Chicken, Spinach, and Artichoke Pasta Bake

Even when the weather is warm, sometimes I still find myself craving a big bowl of comforting baked pasta. But, it’s nice to switch it up from the standard red sauce and ricotta cheese variety. When I came across a recipe a couple of months ago in a recent issue of Taste of Home,ย I thought I’d give it a try.

I did end up changing it a bit, mainly by adding chicken as well as a dose of homemade Alfredo sauce to the pasta bake. I loved all the flavors together, almost reminiscent of a spinach-artichoke dip. It was pretty easy to bring together too, as it doesn’t require all the layering that something like a traditional lasagna would.

I had leftover roasted chicken from the night before, so I just used that – but a store-bought rotisserie chicken would be ideal for this application. Or you could certainly use boneless skinless chicken breasts that you roasted or sauteed as well. Whatever works best for you!

I kept it simple and just served it with a salad topped with a light lemon vinaigrette. Everyone really enjoyed it, and with most baked pastas the leftovers were even better the next day for lunch.

Source: adapted from Taste of Home Magazine, February/March 2014

Shrimp Alfredo

This has long been one of my favorite dinners. Especially in the summertime, when the shrimp are fresh and cheaper than chicken here on the Eastern Shore. It comes together quickly, taking more time to prep the shrimp than to put the dinner together – and the results are so delicious and satisfying.

I used to make this dish with lemon pepper seasoning – but, I’ve found that the use of fresh lemon, garlic, and black pepper lends such a burst of fresh flavor that I like to use that combo provided I have all the ingredients handy. Which, I almost always do…

It’s simple enough for a family dinner after a long day at the beach, but also impressive enough to be served to guests at a dinner party. I’ll usually pair with a salad or a steamed veggie like broccoli to round out the meal.

Cheesy Ham & Broccoli Pasta Bake

It’s tough to beat a good cheesy pasta bake. One night I was really feeling macaroni and cheese, but wasn’t feeling much else than that. I knew I needed to give my guys some protein and veggies though, so I assessed what I had in the refrigerator – a ham steak and a couple of heads of broccoli, threw them into the mix, and came up with this.

I tweaked my original baked macaroni & cheese recipe by adding two different kinds of cheese. My standard classic cheddar, but also a rich and creamy Gruyere to really bump up the wow factor. Plus, it was kind of a fun twist on ham & cheese!

Ham steaks are great to have around. I love to dice them up and put them in pasta sauce, or on pizza, or even just warmed up in a skillet and served on a biscuit for an easy breakfast. I also topped it with garlic breadcrumbs, which isn’t something I usually go for on my macaroni and cheese – but the savory crunch with a hint of garlic was a nice contrast to the creamy tender pasta.

A great one pan meal that was easy to throw together and bake, and that everyone enjoyed. Love those kinds of dinners!

Singapore Mei Fun

I love making our favorite Chinese take-out dishes at home. They’re always tastier, healthier, and much easier on the old pocketbook. Jon’s favorite dish to order-out, hands down, would have to be Singapore Mei Fun. Now, I realize this probably isn’t anywhere close to the noodle dishes you’d actually find in Singpore – but let’s be honest, what comes out most Chinese restaurants in this country ย actually is authentic? Am I right?

Soft rice noodles, sauteed with all kinds of crispy yet tender vegetables – and a protein if you like, all in a delicious spicy sauce chock full of curry. I’d never had it before her ordered it, he used to be a General Tso’s guy…but switched to this when he was trying to lose a little weight, and years later he’s still never gone back. I’ve almost grown to love it over my beloved lo mein noodles! Our local place always adds a scrambled egg to the stir-fry, which I feel is a great addition as it helps to soak up any extra sauce and flavor, so I added that to my at-home version too.

It turned out really great, and was a fairly quick and easy meal. I just softened the rice noodles while I was prepping the veggies (stuff I had laying around in the fridge and pantry), stirred together the spices with some soy sauce and sesame oil, and stir-fried for a delicious dinner. I sliced up half a pork tenderloin that I had from a meal earlier in the week and added it to the mix, to add a little protein – but shrimp, leftover chicken or beef would also be great. Ff you wanted to make it vegetarian try adding tofu, or even just bulking up the veggies. And by using your favorite soy sauce substitute, it’s easily gluten-free. You can also switch up the spices in a bit – adding more or less Sriracha or red chili flakes to adapt the heat to your liking. We like it pretty spicy, but I realize not all folks do.

This is one I’m definitely glad to be adding to my repertoire, as it’s a favorite of our whole family!ย 

Source: adapted from Messy Kitchen Stories