Archive for the ‘Dinner’ Category

Do you ever have those kinds of weeks that everything seems to be crazy and hectic and something like the earthquake in Haiti happens and you stop and realize that nothing compares to what those people are going through?  Haiti, just one hour from the U.S. by plane, is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. More than 80 percent of Haiti’s people live in abject poverty. It has been battered by hurricanes, wracked by political violence, food insecurity and neglect. Even before the earthquake, many of Haiti’s children lived without the most basic necessities: clean water, adequate food, health care and the opportunity for an education.  I know everyone has seen the news and the heart wrenching pictures.  It’s all so sad, but seeing people reach out to help them during this time has been encouraging in so many ways.  Today I saw Pioneer Woman’s post as she is asking her readers to provide not only thoughts and prayers but suggestions of organizations that are helping Haiti during this time.  Every comment she receives today she will donate $0.10 and an additional $500 to the charities we suggest.  I left my comment today and my charity of choice was UNICEF. In any disaster, children are the most vulnerable. Undoubtedly, with a disaster of this magnitude, threats will be particularly grave for Haiti’s children.  Please go and over to Ree’s post and leave a comment or consider donating to an organization of choice. Even the little amount counts.

Staying on the charitable theme, Newman’s Own has given up to 280 million to various charities since 1982.  What could be better than to be posting about the recipes that use the products that help allow them to give to charity.  The 5th of my Newman’s Own Family Bites challenge is Chicken Cranberry Enchiladas.  This recipe came about after having leftover cranberries from Thanksgiving and chicken in my refrigerator.  You could easily use turkey if you have leftovers of that as well.  The cranberries add a slight sweetness to the dish but doesn’t overwhelm the flavor.  The cranberries are also jammed packed with antioxidants so you’ll feel even better adding them.  I prefer homemade cranberry sauce over the can version, but do what is best and easy for your family.  These are also great without the addition of the cranberries.  Actually, this is my regular recipe for enchiladas but I added the cranberry to add a little different dimension.  My family loved these so hopefully your family will love them too!


Cranberry Chicken Enchiladas

Print Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Servings: 8


2 cups shredded cooked chicken

1 cup homemade cranberry sauce

1 – 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 ½ cups Newman’s Own Medium Chunky Salsa

1 cup shredded Colby and Monterey Jack Cheese

½ cup 2% Greek yogurt or sour cream

3 green onions, diced

¼ cup fresh cilantro

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

8 – 7 to 8 inch whole wheat tortillas


1.)    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly coat a rectangle baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.  For filling, in a large bowl stir together chicken, black beans, ½ cup salsa, ¾ cup cheese, sour cream (or yogurt), 2 diced green onions, cilantro, salt and pepper.  Spoon about 2/3 cup filling on each tortilla.  Roll up tortillas around filling.  Place, seam side down, in prepared dish; set aside.

2.)    For sauce, in bowl stir together cranberry sauce and salsa.  Spoon over filled tortillas.  Cover with foil.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Uncover; top with remaining cheese.  Bake 5 to 10 minutes more until heated through and cheese is melted.  Sprinkle with additional cilantro and green onions. 


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Ok, I’m out of gas!  Today has been a long, crazy and very busy day so I’m going to keep this post short.  I promise with all my heart I will make it up to you tomorrow….promise!  Ok, I say this but hopefully tomorrow won’t be a repeat of today.  Even if it is, tomorrow will be as I promised, a more interesting and information packed post.  Thanks for understanding and onto the recipe…..

Number four of the Newman’s Own Family Bites recipes is all about Pizza Night!  Pizza night is a favorite around this house.  It’s very common that you’ll see me in the kitchen on Friday nights making individual pizzas for my husband and I.   Friday is our mini date night, of course this happens after the girls are snug in their beds and down for the night. 

The Chicken Alfredo Pizza is a favorite on my husband where I prefer the Chicken Pesto Pizza.  Both are delicious and very easy to make for your very own Pizza Night!

Chicken Spinach Alfredo Pizza and Chicken Pesto Pizza

Print Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients for pizza dough:

1 ½ pounds bakery pizza dough


Ingredients for Chicken Spinach Alfredo Pizza:

¾  cups chopped cooked chicken

½  cup  Newman’s Own Alfredo Pasta Sauce

½ cup fresh baby spinach, chopped

½ cup shredded mozzarella

½ Tbsp fresh parmesan, grated

1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped

Ingredients for Chicken Pesto Pizza:

¾ cups chopped cooked chicken

½ cup homemade or store-bought pesto sauce

½ cup fresh baby spinach, chopped

1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped

½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved

½ cup shredded mozzarella


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Divide dough into 4 equal portions.  Shape each portion into 6-inch rounds.  Carefully transfer pizza dough rounds to a baking sheet.  Place dough into oven for 5 to 8 minutes to cook slightly.  Don’t let the dough brown.
  3. On two of the pizza rounds, spread evenly the Alfredo sauce and top with spinach, basil, chicken, and cheese.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. On the other two pizza rounds, spread evenly with pesto sauce and top with basil, spinach, tomatoes, chicken, and cheese.
  5. Place pizza rounds back in oven and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or until pizza crusts are cooked.  Serve immediately.

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Baked Turkey Pasta

Ok, I’ve had a lot of baked goods lately so I thought I would post something different today.  You will find during the holidays I prefer baking over anything else.  I think it’s because my mom baked a lot during the holidays as I was growing up.  So in ways maybe it makes me feel like home?  I can’t wait for the day I get to bake with the girls.  They already try to help.  Clair keeps a close eye on the oven as it heats up.  Laine on the other hand just constantly asks for a bite.  I try to tell her it’s not quite ready yet.  So for those of you who prefer baked goodies don’t worry I am working on something in the kitchen tonight that I will post in the coming days that will satisfy your sweet tooth. 

Now onto today’s post…

On weekends and week nights I’m all about easy and quick meals.  It’s an added bonus if the meals make plenty of leftovers.  The first time I made this I would have thought Scott was in heaven.  He kept saying it was the best pasta he has had.  Knowing that we have been to great restaurants and had plenty of pasta dishes, I was convinced he was just really hungry that night.  However, every time I’ve made this dish he seems to love it even more.  Not only does he love it, but the girls do too.  So it’s all the more reasons why I make this dish for my household.  Even our dog Parker waits patiently as the turkey sausage cooks to see if I may drop a bite on the floor for him.    

When I make this dish I try to go the healthy route and use whole wheat pasta and turkey sausage, but please use what you prefer.  Its great heated up as leftovers too.  Just a little hint when heating this up in the microwave; add a tablespoon of water to keep the pasta moist. 

Baked Turkey Sausage, Tomatoes, Spinach and Cheese Pasta

Adapted from Cooking Light

Print Recipe

  • 1 (1 pound) package uncooked penne pasta
  • 1 pound Mild Turkey Sausage links
  • 1 cup onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ½ cup chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.  Drain pasta, and set aside.

Remove casings from turkey sausage.  Cook sausage, onion, and garlic in a large nonstick skillet oven medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble.  Add tomato paste, salt, pepper, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Combine cooked pasta, sausage mixture, spinach and basil.


pasta mix

Place half of the pasta mixture in a 4-quart casserole dish coated with cooking spray.  Top with half of mozzarella and half parmesan.  Repeat layers.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Enjoy!!

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Shrimp and Grits


wedding - color

Sorry for the absence!  On Friday my husband I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary.  It’s hard to believe 5 years ago in Charleston, SC we stood in front of friends and family and said our “I Do’s”.  I guess time flies when you’re having fun!  For our anniversary, Scott surprised me with a small getaway.  Ok, it wasn’t too far from home but it was one day away from being “mommy and daddy”.  He even surprised me with my mom coming in town to stay with the girls while we took off.  Thanks mom!!  The short getaway was a well needed break and we enjoyed every minute of it!  We have shared a lot in these 5 years and I have to say I couldn’t ask for a better husband and friend.  Not only that but he is a amazing daddy!  I couldn’t do it without him.

To thank my husband for his thoughtfulness and to celebrate our anniversary, I decided to make one of his favorite southern dishes….Shrimp and Grits.  I have to say I never tried shrimp and grits until the first time Scott took me to his hometown of Charleston.  If you have never been to Charleston please try to make a trip.  It is truly an amazing city.  I fell in love with the city the moment I got there and secretly wish that one day we can live there.  We even got married there which is another reason why we love that city.  Shrimp and Grits are a classic dish in Charleston and I knew once I tasted it I too needed to learn how to make it.  There are a variety of ways the dish can be made but I prefer this recipe.  I make my own shrimp stock for the dish but I’m assuming you can use chicken or vegetable broth if you prefer.  However, if you have the time the shrimp stock really is great and adds a lot of flavor to the dish.  This entry is long so I won’t write too much more.  Don’t be intimidated by the length of the recipe it really isn’t that hard…trust me.  Enjoy this favorite southern dish!! 


Shrimp Broth – Makes about 2 quarts of stock

Print Recipe

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Shells from 1-2 pounds of shrimp
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 to 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 sprigs of parsley
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 5 whole coriander seeds
  • 7 black pepper corns
  • ½ cup white wine
  • About 1-2 quarts of water

Place butter in medium stock pot over medium-high heat.  When melted, add shrimp shells, and cook until shells are pink and just starting to turn golden brown.

Add tomato paste, garlic, celery, carrots, onion, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, star anise, cloves, coriander seeds, and peppercorns to the pot and continue to cook for about 2-3 minutes.

Add the white wine to the pot (mixture will boil up vigorously), and cook until the wine is reduced to an almost syrupy consistency.

Add enough water to the pot to barely cover the shells, and bring water to a simmer.

Simmer for 30-45 minutes, and strain through a fine strainer.  Throw away shells and vegetables, and reserve stock.


Shrimp and Cheese Grits

Adapted from Charleston Cooks

  • 2-3 bacon slices, diced (I used turkey bacon)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp blackening season
  • ¼ pound shrimp, de-veined and shelled
  • 1 ear corn, shucked and kernels cut off cob
  • 6-8 okra, sliced into rounds
  • 8-12 grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 recipe shrimp stock
  • 2 Tbsp butter


Place the bacon in a large sauté pan, and cook over medium heat until lightly golden brown.

Add the garlic and onion to the pan, and sauté over medium heat until onion is translucent.

Add the blackening season to the pan, and sauté in the bacon fat until aromatic.  Next add the shrimp and allow them to sit in the pan untouched for one minute.  Do not stir.

Add the corn, okra, and tomatoes to the pan and stir to incorporate.  Add enough shrimp stock to cover shrimp about halfway.

Bring the stock to a boil, and reduce sauce slightly.  Turn off the heat and fold in the butter to finish.


Cheese Grits

  • 3 ½ cups water
  • ¾ cups grits
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup shredded cheese (I used 2%)
  • ½ cup milk (more depending on how thick or thin you prefer your grits)

Place water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Slowly stir in grits and salt.  Reduce heat to low; cover.  Cook 15 to 20 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and add cheese and milk.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place grits and bowl and top with the shrimp mix and enjoy!

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Chicken Southwest Wrap


During the week I’m all about quick and easy meals.  It’s even better if I have leftovers that can be used for another meal during the week too.  This recipe fits all of these needs.  It’s easy, quick and delicious.  I came across this recipe from My Kitchen Café.  What a great blog with a number of recipes I would like to try!  This one fit the need I was looking for when I needed an easy meal.  I used brown rice and whole wheat tortillas but please feel free to use what you like best.  If you have been following my blog you know I’m all about healthy and whole grain use in my cooking and baking.  I served these wraps with fresh salsa and guacamole.  These wraps were delicious and were a hit with my husband.  It will be a recipe I will definitely use again.  Enjoy!

Southwest Chicken Wraps

Adapted from My Kitchen Café

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice, warm or at room temperature
  • 1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
  • 1 can low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 green onion, finely sliced (white and green parts)
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • ½ Tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp garlic salt
  • 1 to cups shredded 2% cheese
  • 6 tortillas of choice (I used whole wheat)

Mix cooked rice together with chili powder, cumin and garlic salt.  Add the next 6 ingredients (chicken through lime juice) to the rice mixture. 

Sprinkle cheese over tortilla, leaving ½ inch border around edges, then arrange chicken and rice mixture down the center of each tortilla.  Roll stuffed tortillas, leaving edges open.  Spray the tortillas all over with cooking spray.

Heat a large non-stick skillet (or griddle) over medium heat for 1 minute.  Arrange 2 wraps seam-side down, in pan and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 3-4 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate and serve with fresh salsa and guacamole.

Note:  If you have leftovers, just place the chicken and rice mixture in the refrigerator in an airtight container.  When ready for a quick and easy meal take the chicken and rice mixture out and prepare another wrap as described above.

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Chicken Pot Pie Bites


Chicken Pot Pie is a favorite around my house.  With fall approaching I thought what better time to make a chicken pot pie.  However, I wanted to try something a little different this time.  I wanted to attempt making individual bite size chicken pot pies which would be just the right size for the girls.  I searched for recipes online but couldn’t find anything.  This lead me to try it on my own.  The end results I thought came out great and it’s just the right size for toddlers.  I know this recipe will be great when they get older too. 

Usually when I make chicken pot pie I buy the crust premade, but since I have been trying to be healthy and use whole grains where I can I decided to make the crust from scratch.  That way I knew what was going into the crust which in turn made me know that I was giving the girls something healthy and good.  However, please use what is the best for you and your family.   For the filling, I used my tried and true recipe.  I had left over filling after making the bite sizes which allowed me to make a serving just for my husband.  So in the end everyone was happy in my household.  If you don’t have little ones around your house, you can always skip the bite size version and make a “big” version using a 9×13 baking dish.  Either way I hope you find these enjoyable! 


Chicken Pot Pie Bites

For Whole Wheat Pie Crust (adapted from King Arthur Whole Grain Baking Cookbook):

·         1 cup whole wheat flour

·         1 Tbsp buttermilk powder (optional)

·         1 Tbsp confectioners’ sugar

·         ¼ tsp baking powder

·         ¼ tsp salt

·         6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter

·         2 Tbsp orange juice

·         2 to 4 Tbsp ice cold water

Whisk together the flour, buttermilk (if using), sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Cut the butter into small cubes and work into dry ingredients using a pastry blender or fork until the dough is evenly crumbly.  The goal is a crumbly mixture featuring uneven bits of butter, with the butter being in recognizable pieces. 

Sprinkle the orange juice over the dough and toss to moisten.  Add ice water a tablespoon at a time, mixing until the dough is cohesive.  Grab a handful; if it holds together willingly and doesn’t seem at all dry or crumbly, you’ve added enough liquid.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a round disk.  Roll on its edge along a floured work surface, as though the disk were a wheel, to smooth the edges out.  This will result in a rolled out crust, rather than ragged, edges.

Pat the disk until it’s evenly round and about 1 inch thick and roll it like a wheel again.  Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 3 days.  I refrigerated my crust for two days before using.  When ready to use take pie crust out and allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.


For Chicken Pot Pie:

·         1 ¼ lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts

·         1 tsp salt

·         Ground black pepper

·         2 Tbsp Olive Oil

·         1 onion, diced

·         2 celery stalks, diced

·         2 carrots, diced

·         1 ½ cups red potatoes, cut into small pieces

·         2 garlic cloves, minced

·         1 ½ cups low-fat milk

·         1/3 cup white whole wheat flour

·         2 cups low sodium chicken broth

·         1 cup frozen peas

·         2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

·         1 Tbsp fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 350.

Season Chicken with ¼ tsp salt and a few turns of fresh ground pepper.  In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tsp of oil over a medium-high heat.  Add the chicken to the pan and cook until chicken is done, turning only once.  Transfer the chicken to a plate, when cooled cut into bite size pieces. 

Add 2 more tsp of oil to the pan, add the onion, celery, and carrots to the pan and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the potatoes, garlic, and remaining salt and pepper to cook for 2 more minutes.

Add the milk to the pan.  Stir the flour into the chicken broth until dissolved and add to the pan.  Cook stirring until mixture comes to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cover and simmer stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.  Stir in reserved chicken (cut into bite size pieces), peas, parsley, and thyme. 


Preparing the Chicken Pot Pie Bites:

When ready, spray a 12 cup muffin pan with nonstick spray.  Roll out pie crust to 1/8” thickness.  You should have enough pie crust to cut 12 3” squares for the bottoms of the bites and 12 1” round disks (using a biscuit cutter) for the tops of the disk.  Place a 3” square into one of the cups covering the cup bottom.  Repeat with the remaining cups.  Then place the chicken pot pie filling into each cup.  Take one of the 1” round disks and place on top of the pie filling and sealing the top to the bottoms.  Repeat with the remaining cups.  Then place three slits on top of the pot pie bites.

Bake until bubbling and crust is golden.  About 30 to 35 minutes.

Note:  I had some of the chicken pot filling left-over so I baked my husband his own in a small casserole dish and used some pie crust I had left-over in the freezer.

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In most classic pesto recipes they call for pine nuts, cheese and oil lots of oil.  Not this one!  I reduced the oil and cheese, but still kept the flavor.  I’ve used the combination of spinach and basil with a little cheese and oil for a healthy alternative to your traditional pesto.  The pesto alone accounts for a full serving of vegetables.  Then you add in the tomatoes and yellow bell pepper and you are loading you and your child with “hidden” vegetables.  This is an easy recipe and great for a side or as a main dish. 


Spinach Pesto Chicken Pasta

  • ½ lb whole wheat pasta of choice
  • 2 cups tightly-packed baby spinach (about 3 oz)
  • 1 cup tightly-packed fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • ¼ cup unsalted toasted almond slivers
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 ½ cups cooked chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken), cubed
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced small
  • 1 ½ cups cooked white beans ( or 1 15 oz can low-sodium white beans, drained and rinsed)
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

 Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain pasta and rinse with cold water to stop it from cooking further.  Set aside.

Put spinach, basil, garlic, cheese in a food processor and pulse to form a chunky paste.  With food processor running (on but not pulsing), add olive oil through the food chute in a slow drizzle until thick, smooth pesto forms.  Combine pesto with cooked pasta in a large bowl.

Put almonds in processor and pulse about 10 times, until finely chopped.  Stir almonds into pasta.

Add cubed chicken, tomatoes, yellow pepper and beans to the pasta.  Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!!


KID CONVERTIBLE NOTE:  To make this pasta appealing to kids, select pasta that’s cut into letters or fun shapes and isn’t too difficult to eat.  If your child has a nut allergy, simple strike the almonds from the ingredients list.  You can always do half the pasta with almonds and half without too.  And one more note, if you child isn’t a pesto lover you can always substitute the pesto for homemade pureed tomato sauce.  Stay tune and I’ll post my easy tomato sauce recipe that can be ready in 5 minutes.

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