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Sunday, August 23, 2015

One Pan Mexican Quinoa

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked, but rinsed 
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes (These are most common in grocery store.)
  • 1 cup corn kernels (I used frozen, but let them sit out to defrost.)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add garlic and jalapeno, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about one minute.  (I minced mine in mini food processor.)

Stir in rinsed quinoa, veggie broth, beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder, and cumin; season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Bring to a boil; cover, reduce, heat, and simmer until quinoa is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.  Top with avocado, lime juice, and cilantro.  (I did not think it needed juice of entire lime.  Gradually add.) 

Serve immediately.


Mom's Pasta Fagioli


5 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
pinch red pepper flakes
3 15.5oz. cans cannellini beans
1 can petite diced tomatoes
5-6 cups chicken broth (Start with five, then gradually add.)
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped 
1.5 cups ditalini pasta
salt and pepper (to taste)

  1. In a stock pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil and add onions. Cook until translucent.
  2. Add carrots, celery, garlic, and red pepper flakes, and cook for 5 minutes. (I used mini food processor to mince carrots and garlic.)
  3. Add 2 cans of beans (with liquid) to pot and stir. With the last can of beans, puree with blender or manually mash, and add to pot and stir.
  4. Add diced tomatoes (I roughly pureed these too) and the chicken broth and stir.
  5. Bring all to a simmer, then add the chopped spinach and ditalini pasta (uncooked) and allow it to cook.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

"Easy Version" Spinach and Ricotta Calzones

  • 10 oz. frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 8 oz. (1 cup) whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 4 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded 
  • 1 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • (I added chicken sausage.  Trader Joe's has an excellent 4-pack of sun-dried tomato and basil chicken sausage.  I only used two of the four.  There is minimal fat in chicken sausage so you don't have to drain fat before adding to the calzone mix.)
  • 1½ tsp. minced fresh oregano (I did not use because of the herbs in the sausage.)
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb. pizza dough (Use Trader Joe's pizza dough; it's perfect!!)
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten with 2 tbsp. water, for egg wash
  • pizza sauce, for serving

Preheat the oven to 500˚ F. In a bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, olive oil, egg yolk, garlic, cooked chicken sausage, optional oregano, and red pepper flakes. Stir well until evenly combined.
  • Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and divide the dough in half. Working with one piece of dough at a time, use a rolling pin to flatten the dough into a 9-inch round. Repeat with the other portion of dough.
  • Carefully transfer the dough rounds to a large piece of parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Spread half of the spinach filling over half of each dough round, leaving a 1-inch border at the edge. Brush the edge with the egg wash. Fold the other half of the dough over the filling. Press the edges of the dough together and crimp to seal.

    Using a sharp knife, cut 5 steam vents in the top of the each calzone. Brush the tops with the remaining egg wash.  Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time. Transfer the calzones to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm with pizza sauce.

    I had a lot of filling left over, probably because my dough rounds were difficult to roll to 9 inches.  Next time, I will buy two bags of pizza dough so my filling doesn't go to waste.
  • *

Friday, August 7, 2015

Zucchini & Carrot Turkey Meatballs

another great bite to eat for kids.  hidden veggies!  super yummy!

1 pound ground turkey
2 teaspoons garlic powder
3/4 cup grated zucchini
1/4 cup grated carrots
3/4 breadcrumbs (seasoned or unseasoned)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Line a large baking sheet with wax paper.  

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together with your hands.   Do not overwork the meat!

Using a medium cookie scoop, (or about 2 tablespoons), form the meat into individual balls and place onto prepared baking sheet.  

In a large skillet over medium heat, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  

Once the oil is hot, carefully place the meatballs into the skillet and let them brown on one side.  Turn  over carefully with tongs.  Continue cooking until meatballs are cooked through, about 7-10 minutes.  Remove from skillet and place on paper towel-lined plate.  Cook in batches if all meatballs don't all fit at once.  (*These can be frozen for later!  Allow meatballs you plan to freeze to cool, then place in a Ziplock bag to store in freezer.)

While meatballs are cooking, heat your favorite spaghetti sauce in a saucepan. Transfer cooked meatballs (that you plan to eat that night) to spaghetti sauce to warm through.  

Serve with pasta or zoodles (zucchini noodles).  

*Adapted from

Sunday, July 26, 2015

M&Ms Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

omg.  i may never make another dessert again.


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar (or dark brown)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature preferred
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup M&M’S® Baking Bits


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease your oven-safe skillet.  (I used a 10" cast iron skillet.)
  2. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat on medium high speed until fluffy and light in color. Beat in eggs and vanilla on high speed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt together until combined. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be quite thick. Add the chocolate chips and M&M’S®, then mix on low for about 5-10 seconds until everything is evenly disbursed.
  4. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, spread the cookie dough evenly into prepared skillet.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until puffed, browned on the sides, and lightly browned on top. If you want your skillet cookie a little more cooked through, bake for 40 minutes. Allow the cookie to slightly cool in the pan set on a wire rack before digging in. You can scoop/slice and serve or serve with a whole bunch of spoons so everyone can dig in together.  Topped with ice cream is delicious too!  Cover leftovers and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  6. Make ahead tip: Prepare cookie dough through step 3. Cover dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or freezer for up to 3 months in the freezer. If freezing, thaw in the refrigerator before continuing to the next step.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Chili Pasta Bake


  • ½ Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil (I used one tablespoon.)
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • (I also grated one carrot for an extra boost of veggies.)
  • 1 pound ground beef (I used half ground beef, half ground turkey.)
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1 dash black pepper
  • ½ pounds pasta (Small shells are best.)
  • 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies (I just used a regular can of petite diced tomatoes.)
  • 15-ounce can kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-½ Tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 3 dashes cayenne powder, optional 
  • ¼ cups water
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ cups sour cream, for topping
  • 4 Tablespoons sliced green onions, for topping


1. Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Drizzle the oil into a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the onions (and carrots if you'd like!) and sauté for about 3 minutes.

3. Add the ground meat and season with salt and pepper. Cook until no longer pink.

4. While the meat is cooking, cook your pasta in a separate stock pot according to package instructions for firm al dente. Once cooked, drain off the water and set pasta aside.

5. After meat is cooked, add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes with green chilies, beans, chili powder, cumin, cayenne (if desired) and water. Give it a stir and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.

6. Transfer the cooked pasta into the pot. Stir to combine.

7. Pour the chili pasta mixture into a 9×13 pan. Flatten it out with a spatula and sprinkle with cheese. Place in the oven for 30 minutes or until the edges are bubbling and the cheese has fully melted.

8. Spoon into serving dishes and top with sour cream and green onions.

(This is the perfect meal to make early in the day for an easy dinner.  If you go that route, wait to add the shredded cheese until ready to bake.)


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Crock Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken for BBQ Chicken Pizza

This is a two part post; I made the pulled chicken to make little pizzas but I made some adaptations to the recipe to significantly simplify your dinner!  If you don't want to make the pizzas, the chicken is delicious as is, so feel free to stop there and make sandwiches instead!



  • 2 lbs. chicken breasts
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or more or less) cayenne pepper (Use 1/4 teaspoon if you are nervous about heat.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder


Place chicken in the bottom of your slow cooker.  Whisk together remaining ingredients in a large bowl then reserve 3/4 cup and pour the rest over the chicken. Lift each chicken breast to make sure some of the sauce has gotten underneath then place a lid on top and cook on low for 4 hours or until the chicken shreds easily with a fork. Shred chicken then return to the crock pot and cook on low for 30 minutes. Transfer shredded chicken to a separate container then mix with reserved BBQ sauce.


  • One package of traditional Naan bread (At Whole Foods, it comes in a 4-pack.
  • BBQ pulled chicken
  • BBQ sauce (Use the same one you used to cook your pork or if you need more, use your favorite store-bought kind.)
  • 1 part shredded cheddar (Grate your own!)
  • 2 parts shredded Mozzarella cheese (Grate your own!  Fresh slices are delicious too.)
  • thinly sliced red onion (I cooked mine, but it's not necessary.)
  • freshly diced pineapple (Lots of grocery stores have this pre-sliced for you.  The short cut is worth it.)
  • chopped parsley or cilantro, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place slices of Naan directly onto the oven rack for a few minutes just to heat it.  Remove Naan, then place on a foil-lined baking sheet.  

2. Coat the bottom of the Naan with BBQ sauce, then top with pulled chicken, onions, diced pineapple, shredded cheese, and cilantro/parsley.   If desired, drizzle top of pizzas with BBQ sauce and spread out evenly.  

3. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cheeses look melted.  These make great leftovers too!!

*Inspired by Our Best Bites' Grilled BBQ Pulled Pork Pizzas