Pesto Mozzarella Chicken Pasta

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This recipe is every sort of awesome.  It has pesto, fresh mozzarella, marinara, and it’s super fast and easy, making it a perfect weeknight dinner idea.  I first saw the recipe,  titled “Baked Pesto Chicken Parmesan” on one of my favorite food blogs, Iowa Girl Eats.  Once I tried it and made a few minor tweaks to the original recipe, it was instantly in heavy rotation at my house and has now become my old standby dish.  Whenever I don’t know what to make, I make this.  It’s quick, easy, healthy, and everyone loves it.  I add a lot more marinara sauce than the original recipe calls for, then serve it with whole wheat pasta and a green salad on the side.

Pesto Mozzarella Chicken Pasta

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded flat and cut into 2 pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup prepared basil pesto sauce
  • 1-24 oz jar marinara sauce
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced into 8 1-oz
  • 2 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Place chicken breast halves in baking dish.  Salt and pepper both sides to taste.  Spread breast halves on both sides with pesto.  Pour marinara into dish, covering chicken.  Top each breast piece with a piece of cheese.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in center.  Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions.  To serve, divide cooked pasta into 4 bowls.  Ladle excess pasta sauce over pasta, then place 1-2 pieces of chicken over pasta in bowls.

 

 

 

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

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On Sunday mornings, I love to have something special for breakfast.  Of course, most brunch foods are full of sugar, or grease, or something that will leave us feeling sluggish for the rest of the day. Enter carrot cake oatmeal: the perfect fall and winter treat that tastes decadent, but is actually pretty healthy.  It also only takes about 10 minutes to make.  You could also easily swap the carrots for an equal amount of pumpkin puree and make this pumpkin spice oatmeal if you’d rather.  This recipe makes two servings, so I can start my work week on a happy note with the leftovers 🙂

Note that you have options with the carrots here- I usually have a big bag of baby carrots from Costco so I throw some in the food processor and grind them up that way.  You could also use shredded carrots or finely chop them yourself.  It took about 2 cups of baby carrots to get 1 cup of chopped for me.  The amounts aren’t terribly important.  I’m most concerned about getting a full serving of veggies.  Do whatever is most convenient for you.  Also, adding the yogurt is totally optional here.  I always add yogurt to my oatmeal because I like to have some protein in the morning, and I like the creamy texture it adds.  If you don’t want it, skip it.  You can also use whatever oats you like- quick, regular, steel cut, Irish, it doesn’t matter. Just follow the cooking instructions and amounts on the container for 1 serving of the oats you have, and cook them in the vanilla almond milk.  I used quick oats here.

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

  • 1 cup carrots, finely chopped or shredded
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla  almond milk
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 3/4 t pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/3 cup unflavored Greek yogurt*
  • 1 t vanilla extract *
  •  1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

Place carrots and water in medium saucepan over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes, until carrots are softened.  Add almond milk, oats, and salt and cook oats according to package directions (1 minute for quick oats).  Remove from heat and stir in pumpkin pie spice, yogurt, and vanilla.   Divide into two serving bowls and top each serving with half of the walnuts and half of the cranberries and serve.

*Yogurt is optional. If you omit the yogurt, you can reduce the vanilla to 1/2 t.

Adapted from http://www.anediblemosaic.com/carrot-cake-oats/

Pumpkin Spice Green Smoothie

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I love smoothies.  They’re a super fast, easy, tasty way to fill up and get a lot of nutrition. Unfortunately, cooler fall days don’t always leave us craving a big frozen drink, which means this mainstay of my diet suddenly becomes a lot less appealing.  Enter, the pumpkin spice green smoothie: because pumpkin spice anything is totally appealing in the fall.  What makes this smoothie even better than most is pumpkin puree is crazy filling, and it does a great job covering up the spinach taste too.  Note that I use plain, unflavored Greek yogurt here.  I do that mostly because it’s cheaper for me to buy big containers of that and then I can use it for recipes, or to replace sour cream, etc. and if I want it for a smoothie or just to eat, I add my own vanilla and sweetener.  The real, high quality vanilla and maple syrup give it a very rich, delectable flavor that you don’t get from pre-made vanilla yogurt, but of course it does add some extra steps.  If you use vanilla yogurt, you can omit the vanilla and some or all of the maple syrup.

 

Pumpkin Spice Green Smoothie

  • 1/2 can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3/4 cup unflavored Greek yogurt
  • 1 t vanilla extract*
  • 1 T maple syrup*
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1.5 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 t pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup ice

Place all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth.

*If using sweetened vanilla flavored yogurt, you can omit the vanilla extract and reduce the maple syrup to 1/2 T

 

 

10-Minute Little Black Dress Salmon

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This is my little black dress salmon recipe.  I’ve been making it for more than 10 years, since I read the book “French Women Don’t Get Fat” by Mirielle Guiliano, which revolutionized my attitude toward cooking and eating, and I still highly recommend that book to anyone who hasn’t read it.  My recipe is an adaption of the original.  It takes about 10 minutes to make, only requires five simple ingredients, and goes with just about every random side dish you can imagine.  I highly suggest using salmon fillets with the skin still on, as it will crisp as it cooks and this adds a nice texture to the dish.  I also recommend fresh-squeezed lemon juice and not bottled lemon juice.  The flavor is so much better and so important since it is one of the only flavors we are adding to the salmon.  This also tastes best when the salmon is not well-done, but cooked medium or medium-well at most.

 

10- Minute Little Black Dress Salmon

  •  2- 6 oz salmon fillets with skin
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat.  Place salmon skin side down in skillet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and lemon juice.  Cook for 6 minutes, until skin begins to crisp.  Turn salmon so skin is facing up and cook another 2 minutes.  Remove from heat immediately when desired doneness is reached.