Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tortellini Spinach Salad with Balsamic-Tomato Vinaigrette

Cecily and I had company for lunch today, so it was a good opportunity to try out a salad I saw on Juliann's Easy Eats. I like salads, but do not eat them as often as I should, mostly because they are usually not enough to satisfy me. This was definitely an exception. I changed it around a bit to suit my tastes, adding turkey bacon and roasted red peppers, and found the dressing to be really delicious and the tortellini to great for filling me up.

I will probably eat the leftovers for dinner tonight, that's how much I liked it.

Tortellini Spinach Salad with Balsamic-Tomato Vinaigrette
Adapted from
My Kitchen Cafe by way of Juliann's Easy Eats


Salad -

20 oz package three cheese tortellini
6 oz turkey bacon, cut into chunks
6 oz bag baby spinach
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
3 roasted red peppers, thinly sliced

Dressing -

9 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 ½ tablespoon tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste (about 1/8 teaspoon each)
3/4 cup olive oil


Cook tortellini in boiling water until al dente. Drain and toss with a teaspoon of olive oil to keep from sticking. Let cool in colander.

Cook turkey bacon until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon onto paper towel. Allow to cool.

In a large bowl, toss all the salad ingredients together after the pasta and bacon has cooled.

In a blender add all of the dressing ingredients except for the olive oil and process until smooth. Then, while the blender is running, slowly add the olive oil and blend until completely combined. If serving the salad right away, immediately pour the dressing over the salad and toss well (you may not need all the dressing). Serve.
Friday, May 21, 2010

Thai Chicken and Brown Rice

Sometimes good recipes come from the most random places. I got this one off the back of the Success Boil in a Bag Brown Rice box. I've never made anything Thai before, so I was looking forward to trying out some new ingredients.

Overall this was a tasty dish. I wish it had a little more sauce, so I might increase the measurements next time. And it was really quick to prepare, since I had my chicken cooking all day in the crockpot. I cooked a pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts with a little chicken broth on low for 6 hours. All I had to do was shred it.

Thai Chicken and Brown Rice


2 bags Boil in a bag Brown Rice
1 cup coconut milk
1 tbs thai red curry paste
2 tsp brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1 16oz bag Asian style mixed vegetables
1/2 cup chopped peanuts


Prepare rice according to package directions

In a small bowl, combine coconut milk, curry paste, brown sugar, lime juice and salt. In medium non-stick pan over medium heat, combine chicken and vegetables, then add curry sauce. Cook until vegetables are tender.

ZACH'S RATING - *** 1/2
Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cherry Vanilla Steel Cut Oats

Almost every week lately I have been making a big batch of Steel Cut Oats to have for breakfast every morning. I have been getting a little tired of my usual apple craison combination. I saw this recipe on Apple A Day and used it for my inspiration. Of course I had to have a little sample this afternoon and it was great! Good fuel for my workout classes tonight!

Cherry Vanilla Steel Cut Oats
Recipe inspired by from Apple A Day

Makes approx 4 cups of oatmeal

4 cups water
1 cup steel cut oats
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
Splash milk per serving
1 tsp Rhubarb Strawberry preserves per serving


Bring water to a boil. Stir in oats and cherries. Reduce heat to low and simmer,stirring often. After about 20 minutes (and oatmeal starting to come together), stir in cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Continue to simmer until water is absorbed, approx 30 minutes total.

When serving, add a splash of milk and stir in Tastefully Simple Rhubarb Strawberry preserves.

Get Tastefully Simple Rhubarb Strawberry and other great products here
Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Baked Mac and Beef

It is a comfort food kind of day. It has been rainy, cold and dark all day long. This meal was inspired by our friend Ryan's mom's Mac and Beef. She always sends a big pot of it down with him when he comes to visit. I have to say my version was pretty close. It was creamy with a good kick to it.

I almost always sub ground turkey for ground beef, but this dish felt like it needed the real deal.

Baked Mac and Beef
A Running Mama Cooks Original Recipe


1.25 lbs 95% lean ground beef
1 lbs elbow macaroni (I used Dreamfields)
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
1 6oz can tomato paste
2 14.5 oz cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
1/4 cup white wine (would have used red if I had it)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried basil
bay leaf
salt and pepper
8 oz cheddar cheese, cubed (I had 2% Velveeta on hand)


Boil water in a large pot and cook elbows until al dente.

Meanwhile, brown beef in a large skillet. Drain fat. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and red pepper flakes. Add onion and carrots and saute until tender, about 5-7 mins.

Add tomato paste and combine with beef. Stir in diced tomatoes and wine. Add dried basil and a bay leaf. Simmer.

Remove bay leaf. Mix cooked elbows with sauce and pour into a large baking dish. Stir in cheese. Bake on 350 for 20 minutes.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fresh Tomato and Zucchini Bow Tie Pasta

I made this quick pasta as a side dish to tilapia tonight. It was a nice, light sauce and the fresh tomatoes and zucchini were really yummy.

Fresh tomato and zucchini bow tie pasta
A Running Mama Cooks Original Recipe


1/2 lb bowtie pasta ( I used Barilla Plus)
8 cloves garlic
Olive oil
16 baby roma tomatoes, cut into half
2 zucchini, cut into chunks
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
Handful Parmesan cheese, plus more for the table


Bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt water and add bow tie pasta.

Coat bottom of a medium sized pan generously with Olive oil. Heat over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, be careful not to burn. Add zucchini and cook for a few minutes, until tender. Add tomatoes, white wine, red pepper flakes, basil, parsley, salt and pepper. Simmer until pasta is cooked. Stir in bow ties and toss with Parmesan cheese.
Friday, May 14, 2010

Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don't have a single good reason why I needed to bake cookies this afternoon except that everyone has been raving about this recipe and I had to try it. That and maybe I can play the pregnancy card :)

I think Leslie said it best, "Hot Damn! These cookies are INSANE!!" You must make them too.

Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe by The Brown Eyed Baker

Makes about 16 cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
½ cup rolled oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

3. On medium speed, cream together the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat to combine. On low speed, gradually add the flour until just combined. Stir in the oats, and then the chocolate chips.

4. Use a large cookie scoop (3 tablespoons) and drop dough onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden. Cool completely on the baking sheet and then store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Thursday, May 13, 2010

Spinach Dip

Tonight my mom hosted my cousin Ali's baby shower. It was a really nice event! She is due a month before me, its been a blast being pregnant together. We were born exactly a week apart, so it is really special that our sons will be so close in age as well.

Here is the recipe for the spinach dip I made for the occasion.

Spinach Dip


1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 envelope dry vegetable soup mix
1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
3 green onions, chopped


In a medium bowl, mix together spinach, sour cream, mayonnaise, dry vegetable soup mix, water chestnuts and green onions. Cover and chill in the refrigerator approximately 2 hours before serving.

Ali and I

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Angel Hair Carbonara

This Rachael Ray recipe is one of the first ones I made a few years ago when I was first learning how to cook. After having Carbonara at a restaurant this weekend, I knew I had to make this this week. I like that it doesn't have any cream in it yet is still creamy.

Angel Hair Carbonara
Adapted from Rachael Ray


1 pound Angel Hair pasta
1/2 pound pancetta, cured Italian meat, available at deli counter, chopped
Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan)
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, a few pinches, crushed in palm of hand
3/4 cup dry white wine or chicken stock
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons (about 2 palmfuls) grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more, for sprinkling
A handful fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
A few grinds black pepper


Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil. When water is rolling, add salt and pasta and cook to al dente, about 8 minutes, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water.

While pasta cooks, heat large skillet over moderate heat. Saute pancetta in a drizzle of oil until it browns, 3 to 5 minutes. Add extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, and crushed pepper flake. Saute garlic 2 minutes. Add wine or stock to the pan and reduce liquid by half, 2 minutes.

Beat together egg yolks, cheese, and while whisking vigorously, stir in a ladle of the boiling pasta water. Beat in parsley and pepper and set aside.

Drain pasta. Add pasta to pan with sauce. Toss pasta with pancetta, then add egg mixture and toss 1 minute, then remove from heat. Continue to toss until sauce is absorbed by and thickly coating the pasta. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper and serve with extra cheese, for passing.


Death by Chocolate

This is my go to dessert for a big crowd, and it brings back such great memories from my teenage years. My friend Carolyn's mother used to make this for us girls when we would have big sleepovers. It is one of my cherished recipes from the recipe book I received at my bridal shower.

My mother is having a party at her house tomorrow night, so I put this together today for one of the desserts. If you love chocolate, you'll love this!

Death by Chocolate
Recipe from Carolyn and Lori Purwin


1 pkg. Duncan Hines dark chocolate cake mix
3 pkg, Jell-O instant chocolate pudding mix, prepared
2 large containers of Cool Whip
6 Hershey Skor Bars*


Bake cake according to directions in any pan. When cool, break into chunky pieces. Pour liquor into cake to let it soak for a couple of hours or overnight.

Make pudding according to directions. Wack Skor Bars against the counter to break into pieces. In a trifle bowl, make layers as follows - cake, pudding, whip cream, candy. Repeat until top layer is whip cream and Skor bars to decorate.

*I used Heath bits to save time this time, but I prefer it with the Skor bars. I added some mini chocolate chips because the bits were lacking chocolate
Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sun dried Tomato and Parmesan Crusted Mahi Mahi with Roasted Zucchini

Operation "eat more fish" is going well! I am happy that this recipe was such a success and I can add it to my repertoire. The topping on this was so tasty and the mahi mahi was cooked perfectly.

Sun dried Tomato and Parmesan Crusted Mahi Mahi
A Running Mama Cooks Original Recipe


2 mahi mahi filets
1 lemon
1 clove garlic, whole
1 tbs dried basil
Drizzle olive oil
Splash dry white wine
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 sun dried tomatoes
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Pinch red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 450.

Place mahi mahi filets in a medium sized backing dish and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the zest of one lemon. Drizzle with olive oil, juice of the lemon and a splash of white wine. Cover loosely with foil.

In a Cuisinart, combine Parmesan cheese, sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts, red pepper flakes, 1 garlic clove and 1 tbs dried basil. Set aside.

Bake for 20 minutes. Bring oven to broil. Place sun dried tomato and Parmesan topping on fish and broil with oven door open until brown and bubbly, approx 3 minutes.

Roasted Zucchini
A Running Mama Cooks Original Recipe

3 zucchini
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried basil

salt and pepper

Slice zucchini length wise and cut into half moon pieces. Toss with salt and pepper, garlic, and 1/2 tsp basil. Place in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 450 for 20 minutes.

Monday, May 10, 2010

French's Fried Onion Burgers

I can't take credit for these yummy burgers at all. Zach made dinner tonight since I taught an Aqua Sculpt class. He decided to use French's Fried Onions instead of bread crumbs and they were delicious!

French's Fried Onion Burgers
Makes 5 burgers

1.5 lb lean ground beef
1 egg
1 cup French's Fried Onion
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
Cheddar cheese

Mix all ingredients except the cheese. Grill. Top with cheddar cheese.

Zach served it with roasted asparagus.
Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sausage and Spinach Penne Skillet

Another winner from Allison. Delicious pasta meal! Loved the spinach, sun dried tomatoes and pine nuts. Yum! It immediately got added to the "favorites" category.

Sausage & Spinach Penne Skillet

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound Italian-style turkey sausage, casings removed
3 medium garlic cloves, minced finely
3 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces (about 3 1/2 cups) penne pasta
1 (6-ounce) bag baby spinach
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot and add in the sausage. Cook until lightly browned and no longer pink about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the water, broth, sun-dried tomatoes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, then add in the pasta. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook at a strong simmer, stirring often, until the pasta is tender and the liquid has thickened, about 15-18 minutes (if you find the liquid is absorbing too quickly and the pasta is still undercooked, add a bit more water in small amounts until the pasta is cooked thoroughly).

Stir in the spinach, a handful at at time, and cook until wilted. Off the heat, stir in the cheese and pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Turkey and Brown Rice Stuffed Peppers

I love stuffed peppers! Here is my recipe. I made them this afternoon and had them all set in the fridge so Zach could pop them in the oven while I was teaching tonight. Dinner was ready when I got home!

Turkey and Brown Rice Stuffed Peppers
A Running Mama Original Recipe


5-6 bell peppers, any color
1 lb ground turkey breast
1 cup cooked brown rice (I use boil-in-bag)
15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup grated reduced fat Mexican blend cheese
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 tbs chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder


Preheat the over to 350

Cut tops off peppers, wash and take out all the seeds. season with salt. Set into a baking dish.

Brown turkey. Add onions and cook until tender. Stir in tomato sauce, rice, chili powder, cumin and garlic powder and allow to simmer. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese.

Place turkey mixture inside the peppers. Top with remaining cheese. Add 1/2 inch water into the baking dish. Bake covered for 35-40 minutes.

Peppers after they were stuffed:

ZACH"S RATING - *** 1/2
Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Disney World Restaurant and Vacation Review

Zach, Cecily and I spent the past 5 days with my parents and sister in Disney World. We are huge Disney fans, I think this was my 15th trip. Cecily is only 4 and she's been 3 times! We stayed at Wilderness Lodge for the first time and really liked it.

Here are reviews of the restaurants we ate at, plus some other highlights of from our trip.

Whispering Canyon Cafe
Wilderness Lodge

We ate here twice, once for lunch the day we arrived, and again for breakfast. We really enjoyed both meals! The waiters and waitresses are loud and funny, throwing napkins and straws at you, bringing super large sodas because they don't want to get refills...very funny. We spent the whole trip joking about the ketchup because if someone asks for ketchup, any table that has some is instructed to bring it over to that table.

The food was really good, I had a BBQ chicken sandwich for lunch and Belgium waffles in the morning. Great casual restaurant!

Big diet coke at lunch:

House of Blues
Downtown Disney

We have been to Disney a lot, but we hardly ever go to Downtown Disney because we are usually so busy in the parks. This trip, I thought it would be fun to check out on of the restaurants there our first night, after spending the afternoon at the Magic Kingdom. I chose the House of Blues. It was a fun place to eat and the food was great. The Rosemary Cornbread was to die for, we ordered one to split and had to get another because it went so fast!

Ohana Character Breakfast
Polynesian Resort

We've done this breakfast the past 3 years in a row and its a "must do" in my opinion. Food, atmosphere and the characters are great. I think the juice is one of my favorite parts, guava, papaya and orange juice (I think) YUM!

Cecily and Lilo:

Ohana Parade:

Teppan Edo
Japan, Epcot

This was a really fun meal! Very good hibachi!! Highly recommend going there for dinner in the countries. It was entertaining and delicious.

Grand Floridian Cafe
Grand Floridian Resort

We added this dinner in last minute since our plans got changed around a bit this day and it worked out great because dinner here was delicious. We love the Grand Floridian so even if we aren't staying there we spend a good amount of time here. Beautiful place, great service and one of the best french onion soups I've ever had.

Park Faire Character Restaurant
Grand Floridian Resort

Did I mention we love the Grand Floridian? Back again for breakfast. I think I had 4 Mickey waffles (they are so good!!). You see Pooh, Tigger, Alice, Mary Poppins and the Mad Hatter. The buffet breakfast was great and the characters were a lot of fun. They interacted with the guests and each other a lot. The Mad Hatter was particularly entertaining.

Grand Floridian Resort

After a full day at Epcot and the some swimming at the Wilderness Lodge, we got dressed up for dinner at Narcoossee's. This is a tradition for us. As far as atmosphere is concerned, you cannot go wrong here. Its right on the lagoon with view of the castle and if you are there during the fireworks, they dim the lights and you can see them from your table (or go out on the porch to watch). They seem to have changed the menu a bit and it was more limited than we remembered, but what we did have was very good.

Jill, Cecily and I on Narcoossee's porch:

Animal Kingdom Lodge

We spent our last morning at Animal Kingdom, so I had planned to have breakfast at Boma. We have never seen the Animal Kingdom Lodge and wanted to check it out. Its really beautiful!! They buffet at Boma was great, they had all your regular breakfast items along with some traditional African dishes as well. And the guava juice again!

Boma decor:

Yak and Yeti
Asia, Animal Kingdom

I think this was my favorite meal. We had lunch here while at the Animal Kingdom and it was really good. I had the Lettuce Cups, which were really similar to the Lettuce Wraps that I have on my blog. The chicken fried rice was also really good as well as the lo mien and ahi tuna

Other Trip Highlights:

We spend a lot of time in the Magic Kingdom. It is a tradition for us to go on Its a Small World first and this year was no different. We ended up going twice since Cecily loved it so much. She also loved Dumbo, the carrousel, Aladdin's Flying Carpets, Pirates of the Caribbean (went on that twice as well), tea cups, etc. She also loved meeting Cinderella, Belle and Aurora in Mickey's Toon Town. The line for the Fairies was ridiculous unfortunately, we really wanted to meet them as well!

In Epcot, we went straight to Souring. It is an awesome attraction. I was excited that Cecily was tall enough to go on this year. We went there first thing when we got to Epcot and waited in line, then "fast passed" it when we got off so we could go again later that afternoon. Also loved Turtle Talk in the Living Seas with Crush. The Flower and Garden Festival was really nice, we loved seeing all the character topiarys. Plus the butterfly garden was really beautiful.

In MGM, we waited most of the day for our Toy Story Fast Pass and definitely saw why it is so popular. What a fun ride!

Even though I had to miss out, Cecily liked the Rapids ride in Animal Kingdom. Blows my mind that she is big enough for these things! Next trip I need to try it out. And Zach rode the Himalayan ride 3 times! I had to miss out on the Safari as well because it is too bumpy, but I've done it in the past.

Lessons Learned:

Do not wear sandals to the park. You will hate yourself. I did. Sneakers all the way next time. Even in comfortable, well cushioned Reef sandals I felt like my feet were broken by the end of the day.

Bring your own stroller. We decided that we would rent strollers at the parks, but quickly realized that it was throwing away money. We ended up buying an umbrella stroller for $50 and it was definitely worth it. We would have spent more renting in each park and it was nice to have in the hotel.

We can't wait until our next trip, hopefully when baby boy is 2. I cant believe the next time we are there, we will be a family of 4!

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