Cooking and Composition

adventures in discourse and dinner

In the Kitchen: Goat Cheese Pasta Bake with Chicken — November 10, 2013

In the Kitchen: Goat Cheese Pasta Bake with Chicken

So, last week Lovie and I had a marathon writing night for NaNoWriMo, and I posted (albeit briefly) about making this delicious pasta bake. One of many things that Lovie and I have in common is our love of both chicken and carbs, specifically in the form of pasta and potatoes.

Normally when we cook, we go for chicken and noodles, especially now that Lovie has perfected it as a crockpot meal. But this week, we were in the mood for a little something different. Thanks to Pinterest, we got it stuck in our heads that we really needed baked macaroni and cheese, but we couldn’t quite find a recipe that we really wanted to follow. So we decided to make one up.

NaNo Sprint Night!

Making up a recipe has never worked out so well.


  • about a pound (1 box) of pasta
  • about 1 cup of half-and-half
  • about 1 cup of milk
  • 6 ounces goat cheese
  • 6-8 ounces shredded Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago cheese
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. While pasta cooks, prepare the sauce.

3. Cut the goat cheese into smaller pieces, then combine with milk and half-and-half in a saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat.

4. As goat cheese melts, add in about half of the shredded cheese blend and stir. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Reduce heat to allow to thicken without overheating.

5. Prepare chicken breasts as desired. We grilled it on a George Foreman Grill for about 10 minutes with just a little salt and pepper.

6. Grease an 8×8 or 9×9 square baking dish with butter (or cooking spray, if you prefer to be healthier).

7. When pasta is done cooking, drain and set aside.

NaNo Sprint Night!

8. Cut chicken breasts into strips or small pieces as desired.

9. Assemble all the ingredients in the baking dish, stirring together to ensure the cheese sauce coats the noodles and chicken. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese blend.
10. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until cheese is golden and melty.

11. Eat too much of this delicious meal, spend the next five days thinking about making it again.

In the Kitchen: Homemade Noodles — November 3, 2013

In the Kitchen: Homemade Noodles

One of the first things I learned how to cook is also one of my favorite things to eat: Homemade Noodles.


As far as noodle-making is concerned, this is actually a pretty easy recipe. It’s easy to remember and doesn’t involve a lot of steps. But it can be time consuming if you are making a lot (like my family always does) or if you go with the good-ole “hand roll and cut” method, which we also do because we don’t own any of that fancy noodle-rolling machinery.

Continue reading

Feta and Parmesan Veggie Pasta — October 13, 2013

Feta and Parmesan Veggie Pasta

Thursday, I made the mistake of going to Kroger hungry. This is a very, very big mistake.

I tried to temper this mistake by using a basket to do my shopping rather than a shopping cart.

This attempt was unsuccessful.

Parmesan and Feta Veggie Rotini
Who needs to exercise when you are carrying this basket of groceries around?

Halfway through my shopping trip, I decided I was not just buying a few lunch/breakfast items and, instead, that I was making dinner. Mom has been working late because of parent-teacher conferences and Dad is, well, almost always working late. We are lucky to even decide what we are having for dinner by 6pm, let alone have it cooking. So, in the middle of the grocery store, I decided to make dinner.

The result is Feta and Parmesan Veggie Pasta. Overall, everyone seemed to enjoy the dish. Dad and I agreed that it seems to be missing something, and I’d love some ideas. My family doesn’t usually use a lot of seasoning, so I have to work them into herbs and spices a bit slowly!


This meal served five with some leftovers.


  • 1 box of pasta of your choice. Rotini worked great for us!
  • 1 bag of frozen mukimame
  • about 1 pound of asparagus, cut on the diagonal into half-inch pieces
  • about 1 pound of baby bella mushrooms
  • about 1 pound chicken breast
  • 3-4 TBS Olive Oil, divided use (to saute mushrooms and chicken)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • About 1 TBS lemon juice
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan Cheese, to taste
  • Feta Cheese, to taste


1. Begin sauteing mushrooms in 1 TBS olive oil. Add lemon zest. Cover, but stir occasionally to prevent sticking. At the same time, bring water for pasta to a boil.

Parmesan and Feta Veggie Rotini
This is my favorite way to cook mushrooms.

2. Cook chicken breast in a covered saute pan with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

3. When water begins to boil, cook pasta per package instructions.

4. When mushrooms are browned and mostly cooked, add about one half TBS olive oil and the asparagus to the pan. Continue to cook, covered, stirring occasionally.

Parmesan and Feta Veggie Rotini
Yummy asparagus, waiting to be cut.

5. Heat mukimame. I used the Private Selection brand, which came in a steamable microwave bag.

6. Drain pasta. Add a touch of olive oil, salt, and pepper.

7. Combine cooked chicken, mushrooms, asparagus, and mukimame with the pasta.

Parmesan and Feta Veggie Rotini
There’s actually a lot of green in this pan.

8. Add Parmesan cheese and stir.

9. Add Feta cheese and stir. Enjoy!

Parmesan and Feta Veggie Rotini

I really enjoyed both making and eating this meal. It was quick, easy, and included a lot of my favorite foods. . .pasta, feta, mushrooms! Yuuuum yum!

Pork Chops and Feta Green Beans — September 26, 2013

Pork Chops and Feta Green Beans

Lately, I haven’t been doing much cooking, but last night I decided to treat my family to a rare delicious dinner relieve some of the stress I’ve been feeling through cooking. It was not really a strenuous dinner to cook–I just shook some seasonings onto the pork chops and stuck them in the oven. But the real star, I’m proud to say, was my decision to add feta cheese to some sauted green beans and mushrooms.
Pork Chop Dinner

Pork chops waiting to go in the oven. There may only be five of us, but we usually cook for an army.

Pork Chop Dinner

Apparently, pork chops are also my brother’s girlfriend’s favorite dinner. She suggested mashed potatoes. These came out perfectly.

Pork Chop Dinner

Perfect pork chop dinner. PERFECT.

Although a few of the mushrooms started to char a bit, I really think the Feta Green Beans with Mushrooms stole the show. And all I did was saute some mushrooms in a little bit of olive oil. When most of the water was cooked out, I added in the green beans. Since not everyone loves feta as much as me, I served it on the side so the family could take as a little (or as much) as they wanted.

Next time you are hungry for a hearty, fall meal that is also very easy, just turn on the oven, pop in some seasoned pork chops, and saute up some mushrooms and green beans. And think of me when you pour on some feta cheese. YUM!

Good Food and Good Friends — September 21, 2013

Good Food and Good Friends

On Friday, I co-hosted a charming dinner party with The Boyfriend and his roommate. When I lived in Oxford, we always talked about having dinner parties but never really got around to it. Now that I’m living at home again, I don’t really do much cooking. I was super excited to cook for a crowd. In reality, The Fiction Guy (The Boyfriend’s roommate) did the most intensive work on this meal.

On Thursday, we decided to make basil lime chicken, a great dish from Goodeness Gracious that I found on Pinterest. On Friday, The Boyfriend and The Fiction Guy did some shopping and started on the first marinade so dinner would be ready at a reasonable hour. Trying to explain what the zest of a lime was over text message is not the easiest thing I have ever done.

With the boys in charge of the main course, I was able to focus on making a delicious dessert. I’ve been wanting to bake a pie for a long time, but I always seem to talk myself out of it. I also talk myself out of making cheesecake, mainly because the concept of a springform pan and a water bath is fairly intimidating to me. So when I found Kitchen Meets Girl’s recipe for a blueberry cheesecake galette, I knew pretty immediately I needed to make it. That was probably about two months ago, though, and Friday was the time I finally got around to making it (side note: apparently this recipe wasn’t even posted until September 1, so I guess it didn’t take me that long to actually make it. Time is sure flying lately).

Having never been a huge fan of blueberries (they are almost always too tart for me), I decided instead to make a raspberry cheesecake galette. Let me say, this was easily one of the easiest desserts I have made, even if it seemed a little complicated for me. I mainly dislike when I have steps that just require waiting or letting things sit for a specific amount of time. I also never seem to have the room in the refrigerator to chill whatever it is. Luckily, things worked out this time, even if I had to take a second trip to Kroger in the rain just to buy cornstarch.


The Fiction Guy’s take on Basil Lime Chicken, ready to be served with some veggie pasta.


And one delicious Raspberry Cheesecake Galette!

I think we will definitely be making these recipes again!

Off the Box: Sweet & Spicy Baked Shrimp Tacos — May 24, 2013

Off the Box: Sweet & Spicy Baked Shrimp Tacos

Brought to you by Land O Lakes Unsalted Butter

Prep time 15 min; Total time 20 min

Makes 8 tacos


Spice Mixture

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 TBS firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 TBS all-purpose flour
  • 3 TBS plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 TSP ground allspice
  • 1/2 TSP course ground black pepper
  • 1/2 TSP ground red pepper
  • 1/4 TSP garlic powder
  • 1/4 TSP ground ginger


  • 1/4 cup Land O Lakes Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 1 package (16-oz) thawed, uncooked medium shrimp


  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 TBS lime juice
  • 2 TSP chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 TSP chili powder


  • 16 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
  • 2 cups coleslaw mix


1. Heat oven to 500 degrees F. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.

2. Combine all spice mixture ingredients in small bowl. Dip shrimp in melted butter and then in spice mixture. Place onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 5-6 minutes or until shrimp are pink and coating is bubbly.

3. Meanwhile, combine all sauce ingredients in small bowl.

4. To assemble tacos, stack 2 warmed tortillas onto each individual serving place. Top each with 1/8 of total baked shrimp and 1/4 cup of coleslaw mix. Drizzle with Sauce





Off the Box: Bacon, Tomato, and Avocado Quesadilla — May 10, 2013

Off the Box: Bacon, Tomato, and Avocado Quesadilla

Brought to you by Land O Lakes Butter

Prep time 30 min; Total time 30 min


  • 4 10-inch flour tortillas
  • 2 TBS Land O Lakes Butter, softened, divided use
  • 8 (3/4 ounce) slices Land O Lakes Deli American Cheese
  • 8 slices (3/4 cup) bacon, crisply cooked and chopped
  • 1 large (1 cup) tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced


1. Spread 1 side of each tortilla with 1.5 TSP softened butter.

2. Place tortillas, buttered side down, onto large cutting board. Place 2 slices cheese onto half of each tortilla. Top evenly with bacon, tomato, and avocado. Fold each tortilla in half over the filling.

3. Heat 12-inch skilled over medium heat. Place 2 quesadillas into skillet. Cook, turning once, until golden brown on each side and cheese is melted (5-6 minutes). Repeat with remaining quesadillas, then cut each into 4 wedges.