Category Archives: Meal Planning

Parmesan Chicken with Linguine in a Sun-dried Tomato Cream Sauce

June 6, 2014

IMG_0894 Wow- that’s a long title, but it really says it all… golden brown crusted chicken, bright bursts of flavor from sun-dried tomatoes, and a luscious cream sauce.  Best of all, it’s on the table in about 40 minutes start to finish.  If I can make this on a crazy Monday after work, I know you can too!  Go on, impress your family, or save it and really impress some weekend dinner guests!

Starting off with the chicken, create a breading station.IMG_0885  I use paper plates for easy clean up!  In one plate, you’ll need some flour seasoned with salt and pepper.  In the second, crack and whip up an egg.  In the third, combine equal parts bread crumbs with grated Parmesan cheese.  If you have massive chicken breasts, like mine were, go ahead and pound them out a bit- they’ll cook quicker and more evenly.  Then just move your chicken through the breading station, starting with flour, and ending at the bread crumb mix.    IMG_0889Once breaded, pop them into a hot skillet that’s been coated with a swirl of olive oil.  Brown the chicken about 3 minutes on each side. (Note: the second side usually takes a bit less time because the oil is hot and sizzling!)    Transfer to a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

About halfway through the cook time of the chicken, you can start your sauce.

Sun-dried Tomato Cream Sauce:
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 pint heavy cream
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp italian herb paste (usually found in your grocer’s produce section- it’s in a tube)
1 cup grated Parmesan/ Asiago cheese blend
2 cups chopped baby spinach
1 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

Start with 2 tbsp butter.  Melt over medium low heat, and once melted, stir in 2 tbsp of flour. Slowly stir in 1/2 of the pint of heavy cream, along with 1 tbsp minced garlic, 2 tbsp tomato paste, and 2 tbsp italian herb paste.  Stir over low heat, gradually increasing to medium heat.  Add in 1 cup of the Asiago/ Parmesan cheese blend, 2 cups of baby spinach, and 1 cup of julienned sun-dried tomatoes.  Continue to stir occassionally, adding the remaining 1/2 pint of heavy cream bit by bit.  If sauce seems thin, add a smidge more cheese.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and reduce heat to low.  Stir occasionally and continue to simmer on low until chicken is finished cooking.


For this recipe, I used Bertolli’s fresh linguine found in my grocer’s deli department, but you can use any pasta that you like!  I served it up with the bed of pasta, topped with cream sauce, and then topped with sauced chicken on top of that.  I was really longing for a nice glass of white wine to go along with it, but lemonade was on the menu for me!  If you make this- have  it with the wine for me!

**Disclaimer: This meal is by no means healthy…but it is healthy for your soul, so eat up in moderation!**


Homestyle Mac N’ Cheese

March 9, 2014

Not much brings me comfort quite like my mummy’s mac n’ cheese.  Whenever I’d be feeling a little down, or the day had been too rough, it was always there- a warm hug on a plate, letting me know that everything would be just fine. 

These days, I only eat mummy’s mac when I need the big guns- those times when I need to feel her hug, even though she’s passed on.  I’m a firm believer that a good part of her lives on through her food, and there are times, when only that creamy mac n’ cheese will fix what ails me.

BUT, when it’s a Tuesday, and I need some mac for next to no reason at all, I turn to my mac n’ cheese makeover.  Half the calories, a quarter of the fat and four times the fiber.  NONE of the guilt. ALL of the satisfaction. 

Homestyle Mac N Cheese
6 tbsp unsalted butter (go ahead, use the butter)
6 tbsp flour
1/2 lb whole grain elbow macaroni
3 cups fat free milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp paprika
2 1/2 cups low fat shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter or spray a 2 quart baking dish.
Boil pasta- about 7 to 10 minutes

Melt butter in a 3 qt saucepan over medium heat.  Stir occassionally.  Slowly add flour and stir continuously, being sure not to brown.  Cook for 3 minutes.  Add salt, pepper, and paprika.  Slowly stir in 3 cups of milk and continue to cook for 3 to 5 more minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in 2 and 1/2 cups of shredded cheese.  Add pasta, stir, and pour into prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle the top with 1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs and a bit of extra cheddar cheese.  Bake @ 350 for 25 to 30 minutes.  Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. 

**Tip- if your baking dish seems full, place it on a cookie sheet prior to placing into the oven.  This will catch any sauce that may bubble over. **

Nutrition Comparison

Mum’s and most others per serving: 570 calories, 32g fat, 67 g carbs, 1.8g fiber

Mine per serving: 235 calories, 8 g fat, 28 g carbs, 8 g fiber

Cheesy Crusted Chops

February 11, 2014

Let it be known, I love pork chops.  LOVE them.  I get it from my grandmother, honestly, but I love them so much that I almost always buy the bulk family value pack from our grocery store.  I mean, really, who DOESN’T need a dozen pork chops for 2 people?!  I love the look of a bone-in chop, the sizzle of a good sear, their flavor, their versatility, and how budget friendly they are… and because I love them so, I am always looking for a new way to prepare them.  Last week’s culinary adventures may have led me to my favorite chops yet- Cheesy Crusted Chops. 

4 ingredients.
2 steps.
2 minutes of prep.
On your table in 20 minutes or less.
It doesn’t get any easier than that! 

Cheesy Crusted Chops

(serves 2, but is easy to double, triple, or make for a crowd!)

1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
Olive oil
2 bone in chops

Combine equal parts breadcrumbs and shredded cheese.  Add small drizzles of olive oil and mix with fingers until the mixture is a moist paste-like consistency.  (Almost like a sugar scrub?)  Divide the mixture evenly on the top of 2 chops and pat down gently with hands.  Toss into the oven @ 425 for 18-20 minutes. 

simple. as. that.


Bangers and Mash

January 31, 2014

Most people that know me, know that my husband is a man who is very easily pleased.  He never wants for much, or asks for much, which sometimes makes holidays and birthdays a challenge, but makes me want to do something special just that much more.  I usually couple an experience with a gift and memorable meal.  For my honey, there’s no greater meal than Bangers and Mash. 

Bangers and Mash is a traditional British dish of mashed potatoes and sausage with a gravy- pub food at it’s finest.  My sweet husband’s face lights up any time a restaurant adventure results in a menu with Bangers and Mash.  With snow, and just moving into our new house, going out was looking like it might be a challenge for his actual birthday.  So, I decided to try my hand at making his favorite meal.  Now, I’d never made Bangers and Mash before, but I figured, what the hell- It was his birthday, after all, and things usually turn out alright when I wing it!

And oh, Mama… did it turn out!  If you do nothing else, make and devour the gravy.  Then, try not to lick the dish.  Honestly.

Presenting…Birthday Bangers and Mash!

(Serves 2 hungry people)

1 package beer and brats sausages (5 in a pack)
4 tbsp butter, divided
1/4 cup flour
1 packet onion soup mix
1 beer

1/4 cup beef broth


Melt 2 tbsp butter in a high sided skillet.  Brown the brats on all sides, and set aside on a plate. (They’ll rejoin the party in a tiny bit.)  Add an additional 2 tbsp of butter to the skillet and combine with the 1/4 cup flour to make a rue.  Slowly whisk in 1 beer, 1 packet of onion soup, and 1/4 cup beef broth.  Add in a few dashes of salt and pepper, depending on your tastes.  Whisk and bring to a boil, being sure to stir vigorously for a few minutes to eliminate lumps.  (If there are some, don’t worry- it’s going over mashed potatoes, and will have the onions in there…and no one will notice AT ALL. I promise.)  Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and add the brats back into the gravy.  Continue to simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring and turning the brats occasionally.  If your gravy seems too thick, add a few splashes of beef broth.  Too thin?? add some flour, a spoonful at a time.

Serve in a pool of gravy, atop your favorite mashed potatoes.  For me, I love the speed and convenience of  Ore-Ida’s Steam and Mash potatoes.  They can be found in the freezer section, get steamed right in the bag, and then mashed with 2/3 cup of milk and a few tabs of butter.  They turn out amazingly delicious, without the hassle of peeling and boiling potatoes.  Win!

Darling husband loved his Birthday Bangers.  I was told they have to be a frequent meal, and not just for special occasions… and since they took under 30 minutes, that’s no problem at all!

Until next time…. give it a swirl!


What I’m Lovin’ Wednesday

January 1, 2014

Wow!  Welcome to 2014… It’s so hard to believe how fast the past year went, and even crazier to think how my 2014 is starting off!  The big news is… We’re moving to a new house!  And with a new house, comes a new kitchen!!!  I am SO THRILLED to be moving into my new kitchen, and have been busy all holiday break thinking about how to decorate.  Thanks to Pinterest and some clever bloggers, my What I’m Lovin’ Wednesday is some delightful art for my new digs!

First things first, this is my new kitchen:

Their stuff- not mine, yet!

We’re planning on painting things a light grey, so with greys and whites as my color palette, I set off on my quest.  I wanted cozy, classic, and a little bit quirky.  I knew I’d need to make a new “meal planner” board because the one I made previously just wouldn’t match.  Drat. 

So I set off to scanning pinterest, and the first little gem that I found was from  One of her posts for “Make it Monday” made me swoon. 

property of Lizzie Roe 

Her post for this ADORABLE FREEBIE is here:  Lizzie Roe’s adorable kitchen art Freebie
I’ve never met her, but we might be kitchen style soul mates.  I idolize Julia Child, love all things that look “chalkboard”, and the fonts… I die. I HAD to have it.  I immediately came up with a million ways that I wanted to use this print, but couldn’t decide…so I thought about it for a while.

Next, I found this little guy:

His picture was kind of everywhere… I credit google images?

How cute is he, right?  I decided he needed to live in my kitchen too and bought a white frame from AC Moore to feature him in.  He’s going to live above the pantry where that Coke sign is currently hanging out.  I love him, and think I shall name him Fredrick. (Like I said, a little quirky)


Back to my super cute Julia Child quote print.  I finally decided to put it as part of my meal planner board, and my goodness- the finished product makes me giddy!  Here’s how it all came together:

1) get an 8 frame collage style frame, such as this one: Collage Frame
(I got mine at AC Moore- they are almost ALWAYS on sale, and you can use a coupon!)

2) Pick out your background paper- I used the ministacks of scrapbooking paper in neutral tones.

3) Pick out a super cute picture

4) Print out days of the week on CLEAR Avery Address Labels.  I used the font “Skinny Jeans” found here from

5) Put it all together!

Now I feel like my kitchen will be my dream room!  I can’t wait to move on in, unpack, and start whipping up some new TwiceAround recipes!

What are you LOVIN’ today??

Creamy Sundried Tomato and Artichoke Tortellini

September 23, 2013

This tasty dinner comes with a shortcut supper version.  Make it from scratch, or take a hand from some store bought ingredients.  Either way, you’re in for a crowd pleasing meal!

1 family bag of 3 cheese tortellini (barilla)
1 and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
*I get my peppers in a jar, pull out 3 or 4 and chop them up*
1/4 cup capers
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup dry milk (trust me)
1 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped

Prepare tortellini as directed.
While it’s cooking, throw your tomato, artichokes, peppers, and capers in a deep sided skillet with a swirl of olive oil.  Cook down for 2-3 minutes, and add chicken stock, along with the dry milk.  Stir and simmer for 5 minutes.   Stir in cheese and reduce heat to low.  When pasta is ready, drain, and toss in.  Stir and heat an addition 2-3 minutes.  Eat and enjoy!

Instead of all the prep with the artichokes, peppers, and capers- a few companies make some GREAT artichoke bruschetta that is a perfect and quick sub-in.  Trader Joe’s and Delallo’s are 2 of my favorite “go-to’s” that I keep in my pantry.  1 jar will do you!

Pretzel Crusted Cheddar Stuffed Chicken

September 9, 2013

When you eat chicken as much as we do, every now and then, you start to crave something a little different.  Lately, I’ve been going outside the box to make tasty chicken that’s man pleasing, too!  Today, that means Pretzel Crusted Cheddar Stuffed Chicken.

2 chicken breasts
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1 cup pretzels, crushed

In 3 separate plates, set up your crusting station with
1 plate of flour
1 plate of beaten egg
1 plate with crushed pretzels

I crush the pretzels by putting them in a baggie and rolling them out with a rolling pin.
Another trick of the trade- PAPER PLATES.  They are the perfect size and make for easy clean up when crusting proteins.

Preheat your oven to 350.
Filet your chicken breasts to create a pocket, and stuff each with 1/2 cup shredded cheese.
Coat both sides of the chicken with Flour, Egg, and Pretzel.
Swirl some olive oil in a skillet, twice around the pan, and heat over medium high.
Add in the chicken and cook 2-3 minutes per side.
Transfer the chicken to a baking dish and continue to bake at 350 for 25-27 minutes depending on size and thickness.

These were the perfect delight of salty crunchiness and gooey cheesiness.  I’ll definitely be adding them into our rotation, and I was told that the leftovers made an awesome sandwich.  (Told because well, my husband ate them all!)

Until tomorrow, and Creamy Sun-dried Tomato and Artichoke Tortellini,

Happy Eating!

Ragin’ Cajun Pasta

August 26, 2013

I’ve been on a spicy kick lately, so when andouille sausage went on sale at my local grocery store, I was pretty excited to cook up something new.  As it so happened, fresh bruschetta was also on sale, and I knew that with those two ingredients, I was on my way to a pretty tasty dish.  By throwing in a few more household staples, I had a great pasta meal in under 15 minutes from skillet to table!  Break out your Mardi Gras beads, because tonight we’re making Ragin’ Cajun Pasta!

Ragin’ Cajun Pasta
4 links pre-cooked cajun style andouille sausage links (I like Aidells)
1 small tub of fresh bruschetta
1/2 cup green peppers, diced
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup grate parmesan
1 box penne or farfalle pasta

Cook pasta as directed. 
While pasta is cooking, combine diced peppers, bruschetta, and chili powder in a skillet over medium heat.  Stir and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Cut andouille sausage into “penny” slices and add to skillet.  Stir in 1/2 cup of chicken stock and simmer until pasta is cooked al-dente.  Drain the pasta and toss into the sauce mixture.  Top with fresh grated parmesan cheese, and enjoy!

Yep- that simple, kids!
Until next time- Happy Eating!!