Book Club Pasta

Looking for a recipe that serves a large group and looks pretty?  I love this one with all my heart.  It comes from Kendra’s friend Irene (an amazing cook), but I think I might hold the record for making it.  I  love it, and so does my Pokeno group and  my tennis friends .   The mixture of asparagus, basil, and walnuts make this a bite of heaven.   Debone the roasted chicken the night before for a time saver.  This recipe makes a ton and is great leftover.


One whole roasted chicken (purchased)
Two cartons mushrooms
1-2 bunches asparagus, cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
2 cups walnuts (lightly toast)
1 bunch basil
2 boxes pasta (save 1-2 cups pasta water)  Ziti is my fave.
2 cartons mascarpone cheese  (can be found by the cottage cheese in a similar container)


Pull meat off the chicken, and set aside. Saute the mushrooms in butter for 5 minutes, then add asparagus and saute for 5 more minutes (or you can steam the asparagus instead), and set aside. Toast walnuts for 15 minutes at 350, and set aside. Chop up the basil, and set aside. 
Note:  I half this recipe and half  all the ingredients…except I use the whole chicken.
Pour everything onto a big platter and garnish with reserved fresh basil and walnuts.

Cook 2 boxes pasta and drain, saving 1-2 cups pasta water. Put the pasta back in the pot, and add all the prepared ingredients above with salt and pepper if needed, saving some basil and walnuts for garnish. Then add marscapone cheese and enough pasta water to make a good consistency.

Homestyle Chicken Pot Pie

The Superstorms of 2011 brought out comfort food at its best. Thanks to the Super Bowl, we have a cute name for a week of ice and snow. I love a good pot pie. Somehow all the veggies made it feel healthy. Not! I made this and also added a half of a cubed potato. I used smoked turkey that was left over from the holidays. Lastly, I made a lattice crust for the top. Enjoy this very homemade pot pie. If anyone tries a rotisserie chicken, please comment on how it is. There were countless recipes for Chicken Pot Pie on , but save yourself the time and make this one!

Homestyle Chicken Pot Pie


  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cubed
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C.)
  2. In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
  3. In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Pour hot liquid mixture over. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Turkey Chili with White Beans

It’s cold and rainy here in Texas, and it has me in the mood for chili! (And of course, by cold, I mean 60 degrees – brrrr!) I made and froze some cornbread a few weeks ago, and it will be just the thing to serve with chili for an easy meal. 

I have made this recipe for years, ever since having it at my Portland neighbor Stacy’s house. She served it over rice, which I think is such a great way to have a complete meal in a bowl.


I love how flexible it is – I usually use turkey, but beef can substituted. And although the original recipe calls for white beans, my boys prefer black beans, so I make it with those or a mixture.

I also love the intrigue of a secret ingredient, and this one has two. First, a heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder – doesn’t chocolate make everything better? And second, some cinnamon. Nobody will be able to put their finger on what it is, but trust me, it’s delicious.

The recipe has been adapted from Epicurious.


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey (or beef)
1/4 cup chili powder
2 bay leaves
1 heaping tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes (or crushed if your gang doesn’t like chunks)
3 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
3 15-ounce cans small white beans, rinsed, drained (or black, pinto, kidney… you get the idea)

Chopped red onion
Chopped fresh cilantro
Plain low-fat yogurt or light sour cream

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until light brown and tender, about 10 minutes. Add oregano and cumin; stir 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high. Add turkey; stir until no longer pink, breaking up with back of spoon. Stir in chili powder, bay leaves, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon. Add tomatoes with their juices, breaking up with back of spoon. Mix in stock and tomato sauce. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add beans to chili and simmer until flavors blend, about 10 minutes longer. Discard bay leaves. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium-low heat before continuing.)

Ladle chili into bowls. Pass red onion, cilantro and yogurt separately.

Easy Chicken Stroganoff

Another great recipe for the crock pot!  Feel free to use fat free cream cheese and cream of chicken soup.   Also,    leave the chicken in whole breasts for this.  Serve with a green veggie and salad.  Great for a Winter day.

Easy Chicken Stroganoff

* 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cubed
* 1/8 cup margarine
* 1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
* 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
* 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1. Put chicken, margarine and dressing mix in slow cooker; mix together and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.
2. Add cream cheese and soup, mix together and cook on high for another 1/2 hour or until heated through and warm.

Serve over rice or egg noodles.

To-Die-For Grilled Chicken

This recipe comes from a longtime friend, Ryan.  Kudos to introducing us to a great grilled chicken recipe.  The recipe is a family fave.

To-Die-For Grilled Chicken

Chicken breast (desired quantity)
Jalapeno slices
Jack cheese slices
Italian Dressing

Open and pound the chicken breast flat.
Place a jalepeno (slice) and a thick slice of Jack Cheese in the center of the chicken breast and fold over. Secure with 2 toothpicks. Marinate the chicken breasts overnight in Italian salad dressing.   It might be easier to pound the chicken flat and marinate without the cheese/jalepeno slice.  I have done it both ways.
Before grilling wrap 2-3 slices of bacon and secure with 2 toothpicks. Grill until done.  Keep an eye on it as it grills.  The bacon can cause the flames.

Serve with your favorite grilled veggies and rolls.

The Best Chicken Tetrazini

I used my mom’s chicken tetrazini recipe for years, until my friend Jennifer gave me this recipe. I have always made this dish for new mom friends, but she somehow elevated it, like she always does with food, parties, her home, and all areas of her life. It is a bit of a time commitment, but it makes several servings for yourself, plus two foil 9 x 12-ish containers for friends!

The Best Chicken Tetrazini

1 whole rotisserie (roasted) chicken
1 lb spaghetti (I use whole wheat)
1 lb. Velveeta (I use 2%)
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped onion
1 8 oz. container sliced mushrooms
1 stick butter
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I use Healthy Request)
1 can cream of chicken soup (I use Healthy Request)
1 jar pimentos
1 can Rotel tomatoes (tomatoes and green chilies)
1 cup chicken broth (bullion or canned)
2/3 cup evaporated milk (I use fat free)
Garlic powder, celery salt, pepper to taste
2 cup bag grated cheese (your favorite – cheddar or a blend)

Take chicken off the bone in chunks. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot. Stir in Velveeta. Meanwhile, sauté celery, onion and mushrooms in butter. Add to pasta, along with all other ingredients except grated cheese.

Put into 2 or 3 casserole dishes, and cover with plastic wrap and foil. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or so, till bubbley. Or it freezes fabulously.