Ranch Chicken Salad

DSC_1569 copyAdapted from All Recipes

  • 12 chicken tenders
  • 3/4 cup steak sauce
  • 1 cucumber, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds spooned out, then sliced again into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 lb. (16 oz.) mini bowtie pasta
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
  • 3 avocados, split, pitted and diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 packet Ranch Dip mix (you’ll only use 1 1/2 cups of the dip)
  • 2 cups sour cream


Marinate chicken in steak sauce for at least 30  minutes.  The longer the better, up to a day.

1.  In a large bowl, mix Ranch packet with sour cream.  To about 1 1/2 cups of the dip, add sliced tomatoes & cucumber; set aside.
2.  Grill chicken until no longer pink and the juices run clear. Remove from grill, and chop into bite-size pieces.
3.  Add bouillon to a large pot of boiling water then add pasta.  Cook according to package directions.  Drain, and rinse under cold water.
4.  Add chicken and pasta to bowl with Ranch, tomatoes and cucumber.  Add avocados last or to each individual bowl to prevent mashing it up in the salad (and also avoids allowing the avocado to brown in the salad).  Cover, and refrigerate until chilled – or if you’re like me, just eat it up!  This made enough for my family of five with enough left over for at least two more adult servings.


Mushroom & Spinach Stuffed Shells

DSC_8393 copyThis is one of the first pictures I’ve taken all winter that didn’t require my flash.  It’s not a favorite but when I realized at 5:00 PM, when this dish was about to be put in the oven, that it was still light outside I just had to try and get a quick one in!  Found at Elly Says Opa! , this was a filling dish without feeling too heavy.  The kids gobbled it, The Man went for seconds & I called the leftovers for my lunch the next day!

6 oz. large pasta shells (about 20-22 shells)
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. mushrooms, finely chopped
half a medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1-2 Tablespoon fresh basil, minced
6 oz. bag of spinach, cooked
1 egg, lightly beaten
15 oz. container ricotta cheese
2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese,
2 cups pasta sauce, jarred or homemade (thank you Prego)

Preheat the oven to 350. Cook the shells according to package.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium.  Add the mushrooms and cook until they have released most of their juices. Stir in the onions, garlic, and salt and pepper.  Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the moisture from the mushrooms has been evaporated and the onions are tender. Scoop into a large bowl. After it’s cooled slightly, add the thyme, oregano, basil, spinach, egg, ricotta and 1/3 cup of the parmesan. Mix to combine all the ingredients well.

Pour about 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish.  Stuff each shell with 1-2 Tbsp. of the stuffing and place in the baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the shells and sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining parmesan cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 5-10 more until the cheese starts to brown.

Pasta & Chicken Sausage Bake

Pasta and Chicken Sausage Bake

Source: My Kitchen Cafe


  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 10 fresh oregano leaves, chopped (I sent my 10 year old out to pick “a bunch” of oregano and used what she brought in) – you could also use 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 2 – six ounce bags baby spinach
  • 12 ounces smoked chicken (or turkey) sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

In a large skillet, cook chopped onion until translucent then stir in garlic. Cook for another minute; avoid browning the garlic.

Stir in tomatoes and oregano; cook till heated through; add cream and warm through. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta in the boiling water, according to package instructions. With about a minute and a half to spare on the cook time, add spinach, and cook just until wilted. Drain; return to pot.

Add tomato sauce, sausage, and 1/2 the Mozzarella to pasta; toss to coat. *Pour into 13×9 inch dish, top with remaining Mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 30 minutes. and bake 20-30 minutes or until tops and sides are bubbly brown.

This served two adults and 3 small kids a second night of leftovers.

*If you want to save a second portion for another night entirely, rather than using the 13×9 inch dish, divide it evenly between two shallow 1 1/2-quart baking dishes, freezing one. To re-cook simply take the dish from the freezer, and cook approximately 30 minutes more than the original time.

Beach Street Lemon Chicken Linguine

Beach Street Lemon Chicken Linguinie
Source: My Kitchen Cafe, adapted slightly
**This recipe requires marinating the chicken for 3 hours so plan ahead**

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed (smashed with the back of a large knife or saucepan)
  • 1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning (you could cut this down to 1 1/2 teaspoons if you want less heat.  I left it at 1 Tablespoon and the kids didn’t mention it being hot at all.)
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce (I’m a reduced sodium soy sauce convert after trying it in the Sesame Noodles)
  • 10-12 chicken tenders

Combine the marinade ingredients in a Ziploc plastic bag.  Add chicken and toss to coat. Refrigerate 3-12 hours.

  • 1 lb. linguine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • zest from one lemon
  • juice from one lemon (about 3 Tablespoons)
  • 3 green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1.  When ready to cook, pour contents of plastic bag (both marinade and chicken) into a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat. Cook until chicken is no longer pink and sauce is reduced by half.
2.  Combine juice of one lemon, lemon zest, olive oil, green onions, Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley together in a small bowl. Set aside.
3.  While the chicken is cooking, prepare linguine according to package directions; drain and add to pan with chicken. Pour lemon juice/olive oil/green onion mixture over pasta and mix well. Serve warm.

Asian Noodle & Chicken Salad

Asian Noodle & Chicken Salad
Like so many others, this was found (and slightly adapted) at For the Love of Cooking.  Simply put, this was amazing.  Perfect blend of flavors and textures. 

10 chicken tenderloins 
6 Tablespoons of seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
(about) 1 Tablespoon dried ginger
5 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili sauce

Other Ingredients:
1 handful of cilantro leaves, chopped
2 green onions, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1 large carrot, shredded
1 cup of snow peas, cut in half (I left these out, but will include them next time!)
2 14 oz. cans mandarin oranges, well drained
3/4 cup cashews
14.5 oz spaghetti noodles, cooked per instructions

Combine marinade ingredients and chicken in a Ziploc bag and mix thoroughly then let it marinate in the refrigerator for about an hour.  
1.  Star water boiling for spaghetti.
2.  Pour chicken and marinade from bag into skillet and cook, covered, on medium high until chicken is cooked through.  Using spatula, chop chicken into pieces directly in pan.  Turn off heat and cover to prevent the marinade from evaporating.
3.  Chop and prepare vegetables.  Combine all the veggies in the skillet with chicken, mix and return heat to medium heat.  Cover.
4.  Drain cooked spaghetti.
5.  Add chicken, veggies and mandarin oranges to the spaghetti.  Mix thoroughly and enjoy!

This made enough for my family of five with enough for leftovers for another night.

Zesty Herb Chicken & Artichoke with Lemon

Zesty Herb Chicken & Artichoke with Lemon
Taken and adapted from For the Love of Cooking
10 chicken tenders
1 tbsp olive oil (for coating pan)
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced

14 oz can artichoke hearts, chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 tbsp Mozzarella cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tbsp butter
2 Tablespoons basil
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Cheese tortellini
‘McCormick Grill Mates Zesty Herb’ seasoning packet
3 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons white vinegar
1/3 cup water

Place chicken into a large zip lock bag and add the 3 Tablespoons of olive oil, vinegar, water and McCormick Seasoning packet.  Mix well and let marinate in refrigerator for at least one hour (the longer the better). 
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add all the chicken and marinade.  Cook for 7-9 minutes until one side is golden brown.  Flip to other side and cook an additional 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
Remove chicken from heat leaving the remaining marinade in the pan. 
Allow chicken to sit for 5 minutes to allow juices to reabsorb then cut with kitchen shears into bite size pieces.

Cook the cheese tortellini per instructions. While the pasta is cooking, add mushrooms to the hot skillet you cooked the chicken in.  Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the artichoke hearts, tomatoes and minced garlic to the pan then stir frequently for 60 seconds. Add the tortellini, chicken chunks, lemon juice, butter, Parmesan, basil and sea salt.  Serve immediately.
This was intended to serve my family of 5 with enough for leftover but it was SO GOOD, we ate the entire dish in one night!

Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

Chicken Fettucinie Alfredo

  • 10 chicken tenderloins
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 2 tablespoons dry Italian dressing (packet)
  • 1 pound fettuccini pasta
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 (8 ounce) package sliced mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 ounces shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream


1.  In a large skillet over medium heat combine chicken, 2 tablespoons butter, 1/2 the garlic, and Italian dressing mix.  Cook until chicken is no longer pink inside.  While still in skillet using your spatula, break the meat apart into bite size pieces. Remove from skillet and set aside. 

2.  Cook pasta according to directions; drain.

3.  Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons butter in the skillet.  Sauté onion, 1/2 of the minced garlic and mushrooms until onions are transparent. Stir in flour, salt and pepper; cook 2 minutes. Slowly add milk and half-and-half, stirring until just under a simmer on medium heat.  Stir in Parmesan and Colby-Monterey Jack cheeses; stir until cheese is melted. Stir in chicken mixture, tomatoes and sour cream.  Pour fettuccine into the skillet with chicken mixture, toss gently and serve.

Ham & Pasta Skillet Dinner

Ham & Pasta Skillet Dinner
Taken from My Kitchen Cafe, with a few minor changes, this recipe was a colorful way to finish off the second freezer bag of leftover Christmas ham!
1 12 oz Wacky Mac pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
3 cups fully cooked ham, diced
1 large sweet red pepper, diced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions – only cooking until al dente since pasta will continue to cook and soak up liquid when added to the skillet. While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat until butter is melted.
Add pepper, onion, and garlic and cook until vegetables are tender, about 4-6 minutes. Add ham, basil, parsley and oregano and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 2-3 minutes. Stir in broth (or stock) and lemon juice.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Stir drained pasta into ham and vegetable mixture. Add 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and toss. Sprinkle remaining parmesan cheese over the top of the pasta. Serve immediately.

Bacon & Spinach Pasta Toss

Spinach & Bacon Pasta Toss


1 pkg. (16 oz.) linguine pasta

1/2 cup  Italian Dressing

1 lb. chicken tenders

2 1/2 cups  cherry tomatoes (about 1 pt.), halved

1 pkg. (6 oz.) fresh baby spinach leaves (4 cups)

1 cup  Monterey Jack Cheese, divided

1 pkg Thick Cut Bacon – crisply cooked, drained and crumbled


COOK noodles as directed on package.

MEANWHILE, heat dressing in large skillet on medium heat. Add chicken; cook and stir 5 to 7 min. or until cooked through. Add tomatoes; cook 1 min., stirring occasionally.

DRAIN noodles, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Add noodles and the reserved cooking water to chicken mixture in skillet; stir. Remove from heat. Add spinach, 1/2 cup of the cheese and the bacon; mix lightly. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

served our family of five with enough leftovers for three!


  • Use kitchen shears to cut bacon directly into pan.  Cover (to reduce splattering) & cook on medium/high until dark and crispy.
  • Use a LARGE pan to cook bacon and chicken to keep clean up faster – you’ll use this same pan to mix spinach and tomatoes in.

Found at Little Momma & Co., but changed up just a bit to suit my family’s tastes!