Fusilli with Meat Sauce (Quick & Easy!)

Fusilli with meat sauce in a pan garnished with parsley.

Fusilli with meat sauce is the perfect one-pot meal.

Tender pasta (fusilli in this case) is simmered in a simple meat sauce. A few additions take a pantry staple from ordinary to delicious!

Fusilli with meat sauce in a pan garnished with parsley.

Why We Love This Recipe

Quick When you’re short on time this easy pasta dish is the perfect recipe, it’s ready in about 30 minutes.

Easy This recipe transforms a jar of pasta sauce to make it taste homemade with a few simple additions (of course you can skip the jarred pasta sauce and start with homemade marinara if you prefer).

Yummy It’s a family-pleasing kind of meal, everyone loves this easy version of a meat sauce and there are never complaints at the dinner table!

Meat sauce in a pan with parsley and a jar of fusilli pasta

Ingredients/Variations

FUSILLI The twists and twirls of fusilli capture the sauce for the perfect bite.

Use any medium pasta; penne, rotini, bowties or even cheese tortellini! Or use up any leftover cooked pasta in your fridge.

Fusilli with Meat Sauce in a pan topped with grated parmesan cheese and parsley.

SAUCE This uses jarred sauce as a shortcut! A splash of red wine, some onion, garlic and seasonings make it taste homemade!

Variations: You can substitute the ground beef for any ground meat you have on hand. Try using ground chicken, pork, or Italian sausage.

Out of red wine? Substitute in beef broth (if using ground chicken) and mix with marinara sauce or any tomato sauce that’s already in your pantry.

No Pasta Sauce? Use tomato sauce and a spoonful of tomato paste with a dash of garlic powder and onion powder (and a teaspoon of sugar if needed).

CHEESE No pasta is complete without a sprinkle of cheese! For this recipe,  I enjoy mozzarella and parmesan but you can use any cheese you have on hand. Try pepper jack for a little spice or try cheddar cheese.

Meat Sauce in a frying pan topped with parsley

How to Make Fusilli with Meat Sauce

  1. Brown the beef and onion, drain the fat.
  2. Add red wine and simmer. Add remaining ingredients
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente, don’t drain!
  4. Stir it all together until hot and sprinkle with some parm!

Serve topped with cheese and a side of homemade garlic bread to sop up all the juicy meat sauce!

A serving spoon of fusilli with meat sauce topped with parmesan cheese

Tips for Perfect Pasta Every Time

  • Since the pasta is simmered in the sauce, cook only until al dente so that it doesn’t overcook and become too soft.
  • When cooking pasta, use generously salted water. There is no need to add oil to the water as it will just float to the top.
  • Do not rinse the pasta once cooked, the starches help the sauce cling. Save a little bit of the drained pasta water to thin out your sauce if needed.
  • Keep leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Just stir, reheat, and top with a little extra cheese before serving!

Easy Pasta Dishes

Did you enjoy this easy Fusilli with Meat Sauce?  Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

Fusilli with meat sauce in a pan garnished with parsley.
Print

Fusilli with Meat Sauce

Pasta noodles are tossed in a rich tomato sauce for a family favorite all year long!
Course Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 27 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 554
Author Holly Nilsson

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup red wine or beef broth
  • 24 ounces marinara sauce or pasta sauce
  • 8 ounces fusilli or medium pasta
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese grated

Instructions

  • Brown beef, onion, and garlic in a deep skillet over medium-high heat until no pink remains. Drain fat.
  • While the beef is browning, cook pasta in salted water just until al dente. Drain but do not rinse.
  • Stir in red wine and Italian sesoning. Simmer until it evaporates about 3 minutes. Add sauce and simmer a few minutes more. Stir in cooked pasta and simmer an additional 2-3 minutes or until heated through.
  • Top with cheeses and serve.

Notes

For this recipe we use fusilii, but any pasta will do. Try penne, rotini, or bowtie pasta.
Cook pasta noodles just to al dente as they continue to cook when simmered with the meat sauce. 
Ground beef can be substituted for ground chicken, pork, or Italian sausage.
No Red Wine? Substitute a splash of beef broth.
No Pasta Sauce? Use tomato sauce and a spoonful of tomato paste with a dash of garlic powder and onion powder (and a teaspoon of sugar if needed).

Nutrition

Calories: 554 | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 1055mg | Potassium: 1090mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 803IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 122mg | Iron: 5mg

Elegant yet Easy Mushroom Barley Risotto

Mushroom Barley Risotto is unique and elegant. Pearl barley is cooked with mushrooms and garlic and mixed with parmesan cheese for a creamy and savory flavor! 

Wild mushroom risotto is the perfect side for a juicy pork tenderloin or a deliciously flavorful meatloaf recipe.

What is Pearl Barley Risotto?

Traditionally, risotto is made with Arborio rice which is a short grain rice. Arborio rice requires constant monitoring on the stovetop. Pearl barley, however, is less expensive and easier to work with.

Pearl barley gives this dish a creamy texture similar to a classic risotto but has a slightly nuttier, more brown rice-like flavor. Paired with mushrooms and a dash of truffle oil, this barley risotto simple and delicious!

Truffle oil is optional but if you enjoy the flavor, it can be ordered online. A very small bottle (which will run about $12-14) lasts me forever since you just need to add a couple of drops to pastas, butters or risotto (or toss with french fries or popcorn).

Mushroom barley risotto ingredients in a pot.

How to Make Risotto

This recipe uses pearl barley instead of the traditional Arborio rice for a nutty flavor!

  1. Cook onions and mushrooms until tender (per recipe below). Add barley.
  2. Add liquids and simmer, stirring occasionally, until barley is tender and the risotto has a creamy consistency.
  3. Stir in cheese and season to taste. Finish with a dash of truffle oil if desired.

Close up of prepared mushroom barley risotto being stirred.

What to Serve with Barley Risotto

Wild mushroom barley risotto makes a perfect side dish for any kind of protein like beef, chicken, pork or even a heavy fish like a salmon filet. All you need is a crisp tossed salad with tomatoes, a veggie side like roasted brussels sprouts and a slice of thick, crusty garlic bread!

Storing the Leftovers

Mushroom barley risotto keeps well in the fridge for about 5 days. Heat in the microwave or on the stove top adding a bit of water or broth if needed.

Great Grains

Print

Mushroom Barley Risotto

Unique, elegant, and flavorful dish cooked with mushrooms, garlic, and mixed with parmesan cheese for a creamy and savory flavor! 
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword Barley Risotto
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 296
Author Holly Nilsson

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 8 oz mixed mushrooms cleaned and sliced (Use your choice of cremini, white, portebello)
  • 3-4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese finely shredded
  • 1/2 tablespoon truffle oil (optional)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a saucepan. Add onion and cook 4 minutes until soft.
  • Add mushrooms & garlic and cook 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add barley and cook 2 minutes.
  • Pour in white wine and cook until evaporated
  • Add 3 cups of chicken broths and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 55 minutes until liquid evaporates stirring occasionally. If liquid evaporates before barley is cooked, add remaining broth.
  • Once barley is soft, stir in 1/2 of the cheese, salt and parsley.
  • Top with remaining cheese and if desired, truffle oil.

Notes

Nutrition information calculated without optional ingredients.

Nutrition

Calories: 296 | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 179mg | Potassium: 490mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 133IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 2mg
Barley & Mushroom Risotto prepared in a pot.

Close up of prepared mushroom barley risotto.</div<

Top image - close up of prepared barsley mushroom risotto. Bottom image - Barley mushroom risotto ingredients in a pot.

Bucatini Amatriciana

Bucatini all’Amatriciana is a delicious pasta recipe! The sauce in this recipe is really quick to make yet boasts a big flavor!

Bucatini is a long tubular pasta, almost like a hollow spaghetti and it pairs perfectly with a rich and flavorful tomato sauce.

A serving of bucatini all'amatriciana topped with parmesan and basil.

This dish is like a taste of Italy along with other favorites like Italian Wedding Soup or mozzarella stuffed meatballs, and an appetizer of bruschetta.

What is Bucatini?

Bucatini pasta is shaped like spaghetti (but thicker) and it is hollow in the middle. The hole in the middle of this long pasta captures all of the juicy goodness of the sauce.

It is definitely a heartier pasta and lends itself well to heavier sauces like tomato-based ones. If bucatini is hard to find, then spaghetti noodles will do or even a penne pasta in a pinch!

Two images showing the steps to prepare the homemade tomato sauce.

Ingredients

Much like a Spaghetti Carbonara (and many Italian dishes to be honest) this doesn’t contain a ton of ingredients so it’s a good idea to make sure they’re high quality.

  • Pancetta This adds a salty flavor and while guanciale (pork cheek) is traditional, pancetta is easy to find. You can substitute bacon if it’s all you have on hand.
  • Tomatoes Tomatoes are the base of the sauce so splurge for a can of San Marzano Italian tomatoes, you’ll be glad you did. This recipe uses whole tomatoes (instead of diced) as they tend to have a better consistency.
  • Cheese This dish adds a bit of parmesan although pecorino is traditional. If you have pecorino, by all means use that. If not, a good quality parmesan is just fine in this recipe. Be sure to grate your own cheese (instead of purchasing grated cheese).

Close up of bucatini amatriciana garnished with basil.

How To Make Bucatini Amatriciana

Bucatini is a great pasta and pairs well with a hearty flavorful sauce.

  1. Cook and drain the pasta. Reserve the pasta water.
  2. Crush the tomatoes by hand and set aside in a bowl. Cook pancetta until crisp in a pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the onions and garlic. Then add remaining ingredients and simmer until thickened.

Sauce Consistency: Add cooked pasta to the sauce and add a little pasta water to get the right consistency.

The sauce thickens up and the starchy pasta water thins it out enough that it can seep into the hollow of the bucatini noodles.

Bucatini all'amatriciana prepared in a frying pan topped with basil.

What To Serve With Bucatini Amatriciana

Bucatini all’Amatriciana is best served with lighter side dishes like a fresh tossed salad and a slice of garlic bread.

Traditional Italian Favorites

Bucatini Amatriciana

Made with a rich and flavorful tomato sauce!

  • 4 oz pancetta (diced)
  • 1 onion (sliced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 28 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese (freshly grated)
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 12 oz bucatini (or spaghetti/linguine)
  1. Crush whole tomatoes by hand.
  2. Cook pancetta in a pan over medium heat until crisp.
  3. Add onions and cook 2-3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant. Add tomatoes with juices, water, pepper flakes and salt to taste. Simmer 15-20 minutes or until thickened.
  4. Meanwhile, cook and drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
  5. Add pasta to sauce, stirring in pasta water as needed to reach desired consistency.
  6. Add cheese and parsley and serve.

Top image - a serving of bucatini amatriciana. Bottom image - Bucatini amatriciana prepared in a frying pan.
Close up of a serving of bucatini amatriciana topped with parmesan.
A serving of bucatini amatriciana topped with parmesan.

Easy Creamy Asparagus (Ready in 15 Mins)

Creamy Asparagus is a quick stovetop recipe and the perfect side dish to serve with any of your favorite entrees.

Chopped asparagus in a velvety cream sauce, flavored with parmesan cheese and a pop of red pepper is a recipe for pure comfort.

A serving dish of creamy asparagus topped with parmesan cheese.

This delicious side dish is easy to make and has a flavor similar to an alfredo pasta.

It is a nice companion for baked chicken breastspork loin, or served next to a lemon pepper shrimp. Creamy asparagus will become the star of the meal!

How to Prepare Asparagus

The distinct flavor and silky texture of fresh asparagus are unlocked with proper prepping. Stalks can be quite tough and woody, almost inedible toward the cut end.

  • Hold each stalk in the middle and at the bottom. Gently bend the stalk and the woody bottom will naturally snap off. Discard the bottom.
  • Cut the remaining stalk into 1.5″ pieces.

Two images showing the homemade sauce being made with the sautéed asparagus.

How to Make Creamy Asparagus

The rest of the process is as easy as 1, 2, 3 and made right on the stovetop! Just like a chicken alfredo, this dish is rich and delicious!

  1. Cook the asparagus with garlic.
  2. Add cream and simmer until asparagus is tender crisp.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan and remaining ingredients.

Creamy asparagus being prepared in a frying pan.

Other Ways to Serve Asparagus

The great thing about this recipe is that the creamy, cheesy sauce could be adapted for lots of other veggies, especially broccoli, cauliflower or Brussels sprouts.

Alternatively, you can turn it into a creamy asparagus with chicken using leftover chicken (and even pasta) but you might like to double up on the sauce. A tasty way to stretch and transform those leftovers from the night before!

A close up of creamy asparagus topped with parmesan cheese in a serving dish.

Leftovers

Creamy asparagus can be stored tightly covered in the fridge for up to four days. This recipe is not a good candidate for the freezer. Reheat in the microwave or in a pan on the stove top.

More Ways to Prepare Asparagus

 

Creamy Asparagus

Chopped asparagus in a velvety cream sauce is a recipe for pure comfort.

  • 1 lb asparagus (trimmed and cut into 1.5" pieces)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Cook asparagus in olive oil over medium-high heat in a 10" skillet for 4 minutes (6 minutes if your asparagus is very thick).

  2. Add garlic and cook just until fragrant. Stir in heavy cream and simmer on medium-low until asparagus is tender-crisp.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese and red chili flakes. Taste and season with salt* and pepper.

  4. Serve warm.

*season with salt at the very end to taste as the parmesan cheese is salty!

Top image - a serving of creamy asparagus. Bottom image - asparagus being cooked in a cream sauce.
Creamy asparagus in a serving dish topped with parmesan.
Creamy asparagus being prepared in a frying pan.

Easy Cheesy Pasta Bake (with Spaghetti & Meatballs)

Everyone loves a nice saucy Pasta Bake recipe! This meatball casserole is made with homemade meatballs (or frozen if you’re in a rush), spaghetti and a variety of cheesy toppings all baked into a delicious casserole.

Add a loaf of crusty bread and fresh tossed salad for a perfect meal!

Spaghetti and Meatball pasta bake garnished with parsley.

Casseroles involving pasta, like a cheesy baked penne or a spaghetti casserole, are always welcome potluck at work or as the main attraction for any crowd!

Ingredients/Variations

    • PASTA Spaghetti is my choice here but any long pasta will do. Keep in mind it will bake more in the oven so be sure to cook it al dente (firm to the bite).
    • SAUCE Make your own homemade marinara or use store bought to keep this extra quick!
    • MEATBALLS This is one place I almost always use homemade. You can prep meatballs ahead of time and freeze them, the flavor is so much better than store bought.
    • VEGGIES  You can add veggies to the sauce in this reicpe if you’d like! Zucchini, peppers, and mushrooms are great options!
    • CHEESE Cheese is added to the spaghetti as well as on top for great flavor! Shred it yourself for best results, pre-shredded has additives to keep it from clumping and it doesn’t melt as well.

Left image - cheese, egg, and seasonings being combined in a glass bowl. Right image - spaghetti mixed with egg mixture in the casserole dish.

How to Make Spaghetti Pasta Bake

Any decent meatball casserole calls for delicious meatballs! If you don’t want to make them by hand, replace them with defrosted/cooked premade meatballs for simplicity!

  1. Prepare the meatballs. Try spicy Italian sausage meatballs or even turkey meatballs!
  2. Mix pasta and cheeses (per recipe below) and place in the bottom of a 9×13 dish.
  3. Top with meatballs and sauce and bake until bubbly and browned.

Serve with a slice of garlic bread to soak up every last drop of that sauce!

TIP: Bake the meatballs right in the 9×13 pan you’ll use for the casserole… one less dish to wash!

Left image - spaghetti topped with meatballs. Right image - prepared spaghetti and meatball pasta bake.

What To Serve With Spaghetti And Meatball Pasta Bake

Anything that goes with regular spaghetti and meatballs or baked spaghetti goes with this super tasty pasta bake!

Spaghetti and meatball pasta baked being lifted out of a casserole dish!

Easy Pasta Dishes

Spaghetti and Meatball Pasta Bake

Noodles are tossed with a cheesy sauce and then topped with homemade meatballs and pasta sauce!

Meatballs

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 1 egg

Casserole

  • 8 oz spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese (shredded, divided)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1 large egg (slightly beaten)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 28 oz pasta sauce (jarred or homemade)
  1. Grease a large casserole dish.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine all meatball ingredients and form into 1″ balls.

  3. Place meatballs in a 9×13 dish and bake 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350°F. Remove the meatballs and set aside.

  4. Boil the pasta until al dente. Drain well and toss with olive oil.

  5. Stir together egg, parsley, pepper, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese & pepper to taste. Toss with the pasta and place it in the 9×13 dish.

  6. Top with meatballs and pasta sauce. Cover with foil and bake 35 minutes. Remove foil, top with remaining cheeses and continue to bake until cheese is melted and browned, about 10 minutes.

Top image - pasta bake being scooped out of a casserole dish. Bottom image - Pasta Bake in a casserole dish.
Spaghetti Pasta Bake being scooped out of a casserole dish.
Pasta Bake in a casserole dish. Garnished with parsley.

Crispy Chicken Cutlets {30 Minute Meal}

Crispy Chicken Cutlets are a delicious way to enjoy chicken breasts! Chicken is breaded with a light panko bread crumb coating and pan-fried until crisp and juicy

Serve these cutlets on their own, with honey mustard sauce or in hamburger rolls for the perfect chicken sandwich recipe!

Crispy chicken cutlets garnished with parsley.

What Is A Chicken Cutlet?

A chicken cutlet is a thin piece of a chicken breast. Cutlets can be purchased but are easy to prepare with whole chicken breasts too. Since chicken cutlets are thinner and generally more even they cook quickly and evenly!

To prepare chicken cutlets, cut a chicken breast in half cross-wise (image below) and then pound it until it’s about 1/4″ thick with a meat mallet. That’s all there is to it!

Raw chicken breast being sliced in half width wise.

Quick Chicken Hack Freezing chicken for 20 to 30 minutes before cutting it makes it so easy to slice, chop or dice for ANY recipe!

You can then slice it for stir fry, or create cutlets or even fillets so quickly. No more frustrating attempts, the knife cuts right through the chicken like nothing when it’s slightly frozen!

How To Make Chicken Cutlets

This easy chicken cutlet recipe is as easy as 1, 2, 3 and ready in under 30 mins!

Chicken breasts being dipped in an egg mixture and then coated in a bread crumb mixture.

  1. Cut the slightly frozen breasts in half lengthwise, then pound with a meat tenderizer or mallet to about 1/4″ thickness.
  2. Dredge chicken pieces first in beaten egg, then the breadcrumb mixture (per recipe below).
  3. Pan fry in oil until golden brown and crispy!

Serve with your favorite dipping sauces for a delicious appetizer or main course.

Add a slice of lemon on the side dresses them up for the grownups in the room, or serve them with buffalo sauce, or honey mustard dressing. For a similar baked-not-fried version try this crispy parmesan crusted chicken.

Crispy chicken cutlets garnished with parsley.

Oil for Frying

My choice of oil for pan-frying is a vegetable oil. It has a high smoke point and panfrying is usually a quick process. Vegetable oil can have an unpleasant smell if it is hot for too long so preheat your oil just before cooking.

Refined peanut oil is a great choice as well (and it is perfect for deep frying too).

What To Serve With Chicken Cutlets

The question should really be “What not to serve?” So many wonderful things go with these cutlets it’s hard to pick just a few.

  • Serve baked corn on the cob with a side of garlic ranch mashed potatoes and just watch the kids clean their plates!
  • Or keep it simple and make an overnight salad so that all you have to do is make the chicken the next day! Super delicious, and a time saver too!
  • Turn them into sandwiches with fresh lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise.

Have an array of appetizers for a party or even for supper, and make everyone’s favorites! Include these tasty, crispy chicken cutlets in the mix and they’ll be the first thing to disappear off the plate!

Delicious Breaded Chicken Dishes

Crispy Chicken Cutlets

Breaded chicken is fried up in a skillet with panko and parmesan for a sure hit every time! 

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 1 1/4 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  1. Freeze chicken breasts about 20 minutes or so.
  2. Cut chicken breasts in half horizontally and pound to 1/4″ thickness.
  3. Combine panko bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and garlic powder in a small shallow dish.
  4. Whisk egg in a separate bowl. Dip chicken in egg and then in the crumb mixture pressing to adhere.

  5. Preheat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Gently add chicken and cook 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown and chicken reaches 165°F.

Top image - crispy chicken cutlets cooked on pan. Bottom image - chicken breasts being dipped in an egg bath, then breadcrumb mixture.
Crispy breaded chicken cutlets in a basket.
Crispy chicken cutlets on a baking sheet.

Parmesan Risotto: An Easy Gourmet Side!

Parmesan Risotto with garlic is a creamy and velvety Italian dish that tastes gourmet yet is easy to make! Short grain rice is cooked with broth until tender and creamy and flavored with parmesan.

Serve this as a side dish or add in some veggies or shrimp to make it a complete meal.

Parmesan risotto garnished with parmesan cheese and parsley.

A classic entree like roasted split chicken breast or juicy garlic grilled shrimp are perfectly paired with this dish!

What is Parmesan Risotto?

What exactly is Risotto anyway? It’s a creamy and delicious side dish made with starchy short-grain Italian rice (most often Arborio) and cooked on the stovetop. This rice is perfect for things like creamy rice pudding or cabbage roll casserole. While risotto can be made with other grains (like mushroom barley risotto) arborio is my favorite choice.

Making true risotto is easy, but you definitely have to be able to give it some attention. While this rice is a creamy dish, it doesn’t contain dairy to give it this consistency (it does contain dairy in the cheese/butter of course).

white wine being poured in a pot of browned rice, onions, and garlic.

How to Make Risotto

Heat stock in the microwave or a small saucepan that you can keep right near the rice while it cooks. It’s important to use hot or warm broth, never cold.

  1. Sauté the onions, then stir in rice and garlic. Lightly brown the rice.
  2. Add wine and hot stock (per recipe below).
  3. Stir in parmesan and the other seasonings last.

Tips for Making Risotto:

  • Add hot stock, a ladle at a time. Stir until liquid is completely absorbed into the rice before adding more.
  • Be mindful and keep stirring until the dish is complete.
  • When the broth is all added in, the rice should be creamy and cooked through. If not, then add a little hot water and keep stirring until it’s done.

Parmesan, parsley and butter being stirred into a pot of prepared risotto.

What Goes with Risotto?

Serve this dish with simple things so that it really stands out as something special. Serve veggies and meats on the side or stir them in to make this a meal!

Can You Freeze Risotto?

In terms of food safety, it’s perfectly fine to freeze Risotto, but it’s not optimal for maintaining flavor and texture. Arborio Rice is so starchy, that freezing it will tend to make it grainy, thus ruining all your hard work to create the perfect creamy texture.

  • Refrigerate: Store in an airtight container in the fridge. It should last for about 3-4 days.
  • Reheat: Pop in the microwave, being careful not to overcook. (Check it at 10-second intervals, once it’s hot, it’s ready.) Or, use the stovetop, stirring constantly, and adding a little hot broth or water to liven it up.

Enjoy this fabulous Italian cuisine either for parties or when you feel like making something really special the whole family will be sure to enjoy.

Easy Rice Side Dishes

Parmesan Risotto

An easy, creamy, and velvety Italian treat that tastes like a gourmet dish!

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine ( or extra broth)
  • 3 cups chicken broth (warmed)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup parmesan cheese (freshly grated, plus extra for serving)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  1. Warm the broth in the microwave or in a small saucepan.
  2. Add butter and onions to a saucepan, cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in rice and garlic, cook until rice starts to lightly brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add wine and cook until evaporated while stirring. Add warmed broth 1/2 cup at a time stirring until evaporated after each addition. This will take about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, stir in parmesan cheese (reserve a couple of tablespoons for garnish), butter and parsley. Taste and season with salt & pepper as needed.

It is important that the broth you add is heated.
Optional add in 1/2 cup defrosted peas or asparagus at the end.

A bowl of creamy parmesan risotto.
A bowl of creamy parmesan rice garnished with parmesan and parsley.
Top image - parmesan risotto ganrished with parmesan and parsley. Bottom image - Parmesan risotto being prepared in a pot.

Creamy Artichoke Dip (5 Minute Dip)

Creamy Artichoke Dip is everything you want in a party dip! Cheesy, saucy and full of flavor it is perfect for dipping tortilla chips, veggies or a toasted baguette slices!

This dip takes only about 5 minutes making it the perfect last minute go-to!

Creamy Artichoke Dip in a bowl with crackers

If you are looking for the perfect appetizer recipe for a holiday party or snack at this year’s super bowl party, this artichoke dip recipe is definitely the one you need to reach for! Spinach artichoke dip is a favorite in my house for a hot dip but this creamy artichoke dip is on the table in 5 minutes and served chilled as a dip for veggies, crackers or chips!

Ingredients in Artichoke Dip

CREAM CHEESE gives this dip its creamy base. I make this without sour cream (and just a touch of mayonnaise) although you could add them to your liking.

PARMESAN adds just a hint of flavor and pairs well with this dip. Again, we add just a small amount so the true flavor is artichoke.

ARTICHOKES I use either canned or marinated, both work in this recipe. Canned is a bit more simple in flavor where as marinated artichokes are often marinated in olive oil with seasonings.

GARLIC Use a clove of fresh garlic for this (not the jarred kind) for best results. Garlic powder will do in a pinch.

Variations

I absolutely love the simplicity of this dip and consider it to be perfect for my tastes. To change it up, you can add any of the following:

    • chopped sundried tomatoes
    • pimentos or roasted red peppers
    • diced jalapenos
    • fresh herbs
    • lemon zest or juice

Ingredients for a creamy artichoke dip in a food processor

How Do You Make Artichoke Dip?

Keeping things as simple as possible is the key to dip recipes that you will use again and again, and this Artichoke Dip is no exception!

  1. Combine ingredients in a food processor, except artichokes (per recipe below). Pulse until mixed.
  2. Drain and add in artichokes, pulsing until chopped.

Place this in a bowl and add a drizzle of olive oil and some parsley for garnish. Serve with an assortment of dippers for the perfect party appetizer.

Blended artichoke Dip in a food processor next to a bowl of parsley

What Can You Serve with Artichoke Dip?

The possibilities are endless if you just use your imagination!

  • Veggies: carrot and celery sticks, or cucumber rounds.
  • Crackers: toasted baguette rounds, crostini, tortilla chips or rice crackers.

You can even serve it in a pumpernickel or sourdough bread bowl!

Best Party Dips

Everyone loves a good party dip, and this Artichoke Dip will definitely hit the mark! Super easy to make, served hot or cold, creamy, cheesy and delicious, this dip will make you the winner this sports or holiday season!

Creamy Artichoke Dip

Creamy and delicious dip ready in 15 minutes!

  • 14 oz artichokes (drained)
  • 4 oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese (shredded)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, garlic, parmesan cheese and lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse until mixed.

  2. Add artichokes and pulse until chopped and combined.

  3. Chill 1 hour before serving. Serve with nacho chips or pita wedges. 

Creamy Artichoke Dip is everything you want in a party dip! Cheesy, saucy and full of flavor, it is perfect for dipping tortilla chips, veggies or a toasted baguette slices! #spendwithpennies #easyrecipe #easydip #easyappetizer #artichokedip #creamydip #sundriedtomatoes #cheesydip
Creamy Artichoke Dip is everything you want in a party dip! Cheesy, saucy and full of flavor, it is perfect for dipping tortilla chips, veggies or a toasted baguette slices! #spendwithpennies #easyrecipe #easydip #easyappetizer #artichokedip #creamydip #sundriedtomatoes #cheesydip

Crispy Baked Potato Wedges {with Parmesan!}

Potato Wedges are the best side dish to hit the dinner table!  They are tossed in the perfect blend of seasonings, parmesan, and olive oil before being oven-roasted. 

These wedges are a great side dish but they’re also perfect to put out as a snack on game day!

Close up of crispy baked potato wedges on a baking tray with a dish of ketchup.

The Best Potatoes to Use

Just like when making french fries, my potato of choice is russet potatoes. Look for quality russet potatoes that are fairly small and uniform in size for uniform cooking.

These wedges also work with red or yellow skinned potatoes, the texture will be a bit creamier and more similar to a roasted potato.

Russet potatoes being cut in to wedges on a cutting board.

How to Make Potato Wedges

Homemade roasted potatoes get that crunchy dark coating on the edges that makes them super crunchy and perfect for dipping!

  1. Prep potatoes and cut into wedges (per recipe below).
  2. Toss with seasoning and parmesan and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake until tender and serve hot!

Try making them with your own rubs or seasoning blends for a custom side perfect for any meal!

Potato wedges being topped with olive oil, seasonings, and parmesan cheese.

How to Make Them Crispy

    • Soak Soak the potatoes in cold water for at least 30 minutes (or up to a few hours). This removes a lot of starch from the outside (you’ll see it in the bottom of the bowl as you remove them).
    • Dry Once soaked, dry the potatoes well. Any water left will steam them instead of crisp them.
    • Oil Be generous with the oil, it helps them crisp.
    • Heat A high heat helps crisp the outside just like when making roasted vegetables. You can also broil for a few minutes (without parchment paper) if desired.

Two images showing potato wedges on a baking tray before and after being roasted.

What to Serve with Potato Wedges

Potatoes are the perfect vehicle for ANY kind of sauce or dip! Here is a list of ideas to inspire you!

As for main dishes that make potato wedges a perfect side, here are a few favorites!

Or really anything you’re craving! they are such a versatile side dish that goes great with anything.

How to Reheat Potato Wedges

Potato wedges are super easy to reheat! Place them in a non stick pan with a touch of oil over medium low heat and cover. Stir occasionally until heated through. You can also microwave them but they won’t be as crispy!

Crispy Potato Side Dishes

Crispy Baked Potato Wedges

Best appetizer or side dish for any meal, including breakfast!

  • 4 small russet potatoes (skin on)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Wash potatoes and cut into wedges (depending on size, 8-10 wedges each).
  3. If time allows, soak potato wedges in cold water at least 30 minutes. Drain and dry very well with a kitchen towel or paper towels.
  4. Toss potatoes with remaining ingredients until well coated.
  5. Place potatoes, skin side down, on a large baking pan and bake until tender and browned, about 45-50 minutes.

Close up of baked potato wedges on a baking sheet with ketchup.
Crispy potato wedges on a baking sheet with ketchup.
Crispy baked potato wedges on a baking sheet with ketchup.

Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf {Family Favorite}

Nothing says cozy home cooking like Chicken Meatloaf.  Seasoned ground chicken is stuffed with mozzarella cheese and nestled under a crunchy, cheesy topping. 

This meatloaf makes a great dinner and leftovers are perfect tucked in a hamburger bun!

Parmesan chicken meatloaf sliced.

This recipe is a combination of two delicious entrees: chicken parmesan and a tender juicy meatloaf! With a cheesy parmesan core and a juicy ground chicken base it is the best of both worlds!

How To Make Chicken Meatloaf

This is one easy recipe to pull together.  It’s no wonder meatloaf is a favorite of busy families everywhere!

  1. Mix meatloaf ingredients together and place on a prepared baking sheet.
  2. Make an indent down the middle, fill with mozzarella cheese. Top with remaining meatloaf mixture.
  3. Top with marinara sauce and bake. Sprinkle with breadcrumb topping and bake until crisp and delicious.

Allow the loaf to rest for a good 10 minutes to ensure it holds together when slicing (and this helps keep the cheese in the middle in tact. To make the cooking time faster, make chicken parmesan mini meatloaf, using your muffin tins or shaping into patties on a cookie sheet.

Left image - chicken meatloaf ingredients in a glass bowl. Right image - chicken meatloaf being prepared with a parmesan cheese core.

What to Serve With Chicken Meatloaf

Savory chicken parm meatloaf is a major hunger buster, especially because it’s the foundation for a balanced meal of meat, starch, and vegetables.

  • Potatoes – Consider yummy fondant potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes or Dutchess potatoes. Sweet potato casserole would taste amazing with this meaty entrée as well. Such dishes always favor a little sweetness on the side!
  • Sauce – Serve with extra marinara sauce, or a simple béchamel flavored with Italian herbs and parmesan for drizzling over slabs of meatloaf.
  • Vegetables – Roasted vegetables can cook at the same time the chicken meatloaf is baking, and both will be ready to serve at about the same time! Season with Italian herbs to complement similar seasonings in the meatloaf.

Parmesan Chicken meatloaf on a serving platter.

To Make Ahead

For make-ahead convenience, prepare your loaf and refrigerate for no more than a day ahead of time. Or, provided the ground chicken has not been previously frozen, you can freeze, without the topping, for cooking at a later time. It will keep up to four months in the freezer.

Be sure to label it, and thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before cooking. If cooking from frozen, cook time may need to be increased slightly.

Can You Freeze It?

Leftovers can be frozen and will keep up to four months. I like to wrap slices individually in foil and then pack in a freezer bag for easy removal and re-heating. No need to thaw in advance.

Delicious Meatloaf Options

Parmesan Chicken Meatloaf

Easy to prepare with juicy and tender results!

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup onion (diced finely)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 lb ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 mozzarella cheese strings

Topping

  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese (shredded)
  • 2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon butter (melted)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley (chopped)
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.

  2. Cook onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until softened. Cool completely.
  3. Mix all meatloaf ingredients in a large bowl just until combined.
  4. Place 2/3 of the mixture on the loaf pan and form into an 8″x4″ square. Make a small indent in the middle and add cheese. Top with remaining meat mixture and form a loaf sealing cheese in.
  5. Top with marinara sauce and bake 45 minutes.
  6. Combine bread crumbs, butter, parmesan cheese and parsley.
  7. Top meatloaf with mozzarella and bread crumb topping. Bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until the center of the loaf reaches 165°F.
  8. Cool 10 minutes before slicing.

Close up of Parmesan Chicken Meatloaf.
Parmesan chicken meatloaf sliced on a serving dish.
Top image - parmesan chicken meatloaf sliced. Bottom image - Close up of parmesan chicken meatloaf.