Main Dishes

My version of Applebee's Three Cheese Chicken Penne


4 chicken breasts. Flattened, washed and dried
1/4 cup olive oil
garlic powder
1 tbsp dried italian seasoning

1 clove garlic minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chicken boullion
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (plus extra for thickening and garnish)
1/8 stick of cream cheese
1/2 cup italian style shredded cheese (mozzarella/provolone mix-plus extra for thickening)
1/2 tsp white pepper (black if you don't have it)
1/4 tsp salt

One box of penne pasta

1 tomato, deseeded and chopped
2 basil leaves chopped

Wash, dry and flatten chicken breasts. Sprinkle with olive oil. Add salt, pepper and italian seasoning.  Prepare chicken breasts by either baking them in the oven on a baking sheet or grilling on a grill over low heat. Do not overcook or burn the chicken.  Remove chicken from heat, cover and set aside.  Meanwhile, prepare pasta as you normally would. Boil 8-10 minutes until noodles are tender and drain. Set aside. (you can make the pasta ahead at any time you want)

In a skillet warm oil over low heat and add garlic. Saute for about 30 seconds, do not burn the garlic. Add the wine and continue to whisk over low heat for another 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and heavy cream. Whisk constantly over low heat.  Add cream cheese and continue to whisk. Add parmesan and italian cheeses while vigorously stirring. Add lemon. Add salt and pepper. While sauce is thickening, slice chicken into strips.  Chop tomato and basil and stir mixture together. Place tomato mixture into a bowl.

Continue stirring sauce and if needed, add additional parmesan or shredded cheese to thicken.  Total cooking time will be about 30 minutes for the sauce.

On a plate pile on your pasta, top with chicken slices and sauce and finally top with tomato mixture.
Serve with additional parmesan cheese if you want it.  This is great with homemade garlic bread. This recipe serves 4 people.

Ravioli with Alla Vodka Sauce


Any bag of frozen cheese ravioli or tortellini
1/2 small yellow or white onion DICED
(2) 8oz cans of tomato sauce
1 tsp white pepper (black is fine if you don't have white)
4 slices of bacon or pancetta diced, plus extra
2 shots of vodka (any brand)
1/4 tsp of cayenne or shot of louisiana hot sauce, whichever
10 oz of heavy cream (1.5 cup )
1/4 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese (fresh is best)
2 tbsp butter
8 leaves basil, chopped. (or 1 tbsp dried-ack)


So, over low heat..brown onions and bacon in the butter. Make sure it's not burned, but very browned. Next, add vodka and let it burn off. Simmer and add tomato sauce, and hit it with the white pepper and hot sauce. Simmer over VERY low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Add 1/2 the chopped basil. Next add the cream and mix well. Continue to blend sauce mixture for another 10-15 minutes over very low heat, do not burn...

Before or now, boil water and cook your tortellini or ravioli. Set aside.

As sauce thickens, add paremsan or romano, and prepare to serve.

I like to plate the tortellini or ravioli, spoon the sauce over, add some chopped basil and fresh grated cheese.

Serve with a cold crisp white wine in my opinion.This recipe will serve 4 people.

Crab stuffed Filet Mignon with Whiskey Peppercorn Sauce (my own recipe)


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced onion
1 teaspoon minced green onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced celery
1 teaspoon minced green bell pepper
2 tablespoons shrimp stock or water
1 (6 ounce) can crab meat, drained
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

1 1/4 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 fluid ounce whiskey
1 cup heavy cream

4 (6 ounce) filet mignon steaks
4 slices bacon, cooked lightly
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 fluid ounce whiskey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard


1.Make Crab Stuffing: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. Saute onion, green onion, garlic, celery, and green pepper until tender. Stir in shrimp stock, crab meat, bread crumbs, and Cajun seasoning. Remove from heat, and set aside.

2.Prepare Peppercorn Sauce: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine beef broth and cracked black pepper. Simmer until reduced to 1 cup, stirring frequently. Add1 ounce whiskey and 1 cup cream. Continue simmering until reduced to 1 cup. Remove from heat, and set aside.

3.Prepare Steaks: Slice a pocket into the side of each steak, and stuff generously with crab stuffing. Wrap bacon around side, and secure with toothpicks. Season to taste with salt and pepper; set aside. Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic and shallot for 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms, and saute until tender. Remove mushroom mixture, and set aside.

4.Place steaks in skillet, and cook to desired doneness. Remove from skillet, and keep warm. Deglaze skillet with 1 ounce whiskey. Reduce heat, and stir in peppercorn sauce and Dijon mustard. Add mushroom mixture, and reduce sauce until thickened. Remove toothpicks and bacon from steaks, and arrange steaks on a plate. Top with sauce.

Cooks note:
I often partially cook my filets in the pan, and finish them on the grill. Any cut of meat can be substituted. I also don't always use the crab stuffing or wrap the filet in bacon. Strictly optional to suit your preference. These are great served with any kind of potato.

Shrimp Scampi(my own recipe)


1/4 cup Olive Oil
3 cloves garlic minced
1 small shallot, mined (or 2 tbsp minced onion)
6 small basil leaves, chopped (or 2 tbsp)
1 lb peeled de-veined uncooked shrimp
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock (boullion)
6 medium roma tomatoes, diced
2 cups diced raw portobello mushrooms
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (or more to taste)
3/4 tsp cracked black pepper (and more to taste)
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
3 tbsp chopped chives
2 tbsp chopped parsley
pinch of sugar
Grated Parmesan cheese

1 lb angel hair pasta
1/2 tsp salt

In saute pan or skillet, Pour in olive oil and add minced garlic and shallot. Sautee until tender, not brown. Add uncooked shrimp and sautee shrimp in the oil/garlic/shallot mixture until they turn pink. Maybe 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp to a separate bowl. Add wine and keep stirring. Add chicken stock and continue to stir.... Add tomatoes and saute for an additional 10-15 minutes until tomatoes are semi-tender. Add mushrooms and sautee another 20 minutes. Add red pepper flakes if desired. Soon it will become a sauce and the vegetables will be very tender.

Meanwhile, boil water in a large pot of water. Add salt. Add Angel Hair Pasta, cook for 3-4 minutes until semi firm/tender. Remove and strain.

Add shrimp to sauce mixture and stir together. Cook additional 5 minutes. Add chives and parsley. Add basil. Cook an additional 5 minutes allowing all flavors to mix. Add extra salt and pepper if needed.

Serve immedietely over pasta dividing shrimp and sauce evenly....Add grated parmesan cheese and another twist of cracked pepper and parmesan if desired.

Serve with your favorite garlic bread.

Cooks note:

This will serve four people. If you want to cook for more, Double the recipe.

Keep in mind, your end result is not a true sauce, it should just coat the pasta and shrimp and be very light, leaving a nice little broth in the bowl to sop up with the bread. The mushrooms and tomatoes-after sauteed in the garlic and wine add a very nice taste. A bit different for a scampi, but SO good and very healthy.

I was conflicted and thought there should be more sauce..I thinkof pasta swimming in sauce...but hubby said NO. He said the above proportions were great as is. So, try it and modify it however you like.

Shrimp Alfredo(my own recipe) Better than Olive Garden or Red Lobster, in my opinion.


1 lb large shrimp, uncooked-peeled and deveined
1 lb linguini

3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp shallots, minced
1/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup clam juice or chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1/8 cup cream cheese
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp oregano
white pepper to taste 
1/8 cup chopped parsley (fresh is best)

cracked black pepper for serving (if desired)
fresh grated parmesan cheese  for serving

In a large skillet, over low heat, saute shallot and garlic in olive oil for about 45 seconds. You do not want your garlic to burn. Toss in shrimp and occasionally stir them until they turn evenly pink. When the shrimp are pink remove and set aside.  Add white wine and clam juice and whisk well.  Over a low heat continue to cook and add heavy cream while coninuing to whisk well. Add in cream cheese and whisk until well blended.  Add in parmesan cheese and continue to cook over low flame, stirring CONSTANTLY until the sauce thickens. Add in white pepper and continue to whisk. Getting the sauce thick is the most important and time consuming part of the recipe. It can take me anywhere between 30-45 minutes to get it just right.

While you are cooking your sauce, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Toss in a tsp of salt. Add pasta and cook until desired tenderness. Remove to collander and drain. Set aside. (you can always run through hot water before serving to warm your noodles up)

When the sauce coats a spoon, it is close to being done. Add in the lemon juice and whisk together.
Carefully add the shrimp back to the pan and give a good stir. Cook an additional 5-6 minutes to allow the flavors to blend and the shrimp to heat through. Continue to stir.  Add in oregano and parsley and give one last stir.  Stick your finger in the sauce and give it a taste. It should be creamy and flavorful.

Place desired amount of linguine onto plate, spoon sauce and shrimp over top.  Grate fresh parmesan cheese over your dish and add cracked black pepper, if desired. 

This is great served with a salad and garlic bread. 

Cooks notes:

If you dont have shallots, substitute red onion or white.
If you don't have clam juice, substitute chicken broth. It really tastes no different.
If you don't have white pepper, you can use black. It's just a color thing.
If you don't have ANY of the fresh herbs or cheese listed above, use dried or from a can. It's fine.

I make my noodles ahead of time and then reheat them when I'm ready to serve them.

Pasta with Bolognese Sauce

This basic recipe comes from Giada's "Everyday Italian" cookbook, except I had to modify it because it seemed pretty bland. This is great with any type of pasta noodle, served with garlic bread and some nice wine.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 celery stalk, minced
1 carrot, minced
1 pound ground beef chuck
1 (28oz) can of crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped parsley
8-10 fresh basil leaves
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp cracked black pepper, plus more to taste
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

In food processor, mince onion and garlic. Set aside. Mince carrot and celery. Set aside. In large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until the onion is tender. About 6 minutes. Add the celery and carrot and saute another 5 minutes.

In same skillet, add ground beef and turn flame up to high. Brown the beef in the onion/garlic/carrot/celery mixture, breaking up larger pieces. It is best for the meat to be minced as well. When the meat is no longer pink, turn flame down to low and add the tomatoes, parsley, basil, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper, teaspoon of sugar. Cook over mesium low heat until sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Stir in the cheese. Add more salt and pepper to taste. (sugar as well, if needed)

Meanwhile, while sauce is cooking, bring large pot of water to boil. Add tablespoon of salt and cook desired pasta to desired tenderness.

Drain noodles and serve on plate with sauce over top. Serve with garlic bread or garlic bread sticks.

You can have this done in 45 minutes, start to finish if you prep well. It's a great sauce, not out of the can that has no preservatives or crap.