Italian Pasta Salad

imageThis is the easiest way to make a pasta salad if you are short on time and need to make a quick side dish or appetizer for a party or event. I would make this super easy pasta dish when I was in college because it was cheap, delicious, and everybody loves pasta salad! Especially with salami and cheese in it how can you go wrong!? Mix up the ingredients to what you like and you can’t mess up this recipe 🙂

Yield: 10

Ingredients:
1 lb multi colored rotini pasta
1/4 cup Wish Bone light Italian dressing
8 ounces mozzarella cheese; cubed
1 cup salami; chopped
1 can black olives; sliced
1 cup fresh spinach; chopped
1/2 cup fresh cherry tomatoes; cut in half
1 small jar of roasted peppers; sliced
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
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Steps:
1. Bring a large bowl of water to a boil and cook pasta for 10-12 minutes or until al dente (cooked but has a bite to it). Once cooked drain and let cool.
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2. Once pasta is cooled place in a large bowl, add salad dressing, mozzarella cheese, salami, olives, spinach, tomatoes,red peppers, and seasonings. Toss with two large spoons until evenly coated. This dish is best when its served chilled. This is so easy and simple anybody can do it!
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Baked Parmesan Chicken Strips

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I like chicken but I don’t love it..I just never have unless its cooked in some amazing way. I had some leftover chicken breasts in my fridge and to be honest they are my least favorite part of the chicken because it is the driest. I’ve never been the one to eat chicken strips or order them in restaurants as a kid so I decided to come up with a “grown-up” version, which is much more tastier and delicious than any other chicken strips I’ve ever had. Try dunking these crispy strips in marinara or pesto sauce, I even combined the two!

Yield: 6

Ingredients:
3 chicken breasts; sliced into 1/2 inch strips
1 cup Italian Seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 whole egg; beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut chicken breast into 1/2 inch strips. Place breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese in a bowl and set aside. Place beaten egg and flour into 2 separate bowls.

2. Dip chicken strips on both sides into flour, then dip into the egg mixture, then dip in the parmesan breadcrumb mixture.
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3. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 15 minutes on one side, then with tongs flip and bake on other side for another 10 minutes. Enjoy this with some marinara sauce and pesto, the combination is delicious!
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Smoked Salmon, Avocado, & Spinach Panini

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After my workout this morning I was craving my favorite bagel, a lox bagel! I try to stay away from bagels as much as possible and almost never buy them just because of all the carbs..but that doesn’t stop me from creating a healthier version of my favorite breakfast/lunch. This panini sandwich can almost be eaten for any meal of the day….not to mention it is healthy for you and it is a great way to end 2013! Happy New Years Eve!

Yield: 1 or 2 (depending on how hungry you are!)

Ingredients:
2 slices of whole wheat bread
1 laughing cow cheese wedge (I used French Onion flavor)
3 ounces smoked salmoin
1/2 avocado; sliced and seasoned with salt and pepper
1/4 cup spinach; about 8-10 leaves
1 tsp olive oil

Steps:
1. Heat a skillet with olive oil. Spread 1/2 cheese wedge on each slice of bread. Add avocado, smoked salmon, and spinach and grill on skillet on each side for about 2 minutes (or until grill marks are made). I used the bottom of a frying pan to press on the sandwich while grilling to get good looking grill ridges! Flip sandwich and repeat for 2 more minutes. Slice in half and enjoy!

Panettone French Toast

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I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and didn’t eat too much like I did! In my families household during the holidays we usually always have at least 1 Panettone in the house. It has been a tradition since I was little to usually make waffles for breakfast on Christmas Day but this year we thought it would be a good idea to try something a little different. So, because was had so much panettone bread…my Nana made Panettone French Toast and topped it with peaches but you can use what ever kind you have around your house! This is definitely something you have to try and it’s a great way to use up the bread. Because of its richness in butter and little pieces of chewy sweetened candied fruit it makes the perfect French toast!

Yield: 6

Ingredients:
1/2 Panettone
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
Dash of salt
1 Tbsp of vanilla
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp butter
2 tsp cinnamon
Warm maple syrup
Fresh fruit (your choice!)
Powdered sugar

Steps:
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium sized bowl, beat eggs, vanilla, milk, salt, sugar, and cinnamon. Whisk until combined. Cut Panettone into 6 slices with a 1 inch thickness.

2. With a fork, poke 3 times to make holes in bread (to absorb the egg batter). Dip each piece of Panettone in egg mixture on both sides and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place about 1/2 tsp of butter on each piece of bread. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Drizzle with warm maple syrup, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and top with fresh fruit! Delicious!

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Gingerbread Biscotti Cookies

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If you have ever wondered what the italian word “biscotti” means, it means “cooked twice”. Once you read my recipe you will understand. The cookie gets its crunchy perfection by the way its baked. My Christmas baking definitely isn’t complete until I bake a batch of biscotti cookies! This year I decided to make some gingerbread flavored biscottis because I love gingerbread! I also had some leftover crushed gingerbread cookies and almonds from my chocolate candy recipe.

Yield: 10

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cup flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup roasted almonds; crushed
1/2 cup gingerbread cookies; crushed
1/2 cup butter (1 stick); cubed
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs;

Frosting:
1/2 cup white melting chocolate
Sprinkles

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, mix flour, sugars, ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda. Add in eggs, butter, and syrup until dough is formed. With a wooden spoon add in crushed almonds and gingerbread cookies.

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and form a 12-14 inch by 4 inch log. Bake for 20 minutes.

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3. Bake until top of dough is cracked and light brown. Let cool for 5 minutes and then with a serrated knife, slice on an angle and arrange cookies back on sheet and back for another 5 minutes. Then turn cookies on other side (to get a crunch) and bake for another 5 minutes. Put on cooling rack and let cool for 15 minutes.

4. In the meantime, melt chocolate in microwave for 2 minutes in a large bowl (so you can place cookie in it). Once cookies are cooled, dunk one of the bottoms in the bowl of frosting and with a butter knife, scrape the extra drippings of frosting off–this will make it look neater and it will prevent sloppy drippings. Top chocolate with sprinkles and let cool until dry!

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