Chipotle Ranch Chicken Pasta

The Eat at Home Challenge is off to a great start! Nearly 1800 people have joined.  I’m doing the challenge right along with everyone else, but last week I was sick all week.  Summer isn’t supposed to be for viruses, but this one sure did lay me flat!  It’s put me a little behind and made the Eat at Home Challenge a bit more challenging for my family.  We haven’t eaten perfectly planned meals, but we have eaten.  Fingers crossed that this week is better!

Today, we’ve got a recipe from Kate.  This one looks fantastic!

I know the summer stereotype is lazy days but my summers are always busy. The longer days always seem to keep us out and about later, which often means less time to make dinner. This pasta has been one of my favorites so far this summer. It’s a recreation of something I got at a local café and it comes together in about fifteen minutes. If you cook the pasta the night before, you can have it on the table in about five.

ChipotleRanchChickenPasta

I prefer to serve this cold – it feels more refreshing on a summer night, especially with fresh-from-the-garden corn and tomatoes – but you can heat it if you want to.

ChipotleRanchIngredients

Chipotle Ranch Chicken Pasta
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. mini penne
  • 1 lb. cooked chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 ear of corn, grilled and cut off
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 8 oz. Colby Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 2 tsp. chipotle sauce, or more, to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the ranch dressing and chipotle sauce.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, chicken, corn, tomato and onion. Pour the dressing over and toss to coat. Add the cheese and stir until evenly distributed.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Kate is a home cook and new mom  from New Jersey. In addition to sharing recipes with Eat at Home readers, she blogs her cooking adventures at Kate’s Recipe Box. When she’s not in the kitchen, you can find her reading or tending to her garden.

Perfect Pasta Salad {plus tips I’ve learned}

4 Tips for Making Perfect Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is a great dish to bring to a party, family get-together or for summer entertaining. It makes a great side, and if you are like me, you can make a meal out of it. It’s also so versatile, that you can add just about anything to it. However, for years…I just couldn’t get it right. After much trial and error, I have come up with what I think is the Perfect Pasta Salad!

Perfect Pasta Salad Bowl EAH

 

  • First tip, it’s important to cook your pasta al dente (it should say on the box how many minutes this is, I like to use rotini pasta and it’s usually 7 minutes). This will prevent the pasta from getting too mushy/soggy because the pasta will soak up some of the dressing as it sits.
  • Second, and this is where I often went wrong, you need equal amounts of pasta to vegetables/add-ins. I like to chop my main veggies fairly uniform (“bite” size), like cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, etc. My other ingredients that I use less of because of the strong flavor, such as onions and peppers, are chopped smaller. By add-ins, I am talking about not only vegetables, but also cheese, meats (pepperoni, ham, chicken), etc.
  • Third,  the dressing…everyone has their favorite and how much they like, but too much or too little can turn your perfect pasta salad into a “ehhh, it’s okay” pasta salad. My rule of thumb is 4:4:14 cups cooked pasta, 4 cups veggies/add-ins, 1 cup dressing. Even when I make a large batch for a cook-out or party, I stick with my ratios. See, math does come in handy sometimes! The pasta and veggies will soak up some of the dressing, so if you make this the night before, you may need to add a little more dressing the next day. This is a good starting point, and you can adjust to suit your taste buds.
  • Finally, and this is just a suggestion because they are not always readily available, but I highly recommend adding fresh herbs. My favorites to use are basil or cilantro.

Pasta Salad Ingredients EAH

I am particularly fond of the above ingredients for my pasta salad. However, I usually add peppers and I always add some kind of cheese, which somehow did not make the picture! I usually use feta, but feel free to add whatever is your favorite.

Perfect Pasta Salad {plus tips I've learned}
This pasta salad is the perfect side or light meal. Great for parties, cookouts, and more.
Ingredients
  • 8 oz dry pasta (will yield about 4 cups when cooked)
  • 4 cups desired vegetables/add-ins (such as cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, onions, fresh herbs, cheese)
  • 1 cup dressing (such as House Italian, Oil & Vinegar, etc.)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to directions on package for al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water.
  2. Place drained pasta in a large bowl, adding vegetables and desired add-ins.
  3. Add dressing, salt, pepper and stir to combine.
  4. Place in fridge to chill or serve immediately.

P.S. Want to save $60 and 2 hours each week on grocery shopping? Click herehttp://eatathomecooks.com/MealPlans429

Kim is a contributing writer for Eat at Home and author of food & family blog, Makin’ it Mo’Betta. She blogs about her adventures in the kitchen, incorporating life as mom to teen and tween girls, as well as a young son with nut allergies, and wife to a diabetic husband. Life is never dull!

Quick Mediterranean Pasta Skillet

When we were first living together, my husband and I started making “clean out the veggie drawer pasta” once a week. It’s exactly what it sounds like: once a week, anything that was left in the drawer went into our dinner. Some weeks it was unexpectedly awesome – some weeks not so much. Over time, it evolved into a few different go-to dinners.

MedPastaSkillet

This variation of the pasta is my personal favorite. I’ll still make substitutions depending on what we have on hand – chicken instead of ham or peas instead of tomatoes make frequent appearances – but these are always what I hope to find in the drawer when we start prepping dinner.

MedPastaIngredients

I love how fast this comes together. I usually start my chopping right after I dump the pasta into the water and then by the time I’m ready to add the pasta to the skillet, it’s done cooking. Paired with a salad and a loaf of crusty bread, it’s an awesome, quick meal.

Quick Mediterranean Pasta Skillet

Serves: 4 Servings

Ingredients
  • 1 lb. penne pasta
  • 3-4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large ham steak, diced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • ⅓ cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, julienned
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp. of oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and ham and cook until onion is translucent and ham is browned, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 30 seconds more, until fragrant. Add in the tomatoes and sliced olives and cook another 1-2 minutes, until the tomatoes start to give up their juice.
  3. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and toss to combine. Add more olive oil as needed to coat. Stir in Parmesan cheese, top with basil and serve.

Kate is a home cook and new mom  from New Jersey. In addition to sharing recipes with Eat at Home readers, she blogs her cooking adventures at Kate’s Recipe Box. When she’s not in the kitchen, you can find her reading or tending to her garden.

Italian Sausage Skillet over Acorn Squash or Pasta

Italian Sausage Skillet over Acorn Squash or Pasta

In case you don’t catch it right away, this is an attempt to please both the kids and adults.  Not that the adults in this house don’t like pasta.  But Jim and I are both attempting a Whole 30, which means no pasta for us.

And actually, we both agreed that the acorn squash tasted much better than the pasta for this dish.  Pasta doesn’t have much flavor of it’s own really, but the squash lent a slight bit of sweetness that balanced the sausage, peppers and tomatoes.

This is a Whole 30 compliant meal (as far as I can tell).  We really enjoyed this one.

Here’s what you’ll need to make it:   [Read more…]

32 Simple Side Dish Ideas

There are all kinds of things you can serve as side dishes, but if you’re like me you prefer simple things that don’t require a lot of prep.  Unless the main dish practically makes itself, I normally don’t like to spend time on the sides.

With that in mind, here’s a list of 32 simple side dishes that come together quick.  A few do require baking/slow cooking time, but the hands on prep is minimal.

Salads

32 Simple Side Dish Ideas

Simple Lettuce Wedge Salad

BLT Salad

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Cucumbers and Onions

Quick Cole Slaw

Ranch Veggie Salad

Here are 7 things you can add to your salad to make it more interesting

Fruit

Warm Cinnamon Applesauce with Toasted Marshmallows

 

Warm Cinnamon Applesauce with Toasted Marshmallows

Cranberries and Oranges

Ambrosia – so easy and tastes like more than the sum of its parts

Easy Peachy Fruit Salad

Vanilla Fruit Salad

Vegetables

honey glazed carrots in the slow cooker done

 

Honey Glazed Carrots in the Slow Cooker

How to Cut Cauliflower in 1 Minutes (so you can steam it or eat it raw)

Mashed Cauliflower

Grilled Zucchini

Parmesan Zucchini and Summer Squash in the Microwave

Roasted Broccoli and Red Pepper

Slow Cooked Apples and Butternut Squash

Winter Squash in the Slow Cooker

 

Potatoes/Stuffing/Pasta

apple cornbread dressing done

Apple Cornbread Dressing – 10 minutes to the table

Baked Potatoes with Onions

Southwestern Cornbread Stuffing

Garlic Cream Cheese Smashed Potatoes

Macaroni and Cheese & Macaroni and Tomatoes

Parmesan Fettucini

Easy Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Potatoes

Roasted Sweet and White Potatoes

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet Potatoes and Apples in the Slow Cooker

Bacon, Tomato and Basil Pasta – 20 minute meal

I love pasta for a lot of reasons, but one of them is that pasta makes a quick meal.  And it’s extremely versatile.  For this dish, I used angel hair.  It cooks in just a couple of minutes.

Bacon Tomato Basil Pasta - 20 minute meal

 

Some friends gave us a bunch of tomatoes from their garden.  Now that’s a great gift!  But they needed to be used soon.  Pairing them with pasta made perfect sense.

I also had a pound of bacon in the fridge, some white wine and fresh basil in the garden.  My original thought was to make this pasta dish. It also has bacon, tomatoes and basil, but it requires more Parmesan cheese than I had on hand.

So I decided to do a lighter sauce, with no half & half and no Parmesan.  We had just enough cheese to garnish, so it worked out great.

And this is a quick meal.  Especially if you already have the bacon cooked.  I needed to cook mine, but I still had it made in about 20 minutes.

I usually cook the bacon in the oven.  Not only is it easier and less messy, it allows me to do other things while it cooks versus stand at the skillet and get popped with hot grease.

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

Chicken and Zucchini Pasta – 75 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Recipes

I love this Chicken and Zucchini Pasta dish from Crystal & Co.  It’s a great way to have a veggie packed meal and still use the crockpot.  If you’ve got zucchini and tomatoes to use in your garden, this is the recipe for you. And if not, pick some up at the store.  Crystal used canned tomatoes and I would likely do the same.  I hoard our fresh ones to eat sliced on sandwiches or on the plate.

Chicken Zucchini and Bowties in the slow cooker

I know my family would love this meal.  We have a weakness for pasta in a creamy sauce.  Bonus points if the recipe includes chicken too.  And I love it if it’s got veggies.

Click here to see the recipe for Chicken and Zucchini Pasta in the Slow Cooker on Crystal and Co.

If you love using your slow cooker, check out our All Slow Cooker Weekly Meal Plan.  It’s got all the planning done for you (including the grocery list) so you can go enjoy summer!

75 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Meals EatAtHomeCooks

 

Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce with Sausage and Eggplant

75 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Meals EatAtHomeCooks

SausageEggplantPasta2

My husband likes his pasta sauce with meat. I prefer mine to be packed with veggies. This is our compromise.

After hours in the slow cooker, the eggplant becomes melt-in-your-mouth buttery. If you didn’t know it was in there, you might not notice it. It’s a great way to sneak in extra veggies!  For the sausage, I prefer to use pre-cooked sausage because it’s easier to slice up, but any Italian sausage would work for this.

This makes a pretty big batch for the two of us, but it freezes nicely for future use.

Here’s what you’ll need:

SausageEggplantPasta1

Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce with Sausage and Eggplant

Serves: 8

Ingredients
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (16 oz.) jar pasta sauce
  • 1 T. Italian seasoning
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage
  • 1 large eggplant
Instructions
  1. In the slow cooker, combine the crushed tomatoes, pasta sauce, Italian seasoning and minced garlic.
  2. Coin slice the sausage. Peel and dice the eggplant. Add both to the slow cooker. Stir well to combine.
  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  4. Serve over pasta, topped with parmesan cheese.

Kate is a home cook living and working in New Jersey. In addition to sharing recipes with Eat at Home readers, she blogs her cooking adventures at Kate’s Recipe Box. When she’s not in the kitchen, you can find her reading or tending to her garden.

Spaghetti with Kale and Lemon

I used to be strictly a red sauce and spaghetti noodle kinda girl. However, I would like to think my taste buds have matured over the years. (Maybe matured is not the right word, since I still prefer to hide my veggies in other foods so I don’t really taste them.)  However, this dish helped me realize that kale really can taste good! Granted it gets a little help from olive oil, garlic, lemon and my favorite, cheese, but this was really good! It even made me give kale chips another try. I still say they taste like broccoli potato chips, but with some ranch, I’ve even learned to enjoy eat those too.  If you are really a lover of greens, you could try this with collards, like they did in the December 2012 edition of Whole Living magazine, but…I’ll stick with kale!

Spaghetti with Kale and Lemon
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (depends on the level of heat you prefer)
  • ½-1 bunch of kale, stems removed and chopped
  • ¼ cup walnuts, toasted (or nut/seed of choice, sesame would be good)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Sea salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 12 oz spaghetti noodles
  • ¼-1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (Asiago or Romano)
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Cook garlic and pepper flakes until fragrant, stirring frequently, approx. 30-45 seconds.
  3. Add kale, and stir until slightly wilted.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in walnuts, lemon zest and juice.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Meanwhile, cook pasta in well-salted water according to package directions.
  7. Once done, reserve ½ cup pasta water and drain.
  8. Add pasta to skillet, tossing to coat.
  9. Add reserved water as needed to reach desired consistency
  10. Sprinkle with cheese before serving.

My kids wouldn’t eat this since it contained a green vegetable other than lettuce or cucumbers, but I thought this was delicious! Light, yet filling, and healthy. The red pepper gives it a nice little kick too, but the amounts can be adjusted to suit your taste buds.  It comes together quickly, and my kids just eat plain noodles with Parmesan (they don’t care for sauce) while I enjoy my greens like a big girl!

KimM is a contributing writer for Eat at Home. See more from her at her blog Makin’ it Mo’Betta, and follow along on PinterestFacebook and Twitter!

Ranch Meatballs and Pasta – 15 Minute Meal

We love Hidden Valley Ranch dressing.  So when they asked if I’d like to create a new recipe using it, I jumped at the chance.

This time, I decided to give pasta and meatballs a little Western twist with tomatoes and green chilis and a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix.

This can be made in the time it takes to boil the pasta.  That makes it a 15 minutes meal and you know I love those!

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

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