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This was so good. So good I didn’t even get to take a picture. It’s healthy and colorful, and easy. The feta adds a fantastic flavor. We will definitely be making this one again!

Check out Our Best Bites for some photos.

Spinach and Feta Pasta

  • 8 oz. Penne pasta (that’s 1/2 a 16 oz. box. Don’t use ziti–you want the ridges on the penne to “grip” the sauce)
  • 1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 3 c. fresh spinach
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • A handful of fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add pasta. Cook according to package directions. In the meantime, heat a little olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and mushrooms and cook until tender. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Add tomatoes, heat through, and then add drained pasta and crumbled feta. Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat through and serve; you can crumble a little extra feta on top if you feel the urge.

Red Beans and Rice

I got this recipe from a friend, and it is oh so good!! I love beans, and as we all know, JW is a huge fan of rice. So this was a great meal for us, and easy and cheap too!

Red Beans and Rice

  • One package of smoked sausage (can use spicy)
  • One bag of red beans
  • One green pepper, diced
  • One red pepper, diced
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 7 cups of water
  • 1 T of Cajun seasoning

Add all ingredients to crock pot and cook on high for 7 hours. Serve over rice.

Crash Hot Potatoes

Thank you, Pioneer Woman, for yet another delicious recipe! These are a nice change from mashed or baked potatoes. They’re nice enough to serve to company, but simple enough that you don’t have to slave over them. They’re kind of a cross between a baked potato and a french fry – crispy and salty. I served them with a beef roast, and they were great.

PW suggests seasoning them with the herb of your choice, but I chose to use only salt and pepper, which turned out just fine. Whatever floats your boat!

Crash Hot Potatoes a la Pioneer Woman (Recipe found here)

  • 12 small round potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Rosemary or other herb of choice, to taste

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in as many potatoes as you wish to make and cook them until they are fork-tender.

On a sheet pan, generously drizzle olive oil. Place tender potatoes on the cookie sheet leaving plenty of room between each potato.

With a potato masher, gently press down each potato until it slightly mashes, rotate the potato masher 90 degrees and mash again. Brush the tops of each crushed potato generously with more olive oil.

Sprinkle potatoes with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and fresh chopped rosemary (or chives or thyme or whatever herb you have available.)

Bake in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Pesto Chicken

Okay, remember that pesto pasta salad?

This one?

The only problem with it is that it only uses half a container of pesto. So you have a few options. You can:

A.) Double the recipe and have pesto pasta salad sitting in your fridge for weeks in that bowl you always want to use but can never find because it’s sitting in the fridge with pesto pasta salad in it

B.) Leave the half-used container of pesto in your fridge to “do something with,” forget about it, and find it two months later in an unusable state

C.) Make this pesto chicken

This was really good, really easy, and tasted awesome. JW commented several times how good it was. A huge thank you to Pinterest for this find (which if you are any sort of creative or foodie or fashion type and you are not on Pinterest, you are missing out on a whole world of new and exciting things), and of course, many thanks to Kalyn’s Kitchen for the recipe.

Baked Pesto Chicken (This is how I made it, when I didn’t have the recipe in front of me. Here is the original if you want to compare.)

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 3)
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper for seasoning chicken
  • Half of a 7-8oz container of basil pesto
  • Mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 375F. Cut chicken breasts into strips, or pieces. Whatever you prefer.
Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with non-stick spray. Lay chicken strips over the pesto, then spread pesto over the chicken. Stir it around a bit so the chicken is covered with the pesto.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil (or use a baking dish with a tight-fitting lid) and bake the chicken for 25-30 minutes, just until chicken is barely firm and cooked through. Don’t cook too much at this point, or the chicken will be overcooked by the time the cheese is melted and browned.

When chicken is barely cooked through, remove foil and sprinkle chicken with mozzarella cheese. Put dish back into the oven without foil and cook 5 minutes more, just until cheese is melted. (If your broiler is separate from the oven, start preheating it when you take the chicken out.) Kalyn’s note: After I melted the cheese for 5 minutes I switched my oven to broil and broiled for 5 minutes more, just long enough to get the cheese lightly browned.

We had this over the same tri-colored curly pasta I had used for the pasta salad, and the juice from the chicken dish was delicious over the pasta. You could also use angel hair, or even rice.

Split chicken breasts were on sale at the grocery this week, and I thought I’d make a yummy chicken pot pie with a latticed puff pastry crust, like I saw somewhere on Pinterest. Now… JW does not like chicken pot pie. I know this. But I thought maybe he’d like it with the puff pastry.

So I cook, debone, and shred the chicken, and as I start to get the rest of the ingredients out, JW comes around the corner.

“What’s for dinner?”

“Chicken pot pie.”

Silence.

He walks over to the pantry, opens the door, glances inside for a brief minute, then proceeds to pull out a box of spaghetti noodles and lay it on the counter in front of me.

Okay, I can take a hint.

So chicken spaghetti it is. Except I don’t have any rotel tomatoes. What I do have is green salsa, which I decide will have to do. I also added a bit of sour cream. And do you know… it was great! And Kathryn loved it too.

Now I have some puff pastry to use. Oh, the possibilities! Love me some puff pastry.

Chicken Spaghetti Remake

  • 1/2 lb spaghetti, cooked
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • Half of an 8-oz container sour cream
  • 1 7-oz can green salsa
  • Couple handfuls of cheese

Mix it all together and bake in a casserole dish until heated through and cheese is melted. Yum.

We love making pizza at home. For the longest time I’ve been using the Olive Oil dough recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, which is good and easy to make. But this time around I decided to try Pioneer Woman’s pizza crust recipe, which she raves about, and when have I ever made anything of PW’s that’s been less than stellar? Answer: never.

So I got started and I wasn’t too far into the recipe when I realized it called for 1/3 cup of olive oil, and I had… none. There was no going back at this point, so I used regular ol’ vegetable oil. Did it make a difference? No idea. The crust was awesome. A definite winner over the crust I’ve been making. But I shouldn’t have been surprised. When has PW ever steered me wrong? Answer: never.

This was supposed to be a pepperoni and olive pizza. Unfortunately as I started to put the pepperoni on, I realized they’d been in the fridge a little too long and had mold on them. Sad :( So we had olive pizza. And it was delicious! I really didn’t miss the pepperoni at all. You can use whatever toppings you like, of course. Even if it’s just olives.

Pioneer Woman’s Pizza Crust (from her cookbook)

  • 1 tsp or 1/2 packet active dry yeast
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup olive (or vegetable) oil, plus more for drizzling

Pour 1 1/2 cups warm water into a bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water.

Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.

With an electric mixer on low speed, drizzle in the oil until just incorporated. Or, you can use a spoon. Which is what I did.

In a separate bowl, gently stir the yeast/water mixture, and drizzle it into the flour/oil mixture. Mix until the dough forms a ball. You can use your hands if you like, which I did here, until the dough comes together.

Drizzle a little oil into a clean bowl, or mist with cooking spray. Toss the ball of dough in the bowl and turn over to coat in oil.

Cover the bowl with a moist kitchen towel and set in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 2 days.

To prepare the pizza, preheat oven to 500 degrees. Divide the dough in half. Lightly drizzle olive oil on a pizza pan or baking sheet. Or use parchment paper and no oil.

Using your hands, stretch the dough to the desired shape. Spread sauce and/or desired toppings over the dough and bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges of the crust are golden brown.

The other half of the dough may be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 3 days before use, or frozen for up to 6 months.

Loved, loved, loved this recipe!! Unfortunately I ate it too fast to take a picture – but it was gooood. And easy! Isn’t that the million dollar combination?

The original recipe called for pineapple chunks to be spread over the top, but JW is not a fan of meat/fruit combos so I left it out, and it was great.

Here are the basics:

  1. Wrap boneless pork chops in bacon
  2. Broil
  3. Place in crockpot and cover with sauce

And here’s the recipe with details:

Slow Cooker Bacon Wrapped Pork Chops (Adapted from here)

  • 4-6 boneless pork chops
  • Bacon – 2 slices per chop
  • 1 (12-oz) bottle tomato-based chili sauce
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon or regular mustard

Preheat the broiler. Wrap each pork chop in 2 slices of bacon, securing with toothpicks if you have them (I didn’t). Place the wrapped chops onto a broiler pan and broil 5 min per side.

Mix chili sauce, brown sugar, and mustard in a bowl. Place the browned pork chops in the bottom of a slow cooker and pour sauce mixture over the chops.

Cook on low 6 hours or until desired tenderness (I cooked mine all day. They stayed together nicely but were fork tender. Perfect!)

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