Chicken and Thyme Pasta

Sorry I’m getting this post out so late tonight.  It’s been a crazy week, and I’m flying solo, which means everything is running a little slow.  On the upside, I got to make one of my favorite pasta dishes that I rarely ever make because Brett is not a fan of pasta.  It has a nice strong Italian flavor and it goes great with THIS. I’ll post a picture as soon as I can.

Chicken and Thyme Pasta

3 cups uncooked pasta (Penne is the best)

4 cups cubed cooked chicken

3-4 cups red grapes, halved

2 medium stalks celery, sliced

1/4 cup onion flakes

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh or 2 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crumbled

1 1/4 cups mayonnaise or ranch

1 Tbsp. milk

1 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. coarse-ground mustard

1 tsp. salt

1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted or plain

Cook and drain pasta.  Rinse with cold water; drain.  In a big bowl, mix pasta, chicken, grapes, celery, and onion.  In smaller bowl, mix oil and 1 Tbsp (or 1 tsp.) of the thyme.  Pour oil mixture over chicken mixture; toss to coat.  In small bowl, mix mayonnaise, milk, honey, mustard, salt and remaining thyme.  Cover chicken mixture and mayo mixture separately and refrigerate at least four hours or up to overnight.  Shortly before serving, combine the two mixtures and add walnuts.

Meatballs for Beginners

I think meatballs are one of those things that you just kind of whip up without thought.  It’s one of those things that you just throw in whatever you have.  I remember the first time I attempted meatballs and I turned to a cookbook, called my mom, and I didn’t know what I was doing.  The only thing I remembered about making meatballs with my mom when I was young was squishing the meat in between my fingers before forming it into balls.  I liked the texture:)

If you haven’t made meatballs before, just know that the ingredients are VERY flexible.  I didn’t measure when I made these, so they’re estimates, but pretty close.   This is a base recipe for some meatballs that turned out delicious, but feel free to substitute my ingredients for something else to get a different flavor.

Sweet Meatballs

1 lb. ground beef

1 egg

1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

1 Tbsp. minced garlic

2 Tbsp. dried onion flakes

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put everything in a bowl and mix it together.  The best way to mix it is to squish it combined with your hands.  Form into balls and  place on greased cookie sheet.  Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through.  Serve over spaghetti and red sauce.  I used THIS pizza sauce and it was sweet and yummy.

Seasoned Breadsticks

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This past week I never cooked.  Yep, not even once. Wow, I am amazed that I’m admitting this, but that’s just how life goes sometimes.  Hello McDonalds, hello random frozen things in the freezer, and hello sandwiches.  I spent most of last week cleaning.  When I’m pregnant I always tell everyone that I can have a moderately clean home, or a cooked dinner, but NEVER both on the same day.  Well, I’m not pregnant so I can’t use that as an excuse, but my house did get a really good cleaning:)  I made these a couple of weeks ago, and luckily froze some for a rainy day (which happened to be last week).  This will be two recipes in a row from Our Best Bites.  Yes, when it’s good I can’t help but share it.  I will never make any other breadsticks again.  Amazing!  It’s really the seasoning that makes it so perfect.  You’ll love it!  Happy cooking.

Seasoned Breadsticks

(word for word from HERE)

1 1/2 c. warm (105-115 degrees) water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
3-4 1/2 c. flour

In a large bowl (the bowl of your mixer, if you have one), combine water, sugar, and yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes or until yeast is bubbly.  Add salt and stir. Add 1 1/2 c. flour and mix well. Gradually add more flour (usually between 3-4 cups, depending on your elevation and your humidity) until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and it barely sticks to your finger.  Spray a glass or metal bowl with cooking spray and place dough in the bowl.

Cover and allow to rise for 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Remove from bowl and place on a lightly-floured surface. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Roll into a rectangle and cut into 12 strips with a pizza cutter.  Roll out each piece of dough into a snake and then drape over your forefinger and twist the dough. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining 11 pieces of dough. Try to space them evenly, but it’s okay if they’re close; pulling apart hot bread is one of life’s greatest pleasures!

When there’s about 15 minutes to go, preheat your oven to 425. When done rising, bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Rub some butter on top of the breadsticks (just put a ziploc bag on your hand, grab some softened butter, and have at it) and sprinkle with garlic bread seasoning or the powdery Parmesan cheese in a can and garlic salt.

Garlic Bread Seasoning

1/2 c. powdered Parmesan cheese

2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. basil
2 tsp. marjoram
2 tsp. parsley
Combine ingredients in a jar (preferably one with a sprinkle top) and shake. Well, don’t shake until you’ve put the lid on, but I assume most of you are smart enough to figure that out! :)Sprinkle on top of breadsticks or combine 1 1/2 Tbsp. seasoning with 1/2 c. of softened real butter and spread on a loaf of French bread (cut in 1/2 lengthwise). Wrap in foil and bake at 375 until butter’s melted. If you want, you could also pop it open-faced under the broiler for a few minutes so it gets brownish and crispy.

Chicken Alfredo

This has been a great go-to recipe for dinner, when I can’t think of what else to make; it’s easy, I usually have all the ingredients on hand, and its delicious! Happy Cooking!
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Chicken Alfredo

2 cups milk
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
apx. 1/2-1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
fresh parsley

Pull out your saucepan and heat milk, add rest of ingredients (minus parsley) and warm thoroughly. Don’t let sauce come to a full boil.  Once the cream cheese is no longer lumpy turn the heat down and sprinkle in parsley.  Serve over pasta and chicken. (Grill the chicken with Italian Seasoning sprinkled on top.  It’s amazing!)