Enchilada Pasta Casserole

Last night I tried a new recipe. It sounds a bit weird, but was actually pretty tasty! I had it again tonight and I would argue that it was almost better as leftovers than as the original dish! My one alteration I would make is to add a little bit more cream cheese and sour cream – the dish has a little kick to it, but felt a little dry. Enjoy!

Enchilada Pasta Casserole
Enchilada Pasta Casserole


1 pound ground beef

½ tsp. chili powder

¼ tsp. cumin

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

5 ounces cream cheese

¼ cup light sour cream

1 can (10 oz.) enchilada sauce

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese, divided

1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles

12 ounces egg noodles

Salt & pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot, bring water to boil and cook egg noodles according to package instructions.In the meantime, in a very large skillet, brown your ground beef then drain the fat. Then add the chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Stir to combine. Add in the cream cheese until melted and combined.

In a large bowl, combine sour cream, enchilada sauce, half the cheddar cheese, half the monterey jack cheese, corn kernels, and diced green chiles. Stir to combine. Pour mixture over the beef and let simmer for 2-3 minutes. In the meantime, drain your pasta. After you’ve drained it, add the pasta to the beef mixture. Make sure everything is coated in the sauce.

In a large casserole dish, pour in the pasta mixture and top with the remaining cheese.Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese has completely melted.

Source: Table for Two

Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

I like to try to share new recipes as often as I’m motivated… today’s recipe is one I had to try when Mike was not home for dinner. You see, we share an aversion to stinky cheeses (discovered after the horrific Gruyère on french onion soup experience several years back). However, Parmesan cheese falls into this category for him, while it’s on my yummy list. That and he doesn’t like asparagus, which is a staple in this dish. About halfway through cooking (the part where you simmer the balsamic vinegar) I got a bit skeptical, but this turned out very nicely. It’s a fairly quick and easy meal (took me about 30 minutes, which you could trim down to about 20) and tasted delicious!

Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter
Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter


1 pound asparagus

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

1 pound penne

1/4 pound butter, cut into pieces

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving


Heat the oven to 400°. Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and discard them. Cut the spears into 1-inch pieces. Put the asparagus on a baking sheet and toss with the oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer until 3 tablespoons remain. Stir in the brown sugar and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove from the heat.

Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling, salted water until just done, about 13 minutes. Drain the pasta and toss with the butter, vinegar, asparagus, Parmesan, and the remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt. Serve with additional Parmesan.

Orecchiette with Roasted Fennel & Sausage

I love a good pasta dish and I love spicy sausage, so when the opportunity arises to combine those two, I jump on it. This one was  very easy to make and absolutely delicious! Enjoy!

Orecchiette with Sausage & Fennel
Orecchiette with Sausage & Fennel


2 bulbs fennel, trimmed and cut into 3/4 inch pieces (I found this at Whole Foods)

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

8 ounces orecchiette pasta

8 ounces spicy Italian sausage, with casings removed

1 onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons white wine

1 jar sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese


For the fennel: Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Spray a small baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray.

Toss the fennel, oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Arrange the fennel in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast until golden and tender, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.

For the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the sausage and break into 1/2-inch pieces using a wooden spoon. Cook until golden and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Add the onion, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and wine and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until all of the wine has evaporated, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for 30 seconds. Add the pasta, fennel and cheese. Toss until all ingredients are coated, adding the reserved pasta water as needed, to loosen the pasta.

Tagliatelle alla Bolognese

This is one of my favorite recipes – I’ve been making it for a while now and absolutely love it. The bummer is that it takes a long time… three to four hours from start to finish. It makes enough for Mike and I to have dinner and then another meal, so if you’re cooking it for a dinner party, you’ll want to double it.

The key to this meal is the soffritto – the mixture of carrot, onion, and celery. It makes the sauce taste amazing and the house smells awesome for hours after! It conjures up that “something’s cooking” smell that makes your stomach grumble!

I finally perfected the pasta – I made tagliatelle, which is a long, thin ribbon. It made all the difference – this tasted so gourmet!

Tagliatelle alla Bolognese
Tagliatelle alla Bolognese

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 small carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 ounces thick-cut pancetta, chopped
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground beef chuck
1/2 cup dry red wine, such as Barbera
1 cup drained, chopped canned
Roma tomatoes (aka plum tomatoes)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups beef stock, plus more as needed
1 cup whole milk (I just use my fat-free milk, but I’m sure whole would be yummy)
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pound fresh egg pasta dough
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

To make the Bolognese sauce, in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the carrots, celery, onion and pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients are tender and a rich golden brown, about 30 minutes. If the ingredients begin to brown too much, reduce the heat and stir in a spoonful or two of warm water.

Add the ground meats to the pot and stir well. Raise the heat to medium and cook, breaking up the meats with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned and crumbly and their juices have evaporated, about 20 minutes.

Add the wine and deglaze the pot, scraping up the browned bits from the pot bottom. Cook until the wine evaporates, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, the tomato paste, the 2 cups stock, the milk, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and the nutmeg. Cook the mixture until it just begins to simmer, then reduce the heat to very low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour. If the sauce becomes too thick or threatens to scorch, add a little more stock.

Partially cover the pot and continue cooking the sauce on the lowest heat setting until it is thick and dark brown, 1 – 1 1/2 hours longer. When the sauce is ready, use a large spoon to skim off and discard any fat that floats on the surface. Cover the pan and set aside.

While the sauce is simmering, make the pasta dough, then divide and roll out each piece into a sheet 1/16 inch thick. Cut the pasta into tagliatelle and let dry for 10-20 minutes.

Bring a large pot three-fourths full of water to a rolling boil and add about 2 tablespoons salt. Add the tagliatelle, stir well, and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 1 1/2 – 2 minutes.

While the pasta is cooking, reheat the sauce over medium-low heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and/or nutmeg.

When the tagliatelle is ready, scoop out and reserve about 2 ladlefuls of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add the drained pasta to the sauce in the pot and stir and toss until well coated with the sauce, adjusting the consistency with some of the cooking water if needed. Serve with fresh grated cheese.

Lemon Pepper Panko Crusted Chicken with Pesto Pasta

Tonight I tried another Pinterest recipe. It was for a lemon pepper panko bread crumb crested chicken with pesto linguine on the side. It was delicious, although I think it needed a lot more lemon pepper than the recipe called for – that’s the one thing I would change. I only got hints of it, when I like a lot of lemony taste.


Lemon Pepper Panko Crusted Chicken
Lemon Pepper Panko Crusted Chicken


2 chicken breasts

1 egg

1/4 cup milk

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp lemon pepper

1 cup panko bread crumbs

3 Tbsp olive oil

8 oz linguine

1/4 cup pesto


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.

For the chicken, set up two wide shallow dishes for the breading process. In one dish, beat egg and add milk, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. In the second dish, add breadcrumbs. Pound chicken breasts to an even thickness approximately 1/2″ thick. Dip each piece in the egg mixture, coating both sides and letting any excess drip off before transferring to the breadcrumbs. Coat both sides, lightly pressing the breadcrumbs into the chicken to ensure they are well-coated. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add chicken breasts and cook about 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown. Transfer to baking sheet and continue cooking in the oven until cooked through, about 5-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken.

For the pasta, heat a large pot of water to boiling over high heat.  Generously add salt and add pasta to boiling water.  Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions.  Drain and toss with pesto sauce.

Creamy Tomato Pasta

Last night, in the midst of crazy crock potting, I tried a new recipe from Pinterest (click here for the original). It was a bit of a juggling act as it feels like you’re making two separate sauces, one of which needs constant stirring. It was fun to finally use my immersion blender! This was delicious, especially with the bit of fresh basil in it. Yum!

Creamy Tomato Pasta
Creamy Tomato Pasta


1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes (about 9 medium)
1 small onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves minced
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons flour
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup half & half
2 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 pound farfalle or other short cut pasta


Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Start the tomato sauce. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Score the bottom of the tomatoes, blanch in the boiling water for about a minute, cool and peel. Discard skins. Roughly chop tomatoes and set aside. In a small saucepan, sweat the minced onion and garlic in about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium low heat for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add the tomatoes to the onion and garlic. Blend the sauce with an immersion blender to make it thinner and to break down the tomatoes. Cook about 15 minutes until thickened.

While the tomato sauce thickens, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions.

While the pasta and tomato sauce are cooking, make the alfredo sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth and cook about 2 minutes, until brown. Whisk in the milk, half & half, and garlic and season with salt & pepper. Continuously whisking, bring to a simmer and cook about 2 minutes until thickened. Fish out the garlic with a slotted spoon and discard. Whisk in the parmesan cheese. The sauce will be very thick, so add 1/3 cup of the hot pasta cooking water to the alfredo sauce to thin it out a bit. Remove from heat.

Drain the pasta and add to the alfredo sauce. Mix the basil into the tomato sauce and add the tomato sauce to the pasta. Mix well.