Tag Archives: pasta

Poultry Soups

Chickpea and Chicken Sausage Minestrone Soup

It’s getting to be that time of the year where all you want to do after work is cozy up with something warm. Even though the nighttime weather is only hitting the low 60’s in LA recently, I still find myself craving warmer meals.

Chicken and Chickpea Sausage Minestrone Soup Recipe

This Chickpea and Chicken Sausage Minestrone Soup came out of a desire to make a hearty soup, but pack it with a protein, so that it would be filling enough as a main meal.

Chicken and Chickpea Sausage Minestrone Soup Recipe

Before cooking the vegetables, I added chicken sausage to the pan, using a spatula to crumble it up into tasty bite-size pieces. From the smell of the sausage browning alone, I knew this soup was going to be great! I added a whole chili to the soup, which was perfect for me, but Travis still wished it was spicier. Only add more chili if you dare!

Chicken and Chickpea Sausage Minestrone Soup Recipe

This beautiful soup comes together in just 30 minutes, making it the ideal meal for weeknights. I also love anything you can make in one pan or pot.

Both Travis and I went back for seconds and the leftovers tasted great for lunch the next day. Feel free to leave out the sausage for a vegetarian option, as well!


Chickpea and Chicken Sausage Minestrone Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • ¾ cup uncooked whole wheat shell pasta
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Italian or Andouille-style chicken sausages, without casings (I like Applegate Sausages)
  • 1 cup carrots, diced on a bias
  • 1 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 fresno chili, seeds removed, minced
  • ½ cup celery, diced on a bias
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ⅛ cup fresh parsley, chopped, divided
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 15 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the oil to the pan. Add the chicken sausage, using a spatula to crumble as it browns. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the carrots, onion, chili and celery. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the garlic, 2 Tablespoons of the parsley, thyme and red pepper flakes. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas and broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 5-7 minutes. Add the pasta and season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the remaining parsley and additional red pepper flakes to taste.


The Best (and Healthiest!) Turkey Meatballs

Meet Maggie, my new foster dog!


Doesn’t she have the sweetest face? She is crazy snuggly (which is my FAVORITE).

Because she is so darn cute, Maggie has already been adopted, but we are taking care of her for another week until she is off her medication and all clear to play with other dogs.

Like all of our foster dogs, Maggie is very curious about all of the delicious smells coming from the kitchen.

I have been using this turkey meatballs recipe for months now, and it seems like every foster dog goes wild for these. I love watching their little noses perk up as they sniff the air and then begin to scour the floor for a dropped bite.

Turkey Meatballs Recipe

Our first foster dog used to lick the air continuously when he smelled food in the kitchen — I think he was hoping something would eventually appear in his mouth? It never really got him anywhere, but you can’t fault him for trying!

Turkey Meatballs Recipe

I know I have said I love trying new recipes whenever I can, but I gotta tell you, I think I make these meatballs once a week now. My coworkers have definitely started to catch on considering how often they make an appearance in the conference room at lunch (they reheat really well). Some have asked for the recipe and now they’re hooked, too!

Turkey Meatballs Recipe

The weird thing is, I’m not sick of them yet.

Turkey Meatballs Recipe

I can’t really tell you how many people this recipe feeds. My boyfriend could easily sit there and eat the whole batch (yes, they are that good). But for me, depending on how big I make them, I usually eat 3-4. I’ll leave it up to you.

Turkey Meatballs Recipe

I like to double the batch so I have extras for lunch the next day. And dinner. And lunch again. Delicious, I tell you!

I serve mine with whole wheat pasta, extra parmesan for sprinkling and sometimes red pepper flakes and fresh basil. These meatballs are also very filling without the pasta, so a side of veggies would be just fine.

They’re addicting!


Turkey Meatballs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 1lb lean ground turkey (I like Empire)
  • slightly less than ½ cup grated parmesan
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon ketchup
  • ¼ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Canola Oil
  • Any jar of tomato sauce (I love Rao's and Whole Foods 365 Sundried Tomato and Basil)
  • Whole Wheat Pasta
  1. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients turkey through black pepper. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add 2T of canola oil to the pan. Form the meatballs to desired size (mine were slightly larger than a golf ball). When the oil begins to smoke, add about 5 meatballs to the pan, ensuring not to overcrowd. Brown the meatballs on all sides. Remove to a plate layered with paper towels to cool (the paper towels soak up extra oil). Continue this process until all of the meatballs are browned. Remove pan from the heat.
  2. Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel if there is remaining oil in the pan. Return all of the meatballs to the pan. Add about ¾ of the jar of sauce so that it covers the meatballs. Cover the pan and turn the heat to low (or whatever heat gets the pan to a good low simmer). Simmer the meatballs in the sauce until they are cooked through, about 15-20 minutes, flipping them halfway.
  3. Remove from heat and serve immediately on top of whole wheat pasta. Garnish with extra parmesan, red pepper flakes, and fresh basil if desired.

These are THE BEST Turkey Meatballs! They're healthy and SO delicious! Make a large batch because they'll go quickly! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com


Summer Squash and Zucchini Soup with Parmesan

Soup in the summer? Not exactly something you’re craving in 100+ degree weather, is it?

Well, this soup is different — it takes full advantage of summer vegetables and fresh herbs and most importantly, it tastes DELICIOUS either hot or chilled. I served it hot the first night, but enjoyed cold leftovers straight from the fridge over the next few days and I swear it got better with each day.


Summer Squash and Zucchini Soup with Parmesan Recipe

This soup came out of one of those “let’s use everything in the fridge and throw it in a pot” evenings. Honestly, sometimes these types of creations turn out terribly (it turns out Peanut Butter doesn’t go with everything…), but when you have such fresh veggies and flavorful herbs, anything can be tasty.

Summer Squash and Zucchini Soup with Parmesan Recipe

This soup is ready in no time – great if you’re in a hurry.

For a simple dinner or a flavorful appetizer, try this. One piece of advice – I urge you to use fresh herbs (not dried) and a good quality block of parmesan to make this extra special.

Summer Squash and Zucchini Soup with Parmesan Recipe


Summer Squash and Zucchini Soup with Parmesan
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 6 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 2.5 cups uncooked whole wheat fusilli (I used Trader Joe's brand, most types of whole-wheat pasta should work)
  • 2 cups zucchini, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 cups yellow squash, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh herbs (I just used thyme because it is what I had, but feel free to use whatever you have. Oregano would be delicious)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving
  • ¼ cup basil for serving, sliced
  1. Bring the chicken broth and water to a boil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the pasta and cook for 5 minutes. Then, add the zucchini, squash, parsley, basil, lemon juice and herbs. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes until the pasta is done and the squash is tender. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Serve among bowls and sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and basil.


Beef and Lamb Main Meal Pasta

Whole-Wheat Pasta with Lamb and Sweet Potatoes

Big News!

A third roommate moved into our apartment this weekend.

It was kind of last minute, but I think it was a great decision.

He is really quiet, doesn’t take up a lot of space, and he really likes to just chill.

Meet Killian!

He is my new pal. I am fostering him for the holiday season until he finds a home.

How did I end up with this cute little fluff ball on my couch, you ask?

I volunteer for an incredible organization in LA that helps rescue dogs from the streets and shelters and bring them into loving homes. There is no organization headquarters, so all dogs are fostered in homes of various volunteers until they become adopted. I had been thinking about fostering for awhile, but I wanted to wait until I was more settled in after my move. Well, I finally decided to take one of these cuties in for the holiday season.

Killian is a poodle-terrier mix. He is playful, snuggly, loving and all around perfect.

I’m wondering if I’ll be able to give him back…

I’ve noticed that one of Killian’s favorite things to do is watch me in the kitchen.  This weekend there was a lot going on- my roommate’s birthday, a holiday party with friends, a potluck for work, etc. etc….and I cooked for each event. Needless to say, I was BUSY.

Killie (obvious nickname choice) just sits attentively and watches as onions are chopped, pots are stirred, and trays go in and out of the oven. He never gets in the way. I’m telling you…he’s PERFECT.

Killie was REALLY licking his chops on Sunday night when I made whole-wheat pasta with lamb and sweet potatoes.

(Which is kind of funny because we think he looks like a little Lamb….don’t you think?)

Whole-Wheat Pasta with Lamb and Sweet Potatoes Recipe

This dish was delicious and unusual for me. I love lamb, but I usually only ever have it in chop or shank form. Buying ground lamb was a great alternative to ground beef or ground turkey. Your can find it at your local Whole Foods.

Whole-Wheat Pasta with Lamb and Sweet Potatoes Recipe

The flavors are fabulous. This is a perfect, warm meal for a fall night — even a weeknight; it is more simple than you’d think!

Now excuse me, but I have a cute puppy I have to go spoil…


Whole-Wheat Pasta with Lamb and Sweet Potatoes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into ¾inch pieces
  • 2.5 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1lb ground lamb
  • 2.5 cups chopped onions
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 teaspoons cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/.5 cups canned crushed tomatoes (from a 28oz can)
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 12oz package whole-wheat spaghetti, cooked al dente
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan
  • Pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss the sweet potatoes with 1.5 Tablespoons of olive oil in a bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then lay the sweet potatoes on a large baking sheet in single row. Roast in the oven until edges begin to brown, flipping with a spatula every so often, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  2. Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and the onions. Saute until the lamb browns on all sides and the onion softens, about 8 minutes. Break up the larger chunks of lamb as you saute. Next, add the garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne, stir for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture thickens, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the sweet potatoes. Season with pepper to taste.
  3. Serve in large bowls with whole-wheat spaghetti on bottom, topped with the lamb and sweet potato mixture, and then a sprinkle of cilantro and parmesan.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit


Main Meal Pasta Vegetarian Meals

Pasta with Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese, and Hazelnuts

Done. With. Finals.

Officially a second semester senior.

When did i get so old?

Last thing I remember is cooking Annie’s Mac ‘n Cheese and watching Full House reruns at my kitchen counter when I got home from school.

When did things get so fast-paced? When did we have to start making so many big life decisions? Can we slow down a little? Just a little bit.

Let’s start with making an involved, long, perfect dinner.

Why? Because I am home now and I have time.

Home means wonderful people, relaxing, and delicious food. When I am home I am lucky enough to get to cook with my dad and bake with my mom (well, when she lets me help…)

This weekend my dad and I made the most delicious pasta dinner together. My parents have been trying a lot of vegetarian dishes recently, which are not dishes that I usually choose. I am a chicken / meat / protein kinda girl and I usually find that vegetarian dishes leave me hungry.

Not this pasta!

Boy was it filling. The recipe claims it serves 6 – but I promise you it is for at least 8 – so prepare accordingly.

I always love cooking with my dad. He always seems to know exactly how to pair different ingredients and combine dishes to create the most fantastic meal.

He definitely had to get used to cooking with me because I stop and take pictures of…everything.

This is definitely a good dish to cook with another person (who you trust in the kitchen) because it is fairly involved and you use the oven and stove simultaneously.

In the end it is totally worth your hard work. It is the perfect winter dish. Warm and filling.

Pasta with Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese, and Hazelnuts Recipe

We had a really yummy salad on the side with apple, cranberries, walnuts, and a light pear dressing.

Pasta with Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese, and Hazelnuts Recipe

It was the perfect meal and a great way to start my vacation.

Pasta with Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese, and Hazelnuts Recipe

I love home.


Pasta with Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese, and Hazelnuts
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6-8
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ¾ inch cubes (makes about 6 cups)
  • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts online, cut into ¾ inch half-moons (about 4 cups)
  • 4 garlic cloves (if your cloves are small, more is better)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme (1 teaspoon dried)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (about 1.5 cups)
  • 1 pound whole wheat penne pasta (or any other tubular pasta), cooked al dente
  • ¾ cup reserved pasta cooking water
  • 5-6 cups Roasted Butternut Squash (recipe above)
  • ¾ cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted, skinned, and chopped**
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Set the oven rack in the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl toss the squash cubes with the 2 Tablespoons olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Toss to combine. Spread the squash pieces on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast until tender - not mushy - about 30 minutes, flipping the pieces at 15 minutes.
  2. Cook the pasta al dente and reserve ¾ cup pasta cooking water. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil.  Add the leeks and a dash of salt, cook until softened (about 4 minutes).  Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another minute. Add the wine, adjust the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by half. Add the chicken broth and return to boil, again allowing the liquid to reduce to half (about 5-6 minutes).
  4. Adjust the heat to medium-low and stir in the parmesan, and half the goat cheese. Then add the pasta and the squash.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for about one minute.  Toss in most of the hazelnuts and the rest of the goat cheese. Add the reserved pasta water slowly and mix so that the pasta regains proper consistency.
  5. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with parsley and the remaining hazelnuts. Serve immediately.
*For the hazelnuts: Set oven to 350 degrees. Spread nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes.  Wrap the nuts in a kitchen towel and let steam 1-2 minutes.  Rub in the towel to remove loose skins.  Let cool completely and then chop.

**Adapted from The Boston Globe Magazine.


Main Meal Pasta Vegetarian Meals

Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Broccoli

This past weekend my friend Emily was in a show, so I decided to make dinner for us afterwards. We both love comfort foods, but we also like to eat well.  We also both love sweets (like brownies)…. so we decided we should probably also love running. So, Em has become my running buddy at school. She’s also my “OK I’m really not feeling running today. How ‘bout we walk and talk?” buddy. She’s my travel buddy. She’s my getting-ready buddy (you’ll really only ever get that if you’re a girl). She’s my wing girl. She’s my okay-to-call-at-2:00AM buddy. She’s my best friend.

Emily is one of those people that you run into on the street and you walk away smiling for the next hour. She just makes you happy. It’s incredibly contagious. The world needs more Emilys.

I’m really lucky to finally be living with her this year. It sure makes things a lot more convenient, and it also means that neither of us will be getting any work done.

Most importantly, it means lots of impromptu dinner dates, like this one. I decided I wanted to try to recreate everyone’s favorite homemade Mac and Cheese into something slightly healthier (okay, A LOT healthier). After browsing through a bunch of recipes, I got to work in the kitchen.

Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Broccoli Recipe

I used whole wheat pasta and eliminated at least 50% of fat from your standard Mac and Cheese recipe.

Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Broccoli Recipe

The crispy breadcrumb + parm topping adds so much flavor.

Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Broccoli Recipe

MMmmmm. Baked to perfection.

Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Broccoli Recipe

Em made the really yummy salad.

Our roommates came downstairs to check out what the smell was….

and dug right in. It’s okay, we didn’t mind sharing.

There was a fight for the last piece…

So much for leftovers!

P.S. A BIG thanks to Lindsay who has been letting me borrow her camera 🙂



Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese with Broccoli
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 6 oz. whole wheat pasta (elbows, penne, or shell will work great)
  • 6 oz. fresh broccoli florets
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ⅛ cup flour
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • 1 cup skim or reduced fat milk
  • ½ fat free chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1.5 cups extra-sharp cheddar cheese (I advise against reduced-fat versions - you’re going to lose a lot of flavor that way).
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • ¼ cup seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs (I seasoned my own with pinches of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper)
  1. Cook the pasta and broccoli together in a large pot of salted water, according to the package directions for al dente. (The pasta will continue to cook when you bake it in the oven). Drain and set aside. Spray an 8”x8” or 11”x7” baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet melt the butter. Add the onion and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the flour and continue to cook for one more minute, until the flour is well combined. Add the milk and chicken broth and whisk the mixture. Raise the medium-heat to high until it comes to a boil and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the sauce is smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. When the sauce is thick, remove it from heat. Stir in the cheddar cheese and mix until the cheese has melted into the sauce. Add the cooked pasta and broccoli and mix well. Pour the mixture into the sprayed baking dish. Top with the parmesan, then the seasoned bread crumbs. Spray the top with a little more cooking spray (this will help the top to crisp).
  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Then, broil for 2 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden. (Be careful not to let it burn!)


Beef and Lamb Main Meal Pasta

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

Travis and I had been eating chicken all week and I was so tired of it. Chicken Parmesan, grilled chicken, chicken stir fry, chicken quesadillas, chicken this, chicken that.

ENOUGH chicken. No more chicken!

We were both ready for a change. I had been craving spaghetti all week and neither of us had ever made meatballs before, so we decided it would be a perfect time to try. And let me tell you, they were delicious.

Spaghetti and Meatballs RecipeSpaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

The recipe is our own – we basically threw in whatever we thought would taste good. I encourage you to do the same: add more red pepper flakes for more spice, more garlic, less onion, some ketchup, etc. Have fun with it – I’m sure the outcome will be delicious.

Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

What makes these meatballs so delicious is that you simmer them in the sauce so that they absorb each other’s flavors.

Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

After simmering, scoop up a few meatballs and some of this delicious sauce and pour it over cooked spaghetti. Finish with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan and you will have yourself a delicious dinner and even better leftovers for lunch the next day.


Spaghetti and Meatballs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6
Meatball Ingredients:
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 small onion diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more if you like the extra spice)
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1½ Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesean Cheese
  • ½ cup bread crumbs (I used whole wheat)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • vegetable oil
  • olive oil
Sauce Ingredients
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1½ teaspoons minced garlic
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 can (24-28 oz) crushed tomatoes (slightly drained)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
For the meatballs:
  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and combine lightly with a fork. Using your hands, form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. I ended up with about 14 meatballs.
  2. Heat equal amounts of the vegetable oil and olive oil in a 12-inch skillet. In small batches (about 4 at a time) place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium, low heat. Turn the meatballs carefully with a spatula (try your best to make sure they do not break apart). Place browned meatballs on a plate lined with paper towels. Each batch should take about 10 minutes.
For the sauce:
  1. After all the meatballs are cooked, discard the oil from the pan, but do not clean in.
  2. Heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the pan. Add the onion and saute over medium heat for about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes and cook for one more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Continue until all of the liquid evaporates (this should take 3-4 minutes). Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.
  3. Carefully, place the cooked meatballs into the sauce, cover and simmer on very low heat for at least 25 minutes. (In my opinion, the longer the better).
  4. Serve the meatballs and sauce over spaghetti of your choice (I used whole wheat) with freshly grated Parmesan.