Italian Salad with Pears, Shaved Parmesan, and Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette

This beautiful Italian salad combines pears, shaved Parmesan and honey-balsamic vinaigrette.

I’m always looking for new salad combinations, especially since I’ve somehow become the go-to salad person for our family get-togethers. Two things I’ve learned about making a good salad are 1) you need a balance of flavors and textures, and 2) you can always look to Italian cuisine for inspiration. This Italian salad with pears, shaved Parmesan and honey-balsamic vinaigrette is a perfect blend of sweet, salty, sour and bitter flavors, with a variety of textures from tender salad greens to juicy pears to crunchy toasted pine nuts.

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Winter Minestrone with Sausage, Kale, and Basil Pistou

Winter minestrone with sausage, kale, and basil pistou is guaranteed to become one of your family's favorite soups!

We’re having a January cold spell, and right now the temperature outside is a whopping 6 degrees. Which means my family wants nothing but soup for dinner. One of our all-time favorites is this winter minestrone with sausage, kale, and basil pistou. It’s packed with bold flavor and healthy veggies.

This red, green and white soup is a Christmas Eve tradition in our family, so sometimes I call it “Christmas minestrone.” We usually don’t have a heavy dinner Christmas Eve, because we’ve already stuffed ourselves at an annual family party during the day. After celebrating with a million and one relatives, we go home, make some minestrone, and play board games until it’s time to hang our stockings.

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Easy Garlic Parmesan Chicken

This Garlic Parmesan Chicken is a quick and easy weeknight dinner, no tedious breading required!

This Easy Garlic Parmesan Chicken is on my meal plan this week, and it’s one of my favorite quick and easy chicken recipes. I love making chicken breasts or cutlets for dinner because they’re so simple and versatile, but they don’t always turn out great. They dry out easily, and can sometimes be lacking in flavor. This recipe is great because it’s an easy weeknight dinner that’s a lot more flavorful than most chicken breast recipes, and doesn’t get dried out. The marinade is to die for, and it has a wonderful garlic-y, fresh flavor.

So, what makes this recipe especially easy? Instead of breading each piece of chicken by hand, you just have to quickly toast the breadcrumbs, then use them to top the chicken breasts. You don’t have to go through all the dipping and breading but you still get the satisfying texture and flavor of the breadcrumbs.

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Slimmed-Down Roasted Broccoli

roasted broccoli with lemon, garlic and Parmesan

I grew up loving broccoli, probably because I usually ate it during Sunday dinner at Grandma’s house, steamed and drizzled with melted butter and lemon juice. Now, when my grandson, daughter and son-in-law come over for Sunday dinner, I often serve fresh, flavorful roasted broccoli with olive oil, lemon, garlic and Parmesan, a vegetable side dish that’s quick and easy, but impressive enough for company. It’s a favorite of my son-in-law and just about everyone else.

This roasted broccoli recipe is adapted from Ina Garten’s popular version, but it’s slimmed down in terms of calories, price, and prep time. Ina’s recipe uses lots of olive oil and is garnished with expensive pine nuts. I’ve cut down the amount of oil and used less expensive sliced almonds for garnish. My version also uses Montreal steak seasoning, a combination of garlic, salt, pepper and dried herbs, so you don’t have to fuss with those separately. 

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