CHICKEN AND BACON PASTA WITH SPINACH AND TOMATOES IN GARLIC CREAM SAUCE

Chicken and Bacon Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes in Garlic Cream Sauce – this is one of the best chicken pasta recipes you’ll try!  It’s an Italian-inspired recipe with lots of vegetables. Sliced chicken breast and bacon are tossed with veggies and penne pasta in a delicious, creamy, homemade alfredo sauce made with Parmesan cheese. What in the world sounds better than that???

 

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COOKING TIPS:

  • Use thin chicken breasts.
  • Use shredded/grated Parmesan cheese.
  • You can use cooked spinach, frozen spinach, or fresh spinach. All will work.
  • Make this chicken pasta gluten free. All you need to do is use gluten-free brown-rice penne pasta instead of regular penne. You can also use spelt pasta or spinach pasta. (I only use to cook with Spelt of spinach pasta in Germany)
  • 1/2 cup heavy creamy + 1/2 cup milk.

 

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This chicken and bacon pasta recipe is so easy to make and uses such basic ingredients, that you can easily make it on a regular busy weeknight!

Deliciously creamy homemade alfredo sauce perfectly combines all the flavors in this chicken and bacon pasta: garlic, spinach, tomatoes, and lots of spices!  So tasty, you might want to double the recipe!

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HOW TO COOK CHICKEN

In a large skillet, on high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until hot. Add chicken breasts and cook on one side on high heat for 1 minute.

While the chicken cooks, sprinkle the uncooked sides of chicken with paprika and Italian seasoning.

Flip the chicken over, and cook on the other side for 1 minute on high heat. Reduce heat to medium, flip the chicken over again and cook, covered, for several more minutes until no longer pink in the center. Remove the chicken from the pan and keep the chicken warm.

cooking chicken on stove top for pasta recipe

COMBINE VEGETABLES

To the same pan (but without chicken), on medium heat, add chopped tomatoes, spinach, garlic, crushed red pepper, 1/3 of the chicken (sliced into small strips) and half the bacon (it should be already cooked and drained of fat). Mix everything.

combining vegetables, tomatoes, spinach, bacon, and chicken for pasta dinner recipe

HOW TO MAKE PASTA CREAM SAUCE

Add  1/2 cup heavy creamy + 1/2 cup milk to the skillet and bring to boil. Only after it starts boiling, add Parmesan cheese.

adding cream and cheese to the vegetables, bacon, and chicken

Immediately reduce the sauce to simmer and stir, while simmering, until the cheese melts and makes the sauce creamy, only about 1 minute (at most 2 minutes). Then, immediately remove from heat. Season with more crushed red pepper and salt, if needed.

creamy tomato sauce with spices, cheese - for pasta recipe

HOW TO COOK PASTA

  • In the mean time, bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions. To cook pasta al dente (which literally means “to the tooth” or firm to bite) cook pasta about 2 minutes less than indicated on the package instructions.
  • If using gluten free pasta, rinse it with cold water after cooking to prevent it from getting mushy.
  • If using regular, wheat pasta, do not rinse it with cold water. Rinsing pasta with cold water removes the starch which helps absorb the sauce.

FINAL STEPS

Now, we are about to assemble everything together. Add cooked pasta to the skillet with the sauce. Add remaining half of bacon (already cooked and drained of fat). Season with more salt if necessary. Slice the remaining 2/3 of chicken into thin strips.

Cream sauce absorbs the wonderful flavors from all the ingredients in the recipe, and with every single bite you get all the goodness and all the flavors!

When ready to serve, top the pasta with chicken strips and finely shredded Parmesan cheese. This chicken and bacon pasta recipe is a true comfort food!

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WHAT TO SERVE WITH CHICKEN PASTA:

A salad, of course!   I would serve a very simple and basic salad (that you don’t even need a recipe for)

 

Slow Cooker Beef & Sweet Potato Stew

I’m no slow cooker pro, but my mom makes the best curry stews and this was a recipe I found on Pinterest years ago while living abroad that made me miss her home cooked food. Over the years there has been a lot of modifications and changes to the recipe, but this will be the most consistent one I used. This is the perfect meal for a Sunday lunch/dinner. I love cooking meals that takes longer and a Sunday and filling your house with rustic comfort food aromas, with nothing else to do but serve and eat.
Slow-Cooker-Beef-And-Sweet-Potato-Stew-2
Servings: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 kg beef stew meat diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 onion , chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves , crushed (or 1 tablespoon minced garlic)
  • 1 large sweet potato , peeled and diced (roughly 3 cups diced)
  • 300 g baby potatoes , halved
  • 2 large carrots , sliced
  • 1 red pepper , deseeded and diced
  • 1-1/2 cups beef broth
  • 400 grams can diced tomatoes
  • 1 beef bouillon cube, crushed
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon mild paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley, to serve
Instructions
  1. Place the meat and flour into a 6 litre slow cooker bowl. Stir to coat meat and add in the rest of the ingredients (except for the bay leaves and parsley). Stir all ingredients together and place bay leaves on top.
  2. Cover, and cook on low heat setting for 8-10 hours, or high heat setting for 4 to 6 hours.
  3. Taste test before serving, and add extra salt or pepper if needed. Garnish with parsley.
  4. Serve over white rice or mashed potatoes.

Chili lime steak fajitas

Chili lime steak fajitas are so juicy and full of incredible flavours! Perfect for a summer braai. They are super easy to make and perfect for a quick throw-together meal!

Steak fajitas marinade

You’re going to start off by marinading your steak using my favourite chili lime marinade. All you need is:

  • Lime juice — freshly squeezed!
  • Parsley
  • Garlic — minced or finely chopped
  • Honey
  • Ground cumin
  • Red chili flakes — optional

Don’t have time to marinade?

No worries! You don’t NEED to, because this marinade has so much flavour in it already, you can get away with letting it sit for 5 minutes while you get your skillet and other ingredients ready.

Grilled Chilli Lime Chicken Fajita Salad | https://cafedelites.com

How to cook beef fajitas

Straight on the braai or in the pan if you wish.

What do you serve with steak fajitas?

  1. Stuff them in tortilla wraps (corn or white flour)
  2. Use lettuce leaves for a low carb option
  3. Avocado slices
  4. Grilled/seared peppers
  5. Sour cream

 

All photos credit to: Cafe delites

Chicken breasts with potato and mixed veggies

What is easier and more basic than this? But this is def a staple for me and one of my favorite meals ever. (Yes, I’m basic and boring like that)

Use this recipe to easily make a baked chicken main dish with potatoes, and any vegetable of your choice. 

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Ingredients

Cooking spray

3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes

1 package frozen mixed veg

3 potatoes, diced

1/4 cup olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Spray a 13×9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Spread chicken pieces, mixed veg, and potatoes into the prepared baking dish, respectively. Drizzle olive oil over the ingredients in the dish and season with mixed Italian herbs, rosemary, oregano, parsley and salt and pepper.
  3. Bake in preheated oven until the chicken is cooked through and potatoes are tender, 45 to 60 minutes.

Tip:

If you prefer it, you can steam your veggies and add them afterwards as well.

 

Spinach, Bacon and Cheddar stuffed Sweet Potato

These easy Cheesy Spinach Stuffed Sweet Potatoes are a tasty way to pile on the veggies!

Serve up a twist on the classic Spinach and cheddar potato by swapping the typical  potato for a sweet potato. You can keep things simple by topping a baked sweet potato with steamed Spinach, bacon pieces and cheese and melting it in the microwave just before serving. Anything goes!

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Sweet potato cooking time:

  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
  2. Poke holes in the potato using a fork.
  3. Lightly oil the sweet potato.
  4. Using aluminium foil, wrap the potato.
  5. Bake for 45-50 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool.

Cut open and add your wished toppings.

You are more than welcome to do this with normal potatoes as well.

Here are the difference between the two:

“By the USDA method, though, a medium potato contains 170 calories, versus just 105 in a medium sweet potato. … Carbohydrates and protein, though, are more plentiful in the regular potato, which boasts 37 grams of carbs and 5 grams of protein versus 24 grams of carbs and 2 grams of protein in a sweet potatoSweet potatoes, however, have more fiber and are slightly lower on the glycemic index than white potatoes. For this reason, blood glucose will rise a little more gradually with sweet potatoes than with white potatoes. As far as nutrients go,sweet potatoes are a rich source of vitamin A and beta-carotene.”

cheesy-kale-stuffed-sweet-potatoes-havarti-garlic-recipe-peasandcrayons-9301

5 MUST do’s to assist your running training

The word is out, I have officially been entered into the KFM Gun Run, where I will be doing the half marathon #prayforme. In reality, I could struggle my way through a half marathon tomorrow. I’d probably be crawling over the finish line with a really crappy time…but I could. However, I want to do this properly and also enjoy it. I’m putting my years of researching for previous clients into action, to hopefully cross the finish line with a smile and while still standing.

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A lot of people begin training for running events thinking they just have to run and keep running further and further until they can run the length of the race; which probably does work, but it’s not optimal. So here are my five tips which if you consider during your training, You will become fitter, faster and less prone to injury!

  1. Don’t forget to Cross train. If you find a running program online, it will probably have a day or two of ‘cross training’. NO this does not mean, jump on the cross trainer, but in fact, it means, your strength and power work in the gym or at home. A lot of people neglect their strength training when running, which is why runners can be so prone to injury. You need strong glutes (butt muscles), legs, back and core(abs) to enable you to run with good posture and prevent putting pressure on your joints. Remember, strength training is the foundation of EVERY training. I will be continuing my strength training plan and ebook while preparing for this half marathon.
  2. Warm up and cool down… BLAH BLAH BLAH you’ve heard it all already. But the question is, do you do it? I used to just wake up and run, without activating and stretching my muscles and mobilizing my joints. Likewise, I would return from a run, and carry on with my day, without cooling down. But now that I’m a bit older, a warm up and cool down is definitely needed! As soon as your muscles become too tight, you’re pulling your body out of alignment and again are making yourself prone to injury. Spend 5-10 minutes before a run warming up and foam rolling and the same when you return. (Let me know if you want me to post my foam rolling routine video on my Instagram stories.)
  3. Even if you’re training for the 10km or the marathon it’s still important to incorporate sprint training and hill sprints into your workouts. Adding sprint training into your plan will be the key to increasing your speed. You can switch up the distance too. I live on the side of a mountain, so you can find a hill close to your house and try 8-10 hill sprints and rest until your back to the bottom of the hill. You’ll probably want to vomit after your sprint sessions, but you’ll thank me when you’re knocking time off your next marathon!
  4. Track your sessions. I’m currently using a Polar watch I’ve had for years, and it’s awesome because I’m able to track my pace,  my heart rate, and log all of my workouts so I can look back and see progression throughout my training. If you don’t have a fitness watch, try log to the best of your knowledge in a notebook so that you can use your improvements as motivation.
  5. Recovery, Refuel and Re hydration.  If you ask any other ASICS Frontrunner athlete what the most important thing is throughout their training, they will tell you it’s the things they do away from the training itself. Recovery is VERY important, especially when you’re putting your body through so much stress. Things like adequate amounts of sleep, and I might start taking some extra magnesium to help muscle recovery. It’s also important to make sure you’re Refueling properly. You can do all of the training in the world, but if you’re not giving your body the fuel it needs you will eventually reverse all of your hard work. Eat well-balanced meals of proteins, fats, and carbs and have regular snacks throughout the day. And finally Re hydration!

I hope these tips have helped you guys, and if there are any more specific things you’d like me to blog about, drop me a message on Instagram and I am more than happy to share some tips along the way as I take on the next 13 weeks.

Training starts today with a short and easy treadmill run just to get my blood flowing again after 2 weeks of barely any training. (I was in Mozambique on holiday)

All my love!

ASK Carla + coffee chat

 

CarlaWest-34

How do you balance personal life and work life? 

This is something that I still struggle with, to be honest. My most helpful tool has definitely been my planners. I know it’s crazy but I use both a digital and physical planner. But most days my work and personal life is one thing, as I work with my boyfriend on Carla West Fitness, every date night turns into a meeting. When I go to the gym I feel like people are watching aka that is my marketing. So usually when I go camp or hike with my close friends I seem to ‘escape’ a bit.

What is your biggest fear? 

I think the scariest thing I have done, is get on multiple one way flights, with no security or job on the other side. I’ve done that 3 times now, and the scariest one was coming home! (Even scarier when I moved to a country without a job not even speaking the language.) What can I say, my early 20’s were a wild ride, I’m going to try and change that in the second half of my 20’s. But I think I will always be the spontaneous, irrational travel girl. SO with that being said I honestly don’t feel like I’m afraid of anything? I don’t really want to skydive or bungy jump, and I don’t really like deep water. But I also like challenging myself and facing my fears. SO… challenge accepted haha

COFFEE CHAT

Reading: I’m currently reading ‘Into the water’ and ‘the 4 hour work week’ Next up, I plan on reading ‘you before me’. I’ve never seen the film before.

Listening to: I’ve recently fallen in love with podcasts again and I’m currently listing to ‘Bucci radio’, ‘Business meets fitness podcast’, and ‘from the heart’, but my favorite and something you probably won’t expect from me is, ‘the MFCEO’ podcast. It gives me life! But you are more than welcome to send me more suggestions! I’ve also been listening to a lot of fun dance music on Spotify, my go to for music, because I have been practicing my dance jam routines at home for Europe later this year (#nerdalert).

Watching: Flip, I am so bad with this, getting back to the first question. I never get ‘down’ time and when I do I watch quick Youtube videos.  (Should I do a whole post about my favorite youtube channels?) My guilty pleasure is reality tv, and the most stupid shows where I don’t have to think much, like ‘survivor’, ‘the bachelor’, ‘boer soek ‘n vrou’ and maybe even ‘love island’. Sorry babe! haha I really need to find a good series to get hooked on though. Suggestions welcome!

Working on: Lots and lots of fun behind the scenes projects for my business. I have had the opportunity to grow my business so much in the past year so this year I’m focused on creating a ton of valuable passive income products.

Waiting for: All my travels this year, going to Mozambique today, Europe in August and looking forward to the best summer here in SA. Oh and moving out from my parents place. Sorry parentals, I love you guys but this needs to happen someday. I can’t wait to have my own little apartment and kitchen to decorate again.

 

 

YOUR TURN:

What have you been reading, watching, and listening to lately? Also if you have any questions for me for a future “Ask Carla” posts, please DM me on Instagram with your questions.