kristen reNae


Butternut Squash, Ricotta, and Spinach Stuffed Shells

As we move from cool Autumn days to crisp Winter air, the fall recipes are still in full effect. Last year, Mike brought this recipe to my attention. So, of course I added it to my Pinterest recipes.

The recipe is fairly easy to follow and is delicious!

  • Time: Approx. 1 hour
  • Servings: 4


2 cups of ricotta (16 oz.)
cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1 fresh smashed garlic clove
¼ cup frozen chopped spinach (squeezed and drained)
1 egg
salt & pepper
 2 cups of roasted squash (about half of a squash)
 1 stick of butter
10 sage leaves
1 Lemon

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  1. Peel butternut squash, chop in 1 in. cubes, and toss in olive oil and add salt and pepper for taste; then in a hot oven roast at 425 F for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Cook your jumbo pasta shells according to directions. (the recipe will only fill about half of the cooked shells.
  3. In a bowl add ricotta, Parmesan cheese, garlic, spinach, egg, salt & pepper, roasted squash (cooled), and grated lemon peel.
  4. Stuff the shells with the mixture and place in a buttered baking dish.
  5. Place your shells in a 400 F oven for 20-25 minutes. When finished, spoon your warm sage sauce over shells and sprinkle with Parmesan.
  6. For the sage brown butter sauce: melt 1 stick of butter in a saute pan until golden brown and bubbly, add about 10 sage leaves until slightly crisp, turn off heat and squeeze in fresh lemon juice.



Blackened Chicken with Avocado Cream Sauce

About 80% of my meals include chicken, so I try to add variety with different recipes I find on the internet.

A few years ago, I ran across this recipe on Pinterest, and it has been a staple around the house. There are several recipes out there, so I’m not sure who created the original, but it is delicious!

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 oz. each)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Tsp of Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Lime juice (I use a whole lime)
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup plain non-fat greek yogurt
  • ½ avocado (I use whole avocado)
  • Cilantro (optional)

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  1. In a small bowl, combine all dry seasonings. Rub on both sides of chicken breasts.
  2. Add olive oil to a large pan and heat for one minute over medium/high heat. Add chicken breasts and cook for seven minutes on each side, with the lid on.
  3. After the chicken breasts are cooked, remove from pan and allow them to rest for at least five minutes before slicing.
  4. In a medium size sauce pan, add quinoa and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, covered. When finished (all stock has been absorbed) add lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Meanwhile, mix Greek yogurt and avocado in a food processor (or bowl).
  6. To serve, place the chicken on a bed of quinoa and drizzle the avocado sauce on top.

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*When cooking the chicken, you might want to open a window – the spice mixture is very strong!

**Another option is to add diced up cilantro to your quinoa medley for a boost of flavor!


Nutrition Information: Per Serving (1 chicken breast, 1 cup cooked quinoa, 1/8 cup of cream sauce)

  • Calories: 360
  • Fat: 10
  • Carbohydrates: 35g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 35g
  • Sugars: 4g
  • Sodium: 444 mg
  • Vitamin A: 16%
  • Vitamin C: 11%
  • Calcium: 6%
  • Iron: 13%


Spinach Balls

When I was younger, I attended several church potlucks with my mother. However, my participation included going through the line and loading up on food. I don’t ever remember trying to help, nor do any potlucks as an adult… until now.

I struggled to find the “right” dish to bring, when I came across these delicious bite size spinach parmesan balls. These turned out great as an appetizer and side dish. My first work potluck was a success! I will definitely be using this recipe for future entertaining!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes (x2 batches)
Total time: 1-1.5 hours


2 (10 oz.) packages frozen spinach, thawed and well-drained
1 small onion, very finely chopped
2 ½ cup herb stuffing* (1 box)
5 eggs, beaten
8 oz. package mushrooms, finely chopped
½ cup melted butter
½ cup parmesan cheese
2 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. black pepper



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients until well combined. Form into 1” balls; place on baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned. Makes approximately 50 balls.

Spinach mix

** Make sure you squeeze out excess water from spinach
** Seasoned bread crumbs can replace the boxed stuffing
** You can also increase parmesan up to one cup