Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Chicken & Spinach Stuffed Shells

 This is offically my new favorite baked pasta dish.
Read on to see why we all loved it!

Chicken & Spinach Stuffed Shells...an incredible, creamy, stuffed to the brim recipe that your whole family will love! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

I may or may not have been slacking in the hearty, stick-to-your-ribs, family dinners as of recent. Our weekends have been full and when we did have a spare night at home with the kids we had been opting for take-out Chinese or our favorite local pizza joint.

Both of which are FABULOUS.

I will not back door them.

BUT.  It was brought to my attention that I hadn't made a big, classic Sunday dinner in quite a long time.  They were right.  I hadn't.

Chicken & Spinach Stuffed Shells...an incredible, creamy, stuffed to the brim recipe that your whole family will love! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Shockingly, after scouring my website I realized I had only ever featured ONE stuffed shell recipe and it was a Mexican dish nonetheless!

What have I been doing?  Obviously neglecting my favorite ethnic dish.  Italian.  Pasta of all kinds. Hot pasta covered in any kind of sauce {butter, marinara, alfredo} anything really.  If I could eat pasta every day I would.

My hips wouldn't fit through the door, but I'd be happy.  I remember going to Venice, Italy in high school and I had the very best carbonara dish in a small restaurant with checkered tablecloths off an alley of a cobblestone street.  It had little bits of bacon and runny egg and lots of freshly cracked pepper.

It was glorious.

Chicken & Spinach Stuffed Shells...an incredible, creamy, stuffed to the brim recipe that your whole family will love! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

This recipe makes one 9x13 dish and another 8x8 dish.  Yeah, that seems like a lot but my family of five busted through that in dinner one night and lunch the following day.

The husband and I debated.  Should I freeze the 8x8 baking dish for another day?  I went back and forth.  Finally he said, "just bake it off, we'll eat the leftovers, we always eat leftover pasta".

He was right.  All was gone within 24 hours.

The kids had a snow day on Monday {ahem, ice day} so we all gobbled them up while we were stuck inside the next day.

Chicken & Spinach Stuffed Shells...an incredible, creamy, stuffed to the brim recipe that your whole family will love! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

How pretty are these?

They are stuffed to the brim with cottage cheese, cream cheese, shredded chicken, spinach, garlic, Parmesan cheese and more.  Then they are covered in a rich marinara {I happen to LOVE the Simply Nature brand from ALDI} and finally during the final 5 minutes of cooking you sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top....

....and perfection is made.

Chicken & Spinach Stuffed Shells


2 c. shredded cooked chicken
2 c. frozen, drained spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. cottage cheese
2 8 oz. packages cream cheese
1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 T. dried onion flakes
1 t. dried parsley
1 t. dried Italian seasoning
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 large jar marinara sauce
2 c. mozzarella cheese

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish and 8x8 baking dish. Pour enough marinara in the bottom of both dishes, enough to cover.
2.  In a large bowl combine all ingredients, reserving 1 c. of the mozzarella cheese to top at the end.
3.  Boil the pasta until al dente, not overcooking.  Rinse the shells and lay on a baking sheet to cool.
4.  Stuff each shell generously, filling to the top, laying on top of the marinara sauce, pouring more on top of the stuffed shells.
5.  Cover each dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
6.  Remove the foil, top with the remaining mozzarella cheese and bake another 5 minutes or until melted.
7.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes and serve warm.  


Chicken & Spinach Stuffed Shells...an incredible, creamy, stuffed to the brim recipe that your whole family will love! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

A few of our other favorite baked pasta dishes?


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Meal Plan: 2 Weeks, 5 Mouths, All for Under $115

Y'all have been begging, pleading, shouting at me that you needed another meal plan.
Well, here it is!  These dinners are delicious, start planning!

Meal Plan: 2 Weeks, 5 Mouths, All for Under $115...a superb plan for a hungry family!  Plenty of leftovers for lunches and extras that will stock your fridge and pantry. (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Meal planning.  You either love it or hate it.  Or hate doing it, but love it once it's done.  You get my drift.  I'm a bit of the ladder.  Yes, it requires me to sit down and focus for 30 minutes, usually with all three kids running amok, but I am over the moon once it'd done.

Thankfully I have a food blog I trust {ahem, my own}, so it's easy for me to hop on, scan around and pick out what I'm craving.  For my readers I enjoy developing these so you can do the same with my recipes.

My meal planning posts have been some of my most popular and it's been quite awhile since I last produced on.  And frankly you guys told me that so I got to work!  This plan features enough dinners for two weeks.  It will feed a family of 5 easily, maybe more, there is a wide variety {Italian, Mexican, American, etc} and it all comes in at $111.41.

Not too shabby.

Please note I purchased all of my ingredients at my local ALDI store here in eastern Iowa. Prices will vary.  But generally, if you shop at an ALDI, your total should be close to mine.  And if you choose to shop at your favorite store, just note prices will be a bit higher, as ALDI is notoriously known for their very low prices.  But even if your total is a bit higher, guess what?  You'll still received a great 10 dinner meal plan.  And be resourceful. Eat up those leftovers for lunch the next day.  It saves money!

PLUS.  You will have extras to use on whatever you want.  Extra ketchup, extra carrots, extra corn flakes.  You get the picture.

So, here we go.  I have listed the ingredients for each meal.  If the ingredient has already been purchased for a previous meal it will be noted.  The recipe title and photo are both linked back to my original recipe.

Meal Plan: 2 Weeks, 5 Mouths, All for Under $115...a superb plan for a hungry family!  Plenty of leftovers for lunches and extras that will stock your fridge and pantry. (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Dorito Burrito Bake - 1 pkg. crescent rolls $1.49, bag of Doritos $1.09, 1 lb. ground beef $6.73, sour cream $1.19, jar of salsa $1.99, block of Colby cheese $1.89, head of lettuce 89 cents.
Total - $15.27

Meal Plan: 2 Weeks, 5 Mouths, All for Under $115...a superb plan for a hungry family!  Plenty of leftovers for lunches and extras that will stock your fridge and pantry. (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Buttermilk Ranch Cornflake Chicken - 3lb. bag of frozen chicken breasts $5.99, carton of buttermilk $1.29, bottle of ranch dressing $1.29, box of cornflake cereal $2.29, garlic powder {already purchased}, Italian seasoning 99 cents.
Total - $11.85

Meal Plan: 2 Weeks, 5 Mouths, All for Under $115...a superb plan for a hungry family!  Plenty of leftovers for lunches and extras that will stock your fridge and pantry. (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Sausage and Potato Sheet Pan Dinner - ring of kielbasa $2.69, fresh green beans $2.99, 4 baking potatoes {already purchased}, garlic {already purchased}, butter {already purchased}.
Total = $5.68

Meal Plan: 2 Weeks, 5 Mouths, All for Under $115...a superb plan for a hungry family!  Plenty of leftovers for lunches and extras that will stock your fridge and pantry. (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Garlic Knot Pizza Casserole - canned biscuits 99 cents, butter $2.68, Parmesan cheese {already purchased}, garlic powder 99 cents, onion powder 99 cents, Italian seasoning {already purchased}, marinara sauce $1.89, block of mozzarella cheese $1.89, 1 lb. ground sausage $1.99, pepperoni slices {already purchased}.
Total = $11.42

Meal Plan: 2 Weeks, 5 Mouths, All for Under $115...a superb plan for a hungry family!  Plenty of leftovers for lunches and extras that will stock your fridge and pantry. (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Sheet Pan Pineapple Chicken Fajitas - 3 lb. bag of frozen chicken breasts $5.99, mini sweet peppers $2.49, onion {already purchased}, canned chili peppers in adobo sauce $1.69, canned pineapple chunks 99 cents, chili powder 99 cents, cumin 99 cents, onion powder {already purchased}, garlic powder {already purchased}
Total = $13.14

Meal Plan: 2 Weeks, 5 Mouths, All for Under $115...a superb plan for a hungry family!  Plenty of leftovers for lunches and extras that will stock your fridge and pantry. (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Creamy Garlic Spinach Ricotta Pizza - pizza crust $2.99, ricotta cheese $1.69, head of garlic 89 cents, Parmesan cheese $1.99, block of mozzarella cheese $1.89, bag of fresh spinach $1.99
Total = $11.44

Meal Plan: 2 Weeks, 5 Mouths, All for Under $115...a superb plan for a hungry family!  Plenty of leftovers for lunches and extras that will stock your fridge and pantry. (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Sloppy Joe Tator Tot Casserole - 1 lb. ground beef $6.73, bottle of ketchup $1.19, bottle of mustard 59 cents, bottle of barbecue sauce $1.69, can of tomato sauce 55 cents, white vinegar 79 cents, onions $1.69, garlic powder {already purchased}, bag of tator tots $1.65
Total = $14.88

Meal Plan: 2 Weeks, 5 Mouths, All for Under $115...a superb plan for a hungry family!  Plenty of leftovers for lunches and extras that will stock your fridge and pantry. (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Chicken Noodle Chowder - chicken breasts {already purchased}, celery $1.29, carrots 49 cents, onion {already purchased}, bag of potatoes $1.89, package of egg noodles $1.99, chicken stock $1.39, butter {already purchased}, flour $1.29, Colby cheese $1.89, parsley 99 cents.
Total = $10.23

Meal Plan: 2 Weeks, 5 Mouths, All for Under $115...a superb plan for a hungry family!  Plenty of leftovers for lunches and extras that will stock your fridge and pantry. (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Salsa Verde Chicken Tortilla Casserole - chicken breasts {already purchased}, sour cream $1.19, salsa verde $1.19, corn tortillas $1.69, cilantro 99 cents, block of Monterey Jack cheese $1.89.
Total = $6.95

Meal Plan: 2 Weeks, 5 Mouths, All for Under $115...a superb plan for a hungry family!  Plenty of leftovers for lunches and extras that will stock your fridge and pantry. (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Pepperoni Pizza Lasagna Roll-Ups - lasagna noodles $1.19, pepperoni slices $2.19, cottage cheese $1.50, Parmesan cheese {already purchased}, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley {all already purchased}, 2 jars of spaghetti sauce $1.89/ea., block of mozzarella cheese $1.89.
Total = $10.55

GRAND TOTAL = $111.41

Your family will never eat better!  Prep as much as you can the night before, or even the Sunday prior to get a head start.  It may seem like a lot of work, but trust me when I say it's worth it.  

Share this meal plan with your friends and family and let me know what you think!

Meal Plan: 2 Weeks, 5 Mouths, All for Under $115...a superb plan for a hungry family!  Plenty of leftovers for lunches and extras that will stock your fridge and pantry. (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

20+ Valentine's Day Treats

Sweet or savory...here are 20+ treats to make that day special!

20+ Valentine's Day Treats...both salty and sweet! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

That romantic day that everyone either loves or hates is almost here!  I find that people who are in love, generally love it, and those that aren't in love, generally hate it.

The husband and I don't normally go all out, mainly because his birthday is a couple of days prior, but we do celebrate.  I often make his favorite homemade strawberry cheesecake and I'll whip up something fun for the kids.  Heart shaped pancakes, strawberries and whip cream, French toast topped with blueberries or cut-out heart shaped sandwiches in their lunch boxes.

Here's the thing.  Even if it is a holiday that doesn't otherwise excite you, make it fun anyway. Especially if you have kids!  Show them how much you love them.  They'll really enjoy it and I can almost bet it will start your day off right.

Because trust me, starting your day off positive is a game changer.

Here we go!  Pick out a few of these and let your family decide which one you should make for Valentine's Day.  They're a load of fun!


XOXO Rice Krispie Treats - There is no better way to show your love than these fun treats!


Sweet Chili Baked Brie - melty brie wrapped in puff pastry and dunked
 into a sweet, spicy sauce, perfect!


7-Layer Valentine Bars - a little crunch, a lot of sweet and perfect to deliver to your sweetie!


Strawberry Shortcake Skewers - let the kids assemble these for a fun afters school snack!


Parmesan Garlic Knot Hearts - serve these up along a big bowl of romantic pasta and dinner is done!


Sweetheart Cinnamon Rolls - what a fun way to jazz up store bought cinnamon rolls!


Valentine's Day Berry Punch for Kids - what kid wouldn't enjoy this fun "mocktail" with dinner?



Valentine's Day Crack - funny name, but delicious treat!


Valentine Pizza - use a mini heart cookie cutter and make pizza night special!


Peppermint Kiss Thumbprint Cookies - these melt-in-your-mouth treats 
are perfect for an after dinner treat!


Valentine's Funfetti Popcorn - are the kids having a Valentine party at school?  This is perfect!


Valentine's Day Salad - chop up those veggies and toppings in fun X's and O's!


Candy Melt Valentine Squares - easy, fun, ideal to give away to neighbors and friends!


Valentine's Day Slice-n-Bake Cookies - bring out the sprinkles and have some fun!


You Have My Heart Egg Muffins - start off the morning right!


Valentine's Day M&M Cookies - who doesn't love a cookie loaded with M&M's?


Cherry Almond Bread - bake up some loaves for friends and family!



Heart Shaped Monte Cristo - make lunch or dinner fun with these cute sandwiches!


Mini Heart Shaped Pizzas - gather everyone around and top them with whatever you like!


Valentine's Day Muddy Buddies - this addictive snack mix is hard to beat!


Heart Eggs in the Hole - adorable and tasty for Valentine's Day morning!


Valentine Cream Cheese Cookies - these easy cut-outs are a perfect activity for the kids!

So which one is your favorite?  I'm thinking the mini heart shaped pizzas for us for lunch, the cinnamon rolls for breakfast and maybe if the kids are lucky some muddy buddies {or puppy chow like we call it around here} for dessert.

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day everyone!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Chopped Thai Chicken Salad

Kick off the New Year with this healthy, flavorful, fun salad.
Great for lunch or dinner!

Chopped Thai Chicken Salad...a crunchy, flavorful, light and tasty salad! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

It's a new year!

Don't take this the wrong way, but I'm happy 2016 is behind me and a new year is in front of me. Everything feels fresh and new with a nice, happy outlook.  Are you with me?

With the new year comes many things.  The ongoing cold winter, school back in session, the holiday regression {my tree is still up}, new resolutions, new ideas and DIETS.

Yes, I hate that word.  I'd rather think of it as healthy eating.  I'm praising the heavens that all our holiday sweets are officially out of the freezer {because I needed one after dinner each night} so they can no longer stare at me multiple times a day.

The great news about all of this is that in t-minus 30 days I'll be lounging my rear end on a beach chair in the Dominican Republic with a drink in one hand and a book in the other. The husband and I are excited to spend 5 days with some friends in the sun and sand.  It's been 10 years people!  Ten long years since we traveled anywhere tropical.

Chopped Thai Chicken Salad...a crunchy, flavorful, light and tasty salad! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

So...enter in this salad.

I'm working my tail feather off this last month to get in a little better shape and not look like that beached whale from Iowa on the beach.  Salads, lean meats, eggs, fruits and vegetables are now my friend {reluctantly}.

But, guess what?  This chopped salad is incredible.  I love the crunch, the light-ness, the dressing, I love it all.  We ate it for dinner last night with a side of roasted sweet potatoes and it was darn right satisfying!

Feel free to shred up your own cabbage or be smart like me and buy a prepared bag and save the hassle {that is another resolution of mine, take the easy route when given}.  

The dressing can be prepared a day in advance and just chill in the fridge until you're ready to toss and serve.  Or, if you like your salad to come together a bit more before eating toss it all together a few hours before {my preference} and dinner is done.

Chopped Thai Chicken Salad...a crunchy, flavorful, light and tasty salad! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Chopped Thai Chicken Salad


1 bag prepared coleslaw mix {about 4 cups}
2 c. cooked, shredded chicken breasts
1/4 c. sunflower seeds

Dressing:
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. red wine vinegar
2 T. sugar
1 T. oil
juice of 1/2 a fresh lime
1/4 c. peanut butter
1/3 c. water
1 t. red pepper chili flakes

1.  In a small bowl combine all ingredients for the dressing.  Set aside and refrigerate until ready to use.
2.  In a large bowl toss together the coleslaw mix, shredded chicken and sunflower seeds. Pour the dressing over the salad, tossing to coat.  Refrigerate for 3-4 hours before eating.

Need a few more healthy salads in your life?


Friday, December 30, 2016

Top Recipes of 2016 + Honorable Mentions

Want to see the recipes that people LOVED this year?
Read on!

Top Recipes of 2016...these recipes took the cake this year!  All of my fans favorites. (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

I just wrapped up my 7th year of food blogging.  It's a bit mind-boggling.  I started when I was 28 and had a 3 month old baby boy at home.  Now I'm 35, with three babies at home.  A lot has happened in those seven years and I'm guessing a lot more will happen in the next seven years.

Will I still be food blogging?

I'm not sure, but I hope so.

Each year I take a look back at which recipes did well, which ones flopped and which ones circulated the web with me watching along the sidelines.  It always surprises me when I take a look at the stats. Recipes that I feel will take off don't and others that I throw together in a pinch without much thought take off.  You just never know!

Here are my Top 10, with a handful of honorable mentions.  Thank you so, so, so much for reading and sharing my work with others.  Cheers to another year!

1.  3-Step Crock Pot Mashed Potatoes - these simple, easy crock pot mashed potatoes took off like wildfire right before the Thanksgiving holiday.  Because, everyone needs tasty mashed potatoes for the big meal!

2.  The Best Garlic Alfredo Sauce - making your own homemade alfredo sauce is not difficult and this garlicky version comes together in 30 minutes!

3.  Junk in the Trunk Banana Bread - the recipe that all my friends ask for, this is the ONLY banana bread I make.  Adding in nuts, chocolate chips and caramel bits certainly help too.

4.  Garlic Knot Pizza Casserole - this is my go-to casserole for new mamas, it's like pizza on steroids.

5.  Iowa Ham Balls - this Midwest classic is super popular to feed a crowd.  If you've never heard of them or made them, here is your chance!

6.  Cheesy Fried Chicken with Spicy Honey Butter - one day last year I coated chicken in crushed up Goldfish crackers then coated them in a spicy honey butter that I wanted to drink straight up.  Best sandwich ever.

7.  Healthy Hidden Veggie Meatloaf - this hearty dish sneaks in a variety of veggies that your kids won't even notice are there!

8.  10 Healthy Dinners - All Items Purchased at ALDI - meal plans go over like gangbusters on my blog and this one was no different.  Ten healthy dinners, budget friendly!

9.  22 Christmas Cookies - holiday baking with my thang and this round-up gives you the best of the best in holiday cookies.

10. Baked Cheesy Chipotle Dip with Jumbo Shrimp Dippers - this is a great New Year's Eve appetizer!  The creamy dip is perfect with the crunchy jumbo shrimp.

Honorable Mentions

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Cheesy Ham and Potato Soup

Comfort in a bowl that's what this soup is!
Cheesy, hearty, full of carrots, potatoes and ham, it's delicious.

Cheesy Ham & Potato Soup...a warm, hearty bowl of comfort food!  Loaded with ham, potatoes, carrots and of course CHEESE! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Would you believe me if I said that I first made this delicious, hearty soup over 10 years ago and that I haven't made it since? Up until two weeks ago?

Yep, that's me folks. The queen of forgetting great meals and then quickly moving on to others. My good friend Lori, whom I worked with way back in the day, first introduced me to this soup. Because I'm a bit of a dork I had organized a Soup Cook-off in our department every Spring. I'm fairly certain I was the only participant who got excited about it, but my faithful department took part and this soup I do believe was a winner.

We invited other departments to taste test and vote and for whatever reason this soup always stuck in my mind. I've tweaked it a bit over the years to my likes and what we've had on hand, but I'm pretty sure if Lori {or her mom Julie} is reading this she'll remember the soup too.

Cheesy Ham & Potato Soup...a warm, hearty bowl of comfort food!  Loaded with ham, potatoes, carrots and of course CHEESE! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

You know the other reason I love this soup? It reminds me of college. Don't ever judge cafeteria food at colleges, they are nothing like high school cafeterias. Those cooks know we are hungry, poor and broke and filling up our bellies is their main duty.

I remember great food. I remember homemade pie and never-ending ice cream flowing from the machines and I remember this soup. When it was cheesy potato soup day we showed up in droves, grabbed extra bags of oyster saltine crackers and dove in.

That stuff was stick-to-your-ribs good and I have no doubt my version is too.

Cheesy Ham & Potato Soup...a warm, hearty bowl of comfort food!  Loaded with ham, potatoes, carrots and of course CHEESE! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

You know how some soups are just adult friendly? Like full of big chunks of peppers or spicy spices and your kids turn their nose as soon as they see it? Well, praise the Lord, this soup isn't one of them.  Instead it's full of potatoes and carrots and ham and CHEESE. Pretty much everything that kids love.

And adults too. It's makes a great big pot and will easily stretch into two or three meals depending on how many you are feeding.

Make this and watch everyone drool!

But do me a favor and serve it with extra saltine crackers. Crunch them up and enjoy!

Cheesy Ham and Potato Soup
Print this Recipe!

3 medium to large baking potatoes, peeled and diced into small bites
1 onion, finely diced
2 carrots, diced
4 c. water
2 T. butter
2 chicken bouillon cubes
14 oz. can evaporated milk
2 c. diced ham
¾ lb. Velveeta, cubed
1 t. pepper

1. In a large stock pot or dutch oven heat the butter over medium heat and cook the onions and carrots for 3-4 minutes or until slightly tender.
2. Add in the potatoes, water, bouillon cubes and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Add in the ham, evaporated milk, cubed cheese and pepper and heat slowly, but do not boil. Continue to stir until the cheese is melted. Serve warm with saltine crackers.

Cheesy Ham & Potato Soup...a warm, hearty bowl of comfort food!  Loaded with ham, potatoes, carrots and of course CHEESE! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Want a few other hearty favorites we love when the weather turns cold? Here you go!