Cheesy Chicken Sausage and Tortellini Skillet

Happy Sunday, foodie friends!  I hope you’re all doing well, and enjoying a bit of nice spring weather. It’s been a very full 3 weeks since I last posted. The show I choreographed, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” was two weekends ago. It was wonderful! Every time I choreograph a musical, I’m always overwhelmed by how proud I feel, and this year was no exception!

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I am in the final stretch of the school year too! Four more weeks of preschool, and five more weeks of dance. I can’t believe how fast the year has gone. We are starting to prepare for preschool graduation, and starting our “farm” unit this week. We’re also in the midst of all of our end-of-the-year dance things; picture day was yesterday, and a ton of fun!

Everything else is good. Taking a step back from “Table for One” has been such a good thing. I’ve had so much more time to experiment in the kitchen, and come up with recipes that I love. I still plan to post as often as I can, and I’m hoping to get back into a regular routine when summer starts. But for today, I have a new recipe for you! Let me tell you why you need this recipe in your life.

1) It takes 30 minutes, from start to finish.

2) The prep is minimal. Aside from cutting up the onion and sausage, you just pour everything else into the skillet.

3) Everything cooks in the same pot. THE SAME POT!

4) It’s delicious. Like, really delicious.

Cheesy Chicken Sausage and Tortellini Skillet

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What I’m Listening to: “Budapest” by George Ezra

Ingredients (makes 3-4 servings)

-1 tbsp cooking oil

-1/2 yellow onion, diced

-Salt and pepper

-2 cloves minced garlic

-4 links of your favorite chicken sausage, sliced (I used Johnsonville 3 Cheese Italian Style!)

-15 oz tomato sauce

-3 cups frozen cheese tortellini

-1 cup chicken broth

-2 tbsp cream cheese

-1 cup Monterrey Jack shredded cheese

In a large skillet, heat the cooking oil over high heat. Add the diced onion and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the onions begin to brown. Add the garlic and stir; cook for an additional minute. Add the chicken sausage, tomato sauce, cheese tortellini, and chicken broth. Bring the skillet to a boil. Stir and cover, turning the heat down to medium low. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the tortellini is plump. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the cream cheese and Monterrey Jack. Stir to mix. Cover for 5 minutes; stir and serve with a green salad.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan

It’s finally Friday! I have been looking forward to this weekend for about 3 weeks. I have lunch plans on Sunday and that’s it. Nothing else. I can’t remember the last time my weekend was so light. I fully intend to do lots of sleeping, cooking, reading, and bath taking. How are you planning on spending your weekend?

I am SO excited about today’s post! I have been trying to get my friend, Elizabeth, to guest blog for me since I started “Table for One,” and she finally agreed! You may remember Elizabeth from Elizabeth’s Bacon-Wrapped Chicken, which she created, but I made and wrote about. Today, Elizabeth is sharing the recipe and photos. She is one of my closest friends, and we do dinner together all the time. She is the master of all things comfort food, and her Chicken Parmesan is no exception! Plus, she makes it in a slow cooker! If I don’t have your attention yet, please take a gander at the picture below. If you’re not drooling, you can’t be human.

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan

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What Elizabeth’s Listening to: “Geronimo” by Sheppard

Ingredients

  • 2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (depending on size. If the breasts are small, use 4)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (use 1 tbsp of garlic powder if you don’t have real garlic on hand)
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained well
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the onion, tomato paste, garlic, basil, pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until onions are soft and tomato paste is rust-colored.
Stir in drained tomatoes into tomato paste mixture. Dissolve the cornstarch in water and stir into tomato mixture. Place tomato/corn starch mix into slow cooker.
Mix bread crumbs with a dash of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Cover chicken breasts in bread/cheese mix. Lay the chicken breasts on top of tomato mixture, slightly overlapping each other. Sprinkle any remaining bread crumb mix on top of chicken.
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Cover and cook on low until chicken reaches 160 degrees, about 2 1/2 to 4 hours. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese on top of the chicken when it’s done cooking, and enjoy!
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One Pot Chicken and Vegetable Risotto

Oh friends, I am exhausted. Yes, it’s late on Thursday night and I’m frantically trying to finish this post before I go to bed, but it’s been a CRAZY two weeks. (Hence the lack of posting. I’m sorry! I promise I’m back in the game now…I also promise to use the word “hence” more often.) We had our big dance fundraiser last weekend, which meant I’ve spent the better part of February eating, sleeping, and breathing work. It’s a really fun fundraiser, and I love working on it, but even when I’m at home, I’m thinking about it, over-analyzing what we’ve done and what we’ve forgotten to do. A blessing and a curse. Anyway, it’s over now, and I’m slowly recovering…although my feet still hurt from my six hours in heels. Never, ever wear heels. Ever.

In other news, it’s still freezing here in Iowa. I am trying everything I can think of to “think spring,” including using obscene amounts of spring vegetables in my cooking. I’ve made this risotto twice in the last week, hoping it would magical lead to green grass and light spring rain, but alas, no luck. On the plus side, I did get to eat risotto twice in one week!

I have to admit that risotto scared me for awhile. I tried to make a tomato cream risotto a few years ago, and I remember it looked like pink goop and smelled like garbage. Mmm. So, I put risotto on the back burner until last month, when I decided to give it a whirl. This time, it went well. Very, very well! I love it because a) you only dirty one pot, b) it seems fancy, but it’s not, and c) it makes EXCELLENT leftovers! And we all know how much I hate leftovers.

One Pot Chicken and Vegetable Risotto

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What I’m Listening to: “Venice” by The Lighthouse and The Whaler

Ingredients (makes 3-4 servings)

-1 tbsp olive oil

-1/4 cup white onion, diced

-3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

-3 cloves (or 1 1/2 tsp) of minced garlic

-1 large chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

-1 1/2 cups milk

-2 cups chicken stock, plus 2 cups extra

-1 cup arborio rice, uncooked

-1 tbsp flour

-1 cup shredded parmesan

-1 cup frozen peas

-Salt and pepper

In a large stockpot or jumbo cooker, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and stir to coat them in oil; saute for 1-2 minutes, making sure that the veggies don’t burn. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the diced chicken. Cook until the outsides of the chicken are white for about 5 minutes (the insides will still be raw.)

Next, add the milk, 2 cups of chicken stock, arborio rice, and flour. Turn the heat to high, and mix the ingredients well. Let the pan reach a rapid boil, then turn down to medium heat. Cover the pan and set a timer for 25 minutes. Stir every 2-3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan so the rice does not stick. (Make sure to stay with the pan the entire time, to avoid boiling over!) If the risotto begins to look dry, add the extra chicken stock, a 1/4 cup at a time. Risotto should have a creamy consistency. After the timer goes off, remove the lid and add the parmesan, peas, and salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cook for 2-3 more minutes until the peas are warm. Serve immediately with crusty bread. Enjoy!

Note: Inspired by Recipe Tin Eats

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Oh-So-Tasty Sloppy Joes

I’m having one of those weeks where I’d like nothing more than to stay in bed for the entire week. Know the feeling? I’m blaming this cold, snowy weather. So, I’ve been working furiously to channel spring and summer. I’m wearing brighter colors than my normal black. I’m drinking fruity tea. I’m mentally planning my summer landscaping projects. And, I made my favorite sloppy joes, one of my warm weather staples.

I don’t ever remember us eating sloppy joes as a kid, but I do remember the ones served for school lunch. Ew. Now, wipe that image out of your mind and take a peek at the picture below. Yum. These sloppy joes are light, flavorful, and make enough to get you a few days of lunches. The original recipe is courtesy of Perry’s Plate, but I’ve made some changes over the years, which are reflected in the recipe below. Enjoy, and keep channeling those warm weather thoughts!

Oh-So-Tasty Sloppy Joes

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What I’m Listening to: “Thunder Clatter” by Wild Cub

Ingredients (makes 8 sandwiches; 2 per serving)

-1 lb. ground turkey

-Lawry’s seasoned salt

-15 oz tomato sauce

-1/2 tsp ground sage

-2 1/2 tsp dried minced onion

-1/3 cup ketchup

-1/8 cup yellow mustard

-1/2 tsp salt

-1 tsp chili powder

-8 hamburger buns

Brown the turkey in a large skillet over medium-high heat. As the turkey cooks, sprinkle generously with seasoned salt. When the meat is cooked through, add in the remaining ingredients and stir. Cook over medium low heat until the sauce is heated through. Serve on buns with your favorite fruit or vegetable side.

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Mixed Berry Italian Sodas

Greetings from the Arctic Tundra! Winter has finally arrived… and tomorrow’s high is -8. Yes, NEGATIVE EIGHT! I’m currently bundled up on the couch, dreading my freezing drive to work in the morning. How’s the weather by you?

To distract myself from the cold, I’ve been thinking of some of my favorite warm weather things: barbecues, walks at the park, baseball games, and italian sodas. Mmm. There’s a coffee shop close to my job, and they make the BEST italian sodas. This past weekend, I decided to make my own with my sister. While they’re not the same as the ones from Dunn Brothers, these taste so fresh! They are incredibly flavorful, and, while they don’t look fancy, they are sure to please even your pickiest guest!

Mixed Berry Italian Sodas

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What I’m Listening to: “Friends” season 6, episode 1

Ingredients (makes 4- 16 ounce sodas)

-1 cup of fresh or frozen mixed berries (I used blueberries, raspberries, cherries, and strawberries)

-1 cup of water

-1 cup of sugar

-Sparkling water (or club soda works too!)

If you are using frozen berries, start by defrosting them in the microwave, according to the package directions. Place the thawed berries, water, and sugar in the blender. Mix until the liquid is completely smooth. Pour about 1/2 cup into the bottom of each glass. Fill with sparkling water. Enjoy!

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Ultimate Creamy Mac and Cheese

Does anyone remember that show Ashton Kutcher used to host on MTV? I think it was called “Punked”? Anyway…I feel like I’m on that show, probably on a daily basis. Today, and honestly most days, it’s my cats that cause me the same distress and embarassment that Ashton caused numerous celebrities…in hilarious ways. Some backstory…today was  a big day for me at work. For the past 4-5 months, my friend, Caroline, and I have been co-chairing the United Way campaign for our entire city. We’ve attended meetings, trainings, and had to come up with a video to convince people to donate. We wrote the script, cast the actors, and were present for the video shoot. (And I was in it…never again!) Anyway, today was the first of two presentation days. I left the house much earlier than usual, and came home this afternoon for a quick break before our second presentation of the day. Now, let me be very clear about something…Stella and Charlee have ALWAYS been indoor cats, except for the first 3-4 months of their lives, when they were outdoor strays. (Or, in Charlee’s case, a barn kitty.) I don’t let them outside, we don’t go for walks. Nothing. Even so, they have this crazy fascination with outside. So, when I got home today, I no more than opened the door, and Stella went flying out onto the deck. I set down my purse, closed the door, and chased her down. (This is a pretty normal occurrence.) I told her she was naughty, opened the door to let her back in, and out came Charlee. Charlee likes to think she is brave and outdoorsy, but alas, she is not. Her trips outside are much less frequent, but today, she ran outside like a bat out of hell, and scurried about the side of the house. Once she got to the fence, she stopped, so I picked her up, told her she was naughty, and opened the door to put her inside, when out came Stella. THIS HAPPENED THREE MORE TIMES. I’m serious. I finally managed to get them both inside, but who knows what will happen when I have to go back to work… Wish me luck!

I have been searching for a good mac and cheese recipe for…well, forever. But every time I try a new recipe, it’s a bust. Too dry, not enough cheese, not enough flavor, tastes like plastic…I could go on. But then, I found this recipe. I made some changes right off the bat, and it was delicious! The perfect mac and cheese…creamy, cheesy, and full of flavor. I was a little wary about the amount of leftovers, so I figured I’d make less next time. The next night, I reheated some of the mac and cheese, and it was JUST AS GOOD as the first time! In fact, I ate it four days in a row and didn’t get sick of it! This is exactly the type of recipe I’ve been looking for, and, after a little testing, I’m ready to share it with you all. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Ultimate Creamy Mac and Cheese

Adapted from Bless This Mess

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What I’m Listening to: season 5, episode 22 of “How I Met Your Mother”

Ingredients (makes 4 side portions, or 2-3 main dish portions)

-3 cups of small-shaped pasta (I used radiatore)

-4 tbsp of butter

-1 12oz can of evaporated milk

-2 eggs

-1/2 tsp dry mustard

-1/2 tsp black pepper

-1/4 tsp salt

-1/4 tsp paprika

-2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar

-1 cup of shredded mild cheddar

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. When done, drain the pasta and return to the pan. Place the butter on top of the pasta and heat on low. Stir until melted.

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, 1/2 the milk, dry mustard, pepper, salt, paprika, and sharp cheddar. (I did this step while the pasta was cooking.) Pour over the hot noodles and mix well. Continue to cook over low heat. Add the rest of the milk and mild cheddar. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese has completely melted and the sauce has thickened. Salt and pepper to taste, then serve!

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Cooking for Beginners: Pepperoni Pizza Pouches

My cats are in absolute heaven today. Aside from a Starbucks run this morning and a pit stop at Target to get cheese for dinner, I’ve been home all day, curled up under a blanket and watching “How I Met Your Mother.” It’s rare that I am home for the whole day, even on the weekend. Any hopes of productivity went out the window when I woke up to overcast skies and light drizzling rain this morning, so, a Lazy Sunday it was. Charlee has been sleeping on my bed and Stella has spent the better part of the day laying on my lap, which is where she is currently. She loves my blogging time. I generally blog while sitting on the couch, so she’ll wait until I’m a few sentences in before squeezing into the space between me and my laptop, and making herself at home. It’s cute, but seriously. I think I could cut my blogging time in half if she wasn’t looking to have her belly rubbed every 2 minutes.

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I am really excited about my second “Cooking for Beginners” post!  I promise that I’ll branch out from pizza-themed recipes, but hey, it IS National Pizza Month. This is basically a glorified Hot Pocket…except I didn’t burn my mouth on mine, so I like them much better than the store-bought kind. I was able to pull this recipe together with ingredients I already had in my kitchen, and the prep was minimal. I made these for lunch today, but I think they’d also make a great appetizer, especially if you cut them in halves or quarters. Serve with some marinara for dipping and fruit on the side.

Pepperoni Pizza Pouches

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What I’m Listening to: “Stay with Me” by Sam Smith

Ingredients (makes 4 pouches)

-1 package of refrigerated jumbo buttermilk biscuits (8 ct)

-1/2 cup of leftover spaghetti sauce, plus extra for dipping

-1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella

-12 pepperonis

-2 tbsp butter, melted

-1/4 tsp garlic powder

-1/8 tsp oregano

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a second piece on a flat surface, as a work space. Place two biscuits on the work surface at a time, a few inches apart. Flatten the biscuits with your hands, while maintaining the round shape. Spoon 1 tbsp of sauce onto each biscuit and spread with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle a 1/2 tbsp of cheese on one of the biscuits. Cover the cheese with 3 pepperonis, then sprinkle with 1 1/2 tbsp of cheese. Take the second biscuit and lay it over the first, sauce side down. Press together with your fingers. If the sauce leaks out, that’s ok! Use the tines of a fork (the part you eat from) to seal the pouch, all the way around. Move the pouch to the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining biscuits until you have four pizza pouches.

Bake in the oven for 13 minutes. In the mean time, melt the butter, and mix in the garlic powder and oregano. If you want a bolder flavor, feel free to double the amount of spices you use. When the pouches are done, spoon the garlic butter mixture over each. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.

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