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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Brussels Sprouts

(Recipe serves 4-6, so halve if feeding a smaller crowd.)


  • 1 lb. fresh brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and any yellowed/browned outer leaves removed, then sliced in half
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 lb (16 oz.) orecchiette (or any pasta)
  • 4 chicken sausage links (I used spicy Italian), sliced into 1/4" thick coins
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup pesto
  • Parmesan cheese, for serving


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix together brussels sprouts, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper. Gently stir until well-combined.
Prepare a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then spread the brussels sprouts on it evenly. Roast for about 20-30 minutes, stirring once partway through, or until they are crispy on the outside and cooked on the inside. Remove from oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, turning occasionally, until nearly-browned, about 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic, and continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant and the sausage is browned.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. (Begin heating my water while preparing the brussels sprouts, and added the pasta to the boiling water just after beginning to cook the sausage.) Once the pasta is cooked, drain the water (reserving 1/4 cup pasta water), and then toss together the pasta, pesto, cooked sausage and garlic, and brussels sprouts. Add in some of the reserved pasta water if needed for extra moisture.
Serve warm, and sprinkle with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Quinoa Bowls with Roasted Veggies and Chicken

So yummy!  Any assortment of veggies can be used in these bowls!  
(I used different veggies from the original recipe.  See my notes in red.)

  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup cubed butternut squash
  • ½ cup carrots, cut into ½-inch rounds
  • 1 large zucchini, diced, about 1 cup
  • (For my veggie mixture,  I used sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and mushrooms.)  
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup uncooked tricolor quinoa, rinsed  (I used regular quinoa.)
  • 1 large chicken breast, about 1 cup diced (I used two breasts.)
  • For the Greek vinaigrette:
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, toss together the vegetables along with the olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Pour the vegetables onto a large baking sheet and make sure they’re in an even layer. Bake for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are softened and have a nice brown color to them. (I sprinkled the veggies with a tad more salt and tossed after they were done cooking.)

While the vegetables are roasting, bring 2 cups chicken stock to a boil and add the quinoa. Follow the cooking instructions on the quinoa package.

Season chicken with salt and pepper.  In a small skillet, brown the chicken on both sides.  Set aside once it’s cooked through.

For the dressing: Add all the ingredients into a small Mason jar, tightly close the lid, then shake!

To assemble the quinoa bowls: Evenly distribute quinoa into bowls, then evenly distribute vegetables and chicken into each bowl. Drizzle the dressing on top, if desired.  (BE SURE NOT TO POUR ALL OF THE DRESSING ONTO THE BOWLS!  Add to taste.  The amount of dressing that the recipe makes is way more than needed!)


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Crustless Mini Quiches (AKA, Egg Cups.)


8 ounces turkey breakfast sausage
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (I only used about 2-3 oz.)
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 heaping handful of fresh spinach (about 1 cup)
1 cup cheddar cheese (GRATE YOUR OWN!!!)
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 cup 2% milk
5 eggs
3 egg whites

1. Preheat oven to 325. Position rack in the center of your oven and coat a nonstick muffin tin with cooking spray.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, cooking turkey sausage until golden brown. Transfer your fully cooked meat to a bowl to cool. Add olive oil to the pan, then add mushrooms and spinach and cook until mushrooms are golden brown.  (I bought an 8oz. package of mushrooms {6 in a package} and only used 2 of them.  I food processed them, along with a heaping handful of spinach, until finely chopped.  While the mushroom/spinach mixture was cooking, I put the cooked turkey in the food processor and finely chopped.)  Add cooked mushroom/spinach mixture to the bowl with the turkey sausage.  Add cheddar cheese and stir mixture until combined.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, egg whites, pepper, and milk. Divide the egg mixture evenly among the prepared muffin cups, then drop a heaping tablespoon of the sausage mixture into each cup.

4. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are just beginning to turn brown. Let cool on a rack for 5 minutes. 

*Add other veggies if you'd like!!  (Peppers or onions would be delish too!)

*Adapted from

Monday, January 25, 2016

Turkey Taco Lettuce Cups

  • 1.3 lbs. lean ground turkey (white meat) (I have also used ground chicken.)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 2 tbsp. bell pepper, minced
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 4 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 8 large lettuce leaves from Iceberg lettuce
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • taco toppings (sour cream, avocado, salsa)


Brown turkey in a large skillet, breaking it into smaller pieces as it cooks. When no longer pink, add dry seasoning and mix well. Add the onion, pepper, water, and tomato sauce and cover. Simmer on low for about 20 minutes.

Wash and dry the lettuce. Divide the meat equally between the 8 leaves and place in the center of each leaf.  Top with your favorite taco toppings (sour cream, cheese, avocado,  salsa...)


Monday, January 11, 2016

Citrus Marinated Shredded Chicken

1 Tablespoon Mrs. Dash fiesta lime seasoning
Juice from 1/2 grapefruit
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
pinch cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 thawed chicken breasts
1/2 lime
Combine first 8 ingredients in a bowl and whisk well. Add the chicken and coat. Pour ingredients into a dutch oven or a pot fitted with a lid. Cook over low heat for 3 hours. Shred the chicken in the pan using two forks. Taste it; then season accordingly with additional salt. Squeeze half a lime over the whole thing. Stir and serve.


Spinach Parmesan Bake

  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach (thawed and squeezed to remove excess liquid)
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 1⁄3 cup melted butter
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3⁄4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 3⁄4 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste (Easy on the salt because there will be a lot of salt with the Parmesan.)
  • 1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, for topping
  • shredded mozzarella cheese (optional) (I used Monterey Jack.)


Preheat oven to 350°F and generously grease a 11 x 7-inch baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine spinach, rice, butter, cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, garlic, eggs, and milk until well combined.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 25 minutes and then top with mozzarella cheese the last 5 minutes of baking if desired. (I set oven to broil for an additional 3 minutes to brown and bubble the cheese.)


Friday, January 8, 2016

Olive Garden Copycat: Pasta Fagioli

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped (equivalent to 1 cup)
  • 1 large carrot, chopped (equivalent to 1 cup)
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped (equivalent to 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (15 ounces) beef broth
  • 1 can (15 ounces) red kidney beans, with liquid
  • 1 can (15 ounces) white kidney beans, with liquid
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 8 ounces ditalini pasta, precooked weight
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, cook the ground beef.
  2. Drain the liquid from the cooked beef (if any).  If you use ground beef with a lower fat ratio, you will have little to no liquid to drain.
  3. Stir in the chopped onions, carrots, celery, and minced garlic.  Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, red and white kidney beans (with the liquid).
  5. Season with the salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and thyme and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  6. When the soup has 10 minutes left to simmer, cook the ditalini pasta in boiling water for 7 minutes.  Do not overcook the pasta.
  7. Drain the pasta and stir it into the soup.  Simmer for 10 more minutes.
Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator or in the freezer.