Tag: marinara sauce

Baked Mini Spinach and Sausage Arancini

These mini baked Italian rice balls are made with brown rice, chicken sausage, spinach and mozzarella cheese. Served with some warm marinara sauce, they make the perfect finger foods for the Holiday season or any time you want to serve appetizers.

The Holidays are right around the corner, so this week I am sharing Holiday recipes to get you in the spirit. I don’t know about you, but I love Italian rice balls. They are often deep fried and high in calories so I typically stay away unless I’m making this Sicilian Rice Ball Casserole[1] which turns rice balls into a meal!

I came across a recipe from the Baby&Toddler on the Go Cookbook[2] (which btw is such a great book for feeding young kids) for mini baked brown rice aranci, and adapted them with adult palates in mind and more of the flavors I typically like in a rice ball. This recipe cuts a substantial amount of fat by baking instead of frying and replaces the white rice with brown – but you still get plenty of flavor from the sausage and Pecorino Romano cheese.

You can make the filling ahead of time, roll them into balls and refrigerate until you are ready to bake them. I would bread them just before baking.

Baked Mini Spinach and Sausage Arancini
Servings: 11 • Size: 2 rice balls • Old Points: 2 pts • Points+: 2 pts
Calories: 89 • Fat: 3 g • Protein: 5 g • Carb: 11 g • Fiber: 1 g • Sugar: 1 g
Sodium: 254 mg • Cholesterol: 27 mg


  • 1 Italian chicken (or turkey) sausage link, removed from casing
  • cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 large egg and 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice, hot
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup chopped spinach
  • 1 large egg white
  • 3 tbsp Pecorino Romano
  • 2 tbsp quick marinara sauce[3], plus more for serving


Preheat the oven to 400° F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Place the flour, beaten egg and egg white, and bread crumbs in separate bowls.  

Cook the sausage in a small saute pan, breaking it up as it cooks until cooked through. Set aside to cool then place in a small chopper to mince.

In a medium bowl, combine the rice, sausage, mozzarella, spinach, egg white, pecorino romano cheese, and 2 tbsp marinara sauce mixing well. Roll about 1 heaping tablespoon of the rice mixture into a round ball.

Roll the ball in the flour, then the egg, and then the bread crumbs, shaking off any excess at each step.  Place the breaded rice ball on the prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining rice mixture until it has all been used up.

Bake the balls for 8 minutes, turn over, and bake for another 8 minutes, until they are a crisp golden brown.  Let the rice balls cool before serving, and serve with hot marinara[4] sauce for dipping.

Makes 22 balls.


  1. ^ Sicilian Rice Ball Casserole (www.gordon-ramsay-recipe.com)
  2. ^ Baby&Toddler on the Go Cookbook (www.amazon.com)
  3. ^ quick marinara sauce (www.gordon-ramsay-recipe.com)
  4. ^ marinara (www.gordon-ramsay-recipe.com)

Baked Eggplant Sticks

Strips of eggplant, breaded and baked until golden and served with a quick marinara sauce. Serve these as a snack, appetizer or side dish. I’m making these tonight with an eggplant I bought at the farmer’s market and figured I would revive the recipe from the archives. Enjoy!

I can vividly remember the day when my picky daughter, who was in middle school at the time, told me she liked eggplant.  

Eggplant? Really? She was eating dinner at a friend’s and they were having breaded eggplant for dinner and she loved it. Kids are always more willing to try new food when they are eating over their friends’. I was delighted she liked a new vegetable and I made breaded eggplant for her at least once a month, only I baked them instead of making them fried.

Eggplant is probably not for everyone, but if you like eggplant, or want to try introducing them to your family and don’t know how, this is a good place to start. There are many varieties of eggplant, Japanese eggplant is a bit sweeter and milder. If you have a farmer’s market near you, you will find a lot of varieties is season right now.

Baked Eggplant Sticks
Servings: 4 Serving Size: 1/4 • Old Points: 1 pt Points+: 1 pt
Calories: 86.9 • Fat: 2.9 • Carbs: 0.7 gFiber: 2.9 • Protein: 4.3 g Sugar: 0
Sodium: 202.4


  • 10 oz eggplant
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 cup Italian Seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg white
  • oil spray 
  • 1 cup quick marinara sauce[1] for dipping (extra points)


Preheat the oven to 450°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly spray with oil.

Cut ends off the eggplant. Slice eggplant in half, then into 1/4 inch thick slices. Lay each slice on the cutting board and cut into 1/4 inch strips. Be sure to cut all the strips the same size so they cook evenly.

Place eggplant strips in a bowl and season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Combine breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese in a bowl, and egg whites in another.

Dip a few strips of eggplant at a time into the egg whites, then into the breadcrumbs. Using a fork, remove eggplant from crumbs and place on the baking sheets. Spray with more oil and bake 10 minutes in the middle rack.

Turn over and bake an additional 5 minutes, or until golden. Serve hot.


  1. ^ quick marinara sauce (www.gordon-ramsay-recipe.com)

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Chicken Francese – Lightened Up

Skinless chicken cutlets, lightly coated in flour and egg, cooked in a white wine lemon sauce. Move over Olive Garden, this one’s lighter and easy to make!

Confession, I’ve never been to the Olive Garden, heck I live in New York, we have tons of great Italian restaurants here so there’s really no need. This is my husband Tommy’s specialty, on those random nights that he gives me a break from the kitchen, he usually makes his Chicken Francese.

My husband’s version let’s just say is a little bit heavier, so I learned how to make it myself, with a lot less butter. My family loves it, kids and all and I usually serve this with a simple salad on the side.

This is also great over pasta with garlic since it makes a lemon sauce, I like to make it over whole wheat angel hair or orzo when I’m craving carbs. This is not a new recipe, I first posted this back in 2009, but I make this often and my husband thought it was time for a re-shoot. I also made a few modifications to it since I last posted, so if you have an old recipe printed out, you may want to print out a new one.

Chicken Francese, Lightened Up 
Servings: 6 • Size: 2 cutlets • Old Points: 5 • Weight Watcher Points+: 6 pt
Calories: 216.3 • Fat: 4.7 g • Carb: 5 g • Fiber: 0.5 g • Protein: 38 g • Sugar: 0 g
Sodium: 264.5 mg (without salt) • Cholest: 5.2 mg


  • 4 large (32 oz) chicken breast halves, thinly sliced in 3 (12 cutlets total)
  • 1/4 cup unbleached flour*
  • 1/2 cup egg whites, beaten
  • 1 large lemon, juice of (about 3 tbsp) or more, to taste
  • 1/2 lemon sliced thin
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 15 oz low sodium chicken broth
  • cooking spray
  • salt and fresh pepper, to taste
  • 3 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp butter


Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place the flour in a bowl, and the beaten egg whites in another bowl.

Heat a very large non stick pan over medium heat. When hot spray with cooking spray to lightly coat the bottom of the pan.

Lightly flour chicken, then dip in eggs and add to the hot pan a few at a time. Saute chicken 2-3 minutes on each side. When cooked, transfer onto a plate. Spray the pan again and repeat until all chicken has been cooked.

Once all chicken is cooked, place the chicken broth in the bowl with 1 tablespoon of flour and whisk. Add to
the pan along with the juice of the lemon, white wine, lemon slices,
parsley and butter and simmer over medium heat for about 2 minutes so it
reduces slightly and thickens. Turn off heat. Return chicken to the pan to combine with the sauce. Serve immediately.

*discarded 1 tbsp flour so only calculated with 3 tbsp.

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