Monday, March 28, 2016

Creamy Spring Pasta Bake

Things have been busy lately.  It is hard to believe spring is already here.  Beautiful colors, flowers, delicious fresh produce from the garden, and of course allergies.

The recipe I am posting today is a Pasta Bake.  I love to make pasta bakes.  They are one of my favorite casseroles.  They are easy to prepare, great for the budget, can feed a large crowd, and taste great the next day.  I found this recipe in Southern Living magazine.  Bow-tie pasta is coated in a rich cheese sauce made with Swiss cheese, dry mustard, and spices.  Add some sweet peas, and ham, mix well so everything is coated in the rich creamy sauce.  Transfer to a baking dish and top with some ground croutons and Parmesan cheese.  Bake for about 30 minutes. 

The Pasta Bake is ready to serve.  This recipe will satisfy everyone.  The sauce is delicious and the addition of peas and ham make this perfect for family and company.  

Creamy Spring Pasta Bake
From Southern Living Magazine


1/2 cup (4 oz.) salted butter
1/2 cup (2 oz.) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups whole milk
1 (16-oz.) block Swiss cheese, shredded
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded (about 2/3 cup)
1 (16-oz.) pkg. farfalle (bow-tie pasta), prepared according to pkg. directions
1 (12-oz.) pkg. cubed boneless ham (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 cups frozen baby sweet peas, thawed 
1 cup sea salt-and-pepper croutons
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded (about 2/3 cup)
1 tablespoon butter, melted 
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium. Gradually whisk in flour until smooth; cook, whisking constantly, 2 minutes. Whisk in dry mustard, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Gradually whisk in half-and-half and milk; cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes.
2. Whisk in Swiss cheese and 2 oz. Parmesan cheese. Remove from heat. Stir in pasta, ham, and peas. Pour mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
3. Prepare Topping: Process croutons and 2 oz. Parmesan cheese in a food processor until finely ground. Add 1 tablespoon melted butter, and process until combined. Sprinkle over pasta mixture.
4. Bake in preheated oven until golden, about 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes.

Serves 8

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Lemon Chicken Skillet Dinner

The other night I made a delicious chicken meal that had mushrooms, potatoes, and green beans cooked with chicken breasts.  They were cooked together in a nice herb sauce.  The chicken was moist, tender, and flavorful.  The veggies were also very flavorful and not over cooked. 

This meal  was very easy and it came together nicely.   You cook your potatoes for about 12 minutes or until they are tender.  While the potatoes were cooking, I started preparing the chicken.  Once the chicken was cooked, the potatoes, mushrooms, and thyme were added to the skillet. A flour mixture, chicken stock, lemon slices, and beans were then added to the skillet and cooked until the beans were crisp.  That is it.  Your dinner is ready:)

Lemon Chicken Skillet Dinner
From My Recipes


12 ounces baby red potatoes, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, pounded to 3/4-inch thickness
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 thyme sprigs
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup whole milk
5 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
8 very thin lemon slices
1 (8-ounce) package trimmed haricots verts (French green beans)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil, and simmer 12 minutes or until tender. Drain.
3. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken and thyme sprigs to pan; cook 5 minutes or until chicken is browned. Turn chicken over. Place pan in oven; bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken from pan.
4. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Add potatoes, cut sides down; mushrooms; and 1 tablespoon thyme; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring once. Combine milk and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add remaining salt, remaining pepper, flour mixture, stock, lemon, and beans to pan; simmer 1 minute or until slightly thickened. Add chicken; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes or until beans are crisp-tender. Sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 4

Friday, March 11, 2016

Spinach Spaetzle

A plate of spaetzle with some cheese is one of my favorite quick/light dinners.   Spatzle is great.   It goes great with just about anything and is delicious. I also make spaetzle when I am serving meatballs - makes a great dinner.  This recipe adds a little extra flavor and color to your spaetzle.  Pureed spinach is added to the batter.

At first, I was a bit intimidated in making spaetzle.  Nothing could be easier to make.  You do not need a spaetzle tool or any fancy special cooking tools.  A knife and a cutting board is all you need.  Some recipes use a colander and a spoon to press out the spaetzle.  This doesn't work that well for me - it has to do with the batter consistency.  I just stick with a lightly moist cutting board and a wet knife.  I place some batter on the cutting board and cut it thin and drop it into a pot of boiling water.  Works great.

The spaetzle is cooked in a boiling pot of water until it rises to the surface and then cooled in an ice-water bath.  Drain the spaetzle and blot dry.  Cook in some butter, serve and top with some cheese.  Delicious. 

Note:  Spaetzle can be made ahead of time.  When you are ready to serve heat it in some butter. 

Spinach Spaetzle 
From NYT Cooking School Adapted by From My Southwest Kitchen
5 ounces baby spinach leaves or equivalent quantity of larger leaves 
4 eggs 
4 egg yolks 
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg 
¼ teaspoon black pepper 
3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter 
Grated Parmesan


  1. Drop spinach leaves into boiling water to blanch, then transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain spinach and squeeze dry. Put cooked spinach in a blender or food processor with the eggs and yolks and blitz briefly to make a green purée. (Alternatively, finely chop the spinach and stir together with beaten eggs and yolks.)
  2. Put spinach in a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, the nutmeg and the pepper. Beat in flour and 3/4 cup cold water to make a wet, sticky batterlike dough. Beat for 5 minutes, until lump free. If the mixture seems too stiff, beat in a few more tablespoons cold water. (If using a spaetzle tool, thin the batter to a more runny consistency.) Leave batter to rest at room temperature, covered, for 15 minutes.
  3. Prepare an ice-water bath. Bring a large wide pot of well-salted water to a boil. Stand close to the pot with the bowl of dough in one hand and a soup spoon in the other. With the edge of the spoon, grab thin slivers of dough approximately 1 inch long, dropping them one by one into the boiling water. (Cook a dozen or so at a time.) Let the spaetzle cook for 1 minute or so, until they rise to the surface. Remove with a skimmer and immediately cool in ice water. Continue until all batter is used. Drain cooked spaetzle and blot dry. (The recipe may be prepared up to this point several hours before serving.)
  4. Just before serving, set a large wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter and let it foam, Add cooked spaetzle and sauté, stirring with a wooden spoon until heated through and lightly browned. Transfer to a warm serving bowl. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan.

Makes 6 servings