Three Cheese Pesto Spinach Flatbread Pizza

alternate title: how to eat an entire 5oz box of spinach for lunch with out making a frickin’ salad.

Three Cheese Spinach and Pesto Flatbread Pizza for One

What happens when you top a garlicky flatbread with homemade creamed spinach, three kinds of cheeses, and pesto, glorious pesto?

Lunch; a really, really, ridiculously yummy who-needs-a-pizzaria lunch. Or dinner. Or a tasty snack for two if you have an particularly peckish significant other hovering over your shoulder. You know what? You could make this for breakfast and nobody would judge you. It’s just too good not to.





Sorry about that. The coffee made me do it. The BUTTERED coffee. Yes I’m still riding that bandwagon.  The conductor even let me blow the whistle. Hollaaaaa!

Three Cheese Spinach and Pesto Flatbread Pizza for One

Can we get back to the pizza before I embarrass myself any further? Thanks for understanding, let’s never speak of this again. Of the hashtags, that is. We MUST speak of pizza. Often.

Three Cheese Pesto Spinach Flatbread Pizza… for one!


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Quinoa Salad with Tomato, Avocado, and Parsley

Quinoa Salad with Tomato, Avocado, and Parsley tossed in a homemade feta vinaigrette

There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes of a blog. Behind every blog we read lies an entire life behind the curtain, an entire world really. Some bloggers choose to bare it all, while some strive to keep things as structured and professional as possible. I fall somewhere in between. Sometimes you’re greeted with a the most random of rambles. Other times I show up food in hand, no questions asked and no explanation given, just a merry little reminder to eat your veggies and a recipe to help you do just that.

The less we reveal, the more things appear all neat and tidy… a perfect little blog wrapped up with a shiny bow. Right. Cause THAT exists. [spoiler alert: it doesn’t exist]

Life is messy, chaotic even. It’s crazy wrapped in awesome wrapped in a layer of WTF and a sprinkle of sweetness for good measure.

While I may be able to craft a crazy good veggie burger with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back, my house will always be slightly [and/or colossally] messy. There will be toys and books scattered throughout nearly ever inch of my home, toilet paper unrolled as a prop for a rager of a toddler dance party, and the sink will always house at least one dish. Or twenty.

You know what? I think I’m perfectly okay with that.

Quinoa Salad with Tomato, Avocado, and Parsley

The simplicity of this salad is the perfect offset for the chaos in my life lately. It’s full of flavor, packed with nutrients, and is so stinkin’ good that you’ll forget anything else exists outside for a bit.

The recipe makes a little more dressing than you’ll actually need for the quinoa, so get excited to drizzle it over a big veggie-loaded salad the following day or simply double this recipe. I’ve been dying to make it again but literally every time I cut open an avocado I get a pouty-lipped puppy face and wind up forking over the fruit.

sidenote: my favorite veggie? Totally a fruit! A giant berry to be exact. I don’t care what you call it just please someone plant a tree full of them in my yard so I don’t have to ration the yum.

Our days of splitting an avocado are long gone now that my little monkey will eat an entire avo in a sitting. Yesterday she ate two. TWO!  I’m rambling, eh? Let’s throw some confetti for those of you who are still with me and dive on into this simple summery salad.

Healthy Quinoa Salad with Tomato, Avocado, and Parsley… 

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Crispy Chicken Thighs w/ Kumquat Relish & Freekeh Salad + a Blue Apron Review!

That title might cause my blog to explode. Wowza! Today’s post is sponsored by Blue Apron. I’ve recently had the opportunity to try 3 yummy delivered-to-your-door meals and now I’m here to dish about it. All opinions are my own and though I’m dying to keep this short and sweet for you, I may ramble just a tad.

Of course by a tad, I mean a lot! Let’s do this!

 Blue Apron Meals Fresh Produce: Beet, Heirloom Carrot and Hazelnut Salad

-how it works-

Blue Apron is a meal delivery service that sends you farm fresh ingredients straight to your door. These chef-designed meals are mapped out in easy to follow instructions on the colorful photo recipe cards, making meal prep and execution a breeze. The mix of familiar and not-so-familiar ingredients makes it exciting, and everything is clearly labeled so you won’t mix up Sriracha with tomato paste and spend the remainder of the evening fanning your face.

It kind of reminds me of those craft box subscription services, but instead of having some weird paper crane sitting around the house, you have an awesome meal to enjoy with your family. Depending on the plan you choose, each meal ranges from $8.74-$9.99 in cost and you can pick and choose which weeks you’d like to receive an order without hassle or commitment. You also get a little peek at what’s to come for the upcoming week and can decide based on that. For couples, think of it as a dinner date night delivered to your door. For families? Um hello lifesaver on a busy week with zero time to shop or plan. You can read a little more about the plans and details here.

Blue Apron Box

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Zesty Kumquat Relish and Warm Freekeh Salad :: superfoods that are SUPER good!

-first impression-

My box-o-goodies could not have come at a better time, I was almost entirely out of fresh produce and failing miserably at meal planning. I’ve also noticed that lately I’ve fallen back into a food rut of sorts. Paul has been requesting more meat dishes “for the blog” [aka for his belly] so when I noticed Blue Apron had both vegetarian and omnivore options for their meal delivery, I jumped at the chance to road test the T-Rex package. I spent so many years as either a partial or a full-fledged vegetarian, that I honestly don’t know many ways to cook meat. Aside from seafood, bacon, and a few simple poultry dishes, I’m utterly clueless.

I vowed that no matter what came my way I would cook it, and relish the chance to try something new. Little did I know that it wasn’t just the meat that would take me outside my comfort zone, but the veggies and grains too! The ingredient lineup for the meals contained freekeh, kumquats, tatsoi, tarragon, rainbow chard, and wakame, all of which I have never cooked in my life. Hello awesome!

I went through the full Jessie Spano range of emotions,

“I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so… scared!”

before settling into a calm, cool, and collected Barney Stinson:

“Challenge Accepted!”

-diving in-

The quality of the produce and ingredients was oustanding! Everything was chilled, crisp, fresh and ready to be scarfed. I was worried when the package arrived that I would have to make all three recipes back to back or risk the produce going bad, but everything kept wonderfully and I was able to space the recipes throughout the week quite easily.

Rainbow Chard

Of course the chickpea did the majority of the work!


Paul made my sassy little sous chef a wooden learning tower so she could help in the kitchen. It’s been very well seasoned by food, paint, and crayons over the past few months and allows my little mini-me to get a hands on experience with food at an early age. Clearly she was super interested in the rainbow chard – can you blame her? It’s so vibrant!

-get cooking!-

All of the meals took around 40 minutes or less from start to finish and came with super-detailed recipe cards with step-by-step instructions and photos. With all the guesswork taken out of the equation, all we had to do is follow our handy “cheat sheets” which  made navigating all of these new-to-us ingredients a breeze.

Suddenly the once-intimidating ingredients became easy peasy to work with and I loved learning a few new chef-crafted techniques along the way. In the recipe below, I would have never thought to dice up the stem of the rainbow chard after removing the leaves from it and I adored the foil and pan trick for the crispy chicken. We expected to love the salmon dish the most since it was closest to our usual eats, but holy freekeh, batman – this dish was amazing. I already want to make it again!

Crispy Chicken Thighs w/ Kumquat Relish & Freekeh Salad

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Zesty Kumquat Relish and Warm Freekeh Salad :: superfoods that are SUPER good!

5.0 from 3 reviews
Crispy Chicken Thighs w/ Kumquat Relish & Freekeh Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 2
  • 2 chicken thighs [see note]
  • ¾ cup cracked freekeh
  • 1 bunch rainbow chard
  • a few sprigs of tarragon
  • 2 oz fresh kumquats
  • 1 oz Pecorino cheese
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 TBSP champagne vinegar
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • ¼ cup almonds
  1. Heat a medium pot of salted water to boiling on high. Once boiling, add the freekeh. Cook, stirring occasionally, 18 to 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain thoroughly and transfer to a bowl.
  2. While the freekeh cooks, prep your produce:
  3. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator to bring to room temperature. Thinly slice the kumquats into rounds. Separate the rainbow chard leaves and stems; roughly chop the leaves and thinly slice the stems, keeping them separate. Pick the tarragon leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Using your hands or a small knife, break the pecorino cheese into small pieces. Peel and thinly slice the shallot. Roughly chop the almonds.
  4. While the freekeh continues to cook, heat a medium pan on medium-high until hot. Add the kumquats, shallot, vinegar, sugar and ¼ cup of water; season with salt. Cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool. Wipe out the pan.
  5. Next pat the chicken dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper on both sides.
  6. Using the pan used to make the relish, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the seasoned chicken, skin side down; loosely cover with aluminum foil. Place a large, heavy pot on top of the foil to press the chicken down; fill the pot halfway with water. Cook, occasionally pressing the pot down, 10 to 12 minutes, or until the skin is browned and crispy. Set the pot aside. Flip the chicken; cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate, leaving any drippings and browned bits in the pan.
  7. Next add rainbow chard stems and 2 tablespoons of water to the pan you used to cook the chicken. Cook, stirring frequently, for about a minute, or until slightly tender. Add the rainbow chard leaves; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes, or until wilted. Transfer to the bowl of cooked freekeh.
  8. Add the pecorino cheese and almonds to the bowl of cooked freekeh and rainbow chard. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to thoroughly combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir the tarragon into the kumquat relish. Divide the freekeh salad and chicken between 2 dishes. Top with the kumquat relish.
  9. Faceplant.
This recipe calls for bone-in skin-on chicken thighs. You could also use whichever cuts you happen to have handy as well as easily adapt this dish to work with seared seafood or crispy pan-fried tofu!

Recipe courtesy of Blue Apron. For step-by-step photos check out their website!

 Crispy Chicken Thighs with Zesty Kumquat Relish and Warm Freekeh Salad :: superfoods that are SUPER good!

-the verdict-

We LOVED it! I’m absolutely making the soup again… and the freekeh salad… and the kumquat relish… and the glazed beets and carrots.. and… I think you get the point. I don’t gush for the sake of gushing, and I am seriously crushing on Blue Apron right now. P and I already decided we’re going to order again before our move, since our fridge will be beyond bare at that point and a little dropbox of food would save us from fast food blah-dom.

There’s even a full online collection of free recipes including the Pan-Roasted Salmon Ramen with Spicy Miso Broth that I’m 100% obsessed with and even a few new dishes I’d like to try such as the Seared Tofu and Soba Noodles recipe + their Warm Kale and Squash Salad.

Ohmygosh and I cannot write this review without mentioning the fact that BLUE APRON GOT MY HUSBAND TO EAT BEETS AND LIKE IT!!! I’m scream-squealing. Be very, very glad you can’t hear me right now. I’ve been trying every trick in the book to get him to even lick a beet and nothing has worked. Yet shove him in the kitchen with a Iron Chef-esque box of produce and a challenge and suddenly he’s a beet munching, rainbow chard crunching, aficionado. Hallelujah!

For those of you interested in trying it out, the first 50 people to use [this link] will receive two meals of their first Blue Apron order free! Fingers crossed they offer me the same deal when I reorder before the move!

Big thanks to the folks at Blue Apron for the reader discounts and for sponsoring this post. It was an awesome experience full of delicious food and now Paul eats beets! Cue happy dance.

Pesto Penne with Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale

Pesto Penne Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale

Painting my old wooden board blue was probably a mistake. I have a junkie-esque addiction to aqua and teal. I’m supposed to be mixing up my props and backdrops so my photos aren’t all carbon copies of each other, yet now that this board exists I can’t comply. I glance around my pile-o-props just long enough to keep up appearances, then grab the blue board. Every. Stinking. Time. I must be stopped.

Now I’m sure you’re shaking your head, thinking I’m being utterly dramatic but…

Blue Food Photography Board

The proof is in the pudding photo.

I should really start seeing other boards… but chances are you’re going to have to physically pry it from my hands and hide it from me to make that happen. In which case I’ll just make another! Hah!

Let’s stick a fork in me [metaphorically, people! put down the fork!] and get on to the recipe. Now THAT deserves to be forked.

Pesto Penne with Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale

5.0 from 1 reviews
Pesto Penne with Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale
  • 1 or 1.5 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 1-2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups dry penne pasta
  • ¼ cup pesto [homemade or store-bought]
  • a handful [or more!] of fresh baby kale
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder [optional, but essential for me!]
  • any additional salt and pepper, to taste
  • parsley to garnish
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Coat squash with olive oil and lay flat on a baking sheet.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 30-40 minutes.
  4. Set a timer, measure out your remaining ingredients, and walk away.
  5. After about 25 min have passed, boil you pasta, cooking according to package instructions.
  6. Drain and return the penne to the pot, adding in the kale and pesto while the pasta is still hot. If you added extra veggies or just really love pesto, feel free to add a little extra into the pot! I won't tell! In fact, I'll join you!
  7. Reduce burner heat to lowest setting and stir to wilt the baby kale.
  8. Add your squash [which should now be perfectly roasted] and a hearty sprinkling of parmesan cheese and garnish with a little parsley for pizazz.
  9. Serve straight up or add your favorite pasta night extras for a balanced meal. Enjoy!
serves 2


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Vegetarian Triple Bean Tacos

Seasoned black beans, pinto beans, and crunchy taco-roasted chickpeas team up to take your taco game to the next level!

 Vegetarian Triple Bean Tacos

Vegetarian Triple-Bean Tacos

My love of tacos is one for the romance books, folks. Hot, steamy, and… errr I can’t finish that sentence without sounding like a total creep.

Paul and I made the mistake of watching too much Dave Attell and he has this charming little bit about doing naughty things to a sandwich that we shall never again speak of, and now we are constantly saying inappropriate things about our food. It’s bad. I should really just stick with my G-rated pal Jim instead:

I hate when I try to order a salad and my mouth says, "I'll have a double Quarter Pounder with Cheese." - Jim Gaffigan

and maybe throw in a little Ron Swanson action for good measure:

ust give me all the bacon and eggs you have. Wait, wait. I'm worried what you just heard was, "Give me a lot of bacon and eggs." What I said was, "Give me all the bacon and eggs you have". Do you understand?

Phew! That’s almost enough to erase the terrible, awful, no good, very bad stand-up act stuck in my head. Almost.

Oh, hello tacos, I didn’t forget about you!

Vegetarian Triple Bean Tacos

Though we’re both omnivores, Paul and I have refrained from buying ground anything for the past few months. If we can’d find meat that’s grass-fed, additive-free, and preferably local, there’s just no point. We’d just as soon wait for the opportunity to shop from a source we care about than pick up something for the sake of buying it. So when taco night rolled around I promised to whip up my famous Lentil Veggie Tacos. Only I was out of lentils… and mushrooms… and ohmygosh where are my pants!?

Kidding, but I did have to brainstorm a tasty new taco filling. Enter my awesome new Triple-Bean Tacos! I even caught the chickpea scooping some out of the bowl when I wasn’t looking. Huzzah! The smashed pinto beans hold the mixture together while the whole black beans and crunchy taco roasted chickpeas add flavor and texture. I love them! You’ll love them! Let’s make them, shall we?… 

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Spiralized Veggie Salad: Eat the Rainbow!

Healthy Rainbow Spiralized Veggie Salad

Empty your crisper with this rainbow  spiralized veggie salad!

Or is it a slaw? Ever since the great soup/stew debate [hello dramatic!] I’ve been doubting my title choices. I’m officially the most indecisive person ever.

Here’s the deal, if you serve it atop some yummy grilled chicken or salmon, or as a side to a rocking veggie burger, then it’s a slaw. If you pile it in a bowl and dive in with your favorite dressing and a big ole fork, then it’s a salad. Deal? Deal!

I’ve been making a ton of recipes with broccoli florets lately, and I’m 100% opposed to tossing the stalks. I just can’t do it! They make fabulous broccoli slaw, a great addition to fresh pressed juice, and now they’re getting the extra-fancy red carpet treatment in this spiralized veggie salad.

Healthy Spiralized Veggie Salad

Spiralized Veggie Salad: Eat the Rainbow!
Recipe type: salad
  • 2 broccoli stalks
  • 1-2 jumbo carrots
  • 1 medium beet
  • ¼ cucumber

  • toppings:
  • your favorite nuts [I went with almond slivers]
  • your favorite seeds [sunflower + chia for me!]
  • homemade or store-bought salad dressing

  • Check out the bottom of this post for a few of my favorite homemade dressing recipes!
  1. Wash and peel your carrots, beet, and cucumber.
  2. Remove the tops from your broccoli if you haven't already used them, and set aside for snacking or stirring into your favorite dish.
  3. Since thicker vegetables make the best spirals, remove the thin ends of the carrot as well as a sliver of the carrot top, to make a flat base on both ends. You'll only want the thickest part of the carrot, so save the tip for grating into muffins or for snacking.
  4. Break out the spiral slicer and spiralize all four veggies, using the thinnest setting.
  5. Pile into a bowl and top with chopped nuts and seeds along with your favorite dressing.
  6. I used ranch for mine [the craving struck!] but I'll throw some links to other dressing recipes at the bottom of this post for ya!
  7. Enjoy!

Dreamy Dressings:

Easy Homemade Italian Dressing

Creamy Avocado Dill Dressing

Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette

Creamy Wasabi Cucumber Ranch

Sweet Chili Cucumber + Herb Dressing

Since this is a salad, it totally goes without saying that you can customize it to your heart’s content. I’m simply here to give you that little nudge to break out the veggies and have fun with it!

I get bored of the same old salads over and over, so breaking out my spiralizer* is usually the easiest way to switch things up around here! Though this salad would be equally awesome shaved into ribbons with a veggie peeler, no fancy tool required!

Sooooo… what are you waiting for? Eat. Yo. Veggies…. 

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Madras Lentil Soup

Madras Lentil Soup

Paul and I are in complete disagreement over this recipe. He insists it’s a stew, while I stand firmly behind my belief that I soup-ified my beloved Crock-pot Madras Lentils.

Whatever you decide to call it, you’re going to want to put it’s number on speed dial. Don’t even think about waiting the obligatory 3-4 days to call either. Just dive on in like the eager and overzealous foodie we all know you are.

Just me? Fine, I’m projecting. Regardless you’re going to want a bowl of this stuff in your face, stat.

The recipe makes  quite a few servings so feel free to experiment by adding more broth to some bowls to make it more like the soup I insist it is, then swirl some freshly steamed rice into the next bowl for the ultimate stew experience.

Paul has 24 hour duty currently, but I swear I can feel him breathing over my shoulder whispering “You better call it a stew, Jenny. Tell them to add rice. I want it with rice. Will you make it for me with rice next time? No, no you’re typing soup. Don’t call it soup. STEW, Jenny. Stew.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Madras Lentil Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: soup, stew
Serves: 8-10 cups
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 tsp freshly minced garlic [2 large cloves]
  • 4 cups vegetable broth [1 qt]
  • 1 [14.5 oz] can fire roasted tomatoes [see below]
  • 1 lb red potatoes [about 3 large red potatoes]
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ oregano
  • ¼ turmeric
  • ¼ cumin
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ⅛ cayenne
  • ⅛ thyme
  • extra 1 TBSP olive oil

  • optional + yummy extras:
  • cooked red kidney beans would be a great addition to stew it up!
  • whipped goat cheese [or greek yogurt] for topping
  • fresh parsley for topping
  • an extra drizzle of olive oil
  1. Heat a large pot to medium-high heat.
  2. Add olive oil and diced onion, and sauté until tender, adding the garlic towards the end to prevent burning.
  3. Next add veggie broth and diced tomatoes.
  4. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until pureed.
  5. No immersion blender? No problem! Add the garlic, onion, and tomatoes to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add the mixture into the pot with your veggie broth and get cooking!
  6. Increase the heat to high, then add dried lentils, diced red potato, and all your herbs and spices.
  7. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and cover.
  8. Cook for 30 minutes on medium [mine was on setting 4] then additional 10 min on low, to simmer.
  9. Top soup with a swirl of goat cheese, sour cream, or greek yogurt and a sprinkle of parsley. You can even add rice! Go nuts!
I used Muir Glen's no salt added fire roasted tomatoes for this recipe. The flavor is stellar and the cans are BPA-free, which I adore. If you're working with what you have on hand, any 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes will work for this recipe, if needed as well as pureed tomatoes, which are a great substitution if you don't have an immersion blender or would like to speed things along!

 t-rex chefs: chicken broth will also work for this recipe, have at it!

vegansaurus chefs: skip the swirl of goat cheese at the end and this soup is gloriously vegan!

 Madras Lentil Soup

so… how was it? I have the stinking’ Lego Movie song stuck in my head so, in a word, AWESOME! Now will someone please erase that song from my head forever? Pretty please? I’ll make you soup.

This stuff rocks. It’s hearty and filling and positively perfect for these last few weeks of Winter. It’s also gloriously freezer-friendly, so tuck a bowl or two away in the freezer for a busy weeknight and rock. those. lentils!

Madras Lentil Soup

loving lentils latley? [oh alliteration, I cannot quit thee] check out my crock-pot lentils and these super-yummy lentil-veggie tacos!

Creamy Cajun Shrimp and Broccoli Pasta

Creamy Cajun Shrimp and Broccoli Pasta

There are certain dishes I throw together without a single thought, measurement, or care in the world. They’re usually accompanied by a desperate need to restock the fridge and always a last minute endeavor. Sometimes the result is simply okay, but sometimes it’s pure freaking magic.

So magical, in fact, that your husband comes home from the grocery store with the exact ingredients needed to remake the dish and does the whole “Imma leave these right here and let you do your thing mmkay?” song and dance.

After repeating the dish several times over the course of the month I figured I should probably suck it up and get out my measuring spoons so I can share the love with my blog buds. Today’s that day. I hope this super simple, uber flavorful dish rocks your face! We love it so.

Creamy Cajun Shrimp and Broccoli Pasta

5.0 from 1 reviews
Creamy Cajun Shrimp and Broccoli Pasta
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 2
  • 25 medium raw shrimp [see below]
  • 2 cups bowtie/farfalle pasta
  • 1 + ½ cups broccoli florets
  • ½ tsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp parsley
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed and minced
  • ¼ cup half and half [half cream; half milk]
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp cajun seasoning blend
  • additional salt and pepper, to taste
  • a sprinkle of paprika
  • extra Parmesan, for topping

  • note: keep an extra bit of milk or half and half on hand to thin the sauce at the end as needed. I'll sometimes add a few extra tablespoons at the end.

  • tip: eliminate food waste by shredding the raw, unused broccoli stalk into broccoli slaw for salads or coleslaw, or by juicing it along with your favorite fruits and veggies!
  1. Defrost shrimp if using frozen. If using whole shrimp, clean/peel/de-vein shrimp as needed.
  2. If using fresh, set aside and grab your pasta!
  3. Cook pasta as directed until tender.
  4. Next steam or blanch your broccoli tops. Save time and dishes by blanching them quickly in the pot of boiling pasta water. You can do this during the last minute or two of the pasta's cook time.
  5. While your pasta and broccoli cook, bring a pan/skillet to medium-high heat with ½ tsp of olive oil.
  6. Add the shrimp and toss to coat, then top with garlic powder, parsley, and salt.
  7. Cook shrimp until pink and opaque, adding the garlic in for a quick saute towards the end to prevent it from burning. If the pan is dry you can add a smidgen of olive oil before adding the garlic.
  8. Drain the pasta and add back into the pot.
  9. To coat my pasta in teeny broccoli "sprinkles" versus chunks of broccoli, I use a knife to slice off the very top portion of the broccoli, avoiding the stalk altogether.
  10. I save the leftover broccoli to make a basil-broccoli pesto or freeze them to use in mac and cheese recipes. Feel free to add large chunks into your pasta if you prefer! It's great both ways!
  11. Reduce heat to medium setting and pour in the half and half, cheese, and cajun seasoning.
  12. Stir constantly until the dairy thickens into a delicious sauce.
  13. Add in your shrimp along with your broccoli and stir to coat.
  14. Taste, then add any additional seasoning you'd like. Extra cajun kick is always welcome!
  15. At this point you may also want to add a little more milk to thin the sauce. Add 2-3 tablespoons and give it a good stir!
  16. Plate then top with a sprinkle of paprika and a light shaving of Parmesan cheese. Yum!
When it comes to the shrimp you use, fret not. What works for you works for this recipe! My one rule is that you cook from frozen. Pre-cooked shrimp has a rubbery texture that just isn't worth your money. Shrimp cooks so quickly that you can save time by buying it fresh or save a little money by buying it frozen. When it comes to frozen shrimp, you can do the prep-work yourself or buy the already peeled and deveined, up to you! As for size, any size will work! If you have larger shrimp on hand feel free to use less for this recipe or you can use a smaller sized shrimp like I did. You can measure them out or just eyeball what you would consider two servings of shrimp would be. Simply season accordingly.

Creamy Cajun Shrimp and Broccoli Pasta

What are you waiting for? Dig in!

Creamy Cajun Broccoli and Shrimp Pasta

Healthy Carrot Salad

Healthy Carrot Salad

I spent nearly 20 years of my life thinking raw carrots served only one purpose: a shovel. More specifically, they were a shovel for scooping up ranch dip, licking it off, then discarding in a napkin when no one was looking.

please don’t tell my mom

I’m not sure anyone caught on to my antics but I certainly wasn’t doing myself any favors in the health department. Luckily this ranch-obsessed carrot avoider decided to pursue a major in Dietetics and, by sheer guilt of my occupation alone, decided to give raw carrots a chance.

I can now say with absolute certainty… “What the eff was I thinking!?

Clearly I was missing out! Raw crinkle-cut carrots have become my shovel of choice for scooping up hummus and devouring that tasty chickpea dip, shovel and all.

I no longer cringe when my salad is flecked with beta-carotene and, in fact, was once so bold as to order CARROT SALAD off a menu! Me! Carrot salad! Helloooo progress! You can imagine my disappointment when my order arrived and I learned what exactly carrot salad is here in the South. Shaved carrots smothered in mayonnaise and sugar with some random raisins thrown in for good measure was not my idea of a good time.

Turns out I really DO like carrot salad, when it’s done my way of course! I started small, whipping up a spiral cucumber and carrot salad with a thai-inspired flair, then worked my way back to the traditional Southern carrot salad, deciding a face-lift was in order.

Now that the cheezapalooza known as Super Bowl Sunday is behind us, let’s get back to those healthy goals we had for ourselves, shall we? I’ll ease you back into it slowly with some yummy candied walnuts to sweeten the deal.

Healthy Carrot Salad


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Pistachio Arugula Sweet Pea Pesto

There’s a new pesto in town folks!

Pistachio Arugula Sweet Pea Pesto

Pistachio Arugula Sweet Pea Pesto

I’ve long been a fan of using arugula in pesto. It’s vibrant, flavorful, and just plain pretty! More importantly, is just how heavenly it tastes over four-cheese spinach tortellini. I could seriously eat this and nothing else all winter long. In fact, I just may try to!

You should join me. It’s oh-so-easy being green!

Pistachio Arugula Sweet Pea Pesto

Pistachio Arugula Sweet Pea Pesto
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: sauce, condiment
Serves: 2
  • 1 cup [2.5 oz] of fresh baby arugula [half of a 5 oz pkg]
  • ¾ cup of frozen peas
  • 25 pistachios, shelled
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin or mild olive oil
  • 1 TBSP extra virgin or milk olive oil [separate from above]
  • ½ tsp fresh smashed + minced garlic
  • a pinch of salt
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • yummy extras:
  • additional Parmesan cheese for topping [do it!]
  • additional olive oil to thin the sauce, if desired
  • several chopped pistachios for garnish
  • parsley for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Begin by steaming your peas, this will take a few minutes on the stove or the microwave.
  2. Next grab your freshly smashed/minced garlic.
  3. In a microwave safe bowl, add the garlic to a tablespoon of olive oil and cook on high for 30 seconds. Alternatively, you can break out a small pan and sauté the garlic on the stove top. Both methods work great and take the bite out of the garlic while infusing the oil with rich garlicky flavor.
  4. Add to a food processor along with the remainder of your ingredients and pulse until beautifully blended.
  5. Season with salt and pepper, to taste and blend in a little extra olive oil if to thin the sauce. I add extra when using it for pasta and leave it thicker for spreading on crackers or crostini. Let your tastebuds be your guide!
Between the natural saltiness of the cheese and the pistachios used [most come salted, unless you happen to have access to unsalted] the dish will already have a bit of season to it. Add any additional salt to taste. I personally wound up adding around ⅛ teaspoon along with extra Parmesan for topping.

 Arugula Sweet Pea Pistachio Pesto

This totally goes without saying, but the glory of pesto is that you can make it out of anything you have in abundance. If your garden is overflowing with fresh, fragrant basil, then whip up a bowl of traditional pesto! Have a bag of baby spinach that needs to be used up fast? Sub the arugula in this recipe for spinach and you’ve got yourself a sassy sauce!

The pestobilities are endless!

Did I really just say that? I’ll be under the bed hiding if you need me. I’ll only come out if you make me pesto.

Pistachio Arugula Sweet Pea Pesto