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Deceptively Delicious Chicken Cannelloni

Steve gets off work earlier than me and he came over the other night be help with garbage, then he challenged himself to make this dish from Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious. He was in a bit of a hurry and didn’t read the direction for cauliflower puree closely enough. He didn’t steam the veg first and ended up having a difficult time pureeing it in the blender. In his defense, its not well laid out in the book. You have to go back and forth between pages for directions on how to steam, and then directions on how to purée, which is a little cumbersome if you haven’t made purées before. Anyway, when I got home I tried microwaving the puree but gave up because I couldn’t really tell if it was doing anything. We went on with the recipe as directed and it turned out pretty well I think. In the first couple of bites I could taste the cauliflower but got used to it. It may have been because it wasn’t cooked first, I’m not sure. Other than that, it’s a pretty basic dish but once Miss M. finally starts eating foods that are mixed together, I will give it a try again. (Sorry about posting such a mess of a dish but we nearly forgot to take a pic.)


Chicken Cannelloni

8 whole wheat lasagna sheets ( 4×4 or 3×6 inches)

cooking spray

1 lb chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

3/4 cup cauliflower puree

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 cups jarred tomato sauce

1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

Ahead of time: cut the cauliflower into bite sized pieces and steam for about 10 minutes. Whir in a blender or food processor for about a minute or two, with a teaspoon or two of water, until smooth.

Boil and salt the water for the lasagna sheets. Cook, drain and then place the lasagna in a bowl of cool water.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix the chicken, ricotta, cauliflower puree, parmesan, garlic powder, and salt until the chicken is well coated.

Place 1 lasagna sheet on the cutting board. On the edge closest to you, spread out 1/4 cup of the filling so that it covers 1/3 of the sheet. With your fingertips, roll the lasagna into a tube (lift the edge of the pasta with the filling and roll). Transfer seam-side down to the baking sheet. Pour the sauce around the cannelloni but not on top. Sprinkle with mozzarella and bake, uncovered, 25-30 minutes.


Quick Chicken-Pepper Pasta

My friend Steve was over and was on candy duty for Halloween. To simplify my evening he also made me dinner! Looking through my cookbooks we decided to try something we knew would be quick, easy, and made with what we had on hand so we turned to this thriftstore find “Quick and Easy Family Favourites” from Gooseberry Patch. Honestly, I didn’t have the highest hopes, mainly because many of the recipes in the book rely on premade ingredients, but this one didn’t. Steve said historically, he didn’t have the best luck with cream sauces either so he was hesitant as well. But guess what…it was fabulous! We didn’t have red peppers so we used green, he forgot the garlic, and neither of us like tarragon very much, but other than than we stuck the recipe and I was so impressed. Cheesy, creamy, deliciousness! I guess there’s a reason why that company is so popular. 🙂


Chicken Pepper Pasta


6 tablespoons butter or margarine (We used half of each)
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 orange pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 (7-oz.) pkg. vermicelli, cooked


Melt butter in a skillet until sizzling; stir in onion, peppers and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes or until peppers are crisp-tender. Remove vegetables from skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add chicken, tarragon, salt and pepper to skillet. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, 7 to 9 minutes or until chicken is golden and tender.

Add vegetables, half-and-half and cheeses to chicken mixture. Reduce heat to medium; continue cooking 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Add vermicelli; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.

Chicken and Cheese Tortellini with Pesto

I tried a second recipe by Rose Reisman which I was hoping my daughter would also enjoy but no dice, yet again. She will not eat any green specks apparently, which rules out pesto. I, on the other hand, really liked this. It’s super simple to make and doesn’t look like much but it’s surprisingly tasty. The pesto is a nice change from tomato or cream based sauces. This recipe is destined to become a go-to lunch around here. (I used spinach and cheese ravioli by Olivieri)


Chicken and Cheese Tortellini with Pesto

4 oz boneless chicken breast (about 1 breast)
12 oz tortellini
1/3 cup pesto (store-bought, or see Pesto recipe)
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a small, nonstick skillet lightly coated with cooking spray, add the chicken and sauté for 4 minutes per side or just until no longer pink. Let cool, then dice.

2. Meanwhile, boil the tortellini for 8 minutes or until just tender. Drain and place in a serving bowl. Add the chicken, pesto and Parmesan cheese and toss well.

Nutritional Analysis per Serving:
Calories 354
Protein 20 g
Fat 12 g
Saturated Fat 4.9 g
Carbohydrates 41 g
Cholesterol 56 mg
Sodium 548 mg
Fiber 1.8 g

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Make Ahead: Sauté the chicken up to a day in advance and keep refrigerated. Serves 4
Nutrition Watch: Pesto sauce is high in calcium and very high in vitamin A, an antioxidant that helps fight cancer.

Pasta with Tomato Bacon Sauce

This one’s another quick, go-to weeknight dinner. So simple and so yummy! I know it doesn’t look like much but I had to force myself not to eat half the pan myself. Instead of penne I used alphabet pasta in hopes it would entice my 3 year old to eat it. No dice. But I loved it! I also made it even simpler, and probably a little healthier by using precooked bacon. I removed it while I was cooking the onion and garlic, then added it again when I added the tomatoes. It took maybe 35 minutes from start to finish. What more do you need? Thanks Chef Michael Smith 🙂

photo 2 (2)

Penne with Tomato Bacon Sauce


8 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1x 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, rosemary or oregano
a sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly grated pepper
a 1 pound box penne pasta


Toss the bacon into a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add a splash of water. Cook until the water evaporates and the bacon begins to brown. Continue stirring, lowering the heat a notch, until the bacon is crispy and brown. Drain away most (or some) of its fat, leaving enough behind to sauté the vegetables.

Add the onion and garlic and cook until they soften and begin to caramelize. Pour in the tomatoes, rinsing out the can with a splash of water and adding that too. Sprinkle in the herb of your choice and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes or so.

Cook penne in lots of boiling salted water. Toss with the sauce and enjoy!

Variation: You can use any type of pastas and type of canned tomatoes for this sauce. If you choose whole tomatoes, purée them before you add them to the sauce so the bacon can stay chunky. For a decadent treat and a richer flavour, you can leave all of the bacon fat in the pot. If you don’t have any fresh herbs, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, rosemary or thyme will work well too.

Pizza Pasta

It can be a real challenge cooking for a toddler. Miss M was going through a chicken finger phase for the last little while and I had to get her out of it somehow. She hasn’t been eating pizza lately either, which was strange, but she does seem to like pasta. I stumbled upon this recipe while visiting Chef Michael Smith’s website and it sounded so delicious I HAD to give it a try. I was hesitant to buy 4 pints of cherry tomatoes so I waited for canned tomatoes to be on sale at my grocery store. And I’m not a fan of pepperoni so I jumped at the chance when mild Italian turkey sausage was also on sale. I removed the casings and browned them in a large sauté pan then added a large can of plum tomatoes and let it simmer for about 20 minutes or so while I roasted the onions, garlic, and 1 pint of fresh grape tomatoes. Once the veggies were ready I combined everything as directed in the recipe and broiled until the cheese was melted. Mmmm! It’s one of those dishes that gets better the more you eat it. Dangerous! And the best part – Miss M loved it!


Pizza Pasta


1/2 box penne pasta (about 2 cups)
1 pound spicy pepperoni, chopped in 1 inch pieces (I used one pack of mild Italian sausage)
4 pints (or so) Cherry Tomatoes
2 large onions cut in 8
1 head garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons or so dried oregano
4 ounces cream cheese (half a block)
1-2 sprinkles salt and lots of freshly ground pepper
3 cups or so mozzarella cheese, shredded


Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).Toss pepperoni, tomatoes, onions, garlic, oregano and olive oil in a large bowl. Turn into a 9- X 13-inch (3.5L) ovenproof casserole or baking dish. After 30 minutes or so stir the works once or twice then keep an eye on things. Bake until the tomatoes soften and the pepperoni and onion lightly brown, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and set to broil.Meanwhile cook your pasta in lots of boiling salted water. Drain it well but do not rinse or you’ll drain away the surface starch that helps the sauce cling to it. When the roast tomato sauce has finished cooking toss it with the pasta and stir in the cream cheese. Top with the mozzarella. Broil until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly, about 5 minutes or so. Your hearty pizza pasta is ready! Call in the gang, serve and share.

Peanut Sauce Chicken and Pasta Bowl

I didn’t do much cooking this past week because I’ve been trying to eat all the leftovers that have been accumulating in my freezer. Last night I found some poached chicken breast so I defrosted that and made a peanut sauce to go with. (I went easy on the spices so that my toddler could eat it.) Then I sautéed some onion and garlic, added the chicken, mixed up the sauce,  added it to the pan to heat, and served the mixture over small pasta shells. It turned out quite well. My 2.5 year old loved it and that’s saying a lot because she’s been very fussy as of late! It’s a versatile recipe that can be used to dress up just about anything but is especially good with chicken and noodles.


Peanut Sauce

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne), if desired
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped


In 1-quart saucepan, mix all ingredients with wire whisk. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth and warm.
Use sauce immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 months.

Source: Betty Crocker Big Red Cookbook, 11th edition

Sausage and Pepper Pasta Supper

I had some sausage leftover from when I made pizza and I wanted to use it for something but didn’t know what. This is where iPhone apps come in handy. I punched in “sausage” and “pasta” into the app and scrolled down to find a recipe that over 90% of readers would make again. This recipe came up. It’s super fast and easy which makes it the perfect weeknight meal. It calls for Italian sausage but all I had was smoked but I used it anyway and it still turned out pretty good. I also substituted shells for the penne and omitted the green pepper. Next time I’ll try it with the sweet Italian sausage and tell you how it goes.

pasta sausage supper

Sausage and Pepper Pasta Supper

Bon Appétit | March 1990
by Suzanne Solberg: Los Angeles, California

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds hot or sweet Italian sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large green or yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1 large red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 large onion, sliced
1 14 1/2-ounce can tomatoes, diced, juices reserved
1 tablespoon dried basil, crumbled
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
Salt and pepper
1 pound penne pasta, freshly cooked
Grated Parmesan

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden, about 1 minute. Mix in sausage and cook until brown, about 8 minutes. Add peppers and onion and cook until almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Mix in tomatoes with juices, basil and oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer 8 minutes. Uncover and cook 2 minutes. Pour over pasta and toss. Serve, passing Parmesan separately.

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