Chicken and Broccolini Mac and Cheese

A simple comfort-food quality dish that features one of my favorite veggies – broccolini! There’s nothing too complicated or fancy about this, just simple, homemade goodness in the form of a casserole.

This is a Martha Stewart recipe that I lightened up substantially with some recipe tweaks, so you can feel good about every bite. Enjoy!

Chicken and Broccolini Mac and Cheese
Author: Adapted, Martha Stewart
Cook time: 55 mins
Total time: 55 mins
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for baking dish
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut in half horizontally OR chicken cutlets (you want a thin cut for cooking purposes)
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese or Neufchâtel cheese
  • S/P
  • 12 ounces whole-wheat egg noodles
  • 1 bunch broccolini
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a 3-quart broiler-proof baking dish with oil or spray with cooking spray. Bring milk to a simmer in a pot. Add chicken; simmer until cooked, 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Remove pot from heat; whisk in mustard and cream cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Shred chicken. Cook noodles in a pot of boiling salted water 3 minutes. Add broccolini; cook until noodles and broccolini are al dente, 2 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Drain noodles and broccolini; toss with chicken, sauce, pasta water, and cheddar. Transfer to baking dish.
  3. Toss breadcrumbs with oil; sprinkle over casserole. Cover with foil; bake 20 minutes. Uncover casserole; increase heat to broil. Cook until top is golden brown in places and breadcrumbs are crisp, 4 to 5 minutes.




Homemade Butter-Roasted Tomato Sauce

Homemade pasta sauce is so, so worth it. A glass jar may be super easy, but with just a little more effort you are rewarded with something so much healthier and delicious. Seriously, have you checked out the nutrition labels on pasta sauce lately? While you can find some healthy versions, most are laden with sodium and sugar – so much sugar!

This is one of my favorite sauces; it’s bright and sweet and goes great with pasta or as a pizza sauce. You can double the recipe and make extra to freeze. As shown – serve over pasta with sauteed mushrooms and leeks and fresh Parmesan cheese.

How to make Homemade Butter-Roasted Tomato Sauce
Author: Slightly adapted, Bon Appetit
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 4
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 anchovy fillets packed in oil (omit if vegetarian)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • S/P
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine tomatoes, garlic, anchovies, butter, and red pepper flakes in a 13×9 baking dish; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing halfway through, until garlic is very soft and mixture is jammy, 35-40 minutes. You can store leftover sauce in the fridge for about one week, or freeze for up to a month.


Giant Pot-luck Sized Turkey Taco Pasta


This recipe makes a monster pot of super-tasty turkey taco pasta – perfect for pot-lucks, parties, sleepovers with lots of hungry children, or just a big meal with leftovers. There are no salt-laden seasoning packet or processed foods involved – just real meat, vegetables, and cheese. And it’s really, really good.

A trick I learned for getting beautiful, glossy melted cheese – don’t buy the pre-shredded cheese. Buy a block of cheese and grate the cheese right before baking, this is how I got the cheese to look like a sauce. You can use any variety of cheese for this of course. You can also half the recipe if you are not cooking for a crew.

Giant Pot-luck Sized Turkey Taco Pasta
Recipe Type: Entree
Author: Q&DK
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 10-12
  • 16 oz. pasta (short varieties work best, like macaroni, shells, or rotini)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (omit this if making for kids that don’t like spice)
  • 8 teaspoons chili powder
  • 3 lbs. ground turkey
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 (4 oz.) can mild diced green chiles, drained
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (7 oz.) can mexicorn (or regular corn), drained
  • Jalapenos, optional
  • 4 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Scallions to top, optional
  1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Reserve a 2 tbsp. pasta water before draining. Drain and set aside; toss with the reserved pasta water to prevent sticking.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  3. In a large oven-proof pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, cayenne (if using), and chili powder. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the turkey and salt/pepper. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 12 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  5. Stir in the green chiles, tomatoes, and corn. Carefully stir in the pasta, mixing to combine. Top with jalapenos if desired. Top with the shredded cheddar cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.
A trick I learned for getting beautiful, glossy melted cheese – don’t buy the pre-shredded cheese. Buy a block of cheese and grate the cheese right before baking, this is how I got the cheese to look like a sauce. You can use any variety of cheese for this of course. You can also half the recipe if you are not cooking for a crew.


Creamy Shells with Tuna & Spinach

A twist on traditional pasta shells – instead of filling with ricotta and baking with marinara, these star spinach and tuna with a creamy sauce and breadcrumbs. Really delicious and go great with a green salad and whole wheat pita bread to dip in the sauce. Because dipping should be mandatory, of course.

Creamy Shells with Tuna & Spinach
Recipe Type: Entree
Author: Adapted, Martha Stewart
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 6
  • Olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced small
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • S/P
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp. red-pepper flakes
  • 1 (10 oz) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess liquid squeezed out
  • 2 (6 oz) cans tuna, drained/flaked
  • 12 oz. jumbo pasta shells, cooked according to pkg. instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium pot, heat a splash of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly, and cook until slightly thickened and bubbling, about 3 minutes. Season with S/P and let sauce cool slightly.
  2. Mix the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and red-pepper flakes in a large bowl. Take out 1/2 of the breadcrumb mixture and set aside. Add the spinach, tuna, and half the white sauce to the breadcrumbs in the large bowl. Season with S/P.
  3. Fill each shell with heaping spoonfuls of the tuna mixture and place in a 4.8 quart baking dish (15×2 inch). Top with the remaining sauce and breadcrumbs. Bake until golden and bubbling, about 20 minutes.
Make sure to prep your ingredients for the sauce before you begin – you have to stir constantly so you need all ingredients ready for you.



Light & Easy Skinny Baked Ziti

baked ziti

Happy Friday! and Happy spring!

I hope you get to enjoy some beautiful weather this weekend and of course, some good food.


I’ve been slowly working my way through some of my most popular recipes and doing some slight recipe updating and new photos. This recipe gets a lot of traffic through Google – who knew so many people were searching Light & Easy Baked Ziti?

I recently made some updates to the recipe instructions to make it even easier and took some new, better photos.  This is a great recipe to make for potlucks or as a food “gift” because you can easily make it in a disposable heavy-duty foil container.

This is a lighter take on a traditionally rich and heavy American-style Baked Ziti. I’ve used ground turkey, light ricotta and reduced-fat cheese, and reduced the amount of both those ingredients. Vegetarians can easily substitute the turkey for crumbles or chopped mushrooms.

baked ziti2

Light & Easy Skinny Baked Ziti
Recipe Type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Q&DK
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 6-8
  • 1 pound ziti pasta
  • Olive oil
  • 1 to 1.5 pounds ground turkey (often sold in 1.3 lb. packages, which is perfect)
  • S/P
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp. fresh thyme or other fresh herb (sub 1 tbsp. dried Italian seasoning if no fresh herbs available)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 large jar marinara sauce (about 32 ounces)
  • 1 heaping cup of light ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Prepare your pasta, drain (reserve 1 tbsp. pasta water), and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with a splash of olive oil and toss with the 1 tbsp. pasta water so the pasta doesn’t stick as you prepare the dish. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray.
  2. Heat a large pan on medium-high with 1 tbsp. olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook a few minutes until fragrant and softened. Add the ground turkey, breaking up and browning. Season with S/P. Continue cooking until the turkey is broken up and browned. Add the herbs and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute.
  3. Spread about 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Add the remaining marinara to the pan with the turkey and stir well. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Remove from heat.
  4. Add half of your pasta to the baking dish and top with spoonfuls of half the ricotta, spread with a spatula as best you can. Add half of the turkey/sauce. Add the remainder of the pasta, ricotta, and turkey/sauce. Top with the cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted (nicely browned) and bubbly around the edges, about 20 minutes.