Our family has this fantastic recipe for Cajun Pasta that my Aunt will cook for parties if we’re ever so lucky. I’ve tried my hand at it but always had trouble getting the alfredo sauce to be thick enough to my liking. So whenever I think of alfredo or see a recipe that calls for a similar sauce; I contemplate just buying a jar and then feel like a failure and give up on the dish before even trying to prepare it.
So when my husband recently brought home an already prepared Chicken Alfredo Bake from Sam’s Club that would have tasted great, had it not tasted super dry, it set off the spark, or craving if you may, for some GOOD alfredo. But before I gave the cajun pasta recipe another try, I wanted to start with something a little more simple; basic chicken alfredo.
I noticed the ingredients for this particular alfredo were simple and the steps seemed pretty easy. Often I see heavy whipping cream or cornstarch that is used for “thickening” a sauce. This called for neither. I was caught off guard a little by the fact that it asked for chicken broth but to my amazement; I saw the sauce almost instantly start to thicken once I added it to the saute pan. Normally the pan has to sit over heat for a bit before it actually starts to thicken, but not this recipe! It was quick, making this a great idea if you’re running short on time but craving something with protein and creamy pasta.
And if you’re REALLY short on time, you don’t even have to bake this dish. You can serve immediately after combining all ingredients. It tastes just as good either way.
Chicken Alfredo Pasta Bake
Never made homemade alfredo sauce before? You're in luck! This version is basically foolproof and tastes better than any store bought alfredo. Combined with penne pasta, rotisserie chicken and baked with mozzarella cheese; this dish is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
- 2 cups rotisserie, or shredded chicken
- 12-ounce penne pasta
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2/3 cup parmesan cheese
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh coarse black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large saucepan, cook penne pasta according to package. When fully cooked through, drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile in a large deep saute pan, heat olive oil over med-high heat. Add minced garlic and allow to saute for 1 minute. Add flour, mixing well until browned. Slowly whisk in chicken broth, mixing well, followed by cup of milk. Whisk often, lowering temp to simmer and thicken. Once sauce appears thick, add penne pasta and rotisserie chicken to saute pan. Stir well, combining.
- Using a well-greased 9x13 baking dish, add alfredo pasta. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese overtop and bake for 20 minutes.
When you finish putting together a week’s worth of lunch in the form of a salad and it doesn’t take much effort at all yet it tastes like it should? The feeling of satisfaction AND victory. Not only did I just save myself time each day by prepping this meal ahead in bulk amount, but I get to look forward to having more time to actually enjoy it.
Most Mediterranean salads have olives in them. Feel free to add those to the list of ingredients if you happen to like olives. I don’t, so I opted to leave them out.
Mediterranean Pasta Salad
A quick and easy take on a Mediterranean salad with an added bonus: pasta noodles.
- 12-ounces farfalle pasta, cooked according to directions
- 1 cucumber, diced
- 3 roma tomatoes, diced
- 4-ounces crumbled low fat feta cheese
- half of a medium size red onion, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh black pepper
- Cook pasta according to package over med-high heat in a medium size saucepan. Drain in a strainer under cold water for 30-45 minutes to cool off pasta. Drain again.
- Add cucumber, tomatoes, red onion and feta cheese to a medium size mixing bowl. Add Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette and combine well. Next add pasta and combine again. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
Let’s face it. A lot of us aren’t morning people and even if we were, how many really want to cook a well-balanced breakfast each and every morning? I know I don’t. Especially after a hard workout or a late night. It’s more ideal to have something already prepped and ready to just pop in the microwave or in a bowl.
There’s a lot of quick and convenient store-bought breakfasts that you can buy, but why trust manufacturers to actually produce something entirely healthy? Half of the stuff listed on the nutrient guide of packages I can’t even pronounce. I feel so much safe when I know what ingredients are used in the foods I cook because I put them there.
With Overnight Fridge Oats, you can choose from any sort of fruit to your liking as well as added ingredients. This makes them flexible to those with a vegan, gluten-free and paleo diet as well. You just need a few ingredients and a container to store them in. I use mason jars for mine. But best part? They stay fresh and impact in the refrigerator for up to 4 days! So you can make four breakfasts in one meal-prep session.
Add all ingredients in order for the best results:
1/2 cup of Step 1 Basic Ingredients: Old-Fashioned Oats. Mulesi.
1/4 cup of Step 2 Basic Ingredients: Yogurt. Almond Milk. Whole Milk.
1 Tablespoon of Step 3 Basic Ingredients: Honey. Artificial Sweetener.
1 teaspoon of Step 4 Basic Ingredients: Peanut Butter. Chia Seeds.
1/2 cup of Step 5 Basic Ingredients: Blueberries. Tart Cherries. Strawberries. Banana. Apples.
1 Tablespoon of Optional Step 6 Toppings: Mini Chocolate Chips. Cinnamon.
I like to test around with recipes and try new things pretty often so every once in awhile there’s a meal that doesn’t turn appeal to everyone. Fortunately, I can always count on a dish of Baked Stuffed Shells to turn out appetizing.
Baked Stuffed Jumbo Shells
- 12-ounces jumbo pasta shells
- 1lb ground turkey
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 30-ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- 24-ounce jar marinara sauce of your choice
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly cover the bottom of a large lasagna pan with ¼ cup of marinara sauce.
- Heat a large saucepan of water over med-high heat until boiling. Add pasta and cook according to directions. While draining in a strainer, run cool water overtop shells to cool. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, cook ground turkey until brown. Drain grease. Add remaining marinara sauce to skillet and reduce heat to simmer. Allow to cook for an additional 5-10 minutes with marinara sauce.
- In a medium size bowl combine ricotta cheese, 1 egg, ¼ cup mozzarella cheese and ¼ cup parmesan cheese. Whisk well. Using a small spoon, scoop cheese mix and fill shells. Add to lasagna pan.
- Gently pour meat sauce overtop shells evenly. Sprinkle ¼ cup mozzarella cheese overtop. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and cook for remaining 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
I have to buy a gallon of chocolate milk each week because the kids drink half a gallon and I use the other half for these delicious chocolate milk, banana and peanut butter shakes that I drink post-workout for a refuel.
Chocolate milk is known to help replenish after a hard workout, or strenuous activity because it contains double the amount of carbohydrates and protein that you’ll find in regular milk or sugary drinks like Gatorade. It also has a high water content to recover hydration. Add that with your feel-good banana fruit and a tablespoon of peanut butter for additional protein and you’ll bounce back from that exhausting run in no time!
Chunky Monkey Post-Workout Shake
Good combination if you like chocolate milk and peanut butter.
- 1 cup low-fat chocolate milk
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter or almond butter
- 1 medium size banana
- 5 ice cubes
- Combine all ingredients into a blender for 60 seconds max. Serve chilled.
I restarted the BBG (Bikini Body Guide) program by Kayla Itsines a couple weeks ago and have been trying to watch what I eat so it doesn’t cancel out all my effort that I put into the daily workouts. I always seem to feel more satisfied with my meal-plan when it consists of lots of greens and vegetables. This week I have two similar salads scheduled, this BLT Pasta Salad and a BLT Caesar Pasta Salad. Yes, someone likes bacon in their salads. I will eat the BLT Pasta Salad Monday thru Wednesday and the BLT Caesar Pasta Salad Thursday and Friday. This weekend is much too eventful with the kids getting out of school, graduations and birthday parties so I will be trying to behave to the best of my advantage during such. Keyword, “trying.”
Now before you think “this recipe calls for ranch dressing AND barbecue sauce, it can’t be that healthy”; hear me out. This is 6 servings. I cut my servings in half since I’m only having this from Monday thru Wednesday. While you can choose to find a more healthier alternative to the ranch dressing (ie lite ranch, fat-free ranch, yogurt ranch) just know that you’re going to be mixing the portion of it with 6 cups of tossed romaine lettuce. Feel better?
There’s something about mixing ranch with barbecue sauce. When I didn’t watch what I ate, I used to ask for a side of ranch and a side of barbecue to dip my french fries and chicken nuggets in. It still sounds good. But not having to run for an hour and a half to work it off doesn’t, so I think I will just stick to having that ranch and barbeque in this salad.
BLT Pasta Salad
Your favorite go-to-sandwich just became a salad with pasta.
- 6 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
- 2½ cups uncooked bow-tie pasta
- 2 medium size tomatoes, diced
- 4 turkey bacon strips, fully cooked and crumbled into small pieces
- ½ cup ranch dressing
- 1 tablespoon barbecue sauce
- In a medium size saucepan over med-high heat, cook pasta according to package directions. When finished cooking, drain in a strainer over cold water to cool down completely.
- In a large bowl, add pasta, tomatoes, bacon and romaine lettuce.
- Using a small bowl, add ranch dressing and barbecue sauce. Stir to combine first, before pouring overtop pasta salad mix. Toss gently and serve immediately.
- This can be stored for 3 days in an air-tight container. Just don't add the romaine lettuce until right before serving.
Sunday is here and that means a night with a “Breakfast for Dinner” theme. I try and switch it up so we aren’t eating the same breakfast foods weekly. Last week we had Breakfast Burritos. Those are mighty delicious and mighty unhealthy, so last Sunday was known as “mighty cheat meal day.” This week I opted for something that I thought the kids would enjoy (and adults) – and then I made more than our needed serving so that I could save a few for tomorrow’s breakfast.
French Toast is so easy to make. I love to make a batch using texas toast whenever I can locate some, although come to think of it; texas toast seems awfully hard to come by around these neck of the woods. I’m not sure why. Nag some if you see some in your grocery the next time you’re doing your shopping. You get a more thick piece of french toast and you can also cut them into sticks, like this recipe! They make fun for dunking into maple syrup.
French Toast Sticks
Use a few slices of Texas Toast to make these fun French Toast Sticks. Perfect for dunking into maple syrup!
- 6 slices of Texas Toast, cut into four sticks.
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- maple syrup, for serving
- cinnamon, for serving
- confectioners sugar, for serving
- Cut each Texas toast slices into four sticks. Set aside.
- Using a large bowl, add eggs, milk and vanilla. Whisk together well.
- Heat a well-greased large skillet over med-high heat.
- Dip each texas toast stick into egg and milk mixture, making sure to coat each side well. Add texas toast stick to skillet. Repeat with each stick, leaving a few inches in-between. Cook until slightly golden brown on each side, flipping when needed.
- When all have cooked throughly, add to a plate. Lightly sprinkle cinnamon and confectioners sugar overtop each individual stick. Serve immediately with small bowls of maple syrup for dunking.
I may not be able to stand hot sauce on anything, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to shy away from anything slightly less spicy. By that I mean anything considered medium and below. Generally red enchilada sauce can be spicy, but I inhale it anyway and imagine that I may pay for it later. Why in the world would I ever turn down such a yummy meal?
For my first qualifying Meatless Monday post (!) – I decided to make Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Corn Enchiladas. My husband is out of town for a few days so this is the perfect dish to make and have as leftovers so I’m not consecutively cooking for one (and one child who is not as fearless when it comes to food) – luckily it tastes just as good, if not better the next day!
Enchiladas are usually made of just a few ingredients. Your meal-prep time isn’t going to be ridiculous, so you can make this when you’re in a pinch, ahead of time or just because you’re craving an easy Mexican meal. This particular recipe calls for black bean and corn salsa, so your preparation time is cut down dramatically just because of that. Even with it being meatless, the salsa packs in such a flavor combined with the weight/size of diced sweet potato pieces that the enchilada still tastes and appears fair in size.
Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Corn Enchiladas
A delicious Vegetarian version of Enchiladas featuring diced sweet potatoes and a rich and flavorful black bean and corn salsa. Enjoyable as either a main course or potluck dish.
- 1 extra-large sweet potato, cooked, skin peeled and diced into cubes
- ½ cup black bean and corn salsa
- 2½ cups shredded mexican blend cheese, divided
- 2 cups mild red enchilada sauce, divided
- 6-8 white corn tortillas
- 1 medium tomato, diced for garnishing
- cilantro, for garnishing
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a rectangular baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Cook, or bake sweet potato. If you're in a pinch for time, place sweet potato in a microwave and cook on high for 8-10 minutes. It can also be baked in an oven at 400 degrees for 50-55 minutes. When sweet potato is cooked through, use a fork to slide skin off. Dice into ½ inch cubes.
- Using a large bowl, add sweet potato cubes, black bean and corn salsa and 1½ cups of shredded cheese. Carefully mix all ingredients together.
- Pour about 1 cup of red enchilada sauce into prepared baking dish. Make sure sauce is even and has covered entire bottom of pan. Set aside.
- Add ¼ cup of sweet potato salsa mix into middle of tortilla. Roll both sides up, placing your seam side downward. Repeat with each tortilla.
- Pour the remaining 1 cup of red enchilada sauce overtop of tortillas, covering them entirely. Lightly sprinkle 1 cup of shredded cheese onto each, following with diced tomatoes and cilantro for garnish.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate for up to 4-5 days.
- I love to make this at the beginning of the week and reheat leftovers for either lunch or dinner the following day. It tastes just as good!
Adapted from Averie Cooks
Adapted from Averie Cooks
I love recipes that call for rotisserie chicken. Not because it makes cooking slightly easier, you can always cook your own rotisserie chicken instead of buying one from your local grocery store. But because of the taste of a rotisserie chicken.
We don’t necessarily have a good local take-out, or I haven’t found one yet. So as someone who personally loves fried rice, I’m always excited when preparing this one. I’ve been meal-prepping meals for fitness programs that I have been doing and Chicken Fried Rice is an awesome, low-calorie lunch. You’re getting your protein, vegetables and a healthy grain all in one dish.
Chicken Fried Rice
Tastes better than take-out!
- Rotisserie chicken, divided into shredded pieces
- 2 cups brown rice
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 2 cups frozen peas and carrots
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- Cook brown rice according to package. While doing so, divide a rotisserie chicken into shredded pieces and set aside.
- Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic cloves, cook 3 minutes. Add frozen peas and carrots, cook 3-5 minutes. Push vegetables to the side of skillet. Crack eggs and scramble.
- Add skillet mixture and chicken to rice. Pour soy sauce gently overtop and mix well.
- Use whatever remaining leftover rotisserie chicken you have for another dish.
If you ask me, pork chops are tricky. They’re light in color so you don’t particularly know if the inside is truly cooked unless you use a knife to check. My trick is to always buy the pack of meat with more than you really need. That way you can use one of the less-appealing looking pieces (and there ALWAYS is one!) to cut and dice up to make sure that everything is cooked thoroughly. It’s also a good excuse for taste testing.
I also prefer to bake meat versus frying or grilling. I know that when I place something in the oven, not only will it cook, but the juices are also most likely reserved. When you cook over the stovetop, there’s a good chance you’ll overturn the meat and it won’t taste as juicy. You can always find a medium though; begin your meat over the stovetop briefly to lightly brown and then transfer to your oven to finish cooking. This recipe is like that giving you the best of both cooking methods!
Baked Honey Garlic Pork Chops
A delicious recipe for center-loined pork chops that have a sweet honey taste with just the right amount of garlic.
- 4 center-loined pork chops, trimmed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Well grease a large cooking pan. Set aside.
- In a medium size bowl, combine olive oil, honey, lemon juice, garlic and soy sauce. Whisk well. Set aside.
- Heat a large well-greased skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork chops and allow to cook 5-7 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned. When done, using a pair of tongs dip each pork chop individual into honey mixture, coating each side. Add pork chops to cooking pan and brush remaining sauce ontop. Sprinkle brown sugar over each.
- Cook for 1 hour and serve immediately.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin