Penne with Asparagus, Chicken, Goat Cheese, Sundried Tomatoes and Wilted Greens

Inspiration for this came from a couple of pastas I’ve made before.  This one (originally from Smitten Kitchen) and this one from Fine Cooking.  I actually didn’t realize how similar they were until I started writing this recipe after I made this for dinner.  I thought about not posting it since they were so much alike.  But then I figured that it’s worth sharing because it shows how great this method is.  Adding a log of goat cheese to warm pasta, along with a little pasta water, makes for a super simple, creamy and delicious sauce and a great jumping off point for whatever else you feel like adding in.


If you read the ingredient list below you’ll notice some amounts for a few things aren’t too specific.  The reason for that is that I didn’t do a great job of writing down what I was doing as I made this!  If you’re a recipe follower and prefer a precise measurement, I encourage you to use this recipe to broaden your horizons and have a little faith in yourself and find your inner Martha, or Julia, or whoever.

If you don’t like sundried tomatoes, use less or leave them out, same with the greens.  Don’t have quite 2 cups of leftover chicken?  Not a problem.  I used to hate when recipes said “salt and pepper to taste”.  I’d get worried about not adding enough or adding too much.  So taste as you go, starting with a little and adding more if you feel like it needs it.  Same with the lemon juice.  It really ends up being a fun process when you get comfortable doing it.

Ricotta would be an OK cheese to substitute, if you don’t love the tang of goat cheese.  I guess you could use blue, but I’m sure that would be overwhelming for even a blue cheese lover like myself.  I don’t think feta would melt properly, but let me know if you try it and it does!

Use different types of pasta, flavored goat cheese, whatever veggies you want, add chicken or sausage or leave out the meat for a satisfying vegetarian meal.  There are lots of great options to make this pasta your own!  Eat up and enjoy.

Penne with Asparagus, Chicken, Goat Cheese, Sundried Tomatoes and Wilted Greens


  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 1 bunch asparagus, tough ends snapped off and cut in halves or thirds on the bias
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked shredded chicken (rotisserie chicken works well)
  • 1 4-5 ounce log plain goat cheese
  • 10-15 sundried tomato halves, packed in oil, julienned
  • a couple generous handfuls of greens (spinach, arugula, baby kale)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup of reserved pasta water (you may not use it all)


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente, adding in asparagus during the last 2 minutes of cooking.
  2. Set aside a cup of the pasta water, then drain pasta and asparagus and transfer to a large bowl.  Add in the goat cheese and begin to mix, add a little pasta water to create a sauce and help melt the cheese.
  3. Add in the greens, chicken and sundried tomatoes.  Toss to coat then season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.  If the pasta seems dry, add more pasta water.

Giving Recipe Credit Where Credit is Due

I don’t know how many food blogs exist, but it’s a lot.  Anyone can have one.  And you can say whatever you want and post whatever you want.  You are the creator and the master of your blog and you can do what you want with it.  I look at a lot of food blogs and I read a lot of recipes.  When someone posts a recipe with no mention of where this recipe or idea came from you are led to believe that this blogger wrote this recipe him or herself.  But that’s not always the case.


I made a cake a few years ago.  A simple berry buttermilk cake.  I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen who linked to the recipe in Gourmet.  Now, I get a little irritated when some people call a recipe “adapted” when nothing at all was changed in the recipe, but whatever.  At least they give someone some credit!  Recently I came across that exact berry cake recipe, ingredient for ingredient and step by step, on another blog without any credit given except to say that she saw something like it in a magazine once upon a time.  And maybe that’s true, but the similarities in the recipe led me to believe that it wasn’t total truth.

I rarely make something original, very few recipes I share are ones I wrote myself.  I get my recipes from cookbooks, online mags and blogs and I’m sure I don’t do it right all the time, but I try to give credit to the source.  I make changes, sometimes enough to call it “mine” but usually just minor ingredient changes, switching something out for something different, adding something extra or adjusting amounts.  So sometimes I say I adapted a recipe, but other times I just link to the original recipe or cite the cookbook or magazine.

So, what are the rules?  When you post a recipe, how do you do it courteously without taking something from someone else?  What is “original”?  What is “adapted”?  What is “inspired by”?  I found these useful guidelines in a post on the Food Blog Alliance written by David Lebovitz who writes his own food blog,   I can only hope I’m not violating any rules by reposting this!  Read the entire post for some great information and this other post about what to do if you find that YOUR content has been lifted.

Most importantly, when you change or adapt a recipe: Don’t just change a few words for the sake of changing a recipe. You should rewrite the recipe as you’ve made it, in your own words, rather than just tweaking someone else’s recipe.

But when is a recipe completely yours?

That’s a question open to interpretation. Obviously there are thousands of recipes for vinaigrette and cheesecake, so there is going to be a lot of crossover in recipes, and probably a few that have the exact same proportions. In general, recipes that are considered “basics” (such as most pie dough, shortbread, vinaigrette, and the like), are fair game. There simply aren’t that many variations on the basics, and similarities are bound to arise.

The rules that most cookbook authors and food writers follow are these:

1. If you’re modifying someone else’s recipe, it should be called “adapted from“.

2. If you change a recipe substantially, you may be able to call it your own. But if it’s somewhat similar to a publisher recipe, you should say it’s “inspired by“, which means that you used else’s recipe for inspiration, but changed it substantially.

3. If you change three ingredients, you can in most instances call the recipe yours.

If you’re adapting a recipe from a website, link to that site’s original recipe page URL. If you’re adapting a recipe from a cookbook, link to that cookbook on Amazon, the publishers website, and/or the author’s website. You can adapt a previously published recipe and republish it, as long as you give attribution. But it should not be a word-for-word republication without permission. When it doubt, ask, then get it in writing.

Now we know the rules about recipe sharing on food blogs!  I am good about linking to the source, but not always good about rewriting the recipe in my own words.  I always do it if I’ve actually changed the way in which I made something, but if not I don’t change much of anything.  I need to start doing it all the time.  There are probably other things I do that aren’t considered good blog etiquette.  And not because I don’t care about doing things properly and politely, but because I don’t know any better.  I think that’s the case for a lot of people.  But we need to make the effort to make sure we’re being courteous bloggers.  We will all be happier with each other in the end.

Here’s another article about blogging in general and sharing content.

How Not To Steal People’s Content on the Web


Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

Throwing food away, especially fruits, vegetables and meat, really bums me out and I get kinda mad at myself for not making better use of it and being a better planner.  I’ll just get too excited about all the fruit that looks good at the store and wind up with way more than our family of 4 can consume before it goes bad.  Thankfully our son would eat nothing but fruit if we’d let him, so he helps out a lot when we have a surplus.  I’d bought a container of fresh pineapple for a fruit salad and had over half of it left.  I’d mixed some of it in with coconut yogurt (a terrific tropical summertime breakfast by the way) but wasn’t going to use it up in time that way.  Solution?  Cupcakes.


These were tasty and I’d make them again.  They are sweet, but not too sweet.  One cupcake for dessert was the perfect size.  The cake has great moist texture and all the cupcakes came out cleanly.  Some of the topping got stuck in the pan and so I had to fix a couple of them.  But overall these were pretty easy and quite lovely.

The original recipe, found here, uses canned pineapple.  I’m sure they’d be great with canned pineapple, but if you have access to fresh you should use it.  I ran out of cherries and so a few of the cupcakes just had pineapple…and I kind of preferred them that way.  While there is something wonderfully nostalgic and lovely about the cherry in the center of the pineapple ring I like the simplicity of the pineapple by itself.


The only change I made was to use a little less butter and brown sugar in the topping.  It calls for 1/2 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar in each cup.  That just seemed like a lot to me.  I had to eyeball the butter, a little less than 1/2 tablespoon per cup.  And I used about 2 teaspoons of sugar in each cup.  I guess that’s not a huge change and it probably doesn’t make any difference…

I filled the cups 2/3 full.  While filling them up I realized that there was going to be a lot of batter left over, enough for 2 or 3 more cupcakes.  They baked right up to the top of the cups, so each one could have used a bit more batter, but better to have them too short than overflowing.  Enjoy!

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes




  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
  • 1/2 cup milk (2% or whole)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
  • 1/2 cup (2 teaspoons per cup) brown sugar
  • 6 maraschino cherries, halved
  • 4 fresh pineapple rings, cut into quarters


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Place the butter and milk for the batter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Warm the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts.  Place in a bowl and let cool.
  3. While the butter cools, prepare the topping. Spray the muffin pan with nonstick spray.  Place a little less than 1 tablespoon of  butter into each muffin cup then sprinkle 2 teaspoons of brown sugar over the butter. Place the pan in the oven until the butter melts, about 3 minutes.
  4. Arrange the pineapple and cherry on top of the melted butter.  This may take a little finagling depending on the size of your pineapple pieces.  Set pan aside while you finish the batter.
  5. To finish the batter, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract until smooth.  Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and stir just to combine.  Then add 1/2 of the milk mixture, stir just to combine.  Follow by 1/3 of the flour, the rest of the milk, then the rest of the flour, stirring between additions.
  6. Pour the batter into the muffin pan, dividing it evenly among all the cups. Bake the cupcakes until they’re lightly browned, dry around the edges, and pulling away from the pan a little, about 25 minutes.
  7. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 5 minutes. Use a butter knife to carefully loosen each cupcake from the edges and bottom of the pan, then place a cookie sheet over the top. Invert the pan, turning the cupcakes out onto the cookie sheet, then flip them pineapple side up to cool completely.  You may need to replace some of the pineapple if it sticks in the pan. Serve at room temperature.




Kale Salad with Roasted Beets, Cranberries, Almonds and Feta

A good friend of mine gifted me with a free local produce box from Greenling.  Greenling is an Austin based company that now also operates in the Dallas, San Antonio and Houston areas.  They make organic, local produce more easily accessible and do a great job of it.  They even delivered my box to my front door, and we live way out in the burbs.  In my lovely local box was a bunch of kale and 3 huge beets, along with some other treasures.  I immediately knew what would become of the kale and beets.


I loved this salad.  We ate it as a side dish the night I made it and I ate it for lunch the next three days in a row.  Kale holds up so well that it was delicious every time, not soggy and droopy like salads can get after being dressed and stored overnight.  It was probably better after a night in the fridge, so you can always make it ahead of time.  Maybe leave out the almonds so they stay crunchy, and leave out the feta if you don’t want it to be pink!

The beets provide great color and earthiness, but if you don’t like beets add in some shredded carrots, chopped apples or pear.  Use golden raisins in place of the cranberries, toasted walnuts or pine nuts instead of the almonds.  I like to play around with the dressing also, different kinds of vinegar, honey instead of agave, orange juice instead of lemon.  Just start with a big bunch of kale and add in what you like and what you have on hand!  Enjoy!

Kale Salad with Roasted Beets, Cranberries, Almonds and Feta



  • 2 large beets
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch of kale, stalks removed and leaves roughly chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
  • 4 ounces of feta cheese


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1 garlic clove, grated on a microplane or very finely chopped
  • kosher salt and pepper


  1. Roast the Beets: Preheat oven to 400°F.  Peel the beets and cut them into 1 inch chunks.  Spread them onto a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme and toss to coat.  Roast for 40 minutes, turning twice, until they are fork tender.  Remove from the oven and let cool.  You can do this ahead of time and store the beets in a container in the fridge for a day or two.
  2. Make the dressing: Combine all ingredients and whisk well, season with salt and pepper and taste, adjust to your liking.
  3. Combine kale with half of the dressing and toss well (your clean hands work well for this!)  Add more dressing if it seems dry, but be careful not to overdress.
  4. Add in cranberries, beets, feta and almonds.  Toss gently so you don’t break up the feta too much.
  5. Serve immediately or let sit in the fridge for a few hours to let flavors marry and allow the kale to soften a bit.