My family has eaten at this old school Italian restaurant by my parent's house called Nino's since as far back as I can remember. I've always loved that they put rotini noodles in their house salad...so much more fun to eat a salad when there's pasta in it, I mean... ;)
This salad is inspired by the Nino's salad, but it's a little lighter. I used turkey pepperoni and brown rice rotini instead of regular pasta. (Note: if you use brown rice pasta, don't put it in the fridge, the texture hardens once it gets cold and that would ruin the salad.) Another thing, the dressing that Nino's uses is super rich, almost too rich where the amount of vinegar and oil can be rough on a sensitive stomach so I decided to pair my version of their salad with a much lighter vinaigrette.
This recipe makes enough for 2 large salads or 4 side salads. (Since the size mainly depends on how much lettuce you chop up, it's very easy to eyeball and change the proportions to how large or small you want it.) The salad dressing can last for 7-10 days in the fridge.
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I started cleaning my entire house with Branch Basics during quarantine. I think everyone cleaned a lot during those months, but it feels so good to know that all the cleaning I did was with safe and non-toxic solutions instead of harsh chemicals!!
Since Bryant and I have started our TTC journey, I have really been focusing on how I can make food/lifestyle changes that are healthier. Eliminating processed foods was the first step, and then I started eliminating other less obvious toxins in our home like laundry, deodorant and toothpaste. Cue, Branch Basics! My mom started using it a few months before I did and ALWAYSSSS mentioned how well it works. I was like, "Yeah, okay Mom! I'm glad you love it!" And thennnnn I got an email from Branch Basics asking if I wanted to sample the product and ever since my first spray and wipe - I've been OBSESSED.
My absolute favorite part about Branch Basics besides the fact that it's non-toxic and is actually extremely effective is that one bottle of their mineral-based concentrate solution is all you need to clean your entire house. There are a few different empty bottles that come in the Starter Kit including the bathroom, all-purpose, streak-free, foaming wash and laundry bottle. Simply fill each bottle with certain amount of water + concentrate by following the directions on each one and then get to cleaning! You can read more about how the concentrate works here.
Every week or so, we wash our sheets and pillowcases, but the bestttttt is when the comforter gets a wash too -- we especially love washing it at the start of a new year. We have white linen sheets, pillowcases and a white comforter. Our dog, Basil sleeps in our bed every single night. Dog + white bedding is a dangerous move but I NEVER have to worry because I haven't met a stain yet that Branch Basics Oxygen Boost couldn't solve.
I usually pour two scoops of the oxygen boost and two cap-fulls of the laundry cleaner (two because the comforter is a heavy duty load) into my washer and let the cycle start by filling the machine with water. Add the comforter and let it soak for 30 minutes before closing the door to start the actual wash part of the cycle. Once it's done, you'll notice not only super clean bedding, but veryyy vibrantly white bedding! It restores the bright color every single time and looks brand new, I'm always so amazed.
I think the second best thing to fresh bed sheets is a sparkling clean bathroom. Something about take a shower or bath in what feels like a new space just gives off all the clean vibes! My favorite way to use BB to clean the bathroom:
Windows & Mirrors
Not to be dramatic, but the first time I used the Branch Basics glass cleaner, I gasped. I've never seen a window so clean and sparkly. The streak-free cleaner bottle directions say to fill with water and use ONE DROP of the concentrate. That's how powerful (yet safe) this stuff is!! If you windows are looking streaky then you probably accidentally spilled a little more concentrate into the bottle than just a drop and it needs more water. Feels weird to only add such a small amount to the water but trust me when I say that a drop is all you need.
Don't forget you can use code "JANE" for 20% off of the Branch Basics Starter Kit. The starter kit comes with everything you need to start cleaning your whole house. (I make a small commission off of each purchase made with my code, so shopping with code "JANE" is a great way to support me at no extra cost to you! (This blog post was created in partnership with Branch Basics.)
Okay this reminds me so much of my vodka sauce recipe, except a vegan Thai version. In addition to tomato paste, there's Red Thai Curry Paste and a little lime juice and ginger. It's really good and different if you're in the mood for a creamy pasta but don't want to deal with heavy amounts of dairy.
Sometimes, when I make coconut milk based sauces, I notice that leaving it over high heat can cause things to separate and get oily so that's why I added the starch into it. It holds together better that way!
Per usual, this recipe is enough to feed two people, or it can be split into three smaller sides. For reference - a standard box of pasta is around 1 lb and I always make half a box which is the perfect amount for two entrees.
My kind of cereal. A few weeks ago, I made two different pasta recipes. One was regular-sized stuffed shells and the other was a creamy lemon pasta dish with medium-sized shell noodles. After making and eating both the lightbulb went off in my head and I was like OMG, what if I stuffed THE SMALLER SHELLS?!?!
Usually, mini food recipes are somewhat impractical but besides being fun as hell to eat - this is actually one of the more successful mini recipes I've made, which is why it's deserving of an entire blog post! Here's why -- the ratio of shell to cheese is actually really nice with the mini version because in the regular version, there's A LOT of cheese. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes classic stuffed shells can be super heavy on the cheese since there's so much to fill, and for someone like my husband who thinks it's too much cheese and not enough pasta - the mini version is perfect.
As far as process goes, using something to assist with filling the shells helps a lot. You could use a pastry or ziplock bag and cut a hole in the bottom corner to squeeze the ricotta cheese, but I just used an old fashioned ketchup bottle with a pointy tip. Whatever works, but I def wouldn't recommend trying to free hand it!
If you've ever been in the Southern U.S. States, you know that fried green tomatoes are huge. Every time I'm in Georgia or South Carolina I see them on every single menu. During a road trip to Florida, we stayed in a random hotel overnight to break up the drive and ordered takeout from a nearby place that had this awesome BLT Salad that I fell in love with and had to recreate to share with you guys! It was served with ranch dressing but I opted to add goat cheese instead. You could go either way!
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If you missed it, I found out this year that despite my life-long seafood allergy, I can eat mollusks. Which means I can eat clams, mussels, scallops, oysters, calamari and octopus!!! I always felt like I was missing out on the seafood pasta dishes my family would order at Italian restaurants on vacation and now that I can eat some seafood, I've been ordering it like crazy and of course, I had to try and make it at home too. Most of the times I see this kind of dish on the menu at a restaurant, there's almost always shrimp in it - so that's pretty much the only thing missing from this dish as far as what's "typical." (Sadly, I can't have shrimp, crab or lobster.)
Cooking time is a little more than my usual recipes since you have to pay close attention to preparing the scallops separately - but it's so worth it to get that tasty sear. If you're going to roast your own tomatoes and garlic like I suggest, that takes time too. You could use jarred marinara sauce but I truly think fresh is best for this one. I'd say the whole thing start to finish can be done in around 45 minutes. Like the rest of my recipes, this will serve 2 people.
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I am over the freaking moon. I cannot believe how good these little treats are!! First and foremost - there are no peanuts or tree nuts. I used my girl @AvoKween's vanilla granola butter which is honestly the best thing a person with a nut allergy could ever ask for. It can replace almost all nut butters in most recipes and it's freaking delicious. To firm up the consistency in order to make the 'caramel' part of the twix cup, I added pureed dates to the granola butter which helped hold the middle layer up a bit better than if I were to just use the melty granola butter.
So, these granola butter 'twix' cups are naturally sweetened with a lil maple syrup + they are gluten free, grain free, dairy free and peanut allergy friendly. Amazing.
Also, I almost ALWAYS forget to add flakey sea salt to any chocolate that I melt and put on things so if you're less forgetful than me I would def add some right before you stick them in the fridge to cool.
Peanut and tree nut free pesto!!
It's also packed with all the green things and that's always a plus! I used arugula, spinach, basil, garlic, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. The whole arugula leaves you see mixed in there are coated in a super simple vinaigrette recipe so there's an extra little vinegar kick in the dish from the white wine vinegar I used too!!
UGH. Vodka sauce. This is by far my most popular recipe and it's suuuuper easy to make and pretty much foolproof so that's why I think everyone loves it so much.
I started making this a few years ago and I think my favorite part about the recipe I originally developed is that there are several different ways to customize it depending on whatever I'm in the mood for. Sometimes I like it spicy, sometimes I like it to be less cream-heavy, sometimes I'm avoiding dairy in general so I eat it a vegan version of it!! So I'll list below the different ways that I love to make it and let you decide which version you're feeling.
This pasta is freaking amazing and one of my fave simple dairy-free "cheesy buttery" pasta sauces. It's made from just oat milk creamer, vegan butter, garlic powder and nutritional yeast. If you love cheese and dairy but can't eat either or are trying to cut back - this will be your new bestie.
First, if you don't salt the water you cook the pasta in, the finished product may need a little salt. Second, don't get oat milk and oat milk creamer confused. I'm not so sure if regular oat milk would work since the creamer is a little more thick. Here's the oat milk creamer I use. (I buy it online because I can only find their almond oat milk creamer at stores and I'm allergic to almonds.) And honestly, if you're in a pinch you could just add the vegan butter, garlic powder and nooch to the hot pasta in a bowl and eat it that way - no skillet or sauce prep required and suuuuper fast! Been there, done that.
I love pairing it with a fun pasta shape. If I'm using brown rice pasta I use these shells, if I'm using regular pasta, I use this cannolicchi.
Technically, you don't have to eat this pasta dish with linguine but the name 'linguine and clams' is so iconic to me that we're just gonna call it that. I personally loveeee clams with mafaldine too which is like a more wider long noodle with curly edges.
I love adding chopped clams to this dish in addition to the fresh clams in the shell. One of my favorite restaurants serves it that way and the texture + extra amount of clams is so gooood. Also, sometimes I add cherry tomatoes at the same time as the garlic cloves and it's so good that way too!
This dish is enough for two entrees, or three small plates and it takes about 30 minutes to whip up.
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I stumbled upon this recipe from Jessica in the Kitchen last week and changed it around a bit to fit the way I like to eat. I did use her vegan cream cheese recipe and it was FIREEEE, the best vegan cream cheese frosting I've tried hands down so I didn't change a thing about that part. (Tap here for her vegan cream cheese frosting recipe.)
When it comes to desserts, I'm obsessed with trying to find healthier ways to bake them! So instead of using 1 1/2 cups can sugar, I used 3/4 cup maple syrup. I also love subbing out wheat (flour) in baking recipes for a 1:1 oat flour and all purpose gluten free flour combo so I did that here too.
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Taco Bell! But won't make your stomach hurt afterwards. :)
Believe it or not but I actually found low carb Mission soft tortillas at the grocery store that taste EXACTLY the same as a regular tortilla? Like what? Why haven't they always made them that way?
I have recipes for both regular sized crunch wrap supremes and then mini ones below. The mini are handheld and SO FUN!!
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Loooove me some carbonara. I love making this dish because it can be easily customized. Want it creamier? Add heavy whipping cream. Want to add in some fall flavors? Add some butternut squash or pumpkin puree. Want it to taste like cacio e pepe? Toast some peppercorns and toss em' in. Looking to add some greens? Arugula or spinach both work great mixed in. Want to give it an Asian flare? Miso paste is so amazing in it too! The options are endlessssss.
A few carbonara tips I've learned over the years:
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I baked with applesauce for the first time!! The texture it brings to this cinnamon apple bread is insaneeeee. Don't expect some giant apple flavor to take over your tastebuds, it's pretty subtle but still so sosossoso good. I really love this one because even though one of the main components is apple, there aren't any apple chunks involved in the recipe. I hate apple chunks in any baked good, the texture of this bread is the same as like banana bread/pound cake! Aka, amazingly moist.
If you don't know by now, I have a weird obsession with baking healthy treats. It's usually at the start of a new season when I bake the most. Sooooo, this recipe is actually *vegan* because the applesauce replaces the eggs and I use oat milk instead of cow's milk. It's also gluten free because I used oat flour/gf all purpose flour and then it's nut free too, obviously, no almond flour used in any of my recipes due to my nut allergy! Oh and I used maple syrup instead of sugar so it's naturally sweetened. AHH, SO FUN TO BAKE HEALTHY THINGS THAT STILL TASTE THIS GOOD!
**Everyone's oven works differently and reaches different temperatures at different times so be patient with it and keep checking it throughout the suggested cooking time! It's a little harder for gluten free flour to rise, so if you have options, use a more narrow than wide bread pan.
Also, one more thing. It looks sort of ombre colored and I believe that is because I overdid it with the olive oil I used to brush the sides of the loaf pan. I am always scared that the loaf is gonna stick to the pan so I tend to over do it and that can sometimes lead to the edges of the loaf browning due to the heat and amount of oil seeping into the bread. Just an FYI.
Some people get excited about the cooler weather aspect of fall but for me it's all about the food. I'm a huge fan of all things butternut squash and I especially love pairing it with pasta.
All of the ingredients I used were purchased from my local ALDI grocery store! I was super impressed with not only the value but also the variety and selection of groceries that they offer! I also love that in addition to visiting the store or doing curbside pick up, you can shop with ALDI on Instacart too - perfect for those super busy days. One of my favorite products I found and used in this recipe would be the Priano Three Cheese Tortellini because of how quick and easy it was to make - it only takes a minute or two after being tossed into boiling water and then it's ready to go.
There are a few factors that take this particular butternut squash pasta sauce to a whole new level of cozy. It's obvious that the butternut squash is roasted and pureed but I also roasted a handful of garlic cloves with the squash and coated the entire roasting party in extra virgin olive oil and Stonemill Ground Nutmeg.
This recipe makes enough for two large entrees or 3-4 small sides. Prep time is 10 minutes and cooking time is 45 minutes, so it takes about an hour total to complete!
Last week, I made Monique from @AmbitiousKitchen's Lemon Blueberry Zucchini Cake recipe and it was soooo good - like I freaked out when I ate it. Almond flour is one of the key ingredients but I found a way around that since I can't eat nuts. I was actually super skeptical about using an almond flour alternative since it distinctly says in her recipe a few times that she doesn't recommend a sub. I ended up used Pamela's Products GF/V Flour instead of the almond flour! Upon completing the batter, I realized it was super dry, almost like cookie dough instead of cake batter - so I added in a few splashes of oat milk and prayed that would do the trick. It did!
What I'm sharing below is a recipe totally adapted from Monique - I don't claim it as my own. I just changed a few things around and adjusted it to accommodate my nut allergy. Sooo many of you were excited about it that I decided to share for my fellow nut allergy fam.
So basically, this is the best healthy-ish cake I've ever eaten. There's 1/2 cup honey instead of sugar, no dairy and no gluten. Say whhaaaatttt. The frosting is optional but I think the sweetness from it is what makes it taste more like a cake than a sweet bread.
Pad Thai, but make it allergy friendly. It's actually vegan and gluten free if you don't use eggs or meat as the protein because I took the fish sauce out of it!!
While pad see ew is my favorite Thai dish, Pad Thai is more common I feel like and a close second. I mean, of course I love it- it's noodles!! It's always been harder for me to eat at restaurants though since there's usually fish sauce and peanuts all up in it and I have so many unfortunate food allergies!! I started making my own version of the dish at home a while ago and it's def not authentic but it's as close as I can get - still v good in my opinion. :)
It was my friend's birthday last month and she LOVES ice cream so I wanted to make her an ice cream cake without actually having to bake cakes. That's where I came up with the idea to use Pancakes! So this recipe is shamelessly inspired by a lazy feeling but I'm not mad about it at all because it's a game changer.
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This might be the most versatile recipe that I make in my kitchen. It's honestly not even a recipe it's just a cooking method of combining equal parts white wine and butter and then adding whatever you're in the mood for. It's def a chameleon pasta, blends into whatever and there's so many things that it pairs perfectly with!! I love how well the butter and white wine end up coming together to make the most silky buttery sauce. Sometimes I brown the butter a bit too before I add in the wine if I'm wanting an even deeper butter flavor.
I usually eat it plain with just pasta, but if I'm adding veggies to it I'll go with garlicky broccoli or charred corn in the summer. When I brown the butter, I like to use mushrooms and onion. For protein, sooo good with little neck clams or scallops! The pasta also pairs really well with with lemon chicken and capers too.
This dish can also be turned spicy or cajun with a teaspoon of either red pepper flakes or cajun flavors like Old Bay Seasoning or Tony's Creole Seasoning! (So good this way if you're pairing the pasta with seafood and/or corn.)
ALSO, you could add a few splashes (around 1/2 cup) of heavy whipping cream to this sauce to turn it into a more rich and creamy sauce, kind of like alfredo but with a slightly heavier booze factor.
This is the summer of corn. I've been eating so much of it lately and putting it into everything!
I couldn't decide if I wanted this to be a creamy pasta salad or not so I used burrata cheese so that some bites would be creamy and some wouldn't! You could totally add mayo though and make it a creamy pasta salad if you want!
If you don't have access to a Trader Joes, you could make your own elote seasoning at home! I would use 1 tsp cayenne pepper, 2 tbsp cotija cheese and then 1/4 tsp cumin powder. The lime juice and cilantro that are added to the pasta salad will add a more "street corn" flavor to the overall dish as well.
I've discovered the most perfect pepperoni in the world. Introducing, Hormel Cup n' Crisps. Out of all the different kind of pepperoni meats I've tried with making pizza, this one is by far my favorite. They curl up so nicely into the perfect little cup to hold one of my other favorite pizza toppings of all time - spicy hot honey.
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Here's the deal. The cookie dough recipe below is heavily influenced by what's on the back of the Toll House Chocolate Chip bag - that's what I grew up eating!! You could definitely use your fave cookie dough recipe or a healthier/gluten free blah blah cookie dough recipe - just make sure you replace the raw eggs with a liquid like an oil or milk and then bake the flour for 5-7 minutes at 350 F so that there's no raw ingredients that could contain bacteria. You also won't need any baking agents like baking soda because the dough won't be baked in an oven at all.
This recipe makes about 8 bars, or 16 small square bite-sized pieces.
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I don't always put veggies into my pasta, but when I do...it's usually fresh summer veggies like corn! I used to make this recipe with rigatoni noodles but I think the sauce pairs better with a semi-wide longer shape like fettuccini, tagliatelle or mafaldine so I adjusted things according to that lil fun fact.
Also, this is optional but I really like when the corn is charred. (I didn't have enough time to char it the day I shot these photos!)
This is hands down my favorite of all time way to grill chicken. You're probably thinking someone who makes pasta as often as I do doesn't know sh*t about how to cook meat on a grill. This is true, except for chicken. I can freaking make some damn good chicken on the grill.
I start off with a salt water brine (at least two hours or overnight) and then I use garlic powder and cayenne pepper and I brush layers of BBQ sauce onto the wings as they cook. If you don't have BBQ sauce they are just as good with the cayenne and garlic powder. You can use any part of the chicken for this recipe. I've done it with breasts, drums, thighs and wings. (Wings and drums are my fave!!)
As far as amount goes: make sure to have enough chicken for the number of people you plan to feed, which is obvious but there's always one person that will ask if I am not SUPER clear, lol. The salt water brine ratio is 1 cup water : 1 tsp salt, so however many cups of water it takes to cover the chicken in an airtight container or ziplock bag + the appropriate amount of salt.
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