Guest Post: Spinach Manicotti with Tomato Cream Sauce

Well, I’ve made it safely back to the U.S.! This week I am in Ohio visiting with family/friends and picking up my kitty cats and next week I will be returning to San Diego to get our new home set-up! As I mentioned last week, because this is such a busy time for me,  I’ve asked a few friends to help me out over the next few weeks. Today, I’m happy to have Krissy, from Dainty Chef, as a guest poster. I could spend hours going through her posts and drooling over her delicious photos, just check out this Apple Cheesecake or these Cinnamon Roll Pancakes or these Sweet Potato Cakes with Black Bean Chipotle Salsa. Yum! And this manicotti is definitely going to the top of my “to-make” list when I get in the new kitchen! Thanks, Krissy!

Hello Sunny Side Up Readers, my name is Krissy and I am the blogger behind Dainty Chef. This is a busy time for Jessica so I told her I could help her out with a guest post, and I am so happy to be here. Last October, I was in the same boat as Jessica, my husband and I were settling on a new house, so now I am returning the favor for her. Over on my blog, I try to post a variety of recipes ranging from sweet to savory, of course the sweet ones have a tendency to outweigh the savory :). Today, I wanted to share with you a quick and easy, but somewhat elegant weeknight meal.

Since I am a teacher, this is still a busy time for me since we are just about a month into a new school year. If things couldn’t get any more hectic, I decided to switch grade levels so that adds a whole new dimension of busy in my life. I moved from fourth grade to second grade and those little guys literally suck out all the energy from me each and every day. The last thing that I feel like doing when coming home from work is cooking a labor intensive meal. That is when I turn to recipes that I know will be delicious, but won’t take much time.  These Spinach Manicotti may look intimidating, but they come together quickly and are easy to make! The reward is a satisfying and healthy dinner for your entire family. We ended up enjoying these for two nights in a row. They were perfect with a glass of wine, salad, and some bread to clean up all that extra sauce! I hope you enjoy them as much as we did and thanks again Jessica for having me!



Pretzel Crusted Chicken with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

As I recently mentioned, I’m a sucker for sauces. I don’t think I could ever chose just one favorite, but I think honey mustard is towards the top of the list. Honey mustard seems to go especially well with chicken and pretzels, so pretzel crusted chicken and honey mustard dipping sauce seemed like a match made in heaven. And it was!

My friend Nikki recently shared the recipe she uses for honey mustard, so I used that as a jumping off point. Side note, I said “recently” then when I went to copy the URL I realized the post was from January. Wow. Time flies!! I wanted a stronger mustard taste so I cut the mayonnaise in half and added a little dijon mustard. The result was a dipping sauce that I easily could have eaten with a spoon.

For the chicken, I used a classic breading method. We loved how crunchy the crust was, and it really seemed to hold in the moisture of the chicken. It was really the perfect vehicle for the honey mustard dipping sauce.



Honey Sesame Chicken

I am surrounded by delicious, authentic Chinese food and I have lots of local favorites. There is a cabbage dish at a local restaurant that I could literally eat every single day for the rest of my life. I’ve also come to appreciate and love a level of spicy unlike anything I’ve ever had in the US (seriously, not the kind of spicy that makes you sweat, the kind that literally makes your mouth go numb). And there is a green bean dish that I order at every single restaurant that has it. But sometimes….

Well… sometimes I crave American Chinese food. That’s right. I live in China and I crave Chinese food – from America. Food that is sticky and sweet and salty (kind of like the Jack Daniels Glaze). Sad, I know.

I was having one of those cravings a few weeks ago, so I went on the hunt for a recipe. I came across this Honey Sesame Chicken and I knew it would be a winner. This chicken had all of the flavors I was looking for. The recipe originally called for using a crockpot – but I don’t have one here in China, so I just used my dutch oven and cooked it in the oven. It was still very easy and mostly hands off! I’ll include both methods so you can choose!



Mexican Lasagna

I have never understood how people could not like beans. Even as a kid, when my friends would turn their nose up to chili and baked beans I would think, “More for me!” Now that I am adult, I appreciate them even more. Not only are they tasty, they are also perfect for rounding out the proteins in a meatless meal. Even Jesse, who is a meat and potatoes kind of boy, enjoys many of the dishes I make with beans. Sometimes he doesn’t even notice the meat is missing.

This lasagna was another great example of how a meatless meal can be every bit as satisfying and delicious as a meat-full meal. I’ve made this several times now and each time think that I can’t wait to make it again. And, I feel like I say this a lot, but it can also be pretty adaptable to your personal tastes. Sometimes I want it on the spicier side, so I add jalapeno rings and extra cayenne pepper. Other times I want it smokier so I add more cumin (and maybe a pinch of smoked paprika!). Either way, I’m pretty sure you’ll love it!