Main Dishes, Pasta, Recipes

Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Orzo

This easy, creamy pasta-based dish has all the makings of a cravable, comforting fall dinner. Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Orzo may not look like much, but it tastes like a million bucks!

This easy, creamy pasta-based dish has all the makings of a cravable, comforting fall dinner. Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Orzo may not look like much, but it tastes like a million bucks!

Eeek, I don’t want to tell you  how long ago I made this recipe! It’s embarrassing. But I wanted to wait until fall to share this gem of a meatless meal with you. This easy, creamy pasta-based dish has all the makings of a cravable, comforting fall dinner. Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Orzo may not look like much [and my indoor photos don’t help it… alas], but it tastes like a million bucks!

This easy, creamy pasta-based dish has all the makings of a cravable, comforting fall dinner. Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Orzo may not look like much, but it tastes like a million bucks!

Despite this dish’s less-than-steller appearance, it is so unbelievably good, whether prepared fresh or reheated for lunches later in the week. Mmm! The star of this meatless sensation is absolutely the creamy, sweet potato-based sauce. It’s just a little cheesy [thanks ricotta!] and somewhat reminiscent of summer since the flava flava comes from none other than pesto! So you can reminisce about warm days while cozying up with a warm bowl of this goodness. 🙂 Of course, you can’t just have the sauce… you gotta add some extra deliciousness to it! This time I added kale, sun-dried tomatoes, and orzo to the mix, but you can absolutely use other veggies or even some meat. I think bacon would be great here too… but can you ever go wrong with bacon? No matter how you mix it, this dinner is great! The slight crunch of the kale, the sweet essence of sweet potatoes [sorry that sounds weird but it was just speaking to me today–haha!], and the fun add in pasta shape of orzo makes this a dish that I know you’ll love! Enjoy! 🙂

one year ago: Cantucci (Almond Biscotti)
two years ago: Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice
three years ago: Autumnal Muffins
four years ago: Iced Tea with Ginger-Mint Simple Syrup
five years ago: Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad
six years ago: Spaghetti + Meatballs=Love

Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Orzo

  • Servings: 8-10
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adapted from The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 16 ounces orzo pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons pesto
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 cups kale, tightly packed [about 2/3 of a large bunch–washed, thoroughly dried, stems removed, and chopped into bite sized pieces]
  • 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes [dry packed or drained and patted dry if water/oil packed]

Directions:

Wash and dry sweet potatoes, then pierce with a fork all over and place in a microwave safe container. Microwave on high for 6 minutes, then flip and microwave for another 4-5 minutes or until potatoes are cooked all the way through. Set aside to cool in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes, then peel and chop into chunks. Discard skin.

Meanwhile, cook orzo to al dente according to package directions.

In a separate pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute, for about 4-5 minutes until onion is tender. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds until fragrant. Season generously with pepper. Add milk and broth, then bring to a boil, being careful to not let it boil over. Reduce heat to low.

Add sweet potato chunks, ricotta, pesto, and crushed red pepper to broth mixture. Whisk constantly until all has been incorporated. Break up the sweet potato chunks as you go, and if desired, use an immersion blender to completely smooth the sauce. Next, add kale and sundried tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes until kale has reduced in volume. Stir in orzo and serve immediately.

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Main Dishes, Pasta, Recipes

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Broccoli and Chicken

This delicious, creamy pasta dish comes together in a flash! It’s like a grown-up broccoli & cheese casserole, pasta-fied!

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Broccoli + Chicken | thepajamachef.com

I don’t think “pasta-fied” is a word, but I want it to be. This pasta dish is one of my absolute favorite quick dinners… and you gotta make it soon! Promise? It is reminiscent of SO many other dishes that I bet you know and love… those rice/pasta packet side dishes… the ever-classic broccoli & cheese side dish… pesto pasta… mac & cheese… I could go on and on and on, but then I wouldn’t get to the goodness of this dish! Sure, it’s not the healthiest pasta dinner, but it is flavorful and has veggies, protein, and carbs so it’s pretty all-encompassing. And on nights when you have less time than you want, but still want a homemade dinner, meals like this are the BEST.

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Broccoli + Chicken | thepajamachef.com

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Broccoli and Chicken is fast and flavorful. The creamy sauce is basically pesto + cream cheese + chicken broth [ooooh pesto, how I love thee! Make your own, or use some storebought pesto… it matters not]. The creamy sauce coats your pasta [duh], chicken, and broccoli to make a wonderful all-in-one meal that’s just a bit cheesy and creamy and a whole lot delicious. You can use fresh chicken for this, or even leftover chicken [rotisserie chicken would be SO  yum and SO easy I think]. I used frozen broccoli for ease, but fresh steamed broccoli would be great too. Basically, this recipe is just a guideline. The sauce makes the dish though so keep that in mind. I hope you love it as much as we do! 🙂

one year ago: Red Cabbage, Raisin, and Apple Slaw
two years ago: Healthy Crumb Topped Zucchini Bread
three years ago: Pumpkin Coconut Soup
four years ago: Chocolate Mousse
five years ago: Pumpkin Granola
six years ago: The Bestest Pizza Sauce Ever [+ Pizza How-To]


Budget Bytes

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Broccoli and Chicken

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients:

  • 8 ounce small pasta, like bow ties
  • 8 ounces frozen broccoli
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound chicken breast, thinly sliced [or 2 cups chopped, cooked chicken – rotisserie chicken would be great here!]
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 cup basil pesto
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cubed [I always use 1/3 less fat]
  • Parmesan cheese, for topping, optional

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Once pasta is nearly cooked, add frozen broccoli to the water with the pasta. Cook for a minute, then drain pasta and broccoli together.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet set over medium heat, heat olive oil until it shimmers. Add sliced chicken and season with black pepper. Stir frequently, and cook for about 5-6 minutes until cooked through [no pink]. If you are using pre-cooked chicken, simply heat chicken in pan over medium-low heat until hot. You can add a little olive oil or water if you would like to keep it moist.

Then, add pesto and chicken broth to cooked chicken. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Whisk in cream cheese gradually, constantly stirring to allow the sauce to thicken. Fold in cooked and drained pasta and broccoli. Stir well to combine, and serve!

Pasta is best fresh, but heats up well. You can top it with a little Parmesan cheese too… extra cheese never hurt anyone! 🙂

Appetizers, Recipes

Italian Tortilla Rollups, and a Bridal Shower

Did I tell you guys that I catered a bridal shower about a month ago? Well, I did. 🙂 And it was super fun. The shower was for the niece of one of my coworkers, and I was SO honored to be asked to cater!!

Bridal Shower Spread | thepajamachef.com

 

The bride is a healthy foodie like me so we decided to have plenty of fresh fruits and veggies at this shower! It was quite the colorful shower. 🙂 I made three tried and true recipes, and three new ones that I am thrilled to share with y’all! So, what did I make?

Bridal Shower Spread | thepajamachef.com

Here’s the menu, with amounts for 20-25 guests:

Honey-Lime Fruit Salad: made with strawberries, navel oranges, kiwifruit, and cantaloupe. I made the dressing with my immersion blender so that the mint leaves were chopped VERY fine…and it turned out perfectly! I tripled the recipe.

Honey-Lime Fruit Salad | thepajamachef.com

Asian Peanut Veggie Dip, served in little cups with red, yellow, and green bell peppers, baby carrots, and celery. I tripled the recipe but should have made even more. I purchased 8 bell peppers, 3 pounds of baby carrots, and 2 bunches of celery.

Asian Peanut Veggie Cups | thepajamachef.com

Deviled Eggs: I didn’t take great photos, so I wasn’t going to share the recipe separately. However, I make the filling for my deviled eggs with the following measurements for every six hard boiled eggs: 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1.5 teaspoons whole grain dijon mustard, 1.5 teaspoons yellow mustard, 1.5 teaspoons white vinegar, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Obviously mix those ingredients with the mashed yolks! I put the filling into a ziploc bag, cut the tip off, and pipe it into the whites. I topped half with paprika as usual and the other half with chopped bacon crumbles and scallions. I made two dozen eggs [48 deviled egg halves].

Devilled Eggs | thepajamachef.com

Kale Quinoa Salad: will be sharing the recipe soon!

Dark Chocolate Double Coconut Macaroons: will be sharing the recipe soon!

Italian Tortilla Rollups: last, but certainly not least… and the recipe of the day! I made one batch as reflected below.

Italian Rollups | thepajamachef.com #easy #appetizer

I chose to share this recipe first because I heard it was the star of the shower… especially with the kiddos. And I tried one that fell apart and let me tell you, the flavors were AWESOME! Pesto and sun-dried tomatoes are meant to be BFFs, and when paired with cream cheese in a tortilla you have a super addictive ‘lil snack bite.

Italian Rollups | thepajamachef.com #easy #appetizer

Since the bride is a healthy foodie, I decided to try the Greek yogurt cream cheese and was pleasantly surprised to find that the cost was the same as for regular cream cheese. Score! I couldn’t tell a difference in flavor between the two, but the Greek yogurt cream cheese was definitely healthier and just as creamy as the original stuff is. So use that if you can, but no worries if you decide to use normal cream cheese. These little bites had so much flavor, but really. Can you go wrong with cheese, basil, and tomatoes? I think not. I’ll definitely be bringing these bites parties in the future and hope you will too.

Italian Rollups | thepajamachef.com #easy #appetizer

And while we’re on the subject of weddings… I just wanted to make a shoutout to Ben. We’ve been married for FIVE YEARS today! We’re going to spend the day celebrating [so glad I could get the day off work]. I’m so thankful for Ben and love him more now than the day we got married. I wouldn’t have wanted to move to Nashville with anyone else. 🙂 Excited to see what the future holds. I love you!

one year ago: Taco Pizza 
two years ago: Triple Chip Coconut Cookies 

Italian Tortilla Rollups
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, chopped [I used the ones that are just dried, but oil/water packed works too–just drain and pat dry]
  • 8 ounces prepared pesto
  • fresh chopped basil, optional
  • chopped olives, optional
  • Parmesan cheese, optional
  • 8 ounces whipped cream cheese [I used the Greek yogurt kind]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 burrito-size tortillas

Directions:

In a small bowl, stir together sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, and any of the optional toppings and set aside.

Microwave tortilla for a minute to soften, then spread a tortilla evenly with cream cheese, leaving an inch border around the edges, and top with a spoonful of the sun-dried tomato mixture. Top with a little bit of black pepper, then roll tightly. Cut in half, then cut off tortilla ends [where there’s no filling]. Cut each half into thirds [making six pieces total, not including the ends that were cut off]. Place seam side down on a plate or baking dish.

Repeat with remaining ingredients, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours before serving.

Time: 30 minutes active + refrigeration time.
Yield: 60 slices.