Gimmee that Bacon Roasted Tortellini!

A lot of times I adapt recipes that I have made at home in order to serve for a large crowd. This tortellini casserole is a showstopper every time!


Tortellini casseroletortellini

By day, I do the finances for a very large, beautiful Baptist church here in Louisville. (Not that it matters, but hubs and I are Catholic and we joke with the members of this church all the time that, “We are the heathen Catholic couple!”) Every Wednesday afternoon I knock off at 1:30 to meet Charlie at the door and walk down to the church kitchen where together, we prepare their Wednesday Night Fellowship meal. This is our fifth year of doing that walk.

I think it’s worth noting here that I haven’t always been a good cook, let alone someone who was trained in feeding the masses!  Raising my daughter alone, I remember a very limited scope of what I actually made from scratch. There for a while, we ate almost all of our meals out at Applebee’s. (Yes, it’s true. If I could do that over, I certainly would.) When Charlie came along ten years ago, he came with the experience of not only being a retired Firefighter, but his firehouse’s cook. Soon enough, he was preparing all of our meals.

That is, until we moved to a new condo that had a wonderful kitchen. It was there, two years prior to my being hired at the church, that I discovered my absolute love of cooking. Turns out, I not only love cooking, I’m told my food is worth eating! (That’s a total plus!)

Just after I was hired, I learned of an opening to aid in the Wednesday Fellowship Meal prep. I am ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS on the hunt for side job experiences, so I immediately signed us up! (Poor Charlie. He’s sooo stuck with “a joiner”.)

Long story short, after the first season, we ended up taking over the entire meal preparation. That means we decide what to make, we shop for our ingredients, we prepare the food, we help to serve the food and do the dishes and it’s darned hard work. I joke all the time that,”It’s ALWAYS Wednesday in our life”. I feel like it’s true! It’s also true that it’s like planning a huge party once a week and for this reason, I adore it!

A lot of times, I adapt recipes that Charlie and I make at home in order to share with the church. This tortellini casserole is something I saw on TV long ago. It seemed so easy. I made it for us and we loved it, so I figured out an easier way to make if for the church.

I will give you the original recipe and then I will tell you how to tweak it for a crowd! But first, meet my hubs, Charlie Alfredo! LOL!

Charlie Tortellini


Bacon Roasted Chicken Tortellini

Makes 8-10 servings.

½-20 oz. pkg.  Hardwood Smoked Bacon

1 pkg. Chicken Breast (about 1 ¾ lb.)

½ tsp. Kosher Salt

½ tsp. Garlic Italian Seasoning

1/2 tsp. Dried basil

¼ tsp.  Coarse Ground Black Pepper

2-19 oz. pkgs. Frozen Cheese Tortellini (I always go for the tri-color variety. It’s just prettier)

1-12 oz. pkg. Frozen Peas

2-16.9 oz. pkgs. Alfredo Sauce (at home, I make my own, but use jarred if you are scared!)

6 slices Provolone Cheese

Preheat oven to 375° & lightly spray a 9″X13″ casserole dish with pan release.

Layout bacon on a baking sheet & bake until crisp (about 15 minutes or so).

Remove bacon from baking sheet & move onto a paper towel lined plate to drain. Do not discard the grease from the baking sheet.

Season both sides of the chicken breast with salt, Italian seasoning & black pepper. Place directly on the already hot baking sheet. Flip chicken so that bacon grease is now on both sides of the chicken. Roast chicken for 10 minutes & then flip. Roast another 10 minutes & check for doneness. The chicken should read 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from oven & let rest on your cutting board for 3-5 minutes before slicing into thin strips.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sliced chicken, tortellini, peas & both jars of Alfredo. Crumbled the bacon over top & toss well to combine.

Pour mixture into your prepared casserole dish. Cover top with sliced provolone cheese. Bake for 25 minutes covered with foil & then 10 minutes uncovered. The casserole should be hot, bubbly, and browned on top.

Tortellini casserole

Tortellini casserole1

Yeah okay, that’s how we made it at home.

For church (or a large group), skip frying the bacon and doing the chicken in the bacon fat. Instead, go to the market and buy prepared chicken. You can find frozen chopped chicken as well OR buy a rotisserie chicken OR boil some chicken tenders. AND for the bacon, buy frozen, chopped bacon OR buy already prepared bacon and chop it up. Skip the entire part about cooking all this stuff and just add it in with the other ingredients.

THE BEST part about this recipe is that you NEVER have to cook the tortellini; just dump it in as is. Oh and…it’s DELICIOUS,too!!!

PS- Tomorrow’s recipe will be “Zucchini Leak Pie”! Don’t miss it!


Lemon-Basil Brown Butter Chicken

This was intended to be lemon chicken, but I goofed and let my butter get brown. Introducing Lemon-Basil Brown Butter Chicken ala Bobbe! It ended up being very tasty (and it smelled delightful too!)

At some point I will stop using my iPad to do my photos in favor of using the canon that just sits upstairs feeling lonely. Although most of the time I’m fine with my photos, the iPad just could not capture a great image of this dish. Trust me, it received rave reviews from the hubs and I actually loved it too. (I can always find some way to be critical of my creations, but not this time.)



This started out to be lemon chicken but I got lazy when it was time to make the sauce, so it became lemon-basil brown butter chicken because I let my butter get too brown. Happy accident.

The first step was to butterfly and pound the chicken breasts into about 1/4″ cutlets. Then I salted and peppered each side and dredged them in a seasoned flour mixture. (Lemon pepper & Italian seasoning.)


Once I had all of the cutlets dredged on both sides. I set them aside in order to assemble my sauce ingredients.


Cast of characters for the sauce: chicken broth, zest of three lemons, juice of three lemons (I didn’t cut or squeeze the lemons until I was sure I would need them all.), garlic, basil, olive oil, a little flour and BUTTER. (Butter was late for the photo-op. I trust everyone has seen butter before!)


Next I heated some butter and olive oil to medium high in my cast iron skillet and I added the first cutlet in. This guy was pretty large, so I didn’t try to crowd the pan with the other one. Instead, I did them in batches.



Once browned, I took them out and set them aside. At this point I added some more butter and a little flour and some chicken broth and started whisking away. Then came the lemon juice and zest, the basil and at the very end; the garlic.

Here is a video of what it looked like. I did add some more liquid to it after this because I didn’t want it to be too thick.

We served it over plain orzo with a side of delightfully perfect roasted Brussels sprouts and rainbow carrots.


And here you have it! I garnished mine with cilantro even though there isn’t cilantro in the dish. I failed to save some fresh basil leaves, so I improvised. LOL! This is a no-no in the real world; but since this is “Bobbe’s World”, I get to do what I want!



2-4 chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded to ¼”
2 ¼ cups flour
1-2 Tbsp. lemon pepper (optional)
1-2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1-2 Tbsp. Olive oil
3-4 Tbsp. unsalted butter (use REAL full-fat butter, anything else is poison!)
3 cloves garlic slivered (can be chopped if you are lazy)
16 oz. Chicken broth
Zest & juice of three lemons
½ fresh chopped basil


Create a flour dredge using 2 cups of flour mixed with 1-2 Tbsp. lemon pepper & Italian seasoning.

Butterfly the chicken and pound into ¼” cutlets. Salt & Pepper both sides.

Heat a cast iron skillet to medium high, add in 2 Tbsp. olive oil & 2 Tbsp. butter. Fry the chicken until golden brown on both sides (about 4-5 minutes per side).

While the chicken is in the pan, assemble the ingredients for the pan sauce:
Butter, Flour, Chicken broth, Lemon zest, Lemon juice, Chopped Basil, Garlic.

When the chicken has finished cooking, remove to a plate. Using the same skillet with the chicken drippings: whisk in 1-2 Tbsp. butter, then 1-2 Tbsp. flour, and the chicken broth. Continue whisking until the lumps are out and you have a smooth consistency. Reduce heat to medium and while still whisking, add the zest, juice, basil and lastly, the garlic. Continue whisking about 2 minutes more.

At this point, you may add the chicken back to the pan OR if you are serving it over rice or noodles, or in our case, orzo; you may want to wait and drizzle the sauce over the top. Anyway you do it will be the right way for you!


Chicken & Toasted Orzo with Spinach, Tomatoes & Goat Cheese!

For times that I feel uninspired I turn to my cookbooks to get the creative juices flowing. I adore the “America’s Test Kitchen” cookbooks. This recipe is adapted from one of theirs. Delish!


I am a huge fan of America’s Test Kitchen Cookbooks! They are beautifully illustrated and I love that each recipe starts with a forward that says, “Why This Recipe Works”. Lately I have been cooking so much that often, when it comes time to decide what’s for dinner, I am drawing blanks. Thankfully, these cookbooks live in my kitchen, so it’s easy to pop one open and find some inspiration. This recipe is adapted from their recipe entitled: “Chicken and Orzo with Spinach and Feta“. It’s from their cookbook: America’s Test Kitchen Cooking For Two.

After I refreshed my memory of the recipe, I decided to get completely organized before starting to cook. It’s much easier when the ingredients are all prepped and ready to go. I began by running out to my herb garden to get some fresh oregano. While I was there I noticed my sage plant is growing like crazy, so I picked a bit of that and I also snagged some baby kale. I wish I could take credit for growing those beautiful little tomatoes, but they came from Sam’s Club as did the baby spinach/kale mixture.

I removed the stems from the spinach (I hate stems), chopped my garlic and herbs, then measured out the red pepper flakes, the amount of orzo and the amount of chicken stock I would need.

The first step is to put the raw orzo into a skillet and toast it until it’s a little brown. Don’t skip this step because it really imparts a great flavor and a little bit better texture.

Then in the same skillet, I sauteed my chicken tenders in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and some granulated garlic. Not very interesting. It’s just chicken! LOL.


Once the chicken has browned on both sides and is barely cooked through, you remove it to another pan and then add in your stock and orzo. I put the stock in first to deglaze the pan. The recipe doesn’t actually call for tomatoes, but we like them so I added some in to let them cook with the orzo. Once you get it to a boil, you add the chicken back in, nestling it in the orzo until it’s cooked through. Since I used chicken tenders, it only took a few minutes. If you use breasts, it would be longer.


Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it again, to a plate tented with foil. Continue to cook the orzo until al dente, then start adding the spinach in small batches, stirring pretty continuously. I kept extra stock handy in case I needed it and I did need to add about a half cup before the orzo came together the way I wanted. The recipe calls for the juice of a lemon. I added the zest of a lemon and the juice and the taste was bumped up considerably!

Lastly, I removed it all, placed it in my serving dish, added the chicken and topped it with crumbled goat cheese and fresh oregano leaves…and of course, my beautiful tomatoes!


Winner winner, chicken dinner!


(Adapted from an original recipe from America’s Test Kitchen)


3/4 c. orzo
2 T olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh minced oregano
1 tsp fresh minced sage
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 1/2 c chicken broth (more if needed)
12-15 cherry tomatoes
4 cups baby spinach
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice from one lemon
Fresh oregano leaves for garnish (You could use basil or flat leafed parsley if you don’t have fresh oregano)


  1. Toast the orzo in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat (just until brown, stirring often.) Remove from skillet.
  2. Using the same skillet, saute chicken in olive oil until brown and just barely cooked through. Remove to a plate.
  3. Toss herbs and garlic into the same skillet, let it bloom 30-40 seconds
  4. Add in chicken broth. tomatoes and orzo, season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, add back the chicken and cover until chicken is cooked through. (10-15 minutes if using tenders, 15-19 minutes if breasts) Remove chicken to a plate and tent with foil.
  5. Continue simmering the orzo, stirring and adding more stock.
  6. Add in the lemon juice and zest. Season with more pepper and a little salt.
  7. Add in the spinach, one handful at a time, continuously stirring.
  8. Once your spinach has wilted and the orzo is cooked through, transfer it to a serving platter. Nestle the chicken into the orzo, garnish with crumbled goat cheese, fresh cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs.




Easy Chicken Enchiladas

One of my favorite recipes for feeding a crowd is enchiladas. They are simple, inexpensive, easy to make and they’re delicious. I have made them so many times I don’t even follow a recipe any more. These things are so forgiving, you can put anything in them. They are great to make when you want to make space in the fridge, which is how these happened. I had some onions and peppers I needed to use, so poof: enchiladas!

One of my favorite recipes for feeding a crowd is enchiladas. They are simple, inexpensive, easy to make and they’re delicious. I have made them so many times I don’t even follow a recipe any more. These things are so forgiving, you can put anything in them. They are great to make when you want to make space in the fridge, which is how these happened. I had some onions and peppers I needed to use, so poof: enchiladas!

One of my favorite gifts to give are gifts of food. So we make a bunch of pans of these at least once per month and deliver them to friends and neighbors door-to-door. So fun and ALWAYS appreciated!

These started by sauteing some onion & red pepper. I always season with  S&P, cumin, and that mexican spice mix we all have!
Next I season my chicken tenders with S&P, cumin, smoky paprika, garlic, and chili powder, then cook it in my cast iron pan.
Shred the cooked chicken with two forks.
Add the chicken to the onions, pour in a can or two of prepared enchilada sauce & a can of drained black beans (because black beans are high in fiber and we love them!) Sometimes I sneak in some fresh spinach or kale. It’s still delicious!
Don’t forget the shredded cheddar cheese and some adobo sauce for some heat.
Now the fun part. Start rolling.
Coat the bottom of the pan with sauce and then fill it up!
Fill up the pan!
Top with some more sauce!
Add some more cheese and cilantro!
Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
Serve with fresh cilantro, sour cream, avocado slices and whatever else your heart desires!