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Tag Archives: quick and easy dinner

Balsamic Penne Caprese with Spinach

Stay at home week 9. We officially have a two month old (on Sunday the 17th) and I cannot believe how time flies in a matter of a snap. I kind of wish time would go quicker so I can have family and friends over again, be close enough to hug again, enjoy a brunch cocktail at a restaurant again, but all in good time. This time spent at home with Rowen is something that not many new moms experience so I am eternally grateful to have this special bond with him, and more time with my husband too. Having more time at home also allows me to be in my kitchen more which I will never complain about.

I’m going to officially call this week pasta week, because I’ve made pasta twice already, including the dish I’m sharing on the blog today: penne pasta with tomato and mozzarella (caprese) tossed in a homemade balsamic sauce/glaze with sautéed spinach. As most recipes do, this one came to me in the shower. Don’t judge me. I think a lot in the shower and I had a vision for a lighter, vegetable-based, with a touch of sweetness pasta dinner that would be good with a variety of mix-ins. Caprese, which is simply tomato and mozzarella, is delicious on its own, so to throw it together with penne pasta, a homemade balsamic glaze, and add in some spinach, what’s not to love?

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pkg penne pasta ( I did NOT make this recipe gluten free but I imagine any gluten free pasta would do, Banza in particular or Jovial – found on Thrive Market – link to the site on the banner on the right!)
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 pint fresh mozzarella balls “ciliegine” style (size of a cherry tomato)
  • 1 tbsp butter or olive oil (to sauté the spinach)
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • Oregano
  • Dried Basil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For the pasta:

  • Sauté the spinach on the stove with the butter and set aside (the spinach will wilt and become half the portion you put in).
  • Take out the mozzarella balls from its container and put into a separate bowl to let them dry. Rinse and quarter the grape tomatoes – set aside as well.
  • Prepare your pasta as described by the package and drain. Pour pasta into a large serving bowl.

For the balsamic:

  • Pour the cup of balsamic into a small sauce pan on medium heat.
  • Add in the coconut or brown sugar and maple syrup.
  • Whisk together and bring to a boil, stir for 3-4 minutes until it becomes a little thicker.
  • Turn off heat or set to a very low flame, be careful not to burn.

Combine the tomatoes, mozzarella, spinach in with the pasta and mix. Pour the balsamic sauce/glaze all over and mix together. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, dried basil, and oregano. Serve with a side of garlic bread, a glass of Montepulciano, and a new show on Netflix and you’ve got yourself a great evening. NOMaste 🙂

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Paleo Chicken Nuggets

Hi my name is Morgan and I am a five year old when it comes to chicken nuggets or tenders. Whenever hubby and I go to Citi Field for a Mets game (LGM!) I always get the same. exact. thing: Chicken tenders and french fries with a shake (from Shake Shack because duh…). I’ve ventured off the beaten path once and got a sausage and peppers, and the game wasn’t the same. What’s not to love about tenders and nuggets? They’re crispy, fried, juicy, and honey mustard makes for the perfect pairing. No questions asked.

I love using cassava flour to make nuggets, tenders, and cutlets because not only is it grain/gluten free, it’s provides such a depth of flavor from the yucca root itself. I use Thrive Market’s Cassava Flour – found here (also if you use the banner, you can get $20 shopping credit when you sign up for a membership!) and love the texture of it. Cassava is also super versatile and is usually a 1:1 ratio for subbing out AP flour when baking. The way the chicken crisps up when battered in cassava flour is very similar to using breadcrumbs.

Here’s what you’ll need for these paleo nuggets:

  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Thrive Market Non-GMO Cassava Flour (or preferred brand)
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried thyme
  • Dried rosemary
  • 4 tbsp avocado/olive oil
  • 3 tbsp grass fed butter
    • having a blend of healthy fats to shallow fry the chicken in helps with the crispiness and less splatter.
  • dipping sauce of choice
    • we used Cedar Foods tzatziki sauce.

For these nuggets, it’s as simple as a four-step process:

  1. Rinse and pat dry your chicken. Slice each breast into bite size pieces.
  2. Pour the cassava flour and dried spices into a large bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. Add chicken pieces to the flour and mix together to fully coat each piece.
  4. Heat a skillet/large pan with oil and butter on medium heat and begin to place several pieces into the skillet. Let each piece sit for 3-4 minutes per side. Repeat until all chicken is cooked.

I swear this will become a family favorite, and will definitely be a weeknight go-to as this is one simple and quick dinner to pull together, especially if you have the chicken cut ahead of time. This could be delicious as chicken alfredo, thrown in with some broccoli for a stir fry, or just as is with a dip and veggies on the side!