Pasta is the best right? If I could live solely on pasta I probably would. Well, technically I could live solely on pasta–but I do care about my general health and well-being a little bit, so I try to moderate my pasta in take. (TRY is the key word there.) And this dish is one of those that helps with the whole pasta moderation thing. Spaghetti squash does not taste like pasta. Don’t let anybody fool you in to that bologna. BUT it does pair fantastically with pasta-perfect flavors like marinara sauce and meatballs. So you get the “pasta experience” when really you’re just shoving your face with squash (which is good for you right?) so really, it’s a win-win.
Get yourself a spaghetti squash and big-ole sharp knife. OR if you don’t have a big-ole sharp knife, get your weenie little dull-chopping knife and pray that you don’t hack off a finger in the process of getting this thing sliced. (And try to decide if you could walk yourself to the hospital across the street if you happened to hack said finger off–no? just me?)
Okay, now that we’ve got that thing in two and all of our fingers are still attached, throw some olive oil on there, sprinkle on some salt, pepper and garlic and roast ’em up for about 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Once it’s roasted, use a fork to shred it into pasta like strings.
Top with marinara sauce and a few frozen meat balls. Dump some more sauce on there and top with lots of mozzarella cheese. Top with a bit of Italian seasoning and bake for 20 more minutes.
Can we talk about the magical things happening to the weather lately. Fall has arrived even though it’s still (technically, officially) summer. I couldn’t be happier. The leaves are changing, the trench coat is out and temps are dipping in to the 50’s (40’s after dark!! weeeee). There’s talks of a high in the 80’s later this week, but I’m ignoring them. This wonderful seasonably-sound weather calls for cozy, comfy food–like these easy chicken pot pies!
These guys are semi-homemade with canned soup and pre-made pie crusts, you could certainly make your own pie crust, but my pastry-making skills just aren’t there yet. I want to try them with homemade soup and if the rumors are true, I have a long, cold season ahead of me just calling for many pot pie recipe tests. But before I get ahead of myself, here’s the recipe for this easy-peasy, yummylicious belly-filling dish.
1 package pre-made pie crusts (I used these ones)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
2 cups chopped red potatoes
2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup chopped fresh green bean
1 small yellow onion (or 1/2 of a large one), chopped
1/2 soup can milk
salt and pepper to taste.
Rub chicken breast with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, cook on stove until no longer pink. Shred and set aside. Put potatoes, carrots, green beans and onions in a large pot, cover with water. Season with salt and pepper, bring to boil. Let simmer until tender, about 20 minutes, drain any remaining water. Add soup and milk, bring back to a boil. Add chicken, let simmer for a few more minutes. Add more salt and pepper to taste (if needed). Unroll pie crusts, use a pizza cutter or knife to slice into strips. (You will probably have left over pie crust. I only sliced 1 and 1/2 and used the remaining half to make an apple hand pie–yum!). Ladle chicken and veggies into 5 15oz. ramekins or small baking dishes. Top with a lattice pie crust pattern–I was sure I learned how to do this from Cupcakes and Cashmere, but I can’t seem to find the post, so I might have made that up. But here’s a pretty good tutorial. But really you can just throw the crust on top however you please. Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes, until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown on edges.
I only bake what I’m going to eat then either freeze or refrigerate the others. They’ll keep for a few days to a week in the fridge and
until the end of time a few months in the freezer. Be sure to let the frozen ones thaw before baking–I suspect the baking dish would crack if you baked it frozen. You’ll have to adjust the cooking times for the leftovers too if they go in cold.
IIIIIt’s Slow-Cooker Season!! Okay, maybe not quite–but almost. I found this recipe on Pinterest (one of those mysterious pins that go nowhere, but have the recipe in the comments) a few years ago before I had my own slow-cooker. You can easily make this on the stove–just cook the chicken beforehand. But man, if you have a slow-cooker–use it! They’re like magic. But we all know that already so let’s move on. I love chili, but after eating an entire of batch of my standard chili I’m so over it for the season, so this is a nice little twist on the classic fall-favorite. And since it’s not classic chili it feels August-appropriate. You need a chicken breast–about 1 pound, a can of corn, two cans of diced tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce and a can of black beans. You can add a can of kidney beans too to make it a bit hardier, but I opted out for the sake of being less chili-like and more August appropriate (aka I forgot to get them at the store). Season with one packet of taco seasoning. I like the less-sodium version, but I couldn’t find it at the store this week. You also need a little kick (not pictured above). I usually use a few teaspoons of chili powder, but I was all out so I threw in some red pepper flakes. If you’re not into the spicy thing you could probably do without. Dump everything in your slow-cooker and set on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-6. I consider it done when the chicken is cooked through and is bubbling. Take out the cooked chicken and shred it–shreds like a dream–then throw it back in and give the whole thing a good stir. I like to leave it on low for another 30 minutes or so after just for good measure, but you can serve it right after shredding the chicken too. As you can see by all the variations and options here–it’s really hard to mess this up. Top with shredded sharp cheddar cheese and crushed tortilla chips. And enjoy!
I love seasonal things–especially food! I suppose you could have a BLT any time of the year. But really, who slaps one together in the middle of February? They’re such a summer thing, and with the unofficial start of the season just a week away I thought it was only fitting. I picked up a loaf a bread and tomatoes this weekend at the farmers market. And man, did they make a tasty sammie!
What’s your favorite summertime fare?
A few weeks ago I made a homemade version of my favorite hometown pizza, so I thought I’d give my favorite college-town pizza a try. A night out in Ames is never complete without a 2am stop at Jeff’s Pizza. One of my dorm-mates introduced me to the delicious, cheesy, as-big-as-your-face slices freshman year and I was hooked. I like to think my homemade version is a tish healthier than those $3 slices…it’s probably not, but it is pretty darn tasty.
Mozzarella and cheddar cheese (appx. 1 cup each)
8 slices Turkey bacon, cooked and chopped
1/2 pound chicken, cooked and shredded
Slather some ranch dressing on your crust just as you would pizza sauce. Sprinkle just a bit of each kind of cheese on top of the ranch. Spread chicken and bacon evenly on top of that. (Note: I seriously overestimated the amount of toppings I would need so now I have leftover shredded chicken and chopped bacon in my fridge…chicken bacon omelet anyone? no?) Top with more cheese. Bake at 475 degrees 12-15 minutes.