Wednesday, March 30, 2011

E: Artichoke, Spinach & Pesto Wonton Lasagna

Halfway there! Hope your week has been treating you well. Ours has been pretty good- still dealing with a sick puppers…but otherwise, all is well. Before I get to the AWESOME lasagna recipe, I wanted to share with you the French toast we enjoyed on Sunday night. I received a sample of Nature’s Pride Hearty Wheat with Flax bread (disclaimer: I received this bread for free from Food Buzz & Nature’s Pride):


The slices are nice and thick and the bread smells and tastes awesome! I immediately knew I wanted to use it in my vegan style french toast recipe. The outcome with strawberries:


So yummy! Thanks Food Buzz & Nature’s Path.

Tuesday night we enjoyed a super tasty dinner. I originally saw this recipe in Health magazine and knew I wanted to make it with just a couple simple adjustments to make it work for what we had on hand. The result was a really tasty and healthy meal (the nutritional stats for the original recipe can be seen on the Health Magazine website). Wontons were a great & different pasta sub:

Artichoke, Spinach & Pesto Wonton Lasagna:


  • 1, 5-oz box frozen spinach (or 1/2 a 10 oz package)
  • 1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 4 tablespoons pesto, divided
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup part skim shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
  • 18 wonton wrappers



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook spinach in microwave for ~4 minutes. Drain excess water.

In a large bowl, mix together ricotta, artichoke hearts, spinach, 2 tablespoons pesto and egg white.


Spread 2 tablespoons pesto in the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish (I used a Pyrex dish). Lay down 1 layer of 6 wonton wrappers.


Spread 1/3 ricotta mixture on top of wrappers.


Repeat two more times (to get three layers). Spread shredded mozzarella on top and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.


Bake for 20 minutes and then place under broiler for a few minutes (until cheese is just lightly browned- keep an eye on it!!). Let lasagna cool & set for 10 minutes.


Cut into 6 slices and serve.


This is a great HEALTHY & flavorful dish. I cannot get enough!

Monday, March 28, 2011

E: Bacco Italian Cooking Class

As always, thank you for the sweet comments on my pregnancy update. A couple people have commented on my maternity clothes- thank you so much :) But….most of the clothes I’m wearing are “regular clothes”. At this particular time, I am lucky to 1) be only 5’1” (so everything is naturally longer on me) and 2) that larger/flowey tops are in! 

Last Thursday night, my Mom & I took an Italian Cooking Class at Coastal Cupboard. The class was put on by the head chef and owner of Bacco restaurant, Michael Scognamiglio and I wanted to share the experience with you.


Michael did an incredible job leading the class through how to make risotto four ways. The setup of the cooking area at Coastal Cupboard is very nice. Everyone had a great view of the demonstration and they have a TV screen showing an overhead of the cooking area so you can see exactly what the chef is doing.


The class was very interactive and people asked quite a few questions along the way. The dishes we enjoyed were:

Pesto Risotto Arancini (fried pesto risotto ball topped with parmesan and served with a side of pesto). This was so yummy and the inside was nice and creamy:IMG_1657

Osso Buco Milanese (roasted osso buco over a saffron risotto). I didn’t eat this dish because I don’t eat veal, but my Mom said it was fantastic. I did try a nibble of the risotto- I am a big saffron fan:


Pollo Ripiene (chicken and prosciutto wrapped around a mushroom risotto on top of mashed potatoes).  Definitely a unique take on risotto! I’m not a mushroom or prosciutto fan (I know, I’m super picky), but I did enjoy a little plate of the potatoes ;):


The last dish was the winner of the night! Risotto dolce al Veneto (essentially risotto pudding topped with strawberry sauce & toasted almonds). Amazing…..just a hint of sweetness! Such a creative use of risotto:


Me & My Mom:


When you take classes at Coastal Cupboard, you get 10% off the entire store! I bought this awesome water pitcher/iced tea maker that they used to serve us flavored water during class. I’m obsessed with it.  The filtered divider help brings the fruit/veggie flavors into the water without having them dump out into your glass:


Simple ideas can be genius :)

Monday, Monday. Are you up to anything other than the usual today? Nothing too exciting here- teaching Pump, working and a few errands.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

E: Easy Cornmeal Pizza & Pregnancy Update

I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend! I have gotten some sleep and am feeling WAY better! Friday night, we just hung in, had dinner, and caught up on our DVR. Saturday included Body Step, cleaning, and work in the garden & yard (cleaning up the weeds/starting the garden prep & power washing the pollen off the porch). Saturday night was date night. It was wonderful to just catch up with Josh and enjoy some yummy Mexican food.

As I mentioned above, we ate at home on Friday night and had another Friday night dinner success! I have tried to make cornmeal pizza before and it turned out kind of…eh. I adjusted some of the past recipes I’ve used and added a few of my own touches. Here is what I came up with:

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • ½ cup All Purpose flour
  • ½ cup Whole Wheat flour
  • ½ tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Wet Ingredients:

  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons milk
  • ¼ cup canola oil


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Whisk together dry ingredients.


Add in wet ingredients and mix well, mixture will be sticky.


Spray a baking dish or pan heavily with non-stick spray. Press mixture into the bottom of the pan using the back of a spatula/spoonula to spread it thin. Bake for ~12 minutes and remove from oven. Top with pizza sauce and desired topping. Return to oven until cheese is melted or toppings are cooked through (~8-10 minutes).

Josh’s portion was topped with pepperoni, jalapenos, artichokes and mozzarella cheese:



Mine was loaded with veggies (parsnips, yellow squash and bell peppers):


This was super delicious! And made enough for leftovers!

Pregnancy Update: Week 22-


IMG_1679   Every day beyond the halfway mark makes the whole thing feel more and more real! I’m freaking out a little bit now about trying to get a nursery setup. We’re hoping to order our crib & changing table today.  I’m still feeling good, proceeding with life as usual :). My Mom bought me the cutest baby bag from Vera Bradley:


Its perfect! And looks very much like a normal big purse. Love! Thank you Mama!


What are you up to today? Other than a little more housework, I am teaching Body Pump and hoping to just relax!

Friday, March 25, 2011

E: Tilapia & Veggie Packets

As always, Happy Friday! I hope you week has been treating you well. Things have been a little rough at my house. Josh had to travel for the majority of the week (he comes home today- hooray!), so Frank and I slept downstairs in a big chair (since his knee is still preventing him from going up and down the stairs and I can’t carry him). His ulcer has been bothering him off an on and often kept us both up all night. I will be very grateful to sleep in a bed tonight! On a more positive note, my Mom came down last night and we took an Italian cooking class together- I can’t wait to share the details/pictures with you!!

I’m trying to clean out our freezer a bit. I feel like foods have a tendency to enter the freezer and never exit. When I was last in there searching, I found a few tilapia filets that needed to be used up. I thought of this recipe and just adjusted it a bit use up the vegetables I had on hand.


  • tilapia filets, defrosted (1 per person)
  • chopped vegetables (I used parsnips, yellow summer squash, corn, peas and jalapenos)
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • chili powder
  • parchment paper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Add desired quantity of olive oil to a frying pan. Add chopped veggies and cook until slightly soft.

Layout parchment paper. Place tilapia filet in center of paper and top with a sprinkling of chili powder and lemon juice. Place slightly cooked veggies on top and fold parchment paper into a sealed envelop. Place envelops on baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove and let sit 5 minutes. As Jenna noted in the original recipe: Use caution when opening; hot steam will escape.


This is a light, healthy & flavorful meal. You can serve it with a side of rice, pasta, fruit, whatever!



Weekend plans? Josh and I have a date night planned. Other than that??

Thursday, March 24, 2011

M: Spring Vegetable Risotto

Can I confess something? Up until the other day, I have never made risotto…Nope, never, not once. I think I know why too. The hubs and I used to watch Hell’s Kitchen religiously and what was always one of the dishes that they made as an appetizer? Risotto…And what was the dish he always yelled at them for messing up and not cooking right? The risotto…It was always “the risotto!” or “this *&$%&@ risotto is undercooked!”, well you get the idea.

So I think I got a little intimidated. But I found this recipe in this month’s Cooking Light and decided to conquer my risotto fears =) To be honest, it’s really easy to make, you just have to be patient with stirring in the warm stock.


This risotto was seriously outstanding. It is light but full of flavor, the textures are perfect with the crunchy edamame and creamy rice with the asparagus and the shaved parm on top. Oh…my…goodness….this was good. And filling! This was my dinner and I didn’t need anything else with it! You must try this, and conquer your risotto fears as well =)

Spring Vegetable Risotto

from Cooking Light

1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1 3/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth

2 TB olive oil

1 1/2 cups chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup uncooked Arborio rice

1 cup frozen shelled edamame

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup 1/3-less-fat cream cheese

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 oz. shaved Parmesan cheese

2 TB thyme, chopped

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add asparagus, and cook for 2 minutes. Drain. Bring 2 cups water and chicken broth to a simmer in another saucepan.

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil, add onion and cook for several minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in rice, edamame, and salt; cook for 1 minute.


Stir in 1 cup of broth mixture; cook for 4 minutes or until liquid is completely absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until liquid has absorbed before adding more (about 20 minutes total).

(About halfway through):


Stir in asparagus, cream cheese, and pepper, cook 1 minute.


Spoon risotto into bowls for serving and top each serving with shaved parmesan; sprinkle evenly with thyme.



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

E: Baked BBQ Chicken Meatballs

We had some delicious baked barbecue chicken meatballs the other night! But first, a few non food items:

1. I ordered these adorable cards off of Etsy. Lulu and Stinker has some of the cutest cards I have ever seen! I can’t wait to use these as thank yous after my baby shower:


2. Frank is starting to feel better! Its been so tough to watch him in pain. This experience made Josh and I realize that we’re going to be nutty parents ;)


Ok, back to the food. I first saw Chelsea of We are Not Martha make barbeque chicken meatballs and I’ve been thinking about them ever since! I decided to finally give them a go this past weekend, but using a slightly different recipe & cooking method. Here is what I came up with:

Baked BBQ Chicken Meatballs


  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs or panko
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 2 tablespoons + 1/2 cup barbeque sauce, divided
  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Spray the cooling rack with non-stick spray.

Mix together first six ingredients and 2 tablespoons of barbeque sauce. Add ground chicken and mix until just combined. Form into 1 inch diameters balls and place balls on cooling rack (they will seem a little “wet”, this made about 24 balls for me). Brush top of meatballs with remaining barbeque sauce.

Bake meatballs for ~20 minutes or until cooked through.

These pictures really don’t do the meatballs justice! I placed Josh’s meatballs on top of a baked potato with more bbq sauce & cheese and a side of fruit:


I had mine with a side of carrots & apples (don’t be deceived…I ate a few more meatballs while waiting for Josh to get home prior to dinner). Then we both had some yummy dessert (Amelia’s awesome key lime pie!!!):)


These were seriously yummy!

Whats your favorite version of meatballs (bean balls, turkey, chicken or beef)? Recipe links welcome!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

M: Mini Chicken Pot Pies

Ok, so chicken pot pies aren’t anything genius, let’s be honest. But for some reason I was just really craving them the other day! The problem with pot pies? Sometimes the filling can be really thick and rich and putting them in an actual pie shell or topping with a thick biscuit mixture – although wonderfully tasty - can be way too heavy.


These little guys were perfect – not too heavy or rich and the phyllo dough topping was light and flaky, but still so flavorful and full of veggie, chicken-y goodness =)

The filling made enough to fill 3 good-sized ramekins almost to the top, which was perfect for me and the hubs. If you wanted to make more, just double the recipe!


This could also make a fantastic vegetarian pot pie as well…Just use whatever your fave veggies are in place of the chicken and use cream of celery soup and vegetable broth instead of cream of chicken and chicken broth! Oh the many possibilities of a pot pie =)

Mandi’s Mini Chicken Pot Pies

2 large chicken breasts, cooked and cut into chunks

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 sweet onion, chopped

1 small package fresh mushrooms

1 can cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 cup frozen peas

3 small carrots, thinly sliced

5 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed

1 TB butter, melted

Poppy seeds, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and mushrooms and saute about 5 minutes, or until fragrant and onions are beginning to soften and mushrooms are dark. Add cream of chicken soup and chicken broth. Stir. Add peas and carrots and stir well. Turn heat down and let simmer for about 10 minutes.


Add chicken, salt and pepper to taste, and stir.


Take the 5 sheets of phyllo dough stacked on top of one another and brush top layer with melted butter. Cut sheets to size for your ramekins (or if using one casserole dish, just leave assembled).

Spoon an even amount of chicken mixture into each ramekin. Lay phyllo dough on top of each ramekin and fold sides under as necessary to fit just to the sides of the dish. Place ramekins on a baking sheet lined with foil (trust me you want to do this – the filling will start to boil over a little bit!)


Bake for 20-23 minutes or until the filling is hot and bubbly and dough turns golden. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, if desired.



Monday, March 21, 2011

E: Squash & Spinach Noodle-less Lasagna

The rest of our weekend turned out to be different than expected. Frank started having some issues in the middle of Saturday night/Sunday morning. We ended up taking him to the emergency vet and he has an ulcer resulting from the medicine he was taking for his knee. He is now on new anti-inflammatory/pain medication and two additional medications for the ulcer. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he gets better…quick.

Onto the food! I always feel like my Friday night dinners are the laziest of the week (Heather and I have emailed about this very subject!). This past Friday, I decided to kick it up a notch and try my hand at a noodle-less lasagna recipe. I originally saw this recipe on My Bizzy Kitchen, and made a few adjustments.


Ricotta Filling:

  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1.5 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red peppers
  • 1 cup (1.5 ounces) fresh spinach


Additional Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound squash, sliced thin
  • 1 1/4 cup tomato or marinara sauce
  • 3 tablespoons part-skim mozzarella cheese


Pre-heat oven for 350 degrees F.

Mix together all ricotta filling ingredients. Using a loaf pan, layer sauce, squash, and ricotta mixture (should make approximately 3 layers with sauce left over to top). Spread mozzarella on top of the “lasagna”.


Bake for ~50 minutes. Enjoy!



Not gorgeous, but good!


Note: My sauce got a little soupy…probably could have done with the recommended 1 cup!

This is a tasty and healthy dish!! 1/2 the pan (1 large bowl full) is only 284 calories and 12.5 grams of fat(using the brands I used, exact stats can vary based on the brands you use). I really love the kick of the crush red pepper. Josh was a huge fan too!

Hope you have a nice Monday!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

E: Triple Chocolate Cookies, Dinner & Pregnancy Update

Are y’all enjoying the weekend? It is SO beautiful here- I am loving every minute. Saturday was a very nice day. I walked and took Body Step in the morning. I cleaned, baked and laid in the sun in the afternoon. At night, we went out in Charleston to celebrate our friend Jeremy’s birthday.I wanted to make him some treats for his birthday. First up, I made Ellie Krieger’s triple chocolate cookies.  The batter:


The final result:



I also made a half batch of my big oatmeal chocolate chip cookies to go along with them:


We went to dinner at Southend Brewery:


Our original plan was to try a new spot, but the wait was tooo long and Southend had no wait! Bryan & Mandi:


Me, Josh & Jeremy:IMG_1630

Josh’s make your own pizza: smoked chicken, jalapenos & artichoke:


My shrimp Caesar salad (I also ate half of Josh’s crust ;)):


Pregnancy Update:  Week 21- couple pictures:



I feel like I’m finally at that level of pregnancy where people can comfortably ask me how far along I am :). I’m still feeling good and working out/teaching body pump without any issues!  I painted my toes this week because I feel like this task will soon become difficult.

Speaking of pregnancy, a big congrats to Maria & Josh. So happy for you two!

What has been the best part of your weekend so far?