Stuffed Jalapenos

True story-- When we lived in Vermont, every single time I made these peppers, I would make enough for an extra tray to put into the freezer of some of my favorite people, Mark and Jeff. These were their favorite.  After we all moved away from each other, I stopped making them, because it made me too sad. But Mark came to visit last month, so I got to make them again! YAY! So yummy and so much fun to share!


1 lb. ground hot Italian sausage

20ish jalapenos, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed

1 8-oz. block cream cheese, softened (I use Neufchatel, which is a little lighter but still with all the creaminess.)

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 medium onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/2 to 1 cup cooked red quinoa

sriracha to taste

Tony Chachere's seasoning to taste

shredded cheddar and/or Parmesan for topping peppers


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Place seeded jalapeno halves into shallow glass baking dish. If desired, pre-cook for 10-15 minutes to soften and mild. (The longer the peppers cook, the milder they become, so use your judgment as to how much you might like to mellow the heat. You can start from raw or pre-cook up to 15 minutes.)

3. Cook sausage until browned and set aside.

4. Discard excess oil, and then use same pan to caramelize onions and garlic.

5. In large bowl, mix cream cheese and Parmesan.

6. Add sausage, garlic and onion, sriracha, Tony Chachere's, and quinoa, and mix well.

7. Fill peppers and top each with shredded cheese of your choice. My favorite is cheddar, but use whatever tastes best to you.

8. Bake for 20 minutes or until filling is fully heated and cheese is bubbly and browned.

Stuffed Pepper Soup

This is one of my favorite soups of all time. It is so hearty, so healthy, so flavorful and so filling. It freezes beautifully, and it tastes even better leftover, so there's no such thing as too much. Get out your biggest pot. You'll be glad you did.


1-1/2 to 2 pounds lean ground beef

3-4 peppers, any color, diced (but use variety if you can) My favorite thing to do is use 1 of each--green, yellow, orange and red

1 large onion, diced

6 cloves garlic, finely minced

4-6 tomatoes, finely diced (or you can use 2 cans petite diced or crushed tomatoes)

2 cans tomato sauce

2-4 cups low sodium chicken broth (use as much or as little as you like to get the consistency you prefer.)

3 cups pre-cooked quinoa (red is my favorite, but any kind will do)

sriracha, Tony Chachere's seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste


1. In large soup pot or dutch oven, brown ground beef and drain.

2. Add peppers, onion, and garlic and cook just until vegetables become very fragrant and begin to soften.

3. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and chicken broth and simmer for at least 30 minutes over medium heat or up to several hours on low heat. (You can't really overcook this. The longer is simmers, the better the flavor. Just make sure the heat is low enough to avoid any scorching.)

4. Add Sriracha, Tony Chachere's seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.

5. When ready to serve, ladle into bowls and top with cooked red quinoa. (You could really add raw quinoa to the soup at the same time you add the tomato sauce and broth and let it cook in the soup. I like to use pre-cooked and add it right when the soup is ready to eat just to make sure it maintains the texture I like best, but it would be delicious either way.)

Pan-Roasted Shrimp with Jalapeno-Cream Sauce

My husband started searching for a good, authentic Cajun food restaurant almost the minute he moved to Kansas City. It took awhile, but he finally found one that feels exactly like my great Uncle Dave's back porch (which probably sounds weird, but I promise that's a compliment). Basically, it's the epitome of good food, friends and family and that whole "Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler" vibe. (Let the good times roll.) 

And because I'm me, I am now on a mission to recreate all of our favorite dishes from there at home. ;-) This is the first attempt. I wouldn't say it was exactly the same, but my whole family agreed that it was delicious and worth sharing. So here you go! See if you agree!


1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 large jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped

2 tablespoons leek, finely chopped

1 teaspoon minced garlic

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup seafood stock

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

zest of one lime

3/4 cup heavy cream

salt to taste

Tony Chachere's seasoning to taste


1. Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil to nonstick or cast iron pan. When melted together (over medium heat), add shrimp and saute until just pink. Remove from pan. (Don't overcook. You will add the shrimp back to the sauce later to finish the cooking process.)

2. Add another tablespoon of butter to the pan and throw in jalapeno, leek and garlic. Saute until wilted and fragrant.

3. Add seafood stock and increase heat to bring to a boil. Add lime juice and zest and stir together. Add cream and return to boil. Reduce until cream thickens to desired consistency.

4. Reduce heat and add butter. Stir until melted, then season with salt and Tony Chachere's seasoning.

5. Add shrimp, toss to coat and allow to simmer until cooked through. (This should only take a minute or two.)

I served this over seasoned red quinoa, but it would be great over rice or pasta or even a steak or a piece of fish.

Sweet and Savory Ham Steak

This is so simple, it hardly seems right to call it a recipe. But y'all are busy, and you need some simple, yummy recipes. Am I right? This is a good one. It takes about 2 minutes to throw together, and if you scramble up some eggs and wash some fruit or veggies while it's in the oven, you can have a complete healthy and delicious meal in a matter of minutes.


Ham Steaks (about 1-1/2 to  pounds)

6 tablespoons coconut sugar

6 tablespoons water

4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons mustard (I used Dijon, but any kind would work.)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Tony Chachere's seasoning (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2. Mix together all ingredients except ham and Tony Chachere's.

3. Place ham in baking dish and pour basting liquid over the top.

4. Bake for about 10 minutes, until ham is heated through and sauce is bubbly and slightly thickened.

5. Serve by sprinkling with Tony Chachere's (if desired) and spooning a bit of pan sauce over the top.

Beer Cheese Soup with Grilled Andouille Sausage

Earlier this week we were out having lunch with Jared's parents. Jared ordered Beer Cheese soup, which I have never made at home. But I thought, "Hmm... I should probably make some of that at home." 

So I did!

Believe it or not, I put plenty of veggies in it, but I blended them up so that even the pickiest and most veggie-averse eaters will enjoy it. It's one of the richest, cheesiest, most flavorful soups I've ever tasted. And topped off with some grilled sausage, it's easily a complete meal for even the biggest appetites. My family loved it so much, it's one of the very few soups I've ever made that had no leftovers. They scraped the pot clean! Hope you enjoy it too!


32 oz. low sodium chicken broth

12 oz. of your favorite beer (I used Dos Equis Lager)

1 medium acorn squash, peeled and diced

1 cup diced celery

1 medium onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon Worcestershire

salt, pepper and Tony Chachere's seasoning to taste

12 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, freshly shredded

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 lb. Andouille sausage (or really any sausage would work)


1. Add chicken broth, beer, squash, onion, celery, garlic, and Worcestershire to large soup pot or Dutch oven and bring to boil. Turn down heat and simmer until all veggies are tender, 20-30 minutes.

2. While soup is simmering, grill sausage (or brown in cast iron) to desired doneness. I like mine very dark and well-seared on the outside, but still tender and juicy on the inside. That nice dark sear adds so much amazing flavor!

3. Once veggies are nice and tender, remove from heat and carefully blend using an immersion blender. Add salt, pepper and Tony Chachere's seasoning to taste.

4. Add shredded cheddar and stir until melted and well-blended. Add cream and stir until warmed through.

5. Dice sausage. 

6. Serve by ladling soup into bowls and adding a handful of sausage to each bowl.

Italian Stew

This has all the comfort, flavor and heartiness of a beef and potato stew, but with far fewer carbs and calories and much more nutritional value. We're replacing beef with lean turkey Italian sausage, potatoes with cauliflower and gravy with crushed tomatoes. And adding kale and quinoa. So, you know... we'll practically be bionic after we eat this. :-) Plus it's YUMMY! So it's good news all around!


Olive oil

1 large onion, diced

1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces



1 pound lean turkey Italian sausage

6-8 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 large can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic (or just plain tomatoes, and you can add your own seasoning)

1/3 cup rinsed red quinoa

2-3 handfuls of kale, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces

2 tablespoons garlic paste

Your favorite shredded cheese to accompany Italian dishes (I used a blend of parmesan, asiago, romano and mozzarella)


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Coat the bottom of a large Dutch oven or soup pot with olive oil. Add onion and saute over medium heat until it becomes translucent.

3. Toss cauliflower with olive oil, salt and pepper and spread onto a baking sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until well-browned. (Don't be afraid of some pretty dark edges. It adds so much flavor.)

4. Add Italian sausage to onions and cook until browned. Drain well and return to pot.

5. Add chicken broth (more or less depending on how thick you like your stew) and crushed tomatoes and mix well. Increase heat and bring to boil.

6. Add quinoa and allow to boil for 5 minutes.

7. Reduce heat and add garlic paste. Blend well. Add kale and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

8. Add roasted cauliflower and stir to combine well. Simmer until warmed through.

9. Serve with a sprinkling of shredded cheese(s).

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies

I try to live by something like an 85/15 rule when it comes to food. Meaning that 85% of the time, I want to feed my family (and myself) the most healthy and nutritious foods I can possibly get them to eat. The other 15%? Well, sometimes you just need to splurge a little. :-) To be clear, this recipe is a 15%er.

But also, true confession time: I don't really get the whole pumpkin craze. I know. I know. I should probably hand over my white girl card. I just don't care for all of the pumpkin-y stuff like a good yoga-pant-wearing white girl should. Can't help it. I'm telling you this just to let you know that I didn't actually taste these cookies, but everyone in my family gave them a big thumbs up, and the container I sent to a social event last night came back empty. So. I trust that they must be pretty good. ;-) Here's the recipe in case you'd like to check it out.


2-1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 package instant cheesecake pudding mix

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup (half a stick) softened butter

1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (canned is fine)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 10-oz. bag cinnamon chips


1. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, pudding mix, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

3. In mixer bowl, combine both sugars, butter, oil, pumpkin puree and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat after each until smooth.

4. Add dry mixture in 3-4 batches to mixer bowl, and blend after each addition until well-combined.

5. Fold in cinnamon chips.

6. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto baking stone, and bake for 9-11 minutes, until golden brown and set. Cool for 3-5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Pork Scaloppine with Gremolata Sauce

I love my local grocery store, because they have CRAZY sales on protein almost every week. It's usually just one or two items designed to get people into the store with the expectation that they will buy a million other things while they're there (which works on me more often than I should admit.) But since it's just 5 minutes from my house, and I have to pass it almost daily on my way to or from somewhere else, I have no problem whatsoever going in there to stock up on their one crazy-priced item. That's what freezers are for, right?

Last week, they were selling pork cutlets for $.99/pound. I may or may not have purchased every single pack they had in stock. Just don't worry yourself about it.

And then I made this. And it made me super glad that I now have a freezer full of pork cutlets. :-)


6-8 thinly sliced/pounded pork cutlets (You can buy them this way or just get boneless pork chops and pound them thin with a meat mallet.)

2 large oranges (zest and juice)

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon mustard (whatever is your favorite kind--I used Dijon)



1 cup whole wheat Panko bread crumbs

1 cup whole wheat seasoned bread crumbs

2 eggs

1/3 cup milk

butter flavored nonstick cooking spray

1 generous tablespoon basil paste

1/3 cup olive oil

a few handfuls of baby greens


1. In casserole dish or wide-based bowl, combine zest and juice of one orange, honey, mustard and a generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper.

2. Season pork pieces generously with salt. Coat with marinade and chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight if you have the time. (Note: this is not a liquidy marinade, but it is very "clingy," so as long as you make sure all pieces are covered, it should be fine even though the meat will not be immersed.)

3. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4. Set up dredging station by combining eggs and milk (seasoned with salt and pepper) in one pan and both kinds of bread crumbs in a second pan.

5. Dip each pork cutlet into egg mixture, shaking off excess each time, and then coat with bread crumb mixture. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat with each cutlet.

6. Once all cutlets are coated, spray with nonstick cooking spray and place in oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, increase heat to 450 degrees and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes until pork is cooked through and nice and brown and crispy on top.

7. While pork is cooking, prepare gremolata sauce by combining zest and juice of second orange, olive oil, basil paste and salt and pepper to taste.

8. I served this by tossing baby greens with just a tiny bit of the gremolata sauce and then placing a cutlet over each bed of greens with an extra drizzle of sauce on top.

So yummy!

Ginger Shrimp Soup

It is my firm belief that if everyone would spend a little more time grating fresh ginger, the world would be a much happier place. It somehow simultaneously smells like relaxation and invigoration. I'm not sure how that works, but I like it.

This recipe calls for grated ginger. So. You're welcome!


1 large onion, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2-3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger

coconut oil for coating pot

12 cups chicken broth

2-3 cups kale, washed and torn into bite-size pieces (or baby spinach if you prefer)

1 lb. shrimp, peeled and de-veined

1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half

salt, pepper and Tony Chachere's seasoning to taste

Shredded Parmesan for serving


1. Coat a large soup pot or Dutch oven with coconut oil. Add onion, garlic, celery and ginger and cook over medium heat until vegetables begin to wilt and garlic and ginger become nice and fragrant.

2. Add broth and kale and allow to simmer until kale begins to wilt a bit, 15-20 minutes or so. (Kale typically holds its texture pretty well and will not wilt down completely. I like that added bite to this simple soup, but you can replace it with baby spinach if you prefer something that cooks down a bit better.)

3. Add shrimp and cook just until pink and opaque.

4. Add cream or half and half and season to taste with salt, pepper and Tony Chachere's seasoning. 

5. Serve hot with a bit of Parmesan sprinkled over the top.

Eggs in Clouds over Seasoned Red Quinoa

So my friend who's here this week--you know, the one who loves Pots de Creme? She sent me a link to a video about this whole egg in a cloud idea. So of course I had to come up with my own version. Ummm.....

WHY did I never think of this before? It's so delicious! I love that this sort of serves the same purpose as a yummy fried egg with a rich, glisteny, runny yolk, but it's much easier to prepare lots of these to be warm and ready all at the same time than to try to fry a bunch of eggs all at once. And I super love the idea of mixing in all sorts of deliciousness into the whites before baking them. I used green onions and Parmesan this time, but I can think of at least 10 other combinations that I'm excited to try. YUM!


4 eggs

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 pound bacon

2 cups cooked red quinoa

olive oil

1 medium sweet onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon garlic paste

1 small jar (4 oz.) diced green chiles

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


1. Cut bacon into lardons and fry over medium-high heat until evenly crisped. Drain on paper towels.

2. Coat a nonstick or cast iron pan with olive oil and add diced onion. Cook until onions begin to caramelize. Add garlic and garlic paste, and stir until garlic paste is completely melted. Stir in green chiles and quinoa. Add chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder, and stir to mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

4. While bacon and quinoa are cooking, separate eggs, keeping all yolks individually set aside and adding whites to mixing bowl. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold in green onions and Parmesan. Place 4 "piles" of the egg white mixture onto parchment-paper lined pan and create a deep well in the center of each. Bake for 3 minutes.

5. Remove from oven and add one egg yolk to each shell. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for an additional 3 minutes or until yolks are cooked but still runny.

6. To serve, plate a nice bed of quinoa and put the egg "basket" over the top. Sprinkle with bacon and serve warm.

Chocolate Pots de Creme

One of my most favoritest friends in all the world is here visiting this week. And pots de creme is one of her most favoritest desserts. So I made some. Hers is the giant one. I hope her husband isn't mad, 'cause he's here too, and I only made him a little one. (But I told him he could have more than one.) :-)

These are adapted from a Ree Drummond recipe, not because it needed to be adapted. Her version is perfectly delicious. But I just wanted to try a variation. This one is delicious too.

Also, this is stupidly easy to make. Like almost embarrassing to share. Don't tell your friends the entire situation takes about 3 minutes and 27 seconds to prepare. It will seem way less impressive.


12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

4 eggs, at room temperature (I won't pretend to be a scientist and tell you the details of why, but it's important that the eggs are room temperature so that the finished product is super creamy)

a pinch of salt

a dash of cinnamon

8 oz. strong very hot coffee

1/2 cup heavy cream

generous dash of stevia

1 teaspoon vanilla


1. Roughly chop chocolate (or just dump into blender if you're using chocolate chips). Add 4 eggs (at room temperature--'member how we talked about that?) and blend until pretty well combined. Toss in a pinch of salt and a dash of cinnamon and blend for a few seconds more.

2. Remove insert from blender top and slowly drizzle in hot coffee while blending. The coffee will melt and emulsify everything together. (Oh man. So good.) Once it is all nice and melted and creamy and shiny, pour into serving dishes of your choice. (Make sure you use a really big one for your guest of honor.) Chill for at least a couple hours.

3. When ready to serve, put heavy cream, vanilla and stevia (to taste) into mixing bowl and mix at high speed until firm peaks form. Top each pots de creme with a heaping dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with a little more cinnamon. 

This is the most elegant 3 minute recipe I know. Enjoy! 

Shrimp and Sausage with Cheesy Cauliflower "Grits"

True story. Grace came into the kitchen while I was cooking this the other night and asked if she could taste the cauliflower.

I said, "Sure." She raved. (All I had done at this point is saute it with the onion and garlic paste.)

I said, "I haven't even added the cheese yet." 

She said, "There's gonna be cheese?"

I said, "Three different kinds."

She said, "My mind is blown." :-D

It really is that good. And THEN I put shrimp and sausage and all kinds of other deliciousness on top. So yeah. You're gonna wanna try this.


For "grits":

1 head cauliflower, riced

1 small sweet onion, diced

1 teaspoon garlic paste

olive oil to coat pan

2 tablespoons butter

salt to taste

Tony Chachere's seasoning to taste

3/4 cup mozzarella, freshly shredded

3/4 cup sharp cheddar, freshly shredded

1/2 cup Parmesan, freshly shredded

For shrimp and sausage sauce:

1 medium sweet onion

1 green bell pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup leeks, cleaned and minced

olive oil for coating pan

1 (16-oz.) can tomato sauce (no salt added)

1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon coconut sugar

1/2 teaspoon Tony Chachere's seasoning

1 package of your favorite link sausage, sliced (Andouille is my favorite)

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

black pepper to taste

Sriracha to taste


1. Coat a large nonstick or cast iron pan with olive oil. Add onion and saute until soft and translucent. Add butter and garlic paste and saute until garlic paste is fully melted and evenly distributed. Add cauliflower and saute until it begins to soften and brown slightly. Season to taste with salt and Tony Chachere's seasoning.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. Spray a small casserole dish with nonstick spray. Add half of the cauliflower to the bottom of the dish. Layer 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/2 cup cheddar over the cauliflower. Add remainder of cauliflower and all remaining cheese (mozzarella, cheddar and Parmesan). Bake for 30 minutes.

4. While cauliflower mixture is baking, wipe out same pan you used to saute the cauliflower and coat with olive oil again. Saute onion, bell pepper, garlic and leeks until they begin to soften and become fragrant.

5. Add sausage and saute until it begins to brown just a bit.

6. Deglaze pan with white wine or chicken broth.

7. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt, sugar, Tony Chachere's seasoning, pepper and Sriracha. Simmer until well combined and heated through. 

8. When cauliflower has about 5 minutes to go in the oven, add shrimp to sauce mixture. Simmer just until shrimp is nice and pink and cooked through (about 5 minutes).

9. Serve by plating cauliflower and spooning plenty of sauce, including shrimp and sausage, over the top.

Breakfast Parfait

Does anyone have a freezer full of blueberries at the end of summer? I hope so, 'cause this recipe is perfect for blueberries! I made this for breakfast this morning, but it would be just as good for dessert or really an any time snack. And all of the components can be made in advance so that you can build the end result any time you like in just a minute or two. Hope you enjoy!


For Lemon Ginger Blueberry Sauce:

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/4 teaspoon stevia

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

1 pint blueberries (fresh is great, but frozen works too)

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For cream*:

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon stevia

1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt

*Alternately, you could serve the sauce with sugar free frozen yogurt or just plain yogurt without the cream whipped in.

Recipe for granola here.


1. Combine sugar, stevia, and cornstarch in medium saucepan. Add water and melt mixture together over medium heat. Add grated ginger and blueberries and bring to boil, stirring frequently until blueberries burst and sauce thickens.

2. Remove from heat and add lemon zest, lemon juice and remaining blueberries.

3. Add heavy cream and 1/2 teaspoon stevia to mixer bowl. Beat at high speed to desired consistency. Remove cream from bowl and set aside.

4. Add Greek yogurt to mixer bowl and beat at high speed to desired consistency. Fold whipped cream into yogurt. (If you'd like, you can whip the cream and yogurt at the same time, but I find that each mixture gets a bit fluffier if you do them separately and then fold together.)

5. To serve, layer cream, then granola, then blueberry sauce and repeat.

Oven "Fried" Chicken

Y'all. How much would you love me if I told you that fried chicken is suddenly healthy? :-) Except that it's not fried. (Stay with me.) And it's not chicken.

I'm just kiddin'. It's totally chicken. Still not fried though. 

Also, it's skinless. DON'T BE MAD!

I promise it's just as delicious as the fried stuff. For real. I would never lie to you about such a thing. Fried chicken is serious. But this isn't fried. But baked skinless chicken is serious too. Probably more serious. 'Cause if you're gonna tell somebody to ditch their fried chicken for baked skinless chicken, you better not be jokin' around when you promise it's delicious. Am I right?

Well, anyway. I'll hush now so y'all can actually try this and stop being mad at me for telling you to make some baked skinless chicken instead of eating a big fat piece of fried chicken skin. The sooner you get this on your taste buds, the sooner you'll stop being mad. So let's get started.


1 cup buttermilk (If you don't want to buy buttermilk, just splash about a teaspoon of lemon juice into a cup of milk and let it sit for a few minutes.)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon sea salt, divided

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper, divided

10-12 pieces bone-in, skinless chicken

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup corn starch

1-1/2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons Tony Chachere's seasoning, divided

butter flavored non-stick cooking spray


1. Whisk together buttermilk, mustard, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon Tony Chachere's seasoning and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken and coat well. Cover and refrigerate and leave to soak in marinade up to 24 hours. (At least 30 minutes, but the longer the better for maximum flavor and juiciness.)

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil and place wire rack on top. Coat with nonstick spray.

3. Mix together flour, paprika, thyme, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon Tony Chachere's seasoning and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add to sealable plastic container.

4. Remove chicken from marinade and add to flour mixture. Cover and shake to coat well. As you remove each piece of chicken from flour mixture, shake off excess flour and place on prepared rack.

5. Lightly (but evenly--you don't want to leave any dry flour) coat chicken with cooking spray and bake until golden brown and crispy, 50-60 minutes. (Make sure meat thermometer reads 160-165 degrees.)

6. Serve to people who have no idea you just saved them tons of calories, carbs and fat grams that they'll never, ever miss. :-D


Spicy Breakfast Sausage

I'm sure some options are better than others when it comes to calorie count, saturated fat, etc., but almost all frozen/pre-cooked breakfast sausages are loaded with sodium even if they're not so bad in other areas. We don't need all that. This recipe is so crazy easy, there's just no need for the sodium-packed convenience versions anymore. Let's make this from now on instead, k?


1-1/2 pounds lean ground turkey (or pork or chicken or whatever you like best)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon ground sage

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 small jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

generous splash of Sriracha


1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Form into patties about 1/2-inch thick.

2. Grill on grill pan or pan-fry in nonstick or cast iron pan over medium-high heat until nicely browned on the surface and cooked through.

So simple. So yummy. AND--you can make a double batch and freeze your own for later use. So. See what I mean? You really just don't need those other ones at all any more. :-)

Pastitsio (Sorta)

Pastitsio is basically an Italian version of Shepherd's Pie, usually with a tomato-ey ground beef mixture, macaroni, and a cheesey sauce. But if you know me or are getting to know me at all, you probably know I didn't want to use macaroni. ;-) So I substituted roasted cauliflower. So much healthier and honestly more flavorful if you ask me.

This is certainly not the most beautiful dish I've ever made, but it was very tasty, and as soon as I took the first bite, I immediately had a whole list of ideas as to how to make it even better. We'll see if any of those pan out the way they look/taste in my mind. But for now, this:


I head of cauliflower, chopped in fairly small chunks 

olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1-1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup burgundy cooking wine

1/2 cup low sodium beef stock

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons coconut flour

1/2 cup milk

1 egg, beaten

salt and pepper to taste

Sriracha to taste


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss cauliflower in olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and somewhat caramelized.

2. Coat a nonstick or cast iron pan with olive oil and saute onion and garlic over low heat until onion is translucent and garlic is fragrant. Increase heat to medium and add beef. Cook until browned and then drain.

3. Return beef to pan and add tomato paste, beef stock, wine, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

4. Add to roasted cauliflower 1/4 cup Parmesan and nutmeg and mix well.

5. In a 9x12 or similar casserole dish, layer half of the cauliflower mixture followed by the seasoned beef and then the second half of the cauliflower.

6. In small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter and add coconut flour. Cook for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in milk until well-combined. Bring to boil, stirring constantly, until thickened. Temper egg by adding milk mixture 1 tablespoon at a time until egg mixture is warmed, then add back to milk in pot. Season with salt, pepper and Sriracha and pour over casserole.

7. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and warmed through.



Leftovers Reimagined--Salmon Cakes

I am not a snob about leftovers. At all. In fact, there are several things like chili and soup and stew that I think taste better the second time around. But not fish. Reheated fish is not my jam. It needs a little extra lovin' to be delicious a second time. And this is one of my favorite ways to give it that extra love.

Salmon Cakes


1-1/2 cups cooked salmon, skin and bones removed

1/4 cup almond meal

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup finely chopped celery

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 cup sour cream (I used light.)

1 tablespoon of your favorite spicy mustard (I used horseradish.)

1 egg, beaten

1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chiles, drained


1. Flake salmon into large bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for a few minutes to allow mixture to firm slightly.

2. Shape mixture into patties, about 3-4 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick.

3. Spray nonstick or cast iron skillet with nonstick spray or use just enough coconut oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Over medium-high heat, cook patties 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown on the surface and warmed through.

4. My favorite way to serve these is with leftover eel sauce and sriracha mayo from this recipe.

Spinach "Gnocchi" with Turkey Italian Sausage and Red Pepper Sauce

Finding replacements for pasta is one of my favorite culinary challenges. Not because I don't love me some pasta. I just really need to not eat all those carbs. Stupid carbs. Why do they have to be so delicious and addictive? Annoying. But they annoy me much less when I find yummy things to eat that serve the same purpose and are much more nutritious. Zucchini ribbons and spaghetti squash are two of my favorite substitutes so far, but tonight I made a play on gnocchi with just spinach, cheeses, egg and some spices, and it did not disappoint at all. Try it and see what you think!

For Gnocchi:


1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed 

8 oz. ricotta cheese (I used light)

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 egg, beaten


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Wrap spinach in a lint-free kitchen towel and squeeze excess liquid out.

3. Throw into a bowl and add ricotta, Parmesan, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix until all ingredients are well-combined. Add egg and mix well.

4. Form mixture into small ovals (about a teaspoon each) and place into buttered baking dish. Bake 20-25 minutes or until gnocchi are firm and slightly browned. 

For Red Pepper Sauce:


4 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic, finely minced

3 red bell peppers, seeded and diced (yellow or orange would work fine too)

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste


1. Melt butter in nonstick or cast iron pan. Add onions and saute until translucent. 

2. Add garlic, peppers, cumin, garlic powder and Italian seasoning and saute until peppers become tender.

3. Add chicken broth and simmer until reduced and thickened.

4. Transfer mixture to blender and blend to desired consistency. I like mine to have just a bit of substance to it--not completely smooth, but it's up to you. (Also: you may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender.)

5. Once blended, pour sauce mixture back into pan and add cream. Combine well and simmer. Salt and pepper to taste.

Other ingredients:

1 pound turkey Italian sausage, browned and drained

additional Parmesan for garnish

To serve, either layer gnocchi, then sausage, then sauce, then Parmesan. Or you can just toss it all together. Hint: it's a prettier presentation separated, but there is nothing in the world wrong with soaking everything in that amazing sauce, and it definitely tastes better that way. If you don't trust your guests to make sure they get plenty of sauce in each bite, just go ahead and mix it all together. They'll be glad you did. :-)


Dinner Party!!!

Ok, not really. Actually not even close. It wasn't supposed to be dinner at all. Really the conversation was something like this:

"Do you think you could put together a few finger foods for a little get-together during the conference?"

"Of course. How many people? And do you have anything specific in mind?"

"Not sure yet. Maybe 8 or 10. And just simple stuff. Maybe a veggie tray and some cocktail sausages with barbecue sauce."


That conversation led to this:

Because I have no restraint, and I'm completely allergic to the thought of anyone leaving my house hungry. But also, in my defense, because I anticipated that the number of guests might increase as we got closer to conference time, and I was right. We ended up with about 20, I think. And I was thrilled!

But enough about all of that. Shall we talk about the actual food? :-) This was the menu:

Veggie Tray: Pretty self-explanatory and super easy to throw together. Pretty much any variety of raw veggies works. I used grape tomatoes, cucumber, red peppers, carrots, and celery. And then I mixed a habanero and ranch dip from seasoning packets I had in my pantry. But you could just as easily get a bottle or two of salad dressing if you prefer.

Fruit Bowl: Again, pretty self-explanatory. And certainly fully adjustable. I like to use fruits that don't oxidize easily, but if you splash them with some lemon juice, you could use those too. Macy and Grace wanted to help with this one. Didn't they do a good job? We just hollowed out one half of a small watermelon and then refilled it and surrounded it with watermelon, cantaloupe and seedless grapes.

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Bites: For these, I used my Bacon-Wrapped Sriracha Shrimp recipe and just replaced the shrimp with chicken. The only difference is that you can marinate the chicken longer than the shrimp, preferably overnight if you have the time. Other than that, just follow the same recipe.

Crostini with Compound Butters: This is my favorite way to turn one baguette into appetizer, side dish and dessert. Just slice the baguette, toast it lightly, and serve with an assortment of your favorite compound butters. I used sweet basil butter (butter plus sweet basil paste), chili lime butter (butter plus chili powder, lime zest, and a pinch of salt) and blueberry basil butter (butter plus finely chopped blueberries and fresh basil). Compound butter is simply this: softened butter mixed with your favorite flavors. That's it. It's the easiest thing ever. No rules. Just add and taste until you think it's delicious! You can't really mess up. I've even used pureed shrimp with a little bit of Old Bay seasoning. Probably sounds weird, but it was delicious alongside a huge pot of tomato bisque. (Oh, and--you can mix these days in advance and store them in the freezer, then just take out in enough time to soften before serving.)

Chorizo Cheese Dip: I don't really think that needs any further explanation. Am I right? ;-) Recipe here.

Tomato Chutney: Sweet, savory, tangy, delicious. Recipe here.

Stuffed Mushrooms: Pretty much the perfect finger food. Recipe here.

Cookies: I promised that you could use my "Perfect Cookies" recipe to make dozens and dozens of varieties of delicious cookies. Here are 4 examples: 

Lemon Ginger White Chocolate Chip--lemon pudding mix plus 1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger and 1 cup white chocolate chips

Semi-Sweet and White Chocolate Chip--this is the original recipe in the link posted above

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip--chocolate pudding mix plus 1 cup peanut butter chips and 1 cup chocolate chips

Blueberry Cheesecake--cheesecake pudding mix plus 1 cup dried blueberries and 1 cup white chocolate chips

My favorite thing about this menu is that you can set it out and be done with it. There is no follow up and no maintenance needed, which frees you to interact with your guests. Which is exactly what I did, and it was perfect! I hope these give you some good ideas for your next gathering. Enjoy!

Chorizo Cheese Dip

Let's pinky promise to never again use Velveeta cheese, ok? I mean, no judgment. I've eaten (and served) plenty of it in the past. But my goal is to eliminate as much processed food as I possibly can from my life and the lives of the people I feed. And with a recipe this simple, we just don't need that stuff anymore. Let's eat real cheese from now on, k? Like this stuff. It's yummy!


4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoons cornstarch

12 oz. half and half

4 oz. light cream cheese (at room temperature)

8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, freshly shredded*

8 oz. extra sharp Cheddar cheese, freshly shredded*

1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 pound chorizo

*You can really use any cheese. I like the cheddar for the flavor, but it's good to combine it with something a bit "meltier". Monterey Jack works well, but mozzarella would probably be just as good. Also, you could use pre-shredded if it's easier. I find that pre-shredded cheese is much less flavorful since it tends to dry out, so I like to shred just before using. But that's just me. ;-)

1. Brown chorizo. Drain and set aside.

2. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in cornstarch until combined and cook for about a minute, stirring constantly until nice and smooth and no longer grainy.

3. Add half and half and whisk until combined and smooth. Reduce heat to low and stir in cream cheese until melted and well-combined. Add cheese, one handful at a time, stirring after each addition until fully melted. (Keep at low heat to avoid graininess or separation.)

4. Stir in tomatoes w/ green chiles, salt, onion powder, garlic powder and cooked chorizo. Serve with raw vegetables or tortilla chips.