Penne alla Vodka Recipe

This quick and easy penne alla vodka recipe is a great way to impress your friends, family, or guests! | themillennialmenu.com

I took one bite of this and knew I had to get my camera out and get this creamy, cheese, slightly salty Penne alla Vodka recipe up on the blog ASAP. I’ve been making penne alla vodka for years, and I can’t figure out why I haven’t gotten this recipe up on the blog sooner. Look at it!

There are so many reasons to love it! First, it’s pasta. Everyone loves a good pasta dish, especially one that is creamy and cheesy. Second, there is VODKA in it. Pasta with vodka, those are like, two of my favorite things. Third, it is truly easy to make. While the steps might look intimidating and you do have to use multiple pans, you have to heat some of the things up, throw them in a pot with some of the things, and then add it all together with pasta and cheese on top. Read through the whole recipe once and you’ll see that it’s really just adding some pasta to an easy-to-make sauce…ready in 30 minutes! Lastly, this is a great skill/effort-to-impressiveness ratio dish. You don’t need to be super sophisticated to make it, and it doesn’t take a lot of time, but it definitely is a show-stopper. If you’re trying to impress someone, whether it be your Bumble date or your parents, this is a great go-to dish to have in your back pocket. Goes great with a simple salad!

If I were you, I would double the sauce recipe so you can freeze some for later. I did that and now I have extra sauce in the freezer to defrost later - all I need to keep on hand is pasta & parmesan cheese in the fridge, two things that I always have on hand (because duh). Thinking ahead and having easy AND delicious meals at home will save you a ton of impulse-buy money if you’re tempted by takeout or delivery. I store mine in sandwich bags and freeze them laying down, then I’ll stand them up later for easy storage in the freezer! Mine are in 2-serving portions.

In other news, it’s almost MARCH! How? Who would have thought that in my second year of teaching it would be even harder to keep up with the blog? I posted more regularly my first year out of college when I was working in a school 50 hours a week and attending grad school on nights and all day on Saturdays…how?!? I guess when I was constantly go-go-go all the time, it was easy to just keep checking things off my list and writing a blog post just got done as I rushed to get to the bottom of my list - which never happened. In my second year as a full time teacher and third year out of college, I’m finding I’m getting better at getting to the bottom of my to do lists, and when I do that, all I want to do is chill out on the couch with a cocktail, go for a run (I’ve taken up running, which if you knew me anytime before age 25, is hard to believe), or plan my next vacation (headed to Germany in April to visit my younger brother studying abroad! Stay tuned for my favorite places from that trip). I’ve said this a million times now, but I want to be on the blog more. I’ve really found my own rhythm of what works for us with cooking for ourselves, and I want to keep trying my best to bring that to more people! In the meantime, sit down with your heaping bowl of penne alla vodka and a nice glass of red wine (or…any cocktail with some of that Tito’s vodka!) and if you’ve got a moment, tell me what you’d like to see more of on the blog, I’d love to hear from you!



Penne alla Vodka Recipe

Makes 4 servings
Other recipes with these ingredients: Vodka: check out my Bar Basics post // Penne + heavy cream: Creamy Asiago Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • Splash of oil oil

  • 1/2 of a standard 16 oz. box of penne pasta (or what looks like 4 servings. what even are pasta serving sizes?)

  • 1/2 yellow onion

  • 1/4 cup vodka - Remember you can check out the grocery guide for more info if you’ve got questions!

  • 1/4 lb. prosciutto - or a few slices. whatever works!

  • 1 - 15 oz. CAN of plain tomato sauce

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

  • 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese, shredded

  • Salt & pepper to taste

  • Optional: Parsley, for topping




Dietary Substitutions:
Gluten Free Friendly:
Use your favorite gluten-free pasta
Not dairy-free, vegan, or vegetarian friendly

Directions

GET THE ONIONS GOING

1. Get a large pot of boiling water (with a pinch of salt) started for your pasta.
2.
Get out a large saucepan and turn the heat on medium. Add a splash of olive oil to heat up, while you dice 1/2 yellow onion and then add it to the pan.
3. While the onion is sautéeing, dice 1/4 lb. proscuitto. The easiest way to do this is to actually use kitchen scissors and cut the proscuitto into pieces! They’re on my kitchen essentials list.
4. Heat a separate sauté pan on medium heat and add the proscuitto you just diced up. No oil is needed! Continue to sauté the proscuitto as it gets crispier and crispier.
5. Add 1/4 cup vodka to your onion saucepan. Let the alcohol burn off for 2-4 minutes. Pro tip: do not smell the sauce at this point. 100% alcohol fumes is painful.

(MULTI-TASK TIME - get the pasta going!)
6. By now your pasta water should be boiling, add 1/2 box penne pasta and cook for 8 minutes or until desired doneness.

FINISH THE MEAL
7 Once the vodka has evaporated a bit (about 2-4 minutes), add the crispy prosciuitto, 15 oz. can tomato sauce and 1/4 cup heavy cream.
8.
Let the sauce simmer on a lower heat setting while you check the pasta, drain it, and grate some parmigiano reggiano cheese.
9. Add the 1/2 the parmigiano reggiano cheese to the sauce, save the rest for topping your pasta!
10. Once you’ve grated your cheese and finished and drained the pasta, taste the sauce and add any salt & pepper to taste. Be careful with the salt because the proscuitto is salty already!
11. Add everything together - I like to toss all my pasta in the sauce and then get it into my bowl to top with some more fresh cracked pepper, fresh chopped parsley, and a generous heap of parmigiano cheese.

Yum.

This quick and easy penne alla vodka recipe is a great way to impress your friends, family, or guests! | themillennialmenu.com

Storing & Extra Ingredients

STORING - Store in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

LUNCH TOMORROW - Almost all pasta recipes taste better the next day, but there’s something about penne alla vodka that’s extra special. I think it’s time for the vodka to soak into the sauce and pasta and for everything to really meld together. This is a super yummy and indulgent lunch to enjoy at work the next day!

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - Use up the rest your pasta in one of your favorite pasta recipes, like my pasta & meatballs recipe - or use up your heavy cream while you’re at it in the Creamy Asiago Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes. Save the half of an onion for any one of my other recipes - maybe my easy Chicken Pot Pie to keep you warm this winter? and in case you need it, my favorite vodka drink is a Moscow Mule!


White Chicken Chili Recipe

this creamy white chicken chili recipe is the perfect cozy soup to welcome fall! made in the slow cooker all day and ready to eat in 10 minutes when you get home! | themillennialmenu.com

Confession: I’ve been eating this White Chicken Chili recipe pretty consistently for over a year, but it’s just getting on the blog now because it’s SO good I’ve eaten it all before I could take a good picture. I changed up my strategy and ate a bowl first, this time, and then started photographing. You can thank me later, once you’ve made your own bowl of this creamy, zesty soup.

It’s really starting to get into fall weather here in Boston and I just made a big pot of this chili to enjoy with some cornbread last week. I ate leftovers for days and definitely wasn’t mad about it. I throw everything in my Instant Pot in the morning and set it to cook while I’m at work, and come home to only 10 more minutes of prep before dinner is ready. Nothing beats a huge pot of chili being a few minutes away from ready when you come home from a long day. I use the slow cooker function on my Instant Pot, you can use a regular slow cooker, or I’m sure cook for longer on the traditional stovetop (try it and tell me how it goes!).

Did I mention this recipe can be done in THREE simple steps? 1. Throw everything in your slow cooker (or Instant Pot, using the slow cooker function) and cook 2. Add creaminess 3. Top with delicious toppings….and then, EAT! Other than dicing an onion, this soup really couldn’t be easier than throwing things into a bubbling pot of goodness. There is nothing I love more than a little bit of cream cheese in something (see: Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes or Tortellini Soup with Spinach and Mushroom) to get that tangy, creamy flavor just right. Top off the chili with literally anything you want - avocado, cheese (duh), or some jalapenos if you like spice (not me!)



White Chicken Chili

Makes 4 servings
Other recipes with these ingredients: Cream cheese: Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes or Tortellini Soup with Spinach and Mushroom // Cilantro: Grilled Mexican Street Corn Soup or Crispy Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce
Prep time: 10 minutes before + 10 minutes after
Cook time: 5 hours using slow cooker function
Total Time: 20 minutes active prep, 5 hours 20 minutes total

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half height-wise

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 3 cups chicken broth

  • 1 15-oz. can of whole kernel corn, drained

  • 1 15-oz. can of Great Northern Beans, drained

  • 2 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

  • 1 tbsp cumin

  • 1 tsp oregano

  • 2 tsp chili powder

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, about 1/2 block, diced

  • 1 cup milk, half & half, or cream - This is flexible, I just pick based on what other meal’s I’m making that week!

  • Toppings: cilantro, sliced avocado, dollop of sour cream, shredded Mexican cheese, sliced jalapenos




Dietary Substitutions:
Gluten Free Friendly
Not dairy-free, vegan, or vegetarian friendly

Directions

PUT IT ALL IN THE SLOW COOKER/INSTANT POT

1. Add 1 lb chicken breasts, 1 diced medium yellow onion, 3 cloves minced garlic, 3 cups chicken broth, can of drained corn, can of drained Great Northern Beans, 2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tsp oregano, and 2 tsp chili powder to your slow cooker or Instant Pot. Cook 5 hours on Slow Cooker setting on *low* heat.

MAKE IT CREAMY!

2. Once your chicken is fully cooked, after about 5 hours on low, shred the chicken breasts in the pot using two forks and add 1/2 cup diced cubes of cream cheese and 1 cup milk, half & half, or cream to the slow cooker. Whisk to incorporate, continuing to cook on low for about 10 more minutes. Taste and add more spices and/or salt & pepper to taste.
3. Once the chili has become creamy and thickened, add toppings: cilantro, sliced avocado, dollop of sour cream, shredded Mexican cheese, and/or sliced jalapenos and enjoy!

Yum.


Storing & Extra Ingredients

STORING - Store in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

LUNCH TOMORROW - As I’ve said, this is a great recipe to make a big batch of in your slow cooker and have leftovers on hand - especially for a cozy lunch at work on a cold fall day! Make sure your containers are leak-proof.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - Use up the rest of your cream cheese in my favorite Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes or Tortellini Soup with Spinach and Mushroom. Have a cilantro-themed week with a few of my favorite cilantro recipes: Grilled Mexican Street Corn Soup, Crispy Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce, or my Coconut Lime Shrimp.



This recipe was inspired by and adapted from The Chunky Chef’s Creamy Crockpot White Chicken Chili.

Quinoa Fried Rice Recipe

Crispy Chicken Quinoa Fried Rice has got your takeout cravings covered, but healthier! | themillennialmenu.com

If I’m going to take a few unplanned months away from sharing recipes, I better have a great one to kick off coming back to blogging, and this recipe for Quinoa Fried Rice is it. Who doesn’t love fried rice? It’s salty and buttery all at once, and always satisfies that takeout craving. Sometimes, though, I want to eat healthier (well, slightly healthier) or have a more filling meal, and substituting quinoa for the rice in this recipe gets the job done.

In terms of making this recipe more filling for work lunches, I always add crispy fried chicken, tossed in a bit of extra sesame oil at the end of cooking, to get me through an afternoon of teaching. You can easily do this as vegetarian dish without the chicken, add an extra scrambled egg or two, or add tofu. Or, simply enjoy as is.

One other thing I love about this meal is that it’s a great recipe to make during the same week you try out my Crispy Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce, since you’ve already got over half of what you need to make those once you’ve grocery shopped for this recipe! The flavors are definitely distinctly different, still, so it’s a great way to save money on groceries and using up your ingredients while still varying up what you eat.

Quinoa seems to really multiply and I always end up with a mountain of it - which is exactly what you want when you’re adding awesome flavors like sautéed onions, sesame oil, soy sauce, fresh chopped scallions, and more. This is a great recipe to cook for a crowd and has a relatively inexpensive base in the quinoa. Cheap, tasty, health(ier)…add this to your calendar for dinner next week!



Quinoa Fried Rice

Makes 4-6 servings
Other recipes with these ingredients: Soy sauce: Beef & Broccoli // Chicken, carrots, soy sauce, and quinoa: Crispy Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: Instant Pot: High, 1 minutes NPR 5 minutes plus 15 minutes "frying" the quinoa // Stove top: 30 minutes
Total Time: Depending on cooking method, 30-45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry quinoa

  • 4 tbsp. butter

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

  • 1 small onion, diced

  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • salt & pepper, to taste

  • 2 scallions, chopped

  • 4 Tbsp. soy sauce

  • 4 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil + 2 more if making crispy chicken strips

  • Optional: 2 chicken breast, sliced into thin strips with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil




Dietary Substitutions:
Vegetarian Friendly: Leave out chicken or add tofu.
Dairy-free Friendly
Gluten Free As long as you confirm all of your ingredients are gluten free, this recipe is gluten-free friendly. Double check your soy sauce.
Vegan: Use additional oil as needed rather than butter, and leave out the eggs.

Directions

MAKE THE QUINOA & CHICKEN
1. To make the quinoa:

On the stovetop: turn one burner on high. Add 2 cups of water to the sauce pan. Add in 1 cup dry quinoa. Once the quinoa comes to a boil, turn down the heat, cover, and let the quinoa sit for 15 minutes. Read more about how to cook quinoa 

In the Instant Pot: Add 1 cup dry quinoa and 2 cups water to the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 1 minute. Yep, 1 minute. NPR for 10 minutes, then QPR. Read about why you need an Instant Pot in general here. While that's happening...


2. Slice your 2 chicken breasts into thin strips. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to a pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the sliced chicken breast and let cook until browned. Use a spatula to ensure all sides are browned. Cooking should take 5-10 minutes.
3. When the chicken is almost done, add 2 tablespoons sesame oil to the pan and stir to coat to add extra flavor to the strips.

PREP THE MIX-INs
4.
Dice 1 medium onion, 2 medium carrots, and 4 cloves minced garlic and add them to a large frying pan with olive oil over medium heat.
5. Sautè the veggies until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
6. Add 4 tablespoons of butter and stir (yes, I said 4. Don’t ask, just do it)
7. Add some water (less than 1/4 cup) to a microwave-safe bowl, add the 1/2 cup frozen peas and microwave on 30 seconds to soften them. Then, add the peas to the frying pan.

FRY IT!
6. Once the quinoa is ready, add the cooked quinoa to the pan with all the veggies and stir.
7. Add 4 tablespoons soy sauce and 4 tablespoons sesame oil to the pan and stir. These amounts are flexible and dependent on personal preferences! Add more or less if you like.
8. Add your cooked chicken strips to the pan. Continue to stir, adding more butter, sesame oil, or soy sauce as desired.
9. Meanwhile, quickly scramble two eggs in separate pan. I’ve found scrambling it all together makes the quinoa weird and congealed. Definitely scramble your eggs separately. Add these to the quinoa pan and mix to incorporate.
9. Add salt & pepper and chopped scallions to taste.

Yum.

quinoa-fried-rice-close-up

Storing & Extra Ingredients

STORING - Store in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

LUNCH TOMORROW - I’ve done this for meal prep for lunches for the week and it lasts very well! Be sure to eat within 5 days if you do add chicken.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - If you have extra carrots, chicken, soy sauce, and quinoa, you’re halfway to my Crispy Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce! Work on that bottle of soy sauce with my Beef & Broccoli recipe. Use up the rest of that bag of frozen peas in my favorite comfort meal: Chicken Pot Pie.