May 29, 2019

Slow Cooker Penne Rustica

Today's recipe is a copycat of Macaroni Grill's Penne Rustica.  It is loosely based on that deliciously creamy baked pasta dish that Macaroni Grill is famous for.  

                       

When we lived in California, we used to eat at Macaroni Grill often and their Penne Rustica dish was always our go-to. Once we moved to the Midwest, we no longer had a Macaroni Grill easily within driving distance. So to fix our cravings for this tasty dish, I came up with a version I could make at home that we love.  


And even better, it all starts in the slow cooker. Starting this meal in the slow cooker and allowing it to cook away for just a few short hours, makes it an easy meal to get on the table during even a busy weeknight.  

We're going to start by adding most of the main ingredients to the slow cooker, reserving the pasta, shrimp and mozzarella for later.  In the picture above, I have Half and Half. You can use either Half and Half or Heavy Whipping Cream, although I really like to use the heavy cream if I have it because it gives the sauce a thicker consistency. But, you can use whatever you have on-hand, I am all about using up what you already have.


I usually add all of the main components, minus the heavy cream, to the slow cooker. Then I pour in the heavy cream and give it a good stir.  


After the sauce has had time to cook and thicken in the slow cooker, it will resemble a very hearty alfredo.  


About an hour before serving time, you will cook the pasta.  After the pasta is cooked and drained, then you can stir both the pasta and the shrimp into the sauce in the slow cooker.   Ladle the mixture into oven proof baking dishes, top with the reserved mozzarella and bake away.


Slow Cooker Penne Rustica

1 box penne pasta
1 lb cooked shrimp, tails removed
1/4 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
1 red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced small
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp paprika
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Sauce:
2 cups heavy cream  (or half and half)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp chicken base
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp cayenne

Add all ingredients, except pasta, shrimp and mozzarella, to slow cooker.  Cook on High for 2-3 hours. Cook pasta until al dente, drain.  Stir shrimp and pasta into sauce in slow cooker.  Spoon mixture into oven-safe serving dishes.  Top with shredded mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is turning golden brown and sauce is bubbly.


This dish is so incredibly delicious.  If you are trying to watch your carb intake, you can swap out the penne pasta for cooked spaghetti squash.  Either way, the combination of creamy sauce and shrimp is amazing!

May 28, 2019

June 2019 Monthly Menu Plan


I always meal plan for the entire month using the bulk of ingredients we already have on-hand.  I grocery shop every couple weeks to buy any fresh ingredients we need, along with restocking our produce.  Shopping my pantry, freezers, and basement storage helps to keep our grocery budget low because I typically buy our staples when I see them at their lowest price point.

As recipes are published, they will be linked to in future menu plans. You can also find published recipes under Labels on the right side of this blog or by simply doing a Search.

Here is the menu plan for June 2019:

  1.  Eat Out - Haley's Birthday
  2.  Creamy Tuna & Peas Pasta
  3.  Baked Salmon, Zoodles Stir Fry
  4.  Spaghetti Squash Pizza Casserole, Salad
  5.  Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore, Mashed Cauli, Veggie
  6.  Slow Cooker Garlic Parm Drumsticks, Baked "Radish" Potatoes, Veggie
  7.  Chicken, Broccoli, Cauli Rice Casserole, Salad
  8.  Crispy Ranch Chicken Strip Wraps
  9.  Olive Garden Alfredo Pasta
10.  Slow Cooker Meatballs & Marinara over Spaghetti Squash
11.  Slow Cooker Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Green Chile Cauli Cass
12.  Portobello Mushroom Cap Pizzas, Salad
13.  Bunless Cheeseburgers, Baked Zucchini Fries
14.  Eat Out - Dad's Birthday
15.  Salami & Cream Cheese Bagels
16.  Eat Out - Father's Day
17.  Eggplant Lasagna, Salad
18.  Slow Cooker Olive Garden Chicken, Butter Cauli Rice, Veggie
19.  Slow Cooker Mexican Breakfast Casserole, Baked "Radish" Potatoes
20.  Fathead Pizzas, Salad
21.  Slow Cooker Bacon Cheddar Chicken, Zoodles Stir Fry
22.  Country Fried Steak & Gravy, Mashed Cauli, Veggie
23.  Snack Plates  (sharp cheese, salami, veggies, fruit, crackers)
24.  Slow Cooker Chili Dog Casserole, Veggie
25.  Cauli Fried Rice
26.  Naked Chicken Parm, Cheesy Spaghetti Squash
27.  Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp, Cauli Rice
28.  Cheesy Fajitas Chicken, Baked Sweet Potato Cubes
29.  Doritos Taco Salad
30.  Corn Dogs, Onion Rings, Coleslaw

May 1, 2019

May 2019 Monthly Menu Plan


I always meal plan for the entire month using the bulk of ingredients we already have on-hand.  I grocery shop every couple weeks to buy any fresh ingredients we need, along with restocking our produce.  Shopping my pantry, freezers, and basement storage helps to keep our grocery budget low because I typically buy our staples when I see them at their lowest price point.

As recipes are published, they will be linked to in future menu plans. You can also find published recipes under Labels on the right side of this blog or by simply doing a Search.

Here is the menu plan for May 2019:

  1.  Mexican Fiesta, Cantaloupe
  2.  Country Fried Steak & White Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Veggie
  3.  Shredded Beef Oven Tacos
  4.  BLT Sandwiches, Chips, Cantaloupe
  5.  Steak Quesadillas
  6.  Slow Cooker Olive Garden Broccoli Alfredo
  7.  Biscuit Breakfast Casserole, Oven Home Fries
  8.  Cheesy Pierogies and Sausage Casserole, Veggie
  9.  Baked Salmon, Scalloped Potatoes, Veggie
10.  Anniversary - Eat Out
11.  Salami Cream Cheese Bagels
12.  Mother's Day - Eat Out
13.  Slow Cooker Clam Chowder in Bread Bowls
14.  Chicken Shawarma, Basmati Rice, Veggie
15.  Penne Pasta with Vodka Sauce, Garlic Bread
16.  Slow Cooker BBQ Applesauce Ckn, Roasted Potatoes, Veggie
17.  My Birthday - Eat Out
18.  Pita Bread Pizza's 
19.  Grilled PB&J's
20.  Cheesy Brat Stew Casserole, Veggie
21.  Doritos Taco Salad
22.  Slow Cooker Chicken Lo Mein
23.  Chicken Patty Sandwiches, Chips, Fruit
24.  Last Day of School - Eat Out
25.  Bacon Egg Salad Sandwiches, Chips, Fruit
26.  Italian Pasta Salad
27.  Hot Dog Roller Hot Dogs, Coleslaw, Onion Rings
28.  Cheesy Ranch Southwest Chicken Wraps
29.  Slow Cooker Penne Rustica
30.  Slow Cooker Sticky Chicken, Buttered Rice, Veggie
31.  Slow Cooker Jesse James' Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Veggie