Savory Bread Pudding with Spinach, Bacon and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Breakfast and brunch recipes are some of my favorites, and I love celebrating the holidays with my family with a great brunch menu. I’ve had so many emails and questions for Christmas brunch recipes, so I thought I would suggest one of my favorites. This Savory Bread Pudding with Bacon, Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes makes a hearty breakfast or brunch main course, but it’s also great to serve for a weeknight or Sunday night dinner. This recipe is so easy and can be made ahead the night before. Then, all you have to do on Christmas morning is bake it in the oven. Enjoy this recipe anytime of the year since it’s also perfect for showers or any morning celebrations.

Spinach-Artichoke Macaroni and Cheese for “30 Days 30 Ways with Macaroni and Cheese

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When I was asked to come up with a recipe for a new twist on Macaroni and Cheese for Wisconsin Cheese and their upcoming “Macaroni Blog” I was so excited. They asked what type of cheese I wanted to use in my recipe, and I quickly said, “Fontina”. Since my three kids love Spinach-Artichoke Dip, I thought I would combine a simple macaroni and cheese recipe with spinach and artichokes making a comforting, creamy dish.

Here’s how: Start by boiling the noodles. Combine half-and-half, milk, flour, sea salt and pepper. Stir in spinach, artichokes and Fontina. Pour in a lightly greased 13-x 9-inch baking dish and top with panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and melted butter.  Bake in the oven and that’s it. This recipe is wonderful for a main or side dish. My kids loved it, and I think you will too!

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Awesome Winter Salad: Spinach-Apple Salad with Maple-Cider Vinaigrette

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My sister, Julie, made the best New Year’s Eve dinner ever (she always does). She served this Spinach-Apple Salad with Maple-Cider Vinaigrette, and it was so delicious! She found this recipe in the December issue of Southern Living magazine, and it went great with her Beef Tenderloin and Double-Stuffed Potatoes. I love this salad for wintertime, Valentine’s Day or any fall or winter entertaining. Check out Southern Living for more great recipes.

Weeknight Family Comfort Food: Spinach-Mushroom Baked Ziti

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Normally I can’t get my daughter, Leigh, to eat much protein. When I make pasta at home, she usually doesn’t like it with meat sauce, until she tried baked ziti at camp. I added spinach, mushrooms and garlic to this version, but if you’re kids are picky eaters, just omit those ingredients and use an 11- x 7-inch baking dish. Spinach-Mushroom Baked Ziti makes a great comforting weeknight dinner.

What to Have for Lunch: Low-Fat and Healthy Turkey-Edamame Salad

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People ask me all of the time, “What do you eat for lunch?” I guess because I am in my kitchen all of the time, or because I work and workout a ton, they are curious. Also, I think most of us get in a lunchtime rut and eat the same things for lunch over and over (I know I do). I threw together this simple salad in about 10 minutes this week, and my neighbor had stopped by and thought what I threw together was so fabulous. I thought others might enjoy this Turkey-Edamame Salad as well, but feel free to add whatever is in your vegetable bin and use your favorite reduced-fat salad dressing.

See the link from my television segment yesterday: 

http://www.newschannel5.com/Global/story.asp?S=10362611&nav=menu374_6_4

Low-Fat Spinach-Stuffed Mushrooms

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Sometimes figuring out what appetizer to serve is the most difficult part of entertaining, especially during holidays or when you’re having special guests over. I appreciate all the sweet notes from newly married couples as well as college students that are trying my recipes and have asked for appetizer suggestions. I try to serve appetizers that are healthy, but of course, flavorful. These stuffed mushrooms fit that description well. The combination of feta cheese, green onions and parsley create a fresh combination. This recipe is only five ingredients (not counting salt and pepper), so it’s also very economical and extremely simple, perfect for new cooks. Enjoy these Feta-Stuffed Mushrooms when you’re entertaining or anytime of the year.

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.

Dinner Tonight: Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

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Using a rotisserie chicken is a life-saver for so many wonderful quick dinner recipes. I created this recipe since my 3 kids love Caesar Salads, and sometimes a delicious sandwich and a salad or side is all they want for dinner. The simple mixture of low-fat mayonnaise, garlic, fresh parsley, lemon juice and Parmesan create an incredibly flavorful spread for these sandwiches. In twenty minutes, dinner can be done, but this recipe is also great to serve for lunch on the weekends.

 

Caesar Salad Sandwiches

Prep: 20 minutes

 Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

11/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 cups thinly sliced, cooked chicken (I used rotisserie chicken)

1 (16-ounce) loaf Ciabatta bread (or French or Italian bread)

Romaine lettuce leaves

Tomatoes, purple onion (optional)

Preparation

1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Spread mayonnaise mixture evenly over cut sides of bread. Top evenly with chicken and lettuce; serve immediately. Top with tomatoes and purple onion, if desired.

Love This Lasagna Soup

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If you love lasagna, you will love this soup. All of my favorite ingredients, spinach, sausage and tomatoes and cheese, fill this soup, and it is so quick and easy. Using the mini farfalle noodles works perfect in this recipe as they truly look like mini lasagna noodles. My family was wowed by the soup. Serve with a salad and some fresh crusty bread, and dinner is on the table in no time.

 

Lasagna Soup

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

Yield: 8 cups

Ingredients

1 pound mild Italian sausage

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced carrots

1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 cups low-salt, fat-free chicken broth

1 (141/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil and oregano

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1 cup mini farfalle pasta (piccolini) “Barilla” makes it

2 cups fresh spinach

2 cups freshly grated Asiago cheese

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Fresh basil, (optional)

Preparation

1. Brown sausage in a large Dutch over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and garlic; saute 3 minutes more.

2. Add chicken broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and Italian seasoning; bring to a boil. Add pasta and simmer until cooked, about 10 minutes, or according to package directions. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted. 

3. Place 1/4 cup Asiago cheese into each bowl; pour soup on top garnish with Parmesan cheese. Garnish with basil, if desired.

Light and Scrumptious Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach-Artichoke Dip from Real Simple

Whether it’s a huge football game like tonight’s National Championship game, the Super Bowl, weekend entertaining or just for the fun of it, I love to make a hot Spinach-Artichoke Dip. Probably because my kids love to eat it! This is a lightened version that works great with light cheese, low-fat sour cream and reduced-fat mayonnaise. Processing it in the food processor contributes to its awesome texture. So, if you’re watching your weight right now and trying to keep your New Year’s resolutions, you can still enjoy this hot dip.

 

Low-Fat Spinach Artichoke Dip

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 35 minutes

Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

2 cloves garlic

1 (14-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, excess liquid squeezed out

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream

2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise

1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese

1/2 cup shredded 2% milk cheddar cheese

1/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Pita wedges or crudites, for serving

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes, or until onions are light-golden but not browned. Remove from heat and cool.

3. In the bowl of a food processor combine the artichoke hearts, spinach and next 7 ingredients. Process until smooth. Fold vegetable puree into sauteed onions, then spread into an 8-inch glass square baking dish or 9-inch glass pie plate which has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through. Serve with pita wedges or crudites.