Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Lightened-Up Butternut Squash Mac-n-Cheese Skillet

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Happy Halloween! I hope everyone has a great time this evening passing out candy, dressing up your children to take them door to door, or trying to hustle some extra Reese's Cups from the neighbor's kids. Actually, snatch up some for me while you're at it.

Regardless of what your evening entails, here's a quick and festive dinner idea to help you get in the spirit of the season and muster up some energy. Creamy macaroni and cheese with a mix of butternut squash is something both adults and kiddies will love. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe


  • 3 cups uncooked whole wheat rotini pasta
  • 4 cups 1/2-inch cubed uncooked butternut squash
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free whole milk
  • 6 oz. freshly Muenster cheese, shredded
  • 4 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted brown butter
  • 2 tbsp. Italian breadcrumbs
  • Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare water for pasta and once it comes to a boil, cook pasta according to directions, then drain.

While water is boiling, heat a large cast-iron (or oven-safe) skillet over medium-low heat. Add olive oil, then toss in squash with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add stock and cover skillet, cooking for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until squash is soft and can easily be mashed. 

Remove cover from squash and reduce heat to low. Mash squash with a potato masher or forks, smoothing it out with a spoon to remove all of the chunks.

Add in milk, 4 oz. of Muenster and all of the Parmesan cheese, stirring until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. If mixture still seems way too starchy, add in additional milk 1/4 cup at a time, stirring for a while. Stir in brown butter, again mixing for a minute or so until incorporated. Taste and season additionally if desired.

Fold rotini into the sauce, taking a few minutes to fully toss the shells so they are all coated. Top with remaining Muenster cheese (or as much as you see fit) and breadcrumbs and bake for 15 minutes. If a bubbly, golden topping is desired, broil for 1-2 minutes on high after cooking. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve!

Source: Adapted from How Sweet Eats

Monday, October 29, 2012

No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites

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I was ecstatic when I came up with the idea to make these bite-size desserts in the form of miniature pumpkins. I just thought it was brilliant. But when I originally made these, there was just something not right about them. I added sugar, vanilla, more sugar. I couldn't get it right. I was running late and needed to get them done and plated to bring to my parents' house, so I just brought them how they were.

Wrong move.
They were anything but good. They just tasted like processed pumpkin, which is exactly what they were. I mean a whole can will do that to you. So there I had it....too much pumpkin. Duhh.

I tried again and reduced the amount of pumpkin puree to half and I had it: a beautiful, creamy pumpkin cheesecake mixture. Scooping these into pre-made phyllo cups makes a fool-proof crust. You can either dust these with powdered sugar or place a pretzel in the middle to make mini pumpkins. Either way, these are a festive Halloween treat that all ages will enjoy!

Printable Recipe


  • 1 (8 oz.) package reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4-1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 package frozen phyllo cups, thawed
  • Pretzel sticks, for serving

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin puree and mix until combined. Add vanilla and 1/4 sugar and mix just until combined. Taste and add more sugar as necessary.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of filling into each phyllo cup. Spread the filling so it is smooth.

Break the pretzel sticks in half and place one half in the center of each cup (for the pumpkin stem). Refrigerate until ready to eat.

Source: SK Original

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rigatoni "D" (From Maggiano's)

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We held our wedding rehearsal dinner at Maggiano's per my husband's request. It's easily one of his favorite restaurants and understandably so. Although he has a few favorites on the menu, his go-to is their signature dish: Rigatoni "D." The rigatoni is tossed in a light Marsala cream sauce along with chicken, mushrooms and caramelized onions. If that description doesn't get you, I don't know what will.
I'm always a little hesitant to make knock-off restaurant recipes since they rarely live up to the same name. This one, though, was right on point. It tasted exactly like the pasta dish my husband is obsessed with. Since Chris had a busy end-of-quarter at work, I wanted to make him something comforting and special to commend all of his hard work. This dish hit the spot. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 oz. button mushrooms
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp. garlic, pureed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. chicken breast, cut into 1-1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 4-8 oz. marsala wine (Cribari)
  • 2 oz. white wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1 lb. rigatoni pasta
  • 1/2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • Parmesan cheese, shavings (garnish)
  • Chopped fresh parsley (garnish)
Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Once boiling, cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken pieces to the pan and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.  If necessary, turn down the heat to medium-low so the outside doesn’t brown too quickly.  Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.  

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan with the heat on medium-high.  Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes.  Add the mushrooms to the pan and continue to cook until most of the liquid has been released and the onions are softened, about 5 minutes more.  Mix in the garlic and sauté just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the wines, scraping with a spoon to deglaze the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Whisk in the chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium and continue to simmer until the liquid is reduced by about half.  Stir in the cream and cook until heated through.  Add in the basil, parsley, Parmesan and butter; mix until well blended and the butter is completely melted.

Add the cooked rigatoni to the pan and toss with the sauce.  Serve immediately with additional grated Parmesan as desired.

Source: Adapted from Pennies on a Platter

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancakes

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My husband knows me well. Too well, actually. Last weekend, we were debating who was going to get up and make breakfast. We contemplated running out and grabbing something or making eggs and hash browns. Although I love to cook, sometimes I just want to pass on the responsibility.
Chris wasn't in the mood to make anything either, so he said...."I could really go for some pancakes...with chocolate chips!" I immediately jumped up and exclaimed, "I'm on it!" Now why does this prove that my husband knows me well, you ask? Well, he knows I don't have a recipe for Chocolate Chip Pancakes on my blog. And if something is thrown out there that has yet to make an appearance, I'm all over it. That trickster.
Regardless of how he got me to make these, I'm so glad he did. Adding buttermilk makes them so fluffy, buttery and delicious. I wanted ours extra chippy, so I added a few extra tablespoons to the batter. The result was melty, chocolaty goodness that made our unproductive Sunday just a tad bit better. Enjoy!

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 4 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2- 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips (depending on how chippy you feel)
  • 2 tbsp. butter, for cooking

In a large bowl beat eggs. Add buttermilk, butter and vanilla and mix well. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well until mostly smooth. Fold in chocolate chips and let batter set for a few minutes.

Heat griddle or pan over medium heat. Add a teaspoon of butter to the pan or spray with cooking spray. You can test to see if the pan is hot enough by adding a few drops of water, and when the drops start to dance its hot enough.

Pour 2 tablespoons of batter onto the griddle. Cook on the first side until bubbles that form start to pop. You can also gently lift up the pancake to make sure the bottom is not overcooking, if it is the pan may be too hot and you will need to adjust the heat. Flip the pancake over with a spatula and cook until golden brown. Repeat until all the batter is gone.

Let cooked pancakes rest on a heat proof plate in a 200 degree F oven until ready to serve.

Source: Adapted from Joy the Baker

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fagioli All'uccelletto

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Today's Secret Recipe Club post is from Manu's Menu. Manuela is originally from Italy, so she features recipes from all over the region. This made it very hard for me to narrow down which authentic recipe I was going to try since my family is Italian as well. This bean dish is a staple in Tuscany, and since my parents are going to Italy for the first time in April I thought it would nice for them to try a native dish. Plus, we were going to be watching football and this would be a perfect appetizer.
I used canned white kidney beans instead of the bortolli beans Manuela suggested. This was mostly because I could not find bortolli beans, but also because I know Chris loves kidney beans. They worked out perfectly in this dish. An "uccelletto" translates to a small bird in English, so the seasonings in this dish are typically ones you would use to season small game (tomatoes, garlic and sage). This simple appetizer was great served on top of some crusty bread. Enjoy!

  • 1 (10.5 oz.) can white kidney beans
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (7 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 4-5 sage leaves, chopped
  • Toasted bread, for serving
Drain the kidney beans into a small bowl. Rinse them well. Fill the bowl with the bean liquid with an equal part of water. Mix and set aside.
Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Sauté the garlic and sage for a couple of minutes. Then add the crushed tomatoes and cook the sauce for about 10 minutes.

Add the cooked beans to the sauce, stir and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes adding 1 or 2 ladles of the bean and water mixture.

Serve warm with some toasted crusty bread and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Source: Adapted from Manu's Menu

Friday, October 19, 2012


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Tri-Brownies, otherwise known as (cover your eyes!) "Slutty Brownies," are the layering of chocolate chip cookies, Oreos and brownies in one incredible dessert. Since the original name doesn't seem very family friendly, I chose to change it up. I don't need your kid asking you what (cover your eyes again) "slutty" means. Do you feel me? But the original name was chosen because they are SO easy and SO good. All you do is buy packaged chocolate chip cookie dough and brownie mix, mix them individually, layer them with Oreos in between and BAM! Dessert!
My friend made these a while back and I immediately wanted to recreate them when my family came over. The three layers used are easily some of our family favorites, so they were a hit. You can also switch up the Oreos with different kinds of cookies or candy bars (Reese's anyone?). If I were you, I'd "borrow" some of the Halloween candy from your kid, neighbor's kid, student, niece, nephew, co-workers kid or just a random kid (I won't judge) collects and use that as the middle layer. Possibilities are endless here. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 package Chocolate Chip Cookie dough mix
  • 1 package double-stuffed Oreos
  • 1 package Fudgey Brownie mix

Preheat oven according to the directions on the brownie box. Line a 9x9-inch pan with aluminum foil and set aside.

In a large bowl, make the chocolate chip cookie dough mix according to package directions. In a separate bowl, mix the brownie mix according to package directions.

Press the chocolate chip cookie dough evenly into the bottom of the lined pan. Place the Oreos on top in a single layer. Pour the brownie mix on top.

Bake according to the directions on the brownie box. Make sure a toothpick comes out clean (it might take longer than the recommended baking time).

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Cut into pieces and serve.

Source: Friend

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Beer Cheese Soup

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I think it's time to round out Oktoberfest with a hearty Beer Cheese Soup. I'm sure you have a lot of extra beer lying around the house from all the Oktoberfest activities that went on earlier this month, so might has well crack open a bottle, take a sip, crack open another bottle for the soup and have yourself a tasty dinner.
I loved this soup. I love soup in general, but one that's packed with cheese always seems to be a winner. I'm not a huge beer drinker, but it's such a wonderful compliment to the mixture of cheese, vegetables and bacon. It's hearty and crisp for a fall evening. I paired this with BLT sandwiches and a side of French bread (for dipping, of course) and it was a perfect meal. Enjoy!

  • 3 slices bacon, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bottle pale ale, such as Sierra Nevada
  • 2 cups sharp yellow Cheddar, freshly shredded
  • 1 cup Gruyere, freshly shredded
  • 1/2 cup fat-free half-and-half
  • Bread, for dipping
Cook the bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Once done, remove bacon with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain. Remove all but 1-2 tbsp. of the rendered fat.

Add the carrots, celery, garlic, onions and cayenne to the Dutch oven. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sweat the vegetables until tender, about 15 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Pour in the stock, mustard and Worcestershire and simmer until the veggies are very soft, about 15 minutes.

Add the ale, simmer, about 5 minutes, and then puree with an immersion blender until smooth (leave some chunks if you want texture). Add the Cheddar, Gruyere and half-and-half and stir until melted through and smooth. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve with a piece of bread and pieces of bacon on top.

Source: Adapted from Food Network

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

BlogHer Feature!

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Hey all! BlogHer is featuring another one of my recipes on their site today. Head on over to check out my Shrimp Quesadillas post on their website! You can also join me in discussions via Facebook and Twitter!


Monday, October 15, 2012

Caprese Salad Skewers

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Caprese Salad is the beloved combination of tomatoes, Mozzarella and basil. Usually served by itself or on a pizza, Caprese Salads are a favorite appetizer or side dish that most people love. For a recent get-together, I made a group-friendly version by placing bite-size tomatoes and Mozzarella balls on toothpicks for an easy grab-and-go appetizer. These would be ideal for a football tailgate, a BBQ, a baby/bridal shower or a small gathering.
Each bite includes tomato and Mozzarella with basil on the side as an option. The marinade that I used was a combination of olive oil, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes (it was sold together as a package in the store), so there wasn't even too much work involved. If the Mozzarella balls come without the marinade, you can make one of your own (directions below) or simply drizzle balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper over top. Enjoy these light and healthy appetizers at your next gathering!

Printable Recipe


  • 1 container cherry tomatoes
  • 1 container bite-size Mozzarella balls, marinated in olive oil and spices*
  • Fresh basil, for serving
  • Toothpicks
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Place the top half on a toothpick, followed by a Mozzarella ball, and then the bottom half of the tomato. Arrange in a circle around the edge of a plate.

Drizzle the extra olive oil mixture over top. Place a bunch of fresh basil in the center. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*Note: If you cannot find marinated Mozzarella balls, marinate the cheese in a combination of olive oil, red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning until ready to assemble the skewers. Or, in its place, simply drizzle the skewers with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Source: SK Original

Friday, October 12, 2012

Nutella Oatmeal Thins

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They say you are what you eat. So after eating these, does that mean I'm really tan, incredibly thin and amazing?

Don't answer that.

They also say don't judge a book by its cover. That definitely applies to these cookies. They're flat, unappealing and have no bursts of color. By first glance, they aren't a cookie I'd usually gravitate towards. They just don't look tasty. And that's where I'm wrong. My friends and I gobbled these up without hesitation. They're crunchy and chocolately and would be perfect with a tall glass of milk. Or broken up and put on top of ice cream. Yum! Hope you enjoy these as much as we did!

Printable Recipe

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tbsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. butter, room temperature
  • 3 tbsp. Nutella
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. quick-cooking oats (not instant or regular)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, Nutella and the sugars until mixture is fluffy. Beat in the egg, followed by the vanilla extract.

Working at a low speed or by hand, gradually blend in the flour mixture and the oats (if you don’t have quick-cooking, pulse whole rolled oats in the food processor to chop them up a bit).

Drop teaspoonfuls of the batter (1/2-inch balls) onto prepared baking sheet, leaving at least 2-inches between cookies to allow for spread.

Bake for 10 minutes, until cookies are set.

Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

Source: Baking Bites

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Roasted Peppers, Mushrooms and Arugula over Angel Hair Pasta with a Brown Butter Sauce

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This recipe was inspired by one of my favorite meals at the Great American Restaurants chain. I typically order this whenever I visit Sweetwater Tavern because they always have it on their menu, and the few times that we go to one of the chains that doesn't serve it...well, it's not a pretty sight. The mix of brown butter, mushrooms, red peppers, chicken breasts and arugula served over angel hair pasta is just an amazing combination. I knew I had to recreate it, and since I couldn't find a copycat recipe online I had to do it myself.
Brown butter sauce is so simple to make and adds great flavor to a pasta dish. Just make sure you brown the butter in a larger saucepan so it can cook evenly. The first time I did this in a small saucepan and...that's exactly why there was a first time and a second time. The second time it turned out perfect. As soon as it starts turning darker and small brown bits start to form on the bottom, remove it from the heat because your sauce is done! Serve this sauce with your favorite pasta or ravioli and let the flavors melt in your mouth. Or use it with the recipe below and I'm sure you'll fall in love with it as much as I have. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken tenders
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 8 tbsp. light unsalted butter
  • 1 (4.5 oz.) jar whole mushrooms, drained
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 2 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. angel hair pasta
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving
Place the chicken tenders in between two pieces of parchment paper. Using a meat mallet, pound the chicken so it is 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

Heat a large skillet oven medium-high heat and add 1 tbsp. butter. Add chicken to the skillet and brown on all sides, cooking for about 6-8 minutes total or until cooked through. Remove and set aside.

Heat a separate large saucepan over medium-low heat and add 6-8 tablespoons of butter. Whisk constantly until butter has brown bits on the bottom, about 5 minutes, then immediately remove from heat. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.

Add the remaining 1 tbsp. of butter to the skillet that you cooked the chicken in. Add mushrooms and roasted red peppers. Cook for 2-3 minutes until warm. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add pasta to the skillet. Slowly add a ladle of pasta water to the skillet, just enough to loosen it up. Turn off heat and stir in grated cheese and arugula. Add half of the brown butter sauce and stir to coat.

Spoon pasta onto dish. Add chicken over top and drizzle with extra brown butter sauce. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Source: SK Original

Monday, October 8, 2012

Baked Eggs in Tomatoes

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Baked Eggs in Tomatoes are one of my new favorite breakfast items. I usually stick to some sort of oatmeal or fruit during the week, and then load up on hash browns, bacon and eggs on the weekend. This is a much healthier twist that's even easier and just as tasty.
If you want to make this and are still craving bacon or some other breakfast meat with your tomato, you can mix cooked pieces in with the egg before filling the tomato. You can also play around with seasonings and other vegetables. I bet this would be great with some green peppers and onions. Basically whatever you put into your typical omelet would suffice in this baked tomato. Enjoy!
Printable Recipe

  • 4 large beefsteak tomatoes
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch baking dish or pie plate with parchment. With a serrated knife, cut off the top 1/2 inch from each tomato. With a spoon or a melon baller, gently remove seeds and inner membrane, being careful not to break through flesh of tomato. Place tomatoes in dish and season with salt and pepper.

Divide corn among tomatoes. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and chives and season with salt and pepper. Divide egg mixture among tomatoes and top with cheese. Bake until egg mixture is set, 45 to 50 minutes. Serve warm.

Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart

Friday, October 5, 2012

Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina

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My best friend has recently taken up cooking dinner for her and her boyfriend, and she thrives off of casseroles. Since she is a middle school P.E. teacher, the last thing she wants to do after a long day of dealing with kids is make an elaborate meals (especially since we all know how kids at that age can be). She still wants her dinner to have all the flavor of elaborate meals, just minus most of the steps.
Recently she has tried my Beef Tamale Casserole and loved it, so I thought I would try a few other casserole dishes that she can easily enjoy. Since most people want something quick after a long day at work (especially if you work long hours or if you have kids at home) these casserole dishes come in handy for everyone. This particular one was extremely easy since I used a store-bought rotisserie chicken, so I was able to quickly pop it in the oven and go on a run while it baked. It's creamy, flavorful and perfect for fall. Enjoy!
Printable Recipe

  • 1 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup Rotisserie chicken, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can Italian flavored diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup part-skim Mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1 tbsp. butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta and put into a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.

Put onions and cubed chicken into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

Place the mixture in a greased 9x9" baking dish.

In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter.

Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Source: Adapted from Food Network

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Apple Cake with Cinnamon-Butter Sauce

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One of my friends hosted us all at her house the other weekend, and I was in charge of bringing dessert. Since my family and I recently went apple picking, I wanted to use the abundance of apples we had sitting on our counter before they went to waste. But I wanted it to be something different. Do you know how hard it is to find an apple dessert recipe that isn't in the form of a pie?
It's hard.

I came across this apple cake and I figured if we heated it up, served it with ice cream and had a sauce to accompany it, it would be a perfect dessert for our crowd. The sauce I came up with made the cake even moister (let's pretend it's a word) and was perfect with the ice cream melting on top. I love the chunks of apple inside as well because they add a contrast to the moist (and moister!) cake. This is a great fall recipe that you'll love. Plus it's even better for breakfast the next day. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe


  • 6 baking apples
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 5 tbsp. sugar (I used Splenda blend)
  • 2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (I used Splenda blend)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup low-fat milk
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Ice cream, for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a tube pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and 5 tbsp. sugar and set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugars and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.

Towards the end of baking, heat sauce ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted and sauce is hot. You can also make this ahead of time and reheat it prior to serving.

Serve warm sauce over warm cake. Top with ice cream.

Source: Cake: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen; Sauce: SK Original

Monday, October 1, 2012

Stuffed Peppers with Ground Beef and Rice (Gluten-Free)

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I love stuffed peppers. Not only are they a healthy and quick meal to prepare, but they're Gluten-Free, Low-Carb and a perfect meal for a chilly fall evening. They're also great as leftovers the next day, so it's a two-for-one deal.
I originally made this recipe using only four peppers and had a ton of extra filling. You can probably easily stuff 6-8 peppers, depending on the size. The filling is so good that you'll want to stuff as much in each one as you can! Just remember to taste the filling as you go (you can wait and add the egg last if you're worried about salmonella). You might need to add more seasoning to get it to the taste you prefer. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 6-8 green bell peppers
  • 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning
  • 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef or chuck
  • 1 cup dry rice
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat mild Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Extra reduced-fat mild Cheddar cheese for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook rice according to package directions.

Cut tops off peppers; remove seeds and membranes. Chop edible part of tops and set aside. Cut off a little bit of the bottom of each pepper so it can stand flat, making sure you do not make any holes.

Meanwhile, cook meat over medium-high heat. Drain off fat and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Saute chopped green pepper (from tops) and chopped onion for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add rice and stir until coated with mixture. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine egg and Ricotta cheese. Add oregano, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes and Worcestershire sauce. Gently stir to blend. Add drained ground beef to the Ricotta mixture and stir to combine. Add the tomato mixture and 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese. Mix well. Adjust seasonings as needed.

Stuff peppers to the top with the meat mixture and place in a 9x13" pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes. If desired, top stuffed peppers with additional shredded Cheddar cheese 5 minutes before peppers are done; bake until cheese is melted.

Source: SK Original