Mostaccioli: Baked goodness for sure, and it won’t break the bank!!

This is a picture from the online recipe…the one I made is below..

Years ago, I used to live in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota. On occasion I would walk around the neighborhood checking out the many different restaurants and trying a few items on the menu from time to time. One of those walks took me down along W. 7th St., and I came across a restaurant called Cossetta’s Italian Market and Pizzeria. I have often since returned to this establishment because they serve some of the best Italian inspired dishes in Minnesota. I loved their Mostaccioli, that they served as a side dish to their entrées. 

https://www.tablespoon.com/recipes/classic-baked-mostaccioli/34cf2bd2-7fa4-4a2d-bcf1-611e634da581

Recently, as in this past weekend, I was in the mood for some Italian food. I had thought of taking the family on a day trip to Duluth to have some spaghetti and meatballs at Grandma’s Saloon & Grill, but with it being Winter and all, I decided it would be best to keep it local. However, as I thought about what I wanted I realized that often times when I want something I can usually find a good recipe online and make it myself at home. I have pretty much mastered the Zuppa Toscana from Olive Garden, which my son loves. So, I did just that. I went online and found a pretty easy recipe at . There were only 7 ingredients, and I had most of them already in my pantry. I did change out the mild or hot Italian sausage for sweet Italian sausage though, because my son hasn’t yet developed a pallet for spicy foods. Otherwise, I just followed the recipe and, well, it was awesome! My son loved it as did my wife, both of which are my favorite food critics!! It didn’t take long for the prep work and after it was all put together I baked it for about 25 minutes to get the cheese all good and melted. 

So, the morrow of this story is, when you are itching for a good meal and want to keep the costs down as much as possible, just make it yourself! You will be surprised how easy it is, and the cost is much more affordable than taking a family of say 3 or more out to a restaurant. 

This is my finished classic…

Delicious Chicken Tetrazzini

While chatting with some co-workers about nothing in particular, I had suddenly got the idea that I wanted to have some Chicken Tetrazzini. Not just have it, but I wanted to make it as it’s something that I had never done. I brought it up in our conversation and was given several ideas about what pasta to use, and different sites I could find a recipe. So, I got on my computer and Googled “Chicken Tetrazzini” and of the many websites that came up, I chose this one. There was no rhyme or reason to my decision, but it was just the first one that I clicked on. 

So, I perused the recipe and mapped out what ingredients that I needed to grab from the store on the way home. I stopped by my local Hy-Vee on the way and grabbed the items I needed and headed home to cook. Just so you know, I love those bags of Tyson Chicken pieces, I keep several bags of it in my freezer. I just thaw them out and they are ready to go, as they are already cooked. I found some Linguini noodles in my cabinet and used them for my pasta and followed the recipe along with the video that Natasha has on her site and cooked up this dish. When I try new dishes, I judge the success of the dish by how my son and wife react. And by their reactions, my son cleaned his plate without me having to say a word to him, I knew it was a success! My wife loved it as well, ok not the mushrooms as much, but she said it was really tasteful and delicious. 

Here is the link to Natasha’s Kitchen and her recipe for Chicken Tetrazzini. Try it and you too will be to amaze your family!

https://natashaskitchen.com/chicken-tetrazzin3i/

Las Tortillas: for some authentic Mexican cuisine

    My wife and I love authentic Mexican food. Our usual spot for this treat is a restaurant in Apple Valley, MN called Teresa’s Mexican Restaurant. It’s probably the best in Minnesota if you ask me. The place is always clean, and the service is consistently fast by their courteous staff.  Recently, my wife told me about a Mexican restaurant that she heard about from a co-worker. My first thought was of course, no way am I trying a new spot when we can just go to Teresa’s! So, we went. We had decided on making a day of it, so we went to the movies first and got to see the newest Will Smith movie, Spies in Disguise! That is an awesome movie, but I will not go into that now as this is about food!! The restaurant is in Rosemount, MN, and is called Las Tortillas. It’s snuggled in this small strip mall located behind a Walgreens store on the Southeast corner of the intersection of County Road 42 and Shannon Parkway. The impression I got when I first saw the red bricked building was that this was not going to be a good experience. Not sure why I felt that way, but that’s what hit me at first glance. However, I did decide as we were walking across the parking lot, to keep an open mind. When we entered, there was a sign that read “Please wait to be seated”. As I looked around there were only about 3 or 4 tables that had people seated at them and there were no waitpersons in sight. As we stood there and waited, I did notice one thing that I liked right away. The kitchen was only separated from the dining area by a bar and behind that was a waist high counter, and you could see the kitchen staff preparing food. I love that open atmosphere concept, so that was a really high mark. After about 7 minutes or so, a staff member can over to us and said that we could just take a seat and they would come to our table. The dining area was not that large of an area, but the tables were situated so that there was lots of room for guests to be comfortable. There were several four-toppers and one long table that seats approx. 8 – 10 people. We took a four-seater by the window and was greeted by our waitperson a couple of minutes later. My son went with some chicken fingers and fries, my wife had a burrito with cilantro-lime rice, and I went for some enchiladas with cilantro-lime rice and refried beans. I will admit that the food was delicious!! As we were eating, and our waitperson came by to ask if we wanted refills, I asked about the restaurant’s existence. She told us that it had been in business for about 10 years and that the menu was prepared from the owner’s own family recipes from Mexico City where he was from. Now, I do still think that Teresa’s is probably the best place for some authentic Mexican food. But I will say that Las Tortillas is definitely an alternative worth checking out. The food is very good and the restaurant is clean, and those two things for me are what makes a restaurant great! 

Here is something new that I am going to start doing whenever possible, adding the web address to the places I am writing about. Here’s the address to Las Tortillas’ website: https://www.lastortillas.net/

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