Orzo Chicken Salad

This recipe was INSPIRED by the chicken salad I enjoyed recently at a BRIDAL shower in my neighborhood. It's LIGHT and REFRESHING—perfect for summer, and actually pretty darn good for you! Hope you love it.

Orzo Chicken Salad

1/2 cup orzo, cooked
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken
1 cup red grape halves
3/4 cup cashew pieces and halves
1 green onion, sliced
1 (6-ounce) container Honey-Flavored Greek yogurt (I used Chobani)
2 to 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together all ingredients and serve on a croissant, soft flatbread or pita wrap, or a large leaf of iceberg lettuce. Makes about 4 to 6 servings.


Cordon Bleu Bake

This is a yummy little PASTA recipe that is super simple and always gets RAVE reviews. It's almost too easy. Like so EASY that I'm embarrassed when people ask for the recipe. But, the best part is that it is a WINNER with my KIDDOS, and that's a good thing! (Sorry for the weird photo!)

Cordon Bleu Bake

2 cups mini penne pasta 
1 cup cubed ham
1 (12-ounce) can good-quality chicken, broken up (LOVE the Costco brand)
1 (15-ounce) jar alfredo sauce (I use Classico's Light Asiago Romano Alfredo)
Dash of pepper
6 to 10 slices Swiss cheese

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and return to the pan. Stir in the ham, chicken, alfredo sauce, and pepper; warm through. Scoop mixture into 6 ramekins and cover each with a slice or two of cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cheese is slightly browned on top. Makes 6 servings.

TIP: You could stir some grated Swiss into the sauce if you want it more cheesy, but I don't think it's needed. You could also top with breadcrumbs if you so desire. My secret: I've found that if I stir chopped up broccoli or peas (or whatever veggie I feel like using) and stir it into a creamy-based pasta, my 2 year old will eat it without question. Just sayin'. :)


Coconut Chocolate Chip Muffins

For some reason I have been craving COCONUT desserts. I'm not sure why. Coconut just sounds really REALLY good! Anyway, I thought I'd try cutting a few calories and instead of making a DESSERT that is probably laden with lots of YUMMY frosting, I'd try the breakfast route instead. Sooooo, here is what I came up with! :)

Coconut Chocolate Chip Muffins
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
1 3/4 cup flour

1/3 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 small box coconut creme instant pudding mix
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup toasted coconut, divided

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and prepare a muffin pan with nonstick spray.

In a bowl, beat together the milk, butter, and egg. Stir in the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Next stir in the dry pudding mix. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips and about 1/3 cup of the coconut. Evenly divide the thick batter into 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle the remaining coconut over the tops. Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool a few minutes in the pan, then enjoy!

TIP: You can add more coconut to the batter if you want. I was trying not to use too much because I wanted my 2 year old to eat them. (She loved them by the way!) My husband said he would have preferred regular-sized chocolate chips. And I would have LOVED the toasted coconut on top of the muffins to be coconut streusel instead, but I was trying to be good and cut calories! Click here for my coconut streusel topping if you want to try it. :)


Sour Cream Lemon Pie

I love LEMON. And for some reason or another, I've really been CRAVING pies lately. So I made a super YUMMY lemon pie with the help of allrecipes.com. This creamy and luscious pie in a nice FLAKY crust was killer! Totally satisfied in every way. Enough said.

Sour Cream Lemon Pie
1 (9-inch) baked pie crust (I used my favorite recipe, here. I just do one thick crust though!)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sour cream
4 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup butter
2 lemons, juiced and zested

Bake crust and set aside to cool completely.

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, and salt. Gradually stir in the milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Reduce heat and cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.

Gradually stir 1 cup of the mixture into the egg yolks to temper. Return yolk mixture to mixture in pan and bring to a gentle boil. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, juice, and zest. Gently fold in the sour cream. Pour filling to cooled crust and let cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve and top with whipped cream if desired.

TIP: This pie is so delish as is, it's hard to think of a tip. The one thing you can do to save time is to put the filling in a graham cracker crust. However, the baked crust is totally worth the effort!


Chocolate Pancakes with Vanilla Cream Sauce

These yummy little "cakes" are one of our SPECIAL breakfasts, you know for holidays or other special occasions. Let me tell ya, they are DELISH! If you are craving chocolate or are just CHOCOHOLICS like we are at our house, I would say EATING some of these would be the best way to start your day.

Chocolate Pancakes with Vanilla Cream Sauce
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons applesauce (Or you can more oil and less applesauce)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 to 1 1/4 cups milk (Depending on how thick you want the pancakes!)
Chocolate chips (I used mini semisweet)

Vanilla Cream Sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons vanilla

In a bowl, combine all the pancake ingredients except chocolate chips. Set aside.

In a saucepan, combine the cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Whisk the milk and yolks together and then gradually stir into the sugar mixture in pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it starts to boil and thicken. (Don't turn up the heat though or you will have scrambled eggs!) Remove from heat and then stir in the butter and vanilla.

Make pancakes with the pancake batter and serve with the warm sauce over top. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.

TIP: Serve with sliced strawberries on top or on the side for an extra special treat! You could also stir some chocolate chips into the batter if you want more chocolate. :)


Spaghetti Squash and Black Bean Bowls

So this recipe is not your normal CINCO de MAYO fare, but it tastes fabulous and is definitely a keeper! The slightly SPICY dish is easy to make, and even more easy to eat! The SQUASH takes on the role of carbs, if you will, and does a FANTASTIC job.

Spaghetti Squash, Chicken, and Black Bean Bowls
1 medium spaghetti squash
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 to 1/3 red onion, chopped
1/2 to 1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen super sweet white corn, thawed
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 lime

Cut the squash in half and then place the cut sides down in a microwave-safe dish that has about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom. Cover with plastic wrap, leaving one corner open to vent. Cook in the microwave for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cooked through. Let cool slightly and then remove the "spaghetti." Set aside.

In a frying pan, heat the oil and then saute the chicken with the chili powder, salt, and pepper. When almost done, stir in the onion, bell pepper, beans, and corn. Cook for a few minutes or until veggies are tender. Stir in the squash, cilantro, and juice from the lime. Let warm through and serve.

TIP: Try topping it with sliced avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and/or salsa. All are delish!