Baked Penne with Tomato Mozzarella & Sausage

My sister, Tomi turned me on to this yummy goodness from chef, Erica De Mane, who specializes in southern Italian cooking. Serve with a simple salad.

Baked Penne with Tomato, Mozzarella & Sausage

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut in small dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 lb. sweet Italian pork sausage, removed from its casing and crumbled
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 35-oz. can whole plum tomatoes, chopped, with their juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh marjoram or oregano (from about 6 large sprigs)
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated mild pecorino cheese
  • Pinch nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 lb. dried penne (or ziti if you prefer)
  • 1/2 lb. mozzarella, preferably fresh, cut in small cubes

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 425°F. Lightly oil a large, shallow baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • In a large skillet or stock pot, heat about 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and crumbled sausage and sauté until the sausage starts to brown. Season with salt and pepper. If the sausage gives off a lot of fat, pour off most of it, but leave a little to add flavor to the sauce. Add the red wine and let it boil until it’s almost gone. Add the tomatoes with all of their juices and cook, uncovered, at a lively simmer for about 10 minutes. The sauce will thicken slightly. Add the marjoram or oregano and taste for seasoning.
  • In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, about half of the grated pecorino, the nutmeg, and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Meanwhile, cook the ziti until al dente (7-8 minutes max). Drain well and toss it with the ricotta mixture until well coated. Add the sausage and sauce and mix again. Add the mozzarella and toss gently. Pour everything into the baking dish and sprinkle the remaining pecorino on top. Bake uncovered until lightly browned and bubbling, about 20 minutes. Serve right away.
  • Nutritional Info (based on four servings)
  • Calories (kcal) : 1070
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 390
  • Fat (g): 44
  • Saturated Fat (g): 20
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 17
  • Cholesterol (mg): 110
  • Sodium (mg): 114
  • Carbohydrates (g): 113
  • Fiber (g): 8
  • Protein (g): 54

Blueberry Peach and Goat Cheese Tarts

Blueberry Peach and Goat Cheese Tarts

  • Servings: 4-6

Tender crust enveloping juicy colorful fruit, a few dots of cheese, and not much else. Makes four or six depending on size.  Feel free to change out the fruit if you like.  I especially like the combination of these summertime fruits.

Dough

You can make your own crust but I love the convenience of using frozen pie crust (Trader Joe’s is my favorite).  It comes in a package of two.   I  make 4-6 tarts with one crust.

 

The Rest

4 tbsp ground almonds (I love almonds but if you don’t – or have an allergy – you can skip. They help absorb the juice of the fruit)
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 ripe peach OR nectarine (white or yellow is fine)
2 tbsp raw sugar, divided use
3-4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp lemon thyme leaves – optional
1 egg yolk, whisked

Instructions

  1. Thaw the frozen dough according to package instructions.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Slice the peach or nectarine into 12 slices and set aside. Line two baking trays/jelly roll pans with parchment paper.
  3. Divide dough into 4-6 equal pieces and pat into discs.  Roll out to measure about 5-7 inches each.  They don’t need to be perfect circles.
  4. Dust each with ground almonds, if using.  Divide the berries and peach slices between the dough discs, dot with goat cheese crumbles and thyme leaves (if using).  Try to leave a good margin so that you can pull the edges of the dough up over the form a crumpled frame.
  5. Pull up the edges of the dough but leave most of the fruit showing, and gently pleat.  Rustic and homemade is good!
  6. Brush the dough with egg or milk and sprinkle sugar on the dough and fruit.  place the trays in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden.  Cover loosely with foil and bak for about 5 more minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool slightly, and then place on individual dishes for serving.  Feel free to add vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche if you like.

Enjoy!

 

Easy Banana Nut Muffins

IMG_8868Banana Honey-Nut Muffins

Servings: 12 muffins
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Total Time: 55 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

FOR THE MUFFINS

  • 1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • large eggs
  • 2 to 3 overripe bananas (mashed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream (low fat is fine)

INSTRUCTIONS

    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
    2. Make the walnut topping: In a small bowl, toss the nuts with the honey and cinnamon until the nuts are evenly coated (the mixture will be sticky). Set aside.
    3. For the Muffins: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
    4. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and honey until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if necessary. At medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating until fully incorporated between additions. Add the mashed bananas, vanilla, and yogurt (or sour cream) and beat until blended (the batter will look grainy; that’s okay). Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until well blended.
    5. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin (the cups will be very full) and sprinkle evenly with the nut topping. Bake the muffins until the tops are golden and domed, 25 to 28 minutes. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn them out onto a rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Adapted from Once Upon a Chef’s Jennifer Segal

Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The muffins can be frozen in an airtight container or sealable plastic bag for up to 3 months. Thaw for 3 – 4 hours on the countertop before serving. To reheat, wrap individual muffins in aluminum foil and place in a preheated 350°F oven until warm.

NUTRITION INFORMATION

  • Serving size:1 muffin
  • Calories:302
  • Fat:15 g
  • Saturated fat:6 g
  • Carbohydrates:38 g
  • Sugar:21 g
  • Fiber:2 g
  • Protein:5 g
  • Sodium:216 mg
  • Cholesterol:52 mg

 

Pesto Chicken Lasagna with Zoodles

1Pesto Chicken Lasagna with Zoodles

Ingredients

2  5-6 oz. tubs of Fresh Pesto (refrigerator section of most markets)
3 oz. Alfredo sauce
1 lb. mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 roasted chicken with herbs seasoning (skin removed and shredded)
2 large zucchinis (sliced thin with a mandolin)*
1 large carton of Ricotta cheese
1 carton of baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced
3 T butter
Fresh Parmesan cheese (grated)
1/4 cup Pine nuts or slivered almonds

Instructions

1. Thinly slice the zucchini with a mandolin and lightly salt the “zoodles”.  This will draw some of the moisture out of them and prevent the dish from getting soupy after cooking.

2. Shred or cut up chicken into bite size pieces. Set aside.

3. Sauté mushrooms in butter just until they start to shrink. Set aside.

4. Mix the pesto sauce with the alfredo sauce

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

6. Layer ingredients in an 11X17 baking dish. Start with thin layer of pesto then zoodles.

Example:

pesto,
Zoodles (or traditional lasagna pasta noodles if you prefer)
ricotta (1/8 – 1/4 inch thick),
bite size chicken pieces,
mushrooms,
drizzle with pesto mixed with the Alfredo),
mozzarella.

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7. Repeat layering 3-4 times depending on how thick the baking pan is.

8. Make the last layer on top the pesto sauce with grated Parmesan cheese and then sprinkle with either pine nuts or slivered almonds.

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9. Cook in 350-degree oven for 25-30 minutes until bubbly.

IMG_8853Yummy yummy and healthy too!

*You can substitute no-boil lasgana pasta noodles instead of zoodles if you aren’t counting carbs or prefer a more traditional lasagna dish. If so, cook for 50-60 minutes instead.

 

Best Key Lime Pie Ever

Sharing this one again, because it’s just that good!  My mouth is already watering.

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SheShe’s Key Lime Pie

This creamy dreamy pie is a favorite in our family.   We always look forward to Aunt SheShe treating us to this delightful and refreshing goodness.  The tartness from the key limes and the sweetness of the crust makes a perfect combination.  It just might become a family favorite for you too!

Makes one 9-inch pie serving 6 to 8

Crust:

1 ½  cups graham cracker crumbs
3  tablespoons sugar
¼  teaspoon salt
6   tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

1  14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2/3  cup fresh squeezed Key juice or regular lime juice. (If using bottled, look for Nellie & Joe’s brand—(Ralph’s carries it.)
3    large egg yolks
1 ½   teaspoons grated lime zest (about 2 limes)
2    tablespoons sugar
¼   teaspoon salt

Topping:

1  cup chilled whipping cream (in a small carton from Trader Joe’s)
2   tablespoons powdered sugar
1   teaspoon vanilla extract
2   Key limes for garnish, sliced thinly (optional)

For crust: Preheat oven to 350. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add melted butter and stir to coat well. Press crust into 9-inch glass pie dish. Bake 5 to 8 minutes until crust is set and golden brown. Cool.

For filling: In stand mixer fitted with wire whisk or using a hand-held mixer, beat egg yolks and lime zest for 5 minutes until very fluffy. Add sugar, salt, and condensed milk and beat for 3 or 4 minutes more. Lower mixer speed and gradually add lime juice and beat just until combined. Pour mixture into cooled crust. Bake 10-15 minutes (varies by oven), or until filling is set in center. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and chill at least 6 hours or overnight.

For topping: Using electric mixer, beat all ingredients in large bowl until soft peaks form. Spread over pie and garnish with Key lime slices, if desired. (Can be refrigerated several hours ahead, or even overnight.)

Creds to Cynthia Worth  who originally adapted the recipe from Bon Appetit 1/07 and Food Network and shared with Aunt SheShe (aka Sheila Downs).

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Greek Chicken with Lemon Potatoes

 

Greek Chicken with Lemon Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts (smaller breasts cook faster)
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • 2 T  fresh rosemary
  • 2 T fresh oregano,
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb fingerling potatoes, halved or quartered lengthwise
  • 1 onion, cut in either slices or wedges
  • 2/3 cup chicken broth
  • chopped fresh oregano for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Lightly oil a large roasting pan or line it with foil.
  2. Place chicken pieces in large bowl. Season with salt, and spices (if you don’t have fresh rosemary and oregano, you can substitute with dried herbs but only use one tablespoon of each instead (half of the fresh amount). Add fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic. Place potatoes in bowl with the chicken; stir together until chicken and potatoes are evenly coated with marinade.
  3. Transfer chicken pieces, skin side up, to prepared roasting pan, reserving marinade. Distribute potato pieces among chicken thighs. Drizzle with 2/3 cup chicken broth. Spoon remainder of marinade over chicken and potatoes.
  4. Place in preheated oven. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Toss chicken and potatoes, keeping chicken skin side up; continue baking until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 25 minutes more depending  on size of chicken pieces). An instant-read thermometer inserted near the bone should read 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Transfer chicken to serving platter and keep warm.
  5. Set oven to broil or highest heat setting. Toss potatoes once again in pan juices. Place pan under broiler and broil until potatoes are caramelized, about 3 minutes. Transfer potatoes to serving platter with chicken.
  6. Optional: Place roasting pan on stove over medium heat. Add a splash of additional broth and stir up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Strain; spoon juices over chicken and potatoes. Top with chopped oregano.

Mexican Cilantro Dressing

img_8102

five minute avocado cilantro dressing


  • author: pinch of yum
  • prep time: 3 mins
  • cook time: 2 mins
  • total time: 5 minutes
  • yield: about 3/4 cup dressing

DESCRIPTION

5 Minute Cilantro Avocado Dressing – made with easy ingredients like cilantro, avocado, Greek yogurt, garlic, and lime juice.


INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CILANTRO DRESSING:

  • half an avocado
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water (more as needed to adjust consistency)
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves and stems
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • a squeeze of lime juice

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pulse all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Voila!

Enjoy with your favorite salad or use this Spicy Southwestern Salad recipe.

img_8109

Spicy Southwestern Salad

img_8109

spicy southwestern salad with avocado dressing


  • creds: pinch of yum
  • prep time: 15 mins
  • cook time: 20 mins
  • total time: 35 minutes
  • yield: 4 large salads

DESCRIPTION

This easy to prepare Spicy Southwestern Salad recipe has roasted sweet potatoes, black beans, corn, lettuce, and creamy avocado dressing!


INGREDIENTS

FOR THE SALAD

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 heaping teaspoon each cumin and chili powder (plus a sprinkle of cayenne if you like it hot)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 14-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14-ounce can sweet corn, rinsed and drained
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 avocado (optional)
  • 1/2 a head of romaine lettuce, chopped

FOR THE CILANTRO DRESSING:

  • half an avocado
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves and stems
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • a squeeze of lime juice

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the sweet potatoes and chop into bite-sized pieces. Mix the olive oil, cumin, and chili powder together in a small bowl. Brush mixture on sweet potatoes. Roast for 10 minutes. Stir or shake the pan. Turn heat up to 425, and roast for another 10-15 minutes. The sweet potatoes should be just barely roasty-brown on the outside.  cook another minute or two if needed.  Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Meanwhile, pulse all the dressing ingredients in a food processor until mostly smooth.
  3. Toss the beans, corn, lettuce, and sweet potatoes with the dressing. Serve with the other half of the avocado!

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Favorite Salsa Verde Chicken

This 30-Minute One-Pan Salsa Verde Chicken is perfect for a busy weeknight.  It’s healthy, tasty, and super easy.

This Salsa Verde Chicken needs only a few basic ingredients and a casserole dish.

I always keep a jar of my favorite salsa verde from Sprouts in my pantry.  Trader Joe’s has a yummy version too, but I prefer the Sprouts version as it has a little more kick (from Jalapenos).

You can use either bone-in chicken thighs (my favorite) or boneless skinless chicken thighs works too.

Perfect over rice, tortillas, or chips.

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PREP TIME 10 minutes
COOK TIME 20-40 minutes
TOTAL TIME 30-40 minutes
Serves: 4
INGREDIENTS
  • 2 lbs.  chicken thighs (bone in or skinless & boneless)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin’
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 jar (16oz) salsa verde
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • Garnish: fresh cilantro leaves and lime wedges
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Wash and chop the garlic, onion and red pepper.
  3. Wash and towel dry the chicken and then season with salt, pepper, cumin and oregano. Lightly brush the top of each piece with olive oil and sprinkle with the minced garlic. Set aside.
  4. Pour the jar of salsa verde in a casserole dish.
  5. Place the chicken pieces in the casserole dish next and add the onion and peppers to the dish and position around the chicken pieces.
  6. Roast for 20-40 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center. (Larger chicken pieces will take longer).  Do not overcook.
  7. Serve over rice (or with tortillas) and garnish with cilantro and lime.

Vince’s Tuscan Chicken

2Vince’s Tuscan Chicken

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS
5-6 small chicken breasts or chicken thighs (boneless)
3-5 shallots, chopped
3 large tomatoes, chopped
2-3 T. oregano
1 tsp salt and
½ tsp pepper
½ cup vermouth
olive oil

DIRECTIONS
1. Lightly salt the chicken pieces if desired.  Brown chicken in olive oil for 15-20 minutes on medium heat (1/2 hour if frozen).
Remove from oil and set aside.
2. Add chopped shallots to the frying pan and cook until tender (3-5 minutes).
3. Add chopped tomatoes, oregano, vermouth and salt and pepper.

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4.  Replace chicken in mixture and cook for about 20 minutes more or until chicken done (no longer pink inside).
5.  Serve over bed of white rice, brown rice or fettuccine.

PSST!  Even though my recipe calls for boneless chicken, you can easily make it with the bone in version.  You just need to adjust the cooking time a little longer.  You want to test to make sure the juices run clear and that the meat is no longer pink.

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