The Perfect One-Pot Pasta Side Dish

I’m always on the hunt for a good easy homemade substitution for the foods I used to love. And when I come across a really great alternative, I’m super excited to share. This recipe takes the place of the box pasta that I’d make once or twice a week (Pasta Roni, Lipton’s Noodles or Knorr’s Pasta Sides). While you can’t make this for less than $2, it is a one-pot side in less than 15 minutes, and I assure you the flavor will blow the others away. Plus, it’s free of all the preservatives and MSG that make the box options a no-go for me these days. I found this recipe on Pinterest and stayed pretty true to it. I’ve tried this with fresh basil, fresh parsley and dried dill… and dried dill is by far my favorite (although the other herbs were good too). This has turned into a top request in my house, and it has made it’s way on the weekly dinner menu for the last four weeks. Hope you enjoy!

Creamy Garlic Pasta with Dill

1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp minced garlic
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 lb angel hair pasta
3/4 cup half and half
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried dill

1.) In a large pot, heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
2.) Add pasta to the boiling stock, reduce heat to medium-low and cook according to package (prob 3-5 minutes). Once pasta is done, add half and half, parmesan cheese and dill and remove from heat. Stir well to combine and serve hot.

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Creamy Garlic Pasta with Dill


Adapted from Catz in the Kitchen’s Creamy Garlic Pasta


Garlic Dill Chicken

Dill Chicken

If you’ve never marinaded chicken with Greek yogurt – you should try it. The yogurt adds a richness and tartness to the chicken that really takes the flavor to the next level. I got the idea from a chicken tikka masala recipe, and it seemed like the yogurt would also pair well with Mediterranean flavors – it did. The garlic, dill and oregano makes this chicken very unique and quite tasty. This got a thumbs up from the hubs and the boys ate it pretty well too. Enjoy!

Garlic Dill Chicken

3 chicken breasts
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1.) In a gallon ziploc bag, combine all ingredients. Chicken can marinate in as little as 15 minutes, or overnight.
2.) Cook on a hot grill for about 7 to 8 minutes per side (this will depend on the size of you chicken; check the temp to make sure it is at 165 degrees).

Dill Chicken Marinading

My Go-to Marinade

After years of experimenting, trying store-bought sauces and making dozens of recipes, I’ve finally found my go-to marinade!  It’s pretty simple – Dijon, maple syrup and garlic – and it goes great on pork tenderloin, chicken and salmon.

I have long been a fan of Dijon in or on almost anything, but the maple syrup idea came from the Pinterest-famous Man Pleasing Chicken.  Add some garlic and some salt and pepper, and voila! you’ve got some really good tasting meat!

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Dijon Maple Marinade

1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 cloves garlic (or the equivalent in minced garlic)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Yes, I use minced garlic.  It is a huge time saver when you are trying to cook from scratch every night.  It’s all natural – just garlic and citric acid.  I buy it at Costco and a jar that size will last me about 6 months.  Another one of my work-arounds is to use gallon Ziploc bags to marinate my food in – one less big dish to try and squeeze in my already full dishwasher.  Beyond marinating, anytime I need to toss food (potatoes or veggies in olive oil, chicken in flour, whatever) I use a Ziploc bag.  I go through a lot, so I get these at Costco too.


When I use this marinade on salmon, I’m typically cooking it in the oven; when it’s pork tenderloin or chicken breast, it’s on the grill.  There is something about the sweetness of the maple that pairs well with salmon, as well as with the smokey flavor from the grill.  So good!

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To make this pork, I used two pork tenderloins and marinated them in the Dijon Maple marinade for 15 to 20 minutes.  I grilled it on each side for 7 to 8 minutes and I let it rest for about 10 minutes before I cut it.  Perfection!

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My Philosophy on Food

Over the past five years, I have turned into what some may call a food snob – I call it food enlightened. I’ve become hyper-aware of those dirty little secrets in our food supply: MSG, trans fat and hydrogenated oils, food coloring, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, BHT and other preservatives. With each discovery of something else that is chemically derived and hiding in my favorite foods, I purge my pantry. Is it too much to ask that my food not be laced with chemicals??

Making this change is hard. Some of the most common offenders are things I grew up enjoying – condensed soups, ranch mix, onion soup mix and taco seasoning.  So I went on a mission to find substitutes for some of these items, made only from real ingredients found in my kitchen. I scoured the internet to find recipes that don’t taste like a knock-off of the “real thing”.  I will admit, you do sacrifice some of the convenience, but for me, being able to eat guilt-free is worth a few extra minutes. One day I may even make this stuff in large batches (like I keep saying I’ll do) and save myself some time on those hectic weeknights!

Below are some of my favorites of these copycat recipes.


Ranch Dressing Mix

1/2 cup dry buttermilk
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried dill weed
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried onion flakes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper

Mix all ingredients together and use just like you would the ranch packets. I typically use this for ranch dip and add it to a 16-oz container of sour cream.


Taco Seasoning

2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano

Mix together and add to 1 lb of ground beef, ground turkey or shredded chicken. I also use this as a marinade/rub for chicken I plan to grill by adding some olive oil to the seasoning mix.


For this recipe, I haven’t used it in all the ways I previously used Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix, but it does make some awesome dip!

French Onion Dip

2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion (I use sweet)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 cups sour cream

1)  Heat oil, add onions and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook until caramelized (20 minutes). Let cool.
2)  Add remaining seasonings and cooled onions to sour cream. Stir well and serve with potato chips.