From my kitchen


Today is my crazy busy day – for work and for the girls.  Both of them have dance class and I have an afternoon of back-to-back conference calls. It makes for one tired mommy in the evening, that’s for sure.

To combat that, I try to do a little prep work ahead of time in the morning – preparing something yummy & healthy for dinner and planning out whatever else I need to for the rest of the day. It just saves my sanity and helps me to enjoy being with my kids more rather than stressing out and being cranky.

Today, I changed up my planned dinner. Usually, Thursdays are leftover nights (because it is easier to warm things up than cook from scratch when you’re running back and forth between school & the dance studio. can I get an amen?)

But today, I was thinking about the jumbo pack of mini-sub rolls I got at the warehouse store the other day… the same mini-sub rolls I just knew the girls would love for cute little sandwiches for lunch.  And the very same mini-sub rolls they most definitely do not like for their lunches – as evidenced by the returned, uneaten sandwiches two days this week. Sigh.

So, I was trying to figure out how I was going to use those rolls before they became a science experiment on my counter.  I don’t eat (much) bread and SuperMan is trying to cut back… which leaves quite the dilemma. Until you start to think about things like… garlic bread!

So, once my mind went to garlic bread, I decided to try out this new recipe I’d found on Pinterest – it’s for a crock pot ravioli casserole.  Perfect! And because I’m-a good-a little-a Italian girl, I have all the ingredients on  hand. (wink, wink)img_1962

With dinner planned out, I decided to tackle another looming kitchen problem. Bread.  I have gotten back on the wagon of making my own bread; partly to help Big Girl’s tummy issues and partly because it’s just so darn good.  But the problem is that Little Bit doesn’t like it and SuperMan isn’t wild about it (he’ll eat it, but I think he only does it because he doesn’t want to hurt my feelings).  They say it is too dense. Which, ironically, is what Big Girl and I love about it.

ANYWAY – I rummaged around and found an old bread recipe and decided to whip up another batch to see if I could make a lighter loaf.


I made one as a cinnamon raisin bread and the other plain.  They’re cooling on the counter now, so we will see what the troops think when they return home tonight.img_1968

They sure SMELL GOOD – between the garlic and the bread, my house smells SO GOOD right now.

And speaking of garlic – here’s another fallen soldier:img_1967

I am going to have to start counting how many of these I go through in a year. I think I open a new one about every 2 months.

No vampire problems here, that’s for sure.

So, what’s going on in your kitchen this week?


Spinach Artichoke Pasta with Grilled Chicken

This was one of my recent recipe experiments thanks to Pinterest. I stumbled across the recipe and thought it was worth a try given that we all love Spinach Artichoke appetizer at restaurants.

I have to say, this one didn’t disappoint.  It was really, really good. So much so that Big Girl decided to have leftovers for dinner the next night instead of what we had already planned for dinner… and she ate two helpings. of leftovers.

Yeah, it’s that good.

This makes A LOT of food. So much so that I shared a healthy portion with our neighbors for their dinner the night I made it and we still had some leftovers.  So, save this for a meal when you’re having folks over or make it and give some away like we did. Your friends will love you if you do.

I don’t have a picture – it didn’t last long enough for me to get one – but here is the one on the Pinterest link:

I used ziti pasta instead of the bowtie you see here.  I don’t think it really matters. You could even use linguine if you wanted. Whatever you have on hand. It’s merely a vehicle to get the luscious sauce into your mouth. Smile

I also added some grilled chicken that wasn’t in the original recipe. I marinated it in some Italian dressing and then grilled it, cut it up and added the bite-sized pieces to the mixture as I added the pasta.

It was a hearty and filling dinner, a one-stop cornucopia of goodness for your mouth and your body.

Spinach Artichoke Pasta with Grilled Chicken


2-3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup Italian Dressing
Houston House Seasoning

1 12 ounce box of pasta

1 tsp butter
2 Tbs minced garlic (about 2-3 cloves)
1 8 oz package reduced fat cream cheese
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1/2 lemon, juiced (I used about 1-2 tsp of lemon juice)
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 14 oz can artichoke hearts (packed in water) drained & chopped
10 oz chopped frozen spinach, thawed, with as much water squeezed out as possible
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
Additional parmesan for serving


  1. Marinate chicken breasts in Italian Seasoning & sprinkled with Houston House Seasoning for about 1 hour.
  2. Cook pasta.
  3. While pasta is cooking, grill chicken. (or sauté in a skillet)
  4. Cut cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
  5. In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt butter and add garlic. Cook for about 30-45 seconds, being careful not to scorch garlic.
  6. Add cream cheese, stir until melted and combined with garlic.
  7. Slowly add milk, whisking it gently into the cream cheese.
  8. Add sour cream, lemon juice, salt & pepper flakes. Combine, being careful not to boil the mixture as the sour cream can curdle.
  9. Add in the artichoke hearts, grilled chicken, parmesan cheese. Mix to combine – you can turn off the heat here.
  10. Drain pasta.
  11. Add the pasta (if your saucepan is big enough) and stir to combine.
  12. Season with additional salt & lemon juice as desired (I needed both)
  13. Serve topped with additional parmesan.

Menu Plan Monday ~ 20 September

mealplanmonday_v2Planning out this week’s menu wasn’t too difficult. 

I knew I wanted something special on Tuesday (it’s my birthday) and then I had a list of recipes I’d flagged from other menus I’ve seen – so it was just a matter of pulling it all together into a single list.

Big Girl is home sick today so I think I’m going to change my original plan and make some soup for tonight’s dinner.  Here’s what’s on the agenda for the week:

  • Pasta Fagioli (this is major comfort food for me – my grandma used to make this)
  • Grilled steaks, boiled & buttered potatoes, steamed broccoli (This is my birthday dinner)
  • Stir Fry Chicken (a friend made this for us for dinner Sunday night – it was yummy)  I’ll make this with whole wheat pasta and maybe add some more stir-fry veggies.
    She also made this for dessert – it was sooo good. I will be making it here at home as soon as I get the ingredients. I think I can make a sugar-free version that would be just as good. If you like Reese's peanut butter cups, you need to try this. It tastes like a cold, pudding version of a peanut butter cup.
  • Meatball Subs (I’ll make a variation of this recipe and let the girls help me make the meatballs. I think they will like that.) Cheesy Volcano Meatballs

Friday, we will be eating out and the weekend will be filled with SuperMan’s high school reunion activities.

What are you eating this week?  Join us over at and link up your Menu Plan Monday.

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