Baked Rigatoni with Brussels Sprouts, Figs, Pears, Apples, Fontina & Gruyère

I  love, love, love cooking for friends and family. It is such a release to me and a great excuse to have a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in hand with the music blasting (and not the TV).

Last night we had some friends over because I planned to cook this week’s Food Matter’s Project dish “Baked Rigatoni with Brussels Sprouts, Figs & Bleu Cheese.”

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Twisted Chick Parm ::: Roasted Red Pepper Walnut Pesto


:::Twisted Chicken Parmesan w/ Roasted Red Pepper Walnut Pesto:::

We ate really well last week. Well we had a  few good excuses with Peter’s birthday, Valentine’s Day, and I was home for a week from work travels.

It started with Jambalaya for Peter’s birthday.

We have been making Sarah’s TO DIE FOR jambalaya recipe  since she posted it a year ago, if you love spice please make this ASAP. You should also visit her fabulous blog to wish it a happy 2nd birthday!

Then we had filet, lobster (that we caught ourselves in the Keys!), and whole artichokes for Valentine’s Day…

…and then what I am calling “Twisted Chick Parm” with the Roasted Red Pepper Walnut “Pesto” from the Food Matters Project. {The pesto recipe was chosen by Heather from girlichef this week and can be found on her blog post today.}

I first made the “pesto” from scratch on Valentine’s day, with hopes it would be a nice dip or sauce for our steak. It is really red peppery and rich, so I decided it would taste better with chicken and whole wheat pasta the next day.

The FMP is expanding my ideas for cooking fresh veggies, but I will say we are still eating a lot of meat and non whole wheat carbs. Hopefully once we are through a few months of the recipe book I will be able to combine some of the favorites for more full meals.

Twisted Chicken Parmesan & Pasta     serves 2

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup italian bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup parmesan and mozzarella mix, shredded
  • 3- 4 cups of whole wheat pasta (we use rigatoni)
  • 1/2 recipe of previously prepared Roasted Red Pepper Walnut “Pesto”
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Prepare Roasted Red Pepper Walnut “Pesto” and set aside at room temperature.  I roasted the red peppers myself and still used 2 cloves of garlic even though I only made half of the recipe.
To see other uses for this flavorful pesto head here to see recipes from the other Food Matter Project members.
***After seeing many of the posts this morning I think I found MONSTER sized red peppers at the grocery store.  I can see how a little less red pepper and adding cannellini beans or chickpeas might balance the flavors even more than just adding parmesan cheese as I did in this recipe. 

Pre-heat over to 350°F. Crack the egg into a prep bowl and whisk. Mix bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt & pepper in separate prep bowl.

Wash and clean chicken breasts. Place each in the egg mixture, then in the breadcrumbs, and then on a nonstick or greased baking pan/sheet.

Bake for 25 minutes. Top with parmesan and mozzarella cheese and bake for 5 more minute.

Cook pasta as directed on box. Drain and set aside.

In a food processor, blender, or mixer; mix the parmesan with the Roasted Red Pepper Walnut “Pesto.” Then in a saucepan on medium heat, sauté 1/2 of the pesto with whole wheat pasta until warm. Pour the second half of the pesto over the chicken and serve.


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I confess, I’m a product junkie ::: musthave beauty products

Before cooking or travel ever came into my life I was, and still am, a bona fide product junkie.

My beauty mantra:

∞ Do whatever it takes to take care of your skin (you can’t go back in time) and get facials as often as you can afford
∞ Flawless, but naturally glossy looking skin, is the only way to go
∞ Don’t leave the house without mascara, but that’s really all you MUST wear (and maybe a good lip gloss
∞ Bare eyes and bright lips are the way to go, at least now

I might try everything under the sun once {thanks Birch Box and NewBeauty Test Tube}, but I keep coming back to a certain few products. So here they are, my musthaves, that I repeatedly buy and live by.

Phytomer Oligopur Purifying Face Wash

Strivectin as a Night time Face lotion

Avene Thermal Spring Water spray

Dior Foundation in Sand

Sephora Pro Foundation Airbrush

Use this for the foundation above and your life will change

Guerlain hydrating bronzer 03

Nars blush in Deep Throat

Blush - NARS - Deep Throat

Natural/Nude LIP: Chanel Mythic number 69

One of my girlfriends introduced me to this color, and I can only ever find it at the Heathrow airport. I was there 2 weeks ago and couldn’t find it- help! Is this color discontinued?

Glossy Stain: Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture 11 Rouge Gouache

Glossy, lasts like a stain, feels like a creamy lipstick, not sticky, almost too many colors to pick from

Perfect Red: Tom Ford in Cherry Lush

Costs a pretty penny, but the most luxurious feeling lipstick out there

Pink: Nars Schiap

My best friend introduced me to this color and I can’t get enough. So amazingly bright!

The Summer Season: NARS Schiap Lipstick

Best Colored Gloss: Yves Saint Laurent Volupte Sheer Candy in 06 Luscious Cherry

Mascara: Panthera Ultraflesh and Maybelline Falsies

(Top lashes: one coat Maybelline Falsies then one coat Panthera , Bottom Lashes: One coat Panthera)
Ultraflesh Panthera Mascara Black
Black Volum' Express the Falsies Mascara

Current Shadow Obsession: NAKED 2 Pallette Urban Decay

Plenty of options, both matte and sparkly. Normally when I buy palettes I completely forget to use them, something about too many colors that I don’t need. This one I’ve used every day since I got it, day and night.

Makeup Stash! » Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette

What are your musthave beauty products?

::: keelymarie :::

The Food Matters Project ::: Cracked Black Pepper Sweet Popcorn


Oh man! I am home this week from almost 4 weeks of travel and I am pretty thrilled to relax at home with Peter for his birthday tonight. Happy Birthday baby!

This week kicks off, as it will for the next few months, with my Food Matters Project post.

Tell me: WHO goes 28 years NEVER having made any popcorn but MICROWAVE popcorn?!

Well Kate, from COOKIE + Kate, made sure we all knew what we were missing with this week’s The Food Matter Project recipe.








Not really sure why we all grow up just eating the microwave kind.  This was fast and simple, no bag necessary.

I chose to make my rendition a bit “spicy and sweet” {my favorite combo!}- with some melted butter, fresh cracked black pepper, salt, and sugar.

I actually cannot stop eating it right. this. minute…


After the popcorn is made, melt 3 tablespoon of butter with 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of fresh cracked black pepper. Toss the popcorn in the mixture and add more black pepper, to taste. I added more because I love how the cracked black pepper balances the sweet buttery sugary taste.

Follow the recipe to make the simple homemade popcorn over at COOKIE + kate and check out the other FMP members’ renditions here.

I also decided to make a handful covered in red candy coating for some Valentine’s Day love. <3 <3<3


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keely marie

The Food Matters Project ::: Chipotle-Glazed Squash Skewers


Interrupting your :::Super Bowl Hangover Monday::: with your new favorite butternut squash dish.

When I saw that Sarah chose Chipotle-Glazed Squash Skewers as the first recipe for The Food Matters Project I was really curious to see what’s used to make the “Chipotle-Glaze.”

The glaze is pretty simple, made using a mix of chili peppers in adobo sauce (canned at your grocery store), olive oil, honey, and garlic. These squash skewers are a great dish to bring to a BBQ or potluck and a fantastic main dish if you are eating more vegetables and less meat.


Head over to 20somethingcupcakes for the full recipe.

The glaze is a blend of smoky, spicy, and sweet. I added an extra tablespoon of honey after tasting. I was a little worried because there are not many dishes I make that call for so much olive oil for, but a lot if it drips off while you roast the skewers. The recipe calls for the glaze to be muddled, but somehow I am without a muddler (makes no sense with  my love of mojitos!). I used the chop option on a food processor for a few seconds.

{TIP: I had a hard time getting the bamboo skewers in the squash without breaking them, I think I soaked the skewers in water too long. So instead I used metal skewers. They were long enough to sit on the sides of my baking sheet which was perfect for roasting the squash cubes. The skewers suspended in the air above the baking sheet, which made it easy to turn them once in a while.}

Next time I make these I will add some pineapple and green bell pepper to the skewers for color & variety in flavor. Since I’m not used to eating only vegetables for a meal (especially not just 1 type of vegetable), adding something else to the skewers would make it more interesting and I think the flavors would go really well together.

You can also head here to see how the other members of The Food Matters Project fared.

::: Chipotle-Glazed Squash Skewers Recipe :::

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keely marie