Posted in Easy, Salads, Vegetables

Easy Italian Pasta Salad

Original Post September 2010: We had a family BBQ over the weekend and with our crazy schedule, I had to make a menu that takes minimal effort.  The night before I threw this together and it worked out really well.  Instead of trying to come up with a homemade salad dressing, I figured it’s easier to buy the salad dressing and just “jazz” it up a little with fresh basil & garlic.

If there are some ingredients that do not appeal to you, feel free to substitute.  Here are some ideas:

– grated parmesan instead of mozzerella

– Minced onion instead of garlic

– Chopped celery

– chopped tomatoes

Have fun with it because that’s what it’s all about…

Easy Italian Pasta Salad

Serves 16

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Refrigerator: 2 hours


8 ounces pasta

8 ounces Italian ham

1 can artichoke hearts – rinsed and drained

8 ounces roasted red peppers – drained and rinsed

¼ cup pitted calamata olives

1 cup low fat Italian salad dressing

2 cloves garlic – minced

½ cup low fat grated mozzarella cheese

¼ cup fresh basil – chopped


  1. Bring a large pot of water up to a boil and add pasta.  Cook according to package directions then drain and rinse under cold water until the pasta is cool to the touch.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, chop the ham, artichoke hearts, red peppers and olives and spoon into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add pasta, salad dressing, garlic and cheese.  Toss all ingredients together and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  4. Right before serving, chop fresh basil and toss.
Posted in Bake, Eggs, Pasta dish, Side Dishes, Vegetables

Penne Alfredo & Spinach Quiché

Preheat oven 350o

Serves 8

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Bake Time: 60 minutes

Estimated Values per serving:

Calories = 200                                              Fat = 2 grams

Penne Alfredo & Spinach Quiché


10 ounces penne pasta

8 ounces frozen chopped spinach – defrosted

2 ½ cups skim milk

¼ cup flour

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Pinch ground nutmeg

Salt to taste

1 cup fat free ricotta cheese

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

1 cup egg substitute


  1. Boil a large pot of water and add penne.  Cook for 5 minutes until al dente (still firm).  Drain and add to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Squeeze excess water from defrosted chopped spinach and add to pasta.
  3. In a medium size saucepan, whisk together milk, flour, pepper, garlic powder and nutmeg.  Heat on medium low, stirring constantly until mixture begins to bubble.  Increase heat to medium and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and add ricotta and parmesan.  Stir until cheeses are melted.  Add salt to taste.
  4. Add cheese mixture to penne and spinach and cool for about 20 minutes.
  5. Stir in egg substitute.
  6. Coat a 8” springform pan with cooking spray.  Spoon in quiche mixture and cover with foil.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes until golden brown.
  7. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen penne.  Let stand 20 minutes.  Remove from pan and serve.
Posted in Bake, Beef, Casserole, Main Courses, Pasta dish, Poultry, Sauces

Pastitsio – Greek Style Baked ziti with meat

Most families have traditional holiday meals that usually stem from their ethnic background and my family is no exception. Coming from a Greek American background, our Easter dinner usually consists of roasted lamb with orzo, Greek salad, spinach pie, pastsio and rice pudding for dessert.  Here is a recipe I’d like to share with you that lightens up a traditionally very heavy dish.


Pastitsio – Greek Style Baked ziti with meat

Preheat Oven 350o

Serves 6

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook & Bake Time: 50 – 60 minutes

Estimated Values per Serving:

Calories: 420                        Fat: 7 grams


½ pound ziti pasta

1 onion – chopped

1 clove garlic – minced

½ pound ground sirloin

½ pound ground turkey breast meat

Salt and pepper

½ cup white wine

1 cup tomato sauce

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

½ cup egg substitute

Cream Sauce:

1 cup fat free half and half

2 cups skim milk

½ cup flour

¾ cup egg substitute

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese


  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add ziti, cook for 5 minutes until al dente (firm).  Drain ziti and rinse with cold water.  Spoon into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Make the meat filling:  Heat a large skillet on medium low heat, coat with cooking spray and add onion.  Cook for about 5 minutes until softened and browned.  Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
  3. Increase the stovetop burner heat to medium high and add ground beef and turkey and sauté for about 7 minutes until the meat is cooked and browned.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add white wine and cook until all the liquid has absorbed.  Add tomato sauce and heat for about 2 minutes.  Spoon meat filling into the bowl with ziti and cool while preparing the cream sauce.
  5. Make cream sauce: In a large pot, whisk together half and half, milk, flour, egg substitute and nutmeg.  Heat the stovetop burner on medium low, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly and thick.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/3 cup parmesan cheese.  Set aside.
  6. Once the meat mixture is cooled, add the ¼ cup parmesan cheese and ½ cup egg substitute.
  7. To assemble: Coat an 8 X 12 inch baking pan with cooking spray.  Spoon meat and ziti mixture on the bottom.  Spread the cream sauce on top.
  8. Cover and bake for 45 minutes.  Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.
Posted in Bake, Soup

Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup

Serves 8

Preheat oven 375o

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Estimated Values per Serving:

Calories: 200                        Fat:4 grams


½ (8 ounces) pound ground turkey breast meat

½ (8 ounces) pound ground sirloin

½ cup Italian style bread crumbs

¼ cup egg substitute

1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning – separated

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

½ box (8 ounces) orzo pasta

10 cups low fat chicken broth

1 package (10 ounces) chopped frozen spinach

2 bay leaves


  1. To make the meatballs: Combine the ground turkey, ground sirloin, bread crumbs, egg substitute, ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder and parmesan cheese and mix well with your hands.
  2. Coat a broiler pan with cooking spray and set on the side.  Roll meat mixture into small balls (about ½ teaspoon in size) and place meatballs on broiler pan.
  3. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
  4. While the meatballs are baking, boil orzo pasta until al dente (about 5 minutes).  Drain and rinse and set aside.
  5. In a large pot, combine chicken broth, frozen spinach, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, bay leaves and cooked orzo and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer.
  6. Once meatballs are cooked, add them to the soup and serve hot with parmesan cheese on the side.




Posted in Beef, Pasta dish, Poultry, Sauces, Slow Cook

Macaroni and Gravy

Years ago, when I first met my husband, he would talk endlessly about how his mother would make “macaroni and gravy” every Sunday night for dinner.  When I first heard of this, I thought it sounded disgusting and had visions of macaroni with brown gravy, like the kind you pour on roast beef.  However, when I had the pleasure of eating at his mother’s house that first Sunday did I understand what he meant; “macaroni and gravy” is pasta topped with a rich tasting tomato sauce that had simmered in some type of meat all day.

Dean, my husband, and I have modified the original recipe so that it is no longer dripping in grease yet still maintains that delicious rich and hearty flavor.  This “gravy” is so good, you don’t need to add anything and is perfect just the way it is.

From our family to your, enjoy this Italian tradition – modified so that it is “delicious and light”.

Macaroni and Gravy

Serves 4

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes (you could cook all day too)

Estimated values per serving:

Calories = 570                         Fat = 7 grams                         Points: 6


½ pound London broil

½ pound skinless/boneless chicken breast

Salt and pepper to taste

2 small onions – chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup red wine – divided

3 cloves garlic – minced

2 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomato

1 tomato can (28 ounces) of water

2 tablespoons double concentrate tomato paste

1 tablespoon sugar

Parsley flakes to taste (about 2 teaspoons)

Dried basil to taste (about 2 teaspoons)

½ pound pasta


  1. Season London broil and chicken with salt and pepper.  Heat a large pot on medium high heat, coat with cooking spray and add olive oil.  Add London broil and chicken and sauté for about 5 minutes on each side until browned.
  2. Remove meats from the pot and add onion.  Sauté for 5 minutes until soft and browned.  Add ½ cup red wine and cook until liquid is absorbed.
  3. Add garlic and the other ½ cup wine and cook until the wine is reduced by half.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes, fill one can with water and add to the pot, tomato paste, sugar, parsley and basil and bring to a boil.
  5. Add back the London broil and chicken and simmer on low for 1 hour (tasting to adjust seasonings as needed).
  6. While the “gravy” is simmering for the last 10 minutes, bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add pasta and cook for about 8 minutes until done.
  7. Drain pasta and place in a serving bowl.  Add “gravy” to pasta.  Serve meats on a separate serving platter.
Posted in Bake, Main Courses, Pasta dish, Sauces

Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells

Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells

Serves 6

Preheat oven 350o

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Estimated values per serving:

Calories = 350                      Fat = 7 grams                        Points: 6

Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells


24 jumbo pasta shells

6 ounces fresh spinach – chopped

8 ounces fat free ricotta cheese

3 ounces low fat grated mozzarella cheese

2 ounces grated parmesan

1 tablespoon fresh parsley

Sauce Ingredients:

2 cloves garlic – minced

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon low calorie butter spread – melted

8 ounces fat free chicken broth

1 teaspoon fresh parsley – chopped


  1. Boil a large pot of water and add jumbo shells.  Boil shells for 3 – 4 minutes (they should be slightly softened).  Drain hot water and add cold water.  Keep shells in cold water until ready to stuff.
  2. Combine spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan and parsley in food processor and pulse until well combined.
  3. Combine all sauce ingredients and pour into a 9X13-inch baking pan.
  4. Stuff pasta shells with spinach mixture.
  5. Place pasta shells in baking pan.  Bake for 30 minutes, covered.
Posted in Fish, Pasta dish, Saute`, Shrimp

Shrimp in Wine Sauce with Angel Hair Pasta

Shrimp in Wine Sauce with Angel Hair Pasta

Shrimp in Wine Sauce with Angel Hair Pasta

Serves 6

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Estimated values per serving:

Calories = 320                      Fat = 5 grams                        Points: 6


8 ounces high fiber angel hair pasta

1 ½ pound shrimp – peeled and deveined with tails removed

1 clove garlic – minced

1 tablespoon reduced calorie butter spread

1 8-ounce package sliced mushrooms

½ cup white wine

1 cup marinara sauce

4 8-ounce bottles of clam juice

1 cup Cannellini Beans

6 ounces baby spinach

½ cup grated parmesan cheese


  1. Boil a large pot of water and add pasta.  Cook for about 3 – 5 minutes, drain and rinse in cold water.  Keep pasta in a little cool water until ready to add to the sauce.
  2. Heat large skillet on medium high heat, spray with cooking spray and add shrimp and garlic.  Sauté for 3 – 5 minutes until shrimp turns pink.  Remove from pan and cover to keep warm.
  3. Add butter spread and mushrooms and sauté for 5 – 7 minutes until browned.  Add white wine and reduce by half.
  4. Add sauce and clam juice and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add beans, spinach and cheese and cook for 1 minute until spinach is wilted.
  5. Add back shrimp and toss in pasta that has been drained of water.  Toss to warm shrimp and pasta and then spoon onto serving platter.