Rustic Penne with Chicken Sausage

Rustic Penne with Chicken Pasta

This past Sunday was one of those days that begged for a quick, hearty dinner. The air had a chill to it, football was on in the family room and we’d just returned from a weekend in Philadelphia.

Rustic Penne with Chicken SausageWhether I’m at Wegmans or my local grocery store, organic chicken sausage is always available and usually on sale. I love it because it can sit in my fridge, and with an expiration date over a month out, I don’t have to worry about squeezing it in right after I buy it. It’s also perfect for those dinners when you’re in a pinch and need something quick.

Rustic Penne with Chicken SausageIn Sunday’s case, I had the chicken sausage in my fridge and the rest of the ingredients were pulled from either the pantry or our garden. The result was out of this world, and the leftover penne with chicken sausage worked perfectly for lunch the next day!

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Rustic Penne with Chicken Sausage
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  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ box dried penne
  • 1 package fully cooked chicken sausage
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ freshly chopped basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup pasta water
  1. Set a large pot of water to boil. Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat, then add the chicken sausage, browning each side for 2 minutes. Remove the sausage to a plate to rest.
  2. Meanwhile, pour 2 more tablespoons of olive oil into the skillet. Add the onions and saute them for 3 minutes, then add the garlic and salt, and continue cooking for 1 minute longer. Pour the chicken broth in, bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to let it simmer for 5 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half.
  3. Once the water has come to a boil, add the penne and cook until just before al dente, about 9 minutes.
  4. Slice the sausages and add them, along with the marinara and half the basil, to the skillet. Give it a good stir, and then cover the skillet, continuing to let the mixture simmer while the pasta cooks.
  5. Fold the cooked pasta and ½ cup pasta water into the skillet mixture, making sure the penne is well-coated. Sprinkle the pasta with the remaining basil and serve it hot with shredded mozzarella or Parmesan as garnish, and a crusty loaf of bread.


Homemade Chicken Tetrazzini

Homemade Chicken Tetrazzini

Normally I wouldn’t be crazy-excited for a casserole recipe at the end of August. To me, most casseroles are the perfect comfort food for crisp fall evenings – not the dog days of summer.

Chicken Tetrazzini Mushrooms, Onions and Garlic

Although I’d make an exception for things like baked ziti, which I could eat weekly throughout the year without feeling like I’m betraying summer menus.

Homemade Chicken Tetrazzini

This August has been strange though. We haven’t seen the thermometer pass 90°F in weeks…maybe even a month. This is unheard of in Maryland in August, when it’s normal for the daytime heat and humidity to both rise above 90, and evenings are muggy and oppressive.

Homemade Chicken Tetrazzini

Instead, our windows have been open for the past month and nighttime has been near chilly. It’s terrific! Also, the chill in the air means casseroles like homemade chicken tetrazzini sound like a perfect Sunday night dinner.

Homemade Chicken Tetrazzini

This recipe mostly follows Giada De Laurentiis’ version of chicken tetrazzini, but has a few tweaks that make it my own. We LOVED it. I’m VERY excited for leftovers to bring to work.

Homemade Chicken Tetrazzini
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Inspired by Giada De Laurentiis' Chicken Tetrazzini Recipe
Serves: 4 to 6
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ½ pound button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • ¼ cup tart white wine (something you would drink)
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 8 ounces fettuccine
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 3 scallions, diced
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • ½ cup panko
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  1. Preheat your oven to 450°F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 2-quart casserole dish with a tablespoon of butter; set it aside.
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper, then sear them in the nonstick skillet until they're cooked though - 4 minutes per side. Remove them from the pan and set them aside. After 5 minutes, dice the chicken into rough 1-inch cubes and toss them into a large bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, add another tablespoon of olive oil and butter to the same pan. Add the mushrooms and saute them for 2 minutes. Add the onions, thyme and garlic, and continue to saute them until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Pour in the wine and let it cook down until it's almost gone, about 2 minutes longer. Add the mushroom mixture to the chicken.
  4. Melt 2 more tablespoons of butter in the same pan. Add the flour and whisk until the mixture is smooth and creamy, then let it cook for another minute longer. Turn the heat up to high, pour in the milk and broth, and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking often. Add 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, and keep whisking until the sauce is thick and bubbly - about 8 minutes.
  5. While the sauce is coming to a bubble, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook it for 9 minutes. Drain.
  6. Add the sauce, cooked fettuccine, parsley and scallions to the chicken. Use tongs to toss everything together, making sure the sauce fully coats all the chicken and fettuccine. Dump it into your prepared casserole.
  7. Mix the panko, Italian seasoning and Parmesan together, and then sprinkle it over the casserole. Dot with the remaining butter and then cook it until it's browned on top and the edges are bubbly - about 20 minutes. Let the chicken tetrazzini rest for 5 minutes before serving.


Overnight Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

Overnight Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

A couple months ago I discovered the beauty of cooking a whole chicken in the slow cooker. It certainly doesn’t replace a perfectly roasted chicken in the oven, with its crispy skin and juicy meat {drool}. But, it’s a fine alternative for a busy day when there’s no time in the evening to prep and cook a regular home cooked meal.

Plus, cooking a whole chicken this way is the perfect setup for overnight slow cooker chicken stock! The meat literally falls off the bones, leaving you with the perfect base of cooked down onions, juices and spices – and bones – to create an amazing slow cooked stock.

Overnight Slow Cooker Chicken Stock Ingredients

That’s right. Homemade chicken stock made right in the comfort of your own home, with the ease of a slow cooker while you’re sleeping. Credit (once again) goes to 100 Days of Real Food for the inspiration and idea!

Don’t want to slow cook a whole chicken first? No worries. A leftover carcass from an oven-roasted chicken (I freeze mine after roasting a chicken in the oven), or baking a package of inexpensive chicken drumsticks, can give you the perfect bone base too!

All you do next is add a fresh halved onion, carrots, celery, some fresh or dried herbs (whatever you have on hand), lots of salt and enough water to fill the slow cooker to within an inch of the top. No carrots or celery on hand? Doesn’t matter. I’ve made this with only some onion and dried herbs, and it still turned out better than store-bought.

Then you cook the stock on low for 10-12 hours, while you’re sleeping.

Warning: the scent from the overnight slow cooker chicken stock wafting through the house in the morning will make you want to leap out of bed and dance a jig – it’s unreal.

Once it’s done, all that’s left is letting it cool and then packaging it up to freeze or store fresh. I usually keep 2-3 cups in the refrigerator in a Mason jar, and then I freeze the remainder in 2-cup portions in zip-top freezer bags laid flat so that they stack.

You’ll never go back to the store-bought stock!

Overnight Slow Cooker Chicken Stock
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Adapted from 100 Days of Real Food's recipe for Overnight Chicken Stock in the Crock Pot.
  • Bones, skin, and scrumples left over from a roast chicken
  • 1 large onion, halved (it's fine to leave the skin on!)
  • 2 carrots, rough chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, rough chopped
  • 1 handful fresh parsley (or a couple tablespoons of dried herbs)
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 12+ cups water
  1. Throw all the ingredients into a large slow cooker, and set it to cook on low for 10-12 hours.
  2. Strain the stock into a large bowl and let it cool in the fridge. Discard all the pieces of bone and vegetables.
  3. Once cool, skim the fat off the top of the stock, and then freeze in 2-cup portions in zip-top freezer bags. Tip: lay the bags flat while freezing so they stack easily.
  4. Makes 12 to 18 cups of chicken stock depending on the size of your slow cooker.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

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I have about 20 cups of chicken stock stored in my freezer after a few times of making my whole chicken in the slow cooker recipe, followed by overnight chicken stock.


(That’s a lot of chicken stock.)

It’s come in handy to have 20 cups of chicken stock in the freezer – there’s no need to buy chicken broth anymore, or keep cans stocked in my pantry. It takes merely minutes to thaw out one of my 2-cup portioned bags, which means I don’t even need the foresight to set something out the night before. Shew! I’m horrible at that.

It’s the right kinda day for soup.

Today seemed like a wonderful day to make homemade chicken noodle soup. It’s a little overcast, the kids (and my husband) have the sniffles, and other than a trip to the grocery store at some point, there are no plans this weekend. In fact, it’s 3:00PM on Saturday, and I’m still in my pajamas. Hallelujah!

So, homemade chicken noodle soup it is. With my slow cooker commandeered for homemade applesauce all day, I used my second favorite slow cooking device: the Dutch oven.

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I cooked this soup with the frozen homemade chicken stock and a chicken quarter I braised beforehand, but it could easily be made extra simple by substituting a store-bought chicken stock or broth, and a rotisserie chicken for the meat.

HOWEVER, I think the reason this soup tastes SO good in such a short amount of time, is because of my homemade chicken stock. The layers of flavor that develop overnight when I make chicken stock in the slow cooker are unmatched by anything in a can.

Having said that, if you choose to forgo the homemade stock (which is perfectly fine), you may want to let the soup simmer for 45 minutes to an hour before adding the pasta and finishing it up.

Lemme tell ya, I might be more excited for the leftovers than anything! This kinda food gets better and better the longer it sits….

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Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
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There's nothing quite like the comfort of homemade chicken noodle soup!
Serves: 4-6
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 6 small mushrooms, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • ½ pound dry linguine, broken into 2" pieces
  1. Saute the carrots, onion, mushroom and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven. Once the onion is translucent (about 3-4 minutes), add the chicken, parsley, salt and pepper. Continue to saute the chicken and veggies for another minute.
  2. Pour the chicken stock in all at once and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the linguine, reduce the heat to keep the liquid at a boil, and continue cooking the soup at least 11 minutes so the pasta is done.
  3. At this point, you can serve the soup as-is, or you can reduce the heat to low and keep it covered until you're ready to eat later. If you wait, the pasta will get softer (maybe even a little mushy), but in soup that's not so bothersome - at least that's what my family thinks!
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