I may or may not be obsessed with the show, The Chew. Their recipes are fantastic. Their show is entertaining and hilarious. Plus, I feel like they’re my daytime best friends.
Cheesy Ham and Gruyere Pasta Bake
Michael Symon is, I’ve decided, my brother from another mother. His recipes are always perfection, and this one is absolutely no different.
He takes a simple béchamel sauce [don’t get scared – it’s very simple!], adds some cheese, throws in ham, pasta, and greens, and voila! #delicious town.
This recipe is very decadent, but so sinfully perfect for the holiday season that we’re in. Just pretend like you did a lot of work to make it and therefore worked off the calories. Plus, there’s swiss chard, so you can just call it healthy for that alone. Right?
This freezes very well! #bonus
[I actually had to freeze it before I kept eating it out of the pan!]

Cheesy Ham and Gruyere Pasta Bake
5 tbs. unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
2 cups gruyere cheese, shredded
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 lb. penne pasta
1 tbs. olive oil
1 1-lb. package precooked diced ham
1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped (leaves and stems)
Make the Béchamel
In a large Dutch oven or skillet, melt 4 tbs. butter over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk to combine. While stirring, add the milk and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Continue stirring until sauce is thickened and lumps have disappeared (about 4 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cayenne, paprika, cheese, and eggs**. Set aside.
**It’s extremely important that the eggs are at room temperature or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs in your sauce… eww.**
Pasta and Assembly
Preheat oven to 350.
In a large pot of heavily-salted water, boil the pasta until al dente (about 8 minutes). Drain and set aside.
In an oven-proof large skillet or Dutch oven, add 1 tbs. butter and olive oil and heat until butter has melted. Toss in ham, stir, and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add greens and cook until wilted and soft (about 5 minutes). Season with pepper to taste (don’t add more salt – the ham will be salty enough).
Add pasta to pot with ham and green mixture, then pour the béchamel on top. Toss to combine, then pop in the oven for 25 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.
Make ahead: Complete all steps above minus the baking in the oven. Assemble casserole, place in dish coated with cooking spray, cover with foil, and place in the fridge. Pull and let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Then, preheat the oven and cook as above.

Adapted from Michael Symon on The Chew

I’ve been going through my old recipes from Cooking Light and stumbled upon this little number. It’s perfect for a weeknight to feed a hungry family, and you can feel good about what’s in it. Yes, yes, there are carbs. But come on, every once in a while, you need a lil pasta fix.
not yo mama's hamburger helper
I don’t know about you, but I ate a lot of Hamburger Helper growing up (and Tuna Helper and Chicken Helper). They actually weren’t too bad, but I’m good never eating them again.
Not Yo Mama's Hamburger Helper

This delicious dish reminds me of those good ole Hamburger Helper days, but no flavor packets needed. Just good ole stuff you’ve already got in the pantry.

Plus, I don’t think HH ever made a quick béchamel, which you do in this recipe (flour, milk, nutmeg, cheese). It adds a good creamy dose of yummy to the pasta and beef. 

Not Yo Mama's Hamburger Helper
It makes about 8 hearty servings, so we’ll be freezing the leftovers into 2-person portions in tupperware. Pasta usually keeps well in the freezer. Just thaw the night before you’re going to eat it to soften the noodles.

Not Yo Mama’s Hamburger Helper

1 (12-oz.) package small elbow macaroni
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 cup baby carrot, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. lean ground sirloin
2 (8-oz.) cans tomato sauce
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
1 cup fat-free milk
2 tbs. all-purpose flour
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 ½ cups (6 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Heat a pot of heavily salted water until boiling. Cook the pasta for 8-10 minutes until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrot; sauté 5 minutes until the onion becomes translucent and carrots begin to soften. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add beef; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add tomato sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Stir thoroughly and cook 2 minutes until heated through.

Add pasta to beef mixture in pan, stirring to combine. Spoon pasta mixture into a large baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Place milk, flour, nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a medium saucepan; stir with a whisk until blended. Cook over medium heat 3 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly with a whisk to prevent burning. Add 1 cup cheese, stirring until smooth. Pour cheese mixture over pasta mixture; stir well. Top evenly with remaining ½ cup cheese.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Adapted from Cooking Light

I love having recipes that I can make using a few simple ingredients that I always have on-hand. It makes it so much easier and stress-free when I’m menu planning.

This easy side is made with orzo – a rice pasta. It can be cooked just like it sounds: like rice or like pasta. This particular recipe cooks it just like rice, but it still has the texture of a delicious, easy pasta.

Feel free to change it up and use what you have on hand. For example, I didn’t have parmesan or basil in the fridge, so I used parsley and mozzarella. It was still amazing! Once you get the basic technique down, you can make it your own using what you like and what you have.

Easy Orzo

Creamy Parmesan Orzo

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup orzo
1¼ cups chicken broth
1¼ cups water
¼ cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add orzo, and cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly until orzo smells nutty and is slightly toasted. Stir in broth and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until liquid is absorbed and orzo is done (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in cheese, basil, salt, and pepper.

I make this at least once a month because I have all the ingredients I need in the house pretty much any time. It’s also super easy to make and the hubs always gives it a thumbs up.
Chicken Sausage Pasta
You can use any kind of sausage and pasta you like. I’ve used Chipotle and Monterey Jack, Spinach and Feta, and I think even some kind of an Italian chicken sausage. The other great thing about the chicken sausage is that it freezes well, so I just thaw it in the fridge the day before I’m going to cook it! I use rotini or spaghetti for the pasta just depending on what I have in the ole pantry.
chicken sausage pasta  chicken sausage pasta

Chicken Sausage Pasta

 10 oz. pasta
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 package (4 links) chicken sausage, diced
2 tsp. all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
1 cup skim milk
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (2 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water (like the ocean) to a boil. Cook noodles until al dente (10-12 minutes); reserve 1 tbs. pasta water. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop cooking. Set aside.
In a large skillet or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally. Sauté chicken sausage with onions and garlic about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the flour to the onion, garlic, and sausage mixture, stirring constantly. Add dijon; stir until combined. Gradually stir in milk with a whisk. Add salt and pepper; cook for 3 minutes until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese. Add noodles, stir until mixed, and then cover. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Garnish with green onion if desired.