Chopped Antipasti Salad (Buca di Beppo Copycat)

This Buca di Beppo copycat Chopped Antipasti Salad is loaded with yummy veggies, cheeses, salami and olives.

There’s something about Italian food that brings people together. Lots of our family celebrations seem to involve pizza, pasta, and generous servings of salad like this chopped antipasti salad. It’s a copycat version of a salad served at Buca di Beppo, one of our favorite restaurants for birthdays, graduations and other special occasions. It’s full of yummy veggies, plus pepperoni, two kinds of olives, and three cheeses. It’s far from being a plain, ordinary salad.

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Clean Eating Balsamic Glaze

Spinach salad with berries, almonds and balsamic glaze

We celebrated Easter and a family birthday this past weekend, and it made my heart happy to reconnect with loved ones. I hope you had a wonderful holiday as well. I ate more than my fair share of candy and yummy baked goods, and now that the holiday is over, I really want to get back to a healthier eating pattern and invite more veggies into my life. Maybe that’s the reason I felt inspired to make this low-calorie balsamic glaze using only two simple ingredients. It adds a sweet-tart deliciousness to salads, grilled or roasted vegetables, grilled chicken or salmon.

It’s easy enough to pick up a bottle of balsamic glaze at the grocery store, next to the balsamic vinegar, but if you make your own, you’ll find it has a more intense flavor. It’s also free of corn syrup and starchy thickeners, ingredients you will find in ready-made balsamic glaze.

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Tomato Tart with Pesto and Mozzarella

Tomato tart with pesto and mozzarella gets a flavor boost from balsamic glaze.

Italian, Vegetarian | March 25, 2016 | By

Tomatoes, pesto and mozzarella cheese are a magic trio of ingredients you can use to flavor pasta dishes, stuff paninis, or top grilled chicken or steak. They’re also a perfect topping combo for this quick tomato tart made with two of my other favorite ingredients – frozen puff pastry dough and balsamic glaze. This tart can be pulled together in under an hour, not counting the time it takes for the dough to thaw. You can serve this tart as an easy weeknight dinner, or for lunch or brunch. 

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Easy Focaccia Bread Recipe

Soft and fluffy focaccia bread with rosemary and sea salt. It's so easy - perfect for a novice baker.

Breads, Fall Recipes, Italian | February 11, 2016 | By

This easy focaccia bread recipe is a staple in my kitchen. My mom has been making it for years and I loved it when I was a kid, and now my family loves it too. Focaccia is an Italian bread easily recognized by its signature dimples. It’s crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and usually topped with olive oil, sea salt, and herbs.easyfocacciarecipe

This recipe is about as simple as it gets when it comes to bread. It requires just a few ingredients: flour, salt, olive oil, yeast, water, and sugar, plus the toppings of your choice. If you’re a novice bread maker, starting with a simple, diary free recipe is the way to go.

Most focaccia bread recipes call for similar ingredients, so the method is what makes this recipe particularly easy. Some focaccia recipes call for rising the dough overnight, or require a lot of complicated folding or kneading. This recipe is made in a mixer, rises quickly, and is baked in a standard rimmed baking sheet.

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Balsamic Roasted Carrots

Balsamic roasted carrots is an easy side dish that takes only five minutes to prepare.

Boring vegetable sides are easy to understand – it’s hard enough to come up with a main dish for dinner at the end of a long day, so by the time you get to the side dishes, opening up a can or drizzling bottled dressing on a bagged salad seems like all you can handle. That’s why a recipe like this one is such a lifesaver. Tangy, sweet and salty, with a deep roasted flavor and a hint of garlic, these balsamic roasted carrots require only five minutes of prep time followed by about 30 minutes in the oven. They’re so simple and versatile, you’ll find yourself making them again and again.

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One Pot Tortellini and Tomato Soup

One Pot Tortellini and Tomato Soup - comforting and hearty, but still quick and easy; a perfect weeknight dinner for cold winter nights.

I absolutely love when I can take a tried-and-true recipe and transform it into something new, so my favorite tomato soup recipe has now become One Pot Tortellini and Tomato Soup. It’s an adaptation of my Crock-Pot Tomato Soup recipe with just a few changes that make a big difference. 

One Pot Tomato and Tortellini Soup - comforting and hearty, but still quick and easy; a perfect weeknight dinner for cold winter nights.

The biggest change: tortellini, of course. There is something about adding pasta to tomato soup that makes it so comforting and extra delicious. My mom likes to add orzo to her tomato soup (yum), and in my house we are big tortellini fans. It’s so cheesy and hearty, and I always like to have a package in my freezer ready for cold winter nights when I’m short on time.

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Crock-Pot Turkey & Spinach Meatballs in Marinara

Turkey & Spinach Meatballs in Marinara

Is there any comfort food quite like spaghetti and meatballs? It’s hearty, rich, and carb-o-licious, but unfortunately quite fattening and high in calories. That’s why I love this recipe. It transforms pasta and meatballs from a treat for special occasions to a weeknight dinner perfect for your regular recipe rotation.


This recipe is much lighter than your standard meatballs and marinara, but still packs a powerful flavor punch. Turkey is lower in calories and fat than sausage or beef, and these meatballs are packed with just the right amount of spinach: enough that you get a good serving, but not enough that that your kids will turn their noses up at their plates. 

This recipe is also much less labor intensive than your typical meatball and marinara recipe, because it’s made using my favorite kitchen appliance – the Crock-Pot. Prep the meatballs and sauce in the morning, set your Crock-Pot for 8 hours and dinner is ready to go!


I’m always on the lookout for weeknight dinners under 500 calories and this one fits the bill. One serving of my favorite whole wheat pasta is 190 calories + 127 calories for 3 meatballs (only 43 calories per meatball!) + 93 calories for 1 cup of marinara+ about 30 calories for garnish comes to a grand total of just 440 calories.


Because this recipe serves 7, it makes enough to serve my small family 2 meals instead of just one. My husband usually takes leftovers to work for lunch the next day, and I use the leftover meatballs and sauce to make slimmed-down meatballs subs the next evening.


I generally serve these meatballs with one of my family’s favorite pastas (we’re partial to vegetable farfalle and whole wheat penne over here) and a light, green side salad or my mom’s famous Slimmed-Down Roasted Broccoli. If you’re watching carbs you can omit the bread crumbs (I’ve done it and it works well-also makes the recipe gluten free) and serve with spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles instead of traditional pasta.



Crock-Pot Turkey & Spinach Meatballs in Marinara
Serves 7
A deceptively healthy alternative to traditional spaghetti and meatballs; savory, comforting, and packed with veggies.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
8 hr
Total Time
8 hr 15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
8 hr
Total Time
8 hr 15 min
326 calories
16 g
129 g
17 g
30 g
4 g
334 g
1014 g
9 g
0 g
10 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 326
Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 17g
Saturated Fat 4g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 129mg
Sodium 1014mg
Total Carbohydrates 16g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 9g
Protein 30g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
For the Meatballs
  1. 1 ½ lb 93% lean ground turkey
  2. 2 cups frozen spinach leaf
  3. 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  4. 1 egg
  5. ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
  6. 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  7. 1 teaspoon salt
  8. ½ teaspoon pepper
  9. 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
For the Sauce
  1. 2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes
  2. 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  3. ½ small onion, diced
  4. 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  5. 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  6. 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  7. 1 ½ tablespoons Italian seasoning
  8. 1 teaspoon dried basil
  9. 1 teaspoon salt
  10. ½ teaspoon pepper
  11. ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  1. shredded Parmesan, if desired
  2. fresh basil, if desired
  1. Combine diced tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, Italian seasoning, dried basil, salt, pepper, garlic, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and balsamic vinegar a slow cooker. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth.
  2. Defrost spinach in microwave (mine takes 4-5 minutes on a very low setting, but times will vary) and squeeze dry of excess water.
  3. Combine turkey, spinach, bread crumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, egg, smoked paprika, and parsley in a large bowl, and mix with your hands until combined. Use a 1/8 measuring cup to measure out portions of the turkey mixture and roll into balls.
  4. Carefully place each of the meatballs in the sauce. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
  5. If possible, gently stir mixture every few hours. If not, stir the mixture after its finished cooking and serve immediately.
  1. Total Cost: $9.26 Cost Per Serving $1.33
Crock-Pot Turkey & Spinach Meatballs in Marinara