Creamy Tomato & Spinach Pasta

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I adore simple recipes. And I love them even more, on days that my daughter doesn’t nap. BudgetBytes has been a lifesaver over the past few weeks.

Ingredients
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil
pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
freshly cracked pepper to taste
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 oz. cream cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan
½ lb. penne pasta ( i used almost a full box, minus around 15 pieces)
½ (9 oz.) bag fresh spinach ( I used 6 ounces)

Directions
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender (7-10) minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander.

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While waiting for the pasta to cook, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Cook both in a large skillet with the olive oil over medium-low heat until softened and transparent (about 5 minutes).
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Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to the skillet with the onions and garlic. Stir to combine. Add the tomato paste and a ½ cup of water to the skillet and stir until the tomato paste is dissolved into the sauce.

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Turn the heat down to low. Cut the cream cheese into a few pieces and then add them to the skillet with the tomato sauce. Use a whisk to stir the sauce until the cream cheese has fully melted in and the sauce is creamy. Add half of the Parmesan to the skillet and whisk until it is melted in. Add the remainder of the parmesan and whisk until melted in again.

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20140318-212758.jpgAdd the fresh spinach and gently stir it into the sauce until it has wilted (3-5 minutes). Add the pasta and stir until it is well coated in the creamy tomato sauce. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm. Reagan ate around the spinach…but she ate;)

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

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We are gearing up for another big snow storm here in Western New York starting this morning. This is the perfect recipe to throw in the crockpot so you can sit on the couch and watch Frozen with the kids while the flakes fly outside. I promise that this dish taste a million times better than the picture in this post make it look, so don’t let them scare you.

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Ingredients
1 pound cubed beef stew meat
2 (10.75 oz) cans Golden Mushroom soup
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup beef broth
1/4 cup water
1 Tblsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bouillon cube
1/2 packet onion soup mix
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 oz. cream cheese
1/3 cup sour cream
Egg noodles

Directions

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1. Add all ingredients except for cream cheese and sour cream to crockpot. Stir to combine.

2. Cook on low setting for 5-6 hours. Unless of course your crockpot has super powers like mine, in which case it will be done in under three.

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3. Mix in sour cream and cream cheese.

4. Serve over buttered egg noodles.

If the sauce is not as thick as you would like, you can add in 1 Tablespoon of corn starch. Also, if you have mushroom lovers in your household then adding in some sautéed mushrooms about 30 minutes before cooking time is up would definitely be a tasty touch.

Chicken Taco Bowl

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From start to finish, this dish couldn’t be easier. My crockpot cooks at odd temperatures, so you may not want to follow my cooking time. The original recipe calls for the dish to be cooked on low for 8 hours. My pot cooked this dish in under two hours on the low setting. BudgetBytes always offers up delicious and wallet friendly dishes!

Ingredients
1½ lbs. chicken breasts
1 (16 oz.) jar salsa
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained
½ lb. (8 oz.) frozen corn
1 Tbsp chili powder
½ Tbsp cumin
½ Tbsp minced garlic
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp salt
to taste cracked pepper
2 cups dry rice
8 oz. shredded cheddar
½ bunch cilantro (optional)

Directions
Add everything except the rice, cheese, and cilantro to the slow cooker along with ¼ cup of water (for good measure). Give everything a good stir and make sure the chicken is covered in the mixture.

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Secure the lid on your slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hrs. Near the end of the cooking time, cook the two cups of rice according to the package directions.
After 8 hours, or however long your crockpot normally takes to cook chicken, carefully remove the lid of the slow cooker. Using two forks shred the chicken (it should be super tender and will shred easily). Build the taco bowls by placing rice on the bottom, then the taco chicken mix, shredded cheese and fresh cilantro.

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Enjoy! Thanks again, Budget Bytes!

Cheesy Pasta with Bacon and Peas

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It’s hard to find things my picky three year old will eat most days. Sometimes I feel like I spend so much time making new things for him to try and he still ends up wanting hot dogs or grilled cheese. Peas are one vegetable he will never turn down and if you ask my husband, bacon makes everything taste better, so I thought this recipe was worth a try. To my surprise he ate his entire plate. A rare occurrence around here for sure!

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Ingredients
12 oz penne pasta
6 slices thick-cut bacon
12 oz frozen peas
12 oz plain Greek yogurt
Tabasco sauce
6 oz Fontina cheese
6 oz Sharp cheddar cheese
Salt
Pepper

Directions

1. Line baking sheet with foil and cook
bacon in a 400 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes. Set aside.

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2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente.

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3. While pasta is cooking, cut bacon into small pieces and shred cheeses.

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4. Before straining pasta, add frozen peas to water and cook for an additional minute. Drain water but reserve 1 cup of pasta water.

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5. Return pasta and peas to pot and add in 1/3 cup of pasta water, yogurt, a few splashes of Tabasco and half of the cheese. Stir until cheese is melted.

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6. Stir in remaining cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Add in additional hot pasta water if needed to reach desired creaminess.

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7. Add bacon and stir until thoroughly combined.

Hope your picky eaters enjoy it as much as mine!

Buffalo Chicken Baked Shells

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I’ve been pinning various recipes lately, in hopes to find meals that all three family members will enjoy. When I came across these Buffalo Chicken Baked Shells on Baked by Rachel, I was sure I found a winner. I added an extra chicken breast and mushrooms to the recipe. I made 22 shells, 12 I baked the night that I prepared the meal, 10 I froze to be cooked at another date.

Ingredients

1 chicken breast ( I used 2 )
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp salt
3/8 tsp pepper, divided
3/8 tsp celery seed, divided ( I didn’t have any, so it was left out)
1/4 cup buffalo sauce, plus additional for topping ( I used Texas Pete’s Hot Sauce)
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 tbsp butter or olive oil
12-15 jumbo shells
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup mushrooms

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

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20140218-212209.jpgIn a slow cooker, add chicken and broth. Cook for two hours on high, then shred meat. My slow cooker has issues, so I cooked my frozen chicken for 1.5 hours on high. Discard liquid. Shred chicken and chop onion, celery and mushrooms. Season shredded meat with 1/4 tsp celery seed and 1/4 pepper and salt. Toss with buffalo sauce until meat is coated. Set aside.
In a large pasta pot bring water to a boil, add 12-15 jumbo shells to the water. Cook 9-12 minutes or until desired consistency is reached. Drain and let cool on a baking sheet or nonstick surface.

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In a small skillet over medium heat, add onion, mushrooms, celery and butter or olive oil. Sauté until tender and onions are translucent.

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In a large bowl, mix ricotta cheese, parmesan, egg, 1/8 tsp pepper, 1/8 tsp celery seed, blue cheese crumbles and vegetables. Add chicken mixture and stir well.

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Prepare baking dish with a light coating of olive oil and a few spoonfuls of buffalo sauce. Fill one shell at a time with spoonfuls of chicken and cheese mixture. Carefully arrange in prepared baking dish. Drizzle with spoonfuls of buffalo sauce and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese. Baked for 20-25 minutes. I wrapped the tin tray tightly in plastic wrap and then closed in freezer friendly bag for use at a later date.

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Totally yummy! Thanks Baked by Rachel !