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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Pine Nut and Veggie Flatbread

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away? I’m really having a hard time wrapping my brain around that. I still have my Halloween decorations up. I still have my summery TOMs sitting by the back door. And I’m still ordering iced coffee at Starbucks, even though we have a winter weather advisory set for tomorrow. I’m just not ready to let fall go. But, I AM ready for the season of giving to begin! To get myself in the spirit, I’m having a contest on my “Table for One” Facebook page. (Not a fan yet? Click here!) Here’s how it works…

1. From now until 11:59pm on Thanksgiving, refer all your friends to my Facebook page!

2. Have your friends “like” Table for One’s page and let me know who sent them.

3. The person who gets the most people to “like” my page will win a year-long subscription to “Plan to Eat.”

Not familiar with “Plan to Eat?” They are a website that allows you to catalog all your recipes (like Pinterest, but better!) They also feature a menu planner, which compiles a grocery shopping list for you that you can access on any Smart phone. My favorite feature of the site is that they let you decide how many servings you’d like a recipe to make, and then they change the ingredient list accordingly. I’m excited to say that I recently became an affiliate for “Table for One” so if you purchase a subscription on your own, it benefits me and the blog. I’ve been using the site for almost a year, and it makes planning out my meals so much easier! To learn more, click here! I’m so excited about this…are you excited? I hope so. Anyway, on to the main event…

Pine Nut and Veggie Flatbreads! I would love to take full credit for this recipe, but I do need to give a shout out to my friend, Jessica. Jessica and I have been friends for years. We love theatre, we love food…I mean, what else could you want in a friend? Jessica lives in Atlanta now, but whenever she visits, we love to cook. Last fall, we got together to make dinner and this recipe was born…in pizza form. I’ve changed it to a flatbread to better suit one person, but kept all the original ingredients. I can’t stress enough how good these flatbreads are, and how fresh they taste! Plus, they’re pretty, and that’s always nice.

Pine Nut and Veggie Flatbread

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What I’m Listening to: “I and Love and You” by The Avett Brothers

Ingredients (makes 1 flatbread)

-1 flatbread (I use the “Flatout” brand. I’ve used original and rosemary & olive oil)

-1/4 cup of Steph’s pizza sauce (This recipe makes a full batch of sauce, so plan accordingly!)

-1/2 cup of shredded cheese (I used a mix of mozzarella and cheddar)

-1 1/2 tbsp of chopped white onion

-2 small sweet peppers, seeds removed and sliced

-6-8 baby spinach leaves, stems removed

-1/2 tbsp pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 375. Prep all your veggies. Place the flatbread in the oven for 3 minutes to let it get a little crispy. While it cooks, make the sauce. Remove the flatbread from the oven and spread with the 1/4 cup of sauce, leaving about a 1/2 inch crust border. Sprinkle evenly with the cheese, then top with the onion, peppers, spinach, and pine nuts. Bake for 5-7 minutes, or until your cheese has melted. Serve as a light lunch or with soup and a salad.

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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: Pizza Burgers

I never realized how hard my name is to say, until I started teaching preschool. Most of the kids do pretty well with it, but I have a little guy in class right now that’s…struggling. He had my name right the first week of class. Then, it was Miss Jeff for a day, followed by Mom, which is pretty typical. Now? I’m Miss Chef. It’s ADORABLE. I can’t even handle it. And…it’s just one more very important reason you should read my blog. MISS CHEF. It’s in writing.

So, it’s National Pizza and Pasta Month, and the celebrating has begun! Although, it’s pretty much always National Pizza and Pasta Month at my house, so…  It’s also my very first “cooking for beginners” post, so I’m really excited. I’m kicking off the month and the blog series with a recipe I absolutely love: Pizza Burgers! My mom used to make these all the time! Now, I know I’ve said before that different recipes were ugly, but this one truly takes the cake. Not. Pretty. (Also, not pretty when you eat them. This is NOT a first, second, or third date food!) But I digress. These are SO easy to make, even if you’re not confident in your cooking skills. There are only six ingredients. Six very affordable ingredients. Did I mention they take less than 30 minutes? Best recipe ever.

Pizza Burgers

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What I’m Listening to: the pilot episode of “Selfie” (still deciding if I like it)

Ingredients (makes 6-8 burgers)

-1/2 lb of ground Italian sausage (My mom used to make them with ground beef, or you could use ground turkey as a healthy alternative. If you go either of those routes, season generously with Seasoned Salt and garlic powder.)
-1 small can of tomato soup

-1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

-1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

-1 tsp dried oregano

-3-4 English muffins, halved

Place the Italian sausage (or other ground meat) in a large non-stick skillet. If you aren’t sure if your skillet is nonstick, lightly spray the skillet with cooking spray. Turn on the stove burner to medium heat and start to break up the meat with a spatula. Once the meat is broken into small pieces, allow them to sit for 1-2 minutes until lightly browned. Turn the sausage over to brown the other side. Continue to stir and turn the meat every 1-2 minutes. It will be done when there is no pink and the meat is browned, but not burnt. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375. Place the meat in a large mixing bowl. Add the can of tomato soup (do NOT add the water like you would if you were making soup), the shredded cheeses, and the oregano. Mix well.

Place your English muffins in a toaster on a low setting. Toast lightly, then place center up on a baking sheet. Place a large spoonful of the meat mixture on each muffin, using the back of the spoon to spread it. (Recommended by Miss Chef: only make as many as you plan to eat in one sitting. They do not reheat well!) Bake the pizza burgers in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until hot. Allow to cool for 3-5 minutes, then enjoy!

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Crispy Bacon and Cheese Tortelloni

I cannot even begin to tell you how difficult it’s been to stay awake today. Aside from making lasagna and a Nutella cake for dinner with two of my closest friends last night, yesterday was low key. I slept for nine hours last night, so I should have been wide awake when my alarm went off at 8:45 this morning, but I was far from it. So was my kitty, Stella, who normally jumps up right away when my alarm goes off. Today, she lifted her head, looked at the phone, and went back to sleep. When I finally managed to pull myself up, I was a zombie. I took the longest shower ever, played loud music, and cursed Starbucks for not opening a branch in my bedroom. It’s been like that all day, except much worse now, as it’s thunderstorming and I’m curled up under a blanket. Ok, ok, the blanket is my own fault. But, I fully intend to take a bath and drink some hot chocolate after I finish this post, and then I’m going to bed.

Because I’m so tired, I knew dinner needed to be easy. My original dinner plan was going to be time consuming, and seemed like too much of a commitment tonight. I started frying bacon for a second recipe, only to find out I was missing a key ingredient. (Note: always, ALWAYS make sure you have all the ingredients before beginning a recipe.) So, I decided to fly by the seat of my pants and create something on the spot. This turned out to be the perfect comfort food for a rainy, sleepy night. I mean, who doesn’t love cheese and bacon?! Plus, if you were a fan of my Spicy Sausage Penne, this has a very similar sauce.

Crispy Bacon and Cheese Tortelloni

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What I’m Listening to: last week’s episode of “Once Upon a Time”

Ingredients (makes 2 generous servings)

-3 strips of bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

-canola oil

-12 oz package of cheese tortelloni (I used the Giovanni Rana brand from HyVee. It’s a refrigerated pasta, but I’m sure frozen would be just as good!)

-1 cup of your favorite marinara sauce

-2 oz cream cheese, softened

-1/8 cup of Kraft’s Roasted Red Pepper Italian Dressing

On a cutting board, slice the raw bacon into 1/4 inch pieces. Pour a small circle of canola oil in the middle of a small skillet, and swirl to coat. Heat the skillet over medium heat, adding the bacon. Stir occasionally, until the bacon is crisp. When done, scoop the bacon into a paper towel-lined bowl, to soak up the grease. Set aside.

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While the bacon cooks, cook the tortelloni according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

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In the same pan, heat the marinara sauce, cream cheese, and Italian dressing over medium-high heat. When hot, add the bacon to the pan and cover. Let the sauce cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove the lid and add the tortelloni. Mix to coat. Serve with cheese (I used a 6 cheese blend) and a side salad. Mmmmmm.

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Alrighty folks, my cocoa awaits. Have a great rest of your night, and don’t forget to “follow” me above!