Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

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Pesto sauce is one of my favorites – between eating it with pasta, using it as a pizza sauce, and spreading it on sandwiches, I can’t get enough! This dish is a favorite simple go-to meal in our house that even Clare enjoys.

Just cook some jumbo pasta shells, stuff them with a combination of shredded chicken, mozzarella, and pesto, and bake them for about 10 minutes. If you have some extra garlic on hand, feel free to add that too. (it’s hard to have too much garlic, in my opinion)

You can eat them as they are or drizzle with some extra pesto sauce. Serve with a salad or vegetable and enjoy this delicious meal!

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

Ingredients:
12 jumbo pasta shells
2 1/2 cups shredded chicken (about 3 chicken breasts)
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
5-6 Tbsp pesto sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
Salt and pepper
Parmesan and basil for garnish (optional)

Yield: 4-6 servings (12 shells)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cook the jumbo shells in boiling water for 9 minutes, or according to the package directions. Drain, rinse, and set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, combine the shredded chicken, mozzarella, pesto sauce, salt, pepper, and additional garlic if wanted. Mix until well combined.

Stuff a spoonful of the mixture into each shell. Spray a baking pan with non-stick spray and line up the shells. Bake them for 10-12 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Garnish with grated parmesan, fresh basil, or extra pesto sauce if wanted. Serve while hot and enjoy!

Source: A Becky Original

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Homemade Orange Chicken

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Orange chicken is my absolute favorite Chinese take out meals. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever met a person who doesn’t enjoy it. (And if that rare person is you, please comment and let me know!) Until recently, I’d never thought to try making it myself. While it does take some time to prep and cook, it’s completely worth the effort to make it every once in a while as a special treat. The sauce is especially delish and could even be used to coat and jazz up any sort of pre-made chicken bites you might buy.

I served the chicken with some simple white rice and steamed broccoli but you can use any sort of sides you prefer like brown rice, fried rice, chow mien noodles, various vegetables, etc. Maybe even throw in some fortune cookies for a genuine take out vibe!

Homemade Orange Chicken

Ingredients:
For the marinade and sauce:
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3 oranges)
Zest of 2 oranges
6 Tbsp white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar (any kind – I used dark brown)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated (plus more minced, if wanted)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp cold water

For the coating and frying:
3 large egg whites
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 cups oil (I used vegetable oil, but can use canola, peanut, etc.)

Yield: 4 servings

Directions:
To make the marinade and sauce, combine the chicken broth, orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne pepper in a large saucepan; whisk to blend well. Measure out about 1/3 cup of the mixture and transfer it to a large zipper lock plastic bag or a dish. Add the chicken pieces to the bag, pressing out the excess air and sealing well. Or if using a dish, evenly coat the chicken with the marinade. Refrigerate and let it marinate for 30 to 60 minutes. Place the saucepan with the remaining sauce mixture on the stove and heat over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth. Add this mixture to the saucepan with the sauce. Continue simmering until the sauce is thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.

To prepare the coating, place the egg whites in a pie plate or shallow bowl and whisk until frothy. In a second plate or bowl, combine the cornstarch, baking soda, and cayenne pepper; whisk to blend. Drain the chicken from the marinade in a colander or large strainer and pat dry with paper towels. Place half of the chicken pieces in the egg whites and turn to coat. Transfer the pieces to the cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly, shaking off the excess. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

To fry the chicken, heat the oil in a Dutch oven or straight-sided sauté pan until the oil reaches 350 degrees F. Carefully place half of the chicken pieces in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning the pieces halfway through cooking.  Remove from the oil with a skimmer or slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Return the oil to 350 degrees F and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

Reheat the sauce if necessary and toss with the cooked chicken pieces. Serve over rice and add some vegetables, if desired. Enjoy!

Source: Slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats

Super Simple Black Bean Soup

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With only three ingredients, this soup is quick and simple to make without sacrificing flavor. It can be served as a main course on a cold day or in addition to a full on fiesta.

You can blend the soup till it’s totally pureed and smooth or if you like a chunkier soup that still has whole beans, that’s ok too! An immersion blender is definitely the easiest and preferred way to go when blending hot soups, but a regular blender can work as well. Just please be extra careful and make sure to hold the lid down very tightly, otherwise it’ll pop off and you’ll be stuck with a mess and possible burns. Or if you have the time, let it cool first then blend and reheat when needed.

This soup can easily be made vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. And while the soup is delicious by itself, adding some toppings really sets it off. Top a bowl with some sour cream, shredded cheese, guacamole, tomatoes, jalapeños, green chiles, or whatever you like best. Use some crusty bread or tortilla chips to dip or add a side of my personal favorite, avocado on toast!

Super Simple Black Bean Soup

Ingredients:
2 cans black beans (15.5 oz cans)
1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles (10 oz can)
1 cup chicken broth

Yield: 4-6 servings

Directions:
Combine all three ingredients in a medium pot and mix together. Bring it to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the pot from the stove and blend the soup until it’s smooth using an immersion blender (preferred) or in a regular blender. Serve while hot and top with your favorite garnishes.

Source: Slightly adapted from Honey and Birch

Homemade Tostadas with Baked Shells

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Taco night is always a happy time in our house. Usually we use flour tortillas but sometimes mix it up and make crispy tostadas instead. Of course you can simply buy the shells, but making them yourself is an option too! Simply bake the corn tortillas for 12 minutes total and you get the perfect crunchy foundation for all your favorite taco toppings.

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Plus, tostada shells are typically fried so this version is a bit lighter and healthier since they’re baked. I just listed the ingredients that I used in the photo, but you can add things like black beans, refried beans, avocado, jalapenos, cilantro, salsa, or whatever your taco loving heart desires. Or just whatever happens to be in your fridge and pantry!

Homemade Tostadas with Baked Shells

Ingredients:
1 dozen corn tortillas
1 lb ground meat (I used turkey, but whatever meat you prefer!)
Taco seasonings (optional)
Sour cream
Shredded cheese
Shredded lettuce
Chopped tomato

Yield: 4+ servings

Directions:
For the shells:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and arrange the corn tortillas on a baking sheet. Bake for 6 minutes then flip each tortilla over and bake for 6 more minutes. Set the shells aside to cool until ready to use.

While the shells are baking, cook the ground meat until done and season how you prefer. Shred the cheese and chop the lettuce and tomato. Spread some sour cream on the shells and add the taco meat, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, and whatever else you want to add. Store extra shells in a Tupperware container to keep them fresh. Enjoy!!

Source: A Vita Dulcis Original

Asian Pasta with Peanut Sauce

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This is a favorite recipe of mine that I make often, especially when I find a pack of red/yellow/orange bell peppers on sale! You can load this dish with other vegetables like zucchini, mushrooms, onion, or bok choy. It can be made into a filling meatless meal (perfect for Lent!) or add some chicken, beef, shrimp, or tofu depending on what you like best!

The recipe calls for a few dashes of sriracha to give the peanut sauce some zing. But if you’re like me, definitely drizzle some extra on top for more or a kick. (feel free to omit the sriracha if you don’t do spicy food – the sauce is still delicious without it!) Another thing I love about this meal is that you throw all of the vegetables into the pot to cook with the pasta. So simple and yay for less clean up!

Asian Pasta with Peanut Sauce

Ingredients:
1 red, yellow, and orange bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 bag of baby carrots, sliced or quartered
2 heads of broccoli (florets)
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped or shredded
8 oz linguine noodles

For the dressing:
5 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp peanut butter
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 small piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into small pieces
1/2 Tbsp honey
1 clove garlic
1 tsp brown sugar
1/3 cup peanuts
Sriracha sauce (a few dashes – or more to your taste)

Cilantro for garnish
Sesame seeds for garnish

Directions:
Puree all of the dressing ingredients (except the peanuts) in a food processor until smooth and creamy.  Add the peanuts last and process until just finely chopped.

Start to cook the pasta (per the package directions) and add the vegetables into the water for the last 5 minutes to soften them a bit. Drain everything and return it to the pot. Add the dressing and toss it all to evenly coat. Add the chicken (or other meat) and stir to incorporate. Add more sriracha if you want a spicier taste. Top individual servings with sesame seeds and fresh cilantro. Serve while hot and enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Pinch of Yum

Creamy Tomato Linguine with Prosciutto and Peas

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I’m always on the look out for new pasta recipes to try and this one definitely didn’t disappoint! It has a creamy tomato sauce that actually reminded me of tomato basil soup. The peas give some extra color (and make me feel a little healthier) and the diced prosciutto adds a bit of smokiness and saltiness that works really nicely. I’ll definitely be making this dish again – it was the perfect quick and easy meal to make on a busy night! Continue reading