oil or butter and toss in the toaster until golden; sprinkle with parmesan cheese and italian seasoning.
  5. Plate it all up and you are ready to go!  I happed to have fresh basil on hand, which is the perfect garnish for the chicken and really adds flavor to the dish.  It’s not a requirement though!  You could use crushed, dried herbs, thinly sliced sweet pepper, or just leave the chicken “naked”. 

This took me 20 minutes from walking into the kitchen to plated dinner ready to eat on the table, and almost no clean up in the kitchen.  The Key:  leftovers and quick (boxed) sides!