A Family Favorite Recipe: Zucchini & Sausage Penne Pasta

For my daughter’s recent birthday, I asked her what she’d like me to cook and she immediately replied that she wanted the Zucchini & Sausage Penne Pasta that I’ve made for years. It’s a long-time family favorite that never seems to get old and is always a dinner party pleaser. And best of all, it’s an easy and relatively quick meal to prepare! 

A Collection of Recipes: From Your Kitchen to Mine

Earlier this week I celebrated my birthday, and thanks to so many of you, it really was the best day! One of the sweetest presents I got this year was a fantastic collection of recipes, “From Our Kitchens to Yours,” shared by some of my fans.

Okay, for starters, that this group of fans would come together, from places all over the world, to put this together warms my heart. But my favorite part is that each recipe is accompanied by a sweet little story that gives me a glimpse into the lives, heritage and backgrounds of each of the ladies who contributed.

One thing I have always struggled with on this acting life journey is that I don’t get the opportunity to really hear much from the wonderful people who support us. The events are great, but it’s especially hard – knowing people have waited patiently in line to meet us – when we only get to spend a couple of minutes with each person. It all goes too fast, which is why I must confess to not knowing a lot of your names … or at least I’m not always able to put names and faces together.  So please forgive me on that …

I love that PLANK has given me the opportunity to learn more about many of you, and I love the stories that you share here. Over the past two years, so many of you have referenced things you do for certain occasions, or things your grandma tried to teach you … sharing the traditions that were passed down to you. We sometimes forget to do that and it really is so special. It always reminds me of the daily things my grandma passed down to me …
 

A Few of Grandma’s Tips

  1. Vacuum slowly. 
  2. Use steam when ironing.
  3. For scrambled eggs, put the cracked, unbeaten eggs all in the pan, stir around the yoks until the end and then chop them up.
  4. To wash your silver, place crinkled foil in the bottom of the sink. Then disolve Spick & Span in hot water and let siver sit in it for a while. (I’ve never tried it, but I’ve never forgotten it … and I’ll take her word for it)
Anyway, thanks to everyone who contributed for taking the time to share your recipes, stories and pieces of your lives with me. And a huge thanks to Jennifer Brock and Nikki Stauffer, who pulled all of this together. I have been looking through the recipes and there are so many I want to try. One, in particular, that caught my attention was the recipe for Spinach Banana Muffins … I can’t wait to try these, Nikki!
 
 
 
 
 
And speaking of muffins and passing things down … I am so happy that my daughter, Katie, has started showing a real interest in cooking and baking. We share recipes often now, and she recently sent me a super easy, great recipe for healthy banana muffins that only have five ingredients.
 
So, I thought I’d share both muffins recipes with you all — one from your kitchen, and one from mine (sort of). Click here for Katie’s recipe
 
Spinach Banana Muffins

Spinach Banana Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 bag of fresh spinach (5 oz.)
  • 1 small banana
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients
  3. In a blender, combine the non-dairy milk, spinach, banana and vanilla extract. Blend until entirely smooth
  4. Place the coconut oil in a bowl or mug and microwave on high until entirely melted
  5. Pour the green smoothie mixture and melted coconut oil into the dry ingredients. Mix/fold together until a batter forms.
  6. Fill each cup of a well-greased muffin tin 3/4 full and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
http://www.plankblog.com/cooking/3332/
 

30 Plus Some & I’m Feeling Great!

In October, I shared with you my quest to get back on the health wagon with the Whole30. Since then, several of you have asked about my experience, so I thought I’d share a little update.

As I said in my original post, I’ve tried so many diets over the years that I’ve lost count. I seem to be perpetually in search of something that will help me stabilize my weight. And for that last 5-10 years, I’ve been in a pretty consistent cycle – I’d be really good during the week and drop a few pounds, only to gain them back over the weekend. Sound familiar?

What To Do With Holiday Leftovers … Start a New Tradition

Who knows how traditions start. Certainly some cooking traditions develop over generations, or, like in the case of my cornbread & sausage stuffing, they take off quickly. In that case, I found the recipe and started a tradition that spread through my family and friends. 

However they begin, cooking traditions are fun, and I find it heartwarming to look forward to certain dishes each year.

Celebrating Hanukkah: Our Tradition of Family & Friends

As I shared before in my blog about Passover, I have always enjoyed the rituals, camaraderie and sense of belonging to a community that comes with Jewish Holiday celebrations. Early on in our marriage, my husband and I were lucky enough to find a group of couple friends who, like us, had one member who was Jewish; and we started celebrating Passover and Hanukkah with this group. My life-long best friend Carrie is among this group, but others are friends we’ve made along the way.  

As children were born and families grew, so did our annual celebrations. Over the years, even some of our non-Jewish friends have joined in on what has become our most fun and anticipated party of the year. For a while the the parties were HUGE, but as some families moved away, our group shrunk … and now we are typically about 15.

Guilt-free, Cauliflower Pizza

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring … in fact, I love challenging myself to find new and interesting dishes that keep me on track, while also satisfying cravings. I am not a fan of cauliflower, but a couple months ago PLANK editor Mandy shared this great, guilt-free take on pizza that uses cauliflower. I gave it a shot and it was a hit!