Tag Archives: Italian

Weeknight alphabet vegetable soup

When was the last time you had alphabet soup? Now that I think of it, I can’t remember ever having it, yet I always see the cute bag of dried alphabet pasta at the grocery store and think about making it.

My 5-year-old son has been showing an interest in cooking lately so we went to the library last week to check out kids cookbooks. One of the recipes was a tomato-based alphabet soup. He really wanted me to make it.

Fast forward to 4:30 p.m. today when I was driving home with zero plans for dinner. Thankfully I had already done the shopping for this meal. It came together in a jiffy!

Alphabet vegetable soup is a crowdpleaser - and it's good for you too! Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

This soup is packed with flavor and nutrition. The reason for the flavor? Pancetta and parmesan rind. Both add wonderful depth to the soup.

I also made chicken meatballs and dropped those in while cooking. I didn’t include the recipe for those, but you could use Italian sausage or any meatball recipe you prefer.

The verdict? My son and husband gobbled up this soup! Plus, we all had fun trying to spell words in our bowls. So much fun.

Alphabet vegetable soup is a crowdpleaser - and it's good for you too! Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Alphabet soup with vegetables

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 oz. pancetta, diced small
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced small
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4-5 leaves of swiss chard, chopped
  • 1, 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1.5 cups frozen green beans
  • 1 chunk of parmesan cheese rind
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 can of canellini beans, liquid reserved
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 6 oz. dried alphabet pasta, or small pasta of your choice
  • 1 pound of meatballs or Italian sausage

Directions:

Add a little olive oil to a large dutch oven and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the pancetta and sauté until cooked but not browned. Add the onion, carrots, chard and celery and cook till onions are translucent, about 7 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, beef stock, chicken stock, bay leaf, garlic powder, oregano, basil pepper flakes, parmesan rind and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper. Cover, bring to a simmer and turn heat to medium-low. Add raw sausage or meatballs and simmer, partially uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Add the frozen green beans and return to a simmer for another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain the beans and reserve 1/4 cup of the liquid. Whisk the flour into the bean liquid and add this to the soup to thicken it slightly.

Add the beans and pasta to the soup and simmer for 7 minutes or until pasta is done.

Alphabet vegetable soup is a crowdpleaser - and it's good for you too! Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Serve with generous amounts of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Alphabet vegetable soup is a crowdpleaser - and it's good for you too! Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

 

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Quick dinner: creamy pesto with chicken

Pesto. I love pesto. I’m a traditionalist and tend to prepare it in the classic Genovese way but recently a friend told me his method, with cream and white wine, and I thought I’d try it.

I loved it! Pesto can sometimes have an overpowering garlic taste (it does contain raw garlic) so this version provides the flavor of pesto but is a little smoother.

If you use the Costco basil pesto then it’s a super quick meal, just perfect for a weeknight.

Looking for a flavorful weeknight meal? Try this simple creamy pesto with chicken from Alaskaknitnat.com

Weeknight meal: creamy pesto with chicken

Ingredients:

Looking for a flavorful weeknight meal? Try this simple creamy pesto with chicken from Alaskaknitnat.com

  • 1 lb. spaghettini
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 2/3 cup pesto
  • 3/4 pound leftover rotisserie chicken, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon (optional)

Looking for a flavorful weeknight meal? Try this simple creamy pesto with chicken from Alaskaknitnat.com

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high flame. Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat. Add the wine and let simmer for about 3 minutes.

Turn off the heat and add the pesto and chicken.

Drain the pasta. Add to the sauté pan and toss till evenly coated with sauce. Add salt and pepper. Squeeze a lemon over the top. Serve with a side salad.

Pasta with chicken and spinach in a creamy garlic sauce

My husband travels for work so I’m frequently “solo parenting.” Working full time, picking up our son and getting dinner on the table by 6 or 6:30 can be a struggle. Tonight was really tricky since we got home late, but thanks to my rare meal planning this week I was able to put together a wholesome pasta dish in under 30 minutes.

By marinating the frozen chicken in the fridge overnight I didn’t have to make a mad dash to thaw it out and flavor it right before preparing the dish. I felt like a winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Pasta with chicken and spinach in a creamy garlic sauce | Make this wholesome meal in under 30 minutes! Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Pasta with chicken and spinach in a creamy garlic sauce

Serves 4

For the chicken marinade:

  • 5 frozen chicken tenders
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • salt and pepper

For the pasta:

  • 3/4 pounds pasta
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 5 oz. baby spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

The night before, place the frozen chicken in a large Ziploc bag with all the marinade ingredients. Let sit overnight in the fridge. It’ll be delicious by tomorrow.

Place a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil. Cook the noodles according to packaging.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet with a tablespoon of oil over high heat. When the pan is hot, cook the chicken tenders till browned, about 4 minutes on each side. Set aside. When cooled, chop into bite-sized pieces.

Pasta with chicken and spinach in a creamy garlic sauce | Make this wholesome meal in under 30 minutes! Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Clean out the pan with a paper towel and add the rest of the oil and the butter. Add the spinach and tomatoes and cook spinach till it’s wilted. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so. When pasta is drained, add it to the pan with the chicken, Parmesan and cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Pasta with chicken and spinach in a creamy garlic sauce | Make this wholesome meal in under 30 minutes! Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Lazy Lasagna

My family requested lasagna for dinner yesterday, but I didn’t get home till 5 p.m. so it would have been a mad dash to get lasagna on the table by 6:30.

Here’s what I made instead. Although it’s about the same ingredients as lasagna I didn’t have to take the time to layer everything out. I just threw it all together, topped it with cheese and stuck it in the oven. Easy peasy.

Lazy Lasagna | A delicious and simple recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Lazy Lasagna

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. lasagna noodles
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 8 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb. loose Italian sausage
  • One bunch of fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 large jar of spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When the water boils break up the lasagna noodles into irregular pieces and add to the pot. Cook according to box instructions, about 12 minutes.

In the meantime, heat oil in a large, ovenproof skillet. Add the mushrooms and sauté until some of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and a pinch of salt. Sauté until spinach is wilted, another minute. Set mushrooms and spinach aside.

Without cleaning the pan, add the sausage and brown. Add the sauce, mushrooms and spinach. Combine well. Drain the noodles and add to the skillet. Add half the cheeses and mix well. Top with the remaining cheese, cover and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes.

 

Lazy Lasagna | A delicious and simple recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Mini meatloaves with mushroom marsala sauce

Growing up I rarely had the chance to eat classic dinner foods such as tuna noodle casserole and meatloaf. I absolutely love these dishes. My mom started making meatloaf after I had moved out of the house and it quickly became a favorite. I don’t know what magic she puts into her recipe, but I’ll never know because, like me, my mom just throws stuff together and doesn’t keep track. Well, tonight’s meatloaf was worth remembering.

I doubled the recipe so there’s plenty of leftovers for meatloaf sandwiches, which are almost better than fresh-out-of-the-oven.

Mini meatloaf with mushroom marsala sauce | An easy recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

Mini meatloaf with mushroom marsala sauce

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios or cashews (optional)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 slices of good white bread
  • 2 Tbs. milk
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped pimiento olives (optional)
  • 2 Tbs. dried parsley
  • 1 Tbs. dried basil
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil

Mini meatloaf with mushroom marsala sauce | An easy recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

For the sauce:

  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup Marsala wine
  • splash of beef broth
  • up to 1 cup of reserved mushroom liquid (read recipe for details)
  • 2 Tbs. chopped parsley

Mini meatloaf with mushroom marsala sauce | An easy recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place dried mushrooms in a small bowl with hot water. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes. In another small bowl, tear up the bread and add the milk. Let sit for a minute and mash up with a fork.

In a Kitchen Aid bowl add the meat, nuts, yolks, soaked bread, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, onion, garlic, cheese, olives, dried herbs, salt and pepper. Finely chop the mushrooms and add them to the mixture, reserving the mushroom liquid for the sauce. Use the paddle attachment on a low setting until well combined.

Pour the bread crumbs on a tray or pie plate. Heat butter and oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Form four small loaves and dredge them in the bread crumbs. Brown the loaves in the pan two at a time.

Place the loaves in a casserole dish. Top each loaf with decorative olives if you’d like them to resemble a 1950s Betty Crocker cookbook.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until the center of the loaf reads 140 degrees on a meat thermometer. Remove from oven, transfer loaves to a cutting board and let sit, covered, while you make the sauce.

The sauce: Reheat the pan that you used to brown the loaves. Pour any drippings from the casserole dish into the pan. When the pan is hot add the marsala and tomato paste and whisk until everything is well combined. Bring to a simmer and turn down the heat. Add about 1/2 cup of the mushroom liquid and a splash of beef broth. Add more mushroom liquid if it’s too thick. Add parsley just before serving.

Mini meatloaf with mushroom marsala sauce | An easy recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

Slice loaves into thick slabs. Serve with egg noodles and green beans. Slather with delicious meat sauce.

mini meatloaves with mushroom marsala sauce
Yay, leftovers!

Wild Mushroom Marinara

Last week as I was scrolling through a local online events calendar I saw that Habitat Housewares was having a recipe contest. I’ve not entered a recipe contest save for last week when my husband’s work hosted a chili cook-off. I disqualified my recipe after discovering my husband failed to start up the Crock Pot properly and the beans were still crunchy.

That being said, I was determined to redeem myself purely for my own satisfaction. This contest also had some sweet prizes, namely a $500 gift card to a fantastic kitchen supply store and a Le Creuset dutch oven, retailing at $230.

The contest was for an original pasta sauce recipe. One of the judges was head chef at Villa Nova, one of the only originally Italian-owned restaurants in Anchorage (most Italian places are owned by Greek families here). The other judge was a local food writer who is all about local foods. The third was a local celebrity with whom I once performed “The Rocky Horror Show” at a local gay bar. I knew I had a chance.

Turns out I won second place and scored a pretty awesome dutch oven. First place was a stunning creamy Alaska seafood sauce that was a perfect blend of flavors.

I hope you enjoy my second-place pasta sauce.

Wild Mushroom Mariana Sauce | A recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

Wild Mushroom Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:

3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

1.5 oz. dried porcini mushrooms

6 oz. baby Portobello or crimini mushrooms, sliced

½ cup chopped onion

8 cloves garlic, crushed

2 Tbs. red wine

1/3 cup reserved mushroom water

42 oz. crushed Italian tomatoes (1 ½ 28-oz. cans)

2 dried red chilies

2 tsp. sugar

1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

1 Tbs. fresh oregano, chopped

2 Tbs. butter

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Boil 2 cups of water. Place the dried porcini in a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes. Strain the mushrooms through a sieve and reserve the water. Roughly chop the porcini.

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high flame. Add the garlic, turn heat to medium and cook till garlic is lightly browned. Add the porcini, Portobello and onions. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt. Sauté till onions are soft and mushrooms have lost much of their liquid, about 10 minutes.

Deglaze the pan with the wine and a couple of tablespoons of mushroom water. Transfer to a saucepan and set over medium-high flame. Add the tomatoes, remaining mushroom water, chilies, sugar, basil, oregano and butter. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for an hour.

Pour over pasta of your choice, cooked al dente. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve alongside Italian sausage and steamed green beans.

Pasta with Chard & Sausage in Pumpkin Cream Sauce

Time to jump on the pumpkin bandwagon. I’ve had a medium baking pumpkin sitting around the house for a couple of weeks and I’ve been putting off cooking with it because I have so little pumpkin-cooking experience.

I was inspired by a recipe from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks, but I also had items in the fridge I needed to use up, so I winged it a little. What I came up with was a flavorful casserole that was creamy, cheesy and somewhat healthy too.

You can use canned pumpkin, but I recommend baking your own using this method, as it was super easy and fresh.

Pasta with chard, sausage & mushrooms in a creamy pumpkin sauce | a tasty recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

Pasta with Chard & Sausage in Pumpkin Cream Sauce

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

4-5 hot Italian sausages, casings removed

14.5 oz.-box farfalle noodles

10 cremini mushrooms, sliced

1/2 onion, chopped

2 cups chopped Swiss chard

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup evaporated milk

1.5 cups pumpkin puree

3 Tbs. chopped Italian parsley

salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan

Pasta with chard, sausage & mushrooms in a creamy pumpkin sauce | a tasty recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil noodles till just al dente, drain and set aside. Meanwhile, brown the sausage in a large saute pan, breaking it up as it cooks. Set sausage aside and in the same pan, add the mushrooms, onions, chard, salt and pepper and toss till coated with the sausage grease. Add a small amount of olive oil if needed. Cover and let steam for five minutes. Uncover, stir in the garlic and saute another minute.

Stir in the pumpkin, chicken stock and oregano. Bring to a simmer for a few minutes. Add the evaporated milk, sausage and parsley and bring back to a simmer. If it’s too thick, add more chicken stock.

Place pasta in a large casserole dish and pour sauce over noodles. Sprinkle in half the cheese and mix thoroughly. Top with remaining cheese (and more cheese if you’d like) and bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.

Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Pasta with chard, sausage & mushrooms in a creamy pumpkin sauce | a tasty recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

This is a wholesome dish the whole family will love!

Pasta with chard, sausage & mushrooms in a creamy pumpkin sauce | a tasty recipe from Alaska Knit Nat