Creamy Pesto Pasta

I am all for flavor packed dishes. They’re even better when their easy & full of flavor. This recipe is one I’ve been working on for a while and I think it’s ready to share. Pesto is one of my favorite flavor combinations – herbs, pine nuts, olive oil, parmesan cheese – yum! I love the Penne Basilica at Buca di Beppo – and this is my version.

It took me a while to find the perfect AND easy creamy element – I tried sour cream, thinned cream cheese, heavy cream…each had their own ups but also just as many downsides. And then…I found it! Philadelphia Cooking Creme. They have a few different flavors – so far I’ve tried the Santa Fe Blend and the Original flavors. It has all of the benefits of sour cream, but you don’t have to worry about it doing strange things when you heat it.

This recipe is also very customizable! You can change the veggies, add no veggies, add chicken or even sausage. It can be a main course or a side dish. You could even make your own pesto or use a different flavor pesto – red pepper would be lovely!


Beef Tacos

This is my second taco post and one we enjoy it at least once every 6 weeks or so. I often say that Mexican food, like Italian food, is much of the same ingredients put together in different ways. This taco meat is a good base recipe to use in tacos, quesadillas, or even nachos. And I’ll even use it in a Mexican Lasagna next week.

I came up with this recipe to stop having to buy the packets of taco seasoning. I love pre-made things like that in a pinch, but why not come up with my own seasoning blend so I know what’s in it! I make once recipe of this and it lasts my husband and I all week. The beans and corn make this an even more affordable meal and stretch the taco filling. In fact, sometimes it will last more than one week, in which even I re-mold it into a casserole of some sort the next week.


Italian Meatballs

Who doesn’t love meatballs? They’re good with spaghetti, in a panini with some melted mozzarella, or in the middle of the night when you sneak one from the fridge…oh wait, is that just me? Anyway, meatballs are one of those quintessential Italian recipes and everyone has their own. This is my version of my grandparents’ recipe. I remember helping mix and roll them out when I was a kid. We’d dump them in the Sunday Gravy with the italian sausage once they were cooked and it would simmer on the stove all day until dinner. Yum!

Meatballs are great to get kids involved! They can help mix and then help roll them. I think the more you get them in the kitchen, the more they’ll appreciate the food they’re eating.


Baked BBQ Wings

It’s finally starting to cool off here in Texas and since tomorrow is the last day of summer, that means it’s – football time! We enjoy getting together with friends and watching the game. Everyone’s debating whether Tony Romo will be playing on Monday night…I’m pretty sure he will be. I remember when I was a kid, I’d sit in the living room with my Poppy and Uncle and watch the games. Even if I didn’t know quite what was going on – I was hanging with the guys!

One of the first foods I think of for football parties – WINGS! Who doesn’t love a good fried wing dipped in your favorite sauce? My husband and I both do, but we don’t make them that often because you have to drag out the pot and the oil to fry them. I created this recipe to give all the flavors of those wings – but with less calories – and much less prep and cooking time!


Roasted Peppers & Veggie Tacos

I’m so excited to share this post with you! It’s actually a two-in-one post, because I’ll show you how to make your own roasted peppers and combine them with a few other things to make veggie tacos. Now, I won’t lie, there are times when I do take the shortcut of buying a jar of roasted peppers, but when you have the time to make your own, it’s worth it! And so easy!! Really – I mean it! You also have more of the smokey, roasted flavor and get more bang for you buck! This is a great technique to have under your belt….or your apron…since we are cooking here.


Nana’s Breaded Chicken

I’ve mentioned it before, but my Grandmother (Nana) is awesome. She has no written recipes and remembers most of them. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted anything she cooked that didn’t taste good. She emigrated from Sicily, Italy when she was a teenager. Sicily is actually the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s known for citrus, olives, olive oil, grapes, and wine.

She and my Grandfather (Poppy) were the ones who first peaked my interest in cooking. I’d help them make fresh pasta, ravioli, and cheesecakes in their garage and make $20 – which when you’re 10, is a lot of money! They sold them to local restaurants. During my teenage years, I started writing their recipes down so that I could pass them down to my children (and so I could remember them myself!).

This recipe is based on Nana’s breaded chicken and is one of my mom’s favorite dishes. She actually requested Nana make for her past birthday dinner and it made me remember how much I enjoy it as well.

It also adds a simple technique to help keep your chicken moist and juicy – brining.