Friday, July 18, 2008

wannabe Sandra Lee

Hello! As you can see from the title, I am a fan of Sandra Lee and Semi-Homemade. Well, really I am a fan of the Semi-Homemade concept. Sandra Lee is a little much for me at times with all her "tablescapes," but the concept is awesome. Seriously.

For those of you who haven't heard of her, or's the idea. You take store bought ingredients and mix in fresh ingredients for a meal that tastes completely homemade. No one knows the difference, and you certainly don't have to tell!

We're all about secrets here at SITS Chefs!

The recipe I am going to share with you today is Spicy Chicken Pasta. I really love pasta and I really, really love FRESH pasta. The homemade kind, which I do not know how to make myself, but Buitoni does. This recipe uses fresh pasta, fresh and frozen vegetables, a pre-made sauce, frozen chicken and a few spices. It comes together with little chopping, and two pans. I promise, it will taste like something you slaved over when in reality, it only takes about a half hour.

Here's what you need:
1 pkg Buitoni Linguine
1 container Buitoni Alfredo Sauce
2 cups pre-cooked (and frozen) Fajita grilled chicken
sliced mushrooms
sugar snap peas (frozen)
corn (frozen)
2 carrots
green onions
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
garlic powder
ground red pepper
ground paprika

This recipe should feed four adults!
OK, let's get cooking! I am using frozen fajita chicken that comes pre-grilled and seasoned. You can choose to defrost the chicken, or pop it into a micro-cooker with some water and cook on high for three minutes. If you haven't been introduced to the Pampered Chef micro-cooker, say hello! A micro-cooker is a plastic pot with a strainer lid that is an amazing help to anyone who likes quick cooking. The chicken went from frozen to hot in three minutes and was waiting for me, instead of me waiting for it to saute and then chop it up.

In it goes and it comes out smelling and looking great. Pardon me while I sample.

Ok, now we need to chop the carrots and onions. You can slice your carrots or fake julienne them. Now, I don't really care what shape you end up with, but you need to make them smaller, and you need to do them first. The carrots will take the longest to cook, so you want to start with them.
Add a little oil to your pan and get it heated up. I put mine on medium high and throw in the carrots. Let them start to soften while you chop the other veggies.

Chop your onion and add it to the pan. Stir the veggies around a little while you attend to the mushrooms. I chose to use pre-washed and pre-sliced mushrooms. Pre-washed veggies are a gal's best friend and I use them a lot, but not always. Why not always? Well, if you've ever looked in the produce section at pre-chopped items, some of them are in HUGE bags. I do not need a quart sized bag of shredded carrots. Nope. Not at all. I might use a SNACK sized bag, but not one clearly intended for...well, I don't know what anyone would need that for.
Moving on...

The mushrooms are sliced, but I still run my knife through them to make them a little smaller to cook faster.
Now you can season your vegetables a little bit. Some salt, pepper and garlic powder will add to your flavor.
They should soften up in about 7-8 minutes. Check the carrots to make sure they are the consistency you like. I don't like to have a crunch, but you might. Once they are where you like, add the chicken and toss with the veggies.Spices. YUM. I love spices and my cabinet is packed full. I play around with flavor combinations, but these are the three you need for this dish. If you want to use fresh garlic, be my guest, or the pre-minced kind that you keep in your refrigerator would work well, too.

I mentioned that we are using Buitoni products today and I chose linguine and the alfredo sauce. Now, Buitoni also makes a LIGHT version of this Alfredo sauce, but the store I was at today wasn't carrying it.
I am adding the spices directly to the sauce, not the chicken or veggies. This way it really flavors the sauce.
The paprika is on the left, the garlic is in the middle and the red pepper is on the right. Paprika is a spice with a lot of flavor, but not a lot of heat. The heat comes from the red pepper, and I use it sparingly. However, please add as little or as much as you want. The more you add, the spicer it will be. If you are using fresh garlic, you want to add it to the veggies in the saute pan, so it will get cooked. If you add it to the sauce it will be too raw when you eat! Also, fresh pasta really soaks up sauce, so if you like it SAUCY then you might want to use two containers of the sauce.

Do you have water boiling? Well, get it going! Salt your water and get the pasta in. Fresh pasta cooks up in about half the time of traditional pasta, so if you are really in a hurry, it will save you time. But, this recipe also will work fine with whatever pasta you choose.
This is also a good time to throw in any frozen veggies that you want to add. I am adding sugar snap peas and corn. A mixed vegetable medley would work well, too. Add whatever amount works for you...I like lots of veggies.

Drain your pasta and veggies after about 5 minutes. While the pasta is in your strainer, add the sauce to the bottom of the pasta pot. Lower the heat to low and let it warm up, then add your pasta back in. Throw the chicken and vegetable combo on top and toss to coat.

Slice your green onions to sprinkle on top.
Plate up your pasta and get that fork!

One last thing I sprinkle on top is ground nutmeg. I know it sounds weird, but nutmeg is subtly spicy and adds a nice flavor to any cream based sauce. Leave it out, and the pasta will taste fine. Add it, and the pasta will come alive. No, not really...but it does add a nice layer of flavor.

Pasta is a quick cooks best friend and the possibilites are endless. This works well as a Primavera Pasta if you lose the fajita chicken, paprika and red pepper. My mom suggested adding squash and zuccini, but I wasn't up to chopping all those vegetables. Also, a bite sized pasta like penne or farfalle (bowties) would make it easier for kids to eat.

Check back next month for another semi-homemade meal from this Sandra Lee Wannabe!

(I am Sissy, and I am living Out on a Limb!)


Angela said...

This looks awesome and great for weeknights. I need lots of weeknight recipes so we'll definitely be trying this! Thanks!

Jen said...

I really like Sandra Lee too but I agree some of her ideas for the table and crafts are a bit over the top. You can tell that she does not have kids.
Great recipe. I can't wait to try it.

Mekhismom said...

Sounds like a great recipe! I may have to try it sometime.

Rhea said...

I have no idea who Sandra Lee is, but I got the idea quickly. lol Very neat. I love the mixing of homemade and frozen or pre-made.

sassy stephanie said...

What a great idea. I would never know!

One of my friends totally had me for years, making the most delicious "homemade" cake from her GaGa's recipe. Finally, after about 2 years, I was brave enough to try it myself...turns out it is a semi-homemade!! It is so moist and yummy.

Lisa@BlessedwithGrace said...

This looks great. I want to try that, really soon. Congrats on the Saucy Eats!

Tiffany said...

Great Job, Sissy!!!

Deanna said...

Hmmmm.... wonder if I have all the stuff for this?

Lula! said...

I like Sissy better than Sandra Lee, anyway.

Stephanie said...

That seriously looks so tasty! I love chicken and pasta, you can never have too many recipes!

Half-Past Kissin' Time said...

Looks YUMMY! I needed a fresh idea, thanks.

Tam said...

Sounds wonderful! I am so going to try the Nutmeg!

Cheryl said...

Looks great! I'm going to have to try!

Thanks for sharing!

Cuddle Cottage said...

I'm also always looking for new ideas. I'm heading to the grocery store this evening, will have to price the Buitoni products; this dish sound delish!

Katy Lin :) said...

i love the semi-homemade concept, but you lost me at the mushrooms, lol :)

Kristinia - Loving Heart Mommy said...

I love all these recipes, these really help to spice up dinner!

Sherri - KaysvilleMomma said...


Our Family said...

wow those tablescapes! too bad I am vegetarian b/c those meals look nice! maybe i will try elimating the chicken. loved the blog.

Oh so is this another entry?

Shannon said...

This looks yummy... even better, it looks easy to do!

Michelle said...

I love all the asides and gentle notes in the recipe text. Sadly, I'd have to leave out the carrots and mushrooms. For whatever reason, I love raw carrots but don't like them once cooked (unless they're in carrot cake). Sounds good (now that I've unfortunately made it less healthy!)

greedygrace said...

I love Sandra Lee! This recipe sounds delicious!

emily said...

Great Recipe, Sissy! I can't wait to make it. I've been in a cooking slump for about 3 years so this will help out! I can't believe this is the first time I've moseyed over to Saucy Chefs! Love this site!

Jessica said...

YUM!! really delish.. may have to try that sometime, thx.

Mrs. D said...

chicken good, veggies good, pasta good... gotta try it!

Mrs. D said...

chicken good, veggies good, pasta good... gotta try it!

Kimberly said...

I love the idea of quick and easy meals, however, I can't stand the tablescapes! Its WAAAY over the top for me! :) This is an awesome meal though! Yum!

Karen said...

That looks really good.

You're right about the nutmeg. I use it all the time in pasta dishes. Tastes great in lasagna. Even better when you freshly grate or grind it.

Sheri said...

Sounds yummy . . . can't wait to try!

KimmyJ said...

I like SL recipes and I have her books, but she is a little stepford wife-ish and I think she is a closet lush - she gets way too jazzed up at cocktail time! :)

Camille; Ponytail Challenge said...

I heart Sandra Lee too! Her recipes are realistic, and look fantastic at the same time!

hsb suzanne said...

This looks great! And, I love the detailed instructions... thank you!


Jaime said...

I love sandra lee too, and I agree her tablescapes are a little much sometimes, but I do so love her concept. Thanks for the recipe, I can't wait to try it.

John Deere Mom said...

While I don't like Sandra Lee...I LOVE cooking like her and this meal looks wonderful. Semi-homemade is the way to go!

Mommy's Kitchen said...

I love homemade and semi homamade cooking. That recipe looks good. contats on featured chef.

susan said...

Sometimes I don't like Sandra's attempts at semi-homemade, but this one looks great and would save a ton of time - thanks!

Therese said...

looks yummy!

Jenn said...

Chicken and pasta dishes are one of my favorite things to eat as well as my son! I'm definitely going to put this on our menu for next week, I'll be sure to leave you a link too! It looks super yummy! Glad I found this site!

angie said...

Absolutely love the presentation of this recipe. Thanks for the guest appearance!

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