Tag Archives: basil

Creamy tomato basil tortellini and my can do attitude 

Oh it’s been a long few weeks. The kiddos all started school and we started out strong! We really did! Spirits were high. Hopes were higher. It’s gonna be awesome! Back to school. Back to a routine. We can so do this!! 


And then the first Friday my oldest started running fever because of a fever virus and it snowballed from there. Two of my other kiddos got sick and then again on Friday, my oldest was running fever…AGAIN! Back to the doctor’s office we went. This time it was a sinus infection. Sometimes being a mom means feeling like maybe I just cannot win. I know, I know, allowing myself to get defeated is not the answer. But oh it’s easy to slip into that frame of mind when there is a sick child at home every other day. Not sure what I thought would happen when I had 4 kiddos back to back, but days like that were not anywhere on my radar. Ah the innocence of new motherhood. Then there’s been adjustment to new schools and the back to school routine. I have 3 kiddos at new schools this year and it’s been so wonderful, but even good change is change none the less. It’s all a matter of adjusting. And we are. Throw in some home repair disasters, leaking air conditioner, an aching back and just LIFE…and that leads to a big ole case of TGIF! I was in that frame of mind when I decided to cook up today’s recipe. I had seen it is floating around Facebook (my friends know good food!) and I knew I had to make it. Creamy, basil, pasta, can make at home so going out is unnecessary. Which is good because I was over being around a bunch of people and also taking 6 people out to dinner is not cost effective. At all. It’s pretty dang pricey actually. So this was right up my ally. And oh it was creamy delicious perfection. Comfort food at its very carbolicious best! But on the upside it is chock full of spinach and tomatoes. So at least it packs a nutritional punch (ah silver lining!!). I am so glad I decided to make this. You will not be disappointed! Yum. Just yum! Now if I can just get back in the back to school, take the bull by the horns attitude….kind of like my younger two in this pic…

they have the world by the tail…wish I could bottle that confidence

Creamy tomato basil tortellini (recipe adapted from http://www.tiphero.com

Stuff you need~

2 tablespoons butter 

1 small onion diced 

4 cloves (or more!!) garlic, minced 

3 tablespoons flour 

1 1/4 cups whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream 

6 ounce package of baby spinach 

1 14 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes, juice and all  

3 tablespoons basil 

3/4 finely shredded Parmesan 

20 ounce package tortellini (I used Italian sausage but use whatever kind you want) 

Salt and pepper to taste 

Red pepper flakes 

What to do with the stuff~k

Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain and then set aside. 

Melt butter in a large skillet. Sauté onion in butter until tender. Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant. Now you will make a kind of sort of roux. Add the flour and stir constantly for 1 minute. Pour in the milk and half and half. Whisk or stir over low heat until it begins to simmer. 

Toss in the baby spinach, tomatoes and basil. Season with salt and pepper. 


Stir until spinach is wilted and sauce is thickened. 


Stir in Parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Remove sauce from heat. Toss tortellini with sauce. Garnish with chili pepper flakes and Parmesan. 


Yum. Just yum. Enjoy! Here’s to another week coming…I can do this!!

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Sundried tomato basil chicken pasta and the recipes that hold us together 

It has occurred to me in the past few weeks that I have numerous friendships that many wonderful recipes have come from.  I make friends with these lovely, beautiful inside and out people, and because we share a love of cooking, and yes food, we end up sharing our favorites. They are not the reason we are friends, but the recipes become these tentpoles of our friendships.  We know their family through these recipes, even if we have never met their family.  These recipes become part of our story. The food that feeds our kids during parties, the meals that we bond over, reveal secrets over (along with a glass of wine). It’s just what friends do!! 

For example, the other day, I wanted to make my favorite quiche recipe which comes from my friend Alayna. I adore quiche and this recipe is the real deal. It comes out perfectly every time and I always feel like a brilliant chef when I am serving it up for a brunch. She wrote the recipe down for me long ago and I have sense lost it (I know!!) and has texted it to me several times as well. I texted her AGAIN to get the recipe. She texts back with one of her witty responses, followed by the recipe and then “I swear we just use one another for recipes!” Though I knew she was kidding, it gave me pause for a minute. I am a sensitive person and don’t take most things as lightly as they are intended. We go back and forth with the witty banter that makes us good friends and it is decided that we don’t see one another often enough and this is likely due to us being busy cooking. So then a few days later, she texts me about what to do with leftover cornbread and I say cornbread salad! And the circle continues. 

A week or so ago, I texted Betsy for a the recipe for her mama’s sundried tomato basil chicken pasta recipe. Again, with 8 kids and super busy schedules between us, not to mention the 3 1/2 hour travel between us, we don’t talk to or see one another nearly as often as we would like. But that doesn’t make us any less of a friend to one another. Good friends don’t need daily interaction to stay good friends. A good, quality friendship is always there, unchanging and unaffected. Sure it’s a good idea to do something to nourish those relationships and keep up best you can but a good friend is for life. Just last week, as I was about to board a flight to Honolulu (yes Honolulu…cajun mama travels albeit reluctantly) I get a text from Betsy encouraging me to have fun and not worry. Why? Because she knows me, has experienced first hand how hard it is for me to leave my kids, and break away.  And in many ways her text put me at ease. It reminded me what I am made of and also what a good friend I have in Betsy. My point here is, maybe our texts do revolve around forgotten recipes but it keeps us connected. Despite the miles, the kids, the exhalation and the busy schedules, we remain close somehow. And Alayna and Betsy are just examples. I experience this with different friends. Recipes have a way of doing that. They bond us, draw us together, and keep us connected. 
Now the recipe for Alayna’s quiche went in my column in the May issue of Red River Moms (and I will share it here soon) but today I am sharing the recipe for the Mrs. Sharon’s sundried tomato basil chicken pasta. And you will see just how insanely delicious one recipe can be after you make it. One bite and you will be SOLD!!! This is a filling pasta dish that is so flavorful and hearty, even the manliest man will appreciate it. But it is also perfectly at home on the menu for a ladies’ luncheon. 
Sundried tomato basil chicken pasta 
Stuff you need~

1 8 ounce jar sundried tomatoes, in oil (drained and reserve the oil) 
1 onion, sliced 
1 green bell pepper, sliced 
1 teaspoon garlic 
1 8 ounce package sliced mushrooms 
1 teaspoon basil (I used the stuff in the tube)
4 chicken breasts, sliced thin
1 cup whipping cream 
8 ounces bow tie pasta (about 1/2 box), cooked al dente 

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

*Betsy’s additions~Parmesan and red pepper flakes (I have told ya’ll before about her red pepper flakes addiction and she passed it on to me) 

What to do with the stuff~

Drain oil from tomatoes and reserve. Give the sundried tomatoes what PW calls a “hard chop”. Does not have to be perfect or uniform just chop them up some. 

  
Now, add some of the reserved oil to a large skillet and warm it over medium heat. Add slices of onion and bell pepper to the pot. Sauté them for a minute or two and then add garlic and mushrooms.

  
Sauté until the pepper are tender. Remove from pot and Set aside. Now, sprinkle your sliced chicken with a little kosher salt and black pepper and add to the skillet. I added a little more of the reserved oil before doing this. Cook the chicken for a few minutes on one side and then flip over and cook for a minute or two on the other side. Cook in two batches if needed to make sure the chicken gets a nice sizzle to it. If you add to much chicken at once, it takes too long for the pot to heat up and no browning goes on. And that nice lovely brown on the the chicken adds such a lovely depth to the flavor in this dish. (That is the foodiest statement I have ever made…excuse me).   Once your chicken is cooked, stir the veggies and your other batch of cooked chicken back into the pot. Now stir in the chopped sundried tomatoes and basil to this and give it a stir. Yes. That’s right. Smells good, doesn’t it? Yes. Mrs. Sharon is a wise wise woman with excellent taste. (Ask how I know? She raised a daughter who is the same way! I am not comparing one of my dearest friends to this pasta dish…but if I was, it would be a compliment!)

Ok! Now, pour in that luscious cream. Oh yeah…it’s good to be you.  

mmmmmm….good things are happening

Stir in cooked pasta and season with some good ole sal

Pasta with fresh tomato sauce and a glorious spring day 

Oh today has been a beautiful day in my world.  First of all, when I woke up, the sun was already out.  That in and of itself is a huge statement for any mom.  I got to sleep past 5:30 a.m. AND the sun was out.  Score one for this girl!!  So the kids and I loaded up and went out to breakfast and did a little shopping.  There were minimal shenanigans or hissy fits.  And the kids were  pretty well behaved too. 

  

 Hahaha!!  But really now…we came home and the kids unearthed last year’s stash of plastic Easter eggs and they had some Easter egg hunts.  We love us a good egg Hunt now and they can get down.  It really felt good for us to spend some time out doors in the bright sunshine beating down on our skin and breathing in the fresh air of Springtime. And then it got really hard core. We broke out the water hose. See Big Daddy is against opening the pool until April but the kids feel that if the sun is shining, the pool should be open. Then I could not find the sprinkler and Big Daddy was off in hot pursuit of that ever elusive Tom (turkey) so we all compromised…Mom could hold the hose while the kiddos pranced through the spray from the hose in their bathing suits. Fair enough. 

simple and pure…sunshine, their shadows and the spray from the hose.

this sums up everything I feel about it finally being Spring

 

Big brother mans the hose

 

So then my little water logged darlings  decided they were hungry and took a vote…burgers for dinner. Get on that mom! But I was not in a burger mood. And here comes the good part.  There has been a recipe for pasta with fresh tomato sauce from http://www.marthstewart.com that I have been wanting to try. I also happened to have some gorgoues tomatoes begging to be used.  I love it when a plan comes together that way. A fresh tomato purée with garlic and basil and olive oil just screams….spring is here and summer is not far at all!  So much to my delight, this pasta sauce was all that I hoped it would be and I slurped up (don’t tell anyone) every last noodle. It truly was so fresh and perfect and full of flavor. It’s not a fussy high maintenance pasta sauce that needs you to coddle her and tell her she’s pretty.  This pasta sauce is  her super cool laid back gal pal who is just a breeze to be around Next time I make this recipe, I hope it will be made with Big Daddy’s home grown tomatoes and fresh basil from my container garden.  I hope you will enjoy it as much as we all enjoyed this perfect spring day.  More of those please Mother Nature…if you don’t mind!! 

 

the stars of my show
 


Pasta with fresh tomato sauce 

Stuff you need~

2 1/2 pounds fresh (unrefrigerated) tomatoes 

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (I used the Basil in a tube that you find in the produce section….about 3 tablespoons of it) 

1 tablespoon minced garlic 

Kosher salt and black pepper 

1/4 cup olive oil (plus more for drizzling) 

1 pound of cooked angel hair pasta 

1 tablespoon of reserved pasta water 

Fresh grated Parmesan (trust me)

What to do with stuff~

Cook pasta according to package directions. Chop tomatoes until they are very fine or toss all ingredients into your food processor.  

 

   Next give the ingredients a few light pulses….

  

Then I spooned some of that reserved pasta water into the fresh tomato sauce…just a dash. Now grate some Parmesan…

 

And then prepare yourself for your pasta dreams to come true. 

as spectacular as a warm Spring day

Enjoy this pasta sauce and enjoy Spring…it’s a must!!!! 

Roasted tomato and mozzarella pasta

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Our kitchen table on any given night.

It has been another wild week at camp cajun mama. Obviously as I am a little behind on blogging. I got the cooking bug on Monday and literally spent all day in the kitchen. Yesterday I spent the school day helping out at the kiddos’ school in the library. Their librarian is the sweetest person and it is book fair time so I figured why not. I got to interact with so many of the sweet kiddos and see their little faces. I love it when they say “hey you are so and so’s mom!” And their face lights up. Not sure I have ever seen people that happy to see me so it’s a win win. Anyway, I apologize for once again falling behind, but I am here now and plan on getting several recipes in. Sometimes the mama part of Cajun mama takes over and I have to handle up on my mommy duties. I am writing this sitting in the parking lot at their school waiting for my son’s strings performance to start. A mama’s got to do what a mama’s got to do, right?
So, on to more important things…this pasta. Oh y’all…this pasta is so delicious. Full of flavor and easy to prepare and just so filling, it is a sure fire winner. I loved knowing that it was chock full of cherry tomatoes and all of the vitamins and good stuff they contain. Also, You can add chicken to this dish or you can leave it out making it a great meatless option. I saw this recipe on Pinterest and knew I would love it and had to make it ASAP. My friend came over for a visit and I decided to throw it together. She loved it. I loved it. Big Daddy…loved it. Even 2 of my kiddos gobbled it up. Yummy noises all around my friends. So grab yourself some cherry tomatoes and pasta and get to cookin. You will be so glad and the yummy noises will be yours!!

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Look at those lovely tomatoes ready for roasting…mouth watering

Roasted tomato and mozzarella pasta (adapted from http://www.scalingbackblog.com)

Serves about 6

stuff you need~

2 pints of cherry tomatoes (I used one pint of the cherry and one pint of the sunburst tomatoes…adds color which is pretty and good for you!)
3 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 1/2 teaspoons of the jarred stuff)
Olive oil
Good ole kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 box of whole wheat or regular pasta (I used angel hair and loved it)
1-8 ounce package of fresh mozzarella
1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil (I used the kind in the tube that most stores carry and it worked fabulously…herbs seem to go bad too quickly in my fridge and it is not as cost effective)
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces (or you can omit this and go meatless…whatever works for you)

What to do with the stuff~
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. We are going to roast us some tomatoes. (See above pic) I covered a baking sheet with foil. Now lay your washed and dried tomatoes all out on the foil. Now sing to them and let them know they are going to be so delicious roasted and they need not worry. What? You don’t talk to your food as you cook it? You are missing out! (Don’t judge me…I am tired a lot of the time and drink too much coffee). Sprinkle the little darlings generously with the Olive oil. Don’t hold back now. Now sprinkle some kosher salt and pepper then using your hands give those little tomatoes a nice rub down. Lol. Add the garlic and basil. Do the same. You just want to make sure all the tomatoes get some of that flavor. your pasta. Pop them in your preheated oven and roast them until they are literally bursting with flavor. The smell alone coming from your oven will have you salivating. About 25 minutes give or take should do you good. While the tomatoes are doing their thing, go ahead and boil your pasta. Reserve the liquid for use in the dish later as it helps to thicken up the saucy sauce. Next, season the chicken with salt and pepper. in a skillet, heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook until browned on both sides and cooked throughout. Add those beautifully roasted tomatoes to the chicken and cook for 2 minutes. Pour the cooked pasta into the skillet with the tomato chicken mixture and add about 1/4 cup of the reserved water and cook over low heat until sauce is thickened. Stir in more reserved water as necessary to coat all the pasta. Cut the fresh mozzarella into 1/2″ chunks. Stir into the pasta and toss around until the cheese is slightly melted. Season to taste with extra kosher salt, pepper, and extra basil. Serve the pasta up in bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese as desired. Y’all are going to flip!! This is one of my new favorite dishes. Manga!

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Heaven in a pasta bowl. It’s even good cold.