Chicken and Spinach Yogurt Pesto Pasta and a Giveaway!

Update: I plugged the numbers into Random.org and a winner has been chosen! The winner is comment #24! Rachel said, “I love eating it with granola for lunch.” So check your email Rachel! If the prize isn’t claimed within 5 days a new winner will be selected. Thank you for all of your entries!

I’m sure that my recent lack of posts has made it pretty obvious that I’ve been in a cooking/blogging funk lately. I’m not sure if it’s the excitement of the baby or this cold weather that’s getting me down, but I just haven’t had a whole lot of creativity or motivation in the kitchen. It feels like I’ve just been rotating the same 5 meals lately. Needless to say, I was so excited when my friend Jessica, from My Baking Heart, invited me to join a Virtual Cooking Party! Perfect opportunity to get some excitement back into my kitchen!!

For this party we all put our own spin on the same recipe, featuring Stonyfield Greek Yogurt. I am a HUGE fan of cooking with Greek yogurt, I often use it as substitute for sour cream in recipes and as a topping. I’ve even used it to replace the mayonnaise in a cole slaw recipe! It’s a great way to make some of my favorite recipes a little bit healthier without making a sacrifice in taste.

The recipe chosen for this Virtual Cooking Party was Spinach Yogurt Pesto Pasta. I love pesto because it is always so fresh tasting and it’s packed with layers of flavor. This recipe is no exception. I even told Jessica that I would happily just eat spoonfuls of this pesto for dinner. 🙂 But, since I live with a meat and potatoes man, I used pasta AND chicken. The chicken seemed to grab onto just the right amount of the subtle lemon flavor. And as it turns out, the swirls of the rotini pasta made perfect pockets for holding on to the delicious pesto. I thought the Greek yogurt was the perfect way to add creaminess to the pesto. The slight tang of the yogurt perfectly balanced the fresh basil and powerful garlic. To help make dinner a little more economical, I substituted walnuts for pine nuts. All in all, dinner was a huge success! Big thanks to Jessica for bringing a fresh new recipe to my kitchen! Be sure to stop by her blog to see how the other party-goers put their own spin on this recipe!

For this party I was happy to get my hands on some free Stonyfield Greek Yogurt, and I’d love for you to be able to get your hands on some as well! Because what’s a party without a fun prize/giveaway?! Stonyfield has generously agreed to offer one lucky reader a case of Stonyfield yogurt and a Stonyfield Cookbook!

The giveaway is now closed and a winner has been announced!
How to enter:

Leave a comment telling me your favorite way to use Greek yogurt!
Sorry, only US residents please

Deadline & Winning Information:

The deadline for entry will be 11:59 pm Saturday, February 1
Winner will be chosen using a random number generator and will be announced at the top of this post on Sunday, February 2
The winner will receive an email from me (so be sure to enter your correct email address!) and will have 5 days to respond. If no response is received, a new winner will be chosen.

Disclosure:

I was offered free Stonyfield Greek Yogurt as a part of this Virtual Cooking Party. However, the opinions and review are my own!

 

 

 

Baked Garlic Rice Pilaf

You might recall that years ago I blogged in a different little corner of the internet. As I mentioned in the other post, What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen was truly the bug that bit me when it comes to not only blogging, but also exploring the world of the cooking and baking. Looking back it can be easy to criticize myself for the photos, writing, and recipes that I shared, but I try not to be too hard on myself because it is a nice reminder of both where I came from and how far I’ve come. And truth be told, it wasn’t all so bad. I pulled over 31 of my favorite recipes/posts a while ago, but there are still some gems over there that I hope to bring over to the Sunny Side with updated recipes and photos.

This Baked Garlic Rice Pilaf is one of those gems. From the first time I made this recipe we were in love. The rice is infused with garlic flavor and comes out light and fluffy. The squeeze of lemon I added the first time I made this also adds a nice freshness. You can serve it with fish, chicken, pork… Truly a fantastic versatile side dish.

It might seem time consuming, and it does take while to bake, but most of the time is hands off, so you’re free to work on a main dish or even just relax! I promise it will be worth the wait!

 

 

More side dish ideas
Cucumber Tomato Salad
Grilled Brussels Sprouts
Garlicky Green beans
Summer Vegetable Casserole

 

Blueberry Lemon Loaf

I had so much fun participating in the last recipe swap that I had to do it again! The blog I got this time was Jenna’s Cooking Journey. Several recipes caught my eye, but I was in the mood to bake (when am I not in the mood to bake? ha!). So when I saw this recipe for a Blueberry Lemon Loaf, I was sold. Blueberries, lemons, sugar, and baking? These are a few of my favorite things.

The loaf came together easily. The only change I made was to slightly increase the vanilla, and to wait to add the lemon juice with the milk. The outside of my bread got a little darker than I was hoping for, but I wasn’t too surprised. My oven has some crazy hot spots and a light that is always on when the oven is on. It still tasted great! A tender crumb with a hint of lemon and bursts of blueberry. And the lemon glaze was perfect for keeping the bread moist. I will definitely make it again!



 

 

White Cake with Lemon Curd Filling

Last week I told you about the birthday party that we threw for our friend. As much as I wanted to celebrate her birthday, I selfishly also wanted to throw the party so I could make a cake. I love making cakes and I just don’t have very many opportunities to do it. When I find an excuse to bake, I take it!

Mandy, the birthday girl, didn’t have any special requests for her cake. Just something sweet. With no requests, the possibilities seemed overwhelming. Of course I thought of several chocolate cake variations, but I do a lot of chocolate desserts, so I decided to take the road less traveled (for Jesse and I anyway). I am really happy that I decided to go with this non-chocolate cake. It was a nice light finish to our burrito bowl dinner and it was so pretty.

I did make a last minute decision to not use Swiss meringue buttercream (SMB) frosting. In the US, I’m not afraid of the eggs in SMB at all. I know the eggs in the US are safe. I am not as confident in the eggs here. I buy eggs from the refrigerated section but I’ve seen the same brand at other stores not refrigerated, so I’m not convinced they are kept that way through out shipping. I also know that in other countries it’s common to not keep eggs in the fridge. For just Jesse and I, I honestly wouldn’t put as much thought into it, but I was having 10 guests. The thought of a bad egg and all my guests getting sick – eek! Not a risk I was willing to take.

Anyway, SMB would be a great choice for this cake. The fluffy vanilla frosting I used also worked really well. I’ll leave a link for both recipes and you can decide for yourself! Also, I went grocery shopping with the birthday girl the night before the party and she picked out her favorite fruits for the top of the cake. Most any variety of fruits would work! The recipe I used called for a glaze over the fruit, but I didn’t want it to be too sweet so I skipped it and it was fine.