One day I am going to be a great meal planner. At this current time however I am not so great at it. Every now and then I plan a week of meals and I only have to take one trip to the grocery store. But then there are weeks like last one where I find myself on the couch at 5pm on Friday evening not sure of what we are going to eat for dinner. I loaded the kids up in the car after browsing through my Test Kitchen cookbook and got what I needed for this quick one skillet dinner. It was ready by 7pm, it was a huge hit and a recipe that I will definitely be making again.
In this skillet lasagna you have all the goodness of lasagna without all the work of layering and dirtying several dishes. The recipe calls for broken lasagna noodles, but you could use penne or ziti if that’s what you have around. I used Italian turkey sausage, but a mixture of ground beef and pork is what is called for in the original recipe. I added a few ounces of goat cheese to the ricotta because I don’t think that there is a thing on this earth that couldn’t use some goat cheese goodness. I layered some mozzarella slices on top of the finished dish and broiled it for a few minutes. I think when you serve lasagna there should be strings of cheese stretching from pan to plate, so this ensures that will happen. Top it all off with some fresh chopped basil and you have a super delicious and satisfying dinner that is ready in less than an hour. I realize it’s no 30-minute meal, but it sure does take less time than a proper lasagna!
Serve this with lots of good bread and a green salad for a complete meal, and one that will make everyone very happy.
8 ounces of lasagna noodles, broken into 2 inch pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan + more for serving
8 ounces part-skim ricotta
3 ounces goat choose
8-10 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
Pour the tomatoes into a quart measuring cup and fill with water to make 4 cups. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt.
Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add in the turkey and cook, breaking the meat up into pieces, until meat is cooked through and no longer pink.
Pour in the tomatoes and tomato sauce and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Add in the noodles and stir to combine. Press the noodles down into the sauce so that they are covered and then cover the skillet. Bring the sauce to a simmer and then reduce heat to medium low and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In a small bowl stir the ricotta with the goat cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Set aside.
Preheat your broiler.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Parmesan. Use a large spoon to dot the top of the skillet with the ricotta mixture, then lay the mozzarella slices on top.
Place the skillet under the broiler until the cheese begins to brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the basil.
How can something so simple be so good? You probably have every almost every ingredient for this in your kitchen right this very moment. Add to that the minimal amount of time it takes to get this on the table, pair with a green salad and some crusty bread and you have the perfect meal. Make it for a casual family weeknight or for weekend company. It’s easy to make 2 servings or 10. This is one of those recipes to go to when your mind isn’t working well enough to think too hard about dinner (this happens to me a lot) or when you’re having last minute guests and don’t have much time to shop for or prepare dinner. The drizzle of glaze isn’t just great for flavor but it’s also beautiful and adds a touch of fancy to an otherwise very simple dish. I’m real excited that this chicken found its way into my life.
Since there are only a few ingredients, make sure they’re all fresh and of good quality. Get the best looking tomatoes you can find. Romas are a good choice and usually a good size. They are what I used. If the heirlooms at the store look good, splurge on them. You only need 1 or 2 (to serve 2-4 people) so go for it! Get fresh mozzarella, the kind packed in water, and make sure to slice it generously. Now the basil. If you have some in your garden then just grab your shears and head out the back door. If not, get the fresh kind at the store. Don’t use dried basil. It will just not be the same.
This really could not be simpler. Grill the chicken (or cook it in a pan on the stove), and in the last couple minutes place the cheese on top so it has time to melt. If you do this in the oven you might turn the broiler on for a minute or so to melt the cheese. Top with a slice of tomato, sprinkle with the chopped basil and drizzle with balsamic glaze.
The glaze is probably the most time consuming and complicated part about this. It’s not hard, it just requires time and some patience. But it’s worth it. The recipe below makes more than you will probably need, but you can save it, keep it in the fridge, and use it for other dishes. Drizzle on top of a caprese salad (just what you’re using in this dish minus the chicken) or as a finishing sauce for grilled pork tenderloin or other meats.
Below are the ingredients that will serve at least 4 using 4 chicken breasts sliced in half horizontally to make 8 total pieces, 2 per person. But some of your lighter eaters may just eat one piece. If you end up with leftovers I HIGHLY recommend reheating and serving some of the chicken on warm crusty bread with some arugula or other green to make a chicken caprese sandwich. Enjoy!
Grilled Caprese Chicken with Balsamic Glaze
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced horizontally into 2 pieces
1-2 medium to large tomatoes, or 3 to 4 small (you want to try to almost cover the chicken with the tomato slices
8 slices of fresh mozzarella (again, you want the mozzarella slice to almost cover the chicken breast)
kosher salt and pepper
fresh basil leaves, 8-10 (leave them whole or chiffonade)
1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Pour balsamic vinegar into a small, heavy saucepan. Bring the vinegar to a low boil over medium high heat. Adjust heat as needed to keep it at a low boil. Stir occasionally until vinegar begins to thicken and coat the back of a spoon, 15-20 minutes.
Stir in brown sugar and mustard and cook an additional 5 minutes, remove from the heat and let cool slightly before serving. This will thicken a bit as it cools.
Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
Grill the chicken, 4 minutes on the first side, then flip the breasts over and let cook for another minute or 2. Place one piece of mozzarella on each chicken breast and let cook for another 3-4 minutes until chicken is done and mozzarella is melted.
Transfer chicken breasts to a serving platter and immediately place basil leaves on top of the cheese followed by the tomatoes. Drizzle lightly with balsamic glaze and serve additional glaze on the side.
You can’t argue with the raw ingredients here. Who doesn’t love pesto, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and freshly grated parmesan? The time and effort this takes is another thing to love about this recipe. I recommend this to anyone who doesn’t have the luxury of tons of time to make dinner but still wants something that didn’t come from the freezer or got picked up on the way home from work. But I sure do enjoy Ben walking through the door with a pizza box every now and then…
While wasting time on Pinterest, I stumbled upon this recipe from Skinnytaste.com. I took the basics of the recipe, kind of ignored the measurements, and whipped this up in no time last week. We loved it and will have it again I am sure.
I had everything I needed for this meal already in my kitchen except for the chicken. The version of myself I aspire to be would’ve used the pesto she’d made last summer with the basil from her garden and then froze in matching labeled containers (see post on Skinnytaste). Instead I used a jar of Giada pesto from Target. And while lacking in fresh from the garden flavor, it was good.
This can easily be adapted to serve 1 person or a dozen. You can slice fresh mozzarella or use the bag of shredded mozzarella, but provolone would be a great choice as well. If you have a different type of pesto, try it out. I think a nice sprinkle of fresh chopped basil would be a great and beautiful finish. The ingredients below are what you will need, but the amounts are merely suggestions. If you want a healthier option, use the measurement from skinnytaste. I didn’t even measure. So use your judgement and make it how you like it.
Skinnytaste slices each chicken breast lengthwise into 2 cutlets. For her this may be portion control, but I think it’s a great way to prepare the chicken even if you aren’t concerned with all that. The chicken cooks more evenly this way and with some of the ridiculously thick chicken breasts I’ve bought in my time it makes a lot of sense to slice them this way for cooking.
Pair with pasta and steamed veggies or crusty bread and a nice green salad. Enjoy.
Tomato & Pesto Chicken
Slightly adapted from Skinnytaste
Boneless skinless chicken breasts (1 per person), sliced lengthwise into 2 thin pieces if breats are especially thick
Basil pesto, 2-3 teaspoons per chicken breast
Small tomatoes such as roma or campari, about 1 per chicken breast depending on their size, sliced 1/4 inch thick
Shredded mozzarella cheese, 1-2 tablespoons per chicken breast
Freshly grated Parmesan, to taste
Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper.
Arrange in pan sprayed with non-stick spray or foil lined and sprayed for easier clean up.
Spread desired amount of pesto on each breast and bake for 10-12 minutes, a few minutes longer if you did not slice the chicken into thinner pieces. Chicken should be almost done.
Remove from the oven and place sliced tomatoes on each chicken breast. Sprinkle with mozzarella and then Parmesan cheese.
Return to the oven and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes, until cheese is melted and just begins to brown.
While in college at Texas A&M in College Station, I used to meet a friend at a pizza place near campus that served pizza by the slice called Antonio’s. I always got the margherita. Nice thick slices of fresh mozzarella, perfect slices of red tomato and fresh basil on top of a delicious crust. If I’m ordering pizza at a restaurant, margherita is always on the short list. And when we make pizza at home, it’s one I know will be devoured. There’s something wonderful about the fresh ingredients, the contrasting textures of smooth and creamy cheese, juicy tomato and the slight crunch of the spicy basil leaf. And the bright colors can’t be beat either.
I made these small bites as part of an Italian appetizer spread. Just take a small ball of mozzarella, snack size tomato and fresh basil leaf. Add the sweet tang of balsamic vinegar and you have the perfect bite. You want the mozzarella and tomato to be close to the same size. Bocconcini are too large, so look for ciliegine, which are cherry sized balls of mozzarella and are perfect in size. If you can’t find these, you could always cut the bocconcini into small chunks. When I was skewering these I thought that the basil was going to be overwhelming since I had to use such large leaves to hold everything, but it was just right.
Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Bites with Balsamic Glaze
12 snack size tomatoes, cherry, grape, etc.
12 small balls of mozzarella packed in water, patted dry with paper towels
12-15 large basil leaves, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
12 long toothpicks (2 1/2 inches)
Make balsamic glaze: simmer vinegar in small saucepan over low heat for 10-15 minutes until thickened and reduced. Swirl periodically, and be careful not to let it boil. You will have a burnt mess on your hands. I know this because I had to make two batches…
While heating vinegar, make skewers. Slide one end of the basil leaf on the toothpick, follow with mozzarella and tomato, keeping basil leaf underneath to create a boat. Then attach the other end of the leaf. Be careful not to tear the leaf. Keep a few extra leaves on hand just in case.
Lay bites on a platter, then drizzle each with glaze. A little goes a long way.
This tasty potato salad is one of the sides we had on the Fourth of July. While I do have a special place in my heart for a nice mustard potato salad, this one was lighter and fresher in flavor than the traditional yellow side dish.
When dressing this salad I didn’t use the measurements in the original recipe. I don’t like to overdo it on the oil, so I just drizzled a little olive oil, squeezed the juice of one large lemon, sprinkled some salt and pepper, tossed, then tasted. At this point you can add more of whatever it needs. I added a little more lemon, salt and pepper.
This is a nice, simple summer side. Fresh ingredients make such a huge difference, so it’s the perfect time of year to make this salad. I used a combination of red potatoes and baby Yukon golds that came fresh from a garden. The light and lemony dressing make this potato salad a healthier option than those with mayonnaise based dressings. If you like a creamier dressing, I think adding some yogurt would be a good option. Enjoy!
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced thinly (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup)
1 large bunch fresh basil, rinsed, dried, and leaves picked
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large lemons, juiced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
About 15 grinds freshly ground pepper
Place the potatoes in a large pot of salted water and bring to boil. Cook until just fork tender, about 15 minutes. Fish out the potatoes with a spider or slotted spoon and place them in a bowl of ice cold water to stop them from cooking.
Shuck the corn and break each ear in half. Cook in the same boiling water for 5 to 7 minutes until tender but not soft. Remove the cooled potatoes to a dish-cloth to drain. Immerse corn in the same ice bath until cool. Cut each potato into quarters and place in a large bowl.
Remove corn from water and also let drain. Use a chef’s knife to cut the kernels off each ear. Add kernels to bowl. Add grape tomatoes, onion, and whole basil leaves. Add olive oil and lemon juice and toss gently to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
When I bought the ingredients for this soup today it was intended to be “Italian Tortellini Soup”, a recipe I got from a woman who came to a Bible study group I am involved with. It became this Italian sausage & vegetable soup when I realized that I did not use a large enough pot and had to leave out half the mushrooms and the entire package of tortellini. Thankfully the soup came out OK and we’ll be enjoying it for the next few days! It might be a blessing in disguise that my pot was too small. This way we won’t be eating the same thing all week long.
Soup is quite forgiving. The world does not come crashing down when you realize you’ve left something out, don’t have quite enough of an ingredient, added your ingredients in the wrong order, or added more of something than directed. Thank goodness, since almost all of those things happened to me!
Ben was not happy when I told him the tortellini soup had no tortellini. Ben likes tortellini. But he ate it anyway and I think he thought it was pretty good. He had a bowl and a half, so it couldn’t have been that bad. I really liked how chock full of veggies this soup was. The amount of sausage made it just meaty enough and provided a nice flavor. I added a huge handful of torn basil leaves right before serving and that was lovely. I really enjoy fresh basil and am sad I will have to wait until next summer to grow some of my own. I have attempted this before…and failed. But every summer I try again. Maybe this next time I’ll get it right and it won’t wither and die on me.
Here is the recipe, which was adapted more than just a little bit since I was not quite on top of things when I went grocery shopping. I will try out the original recipe sometime and post that as well. Enjoy! (more…)
You may not have a great reaction to this combination; tomato and pie. Ben didn’t either when I told him what we were having for dinner. When all was said and done though, he had three helpings last night and we finished off the rest of this today for lunch.
This recipe is from Simply Recipes. Here is the link. Her picture is so much prettier than what came out of my oven, but it still tasted great. I will admit to being a little impatient when it comes to eating these days, so maybe if I had let it cool a bit longer I would have had better luck in removing whole pieces instead of chunks of pie.
I get really hungry and excited about eating, and I just cannot wait to eat sometimes! I’m pregnant, so I’m using that as my excuse. Only 6 more weeks to use that one.
While Ben was slightly disappointed that there was no meat in our meal, he put on a happy face and eat it anyway. If you wanted to add meat, I think some crumbled cooked bacon on top of the sautéed onions would be nice.
I will make this simple meal again and I would definitely think about serving it at a ladies lunch or brunch as a whole pie or in little tart shells.
The fresh basil with the tomatoes is a lovely match as always. I used 2 cups of chopped red tomatoes and 1 cup of chopped yellow tomatoes from the rest of my tomato plant’s crop. I used a combination of mozzarella and swiss cheese with good results, but some nice sharp cheddar in there would also be tasty. The Tabasco gives a nice spicy punch, but you could leave it out if you are not a fan of that kick. Enjoy!
Courtesy of Simply Recipes
1 9-inch pie shell
1 yellow onion, chopped and sautéed in olive oil or butter
3-4 tomatoes, cut in half horizontally, squeezed to remove excess juice, roughly chopped, to yield approximately 3 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced basil
2 cups grated cheese (any combination you choose)
3/4 cup mayonnaise (light or regular)
1 teaspoon (or more to taste) of Frank’s Hot Sauce (or Tabasco)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place pie shell in oven and cook for 8-10 minutes or longer until lightly golden. If you are starting with a frozen crust, you’ll need to cook it a little longer. If you are using a homemade crust, freeze the crust first, then line the crust with aluminum foil and pre-bake it for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.
Squeeze as much moisture as you can out of the chopped tomatoes, using either paper towels, a clean dish towel, or a potato ricer.
Sprinkle the bottom of the pre-cooked pie shell with onion. Spread the chopped tomatoes over the onions. Sprinkle the sliced basil over the tomatoes.
In a medium bowl, mix together the grated cheese, mayonnaise, Tabasco, a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper. The mixture should be the consistency of a gooey snow ball. Spread the cheese mixture over the tomatoes.
Place in oven and bake until browned and bubbly, anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes.