Changing for the better, one bite and (deep) breath at a time.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Guest Blogger: Brown Rice Penne Bake with Chicken Sausage

I am so thrilled and honored to be doing a guest post for my fabulous sister’s blog.  I am not what you would call a Chopped champion, Iron Chef, or Julia Child; therefore, I was very hesitant to try out a new recipe, all the while taking photos and pretending I know what I am doing.  Luckily, I was able to find a very simple recipe on Pinterest (inspired by this Real Mom Kitchen recipe), which I changed a little bit to make more Nutrition Transitions friendly :)
If you are looking for a quick, simple, hearty, delicious, Italian, somewhat rich, amazing, drool-worthy recipe…then this is definitely it! 
Here are the ingredients you will need to whip up this decadent dish:
1 bag of Organic Brown Rice Penne Pasta
1 jar of Alfredo Sauce (15 oz)
1 jar of Organic Marinara Sauce (26 oz)
2 cups of shredded Organic Mozzarella Cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
4 Smoked Andouille Chicken Sausages (precooked)
(I purchased all of my ingredients from Trader Joe’s, I love the one-stop-shopping and of course 3 buck chuck.)
Cook brown rice pasta according to directions and drain.  Mix the sauces together in a large bowl.

Add the mozzarella to the sauces and stir to combine, then throw (not literally) in the penne and toss to coat.

Pour pasta into 9x13 baking dish then add the sliced chicken sausage.  Cook at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with shredded parmesan cheese, then bake for another 5 minutes. 

My happy (and salivating) helpers:

I paired the main dish with a side salad and some delicious roasted garlic and thyme bread (and duh, 3 buck chuck) and my husband LOVED it!!  It makes more than enough for 2 so we will be having leftovers for days...oh darn. 


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Visit to Earthbound Farms

On our trip to Carmel a few weeks ago, we stopped by Earthbound Farms Farm Stand Market and Organic Cafe.  This farm stand is located just down the road from the 2.5-acre backyard farm that started Earthbound Farm's entire enterprise.  I thought I had heard of Earthbound Farms before, but it wasn't until I saw the label on their products did I realize that I often buy their spinach and salad greens at Whole Foods or other grocery stores.

Look familiar?  I was even more excited to see where my favorite baby spinach was grown!

The Farm Stand Market and Organic Cafe was the 3rd certified organic kitchen in the entire U.S.  They have awesome produce grown on their own farms, plus flowers, meats, frozen and canned products, and baked goods, all organic.   

I saw this Happy Girl Kitchen Company while driving through Pacific Grove on our way home from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Turns out the Farm Stand sells their marmelade, too.  I just love the name.  How can you not smile?

Despite being super pregnant-nauseous, I loved checking out the beautiful produce.

Even frozen organic products!

Look at this!  Yum!

Organic salad bar.  Fantastic.

We definitely bought some of their famous carrot cake to take home for our 4th of July celebration.

Too bad we had just eaten lunch!  This looked awesome.

I've always had a thing for dried flowers.

Walking back to the car...wouldn't this be cool as your backdrop during the work week?

Bye Earthbound!


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Fig and Goat Cheese Crostini

When I spoke at the North Scottsdale Farmers Market 2nd anniversary celebration a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sampling a delicious crostini appetizer from Leonardo and Roberto's Gourmet Blends.  This local company sells flavored, gourmet vinegars and olive oils at farmers markets and online.  They feature unique flavors, such as Black Current Balsamic Vinegar and Blood Orange Olive Oil, are delicious on salads, entrees, side dishes, and even desserts!  Check out some of their awesome recipes here.

An amazing and thoughtful client of mine who came to the anniversary event bought me a bottle of the Vanilla Fig Balsamic Vinegar, knowing that I loved the flavor.  The folks from Gourmet Blends were also sampling this flavor as part of their fig and goat cheese crostini.  We inquired about the ingredients and decided to make our own crostini during a recent trip to Carmel.  I didn't bring the vinegar with me, as I didn't want to spill it in my suitcase, but I highly recommend that you pick up some of this awesome vinegar and try it out yourself.  Our finished product tasted pretty similar to what we sampled, so hopefully the recipe is close enough to the real deal!

The best thing about this recipe?  It looks fancy and has a complicated flavor profile but is super simple to make.  This crostini is going into my cocktail party arsenal!


French baguette, sliced
8 oz goat cheese
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
Jar of fig butter
Leonardo and Roberto's Gourmet Blends Vanilla Fig Balsamic Vinegar


Assemble ingredients.

Mix walnuts and goat cheese in a small bowl.  You can add more or fewer walnuts, depending on your preference.

Place the sliced bread on a baking sheet and pop it in the oven at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes, or until lightly toasted.  You can also broil at 450 degrees for 3-5 minutes.  Don't bake/broil it for too long or it will become hard to chew.

Once the bread is toasty warm, spread each piece with fig butter.  We bought ours at Trader Joe's.

Top each crostini with some of the goat cheese walnut spread.  Again, you can use more or less than I did to your preference.  I used 1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons per piece.

Now here's the fun part.  Drizzle each crostini with vanilla fig balsamic vinegar.  Here I used balsamic vinegar glaze, which is a bit thicker than regular vinegar, and it was definitely delicious.  However, I missed the hint of vanilla and fig!

Here was my presentation to the family.  Pretty, huh?

Official taste testers.  The verdict?  Delicious.