Thanksgiving Sides

Thanksgiving is upon us!  Time with family, a break from work and school, and great food all mean that there is so much to look forward to!  Here are two new sides you may want to try for Thanksgiving:  Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad and Oven Baked Butternut Squash Risotto.  What’s unique about both of these is that they can meet the special dietary needs- gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, and nut free- of anyone coming to dinner. If you are looking for something easy, yummy and good for everyone, try these!

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Lemon Zest (serves 6)IMG_3114

1-1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts

1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds

1/4 cup yellow raisins

2 peeled hard boiled eggs, diced (optional)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Prepare Brussels sprouts by trimming bottoms and removing discolored or tough outer leaves. In a food processor with a grating attachment (or with a box grater), grate sprouts. Collect into a medium bowl (about 10 ounces total). Toss with sunflower seeds, raisins, and eggs (if using). In a separate small bowl, whisk lemon juice, vinegar and mustard. Drizzle in olive oil, whisking to combine. Add zest and shallots. Toss salad with dressing.

This salad can be served immediately or place in fridge for up to an hour. Toss again before serving and season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Adapted from

Oven Baked Butternut Squash Risotto (serves 6)IMG_3115

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1-1/2 cups Arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and diced (4 cups)

4 cups vegetable stock

1 bunch curly kale (or Lacinato/Tuscan kale), tough stems removed and cut into ½ inch strips (about 4 cups loosely packed)

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium Dutch oven or oven proof pot with a lid, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté shallots until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until edges of rice are translucent, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and add wine. Stir and cook until wine is absorbed. Add squash and stock, bring mixture to a boil. Stir in kale. Cover and transfer to oven. Bake for 20 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Serve hot and garnish with parmesan. Enjoy!

Adapted from Meatless by Martha Stewart


‘Anytime’ Mini Stratas

Mini Stratas

Stratas seem like they’re reserved just for special occasions.  Made from bread and eggs, this dish typically takes some planning including an overnight in the fridge before cooking. That explains the annual strata recipe I make for our family’s Christmas brunch.  But, to my great surprise, I found a brilliant new way to enjoy strata.  Make them MINI.  Thanks to the Power Up Muffins in the 2015 ‘The Dairy Good Cookbook:  Everyday Comfort Food from America’s Dairy Farm Families’, I am sharing my newest favorite strata recipe and calling it ‘Anytime Mini Strata’.  In fact, I just made these after church for my family this weekend.  Not only did everyone enjoy them, they were simple to assemble, sit to soak for only 10 minutes and bake in just 20 minutes. Here it is!

Anytime Mini Strata (makes 1 dozen)Anytime Mini Stratas

6 large eggs

1 cup plan non-fat Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon each:  onion powder, garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup packed spinach, chopped

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

1 cup cubed whole grain bread

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.  Using a whisk, beat eggs in medium bowl with yogurt.  Add up to a tablespoon of water if mixture to thick to blend.  Whisk in onion and garlic powders, salt and pepper.  With a spoon, mix in cheese, bread, spinach and mushrooms.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Stir once again and evenly distribute amongst the 12 muffin cups.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until they are golden brown.  Allow a few minutes to cool before serving. Run a small knife around each to help pop them out of the muffin cups.  Enjoy!

For the Love of Stew!

Ancho Pork and Hominy Stew

Ancho Pork and Hominy Stew

Cool weather has arrived just in time ‘For the Love of Stew‘ this week at Marcel’s in Glen Ellyn.  On Thursday morning, November 12, 9:30-11am I am teaching:  Ancho Pork and Hominy Stew, Lamb & Butternut Squash Stew, and Skillet Jalapeño Cornbread. Come to relax with a cup of coffee while I make deliciously easy recipes for you to taste and enjoy!  These stew recipes are unique as they are each ready in just 30 minutes.  You’ll leave class easily knowing what you are making for dinner that night!  For more information and to register click HERE.  I hope you can join me!

Apple Pie Baked Apples

Apple Pie Baked Apples

It’s apple season!  Empire, Honeycrisp, Fuji, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala… the list of juicy goodness goes on and on.  Which is your favorite?

My 3 boys and I just went apple picking this week. We picked Empire and Honeycrisp. They are both delicious in this recipe.  Apple Pie Baked Apples were the first recipe I made with these freshly picked apples.   They work well as a dessert or a tasty after school snack!  Enjoy!

Apple Pie Baked Apples (serves 4)

We found the biggest apple we have ever picked (and my husband and I have been picking for 27 years!). Quite a prize!

We found the biggest apple we have ever picked (and my husband and I have been picking for 27 years!). Quite a prize!

5 large baking apples (Honeycrisp or Empire)

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 package prepared pie crust dough

Caramel sauce, if desired

In a very small bowl, combine cornstarch with 1 tablespoon warm water. Blend until smooth. Set aside. Peel and dice 1 apple. In a small saucepan, combine diced apple, sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch mixture. Stir constantly for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Slice off the tops of 4 apples. Using spoon (or melon baller), dig out the core (leave the bottom of the apple intact). Spoon the prepared apple filling into the cored apples.

Roll out prepared pie crust dough. With a pizza cutter or paring knife, cut dough into 1/4-inch strips. Working with one apple at a time, lay 3 strips of dough horizontally on top of apple. Weave one additional strip vertically across other strips. Repeat with additional vertical strip. Trim any excess dough from sides of apple. Complete same procedure with other apples.

Prepare an 8×8 baking dish by adding hot water to cover the bottom of the pan. Place apples in pan and cover. Bake in oven for 25 minutes. Uncover, and bake an additional 25 minutes or until crust is browned and apple is soft.

Remove apples onto a serving plate. Drizzle with caramel sauce, if desired.

Teal Pumpkin Project

Teal Pumpkin ProjectKids love Halloween.  What’s not to love?  Trick or Treating?  The CANDY?!  But for many children with food allergies, Halloween can be a very tricky time.  Many traditional Halloween treats aren’t safe for children with life-threatening food allergies.  I know this first hand.  Our 16-year-old son has severe food allergies.  His ‘Trick or Treating’ as a child just meant more candy for his siblings.  I vividly remember him dumping his candy out onto the floor and sorting it into ‘safe’ and ‘give away’ piles.  This was a very important process but unfortunately his ‘safe’ pile only consisted of a few hard candies.

There is an exciting initiative underway to make Halloween a fun positive experience for all!  The Teal Pumpkin Project™ is designed to promote safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies. This nationwide movement offers an alternative for kids with food allergies, as well as other children for whom candy is not an option.  Launched as a national campaign by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) in 2014, the momentum is building with 100,000 households pledging to participate this year!  And, for kids looking for Teal Pumpkin Project™ homes, a neighborhood map will be available.

Do you want to participate?
Participating is simple – Visit FARE’s website to sign the pledge (I signed up this week!), then pick up some inexpensive non-food items (e.g., pencils, stickers, glow sticks), and place a teal pumpkin and/or a free printable sign from FARE outside your home to show that you have non-food treats to hand out. Supporting the Teal Pumpkin Project™ is a simple gesture that can have a big impact.

Please join FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project™ to help us create a safer, happier Halloween for all!

The TEAL PUMPKIN PROJECT and the Teal Pumpkin Image are trademarks of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE)

A Very Special Birthday!

Myplate2yours celebrates 4 years!  Thank you to my friends and followers for your continued interest and encouragement in everything good-tasting & healthy!  My own birthday falls within the same week and this year, these 2 birthdays turned into one very special celebration.  Here is my story in pictures:

I was surprised on my birthday with breakfast in bed, compliments of my 16 year old son!

On my birthday, I was surprised with breakfast in bed, compliments of my 16 year old son! It was very balanced: fresh fruit salad, a bagel and my favorite coffee yogurt!

Just 3 days later, I flew to France to join my husband who was there for business. Here we are in Paris on the top of Notre Dame!

Just 3 days later, I flew to France to join my husband who was there for business. Here we are in Paris on the top of Notre Dame!

Thanks to our friends in Nantes, I was treated to a cooking class for my birthday. Chef Laurent Saudeau of Restaurant Manoir de la Boulaie prepared 6 exquisite dishes in this three hour class.

Thanks to our good friends in Nantes, I was treated to a cooking class for my birthday. Chef Laurent Saudeau of Restaurant Manoir de la Boulaie prepared 6 exquisite dishes in this three hour class.

We returned later that evening for a several course dinner. This was the cheese course. What a real treat!

We returned to Manor de la Boulaie later that evening for a several course meal. This was the cheese course. What a real treat!

We had the privilege of enjoying this lovely lunch on the Brittany coast. These fresh caught langostinos were delicious!

The next day, we had the privilege of enjoying a beautiful day on the Brittany coast and this fresh caught lunch. These steamed langostinos were simply delicious!

It was a wonderful 4 days… but now that I’ve returned (full and happy), I’m refreshed and ready to cook, write and teach. You may just find some French-inspired recipes published soon!

Easy Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan

I have fond memories of enjoying regular home cooked meals during my childhood (thanks, Mom!).  Life seemed a little slower then and certainly more home-centered.  But that doesn’t mean home cooked meals should be a thing of the past.  I will not surrender to statistics that tell me the average American adult buys a meal or snack from a restaurant 5.8 times a week, and more than 30 percent of children eat fast food on any given day.

I have found the key to preparing home cooked meals for my own family, is having the ingredients ‘on hand’.  This requires a little planning or, as in this recipe, having some regular staples in my fridge and pantry (egg, flour, cheese, pasta sauce).  You can quite easily get this meal on the table in 30 minutes or less.  Please let me know how your family enjoys this home cooked dinner!

Chicken Parmesan (serves 4)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

4- 6 ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup jarred tomato pasta sauce

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (preferably Parmesan-Reggiano)

3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (preferably part skim)

Creamy Polenta recipe (see below*)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Collect 3 shallow dishes. In first, combine flour, oregano and salt. In second, place eggs. Place breadcrumbs in third dish.

Coat chicken pieces one at a time in this order: Dredge in flour mixture. Dip in eggs and dredge in breadcrumbs.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook 2 minutes. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and turn chicken over to cook for 2 minutes. Place chicken in oven and bake for 5 minutes. Turn chicken over, top each breast with 1/4 cup sauce, 2 tablespoons parmesan, and 3 tablespoons mozzarella. Bake at lease 5 minutes more until chicken is done (165 degrees).

Serve with a side of pasta that you made while the chicken was baking in the oven. Round out the meal with a simple green or cucumber salad.  Enjoy!

Baked Apple French Toast

Baked Apple French Toast

Here in the Midwest, our fall season is quickly approaching.  And with that, cooler mornings are upon us!  What a perfect time to introduce this easy, yummy breakfast.  It is made the night before and stored in the fridge.  Just bake it for an hour the next morning.  You’ll be filling your kitchen with a wonderful aroma and serving a  nutritionally balanced breakfast to your family!  Let’s welcome Fall together!

Baked Apple French Toast (serves 12)

3 cups nonfat milk

10 large eggs, slightly beaten

1/4 cup honey

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 pound sliced whole grain oatmeal bread

2 large apples, chopped (2 cups)

1/2 cup golden raisins

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1-1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Maple syrup (as desired)

Whisk milk, egg, honey, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Trim crusts from 8 slices of bread. Reserve ‘crustless’ slices. Cut crusts and remaining bread into 1-inch pieces. Toss with apples, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg. Coat a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Transfer bread mixture into pan. Lay the reserved ‘crustless’ bread on top (trim to fit, if needed). Whisk the milk mixture and pour over the bread, to get evenly moist. Cover with parchment and then foil and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (up to 24 hours).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until puffed, set and slightly browned (about 20 minutes more). Let stand out of oven for 10 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with maple syrup. ENJOY!

Recipe adapted from



Are you hosting a party and need a fun idea?  Try CHOPPED!  It was the theme of my youngest son’s end of summer party with his friends.  We split the 8 boys into two teams and charged them with developing 2 dishes:  an appetizer and a dessert.  We fed them dinner in between the competitive sessions.  Here’s how it worked:

4 secret ingredients were given to each team.  They had 10 minutes to plan and brainstorm with their team and 30 minutes to prepare the dish.  I had designated specific areas in the kitchen for each team to plan and prep.

Round 1 ingredients: Sundried tomatoes, cream cheese, pickles and ramen noodles

Round 1 ingredients: Sundried tomatoes, cream cheese, pickles and ramen noodles

Round 2 ingredients: Crescent rolls, fresh apricots, dolce de leche, fresh mint

Round 2 ingredients: Crescent rolls, fresh apricots, dolce de leche, fresh mint


There was also a ‘pantry’ area of ingredients the teams could freely use in their recipes.  When the 30 minutes ended, we had the boys present their finished dish to the judges.  There were 4 judges who rated each dish on a 3-point scale for creativity, taste, and presentation. Everyone had a lot of fun and the final dishes were really creative for this group of rising 7th grade boys!


I do think adults would enjoy this party, too.  Maybe a few guests could volunteer to be the judges.  Please let me know if you do host a Chopped! party, too…. I’d love to hear your ideas!

This is the second group's dessert: a chocolate filled crescent roll with a fresh apricot garnished with whipped cream and mint

This is the second group’s dessert: a chocolate filled crescent roll with a fresh apricot garnished with whipped cream and mint


I didn’t snap any photos of the first round appetizers but did get the two desserts! Here is one: a crescent roll filled with apricot and a creamy layered chocolate cup