Sunday, September 22, 2013

Not Quite Puttanesca Baked Chicken

Today I decided to try a recipe that I put together based on several I have seen during my searches online.  I can’t remember exactly which one inspired this exact recipe, if I can find the source I will edit this post and give credit for the inspiration.  I call it not quite puttanesca because it’s a bit like that sauce but doesn’t have all of the normal ingredients.

This was a great dish, even my husband raved about it.  It’s almost like chicken parmesan without all of the carbs and fat.  The sauce that comes from the baking is saucy and reminds me of a quick fresh sauce.  Next time I make it I think I will add fresh basil because I love the flavor and I think it would give it even more flavor.  It’s a really simple dish to make, I think it would make a good weeknight dinner because you could prep the “sauce” ahead of time and just throw everything in the oven when you get home.  Serve it with a salad and a bit of bread (if you aren’t gluten free like me).  I hope you enjoy!

Not Quite Puttanesca Baked Chicken

4-5 roma tomatoes, cut into ½” chunks
2 cloves of garlic, grated
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
¼ C chopped olives (I used kalamata)
2 T olive oil
2 T corn starch
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb chicken breasts, tenderized slightly
¾ C part-skim mozzarella

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Mix tomatoes, garlic, artichoke hearts, olive oil, arrowroot, italian seasoning, salt and pepper and set aside
  • Season both sides of chicken breasts with salt and pepper and place in a greased baking dish
  • Surround the chicken with the tomato mixture
  • Bake 20-30 minutes or until chicken is nearly done
  • Top with mozzarella and bake until chicken is done and cheese is melted and a little brown
  • Let sit for 5 minutes before serving

Friday, September 20, 2013

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Sausage, Apple, Cranberries and Goat Cheese

I am forever collecting recipes that look good and inspire me to try new things.  During my searches I found one that sounded really great, as a side dish.  I found it on one of my favorite gluten free recipe resource blogs, elana’s pantry.  Since I have to eat gluten free I spent a lot of time looking for resources and her blog is a fantastic one.

So, this recipe is inspired by her Acorn Squash with AppleCranberry Stuffing recipe.  I wanted something that was more of a main dish (and when I say main dish to my husband that means it needs to contain meat).  The result was everything I hoped it would be, a little sweet, a little salty all with the wonderfully earthy flavor of goat cheese.  It all came together in something I can only describe as comfort food.  It will be a go to dish for years to come. This is what I did to make it a main dish using her base recipe:

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Sausage, Apple, Cranberry and Goat Cheese
Inspired by a recipe from Elana’s Pantry
Serves 2

1 acorn squash
Boiling water
½ lb mild Italian Sausage
1 apple
¼ C dried cranberries
½ tsp cinnamon
Salt to taste
1 T coconut oil
2 oz. goat cheese

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Cut squash in half, remove pulp and seeds
  • Place squash, cut side down, in a baking dish and pour in water until about ¼” up the squash
  • Bake for approximately 30 minutes, until nearly done
  • While squash is baking brown italian sausage then drain fat
  • Chop apple into about ¼” pieces and put into a bowl to mix with cranberries, oil, cinnamon and salt and set aside
  • Take squash out of the oven and turn so the cut side is up
  • Mix the Italian sausage into the apple mixture then “stuff” into the squash
  • Top with drops of goat cheese
  • Put back in the oven and bake for an additional 30-45 minutes or until squash is done and apple is tender
  • Serve while hot with a side salad dressed with a simple balsamic vinaigrette
If you are interested in finding more really yummy and healthy recipes head over to the elana's pantry website and check it out, you are not going to be disappointed!

Pinterest Addiction

I’m addicted to Pinterest, there I said it, though I’m actually wondering if there is anyone in the creative/craft world that isn’t at least a little bit enamored with the site.  I collect inspirational images, ideas for future projects, recipes that look amazing and things I find funny that I can go back to when I need something to laugh at.

I saw something on the site the other day that got my brain going….”stop pinning, start doing”.  Excellent advice for whoever put that out there.  That’s going to be my mantra (I even already made myself a little sign in my studio to remind me that while it’s great to look for inspiration eventually you really should do something with all of that inspiration.

So, my goal until the end of the year is to try at least one Pinterest project that I pinned a week, I will share the results (good and bad) with all of you.  I’m hoping that you can join me in my journey; I would sure love to hear from people that are doing the same thing.

Oh, and if you want to follow me on Pinterest you can find me at  If you are there as well leave me a comment here so I can follow your boards too!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Southwest Inspired Shepherd's Pie

I started this blog at the beginning of the year then abandoned it with only a recipe posted.  I’m finally back now and ready to get into sharing recipes, crafty stuff and anything else creative that comes to mind.  I thought I would share a recipe that was a big hit with my husband, he has requested that I make it several times since.  He loves shepherd’s pie and I don’t generally care for the flavors in the traditional version.  Since I like southwestern inspired flavors I tried something different for this one, I have to say the result was pretty tasty.  If you try it let me know what you think, if you have your own favorite shepherd’s pie with a twist recipe I would love to have you share that as well, I’m always looking for new ideas!

Shepherd’s Pie – Jen’s Southwest Inspired Version
Serves at least 8, likely more

1 tsp cocnut oil (or whatever oil you like for cooking)
1 medium sweet onion, chopped small
2 carrots, chopped small
2 celery stalks, chopped small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini, chopped small
8 oz mushrooms, chopped small
1 lb. very lean ground beef (I used 95/5)
3 T tomato paste
½ T ground cumin
1 tsp chipotle chili powder (do this to taste, I use more, we like things spicy)
½ T chili powder
1 large can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 C corn (I prefer frozen, less sodium), thawed
Salt and pepper to taste
3 medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped into chunks
¾ large head of cauliflower, chopped into large chunks
3 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
3 T butter
¼-1/2 C skim milk (or whatever milk you have in the fridge)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
¾ C shredded sharp cheddar cheese

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • For the bottom portion of the pie:
  • Heat oil over medium high heat in a large skillet
  • Drop in the onion through the mushrooms and sauté for two minutes, allowing veggies to soften slightly
  • Add in the ground beef and break it up into the veggies as it is browning
  • Once the meat is browned add in the tomato paste and spices, cook for another minute giving everything a chance to meld and the paste a chance to really wake up
  • Add in the tomatoes, beans and corn, stirring everything together well
  • Turn down the heat, cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes, then remove the lid and simmer another 15 minutes to reduce the amount of liquid
  • Add the potatoes and cauliflower to a large pot and cover with water, bring to a boil and cook until tender
  • Drain potatoes and cauliflower then put back into the pot, add in the cream cheese, butter, milk, salt and pepper, and use an electric mixer to combine everything until smooth (you are looking for a thick but smooth consistency)
  • At this point check the meat mixture for salt/pepper needs along with spices.  I find when using canned beans and veggies I often don’t need to add salt.  If you add salt let it cook for a couple of minutes before moving on to the next step
  • Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray, add in the meat mixture and spread to an even layer, add the potato/cauliflower mixture on top
  • If you are baking the dish now, add the cheese and place in the oven.  It should only take about 20-25 minutes because everything is already hot
  • If you are going to put it in the refrigerator for later in the week, allow it to cool then cover and refrigerate, when you take it out to bake allow to sit on the counter for a few minutes then cover with foil before putting it in the oven, bake for 30 minutes covered, remove the cover, add the cheese then bake until browned.