Pesto Bites with Red Pepper Flakes

Toasted bread rounds with nutty basil pesto, gooey mozzarella and red pepper flakes. You need just 4 ingredients, but the flavor explosion is undeniable. And, these winning, cheesy bites make a great party appetizer - especially because they're ready in less than 20 minutes!

Pesto Bites with Red Pepper Flakes

6 slices white bread
1/4 cup prepared basil pesto (I prefer the refrigerated variety)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Use a rolling pin to roll out each piece of bread until 1/8-inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter to cut circles from the bread (I got 2 circles per slice without very much waste).
Spread the pesto on one side of the rounds and place the bread on the prepared pan.
Sprinkle the top with the mozzarella cheese. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, until the cheese melts.
Sprinkle the top with red pepper flakes before serving.
Makes 12 rounds (depending on the size of your bread)

Ham and Cheddar Roll-Ups with Buttery Honey-Mustard Glaze

Black Forest ham and sharp cheddar cheese, rolled into tender noodles and brushed with a zesty honey-Dijon blend (kicked up with onion and garlic). A quick bake in the oven and the cheese melts, the ham warms through, and the honey mixture melds into the pasta. These roll-ups will definitely excite your palate.

I made this for dinner with what I had on hand and soon realized that it's an excellent way to clean out your deli-meat-drawer! I used ham, but you could use turkey, pastrami, salami, roast beef, etc. Same with the cheese, try Swiss, mozzarella, pepper jack, whatever you have handy.

Why did I use ghee?  First a quick primer. Ghee is 100% golden, flavorful, clarified butter. To create ghee, butterfat is simmered until the oil separates from the other components (namely water and milk). The components are strained off and what's left is ghee, free of lactose and the milk protein casein (great for folks who can't consume dairy products). I like using ghee not only for its beautiful flavor, but because it's more heat stable, meaning it has a higher smoke point and doesn't burn as quickly (regular butter can burn at 350 degrees, whereas ghee can withstand heat up to 485 degrees). That's great news for folks who want to pan-fry with butter without burning the dish. In this recipe, I just love the velvety quality it adds to the honey mixture.

About the serving size: I used 12 noodles so there are 3 roll-ups per serving. Use 16 noodles if you want to serve 4 roll-ups per person.

Ham and Cheddar Roll-Ups with Buttery Honey-Mustard Glaze

Cooking spray
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
8 ounces thinly sliced or shredded cheddar cheese
8 ounces sliced ham of choice (I like honey and Black Forest)
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon ghee or unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a roasting pan with cooking spray.
Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and arrange the noodles in a single layer on a large piece of foil. Top the noodles with the cheese and then the ham. Tightly roll up and secure the rolls with wooden picks. Arrange the roll-ups side-by-side in the prepared pan.
In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, ghee (or butter), mustard, onion, and garlic. Brush the mixture all over the top and sides of the roll-ups (you can move them a little so you get all sides).
Season the top with salt and pepper.
Cover with foil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese melts and the roll-ups are hot.
Serves 4




Tex Mex Twice Baked Potatoes

Check out that filling! It's loaded with fajita flavors (chili, cumin, garlic, onion), seasoned black beans, and cheddar, cheddar, cheddar. Creamy spuds, popping with beans. Tons of fun on the tongue. So easy too...

Tex Mex Twice Baked Potatoes

2 large russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
1 cup seasoned black beans (from a 15-ounce can) - save the rest for nachos later in the week!
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons fajita seasoning or taco seasoning of choice (or 1/2 teaspoon each chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
Fresh cilantro leaves, optional
Salsa of choice for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until tender. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Remove the potatoes from the oven and, when cool enough to handle, halve them lengthwise. Scoop out all but 1/4-inch of the flesh and transfer the flesh to a bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the cheese, butter and seasoning and stir to combine. Once the cheese has melted, fold in the beans.
Spoon the mixture back into the hollowed-out potato shells. Top with the remaining cheese.
Transfer the potatoes to a shallow baking dish and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese melts. Top with cilantro leaves (if using) and serve with salsa on the side.


Serves 4

Texas Style Oven Roasted Potatoes

Golden potatoes, caramelized bell pepper, and a seasoning blast of chili, cumin, onion, garlic, and paprika - an explosion of flavor in every bite. Plus, this is a quick and easy (and healthy) side dish you can whip up any night of the week.

Want to skip making the spice blend? I won't judge. Instead of the using the spices below (chili powder through black pepper), use 1 tablespoon powdered taco seasoning or fajita seasoning.

Texas Style Oven Roasted Potatoes

4 russet potatoes (or any potato of choice), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces (if you use Yukon gold or red potatoes, you can leave the skin on if you want)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon ground chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Green onions for serving, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (you can also use a large, ovenproof skillet if you have the room to arrange the potatoes in a single layer; I transferred my roasted potatoes to this pretty skillet after they were cooked).
Place the potatoes and bell pepper in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and toss to coat. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and stir to coat. Transfer the potatoes to the prepared pan and roast for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown and tender, stirring once during cooking.
Top with green onions before serving if desired.
Serves 4



Hasselback Turkey Tenderloin with Bacon, Cheddar and Ranch

Talk about flavortown! Moist turkey, smoky bacon, sharp cheddar, and ranch! The flavors work perfectly together in this quick and easy, crowd-pleasing dinner.

About the turkey: Turkey breast tenderloin is sold next to the other turkey products in the meat department. It looks more like a pork tenderloin than a turkey breast. You need about 1 1/2 pounds for 4 people. If you find a bigger one, plan for leftovers. If you find a smaller one, get two.

Want to use pork tenderloin instead? Go for it! The instructions and cooking time stay the same.

About the bacon: This recipe calls for cooked bacon, so you can choose how you want to cook those strips. I prefer roasting them and here's how to do it: Arrange the bacon strips on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, until browned but still chewy (you don't want the bacon super crisp because it cooks more after it's stuffed into the turkey; plus, the fat in the bacon helps keep the lean meat moist during roasting).

Hasselback Turkey Tenderloin with Bacon, Cheddar and Ranch

Cooking spray
6 strips bacon, cooked until browned but still chewy
1 turkey tenderloin, about 1 1/2 pounds
1 tablespoon powdered ranch dip or dressing mix (trust me on this, it works)
Salt and ground black pepper
4-6 ounces thinly sliced sharp cheddar cheese
Green onions for serving, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a shallow roasting pan with cooking spray.
Using a sharp knife, make several cuts into the turkey, about 1 1/2-inches down into the flesh (I like to make the cuts on a slight diagonal, not straight up and down). Make the slices about 1 1/2 inches apart.
Cut the cooked bacon into smaller pieces and stuff the pieces into the turkey. Arrange the cheese slices next to the bacon. Sprinkle the turkey with the ranch mix (it's ok if some gets on the bacon and cheese). Season with salt and pepper.
Roast for 25 minutes, until the turkey is cooked through (165 with an instant-read thermometer).
Serve with chopped green onions sprinkled over top if desired.
Serves 4

Beefy One Pot Lasagna Stew

All the flavors and textures of lasagna, but eaten with a spoon! I love lasagna - tender noodles, thick, rich sauce, seasoned beef, and (of course) LOADS of cheese. But sometimes I think the ratio is off. I always seem to want more sauce. I researched recipes for lasagna "soup" and I thought, "Interesting, but... no". Too brothy. That lead me to this lasagna STEW! It's got the perfect noodle-sauce-cheese ratio. And the best part? It comes together on the stove-top in 1 pot, in less than 20 minutes.

I used beef, but...: If you like sausage in your lasagna, use sweet or hot Italian sausage instead of the beef. It's as easy as that.

Want a meat-free version? Leave out the ground beef and add 10 ounces of baby spinach leaves to the mixture when you fold in the parmesan cheese (right at the end). Since it's a stew, you can add practically any vegetable you want - I think zucchini and green peas would be great in there too.

Beefy One Pot Lasagna Stew

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound lean ground beef or Italian sausage (mild or hot)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups beef broth or chicken broth
2 cups tomato sauce
8 ounces lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch pieces (about 10 noodles)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling over top if desired
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Fresh parsley or basil leaves, optional

Heat the oil in a large stock pot or Dutch over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until soft. Add the beef and cook until browned, breaking up the meat as it cooks. If necessary, drain away any fat.
Add the oregano, basil, salt, and pepper and stir to coat. Cook for 1 minute, until the herbs are fragrant. Add the broth and tomato sauce and bring to a gentle boil. Add the lasagna noodles and cook for 10 minutes, until the noodles are tender, stirring occasionally to make sure the noodles don't stick to the bottom of the pan. Stir in the 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and simmer until the cheese melts.
Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the mozzarella cheese and parsley or basil leaves (if using). Serve with extra parmesan cheese on the side if desired.
Serves 4


Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Pink Salt

Brushed with olive oil and scented with garlic, these cauliflower "steaks" are perfectly roasted until the florets are caramelized and the center is tender. A quick sprinkle of pink salt and this simple side dish makes a stunning presentation.

Cauliflower "steaks" are uber trendy these days. And I get it - the meaty vegetable cooks up like a hearty steak when sliced and cooked just so. But what I love most is the ease of preparation! Get four slices from 1 head of cauliflower and you're ready to cook (I don't know about you, but I find cutting the florets off the head super messy - little white nuggets of cauliflower somehow end up all over my floor).

About the salt: I chose Himalayan pink salt for its distinctive rose-like color and incredible crunch. On the nutritional front, Himalayan salt prized for its essential minerals (84 to be exact) not found in regular table salt. Aside from sodium, Himalayan salt is high in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, and chloride, and contains traces of boron, fluoride, iodine, zinc, selenium, and copper, all of which are necessary for bodily health. Plus, Himalayan salt is naturally occuring, so it contains all these minerals without chemical processing. You can find Himalayan salt in the spice aisle next to the other salt varieties.

Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Pink Salt
Don't worry if some of the florets fall off the "steaks" as you slice, just add them to the baking sheet with the other pieces. 

1 large head cauliflower, sliced lengthwise through the core into 4 "steaks"
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Pink Himalayan salt
Ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Arrange the cauliflower steaks on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with the olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder. Roast for 15 minutes. Gently flip over the steaks, brush the second side with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder.
Return the cauliflower to the oven and roast for 10 to 15 more minutes, until tender and golden brown.
Top with the pink salt and black pepper before serving.
Serves 4

Grilled Zucchini Pepperoni Pizzas


Gluten-free pepperoni pizzas! What I LOVE about these pizza flats is the layers of flavor that seem to go on forever. First, there's the grilled zucchini base - what's better than grill marks (and the grilled flavor) on this versatile vegetable? Then, there's tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni. A quick, 10-minute bake in the oven and the sauce bubbles, the cheese melts and the corners of the pepperoni get perfectly toasted. A true delight on every culinary level.

Grilled Zucchini Pepperoni Pizzas
I served this as a side dish, but it clearly makes a stellar, gluten-free main dish and fun party appetizer! 

Cooking spray
2 large zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick strips
Salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup marinara or pizza sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
8 slices pepperoni, cut into small wedges
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Coat a stove-top grill pan or griddle with cooking spray and preheat to medium-high.
Place the zucchini on the hot pan and grill for 2 minutes per side, until you get nice grill marks. Season both sides with salt and pepper and arrange the zucchini slices on the prepared baking sheet. Top the slices with the sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, and parmesan. Bake for 10 minutes, until the cheese melts. 
Serves 4

Deconstructed Cheesy Beef Enchiladas

A savory mixture of ground beef and rice, smothered in salsa and cheese and peppered with corn tortilla wedges (on the bottom and top!). Much easier than rolling up enchiladas, but you get the same flavor explosion.

No need for rolling those tortillas! Let's face it, sometimes those "soft" corn tortillas crack when you roll them. Yes, we can cover those cracks with salsa and cheese, but it's frustrating nonetheless. No need to worry about that here!

Use taco seasoning if you want: I blended a bunch of seasonings to create a mixture that resembles store-bought taco seasoning. Feel free to use ready-made seasoning instead of the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano.

Want to prep ahead? Smart move - that's what I did. Assemble the "casserole" as instructed below and, before baking, cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate up to 24 hours. Pull the pan from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking (this ensures even cooking).

Deconstructed Cheesy Beef Enchiladas

1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups beef broth, divided
1 cup uncooked rice
1 tablespoon butter
4 corn tortillas, cut into wedges
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup salsa of choice, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Torn cilantro leaves, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a shallow baking dish with cooking spray.
Brown the beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up the meat as it cooks. If necessary, drain away any fat and return the beef to the skillet. Add the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt, and pepper and stir to coat. Cook for 1 minute, until the herbs and spices are fragrant. Add 1/2 cup of the beef broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the rice, butter and remaining 2 cups of broth. Set the pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the rice to the beef and stir to combine.
Arrange half of the tortilla wedges in the bottom of the prepared pan. Spoon the beef mixture over top. Nestle the remaining tortilla wedges into the beef mixture (you can arrange them however you want). Sprinkle both cheeses over top and spoon over the salsa. Sprinkle the top with the paprika.
Bake for 10 minutes, until the cheese melts.
Serve with extra salsa on the side.
Serves 4

Baked Honey "Fried" Chicken

I hardly know where to start... Perhaps WOW would be a good place. It certainly seems appropriate. I mean, this chicken is to-die-for. Golden brown, crunchy crust, sweet and savory coating, super moist chicken. And ready in less than 30 minutes.

Here's why this dish is so awesome: First, the chicken is coated with a sticky, honey-herb mixture. And I mean sticky; I didn't add the typical ingredients people use to thin the coating (mustard, buttermilk, etc). That makes the tacky honey layer a great magnet for the herby, crunchy crust. A little sprinkling of paprika on top and the dish is ready to meet the heat. And even though the chicken is baked not fried, the bread crumbs crisp up thanks to a simple dotting of diced butter.

Here's what happened when I served this dish last night: 
Me: Here ya go boys - Baked Honey Fried Chicken.
Boys: Oh my God, this is incredible. Then lots of chewing until their plates were clean.

That about sums it up. Tell me how it goes down in your house. 

Baked Honey "Fried" Chicken

Cooking spray or olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
Salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup honey of choice
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup Italian style seasoned dry breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a shallow roasting pan with cooking spray or olive oil. Pat the chicken dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.
In a shallow dish, whisk together the honey, basil, onion powder, and garlic powder.
Place the breadcrumbs in a second shallow dish. Brush the honey mixture all over both sides of chicken. If necessary, use your hands to coat the chicken with the honey mixture. Get a little messy.
Transfer the chicken to the breadcrumbs and turn to coat, pressing in the breadcrumbs to totally coat the chicken.
Transfer the chicken to the prepared pan and sprinkle the paprika over top. Place the pieces of diced butter all over the chicken.
Bake for 30 minutes, until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through.
Serves 4


Black Forest Poke Cake with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

Imagine this: super moist chocolate cake, poked with holes and stuffed with cherry pie filling. As if that's not enough, I topped the cake with homemade whipped cream frosting riddled with pure vanilla bean. A few shavings of good-quality chocolate over top and this multifaceted cake is a true show-stopper.

The secret to using hot milk: I used hot milk in the cake for two important reasons. First, when you heat milk, it adds a depth of rich flavor you simply don't get from cold milk. Second, the hot milk melts the brown sugar chunks and creates a smooth, perfect batter. Choose how you want to heat your milk - either in a small saucepan or in the microwave - and stop heating just as it comes to a boil.

Don't want to make the cake from scratch? No problem, use your favorite boxed chocolate cake mix!

Don't want to make the whipped cream from scratch? Again, no problem, use Cool Whip!

Use a cold mixing bowl and beater attachment for the whipped cream: Why? Because it's the fat in the cream that traps the air bubbles and makes the frosting light and fluffy. If the cream gets too warm, the fat melts and the air escapes. Not fluffy anymore, hence no fun.

How to get vanilla beans from the pod: For the most intense vanilla flavor, use the seeds from the pod. To get to the seeds, split the vanilla bean down its length using a paring knife. Hold down the tip of the bean and use the dull side of the paring knife to scrape out the seeds. Use as directed below. If you want, reserve the pod to flavor your coffee or hot chocolate.

Black Forest Poke Cake with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

For the cake:
Cooking spray
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk
For the "poke" filling:
21-ounce can cherry pie filling
For the whipped cream frosting:
1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream, cold
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds removed (or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract), see note above

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well, breaking up the bigger chunks of brown sugar as much as possible (we'll melt the rest of the sugar later - with hot milk - so don't worry).
In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. Stir the mixture into the flour mixture (mixture will be thick, like brownie batter). Heat the milk in a small saucepan or in the microwave until just beginning to boil. Stir the hot milk into the flour mixture and then whisk until blended and smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, until a wooden pick comes clean or with little moist bits clinging to it. Cool the cake, in the pan, on wire rack for at least 30 minutes before "poking".
When the cake is cool, use the bottom of a wooden spoon or spatula to poke several holes in the cake, almost through to the bottom.
Pour the cherry pie filling over the cake and spread out in an even layer (make sure to press the cherries into the holes).
To make the frosting, start with a cold mixing bowl and cold whisk attachment (see note above). If need be, toss both into the freezer for 5 minutes (that's exactly what I did). Beat the whipped cream until frothy. Beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla bean seeds and beat until thick and spreadable. Spread the whipped cream frosting over the cake.
Shave the chocolate over top before serving.

Serves 12-16


Creamy Cavatappi with Parmesan and Peas

Oh my! I am IN LOVE with this dish! At first, I was just looking for a simple and fun side dish. But then this dish evolved and blew me away. It's insanely good and embarrassingly easy. As the pasta cooks (which takes less than 10 minutes), you quickly whip up a creamy, cheesy sauce with basil, oregano, onion, garlic, and copious amounts of Parmesan. All pantry staples.

The pasta’s ready, the sauce is ready, and the peas come out to play. I promise you will be licking the bowl clean. And I won’t judge - I've been there.

Creamy Cavatappi with Parmesan and Peas

1 pound cavatappi pasta, or any pasta shape
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups milk (I used 2%)
1/2 cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 cup frozen peas, keep frozen until ready to use

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. When the butter is bubbly, whisk in the flour. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in the oregano, basil, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and cook for 30 seconds, until the herbs are fragrant. Whisk in the milk and increase the heat to medium. Bring to a simmer and whisk until the sauce thickens, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the parmesan cheese and cook until the cheese melts.
Add the sauce to the pasta with the peas and stir to combine and soften the peas.
Serve with extra parmesan cheese on the side.
Serves 4

Healthy Flourless Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This super moist and super easy lemon cake is has the perfect balance of tart and sweet, with an amazing cream cheese frosting to boot. And, although it's great for breakfast and brunch, it's ideal for guilt-free snacking any time of day.

So why is it so healthy? It's pretty simple really. I replaced white flour with oats (I ground up some rolled oats in my food processor), I replaced refined sugar with coconut sugar (which also gives the cake a toasted color and flavor), I replaced butter with coconut oil (and used less), and I created a healthy cream cheese frosting by adding Greek yogurt and maple syrup. It's a winning recipe on all fronts! Oh, and make sure you check out my tips for making the cake dairy-free and vegan too!

Even the frosting is healthy! Instead of cream cheese and powdered sugar, I used a combination of cream cheese and Greek yogurt. Then I added a little maple syrup for sweetness and vanilla for flavor. You might be using this recipe on all your favorite cakes and quick breads (carrot cake definitely comes to mind).

Want a dairy-free and/or vegan cake? No problem. To make the cake dairy-free, substitute almond or soy milk for the regular milk in the cake and use dairy-free cream cheese and yogurt in the frosting. For a vegan cake, make the dairy-free suggestions above and use a flax egg instead of a whole egg (a flax egg is a mixture of 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal/ground raw flaxseed and 2 1/2 tablespoons water; let the mixture sit for 5 minutes before using).

Healthy Flourless Lemon Cake 

For the cake
Cooking spray
2 cups rolled oats, ground into a flour (I used my food processor)
1/2 cup coconut sugar (or granulated sugar if you want)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup milk (or dairy-free milk)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 large egg (or flax egg - see note above)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
For the frosting
8 ounces cream cheese (regular, light or vegan), softened
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (regular or dairy-free)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-inch cake pan with cooking spray.
To make the cake, in a large bowl, combine the ground oats, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt. Mix well and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, lemon juice, egg, and vanilla. Whisk the milk mixture into the flour mixture. Whisk in the coconut oil until blended.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth surface. Bake for 15 minutes, until a wooden pick comes out clean or with moist bits clinging to it.
Cool the cake, in the pan, on a wire rack.
To make the frosting, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl or food processor and mix until smooth and creamy. Spread the frosting over the cake and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Serves 8

Strawberry-Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Crammed with fresh strawberries and semisweet chocolate chips, every spoonful of this dreamy dessert delivers the perfect balance of tart and sweet, swimming in vanilla cream. And there's no need for an ice cream maker!

Yes, I know, this isn't traditional ice cream, but seriously, who cares? As long as you dish up a frozen, creamy blend of strawberries and chocolate, no one will complain.

Imagine the fruit possibilities: I used fresh strawberries here, but I could have easily used frozen, or any other fresh or frozen fruit, including blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and peaches. A different ice cream for everyone!

Why did I use mini chocolate chips? Because they spread out! If you're like me, you'll dig deep into ice cream (any variety) to get the bigger chunks of candy, chocolate, fruit, whatever. No digging required in this scenario because when you use mini chips, EACH spoonful is brimming with sweet chocolate.

Strawberry-Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

2 pounds fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled (this may seem like a lot, but it's really not)
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

In a food processor, combine the strawberries, sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream, and vanilla. Process until the strawberries are broken into pieces (the size of the strawberry pieces is totally up to you - leave some big chunks if you want). Transfer the mixture to a 9x13-inch baking dish, cover with plastic and freeze for 1 hour, until thick.
Remove the ice cream from the freezer and fold in the chocolate chips. Cover with plastic and freeze until firm, about 2 hours.
To serve, either pull the ice cream from the freezer 10 minutes before scooping, or use a scoop that's been warmed in hot water.
Serves 8-10


Garlic-Basil Lamb with Lemon

Tender, pan-seared lamb, scented with garlic, lemon and basil and topped with bright, crisp green onions. Perfection in one skillet. And ready in a flash too.

Rib chops and loin chops both work here: I chose rib chops for this recipe because (let's be honest) they make a gorgeous presentation. They also deliver a deliciously smooth flavor (not always true with other cuts of lamb). Rib chops are cut from the center/rib section of the lamb and they're typically sold with a long rib bone and the eye of meat at the end. They're not particularly meaty, so (for me), one serving is typically 2 chops. Rib chops are considered a prized cut, so you'll pay a little more for them. That said, you can also opt for loin chops. These are cut farther back, between the ribs and the leg, they're often meatier and have a similar, smooth flavor. Loin chops are often less expensive than rib chops, so the choice is yours.

About the skillet: Since we're searing and roasting the lamb, you need a skillet that can transfer from the stovetop to the oven. Cast iron is my favorite type of pan for the job.

How to cook lamb? Lamb is best cooked rare to medium-rare - this ensures a buttery, tender chop, not a chewy one. Use an instant-read thermometer if you want to be sure - 120 degrees for rare, 130 degrees for medium-rare. Remember that meat continues to cook for a few minutes after you remove it from the heat source. Note, for perfectly cooked lamb, coat the chops with the seasoning and let them rest for 30 minutes - at room temperature - before cooking.

Garlic-Basil Lamb with Fresh Lemon

8 bone-in lamb rib or loin chops
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, chopped

Season both sides of the lamb chops with salt and pepper. Rub the lemon zest and basil into both sides of the lamb. Let the chops sit at room temperature for 30 minutes (this helps bring the lamb to room temperature, which ensures even cooking, AND it allows the seasoning - namely salt and lemon - to tenderize the meat).
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Heat the oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until just golden. Add the lamb and cook for 1 minute per side, until browned. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 3 to 5 minutes for rare (120 degrees with an instant-read thermometer) or medium-rare (130 degrees with an instant-read thermometer). Let the lamb sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Top with green onions before serving.
Serves 4

Gooey Hot Chocolate Skillet Cake

Decadent and moist, dark chocolate cake, smothered with slightly melted, sweet marshmallows. No one will judge you if you eat this cake with a spoon.

About the skillet: I chose my 10-inch cast iron skillet for this cake and it was perfect. Use any skillet you have that's about that size, and (most importantly) oven-proof.

Hot Chocolate Skillet Cake

Cooking spray
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10-inch, ovenproof skillet with cooking spray.
In a small saucepan, combine the butter, water, and cocoa. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, whisk until the mixture is blended and smooth and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. 
In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, egg and vanilla. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine (using a spatula works best). Add the chocolate mixture and whisk until blended and smooth. 
Pour the mixture into the prepared skillet.
Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, comes out with little moist bits clinging to it. 
Pull the cake from the oven and sprinkle the marshmallows over top. Let cool for 2 minutes (this will melt the marshmallows a little). 
Serves 4-6


Breakfast Enchiladas

Soft corn tortillas, stuffed with a taco-seasoned blend of eggs, bacon and cheddar cheese! With salsa and more cheese on top, this is one casserole you'll be making again and again (and you can prep up to 2 days in advance too!).

How to soften corn tortillas: Even though the package says soft, you need to soften corn tortillas to prevent them from cracking when you roll them. That's just a fact. There are two ways you can do this. I prefer this method - place tortillas on a hot griddle, grill pan or in a dry skillet for a few seconds per side. This softens the tortillas and adds a little toasted quality. Or, the microwave method works too - stack the tortillas, wrap them in damp paper towels (or a damp kitchen towel) and then plastic wrap and microwave until warm and pliable, about 45 seconds. Two methods, your choice.

How to cook the bacon: There are many ways to cook bacon (skillet, microwave, oven), and I prefer roasting in the oven. It's super simple, mess-free and gives me the freedom to do other parts of the dish while the strips cook up perfectly (every time). To roast bacon, arrange the strips on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, until chewy-crisp (or longer for more fully cooked bacon). For this recipe, cut the cooked bacon into 1-inch pieces.

Breakfast Enchiladas with Eggs and Bacon

Cooking spray
8 soft corn tortillas, softened (see note above)
10 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon taco seasoning (from a seasoning packet), plus more for sprinkling over top
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
8 slices cooked bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces (see note above)
1/2 cup prepared salsa
Chopped green onions, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a shallow baking dish with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and 1 tablespoon of the taco seasoning. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the eggs and cook until almost cooked through (still moist), stirring frequently. Stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese and cook until cheese melts. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the bacon.
Arrange the tortillas on a flat surface. Spoon the egg mixture onto the center of each tortilla and roll up. Arrange the tortillas side-by-side (snuggly) in the prepared pan. Note: I like to arrange my enchiladas seam-side up in the pan - so you can see the filling; but sometimes they start to unroll. If your enchiladas start to unroll as you work, rest something on top (I used a spoon). Spray the top of the enchiladas with cooking spray.
Top the enchiladas with the salsa and remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Sprinkle a little taco seasoning over top.
Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 more minutes, until the cheese melts.
Top with green onions before serving.
Serves 4

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Streusel Cake

Moist and rich, cinnamon-laced snacking cake - studded with chocolate chips and topped with a buttery, perfectly crisp streusel. It's as if I put all my favorite things (pumpkin, chocolate, streusel) all in one cake. Oh wait, but I did!

Seriously, I adore the combination of a cinnamon-scented pumpkin batter (muffins, cookies, cakes, cupcakes, whatever) and chocolate. Especially semisweet chocolate, because it's not overly sugary and partners perfectly with the cake. The chocolate also balances the sweetness of the buttery streusel topping! Give this one a try - for breakfast, brunch, dessert, or mid-afternooon snacking - and let me know what you think!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Streusel Cake 

For the cake: 
Cooking spray
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
15-ounce can pumpkin (not pie filling)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil, vegetable oil or melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
For the streusel topping: 
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons cold butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray.
To make the cake, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, brown sugar, milk, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Whisk the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and whisk until well blended. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. To make the streusel topping, combine the flour and brown sugar. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly (I used my fingers to  make the crumbly topping). Sprinkle the streusel over the batter.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a wooden pick comes out clean or with little moist bits clinging to it.
Cool the cake in the pan, on a wire rack. Cut into squares and serve.
Serves 10-12