Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

I have been lucky enough to be asked to participate in the first family challenge put forth by Newman’s Own® and Foodbuzz.  If you’re not familiar with Foodbuzz, it is a great site for food bloggers to connect and share their recipes, restaurant reviews, and so much more.  And if you’re not familiar with Newman’s Own, it was started in 1982 by the beloved and late actor Paul Newman and his good friend and write A.E. Hotchner.  Newman’s Own is now a major brand in supermarkets and health food stores, and has given all its profits to charity along the way.  They established the Hole in the Wall Gang, camps for kids with serious diseases.  Newman’s Own is not only a great company with wonderful products, but gives a great deal back to the community.

Foodbuzz sent me a delicious assortment of selected Newman’s Own products to inspire convenient main dish and salad recipes.  The challenge was to create a total of 9 recipes which consisted of 3 lunch recipes, 3 dinner and 3 salad/snacks.  My goal was to create recipes that were convenient and family-friendly.  I am happy to announce that I was chosen to be the launch blogger for the Family Bites Challenge.  This week I will be posting a recipe a day using some of the following delicious Newman’s Own products:

Alfredo Pasta Sauce

Sockarooni Pasta Sauce

Light Honey Mustard Salad Dressing

Olive Oil & Vinegar Salad Dressing

Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Medium Chunky Salsa

To start off the week, here is one of my husband’s favorites of the recipes I submitted.  It uses the Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing. 


Another thing I forgot to mention, all their products are all-natural!  Another great benefit about Newman’s Own product line.  In this recipe, I marinated the chicken in the balsamic vinaigrette and also used the dressing to toss the finished pasta.  The pasta is a great dish which has been eaten in my house as a side dish and as a main dish.  I hope you find it as delicious as my family does!  Enjoy and stay tune to the other Newman’s Own recipes of the week!


Balsamic Chicken, Spinach and Tomato Pasta Salad

Print Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Servings: 6-8


1 (20-ounce) package cheese tortellini

1 pound  skinned and boned chicken breasts

1 ½  cup  Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing, divided

1 teaspoons  Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 cups firmly packed fresh spinach, chopped

1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

1 ½ cups fresh cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2  cup yellow bell pepper, diced


1. Place chicken in a zip-lock bag and pour 1 cup of balsamic vinaigrette in bag with chicken.  Marinate for at least 2 hour, but best if marinated overnight.  Take chicken out of zip-lock bag and discard marinade. 

2. In a grill pan, grill chicken breasts, about 5 to 6 minutes on each side until cooked through.  Place yellow bell pepper slices in grill pan and grill about 2 minutes on each side.  Once cooled, dice chicken up in small bites.

3. Whisk together remaining ½ cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing and mustard in a small bowl.

4. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Transfer pasta to a large bowl and drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Let cool 10 minutes.

5. Toss together pasta, chicken, balsamic mixture, spinach, and remaining 3 ingredients in a large bowl.  Serve immediately, or, if desired, cover and chill 1 hour before serving


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Baked Turkey Pasta

Ok, I’ve had a lot of baked goods lately so I thought I would post something different today.  You will find during the holidays I prefer baking over anything else.  I think it’s because my mom baked a lot during the holidays as I was growing up.  So in ways maybe it makes me feel like home?  I can’t wait for the day I get to bake with the girls.  They already try to help.  Clair keeps a close eye on the oven as it heats up.  Laine on the other hand just constantly asks for a bite.  I try to tell her it’s not quite ready yet.  So for those of you who prefer baked goodies don’t worry I am working on something in the kitchen tonight that I will post in the coming days that will satisfy your sweet tooth. 

Now onto today’s post…

On weekends and week nights I’m all about easy and quick meals.  It’s an added bonus if the meals make plenty of leftovers.  The first time I made this I would have thought Scott was in heaven.  He kept saying it was the best pasta he has had.  Knowing that we have been to great restaurants and had plenty of pasta dishes, I was convinced he was just really hungry that night.  However, every time I’ve made this dish he seems to love it even more.  Not only does he love it, but the girls do too.  So it’s all the more reasons why I make this dish for my household.  Even our dog Parker waits patiently as the turkey sausage cooks to see if I may drop a bite on the floor for him.    

When I make this dish I try to go the healthy route and use whole wheat pasta and turkey sausage, but please use what you prefer.  Its great heated up as leftovers too.  Just a little hint when heating this up in the microwave; add a tablespoon of water to keep the pasta moist. 

Baked Turkey Sausage, Tomatoes, Spinach and Cheese Pasta

Adapted from Cooking Light

Print Recipe

  • 1 (1 pound) package uncooked penne pasta
  • 1 pound Mild Turkey Sausage links
  • 1 cup onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ½ cup chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.  Drain pasta, and set aside.

Remove casings from turkey sausage.  Cook sausage, onion, and garlic in a large nonstick skillet oven medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble.  Add tomato paste, salt, pepper, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Combine cooked pasta, sausage mixture, spinach and basil.


pasta mix

Place half of the pasta mixture in a 4-quart casserole dish coated with cooking spray.  Top with half of mozzarella and half parmesan.  Repeat layers.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Enjoy!!

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In most classic pesto recipes they call for pine nuts, cheese and oil lots of oil.  Not this one!  I reduced the oil and cheese, but still kept the flavor.  I’ve used the combination of spinach and basil with a little cheese and oil for a healthy alternative to your traditional pesto.  The pesto alone accounts for a full serving of vegetables.  Then you add in the tomatoes and yellow bell pepper and you are loading you and your child with “hidden” vegetables.  This is an easy recipe and great for a side or as a main dish. 


Spinach Pesto Chicken Pasta

  • ½ lb whole wheat pasta of choice
  • 2 cups tightly-packed baby spinach (about 3 oz)
  • 1 cup tightly-packed fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • ¼ cup unsalted toasted almond slivers
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 ½ cups cooked chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken), cubed
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced small
  • 1 ½ cups cooked white beans ( or 1 15 oz can low-sodium white beans, drained and rinsed)
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

 Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain pasta and rinse with cold water to stop it from cooking further.  Set aside.

Put spinach, basil, garlic, cheese in a food processor and pulse to form a chunky paste.  With food processor running (on but not pulsing), add olive oil through the food chute in a slow drizzle until thick, smooth pesto forms.  Combine pesto with cooked pasta in a large bowl.

Put almonds in processor and pulse about 10 times, until finely chopped.  Stir almonds into pasta.

Add cubed chicken, tomatoes, yellow pepper and beans to the pasta.  Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!!


KID CONVERTIBLE NOTE:  To make this pasta appealing to kids, select pasta that’s cut into letters or fun shapes and isn’t too difficult to eat.  If your child has a nut allergy, simple strike the almonds from the ingredients list.  You can always do half the pasta with almonds and half without too.  And one more note, if you child isn’t a pesto lover you can always substitute the pesto for homemade pureed tomato sauce.  Stay tune and I’ll post my easy tomato sauce recipe that can be ready in 5 minutes.

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