Spanikopita Chicken Meatballs



Guys, meatballs are kinda my thing.  As much as I love good old fashioned Italian-style meatballs in “gravy” (if you don’t call red sauce with meat gravy in Philly you just don’t belong here), the kind of meatballs I like to make are not what your Nonna might expect.  I’ve made meatballs that are stuffed with cheese, meatballs that taste like Chinese orange chicken, and most famously, my Raspberry Chipotle Meatballs– those bad boys won me a meatball contest at work last year.  Not kidding.  I even got a trophy!


Photo Cred: Krissy Iaci 

There are so many different types and so much you can do with meatballs.  This recipe that I’m sharing with you today was inspired by an appetizer dish from Rachael Ray.  Instead of serving them as an app, I updated the recipe a bit, added a serving of rice, and voila it was our dinner!

These Spanikopita chicken meatballs are so delish, and they are not bad for you at all!  They are jam packed with spinach and using ground chicken breast limits the fat in the meatballs too.  When I originally tried this recipe, I used real (whole fat) feta cheese, but I recommend if you’re trying to be “good” to use fat free or reduced fat feta.  The feta texture and flavor is still there, but won’t cost you as many calories (or points if you’re on Weight Watchers like me!).

Spanikopita Chicken Meatballs

Recipe Adapted from:  Rachael Ray 
Serves: 3 (18 meatballs total plus sauce)
WW Smart Points (with real feta): 7
WW Smart Points (with fat free feta):  3 (omg right)


  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
  • 2 boxes frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry (I use cheesecloth)
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese *see note*
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon grill seasoning (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
  • 3/4 cup Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 seedless cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons, cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons, coriander
  • Salt

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Roasted Pineapple with Honey & Cashews

It has been so ridiculously cold this winter, I cannot stand it!  It’s Wednesday night and all anyone can talk about is the upcoming snow storm we’re expecting.  It’s supposed to last all night and into tomorrow, ending in the evening on Thursday.  I’m just over it!  It’s all over the news, twitter and facebook… shut up people!  Let’s talk about how the Phillies started Spring Training today!!

Snoop can show you exactly how I feel!

Snoop can show you exactly how I feel!

All I keep thinking about is how badly I wish I had another pineapple to make this dessert again.  But I don’t have one… and it’s already snowing.  BOO!

Stelly loves the snow!  The doggies are so excited.

Stelly loves the snow! The doggies are so excited.

Roasted Pineapple with Honey & Cashews


1/2 cup packed Dark Brown Sugar

1/2 cup Orange Juice (I used Trader Joe’s fresh Tangerine Juice)

3 Tablespoons Honey

1 ripe Pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut lengthwise into 8 wedges

1/4 cup Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt

1/3 cup Raw Cashews, coarsely chopped

2 Tablespoons torn Fresh Mint Leaves


1.  Preheat oven to 450.  Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.*  Stir the brown sugar, OJ, and honey in a large bowl until sugar dissolves.  Add pineapple and carefully toss to coat in the mixture.  Let marinate, tossing occasionally for about 10 minutes.  Place pineapple on the prepared sheet and reserve the marinade.

2.  Roast the pineapple for 15 minutes.  Turn, brush with marinade, and roast until tender and caramelized (10-15 minutes longer)  Drizzle remaining marinade over the pineapple and let cool slightly.

3.  Divide pinapple among bowls (Dave and I ate the entire thing ourselves!!).  Spoon greek yogurt alongside.  Garnish with cashews and mint.  

Slighty adapted from:  Bon Appetit

*Make sure to line the entire pan!  The marinade is very liquidy and mine leaked all over the pan- it was a tough one to scrub off when I was finished.

photo 3 (2)




What’s so funny about this recipe is that I originally posted the Bon Appetit version on my facebook so I would remember to try it!  Dave’s Mom thought it was mine and re-posted on her own wall showing me off!  I was happy to have all the love but that was enough inspiration for me to make it myself.  It’s probably the best dessert I’ve ever had.  After the Banana Cream Pie at Chef Vola’s.  

The original recipe uses pistachios, but Dave loves cashews and I had ’em so i used those instead.  Also, you can swap out the greek yogurt for some creme fraiche if you’re feeling fancy.  Whatever you do- don’t skimp out on the fresh mint.  Seriously.  It’s like a dollar at the grocery store and you can use the rest in tea and in recipes like this (I made it last week and holy moly it’s amazing).  While every single part of this dessert has its own perks… the mint… oh my gosh…. the mint.  It just makes this dish.  I don’t know why but it just does and it’s SO GOOD.

Anyway, this is a super easy dessert that will seriously impress people, so give it a try.  I can’t wait to make it again!

Tropical Green Smoothie

I’m new to this whole “green” obsession.  The green drinks, smoothies, Kale chips, etc.  I just can’t fully commit to it.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love green veggies but I just can’t get myself to remember to put kale in my smoothies or my zucchini in my brownies.  It just isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I’m thinking with my sweet tooth.

It's not easy being green!

It’s not easy being green!

In my second or third attempt to jump on this green bandwagon, I made Dave and I smoothies for breakfast and finished them off with a pop of green.  And as it turns out, a little green will do the trick.  (It’s so pretty too!)  This one even got the good ol’ Dave Stamp of Approval so we might have to make this one a habit.

Tropical Green Smoothie

Serves: 2


1 6oz contanier of Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt

1-2 Cups Spinach

1/2-1 Banana 

1 cup Frozen Peaches

1/2 cup  Frozen Mango Chunks

1/4 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

1 Tablespoon Ground Flax (optional)

Directions:  Place everything in a blender and let it whirl until smooth.  Garnish with some fresh peach if you’d like!




Tropical Green Smoothie

My blender tends to get gunked up pretty often so if that happens, take a rubber scraper and try to mix it around.  Add more almond milk if it’s looking too thick.  The best part of it all is that your don’t taste any “green”!  The spinach flavor is completely covered by the sweet and tangy peaches and mango.  This smoothie is sweet, delicious, and packed with nutrients!

You could even be braver than I am and try this recipe with Kale?



Tzatziki Chicken Salad & June SRC Reveal

The Secret Recipe Club (secretly) pairs bloggers up with each other every month.  We can pick ANY recipe that our assigned blogger has ever made, take it and try to make it ourselves.  Everyone reveals their partner and the recipe on the same day so we can all see what has been made!  This is now the fifth month I’ve participated and I love it.  It’s a great way to meet new bloggers, try new recipes, and get others to try yours too!
Secret Recipe Club
This month, I was given the assignment to try a recipe from Christy who is the beautiful and amazing woman behind the blog Life of a Modern Housewife.  Christy started her blog after moving to South Carolina all the way from Texas when she went from a full time job to becoming a housewife.  I loved looking through Christy’s recipes, “Motivational Mondays”, and stories about her princess pup Sadie Mae (not to be confused with my very own princess pup Stella May!).

After searching through so many fun recipes, I decided to go with Christy’s  Tzatziki Chicken Salad because I thought it was so creative.  I never would have thought to make a Chicken Salad this way, but I’m so glad I did.  It’s delicious.  Instead of eating the chicken salad with pita chips, I wanted to put together a nice sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and a slice of Havarti Cheese on a toasted Wheat Bun.  Dave and I devoured this chicken salad sandy for dinner and even for lunch over salad the next day.  YUM!

Tzatziki Chicken Salad Sandwiches


1 (6oz) container Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt

Fresh Lemon Juice from 1/2 a lemon

1 tsp dried Dill (or use 2 tsp fresh!)

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 Cucumber, seeded and shredded with a grater

1 Garlic Clove, minced

1/2 Jalapeno, seeded and finely diced (optional)

4 Chicken Breasts- cooked then shredded (I boiled mine first)


Combine all ingredients into a bowl (except the chicken) and stir with a whisk.  Add chicken, toss to coat.  Serve on a whole wheat bun, in a wrap, over salad, with pita chips, or whatever you’d like! 

Recipe slightly adapted from:  Life of a Modern Housewife

I thought the grated cucumber looked so pretty

I thought the grated cucumber looked so pretty

All sauced up and ready to go.

All sauced up and ready to go.

In goes the chicken

In goes the chicken

This recipe was obviously very easy, but it was such a refreshing spin on your normal boring old chicken salad.  I left the onions out because I’m not a huge fan of raw onions (especially for lunch at work!) and also used more chicken so it wasn’t too creamy/saucy.  I was excited too, since this was a healthy recipe that Christy found from Cooking Light.

... and onto a delicious sandwich!

… and onto a delicious sandwich!

Take a minute or two to check out some of these drool-worthy recipes from today’s big reveal!  Some of them sound so yummy…

Shrimp & Couscous w/ Yogurt-Hummus Sauce

This recipe reminds me of Israel.  Sighhhhh…. everything with hummus does.  Really.  That might be because hummus is all I ate there.

Anyway, this “20-Minute” simple recipe didn’t seem so simple to me at first.  I rarely make shrimp (Dave will. not. eat it) and I’ve never made couscous before.  So on the recipe anxiety scale of 1-10 (1 being toasting bread and 10 being a Baked Alaska) this shrimp dish was at a 6… I was worried!

To make matters worse, I even had to make this dish with shrimp… and another with chicken for Dave…

But (would you believe it) it all turned out fine.  The Food Network knows their shit.  This IS an easy recipe, and it DID take me 20 minutes.  LOL.  All that worrying for nothing.  That’s never happened to me before… totally new experience……… ………

Anyway, let me just tell you… it’s freakin’ delicious.  So good.  It’s like, lick the bowl good.  And- yes, I did.

Shrimp & Couscous w/ Yogurt-Hummus Sauce

Makes 4 Servings of couscous salad and sauce.  I made 1 serving of shrimp, 1 of sliced chicken breast for Dave, and the rest of the couscous salad I used for another meal!


1 cup whole wheat couscous
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup Fat Free Greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon Hummus (I prefer Sabra if I didn’t make it myself)
1 teaspoon dried Dill or 1 Tablespoon Fresh 
Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
4oz Shrimp per Serving (I used frozen that I thawed)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon Hot Hungarian Paprika (or regular if you don’t have hot… and add a dash of Cayenne!)
Juice from 1/2 a Lemon
1.  Make the couscous.  Combine the couscous, raisins and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a bowl. Add 1 1/4 cups very hot water, cover with plastic wrap and let sit until all of the water is absorbed and the couscous is tender, about 5 minutes.  It’s magic!

2.  Make the sauce.  Stir together the yogurt, hummus, dill,  and 1 to 2 tablespoons water in another bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside in the refrigerator.

3.  Cook the shrimp.  Toss the shrimp, tomatoes, the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and hot paprika together.  Cook in a small saute pan over medium heat until the shrimp is cooked through (maybe 4 minutes?  It does not take long.  If you’re using pre-cooked shrimp, just heat through.)  Drizzle the lemon juice ontop of the shrimp-tomato mixture.  

4.  Assemble!  Fluff the couscous with a fork.  Place the couscous in a bowl or plate, add the shrimp mixture ontop.  Scrape any of the saucy drippings from the pan into the sauce and stir.  Place a dollop of sauce ontop of the shrimp/tomato mixture.  ENJOY!

Recipe slightly adapted from:  Food Network Kitchens

photo 1 (29)

Cookin' the shrimp/chicken and tomatoes

Cookin’ the shrimp/chicken and tomatoes

One chicken and one shrimp (with a few pieces of chicken snitched!  :) )

One chicken and one shrimp (with a few pieces of chicken snitched! 🙂 )

YUM!  I topped mine with some parsley.

YUM! I topped mine with some parsley.

Mixed all up, this is one delicious meal!

Mixed all up, this is one delicious meal!


See, that totally wasn’t hard at all!  Once you think about it in four simple steps:  Make the Couscous, Make the Sauce, Cook the Shrimp, and Assemble!  That’s all!  It was so tasty and different than anything I’ve ever made before.  I really enjoyed a break from all of the spicy food we normally eat.

Pipette w/ Bacon & Peas

​​What’s funny about this recipe is that the inspiration came from a Bon Appetit article called “12 Ways to Cook w/ Ricotta“.  I bookmarked this pasta dish along with the hundreds of other recipes I save.  The other day, it caught my eye and I decided to make this for dinner but whoops… I had no Ricotta!  I improvised and ended up with a really yummy pasta without the starring ingredient.
The original recipe also used a really pretty pasta shape called Campanelle which I didn’t have.  I chose to use my Pipette since it was also cute and different from your typical Penne, Elbows, or Shells!  (I’ve always had a huge crush on pasta shapes… it’s strange)
Photo Cred:

Campanelle, Photo Cred:


Photo cred:

Pipette, Photo cred:

Pipette w/ Bacon & Peas


1/2 box Pipette Pasta

4-6 Pieces of Center Cut Bacon, chopped

1/4 Onion, sliced

3/4 cup Frozen Peas

1 Tablespoon Cream Cheese 

2 Tablespoons Fat Free Sour Cream

1 Tablespoon Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt

1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese

Fresh Black Pepper, Parsley Leaves


1.  Cook pasta in salted water to al dente according to the directions on the package.  Drain and set aside.

2.  Meanwhile, cook the chopped bacon, stirring occasionally until it starts to crisp up.  Add the sliced onion and cook, still stirring until the onions are softening up a bit.  Add the frozen peas and continue to cook making sure you don’t burn the bacon.  

3.  Melt the cream cheese, sour cream, greek yogurt, and most of the parmesan cheese over the drained and hot pasta.  Stir to combine.  

4.  Once the peas are heated through and the bacon is cooked crisp to your liking, pour the mixture over the sauced-up pasta.  Sprinkle with black pepper and parsley.  Enjoy!

Recipe inspired by:  12 Ways to Cook w/ Ricotta

If you cut the bacon into this size, it will shrink up nicely but still maintain a large enough piece to really notice it in your dish!

If you cut the bacon into this size, it will shrink up nicely but still maintain a large enough piece to really notice it in your dish!

This is the point where the mixture is just done... the bacon is crisp and the onions are just starting to brown

This is the point where the mixture is just done… the bacon is crisp and the onions are just starting to brown

So pretty!

So pretty!

photo 4 (14)

Woo-Wee!  This recipe is so yummy!  I have to appreciate the rare occasion where I am allowed to eat bacon for dinner.  Both Dave and I devoured our portions and I had to be careful we didn’t over eat since this wasn’t the healthiest meal!  While I assume making this dish with ricotta cheese would be delicious, I didn’t miss it at all.  The rich bacon grease drippings mixed with the creaminess of the pasta sauce was more than enough flavor to make this recipe spectacular.  It might sound strange, but try it!  It just works.

Oh, and i left the salt out on purpose, you totally don’t need it when there’s bacon involved!!

Check out some of my other BACON recipes!

Breakfast Baked Potato

Breakfast Baked Potato

One-Pan Hashbrown Breakfast

One-Pan Hashbrown Breakfast

Corn & Potato Chowder

Corn & Potato Chowder


A fan of It’s Good to be the Cook on Facebook (Like it if you haven’t yet!!), Brianne asked this question: “What do you do for lunch at work? Do you make anything special that can handle a commute?”

Thanks Brianne, you rock!

Lunchtime during the week is my time to “be good” on my diet.  I try to be very consistent and listen to my dietitian.

Here’s what I suggest and try to do myself:

1.  Breakfast.  8-9am.  I know you didn’t ask about breakfast, but it’s almost more important than lunch!  I was told to kick my favorite “Fiber One Oats & Chocolate” Bars to the side, as they are filled with sugar.  Fine.  Instead, I’ve been eating Kashi Go Lean (NOT crunch) and skim milk.  Kashi Go Lean is high in protein which is awesome.  I measure it out, 1 cup + 1/2 cup of skim milk.  At first it took a while to get used to the lack of milk, but I like it now since it lets most of the cereal stay nice and crunchy.  Add berries, or a banana.  

2.  Lunch.  12-12:30pm.  Don’t let 4 hours go between each meal.  Normally, for lunch I pack a turkey sandwich.  I use 2 slices of light wheat bread (or 1 slice if I have a specialty bread that is not light).  If you like mustard, pile it on.  I actually don’t, so I use Kraft’s Reduced Fat Olive Oil Mayo, and I measure out one teaspoon.  It’s only 1 point on WW, and will not do any damage.  If you have any, add a sliced tomato, lettuce, roasted reds, or anything else exciting.  Honesetly, most of the time I just have bread, mayo, and turkey.  I was measuring my turkey until I got so used to it I didn’t have to… but one good serving is 3oz.  You’ll be surprised how much that is!  You could also do a honey ham, chicken breast, or roast beef to change things up a bit.  Wrap in foil.  Eat w/ a side of fruit:  Peach, Apple, Banana, Berries... whatever.

Check out that delish Wegman’s Marathon Bread! Since it was’t a light bread today, I only use one slice (which also makes for less mayo!) and pile the turkey on.

Here’s my lunch for today! Sandwich, Carrots, 1 Wedge of Blue Cheese Laughing Cow, and some Cantaloupe


3.  Snack.  2:30-3pm.  If you’re like me and eat dinner late, eating a healthy snack is super important.  Try to have a Fiber and a Protein in your snack.  This can be a veggie and some cheese, some almonds, or my personal favorite:  Greek Yogurt or Cottage Cheese.  John the dietitian got me OBSESSED with this stuff.  I buy PLAIN, NONFAT either Greek Yogurt or Cottage Cheese, in a big container.  The night before, I take a small tupperware and measure out either 1 Cup of Greek Yogurt (again, it’s a TON) or 1/2 Cup of Cottage Cheese.  Then, I measure in 1 Tablespoon of All Fruit Jelly (any flavor but I love the Apricot, Strawberry, Raspberry, or Blackberry.  Don’t recommend grape!) and sometimes 1 Tablespoon of Wheat Germ or Ground Flax.  You shouldn’t be hungry after eating this!  Mix it all together once you are ready to eat, it’s amazing.  Sometimes I add raspberries in the mix too.

Here’s some FF Greek Yogurt (about 1/2 Cup today) with 1 Tbsp of Jam. After sitting overnight, it becomes a little bit watery, you just have to stir and it will be perfect.

If you prepare your meals ahead of time and bring them into work, you’re more likely to save money and calories by not ordering out or going to the vending machine.  Small Tupperware, foil, and baggies are clutch, and I just portion out everything the night before.

I hope this helps, Brianne!  Thank you for asking 🙂