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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Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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
Author:
Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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.

 

12 Easy Recipes for Mother’s Day

12 Easy Recipes for Mother's Day

 

In case you haven’t been paying attention, tomorrow is MOTHER’S DAY.

On May 11th, 2014, mothers across the country will be wishing for a day where they can…relax. That’s right, more than anything (even, jewelry!), most moms want Mother’s Day to be 24-hours (heck, we’d settle for just a couple…right?) of peace and quiet. No decision-making. No breaking up annoying sibling fights. No expectations. No cleaning. And, most of all: NO COOKING.

Don’t believe me? Check out my friend Amanda’s post on DudeMom.com – real quotes from honest moms (including moi) about what we really want for Mother’s Day. Love her!

So, back to the “no cooking” thing.

It’s Saturday. Likely most of the reservations have been filled at all the best restaurants in town. Or, maybe your budget can’t afford a dinner out. OR, maybe you don’t want to schlep the whole family out for an exhausting a nice dinner out on Sunday with work and school the next morning. What do you do?

Look no further! Whether you need a simple breakfast, lunch, dessert or dinner idea for Mom, I’ve got you covered! And, I promise you’ll get brownie points for all your effort – nothing says, “I love you!” like a home-cooked meal. Right?

12 Easy Recipes for Mother’s Day

  1. Orecchiette Pasta with Parmesan and Pistachios
  2. My Take on Martha Stewart’s Recipe for French Toast
  3. Snickerdoodles
  4. Rich & Chewy Cocoa Brownies
  5. Farfalle with Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce & Pan Seared Chicken Sausage
  6. Simple Grilled Chili Shrimp Soft Tacos
  7. Easy Blueberry Pancakes
  8. Spinach, Bacon & Cheese Egg Casserole (make this ahead tonight!)
  9. Barbecue Pork Meatballs
  10. Turkey Meatloaf
  11. Summer Couscous Salad
  12. Seared Salt & Pepper Shrimp over Thin Spaghetti with a Mushroom & Garlic Cream Sauce

Good luck!

 

Easy Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

I started making all of my own pizza dough last year after watching my sister and soon-to-be brother-in-law make theirs the past few years during our family vacations at Smith Mountain Lake.

Lemme tell ya, homemade pizza dough is crazy simple to make. EASY-PEASY. (Even though I know lots of people think otherwise.)

While my usual recipe calls for all-purpose flour, this month I’m following the #HH30Days Real Food Challenge, so I made an easy homemade whole wheat pizza dough (with only 5 ingredients!) instead.

whole wheat flour

After mixing the yeast with warm water (140°F to be precise, but I prefer to just use my wrist – not hot, but very warm), I just let it sit for about 10 minutes until the mixture starts to look kind of foamy.

whole wheat pizza dough yeast

Then, I let my KitchenAid + dough hook do all the kneading work for the next 10 minutes. This is followed by 30 minutes of rising (mixing bowl is covered with a towel and set in a warm oven that I’ve let preheat to 170°F and then turned off), one punch-down, re-kneading by hand for a minute, and then more rising for about 15 minutes.

whole wheat dough rising

I always roll our pizza dough out to a thin crust, and this works especially well with whole wheat pizza dough which can get too chewy if it’s really thick. (My personal opinion, anyway.)

whole wheat pizza dough rounds

When it’s about 1/8″ thick, and baked in a super hot oven, this whole wheat pizza dough turns into a deliciously crispy chewy crust that keeps me fuller longer than its traditional all-purpose counterpart and can also withstand lots of fabulous toppings.

whole wheat dough rolled

This recipe makes 8 personal-sized pizzas, so I’ll use 4 immediately, and then freeze the remaining 4 for the next time we’re having pizza. The frozen dough thaws out nicely overnight in the fridge, but I’ve also thawed them in the microwave when I’ve been in a pinch!

Easy Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Here’s the finished pizza, baked at 500°F for 4 minutes and smothered with fresh mozzarella. I’ve also topped mine with local organic crimini mushrooms and organic scallions from our last Hometown Harvest small fixed bag – YUM!

And, there you have it: easy homemade whole wheat pizza dough (with only 5 ingredients)!

Easy Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
 
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Easy homemade whole wheat pizza dough recipe made with only 5 ingredients!
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1-1/3 cups very warm water (about 140°F)
  • 3-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 170°F. As soon as it's done preheating, turn it off.
  2. Combine the yeast and water in the bowl of a KitchenAid (or similar) mixer fitted with a dough hook. Let it sit for about 10 minutes or until you notice it starts to look foamy.
  3. After mixing the flour and salt together in a separate mixing bowl, add it to the water and yeast, turn the mixer on low for 30 seconds, and then increase the speed to medium-low for another minute longer. When the ingredients have come together, increase the speed to medium and drizzle in ¼ cup of olive oil. Let the mixer continue kneading the dough for 10 minutes; the dough should look smooth.
  4. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and shape it into a ball. Coat the dough ball with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, place it back in the mixing bowl and cover the top of the bowl with a towel. Set the covered mixing bowl in the warm oven for 30 minutes. Remove the dough (it should have almost doubled in size), use your fist to punch it down, knead it by hand for a minute, reform the dough ball and then set it back in the warm oven (covered) for another 15-20 minutes.
  5. Cut the dough into 8 equal sized pieces for individual pizzas (if you're going to freeze some, just place them in a freezer-safe zip top bag and throw them in the freezer at this point). Roll each pizza to ⅛" thick, top with sauce, cheese and other toppings, and then place it atop a pizza stone that's been preheated to 500°F. NOTE: I leave the pizza stone in the oven and use a pizza peel coated with cornmeal to slide my prepped pizza dough onto the stone.
  6. Cook the pizza for 4 minutes, or until the cheese is melty and the edges are golden. Let the pizza cool for a minute before slicing and devouring!

Disclosure: Hometown Harvest is a blog sponsor, which means I’m compensated for spreading the word about what they do, my experiences and the deliveries I get. Interested in signing up? Click here and make sure to tell them I sent you! All opinions are my own, and I only work with brands whose missions I support!

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