recipe: cinco de mayo casserole

Nothing says Cinco de Mayo more than cilantro + jalapenos + lime…besides Coronas and margaritas, obviously.

In light of the fact that Cinco de Mayo is my all-time favorite holiday, I whipped up this gluten-free pasta casserole the other day.

Prepare noodles {gluten-free or not} according to the instructions. Caramelize half an onion. In a casserole pan, layer noodles, chopped cilantro, caramelized onions, sliced cherry tomatoes, chopped jalapenos, a bit of lime juice, and sliced Al Fresco jalapeno chicken sausages. Cover with mozzarella cheese and bake for 20-30 minutes at 350. 



P.S. Check out my Hosting Ideas board on Pinterest. It’s basically just a compilation of Cinco de Mayo ideas!


gluten-free sweet potato or butternut squash mac & cheese

I’ve posted links to sweet potato mac and cheese recipes several times, but I’ve never posted my insanely easy {and gluten-free} version!

I’ve posted this sweet potato mac and cheese and this butternut squash mac and cheese, but I generally make a recipe that’s somewhere in the middle.

I didn’t list measurements because it’s easy to guesstimate as you’re layering the ingredients!

  • Caramelize chopped onions and shallots {combine butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium; throw in onions and shallots; and saute until golden brown, stirring occasionally. You may need to turn the heat down and/or add more butter to prevent burning}
  • Prepare gluten-free pasta according to instructions
  • Grate sweet potato or butternut squash; set aside
  • Grate cheese {you can use cheddar, gruyere, parmesan, gouda, you name it}; set aside
  • In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper

Layer pasta, grated ingredients, and caramelized onions and shallots in a casserole dish. Sprinkle with spice mix and another layer of cheese {you can add ricotta if you’d like!}. Bake covered at 350 until cheese begins to bubble {about 30 minutes}.

Easy as casserole 🙂

Notes: You can add half-and half or broth if you’d like your mac and cheese more moist {I’m in pain writing that word}. You can also sprinkle breadcrumbs {try gluten-free ones!} on top for an added layer of crunchiness. It might be interesting to try sweet potato and butternut squash together! A bit of mustard adds a little more flavor as well.

Source: via Emily on Pinterest

lunchbox meal: buffalo chicken casserole

Photo credit

Craving an insanely quick lunch a la my “chicken parm” or healthy chicken masala? Well, here’s another lunchbox meal for you.

Saute a piece of chicken tender using this foolproof method. In the pan, add chopped red onion and buffalo sauce {like Frank’s Red Hot}. Chop chicken; toss with gluten-free noodles; top with grated mozzarella cheese. Voila! 

Even easier and just as delicious? Toss a can of {drained} tuna with buffalo sauce, cheese, and noodles. 

Craving more vegetables, like I admittedly was? Try this leek and dill tuna casserole or just pack some edamame on the side, like I did! And for fruit: Welch’s very addicting mixed fruit snacks. They have Vitamin C, so they count, right? No?

P.S. If you’re a vegetarian, try crumbling Morningstar Buffalo Chicken Bites and tossing them on top!

21 seasoning vegetable pasta

Photo credit

Did you read “21 seasoning” and feel a little overwhelmed? Don’t! This is the easiest recipe ever.

Remember when I wrote about Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute and the soup I made with it? Well, I was determined to make a delicious pasta dish using only this seasoning. Success!

You can really use any vegetables for this {cauliflower and broccoli would be good} but here’s what I did:

Prepare pasta {gluten-free if you’d like} according to directions. Reserve some of the pasta water. Set aside.

Drizzle a skillet with olive oil. Over medium, saute a shallot, half an onion, and half a leek until they begin to caramelize. Add in chopped zucchini, yellow squash, and sun-dried tomatoes. Sprinkle with 21 Seasoning Salute. Saute until tender. If needed, add some of the pasta water so the vegetables don’t dry out.

Combine vegetables and pasta; sprinkle with shaved or grated parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Done!


  • I didn’t have any fresh parsley so I popped a parsley cube on top of the prepared pasta in a Tupperware. By the next morning, the parsley cube had melted!
  • I think this pasta is actually better the next day; it allows time for the seasoning to marinade with the other flavors.
  • This would be an even quicker recipe if your vegetables are already chopped. If you’re more tight on time than money, pick up pre-chopped vegetables at the grocery store. I even saw one blogger who grabs vegetables from the salad bar and uses them in recipes!

accidental pasta carbonara

{This is a pre-scheduled post; I am currently cruising to the Bahamas. According to my itinerary, I am currently experiencing a “Fun Day at Sea”}.

 {Photo credit}

I wanted to use up leftover produce before I left for my cruise {sorry, I’ll stop talking about it!}, so I raided my fridge and ended up with a carbonara-like pasta dish- sans cream, plus tons of vegetables!

Prepare pasta {gluten-free if you’d like} according to instructions. Reserve a bit of pasta water when you drain the pasta. In a separate pot, boil chopped cauliflower until tender. In a skillet, cook turkey bacon and set aside on a paper towel. Drizzle the skillet with olive oil {no need to clear after removing the bacon} and saute onions, garlic, sliced zucchini, and roasted peppers with sea salt, pepper, dried red chili peppers, garlic powder, and dried or fresh basil and parsley. Add cauliflower, pasta water, and pieces of the turkey bacon; toss until well mixed. Serve with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese on top. Enjoyyyy!

Inspiration for this recipe came from Tasty Healthy Easy Green {I love the rating system that Sally uses to grade each recipe}

recipe duos

As you all know, I’m a huge fan of repurposing ingredients (and just about everything else) in the interest of saving money, time, energy, etc.

Here’s a simple “Recipe Duo” that requires essentially the same set of ingredients but generates two unique meals. They can be prepped in tandem but served at different times.

Prep Bethenny’s Stuffed Peppers with these changes:

  • Chop extra onions. Saute separately with salt, pepper, basil, and oregano.
  • Roast a whole red pepper for 20 minutes on each side. Place in a lidded pot for an hour then peel the skin off.
  • Prepare extra ground turkey and tomato sauce. Set aside.

Finish the stuffed peppers according to the instructions. Enjoy when ready 🙂

In a Magic Bullet, combine the basil and oregano sauteed onions and the roasted red pepper. Blend until smooth. Combine with the turkey tomato sauce and serve over pasta.

Voila- you’ve just easily whipped up stuffed peppers AND roasted pepper turkey pasta sauce.

tuscan zucchini pasta casserole

Whenever I write up a recipe for my blog, I always have trouble coming up with a descriptive, mouth-watering title that isn’t too lengthy.

The alternative title for this casserole: Zucchini + Chicken + Sun Dried Tomatoes + Ricotta Pasta Casserole. Wow, that’s a mouthful.

The name I chose seemed fitting given that I pre-marinated the chicken in Tuscan Italian Dressing, which contains balsamic vinegar and sun dried tomatoes.

According to one site I found, “Tuscan cuisine is appreciated in the world for its fine natural and flavorful ingredients. It’s a typical expression of the Mediterranean diet, considered among others, the most wholesome and tasty, olive oil, pasta, fish and…meat.”

tuscan zucchini pasta casserole

1. One day ahead of time, marinate fresh or frozen chicken breast tenderloins (keep in fridge overnight) in Trader Joe’s Tuscan Italian Dressing and a dash of olive oil.

2. Thinly slice zucchini using a knife or mandoline. I used long thin strips. Place on tin foil on top of a baking sheet; drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, and bake at 350 until soft (about 10 minutes). Halfway through, toss chopped onions on top.

3. Bake chicken pieces at 350 until cooked throughout (about 15 minutes). There should be no pink visible. When cooled, chop into small pieces.

3. Prepare noodles according to package. I used egg noodles, my favorite!

4. Layer cooked noodles, chopped chicken, zucchini slices, and onion in a casserole dish (any kind of deep baking dish will work though). Spread ricotta on top; sprinkle with chopped pieces of sun dried tomato. Lastly, scatter parmesan cheese over top and cover with tin foil (you can re-use the tin foil from the zucchini!). Bake at 350 until heated throughout- about 15 minutes.

It sounds labor intensive, but I promise it’s not. And it’s delicious when reheated, so make extra for dinner or leftovers. Also, letting it sit before baking actually allows all the flavors to mix and mingle, creating a more rich flavor.

on the menu for next week

This insanely hot weather has me craving light, healthy foods with colorful, fresh ingredients, so I am planning my menu accordingly.

chilled gazpacho from oh she glows

creative salad mixes

caprese salad

corn with japaleno lime butter

healthy smoothies in my magic bullet

creamy avocado pasta via oh she glows

eggplant sandwich inspired by the rockford

zucchini pizza bites from budget bytes ($1.32 per serving!)

and also…

{aka “my new life, continued”}

browsing home decor stores

finding out about a youth entrepreneurship camp…maybe they need volunteers?!

whipping up an amazing sun-dried tomato sausage pasta (recipe to come)

finding this $20 steal, soon to be painted white or stained brown

losing several items when the back of my uhaul popped open mid-drive

an evening of tennis

a new friend to bike with

ridiculously hilarious moments with my sister

recipe: pasta romesco

[photo credit: here]

The other night, I attempted to make zucchini sticks for a friend who was coming to dinner. I have to admit, they didn’t turn out so hot, so we decided the best way to salvage them was to drench them in ranch (because ranch solves everything).

Which means that we didn’t use the  Smoky Roasted Romesco Dipping Sauce that I made! Since nothing goes to waste under Cristina’s watch and since I’m a big fan of repurposing recipes, I of course put the sauce to use.

When I started this blog post, I had a bowl of cheese ravioli topped with the sauce and  a sprinkling of parmesan cheese perched next to me. Unfortunately, it’s all gone now, but I still have the recipe [my version] to share!


  • 1 medium red bell peppers
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 slice of white bread, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 large garlic clove

Cut bell pepper in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place bell pepper halves and tomatoes, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet or in a roasting pan; flatten bell peppers with hand. Broil 10 minutes or until blackened. Place in a zip-top plastic bag or in a pot with a lid. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel and coarsely chop, reserving any liquid.

Combine the pepper and tomato mixture with the rest of the ingredients; use an immersion blender until smooth.


Note: as you can see, I left out the almonds that the original recipe called for. I didn’t have any on hand, but I’m sure it would be great with them included!

P.S. Wondering what romesco is? I was too! According to Wikipedia, it is “a sauce originating in Tarragona [in Spain] that is typically made from almonds, pine nuts, and/or hazelnuts, roasted garlic, olive oil, and nyora peppers, a smaller, sweet, dried variety of red bell pepper. Other common ingredients include roasted tomatoes, red wine vinegar and onion…It is most often served with seafood, but can also be served with a wide variety of other foods including poultry or vegetables.”