Tag Archives: Spinach

Layered Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Although chicken breasts were one of my favorite pieces of the bird (wings were my next favorite), I found as I got older that chicken breasts can be too big and dry sometimes when you bake them. Over my years of cooking I was able to perfect my baked chicken and have it come out more moist than dry.

As I changed my eating habits I discovered I liked cooking with chicken thighs more than chicken breasts. Still, the breast held a special place in my heart and I would get a hankering for a nice meaty stuffed chicken breast. Recently, I rediscovered thinly sliced chicken breasts at my grocer. The grocer doesn’t always seem to have them on hand so I forget about looking for them. On my last shopping trip I spied a few packages of thinly sliced breasts and grabbed enough to make dinner and to freeze for another meal.

Layered Stuffed Chicken Breasts became a thing in my home when I had a taste for lasagna but did not want to go through the process it takes to make a really good lasagna. I came up with the idea to layer the thinly cut chicken breasts I had in the freezer like I would a lasagna. This recipe fit right in with my new low carbohydrate lifestyle since there was no pasta in sight. I wasn’t sure the fellas in the house would like this dish as much as the pasta layered dishes I have made in the past. However, I was pleasantly surprised that they thought it was a nice change from a heavy lasagna. Just so they had the illusion of having pasta with the Layered Stuffed Chicken Breasts I made some spaghetti squash to go with dinner. In the end, I was able to service a low carb meal everyone enjoyed and I could stick to my new lifestyle of eating.

Don’t worry. There will be plenty of other recipes that include pasta. After all, my family’s still big time pasta eaters.

Layered Stuffed Chicken Breasts


2 packages of thinly sliced chicken breasts

1 package of fresh baby leaf spinach (roughly chopped)

1 brick cream cheese softened

1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella

1 cup fresh salsa (hot or mild)

1 cup marinara sauce

½ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese divided

1 tbsp salt

½ tbsp ground black pepper

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp dried basil

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the cream cheese, salsa, spinach and ½ of the grated Parmesan cheese in a large bowl until well blended. Set aside.

Spray a long casserole dish with cooking spray. Spread a little marinara sauce on the bottom of the dish. Layer one package of the chicken breasts over the sauce. Season with some of the salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic and onion powder. Spread the spinach and cream cheese mixture over the chicken then layer the other package of thinly sliced chicken breasts over the cream cheese and spinach. Season the top layer of chicken with the remaining seasonings. Pour the rest of the marinara sauce over the chicken then sprinkle the mozzarella cheese and remaining Parmesan cheese over the sauce. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes until the chicken is completely cooked through and the cheese has melted.

Serve with spaghetti squash, pasta or a nice mixed green salad.


Rice and Spinach Casserole

Some days are harder than others to come up with side dish ideas. Potatoes, pasta and rice in various forms usually come to mind but can become boring or routine.

The other day I was trying to figure out what to do with the leftover rice in the fridge because I had made too much. Chicken and rice soup was one idea but we were still eating the Lentil and Carrot Ginger Soup I had made two days before. So, soup was out. Then I thought about making a casserole and maybe making it similar to my Macaroni and Cheese recipe. The idea morphed into a Rice and Spinach Casserole.

This recipe was so simple and quick to make because the rice was already cooked which meant it did not take long to pull the recipe together. I must say the Rice and Spinach Casserole did not come out exactly like my macaroni and cheese but it was doggone tasty. I think because rice and pasta have two different consistencies the rice did not come out as creamy as macaroni and cheese. Still the rice dish had a certain level of creaminess. It’s kind of hard to explain so I will just say you will have to try the recipe to see what I mean.

As always, I use my family as a guide to whether or not a recipe is blog worthy. Both my youngest son and hubby enjoyed my “new” side dish and happily had seconds of the Rice and Spinach Casserole. I will say a side dish tastes even better when the entire meal is good so that folks want to get just a little bit more of everything.

Rice and Spinach Casserole


2 cups cooked rice (leftover rice works well)

1 ½ cups fresh baby spinach

1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese

½ cup shredded pepper jack cheese

½ cup half and half milk

1 can 2% evaporated milk

2 tbsp butter

cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a medium sized casserole dish with cooking spray. Set aside ¼ cup cheddar cheese.

Place cooked rice into the casserole dish. Pour evaporated milk and half and half over the rice. Add spinach, cheese and butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix well then top with remaining ¼ cup of shredded cheddar cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the liquid is evaporated and a knife comes out clean when placed in the middle of the casserole.

Remove from oven and serve with your favorite dish.

Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

What can be an easier side dish than Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms? Not too many things. Depending on what you are using to stuff your mushrooms the process can be easy or a little complicated. The process I used for this recipe was extremely easy.

Stuffed mushrooms were one of the my favorite appetizers back in the days when it was safe to sit down in a restaurant and enjoy a full course meal. In the days of Covid-19, my family and I are cautious about social distancing and staying as safe as possible. Although we miss dining out, we are definitely supporting our local restaurants by doing take out a couple of times each week. I enjoy cooking for the family but even I need a break now and then.

So, since I couldn’t have Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms at a restaurant I made my own version at home. Instead of sauteing baby spinach and chopping up onions along with other veggies, I used frozen creamed spinach to reduce my prep time. By adding a few seasonings along with some grated Parmesan cheese I created a quick filling. Viola! I made a lovely Spinach Stuffed Mushroom appetizer or side dish to compliment dinner.

Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms


12 large mushrooms cleaned (chop stems and reserve)

1 pkg frozen creamed spinach

½ cup Panko bread crumbs

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

½ tsp Kosher salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

¼ tsp garlic powder

Grape seed oil or olive oil

Pinch of cayenne powder or red pepper flakes (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Thaw creamed spinach in a medium sized bowl. Add salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne, ½ of the bread crumbs and cheeses. Stir to mix well.

Rub mushrooms with a little grape seed oil them place in a rectangular baking sheet lined with foil or a casserole dish. Stuff each mushroom with the creamed spinach filling then top with remaining bread crumbs. Drizzle a little grape seed oil over the bread crumbs and sprinkle with paprika then place in oven. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the mushrooms are softened and golden brown.

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Mixed Pasta with Kielbasa

Roasting vegetables is one of my favorite ways to prepare vegetables because it is a quick process that brings out a lot flavor. Before I started my blog I never thought about roasting unless it was chicken. Instead, I would just saute vegetables in a pan. Believe it or not the two techniques of sauteing vs. roasting will affect the nutritional value and flavor depending on the vegetable.

I did a little research and found that both roasting and sauteing are healthy methods of preparing vegetables. Steaming is the best way to go and grilling is better than frying when trying to maintain nutrition. Both tomatoes and onions maintain their antioxidant capacity after baking but green peppers tend to lose antioxidant capacity when baked. No, that has not stopped me from baking peppers because I like the taste. It’s just good information to know when preparing them.

Mixed Pasta and Kielbasa was a last minute recipe I came up with based on what I had on hand for dinner. I keep a jar of dried mixed pasta which are the remnants of different boxes of pasta. Elbow, penne, bow tie – whatever! Pasta is pasta. All that really matters is what you add to the pasta. On the night I made Mixed Pasta with Kielbasa I had some baby spinach, tomatoes and a package of kielbasa I needed to cook.

The end result was pretty tasty and definitely a hit with my pasta eating crew. It is hard for me to mess up pasta when dealing with an audience that loves pasta in any shape or form. But, I know just how delicious my pasta dishes are when they go for seconds and this one certainly hit the mark. Seconds all around!

Mixed Pasta with Kielbasa


1 ring of smoked kielbasa sliced

1 small onion sliced thin

1 pkg baby leaf spinach

1 pkg vine ripe tomatoes quartered

½ green pepper seeded and sliced

1 cup mixed pastas (penne, twists, cavatappi, etc) cooked al dente per package

½ cup chicken broth

¼ shredded mozzarella cheese

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp salt

1 tsp Adobo

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp ground black pepper

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Add tomatoes, onions and green peppers to a rimmed baking sheet. Season with 1 tsp of salt and pepper. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp oil and toss to coat. Roast in oven for 20 – 25 minutes until slightly charred. Set aside.

Brown kielbasa in 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat. Add chicken broth, roasted vegetables and remaining seasonings to the kielbasa. Stir to mix well. Toss in pasta and stir. Cook until pasta is heated up then sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.


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Stuffed Flounder

Fish Sale! I was at the grocery store looking for something to prepare for dinner and passed by the seafood counter when something caught my eye. Low and behold, they were having a fish sale. One of my favorite types of fish (Cod) was $3.00 less than usual. They also had another one of my favorites on sale – flounder. The flounder looked nice and fresh so I bought four fillets to make Stuffed Flounder for dinner.

The reason I decided to make Stuffed Flounder was so I could use the rest of the cornbread stuffing we had the night before. Now, that our youngest son is in college I actually have leftovers. I don’t like wasting food so I try to find different ways to “re-purpose” the leftovers. Making a spinach and cornbread stuffing for the flounder seemed like a great idea.

Guess what? It was a great idea and hubby was happy with a full belly after he cleaned his plate. This was definitely one of my Health, Quick and Easy meals. The flounder was light and healthy. The stuffing was quick to make and putting the two together was easy. What could be better than that!?!

Stuffed Flounder


4 flounder fillets

1 pkg baby leaf spinach leaves


1 ½ cups cornbread stuffing

3 tbsp butter

1 tbsp water

1 tsp dried dill

black pepper



juice from ½ lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 1 tbsp butter in a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Add spinach and water. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper to taste. Cook until spinach is wilted stirring occasionally.

Place cornbread in a bowl and add spinach with juice. Beat egg and add to cornbread and spinach mixture. Mix well then set aside.

Season fish with salt and black pepper. Place two fish fillets on a rimmed cookie sheet or in a long casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray. Spoon stuffing onto each fillet. Top with remaining fish fillets then sprinkle with paprika. Place 1 tbsp of butter on each fish fillet. Bake fish for 10 to 15 minutes until fish is cooked through but not dry.

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Crispy Rice


Whenever I prepare my Curried Fish dish I try to compliment it with a side dish that has a contrasting texture. I usually use cod when I make Curried Fish which is a very soft flaky fish. Sometimes I will pair the fish with crisp sauteed cabbage or I will prepare Crispy Rice which speaks for itself.


A slight take on fried rice, my Crispy Rice reminds me of the kind of rice my mom used to make every time she had leftover perlo rice. I know you are saying to yourself “what the heck is perlo rice?”. Well, it is a southern dish my mom made by cooking rice in ham broth or chicken broth. Chicken and rice perlo is a very popular dish in the south but is found in slightly different versions across the world from Persia (pilau) to Turkey (pilav) to Spain (paella). Each country has adopted their own interpretation of this meat and rice dish. I have to be honest about my many attempts to make perlo rice. I have failed on most occasions. I have never been able to perfect perlo rice the way my mom does it. My attempts typically come out mushy (overcooked) or a little too al dente. I actually gave up on making perlo rice and just ask my mom to make it for me whenever I have a taste for it. One day I may try making perlo rice again but for now I am good with asking mom to make it.


Back to my Crispy Rice. Like my mom I use leftover rice or I will make it early the same day I want to fix it and just refrigerate it for a couple of hours. The cold rice fries better than soft freshly cooked rice. In order to kick up the flavor in my Crispy Rice I add scallions, fresh spinach and crispy bacon. In my opinion, bacon makes most recipes taste great but cubed ham is also good in this dish so try whichever one you like best. I can almost guarantee that when you make Crispy Rice there will not be much leftover if any at all. This one will make the family clean their plates.


Crispy Rice


2 cups cold white rice

4 scallions sliced

4 slices crispy bacon chopped

½ bag baby leaf spinach

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp cracked black pepper

cooking spray

Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray. Add butter and olive oil to frying pan and heat over medium high heat until butter is melted. Do not let butter burn. Add scallions to the pan and saute for 1 – 2 minutes. Add rice to the pan and break up with a spatula. Stir to coat rice with butter and olive oil. Let rice brown and stir every few minutes for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add bacon and spinach to the pan. Season with black pepper. Stir until spinach begins to wilt. Remove from heat and cover for 2 minutes.

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Buffalo Chicken and Spinach Flatbread


Cooking with flatbreads is an easy way to get a meal on the table when you don’t have a lot of time to prepare something more complex. I am not a big “pizza” fan but I do enjoy them now and then. The rest of the family can eat pizza any time. If I am going to eat pizza, I want it to be special and not the basic cheese or pepperoni pizza you find every where.


One of my son’s favorite pizza choices is Buffalo Chicken so I thought I would try making my own version. The great thing about flatbreads is that they are versatile. You can use just about any topping you like on the flatbread and it will taste wonderful. Of course you need to add a few seasonings to give it an extra kick. We like spicy flavors in my family so besides using Buffalo wing sauce on the chicken I also added pepper jack cheese and red pepper flakes to the toppings. Depending your tolerance for “heat” you can add or subtract the amount of spice you use.


The first time I made my Buffalo Chicken Flatbread we had it for lunch. This turned out to be a very hearty meal with the thick slices of chicken, spinach, onions and cheese. Protein, veggies and dairy! What more could you ask for in a meal? As you can imagine we had a very light dinner that night.


Look for more flatbread recipes on dmariedining.com. You cannot beat them for a healthy, quick and easy meal!


Buffalo Chicken Flatbread

1 14oz flatbread (Trader Joe’s Ciabatta Flatbread)
1 pkg pre-cooked sliced chicken (Trader Joe’s)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup baby leaf spinach
½ cup buffalo wing sauce
½ cup shredded pepper jack cheese
½ cup thinly sliced red onion or shallots
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tbsp red pepper flakes
black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place chicken in a medium sized bowl. Drizzle buffalo wing sauce over chicken then toss to coat the chicken.

Place flatbread on a cookie sheet then brush flatbread with olive oil. Sprinkle ½ cup mozzarella cheese over flatbread. Layer flatbread with spinach then sprinkle with a little salt and black pepper. Next layer chicken, onions and remaining cheeses over the spinach. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until cheese melts and turns slightly brown. Let cool for a few minutes then cut with a pizza slicer.

For a crispier crust place the flatbread directly on a rack in the oven. Check flatbread package for full instructions on cooking crust.

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Stuffed Chicken Breast Wrapped in Bacon


Today was another one of those days I needed to quickly get dinner on the table because folks were hungry. I know my hubby and son are spoiled but I created those monsters so I live with it. Besides, this was a time when I was hungry too.


Fortunately, I had planned ahead and had thin chicken breasts ready for a new recipe I wanted to try. Stuffed Chicken Breasts Wrapped in Bacon. I figured this one would be a winner just because of the ingredients my family loves to eat. Chicken, fresh spinach, bacon and brie.


Hubby gave me a thumbs up after the first couple of bites. The fresh spinach kept the chicken moist on the inside and the brie added a nice rich creamy flavor to the chicken. Bacon. What can you say about bacon except that it goes with just about anything you can cook.


I was able to get dinner on the table in under an hour so you know this recipe is definitely quick and easy.



Stuffed Chicken Breast Wrapped in Bacon

8 thin chicken breasts
8 slices of brie
8 slices of bacon
2 cups baby leaf spinach
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Season each slice of chicken breast with salt, black pepper, garlic powder and basil. Layer spinach and two slices of brie on four slices of chicken breasts. Top each chicken breast with remaining slices. Wrap two slices of bacon around chicken breasts and secure with tooth picks or roasting pins. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through and bacon is slightly crisp. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes. Remove pins prior to serving.


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Mushroom and Spinach Quiche


Since I have a busy schedule between family stuff, work and dmariedining.com I am always looking for easy recipes that are packed with flavor. I think quiches are one of the simplest dishes to make when you don’t have a lot of time or you don’t feel like fussing over dinner. A quiche can be a full meal paired with a nice salad or it can be an appetizer (smaller portion) at the start of a meal.


Mushroom and spinach quiche is one of my favorite meals to make. It has lots of protein and is very filling even though there is no meat in the dish. Mushrooms and spinach seem to go together well whether in a salad or a quiche.


For all the moms out there that want to teach their kids how to cook, you may want to introduce them to the world of quiches. Because they are so versatile, you can turn quiches into a vegetarian dish, a seafood dish or a meat dish. Think about how it easy it would be to teach your kid how to cook a little spinach, beat a couple of eggs and add some cheese to a pie shell. I know I make it sound a little too easy but it is easy enough for a teenager to make.


If you have young adults at home who have limited cooking skills (like my son), a mushroom and spinach quiche would be a good dish to teach them how to make for those independent days of cooking. This one will might even be an impressive meal for a date.


Mushroom and Spinach Quiche

1 9 inch deep dish pie shell thawed
1 10 oz bag baby leaf spinach
1 10 oz pkg sliced button mushrooms
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp parsley
¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
¼ tsp cumin
¼ cup half and half
¼ cup fontina cheese shredded
½ cup Gruyere cheese shredded
4 eggs
2 shallots sliced thin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 1 tbsp of butter with olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add spinach, ½ tsp salt, and black pepper. Saute until spinach is wilted but bright green. Remove spinach from the pan and set aside. Add 1 tbsp of butter to the pan along with mushrooms, shallots and ½ tsp of salt. Saute until mushrooms are slightly browned.

Poke the bottom of pie shell with a fork. Bake for 10 minutes until lightly brown. Remove from oven. Layer spinach on the bottom of the pie shell. Sprinkle half of the cheeses over the spinach. Layer the mushrooms over the cheese then top with the remaining cheese.

Beat together eggs, red pepper flakes, cumin, parsley, a pinch of salt and half and half. Pour into pie shell, sprinkle with paprika.  Bake for 25 – 35 minutes until the middle of the pie is set. Test with a knife. It should come out clean. Let the pie rest for 10 minutes.


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Spinach and Quinoa Cakes

Spinach and Carrot Quinoa A
Quinoa. Pronounced keen-wah. What is that? The first time I heard about Quinoa was through my daughter who is a very health conscience individual. We were talking about different healthy foods and she mentioned how she likes Quinoa. Kiddo (nickname from her Dad) told me it was similar in some ways to Couscous which I love. The difference between the two (at least for me) is that Quinoa has a crunchier texture, nutty taste and is lighter than Couscous. To really enjoy Quinoa I have found it is best to add additional flavors during the cooking process or mix it with other foods. I usually cook Quinoa in chicken broth rather than plain water to give it an extra boost of flavor.

Spinach and Carrot Quinoa C
I came up with a Spinach and Carrot Quinoa Cake when I saw a frozen vegetarian patty that looked kind of gray and blah. To really be good, food should not only taste good but look good. Vibrant colors and presentation add to the pleasure of eating. The bright green, orange and yellow in the Spinach and Carrot Quinoa Cake will make you say “yummy” even before you take a bite.
Spinach and Carrot Quinoa Cakes Fini 1        Spinach and Carrot Quinoa D

As always, I use my family as guinea pigs when trying new dishes. To be honest, I was not sure this one would go over very well since my son does not like cooked carrots. Surprisingly, I got a thumbs up on the first try, carrots and all.


Spinach and Quinoa Cakes

2 ¼ cups low sodium chicken broth
1 egg beaten
½ cup shredded carrots
1 bag baby leaf spinach
1 cup Quinoa
1tsp dried parsley
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare Quinoa according to package using 2 cups low sodium chicken broth.

In a medium sauce pan melt butter and olive oil. Add ¼ cup of low sodium chicken broth to the pan then add spinach and carrots. Cook spinach and carrots until spinach is wilted stirring occasionally. Gently squeeze veggies in a colander to drain. In a large bowl mix together veggies, Quinoa, egg and seasonings.

Spray lipped cookie sheet with cooking spray. Place a small cooking ring (I made my own out of foil and will tell you how later) on the cookie sheet and fill with the Quinoa mixture. Slowly remove ring and reshape if necessary. Repeat until all of the mixture is used. Bake for 15 minutes and serve.

½ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
½ cup sliced sauteed mushrooms

Foil Ring:
Take a 3-4 inch piece of foil and roll it like a cigar. Curve the foil around until it forms a ring about 2 inches in diameter. If you want bigger cakes, make a bigger ring. You can cut off the excess or wrap it around the ring.