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Pat’s Pantry: It’s pasta for dinner tonight

 

How about a little Italian specialty for dinner tonight?  You can cook dishes with or without meat when you have pasta and the kids will love it.

 

MEXICAN CHICKEN MANICOTTI

 

1 package (8 oz.) manicotti shells

2 cups cubed cooked chicken

2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Monterey jack cheese, divided

1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream

1 small onion, chopped, divided

1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies, divided

1 can (10.75 oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted

1 cup salsa

2/3 cup milk

 

Cook manicotti according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the chicken, 1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, cheddar cheese, sour cream, half of the onion and 6 tablespoons chilies. Combine the soup, salsa, milk, remaining onion and chilies in another bowl. Spread 1/2 cup in a greased 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Drain manicotti. Stuff each with about 1/4 cup chicken mixture. Arrange over sauce in baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over shells. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with remaining Monterey Jack cheese. Bake 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Yield: 7 servings.

 

VEGETARIAN LASAGNA

 

12 uncooked lasagna noodles

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped celery

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce

1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon each dried basil, thyme and pepper

1 cup cottage cheese

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 packages (10 oz. each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

 

Cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, sauté the onion, celery and garlic in oil until softened. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar and seasoning. Simmer for 10 minutes. Combine the cottage cheese, egg parsley and salt in a bowl. Drain noodles. Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the 13x9x2-inch baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Layer with four noodles, half of the cottage cheese mixture, half of the spinach, a third of remaining sauce and a third of mozzarella. Repeat layers. Top with remaining noodles, sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover an bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes. Let lasagna stand for 15 minutes before cutting. Yield: 12 servings.

 

CREAMY FETTUCCINE

 

1 package (8 oz.) fettuccine

1 small onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup butter or margarine, divided

4 ounces cream cheese, cubed

1/2 cup whipping cream

2 plum tomatoes, chopped

3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Shredded Parmesan cheese

 

Cook fettuccine according to package directions. Meanwhile, sauté onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet until tender. Add the cream cheese, cream and remaining butter. Cook and stir until cheese is melted. Add tomatoes, peas, parsley, salt and pepper. Cook for 8-10 minute or until heated through. Drain fettuccine and top with cream sauce and Parmesan cheese. Yield: 4 servings.

 

SPICY CHICKEN LINGUINE

 

1/4 cup butter or margarine

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon pepper

2 1/2 cups milk

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, cubed

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Parmesan cheese

12 ounces uncooked linguine

3 cups cubed cooked chicken

1 can (4 oz.) diced green chilies

 

Melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour, garlic powder and pepper until smooth. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat. Add cream cheese and Parmesan cheese. Cook and stir for 8 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Meanwhile, cook linguine according to package directions. Add chicken and chilies to cheese sauce. Cook 5 minutes longer or until heated through. Drain linguine and top with chicken mixture. Yield: 6 servings.

 

FOOD FACTS:

Add a teaspoon of lemon juice to each quart of water used to cook rice. The grains will stay white and separated.

Rusty bolts can usually be loosened by pouring club soda on them.

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