Baked Penne with Tomatoes and Mozzarella

This is simply satisfying, and I just had to get this fave dish of mine in one last time before grilling season is here! 

I don’t which I like better ~ the crispy browned bits of pasta sticking to the side of the baking dish or the slightly tangy cheese that’s smothering the noodles. 

This is easy ~ it’s a low-maintenance dish that you can prepare upfront, and then a half-hour before mealtime, pop it into your oven.  The oven time turns it into a savory, deliciousness for your crowd!  If there’s no crowd, the leftovers will be magnificent!

And ~ yet again, I did it, I didn’t pull out the camera until supper was about over ~ sometimes my food is camera shy and just wants to be eaten!

Baked Penne with Tomatoes and Mozzarella


1 pound penne pasta

Cooking spray

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon seasoned pepper

8 ounces mozzarella, shredded

¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan


Cook pasta, al dente, following package directions.

Coat large skillet with nonstick cooking spray.

Add garlic and cook over high heat for 1 minute.

Add tomatoes and seasonings; cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Toss pasta with the tomato mixture.

Coat a 9” x 13” baking dish with cooking spray.

Place half of pasta in the baking dish.

Top with half of mozzarella and Parmesan, and repeat layers.

Bake in 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until cheese is melted, hot and bubbly.

Let stand for 5 minutes.



Today is opening day for the Cubbies!!!  

Here's to a winning 2014 season!!!


Tangy and a little bit Sweet Balsamic Coleslaw ~ GO CARDS!!!

What is served alongside sandwiches in a little paper cup, always goes to family reunions and company picnics, and generally remains untouched by most people?

It’s coleslaw!   Why does coleslaw get a bum rap?

Coleslaw can be traced back to the ancient Romans, when dishes of cabbage, eggs, vinegar and spices were served.  Years later, the Dutch claimed land in New York, and grew cabbage along the Hudson River.  They shredded their cabbage for a salad and called it “koosla.”

Whether creamy with mayonnaise, sweet with pineapple or savory with bacon, I like about any version.  And, it doesn’t have to be overwhelmed with mayonnaise and sugar to be delicious; this version is the proof.

This vinaigrette combines balsamic vinegar with cider vinegar, sugar, and Dijon mustard for a smooth, tangy dressing.  It’s a colorful coleslaw that is good any time of the year.  For a particularly nutty flavor, use Savoy cabbage instead of green cabbage.

A little sweet ~ a little tangy, it’s delicious!
How about you, are you eating your coleslaw today? 

Tangy Balsamic Coleslaw


1 small head green cabbage, shredded
½ small head red cabbage, shredded
1/3 cup sliced green onions
¼ cup chopped parsley

For the dressing:

¼ cup sugar or Splenda
¼ cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon canola oil
¼ teaspoon celery seed
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon seasoned pepper


Pour shredded cabbage, onions and parsley into a large bowl.
In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, both vinegars, mustard, oil, and salt and pepper. 
Pour the dressing over the slaw and mix well.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.





Mexican-style Chicken Breast with my Taco Seasoning and some March Madness

I love March Madness!!!

Sadly, Duke upset by underdog Mercer ~ 
Harvard’s victory over Cincinnati ~
Stanford beat Kansas  ~ 
Dayton upset Syracuse  ~   
and so forth…

And no perfect brackets for the Warren Buffet billion-dollar bracket challenge.
First off, Louisville was underseeded
And now the craziness has happened
Louisville squares off with Kentucky
the Cards versus the Cats!
Friday night

Pitino can’t let it happen twice in one season!  S0…

BEAT Kentucky!!!

Now, for the chicken…

Chicken breast is the star on the dinner table endless times because it’s quick to cook, economical, low in fat and calories.  We like chicken and we like Mexican-style food, so this recipe is a win win!

It's colorful too!

This is a tasty simple spicy chicken dish with salsa and my homemade taco seasoning ~ which is salt-free.  Plus, it’s on the healthy side as it’s baked, and later topped with low-fat sour cream. 

If you’re looking for a new way to prepare chicken breast, and you like Mexican cuisine, chances are you will like this also. 

It’s great served with rice ~ all the makings of a delicious meal!

Mexican-style Chicken Breast


4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons taco seasoning
1 cup salsa
Low-fat sour cream
Cooking spray
Shredded cheddar cheese for garnish, if desired


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place chicken breasts and seasoning in a plastic bag and shake to coat well.
Coat baking dish with cooking spray, and add chicken.
Bake 40 minutes or until no longer pink.
About 5 minutes before chicken is done, top with salsa.
Serve with sour cream.

My Taco Seasoning

If you’ve never made your own seasoning blends, I hope you give this a try.  It’s simple, easier on the budget than store-bought packets, and contains no additives, no salt.
Adjust the red pepper flakes to the amount of heat you like.
I triple the recipe, adjust to the amount you like.
Generally, use about 3 tablespoons per pound of meat.
Use sparingly, or liberally, like I do!

Keep this handy in your pantry, and you’ll never buy those seasoned packets again.  It’s easy, and good in dips, soups, sauces, veggies, and of course, taco meat!

Homemade Taco Seasoning 


2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons corn starch


Place all of the ingredients in a small bowl, whisk or stir well.
Store in an airtight container, it keeps indefinitely.
Yields about ¼ cup.


Baked Flounder with Cornmeal Coating

Cornmeal and Fish go together like 
Peanut Butter and Miracle Whip!  

This flounder has a crisp crust, not like it’s deep-fried, but crisp enough, without the mess of grease spattering ~ healthier!  It’s simple and makes for a good meal!

Baked Flounder with Cornmeal Coating


6 flounder fillets

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon seasoned pepper

½ teaspoon paprika

½ cup cornmeal

¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs

¼ cup milk

Non-stick cooking spray


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a shallow dish, combine salt, pepper, paprika, cornmeal and Panko.

Dip each fillet in milk, dredge in cornmeal mixture.

Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and place fish on it.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily and is golden, turning once.



Have a Fantastic Friday!

A Twisted St. Paddy’s Day Side Dish: Potato and Cabbage Bake

Growing up on a farm in Ohio, and later in Louisville, my family never had occasion to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  That all changed years later, after marrying and moving to “Chicagoland.”

The Chicago River goes green for St. Patrick's Day

45 pounds of vegetable dye colors the Chicago River a brilliant emerald green as it courses through the center of the city, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.  Chicago is packed with a plethora of Irish pubs and restaurants and there is no shortage of fun and plenty of sights to behold…

It was a memorable St. Patrick’s Day for us years ago when we took our then young teenage boys into the city for dinner.  Revelers, imbibing plenty of green suds, were plentiful everywhere.  It was an “education,” for sure that our sons laugh about now and will never forget.  After hurriedly eating, we headed out to a Bulls basketball game ~ ‘twas the “Michael Jordan era!!!”

Potatoes and cabbage, that popular pairing, is always abundant on St. Patrick’s Day and here’s a twist on it to get your Irish on:

This is a simple delicious dish, packed with cabbage, chunks of potatoes, mushrooms, Vidalia onion and green bell pepper; a generous amount of seasonings and Parmesan round it out, while vegetable broth aids in steaming the veggies to tenderness.

To take it up a notch ~ fry several strips of bacon crispy, and toss on top of the finished dish as garnish. 

It’s a delicious nutritious side dish ~ perfect for St. Paddy’s Day!

Potato and Cabbage Bake


6 small red potatoes, peeled and quartered
½ head of cabbage,shredded
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 Vidalia onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tablespoon Penzy’s Sunny Paris seasoning
1 teaspoon McCormick’s Seasoned Pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
Coat a large baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Arrange the vegetables in the dish.
Tightly cover with aluminum foil.
Bake for 1 hour or until potatoes are fork tender.


Chicken Tetrazzini Lightened Up

I’m always happy to come across a lightened up comfort food recipe! 

Here’s a mouth-watering tetrazzini casserole, minus the traditional heavy ingredients of cream, butter, and a plethora of cheese:  translating, 420 calories, versus nearly 700 per serving.

The creamy key to holding this dish together is the light béchamel sauce of evaporated low-fat milk, light cream cheese and Parmesan.  I substituted Activ spread for butter, then tossed it all with chicken, lots of veggies and pasta for savory goodness.

This is a Cooking Light recipe, which suggests poaching a few chicken breasts, if you don’t have leftover chicken ~ that’s exactly what I did.

The recipe calls for a topping of torn pieces of a French bread baguette ~ I crumbled a few crisp croutons for the job.

It added ½ cup white wine; I omitted it, and raised the chicken stock from 2½ cups to 3 cups. 

It included 2 (8-ounce) packages sliced mushrooms, I used canned instead.

This is a great delicious twist on tetrazzini.  We really liked it and I hope you give it a try and like it also! 

It’s a keeper!

Chicken Tetrazzini                  



10 ounces linguine

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 (15-ounce) can sliced mushrooms, drained

1 cup chopped onion

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon thyme

2 tablespoons Promise Activ light spread

¼ cup flour

3 cups unsalted chicken stock

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated low-fat milk

2.5 ounces grated Parmesan, divided

1 ounce 1/3-less-fat cream cheese

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon seasoned pepper

3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast

1 cup frozen green peas

Cooking spray

1/3 cup crushed croutons


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain well, set aside.

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat.

Add mushrooms, onion, garlic and thyme, sauté 3 minutes.

Remove to a small bowl and set aside.

Melt butter in the saucepan.

Stir in flour, cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk.

Gradually add stock and milk, bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, stir in 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, cream cheese, salt and pepper.

Combine mushroom mixture, milk mixture, chicken and peas, and cooked pasta, tossing to combine.

Spoon all into a 13” x 9” baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Combine crouton crumbs and remaining Parmesan, sprinkle over pasta.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until browned and bubbly.

6 servings


Cod Tacos with Grilled Peppers and Onions

Who doesn’t like a good fish taco?  Especially one that’s topped with grilled peppers and onions!

It took me a while to get on the fish taco bandwagon, but now I’m a happy advocate of it, and like about every fish taco I can sink my teeth into. 

The fish and veggies for these tacos are grilled instead of deep-fried, and served with trimmed-down toppings, without sacrificing flavor. The fish is spicy and the peppers are crisp-tender; near perfect and a simple easy dinner that is filling too.

Whenever, we have some warm weather; probably in June, at this rate, the fish and veggies will be cooked outside on the grill ~ I can hardly wait!

Cod Tacos with Grilled Peppers and Onions


1 white onion, sliced

1 bell pepper, sliced

Cooking spray

1 pound cod

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

8 flour tortillas

Salt and seasoned pepper, to taste


Taco sauce

Jalapeno pepper slices

Shredded lettuce

Diced Tomatoes

Shredded 2% cheddar cheese

Lime wedges


Preheat stovetop grill to high heat.

Place onion and pepper slices on grill rack coated with cooking spray.

Grill for 10-12 minutes, turning occasionally, set aside.

Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.

Season fish with paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper and place in skillet.

Cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side, until desired doneness.

Warm tortillas according to package directions.

Assemble tacos with fish, onions and peppers and your choice of toppings.

Squeeze lime juice over tacos or use limes for garnish.


Pork Chops with Mushrooms in Dijon Sauce, snow...

Go hog wild and try this great recipe for pork chops!

Sear a thick pork chop to retain moisture ~ add some earthy mushrooms ~ drown the aforementioned in a savory Dijon sauce.  The quick pan sauce adds a light flavor to the dish with capers adding piquancy.

The average American consumes approximately 46 pounds of pork a year.  Surprisingly, a pork chop has 65 grams of cholesterol, compared to 72 grams in a chicken breast.  They both contain just 1 gram of saturated fat.

These pork chops are a healthy source of protein, high in B1 vitamin content, and low in saturated fat ~ no added fat here, no creamy sauce.

They should make any pork lover happy!

Pork Chops with Mushrooms in Dijon Sauce 


2 (1-inch-thick) bone-in pork chops, visible fat trimmed
2 tablespoons flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon seasoned pepper
1 cup chicken stock, fat free, low salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
10 ounces sliced button mushrooms
1 tablespoon capers
Cooking spray


Liberally spray large skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat.
On a plate, combine flour, salt and pepper; lightly dredge pork chops.
Sear chops until browned well on both sides, set aside.
Pour broth in skillet and deglaze pan.
Stir in mustard and parsley and cook for a minute.
Add mushrooms and seasonings, cook for 3 minutes.
Return chops to skillet and add capers and more broth, if needed.
Lower heat and simmer about 20 minutes, depending upon thickness.


What happened to my flowers and chairs?

It's March the 3rd, we've had over 70" of that white stuff, and it's 3 degrees below 0 this morning!  Forget Spring, get on with SUMMER!!!

You know,

nobody can ever

cook as good as

your Mama.

~ Paula Deen

You know, nobody can ever cook as good as your mama. Paula Deen
Read more at:
You know, nobody can ever cook as good as your mama. Paula Deen
Read more at:


Jules-Alexandre Grun

ᴡᴏᴏ ʜᴏᴏ!!!

ᴡᴏᴏ ʜᴏᴏ!!!



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