Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Fettuccine Alfredo

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I’m a sucker for pasta.

In my opinion, a pasta dish doesn’t have to have a ton of ingredients, mix-ins or additional items across the top to be amazing.  Give me a great noodle, a simple sauce and some cheese and I’m in.

Case in point – this amazingly tasty, easy to pull together fettuccine alfredo dish. By using roasted peppers and garlic you get such deep, bold flavors.  Alfredo sauces can be heavily loaded with butter, cream and cheese and while this one definitely has all those elements, it’s not overwhelming.  The peppers and garlic truly are the star of the dish. Using the blender or food processor makes it an attainable dish for any night of the week.  So attainable that I may be guilty of making this nearly every week.

Like I said… I’m a sucker for pasta 🙂


Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Fettuccine Alfredo

  • 3 large red bell peppers, roasted, skins and seeds removed
  • 1 head of garlic, roasted and mashed (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 16 ounces Fettuccine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Let’s start by talking about roasting garlic and peppers.  Don’t let this intimidate you – it’s a simple process that greatly boosts the flavor in your recipe.

For the peppers: rub a little olive oil all over the outside of the peppers and place them on a parchment paper- or foil-lined baking sheet.  That will save you from scrubbing those sheet trays later!  Turn your broiler on high and place the tray of peppers directly below the coils.  Let the peppers char and get completely black on the top side, then turn them over allowing each side to blacken and blister. Once they are completely charred, place the peppers in a bowl and cover them up with some foil.  You want them to steam so that the skins start to loosen from the meat of the pepper.  After about 20-30 minutes, take the peppers and using either a paper towel or your fingers, rub the blistered skin off of the meat.  Pull the meat away from the stem and remove all the seeds inside.  You’ll be left with soft, delicious roasted peppers!

For the garlic: Take a head of garlic and carefully slice off the upper portion of the head  – you want to expose the tops of most of the garlic cloves.  Using a serrated knife works the best here. Make a little pouch out of foil and place the head of garlic in the middle.  Drizzle some olive oil over the top and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Bunch the foil up over the top of the garlic, leaving it open to vent just a little.  It’s a good idea to set the pouch on a sheet tray just in case there are any leaks.  Roast the garlic in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  The garlic will be a nutty brown color and so soft that it will easily press out of the pods after cooling a bit.

Alright!  Let’s make the pasta!

Cook the fettuccine in salted, boiling water until al dente.  Drain the pasta and set it aside.

While the pasta is cooking, grab a large pot or a skillet with sides to it and heat up the tablespoon of olive oil.  You’ll appreciate the sides to the pan you are using when we toss the pasta into the sauce at the end of this recipe.  Cook the onions in the olive oil until they are soft.

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Place the roasted red peppers, the roasted garlic and the cooked onions in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

Isn’t it such a beautiful color?!

Go back to the pan you used for the onions and melt the butter over medium heat. Pour in the red pepper puree.

Add your choice of broth, the half-and-half and  a little salt and pepper.  This is a good time to check for seasoning – but keep in mind that you’ll be adding parmesan in a bit and cheese = salt.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parmesan and fresh parsley.

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Add about half of the cooked fettuccine and toss the pasta until it is well-coated.  Add the rest of the pasta and toss again – doing this in two steps makes the tossing just a bit easier.

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You can easily bulk up this dinner by adding any protein to it, chicken or Italian sausage being our go-to options.  This dinner, we went for the Italian sausage option.  We browned the sausage with a little bell pepper and tossed it in with the cooked pasta here.  Grilled or sauteed chicken would also look lovely across the top of the dish!

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However you serve it up, garnish the dish with a little more grated parmesan and chopped fresh parsley.

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Try this one out sometime soon!  If you’d like an even quicker weeknight dinner option, you can find roasted pepper and roasted garlic prepared at your grocery store.  I typically find them both in the veggie/tomato aisle.

What’s your favorite pasta dish?


Full Recipe

Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Fettuccine Alfredo

  • 3 large red bell peppers, roasted, skins and seeds removed
  • 1 head of garlic, roasted and mashed (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 16 ounces Fettuccine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta in heavily salted water to al dente.

Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large pot or skillet with sides, heat olive oil over medium heat and cook onions until soft; about 5 minutes.

Place roasted red peppers, garlic and onions to a blender or food processor and puree.

Add butter to the pan the onions were cooked in and melt over medium heat.

Pour in the red pepper puree.

Add broth, half-and-half and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Stir to combine, taste and add a pinch of salt and pepper as desired.

Remove the pan from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Add half of the pasta and gently toss to coat. Add remaining pasta and toss.

Garnish with grated Parmesan and chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Enchiladas with Red Sauce

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A few years back, Will and I had the opportunity to attend a cooking demonstration hosted by my chef-BFF, Pati Jinich.  I love her simple, classic style of cooking and have enjoyed cooking many of her recipes. They are full of great techniques and easy to follow.  She may or may not know that she is my BFF… but that’s beside the point.

Chef Pati demonstrated an entire menu from her cookbook, Mexican Today, and we got a signed copy of the book at the end.  Will and I have been through this cookbook several times, finding our favorites throughout. The To Die For Ceviche is, well, to die for. The Mango Pecan Tart will be in my kitchen soon. One of the true highlights though is the section devoted to sauces. We love to make enchiladas and we have played with a few of them.  We ultimately landed on this version of a traditional red sauce – you can stuff the enchilada with any filling and they are always delicious. While it may look complicated, it can all come together pretty quickly once you have the basic technique of creating a puree from dried peppers down.  As a bonus, any extra sauce freezes nicely for another use.  It’s been fun adapting such a tasty recipe to our kitchen!

I’d like to think my BFF would be proud.


Enchiladas with Red Sauce

  • 15 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove peeled
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Shredded cheese

Preheat your oven to 350.

In a hot skillet set over medium-low heat, toast the chiles.  You’re looking for the outer skin to crisp and blacken. 

Place the toasted peppers in a medium saucepan, cover with hot water and set over medium-high heat. Let them simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until they plump back up a bit.

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In the jar of a blender, place chiles along with 1 1/2 cups of their soaking liquid, the onion, garlic, oregano and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Side note: that soaking liquid also makes a great broth for a side dish of rice!

Puree until completely smooth.

Taste again for seasoning.

In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, add a couple tablespoons oil. Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the chile sauce and quickly cover with a lid ajar, as the sauce will be jumping.  Be ready!  That sauce will jump and quickly splatter everywhere!

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Cook for 3-4 minutes, add the broth and cook a couple minutes more. Turn off the heat and keep covered.

Cover the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with a thin layer of red sauce.

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In a skillet set over medium-heat heat, add a couple tablespoons oil. When the oil is hot, “pass” the tortillas through the oil to soften them. You basically want to drag both sides of the tortillas through the hot oil until you see the tortillas start to bubble up just a bit. It should only take a few seconds. Don’t skip this step – if you try to roll the corn tortillas without softening them they will crack and tear as you stuff and roll them.

“Pass” the warmed tortillas through the red sauce to coat them.

Line the center of the tortillas with your choice filling and roll into enchiladas.  Tonight, we went with a beef filling – ground beef browned up with onions, peppers and pinto beans.  This red sauce would also be fantastic with shredded chicken or a straight cheese filling!

Line the rolled enchiladas in the prepared baking dish. Top with more sauce, any leftover filling, and cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.

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What filling will be in your version of Enchiladas with Red Sauce?


Full Recipe

Enchiladas with Red Sauce

  • 15 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove peeled
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

In a hot skillet set over medium-low heat, toast the chiles until the skins are crisp and blackened.

Place the peppers in a medium saucepan, cover with hot water and set over medium-high heat.

Let them simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until they rehydrate, soften and plump up.

In the jar of a blender, place chiles along with 1 1/2 cups of their soaking liquid, the onion, garlic, oregano and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Puree until completely smooth.

Taste again for seasoning.

In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, add a couple tablespoons oil.

Once hot, but not smoking, add the chile sauce and quickly cover with a lid ajar, as the sauce will be jumping.

Cook for 3-4 minutes, add the broth and cook a couple minutes more.

Turn off the heat and keep covered.

Cover the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with a thin layer of red sauce.

In a skillet set over medium-heat heat, add a couple tablespoons oil.

When the oil is hot, pass the tortillas through the oil to soften them.

Pass the warmed tortillas through the red sauce to coat them.

Line the center of the tortillas with your choice filling and roll into enchiladas.

Top with more sauce, any leftover filling, and cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Sausage Potato Skillet

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Happy New Year!  (We can still say that even if January is already two-thirds done, yes?)

If your house is anything like my house you are ready for an easy, throw-down dinner.  This is it! A one pan wonder!

I truly don’t know where this recipe came from.  I can say, however, that it was a staple in our house growing up in Weslaco.  It’s such a quick, easy go-to that I never much thought about how good it was… other than to give my mom a good (full of love) teasing about it’s frequent appearance at the dinner table.  (We’ll talk about “gourmet sandwiches” some other time, Mom 😉 )

Then I graduated from Baylor and made my move to Lake Jackson.  I’d make this for dinner and take leftovers for lunch the next day.  Without fail, every time, someone would comment on the dish and ask for the recipe.  It threw me a bit because I don’t think my mom or I ever even wrote the recipe down, it was just one of those things we could toss together.  The first time I made it for Will he loved it and began requesting this dish for dinner.  Again, it blew my mind a little.  This dish?  The sausage-potato meal we’ve always had?!

So here it is, all typed up in its one-pan glory from my childhood home to your present day: Sausage Potato Skillet.  May it make one of your upcoming dinners simply wonderful 🙂


Sausage Potato Skillet

  • 1 link smoked sausage, sliced into rounds
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 can corn or hominy, drained

Pay attention, this one goes quick 🙂

Saute the onion, pepper and garlic in a skillet with a little olive oil until the veggies begin to soften. Use a large skillet with plenty of room to toss everything up together.  Season the veggies with salt and pepper but start a little lighter than normal on the salt as the smoked sausage will bring some of that in for you.

Add the sliced sausage and saute until the sausage begins to brown a bit.

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Add the corn or hominy and toss it all together.

So, I love hominy.  Hominy is made from either white or yellow corn – the kernels are soaked in a solution of either lime or lye which removes the hull, and often the germ, from the kernel and causes the grain itself to puff up much larger than its original size.  The texture is definitely chewier than regular corn and, I think, has a more pronounced corn flavor.  I dig the taste and texture of hominy and often will just saute it with butter, salt and pepper as a side dish. Somewhere along the line, I decided that hominy needed to replace the corn in this dish and I’ve never looked back.   Will, however, does not share my love of hominy.  Bummer.  We often either go back to the regular can of corn here or omit it completely when making this dish at home. In an effort to give you this dish in all its original glory though, I felt it best to demonstrate with the hominy.  (Sorry, Will!)  Don’t worry, y’all.  He still ate it 😉

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Add the cubed potatoes, tossing them around a bit to mix them in. Season again with salt and pepper. (If you like a little kick, this is a great spot for some cajun seasoning as well!)

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Add enough water to just cover the bottom of the skillet, about 2 or 3 tablespoons. Cover the pan with a lid, lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 15-20 minutes.  If you don’t have a lid that fits your skillet, just set a cookie sheet over the skillet or place a piece of foil loosely over the top.  You want the potatoes to steam in that water and a lid helps that process.

Once the potatoes are soft, remove the lid and continue to cook until all the excess moisture has cooked off, about another 5-10 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

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What recipes do you have that have survived your childhood home and worked their way into your adult life?  Leave a comment and let me know!


Full Recipe

Sausage Potato Skillet

  • 1 link smoked sausage, sliced into rounds
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 can corn or hominy, drained

Saute the onion, pepper and garlic in a skillet with EVOO until beginning to soften.

Season with salt and pepper.

Add the sliced sausage and brown.

Add the corn/hominy.

Add the potatoes, toss around and saute a few minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Add enough water to just cover the bottom of the skillet.

Cover the pan with a lid, lower the heat and lightly simmer until the potatoes are soft, 15-20 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue to cook until all the excess water has cooked off, another 5-10 minutes.

Enjoy!

Beef Stroganoff

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Baby, it’s cold outside! We just blew past those fall-like temps into the frigid winter of Gulf Coast Texas.  For a couple days at least 😉

While our winters may not be as brutal as our Northern friends, or last as long, the chilly outside still calls for warm dinners inside. In our house, that typically means either a slow-cooking something on the stove or a quick, warm, filling dinner before dark falls. This one fits the latter.

This recipe is adapted from one a friend shared with me years ago – back when we were just college babies learning to fend for ourselves. We didn’t add mushrooms and if we had there surely wouldn’t have been good wine to flavor them with! This beef stroganoff is time-tested and one I’ll happily make, good wine in hand and fond memories of friends in mind, for many years to come.

Here’s to you, Becca!

What recipe have you held on to for years?  Tell me about them!


Beef Stroganoff

  • 12 oz egg noodles
  • 6 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Worcestershire
  • 4 T flour
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • salt & pepper black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Salt the water fairly generously and cook the egg noodles until al dente.  Set aside.

Let’s talk mushrooms for a minute:

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To start, mushroom storage.  If you purchase prepackaged mushrooms, leave them in their packaging and place them in the fridge.  If you purchase bulk mushrooms, don’t worry about cleaning them first, just place them in a paper bag and stick them in the fridge.  This allows them to breathe a bit and stay firmer longer – plastic grocery bags can cause them to fade quicker.

To clean your mushrooms, avoid running them under water. Mushrooms retain moisture like a sponge, giving them more will prevent the mushrooms from browning nicely and give more of a chewy texture to them once cooked. Instead, use a damp paper towel and brush off any excess dirt.  Slice or chop them in similar sizes so that they cook up evenly.

Finally, don’t crowd the mushrooms in your pan and wait a bit before salting them.  Give your fungi some room to groove as they cook so that they saute and brown rather than steam.  Salt will bring out the moisture in the mushrooms, which is true for any veggie.  With mushrooms though, you want them to retain the moisture for a bit so that, again, they brown rather than steam. I’m willing to be that those that don’t care for mushrooms have had ones that lean more towards the steamed, flavorless side of cooking.  Let’s avoid that!  Mushrooms are like a sponge, right?  They’ll take on some of whatever flavor you give them but you want to give them a chance to develop their unique nutty, earthy flavors first.

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If you have a mushroom-loving family, you can most certainly start the mushrooms in a larger skillet and once they are beginning to brown, add the ground beef and cook it all together in the same skillet.  Just remember, you want to give the mushrooms a little time to brown up before salting them. I live in a house divided – one of us says they do not like mushrooms.  It’s okay, we can’t all be perfect 😉 I’m willing to go with it on this one though – I kind of like the presentation of having the sauteed mushrooms on top of the stroganoff rather than all mixed together.

Back to the recipe! In a medium skillet, cook the mushrooms in just a touch of olive oil or butter. Once the mushrooms begin to brown and release their liquid, season them with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat and let the mushrooms continue to cook as you move on to the beef. I may be biased… but a splash of hearty red wine never hurts here.  You know the rule though – make sure it’s a wine you would drink as the flavor intensifies as it cooks. Worcestershire sauce is also a nice addition to the earthy veggies.

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Saute the onions, garlic and ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat.  When the meat begins to brown and the veggies soften, season the pan with Worcestershire, salt and pepper to your liking.

If your ground beef was fairly lean, add a tablespoon or so of butter to the pan. Add the flour and stir to absorb the fat and cook the flour a bit. Stir in the beef broth and cook until slightly thickened, about 5-10 minutes.

Stir in the sour cream and check your seasoning, adding salt and pepper as you like. Let the stroganoff simmer until heated all the way through.

Spoon the stroganoff over the egg noodles and top with mushrooms.  Enjoy!

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Full Recipe

Beef Stroganoff

  • 12 oz egg noodles
  • 6 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Worcestershire
  • 4 T flour
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • salt & pepper black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Cook egg noodles in boiling water until done; drain.

In a medium skillet, cook mushrooms in just a little olive oil.

Once the mushrooms release their liquid and begin to brown, season with salt and pepper.

Saute the ground beef, garlic and onions in a large skillet over medium heat until the meat begins to brown and the veggies soften.

Season the meat with Worcestershire sauce.

If the beef was fairly lean, add a couple tablespoons butter to the skillet.

Add the flour and stir to absorb the fat and cook the flour.

Stir in beef broth and cook until slightly thickened, about 5-10 minutes.

Stir in the sour cream,  season to taste with salt and pepper.

Continue cooking until sauce is hot all the way through.

Serve sauce over egg noodles and top with mushrooms.

Braised Chicken Thighs

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This recipe is definitely not complicated but instead re-introduces the concept of braising. Loosely defined, braising is “frying or searing meat to then slowly stew in broth or other liquid”. The result? Tender, juicy, flavorful meat! Chicken thighs are a great protein to try braising on as they are easy to work with and fairly forgiving. (Not to mention they are frequently a bargain purchase at our local grocery store) The vinegary braise packs a flavorful punch and you can play around with the veggies you use in this recipe.

We’ve explored this a little bit with the Osso Bucco previously and it’s a technique I enjoy. What’s your opinion? Do you have a favorite braising recipe?


Braised Chicken Thighs

  • 4-6 chicken thighs (or quarters)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3-4 carrots, diced
  • 3-4 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 T butter

Preheat the oven to 375.

You are going to want to use a large, heavy, oven-safe pot or Dutch oven for this recipe.  I like using our enamel-coated cast iron for this job as it is easy to take from stove to oven and back again.  Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in your pot of choice.

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and add to the pot, skin side down to start.  Let the chicken brown on the skin side, then flip over and brown the other side. You want a nice dark brown sear, the chicken will finish cooking as it braises in the oven.   When browned, transfer the chicken to a plate or tray.

Spoon off all but about 2 tablespoons of fat from the pot. Add the carrots, celery, garlic and onion and cook over medium heat until the veggies are softened.

Add the flour and stir for a minute, cooking the flour a bit.  Add the cider vinegar and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot and avoiding lumps from the flour.  Bring the sauce to a boil and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Add the chicken broth, thyme, season with a little salt and pepper and bring the sauce back up to a boil.  Nestle the chicken thighs into the sauce, skin side up.  It doesn’t matter if the chicken is completely covered, you just want to make sure that all the chicken is tucked into the pot.  Put a lid, or foil, on the pot and transfer it to the oven.  Braise the chicken for 40-45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove the pot from the oven.

Optional step:  if you want a crispy skin, transfer the chicken skin side up to a sheet tray and set the oven to broil. Broil the chicken until the skin is golden and crisp, about 5 minutes.

Ladle a cup or two of the braising liquid into a small pot. Simmer the sauce over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce is as thick as you like it.  When it’s just about done, add the butter and taste for seasoning.

When serving this dish, I like to strain some of the veggies from the braising liquid and plate those on top of the chicken thighs.  I then drizzle some of the thickened sauce across the top of the chicken and serve typically with mashed potatoes and a green side.

Try this one out and let me know what you think!


Full Recipe

Braised Chicken Thighs

  • 4-6 chicken thighs (or quarters)
  • 2 T olive
  • 3-4 carrots, diced
  • 3-4 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 T butter

Preheat oven to 375.  

In a large oven-safe pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.

Season chicken thighs with s&p and add to pot, skin side down.

Cook in batches, turning once, until golden brown.

Transfer chicken to plate/tray.

Spoon off all but about 2 T of fat in pot.

Add carrots, celery, garlic and onion.

Cook over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add flour and stir for 1 minute.

Add cider vinegar and stir, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of the pot.

Bring sauce to a boil and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Add broth, thyme and season with s&p; bring to a boil.

Nestle the chicken in the sauce, skin side up.

Cover and transfer the pot to the oven and braise chicken for 40-45 min, until cooked through.

Remove pot from oven and preheat to broil.

Transfer chicken to a baking sheet, skin side up.  

Broil on middle rack of the oven until skin is golden and crisp, about 5 min.

Ladle a cup or two of the braising liquid into a small pot.

Simmer sauce over moderate heat until reduced to your desired thickness.

Stir in butter and taste for seasoning.

Serve chicken with veggies strained from braising liquid and sauce drizzled over the top of each piece.

RoTel Cheeseburger Pasta

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You know those days when it’s time to make dinner and you got nothin’? You open the fridge… nothing.  You open the pantry… nothing. You even open the freezer hoping that in some moment of brilliance you made extra of something else and… nothing.  This recipe is a result of one of those days.

It’s like a “Chopped” Challenge – how do you take the odds and ends of what is in your kitchen and make a dinner? The initial prep went something along these lines:  the ground beef was already defrosting in the sink.  I see enough pasta in the pantry for a dinner, and that can of RoTel is calling to me.  Cheese, of course, makes everything better so we can work with that.

The first attempt was okay, not stellar, but I wrote it down and we played with the portions and flavors a bit until we had it – RoTel Cheeseburger Pasta.

And wouldn’t you know it?  It’s become a family favorite!


RoTel Cheeseburger Pasta

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ½ box linguine, spaghetti, or any pasta
  • 1 can RoTel Tomatoes
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves – minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 8 oz. cheddar cheese
  • 2-3 T chopped pickled jalapeno 
  • handful cilantro, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Bring a pot of salted water up to a boil and cook the pasta until just shy of al dente, about 6-7 minutes.  You want it to have a pretty decent bite to it still, a healthy “chew”, as it will continue to cook in the sauce as it bakes and you don’t want it to become gummy as it bakes.  I like the linguine for this dish, the flat noodles hold the sauce really well.  However, you can use spaghetti, or really any pasta shape you like.  Drain the pasta well and set it aside when it is ready.

Brown the ground beef with the onions and garlic.

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When the veggies begin to soften, add the RoTel tomatoes and continue to cook to thicken and evaporate the extra juices.

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As the meat cooks, melt the butter in a saucepan.  Whisk in the flour to form a paste and then slowly add in the milk, whisking continuously to avoid lumps.

Whisk until the sauce is thickened then add the cheese.  Continue to stir until the cheese is melted into a smooth sauce.

Combine the ground beef, cooked pasta and cheese sauce together – I just remove the beef skillet from the heat and work it all together in the pan.

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Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.  Add the cilantro, if using, and chopped jalapenos. Cilantro is one of those things, right?  You either love it or hate it? I’m firm in the “love” category and think that it adds a little brightness to the dish.  If you don’t care for it, or just don’t have any on hand tonight, simply skip it.  Chopped green onions or chives would be nice here as well.  If you happen to have a spicy can of RoTel tonight, you may skip the chopped jalapenos – this part is totally to your liking.

Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

This is a great place to stop and either chill or freeze.  You can stick this casserole in the fridge to cook within the next 24 hours or so, or let it cool and freeze the dish for future baking.

Bake the casserole for 20 minutes, or until it starts to bubble and brown.  From chilled, you’ll bake the dish for about 40 minutes.

Let the dish sit a few minutes before serving.

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What’s your throw-together dish that’s become a family favorite?


Full Recipe

RoTel Cheeseburger Pasta

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ½ box linguine or spaghetti
  • 1 can RoTel Tomatoes
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves – minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 8 oz. cheddar cheese
  • 2-3 T chopped pickled jalapeno
  • handful cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Grease a 9×13 casserole dish.

Cook the pasta until just shy of al dente, about 6 minutes – it will finish cooking when it is baked.

Rinse well in a strainer.

Brown the ground beef with the onions and garlic.

Add the tomatoes.

Melt the butter in a saucepan.

Whisk in the flour.

Slowly add the milk and whisk until thickened.

Add the cheese and stir until melted.

Combine the ground beef, pasta and cheese sauce together.

Add the cilantro and jalapenos.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour mixture into the prepared casserole dish.

**At this point, you can cool down the dish and refrigerate until cooking or freeze for future baking**

Bake for 20 minutes until it starts to bubble and brown.

**From chilled – bake for 40 minutes**

Mexican Pesto Pasta with Shrimp

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I love a good pesto.  They are packed with bold flavor, easy to pull together and completely customizable to any recipe theme.

A basic pesto is basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan and olive oil.  You can’t go wrong with the classic, but why stay there? You could swap the basil for parsley, kale, spinach, collard greens or cilantro as we have here. Pine nuts can be pricey and a little more difficult to locate than their more common counterpart – walnuts, always a good substitute in a pesto. I’ve played around with a few different versions, I’m sure  you’ll see more recipes sneak in on this blog, but this one has quickly held it’s place at the top of my list.  The pepitas and cilantro play together nicely for a light summer dinner when paired with the angel hair pasta and shrimp tossed in cumin and lime.

Have you ever played with pesto? What’s your go-to combination or favorite flavor find?


Mexican Pesto Pasta with Shrimp

  • 1 cup raw pepitas
  • ½ cup raw pecans
  • 2 bunches cilantro
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • EVOO
  • ¼ – ½ cup half and half
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1-2 tsp cumin
  • 1 lime, zest reserved
  • Angel hair pasta
  • 1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup white wine

Start by making the pesto.

*First a note about the nuts used in this pesto: Pepitas are just pumpkin seeds. I was able to locate them, both raw and roasted & salted, in the bulk section of my local grocery store.  If you can’t locate pepitas, this pesto is just as tasty with all pecans or a mix of pecans and walnuts.

You want to toast the pepitas and pecans to develop their nuttiness a little and make for a more flavorful pesto.  Starting with raw nuts that haven’t been toasted or salted yet helps you to control those elements as you cook. To toast the nuts, simply place them in a dry skillet over medium heat.  Stir the nuts every few minutes, keeping close by – you’ll know the nuts are ready to pull when you can smell them!  Don’t leave them too long after you catch their aroma, they can quickly go too far and taste burnt.

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Place the toasted nuts in a food processor and add the cilantro, garlic and parmesan.

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Stream in the olive oil (EVOO) with the food processor on low until the pesto is a paste to the consistency of your liking.  I prefer the pesto to be well-chopped and more on the thick side than a normal thinner pesto before adding the half-and-half.  Taste the pesto and add salt, freshly ground pepper and parmesan, as needed.  If you want to kick it up a bit, this would be a good time to add in red pepper flakes.  With or without the red pepper flakes, a touch of granulated sugar, up to about a teaspoon,  will help balance flavors and bring your pesto together.  Play with the flavors a bit until you get what you are looking for!

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Place the pesto in a bowl.  Stir in the half-and-half and check the seasoning again,  adjusting if necessary.  Set the pesto aside as you prep the shrimp and cook the pasta.

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Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add a healthy amount of salt to the water – this is your chance to flavor the pasta itself.  Cook the angel hair pasta to al dente.

Season the prepared shrimp with the cumin, salt, pepper and lime zest.  If you are not quite ready to cook the shrimp, hold off on adding the lime juice until right before they are ready to hit the pan.  Citrus juice will ‘cook’ seafood as it sits together (think: ceviche) and this is not quite what we are going for here.  We want the lime juice to flavor the shrimp as it sears instead.

Saute the shrimp in the butter, a couple minutes per side. When cooked, remove the shrimp to plate and set aside.

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Deglaze your pan with the white wine.  You can use any white wine here… just remember this one rule:  cook with wine you would drink.  Reducing the wine intensifies the flavor, so if you wouldn’t drink it, you shouldn’t eat it 😉  Tonight, I’m drinking/eating Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc – I tend to enjoy any varietal from the Joel Gott family and they are reasonably priced and easy to find in my grocery store.

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Once the wine has reduced a bit and you have stirred up all those tasty brown bits from the bottom of the pan, add the cooked and drained pasta to the skillet.  Toss it around to coat the pasta with the pan sauce.

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Turn off the heat source and stir in the creamy pesto, a little at a time, until the pasta is coated and to your desired consistency.  I typically work in 1 1/2 – 2 cups of the pesto.

*Storage tip for leftover pesto: To store any remaining pesto in the fridge, place the pesto in a sealable container and smooth over the top.  Cover the entire top of the pesto with EVOO, place the lid on the container and store in the fridge for 3-4 days.  You can also freeze the pesto at this point.  The EVOO protects the pesto from browning, leaving it that vibrant green for your next cooking adventure.

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Top the pesto pasta with the cooked shrimp.  Sprinkle on extra parmesan and chopped cilantro, if desired, and enjoy!

*To change it up and enjoy your grill in the summer:  a nice update to this recipe would be to grill the shrimp for an added char to the shrimp.  Cut back a little on the garlic in making the pesto and then saute some fresh, chopped garlic in the 1-2 tablespoons of  butter in a skillet.  When toasted, add the wine to deglaze and follow the original recipe from there!

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Full Recipe

Mexican Pesto Pasta with Shrimp

  • 1 cup pepitas
  • ½ cup pecans
  • 2 bunches cilantro
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • EVOO
  • ¼ – ½ cup half and half
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1-2 tsp cumin
  • 1 lime, zest reserved
  • Angel hair pasta
  • 1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup white wine

Make the pesto:

Toast the nuts in a dry skillet.

Place the toasted nuts in a food processor and add the cilantro, garlic cloves and parmesan.

Stream in EVOO as you pulse until the pesto forms a paste to the consistency of your liking.

Season with salt, pepper and more parmesan, if desired. (adding a little sugar will balance out the blend)

Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the half and half to desired texture and check for seasoning again.

Make the pasta:

Boil pasta in salted water to al dente.

Prepare the shrimp:

Season the prepared shrimp with cumin, salt, pepper, lime and lime zest.

Saute in butter, a couple minutes each side.

Remove shrimp from pan, set aside.

Deglaze the pan with white wine.

Toss the pasta in the pan to coat with sauce.

Remove the skillet from the heat.

Add the creamy pesto, slowly to desired thickness, and toss.

Top with cooked shrimp and serve.