Orecchiette with Baked Mini Chicken Meatballs

I love easy dinners, especially ones involving pasta! I found this recipe from Little Broken and it was perfect. It’s pretty easy to make and the chicken meatballs turn out really moist and delicious.

I did end up modifying it a little bit. I doubled everything except for the amount of pasta, which resulted in a solid 4-5 servings. I think if I would’ve stuck to the original, it would’ve been a good dish for 2 people, but then I would have ingredient leftovers. By doubling it, I was able to use everything I bought from the store.

Also, since the meatball mix was very moist, I used ice cream scoop to form my meatballs, but they didn’t hold their shape well and ended up with flat bottoms. I broiled them for 6-7 minutes because they didn’t seem remotely cooked at the 3-4 minute mark, like the recipe advises.

I’ve pasted the recipe below the way I made it. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp grated onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp parsley (fresh is better but I used dried)
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 box orecchiette pasta
  • 1/4 – 1/2 reserved pasta water
  • 1 jar of tomato basil pasta sauce (I used Barilla)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup mini mozzarella balls/pearls (or you can dice fresh mozzarella)

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the panko and milk. Let sit for 5 minutes, until all the milk is absorbed.
  2. Add ground chicken, eggs, onions, garlic, parsley, sour cream, salt and pepper to the bowl. Mix well. (The mixture will be pretty wet)
  3. Set your oven’s broiler to HIGH.
  4. Lightly coat your baking sheets with cooking spray or oil.
  5. Place meatballs on the baking sheets (about 1 1/4 inch sized balls) in a single layer.
  6. Broil on HIGH for 6-7 minutes, or until meatballs are halfway cooked but still pink on the inside.
  7. Remove meatballs from the oven and let stand at room temperature while you start the rest of the recipe.
  8. Cook pasta according to package directions. Save about 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the pasta water before you drain.
  9. In a large saute pan, heat up the tomato basil pasta sauce.
  10. Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer.
  11. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer on low for about 5-10 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly.
  12. Add cooked pasta and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add more pasta water.
  13. Stir to combine.
  14. Add the mozzarella balls and gently stir to combine.
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One Pot Garlic Parmesan Pasta

I’m a big sucker for “one pot” recipes that are super simple, but sometimes they don’t always turn out well. I already make this One Pan Pasta with tomatoes that is pretty decent and great in a pinch, but it’s not the most flavorful dish. However, I found this amazing one pot recipe from Damn Delicious and it was everything I wanted in a quick recipe. It was super easy, super quick and very flavorful. My fiance and I gobbled it up and wanted more. I highly recommend trying it out if you love creamy pasta and want to make it quickly and easily!

We used a bit more cheese because my fiance loved it and since I didn’t have any fresh parsley, I just added a small amount of Italian seasoning to the sauce as it was cooking. It still turned out really great.

Click here for the full recipe. I’ve also pasted it below for convenience.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth (I used reduced sodium broth)
  • 1 cup milk (I used 1% milk)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 8 oz fettuccine (I used De Cecco)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Stir in chicken broth, milk, butter and fettuccine. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 18-20 minutes, or until pasta is cooked.
  5. Stir in parmesan cheese. If the sauce it too thick, add more milk until you reach your desired consistency.
  6. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Creamy Tortellini with Sweet Potato & Spinach

I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t had time to cook as much as I want to. Because I’m busy, I get excited when I find a recipe that’s so easy to prepare, it seems just as convenient as take out. This recipe was found on The Kitchn and it was very easy and quick, plus only involved one pan! (My favorite kind of recipe) It also seemed healthy-ish with the addition of spinach and sweet potato. The recipe says it serves 4 people but I’ll admit, my fiance and I ate the entire thing between the two of us. (Whoops)

I’ve posted the recipe below for convenience but you can find the whole recipe here.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled & cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tbsp minced rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 5 oz baby spinach, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 12 oz bag of frozen tortellini

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Stir in sweet potato, rosemary, salt and pepper.
  3. Cover and stir occasionally for 5 minutes, until the sweet potato begins to soften.
  4. Uncover the skillet and add the broth, scraping off any browned bits from the skillet.
  5. Add the spinach in small handfuls, stirring until they are wilted.
  6. Stir in the half-and-half.
  7. Cover and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  8. Uncover and stir in the tortellini.
  9. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the tortellini are plump and cooked through.

Pasta with Pesto Trepanese

YouTube loves to suggest all kinds of videos for me and recently they suggested this cooking video from Laura Vitale:

It’s a recipe for Pesto Trepanese, which is like a pesto sauce mixed with tomatoes. Her version also uses almonds instead of the usual pine nuts. Since the only pesto recipe in my repertoire uses cream and is pretty unhealthy, I thought I’d give this a try. Plus, tomatoes with pasta is just perfection.

I’m happy to say it was pretty delicious! And super easy and quick to make, too. The sauce itself has a tendency to settle, so I’d recommend stirring really well before serving. (I think she says in the video that it’s better the longer you let the sauce soak into the pasta) It has a really nice nutty flavor, especially with whole wheat pasta.

I pasted the recipe below for convenience but you can also check our the recipe on Laura Vitale’s website.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb tomatoes, plum or cherry
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 box whole wheat linguine

Instructions

  1. Prepare pasta according to box instructions.
  2. In a food processor, add tomatoes, basil, almonds, garlic, salt and pepper. Pulse a few times to blend.
  3. Add olive oil and continue pulsing until desired consistency.
  4. Add the sauce to a bowl and mix in the grated parmesan cheese.
  5. Toss with pasta and serve.

Three Cheese Zucchini Stuffed Lasagna Rolls

I’ll admit, my fiance and I have done a lot of eating out lately, which is not the healthiest choice. We wanted to get back to cooking at home and I’ve been getting lots of healthy inspiration from Skinnytaste. Particularly, we wanted to try this amazing lasagna roll recipe which allows you to still enjoy cheese and pasta without that many calories. It’s also pretty similar to another Skinnytaste recipe we loved, Stuffed Chicken Rollatini. I’m a big zucchini fan, so I love how lots of healthy recipes use it!

The lasagna was a big hit and it was also incredibly filling! The leftovers refrigerated well, so we were able to enjoy it for many days after. I’ve posted the recipe below for convenience but I highly recommend checking out the Skinnytaste blog for more recipes.

Ingredients

  • 8 lasagna noodles (I used Barilla)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium zucchini, grated & squeezed dry
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp part skim riccotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 3/4 cups marinara sauce (I used Classico)
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh basil (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook the lasagna noodles according to box instructions.
  3. Ladle 1 cup of marinara sauce into your baking dish and spread evenly.
  4. In a medium nonstick skillet, saute the garlic and olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute.
  5. Add zucchini and salt and pepper (to taste) and saute for 4-5 minutes or until soft.
  6. In a medium bowl, combined the cooked zucchini, riccotta cheese, parmesan cheese, egg, salt and pepper.
  7. Dry the lasagna noodles and lay each one flat.
  8. Take 1/3 cup of the zucchini and cheese mixture and spread evenly over each noodle.
  9. Roll up each lasagna and place in the baking dish, seam side down.
  10. Ladle the remaining sauce over the lasagna rolls. Top each roll with 1 tbsp of mozzarella cheese.
  11. Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes.
  12. Top with fresh basil and serve.

One Pan Pasta

This dish is the ultimate “I have no time” or “I feel really lazy” dish. It takes literally 15 minutes from start to finish and involves only a handful of ingredients you can find at any grocery store. Plus, it tastes pretty good! It’s not going to blow your mind, but it’s a solid tomato and basil pasta dish that can make a hearty dinner. (Plus, it’s a fairly healthy dish if you omit the parmesan cheese at the end) I like to add a bit more red pepper flakes to give it a kick.

I got the recipe from Lottie + Doof, who adapted it from a Martha Stewart recipe. I pasted it below for convenience.

Ingredients

  • 1 box linguine (I like to use spinach or whole-wheat linguine)
  • 12 oz cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2-1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 sprigs basil
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups water

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large skillet or heavy bottomed pan. The pan should be big enough that the linguine can lay flat.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Boil for about 9 minutes while stirring frequently, until water is nearly evaporated and the pasta is al dente.
  4. Season to taste and serve. Optionally add olive oil and parmesan cheese on top.

Bolognese Sauce

I’m a big fan of pasta and when I’m craving a tomato based sauce, I usually make my simple meat sauce. On my most recent trip to Europe, I ate a few dishes that used bolognese sauce, which I mistakenly thought was very similar to my meat sauce. However, in addition to meat and tomatoes, bolognese sauce also contains carrots, celery and onions, as well as a few other things. These are all things that I like, so I wanted to give it a try.

I’ve mentioned Hilah before, who is a popular YouTube chef. She recently posted this video describing how to make pretty simple bolognese sauce:

I wanted to try her recipe because not only was it simple, but it also left out the usual cream ingredient in favor of putting more cheese on at the end. (It also recommended substituting the red wine with stock if you don’t like cooking with wine. For some reason, I’ve never really been into cooking with wine.) It does take about 2 hours to make, so you need a bit of time. (Not your quick weekday meal) However, it does make a huge amount of sauce that you can reheat very nicely. I used my food processor to chop up the onion, carrot and celery, which not only saved a lot of time but also made them the perfect consistency for the sauce.

I’m happy to say that it turned out really delicious! My boyfriend gave it two enthusiastic thumbs up. Since it takes a bit of effort, I’ll probably save it for weekend pasta meals and leave my meat sauce for the mid-week madness.

I’d recommend watching the YouTube video and her website has a recipe card you can print out. I’ve also pasted the recipe below for convenience, including some of the things I changed.

Ingredients

  • 1 box of your favorite pasta (I used linguine)
  • 1 oz bacon, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 2 carrots, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, minced
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef (or half beef, half pork)
  • 1 cup red wine or beef stock
  • 4 cups tomato puree
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook bacon in olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat until well cooked.
  2. Add onions, carrots and celery. Cook about 10-15 minutes, until browned.
  3. Add garlic and cook for about a minute.
  4. Add meat and crumble. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until browned.
  5. Add wine or stock and cook until the liquid is reduced by half.
  6. Add tomato puree, oregano, basil, salt and pepper.
  7. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Make sure to stir occasionally (about every 15 minutes).
  8. Prepare pasta according to box. Drain and serve with sauce.