• Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and Pepper Pasta)

    DSC_0858

     

    This is some seriously good pasta.  Even Ellie, who doesn’t like much pasta, loves this dish.  It’s peppery and goodness with lots of pecorino Romano cheese.  It goes great with grilled steak, and the leftovers are really good too.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. angel hair pasta
    • salt
    • 2 c. finely grated pecorino Romano cheese
    • 1 TBSP (plus or minus to your liking) freshly ground pepper
    • Good olive oil (we like a basil infused olive oil probably a couple of TBSP)

    Directions:

    1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt the water, add pasta and cook according to package.
    2. Meanwhile grate the cheese.
    3. In a large pasta serving bowl combine cooked pasta, cheese, pepper, and olive oil.  Toss to combine.  Add 1/2 cup or more of pasta water to help melt the cheese and combine.

    Cacio e Pepe:
    5star

  • Pasta Caprese (aka Best Pasta Sauce)

    DSC_0823

     

    We love Italian, but unfortunately the kiddos don’t like ricotta cheese (gasp!).  I have finally found a lasagna like dish that everyone loves, and this has become our go to “lasagna”.  Every time I’ve made this the kiddos have asked for seconds.  That’s a score in my book!

    ******I also make just the sauce from this dish and use it in all my Italian cooking.  It is the BEST pasta sauce…can’t ever go back to the jar stuff…yes, it really is that good!  This is our go to red sauce for all dishes we make.******

    Adapted from Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich.

    Ingredients:

    • 3 TBSP olive oil
    • 4-6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
    • 2 35-oz. cans Italian tomatoes (like San Marzano)
    • Crushed red pepper to taste
    • Salt to taste
    • Sugar to taste (I usually use about 2 TBSP, but it all depends on how sweet or sour your canned tomatoes are)
    • 2 c. freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (I use a fine microplane grater–if you use a larger shred, your amounts will need to be adjusted downward since with the fine grater there is a lot of air taking up the 2 c. space)
    • 1 lb. Campanelle pasta or pasta of your choice
    • 1 lb. pearl mozzarella
    • 1 c. shredded fresh basil leaves

    Directions:

    1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, put the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and blitz until you reach a desired texture (we prefer smooth with some chunkier pieces). Then add the tomatoes and crushed red pepper, if using, to the skillet.  Season with salt and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, to reduce until you get your desired consistency.  We like a thicker sauce, so I simmered for about 30-45 minutes. Taste and add sugar and salt as needed.  Add the Pecorino Romano cheese and stir to combine.  If you use finely grated the cheese the cheese will “melt” into the sauce quite easily.  Taste again adjust seasoning as necessary.
    3. Bring a pot of water to a boil; add salt; and cook pasta according to the box.
    4. When pasta is al dente, add the pasta to the skillet with the sauce, and toss to combine.  Add the fresh mozzarella and chopped basil.

    Serve with garlic bread, salad, and fruit and enjoy!

    Pasta Caprese:

    5star

  • Ramen Broccoli Salad

    DSC_0809

     

    This salad is so good, and a great side for a hot day.  Both Ethan and Ellie were skeptical at first, but then they tried it.  Ethan had 3 servings, and Ellie had 2 servings.  That never happens!  We had it just a few days ago and it’s already been requested for this week’s menu.  Definitely a hit!

    This is a great dish for a potluck or picnic because there’s no mayo to worry about.

    Version 1 Ingredients (Omit Seasoning Pack):

    • 1 12 oz. package of broccoli slaw mix (in produce section with packaged sugar snap peas, etc.)
    • 1 package of chicken or Oriental flavor Ramen Noodles, broken into small pieces
    • 1/4 c. grape seed oil (can use vegetable or canola oil)
    • Splash of sesame oil
    • 1/4 c. seasoned rice wine vinegar
    • 1/4 c. honey
    • 3 tsp. soy sauce
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 green onion, sliced (green only)

    Version 2 Ingredients (With Seasoning Pack):

    • 1 12 oz. package of broccoli slaw mix (in produce section with packaged sugar snap peas, etc.)
    • 1 package of chicken or Oriental flavor Ramen Noodles, broken into small pieces
    • Ramen seasoning package
    • 1/4 c. grape seed oil (can use vegetable or canola oil)
    • Splash of sesame oil
    • 1/4 c. seasoned rice wine vinegar
    • 1/4 c. white sugar
    • 1 green onion, sliced (green only)

    Directions:

    1. In a mixing bowl, mix together broccoli slaw and broken Ramen noodles.
    2. In a separate bowl, whisk together Ramen seasoning package, grape seed oil, sesame oil, vinegar, and sugar.
    3. Toss dressing mixture with the broccoli slaw until well coated.
    4. Top with sliced green onion and serve chilled.

    Ramen Broccoli Salad:

    5star

  • Ginger Scallion Noodles

    DSC_0760

    This side dish is so simple yet so good.  We seem to always have a batch in the fridge, whether for a dinner side or just to snack on.  Sometimes the simplest dishes are the best.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
    • garlic, minced
    • 3 inch piece of ginger, minced
    • 1/3 c. grape seed oil
    • 6 TBSP vinegar (we use 3 TBSP seasoned rice vinegar and 3 TBSP ancho vinegar from a local specialty shop)
    • 2 tsp. soy sauce
    • 2 6 oz. packages of Wel-Pac Chinese Chow Mein Stir-Fry Noodles (or any egg noodle or any noodle you like)

    Directions:

    1. Combine green onions through soy sauce in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Meanwhile, boil a pot of water, add salt and then add noodles and cook according to directions.
    3. Drain and rinse noodles with cold water and then add to mixing bowl.  Toss to combine.  Serve chilled.

    Ginger Scallion Noodles:

    5star

     

  • Easiest Apple Cake Ever

    DSC_0272

     

    This is the easiest apple cake ever!  It’s “healthy” too since the recipe uses a boxed angel food cake mix, and there’s no added fat.  It’s delicious, and everyone loved this treat.

    Top with fresh fruit, like strawberries, or strawberry coulis and add whipped cream.

    Note: when cake cools it does deflate a bit, but it’s just as tasty!

    Ingredients:

    • 1 box of angel food cake mix
    • 1 20 oz. can of apple pie filling (sugar free), cut apples if desired

    Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350*
    2. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.
    3. In a large bowl combine the angel food cake mix and the apple pie filling (if you want smaller pieces of apple, cut the apple pieces before mixing with the cake mix), and stir to combine.
    4. Poor batter into the prepared pan and cook for 30-35 minutes or until done (knife will come out clean).
    5. Top with fruit and whipped cream.

    Easiest Apple Cake Ever:
    5star

  • Whole Wheat Banana Muffins with Maple Frosting

    DSC_0132

     

    These muffins are beyond delicious.  They are moist and flavorful and you would never know that they are healthyish!

    Think banana bread meets maple frosting.

    Think muffin meets cupcake.

    Think delicious.

    I combined two different recipes to create these muffins.

    Muffin recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod.  Frosting Recipe from Crazy for Crust.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 c. whole-wheat flour
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 4 large ripe bananas (about 1 3/4 c. mashed)
    • 1 c. packed brown sugar
    • 1/4 c. coconut oil, melted and cooled
    • 1 large egg
    • 1/2 c. plain Greek yogurt
    • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
    • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on muffins before baking, optional

    Frosting Ingredients:

    • 3 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
    • 1 c. powdered sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. maple extract
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • Milk or heavy whipping cream

    Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350*F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners, spray with cooking spray, and set aside.
    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
    3. Peel the bananas and mash with a fork. Place the mashed bananas in a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, coconut oil, egg, Greek yogurt, and vanilla extract. Stir until well combined. Slowly stir in the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
    4. Fill muffin liners three-quarters full. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
    5. For the frosting: whisk melted butter and powdered sugar. Add extracts, whisk until smooth. Add milk or heavy whipping cream (to desired consistency…start with just a small amount (1-2 tsp.) at a time and add more, if necessary), whisk until smooth. Immediately frost completely cooled muffins.

    Whole Wheat Banana Muffins with Maple Frosting:
    5star

  • Apple Crumb Pie

    DSC_0296

    If you like apple pie and if you like crumb topping, you’ll love this apple crumb pie!  This pie will have its place at our Thanksgiving feasts.

    Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 recipe of No Fail Pie Crust (or make a full recipe and make tarts with the leftover crust….yum!)
    • 6 c. apples (Fuji, Jazz, Braeburn, Granny Smith mix), sliced ¼ inch thick
    • 1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
    • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
    • 2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

    Crumb Topping:

    • 1 c. all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 c. packed light or dark brown sugar
    • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 8 TBSP (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces

    Directions:

    1. Make the pie crust according to directions, roll it out into a 9-inch pie plate and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before filling with the apples.
    2. Preheat the oven to 375*. Peel, core and slice all the apples to about 1/4-inch thick. It doesn’t have to be exact – just try to get them all about the same thickness so the apples cook evenly.
    3. Toss the apples in a bowl with the lemon juice, sugar, and cinnamon. Add the apple mixture to the chilled crust.
    4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Add the butter pieces and cut in with a fork, your fingers or a pastry blender until the mixture is coarsely combined and makes a streusel-like consistency.
    5. Lightly press the crumb mixture on top of the apples. Place the pie on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes until the apples are tender and the crust is golden brown. If the crust edges are getting too dark during the last 30 minutes of baking, you can cover them with foil for the remainder of baking.
    6. Serve warm or at room temperature. This pie is delicious with a bit of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

    Apple Crumb Pie:

    5star

  • Pineapple Chicken: Stovetop or Crockpot

    DSC_0064

    This Pineapple Chicken I’ve made 2 ways.  The first is a stovetop version and the second is a Crockpot version.  The main difference is for the Crockpot version, I coated the chicken in cornstarch and browned the meat in a skillet prior to adding to the Crockpot.  The family loved both, but they preferred the coated version.  You can easily use the coated version of the stovetop too.

    Directions for the stovetop version and the Crockpot version below.

    Stovetop Ingredients:

      • ¼ c. Heinz 57
      • ½ c. water
      • 1 8oz. can of crushed pineapple
      • 3 TBSP brown sugar
      • Olive oil
      • 2 tsp. garlic
      • Chicken breasts, cut up
      • Crushed red pepper to taste after cooking

    Directions:

    1. In a bowl, mix the Heinz 57 through brown sugar, set aside.
    2. Heat olive oil in a skillet, add garlic, then add the chicken and cook until done; then add the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.
    3. Individuals can add their own crushed red pepper.

    Crockpot Ingredients:

    • ¼ c. Heinz 57
    • ½ c. water
    • 1 8oz. can of crushed pineapple
    • 3 TBSP brown sugar
    • 1/3 c. cornstarch
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • Olive oil
    • 2 tps. garlic
    • Chicken breasts, cut up
    • Crushed red pepper to taste after cooking

    Directions:

    1. In a bowl, mix the Heinz 57 through brown sugar, set aside.
    2. Put cornstarch in a shallow bowl.  In another bowl, beat eggs.
    3. Slice chicken, then dredge chicken in cornstarch and then toss chicken in egg.
    4. Heat olive oil in a skillet, add the garlic, and then add chicken and brown (chicken won’t be fully cooked).
    5. Place chicken in Crockpot and add sauce.
    6. Cook on HIGH for 2 hours.
    7. Individuals can add their own crushed red pepper.

    Pineapple Chicken:

    5star

  • Baked Chicken Parmesan

    There is absolutely no frying involved in this recipe…it is so easy….and so delicious.  It’s definitely a healthier version of traditional chicken parmesan and no one misses the hassle or the extra calories of the traditional version.  The croutons give this dish the breading of the traditional version, and since I use fat free croutons, none of the guilt.   The kiddos devoured this meal!

    Ingredients:

    • 2 TBSP olive oil
    • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
    • salt to taste
    • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, divided
    • 1 (3-oz.) package fat free croutons, divided
    • 1 jar of pasta sauce, divided
    • 1/4 c. chopped basil
    • 8 oz. mozzarella, shredded , divided
    • 4 oz. Parmesan, grated , divided

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350*
    2. In a 9 x 13 pan, add olive oil and garlic; then add the chicken and sprinkle with salt and ½ tsp. of Italian seasoning.  Crush ½ of the croutons and sprinkle over chicken; then cover chicken with 2/3 of the jar of sauce.  Add remaining Italian seasoning and chopped basil.  Then add 4 oz. of shredded mozzarella and 2 oz. of grated Parmesan; then spread remaining sauce over the cheese.  Top with remaining croutons and remaining cheese.
    3. Bake for 35 minutes or until done.

    Baked Chicken Parmesan:

     

     

  • Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

    This muffin recipe is so darn good.  The original recipe is vegan but I use milk instead of nondairy milk, and I also use a dairy based light margarine.  But if you want to make it vegan go right ahead.  Everyone loves these muffins!!!

    Ingredients:

    • 1/4 c. skim milk
    • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
    • 1 c. all purpose flour
    • 1 c. whole wheat flour
    • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
    • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
    • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/2 c. light country crock margarine
    • 1/2 c. brown sugar
    • 1/2 c. white sugar
    • 3 ripe bananas
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple
    • 1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350*; line muffin pan with baking cups and spray with cooking spray.
    2. In a small bowl, combine milk and vinegar.
    3. In a large bowl, combine both flours, baking soda, salt and spices.
    4. In a mixing bowl, cream the margarine and sugars; then add the bananas, vanilla, milk mixture, and pineapple.
    5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet; then mix in chocolate chips.  Stir until just combined.
    6. Pour batter in the muffin tins and bake for 25 minutes (if making a loaf instead, bake for 60-70 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
    7. Remove pan from oven and let cool slightly; then remove muffins and let cool on a cooling rack (if making a loaf, remove the pan from the oven and place on cooling rack for 10 minutes; then transfer the bread from the pan to the rack and let cool completely before slicing-preferably overnight).

    Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins: