My hubs used to be the SWAT commander for our local police department & somehow this pasta became known as “SWAT RAGS. One of his officers taught me how to make this when the hubs and I first started dating. He was friends with a local restauranteur and this was a secret dish he made for his friends. I used to make huge pans of this stuff in my tiny apartment kitchen for SWAT team get togethers & special events. When we got married in a friend’s backyard, you better believe this dish was served. Later, we started adding grilled chicken and that was a hit, too. This dish has been a staple at the many large parties we have thrown over the years. A party is not a party without SWAT Rags. Awwww…the memories!
Rigatoni w/Mushrooms (SWAT Rags)
I used to serve this for huge parties. Here is a great rule of thumb: For every box of pasta, you will need 2 more bunches of green onion, 1 additional jalapeño and 2 more garlic cloves. You will also increase the pepper, Italian seasoning and lemon accordingly. For parties, you can make the pasta the day before or the morning of. It’s a very forgiving dish. We then serve it in a giant pot or a roaster.
- 2 (1 lb) boxes of rigatoni pasta
- 1 (2 sticks) cup butter
- 24 ounces of sliced mushrooms
- 4 bunches of green onions, chopped
- 2 jalapeños, seeds removed and chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 TBS Italian herb seasoning
- 1 TBS fresh ground pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Italian parsley and grated Parmesan Cheese, for garnish
- Optional: Add sliced grilled chicken.
- Prepare the rigatoni according to package directions. Do not over cook. I usually subtract 1 from the recommended time. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, drain and set aside.
- While pasta is cooking prepared your chopped veg. I use a food processor to chop the jalapeño & garlic. I remove the jalapeño & garlic, and then I chop the green onion in the food processor. Saves time and we like the texture.
- Return the pot to the stove and heat to medium. Add butter. Once melted and bubbling a bit, add the jalapeño & garlic. Sauté until fragrant. Add in the green onion and seasonings. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Add in the sliced mushroom and lemon juice. Sauté for 2-3 more minutes.
- Return the pasta to the pot of vegetables. Stir to coat the pasta.
- Serve topped with chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese.
- Add grilled chicken, if desired.
This is an incredibly easy dish to put together and it’s so flavorful. The creole seasoning really elevates this pasta. It’s just a great diversion from the typical Italian pasta dish. You’ll love this New Orleans inspired meal!
Creole Pasta w/Andouille Sausage
- 1 (12 oz) package of ribbed elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions minus 1 minute (reserve 1 cup of pasta water)
- 2 links of andouille sausage, thin sliced
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 tsp Creole seasoning
- Olive oil for cooking
- 1 (15 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp chicken base
- 2 cups jalapeño Jack cheese
- Chopped green onions for garnish
- In a large cast iron pot heat 1 TBS olive oil. Add sliced sausage, onion, garlic & red pepper. Sauté until sausage is lightly browned and vegetables are cooked down.
- Add can of tomatoes. Sauté until heated through.
- Add in heavy cream, reserved pasta water & chicken base. Bring to a low boil, until it thickens.
- Return drained pasta and mix thoroughly.
- Add in cheese and lightly toss. Cover the pot & leave heat on low for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
- Serve immediately. Garnish with chopped green onions.
Happy St. Paddy’s Day! This simple & comforting pasta goulash is perfect for a little Irish celebration. Just add an Irish kiss for the cook!
- 1 (16 oz package) elbow macaroni, prepared according to package directions minus 1 minute (reserve 1 cup of pasta water)
- 1 lb ground beef
- ½ onion, diced
- Sea salt & pepper, to taste
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 (4 oz) tomato sauce
- 1 (12 oz) petite diced tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
- In a large pot, brown ground beef & onions. Season with sea salt & pepper.
- Add in minced garlic and sauté until fragrant.
- Turn heat to low, and add in in all other ingredients, except peas & pasta. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Add in prepared pasta & frozen peas. Stir on low heat until heated through. Add a bit of reserved pasta water, if needed.
- Serve immediately in a bowl & enjoy!
This dish is flavorful and so easy to make. Just a few steps and you’ll be enjoying this yumminess in no time. I served mine with jasmine rice and blanched broccoli.
Enjoy in a few easy steps!
- 4 chicken breasts cut into bit size pieces
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- Sea salt & pepper, to taste
- Olive oil for cooking
- Sweet & Sour Sauce:
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 2 TBS low sodium soy sauce
- 1 TBS sesame oil
- 1 TBS light brown sugar
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup filtered water
- 2 TBS cornstarch
- Garnish: Sesame seeds & sliced green onions
- Add chicken, cornstarch and sea salt & pepper to a zip lock bag. Shake until chicken is thoroughly coated.
- Heat oil ice oil in a large skillet. Add prepared chicken and brown. Do not overcrowd the chicken. Brown in batches and set aside on paper towel lined plate. You may need to add additional oil as you go along.
- For the sauce, add all ingredients except cornstarch and water. Bring to a low boil.
- Whisk water & cornstarch and add to saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
- Put all of your chicken in the skillet and pour on the thickened sauce,
- Serve sweet & sour chicken over jasmine rice. Top with sesame seeds and green onions.
We have a Mexican restaurant here in town that makes the best carne guisada. I’ve studied it for years and this is as close as it gets. Enjoy!
This recipe makes quite a bit. You can certainly reduce your amounts for a smaller portion.
This can also be made in a crockpot.
- 4 lbs stew meat – I buy mine at Costco
- Olive oil
- 1/2 onion
- 1 large tomato or 1 can dices tomatoes
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 tsp ground comino
- Sea salt & pepper
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 3-4 TBS flour
- Preheat oven to 350°. Season stew meat with sea salt & pepper. Brown the meat in some olive oil and place in large cast iron pot. Set aside.
- Process the onion, tomato & garlic in a blender until smooth. Add to browned stew meat and mix.
- Add the ground comino & chicken stock. Mix together and cover.
- Braise in the oven for 2 hours. Remove from oven and take out 1 cup of the liquid. Reduce heat to 325°.
- Return to the oven & continue braising until meat is fork tender. This may take another 1-2 hours.
- Add flour to reserved liquid & whisk until smooth.
- Remove the meat from oven when tender and incorporate the flour mixture. Return to the oven for another 20-30 minutes or heat on the stove to thicken the sauce.
- Serve with desired sides & tortillas.
This is a delicious & simple soup that can be made as a vegan version. It’s very satisfying and a great addition to your soup repertoire. Who else loves cozy soups?
- 1 TBS olive oil
- 1 small white onion, diced
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1 cup diced celery
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 4 cups loosely-packed spinach
- Sea salt & pepper, to taste
- Parmesan cheese for garnish
- Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onion & sauté until soft. Add carrots, celery & garlic and sauté until garlic is fragrant.
- Add stock, tomatoes, orzo & spices. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Add sea salt & pepper, to taste.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente.
- When ready to serve, ladle a portion in a bowl and add spinach on top and gently stir in. I always add the spinach into each individual serving so it stays fresh & bright.
- Serve warm. Garnish with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
This is a one of our go-to leftover Thanksgiving turkey recipes. It travels really well, so it’s something I make to deliver to our kids. Simple to prepare and it feeds a crowd. Whether you use turkey or chicken, it’s a super satisfying and cozy meal.
Chicken (or Turkey) Spaghetti Casserole
- 4 cups shredded chicken or turkey
- 12 oz package of spaghetti, cooked 1 minute less than recommended & drained
- 1 can of cream of chicken soup
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1 (8 oz.) light sour cream
- 4 TBS melted butter
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/4 chopped fresh parsley
- Sea salt & pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 TBS melted butter
- 1 cup Italian bread crumbs or chickpea crumbs
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9×13 baking dish.
- Combine everything except the topping.
- To make topping, combine the melted butter & bread crumbs.
- Top the casserole with 1 cup cheddar cheese & then the butter & bread crumb mixture.
- Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until bubbly.
I was looking for an Asian recipe for making salmon and found this gem. It is originally from My Diary of Us. She has a blog and Instagram page by the same title. I made a couple of tweaks for ease of preparation. I really love this twist on baked salmon.
- 1 – 2 lbs salmon
- 1 TBS white miso paste
- 2 TBS soy sauce
- 1 TBS grated ginger
- 1 TBS red wine vinegar
- 1 TBS honey
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Garnish: Green onion slices & black sesame seeds
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Prepare a baking sheet with foil & parchment paper. Place salmon on the parchment. Refrigerate until the next step.
- Make a glaze with the miso paste, soy sauce, ginger, red wine vinegar, honey & sesame oil in a bowl. Whisk until smooth. Set aside.
- Pour the marinade on the salmon and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the refrigerator and bake for 10 -15 minutes.
- Switch the oven to broil and broil on high for 2 minutes to caramelization the top of the salmon.
- Garnish with sliced green onions & sesame seeds and serve.
I made this for a family gathering and everyone went crazy over this dish. It’s great as a side dish or as the main meal. It has a few steps, but it is well worth it. The best part is that I used cherry tomatoes from my garden! This is gonna be a permanent fixture on our table. The original recipe is from Half Baked Harvest and was made with gnocchi. In addition to using pasta, I made a few other tweaks for my taste. The link to the original recipe is on the recipe.
Summer Pasta w/Roasted Tomato Pesto, Corn, Zucchini & Feta
- 3 pints cherry tomatoes
- 2/3 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1 TBS lemon zest
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 package of gemelli pasta (I used a 17.6 oz package)
- 4 zucchini, quartered
- 4 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut off the cob
- 1 (8 oz) block of feta cheese cut into small cubes
- Sea salt & pepper to taste
- Fresh basil & red pepper flakes for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- In a roasting pan, drizzle tomatoes with olive oil & season with sea salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes for 10-15 minutes, or until they start to blister & split. Remove from oven & let cool.
- Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions & subtracting 1 minute from suggested cooking time. Before draining reserve 1 cup of pasta liquid.
- When done, drain pasta and return pot to stove. Add 2 TBS olive oil and sauté fresh corn niblets for 3-4 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add 1 pint of the roasted tomatoes and the toasted pine nuts, lemon zest, garlic, cheese, & olive oil to a blender or food processor. Pulse until smooth. Set aside.
- Add the remaining roasted tomatoes (and any liquid from roasting), zucchini & reserved pasta water to the sautéed corn. Add sea salt & pepper to taste.
- Add in the drained pasta, feta cheese cubes and the tomato pesto sauce. Toss until everything is coated.
- Garnish with fresh basil & red pepper flakes. Serve warm.
This post is dedicated to all the fabulous food of black origin. Bernice “Lady Bug” Barnes is my daughter’s boyfriend’s mom. Marcus is from North Carolina and his family makes some of the most scrumptious looking dishes I have ever seen. The Barnes family has a huge family reunion each September, where many of these dishes are shared. I asked Marcus what I should make to celebrate the food he grew up with and he said it had to be Chicken Pastry. His mom usually makes this with turkey, but she explained chicken was fine, too. This is her recipe.
Chicken Pastry by Mrs. Barnes
Original recipe from Bernice “Lady Bug” Barnes as told to my daughter, Destiny. Some adjustments were made for my ease of preparation. Mrs. Barnes usually makes this with turkey & she uses self rising flour. Her daughter said she uses all purpose flour, so that’s what I used.
- 1 chicken, cut up (I used 3 chicken breasts & 3 chicken thighs)
- Salt & Pepper (I used very fine pepper)
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup reserved broth
- Chicken bouillon granules or base
- Butter to prepare a thickening slurry (2 TBS melted butter & 1/4 cup flour combined until smooth. Then add 1/4 cup broth & mix well)
- Parsley & fresh cracked pepper for garnish
- Place chicken in a large pot & cover with water. Make sure there is at least 3-4 inches of water above the chicken. Add salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low boil, cover & cook the chicken for about 30-45 minutes.
- Remove cooked chicken and place it on a pan to cool. Turn off the heat to the broth.
- At this point, I strain my broth and return it to the pot. Reserve 1 cup of chicken broth & set aside.
- While the chicken is cooling, sift the flour with a tsp of salt into a large bowl.
- Wearing culinary gloves, make a well in the flour. Pour in a half cup of your reserved chicken broth and begin mixing by hand.
- Continue to add small amounts of broth until a sticky dough is formed. There will be some lumps.
- Form the dough into a ball & place on a floured surface.
- Cover the dough ball with wax paper & roll out to a 1/8-1/4 inch thickness. Cut into strips and then cut across to make small rectangles.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Debone your chicken and shred into small pieces. Return the bones & skin to your pot of broth and bring to a simmer. Add 1 TBS of chicken base & 1 TBS of fine pepper. Taste to see if you need to add any salt. If it is too salty, you can add a bit of water. Cover and simmer on very low for 30 more minutes. By then your pastry is ready to remove from the refrigerator. Before you get it out, remove all the bones and skin from the broth with a strainer.
- Return the broth to a low rolling boil.
- Start adding 3-4 pastry pieces at a time to the boiling broth. Continue adding the pastry a bit at a time. Once all the pastry is added, put the shredded chicken in. Reduce heat to a simmer.
- If after a few minutes, the broth is still too thin add the slurry described above.
- Simmer on low for 45 minutes or longer, depending on how tender you like your pastry.
- Serve with fresh cracked pepper & a sprinkle of parsley.