Tagged: parmesan

Real Food Recipe Roundup #3 – Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Pesto Meatballs with Baked Spaghetti Squash

Top o’ the mornin’ to ya!!

Lolz.

I know it’s not St. Patty’s yet – but I figured it’s close enough that I could greet you all like an enthusiastic leprechaun without too much judgement.

Anywho – I’m going to keep this short and sweet today because I’ve got not one but TWO recipes (ya know…that are particularly delicious when served together) and they’re kind of lengthy. I made these for the fam last weekend and everyone loveeeeedddddd it!!! Even the men were happy with the spaghetti squash, which really made me happy!!

If you’ve got a real food recipe that you’d like to share, don’t forget to grab a badge and link up at the bottom of the post!!!

Twenty-Something & Starving

<a href=”http://twentysomethingandstarving.com” target=”_self”><img src=”http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h130/Jennifer_Yoder/46133fa4-d3da-44aa-bd3a-92bd35349c37_zps9dc148ce.jpg” alt=”Twenty-Something & Starving” width=”250″ height=”150″ /></a>


 

 

 

Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Pesto Meatballs with Baked Spaghetti Squash

For the Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Pesto Meatballs (makes about 30 meatballs)

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
    (or about 1.5 lbs lean ground chicken)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons prepared pesto + More to taste
    (you can make your own or use store bought! I use Wegmans brand when I’m in a pinch. It’s delicious AND check out the ingredients)
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white
  • 1 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 lb of part skim mozzarella cheese, cut into little cubes
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Add the bell pepper, garlic, and basil to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it forms a paste. Add about half of the chicken breasts and pulse until ground. Remove the chicken mixture and place in a large bowl. Set aside. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

Once all of the chicken is ground and in the bowl, add the pesto, Parmesan, panko, salt, pepper, and eggs. Mix well until thoroughly combined.

To prepare the meatballs, grab a small handful (about the size of a golf ball) of the chicken mixture and flatten it in the palm of your hand. Add a mozzeralla cube to the center and form the meatball around it, being careful not to expose the cheese.  Repeat until all of the meatballs are formed.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add meatballs to the pan (fill it up, but make sure they aren’t touching) and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side until brown. Remove meatballs from the skillet as they are done and place them on a large baking sheet, adding more meatballs to the skillet as you go, until all of the meatballs are brown.

Place the cookie sheet in your preheated oven for about 15 minutes. Remove, and brush the meatballs with some more prepared pesto. Return the pan to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes more or until the meatballs are cooked through to a safe 165 degrees.

Serve on top of Baked Spaghetti Squash!

For the Baked Spaghetti Squash

  • 2 spaghetti squash, roasted, cooled, and spaghettified
    (Yup, that’s the technical term. Directions for spaghettifying here!)
  • 1 can of no salt added diced tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced fine
  • 2 tablespoons granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded part skim mozarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except mozzarella cheese.

Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray and add the spaghetti squash mixture. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or until the cheese is melted and brown and the squash is warm through.

Serve topped with Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Pesto Meatballs!

chicken pesto meatballs with baked spaghetti squash

Saturday Sorta Spaghetti Carbonara

IT’S SATURDAY!!!!!!

Saturday is the best day of the week if you ask me! I know that during Football season many folks may disagree… buuuut I don’t care… because I love Saturday!! You can use it to do whatever you want. You can sleep as long (or as little) as you like. You can stay up however late you want (ya know…eleven…if you’re me) You can use the whole day to do whatever you please knowing that if you don’t get everything done you want to, there’s always Sunday!

Take today for example. Today was a particularly wonderful Saturday (and it’s not over yet!) After an evening of snuggling with the hubs and watching some season four of Archer I woke up fabulously rested right at 8:00am. I peeped out the window and I saw that it snowed last night. It was just a tiny dusting, but it was perfectly untouched and still flurrying a bit when I looked outside and it was a beautiful morning. I made myself one of my favorite  weekend breakfasts – a big bowl of banana oats with peanut butter and chocolate chips! While my oats cooked away on the stove top I woke up the hubs with a cup of coffee and made him his weekend scrambled eggs and toast. We enjoyed breakfast together before heading out to conquer the day! What is your favorite weekend breakfast?

We hit the gym at 10:30 and I enjoyed the launch of the newest BodyFlow class. We haven’t been members at this new gym for very long, but the I’m really loving this class! The two BodyFlow instructors are both fabulous!! I let them know I was pregnant and I just love that they both remembered and happily present me with the few modifications I need during class. (Mostly the stuff where you’re flat on your belly. I pretty much officially cannot do any of those poses any more. If I lift my arms and legs I feel like a weeble wobble!)

Johnny and I just ran a bunch of errands after the gym. We grabbed some lunch at Chipotle (RANDOM ASIDE: I really enjoy the food at Chipotle, and I love that’s it convenient and fairly healthy as well, but I really hate how it’s almost never hot!! Today I got a brown rice bowl with black beans, pinto beans, grilled veggies, and corn salsa and it was hardly warm at all! Does anyone else have this problem?), I finallllllllllly changed my name over on our bank account (1 year and 4 months after we got married), Johnny got a haircut and a new pair of glasses, we snagged a few things at Target (Like Divergent!! For only $8.00! I finished reading Orange is the New Black and decided it was about time I hopped onto the next big book train) and scoped out some baby gear before we start our registry, I bought some Turbie Twists at Bed Beth and Beyond because I love them and haven’t had them in forever, and finally we came home. (P.S. If you actually read all of that…HIGH FIVE! You rock!! I hadn’t intended for this to be such a marathon post. I hope the prospect of bacon kept you chugging along!) Time for dinner!!!

spaghetti carbonara

Now I’m not sure about you, but I’ve always been pretty iffy about Spaghetti Carbonara. Not iffy in the way most people are. I’ve never doubted that it would be delicious. Bacon, eggs, pasta, cheese. What is there NOT to like about it, right?? It’s not the technique that’s kept me away, though I know it’s  intimidating to some. I love a good kitchen challenge.

Restaurants are what make this dish iffy for me. I can honestly say that I have never ordered it off of a restaurant menu and I probably never will. So often it’s described as spaghetti in a “Parmesan cream sauce” with bacon or pancetta and either peas or tomatoes or…well…you get the idea.

Ex-squeeze me? Baking Powder? Parmesan cream sauce…isn’t that Alfredo sauce?? You are not serving me Spaghetti Carbonara. You are serving me Spaghetti Alfredo with bacon. If you like Alfredo sauce then, by all means, dig in and enjoy. Me? I’ll pass thank you. I decided it was time to make myself a delicious plate of Spaghetti Carbonara. One that I can trust and one that I can devour!

My version of Spaghetti Carbonara…is it “traditional” Spaghetti Carbonara.

Nope.

Purists believe that true, authentic Spaghetti Carbonara is just spaghetti with guanciale, eggs, and Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.

Most folks aren’t able to get their hands on cured pork jowls. Bacon – that’s realistic. Pancetta is delicious and perfectly acceptable, too. Authentic Carbonara wouldn’t have any veggies in it (mine does) because it was a peasant dish and they used what little they had to prepare it. I had bell peppers and spinach and I deem it necessary to never not have veggies with my dinner.

So no, this is NOT authentic Spaghetti Carbonara. But it’s certainly closer to traditional than any Carbonara with cream sauce you’ll ever come across!! And it’s effing delicious. So please, enjoy. 😀

Sorta Spaghetti Carbonara

  • 1/2 box spaghetti
  • 4 strips of bacon, diced
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese + more to taste
  • 1/2 of a small red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups baby spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • Black pepper to taste

Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta to package directions until just shy of al dente. (While the pasta is cooking, scoop out about 1 cup of the pasta water and reserve it for later.)

Meanwhile, cook the diced bacon in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the bacon is crisp, remove it from the pan and allow it to drain on some paper towels.

Remove all but about 1/2 tablespoon of the bacon fat from the pan. Add the onions, garlic, and red bell pepper and let saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and the spinach to the pan and cook until the spinach is wilted. Add the cooked spaghetti to the pan, adding some reserved pasta water if it seems dry, and remove the pan from the heat. (This is the most important part!! This is the difference between creamy delicious spaghetti and scrambled eggs!!)

In a small bowl, whisk together the 2 eggs, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and black pepper until very well combined. Add the egg mixture to the pan, tossing the pasta together constantly with a pair of tongs, until a sauce begins to form, adding more pasta water as necessary if it seems too thick.

Add the reserved bacon to the pan. Serve immediately topped with more Parmesan cheese and black pepper if you so desire…which you should… because they’re delicious.

extremmmmeee close up

 

 

Bacon … and that’s all you need to know!

Why hello, friends.

I’m so pleased to share with you that yesterday our little baby boy Quincy turned 4!!!!

Eeeeeee!!!

I remember when Q was just a little pup who always threw up in the car without fail, was absolutely terrified of his crate, and was way too scared to jump up on the bed by himself. Now, 4 years later,  he’s just a little snuggle muffin who takes every opportunity he can to jump up on the bed – particularly when I’m making it – loves car rides except that he sits backwards like a weirdo, and is STILL absolutely terrified of the crate. Ha. *sigh* Time goes by so fast. I’m sure it will go even faster once this little munchkin arrives.

In honor of  my Quincy’s birthday, every year, I make him bacon.

Why?

Because he’s a puppy and puppies love bacon. Duh!

Who DOESN’T love bacon?

Check out Quincy’s “You makin’ me bacon?!” face. Don’t you just want to snuggle him?!

quincy loves bacon

Now of course, that whole pan of bacon wasn’t just for puppy. What kind of Mom would I be if I let him eat ALL of that bacon all by himself?! No, no no. Quincy got a little puppy sized plateful. The rest was utilized in what is one of the most delicious and simple (though absolutely not even close to the healthiest) recipes I have ever come up with.  I came up with it a while back when my pantry was looking pretty bare but I wanted something delicious.

The ingredients required are pretty minimal, you’re likely to have them all on hand already. I’d say this dish is nice paired with a lite salad…but who am I kidding…I just eat two bowlfuls of this instead. Life’s about balance, remember. Just don’t eat this every day and you’ll be fine…I promise!

Spicy Bacon Rigatoni

  • 1 lb rigatoni pasta
  • Anywhere between 6 and 12 slices of bacon (depends on how healthy you want to be, really)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 of a small red onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup white wine or chicken stock
  • 1 cup baby spinach, chopped (gotta try and get those veggies in where ya can, right)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for sprinkling on top)
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until just shy of al dente – about 1 minute shy – as it will finish cooking in the sauce. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.

While the pasta is cooking, chop your bacon into bite sized pieces and cook them in a skillet over medium high heat until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and let drain on paper towels.

Drain all but about 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings from the pan.  Lower the heat to medium and add the onions, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Let saute until fragrant and the onions and garlic begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the wine (or chicken stock) and let reduce for about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, spinach, and garlic powder. Stir well to combine and cook until the spinach is wilted. Reduce the heat to low.

Drain the pasta and add it immediately to the sauce. Add the Parmesan and a splash of the reserved pasta water and toss well to combine.  If the pasta seems a bit dry or stiff, add some more of the pasta water to reach your desired consistency. Remove from heat and add the bacon and basil and toss until just combined.

Serve immediately topped with more Parmesan in gigantic bowls so that you can eat as much as possible of this in one sitting because it’s so effing delicious.

Behold spicy, garlicy, cheesy, bacony perfection.

spicy bacon rigatoni

 

 

It’s Over!

“But Jen, to what could you possibly be referring??”
I’m so glad you asked!
Winter.

Winter is over and Spring has finally arrived!!

Now that it’s official, I have decided to share with you the things that I like the least about Winter.

  1. The cold. I’m always freezing and when it’s freezing outside, too, there is no hope for a warm Jen.
  2. The snow. Pennsylvania drivers in the snow. Because they stink. Period.
  3. Shivering under three comforters at night. Basements get super cold, ya know.
  4. Wearing socks every day.

I. Hate. Wearing. Socks.

^^^ Sockless Comic Book Jen ^^^

I guess it’s only fair to also share what I’m going to miss most about Winter, right? Sooooo…..

  1. Using “being cold” as an excuse to drink excessive amounts of hot chocolate.
  2. Watching Quincy in the snow for the first time. First he was scared of it…and then he ate it.
  3. Making soup for dinner. (because I am the only person on the planet who would be perfectly content eating soup every night forever)
  4. Making fun of people in marshmallow jackets – because they look silly.

[I would LOVE to hear what you will and won’t be missing about the winter, too! leave comments!]

Now that I’ve said my formal farewell to Winter, I am so super excited that Spring is finally here!! Today, I decided to celebrate it’s arrival with a light, simple springy dinner. Now that I’ve shared with you my bare feet, I’m certain you’re starving!

Simple Chicken Cutlets

& Deconstructed Pesto Pasta

For the Chicken Cutlets:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Olive Oil, for frying
  • 1 lemon (use the zest for the pasta)

For the Deconstructed Pesto Pasta:

  • 1 box whole wheat linguine  (or whatever you enjoy)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups baby arugula, chopped
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Start with the chicken. It’s best for chicken cutlets to have a nice, thin piece of chicken. If your chicken is on the thick side, you’ll want to place your chicken on a cutting board and top with a piece of parchment paper. Whack it mercilessly with a heavy object – like a small frying pan – until each breast is about 1/4 inch thick, like so. (NOTE: Good to make after a bad day 🙂 )

*WHACK*  *POW* *THWAP* *ZONK*

(sorry, comic book Jen got a liiiiitttle carried away. back to your regularly scheduled recipe.)

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.

Combine the flour, parmesan, pepper, and garlic in a shallow dish. Combine the egg and the water in a separate dish. Dredge the chicken breasts first in the flour mixture, then in the egg mixture, then back in the flour mixture. Gently fry the chicken in small batches (two at a time is good) on each side until golden brown. Place chicken onto an ungreased sheetpan and place into your preheated oven while you finish cooking the rest of them.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta to package directions. Before draining, reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water and set aside.

Once pasta is drained, leave it in your colander (drainer, strainer, whatever ya call it),  and heat olive oil, garlic and lemon zest  right in the pasta pot. Return drained pasta to the pot. Toss in the basil, arugula and walnuts. If it seems stiff, add the reserved pasta water. Add the parmesan immediately before serving.

Remove chicken from the oven and squeeze half of the lemon over top.
Serve immediately… with lemon slices if you’re feeling fancy!

Me, I’m always feeling fancy. 🙂