Tag Archives: dinner

Homemade Pasta Bolognese

This is one my “go to” recipes for a weekly meal.  My version of Pasta Bolognese has a bunch of veggies too!  There is one unusual ingredient that gives it a ton of flavor – balsamic vinegar.  The balsamic vinegar gets caramelized a bit on the bottom of the pan.  Then you can scrape all of the goodness stuck to the pan and incorporate it into the sauce.  Plus the smell is amazing as this is simmering away!

Homemade Bolognese Sauce

Homemade Pasta Bolognese

  • 1.5 lbs. ground beef (or turkey)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 – 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 – 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs or fresh herbs to taste

Brown the meat over medium heat in a large sauce pan.  When almost cooked through, add the onion and carrots.  Continue cooking until the veggies are soft.  Add green pepper and garlic.  Once the meat is browned and the veggies have been cooked, add the balsamic vinegar.  Let the balsamic vinegar cook down a bit and it will start to caramelize.  Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits.  Add the tomatoes and sauce.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer down for at least 10 minutes….or longer.

I usually add cooked pasta right into the sauce and toss with the sauce.



Lemon Garlic Baked Chicken

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy Baked Chicken should have been title of this dish!  So easy, so tasty and just a handful of ingredients.


Lemon Garlic Baked Chicken

  • 2 large chicken breasts with skin on
  • 2 lemons; one sliced thin and 1 squeezed
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh green beans

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Prepare baking dish and drizzle bottom with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Layer the lemon slices on the bottom of pan and place chicken on top.  In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and S&P.  Toss the green beans in mixture and pour over the chicken.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked.  About half way cooked, spoon juices over the chicken to baste.

Serving suggestion – serve with pasta tossed in the lemon garlic juice from the chicken bake.



The Best Roast Chicken – Ever!

Such a cold dreary fall day and some comfort food is needed to break the mood.

A Roasted Chicken can be made a bunch of different ways and I find that there can be some strong opinions out there as to which way is the best.  But, I have made chicken a few different ways and I think this one is the best, hands down!

This idea from this recipe came from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Cookbook.  The key ingredient that I now swear by…is the whole lemon.  It not only makes my chicken look absolutely gorgeous, it gives it great flavor and makes the house smell wonderful.


Here’s what I do…

Preheat oven to 400°.

Chop 2 medium-sized yellow onions into quarters and place in the middle of a shallow roast pan.  This becomes a “rack” for the chicken to sit on.

Take one lemon and pierce it several times with a knife.  Place it in the microwave for 40 seconds.  (already smells good…)

Place the lemon and a bunch of fresh thyme inside the cavity of the chicken.  (thyme + chicken = yum)

Rub the chicken with olive oil and salt and pepper the surface.  I like to use coarse sea salt for my roasts (if you have it).

Sit the chicken on the onions.  If I am roasting other veggies like carrots and potatoes, I place them around the chicken.

That’s it!  Place it in the oven and roast.  A 3 ½ to 4 pound chicken should take 2 to 2 ¼ hours, but test for doneness.

What is your favorite way to roast chicken?

Veggie Quinoa Frittata

Frittata is an Italian egg-based dish similar to an omelette or crustless quiche, enriched with additional ingredients such as meats, cheese, vegetables or pasta.  It may be flavored with herbs.  They are so versatile that I never make them the same way twice and they are perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  It is a great way to get more veggies into my family’s diet and everyone in my house is pretty happy when I make them.  The kids especially like a slice with a little ketchup drizzled on top.

Slice of Frittata

Pre-cook 1/3 cup of quinoa in 1/3 cup of water for 15 minutes until the water is absorbed.  Set aside.

This frittata was a veggie version.  But, sometimes I check out my fridge to see if there is any leftover ham, chicken or pork.  Any leftover meat or veggies are perfect for a frittata!!  Cube it and throw that in too.  Otherwise, pick any veggies that you have on hand and chop them.

First Harvest Asparagus

I was pretty excited that I was able to harvest my first batch of asparagus from the garden today.  Since it is a small handful, it will not be enough to serve for dinner, so into my frittata it goes!!

Use a medium-sized fry pan that can be placed in the oven, under a broiler.  Sautee the veggies in a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil until softened.

Sauteed Veggies

Once the veggies are done, spread them out evenly in the fry pan and place the cooked quinoa on top.  Quinoa is perfect because it will settle to the bottom of the dish and give it some crunch, almost like a crust.  This is the perfect time to add leftover meat.

Layer Quinoa

Wisk 5 eggs in a small mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Gently pour the eggs over the veggies and quinoa evenly.  I strategically placed a few slices of sweet baby red peppers to fancy it up.  This is the perfect time to sprinkle a little shredded cheese or grated parmesan if you’d like.

Cook over medium heat until the eggs are almost completely set.

Quinoa Egg Frittata

To finish cooking the eggs, I place it under a broiler a few minutes until the top is cooked and golden brown.

Veggie Quinoa Frittata

Slide the frittata out of the pan and cut into wedges to serve.

Healthy Quinoa Frittata

Lunch is served!!

Wild Salmon En Croute

“En Croute” indicates food that is wrapped in pastry dough.   You can make a visually beautiful dinner even on a week night!

Today, I was inspired by a recipe in Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Cookbook, but I added a slightly different twist.  Best thing was that I had all of the ingredients on hand in my fridge, freezer and pantry.  I try to keep a package of frozen puff pastry on hand because I never know when I might need it…and I am stocked up on a filets of salmon.  My family and I are doing good at eating a fish dinner at least once a week because of the health benefits and my kids LOVE it!  I personally prefer wild salmon because of the taste and texture.  I topped the salmon with basil pesto, slices of fresh campari tomatoes, and slices of mozzarella.  This was a very eye appealing, fast, fun and easy dinner – yummo!

Wild Salmon En Croute

Wild Salmon En Croute

2 sheets of puff pastry

large filet of salmon

2 or 3 TB basil pesto

slices of 2 large tomatoes or 4 small tomatoes

2-3 ounces of mozzarella cheese, sliced

1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400°.

Dust counter surface and rolling pin with flour.  Place two sheets of puff pastry, one on top of the other, roll dough until same size of a cookie sheet.  Lay dough on top of a cookie sheet dusted with flour.  Lightly drizzle olive oil on salmon filet to coat the surface  and place the filet in the center of the dough.  Generously spread the basil pesto over the top of the filet.  Layer the tomato slices down the center of the filet and fill in with the mozzarella cheese.  Roll the dough around the edges of salmon filet.  Brush the egg on the edges of the pastry dough.

Place salmon on the lowest rack of your oven with an empty cookie on the rack above to sheild the heat.  Bake for 35 minutes until the salmon is done and the pastry is puffed and golden brown.

Mini Turkey Meatballs

Here’s another great way to get your kids in the kitchen making a quick and healthy dinner.  My 5 and 3-year-old helped me mix the ingredients and roll them into little balls.  We used a melon baller to get equal amount of mixture to each meatball.  They are cute, kid friendly because of their size and texture and quick to bake.  Of course I added a veggie ingredient for added nutrition.  By using the melon baller, I was able to make 63 mini meatballs out of 1 pound of ground turkey!

Mini Meatballs

Mini Turkey Meatballs

1 lb. ground turkey

1/4 C bread crumbs

1 small onion, diced

1/4 C bell pepper

1 egg, beaten

2 TB fresh flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven 350°.  Mix all ingredients until well combined.  Scoop up using a melon baller and roll in between your hand until a round uniform shape is achieved.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes, flip the meatballs half way through.  Once baked, add the meatballs to pasta sauce and serve over pasta.

Why not make another batch and freeze them?  Layer the meatball on Sweet Stackers – stackable trays which fit many popular brands of plastic food storage containers.  Helps to save space in a packed freezer!  The trays will separate the meatballs to prevent them from sticking together.  Once frozen solid they can be removed and placed in a plastic freezer bag.  Visit sweetstackers.com!

Frozen meatballs can be thawed directly in a pot of pasta sauce on the stove top for a quick dinner.

Carrot Apple Salad

Carrot Salad…yeah, I was never a big fan until I tried this combination and my kids loved it!  Only 4 ingredients, how much easier can you get?

Carrot Salad

I am trying to change things up and find new ways to get more servings of vegetables in our diet.  I thought this was a pretty clever salad that appealed to all of my kids (and Mom & Dad too).   Raw veggies are the best for us.  I have some success with my kids eating raw baby carrots at lunchtime, but they are too difficult to eat for young children.  So my 5-year-old will eat them and my 3-year-old says “it’s too hard”.  So this salad is perfect for even my 1-year-old to eat because the carrots are shredded and the apples are cut into a very small dice.  The combination of flavors are very appealing too.  I like the sweet flavor of the carrot and raisins combined with the crunch of the apple.

Here’s is another tip that I learned recently for getting your youngsters to eat their vegetables at dinnertime and I think it makes perfect sense!  Serve the vegetable as a first course instead of a side.  I watch my kids eat up their dinner and usually leave their veggie for the end.  Sometimes it turns out that they are “full” by the time they get to the most important part of their meal.  So I tried this theory one night and served this Carrot Apple Salad as a first course, in a small individual bowls for my whole family.  My kids at first looked at me funny and said, “hey, where’s my dinner”, but then I explained that it was still coming.  All three kids gobbled up this salad with no complaints.  They were hungry and didn’t fill up on the rest of their dinner yet.

Carrot Apple Salad

note: may be doubled, tripled depending on how many you are serving

1 large organic carrot, shredded with box grater

1 small apple, diced small

1/4 C raisins

1-2 TB mayonnaise

Toss the shredded carrot, apple and raisins together and coat with mayonnaise.

Pomegranate Chopped Salad

This salad is perfect for fall and winter because pomegranates are in season.  Since the summer, I have been trying to pick a “new” fruit or vegetable with my kids.  “New” which means we have never bought it, chopped it or cooked it before.  So I brought this fruit home and wasn’t sure what to do with it.  I searched the internet and decided that my approach would be to remove the seeds in water.

I really enjoyed the combination of sweet and tart in this salad and it was a big hit with my kids who are really not into eating green leaf salads yet.  This would make a beautiful salad for serving when company comes over for the holidays.

Sweet and Tart Salad

Dressing ingredients:

1/3 C fresh lime juice

1/3 C extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. sugar

Salad ingredients:

6 C. chopped greens (romaine, etc.)

1 Fugi or Granny Smith apple, cored and diced

1/3 C dried cranberries

1/3 C pomegranate seeds

In a small bowl,  whisk together all ingredients and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients.  Drizzle with dressing, toss to coat and serve.

Salmon Cakes

Adding fish in our diets has proven to be very healthy and I have made it a point of making a fish dinner at least once a week.  Usually my choice fish is salmon and my kids love it.  My three-year old, likes the fact that it is pink…but I think my kids like the texture.  I found an inspiring recipe for Salmon Cakes that reminds me of the crab cakes that I had when I was in Baltimore.  I just knew that the kids would love it….and they do!  Salmon Cakes make a perfect main course, but also would make a tasty appetizer.

Yields about 10 salmon cakes

3/4 lbs salmon filet

1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

S&P to taste

3/4 C dried bread crumbs

2/3 C shredded cheddar cheese

2/3 C frozen corn kernels

1/4 C mayonnaise

1 egg, slightly beaten

1-2 TB canola oil

To cook salmon:  I prefer to buy my filet of salmon and either broil or grill it skin side down, by rubbing the surface with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the top.  It usually cooks in about 10 minutes, once the fish “flakes” and pulls easily apart.  While it is still warm, I flake all of the meat away from the skin ensuring that there are no bones.

While the salmon is cooking, measure the bread crumbs, cheddar cheese, corn, mayo and egg in a large mixing bowl.  Add the flaked salmon and mix all ingredients together until they start to bind.  Make the patties by flattening them in the palm of your hand, they should be about 2 inches in diameter.

Heat half of the canola oil in a large fry pan.  Place the salmon cakes in the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, until the bottom is golden brown.  Flip the salmon cake and add the remaining oil to the pan, cook another 3-4 minutes until golden brown.


Here is a fun recipe to change-up taco night!  Kids like the crunchy and cheesy shell which holds the filling without everything falling out.  Plus you are adding the extra nutrients from black beans without them even realizing it.  I really liked the combination of a hot taquitos with cold salsa on top.


extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion; diced

1 lb. ground turkey

2 tsp. ground cumin

salt and pepper to taste

1 – 15 ounce can of black beans; drained and rinsed

1/3 C sour cream

1 package of corn tortillas (18 count)

1 C shredded cheddar cheese

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium size skillet.  Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent.  Add the ground turkey, cumin, salt and pepper to taste and brown the meat until no longer pink.  Drain and rinse the can of black beans.  Pulse the black beans in a food processor or mash with a fork.  Once the meat is cooked through, remove from heat.  Mix with the mashed beans and sour cream.

Pre-heat oven to 400°.

Heat a small skillet or griddle.  Brush one tortilla at a time with a small amount of olive oil on each side and lay flat in a hot skillet for about 30 seconds until the tortilla is softened.  Fill the tortilla with about 1/4 C of the meat and bean filling and roll.  Place the taquitos, seam side down in a 13×9 baking pan.  Once all of the taquitos are filled, sprinkle with cheddar cheese.  Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until the taquitos shells are crunchy and the cheese is melted.

Serve the taquitos with salsa.  See my tomato harvest salsa recipe!