Chicken Pasta Alfredo

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There’s something about noodles with a creamy white sauce that’s just, um….yummy!  Pasta is one of my favorite comfort foods & this recipe nice & easy, which makes me love it even more.

Make a little salad & maybe add in a little garlic bread & you’ll have one happy family!

Chicken Pasta Alfredo

8 oz cream cheese

1 c. whole milk

4 tbsp butter

1 c. grated parmesan

16 oz whole wheat pasta (farfalle, fettuccine, fusilli – pick your favorite)

2 c. chopped cooked chicken

2 c. frozen peas, thawed

2-3 tsp Italian seasonings

1 c. seasoned breadcrumbs (check out this recipe for how I make my own, add 1 tsp Italian seasonings to season your homemade breadcrumbs)

1/2 c. grated parmesan

3 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400°.  Butter a 9×13 baking dish (or equivalent sized casserole dish).

Combine cream cheese, milk, 4 tbsp butter & 1 c. parmesan in a medium saucepan over low-medium heat.  Mix until all the ingredients are melted & combined.  Remove from heat & set aside.

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, making sure to not overcook.  Drain & return to pan.  Mix in the prepared sauce, chicken, peas & Italian seasonings.

In a separate bowl, mix together breadcrumbs, parmesan & melted butter.

Pour pasta mixture into prepared dish & sprinkle breadcrumb mixture on top.  Bake uncovered for 25 minutes, or until the topping is a nice golden brown.

Enjoy!


Spaghetti & Meatballs

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I’ll be honest, Spaghetti & Meatballs is not a meal that gets made often at our home.  While Caleb & I both really like Spaghetti & Meatballs {or any other carb loaded pasta dish for that matter}, the time commitment of making the meatballs is usually more than I feel like taking on at the end of my day.  And, giving in to convenience & buying pre-made, frozen meatballs at the grocery store is simply not an option for me {have you checked out the ingredient list on one of those packages?  What are all of those things?}.

However, I think I may have been over-complicating the process in my head a bit…..it happens….frequently:-).  When I spotted a few different meatball recipes recently, I immediately started craving homemade meatballs & decided to give it a whirl to see just how exhausting the process really was.  As it turned out, it’s really not that bad!  Yes, you do have to think ahead just a bit & you can’t whip out a batch of from-scratch, spaghetti & meatballs in 30 minutes. But, with a little pre-planning, this is totally a doable meal, even for easy-meal lovers like me!  I think you’ll agree, the outcome is more than worth a little extra effort!

Here’s what you’re going to need for the meatballs…

1 lb ground beef

3 cloves garlic

3/4 c. bread crumbs (making your own is super easy, see how I do it below)

1 egg

1/2 c. grated parmesan

1 1/2 tbsp dried parsley (or 3-4 tbsp fresh parsley)

1/4 tsp sea salt

dash of pepper

1-2 tbsp milk

So, to make your own bread crumbs {if you’re using pre-made, just skip pass this short tutorial}, start by grabbing 2-3 slices of bread…

Toast em…

Put em in your food processor or blender {we have a Blendtec blender, it works for almost anything, LOVE it}…

Pulse a few times, until the slices are completely ground up…

Voila`!

Alright, now for those meatballs…

Start with your very unglamorous ground beef in a medium bowl…

Use a garlic press {or peel & chop the cloves} to add the garlic…

Then, add in your breadcrumbs {be sure to measure out 3/4 of a cup of what you just ground if using homemade, don’t use all of it, there will probably be extra}, egg, parmesan, parsley, sea salt, pepper & 1 tbsp of milk…

Using a spatula or your hands {if touching raw meat is your thing}, mix it all up real good. Add in the other tbsp of milk if the mixture seems too dry.

Divvy the meat into meatballs onto a baking sheet.  You want the meatballs to be close in size so they take the same amount of time to cook.  I used a cookie scoop, you can just eyeball it if you want…

As you can see, I was able to make about 20 meatballs with this size of a batch.

Now, whether you’re of the raw-meat-touching crowd or not, I’m afraid it’s time to get your hands messy.  You want to take those divvied up meatballs & roll each in your hands real quick to make sure they’re nice & pretty & won’t fall apart….and then forget to take a picture. :-(

Stick your baking sheet in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.  This will help firm them up for the next step.

In a dutch oven or other tall sided pan {to help contain the splatters}, heat up some olive oil on medium-high heat. Use enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan well…

As you can see, I just finished making my Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce & am all about not washing dishes more than I have to!

Once your meatballs have had their time in the Arctic, pull them out & start browning them in small batches in the oil, turning to brown all sides.  They do not need to be cooked through, we’ll finish cooking them later in the sauce.

Once they are completely browned, remove to a paper towel topped plate…

Continue until all the meatballs are browned.  Set meatballs aside.

Let’s make some sauce!

In the same pan you just browned the meatballs in {remember, less dishes makes me very happy!}, add 1 whole onion that has been chopped & 3 more cloves of garlic, using your garlic press or peel & chop…

Cook until the onions are translucent.

Add 4 cups of tomato sauce {I used some of my Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce but good quality store-bought tomato sauce works well too}…

Add to this, 2 tbsp dried parsley, 1 tbsp dried basil, 1 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp sucanat {if you don’t have sucanat, regular sugar works too} & fresh ground black pepper…

Add the meatballs back into the sauce & cook over medium to medium-high heat for 25-30 minutes, stirring gently 2 or 3 times during cooking, until the meatballs are cooked through {you can pull one out & cut it open to be sure}…

While the meatballs are cooking, boil a large pot of water & cook 1 lb of spaghetti noodles until al dente, following the package instructions…

Serve up the meatballs & sauce over a pile of spaghetti noodles, top with parmesan cheese & enjoy!

Source: adapted from The Pioneer Woman