So tonight, I cooked my mom’s absolute favorite meal of all time. We both love Italian food… or as she call’s Eye-talian food 😉 and when I was in college I would look for stuff that would be easy for me to make for one person. It’s always hard to do that but one day, walking through the local Wal-mart, craving something good, and homemade, I came across Bertolli four cheese tortellini. I looked at it and thought, “Hmm, that sounds pretty good.” I almost didn’t get it because I thought it would be too heavy and I thought it wouldn’t be any good anyway. But, I got it anyway and I figured that if I didn’t like it, I would order Chinese food and call it a night! By the way, the fact that I could get Chinese food delivered was also one of my favorite things about Starkville, but that’s a whole different story! Anyway! As I walked through Wal-mart I tried to figure out what would go well with the pasta and I got on my phone and googled how to make my own Alfredo sauce. You see, I’ve tried jarred Alfredo, and it just isn’t good to me. It tastes fake… like EZ Cheese… it just doesn’t taste like it’s made with real cheese! So, I found a recipe, thought about how I could make it better, and went back to my apartment to experiment. I fell in love with it as soon as I tasted it and made it for my mom a few weeks later when she came up for a visit… She fell in love with it too. When I moved home though, I never made it because my dad didn’t like this kinda “girl food’ as he called it. One day this Spring, I was exhausted and I was craving it and I didn’t feel like arguing with him over it. I began to make the chicken and the sauce and he came inside from work. He asked me what we were having for supper and I gave him a tired and withered look. You would have thought I was making chitlins… the man looked at me like I was crazy when I said, “Chicken tortellini.” He said, “Well, I don’t know if I will like that…” I immediately said, “You’ll like it, don’t worry.” He must have known I wasn’t in the mood so he just nodded his head and sat in his recliner while I finished it up. We sat down to eat and he gobbled up three, yes, THREE, bowls of it with garlic bread and all. He LOVED it and now my mom begs me to cook it at least once a month. Of course, she claims that she can’t help me clean up after because she “will eat all the leftovers!” I say, she’s just trying to get out of cleaning up! Haha, whatever the truth is, she somehow gets out of it every time! On top of making her favorite meal of all time, (her words, not mine) I also learned how to can tomatoes this week. I’m now one step closer to making my own spaghetti sauce… that recipe will hopefully be coming next week, if it turns out right! You’ll also be getting a recipe for the best garlic bread in the whole world, if I do say so myself. 😉

Chicken Tortellini is so easy to make and it makes a good bit. I always end up making too much chicken… I have this constant paranoid fear that I won’t make enough and some people won’t be able to have any chicken. I don’t know why I have this fear, I always have enough, but every time I make it I feel like I need way more chicken than I really do. This also brings me to my next dream. After making my own spaghetti sauce, I want to learn to make my own pasta. And my own bread. But first, pasta because I have most of the stuff I need to make pasta; I just need the attachment on my stand up mixer. For the time being, I’ll stick to using Bertolli brand. Kroger has a brand now that’s pretty good too; however, keep in mind, the Kroger brand is made in the deli and it doesn’t last long. Maybe two or three days tops, it’s made without preservatives so you’ll need to cook it pretty soon after you buy it! It’s delicious though. I’m going to start by telling you how to make the chicken. This is what you’ll need:

Blackened Chicken:
1-2 pkg of boneless, skinless, chicken strips,

3 tbsp. olive oil,

Garlic Salt,

Lemon Pepper,

Tony Chachere’s

Yep, that’s it…. all you need to make the most awesome blackened chicken ever. I’m telling ya, it’s THAT simple! Turn your skillet on medium to high heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken. Sprinkle seasoning on the top side and after about 3 minutes, flip the chicken and sprinkle the seasoning on the other side. You’ll need to let it cook for about 5 minutes, and flip it again. What you want is a nice crispy crust on the outside. The more it sits in the pan with the seasoning, the crispier it’ll get. The seasoning needs to be judicious…

raw chicken  blackened chicken

Once that’s done, take it out of the skillet and put it on a chopping board. Once it’s cool, you’ll chop it up and put it in a bowl. You can also use this blackened chicken for salads, other pastas, stir-fry’s, sandwiches, or even all by itself! It’s easy and delicious! While the chicken is cooking, you’ll want to start the sauce. Now, the sauce will require you to pay a little extra attention to it. You’ll have to make sure the cream doesn’t curdle and you’ll also have to make sure it the cheese doesn’t burn to the bottom of the boiler. I know it sounds kind of intimidating, but seriously, it couldn’t be easier!

Alfredo Sauce:

1 stick butter,

1 quart heavy whipping cream,

8 oz. cream cheese,

8 oz. Parmesan cheese, shavings or shredded are best,

2 garlic cloves,

Garlic salt,

Black Pepper.

Turn a boiler on medium heat and add butter. Allow the butter to melt and momentarily take the boiler off the heating element… you can leave the eye on, just move the boiler to the side. You’ll need to grab a whisk and slowly pour the heavy whipping cream into the boiler, while whisking. Doing this slowly will help you avoid curdling the whipping cream; it’s called tempering, for future reference. 😉 The butter will warm the whipping cream, slowly making it all the same temperature; whereas, if you pour it all in fast, the cream will reach an extreme temperature quickly, making it sour. Once the butter and the cream are mixed well, add the cream cheese and the parmesan cheese. Chop the garlic cloves and add them. Then add dashes of garlic salt and black pepper until it’s to your liking. Allow this to simmer for at least 20 minutes. You don’t want it to be too watery; the longer it simmers, the thicker it’ll be. It will come to a boil and that’s okay as long as you’re watching it! But, if you’re distracted by something else, just turn it on low and let it simmer, stirring occasionally.

alfredo beginning alfredo sauce

I’m going to skip telling you about the tortellini for now and go to the garlic bread. If you’re making this meal, the order you should go like this: chicken and sauce, bread, then tortellini. The sauce can be started first, then the chicken, allowing them to cook at the same time. For the bread, I buy from the Kroger bakery. You can get it from anywhere, but I’m usually at Kroger and the stuff they bake there is really fresh. It only lasts for a few days as well and comes two to a pack. For my big family, we love bread, so I usually make both loaves… any leftovers can easily be eaten later..that night…okay, we may take a few bites between wiping it down.., okay, there’s usually not much left and I could probably eat a whole loaf by myself! Don’t judge me! I like garlic bread… it’s like my number one carb favorite! You don’t know my life… 🙂 I use French bread with cheese. It looks like this…

bread

Garlic Bread:

1 pkg French bread,

1 stick butter,

3 garlic cloves,

Garlic Salt.

There’s a lot of garlic salt in this meal… Sorry 🙂 Not really, it’s fabulous! Cut the bread lengthwise and chop the garlic finely. Place a skillet on medium heat, add the butter, and sauté the garlic. Then pour the butter over the bread and sprinkle the garlic salt over it. I like to kick it up a notch sometimes and add some Tony Cachere’s. Then you bake it for 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Now, the tortellini. It’s not like normal pasta because it floats. You wont have to add any oil or salt to the water. Just boil the water and add the pasta, it’ll be floating on top the whole time, you won’t be able to cover it with water, but you’ll allow the water to continue boiling for about 8 minutes. You may have to pull one out and try it to know when it’s ready but it takes almost exactly 8 minutes. Then drain the water and assemble your pasta! First, the tortellini.

tortellini

Then, the chicken.

chopped chicken

Then, the sauce.

alfredo sauce

I like to top mine with a few extra shavings of parmesan and then some garlic bread on the side.

chicken tortellini

The pictures don’t do it justice!! You gotta try it out! You can buy Fettuccini noodles, stuffed ravioli noodles, egg noodles, bow tie pasta. I’ve even been thinking of buying some bacon and trying to remake the Macaroni Grill’s Penne Rustica with this recipe. It’s not much different, just with less sauce, and more cheese. Maybe a few mushrooms and bell peppers. I don’t remember 100% because it’s been a while since I’ve had Penne Rustica, but I remember it being my favorite dish at Macaroni Grill. I guess I’ll have to try it and let ya’ll know. I also want to learn how to make Tiramisu because it’s my favorite dessert. I have a love affair with coffee and Tiramisu just makes it even better. That’ll be one of my next recipes; hopefully!

A while back, I told ya’ll how I wanted to learn to make my own spaghetti sauce, but that I first had to learn to can tomatoes so I could use the canned tomatoes to make the sauce… I bought the canning tomatoes at the Farmer’s Market this weekend and had to use them soon or they would be too rotten to use. The trick to canning tomatoes is to get the super ripe tomatoes, just like with peaches and banananas, the best tomatoes to cook with are the ripe ones. You can usually find them by the box at the Farmer’s Market for a better price than just buying a bunch of tomatoes; you’ll need the whole box. Then, you’ll need to buy a bunch of mason jars with the tops. It’s hard to guess at it because the tomatoes are all different sizes so it yields different amounts every time.

Wash the tomatoes really good and cut out any bad spots on the tomato. Place all the jars in the dishwasher… if you don’t have a dishwasher, wash them really good and place them in boiling hot water. Then place the tomatoes in a large boiler and cover them with water. Let them boil until the skins are about to come off; about 15 minutes. It’ll look like this:

tomatoes in the pot Tomatoes boiling

 

Now, drain the tomatoes and let cool. Peel the tomatoes by sticking the core with a fork and using another fork or a knife, gently peel the peeling away. Like so:

boiled tomato with skin peeled tomato

Cut off the core and then place the cored, peeled, tomatoes back in the pot. You’ll want to add a little vinegar and salt to the pot. About 2 tbsp. vinegar and 1 tbsp. salt. This helps preserve it. Allow that to boil for about 10 minutes.

tomatoes boiled

Now, place the lids to the jars in a boiler, cover with water, and allow them simmer until you get done with the next step, which is: filling the jars with tomatoes.

boiling tops

You need to carefully fill the hot jars with tomatoes, making sure you clean the rims of the jar well. If there are any seeds on the outer edge of the jar, it will prevent the top from sealing. Now that that is done, use some tongs to remove each lid from the water. Dry the lid, put it on the jar, screw the lid closed, and remove the next lid. Do it one at the time, don’t try to do all of them at once or they won’t seal correctly. Don’t touch the jars! Let the seal pop down on it’s own. Once it’s sealed, let the jars cool, and store the at room temperature.

tomatoes canned canned tomatoes jarred up

They’ll stay good for a year and half or maybe longer. We always use ours during the winter and are ready to make more by the time summer rolls around. You can use this for anything; Chili, Vegetable Soup, Tomato Soup, Pizza Sauce, Spaghetti Sauce… pretty much anything that uses tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes. Even tomato gravy! You’ll see me use a lot of this in the winter time in my recipes, but if you don’t want to can your own tomatoes, that’s okay! You can buy canned tomatoes and I’ll tell you what other things you can use to substitute.

 

So, that’s it for tonight ya’ll! I hope ya’ll enjoy these recipes as much as my family has! The chicken tortellini is one of the best homemade pasta dishes you’ll ever have and it’s so easy! It only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish! The garlic bread is so delicious… it’s a fancy version of the same old, same old and it just works! The canned tomatoes, while I don’t recommend eating them alone, I do recommend making them because they make the easiest dishes so much better than the grocery store variety! If you don’t notice a difference in your recipe I’ll pay you back for your crate of tomatoes! They’re only like $6 and it takes about 45 minutes so why not try it! Let me know how it turns out! And don’t forget to go to the bottom of my home page where it says Subscribe to blog by email and put in your email address! It’ll email you every time I post a new blog! Ya’ll be watching that email because I will be posting again in no time! Have a good night!