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Noodles & Company Pesto Cavatappi (Copycat Recipe)

My husband definitely does NOT love pasta dishes like I do. I have to limit myself to one pasta dish every week at most or else he gets sick of eating pasta. Seriously, who gets sick of eating pasta? And how did I marry such a man?!!! Luckily, he has other redeeming qualities and I can overlook this one tiny flaw.

Imagine my surprise when Kurt asked me to make Pesto Cavatappi like he gets at Noodles & Company! I was stoked for two reasons: 1) Kurt was asking me to make a pasta dish and 2) I got to try a new recipe! I didn't have this recipe handy so I first went to the Noodles & Co. website and saw what was in the dish which looked simple enough. Next I did what any good super sleuth would do, I googled the recipe! I found the recipe at Yahoo Answers where a former Noodles & Co. cook posted his recipe and it looked very simple (yay!). The only issue is that he posted the recipe for a one person serving, I wanted to make a whole bunch of pasta. I ended up guestimating on the quantities and was lucky because it tastes pretty much exactly like it does at Noodles & Co.!! I made a side of shrimp for Kurt to add to his dish and he said it was absolutely perfect....he even went back for thirds!! There is nothing as exciting and fulfilling as trying a new recipe and it working out beautifully! 

Noodles & Company Pesto Cavatappi (Copycat Recipe)

3/4 box cavatappi noodles (you can use any shapes you like but use a hearty noodle)
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 pint sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup white wine
1/4 cup cream
7 oz. pesto (I used store bought but I bet it would be amazing with homemade)
EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil - hellooo, Amy!)
shredded parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta as directed on packaging.
2. While pasta is cooking, saute the tomatoes and mushrooms in about a tablespoon of EVOO.
3. When the pasta is almost done, add the wine to the tomatoes and mushrooms and reduce for 2 minutes. Then add the cream to the tomatoes and mushrooms and reduce for another 1-2 minutes. Add the pesto and stir well.
4. Drain pasta and add to the pesto mixture. Stir very well and let sit a minute to soak up the pesto.
5. Plate and top with shredded parmesan cheese!


Penne with Peas, Bacon & Goat Cheese

Wowza, this was amazing! Like, I think I want to make it again tonight and tomorrow night amazing! Kurt was out of town on Friday night and I spent all day at home babysitting my niece and Riglee since daycare was closed. Do you know there is really not a lot on tv during the day? Well I do now. Luckily Food Network and the Cooking Channel had a few good shows on. I caught a glimpse of a couple pieces of an Everyday Italian episode and Giada made this Penne with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese dish. It looked pretty darn good. So at 4:00pm when I was trying to decide what to make myself for dinner I thought about this dish. I definitely did NOT want to spend an hour prepping and roasting butternut squash but I definitely DID want this goat cheese sauce she made.

I picked my brain for what might be simple and delicious to go with this creamy goat cheese penne and the first thing that came to mind was panchetta and peas! Well panchetta costs and arm and a leg so I scratched that and cheaped it down to bacon. Don't worry, the bacon was a perfect match to the dish. The bacon was perfectly salty and crunchy, the peas were a sweet pop in your mouth and the goat cheese was tangy and creamy to tie it all together. Not to bad for the first meal I've really every just "thrown" together! Not only is this Kurt approved but my sister-in-law, who swears she DOES NOT like goat cheese, couldn't get enough of this pasta!! This is a quick and easy go-to meal when you want something simple with a gourmet feel. Yum-O!!

Penne with Peas, Bacon & Goat Cheese
Source: All Me!

1/2 lb. mini-penne noodles
4 oz. goat cheese at room temperature
5 slices thick cut bacon (or panchetta)
1/4 cup onion
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup starchy cooking water, reserved

1. Boil the water and start cooking the penne. When penne is almost done add peas to the water to heat up.
2. While the penne is cooking, slice bacon into about half inch strips and dice the onion. Saute bacon and when bacon is halfway done add the onion to cook. When the bacon is crispy and finished cooking, remove to a plate with a couple paper towel on it to get soak up the grease.
3. Put goat cheese in the bottom of a big bowl. When the penne is done, reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water. Spoon penne and peas into bowl with goat cheese. Add a little cooking water (maybe 1/4 cup) to help soften the goat cheese and make it creamier.
4. Add the bacon and onion and mix until the goat cheese is creamy and coating everything. Add more starchy cooking water if the goat cheese isn't melting or you want it creamier. Serve and enjoy!


Tortilla Roll-Ups

A couple weeks ago I had to make an appetizer for a family gathering. I was at work and it was almost time to leave and I was heading to the grocery store after work. I was scouring my recipes online to see what appealed to me and I couldn't find an appetizer that was quick, easy and cheap. What's a girl to do?! Well, this girl asked her male co-workers. Luckily, my buddy Matt suggested these roll-ups and after a quick e-mail to his wife, I had the recipe in my hands!

I liked these tortilla roll-ups because they are actually really versatile and you can make them ahead of time and they are still very tasty. I'd like to try some additional add-ins and different flavors of cheese to mix it up a bit but it is yummy just the way the original recipe states. This is a great go-to appetizer when you are in a pinch!

Tortilla Roll-Ups
Source: Matt's wife

Flour tortillas
1 (8oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sour cream
1 ranch packet
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons chopped black olives
Any add-ins: jalapenos, salsa, tomatoes, beans, chicken, etc

1. Mix all ingredients.
2. Spread onto tortillas.
3. Wrap each tortilla in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
4. Slice and serve!


Berry Cheesecake Parfaits

I had been eyeing this recipe on for quite some time. All the reviews were positive and it looked pretty easy to make. I think I was waiting for the berries to be in season so I didn't have to pay an arm and a leg for them. For the record, I like my food quick, easy, delicious, and CHEAP! I figured that since today is our nation's Independence Day and everything is red, white, and blue, this would be a perfect day to dive in. Not to mention the blueberries and strawberries were on sale!

This is an excellent summer dessert! It is light, creamy, fruity, and refreshing on a hot summer's day. I didn't have Cool Whip so I didn't add that but the dessert was still amazing. I think the Cool Whip just makes it a more fluffy and less dense pudding. This dessert would be a great addition to any potluck or dinner party if you put it in a trifle dish to serve a crowd. After making it I was thinking about all kinds of variations of it as well. You could do chocolate pudding with brownies, you could subsitute pound cake for Nilla wafers, you could use lemon pudding instead of vanilla for a more citrusy taste....the possibilities are endless! 

1 package (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups cold milk
1 package (3.4oz) Jell-O vanilla flavor instant pudding
1 1/2 cups thawed Cool Whip whipped topping, divided
24 Nilla Wafers, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups mixed blueberries and sliced fresh strawberries
1. Beat cream cheese in medium bowl with mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in milk.
2. Add dry pudding mix and mix well, about 2 minutes. Whisk in 1 cup Cool Whip.
3. Layer half of each of the wafers, berries and pudding mixture in parfait glasses. Repeat layers.
4. Top with a dollop of Cool Whip and garnish with berries.