30-Minute Shortcut Beef and Vegetable Ragu. (GF, DF, Paleo)

The most flavorful ragu ever! Perfect for a weeknight meal, and a great way to sneak in some veggies!

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I had NO idea how amazing this meal was going to be when I made it.
So. Much. Flavor!!
My husband proclaimed it one of his favorite meals ever. So simple, but seriously amazing.

You know it’s a winner when you genuinely look forward to the leftovers, and this sauce reheats beautifully–it’s almost better the second day! You can serve it over pasta, gluten-free pasta, or spaghetti squash (my favorite!).

Speaking of which, click here to learn how to cook spaghetti squash!

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Okay, so what makes this sauce so wonderful?

  • From start to finish, you can have dinner on the table in 30 minutes. Always a win, especially on busy weeknights. Thanks, food processor, for making this so quick and easy!
  • Everyone loves spaghetti and meat sauce, right? Right. Gotta love dishes that will appeal to your entire family.
  • The ingredients are simple. Humble, even. But, when they come together, they create a rich, cozy sauce. The key is using high quality beef (grass-fed), and marinara sauce.
  • The “shortcut” in this shortcut ragu is the marinara sauce. It’s (gasp) store-bought. Normally I’m all about making everything from scratch, but sometimessssss life gets crazy and you need a quick meal. Find a high-quality marinara sauce and it will make this meat sauce taste like it has been simmering all day.
  • My favorite –> Hidden veggies! In order to sneak some vegetables into the sauce, I threw them in the food processor first until they were chopped up teeny tiny. My husband hates mushrooms but didn’t even know he was eating them!

Hooray for adding nutrition and making a meal go further in a healthy, cost-effective way! I love it.

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Quick tip: double this recipe and freeze it!

30-Minute Shortcut Beef and Vegetable Ragu

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef (I used 90/10)
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped (I used a handful of baby carrots!)
  • 1 rib of celery, roughly chopped
  • 4oz sliced mushrooms
  • 24 oz high quality tomato-basil marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • cooked pasta (regular or GF), or spaghetti squash
  • salt and pepper

1). Heat a large skillet or pot over medium heat and add the ground beef. While it is beginning to brown, add the onion and garlic to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper.

2). Add the carrot, celery, and mushrooms to the food processor. Pulse until minced. Add to the skillet and season with salt and pepper.

3). When the ground beef is no longer pink and the vegetables are tender, add the marinara sauce and chicken broth, stirring to combine. Reduce heat slightly and place a lid partially on top of the skillet. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4). Stir in fresh basil. Taste and re-season with more salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve over cooked pasta or spaghetti squash.

Servings of sauce: about 6. Approximate Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 203 Carbs: 16g Fat: 7g Protein: 18g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 8g Points+: 5 Recipe adapted from here

Paleo Italian Stuffed Peppers.

Perfect for a weeknight meal, these paleo stuffed peppers are easy and healthy!

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It’s January! Everyone is looking to clean up their diets this time of year, and this is the perfect recipe to fit any new year’s resolution that is clean-eating related. This dish is paleo, Whole30 compliant, gluten-free, and overall delicious. You won’t even miss the rice that is traditionally included in stuffed peppers.

The real star of this show is the meat. So savory! So flavorful! It was absolutely perfect. There’s a hint of Italian fare from the basil, but it is not overpowering. I added lots of chopped spinach to get as many veggies in as possible.

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Did I mention this recipe is super simple and easy? While the peppers are doing their initial bake, cook the meat and vegetables. Once the peppers are out of the oven, stuff them with the meat mixture. Then you can either put them back in the oven for a few minutes, or, if you don’t mind firmer peppers, eat them as-is. Also, if you don’t mind adding dairy, I think a sprinkle of parmesan cheese would be fabulous here! I’m already thinking of other ways I can use this meat mixture (tacos, perhaps?) because it’s soo good!

Paleo Italian Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:

  • 4 bell peppers, cut in half
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1lb grass-fed ground beef (or turkey)
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, chopped (or 1/2 can diced tomatoes, or 4 small tomatoes)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

1). Pre-heat the oven to 375F. Place the bell peppers, cut side down, in a large baking dish. Bake for about 15 minutes.
2). While the peppers are baking, add the oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Season well with salt and pepper.
3). Add the chopped tomatoes and garlic to the pan. Cook for a few minutes and then add the basil and spinach. Cook until wilted. Add more salt and pepper, to taste.
4). Evenly distribute the meat mixture into each pepper half. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or eat!

Servings: 4. Approximate Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 240 Carbs: 7g Fat: 15g Protein: 24g Sugar: 4g Fiber: 2g Points+: 7 Recipe adapted from here.

Easy Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette.

My go-to balsamic vinaigrette recipe–quick, healthy, and easy!

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I can’t help but think about all the holidays (also: holiday food) that will be here soon, so I’m hoping this recipe will make eating salads more exciting in the meantime! Once the weather turns cold I don’t find myself craving crisp salads as much, but thankfully here in the south we’re still having highs in the 80’s, and my tomato plant is still producing lots of tomatoes, so salads are here to stay for now!

But let’s be honest…with a vinaigrette this delish we eat salads year-round.

Making a homemade vinaigrette is easy and I PROMISE it barely takes 5 minutes, but it makes a huge difference in the end result of your salad. I’m the first to admit that I don’t aaaaaaaalways make my own dressings, but I really prefer them. Not only do you have 100% control over every ingredient (goodbye crazy ingredients you can’t pronounce!), but they just have so. much. flavor!

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I like making my vinaigrettes in mason jars because I can measure straight into the jars, AND shake ’em up right in the container before serving. I also prefer using agave nectar over honey, but if you don’t have any agave nectar you can make that substitution. I also like a tart vinaigrette, but if you taste it and find it’s too tart for your liking, simply increase the olive oil by about 1/4 cup. It will dilute the balsamic vinegar for you.

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One of my favorite salad combinations? Lettuce, homegrown tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, avocado, a sprinkle of feta cheese, and this vinaigrette. Add some grilled chicken and you have yourself a complete meal!

Easy Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette.

  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 tsp agave nectar (start with 1 and add more from there if it tastes too tart)
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • sea salt and black pepper

1). Combine all ingredients in a jar (or bowl) and shake (or whisk) to combine.

Servings: about 12. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 90 Carbs: 2g Fat: 9g Points+: 3 Recipe courtesy of Audrey’s Apron.

Roasted Tomato, Basil, and Garlic Sauce.

An easy, home-made version of my favorite jarred marinara sauce made with roasted tomatoes, garlic, onion, carrots, and fresh basil!

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I’m pressing pause on the apple, cinnamon, pumpkin-everything recipes, even though we’re a few days away from the official start of fall. My garden is exploding with beautiful summer fruit (now more-so than ever!), and I bet I’m not the only one!

If you follow me on Instagram, you know this year was my first year planting a garden, and you also know I recently harvested dozens of tomatoes. Until now, I’ve been able to pick a couple tomatoes from the garden each day ad incorporate them in simple caprese or garden salads. Last weekend was a game-changer! I had two buckets full of tomatoes and I realized I was going to have to use them up in a large quantity all at once.

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I asked for your opinion on what I should make. Some said marinara, some said salsa, and some said gazpacho. Having spent time in Spain, I loooove gazpacho and was ready to make it until I realized I would be the only one in my family eating it. I was leaning toward marinara sauce, but I dreaded having to peel so many tomatoes. I know the trick about blanching them in boiling water, but it still seemed overly time-consuming. I wanted big flavor without slaving away in the kitchen all day, ya know?

Thankfully, an extended family member suggested an easier alternative to marinara sauce that included roasting the tomatoes first (hooray for not peeling tomatoes!!!). I tweaked her recipe a little bit and included carrots for some sweetness with the onion and garlic.

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Oh, and I roasted a WHOLE head of garlic for this recipe. I’m glad I did, because the garlic flavor was still subtle even with the large quantity I used! Have you ever roasted garlic before? I hadn’t either–but it is SOOOOO easy. Much faster than having to take out individual cloves. Are you ready? It’s done in 3 steps

1). Cut the top (pointy) side of the garlic bulb about 1/3 of the way down, so the tops of the garlic cloves are exposed.

2). Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

3). Wrap in foil and place in the oven. Ta-da!

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I am probably going to be roasting garlic for everything now! The little garlic foil packet roasted right on the oven rack next to my giant pan of tomatoes and veggies for about 40 minutes. More room on my baking pan = more tomatoes get used!

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When the liquid in the veggies has evaporated and all the tomatoes are shriveled up (lovely imagery, no?), you know they’re ready to take out. For me, that was about 40-45 minutes at 400F. Let them cool a little bit and then get out the food processor.

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Seriously, I love my food processor. It makes fancy sauces so easy. If you don’t have one, use a blender. Scraaaaaaaaaaape all that yummyness off the pan, straight into the food processor. Don’t forget about the garlic!! The cloves are soft and easy to squeeze out, so add them all to the big roasted veggie party. Did I just call it a party? Yes I did.

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Taste and add whatever you think would be good: balsamic vinegar, more olive oil, parmesan cheese, more seasoning, a touch of sugar, fresh basil, etc. I love basil in my sauce, so I added a small handful of leaves and processed them together. My sauce was thick (which I actually like), but you can thin yours out with more olive oil if you prefer a looser sauce.

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What do you like to do with fresh tomatoes? Let me know in the comments!

Roasted Tomato, Basil, and Garlic Sauce

Yield: about 2 cups.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1-2 dozen chopped tomatoes, depending on size. (I used cherry and regular tomatoes, enough to fill 1 large baking sheet)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Freshly cracked sea salt and pepper
  • 1 whole garlic bulb
  • Fresh basil (I used about 8 leaves)

1). Pre-heat the oven to 400F. For the roasted garlic: cut off about 1/3 of the top of the garlic bulb (pointy side). Cut enough so the tops of the garlic cloves are now exposed. Place on foil, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Wrap up tightly and bake directly on the oven rack with the tray of tomatoes.

2). Place the chopped tomatoes, carrot, and onion on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.

3). Remove the garlic and veggies. Let them cool about 15 minutes before scraping into the food processor. Add a small handful of fresh basil. Pulse until smooth. Taste and re-season, if necessary. You may need to add more olive oil for a looser sauce, balsamic vinegar for tang, sugar to sweeten, or more basil based on your preferences!

Recipe courtesy of Audrey’s Apron. Thanks to family for the inspiration!!

 

Caprese Quinoa Salad.

A healthy, easy side dish filled with bright mediterranean flavors!

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Tomatoes + basil = perfection, am I right? I never get tired of that flavor combination.

I know adding mozzarella to the mix is the most traditional option, but I decided to use feta instead. It’s still very mediterranean, but more flavorful in my opinion. Feta is slightly more tangy and salty than mozzarella, and I think it worked great here. If you prefer mozzarella, use it!

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If you have a garden, this is the perfect way to use up a lot of fresh tomatoes and basil. It’s amazing how such simple ingredients can be so good, am I right? Complicated recipes have their time and place, but this is not one of them, making it perfect for a weeknight meal. Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl and you’re good to go!

I served this with grilled chicken breast, but this would be great with fish, pork, beef, whatever! And, if you’re vegetarian, this could become a main dish. You can eat it warm, at room temperature, or cold from the fridge. The leftovers were great, too!

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Do you like caprese salads? Tell me your opinion in the comments section below!

Caprese Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 10-15 basil leaves cut chiffonade
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (or mozzarella)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 Tbsp lemon juice or rice wine vinegar
  • Generous amount of sea salt (about 3/4 tsp) and freshly cracked black pepper (about 1/2 tsp), to taste

1). In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth and quinoa to a boil. Cook according to package directions, about 15-18 minutes or until all the broth is absorbed. Move the quinoa to a large bowl to let it cool.

2). Add all the remaining ingredients to the bowl of quinoa, tossing to combine well. Taste and re-season, if necessary. Enjoy immediately or cover and refrigerate.

Servings: about 8 1-cup servings. Approximate Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 157 Carbs: 17g Fat: 7g Protein: 7g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 2g Points+: 4.
Recipe courtesy of Audrey’s Apron.

Zucchini Lasagna (Gluten-Free!).

Thin slices of grilled zucchini take the place of traditional lasagna noodles, and are then nestled in a rich meat and cheese sauce. You won’t miss the pasta one bit!

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See that beautiful green peaking through the lasagna? That’s the zucchini. I realize many of you have got to be really skeptical at this point. Zucchini for lasagna noodles?! It sounds crazy, I know, and even I had my reservations about it. I’m pretty sure I looked at my husband at one point while assembling this and told him I had no idea if this was going to turn out well. Thankfully, it did. Not only did it turn out well, it was awesome!! He’s not a huge fan of zucchini and really loved this one too. With lots of meat and cheese, what’s not to love? Yum.

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For those of you who follow me on instagram (if you don’t, you should!), you may recall I recently had a tiiiiny kitchen incident earlier this week involving a knife and 3 of my fingers. A record, to be sure. This recipe was worth it, though. It just goes to show you everyone can have one of those days in the kitchen, and you need to be careful with sharp knives. Which, by the way, you’ll need a sharp knife or a mandoline to achieve these thin slices of zucchini you’ll use to replace the noodles. Just be careful and don’t do what I did. : )

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Once they’re thinly sliced (you’re going for about 1/8-1/4 inch slice), sprinkle some salt on ’em to draw out excess water, pat them dry, and grill them up on an indoor or outdoor grill. These slices are so thin that they’ll be ready within 1-2 minutes per side. My indoor grill took a little longer than that on some of my slightly thicker slices, but just pierce them with a fork to test if they’re done. They’ll look something like this:

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I had 3 small zucchini, and it ended up not being enough for the layers, so I did the above steps with 2 small yellow squash and added it in the middle layer, which worked out great. So, if your garden is exploding with one squash and not the other, you can certainly substitute yellow squash!

While all of that’s happening, you’ll brown your meat and make a yummy sauce. Then, in another bowl, you’ll mix together ricotta cheese with parmesan and egg. That’s what makes this sauce so creamy and rich tasting. Once everything is ready, start layering! Sauce goes in the bottom of the pan first, followed by zucchini, ricotta mixture, mozzarella cheese, and another layer of sauce. I was able to have 3 layers of zucchini total. The top layer is a little different in that you only add the remaining sauce and mozzarella, no ricotta. This is important because you now know you can use half the ricotta mixture on the first layer, and the second half on the second layer. Make sense? Then once it’s all beautifully assembled, cover it with foil and bake it for about 30 minutes.

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After 30-40 minutes, remove the foil and either let it bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown on top, or turn your broiler on high for a few minutes. This lasagna took a pretty long while to assemble and we were hungry, so I went with the broiler route. Just be sure to keep an eye on it!

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The portion sizes on mine worked out to be equivalent to about the width of 2 slices of zucchini. Pair it with a big salad and you’ve got yourself a really filling meal!

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Zucchini Lasagna (Gluten-Free!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb 96% lean beef (or ground turkey)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion
  • salt and pepper
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes with basil
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 3-4 large zucchini OR yellow squash, sliced 1/8″-1/4″ thick (I used 3 small zucchini + 2 small yellow squash)
  • 15 oz part-skim ricotta
  • 16 oz part-skin mozzarella cheese, shredded (I did not use the whole bag but you can if you’d like!)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg

1). For the meat sauce: Heat a large pan and brown the meat, seasoning liberally with salt and pepper. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the tomatoes, basil, and more salt and pepper. Simmer on low, covered, for about 30 minutes while you prepare the zucchini.

2). Sprinkle a little bit of salt on the thinly sliced zucchini to draw out any excess moisture and after 10 minutes pat them dry with a paper towel. Heat your grill and grill the zucchini slices for 1-2 minutes per side, or slightly longer for any thicker slices you may have. To test if they’re done, pierce them with a fork. They should be easily pierced when cooked through.

3). Preheat the oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, and egg together well.

4). Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Begin layering. Spoon some of the sauce on the bottom of the pan, then top with zucchini slices. Add HALF the ricotta mixture on top of this layer, then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Add more sauce, zucchini, the second half of the ricotta mixture, and more mozzarella cheese. Top with more sauce, the last layer of zucchini, more sauce, and the last of the mozzarella cheese.

5). Cover with foil and bake for about 30-40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden-brown. Alternatively, you can turn the broiler on high to achieve the golden brown look quicker (just be sure to keep an eye on it!)

6). Allow the lasagna to rest about 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Servings: 8. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 345 Carbs: 16g Fat: 17g Protein: 36g Fiber: 2g Points+: 9
Recipe adapted from: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2009/02/zucchini-lasagna.html 

 

 

Baked Pesto Chicken.

Thinly sliced chicken breasts are baked with my lightened-up pesto, then topped with mozzarella cheese! Few ingredients, lots of flavor.

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Last week I shared with you my homemade lightened-up, nut-free basil pesto. One of our favorite ways to use it is on top of chicken! Chicken breast alone doesn’t have much flavor, but the pesto takes care of that little problem. Top it with mozzarella or parmesan cheese and you have a delicious (and easy!) weeknight dinner. If your pesto is already made, you can certainly have this on the table within 30 minutes.

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I served this with a kale chickpea salad (recipe coming soon!), but it is great with just about anything you can think of: pasta, roasted veggies, a big green salad, couscous–whatever you’ve got, it’ll probably work! Leftovers can be reheated as-is, transformed into a sandwich, or cut into bite sized pieces and added to a salad. Get creative!

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This is arguably one of my husband’s favorite dishes, and I love it because it’s so simple to prepare! The lightened-up pesto tricks you into feeling like you’re really indulging, but you’re really not. It clocks in at just under 160 calories, only 6 grams of fat, and a whopping 27 grams of protein!

Baked Pesto Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4 thinly sliced chicken breasts, about 1 lb
  • 4 tsp lighter basil pesto
  • 4 tbsp reduced fat mozzarella cheese (parmesan could work well too)
  • salt and pepper

1). Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides before placing them in the baking dish.

2). Carefully spread about a teaspoon of the basil pesto on each chicken breast. Top with 1 tablespoon of mozzarella cheese and bake for about 25-30 minutes. Enjoy!

Servings: 4. Approximate Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 159 Fat: 6g Carbs: 1g Protein: 27g Points+: 4

Recipe courtesy of Audrey’s Apron.

Lightened-up Homemade Basil Pesto (Nut-Free!)

 All the bright, bold flavors of traditional pesto, but without all the calories! This basil pesto is easy, quick, and versatile.

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Pesto.
So vibrantly green. Slightly salty. Fragrant. Rich. It’s great on sandwiches (like this pesto chicken panini), on pasta, on baked chicken, or even mixed in to rice! That last one is a brand new discovery that I am really excited about. Brown rice alone is bland, but mix in a little pesto and ta-da! Bursting with flavor!

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3 summers ago I planted my first basil plant and successfully kept it alive for several months. This year I decided to plant 2 basil plants, knowing plenty of homemade pesto could be in our future.

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That time is here! My husband and I both love pesto, but the traditional recipes are calorie-laden due to lots of olive oil, nuts, and cheese. So, I went on a hunt for a lighter pesto. Same great flavors, just a little healthier! The biggest difference between this recipe and most others is the absence of pine nuts. Typically either pine nuts or walnuts are used, but not here! Don’t worry, you won’t miss them.

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From start to finish, this whole process probably takes less than 5 minutes (thanks food processor!). Add the basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper to your food processor and then slowly add in your olive oil. If I have enough basil in my garden, I’ll double the recipe to have on hand or freeze for use during the winter months.

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Lightened-Up Homemade Basil Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 5 tbsp EVOO
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1). Place the basil leaves, garlic, parmesan, salt and pepper in the food processor. Process until smooth. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the 5 tablespoons of olive oil until smooth. Store in a sealed container in the fridge or freeze for future use.

Servings: 10 servings of 1 tbsp each. Approximate Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 86 Carbs: .8g Fat: 8.3g Protein: 2.3g Fiber: 0.3g Points+:2 
Recipe adapted from: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2012/07/skinny-basil-pesto.html

 

Penne with Strip Steak and Spinach

My husband and I recently celebrated our anniversary, so in honor of him I am posting one of his all-time favorite recipes! I first made this for him back in college because I wanted a meal we could enjoy on a picnic, and this pasta dish tastes great hot or at room temperature. This meal is definitely hearty–there’s pasta, strip steak, and even some greens! I used baby spinach this time but the original recipe calls for arugula, which is also very delicious. I reserve this recipe for special occasions and probably make it once or twice a year.

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There are a few steps to prepare this meal, but many things can be done at the same time to speed up the process.

1) Cook the pasta. No big deal here–just boil water and toss in your favorite pasta. I used whole wheat penne this time, but you could use regular pasta or even brown rice pasta to make it gluten free!

2) Cook your steak. My husband loves strip steak, and it’s a great cut for this meal. To add flavor, the original recipe calls to add salt, pepper, garlic, and herbs de provence to the steak before cooking. I’ve also had success just adding Montreal Steak Seasoning. Either way, do not skip that step–it really brings great flavor to each bite! I used my indoor “grill” for this, but you can grill it outside or even cook it in the oven. If you do that, sear the steak first in an oven-proof pan over medium-heat for 2 minutes per side, then finish cooking it in the oven at 450F for about 5-6 minutes. I hope to do a post on this method soon!

3) Make the dressing. This dish is a fresh take on a pasta salad because the penne, beef, and spinach are tossed together with a homemade vinaigrette. The vinaigrette is what makes this recipe fabulous. Fresh herbs are best, but use dried if you must. The tangy balsamic and creamy dijon come together perfectly with the olive oil to make the dressing.  I actually reduced the amount of olive oil from the original recipe and I believe you could reduce it even further if you’d like.

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Toss it all together and you are ready to eat!

The weather is getting warmer and picnic recipes are hard to find–pack this pasta “salad” and take it with you!

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Penne with Strip Steak and Spinach

  • 1 (1-pound) New York strip steak
  • 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound penne pasta (whole wheat or rice pasta for gluten free)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for steak and pasta water
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for steak
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 cups chopped baby spinach or arugula

1). Season the steak with salt, garlic, herbs de Provence and garlic. Grill or cook indoors until cooked to preferred temperature (we like medium-well). Allow the steak to rest 5 minutes before thinly slicing.

2). Meanwhile, boil a large pot of salted water and cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water before draining. 

3). In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, fresh herbs, and olive oil. Toss the pasta with the 1/4 cup reserved pasta water and half of the dressing before adding the steak and spinach/arugula. Add more dressing or reserve to add later. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Servings: 7. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 362 Carbs: 37g Fat: 16g Protein: 23g Sugar: 3g Fiber: 5g WW Points+: 10 

Recipe adapted from: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/penne-with-beef-and-arugula-recipe.html 

Chicken Rollatini Stuffed with Zucchini

Zucchini season is coming to an end, and I wanted to share with you one more zucchini-related recipe we enjoyed this summer. This is a thinly sliced chicken breast stuffed with a zucchini, garlic and parmesan mixture, then dipped in an olive oil and lemon mixture, breaded, and baked in the oven until golden brown. These are surprisingly filling!

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These rollatinis do require a few steps to make, but I promise it is worth the effort! Starting off with thinly sliced chicken breast is key, but you can always pound out a regular chicken breast if you must. In the past, I have made some chicken roll-up recipes that required toothpicks to keep the chicken together, and I am so glad that was not necessary this time! Each chicken breast stayed together perfectly. This unique recipe is a great way to sneak in zucchini for family/friends that typically do not love the vegetable. My husband falls into that category but he ate these zucchini stuffed chicken breasts with no complaints!

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Hurry and make these before summer comes to an end!

Chicken Rollatini Stuffed with Zucchini

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups (1 medium) zucchini, shredded
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp Romano cheese (or parmesan)
  • 3 oz part skim shredded mozzarella
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 thin chicken cutlets, 3 oz each
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 lemon, juice of
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • olive oil non-stick spray

1) Wash and dry cutlets, season with salt and pepper.  Preheat oven to 450°. Lightly spray a baking dish with non-stick spray.

2) In a large skillet, heat oil on medium-high heat. When hot saute the garlic 1 minute, or until golden. Add zucchini, 1/4 cup Romano cheese, salt and pepper and saute about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool. When cool, add mozzarella cheese and mix to combine.

3) Lay chicken cutlets down on a working surface and spread 3 tbsp of zucchini-cheese mixture on each cutlet. Loosely roll each one and keep seam side down.

4) Combine breadcrumbs and remaining 2 tbsp of Romano cheese in one bowl; in a second bowl combine olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper.

5) Dip chicken in lemon-oil mixture, then in breadcrumbs and place seam side down in a baking dish (no toothpicks needed). Repeat with the remaining chicken. When finished, lightly spraywith oil spray.

6) Bake 25 – 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serving size: 1 chicken rollatini. Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 171 Carbs: 7.9g Fat: 6.3g Protein: 20.3g Fiber: 0.9g Sugar: 1.3g 

WW PointsPlus: 4 

Recipe adapted from skinnytaste.com.