Roasted Grape Tomato, Garlic, & Poblano Ragu

I feel like I’m living in an episode of Seinfeld or Friends.  You know… when something happens and then something else happens and then a third thing happens that somehow ties it all together.  I’m pretty sure some recent events are really just my subconscious is trying to tell me that I’m losing my mind.  Literally.


I’ve always had this panic thing where I really think I lose my cell phone and once I start the panic mode, I find it under my leg in my seat in the car, in a fold in a blanket, or under the dog.  This happens like, literally all the time.  At least once or twice a day.

What’s going on with my recent misplacement of really important belongings isn’t this panic-mode.  It’s real.  I don’t know what’s going on (with the exception of me losing my mind)… but in the past two weeks I have somehow managed to misplace not one but TWO jackets, leave my car keys in my Mom’s car, and forget my purse in a restaurant.  WTF?!

Rather than just thinking I’m a moron, I’m going to take this as a sign that I need to take a step back and relax.  Take a minute and breathe and STOP LOSING ALL OF MY CRAP!

In an attempt to go back to my normal routine, I decided to make dinner last night.  It’s been rare since Dave and I got engaged… life has just been too crazy and busy to make fun dinners.  I was inspired by the surplus of Grape Tomatoes in the house and wanted to try to make my own tomato sauce.

This sauce is so good… I almost could not believe myself.  Don’t leave out the roasting of the veggies in this recipe… it gives the sauce such a rich flavor.  It’s very easy to do!

Roasted Grape Tomato, Garlic, & Poblano Ragu


1.5 pints Grape Tomatoes

1 Head Garlic

1 Poblano Pepper

8oz Lean Ground Beef

1 Green Bell Pepper

1/2 Large Sweet Onion

1 can Diced Tomatoes 

1/4 cup Fresh Basil Leaves

1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder

1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder

1/2 teaspoon-1 teaspoon Sea Salt

1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper

1/8 teaspoon Cumin

1/2 teaspoon Dried Parsley (or 1T fresh)


1.  Roast the Veggies:  Preheat the oven to 400.  On a baking sheet COVERED with foil and prepared with cooking spray, spread the tomatoes.  Put the poblano on the sheet too.  Cut off the tip of the garlic exposing the tops of the cloves.  Wrap the garlic in a small piece of foil and pour a few drops of Olive Oil in and close.  Put the foiled garlic on the baking sheet too.  Either drizzle or spray the tomatoes and poblano with just a bit of Olive Oil, sprinkle with salt, and pop in the oven for 30-40 minutes.  Flip the poblano halfway through and remove if the skin becomes charred.

2.  Cook the meat:  While your veggies are roastin’, cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat.  If frozen, scrape into small pieces or chop if fresh.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Remove from pan.

3.  Cook the veggies:  Chop the pepper and onion and saute with cooking spray in the same pan the beef cooked in.  Cook for 5-10 minutes then set aside in the same bowl as the beef.  

4.  Make the sauce:  When the tomatoes are a little browned ontop and nice and soggy looking, remove them from the oven.  Unwrap the garlic and let cool.  Cut the poblano in half and scrape out the seeds.  Scrape off the skin too, if possible.  Chop half of the pepper and reserve the remaining half for another use.  Using the back of a spoon, press the bottom end of the garlic until the cloves slide out.  Place the chopped poblano, 1/2 of the garlic cloves, and all of the tomatoes in a blender with the rest of the seasonings, the can of diced tomatoes, and fresh basil.  Blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.  

5.  Eat the Sauce!  Combine the tomato mixture from the blender with the beef, pepper, and onion.  Heat in a medium saucepan over medium heat until warm.  Serve over spaghetti and top with a little bit of fresh parm.  Enjoy!

Everything in the blender and ready to whirl!

Everything in the blender and ready to whirl!

Cookin' up the pepper and onion.

Cookin’ up the pepper and onion.



The sauce all ready to go

The sauce all ready to go



So delicious.

So delicious.







“New” Chicken Parmesan

I was looking for an easy but delicious recipe that would be good to make for four instead of my typical two.  I had friends over for dinner… friends who love food like I do… so something boring or ordering pizza was not gonna happen.

After about an hour of searching through my saved recipes on the internet, I remembered a really super simple recipe I saw in a Bon Appetit recently that I thought would be perfect:  “New” Chicken Parm.  I recalled that the chicken was not fried and then cooked in sauce, resulting in a healthier chicken parm… AND a potentially sauce-free dish for one of my guests who doesn’t like sauce (he’s crazy, right?).

Those two points sold me, and have the potential to give this dish a permanent spot in my repertoire.  I love finding classic comfort food recipes with new twists and tricks to make them healthier.

New Chicken Parm

Modified from:  Bon Appetit


1.5 lbs of Thin-Sliced Chicken Breast (8 breasts)

1/4 cup EVOO 

1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic

1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper

1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning Mix

1 12-oz container of Grape Tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper

1/2 cup +1/4 cup (divided) Parmesan Cheese, grated (I used Reduced Fat) 

1 cup Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs

1 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (again, I used Reduced Fat)

1 jar Prepared Tomato Sauce

Fresh Basil, chopped or torn


1.  Preheat the oven to 500.  Whisk the oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and italian seasoning mix into a large bowl.  Dump the tomatoes into the bowl and stir to coat the tomatoes with the oil mixture.  Remove the tomatoes reserving the oil mixture, spreading the tomatoes out onto a foil-covered baking sheet and put in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, stirring about halfway through.  Remove them once they are starting to brown.

2.  Prepare a large baking dish with cooking spray.  Combine 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and the bread crumbs onto a plate.  Place a chicken breast into the garlic-oil bowl and mix around.  Let drip off and then dredge into the bread crumb-parm mixture.  Coat completely, then carefully place in the baking dish.  Do this for every piece of chicken breast.  Your tomatoes should be done by now too- remove them and place aside.

3.  Cook chicken for about 8-12 minutes, then remove the baking dish to sprinkle on the crushed red pepper, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 1 cup Mozzarella.  (I kept my cheese on the lighter side).  Place back in the oven and cook until the chicken is done (firm to touch), about 2-3 more minutes depending on thickness.  If the cheese is starting to cook too fast, place aluminum foil on top.

4.  Remove the chicken and plate with a side of tomato sauce, the roasted tomatoes, and fresh basil.

Besides the fact that this chicken turned out to be sooo delicious, there are a few things I really liked about it:

1.  Chicken is dredged in flavored olive oil (and not a lot of it) instead of egg.  The bread crumbs still stuck on really nicely.  It made the chicken light and crispy.  

2.  The chicken is not fried like in most Chicken Parmesan recipes.  

3.  Tomato Sauce is not added on in the baking process, preventing the chicken from getting soggy.  

4.  Roasted tomatoes.  Nom nom nom.

I served the “new” Chicken Parm with a side of whole wheat Spaghetti, sauteed Green Beans, and a sliced baguette with spiced olive oil & Whipped Ricotta.  The four of us had one seriously tasty feast!

photo 1 (10)

Chicken has baked once and is now cheesed- ready to go back in for a nice melt.

Chicken has baked once and is now cheesed- ready to go back in for a nice melt.

Here's that amazing Whipped Feta with a few roasted tomatoes ontop... click for the recipe!

Here’s that amazing Whipped Feta with a few roasted tomatoes ontop… click for the recipe!

I told you it was a feast :)

I told you it was a feast 🙂

Closeup of one delicious meal.

Closeup of one delicious meal.

Even Stella was tired after such a meal!  :)

Even Stella was tired after such a meal! 🙂

photo 4 (9)






Roasted Tomato & Spinach Pasta

Recently, I’ve heard a lot of talk about roasted or grilled tomatoes.  Now, this may not be a new concept but it definitely is to me.  Up until last year, I had a terrible fear of tomatoes.  I wouldn’t touch a raw tomato.  They disgusted me.  Long story short, I eat them a LOT now and decided to take my Saturday night home alone as the perfect opportunity to try them out.

Roasted Tomato & Spinach Pasta

Recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook

Serves 1


1 Serving (check your bag) Yolk-Free Egg Noodles (i used a handful)

1 Handful Cherry Tomatoes

1/2 Onion, sliced into very thin rings

1 cup Frozen Spinach

1/2 teaspoon Minced Garlic

1 Lemon

1 teaspoon – 1 1/2 teaspoon Olive Oil

1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper

1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

1 Tablespoon Parmesan Cheese, grated


1.  Cover a baking sheet with foil and preheat the oven to 400.  Spread out the onion rings and tomatoes onto the baking sheet.  Spray with oil or Pam Spray.  Sprinkle salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, checking after 10.

2.  Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to directions on the bag.  If you use the same kind I did, it does not take very long.  Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.  Set aside.

3.  Heat the spinach in the same pot you cooked the pasta.  Add the pasta back in with all seasonings, 1 teaspoon of Olive Oil (or more if you’d like… I don’t like it to be too greasy), the lemon juice, garlic and Parmesan cheese.  Add the tomatoes and onions once they are done cooking.  Stir to combine and heat thoroughly.

I even snitched a few of the roasted onions while I was cooking… they were sooo good!

The tomatoes were a nice touch. Roasting them brings out the sweetness!

Although this recipe isn’t anything TOO outrageous, roasting the tomatoes and onions was a really easy way to spice up a really simple pasta dish.  I actually had a piece of frozen salmon waiting for me too… so I stuck that on my grill pan with some salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.  I didn’t do too bad for a night of doing nothing all by myself!