Parmesan Baked Potato Halves


This time of year, the ice hockey season is in full swing. I play year-round which totally confuses people. As soon as the fall/winter season is through, there’s spring and summer sessions starting. Unfortunately, playing hockey is somewhat of a part-time job. With a 45 minute commute (without snow…) on each end, time to change into gear and undress, plus the ice time or game, going to hockey is a solid 3 hour time commitment. I play as early as 5:45pm on Sundays, or as late as 10:15pm during the week, and I typically play twice a week — one practice and one game. It’s a major commitment, no doubt! But, I love it…and it’s a great workout.

In the winter, there’s even an outdoor rink in my town and so I tack on a third time on the ice Thanksgiving through mid-to-late March, weather pending. But, the rink here lacks in organization.


I contacted the team I played on last year, which had a full roster. Honestly, I think this was the nice way of saying they’d prefer to not have the under-skilled (female) on their team, but I try to give them the benefit of the doubt and not assume that. Anyways, the captain from last year’s team got me in touch with the rink manager and I finally got hooked up with a new team who scrimmaged on Tuesdays. I joined their Facebook group, paid my dues, and then….the rink called to say the Tuesday slots were all full and the team would be playing on Mondays, but needed less skaters, asking if a few people would swap to Thursday nights — a slower paced league.

Being the newest addition, I volunteered. Needless to say, I’m now on that team. Until I hear otherwise. Hopefully I don’t hear otherwise.


I’ve been traded and now traded myself and the season hasn’t even begun. What a mess. I feel like the red headed step child of the hockey league here. Forgotten and over-looked.

Something similar happens in my kitchen — I never think to make side dishes. It seems like a lot of work to make an entree and a side and I guess I’m a fan of the all-in-one entrees. Except, I really like side dishes. Thanksgiving – I’ll probably skip the bird and go straight for the stuffing and potatoes. Mmmm…potatoes.

I saw this recipe and was inspired to make a side dish with its simplicity and flavors. It was a winner, no doubt!


Parmesan Baked Potato Halves
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 8 small potatoes (about 2 pounds), cut in half
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Pour melted butter into a 9x13 inch pan and spread evenly across the bottom. Sprinkle cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper over the butter. Place potato halves face down on the butter. Using a brush between the small spaces between potatoes, spread the butter over the tops of the potatoes.
  3. Place in preheated oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 5 oz (about 3 halves) Calories: 196 Fat: 8.3 Carbohydrates: 25.0 Sugar: 0 Sodium: 159 Fiber: 1.7 Protein: 4.3 Cholesterol: 23

 Book signing tonight – squeeeeeeee!!! And, the weekend. I’m a happy girl. But first, the gym and rather busy day at work.

Be well,


Meatless Monday: Vegan Pumpkin-Coconut Muffins


Most recently, I’ve had coconut in the form of a pina colada. A REAL pina colada made with REAL coconut and REAL pineapple. I splurged and had one while in Mexico. I enjoyed every last sip of the calorie-packed cocktail. It was glorious. As someone who rarely consumes cocktails, a pina colada while on a beach vacation is an absolute must.

And as a lover of all things coconut, I’m convinced that it is an ingredient that belongs in sweet and savory dishes alike.


New Ambrosia with Buttermilk-Coconut Dressing. Salad dressing…coconut.

Blueberry Coconut Bread. Blueberries and coconut are made for one another – fact. I learned that after making Vegan Blueberry-Coconut Muffins.

Coconut and Fruit Cold Oat Breakfast Salad. A cold oat breakfast can only be made good with coconut.

Crispy Coconut Chicken Fingers – proof that coconut and savory totally work. And Thai Shrimp Soup with Lemon and Jalapenos in case you prefer more sophisticated dishes .


While this not-so-lovely, cold, Michigan-in-November Monday does not have a pina colada in my future (not even a Skinny Pina Colada), I will be grabbing ones of these muffins from the freezer as I dash out the door for what promises to be a very busy day.

Wait, no. Not just a very busy day but an insanely busy week.

Perhaps I should grab TWO muffins for the road.


Vegan Pumpkin-Coconut Muffins
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or white wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line muffin pans with 15 liners and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, oil, vanilla, and brown sugar. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined. Fold in the coconut.
  4. Scoop the batter into the muffin tins, filling about ⅔rds full. Bake muffins for 20-22 minutes. Allow to cool before serving. Store in an air-tight containers for 3-4 days.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 muffin Calories: 177 Fat: 9.5 Carbohydrates: 22.1 Sugar: 7.5 Sodium: 214 Fiber: 4.1 Protein: 2.1 Cholesterol: 0

 Monday blues. :(

Be well,


Cream of Pumpkin Soup


No lie…I’m going to a taping of The Price is Right tonight!!!!!!!!!

Words cannot express my excitement over this. I grew up on The Price is Right. As in, I used to be “sick” on a semi-regular basis back in high school and a more semi-regular basis in college…and it may be because I was obsessed with day time TV. Topping the charts was 10am and The Price is Right. I never missed it when I was playing hookie from school. I rarely missed Maury, either…but, let’s just say that show has changed a bit with time.

and not in a good way whatsoever.


The Price is Right has changed, too. This Drew character. Love’em, but he’s no Bob. Nope, nope, nope.

But my big name tag button — I’m pumped for that. And Plinko remains. Oh yes.

You guys, what if I end up as a chosen contestant!? Eeeep! I can hardly contain my excitement.

I need to 1. make it through the work day and 2. find out when the show airs!


When I saw this soup on my friend Coleen’s blog, a similar wave of excitement rushed over me.

I think it was the sugar in the recipe. No, seriously. The sugar and cayenne are what make this recipe. The cinnamon, too…obviously.

I had planned to use half and half and low-fat milk as Coleen’s version called for, but when I discovered my half and half had curdled before its expiration date, I punted with what was on hand. The depth of flavors ran deep enough that nonfat milk served its purpose in creating a creamy, rich, truly decadent pumpkin soup. Fall won’t be complete without this gem.


Cream of Pumpkin Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup yellow onion (about ½ onion), finely chopped
  • 2 (14 ½ oz) cans low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp ground allspice
  • ⅛ tsp ground pepper
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  1. Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed pot. Once hot, add the onion and saute for 4-5 minutes, or until tender. Add one of the cans of chicken broth, stir and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, cover the saucepan, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove pot from heat, and puree the onions and broth until smooth with an immersion blender or carefully transfer to a blender and puree, venting to allow heat to escape. Return mixture to pot.
  3. Add the remaining can of broth, pumpkin, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, black pepper, cayenne, and brown sugar. Stir until all ingredients are blended and bring soup back to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, and reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the milk. Serve hot.
Recipe from The Redhead Baker, and originally, All Recipes
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1½ cups Calories: 172 Fat: 6.0 Carbohydrates: 26.0 Sugar: 19.3 Sodium: 386 Fiber: 4.8 Protein: 5.5 Cholesterol: 15.0

 T-14 hours until The Price is Right! :-D

Be well,


Scalloped Tomatoes


College football has started. (My chili contest has started – recipe #1 coming soon!)

Pumpkin ale is stocked in the fridge.

The doors and windows are open, welcoming the cool breeze and perfect sleeping weather.

The kids are officially back in school (…and I find myself leaving the house a few minutes later as to avoid being stuck behind a slow moving school bus that stops every 15 feet).


It’s fair to say, fall is upon us. Nearly upon us, anyways.

But we’re in that perfect in-between season where we still have the bountiful and beautiful produce of summer and the joys of fall (PUMPKIN!!!!!!!!). Especially with the mild start to the summer, the yield right now for farmers is quite the epic tale. Supposedly, this year is a top yielding year for farmers. For CSA recipients and farm-goers like myself, it’s music to our ears.

I have soooo many tomatoes sitting on my kitchen counter enticing fruit flies…something will need to be done with them sooner rather than later. I’m thinking marinara sauce.


Or, Scalloped Tomatoes. Again. Happily again.

A few people deemed this recipe the best recipe they had made in quite some time, so I knew it was worth a shot. The portion size is generous enough that it’s certainly more than a side dish and probably qualifies as more of a “mini meal”. I would say it makes 6-8 servings for a “mini meal” or 10-12 servings as a side.

If you’re collecting fruit flies and out of tomato ideas – voila! This you’ll love…promise!


Scalloped Tomatoes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
Garlic-infused tomato and basil love right here. This is heavenly.
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 3 cups (1/2-inch diced) bread from a French boule
  • 16 plum tomatoes, cut ½-inch dice (about 3 pounds)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup fresh basil, julienned
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mist a casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in an extra-large saute pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and stir to coat with the oil. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the cubes are evenly browned.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. When the bread cubes are done, add the tomato mixture and continue to cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil.
  4. Pour the tomato mixture into casserole dish. Sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan cheese and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly. Serve hot or warm.
Recipe lightened up just a bit from Ina Garten
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1⅓ cups Calories: 203 Fat: 8.8 Carbohydrates: 28.0 Sugar: 11.0 Sodium: 469 Fiber: 2.2 Protein: 4.8 Cholesterol: 2.5

Excited for a long weekend! Woooo!

Be well,


Jalapeño-Buttermilk Brined Grilled Chicken + Weekly Menu & Chili Contest Info


The photographer who shot my wedding, also took the head shot that’s in my cookbook. He and his wife actually came to my parent’s house yesterday to get their copy of the cookbook signed. It was so fun. They made the Caprese Quinoa Patties with Balsamic Ricotta first from the book and absolutely loved them. Of course, I was thrilled to hear that. Brian’s wife described my cooking style perfectly when she said something along the lines of, “You cook with every day ingredients and make classic recipes…but they’re just healthier.”

She hit the nail on the head. My style is nothing outside the box, it’s just very practical when it comes to both nutrition and ingredients.


When I saw this recipe, I must admit, I was intrigued enough to make it….and accept it as a total failure.



Brown sugar?


Simple sugar baste?

Totally bizarre. I had to try it.


My only regret with this recipe was not using chicken breasts. I know others love dark meat and chicken thighs, but every time I try making them…I swear that it’ll be the last time. I share that same opinion after this recipe, though I’m sure at some point I’ll end up making chicken thighs again.

The brine itself was absolutely divine. The flavors simply…work. There’s some sweet, some salty, and some savory all contained in the piece of chicken that is incredibly moist, even after grilling.

Labor Day is upon us…think of this recipe then, if not before!


4.0 from 1 reviews
Jalapeño-Buttermilk Brined Grilled Chicken
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
This combination of flavors you'd never dream of working so perfectly...but they do!
  • 1½ cups low fat buttermilk
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1½ Tbsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire
  • 5 dashes Tabasco
  • ½ onion, sliced
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 2 jalapenos, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of visible fat
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  1. In a large ziplock bag, combine the buttermilk, sugar, salt, pepper, Worcestershire, Tabasco, onion, lemon juice, jalapenos, and garlic. Seal the bag and shake well.
  2. Add the chicken to the bag, seal, and turn to coat all the meat. Refrigerate the chicken overnight or up to 48 hours.
  3. In a small pot, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once boiling, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  4. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Once preheated, add the chicken to the grill and cook 4-5 minutes per side, basting with the simple syrup on each side. Serve chicken hot.
Recipe slightly adapted from The Barbee Housewife

*Nutrition Information is a close estimate due to the use of the brine.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 5 oz Calories: 188 Fat: 10.8 Carbohydrates: 3.2 Sugar: 3.2 Sodium: 477 Fiber: 0 Protein: 28.3 Cholesterol: 121

Weekly Menu: August 18th – 22nd

 My 4th annual Chili Contest kicks off today with recipe submissions! Please send me your best chili recipe ( I will be accepting the first 10 recipes received. The winner will receive a $100 Visa gift card and the runner-up, a $50 Visa gift card. The winner will be announced following the college football season and after all 10 recipes have been made and sampled. Thank you in advance for all your wonderful recipes…I can’t wait to try them! :)

 Be well,