Archive for italian

Creamy Fontina-Ricotta Pasta with Marinated Garlicky Tomatoes

This is a great meatless dinner to make. Simple and yet packed with flavor! Goes great with a glass of chilled rosé.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of coarsely chopped tomatoes (1 1/2 lb roughly)
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 oz package of pasta (I like using rotini, fusilli or gemelli for this)
  • 8 oz fontina cheese, coarsely shredded
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh bagel
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Combine tomatoes, vinegar, garlic and salt in a large bowl. Set aside to marinate.
  3. When the pasta is done cooking, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water then drain. Return pasta to the pot and add in the 1/2 cup pasta water and the fontina cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Then add in ricotta. Mix well and move to a serving bowl or individual pasta bowls.
  4. Use a slotted spoon, spoon the marinated tomatoes over the pasta (discard the marinating liquid). Drizzle with oil and top off with basil and ground black pepper.
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Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce

I love this recipe because it’s a time saver. Traditional Bolognese sauce takes HOURS to make on the stove but with the Instant Pot, it’s ready under a hour.

It’s also my understanding that traditionally Bolognese Sauce is made with half beef and half pork. Feel free to substitute with whatever you feel like using or going with one type than using both. For this recipe, I used ground beef and ground pork.

Whenever I make this, we use half of the sauce for dinner then freeze rest in pints. They freeze well for future use.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 to 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 (28-oz) can whole San Marzano tomatoes with their liquid (I personally use the Cento brand)
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine (or cooking red wine)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste (which is roughly half a can of tomato paste)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Select Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and heat the olive oil.
  2. Add in onion, garlic, celery, carrot, and salt and sauté for approximately 5 minutes or until the onion has softened and is translucent.
  3. Add in ground beef and ground pork. Break it all up with a spoon. Cook it for approximately 10 minutes or until cooked through and no traces of pink remain.
  4. Add in tomatoes and their liquid. Crush the tomatoes with your hands as you add them to the Instant Pot.
  5. Stir in the red wine, tomato paste, bay leaves and ground black pepper.
  6. Secure the lid. Select Meat/Stew setting and set it for 35 minutes at high pressure. Make sure your valve is set to sealing.
  7. When the timer goes off, you have two choices. You can either switch the valve to venting or you can leave it on sealing and let it pressure release naturally.

I serve it over pasta and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

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Chicken Française

This Chicken Française Chicken is foolproof and so good. The lemony sauce is to amazing over the sautéed chicken cutlets and it’s really great over a bed of pasta too.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • garlic salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound thin chicken breasts
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup salted butter (it’s one full stick)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Flat leaf parsley (optional)
  • 1 lemon, sliced (optional)

Directions:

  1. Season the 2 cups of flour liberally with garlic salt and ground black pepper. Be liberal with it. You could also use other seasonings if you want to like paprika, Italian seasoning or whatever. I usually do garlic salt and pepper most of the time.
  2. Dip the chicken breasts in flour, then in egg then back in the flour.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet pan over medium heat. Pan fry the chicken breasts until golden brown on each side (roughly 5 to 8 mins total). Transfer cooked chicken to a plate.
  4. Clean skillet pan with a paper towel or quickly rinse it out. Throw in a stick (1/2 cup) of salted butter. Let it completely melt then add 2 tablespoons of flour. Whisk until well combined. Let it cook for five minutes then add lemon juice and chicken broth. Simmer until thickened (around 10 minutes).
  5. Put the chicken breasts back in the pan with the sauce. Make sure the breasts are coated with this sauce. Let it cook on low for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Serve over a bed of pasta.
  7. If desired, garnish the chicken française with some parsley and lemon slices.

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Instant Pot Pasta & Broccoli

I love using my Instant Pot especially when traveling or camping. This recipe is really easy. You don’t even have to restrict yourself to using only broccoli. You can add in diced red or green bell pepper or baby carrots (during the steaming part of the recipe).

Ingredients:

  • 1 large crown of broccoli, cut into 1-inch florets (or use a bag of broccoli florets to save time)
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • between 1/4 to 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese (it depends on how much you’d like to use)
  • a dash of ground black pepper
  • (I also use a generous amount of garlic salt as part of my seasoning)

Directions:

  1. Steam the broccoli (or whatever vegetables you’re using) by placing them in a steam basket that fits inside your Instant Pot (IP). Add 1 cup of water. Make sure the valve is set to sealing position. Set the IP to Steam program at 1 minute. When cooking program ends (you’ll see L0:00) switch the valve to venting position. Open the pot and take the steam basket out with oven mitts. It’ll be very hot! Pour out remaining water and return the inner pot to the Instant Pot. No need to rinse the inner pot.
  2. Add dry penne pasta to the pot. Add 4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Close the lid and make sure the valve is set to sealing position. Select Manual and set it to cook for 5 minutes at high pressure. When the cooking ends, switch the valve to venting position. Release the remaining steam before opening the lid.
  3. Add in olive oil, parsley, Parmesan cheese and black pepper. Mix well and serve.

** you can also switch it up by using different types of seasonings **

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Triple Cheese Meatloaf


In my house, anything stuffed with cheese is a hit. I’m a major “cheeseaholic” who could probably never live without cheese. What’s great about this recipe is that it is very easy to make! You could also substitute one cheese type for another.

Ingredients:

FOR THE MEATLOAF MIX:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground sausage (if you cannot find ground sausage, use 1 lb sweet Italian sausage and remove casings)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

OTHERS:

  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 firm medium tomato, sliced
  • 1 scallion (green onions), sliced
  • a dash of ground black pepper
  • several teaspoons worth of grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all the ingredients from the Meatloaf Mix list. Mix well. Divide this mix into two pieces.
  3. You will need either a round baking dish or a 8″ square baking dish pan. Spray this with some olive oil. Place 1/2 of the meatloaf mix in the pan and flatten it out.
  4. Add the three different types of cheese. Make sure you leave at least 1″ border around the dish so the cheese doesn’t ooze out that much when it’s in the oven.
  5. Sprinkle the sliced scallions on top of the cheese.
  6. Then add the other half of the meatloaf mix on top. Make sure this top layer covers EVERYTHING (cover the cheese, scallions, et cetera).
  7. Bake in the 350 degrees oven for 50 minutes.
  8. Add sliced tomatoes on top of meatloaf after it’s out of the oven.
  9. Sprinkle some ground black pepper and parmesan cheese on top of tomatoes and bake again for another 10 minutes.

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Rica’s Pasta Salad

This pasta salad never lasts long in my house. Everyone goes for a second helping, a third and a fourth. Before I know it, it’s alllll gone! This dish is a hit and a must have for BBQ’S get together parties. It’s really easy and a great dish loved by many. 


Ingredients:

For the salad:

  • 1 box (12 oz) tricolor rotini pasta
  • 1 large red bell pepper (or you can use two small ones), diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 lb pepperoni slices diced
  • 1 small or medium red onion, diced
  • Between 1/3 to 1/2 cup of sliced black olives (amount depends on your personal preference)

For the dressing:

  • 3/4 cup olive oil 
  • 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta to instructions on box. Drain. Run under cold water to stop it from cooking and drain again. 
  2. Mix all other ingredients in with the pasta in a large mixing bowl. 
  3. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together and pour into the salad. 
  4. Mix well. 
  5. Use Saran Wrap to cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours. The more it sits there, the more time it has to “marinate”. It tastes better that way. 

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Italian Sausage, Peppers, Onions and Potatoes Bake

This is an easy dish to make. It does make a great dish to bring to parties. 


Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs sweet Italian sausage, cut into half
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and sliced into chunky pieces
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 2 green peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 2 large onions, sliced into wedges (I used sweet Vidalia onions)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Cook sliced Italian sausage with little olive oil in a pan. Make sure the outside is browned all over before moving it to a baking dish. Don’t worry if it isn’t fully cooked inside, it will finish cooking in the oven. 
  3. When the sausage is moved, throw in sliced potatoes in the pan. Add more olive oil if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Stir once in a while. Let it cook for approximately 10 minutes. Then move to the baking dish. 
  4. Add peppers and onions to the pan. Add more olive oil if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. You can add in some minced garlic or garlic powder or even garlic salt at this point. I do that sometimes. 
  5. Move peppers and onions to the baking dish. Add in chicken broth, Italian seasoning and the white wine. Mix well. 
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. 

Tips: you could easily replace the Italian sausage with turkey sausage or kielbasa. You could also add in baby carrots or sliced mushrooms if you want to add more vegetables to the baking dish. 

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