Easy Weeknight Family Favorite: Baked Penne

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My kids love pasta for dinner especially when it’s made with penne noodles. I thew this recipe together in no time, and they went crazy over it. It’s as simple and basic as can be, but it is a true family pleaser.

Steak-Fresh Herb and Tomato Crostini Appetizer

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Since summer is here, I like to cook appetizer recipes that are easy to prepare, delicious and perfect to serve while I’m grilling outside. This recipe works great using leftover steak, or if you want to serve a hearty appetizer, you can create this one on the grill while you are grilling the rest of your meal. I love the combination of sun-dried tomatoes and fresh plum tomatoes. If you don’t like blue cheese, use fresh Parmesan or feta cheese. I developed this recipe for Laura’s Lean Beef, and it would be perfect for the Fourth of July.

 

Summer Side Dish: Grilled Beer-Basil Corn

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Grilling corn is so easy, and it’s so versatile to prepare. I was out at the farmer’s market this weekend and thought I would try my hand at a simple ingredient combination to flavor the corn: using light beer and basil. It came out great! Feel free to add sea salt, pepper or your favorite herbs. It’s wonderful this time of year.

Light, Simple and Budget Friendly: Chicken with Olives and Tomatoes

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I love cooking in a skillet, especially a grill pan such as this. It’s so easy and quick, and dinner comes together in under 25 minutes. Using chicken cutlets works great in this recipe because they cook so quickly. If you can’t find chicken cutlets at your local store, just slice a boneless chicken breast so it is half the size in thickness. I love this fresh combination of the chicken with grape tomatoes, olives and fresh basil and parsley. It’s perfect this time of year, and my kids love it too. See me preparing this recipe on “Talk of Town” on News Channel 5 in Nashville, this Thursday at 11:30 a.m.

Springy and Easy: Tomato-Basil and Four-Cheese Pizza

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Okay, when I say this pizza is good, I mean it! Words can’t describe how delicious, easy and springy it is. It’s also so simple to prepare and can be prepared in under 30 minutes. I used Mama Marys for the pizza crust, but feel free to use your favorite crusts. The combination of fresh plum tomatoes, parsley and basil along with fresh mozzarella, fontina, Parmesan and feta create awesome flavors and textures. All I can say is delish!

Oh This Salad so Good! Spinach-Turkey Salad

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This salad is so simple and so delicious! The combination of fresh spinach, basil, chopped pine nuts, turkey and Parmesan create an incredible healthy, fresh, main-dish salad. I served this salad for dinner, and it disappeared faster than I could blink. Serve it with your favorite vinaigrette or just a drizzle of red wine vinegar and olive oil. It has so many great flavors already, so it doesn’t need a lot of dressing. Welcome in spring with clean eating and this fresh salad.

St. Patrick’s Day Appetizer: Fresh Herb Dip

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Since Saint Patrick’s Day is one week away, here’s a quick and easy dip that is sure to be a party pleaser. This low-fat, low-calorie delight is perfect for spring. It’s filled with fresh dill and fresh basil. Guests won’t believe that this dip is low-fat, and don’t tell them it took only 10 minutes to prepare.

Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad

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Since spring is around the corner, I was getting so excited that I decided to make my favorite spring/summer salad. And since I have tomato and basil on my mind from yesterday’s blog, I thought I would give you this recipe that is so easy and a true favorite at my house. Serve it with practically any main dish. Even my kids eat this salad, and they especially like it when I serve it with some warm crusty bread. Don’t forget to serve it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar so they can dip.

 

Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad

For an extra sprinkling of color, use multi-colored peppercorns and grind them over the salad just before serving.

Prep: 20 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

1/2  pound  fresh mozzarella cheese*

2  large red tomatoes, sliced

1  large yellow tomato, sliced

3  tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground pepper

1/2  cup  shredded or chopped fresh basil

Balsamic vinegar

Preparation

1. Remove cheese from brine, and cut into 12 slices; sprinkle tomato slices. Alternate tomato and cheese slices on a platter; drizzle with olive oil. Cover and chill 4 hours if desired. Just before serving, sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and basil. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Note:*Fresh mozzarella is a soft white cheese available in the gourmet cheese section of any local grocery stores.

Turkey Meatloaf with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Basil

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Whether you are a huge fan of meatloaf or not, I wanted to introduce you to one of my favorite meatloaf recipes that I developed using ground turkey. Ground beef or pork may be substituted for the turkey, but the ground turkey works well with the fresh combination of basil, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes. Anyone can put this recipe together with ease, and yes, it can be made up ahead of time and baked later in the day or even prepared up to one day in advance and warmed up just in time for dinner. Serve with a big salad and your favorite vegetable or potato side dish for a delicious comforting meal.

 

Turkey Meatloaf with Sun-Dried Tomatoes 

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 1 hour

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

1 pound ground turkey

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (use can use plain breacrumbs if you like)

3/4 cup chopped fresh basil

2/3 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup chopped onion (optional)

2 egg whites

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup ketchup

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-x 5-inch pan with aluminum foil. Combine ground turkey and next 8 ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well. Shape into a loafpan. Bake 50 minutes. Spread 1/3 ketchup evenly over the top and bake 10 minutes more.