Tuscan Pasta With Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce

I feel like I haven’t divulged too much of myself, so here we go:

I’m addicted to Pinterest.

I like to consider myself part of the “early adopters” phase of Pinterest and I still cannot get enough. For example, I’m currently wearing Marshmallow by Essie nail polish (pinned to BEAUTYful), my workout the other day was the Self 30-minute treadmill interval workout (pinned to Fit Fit), and my outfit today: brown boots, skinny jeans, hot pink cardigan and leopard scarf (pinned to Stylista) — all discovered on Pinterest. When I found out my cousin Todd would be in town from California and I offered to host dinner, it was a no-brainer that the recipe would come from Pinterest and it was unbelievable:

Tuscan Pasta With Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce

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Recipe adapted from: My Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 1 (20-oz.) package refrigerated four-cheese ravioli
  • 1 (24-oz) jar Classico Vodka sauce
  • 1 (8.5 oz) jar Julienne sliced sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 2 medium-size fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Garnish: fresh basil strips

Directions:

  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, pour Vodka sauce into a medium saucepan. Add wine into saucepan.
  3. Stir in chopped sun-dried tomatoes and fresh tomatoes and 1/2 cup chopped basil, and cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
  4. Toss with pasta, and top evenly with 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
  5. Garnish, if desired.

Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas

Ingredients:

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
15 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
12 flour tortillas

optional toppings:
guacamole
cheese
sour cream
lettuce
tomatoes

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place chicken strips into a greased 9×13 baking dish.  In a small bowl combine vegetable oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, dried oregano, and salt; drizzle over the chicken and stir to coat.  Stir in the canned tomatoes, onions, and peppers.  Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked and vegetables are tender.  Serve on tortillas with desired toppings.

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Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin

The continuation of my diet and leftover ingredients from this flank steak recipe,  called for making this brown sugar and balsamic glazed pork tenderloin slow-cooker recipe (found here and here).  Although we simply just ate the tender meat with a side of asparagus, we decided it would be a great addition for tacos, pulled pork sandwiches, or salads.

Ingredients:

for the crock-pot:
1 (2 pound) boneless pork tenderloin
1 tsp ground rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup water

for the glaze:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp soy sauce

Directions:

In a small bowl, combine rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic; rub over pork. Place in a slow cooker with 1/2 cup water. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. About 1 hour before roast is done, combine ingredients for glaze in a small sauce pan. Heat and stir until mixture thickens. Brush roast with glaze 2 or 3 times during the last hour of cooking. Serve with remaining glaze on the side.

**Recipe Source:  C+C Marriage Factory**

Flank Steak with Tomatoes, Red Onion, and Balsamic

Two weeks ago I enrolled myself in an eight week transformation challenge with CircuitFit Chicago.  The rules for the first two weeks?  Work out four times a week and eliminate dairy, carbohydrates, caffeine, and alcohol from your diet.  SAY WHAT?  I did not sign up for that!  I was absolutely sure I was going to starve, I mean what was seriously left to eat?  The answer:  meat, fruit, and vegetables.  So after the first week of eating chicken noon and night and fearful my taste buds were dying of under use, I had to come up with an alternative, which turned out to be this mouth-watering meal of flank steak drizzled in balsamic tomatoes and onions with a side of grilled asparagus.  No lie, I would eat this without being on a restricted diet, just so great.

Ingredients:

2 lb flank steak
salt and pepper
garlic powder
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup red onion, chopped
3 1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped (about 4 tomatoes)
2 tbsp fresh basil

Directions:

Pierce steak all over with a fork.  Season generously with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (about 1/2 tsp of each) then set aside for 10 minutes (continue with onion mixture below).  Heat oven to broil.  Prepare under part of the broiler pan with aluminum foil for easy clean up.  Place the flank steak in the oven and cook about 8 minutes each side.  Obviously grilling the steak would be another great option, but while living in Chicago without a grill we make do the best we can.

While steak is cooking, combine onions, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; let it sit a few minutes.  Add tomatoes and fresh basil; combine.

Remove steak from oven and let stand five minutes before cutting on a diagonal and topping with tomato mixture.

Optional:  Serve with grilled asparagus.  Simply snap off bottoms of each asparagus, brush remaining portion with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook 2-3 minutes or until just becoming soft.

**Steak Recipe Source:  Skinny Taste**

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna is my go-to at any Italian restaurant, however, I absolutely was not ready to make my own homemade lasagna so when I saw this lasagna soup on Pinterest from A Farmgirl’s Dabbles with the caption:  “Amazing with a capital A. I had SO much left over and I didn’t even mind eating it every day for a week!” I knew I had to try it out.  The caption did NOT lie.  I love the sausage, tomatoes, cheese, and noodles mixed together to create melt-in-your-mouth perfection.  Seriously Amazing with a huge capital A!!!

Prep Time          10 Minutes
Cook Time         45 Minutes
Makes                8+ Servings

Ingredients:

for the soup:
2 tsp. olive oil
1-1/2 lbs. Italian sausage
3 c. chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 T. tomato paste
1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 c. chicken stock
8 oz. mafalda or fusilli pasta
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

for the cheesy yum:
8 oz. ricotta
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper

for the top:
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

1.  Over medium heat in a large pot, heat 2 tsp of olive oil.  Add 1 1/2 pounds sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces.  Brown for about 5 minutes.

2.  Add 3 cups of onions and cook about six minutes or until onions are softened.

3.  Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute.

4.  Add tomato paste and stir well to mix.  Cook about 3-4 minutes until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

5.  Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock; stir to combine and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

6.  Stir in uncooked pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 to 8 minutes.

7.  While pasta cooks, mix together ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a small bowl to create the cheesy yumminess!

8.  Add to the large pot of soup a 1/2 cup of basil and salt and pepper to taste.

9.  To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy yumminess in each bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.

Lemon-Feta Chicken Breast

Any recipe with chicken as the main ingredient and requiring less than 15 minutes of hands-on preparation is my kind of recipe.  DISCLAIMER:  this recipe does require 2 hours of marinating the chicken, 6-10 minutes of searing the chicken in a skillet, and 30 minutes baking in the oven.  To solve this what may seem like a daunting time in the kitchen, I marinated the chicken the night before (took 5 minutes) and then seared and baked the chicken the next night for dinner.  Hands down this is probably my all-time favorite chicken recipe I have made at home.  I usually am not a huge fan of feta cheese but I was scraping it out of the dish it was so delicious.  Something about the feta and lemon together made the chicken very tender and juicy and totally appetizing!  All in all this recipe was a huge hit at our house and will definitely be making monthly appearances!  Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 (8 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 tbsp crumbled feta cheese
4 tsp chopped scallions

Directions:
1.  In a bowl, mix lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper.

2.  Add the chicken breasts and marinate in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours.

3.  Preheat the oven to 350.

4.  Remove the chicken from marinade and sear in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes each side. 

5.  Place chicken in a 13″ x 9″ glass baking dish.  Top each breast with 2 tbsp feta cheese and 1 tsp chopped scallions.

6.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until juices run clear. 

Try this recipe!  Expand your boring chicken recipe routines!  It is completely mouth-watering just thinking about it!  Let me know what you think!