Category Archives: Main Dishes

Chicken Parmesan

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As promised, today we have Chicken Parmesan!  Or, as it is affectionately known in our house, Pizza Chicken.

You see, this was the very first meal I ever cooked for my husband, way back when we first started dating!  This was my “specialty.”  It is a pretty easy dish, but is so delicious and somewhat impressive.  I really wanted to impress him. After all, they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!  So I made him Chicken Parmesan.  I think he was impressed (at least a little), because here we are 7 1/2 years later!

I don’t think he had ever had Chicken Parmesan, and when I served it, he said it tasted like Pizza Chicken, and that is what he has called it ever since. 

You are going to start with  a pound and a half of chicken breasts.  I like mine to be pretty thin so they cook evenly and quickly, so you can either purchase thin cut breasts, or slice the normal ones in half.  I ended up with 6 pieces.

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Then, you’ll want to set up a breading station.  Take two large plates, and one shallow bowl.  In the first plate, put your flour.  As Emeril says “Where I come from, my flour isn’t seasoned!”  Season your flour with salt and pepper.

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Crack two eggs into the shallow bowl.  Whisk them up very well with a tablespoon or two of water.

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And in the other large plate, mix some breadcrumbs with a little parmesan cheese.  I was able to find Italian seasoned panko crumbs at my store, but if you can’t find these, regular Italian breadcrumbs will work, or you can add some Italian seasoning to plain panko crumbs. 

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Set up your breading station with the chicken on one end, then the flour, eggs, breadcrumbs and end with a large plate or sheet pan to put your breaded chicken breasts.

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To bread your chicken, take one piece at a time and coat it in the flour.  Shake the excess flour off.

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Next, dip it into the eggs.  Coat both sides with the egg. This will be your “glue.”

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Then, press it into your breadcrumb mixture and coat both sides evenly.

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Place your breaded chicken on a plate and continue until all your chicken has been breaded.

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Heat some olive oil in a large skillet.  Fry your breaded chicken for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until the breadcrumbs are golden and crispy.  The chicken is pretty thin, but it may not cook all the way through.  That is ok, because we are going to be baking it later.   You don’t want to crowd the pan, so fry your chicken in batches.

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While your chicken is cooking, spread a little of your favorite marinara sauce evenly in the bottom of a large baking dish. 

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When your chicken has been cooked, remove it to the baking dish.

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Cover each piece with a few tablespoons of marinara sauce…

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a sprinkle of parmesan cheese…

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and a nice helping of mozzarella!  Bake it up to finish cooking the chicken through and meth the cheese.

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When you pull it out of the oven, you’ll have a cheesy, succulent chicken breasts that are sure to impress!

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Chicken Parmesan

makes about 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (thinly sliced)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 cups Italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • olive oil for frying
  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
  • 3 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Set up your breading station.  Take two large plates, and one shallow bowl.  In the first plate, combine flour, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  In the shallow bowl, mix eggs with water until well combined.  In the other plate, combine breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.
  3. Bread the chicken breast pieces.  First, coat chicken with flour.  Shake off the excess.  Dip the chicken in the eggs and turn to coat.  Finally press the chicken into the breadcrumb mixture until both sides are coated.  Place breaded chicken on a large plate.  Continue until all pieces of chicken have been breaded.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Fry the chicken breast pieces in batches until golden and crispy.  Chicken may not be cooked all the way through.
  5. Meanwhile, spread 1/2 of marinara sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish.
  6. After chicken has been fried, remove and place in a single layer in the baking dish.
  7. Top chicken with the remaining marinara sauce, the parmesan cheese and the mozzarella cheese.
  8. Bake chicken, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and chicken is cooked all the way through.

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Filed under Main Dishes

Turkey Meatballs

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Remember spaghetti night?

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 For us growing up, spaghetti was one of the meals that always made it into the rotation.  It was fast, easy, and always got eaten without any complaints-a working mother’s perfect meal!

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But spaghetti became…special…when we had meatballs. 

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You see, most of the time, my mom would just crumble and brown ground beef and add marinara sauce to make a meat sauce to put over the spaghetti.  This was tasty enough as it was, but it was a real treat to have meatballs!  

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 They take just a little extra effort, but I think it is so worth it.

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 Turkey Meatballs

makes 16 golf ball sized meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.  Mix well (I like to use my hands!) to incorporate all the seasonings.
  3. Form mixture into golf ball sized balls.
  4. Place meatballs on a foil lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with olive oil or non-stick spray.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until meatballs are cooked trough and no longer pink.
  6. Eat with your favorite pasta and marinara sauce.

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Caprese Barley Salad

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I have a fantastic fresh salad for you today!  It is getting to be the time of year where I much prefer to eat cold foods over hot.  Unless those hot foods are coming from the grill.  But that is a different story.

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I found these gorgeous heirloom cherry tomatoes at Trader Joes this week.  Aren’t they beautiful?

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And I bought a ginormous tub of marinated mozzarella balls at Costco.  Who buys a 40 oz tub of bocconcini?   A hungry person who is shopping at Costco, that’s who.  Word to the wise, eat lunch before wandering those aisles!

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Also, can we talk about this balsamic vinegar? 

It isn’t white, or clear, but a kind of pinky-brown color.  But I hate the way normal balsamic looks when it is drizzled on mozzarella.  It tastes great, but makes it look dirty.  If you can find white balsamic, definitely use it!

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And barley.  Oh, barley.  It is really under-used.  I had this package left in my pantry from a beef and barley soup I made this winter.  And it probably would have sat there until next winter if it wasn’t for this salad.  If barley isn’t your thing, you can use rice, or quinoa, or any other grain of your choosing.  It soaks up the wonderful dressing and gets really tangy and flavorful.

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Fresh, simple and delicious.

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Caprese Barley Salad

makes 4 servings as a main dish or 8 as a side dish

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked barley (4 cups already cooked barley)
  • 16 oz cherry tomatoes
  • 12 oz bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar (or regular balsamic vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp basil, cut in ribbons

Directions

  1. Cook barley according to package directions. 
  2. Let barley cool completely.  Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Cut cherry tomatoes in half (or in quarters for very large tomatoes) and add them to the barley.
  4. Cut bocconcini balls in half and add them to the bowl.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar mustard and salt.  Whisk until well combined.
  6. Pour the dressing over the other ingredients.  Add basil and toss salad until it is coated with the dressing.
  7. Chill for several hours to allow flavors to come together. 

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 I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…How can you go wrong with tomatoes and mozzarella?

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Filed under Main Dishes, Salads, Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Philly Cheese Steak Cheeseburgers

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Have you ever been to Philadelphia and had a real cheese steak sandwich? 

I was visiting a friend in Philly when I was in college and he took me to Pat’s. 

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{Source}

Apparently, everyone is either a Pat’s or a Geno’s person.  He was a Pat’s person, so that is where we went. 

Now, if you have never been to this place, there is a very specific way you are supposed to order your sandwich, or else they send you to the back of the line.  I’m not sure if that is true or not, but the line was enormous and I was not trying to go to the back. 

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{Source}

I wanted a cheese steak with provolone cheese and onions.  When I finally made it to the front of the line and it was my turn to order, I said “I want a cheese steak with provolone with” because to order onions you say ‘”with” and to order with out onions you say “without.”  Seems simple right? 

So, I’m not a loud person, and I’m actually pretty shy in uncomfortable situations.  And, well, I don’t know if I was just too quiet when I ordered or what, but the person thought I said “Whiz” which is what you say when you want Cheez Whiz and I was too afraid they would send me to the back of the line so I didn’t correct them and tell them that I said “with” for onions and I ended up with a cheese steak with Cheez Whiz.  

And it was awesome.  Best ordering mistake of my life.

I went with the classic provolone for these burgers, but you could easily switch it out for Cheez Whiz, if you are so inclined.

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Start off with some bell peppers and onions.

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Get those caramelizing in a little olive oil.  Grilled peppers and onions make everything better. 

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Divide a pound of lean ground beef into 4 patties.

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Season those with seasoning salt.  This is the best all purpose seasoning I know of. 

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Grill up your burgers, and top them with provolone.

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I always pour a little water into the pan.  The steam really helps with getting the cheese melted. 

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Top your burgers with the grilled peppers and onions.  Simple and delicious, and reminiscent of a scary trip to your favorite Philly Cheese Steak establishment.

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Philly Cheese Steak Cheeseburgers

makes 4 burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1-2 tsp seasoning salt
  • 4 slices of provolone cheese
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 4 hamburger buns

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Sauté onions and peppers until they are caramelized and tender.
  2. Meanwhile, divide ground beef into 4 equal patties.  Season both sides of the patties with seasoning salt.
  3. Grill patties until they are cooked through, about 4 minutes on each side.
  4. Once burgers are almost cooked, top each with a slice of provolone cheese. 
  5. Drizzle 3 tbsp of water into the pan with the burgers.  The steam will help to melt the cheese.
  6. Transfer the burgers to the buns and top each with 1/4 of the onions and peppers.
  7. Top burgers with your favorite Philly Cheese Steak toppings.

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Filed under Main Dishes, Sandwiches

Shrimp Creole

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Shrimp Creole reminds me of my childhood.  It makes me feel a little bit retro.

 I remember my mom making it when she and my dad had dinner parties.  I supposed that shrimp was a bit of a delicacy in our house, so it was reserved for adults and special occasions.  She would always make this dish with those little cocktail shrimp, so there were tons of tiny shrimp throughout the spicy sauce.  

I think my brother and I ate hotdogs on those nights. 

This recipe comes from my Aunt Ann.  When I got those recipe cards, this was the first one on in the stack.  I recognized her handwriting immediately.

It really is a simple dish to prepare, so it is great for a week night dinner, but it is a little special, so it can certainly be served  to company.

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To begin, saute some onions, bell peppers and celery in a little olive oil.

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Add your seasonings.  I used this Cajun spice blend, which is from Penzey’s Spices.  I have no idea what happened to the label…

You can order this online, or use your favorite Creole or Cajun spice blend.  Also add a bit of hot sauce, some garlic, a little pepper and some salt.

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Once that has cooked for a little, add your diced tomatoes and tomato sauce.

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Saute this mixture for 15-20 minutes, or until the vegetables are all tender and the sauce has thickened.  This would be a great time to start making your rice!

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Add in a pound of large peeled and deveined shrimp…

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And cover and cook for about 5 minutes, or until shrimp are opaque and cooked through.   Make a slurry with a little corn starch and water and add it to the sauce to thicken it a little more.

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Serve over a bed of fluffy rice to soak up the delicious, spicy sauce.

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Shrimp Creole

makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped (or substitute another green pepper)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp Cajun Seasoning
  • 2 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper (about 1/4 tsp)
  • 1-14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1-8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 lb peeled and deveined raw shrimp
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp cold water

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat.
  2. Saute onions, bell peppers and celery until tender, but not brown.
  3. Add garlic, Cajun seasoning, hot sauce, salt and pepper.  Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Simmer mixture, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are tender and sauce has thickened.
  5. Add raw shrimp.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until shrimp are opaque and cooked through.
  6. Meanwhile, combine cornstarch and water.  Pour this mixture into the sauce and stir to combine and thicken the sauce.
  7. Serve over rice.

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Filed under Main Dishes, Seafood

Buffalo Chicken Burgers with Creamy Blue Cheese Sauce

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Let me tell you a secret…

I didn’t have buffalo chicken wings until college. 

I know!  I can’t believe it either.  It was just not something that my parents ever made, or ordered in restaurants.  I never saw any of my friends eat them, either, so I never thought to eat them. 

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Until happy hour when I was in college.  That’s right.  I was at least 21 years old when I first had buffalo wings. 

We had two main places for happy hour in college.  Tia’s, a Mexican restaurant with free chips and salsa and $1 beers and margaritas, and Chili’s, where they served $2 beers, but had free buffalo wings.  More expensive beers, but an arguably better free food choice!  After those {very} happy {many} hours in college, I can say I was hooked on those spicy little wings.

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Let me tell you another secret…

A few years ago, I got 4th place in a local wing eating contest.  I am truly embarrassed to admit that I ate 40 wings in 10 minutes during the qualifying round, and at the main contest, I ate 78 wings during 2 rounds totaling 17 minutes. 

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Yea.  It was disgusting.  And trust me when I say it was a looooong time before I ate wings again.

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Eventually my love for those little wings, and the flavor combination of spicy buffalo sauce and blue cheese, returned.   I won’t eat 78 wings as fast as I can, but I will enjoy an order here and there, especially during a football game!

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These burgers combine the classic flavors of buffalo chicken wings (even the celery!) into a tasty, mess free sandwich.  (Isn’t getting your hands and face all sauced up the worst part of wings!?) 

Top your burgers with this special creamy blue cheese sauce for an all out wing-like experience!

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Buffalo Chicken Burgers

makes 4 burgers

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb extra lean ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 4 tbsp hot sauce*
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 Hamburger buns

*A note about the hot sauce-this amount will vary depending on the heat of your sauce.  I used a hot sauce from Aldi, which I would compare to Franks Red Hot in the level of heat and its taste.  If you are using a hotter sauce (like Tabasco), use less (unless you like it really spicy!

Directions

  1. In a medium pan, sauté the onions and celery in the olive oil.  Do not brown them, but cook them until they are soft, about 5 minutes.  Let cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients (except buns!) with cooled onions and celery.  Mix until well combined and the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  3. Form meat mixture into 4 equal sized patties.
  4. Heat a grill pan or grill to medium high heat.  Cook burgers for about 6 minutes a side until cooked through (you don’t want to eat raw or undercooked chicken!). 
  5. Serve on buns with creamy blue cheese sauce.

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Creamy Blue Cheese Sauce

 

Ingredients

  • 2 stalks celery, very finely chopped
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 8-oz container light sour cream
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients until well combined.
  2. Serve on burgers, or with additional celery and carrots for dipping.

 

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How many wings do you think you can eat in 10 minutes?

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Filed under Main Dishes, Sandwiches

Pasta Primavera

 Is every0ne else as excited for Spring as I am??  Today marks the first day of Spring, and winter is officially O.V.E.R!  Pretty soon, we’ll be on to sun tans and flip flops 😎

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Hello, gorgeous! 

Nothing says spring to me more than 70 degree days and big pile of veggies.  And pollen.    DSC_1026 (1024x681)

The weather here has been fantastic for the past week or so, and we’re looking to continue to trend through to the weekend.  75 degrees and sunny?  I’ll take it!

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 In honor of the first day of Spring, today I have Pasta Primavera for you!  Tender, crunchy vegetables and a buttery parmesan sauce all tossed together with al dente penne pasta.  This meal was phenomenal!

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 Of course, Chris commented on how their was no meat involved…to him a meal isn’t a meal unless there is meat.  But he did eat two servings, veggies and all (well, minus the asparagus).  Add grilled chicken or shrimp to this dish if you have a husband like mine.

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 Pasta Primavera

makes 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 16 oz dry penne pasta (or the shape of your choosing)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups lowfat or skim milk
  • 6 oz shredded parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Saute the onions, red pepper and carrots until soft, but not browned (about 7-8 mintues).
  3. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter.  Saute the garlic for 1 minute.
  4. Whisk in the flour until smooth.  Let cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the milk to the flour mixture, continuously whisking to avoid lumps.  Heat this mixture until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Whisk in the parmesan cheese until it is melted and the sauce is smooth. 
  7. During the last 2-3 minutes of cooking time for the pasta, add the asparagus and broccoli florets.
  8. Drain the pasta and vegetables, and combine with suateed vegetables and sauce.  Mix until everything is coated with the sauce.
  9. Serve with additional grated cheese on top.

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Filed under Main Dishes, Vegetarian