Creamy Baked Chicken Pasta

Creamy Baked Chicken Pasta

I love Tetrazzini. Chicken or turkey – it really doesn’t matter. Creamy pasta, crispy topping, rich sauteed mushrooms, all baked to delicious perfection – and even better the next day for lunch leftovers.

Yesterday after getting home from my daughter’s dance competition – we were in Baltimore, Md. for a night – I was craving some sort of comfort food, and I was exhausted. Yes, she did all the work, but after standing for 8 hours on the concrete floor of the convention center on Saturday, with awful food options, I was ready to collapse.

Ballet Competition

And eat really good food.

For whatever reason, I was craving Tetrazzini. Except – I forgot to add mushrooms to the grocery list, which means we had none.

Annnnnd, it’s kinda hard to make a traditional Tetrazzini without the mushrooms. {sad face}

But, that’s okay! There were some beautiful ripe cherry tomatoes in my last Hometown Harvest fixed bag, and I thought to myself:

Forget the Tetrazzini! Let’s just make a creamy baked chicken pasta dish, with fresh cherry tomatoes, sauteed onions + garlic and fresh herbs.

Creamy Baked Chicken Pasta

Doesn’t that look delicious, and fresh, and totally yummy?

It was.

Creamy Baked Chicken Pasta

Creamy Baked Chicken Pasta
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 stick of salted butter
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 8-ounces spaghetti
Instructions
  1. Set a large pot of salted water to boil and preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil in a large, nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. Season each side of the chicken with salt and pepper. Once the butter has melted, add the chicken. Cook the chicken 4 minutes per side, or until it's cooked through. Remove the chicken to a paper towel, let it rest for 5 minutes, and then cut it into bite-sized pieces and toss them into a large bowl.
  3. Add another tablespoon each of butter and olive oil to the large saute pan. Once the butter has melted, add the onions. After 2 minutes, once the onions start to become soft, add the garlic, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and continue sauteeing them for another 5 minutes, and then add them to the chicken in the large bowl.
  4. Add the spaghetti to the boiling, salted water and cook it for 9 minutes. Drain.
  5. Meanwhile, while the pasta's cooking, add 3 tablespoons of butter to the saute pan. Once it's melted, whisk in the flour and let it cook for 2 minutes, continuing to whisk. Pour the milk and chicken stock in all at once, turn the heat to medium-high, and bring the mixture to a boil - whisking frequently. Whisk in 1 teaspoon salt and ¾ teaspoon pepper, then reduce the heat to keep the mixture simmering until it becomes thick and bubbly, whisking occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked spaghetti, ½ cup of the cheese, the sauce, ¾ cup sliced cherry tomatoes, green onions and parsley to the large bowl with the chicken. Toss it all together until the spaghetti is well-coated.
  7. Add the pasta mixture to a buttered 1-1/2 quart baking dish. Toss the bread crumbs and remaining cheese together, then sprinkle it on top. Add the remaining sliced cherry tomatoes, dot with 3 tablespoons of butter, then bake it for 20 minutes (or until the sauce is bubbly and the topping is golden brown). Let the creamy baked chicken pasta rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Disclosure: Hometown Harvest is a blog sponsor. All opinions are my own, and I only work with companies whose missions I support. Interested in signing up? Click here and make sure you tell them I sent you!

Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls

Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls

The other day I was in the mood for Italian food, but not spaghetti, fettuccine, or baked ziti. Something else….

Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls

I had one bunch of kale left over from my last Hometown Harvest bag, and thought maybe that would be tasty in a lasagna, sautéed first with some garlic and olive oil, and then added into the ricotta mixture. My vegetarian sister happened to be in town from Brooklyn (and eating with us!), so I thought she’d be a fan of the combo too.

Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls

I warmed the olive oil and minced the garlic. Then, I pulled the kale out from the fridge.

“Hmmm…this kale looks odd,” I thought.

Then, I quickly realized what I had leftover wasn’t kale at all! It was bok choy.

Well played.

Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls

I decided to use it anyway.

Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls
 
Prep time
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{Inspired by Giada De Laurentiis' Lasagna Rolls Recipe}
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 12 lasagna noodles, cooked to al dente
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch chopped fresh bok choy, spinach or kale
  • 1 15-oz container of whole milk ricotta
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup marinara
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F and use a tablespoon of butter to grease the bottom and sides of a 9x11" baking pan.
  2. For the bechamel sauce: melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until it's smooth, and then let it cook for 1 minute. Pour the milk in all at once, add ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper, and continue whisking until the bechamel becomes thick and bubbly. Pour it into the bottom of the buttered baking pan.
  3. Add the olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. Chiffonade the bok choy, then give it another quick dice - you should have around 2 cups' worth. Throw it into the skillet along with the garlic. Sauté the bok choy for 3 minutes, then add ¼ cup of water, cover the skillet and let it cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, mix the ricotta, egg, ½ cup cheese, basil, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl. Stir in the cooked bok choy.
  5. Spread 3-4 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture on one lasagna noodle. Roll it up like a jellyroll, starting on one of the short ends. Lay the lasagna roll seam side down in the baking pan, on top of the bechamel. Repeat with the remaining lasagna noodles.
  6. Top the lasagna rolls with the marinara, the remaining 1 cup of cheese and some more fresh basil. Cover the baking pan tightly with aluminum foil, and bake it for 20 minutes. Remove the cover and continue baking for 5 minutes longer, or until the cheese is melted, bubbly and golden.
  7. Leftovers reheat well, and the individual rolls will freeze great too.

Baked Ziti

baked ziti, how to make baked ziti, baked ziti recipes

There’s this little neighborhood pizzeria about two miles from our house that has the best baked ziti recipe I’ve ever eaten. I don’t claim to be a baked ziti expert, but I know a good Italian recipe when I taste one.

What I love most about their baked ziti is that it’s simple. Just the right amount of fresh basil and fresh mozzarella, a sauce + ricotta ratio near to perfection, and barely a touch of their light marinara on top.

Did I mention ooey, gooey fresh mozzarella?

Over the weekend I decided to roll up my sleeves and take a stab at making baked ziti at home. I mean, it’s not difficult, and the ingredients are really no secret. And I, too, kept it simple – although I was lacking some of the fresh ingredients I would have preferred. Still, we were all pleased.

baked ziti recipe, baked ziti, how to make baked ziti

By the way, my easy homemade Italian bread (made the same afternoon) went perfectly!

You’re welcome.

Baked Ziti
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 23.5oz jar organic marinara sauce
  • 3-1/2 cups dry ziti or penne pasta
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt + 2 tablespoons for the pasta water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Bring water and 2 tablespoons of salt to boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and cook it to al dente. Drain.
  3. Mix the marinara, ricotta, ¾ cup mozzarella, ¼ cup Parmesan, ½ teaspoon salt, and the basil together in a large bowl. Add the pasta, stirring gently to coat completely.
  4. Coat the bottom of a 9x13" baking dish with olive oil. Spread the pasta mixture evenly in the dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the baked ziti is bubbly and golden brown on top.

Swedish Meatballs with Ground Turkey

how to make swedish meatballs, swedish meatballs using turkey, ground turkey recipes

You know me, I don’t meal plan.

I prefer to keep my pantry stocked with everyday essentials, and buy produce and meats based off of two things: price and what’s local and/or seasonally available.

Last week there were two things in the fridge that begged to be used: ground turkey and yogurt. Like, lots of yogurt.

Chobani* reached out to me a few weeks ago after finding this old recipe where I substituted yogurt for sour cream, and asked if I’d be interested in trying their yogurt (which, of course I’ve already tried, but never in a recipe). I said yes, and then last week two big boxes showed up, filled with 15 32-ounce containers of Chobani yogurt.

FIFTEEN THIRTY-TWO-OUNCE CONTAINERS!

That’s a lot of yogurt!

With expiration dates of late October, I think there’s plenty of time to use the yogurt. My 8-year old and I both like plain yogurt mixed with honey, berries, granola, etc., and my brain is working overtime thinking about recipes that would work well with yogurt inspiration!

how to make swedish meatballs, ground turkey recipes, swedish meatballs with ground turkey

I’ve also wondered if I can freeze the yogurt for later, like, in the containers in which they came. It’d be unfortunate to have exploding yogurt in the deep freeze…

Anyway, here’s my first recipe using Chobani plain yogurt – Swedish Meatballs with Ground Turkey!

turkey swedish meatballs, ground turkey recipes

 

Swedish Meatballs with Ground Turkey
 
Prep time
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Adapted from Alton Brown's Swedish Meatballs recipe.
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1-lb ground turkey
  • 1 slice fresh white-wheat bread, torn in little pieces
  • ⅛ cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt + a pinch
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • ¼ cup Chobani plain 2% yogurt
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 200°F.
  2. Mix the bread and milk together in a small bowl and set it aside.
  3. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 12" straight sided saute pan. Once the butter has melted, add the onion and a pinch of salt, and let the onion cook until it's translucent - about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Combine the turkey, egg, bread & milk mixture, 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, allspice, nutmeg and the cooked onions. Use a hand mixer to beat the ingredients for 2 minutes over medium speed - it will look pasty.
  5. Make golf ball sized meatballs out of the mixture (I like to use a small ice cream scoop for this process), setting them aside on a baking sheet as you go.
  6. Heat the remaining butter in the same saute pan in which the onions cooked, and once it starts to get foamy, add the meatballs.
  7. Let the meatballs cook on all sides until they're golden brown - a total of about 8 to 10 minutes. Then, use a slotted spoon to put them in a casserole dish, cover, and then rest in the warmed oven while you make the sauce.
  8. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the flour to the saute pan. Use a whisk to make sure the flour incorporates fully with all the grease and drippings. After a minute or 2, add the beef stock and continue whisky until the sauce starts to thicken and bubble. Add the Chobani yogurt, and continue to cook the sauce until it's the consistency you like.
  9. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and serve them over farfalle or penne pasta.

 

Disclosure: Chobani sent me the yogurt for free, but all opinions are my own!

 

*The yogurt Chobani sent me was not part of the recent recall from their Idaho facility. Also, as you know, I’m on a journey to become more informed about what we’re eating, and find myself more and more curious about GMO products and what a brand’s stance is on them. Here’s what Chobani said about GMOs and their capacity to manage around them:

 

“We agree that people have a right to know what’s in their food and want to set the record straight on GMOs.

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are organisms that have had their genetic makeup (DNA) altered through genetic engineering in a way that does not occur in nature or through traditional cross-breeding methods. GMOs are found in key commodity crops grown in the United States, like corn and soy.

So what does that mean for us? None of our non-dairy ingredients have been genetically modified. The challenge lies in the feed to the 78,000+ cows, across 875+ farms surrounding our plants.

The milk from our trusted farmers is not genetically modified, though currently, there’s no universal definition of the GMO-free claim for milk. And the only regulation to account for the feed is organic, which requires farmers to ensure that at least 30% of their cows’ diet comes from pasture grass during the mandatory grazing season. However, we consciously chose not to pursue USDA Organic certification because our goal is to price our products so that everyone, regardless of income, can have access to delicious, nutritious yogurt. Ultimately, we require a high volume of milk that simply can’t be met by organic farms.”

You can read their full message about GMO stance here.

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