Two Healthy Kitchens https://twohealthykitchens.com/ Quick and Healthy Recipes for Your Busy Family Thu, 01 Dec 2022 21:47:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://twohealthykitchens.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/cropped-cropped-FinalLOGOsquare-32x32.jpg Two Healthy Kitchens https://twohealthykitchens.com/ 32 32 50 Appetizers for a Christmas Potluck https://twohealthykitchens.com/appetizers-for-christmas-potluck/ https://twohealthykitchens.com/appetizers-for-christmas-potluck/#respond Thu, 01 Dec 2022 21:47:15 +0000 https://twohealthykitchens.com/?p=63681 The post 50 Appetizers for a Christmas Potluck appeared first on Two Healthy Kitchens.

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~ These appetizers for Christmas potlucks and parties showcase lots of fun shapes, festive holiday colors, and all your favorite seasonal flavors. There’s a wide range from casual to upscale … classic to uniquely trendy. And, most of them can be made completely – or at least partially – ahead (yay … no last-minute stress)! ~

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Got a Christmas potluck party on your schedule this holiday season? (Or maybe two or three … or five?!?) Yeah, me too!

Then we both need some really festive, celebration-worthy potluck appetizer ideas – and I’ve got some real {deck-the-halls} doozies!

Recipes that are extra: extra yummy, extra festive, extra fabulous. Because it’s the holidays, after all!

Christmas is the time to pull out all the stops, especially when you’re bringing a dish to share at a party where you want to win all those oooooohs and aaaaaahs and WOWs!

But that doesn’t have to be hard to do. I specifically picked extra easy appetizers for this collection. “WOW” can also be stress-free, I promise!

An Appetizer for Every Type of Holiday Party

Whether you’ve been asked to bring the appetizer starter for a Christmas potluck dinner, or you need a genius showstopper for an office party or cookie exchange or family celebration … there’s something here for every festive occasion!

  • Many of these are make-ahead recipes, or at least have a lot of make-ahead components, which is ideal for potluck situations.
  • There’s a mix of “cute” themed appetizers shaped like Christmas trees and wreaths and snowmen (Fa La La La Laaaaa) + others that dial back the overt “cute” factor in favor of a little sophistication.
  • I’ve also selected some that are casual, and some that are upscale … some that are dip-able, plus some that are individual, finger food nibbles.

So, no matter what type of holiday party you’re heading to, there’s a perfect appetizer here, just waiting for you!

50 Festive Appetizers for a Christmas Potluck Party

Need Even More Christmas Party Appetizer Recipes?

Oh, don’t you worry … we’ve got ’em!

  • If you specifically want appetizer ideas that are full-on Christmas-y … as in, clearly shaped like reindeer and Christmas ornaments and snowmen and Christmas trees … then take a look at our collection of oh-so CUTE Christmas Appetizers for some additional ideas beyond the adorable ones showcased here!
  • If you mostly just need a FAST and SIMPLE recipe, then you definitely want to peek at our collection of Easy Christmas Appetizers, most of which can be made in 15 minutes or less!
  • Or, you can check out our always-popular showcase of Easy Party Food Appetizers. These aren’t as specifically holiday-focused, but there are some additional, really simple and tasty ideas, including some great ones you might like for after-Christmas parties or New Year’s bashes.
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Wishing you a most joyous, extra-fun, crazy-delicious holiday season!

I hope these appetizer recipes give you some exciting new ideas to try. And I hope they win you lots of compliments at all your Christmas dinner parties, potlucks, cookie exchanges … alllllll the celebrations!

Happy, happy holidays! 🙂

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41 Seafood Thanksgiving Ideas https://twohealthykitchens.com/seafood-thanksgiving-ideas/ https://twohealthykitchens.com/seafood-thanksgiving-ideas/#respond Fri, 18 Nov 2022 22:59:08 +0000 https://twohealthykitchens.com/?p=63541 The post 41 Seafood Thanksgiving Ideas appeared first on Two Healthy Kitchens.

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~ Make your holiday feast unique and truly special with some of these celebration-worthy Seafood Thanksgiving Ideas! So holiday-perfect … whether you’re creating an entire seafood-focused menu, or just want to feature seafood in one stand-out course of your Thanksgiving dinner! ~

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Looking for alternative Thanksgiving dinner recipes that still feel festive … but aren’t the typical turkey and stuffing?

Me, too!

Since our {big!} extended family usually has at least three or four get-togethers throughout the Thanksgiving weekend, I need great recipe ideas that don’t leave us eating the same Thanksgiving fare meal after meal … after meal.

When I was a child, my mom often solved this dilemma by making one of our Thanksgiving dinners into a seafood feast, and we all adored it!

So, this year, I scavenged the Internet for fresh ideas to create a seafood extravaganza that would feel special enough, celebratory enough, to be worthy of any holiday buffet … and to elbow the traditional roast turkey right off the table.

I found fantastic recipes for nearly every part of the meal (well … except dessert!) – for pretty appetizers, attention-grabbing mains, and even side dishes.

Some easily scale up to feed a crowd, and others are just exactly perfect for a cozy, smaller gathering.

The hardest part will be deciding what to try first!

Seafood Thanksgiving Ideas

Want More Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas?

Maybe you don’t want seafood for every part of the meal? I’ve got ya! How about …

And how about some easy, produce-centered Thanksgiving side dishes that don’t involve fish or seafood?

Other recipes I highly recommend include:

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I hope these recipe ideas make your meal planning a little easier, and your holiday feast a little more delicious.

And I hope that, whatever you serve, your Thanksgiving feast is satisfying, memorable, and very, very joyous!

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41 Thanksgiving Grilling Ideas https://twohealthykitchens.com/thanksgiving-grilling-ideas/ https://twohealthykitchens.com/thanksgiving-grilling-ideas/#respond Wed, 16 Nov 2022 19:32:39 +0000 https://twohealthykitchens.com/?p=63431 The post 41 Thanksgiving Grilling Ideas appeared first on Two Healthy Kitchens.

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~ Wanna try something different this holiday season? Step outside the kitchen with these delicious Thanksgiving Grilling Ideas! From turkey and other festive main courses, to sides and salads – even dessert. Traditional flavors become so much more unique and exciting when you serve up Thanksgiving dinner from your grill! ~

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Wanna shake up tradition just a little? Tired of the same old oven-roasted turkey, boiled and mashed taters, and baked casserole sides?

Oh, I hear ya! As I’ve mentioned before – my fam usually has two or three days of Thanksgiving parties, just to fit in the whole family tree and all its constantly sprouting, far-reaching branches.

So for me, two or three (or four!) “traditional” turkey dinners is just not gonna happen. Bo-ringggg! I’m always on the lookout for new twists … unique but highly festive ideas that still feel like Thanksgiving dinner, but yet are also somehow NOT precisely like Thanksgiving dinner.

This year, I thought I’d bring all of you along on my quest for delicious new inspiration! (Like my idea to serve up holiday-worthy Thanksgiving Chicken Breasts, instead of a whole turkey.)

Today, I’m exploring the idea of taking the feast out to the grill. So cool, so impressive!

What Can You Grill for Your Thanksgiving Feast?

Maybe you want to grill just one part of the meal to free up kitchen space (smart!).

Or maybe you live somewhere that still has glorious weather on Thanksgiving Day (lucky, lucky you!), and you’d like to celebrate outside.

Whatever you choose, I found awesome, awesome ideas for:

  • grilling or smoking your turkey (whole or just a smaller breast)
  • lots of other celebratory main dish ideas, if you just don’t want to go the turkey route at all
  • side dishes and salads, hot off the grill
  • and even (no kidding!) Thanksgiving desserts you can make on the grill (yup … pumpkin pie’s here, too, friends!)

So, this Thanksgiving, try something new. Get a bit casual, a bit creative, a bit smoky-grill-marked-slightly-charred-this-is-sooooooo-delicious!

Get grillin’!

Thanksgiving Grilling Ideas

The Main Event: Grilled Turkey Recipes!

From simple grilling techniques, to smoky flavors, or even to a spatchcock version or just a single grilled breast, there's a delicious turkey recipe here that's perfect for your Thanksgiving menu!

Alternative Thanksgiving Mains

Not a turkey person? Or maybe (like me!) you've got multiple Thanksgiving celebrations every year (so much family to hug and give thanks for!) ... and you just don't want to eat turkey every time. No worries. We've got this!

Grilled Sides and Salads

If you're already firing up the grill for the main course of your holiday meal, why not make some side dishes there, too? Easy and fun!

Grilled Dessert Ideas

Let's not forget about the glorious finale to your feast! To end the day on an impressive note, pull dessert from the grill to thrill your guests and add a final flourish of "WOW" factor!

Want More Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas?

Maybe you don’t want to grill every part of the meal? Want a few indoor recipes to round out your Thanksgiving menu? I’ve got ya! How about …

And how about some easy Thanksgiving side dishes?

Other recipes I highly recommend include:

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

No matter how many feasts you’re coordinating this year, and no matter where you’re celebrating (indoors or out!) … I hope you have a wonderful holiday full of delicious things to eat and lots of laughter with people you love!

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40 Easy Chicken Breast Recipes for Thanksgiving Dinner https://twohealthykitchens.com/chicken-breast-recipes-thanksgiving-dinner/ https://twohealthykitchens.com/chicken-breast-recipes-thanksgiving-dinner/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2022 15:52:33 +0000 https://twohealthykitchens.com/?p=63020 The post 40 Easy Chicken Breast Recipes for Thanksgiving Dinner appeared first on Two Healthy Kitchens.

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~ Chicken breast recipes are fantastic alternatives to the traditional turkey Thanksgiving dinner! They’re so quick (often just 30 minutes!), easy, affordable and healthy. They can also be perfect for smaller parties … and a true relief if you’re tired of turkey every year. We’ve got LOTS of holiday-worthy ideas to dress them up for a delicious, memorable feast! ~

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Looking for alternative Thanksgiving dinner ideas?

Yeah … me, too!

Our sprawling family (on both sides) seems to engulf more and more newlyweds and babies and unsuspecting bystanders every year. The family tree keeps sprouting more new branches than we can keep track of.

So, we always end up celebrating Thanksgiving on more than just one day to jam everybody in. Two celebrations minimum, sometimes three or four. (Good problem to have, I know!)

But nope nope … I really don’t wanna eat turkey every single time!

So, as I stared down another year of, “What can I make for Thanksgiving dinner instead of turkey AGAIN?” I thought I’d share my brainstorming with all of you! I found so many fantastic ideas I’m ridiculously excited about. (More than any one person could possibly make in one Thanksgiving season, no matter how big their family tree is!)

Why Are Chicken Breasts a Great Thanksgiving Alternative?

Chicken breasts are:

  • Quick and easy to make … and with no need to carve up a whole bird at the end
  • Super adaptable (and perfectly suited to Thanksgiving-y holiday flavors, just like turkey is)
  • Lean and healthy
  • A great bet if you prefer white meat and don’t want the dark meat, anyway
  • Ideal for smaller gatherings (although many of the recipes below can be scaled up, too)
  • Often a less expensive option than a whole turkey (especially at grocery stores this year), and definitely if you don’t really even need as much meat as an entire bird will yield

And, maybe most importantly for those of us who don’t need more turkey dinners back-to-back-to-back … they just simply aren’t turkey!

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Special Flavors for a Special Day

But don’t worry. They also don’t have to be the same-old, same-old chicken breast recipes you make all year ’round!

I found lots of great recipes that are brimming with autumn harvest, holiday flavors. Cranberries, pumpkin, Brussels sprouts, rosemary and sage … all those cozy, feel-good vibes you crave at Thanksgiving dinner. Plus some unique, creative ones to give your palate a little break, too!

And whether you wanna fire up the oven, head out to the grill, or just flip on your handy slow cooker, Instant Pot or air fryer … there’s something here you’re sure to love!

Take a look …

40 Festive Chicken Breast Recipes for Thanksgiving Dinner

Need More Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas?

Ok … so whatcha gonna make to go with your Thanksgiving chicken recipe, now that you’ve found the perfect one to try?

And how about some easy recipes for side dishes to go with your scrumptious chicken dinner?

Other recipes I highly recommend include:

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I’m still not sure what I’ll be serving on Thanksgiving Dinner Part II at our house this year (or Part III or IV if those end up happening), but I’ve had so much fun coming up with this scrumptious list of ideas.

I feel armed and ready for a celebration-worthy, alternative feast situation! Hope you’re feeling that way now, too.

Whatever you’re cooking, and wherever you’re celebrating, I hope your heart is happy and your belly is full of something wonderful.

All the best …

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23 Shortcut Frozen Green Bean Recipes https://twohealthykitchens.com/frozen-green-bean-recipes/ https://twohealthykitchens.com/frozen-green-bean-recipes/#comments Tue, 08 Nov 2022 18:49:28 +0000 https://twohealthykitchens.com/?p=62804 The post 23 Shortcut Frozen Green Bean Recipes appeared first on Two Healthy Kitchens.

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~ These delicious Frozen Green Bean recipes showcase just how versatile, EASY, and astonishingly yummy frozen veggies can be! So fast and convenient, it’s a clever shortcut – with no need to wash, trim and cut fresh beans. From quick side dishes to soups to mains … now you’ll definitely want to have a bag of frozen green beans on hand at all times! ~

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On busy days (which is basically every day, right?!?!) smart shortcuts can make all the difference, especially at mealtimes.

Just a few minutes saved here and there can add up to the difference between offering your family a home-cooked dinner … or just giving up and dialing for carryout.

And, no doubt, using frozen green beans in place of fresh is a true shortcut gem!

Why Frozen Green Bean Recipes Work So Well

While I love a garden-fresh summer bean as much as the next girl, there are tons of reasons why frozen green beans just make a lot of sense!

  • Nutrition – You might be surprised to learn that frozen vegetables – including green beans – are typically every bit as healthy as fresh. And in fact, they can often be even more nutritious, since they’re generally frozen at the peak of ripeness, very quickly after they’re picked and before their nutrients have begun to diminish.
  • Cost – Of course sale prices and special deals vary, but as a generalization, frozen green beans are often cheaper than fresh.
  • Prep Time – And frozen beans are so much faster to prep. They’re already washed and trimmed, and you can buy whole or already-cut beans, depending on what you’re making.

And many of the recipes in our collection below don’t even require you to thaw your green beans first!

  • Convenience – As you’ll see in many of the recipes below, if you grab a bag of frozen green beans anytime you’re at the grocery store, and keep one always tucked in your freezer, you can quickly cobble together a side dish with other pantry staples in just a few minutes. Any time, any night. Even when the fresh green beans at the market look not-so-great. So convenient, and a true lifesaver when dinner’s running late!
  • Any Cooking Method – You might also be surprised that you can use frozen green beans with practically any cooking method. From oven-roasting to pan-searing to air-frying. Sure, they’re terrific in soups (we’ve got some fabulous ideas for ya there!), but they can really go almost any place a fresh bean can. Wonderfully adaptable!

So, whether you’re looking for the perfect, easy green bean side dish to grace your Thanksgiving table (ahem … maybe the updated Green Bean casserole??), or you just need to get a meal on the dinner table ASAP, there’s a recipe here (or two! or three!) that you’re sure to love …

Frozen Green Bean Recipes

So many delicious ideas to choose from, huh?

I mean, seriously … who knew there were so many really great frozen green bean recipes you could 100% successfully make, instead of using fresh?!?

A wonderful little time savings! Whether you’re looking for recipes to make Thanksgiving dinner or your holiday meal plan just a little bit easier – or you’re simply trying to find FAST ways to pull together healthy dinners on busy weeknights.

Definitely bookmark these ideas to use all year ’round, any time you don’t happen to have fresh green beans available. Or … any time you need a brilliant, time-saving shortcut! 😉

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10 Non-Alcoholic Halloween Punch Recipes https://twohealthykitchens.com/non-alcoholic-halloween-punch-recipes/ https://twohealthykitchens.com/non-alcoholic-halloween-punch-recipes/#respond Mon, 31 Oct 2022 19:19:00 +0000 https://twohealthykitchens.com/?p=62710 The post 10 Non-Alcoholic Halloween Punch Recipes appeared first on Two Healthy Kitchens.

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~ These non-alcoholic Halloween Punch recipes are perfect for school parties, office gatherings, non-drinkers and designated drivers. Hauntingly delicious big-batch drink ideas, with lots of spooky add-ins and decorating suggestions to make your gathering the most spook-tacular ever! ~

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When you’re spearheading a big gathering like a ghoulish Halloween party, it can be a hosting-hassle to have to be constantly making up individual beverages.

Luckily, party punch recipes are ideal for making up in large amounts, to let the guests serve themselves all throughout the event. (And let the host get away from manning the beverage station.)

But for Halloween, no ordinary punch recipes will do!

Nope! For this most bone-chilling of holidays, you want autumn flavors like apple or pumpkin, colorful themes like monster green and blood red, and of course plenty of eerie touches like floating eyeballs or blood-red oozing drips.

Whether you’re hosting a kids’ party or want a non-alcoholic drink option for the adults – or both! – these recipes will keep the party rolling deliciously, while freeing the host to leave the drinks station and enjoy the fun with everybody else!

Pro Tips for Party-Perfect Punch

And after you check out the recipes, be sure to hop down to the end of this article, to check out some top tips for making your Halloween Punch as easy – and festive – as can be!

But first … the recipes ……

Party-Perfect, EASY Non-Alcoholic Halloween Punch Recipes

Perfect for larger gatherings like kids' parties, office celebrations, trick-or-treat beverage stations, and school parties, these non alcoholic Halloween punch recipes are easy to make and so much fun to drink!

You’ve probably noticed lots of handy little tips and great ideas along the way, as you scrolled through all the recipes above.

But here’s a handy guide to some simple strategies to make your Halloween party punch station easy for the host, and a monstrous hit with all your guests!

Tips for a Spooky, EASY Non-Alcoholic Halloween Punch

  • Choosing a large punch bowl with a pedestal to elevate it (or even a big trifle bowl) is a great way to turn your delicious drink into an eye-catching central showpiece. If your bowl doesn’t have a pedestal footer, you can work a little magic by setting it on something like a sturdy, overturned wooden box in order to provide extra height. Drape the box in Halloween-themed fabric to help it fit seamlessly with the rest of your decor.
  • A large cauldron can also be a fun choice, instead of a typical punch bowl. It 100% promises that a witch’s brew waits inside! Oooooooh … so wicked!
  • Have plenty of cups or glasses nearby – more than you think you’ll need, since a few will undoubtedly get misplaced throughout the party, so some guests will end up using more than one. Providing adhesive name tags or drink charms can help partygoers identify which cup is theirs and minimize the need for extra cups. Depending on the type of cup or glass, here are some options I found for you on Amazon, to give you an idea what I mean:

  • Also, it sometimes works well to offer a marker at the drink station, so your guests can write their names on disposable cups. But be wary of permanent markers if the drinks station is near furniture, carpets, etc. that may accidentally be marked on by tiny, younger guests who drop the marker or don’t put the cap on.
  • Make sure to have a ladle for your spooky drink (not just a stirring spoon), so people can easily serve themselves. Ladles with a little notch on one side work particularly well and help keep the mess to a minimum.
  • No matter how great your serving ladle is, the party punch station always experiences a few drips and sloshes. Protect your table with a disposable or easily washable tablecloth (in festive colors and designs, of course!).
  • Depending on how long your party will last, you may want to have a back-up of decorative touches like your ice ring, so your non-alcoholic punch bowl will look just as fabulous halfway through the party as it did at the beginning.
  • To flip your party punch from a kiddie drink to a non-alcoholic option for an adult party, often all you need is some different garnishes or a change-up in the accompanying decorations. For example, instead of the whimsical gummy worms, candy corn or cute candy eyeballs you might use for a kid-friendly fun punch, switch to more gruesome and sinister floating ice skulls, offer accompanying “blood”-filled syringes for guests to shoot pomegranate juice or grenadine into their punch cups … that kind of thing.

Healthy Upgrades for Your Punch Recipes

When I was choosing the recipes to showcase in the collection above, of course I kept a keen eye out for punch recipes that were at least a bit on the healthier side – maybe with fruit juices instead of Hawaiian punch or lower-fat sherbet instead of full-fat ice cream.

But if you’re looking for ways to make your own punch recipes even lighter and healthier … and maybe a little less sweet (especially since there’s usually so much sugar flowing at a Halloween party!) … I’ve got some ideas that can help with calorie count and sugar content.

For one thing, you can try experimenting with swapping sparkling water in place of some of the ginger ale or lemon lime soda that are often used in punch recipes. It’ll affect the taste, of course, so you’ll want to make a small test batch prior to the party to make sure you like your new concoction. But, adults in particular may appreciate a less-sweet option.

Sorbets can also sometimes be swapped in for sherbets, if you’d like to have some flavorful little floating islands in your punch. But, be aware that sorbets won’t provide the same foamy, frothy layer as they melt (although they can add another, different flavor or color to the punch – maybe puddly, drippy areas of vampire-y blood-red color or eerie monster-green, for example).

Another alternative to sugar-y sherbet is to freeze 100% fruit juices into Halloween-themed ice molds and float those in your punch instead. Here are a few examples to get you thinkin’:

More Hauntingly Fabulous Halloween Recipes

Now that you’ve got the Halloween drinks covered, need more ideas for the perfect, totally memorable party? And maybe for some recipes that’ll be a fun twist {and healthy!!} for October snacking, too?

Mwwwahahahaha …. we’ve gotcha covered, as always! Check out these diabolical ideas:

For fruit inspiration, you’ll love our:

All so adorable! Plus, we even have a whole showcase collection of Halloween Fruit Recipes, for even more festive suggestions.

For a savory, idea, make our Spooky Spider Halloween Appetizer Dip. Everyone will be digging in!

And, if your party guest list includes people with a variety of dietary needs, take a peek at our collection of Vegan Halloween Desserts. In addition to being vegan (and vegetarian, of course), many of the recipes are also gluten free and allergy friendly, so anybody can enjoy them. Also some ideas there that are terrific for nut-free classroom parties, too!

Happy Halloween, everyone! May your next Halloween party be ghoulishly delicious and oh-so-much fun!

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50 Vegan Halloween Dessert Recipes https://twohealthykitchens.com/vegan-halloween-dessert-recipes/ https://twohealthykitchens.com/vegan-halloween-dessert-recipes/#comments Thu, 27 Oct 2022 17:29:22 +0000 https://twohealthykitchens.com/?p=62577 The post 50 Vegan Halloween Dessert Recipes appeared first on Two Healthy Kitchens.

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~ These hauntingly delicious Vegan Halloween Dessert Recipes prove that plant-based treats can be every bit as fun, every bit as scrumptious, every bit as spook-tacular as “traditional” recipes! From copycat vegan candy to darling cupcakes, cute treats for kids to ghoulish, showstopper Halloween party cakes … there’s a fantastic idea here for every festive moment of the Halloween season! ~

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As more and more people are exploring the benefits of plant-based eating, there’s an increased demand for vegan recipe ideas – not just in day-to-day eating, but at holidays like Halloween, too.

Whether you’re fully committed to a vegan diet, just dipping your toes in the plant-based waters, or searching for healthier recipes that will meet the needs of party guests with diverse eating styles … it’s always a good idea to have some terrific recipes you can turn to in a pinch.

And {mmmwahhahaha} do we have some diabolically outstanding ideas for you! Our following list below includes:

  • Gorgeous vegan cakes that will be the hands-down standout at any October event
  • Shareable cupcakes with seasonal decorations that are great for Halloween parties and potlucks
  • Vegan “copycats” of some of the most popular candy bars and goodie bag treats
  • Plus Rice Krispie treats, cheesecake, pudding … and so much more!

Why You’ll Love This Variety of Halloween Dessert Ideas

We’ve pretty much covered the gambit in putting this collection together – different types of desserts and treats, different flavor profiles, different skill levels.

There’s something for everyone!

Plus, besides being vegan, many of these recipes have other healthy upgrades, too. Sure, some still leverage ingredients like vegan butter and sugar (I mean, we ARE talking desserts here, after all). But lots of them dig deep to utilize whole food ingredients, less refined sugar, healthier whole grains, or to be gluten free and allergy friendly … in addition to being vegan.

For people who value healthy eating – even at holidays and parties – there’s a whole lot of winning going on here today!

Pro Tip: Vegan Ingredients

I’ve got some helpful tips about vegan dessert ingredients at the end of this article, too. (You might be surprised at some common ingredients that aren’t actually vegan!)

But first, let’s get to the amazing list of recipes …….

Vegan Halloween Dessert Recipes

Vegan Candy and No-Bake Treats

Most of the vegan Halloween treats in this section use chocolate. So, remember to ensure that your brand of chocolate is vegan-friendly (many – but not all – are), as well as any added sugar or candy eyeballs.

Vegan Cupcakes, Cookies, Brownies and Cakes

Love baking? Then fire up the oven to bake up some Halloween fun! With a few clever ingredient swaps, vegan cupcakes and baked goods can be just as easy to make as their non-vegan counterparts. And surprisingly, you don't have to compromise on flavor and texture, either. Just check out these truly "bewitching" ideas!

More Spooky Dessert Ideas (Puddings and Beyond!)

We're not done yet, friends! Here are even more terrific ideas for plant-based desserts that celebrate Halloween in style!

As you scroll through the collection above and begin making your grocery list, I thought a few tips might be helpful – especially if you’re new to making vegan desserts.

Vegan Dessert Ingredients to Watch Out For

Tip #1: Be Careful About Sweeteners

The sweeteners you use in vegan desserts can get a little tricky.

First of all, remember that honey isn’t technically, strictly vegan.

Also, while many vegan recipes simply list “sugar,” you need to make sure that the type or brand of sugar you purchase is, indeed, vegan. Some sugar (specifically cane sugar) may be processed with bone char, a by-product of the meat industry, making it unacceptable to many people following a vegan diet. Raw sugars, beet sugars and organic sugars are good bets. Check out this handy Guide to Sugar for more deets about what to look for at grocery stores.

Tip #2: Other Common Ingredients to Double-Check

  • Chocolates (While dark chocolate frequently is vegan, milk chocolate and white chocolate typically aren’t. Before you head to the store in search of vegan chocolate chips, chocolate bark and other chocolate products, take a peek at this great guide on Vegan Chocolate Brands.)
  • Candy eyes and sprinkles
  • Food coloring
  • Rice Krispies (Kellogg’s isn’t considered vegan, but there are plenty of other brands that are.)

FAQs At-a-Glance

Can Honey Be Used in Vegan Desserts?

A lot of vegans don’t eat honey because it’s produced by insects (which are animals). Although the whole issue of honey has a bit of controversy surrounding it, strict vegans will opt for another similar sweetener, such as maple syrup.

Is Sugar Vegan?

Many kinds of sugar are, in fact, vegan. But some refined sugars, particularly those made from sugar cane, may be processed using animal bone char. This makes them unsuitable for a strict vegan diet. If you’re not sure, always double-check your brand and type of sugar until you find favorites you can rely on.

Are Vegan Desserts and Treats Healthy?

While many vegan desserts have health advantages over their “traditional” counterparts, remember that vegan butters and shortenings still have large amounts of problematic fats and calories, so use them sparingly when you can. Similarly, even if your brand of sugar is vegan, it’s still sugar … so all of the issues with diabetes, high caloric intake, blood sugar spikes, etc. still apply.

I’m so inspired by this collection of spooky vegan Halloween recipes!

So many monstrously WONDERFUL Halloween dessert ideas that just happen to vegan, too! Exactly what you need when you’re making treats for a group with a mix of dietary needs and eating styles.

Collage of five photos from post, with text graphic "50 Vegan Halloween Desserts for Every Spooky Occasion!".

Sweet treats and ghoulish delights you’ll love making, love eating … and love sharing (with vegans and non-vegans alike), both on October 31st, and also allllll throughout this most spooky season!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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Halloween Fruit Kabobs https://twohealthykitchens.com/halloween-fruit-kabobs/ https://twohealthykitchens.com/halloween-fruit-kabobs/#respond Thu, 20 Oct 2022 17:09:42 +0000 https://twohealthykitchens.com/?p=62127 The post Halloween Fruit Kabobs appeared first on Two Healthy Kitchens.

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~ Festive Halloween Fruit Kabobs are so simple to make! And they’re such fun for parties, after-school snacks, or to really dress up an October fruit tray. We’ve got lots of suggestions to customize them exactly the way you want, plus presentation ideas and delicious dips to serve ’em with, too! ~

This Recipe Is:     Ready in 30 Minutes or Less    Make Ahead    Vegan (and Vegetarian)    Gluten Free  

Four kebabs at various angles on black background, with fruit cutout of a bat from a green honeydew melon.

Superheroes are everywhere at Halloween. All those tiny, kid-sized capes, Spidey masks, and Vibranium shields.

But does it sometimes feel like YOU are the biggest superhero of all? Using every parental superpower in the quest to fend off the candy attack?!?

*Kapow* take that, Snickers bar! *Shazam* back off, Skittles! *Kabam* see ya later, Twizzlers!

It can be tough to find creative, kid-appealing, HEALTHIER foods to help balance out all that processed sugar.

These Halloween Fruit Kabobs are a perfect secret weapon!

6 fruit kabobs piled on top of each other on a black tray.

They’re a cinch to make (we’ve got tips for ya in a sec), they can adapt to all sorts of Halloween-y themes and color schemes, and they’re just plain fun.

Fun enough to grab some of the spotlight that’s normally shining on the sugar-loaded candy bags!

Fun enough for a party.

And definitely fun enough for an extra-special after-school snack to power up your tiny superheroes before they head out to trick-or-treat (and get all that *ugh* candy)!

One word of warning, though: adults love these as much as kids do. Honestly, probably even more! So to really be a superhero, make sure you’ve got plenty of extras.

2 kabobs with fruit chunks and also cutout fruit shapes of a bat, pumpkins and ghosts.

Luckily, these are so darn easy, you don’t actually need a single superpower to make them! The kids will actually have a blast helping you, in fact.

Here’s all ya have to do:

How to Make Halloween Fruit Kabobs

These are basically just a riff on the Fruit Kabobs and Fruit Bouquets we originally taught you how to make almost 10 years ago (where does the time go?!?), and also on our summer-y Red, White and Blue Fruit Kabobs. The basic premise is entirely the same.

Step #1

Gather whatever fruit you’d like to use.

Below are some ideas for fruits that fit the obvious orange and black Halloween color scheme, plus fruits that come in green (the color of witches, frogs and Frankenstein!), yellow (the color of stars and a full moon), and white (because white goes with everything!).

Just some ideas to get you started. You can definitely stick with only orange and black, or pick and choose other colors to mix in however you please. Be creative and have fun!

Halloween-Colored Fruit

Orange Fruit

  • Clementine or tangerine sections
  • Cantaloupe or other orange melon
  • Mangoes

Black Fruit

  • Black grapes
  • Blackberries
  • Very dark blueberries

Green Fruit

  • Green grapes
  • Honeydew melon
  • Kiwi
  • Green apples

Yellow Fruit

  • Star fruit (which is naturally star-shaped, no cooke cutter needed!)
  • Pineapple
  • Golden kiwi

White Fruit

  • Some melons like canary melons and sometimes honeydews and crenshaws
  • Bananas

Once you’ve selected what you’d like to use, wash your fruit, and peel it (if needed).

Then, cut large fruit like melons into kabob-sized chunks.

Step #2 (Optional … but Super Fun!)

If you’d like to really pump up the “wow” level, you can use cookie cutters to make all sorts of spooky shapes out of large fruits, like planks of pineapple or slices of melons.

Amazon has about a gazillion Halloween, superhero, and fall-themed cookie cutters to choose from.

You can stick with classic Halloween shapes like bats, ghosts, stars and pumpkins (like we did in our photos). Or, you can branch out into cutters that match your kiddos’ costumes or your party theme.

And don’t forget … star fruit is automatically star-shaped, without any cookie cutter needed at all. (Ideal for topping fairy princess fruit wands, if you happen to have any little princesses running around this Halloween!)

Pro Tip: Making the Cutters Work Best

For the cutters to work well, I generally recommend that you slice the melon (or whatever fruit you’re using) into slabs that are about 1/2” thick. 

Specifically, you always want the fruit slices to be just slightly thinner than the depth of your cookie cutters (so your cutters will easily be able to cut all the way through).

Step #3

Thread your fruit onto bamboo skewers, alternating the colors and types of fruit however you’d like.

That’s it! So enjoyable to make, and so very simple!

Serving Ideas

These spook-tacular fruit skewers are fantastic for:

  • after-school snacks
  • lunch box treats
  • a special addition to your Halloween morning breakfast
  • party fruit trays and grazing boards
3 skewers with fruit chunks, each topped with a Halloween shape (pumpkin, star and witch's hat).

Wanna REALLY Make These Fun??

You can easily (it truly IS easy … I promise!) turn your fabulous fruit skewers into a showstopper centerpiece! A fruit bouquet like you’d pay bucketloads of cash to order from one of those delivery places.

Ooooooh … fancy! (Now who’s REALLY a superhero? Hint: you, you, you!)

Simply follow our directions for How to Make a Fruit Bouquet!

How to Serve Your Spook-Tacular Kabobs

These are fresh, juicy and delicious straight-up, just as they are.

But, if you’d like to add a fruit dip alongside, we’ve got several great suggestions!

Serve your fruit kabobs next to our:

Or, for the very most ultimate Halloween-y presentation, go with our adorable Ghostly Halloween Fruit Dip (pictured below). It’s crazy-easy to make (again, no real superhero skills needed!), but it ratchets the fruity fun level up even higher still.

7 kabobs and fruit cutouts of a pumpkin and a bat, arranged on a black tray around white, ghost-shaped fruit dip.

No matter what you choose, you truly will feel a bit like a superhero … or at least a super parent … fending off some of the candy onslaught with these festive yet healthy kabobs!

FAQs At-a-Glance

How Long Do Fruit Kabobs Last?

Most fruits will hold up well for a day or two, wrapped in the fridge. The most notable exceptions are bananas, which don’t look terrific for very long once they’re peeled, and apples or pears which will begin to turn brown. Although you can try dabbing the apples and pears with a bit of lemon juice, I don’t love the flavor that adds. So, my recommendation is to wait to add any of those fruits until closer to serving time.

How Can Pointy Fruit Skewers Be Made Safer for Little Kiddos?

Start by snipping or snapping off the pointy end of each skewer, after you’re done adding fruit. In addition, it’s best to serve fruit skewers to little ones who are sitting down (just like running with scissors, kabob sticks and gadding about don’t mix well). Even better, once the kiddos have selected their enchanting fruit skewers, help them push off their fruit onto a plate before eating.

Need even more diabolically ingenious, healthier ideas for October snacks and Halloween parties?

We’ve gotcha …

Where Can I Find Other Healthy Halloween Recipes?

Glad you asked!

So many terrific ideas for the most hauntingly spectacular, HEALTHY Halloween ever!

Happy, Happy Halloween to all you superhero parents out there! Keep rockin’ it out, one healthier step at a time, friends!

Love the Recipe? • Were My Tips Helpful?

__________

Please leave a star-rating in the recipe card below – I truly appreciate all your wonderful feedback!

Closeup of 3 kabobs with a fourth laid diagonally at the top.

Halloween Fruit Kabobs

Yield: varies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Festive Halloween Fruit Kabobs are so easy to make! They're fun for parties, special for after-school snacks, and impressive on fruit trays.

  Ready in 30 Minutes or Less  •  Make Ahead    Vegan (and Vegetarian)    Gluten Free  •

Ingredients

Orange Fruit Options

  • Clementine or tangerine sections
  • Cantaloupe or other orange melon
  • Mangoes

"Black" Fruit Options

  • Black grapes
  • Blackberries
  • Very dark blueberries

Green Fruit Options

  • Green grapes
  • Honeydew melon
  • Kiwi
  • Green apples

Yellow Fruit Options

  • Star fruit (naturally star-shaped, no cooke cutter needed)
  • Pineapple
  • Golden kiwi

White Fruit Options

  • Some melons like canary melons and sometimes honeydews and crenshaws
  • Bananas

Instructions

  1. Wash and, if needed, peel or cut your fruit.
  2. If desired, use cookie cutters to make some cutouts by slicing melons or pineapple planks slightly thinner than the depth of your cutters (generally about 1/2" thick is good).
  3. Thread fruit onto bamboo skewers, alternating colors and types of fruit in pretty combinations.

Notes

Make-ahead tips: Depending on which fruits you use, these fruit kabobs can generally be made at least a couple of hours in advance, and often even a day ahead. In addition, if you're cutting out shapes, that step can also be completed a day or two in advance. Store your prepared fruit, covered, in the refrigerator until serving. Note, however, that bananas, in particular, do not hold up well and should be added only at the last minute.

Did You Make This Recipe?

We'd LOVE to hear! Please leave a star-rating above. And, tag us on Instagram @twohealthykitchens or use the sharing buttons below!

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31 Halloween Fruit Recipes (Fun Snacks, Treats & Party Foods!) https://twohealthykitchens.com/halloween-fruit-recipes/ https://twohealthykitchens.com/halloween-fruit-recipes/#respond Thu, 20 Oct 2022 17:08:51 +0000 https://twohealthykitchens.com/?p=62051 The post 31 Halloween Fruit Recipes (Fun Snacks, Treats & Party Foods!) appeared first on Two Healthy Kitchens.

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~ These festive Halloween fruit recipes are spooky-good alternatives to the never-ending flood of candy we’re hit with every October. They’re terrific, healthier options for October snacks, and for all those Halloween parties … with fun ideas that’ll appeal to kiddos and adults alike! ~

Collage showcasing five recipes with text overlay "31 Spooky Good Halloween Fruit Recipes Easy Yummy Healthy".

As Halloween rolls around each year, parents are once again faced with a tricky dilemma … how do we keep the celebrations fun, while limiting the sugar-y candy overload?

Whether those celebrations are for the kids, or for our own adult friends … the dilemma’s the same. At this time of year, there’s just too, TOO much sugar, and it never seems to end!

Ah, but it doesn’t have to be that way!

Yummy Fruit = Healthy Halloween Recipes!

There are oodles of creative ideas for pumping up the fun factor, while slashing the processed, junky sugar.

Fruit-filled recipes are a perfect solution, because the naturally occurring sugars in fruit help to keep things feeling sweet and indulgent. Yet fruits are leaps and bounds ahead of candy bars and all that processed junk, since they’re filled with fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and lots of other “goodies”!

Sure, some of the recipes below still have a decadent coating of chocolate … or a sprinkling of festive, colored sugar. There’s still a little Halloween naughtiness here and there.

But featuring fruit as the main attraction in a recipe is a huge improvement over those Milky Way bars and Sour Patch Kids, no doubt!

Whether you’re looking for a quick after-school snack, a celebratory treat the kids can help you make, or a special recipe to take along to the next Halloween party … there’s sure to be a cute idea here you’ll love. And that you’ll truly feel great about sharing with people whose health and well-being you care about!

Halloween Fruit Recipes

FAQs At-a-Glance

Is Pumpkin a Fruit?

Pumpkins are probably the absolute most iconic Halloween produce. But we often think of pumpkin as a vegetable. However, botanically speaking, pumpkin is actually a fruit because of how it grows, starting from a flower. (So, yep … you’ll see some pumpkin-based recipes in our list above!) Psssst … don’t forget that pumpkin seeds are terrific, healthy snacks, too. After you carve jack-o’-lanterns, you and your kids can try making roasted pumpkin seeds for extra Halloween fun in the kitchen!

What Fruits Are Great for Halloween?

Apples and pumpkins are both common harvest-season favorites, and as you can see in the list above, there are lots of ways to dress them up for Halloween! Other great bets are color-themed fruits in orange (like orange melons and clementines) and “black” (like blackberries, black grapes, raisins, and even really dark-hued blueberries). White and witch-green fruits feel appropriate this time of year, too – think of white melons or green grapes and kiwi.

What Are Good Dips to Go with Halloween-Themed Fruit?

I’m glad you asked! Besides the Ghostly Halloween Fruit Dip above, three we love are:
1) Peanut Butter Silk Pie Dip (mmmmm … especially yummy with autumn apples!)
2) 3-Ingredient Chocolate Dip
3) Healthy Sugared-Vanilla Yogurt Fruit Dip (which is basically our Ghostie Dip in a bowl – perfect in a little dish alongside your fruit creations!)

This Halloween, you’ve got options!

You can still create magical, spooky fun without always letting sugary treats like Reese’s cups and Snickers bars elbow their way to center stage.

Collage featuring 5 of the recipes with text overlay "31 Wicked Good Halloween Fruit Recipes Easy Yummy Healthy".

Try offering up some of these fruit-filled ideas instead!

They’re deliciously more healthy Halloween treats that you’ll actually feel terrific sharing with those you love!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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One-Pot Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta https://twohealthykitchens.com/cajun-shrimp-pasta/ https://twohealthykitchens.com/cajun-shrimp-pasta/#respond Fri, 23 Sep 2022 17:07:00 +0000 https://twohealthykitchens.com/?p=39025 The post One-Pot Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta appeared first on Two Healthy Kitchens.

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~ This ultra easy Cajun Shrimp Pasta recipe features tender, succulent shrimp in a flavorful cream sauce. But unlike many other recipes, this version leverages the one-pot method and some clever ingredients to create all those popular, restaurant-quality Cajun flavors quickly … easily … and MUCH more nutritiously, too! Bonus: It rewarms nicely, for those days when you need to prep dinner ahead of time (or wanna have leftovers for lunch)! ~

This Recipe Is:     Ready in About 30 Minutes    Make Ahead  

Overhead closeup of the finished pasta still in the cooking pot but ready to be served with stirrer tucked in.

Seems like everywhere you look these days, restaurants have some type of Cajun pasta on the menu. From humble mom-and-pop joints to highbrow, chef-driven dining experiences … they know Cajun cream sauce will sell.

Whether it’s a Cajun shrimp pasta (like this one) or Cajun Alfredo dripping over chicken and veggies, people love it.

Wanna capture all those headliner restaurant vibes at home? Heck yeah, you do (sign me up, too)!

Why Cajun Shrimp Pasta Is So Popular

  • It’s full of perfectly cooked, tender, juicy shrimp,
  • Draped in a rich, creamy, Alfredo-y sauce,
  • Studded with texture and background flavors from the classic “Cajun Trinity” of green pepper, onion and celery,
  • Amped up with Cajun spices (kicky but not too, over-the-top hot), and some parmesan cheese for an extra layer of savory-salty-cheesy joy …
  • All nestled into twirly strands of al dente pasta.
Recipe served in round white bowl, with fork nearby and the rest of the pasta still in pan in background.

YES! That is a recipe for rampant fan appeal and undying foodie love.

That is why restaurants so often feature some version of Cajun pasta on their menus. Because it’s just so darn good and people can’t get enough.

It’s deeply flavorful, rich and creamy, and oh-so-satisfying.

But There’s a Problem (Two, Actually)

So yes … we all agree that Cajun pasta is delicious. And yes, we wish we could re-create it at home.

But …..

  • If you’re like me, you want dinner to be quick and easy. I don’t have a restaurant-paid dishwashing staff to clean up after me, to scrub three or four pans and a strainer and a bunch of prep bowls and utensils.
  • And, if you’re like me, then you have a realllllly hard time feeling terrific about serving up all the butter and heavy cream and white carbs hanging out in most restaurant versions of this dish – and in most recipes you’ll find online, too. Not something I can feel great offering up to the arteries and waistlines of people I love.

This super-easy “one-pot” version cleverly solves both those problems at once!

One-pot pasta to the rescue!

Why the One-Pot Method Is So Wonderful

I absolutely adore the concept of one-pot pasta recipes.

Ever since our One-Pot Whole-Wheat Pasta with Asparagus, Peas and Parmesan … I’ve been irreversibly addicted to this idea.

It’s pure genius, for a couple reasons.

First, of course, it streamlines both cooking and cleanup, since all the action happens in just one pan. There’s no straining the pasta, either. And, you can serve dinner straight outta the pan you cooked it in.

Easy, easy.

Perfect for the busy home cook (which is me … and you)!

Overhead of part of the saute pan with the finished recipe, with a rubber scrapers tucked in.

But there’s a sneaky side benefit to this method, too.

As pasta cooks, it releases starch into the cooking water. As Kitchn explains, that starch acts as a thickener and binding agent.

In one-pot pasta recipes, the starchy cooking water reduces into a perfect base for a rich, creamy sauce … no butter or heavy cream needed.

Brilliant!

Now, in this recipe, we do add a dab of Neufchâtel cheese (aka reduced-fat cream cheese) to pump up the creamy richness even more and smooth out the edges, bringing all the flavors together. But that’s a much better choice than the butter plus a cup or two of full-fat heavy whipping cream (or even half-and-half or whole milk) that you’ll typically find in a creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta recipe.

The starchy base sauce from the one-pot cooking method isn’t just easy … it’s also a healthful way to begin building a mock Alfredo sauce that’s still decadent, satisfying and delicious, yet also so, so much lighter and waistline-friendly!

Ok. Problems solved … so, let’s get cookin’!

How to Make Cajun Shrimp Pasta in Just One Pot

Ingredients and Prep

There’s not much prep work with this recipe, just a bit of quick chopping.

But I do recommend that you have all your ingredients gathered up next to the stove, so it’s all ready to go at the right point in the process.

The only potentially tricky questions here are about the shrimp. Specifically, regarding what size to use and how to buy them …

Ingredient Tip: What Size of Shrimp Is Best for Cajun Shrimp Pasta?

I like to use fairly large shrimp, typically ones labeled as 21/25. That “size” number relates to how many shrimp are in each pound. It gives you a rough idea of how big the shrimp will be, based on how many it takes to equal a pound. (So, 21/25 means that there will be about 21-25 shrimp in a pound.)

You can use larger or smaller shrimp, of course, depending on what’s available at your market. But you may need to adjust their cooking time slightly, so they still end up perfectly cooked.

You’re always going for that “just-cooked” stage … succulent and tender, not tough and dry. The quickest way to ruin gorgeous shrimp is to overcook them!

Pro Tip: Using Frozen Shrimp

You can certainly purchase fresh shrimp for this recipe, but I almost always use (thawed) frozen shrimp, for convenience. (Psssst … and remember you’re looking for peeled, deveined shrimp, so you don’t have to do all the peeling and prepping yourself. You may even find them with the tails removed: bonus!)

I like to grab a bag of frozen shrimp whenever I see a great sale (since shrimp can be expensive), and keep it on hand in the freezer to make this pasta at a moment’s notice.

There are 3 recommended methods for thawing frozen shrimp. I discuss all 3 in my article on How to Thaw Shrimp.

In a nutshell, the best ways are (1) overnight in the fridge, (2) submerging the entire, unopened bag in cold water, or (3) dumping the individual shrimp into a bowl of cold water. Again, you can read the details in my article HERE.

The most important thing is to thaw them gently to maintain their lovely, delicate texture. Defrosting in the microwave is never a good choice. And leaving them out on the counter for a couple hours simply isn’t a safe method.

Okey doke! Now that you’ve got your easy prep done … the cooking is super-easy, too! Here’s what you do, step-by-step:

Step #1

Heat your oil over medium heat in a large, heavy sauté pan.

Once the oil is hot, dump in your green bell peppers, onion, celery, and garlic and cook them until they begin to soften and the onions are a little translucent but not too browned. It should take about 8 minutes or so.

Be sure to give the veggies a quick stir now and then, so nothing browns too much and your tiny bits of garlic don’t burn.

Step #2

Next, pour in your broth to deglaze the pan, stirring to loosen up any browned bits that might have formed. (But remember, there ideally shouldn’t be too much in the way of browning.)

Then add your pasta, and dump the undrained tomatoes, milk, Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, thyme, and salt on top.

Stir it up a little to combine everything, and also to help the pasta strands to begin to separate. You don’t want them to cook all stuck together in a clump.

Also, try to push the pasta down, so it’s mostly submerged in the liquid as it cooks.

Cover your pan and increase the heat to bring it up to a boil.

Step #3

Once that glorious mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat back to about medium or medium-low. You want to maintain a lively simmer, but NOT a hard, full, rolling boil.

At this point, you’re free to help with homework, make a phone call, toss in some laundry … whatever else needs to get done (like, ALLLL the things, right?!?!). Just be sure to wander past the stove occasionally to take the lid off and give everything a good stir. You want to keep the pasta submerged in the sauce as much as possible, but also stir it around enough that it stays separated and un-clumped.

Precisely how long the cooking will take depends on your brand of pasta, but you’re roughly looking at about 10-13 minutes.

Overhead of pot once pasta has been cooked, but before shrimp has been added.

Step #4

Once the pasta is al dente, stir in your raw shrimp and continue cooking your meal (covered) until the shrimp are just done.

This happens pretty quickly.

For the fairly large-ish 21/25 size I usually use, that’s gonna take only about 3 minutes.

Remember here … the shrimp cooks quickly.

The easiest way to ruin fabulous shrimp is to overcook them. Don’t do it!

(As you can see in my photos, I prefer to remove the shells from the shrimp tails before cooking – if they weren’t already removed when I bought them – but that’s a matter of personal preference and entirely up to you. If you want a more “chef-y” presentation, feel free to leave the shells on the ends of the tails, to be removed as people are eating.)

Step #5

Now for the extra boost of creamy-dreamy cheesy yumminess …

Stir in the parmesan cheese and Neufchâtel cream cheese to make your creamy Cajun sauce really creamy. Yes … YUM!

Ingredient Tip: What Is Neufchâtel Cheese?

Neufchâtel cheese is marketed in America as simply “reduced-fat cream cheese.” (Look closely, and you’ll usually see the fancy-schmancy name printed in tiny letters on the packaging.)

You can read more about what Neufchâtel is HERE. But, the main thing to know is that Neufchâtel is lower in calories, saturated fat and cholesterol compared to “regular” full-fat cream cheese. Yet, it tastes so much like the full-fat version that nobody will ever even notice the difference.

We use it frequently as one of the “tricks” to lightening up recipes and making them healthier … from our Grape Salad with Cream Cheese-Vanilla Dressing to our Healthy Buffalo Chicken Dip to our Sweet and Spicy Cream Cheese Dip, which features Neufchâtel in place of full-fat as the MAIN ingredient (and still, no one can tell the difference!).

Keep stirring until the cream cheese is completely melted and the cheeses are evenly distributed all throughout the dish.

Step #6

Pull your dinner off the heat, discard the bay leaves, and serve it up!

Sure, you can get a little extra fancy and garnish it with some fresh parley for a pop of color, if you’d like. Or a sprinkling of alluring parmesan, to hint at the creamy vibes within.

Two hands using antique serving pieces to scoop up and serve the meal.

But that’s all totally optional. Your family is gonna love it just as much if you carry the pan straight to the table and start scooping up helpings … with no fussy garnishes or sprinklings at all.

Trust, me … this glorious dinner really doesn’t need any fru-fru bling. It screams “YES … I AM ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS” all by its humble, one-pot, no-frills self!

Psssssst and Don’t Miss …

  • Hey there, Shrimp Pasta fans … after you try this delicious Cajun-inspired recipe, you’ll want to put our fantastic Super-Fast Herbed Mediterranean Shrimp Pasta on your meal plan for next week. Also waaaaaay too good to miss!

How to Reheat Your Cajun Pasta

Surprisingly, this dinner works well as a make-ahead meal for busy weeknights. And leftovers (in the unlikely event that you happen to have any!) are great a day or two later, as well.

You can gently rewarm it either on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Either way, the key is to reheat gently. You don’t want to overcook and toughen the shrimp. Always go with a low, gentle heat until everything is just heated through.

FAQs At-a-Glance

Can I Use Gluten Free Pasta in This Recipe?

I don’t recommend it, since it won’t release the starch that forms the base for the Alfredo-like Cajun cream sauce.

What If I Can’t Find Whole Grain Pasta?

Whenever possible, we prefer to use whole grain or whole wheat pasta in cooking, because of the boost in nutrition compared to refined, white pasta. In a pinch, however, you can alternately try using “regular” white pasta, although the cooking time to reach a perfect al dente may be slightly different. As you may notice from their package instructions, cook times for “regular” pastas are typically shorter than for whole grain and whole wheat pastas, so check for the perfect al dente doneness earlier.

Which Cajun Seasoning Should I Buy?

We used McCormick Gourmet Cajun Seasoning throughout our recipe testing. I try to go with mainstream brands like McCormick, so that most everyone across America will likely be able to find them easily. If you’re trying some other brand, be aware that it will probably vary somewhat in the exact spice formulation, and quite possibly also in its level of spicy heat. You’ll likely see a combination including things like black pepper, cayenne pepper, oregano, chili pepper, salt, and paprika. But the exact spice mix varies from one brand to the next, and can also vary, of course, if you opt to use a homemade Cajun seasoning. So, you may need to slightly adjust the amount of Cajun seasoning you use in this recipe to taste. Also, you may need to slightly teak the amount of kosher salt you’re adding, depending on the amount of salt that’s included in your Cajun seasoning blend.

What Can I Use Besides Shrimp?

Another popular riff on this theme is Cajun Chicken Pasta. To give that a try, swap out the shrimp for cooked chicken breasts that you’ve chopped or thinly sliced into bite-size pieces. A rotisserie chicken is an easy option here, but you can also use your own pre-cooked or leftover chicken, as long as it isn’t marinated or seasoned in a way that would compete with the Cajun flavors of this dish.

Can I Make This Spicier?

If love spicy food and wanna pump up the heat, try adding a pinch of ground red pepper or cayenne, tasting as you go so you get the right amount of kick without overdoing it. Alternately, you could pass your favorite hot sauce at the table, so everyone can dial up the heat to their own liking.

Want to make a restaurant-quality dinner at home? On even a busy weeknight?? AND that you can actually feel awesome serving to people you really care about (and their waistlines and arteries)???

It’s not too much to hope for. This recipe checks every single box!

Closeup of the shrimp, still in the pan, sitting on top of the pasta and dotted with creamy sauce and bits of parsley.

Try it this week, and see for yourself why my own family fell so in love with this recipe.

And then pat yourself on the back for whipping up a scrumptious, restaurant-caliber meal that is cleverly so much more nutritious (and gosh … so much easier to make, too).

So many wins here!

Love the Recipe? • Were My Tips Helpful?

__________

Please leave a star-rating in the recipe card below – I truly appreciate all your wonderful feedback!

Closeup of recipe in pan so you can really see creamy sauce and texture of veggies and tender shrimp.

One-Pot Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta

Yield: 8 cups
Prep Time: 6 minutes
Cook Time: 27 minutes
Total Time: 33 minutes

This super-easy recipe features tender, succulent shrimp in a flavorful Cajun cream sauce. But unlike many other recipes, it uses the one-pot method to create a restaurant-quality meal quickly, easily, and MUCH more nutritiously!

  Ready in About 30 Minutes    Make Ahead  

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 ounces linguine or fettuccine (we use whole wheat or whole grain)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (we use McCormick; see note)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound uncooked, peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed if desired (we use 21/25 size; see note)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel cheese)
  • optional for garnish: chopped fresh parsley or extra parmesan

Instructions

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add green pepper, onion, celery, and garlic. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften and the onions are a little translucent but not too browned.
  2. Add broth to deglaze the pan, loosening any browned bits. Then add pasta, undrained tomatoes, milk, Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, thyme, and salt. Stir to combine and separate the pasta a little. Cover the pan and increase heat to bring it to a boil (this usually take 3-4 minutes on my stove).
  3. Once it comes up to a boil, reduce the heat to about medium or medium-low, to maintain a lively simmer (not a full, hard, rolling boil). Continue cooking, covered but stirring occasionally and trying to keep the pasta mostly submerged, until the pasta is tender (which generally takes about 10-13 minutes, depending on your brand of pasta).
  4. Stir in shrimp and continue cooking, covered, until the shrimp are done (about 3 minutes for the 21/25 size we use). Do not overcook.
  5. Add parmesan cheese and cream cheese, stirring to melt the cream cheese and distribute the cheeses evenly.
  6. Remove from heat, discard bay leaves, and serve immediately, garnished with parsley and extra parmesan, if desired.

Notes

Cajun seasoning: Various brands of Cajun seasoning may vary in their spice blend formulations and spiciness. We tested this recipe with McCormick Gourmet Cajun Seasoning, as it seems to be widely available. If you use a different brand, you may need to adjust the amount to taste, and possibly also tweak the amount of kosher salt you add (if your Cajun seasoning blend includes extra salt).

Shrimp size: Shrimp are sold with a "size" number that indicates how big the shrimp will be, based on how many it takes to equal a pound. I like to use fairly large shrimp, typically ones labeled as 21/25, which means that there will be about 21-25 shrimp in a pound. You can use larger or smaller shrimp in this recipe, but you'll need to adjust their cooking time slightly, so they still end up perfectly cooked. Always shoot for them to be "just-cooked" ... succulent and tender, not toughened and dried out.

Make-ahead tips: This recipe can be made ahead and reheated (on the stovetop or even in the microwave), and it's good for leftovers a day or two later. The key is to rewarm it gently over a low heat, just until heated through, so the perfectly cooked shrimp don't overcook when being reheated.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 238Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 78mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 6gSugar: 6gProtein: 18g

Nutrition information based on using whole-wheat pasta. Nutrition information should be considered an estimate only, and may vary depending on your choice of ingredients or preparation. No guarantees are made regarding allergies or dietary needs. Always consult a physician or dietician for specific advice and questions.

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This recipe was inspired by an old Cooking Light recipe for Cajun Shrimp Linguine that used a more traditional cooking method and turned to half-and-half for creaminess. We slashed the fat even further and streamlined prep with the one-pot cooking method, which also allowed us some nutritional room to stir in a little parmesan for an extra layer of savory, cheesy, umami flavor.

The post One-Pot Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta appeared first on Two Healthy Kitchens.

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