Cozy dinners quick and easy

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Cold weather is my favorite time of year for cooking.  I can get the kitchen as hot as necessary without making the whole house miserable, plus I love making warm, hearty food.  Such meals brings people together, and when friends and family come together over good food, that’s when the best memories are made.

This first dish is vegetarian, but offers a pretty good variety for meat options if you absolutely cannot do without meat.  For instance, when I was reviewing the recipe earlier this week, I first immediately thought about if I were making it for my mom, where we could easily throw crab meat or shrimp into this dish to liven it up, perhaps with a pinch of paprika.  My husband, on the other hand, would better appreciate adding in bacon, ground sausage, or chicken.

This dish is great meatless.  The original recipe called for angel hair pasta, but there is so much sauce created that I think next time around I’d prefer to use a heartier pasta like farfalle, rotini, or penne to help take up more of it.  According to food lovers, it’s a crime against pasta to over sauce it.  The name here says it all, creamy garlic pasta, and it’s delicious.  There’s no need to overwhelm the pasta.  Because you’ll make the pasta in the sauce, there’s no need to boil water, but you’ll still need a large pot in which to cook it all.

Creamy garlic goodness.

Creamy Garlic Pasta

  • 1/2 lb. Small pasta
  • 1/4 C minced red onion
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Pepper
  • 3 C chicken stock
  • 1 C grated Parmesan
  • 3/4 C heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. Dried parsley


Heat olive oil in a large pot to medium low heat, stir in garlic and onion, cook 1-2 minutes.

Mix in butter until melted, add chicken stock, salt, and pepper, raise to a boil.

Once boiling, add pasta, cook according to its directions.

When the pasta has cooked, reduce to medium heat, add Parmesan, mix until completely melted.

Turn off heat, stir in cream and parsley.  Serve immediately.


This entree takes a beloved appetizer and fills it out into a hearty meal.  I suppose if you wanted you could crumble some crispy bacon into the filling to take it up a level, but I like it the way it is.  Also, you can use 2 teaspoons of taco seasoning rather than all the seasonings listed below.  What surprised me most about this meal is how mild it was, even with one jalapeno left unseeded.  Next time I won’t seed either of them, and may add extra cayenne.  Nonetheless, this dish is creamy, cheesy, and very filling.


Milder than it sounds.

Jalapeño Popper Chicken (found on JuJu Good News)

Serves 2


  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. Oregano
  • 1/8 tsp. Paprika
  • 1 egg
  • 2 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (we used 2%)
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • 2 chicken breasts


Preheat the oven to 375 and place an ovenproof rack onto a rimmed baking dish. Spray with cooking oil.

In a small skillet over medium heat, combine the panko with the canola oil. Cook, stirring often, until the panko is golden and crispy. Place in a shallow bowl or dish. To the panko, add the taco seasoning* and stir to combine.

In another shallow bowl or dish, lightly beat an egg.

In a third small bowl, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and jalapeños.

Using a paring knife, cut a pocket into the side of each chicken breast, or horizontally slice the chicken through the center, until it is almost butterflied. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper, and then divide the cream cheese mixture evenly between each chicken breast’s pocket. Use toothpicks to secure, if necessary.

Dip the chicken pieces one at a time first into the egg, and then into the panko mixture, making sure to coat the chicken completely. Place the chicken on the prepared baking rack and cook for about 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Tip of the week:  If you’re restocking your spice cabinet, check out the international isle of your local supermarket.  Sometimes they have spices in larger quantities (5 or 7 oz. vs. 1 or 2) for at least a buck or two cheaper.

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