Chicken Veggie Alfredo Lasagna

Quite a few fellow bloggers have been making lasagnas recently and having a hodge podge of random ingredients on hand, I figured I’d jump the bandwagon and use up the miscellaneous amounts of items in my fridge. I didn’t have any tomato/pasta sauce on hand (which is a reminder for me to make a big batch soon!) so I searched online for a quick alfredo sauce to use up the cream I had. I came across This Recipe from AllRecipes.com to use as a guide and made my adaptations outlined below (and this is not a figure friendly dish as written!):

Quick & Easy Alfredo Sauce
adapted from Allrecipes.com

1 stick butter
10 oz cream cheese (1 brick + 2 oz cream cheese)
1 tablespoon garlic salt (I used The Spice house brand)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1-2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1-2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil

In a saucepan, melt butter.
Add cream cheese and whisk to melt until smooth.
Add garlic salt and stir in heavy cream.
Allow to boil for 1-2 minutes until heated through.
Stir in fresh herbs and toss with pasta…. or use in a lasagna as I did below:

Chicken Veggie Alfredo Lasagna
original Joelen recipe
(to use up random ingredients on hand)

1 cooked chicken breast, sliced
1 small yellow squash, halved lengthwise and sliced into half moons
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced into half moons
1 cup sliced white button mushrooms
1 cup shredded colby jack cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
9 lasagna pasta sheets (dry)

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
– In a baking dish, spread 1-2 tablespoons of prepared alfredo sauce.
– Place a layer of 3 dry lasagna pasta sheets.
– Top with half of the chicken, squash, zucchini and mushrooms.
– Sprinkle with half of the cheeses.
– Place another layer of 3 dry lasagna pasta sheets.
– Spread enough prepared alfredo sauce over pasta sheets to cover.
– Top with remaining chicken, squash, zucchini and mushrooms.
– Sprinkle with half of the remaining cheeses.
– Place top layer of 3 dry lasagna pasta sheets.
– Spread enough prepared alfredo sauce over pasta sheets to cover.
– Sprinkle with remaining cheeses.
– Bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes until pasta is cooked and cheese is golden brown & bubbly.

Comforting Italian…

I think I mentioned before how my husband isn’t much of a pasta guy. However I do like pasta and well, he’ll eat what’s for lunch or dinner regardless. So today, I was considering chicken parmagiana… breaded & fried, slathered with sauce and topped with gooey cheese. But with my recent efforts of getting back to shape, I wanted to lighten up where I can.

Taking the idea of stuffed chicken and combining it with the idea of lasagna rolls, I concocted these Chicken Parmigiana Rolls. You can easily make these in advance and freeze for future meals. They are also baked, not fried making it a bit healthier. I served this with pasta and a homemade chunky vegetable wine sauce.

Here is my recipe for Chicken Parmigiana Rolls:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied
1 cup pasta sauce
4 basil leaves
2 slices of mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup flour
1 egg, scrambled
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon italian seasoning
salt & pepper to taste

Open up the butterflied chicken breasts and cut in 2 equal pieces.
With a meat pallet, pound each piece of chicken flat to form a paillard.
On each piece of chicken, spread a tablespoon of pasta sauce.
Top sauce with a 1/2 slice of mozzarella cheese, sprinkle of parmesan cheese and 1 basil leaf.
Carefully take one side of the chicken and begin rolling it into a chicken roll. Secure chicken roll with a toothpick to stay intact.
Dredge chicken roll in flour.
Dip chicken roll in the scrambled egg.
Combine the italian season, salt, pepper and panko breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl.
Coat the chicken roll with the seasoned breadcrumbs.
Repeat with remaining chicken pieces.
Place on a baking dish and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.
You can choose to top the chicken rolls with sauce and cheese if you’d like.

*I’m also submitting this to the Presto Pasta Nights blogging event done by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast. Katie of Thyme for Cooking is hosting it this week! Check out the upcoming pasta dishes they feature each week!*

Fresh Tomato, Basil, & Garlic Sauce over Angel Hair Pasta

The following recipe was shared during my Chef Spotlight Dinner highlighting recipes of Chef Wolfgang Puck. You can view other recipes and pictures of the event HERE.

Fresh Tomato, Basil, & Garlic Sauce
over Angel Hair Pasta

shared at the event by Joelen
Original recipe here

2 pounds ripe tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 oregano sprig Pinch chili flakes *(I omitted)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound dried angel hair pasta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup chiffonade basil, plus whole sprigs for garnish
*(I also added 1 tub mozzarella, cut in chunks)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare an ice water bath. Cut a small “x” on the bottom of each tomato. In batches, place the tomatoes in the boiling water and blanch them for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the skins are easy to peel away. Remove and immediately plunge into the ice bath. Peel the tomatoes and halve horizontally. Squeeze out the seeds, using your fingers to get them all. Roughly chop the peeled and seeded tomatoes. Set aside. (You can also use whole peeled canned tomatoes. Simply drain them, seed, and roughly chop).

Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add the thyme leaves, oregano sprig, and chili flakes and saute until the garlic begins to turn golden brown. Add the tomatoes and the sugar and stir well. Lower the heat and cook slowly until the mixture is fairly dry, about 15 minutes.

Cook the angel hair pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Add the Parmesan and basil and toss well. Place in a large pasta bowl and garnish with Parmesan and basil sprigs.

* I also served marinated Chicken Breasts on the side to pair with this dish.

Puff, Puff, Give…

It’s Sunday and that means it’s a cooking class! Sundays have been a great day for me to schedule cooking classes to teach folks about various culinary techniques and applications, in hopes to inspire them to tackle cooking challenges they may face. So today, the challenge was puff pastry.

Food trivia ~ how many layers are typically in a sheet of puff pastry dough that’s been made by the classical method? 10? 24? 50?….. No. The answer is 729! How can that be? Well the classic method in making puff pastry involves working a simple pastry dough into a stick of butter by rolling & folding the dough into thirds, then chilling the dough for at least an hour after every fold. This is done 6 times so 3 folds to every 6 times is 729. (Think of it as 3 to the sixth power – if that helps!). As you may have guessed, this is an extremely time consuming process which is probably why puff pastry can be a pricey ingredient to work with.

Another piece of information I talked about was why the dough puffs up to begin with. Because the dough uses so much butter that’s been embedded into the layers, the butter still has water molecules within it. When these water molecules heat up, they produce steam and expand, hence the dough “puffs”. Interesting huh?!

This is why I love teaching folks so much. Its one thing to blog about recipes I’ve made, but its a whole other reward when I’m able to apply what I know to empower and inspire others in the kitchen personally…. and to create opportunities for people around me to learn hands on and interact with them.
So back to my puff pastry. In the 2 classes (afternoon & evening) I hosted today, everyone made their own puff pastry creation, either sweet or savory. For the savory version, we made a caprese tart using fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil. For the sweet version, we made a strawberries & cream tart, with fresh strawberries and a vanilla cream cheese spread.Here are pictures of our final products, along with the recipes:


Caprese Tart

1 sheet puff pastry dough
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 egg, scrambled (egg wash)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tomato, sliced thin
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt & pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 400.
Prep your baking pan with parchment paper.
Place your puff pastry sheet on the baking pan.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top to cover.
Brush the egg wash along the sides of the dough.
Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
While dough is baking, prepare the tomatoes.
Slice the tomatoes and place on 2 layers of paper towels on a single layer.
Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and let side for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, dab the top of the tomatoes with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, minced garlic, salt & pepper to create a garlic infused oil.
Set aside oil.
When the puff pastry has cooled slightly, spinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top.
Top the mozzarella cheese with slices of tomato.
Brush the tomato slices with the garlic infused oil.
Bake in the same oven for another 5-7 minutes until the cheese has melted and baked golden.

Strawberries & Cream Tart
1 puff pastry sheet
1 block cream cheese
1/2 tablespoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
1/2 cup half & half
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cup sliced or quarted strawberries

Preheat oven to 400.
Prep your baking pan with parchment paper.
Place your puff pastry sheet on the baking pan.
Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
While dough is baking, prep the vanilla cream cheese frosting.
Whip the cream cheese until soft, adding half 7 half to help ease it.
Slowly add the powdered sugar, vanilla and remaining half & half until fully combined.
When the puff pastry has cooled slightly, spread the frosting on top of the pastry dough.
Top with fresh strawberries.

Roasted Tomato Galette

The following recipe was made and shared at my Chef Spotlight dinner, highlighting Julia Child. You can read and view links to the other recipes HERE.

Susan’s Roasted Tomato Galette
recipe from Julia Child

1/2 recipe galette dough, chilled
2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 ounces mozzarella , shredded
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade or torn
2-3 firm but ripe plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Fresh basil leaves for garnish

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400-degrees F.
Roll the dough directly onto a piece of parchment paper into an 11-inch circle.
Toss the cheeses and basil pieces together in a small bowl.
Scatter the mixture over the dough, leaving a 2- to 3- inch border.
Place the tomatoes in slightly overlapping concentric circles atop the cheese.
Fold the uncovered dough border up over the filling, allowing the dough to pleat as you lift it up and work your way around the galette. .
Bake the galette for 35-40 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisp and the cheese is bubbly.
Transfer the entire baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the galette rest on the sheet for 10 minutes.

Life’s Luxuries

I’m quite a happy camper these days as I’ve started working from home a few days a week. It’s been a luxury to be able to go to the kitchen and whip up breakfast & lunch instead of deciding on where to eat while I’m at the office. Given this, I’ve had fun making meals. For lunch today, I made Chicken Marsala over brown rice.
Yesterday’s lunch was a simple caprese tortellini w/asparagus:1 1/2 cups dried cheese filled tortellini, cooked
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
handful fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
handful grape tomatoes, chopped
handful of asparagus, blanched & chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (unfiltered italian)

Drizzle the olive oil over the hot, cooked tortellini.
Add remaining ingredients and toss.
Serve hot.

Caprese Salad Skewers

Here are the recipes for the appetizers I’m serving up 2 hours prior to the Thanksgiving buffet dinner. I figured I’d post the recipes now before the kitchen chaos begins (and I’ll post pics of the final products by Thursday)…

Caprese Salad Skewers

1 pint grape tomatoes
fresh basil leaves
2 fresh mozzarella balls
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon italian seasoning
salt & pepper to taste
bamboo skewers cut in half

On each skewer, alternate threading grape tomatoes, basil and mozzarella balls – one of each per skewer.
Arrange on a serving platter for presentation.
Combine vinegar, oil and seasonings in a small bowl.
Drizzle dressing over skewers & serve.