Saturday, November 5, 2016

Thanksgiving Pies

Recipe testing might be the most fun activity ever for this pregnant lady.  Don't miss out on these two incredible pies that just so happen to be perfect for Thanksgiving:

Ree Drummond's Caramel Apple Pie:
The perfect blend of an apple pie and apple crisp topped off with caramel sauce. Don't forget to serve it with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream
(recipe after the break with my changes)

And Bon Appetit's "Margaret's Maple Sugar Pie":
A rich and decadent creamy dessert with the same consistency as pumpkin pie but a completely new flavor-a cross between maple sugar candies and caramel. It would be delicious topped off with vanilla ice cream and some spiced or praline pecans. 

PC: Food Network, Bon appetit

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Banana Crumb Muffins

After many mediocre banana muffin recipes, I finally found one that is worthy of my muffin pan: Banana Crumb Muffins.  These muffins are moist, have the perfect amount of banana flavor, and have accents of cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg that make them perfect for Fall.  Topped with a cinnamon and butter streusel, they are sinfully delicious (and not that bad for you, shockingly). Recipe below.

Pistachio Pesto Pizza

I just came across this Pistachio Pesto Pizza from my trusty recipe drawer and it was a homerun!  I made a few tweaks on my end and served it with Giada's Veal Milanese (topped with baby arugula, shaved parmesan, and fresh lemon).  My husband said it was one of the best meals he's had in a long time. 

The pizza is even good two days later (I ate it alongside my Spaghetti Squash Lasagna with Spinach). 

This could also serve as a great appetizer for Thanksgiving. 

Recipe below:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Autumn Ingredient Salad

With November upon us, it's time to start planning for most important meal of the year. Here is a vibrant salad that celebrates Autumn's most popular vegetables like cauliflower, butternut squash, brussel sprouts and dried fruits (mulberries and pomegranate seeds), all woven together by a mouthwatering horseradish, garlic and chili flake dressing. Not only is this salad delicious and healthy but it can also be made a day in advance, which is key when prepping for Thanksgiving.

Recipe after the break:

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna with Spinach

Comfort food doesn't have to be unhealthy when you choose a base like spaghetti squash and pair it with (lightened) traditional lasagna ingredients... like low-fat ricotta and mozzarella cheese.  Try this Spaghetti Squash Lasagna with Spinach from Cooking Light to see what I mean. It's divine.

I recommend prepping the squash in advance since it takes an hour alone to cook in the oven for the base before you add any of the lasagna ingredients.  You can always microwave it if you don't have time. I used vodka sauce and loved it!

Enjoy! Recipe after the jump:

Catalina-Cranberry Chicken

After a quick trip down memory lane, I decided to make my (late) Grandma Rose's favorite weeknight meal and it truly hit the spot: Catalina-Cranberry Chicken served with brown rice and steamed green beans with lemon and parmesan. It's healthy-ish, downright comforting, tangy yet sweet, and de-licious. Perfect for a night on the couch watching the Cubs in the World Series. Go Cubs Go! Did I mention that this recipe is made with just four ingredients? It's the easiest dish in the book.

PC: Kraft

Halloween ideas on the go

Here are some easy take-along recipes if you're headed to a kids Halloween party:

Hot Dog Mummies:
I made these tonight for my kids and froze the rest for Halloween on Monday. How cute is the ketchup and mustard spider web?

Salted Caramel Butter bars:
My MIL introduced me to these insanely amazing, crowd-stopping bars. A hit with kids and adults alike. 

Dirt Dessert Recipe:
A popular recipe from your youth that never gets old. You can also portion them out for kids in individual cups. 

I'll also be bringing one of my favorite cornbread recipes to go along with my friend's chili:

Iron-Skillet Cornbread: 


Ina's Corn Muffins: 

Happy Halloween!

PC: southernliving, recipediaries, browneyedbaker, bonappetit, foodnetwork

Monday, October 10, 2016

Mini Meatball Pasta Bake


While I normally don't enjoy being summoned by my kids during a work out (since it is the only time that I watch the Food Network), a recent interruption proved worthwhile because my son saw this Mini Meatball Pasta Bake being prepared by the Pioneer Woman and begged me to make it for him. As a Mom of a picky eater, this was a dream come true so you can bet your bottom dollar that I ditched my treadmill and ran to the store instead. Fast forward a few hours later and this was the best decision I ever made since all three of my kids licked their plates clean. I don't know if this is just a case of an unbelievable dish to serve all kids everywhere-for all future playdates and holidays or if my kids are just getting older and are starting to enjoy the finer things in life... regardless, it is a must-make and is wonderful for the whole famiglia.

Feel free to use a healthier pasta or spiralized option for a lower carb meal. And don't forget to sprinkle extra grated parmesan on top before serving.

Finally, I served mine with a cauliflower pizza. (Also by the Pioneer Woman). This is a no-fail recipe and will be my go-to for years to come.

Recipe after the jump:

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Maple and Mustard Seared Tuna

Here's the perfect recipe for keeping things light during the work week: Maple and Mustard Seared Tuna Steak. The flavor combination of maple syrup, lemon juice, red pepper, and dijon mustard yields a perfectly flavorful steak that won't leave you feeling full and restless. Pair it with roasted green beans or mashed (japanese) sweet potatoes.

PC: Cooking light

Friday, October 7, 2016

Apple Snickerdoodle Muffins

With three kids in school and a year-long work project under my belt, I feel like I can conquer the culinary world. While some ladies nest and organize their house, I organize my kitchen and meals. Left over challah? No problem, I'll make a freezer full of french toast. Too many bananas? Say hello to my Peanut Butter Banana Muffins.  The list goes on and on.  

My latest conquest came about with too many apples in my refrigerator: Apple Snickerdoodle Muffins. These muffins are light and airy with the perfect addition of apples layered in cinnamon and sugar. (I swear they are light, look at the ingredients). 

I can't think of a more perfect breakfast or snack for Fall. 

Recipe after the break: 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Kids Mac N' Cheese

You can never have too many macaroni and cheese recipes in your arsenal, so file this one under: For the Picky Eater.

The Pioneer Woman's recipe yields all the traditional, old school flavors using standard macaroni shells which won't let your kids in on your homemade little secret. I decreased the amount of dried mustard and omitted the extra cheese on top since my kids pick up on the slightest variation from the boxed variety and it was a big hit. It's pretty much a home run for the whole family.

S'mores Cheesecake

I can't say that I'm the biggest cheesecake fan, but this S'mores Cheesecake recipe really helped end my Summer with a bang. I served it at a Labor Day bbq and it was by far my biggest hit to date. In full disclosure, (very) strong margaritas were served throughout the night which always yields big eaters and a successful party. But as the only sober pregnant lady, I can attest that this dessert gives you all the traditional s'mores feels sans the campfire. (City parties have their limits).

PC: Brown Eyed Baker

Friday, September 2, 2016

Iron Skillet Cornbread & Feta with Nectarines and Heirloom Tomato Fattoush

While I'm on a blogging bender, I thought I'd share this Iron Skillet Cornbread recipe that might be the best thing since sliced bread. And Food & Wine's Marinated Feta with Nectarines and Heirloom Tomato Fattoush. Two perfect sides for a Labor Day Weekend bbq. Enjoy!


PC: Bon Appetit & Food & Wine 

Blueberry Crumb Cake

Smitten Kitchen's Blueberry crumb cake might be the perfect solution to all of your Summer entertaining needs... it's like a perfect blueberry muffin... on steroids.

Whether you need a dessert for a casual dinner with friends, a backyard bbq, card game, or luncheon, this quintessential Summer cake has your back (and backside).  Like with all the desserts I prepare, serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Recipe after the break:

Curried Apple Couscous

While I might be the only person in Chicago ready for Fall, this delicious side dish might get you in the mood: Curried Apple Couscous. I know that I tend to post a lot of couscous recipes, but this one might take the cake and is totally the yin to my Herb-Roasted Pork Loin with Gremolata's yang. I love when my recipes fall in love and tie the knot. Why mess with perfection?

Recipe after the jump:

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Chocolate Chip Scones

My cooking club recently hosted a natural foods and wellness chef to our monthly dinner and it was a match made in culinary heaven.   Amanda, the chef, served us a light gluten-free Summer meal that was healthy, made with all of Summer's bounty, and delicious.

Here is my favorite new dessert that can even pass for breakfast for you and your kids:

Flourless Chocolate Chip Scones

These scones are simple to prepare (they take about 30 minutes total to prep and cook) and they are light and airy and taste sinful-like a scone crossed cookie. I make a batch and freeze half for a later date. Recipe after the break.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Roasted Carrot & Avocado Salad with Curried Chickpeas

Carrots might be my new favorite veggie of all time.  They're delicious raw or else roasted plain or with tons of spices.  Here is an awesome side salad of roasted carrots, avocado, and curried chickpeas that will have your guests coming back for more (so be sure to double the recipe).  The garam masala and curry undertones really make the salad interesting and then it's all tied together with a splash of creamy citrus vinaigrette.  It's the kind of salad you're served at a trendy yet quality farm-to-table restaurant.  Who needs to dine out when you can make it better at home?

PC: Hotforfood 

Healthy brownies

In an effort to stay in shape this Summer yet enjoy myself too, I found the perfect brownie to solve all of my problems... they're flourless, free of sugar and are divine. Go ahead and dive in and save your guilt for something else.

Recipe after the jump: 
PC: texanerin

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Chicken Shawarma

Last night I made an oldie but goodie from my blog and it was even better than I remember-Chicken Shawarma.  This simple and delicious entree is perfect for a weeknight thrown on a store-bought Greek salad and a side of roasted carrots and/or cauliflower. Just marinate the chicken first thing in the morning and throw it on the grill when your kids go to bed.  Don't forget to serve it with store-bought tzatziki sauce. Pita optional.  

If you're roasting cauliflower, don't forget my trick: either buy it pre cut or else cut up one head of cauliflower for two people and drizzle it with EVOO and steak seasoning and if you have time for one extra step, toss in a sliced shallot or onion (whatever you have).  Roast at 425 for 20-30 minutes, tossing occasionally until brown and crispy.  

Recipe after the jump:

Monday, June 6, 2016

Honey-Horseradish-Mustard Salmon

My husband and I have been on a major grilling spree and here is our latest find that is 100% restaurant quality. Money back guaranteed. 

Grilled Glazed Salmon 

The glaze is a mixture of horseradish, honey, and dijon mustard that serves as the perfect topping to a meaty fish.  I served mine with roasted fingerlings with jalapeno and roasted asparagus (and a blueberry crumb cake for dessert). Don't forget to serve it with a glass of rose. 

PC: swinglykensvalley

Crunchy Kale Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Looking for a new salad in your Summer rotation? Look no further than Goop's Crunchy Kale Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette.  It combines two kinds of kale, one that is baked to make crunchy chips and the other that serves as the base of the salad layered with exciting toppings like dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, fresh mint, avocado, and quinoa and tossed with a sweet yet tangy blood orange vinaigrette. It's been a big hit with my friends since everyone and their Mother is eating well.

PC: Goop

Recipe after the jump:

Strawberry Rhubarb Crunch

Nothing screams Summer like a fresh berry crumble (or buckle or crisp)! Strawberry-Rhubarb Crunch is my current go-to for all dinner parties.  It's easy to prepare and I just throw it in the oven when my guests arrive (which makes the house smell divine).  Don't forget to serve it with a nice, round scoop of vanilla ice cream-the perfect complement and ending to an evening.

Recipe after the jump:

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Herb-Roasted Pork Loin with Gremolata

Here is a delightful weeknight dinner that can be prepared in a pinch: Herb-Roasted Pork Loin with Gremolata.  This simple main is as easy to prepare as it is to gobble down.  The pork is flavorful and succulent scented by rosemary and garlic and the gremolata finishes it off with a splash of lemon.  I served mine with mustard roasted potatoes and veggies.  Most exciting, my son Wyatt couldn't get enough it. It will definitely become a weeknight staple. 

Recipe after the jump:

Image: Food Network 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Corn, Fregola, and Grilled Halloumi Cheese Salad

I just got back from the most incredible week in LA and I'm officially in love.  The blue skies, incredible climate, food scene, shopping, and countless adorable neighborhoods and beaches had me at hello. So did this Corn, Fregola, and Grilled Halloumi Cheese salad that I was served at a backyard barbecue (treehouse included) of my very talented (and adorable) friend Missy. If you want to feel inspired, check out Homethrown LA, her full service party planning company that makes your greatest Pinterest dream come to life and pairs it with a creative seasonal and organic menu that will blow you away. The girl's got taste and you will understand it just by tasting this salad.  Missy paired it with Goop's bbq turkey burger and salted and spiced Melon (to die for). It might be the best backyard bbq combo EVA.

Recipe after the jump:
PC: Food & Wine 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Muffins Galore

My daughter is a very picky eater but thanks to Weelicious and Detoxinista I start her day with a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables hidden in one of (their) many muffin recipes. Here is what I currently make on repeat: 

Carrot Apple Coconut Muffins: 
*I add 1/3 cup of pre-chopped dates

Zucchini Muffins: 
*I add 1/2 cup of chocolate chips 

Flourless Peanut Butter Banana Muffins 
*I add 1/2 cup of chocolate chips


PC:,, & detoxinista

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Chocolate Peanut Butter Blobs

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, here is the perfect treat to ring in this important Hallmark holiday: Ina Garten's Chocolate Peanut Butter Blobs.  While the blobs' name isn't the sexiest one in the book, they are the perfect reminder to never judge a book (or cookie) by its cover.   These cookies are crunchy yet tender and the peanut butter chips and walnuts are the perfect complement to the velvety chocolate. Happy V Day friends. 

Recipe after the jump
PC: Ina Garten

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Oatmeal Caramel Bars

With the holidays behind us, it's time to look forward... to the Superbowl.  Here's a great dessert to bring to the big day: Oatmeal Caramel Bars. They won't win the Most Beautiful award but you can bet that your dessert will come out on top (even if your team doesn't).  


Recipe after the jump:

Monday, January 4, 2016

Weeknight Bolognese

I can always count on my dear friend Laura for the latest and greatest fashion finds, gourmet meals for entertaining, and anything decorative, classy, and must-have (not to mention anything friend-related). Lucky for you, you don't have to have 35 years of friendship to be privy to her advice because it's all featured on her new blog A Beautiful Hunt .  While I love everything on there, I'm already obsessed with a meal she prepares for her daughter: Cecily's Bolognese.  It's easy to prepare (it's made in 20 minutes flat) and it's delicious and healthful.  I served mine atop whole wheat pasta and a side of parmesan zucchini wedges. It's my new favorite weeknight meal.  Feel free to use ground turkey if you're not a beef person.


Recipe after the jump:

Friday, December 18, 2015

Pumpkin Cheesecake

I feel guilty posting this recipe after Thanksgiving but I figured better late than never. This is a recipe that will never go out of style and will most likely be passed on to future generations to come. Pretty important if you ask me.

P.S. I didn't use bourbon. 


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Za'atar Roasted Chicken Breasts

The key to entertaining is to not only serve mind-blowing food that has a ton of flavor and depth but also to make sure that everyone (including the chef) has a good time. How do you achieve this? A one pot main dish, of course, like my newest find: Ottolenghi's Za'atar Roasted Chicken Breasts. This tasty Mediterranean dish can be prepared in advance and popped into the oven just before everyone arrives. It's marinated in lemon juice and all of my favorite Middle-Eastern spices like Za'atar and sumac that makes the chicken super juicy, tasty, and memorable.  Serve it with Basmati, Wild Rice with Chickpeas, Currants, and herbs, or Roasted Cauliflower with tahini sauce or Roasted Butternut Squash & Red Onion with Tahini and Za'atar. 

Recipe after the jump:

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Last minute Thanksgiving ideas

Here are some last minute ideas for your Thanksgiving table:

Gem Lettuce Salad with Chile Lemon Dressing and Breadcrumbs
(a play on caesar salad but sooo good and worth the effort-I used baby kale)

Cauliflower Couscous with Cheesy Crumbs:


Shaved Asparagus Pizza by Smitten Kitchen: 
(the perfect appetizer-be sure to add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the shaved asparagus before adding it to the pizza) 

Happy Thanksgiving all!

PC:, Dish by Dish, Smitten Kitchen 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Beef and Lamb Kofta Lettuce Wraps

Calling all lettuce wrap lovers, meet your newest love interest: Beef and Lamb Kofta Wraps (be sure to sub quinoa for brown rice if you want a serious low-carb meal). It's like an asian lettuce wrap turned Mediterranean.  Need more good ideas? Try subbing farro or barley for rice and don't forget the cucumber greek yogurt sauce that won't make you miss PF Changs for a second. 
PC: Cooking light 

Recipe after the break:  

Mustard-Roasted Potatoes

My Friday night go-to of meat and potatoes is anything but ordinary.  The trick is to find superb steak from a great butcher (like Gepperth's in Lincoln Park) and pair it with Ina Garten's mustard-roasted potatoes and a green vegetable (like roasted asparagus or burned broccoli).  Light a fire, open a nice bottle of red, and enjoy. 

I highly recommend their skirt steak marinated in soy vey for at least 12 hours.  Be sure to ask for a thin cut. 

Recipe after the jump: 
PC: Bon Appetit

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dutch Oven Cornbread with Fig Jam

Looking for the perfect side to your next BBQ bash? Look no further than Dutch Oven Cornbread with Fig Jam. I served it at my Superbowl party along with my favorite baked beans (recipe to come), and Martha's Mac n' Cheese and it truly was the fan favorite.  For the mains I left it to the pro's (of Smoque BBQ in Chicago) and served BBQ ribs, chopped brisket and pulled pork. It was a simple yet delightful entertaining move.   

PC: Bon Appetit

Winter Kale Salad

Here's the perfect weeknight salad that you can whip together in no time: 


PC/Recipe: RecipeGirl

Recipe after the jump: 

Chicken Parm Meatballs

My love of meatballs is evergrowing since I've discovered variations like chicken parm that is not only delicious but the perfect antidote to cold Winter nights and hungry tummies. They're also a lighter version of the real deal which is perfect for a week night. Serve them with whole wheat pasta marinara and roasted asparagus. Or a tuscan shredded kale salad. 

Recipe after the jump.
PC and Recipe: Dinner: A Love Story

General Tso's Chicken

In honor of the Chinese New Year, I whipped up General Tso's chicken to warm up my heart and soul on a recent freezing Friday night. While the traditional cooking method calls for deep frying the chicken in vegetable oil, I baked it for a lower fat version that tastes anything but.

I paired it with Gwyneth Paltrow's (amazing) Salad with carrot and ginger dressing to start and Food & Wine's Kung Pao brussel sprouts. The only thing missing was fortune cookies. 



Recipe for General Tso's Chicken after the break 

PC: CookingClassy, Goop, Food & Wine