Lasagna Soup


This is a perfect soup to get you through these last few weeks of winter!

Lasagna Soup


2 teaspoons olive oil

1 lb ground Italian sausage (spicy or mild) or ground beef or turkey

2 onions, finely chopped,

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1-28 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice

6 cups chicken stock

2 bay leaves

8 oz curly looking pasta

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil

S&P to taste

8 oz ricotta cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

2 cups shredded mozzarella


In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add meat and brown, breaking up into small chunks, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain any excess fat. Add onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes, and saute for 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes with juice, stock and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add pasta and increase heat to medium-high. Boil until al dente, about 8 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat broiler and place oven safe bowls on a baking sheet.

Scoop a heaping spoonful of ricotta into each bowl. Ladle soup into bowls and top each bowl with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Place in broiler (keeping a careful watch) for 2-4 minutes or until cheese browns. Top with more Parmesan, if desired, and serve with garlic bread and a freshly tossed salad.

Grilled Pierogies and Kilbasa with a Grainy Mustard Sauce
This dinner was so satisfying and quick! The polish would be proud…I think. 😉
1 pound kielbasa, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large white onion, cut into 6 wedges
1 pound frozen potato-and-cheddar pierogies (do not thaw)
S&P to taste
1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Preheat a grill to medium. Grill the kielbasa, turning, until marked, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Whisk the mustard and vinegar in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons olive oil until smooth.
Toss the onion and pierogies with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill, covered, until the pierogies thaw and the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Turn the pierogies and onion and continue to grill, covered, until the pierogies are cooked through and the onion is tender, 4 to 6 more minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Slice the kielbasa into pieces and add to the bowl with the mustard dressing. Add the pierogies and onion and chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss. Using a large spoon or tongs, ransfer to a pretty platter and drizzle with what’s left in the bowl.

As the Polish would say – przepyszny! (don’t ask me how to say that)

Quick. Healthy. Loved by toddlers and tweens. A delicious leftover meal. You can’t go wrong with a curry like this one! If you’re scared to try it because you’re afraid your kids (or your “meat and potatoes” hubby) won’t like it, I encourage you to do so! The veggies I used in this one can be replaced with any veggie your family likes – green beans, snap or frozen peas, sweet potatoes, etc. Same goes for the meat. You can substitute shrimp, pork, beef, or tofu for the chicken. And once you buy the Thai red curry paste and fish sauce, you’ll have enough to make it at least 3-4 more times! It may even become a weekly staple. 🙂  Enjoy!


Weeknight Chicken Curry

Serves 3-4



2 Limes

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips

3 tbsp Peanut or olive oil for pan (or any cooking oil, really)

1/2 c shredded carrots

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into bite-sized chunks

3/4 c shelled edamame

2 tbsp Thai red curry paste

1-8 oz can unsweetened coconut milk

1/3 c chicken broth (if you don’t have any, water will do)

1 tbsp fish sauce

Salt and pepper, to taste

Cilantro, for garnish (or basil)

Steamed white rice, for serving (see how to make perfectly cooked rice here)



Grate zest from both limes and squeeze 1/4 cup juice. Set aside.

In a large frying pan or wok, if you are fortunate enough to own one, warm your oil of choice. Add the chicken strips and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until cooked through, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Add your veggies to the pan and cook until tender. Transfer to plate with chicken.

To prepare the sauce, stir curry paste into the pan over medium-high heat. Add coconut milk, chicken broth, and fish sauce. Bring to a simmer while stirring occasionally. Add in reserved lime zest and juice.

Return chicken and veggies to the pan and give it a good stir to combine with the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve atop steamed rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Weeknight Chicken Curry






If you are going to make this dish, you MUST make the polenta with it. It’s not something most people make that often, but it is SO yummy with this roast! (and super easy to make!) If you have leftover polenta, portion it onto squares of plastic wrap, let it cool, then wrap tightly and freeze in a gallon-freezer bag. Thaw and re-heat when you want to serve it again.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Red Wine and Root Vegetables

Serves 6



3/4 cup orange juice

3 T minced garlic

1/4 c plus 1 T tomato paste

1 t dried sage

3 1/2 lb boneless beef chuck roast

Salt and pepper

2 T unsalted butter

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

3 ribs celery, finely chopped

3 carrots, finely chopped

3 parsnips, finely chopped

1/4 c flour

1 c red wine

One 14-oz can whole peeled tomatoes with juices

1/4 low-sodium chicken broth

1 T honey

4 sprigs fresh rosemary, tied together with kitchen twine



In the slow cooker, mix together  1/4 cup of the orange juice, 2 tablespoons of the garlic, 1 tablespoon of the tomato paste and the sage. Add the meat and coat on all sides with marinade. Sprinkle salt and pepper on all sides.

Meanwhile, heat butter over medium-high heat in large saute pan. When melted, add all of the finely chopped veggies and the remaining 1 tablespoon minced garlic and saute, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup tomato paste and the flour and stir until the flour is no longer visible. Remove the pan from the heat and add the wine. Raise the heat to high and and stir until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, remaining 1/2 cup orange juice, broth, honey and rosemary and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Peytons4thBday 008

Using a potato masher, gently crush tomatoes and stir the sauce.

Pour the sauce over the meat in the slow cooker, cover, and cook on low until very tender, about 10 hours. (If you don’t have 10 hours, cook on high for the first 2 hours, then lower heat to low and cook for an additional 5 – 6 hours. ) If possible, turn roast over halfway through to cook it evenly).

When done, discard rosemary sprigs and use a large spoon or ladle to skim the fat off the surface of the sauce. Remove meat from slow cooker and cut into chunks. Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper if necessary.  Return meat to the sauce and spoon meat and sauce over polenta (recipe below).

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Over Polenta

Lemony Polenta with Brown Butter and Parmesan

Serves 6-8



1/4 c unsalted butter

2 1/2 t salt

2 c medium-grind polenta (traditional, not instant)

3/4 grated Parmesan (plus more if you like it extra cheesy)

Zest of 2 lemons

1/2 t Black pepper



Heat butter in small saute pan over medium heat.  Cook until it melts and turns light brown, watching carefully, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and pour into a coffee cup. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, bring 8 c cold water with the salt to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, slowly add polenta while stirring.  Reduce the heat to low and stir frequently for another 5 minutes.  Cover the pot and allow it to cook until soft for another 20-25 minutes.  When done, stir in brown butter, Parmesan, lemon zest and season to taste with salt and pepper.

I made these tasty morsels for the 2014 Rose Bowl (woop, woop MSU!). Hubby loved them and so did I!

Asian Sticky Wings

Yield: Approximately 4 servings

For the marinade:

1 lb chicken wings

1/2 c soy sauce

1/2 T fresh grated ginger

1 T fresh cilantro, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 lemon, juiced

Salt and pepper

For the cooking sauce:


1 T butter

1/4 c honey

Sesame seeds and fresh cilantro leaves for garnish


Place wings in a shallow dish or gallon Ziploc bag and pour over the soy sauce, ginger, cilantro, garlic, and lemon juice. Toss well to coat. Marinate, refrigerated, for 2 hours or overnight.Remove wings from marinade and pat dry; season with salt and pepper. In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter in the olive oil. When the butter stops foaming, add the honey and chicken wings and fry until browned on each side. Continue cooking the wings, turning them over often to coat them as the glaze reduces. Cook until the wings are sticky and cooked through. Garnish with sesame seeds. Transfer to a platter, sprinkle with cilantro leaves and serve.
Asian Sticky Wings

Risotto is one of those dishes that I don’t make nearly enough! It’s super easy, family-friendly and you can make it a number of ways, depending on what you have in the fridge. So next time you’re in a pinch for dinner, here’s your answer! The asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes can be substituted with a number of things such as mushrooms (dried or fresh), peas, fresh herbs (mint, basil), shredded chicken, shrimp, lobster, crab, the list goes on and on!

Sun-Dried Tomato and Asparagus Risotto

Makes enough for 3-4 people as a main dish.

2 c chicken stock

3 c water

1/4 c butter, divided

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 c Arborio rice

1/3 c white wine (pour yourself a glass to have while you’re cooking! :))

1 bunch asparagus, rinsed well and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1/2 c heavy cream

1/2 freshly grated Parmesan

Salt and pepper to taste


Bring stock and water to boil in a small pot.  Simmer until ready to use. In large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat until melted. Add onion and sweat until translucent. Add rice and stir for a couple of minutes. Add wine and stir until absorbed. (and take a sip of your wine while you’re at it!) Increase heat to medium-high and add 1 cup of the stock/water mixture. Stir until this is absorbed. Repeat this process, making sure to continue stirring, until there is only 1 cup remaining in the pot. Before adding this last cupful, stir in the asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes. Now add the last of the broth and stir until rice is tender and creamy.

Stir in cream, about 1/4 c Parm and the rest of the butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with with remaining Parmesan on top (add a little more if you’re a cheese lover like me!)

Sun-Dried Tomato and Asparagus Risotto


Pineapple is a favorite in my household, so when I came across this recipe, I had to try it out! It got 2 thumbs up from all members of the fam…even from our own little pancake, Finley. 🙂

Pineapple Upside-Down Pancakes

Makes 8 pancakes

For the pineapple:

1 T butter

1 cinnamon stick, broken in half

8 fresh pineapple rings (1/2 thick)

1 1/2 c dark rum (I used Gosling’s)

1/2 c packed dark brown sugar

For the pancakes:

1 c flour

3 T sugar

1 t baking soda

3/4 t salt

1 c buttermilk

1 egg

2 T butter, melted

1/2 t vanilla extract

Nonstick cooking spray


Melt the 1 T butter with cinnamon stick in a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Cook until butter begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Add pineapple slices and cook until caramelized, about 4-5 minutes per side.

Pineapple Rings Caramelizing

Remove pan from heat. Add rum and brown sugar. Cook over medium-high heat until juices are thick and syrupy. Transfer pineapple slices to a plate and set aside. Reserve syrup.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet and set inside oven. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Add buttermilk, egg, melted butter and vanilla. Whisk until smooth.

Heat griddle or skillet over medium heat. Spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Add 1/4-cupfuls of batter to griddle, working in batches. Cook pancakes until bubbles begin to form on top and undersides are golden brown. Top each pancake with a pineapple slice and flip.

Pancakes Topped with Pineapple Slice

Cook until golden brown. Place pancakes on prepared rack and bake in oven until cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Rewarm rum syrup and drizzle over pancakes.

Pineapple Upside-Down Pancakes


This makes for a perfect St. Patty’s Day dinner. Serve it with warm, crusty bread for dipping and homemade Irish Creams. This meal will definitely be replacing the traditional corned beef and cabbage!

Guinness Beef Stew

1 3-lb boneless beef chuck-eye roast, cut into 1½-inch pieces
3 T vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, small dice
¼ t salt
1 T tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ c all-purpose flour
3 c chicken stock
1 (12-ounce) bottle Guinness Draught, divided
1 1/2 T brown sugar
1/4 t dried thyme
1½ lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
Minced fresh parsley (as much as you desire)


Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat to 325 degrees F.

Season the beef with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the onions and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for an additional 1 minute.

Whisk in the chicken stock, ¾ cup of the Guinness, brown sugar and thyme, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the beef and return to a simmer.

Transfer the pot to the oven and cook, uncovered, for 60 minutes.

Stir in the potatoes and carrots and continue cooking until the beef and vegetables are tender, 30 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the pot from the oven and stir in the remaining ½ cup of Guinness and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Guinness Beef Stew


This is a delicious, quick, easy, dressed-up version of the Manwich method. 🙂

Homemade Sloppy Joes

Serves: 6

1 T grapeseed oil

1 yellow onion, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1/2 large green bell pepper, finely diced

1 1/2 lbs ground beef, chicken, or turkey

1 c tomato sauce

1/2 c ketchup

1 t chili powder

1 T Worcestershire sauce

1 T dijon mustard

1 T cider vinegar

1 T brown sugar

6 sandwich buns


Heat oil in large sauté pan over medium heat.  Cook onion, celery, and pepper until softened.  Add ground meat and increase heat to medium-high.  Cook until no longer pink.  Stir in ¼ c water, tomato sauce, ketchup, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, vinegar, and sugar and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes.

*Our family fave: Serve on toasted buns with shredded cheddar cheese sprinkled on top, dill pickle slices, and mustard.



I am uber picky when it comes to homemade mac ‘n cheese.  But, alas!  I have finally found a winning recipe, thanks to Ms. Paula Deen! I’m not quite sure why it took me so long to go to her for help in the first place, since she is the master of delicious, fattening recipes.  I made a few adjustments of my own.  Hope you like it as much as my family did!

Slow-Cooker Mac ‘n Cheese

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: Serves: 8 – 10  


2 c uncooked elbow macaroni

4 T butter

2 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese

3 eggs, beaten

1/2 c sour cream

1-10 3/4 oz can condensed cheddar cheese soup

1 t salt

1 c whole milk

1/2 s dry mustard

1/2 t black pepper


Boil macaroni until tender and drain. In medium saucepan, melt butter and mix in cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. In slow cooker set on low, combine cheese/butter mixture and add the beaten eggs, sour cream, soup, salt, milk, dry mustard, and pepper. Stir well. Add drained macaroni and stir again. Cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.


*I like to make half for the slow cooker and make the other half in a gallon freezer bag, then label and freeze. When ready to cook the freezer portion, thaw completely, pour into your slow cooker, and cook for 3 hours.


Source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/creamy-macaroni-and-cheese-recipe/index.html