Chicken Alfredo Tortellini Soup

This warm and easy soup is my version of a recipe I found on the Kate in the Kitchen blog. The original recipe used fresh chicken and vegetables, frozen tortellini, and stock. I replaced those ingredients with what I had on hand and added a bit of garlic. It was scrumptious. Next time, I’m thinking of making it, and then transferring it to the crockpot for a few hours so that the flavors deepen a bit. It’s going to make a nice warm treat once the days get a bit chillier.

Ingredients

  • Now with the oregano showing12 oz bag mirepoix blend frozen vegetables (carrots, celery, and onion)
  • 1 13 oz can chunk chicken breast, drained
  • 6 cups chicken stock (or 6 cups water and 6 chicken bouillon cubes)
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp granulated garlic
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 8 oz bag cheese-filled tortellini
  • 1 8 oz jar prepared Alfredo sauce

Directions

  1. Spray large dutch oven or soup pot with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Saute mirepoix in olive oil until soft.
  3. Stir in basil, oregano, and garlic.
  4. Add canned chicken.
  5. Add stock and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add tortellini and cook until tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Stir in Alfredo sauce and allow to simmer 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. Serve with grated Parmesan and bacon bits garnish, if desired.

Time Required: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

Layered Pizza Dip

My colleague Lisa makes the best pizza dip ever. On days she brought her pizza dip to work, I was more than happy to forego leaving for my lunch break. This recipe from Betty Crocker (original here) looks similar to hers. Layered Pizza Dip is the twenty-third of my 25 Appetizers of Christmas.

Ingredients

  • 1 (8-oz.) container soft cream cheese with chives and onions (Or plain, if desired)
  • ½ cup pizza sauce
  • ½ cup chopped green bell pepper (optional)
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped pepperoni
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Chunks of French bread

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Spread the cream chesse to cover the bottom of an ungreased 9-inch pie pan or 1 to 1½-quart baking dish.
  3. Layer remaining ingredients (except bread) in order listed.
  4. Bake at 350°F. for 10 to 15 minutes or until dip is hot and cheese is melted.
  5. Serve with bread.

Variations

  • Layer the ingredients, cover with plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator up to 24 hours. Let sit at room temp just a few minutes before baking.
  • You can add other pizza toppings as desired, like mushrooms or sliced black olives. Just be sure to increase the cooking time if necessary to ensure that the dip is hot and melty.

Pizza Pinwheels

A Pillsbury recipe that Mom has included in her recipe files, this appetizer is simple and can be adapted to include your favorite pizza topping. Pizza Pinwheels are the sixth of my 25 Appetizers of Christmas.

Ingredients

  • 1 Can (8oz) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped pepperoni (about 1½ oz)
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped green bell pepper
  • ½ cup shredded Italian cheese blend
  • ½ cup pizza sauce

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  3. Unroll dough and separate into 4 rectangles; firmly press perforations to seal.
  4. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese, pepperoni, bell pepper and Italian cheese blend over each rectangle.
  5. Starting with one short side, roll up each rectangle; press edge to seal.
  6. With serrated knife, cut each roll into 6 slices; place cut side down on cookie sheet.
  7. Bake 13 to 17 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
  8. Meanwhile, heat pizza sauce.
  9. Immediately remove pinwheels from cookie sheet.
  10. Serve warm with warm pizza sauce for dipping.

Variations

  • Any finely chopped, fully cooked pizza topping could be used as a substitute for the pepperoni—bacon bits, chopped onion, ham, black olives, mushrooms, and so forth.

Time Required: 35 minutes

Servings: 24

White-Bean and Sausage Stew

The photo of this recipe, with chunks of sausage and lots of beans, has me ready for a soup night. From the October 2006 issue of All You (original here), this crockpot soup is bound to fill the house with a wonderful aroma!

Ingredients

  • 6 (3 oz.) Italian sausages
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans white beans (Great Northern or navy), rinsed and drained
  • 1 (28 oz.) can chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Poke holes in sausages and put in a large nonstick skillet.
  2. Add 1/4 cup water; bring to a boil.
  3. Lower heat and cook sausages, turning, until lightly browned and water has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer to a plate.
  5. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
  6. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, about 3 minutes.
  7. Add beans, tomatoes and thyme.
  8. Put half of bean mixture into a slow cooker.
  9. Arrange sausages on top, followed by remaining beans.
  10. Cook on high for 4 hours.
  11. Check after 2 hours and add water if mixture looks dry.
  12. Remove sausages; slice thickly.
  13. Season beans with salt and pepper.
  14. Return sausage to stew. (Stew can be kept, frozen and tightly sealed, for up to 1 month.)

Classic Minestrone

Oddly, our family has never favored a minestrone recipe. When we think Italian food, it’s always a plate of pasta. This recipe from the October 2011 issue of All You (original here) might be worth sneaking into the line-up however. Everyone likes all those ingredients—and I bet if I add some meatballs, that pot of soup will disappear.

Ingredients

  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes with liquid
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup small shell pasta or macaroni
  • 1 cup shredded escarole or kale
  • 1 15.5-oz. can cannellini or navy beans, drained
  • Grated Parmesan, for serving, optional

Directions

  1. Combine carrots, celery, onion and garlic in slow cooker.
  2. Pour in broth and stir in tomatoes, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper and Italian seasoning.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.
  4. Thirty minutes before serving, stir in pasta, escarole and beans.
  5. Cover, increase heat to high and cook until pasta is tender, about 30 minutes.
  6. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot, sprinkled with Parmesan, if desired.

Variations

  • I will probably add two dozen small meatballs with the vegetables and broth.
  • This would be a great candidate for a bread bowl. Mmm.

Sausage, Spinach, and Provolone Pizza

From the October 2009 Real Simple (original online), this tasty pizza is a rustic alternative to the normal delivery pizzas we have. Once I saw the photo of the pizza in the magazine, I knew it was a must-have.

IngredientsPizza photo from magazine

  • cornmeal for the pan
  • 1 pound pizza dough, thawed if frozen
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 links Italian sausage, casings removed (about 3/4 pound)
  • 1 small bunch spinach, thick stems removed (about 3 cups)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/3 pound thinly sliced provolone

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 425º F.
  2. Sprinkle a rimmed baking sheet with the cornmeal.
  3. Shape the dough into a 14-inch circle, and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Brush the dough with 1 tablespoon of the oil and bake until puffed and golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  6. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes.
  7. Add the spinach and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, tossing, for 1 minute.
  8. Top the partially cooked dough with the sausage mixture and cheese.
  9. Bake until the crust is crisp and the cheese has melted, 12 to 15 minutes.

Rigatoni in Creamy Tomato Sauce

A recipe from the September 2011 issue of All You (original here). The note with the recipe suggests, “Try this family favorite for a quick weeknight meal—it only takes about 30 minutes to prepare. For variety, you can swap in another type of pasta that holds sauce well, such as fusilli or bow-tie pasta.”

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 ounces pepperoni, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, warmed
  • Salt
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves

Directions

  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add pepperoni and onion and cook, stirring, until onion is soft, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute longer.
  4. Add wine and cook, stirring, until almost evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in tomatoes and sugar, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Stir in heavy cream.
  7. Season with salt.
  8. While sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
  9. Add rigatoni and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes or as package label directs.
  10. Combine with sauce and basil and serve.

Slow-Cooker Tuscan Beans

A recipe from the September 2011 issue of All You (original here). The note with the recipe explains that “At less than 50¢ per serving, this hearty dish will fill you up without emptying your wallet. Complete this meal by serving the beans the Tuscan way, with crusty bread and a green salad.”

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried cannellini beans, rinsed and picked over
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 sprig fresh sage
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Combine beans, garlic, sage, 1 tsp. salt and 8 cups water in slow cooker.
  2. Cover; cook on high until beans are tender, about 3 hours and 15 minutes.
  3. Drain mixture; discard garlic and sage.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Spoon into bowls; drizzle each portion with 1 tsp. olive oil.

Orecchiette with Broccoli, Tomatoes and Sausage

A recipe from the February 2011 issue of All You (original here). The note with the recipe explains that “Orecchiette ("little ears" in Italian) works well in this dish, but you can substitute penne if you’d like.”

Ingredientsfrom All You

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces hot or sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
  • 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • Salt
  • 1 pound orecchiette or pasta shells
  • 4 cups small broccoli florets (from one head)
  • Shredded Parmesan, optional

Directions

  1. Warm oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add sausage and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until it loses its pink color, about 6 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes with their juice and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of juice has evaporated and sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.
  5. While sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
  6. Stir in pasta and cook according to package label directions.
  7. In last 2 minutes of cooking time, stir in broccoli and continue to cook until pasta is al dente and broccoli is tender.
  8. Drain, return to pot and toss with sauce.
  9. Serve immediately, with shredded Parmesan on the side, if desired.

Simmered Italian Rice

Found this tasty-looking recipe on the September issue of All You. It looks like an upscale version of the dish my brother named “Rice with Too Much Rice.” He was 4 or 5, and thought it was Chicken and Rice Soup with more rice than normal.

This variation from Swanson adds spinach and Parmesan. Can’t wait to try it out with some Italian-marinated chicken breasts or pork loin.

Ingredients

  • Simmered Italian Rice1 ¾ cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • ¾ cup uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach (or thawed frozen spinach)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Heat broth and Italian seasoning in 2 qt. saucepan over medium-high heat to a boil.
  2. Stir in rice and spinach.
  3. Reduce heat to low.
  4. Cover and cook 20 min or until rice is tender.
  5. Stir in the cheese.
  6. Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Variations

  • A vegetarian version, made with vegetable broth, would be just as tasty.
  • If you’re out of Italian seasoning, substitute 1/3 tsp each of oregano, marjoram, and basil.
  • Saute 1 small onion, diced and a clove of garlic, in some butter till transparent, and add with the rice and spinach.
  • A blend of Romano and Parmesan cheese will work as well.

Time Required: 35 minutes

Servings: 4