Meatless Monday Main Dish: Ziti with Roasted Summer Vegetables

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School is a few weeks underway already in Alabama, and I am amazed at how hard my kids’ homework is. Last week, my two oldest children were up to almost 10 every night doing math problems, reading their quota of 150 minutes a week and so on. My son even had to do a “glog” which is actually the same thing as a “blog”. Pretty cool, huh. After a long day at school (and after-school sports), I love to serve the kids something really healthy, colorful and fresh. This dish was a hit the other night, especially topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. It’s great when I can feel good about what they are eating, especially when they are working so hard and need good nutrition.

Homemade Strawberry-Blueberry Popsicles

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My daughter, Leigh and I, were trying to figure out what to do with some fresh strawberries and blueberries. Since it’s been so hot outside (100 degrees today), I thought, how about popsicles? With only 3 ingredients, these Strawberry-Blueberry Popsicles were a home-run. They taste great, especially with chunks of fresh strawberries. Thank you, Leigh, for all of your help making these.

Easy Dinner Idea: Grilled Pizza with Basil, Mushrooms and Mini Pepperoni

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I recently saw a pizza grill pan last week in the window at The Cook Store, a wonderful neighborhood cooking store where I live. I thought to myself, “I want that!”. I received one for a present shortly thereafter, and I was very excited (thanks @jon_lewistwitter handle). I used it the other night when I was in a pinch as I was testing recipes for my upcoming book (Chipotle Pork Wraps with Slaw). ┬áMy kids didn’t want that for dinner so I threw this Grilled Pizza with Basil, Mushrooms and Mini Turkey Pepperoni together for them. I ended up eating both (of course) because it turned out so great!

Fresh Taste of Summer: Cantaloupe-Coconut Smoothie

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My last television segment on NBC 13 “Daytime Alabama” was such a hit, and the food topic was smoothies. Smoothies are wonderful to prepare for dessert, afternoon snack or breakfast for kids and adults. This is the best time of year to make them when fruits are so vibrant. Cantaloupe-Coconut Smoothie combines some of my favorites: cantaloupe, coconut and pineapple. My kids are huge smoothie fans, and every time I turn around the blender is out on the counter. I can’t wash it fast enough. Enjoy this recipe just in time for ripe cantaloupes. To choose a ripe cantaloupe, it should smell sweet, have an even coloring and be heavy for its size. If you tap on it, it will sound hollow if it’s ripe.

Healthy Vitamin and Protein-Packed Salmon in Under 30 Minutes: Almond-Crusted Salmon

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There are so many great ways to cook salmon, and I often receive requests for new ways to prepare it. Almond-Crusted Salmon is one of my staple recipes that I love, especially since my kids will eat it too. I feel so healthy eating it, and I have to admit that salmon and almonds are two of my favorite ingredients. The basic combination of ground almonds, panko breadcrumbs, Dijon mustard, honey and Italian parsley flavors it to perfection and adds a great crunchy texture. You can find panko breadcrumbs in your local grocery where commercial breadcrumbs are sold.

Easy, Healthy Summery Recipe: Shrimp Caesar Skewers

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The two food items that all of my three kids love, is shrimp and Caesar Salad. So I knew that when I came up with the recipe for Caesar Skewers for Kraft, I better make plenty for everyone. This recipe is too easy for words, only 15 minutes of prep time. Feel free to purchase already-cooked, frozen shrimp if you find that it’s cheaper. I have been buying it a lot lately, and the quality is great. Enjoy this as summer nears for a light one-dish meal.

Kid’s Cooking Class: “Healthy Baking for Kids and the Secret Ingredient” at Studio B in Alys Beach, Florida

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I’m very excited about the upcoming cooking class at Studio B in Alys Beach. It’s almost full, so if you’re interested act fast and send me an email. I will be teaching “Healthy Baking for Kids and the Secret Ingredient”. We will be using Greek yogurt, Gluten-free brown rice cereal, mashed bananas, Gluten-free, organic candy, peanut butter and more create incredible confections for kids!

Kids and Adults Favorite: Healthy Strawberry-Pineapple Smoothie

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We love smoothies at my house, and my daughter, Leigh, makes them all of the time. These Strawberry-Pineapple Smoothies have been a hit in a lot of kid’s cooking classes I have taught recently. This photo was styled by Lillian, the 7-year-old who I taught a private cooking class with after she prepared the recipe. It’s so simple and refreshing, perfect for breakfast, healthy afternoon snack or dessert. It’s also wonderful after the holidays are over when you want something light, filling and healthy.

If you’re interested in private cooking classes, let me know.

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.

Iron Chef in Training: My Cooking Class with Lillian

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Yesterday, I had so much fun with Lillian! I was asked to do a private one-on-one cooking class for Lillian, an incredibly talented second grader for one of her birthday presents. She has a passion for cooking, and wow was she fabulous! I tailored the class specifically for her, and we made an array of healthy snacks, desserts and she even decorated these awesome cupcakes for Halloween. We set up the food for a photo-shoot, just like I do on the set with national food magazines, such as Southern Living. We prop-styled, food styled and critiqued the photos. If you’re interested in this type of class for your child, parent-child, groups of four, college age, newlyweds or yourself, contact me for more information.IMG_2602