Cheesy Chicken Florentine

After a long day I want things super simplified when it comes to dinner. I try to cook a homemade meal every night, but sometimes I need a bit of help.

There’s nothing wrong with using a boxed or canned item to make dinner easier.

I’ve also got a budding chef that’s really into helping right now, so while cruising up and down the aisles at the grocery store, something caught my eye.

Chef Boyardee Mac & Cheese. Already made in a can.

Sure, I’ve loved Chef Boyardee products forever with their saucy good pastas. But this? Mac & Cheese in a can had to come home with us.

Cooking with your kids encourages them to try new things and also introduces essential kitchen skills. Even young tots like mine can do lots of things to assist with making dinner.

I had a tasty idea for using that Chef Boyardee Mac & Cheese, and she could totally help.

After getting out a cutting board, butter knife, and a handful of mushrooms, she got busy cutting away while I had time to prepare the rest of the meal without her attached to my leg.

The thing is, Chef Boyardee is running a contest right now (December 29 through March 11, 2012) with a final winner getting a year’s worth of groceries and ten weekly $500 cash prizes.

If that’s not encouragement to get in the kitchen and get creative with the Chef, I don’t know what is!

While prepping our dinner I kept finding myself distracted while watching my daughter cut her way through those mushrooms. I was so proud of her and her budding knife skills.

She helped me mix things together and then was more than excited to sit down to dinner and enjoy what she had helped to make.

Cheesy Chicken Florentine!

This recipe is so good, super easy-and healthy (for real-under 300 calories per generous 1 cup serving and full of vitamin-packed spinach)!

This dish, that easily serves six, can be on the table in less than 30 minutes and uses one pan, which makes clean up a snap.

Serve alongside garlic toast and a few sliced tomatoes for a complete meal.


1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 lb chicken breast tenders, cubed

1 c chopped mushrooms

1/2 t pepper

1/2 t dried rosemary

10 oz box of frozen chopped spinach at room temperature and drained of water

2 15 oz cans of Chef Boyardee Mac & Cheese

1/2 c reduced fat sour cream

1/2 c shredded mozzarella


Place a 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat and add the oil, chopped onion and garlic and stir.

Add the cubed chicken tenders along with the pepper and rosemary and let things brown for about five minutes stirring as needed so the chicken doesn’t stick to the pan.

While you’re stirring the kids can chop the mushrooms and squeeze the water from the spinach by pressing it in a colander.

Once the chicken has started to get toasty around the edges, add the spinach and mushrooms to the mix and stir.

Go ahead and turn off the heat under the frying pan and crank the oven to 400 F.

While it’s preheating, mix in the Chef Boyardee Mac & Cheese along with the sour cream to the chicken.

Sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella and pop into the oven for about 20-minutes or until the top is all bubbly brown. Dinner!

What’s your favorite Chef Boyardee product? Use it to create your own unique recipe and then share on the Chef Boyardee Facebook page for a chance to win!

Enter Chef Boyardeeís Make It Boyardeelicious Recipe Contest from December 29, 2011 through March 11, 2012 for your chance to win free groceries for a year as well as one of ten $500 weekly cash prizes. Then visit Chef Boyardeeís Facebook page from March 26, 2012 through April 8, 2012 to vote for your favorite recipes from the ìMake It Boyardeelicious Recipe Contest.î Each day, one voter will be selected to win a $100 cash prize.

Be sure to visit the Chef Boyardee Roundup page on to check out other bloggersí recipes!

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Dinner every night – Getting in the veggies

This week was totally overwhelming. We are in the process of refinancing our house and were waiting on pins and needles at the beginning of the week on the appraisal, I headed into the city to meet with someone up close and personal about an exciting work adventure, there was preschool with the tot, and then two conference calls on Friday.

We had high hopes of getting a sitter for a friend’s party on Saturday night, but things just didn’t work out and the husband went solo. As much as I would have enjoyed hanging out and enjoying much needed adult time, I was exhausted, so spent a few hours with a book and some silence.

This week’s dinners started out with a bang and then kind of lost momentum. Our stuffed chicken breasts didn’t look nearly as appealing as they tasted, and frozen pizza dough saved me on Saturday evening.

But we did have two vegetarian dinners this week and I tried to keep going with our plans to ditch the carbs. By adding additional veggies to our meals we still had full plates – and full tummies.

What was your favorite meal this week at your house? Link up a recipe to share, or leave a comment telling me which recipe from our meals this week you would like me to share tomorrow!

*Top row from left to right: Mushroom stuffing stuffed chicken breasts with roasted celery and white beans, healthy beef stroganoff made with plain yogurt over spinach and egg noodles, noodle free eggplant lasagna. Bottom row from left to right: Pounded boneless chicken things over veggie filled rice with a green onion pan sauce, lean cheeseburgers with baked zucchini fries, mushroom and garlic cheese pizza with fresh ricotta.




Hot roasted butternut squash and quinoa salad (with blue cheese)

I just love quinoa – and I’m a big fan of butternut squash. Quinoa is easy to cook (really) and so healthy for you. Not only is it packed with protein, it’s also low in cholesterol, carbohydrates, and has hardly any calories. With a nutty, crisp flavor, it’s great as a side or main dish. And, butternut squash isn’t anything to complain about either. Full of antioxidants and also low in calories, butternut squash can be enjoyed savory or sweet.

This was our winner from last week’s dinners, and I enjoyed the leftovers cold the next day for lunch. Even if you’ve never cooked quinoa before, you’ll have success with this dish – really, it’s that easy.

And, hey. Not a fan of blue cheese? Leave it out – or crumble some feta or shred on some Parmesan.


1 butternut squash, skin and seeds removed then diced

1 small onion chopped

1 big clove garlic chopped

1 t olive oil

1/4 c water

Dash of salt and pepper

4 c fresh spinach leaves

1/4 c crumbled blue cheese

Cooked quinoa (don’t worry, I’ll tell you how to make it later)

How to make it

Start by cutting off the skin from the butternut squash and then cutting in half. Scoop out the seeds and then chunk the squash into 1-inch pieces.

Go ahead and crank your oven to 400 F and dig out your biggest non-stick-but-safe-for-the-oven sauté pan. 12-inches is a good size, and if you don’t have a non-stick, you can use a regular one – things might just stick a bit.

Slice and dice the onion and garlic and add to the butternut squash along with a couple of good dashes of salt and pepper and the water and olive oil. Give things a stir and then toss into the hot oven.

Now get 2-cups of water boiling with a dash of salt. Once things are simmering away, add 1-cup quinoa, turn down the heat, and cover things up for about 10-minutes or so. Check back every once in a while to make sure your quinoa isn’t burning at the bottom or to add more water if things look dry. Give things a stir and then taste for doneness. You should end up with lots of itty-bitty swirls that are nice and tender and fluff with a fork.

Turn the heat off under the quinoa and leave covered. Give your butternut squash a stir and keep on roasting for another 20-minutes or so.

While the squash is finishing up, wash and dry your fresh spinach and add to a nice sized mixing bowl.

Give your butternut squash a doneness test after about 30-minutes of roasting by poking a chunk with a fork. If it goes in easy, you’re ready to go. Pull the squash out of the oven and dump in your quinoa. Give things a gently toss and return to the oven for another 5-minutes to toast up the quinoa.

Mix the hot butternut squash and quinoa with the spinach and then top with the blue cheese. You can also add another drizzle of olive oil and add additional salt and pepper to taste.

Tasty AND healthy!

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Dinner every night: Cutting back on carbs

This week was all about cutting back on pasta, pasta, pasta, pasta, and potatoes. I’ve gotten into a bit of a rut lately and giving myself the challenge of finding other fun sides was really exciting this week. I experimented with quinoa, mashed cauliflower, and did make one night of light pasta with olive oil, fresh pepper, and lots and lots of garlic. Sure, I didn’t eliminate carbohydrates altogether, but it’s a start, right?

We also worked on watching our portions and not heading back for seconds. I often make extra so the tot and I have something for lunch the next day (or for double-duty another night as dinner), so before serving I popped leftovers in the fridge making them  unappealing for more munching.

There were a few winners – and a couple of losers. The yogurt marinated rice crispy coated chicken tenders were really tasty – as well as the hot roasted butternut squash quinoa salad. I really wanted the mashed cauliflower to be phenomenal, but the hubs and I both agreed the texture was spot on, but the flavor a bit cabbage-y.

What did you make for dinner this week? Leave a comment with a recipe or link!

I’ll be sharing our favorite recipe of the week tomorrow….

*top left – basa fish tacos, top right – hot roasted butternut squash salad with half a rib-eye, middle left – yogurt marinated rice crispy coated chicken tenders with garlic spinach pasta, middle left – pulled turkey thighs over carrot couscous, bottom left – chuck roast with peas over mashed cauliflower, middle bottom – chicken/turkey sausage with caramelized onions over polenta, right bottom – the wine of the week: Bannus

Dinner every night

The other day I posted a pic of our dinner before we ate on Facebook and got so many remarks I joked around later with the husband that I should post a picture of our dinner every night along with a very brief recipe. Then, if I really like the creation, I’ll share with a full blown recipe and photo shoot on my blog. Along with having this spot for sharing, I also put up randomness on Tumblr and figured that would be the perfect spot for this experiment. I’ll also share on Facebook and Twitter every once in awhile too.

I can’t guarantee the pictures are always going to be amazing or the creations totally delish – but they will all be homemade. Yes, I might use a bit of a boxed or canned here and there, but, for the most part, these dishes will be cooked up in my kitchen with fresh and healthy ingredients that you can re-create.

Think of it as inspiration for making your own homemade dinners every night.

And if I eat out or or order in, I’ll share the goods too.

So head on over to Tumblr to check out what we had last night!