Dinners

Recipe—Crock-Pot Italian Pot Roast and Parmesan Risotto

Italian Pot Roast and Parmesan Risotto

The first time I actually made this recipe was Christmas Eve. Some of you might be thinking, who makes a crock-pot meal on Christmas Eve? The answer is, this lady! Why is it that people feel the need to spend half the day in the kitchen and half their paychecks on holiday dinners? You can have an amazing meal with minimal time in the kitchen and by spending less than $25. Thennnnnnn you can use that money you saved on groceries and buy some nice red wine that will compliment this dinner perfectly.

That Christmas Eve I just wanted to be able to fully relax and enjoy the day with my family. I didn’t want to be in the kitchen for most of the day slaving over the oven. And guess what, this dinner was just as good as many of the dinners I spent the entire day making. And best of all, my family loved it!

The meat had so much flavor and was so juicy! The sauce is a very mild tomato-based sauce that goes so fabulously with the parmesan risotto. This is probably in the top 5 recipes I have ever made. It is so filling and hearty. A perfect comfort meal for the cooler weather. I love that this recipe is “fancy” enough for a special occasion or a holiday but is quick and easy enough that you can pull it off on a Thursday night after a long day of work. Literally an all occasion dinner.

POT ROAST INGREDIENTS
3 lb beef chuck roast
1 tbsp dried minced onion
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 (.6 oz) package au jus mix
1 (.7 oz) package dried Italian salad dressing mix
2 tsp black pepper
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/2 c tomato juice (like V8)

RISOTTO INGREDIENTS
3 tsp olive oil
1 lb arborio rice
6 c chicken broth, room temperature
1 c parmesan cheese
1 tsp onion powder
ground pepper

GARNISH INGREDIENTS
1/2 c parmesan cheese
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

STEPS

  • Spray your crock-pot with cooking spray.
  • Place the pot roast in the crock-pot.
  • In a bowl, whisk together all the remaining pot roast ingredients.
  • Pour the tomato mixture over the top of the roast.
  • Cook on low heat for 8–10 hours, or high heat for 5–6 hours.
  • When the roast is done cooking, transfer it to a cutting board and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Using two forks, shred the roast and place back into the crock-pot.
  • Cover the crock-pot and keep on low.
  • While the meat is soaking in all that yummy sauce, begin to prepare the risotto by putting the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.
  • Add the rice and stir to evenly coat the rice with the oil.
  • Cook for about 2–3 minutes.
  • Add 1 cup of the broth and simmer, stirring constantly, until the broth has completely reduced and the pan is nearly dry, about 3 minutes.
  • Repeat the above step incrementally using 1 cup of broth at a time. The gradual addition of broth is key to getting the rice to develop a nice and creamy sauce.
  • Once all the broth is cooked down, stir in the cheese and onion powder and season with pepper.
  • Scoop a large spoonful of risotto into a serving dish and top with the shredded meat, additional parmesan cheese, and some parsley.

 

Recipe adapted from Plain Chicken.

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Dinners

Recipe—Chicken & Cheesy White Sauce Lasagna

Chicken & Cheesy White Sauce Lasagna

Ooey, gooey, cheesy white sauce goodness. What more do I need to say about this lasagna. It is layer upon layer of creamy mozzarella sauce, noodles, ricotta, chicken, spinach, and cheese. My mouth is literally watering.

This dinner is the ultimate comfort food. So rich, creamy, and filling. A perfect family dinner as the weather starts to cool down. Seriously though, what is better on a cold night then a big filling serving of pasta? Nothing, the answer is nothing.

This is one of those recipes that is great to make ahead on the weekend when you have some extra time and then during the week all you have to is pop it in the oven and bake. Boom! Dinner is done!

Chicken & Cheesy White Sauce Lasagna

Chicken & Cheesy White Sauce Lasagna

Chicken & Cheesy White Sauce Lasagna

INGREDIENTS
16 oz lasagna noodles
salt
1/2 c butter
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 c flour
2 c chicken broth
1 1/2 c milk
5 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 1/2 c parmesan cheese, shredded
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
2 c ricotta
2 c cooked chicken breast, chopped
10 oz package frozen cooked spinach, thawed and drained
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt.
  • Cook the noodles per the package instructions, drain, and rinse with cold water. Set aside until ready to assemble the lasagna.
  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Cook the onion and garlic in the butter until cooked through.
  • Stir in the flour until it begins to brown.
  • Gradually add the broth and milk to the saucepan and whisk together.
  • Allow the sauce to come to a boil and simmer for 2–3 minutes.
  • Mix in 2 cups of the mozzarella, 3/4 cup of the parmesan, basil, oregano, 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Stir until all the cheese is melted and well integrated.
  • Remove the sauce from the stove and set aside.
  • Spray a 9” x 13” baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Ladle a quarter of the sauce into the bottom of the baking dish.
  • Layer a quarter of the cooked noodles in the bottom of the baking dish and top with half of the ricotta, half of the chicken, and half of the spinach. Sprinkle with some of the mozzarella and parmesan and ladle another quarter of the sauce over the top.
  • Repeat the previous step. Noodles, ricotta, chicken, spinach, cheese sauce.
  • Add the final layer of noodles and top with all the remaining sauce and cheeses.
  • Bake for 40–45 minutes or until the cheese is all melted and just starts to brown on top.
  • Remove the lasagna from the oven and allow it to rest for 5–10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the parsley over the top.
  • Cut and serve.
Side Dishes

Recipe—Italian Cheese Rolls

Sometimes you just need to spruce up the ordinary with a little pizzazz. While there is nothing wrong with plain garlic bread or even simple dinner rolls but sometimes it is fun to take those sides dishes to the next level. I have seen these cheese filled Pillsbury rolls popping up all over Pinterest and decided to come up with some yummy rolls of my own. I went with an Italian version to go with all the pasta dishes I make, a great substitute for the traditional garlic bread.

INGREDIENTS
1 container of Pillsbury Grands Flaky Biscuits
block of mozzarella, cut into eight 1.5” x 1.5” cubes
1/4 c butter, melted
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp Italian seasoning mix
salt

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Open the tube of rolls and flatten each one using the palms of your hands.
  • Position a cheese cube in the center of each flattened roll and wrap the edges of the roll up around the cheese cube making sure they are sealed up tight.
  • Place seam side down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Repeat until all the rolls have been assembled.
  • Mix together the melted butter and garlic.
  • Brush each roll with the garlic butter.
  • Sprinkle all the rolls with the Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, and a little salt.
  • Bake the rolls for 16–18 minutes or until they are golden on top.
  • Let the rolls cool for about 3 minutes before serving. That cheesy filling can be nuclear.
Dinners

Recipe—Stewed Italian Sausages with Peppers

Perhaps it’s the Italian in me but I absolutely LOVE a good Italian sausage with peppers and onions. Ta-sty! This is a recipe I tried awhile back when I was trying to trim down on my carb consumption. You can use any Italian sausages but I really like Aidells Italian Style Chicken Sausages. They are flavor packed and the chicken helps cut down on some of the calories from the traditional pork or beef. The whole family loved this recipe! For those not watching their carbs, I served it with some crusty French bread and it was a perfect meal! Quick, easy, and delicious. That’s my style!

Note: The sausage and veggies are absolutely awesome in a sandwich too. Just grab a pack of sandwich rolls, load ’em up, and chow down!

INGREDIENTS
2 pounds Italian sausage (I love Aidells Italian Style Smoked Chicken Sausage with Mozzarella)
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 red bell peppers, chopped
2 yellow bell peppers, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
salt
1 c dry red wine
1 c fresh parmesan, grated

STEPS

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add the sausage and cook turning frequently until they turn a nice golden color and are cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  • Transfer to the sausages to a large plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  • Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil to the skillet along with all the veggies.
  • Cook stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened, about 12–14 minutes.
  • Season the veggies with salt and add the sausages back into the skillet.
  • Add the wine to the skillet and bring to a simmer.
  • Continue to cook for about 4 minutes or until the wine has reduced by about half.
  • Sprinkle with the grated parmesan and serve.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine.

 

Salads, Side Dishes

Recipe—Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta Salad

My husband and I grew up in a very small town so on the weekends it was not out of the norm for us to drive an hour to go to the closest mall or to go find some entertainment outside of town. On our way back home we frequently passed this wonderful little Italian deli. They had the BEST sandwiches and side salads. One of the side salads, which my husband absolutely loved, was their Italian pasta salad. I did my best to recreate this salad just for him. This makes a party sized batch, so if you are just making it for the family I recommend halving it. This is a perfect salad for a bbq or potluck and is sure to be a hit with all partygoers.

Note: This pasta salad will last approximately 4 days in the fridge. It gets better each and every day as the Italian dressing soaks into the pasta and veggies.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb rotini noodles
2 tbsp salt
1 1/2 c Newman’s Family Recipe Italian dressing
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 c red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 c red onion, chopped
1/2 c celery, sliced
2-6 oz jars artichoke hearts. drained
1 1/2 c cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 c mozzarella cheese, cut into squares
2.25 oz can black olives, sliced
salt and pepper

STEPS

  • Bring a large pot of water and the 2 tbsp of salt to a boil.
  • Add noodles and cook per package instructions.
  • Drain the cooked pasta and rinse with cold water.
  • Transfer the cooked pasta to a large bow.
  • Add the Italian dressing, garlic, red bell pepper, red onion, celery, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and olives.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
  • Refrigerate the pasta for 3 or more hours.  The longer the better.
  • Stir well before serving.
Side Dishes

Recipe—Zucchini and Tomato Gratin

Out of all of the seasons, I love the summer most. Not just because of my lazy poolside days, baseball games, refreshing beverages, or little summer dresses, but because of the abundance and variety of incredible produce. It is something that people in California take for granted. Every year we grow a couple of cherry tomatoes plants in out backyard. My son can hardly wait for them to ripen and as soon as they do he eats them right off of the plant. Sweet, warm, vine ripened tomatoes. Yummmmmm…there is nothing like them. We seem to have a bowl full on our counter all summer long. The other veggie we seem to never get enough of during the summer is zucchini. Zucchini and tomatoes are a wonderful pair, and when you add in some quality parmesan cheese and fresh basil, delish! When I first tried this recipe for zucchini and tomato gratin I knew it was a recipe I would be making all summer long. Serve it up on it’s own with some pasta or as a side with your favorite protein, either way it is a perfect summertime dish.

INGREDIENTS
sweet Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
olive oil
3 medium zucchini, sliced
1 leek, sliced and thoroughly washed
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 c parmesan cheese
1 1/2 c Italian bread crumbs
1 1/2 c cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 425º.
  • Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of large cast iron skillet.
  • Separate the onions rings, place them in the bottom of the skillet, and drizzle with a little olive oil.
  • Add half of the sliced zucchini, half of the leeks, and all of the garlic to the pan.
  • Sprinkle with a 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese and a 3/4 cup of the breadcrumbs.
  • Drizzle with additional olive oil.
  • Add the remaining zucchini, remaining leeks, and all of the cherry tomatoes to the pan and drizzle with more olive oil.
  • Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese and a 3/4 cup of the breadcrumbs.
  • Drizzle with a tad more olive oil.
  • Bake entire pan in the oven for 25–30 minutes.
  • Turn on the broiler and finish the dish off under the broiler for 2–3 minutes or until it is golden brown on top.
  • Garnish with fresh basil.

Recipe adapted from Proud Italian Cook.

Dinners

Recipe—Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf

Chicken parmesan has got to be one of my favorite Italian dishes. I don’t make it very often because of the amount of work that it requires but I love the stuff! I also love meatloaf, the hubby not so much. Well I saw a recipe the other day for an Italian chicken meatloaf and I thought to myself, why not give it more of a kick and incorporate my favorite chicken parm qualities, flavorful marinara and melted mozzarella…and this gorgeous chicken parmesan meatloaf was made. I expected the loaf to be much dryer, but with the sauce and eggs, it was the moistest meatloaf I have ever made, hands down. The parsley and basil give the meat a nice Italian flavor but really took it over the top was the homemade sauce and fresh mozzarella smothering the top. Delish! I love that this recipe is not only tasted fantastic but it is light on carbs and low in calories. I was able to whip this recipe up in less than 15 minutes so the hardest part was waiting for it to bake. And best of all, the hubby liked it.

Note: I used panko instead of breadcrumbs to keep the carbs down but I imagine some Italian seasoned breadcrumbs would be wonderful!

INGREDIENTS
2 lb ground chicken meat
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 eggs
1–1 1/2 c panko
2 c marinara sauce, divided
1/2 c parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 c fresh basil, chopped, divided
1/4 c fresh Italian parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
8 oz fresh mozzarella ball, sliced

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 375º.
  • In a large bowl combine the meat, garlic, onion, eggs, panko, a 1/2 cup of the marinara, parmesan cheese, a 1/4 cup of the chopped basil, Italian parsley, salt and pepper. (I start with a cup of the panko crumbs and add more as needed to help absorb some of the moisture.)
  • Mix until well combined.
  • Shape the meat mixture into a loaf shape and place in a large greased baking dish.
  • Bake for 40 minutes.
  • Remove loaf from oven and pour remaining marinara sauce over the top.
  • Layer the sliced mozzarella over the top and continue baking for an additional 20 minutes.
  • Turn on the broiler for 3–4 minutes to brown the cheese.
  • Remove the loaf from the oven and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
  • Garnish the meatloaf with the remaining 1/4 cup of chopped basil and slice to serve.