Spinach Artichoke Quinoa Egg Bake


Try the traditional pairing of spinach and artichokes with the ancient grain quinoa baked together with eggs and cheese.  The result?  Deliciousness!!

This is a great brunch recipe.  To prep this ahead of time, simply follow the recipe through until the step”Preheat the oven”.  The contents of the 9 x 13 pan can be covered and placed in the refrigerator.  When ready to cook, remove the dish from the refrigerator, uncover and finish the recipe.  Enjoy!

Spinach, Artichoke, Quinoa Egg Bake (serves 8-10)

1-1/2 cups quinoa, uncooked

1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups milk

4 eggs

1-14 ounce can artichokes, drained and chopped and drained again

10 ounce package of spinach

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1-1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/2 teaspoon each:  salt and freshly ground pepper

In a medium pot, heat 3 cups water until boiling. Add quinoa, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 12 minutes until water absorbed and quinoa unravels. Prepare 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Pour cooked quinoa into baking dish.

Preheat large skillet on medium heat and add olive oil. Sauté onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Add artichoke and spinach. Add contents of skillet to quinoa in baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Mix to combine.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together milk and eggs. Mix in Parmesan and 1 cup mozzarella. Pour into baking dish and gently mix into contents. Sprinkle casserole with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella. Bake for 30 minutes and serve hot.

5-Spice Glazed Chicken and Rice Bowl


Sometimes I want a meal that boasts big flavor.  This one does!  If you have ever cooked with Chinese Five Spice (typically a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Szechwan peppercorns), you know it is a culinary treat.  I learned that a few years ago with one of my slow cooker recipes, Chinese Five Spice Pork.  This will be a great recipe to reference if you like the flavor of 5-Spice Glazed Chicken and Rice Bowl.  The ingredient list may look long in this new recipe, but I’ve bolded the ones that get repeated in both the marinade and the glaze.  It’s really very manageable… I made it again for dinner this past weekend!  Enjoy!

5-Spice Glazed Chicken and Rice Bowl (serves 4)

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (at least 4 pieces)

Marinade ingredients:

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon mirin*

1 teaspoon GF soy sauce

1-1/2 teaspoons sugar

Glaze ingredients:

1/4 cup mirin*

1/2 cup GF soy sauce

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup chicken stock

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice


2 cups cooked brown rice

1 cup shredded carrots

1/2 cup shredded scallions

1 cup frozen, shelled edamame, thawed

Sesame seeds, for garnish

In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, mix the marinade ingredients. Place chicken in a ziplock bag and coat with the marinade. Place in fridge to marinade for 15 minutes, up to one hour.

To make the glaze, combine the first four ingredients in a small saucepan. Gently heat to dissolve the sugar. Mix cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water. Add to the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer. Add the rice vinegar and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon 5-spice and cook for 5 minutes or until the mixture is thickened, stirring occasionally.

In a 10 inch skillet with medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Pan fry the chicken, 5 minutes on both sides. Baste chicken with sauce before turning and again on other side. Cook until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

To assemble bowls, spoon rice into the bottom of each serving bowl and drizzle sauce on top. Stripe with shredded carrots, green onion and edamame. Slice chicken and place on top and drizzle with more sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.  YUMMY!!!

*Mirin is a Japanese rice wine that provides a mildly sweet acidity to a recipe. It’s used in many Asian-inspired dishes. Mirin is easy to find in the Asian food section of conventional grocery stores.  But if you need a substitute, you can use dry sherry, dry white wine, and rice vinegar by adding 1/2 teaspoon sugar for every tablespoon needed.

Overnight Oatmeal with Apples and Maple Syrup

Overnight Oats

A hot breakfast is a welcome start to any day this winter in Chicago!  This recipe is a breeze since it cooks overnight and is ready as soon as you are in the morning.  Simply prep the ingredients in the slow cooker at night and set on low for 7-10 hours.  You’ll be happy to have this hot breakfast waiting for you the next morning!  And any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated for breakfast or snack time throughout the week.

Overnight Oatmeal with Apples and Maple Syrup (serves 6)

2 apples, sliced and cut into ½ pieces

1-½ cups low fat milkOvernight oats 3

2 cups water

1 cup uncooked steel-oats

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons of maple syrup

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground flax seed

Optional toppings: Chopped nuts, maple syrup, additional milk

If needed, coat inside of slow cooker with cooking spray. Add all ingredients (except toppings) to slow cooker. Stir, cover and cook on low for 7-10 hours

Serve oatmeal into bowls. Add optional toppings. 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 www.eatingwell.com

Homemade Whole Grain Crackers

Homemade crackers

It is sometimes hard to find tasty, pre-packaged, whole grain crackers. That’s why I am excited to share this recipe with you!  It is amazingly easy (trust me!) and there are so many variations to try:  cheese, herbs, spices, nuts and seeds.  These will be a perfect addition to any favorite dips or spreads you may be bringing to parties this season.  Be ready to impress your friends!

I have also provided a gluten-free version of this recipe (see parenthesis) that my friend Suzanne shared.  Please share any variations that you create of this recipe, too! Enjoy!

Thanks, Suzanne!  These crackers look delish!

Thanks, Suzanne! These crackers look delish!

Homemade Whole Grain Crackers (makes 6 dozen, 1-inch crackers)

1 cup all purpose flour (Gluten-free baking flour)

1 cup whole wheat flour (almond meal)

1/4 cup ground flaxseed (chia seeds)

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup warm water

1/3 cup olive oil plus 1 tablespoon for baking sheets

Coarsely ground sea salt

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the flours, flaxseed and salt in a large bowl. Add the warm water, and olive oil to bowl, and stir until all the flour is absorbed (less than a minute).

Divide dough in half, form dough into an oblong shape. Spread dough halves onto 2 baking sheets prepared with oil. First, smooth and shape dough with oiled fingers. Then, with an oiled rolling pin, roll dough to even thickness (about 1/8 inch). Rough edges are perfectly fine! Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into 1-inch squares. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden. The crackers will continue to harden after they cool. Remove from pan with a metal spatula and allow to cool completely before serving.  Store leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer.  If crackers become soft, they can be baked again, 20-25 minutes at 325 degrees.  Enjoy!

Jack O Lantern Quesadillas with Midnight Salsa

Jack O Lantern Quesadilla

Maddie’s quesadilla at ‘Kid’s Halloween Class’ October 25, 2014

Another fun recipe for Halloween that is sure to put a smile on your kids’ faces.  All you need are whole grain tortillas, beans and shredded cheddar; they bake in the oven for just 10 minutes.  You can serve them with your favorite salsa but I provided a recipe for ‘Midnight Salsa’ for you to try. Enjoy!

Jack O’ Lantern Quesadillas (makes 4)

8 small whole grain soft tortillas

1 cup canned refried beans (fat-free)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a tortilla on a cutting board. With the sharp tip of a paring knife, carve triangle shapes for eyes and a crescent shape for the mouth. Repeat with 3 more tortillas. Place the other four tortillas on a baking sheet, spread each with a 1/4 cup of beans. Sprinkle each with a 1/4 cup of cheese. Next, top each with the carved tortilla and place in oven for 10 minutes (until cheese is bubbly and browning begins). Serve with Midnight Salsa*.

*Midnight Salsa (makes 2 cups)

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup corn kernels

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes

1/3 cup chopped red onion

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon cumin

Place all ingredients into a small bowl. Toss well and chill for 20 minutes.

Meatless Monday: Tuscan Quinoa Casserole



What I love about this dish is the hefty load of veggies that are nicely and flavorfully incorporated into this casserole.  Serve it as a main dish or a side.  It works well in both roles!

Tuscan Bean and Vegetable Quinoa Casserole (serves 6)

1-1/2 cups quinoa, dry

2 tablespoons olive oilTuscan Quinoa Casserole

2 cloves garlic, minced

15 ounce can chick peas, rinsed and drained

1 zucchini, diced

2 bell peppers, 1 red/1 yellow, diced

1 large carrot, diced (or 1 cup baby carrots, sliced)

1/2 cup diced red onion (1/2 large)

juice from 1/2 lemon

3/4 cup parsley, chopped

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup skim milk

1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Red pepper flakes, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook quinoa as directed per package, undercook by 5 minutes.

In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté garlic and vegetables (zucchini, bell peppers, carrots, red onion) in olive oil until vegetables are tender. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, sautéed vegetables, lemon juice, and parsley. Stir in milk and cheese. Add red pepper flakes, to taste. Transfer to a prepared 9×13 baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Bake 30 minutes uncovered. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Homemade Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

This week, my friend Mary Ann found a large zucchini hiding under a big leaf in her garden.  Have you found one too?

image Whether its from your garden or a farmers’ market this weekend, I have two ideas for you!  First, a delicious quick bread adapted from a Whole Foods’ recipe.

And, if you’re looking for a main dish, my Stuffed Zucchini Italian Style is a favorite.

Either way, please use that zucchini, it needs to be enjoyed!



Zucchini Bread (makes 3 mini loaves or 1 large loaf)

1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 egg

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup grated zucchini

1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray mini loaf pans with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, oil, applesauce, yogurt, sugar and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the whisked mixture and stir until well combined. Next, fold in zucchini and walnuts.

Transfer the batter to the sprayed pan and bake for 30 minutes (for mini loaves) or 50 to 60 minutes (for large loaf). The bread should have risen and will be deep golden brown.

Cool in pan on rack for 30 minutes then remove bread from pan and continue cooling on rack.


Kids Eat Right! Strawberry Stuffed French Toast

KER_MonthAugust is Kids Eat Right month!  It is a great time for families to focus on healthy eating  and active lifestyles as we begin a new school year. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is encouraging families to take the following steps:

Shop Smart. To encourage a healthy lifestyle, get your children involved in selecting the food that will appear at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table.

Cook Healthy. Involve your child in the cutting, mixing and preparation of meals. They will learn about food and may even be enticed to try new foods they helped prepare.

Eat Right. Sit down together as a family to enjoy a wonderful meal and the opportunity to share the day’s experiences with one another. Research indicates that those families who eat together have a stronger bond, and children have higher self-confidence and perform better in school.

Healthy Habits. You can help kids form great, healthy habits by setting a good example. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, choose lower-sodium options, and make at least half the grains your family eats whole grains. For beverages, choose water over sugary drinks, and opt for fat-free or low-fat milk.

Get Moving. Aside from being a great way to spend time together, regular physical activity is vital to strengthen muscle and bones, promote a healthy body weight, support learning, develop social skills and build self-esteem. Kids are encouraged to be active for 60 minutes per day.

Getting kids to eat right can sometimes be a challenge, particularly if they are picky eaters. But experts say that a conversation can help. “Talk to your children. Learn the foods they like. Teach them about the foods they need for their growing bodies. Find ways together to make sure they have the knowledge and ability to eat healthy and tasty foods at every meal,” says Angela Lemond, registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson.

Helping families eat healthy is what Myplate2yours is about!  Just this week, I’ve had the opportunity to teach a 2-day little kids cooking camp called ‘Farm to Plate’.  Here is a favorite recipe from a similar class earlier this year.  Enjoy!

Strawberry Stuffed French Toast

Stuffed French Toast with Strawberry Sauce (makes 6 slices)

6 slices whole grain white bread

4 eggs

1 tablespoon skim milk

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

10 fresh strawberries, sliced

1/2 cup strawberry fruit spread

1 tablespoon Earth Balance spread (or butter)

Wisk eggs in a shallow bowl with milk and cinnamon. Combine strawberries and fruit spread in a small microwavable bowl. Heat in microwave for 1 minute. Stir and set aside. Heat large skillet, add 1/2 tablespoon Earth Balance and allow to melt. Dip 3 slices bread in egg mixture and cook on skillet, about 2 minutes per side. Remove slices to a clean and dry cutting board. Repeat with remaining 3 slices of bread. Using a 2 inch biscuit or round cookie cutter, cut a hole in center of toast. On individual plates, place one slice of bread, and fill with 2 tablespoons strawberry mixture. Top with toast round. Repeat with remaining 5 slices. Serve with powdered sugar and maple syrup. Enjoy!

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta Bowl

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta

I’ve made this dish several times.  Last night, my kids asked me why I haven’t shared it.  I guess it’s because I never had a picture of the finished recipe…so I snapped this photo right in the middle of dinner!

The butternut squash develops a nice sweetness when roasted which complements the fresh spinach and roasted onions.  The parmesan cheese brings all the flavors together.  It’s so YUMMY!  It’s so EASY!  Enjoy!

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta Bowl (serves 6)

1 pound pasta (I prefer Barilla Plus Rotini pasta for this dish)

1 medium butternut squash (about 2-1/2 pounds, peeled and diced*  (or 2 pounds packaged/pre-diced)

1 medium onion, large diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups fresh baby spinach

2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

*A butternut squash can be intimidating to dice.  My method is to divide and conquer!  Using a sharp chef’s knife, cut off the neck of the squash.  Then cut the squash ‘bowl’ in half.  With a large spoon, carve out the seeds and stringy pulp.  With a vegetable peeler, peel the skin off all three sections.  Dice the peeled squash.  I hope you’ll find that dicing a butternut squash is very manageable when the squash is divided into sections.  Another option is to purchase the squash already peeled and diced!  

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place diced squash, onion, and garlic on a baking sheet.  Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast high in oven for 30 minutes.

With 15 minutes remaining, prepare pasta according to package directions.  Place 2 cups of spinach in a large pasta bowl.  Add 2/3 pound of hot pasta.  Add roasted vegetables.  Toss with parmesan cheese.  Add more pasta, if desired.  Season with salt and pepper, if needed.  Enjoy!