Monday, February 24, 2020

Creamy Shrimp Pasta with Asparagus and Mushrooms

First the good news: This is a restaurant-worthy dish that you can easily make at home. And now, more good news: It's super fast. Even more: Only dirties two pans. And finally: Super delicious.

Start the pasta water boiling, and you'll have plenty of time to whip up the creamy shrimp and mushroom mixture. The asparagus cooks right with the pasta, so you get two things done at once. Get someone in your family to whip up a salad, and you will have a fantastic dinner in no time.

I typically used cooked shrimp for the convenience factor, but if you use raw shrimp, simply peel and devein, then add to the sauce before the pasta so it can cook in the sauce for a couple minutes.

If your family loves shrimp, they'll love this fantastic pasta dish. I love that it uses ingredients that I usually have on hand. Winner all around!

There are more excellent ideas at Fabulous, Hearth and Soul, Inspire Me, Full Plate, Tasty Tuesday.

Creamy Shrimp Pasta with Asparagus and Mushrooms

12 ounces small pasta shapes
8 ounces asparagus, trimmed and chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
12 ounces cooked shrimp
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese shredded
1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese shredded

Cook pasta according to package instructions, adding cut up asparagus in the last minute. Drain pasta and asparagus, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.

In a large skillet, over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and garlic. Add mushrooms, basil, paprika and red pepper flakes and cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes, occasionally stirring, until mushrooms become soft and release juices. Sprinkle with salt part way through cooking.

Immediately add 1 cup half-and-half. Bring to a simmering boil.

Add half the cheese. Bring to boil, and immediately reduce to medium-simmer. Cook, constantly stirring, until the cheese melts.

Gradually start adding the remaining cheese, stirring constantly until all cheese is melted.

Add pasta and asparagus to the skillet and stir in the shrimp. Stir well to coat all the pasta.

If the cream sauce is too thick, add the reserved pasta water in small amounts to the cream sauce (while the sauce is simmering on low-medium heat) until you reach desired consistency.

Season with more salt and add more crushed red pepper flakes and basil, if desired.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Winter Squash Soup {Instant Pot}

It's only mid February, which means we have plenty of cold weather still ahead here in Minnesota. So there's plenty of time to enjoy a wonderful soup like this. This soup is pretty close to the soup of its namesake at Panera, which I adore. So I'm glad to be able to make a big batch at home - and it's SOOO easy using the Instant Pot! Throw everything in the pot, let it do its magic, and then blend it up at the end. Easy peasy!

The hardest part about this, as with all butternut squash recipes, is cutting up the squash. Buying it precut or frozen is an option if you just can't hack it. Sorry for the pun. Sorry, not sorry.

This Winter Squash Soup is great for your Meatless Monday. It can also easily be made vegan by using vegetable broth, maple syrup and coconut milk. Or use honey, chicken broth and half and half, or whatever combination of these you have on hand, if your diet is not restricted.

Winter won't seem nearly as long with delicious soup to eat!

Find more great stuff at Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2, Hearth and Soul, Fabulous, Full Plate.

Winter Squash Soup

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small sweet onion diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed, about a 3 lb squash
15 oz pumpkin puree
2 cups apple cider
2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk or half and half

Turn instant pot on and set to "saute" function. Once hot, add oil and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Press "cancel" to stop cooking process.

Add remaining ingredients (except coconut milk or half and half) and gently stir to ensure that all ingredients are submerged in liquid. Secure lid and set valve to the sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 8 minutes.

Once the soup is done cooking, do a quick release. Add coconut milk or half and half. Use an immersion blender, or transfer in batches to a high-speed blender, to puree until smooth and creamy. Garnish with pumpkin seeds, if desired, and serve warm.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Tuscan Chicken Pasta {Instant Pot}

It's well documented here that risotto is my favorite thing to cook in the Instant Pot. But I think pasta dishes would have to be a close second. And I was such a skeptic at first! How on earth does it work to put raw pasta in and it cooks to perfection alongside the other ingredients? This is never going to work, I thought. Sure enough, I was wrong. It works wonderfully!

And in this recipe, it's not only the pasta that gets fully cooked, but RAW CHICKEN. This Instant Pot is da bomb. If you don't have one yet, what are you waiting for??? Yes, this dish could easily be made on the stovetop. (Note: you would have to adjust the amount of broth so don't go trying it as written!) However, I love the convenience of throwing everything in the IP and having a few minutes to set the table, make a salad, etc. Or just to sit. Sometimes a person just needs to sit for a minute.

In any case, this is a delicious dinner that my family happily ate, and asked for the leftovers. I increased the spinach pretty significantly because my kids happily eat spinach in pasta, and the more the better, in my opinion. It wilts down so much that it won't seem overwhelming, I promise. After the main ingredients cook in the IP, you stir in softened cream cheese to get that nice, creamy pasta texture, all the spinach and then parmesan cheese. This dish has complex flavor due to the sundried tomatoes, and it's so easy it can become a weeknight staple. Plus, all the spinach.


Find more great ideas at Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2, Fabulous, Hearth and Soul.

Tuscan Chicken Pasta

4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup oil packed sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
12 oz uncooked campanelle pasta or your favorite shape (rotini, etc)
8 oz fresh baby spinach
1 (8 oz) pkg. light cream cheese, softened, cubed
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

In an instant pot insert stir together broth, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and garlic.

Add in chicken and pasta, pushing the pasta pieces down into the broth.

Secure the lid in place, and set the valve to sealing position. Select the "manual" setting or high pressure and set to 5 minutes.

Do a quick release, then stir well. Add in cream cheese and stir until combined, then add in spinach, a handful of a time, until it's all wilted. Finally, stir in the parmesan.

Let rest for about 5 minutes to thicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with fresh or dried basil and additional tomatoes.

Recipe source: Adapted from Betty Crocker

Monday, February 3, 2020

Black Bottom Coconut Bars

If you need a special treat for Valentine's Day, or for any day that ends in "y," look no further than these delicious bars. I've made these several times now, and just recently realized I had never posted them. So many apologies that you didn't have this recipe sooner.

If you're a fan of Mounds Bars, or of coconut and/or brownies, you will love these. A rich, fudgy base is topped with a chewy coconut layer; these are decadent, and worth every calorie.

Show your love this Valentine's Day (or any day) with these fantastic coconut topped brownies. Everyone will be singing your praises!

Find more great ideas at Inspire Me Monday, Fabulous, Hearth and Soul, Full Plate.

Black Bottom Coconut Bars

Brownie layer:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Egg
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup flour

Coconut Topping:
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1-7 oz. package sweetened shredded coconut

For brownie layer:

Place butter in a large microwave-safe bowl; microwave at 50% power for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes until melted. Add sugar and salt; whisk to combine. Whisk in egg, then cocoa and flour until smooth. Spread batter in a 9" pan that has been lined with nonstick foil. (Alternatively you can grease the foil.)

Bake at 375 just until sides begin to pull away from edges of the pan, 10 to 15 minutes (do not overbake). Let cool slightly while preparing coconut topping. Keep oven on for topping.

For coconut topping:

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with sugar and vanilla. Reserve 1/2 cup coconut. Gently mix in flour and remaining coconut.

Drop mounds of mixture over the chocolate base; spread and pat in gently and evenly with moistened fingers. Sprinkle with reserved 1/2 cup coconut. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool completely in pan. Lift cake from pan, peel off foil and cut into 24 bars. Store in an airtight container 3 to 4 days.
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