• Slow Cooker Tomato Basil Tortellini Soup

    DSC_0863

     

    This soup is to die for!  It’s delicious served with smoke gouda grilled cheese (our favorite combination)!  All four of us love this soup, and it’s great in the winter AND the summer, which is great because we have so much fresh basil in the summer.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 TBSP olive oil
    • 1 package of petite carrots, diced
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 5 cloves garlic, minced
    • 3 (28 oz.) cans whole Roma tomatoes
    • 1 (32 o.z) carton vegetable broth
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 TBSP granulated sugar (may need to use more–all depends on how sweet your tomatoes are)
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 16 oz. refrigerated three cheese tortellini
    • 3/4 cup heavy cream or half and half
    • Grated pecorino Romano cheese for serving

    Directions:

    1. Heat a skillet over medium high heat; add the olive oil, and then add the carrots and onion and saute until soft; then add the garlic and continue cooking for 2 more minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, in a blender, puree the tomatoes until smooth and add to your crockpot.  When the carrots, onion, and garlic are soft add them to the blender and puree until smooth–you can add some of the tomato puree to help the blender along; then add to your crockpot.  Add the vegetable broth through salt and pepper, and stir to combine.  You’ll likely need to adjust the sugar, salt, and pepper after it finishes cooking.
    3. Cook on LOW for 6-7 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.  Remove lid and add tortellini and cook for 15 minutes or until tortellini are heated through.  Then stir in the cream or half and half, taste and adjust seasoning.
    4. Ladle soup in individual bowls and top with basil and and grated pecorino Romano cheese.

    Slow Cooker Tomato Basil Torellini Soup:
    5star

  • Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and Pepper Pasta)

    DSC_0858

     

    This is some seriously good pasta.  Even Ellie, who doesn’t like much pasta, loves this dish.  It’s peppery and goodness with lots of pecorino Romano cheese.  It goes great with grilled steak, and the leftovers are really good too.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. angel hair pasta
    • salt
    • 2 c. finely grated pecorino Romano cheese
    • 1 TBSP (plus or minus to your liking) freshly ground pepper
    • Good olive oil (we like a basil infused olive oil probably a couple of TBSP)

    Directions:

    1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt the water, add pasta and cook according to package.
    2. Meanwhile grate the cheese.
    3. In a large pasta serving bowl combine cooked pasta, cheese, pepper, and olive oil.  Toss to combine.  Add 1/2 cup or more of pasta water to help melt the cheese and combine.

    Cacio e Pepe:
    5star

  • Pasta Caprese (aka Best Pasta Sauce)

    DSC_0823

     

    We love Italian, but unfortunately the kiddos don’t like ricotta cheese (gasp!).  I have finally found a lasagna like dish that everyone loves, and this has become our go to “lasagna”.  Every time I’ve made this the kiddos have asked for seconds.  That’s a score in my book!

    ******I also make just the sauce from this dish and use it in all my Italian cooking.  It is the BEST pasta sauce…can’t ever go back to the jar stuff…yes, it really is that good!  This is our go to red sauce for all dishes we make.******

    Adapted from Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich.

    Ingredients:

    • 3 TBSP olive oil
    • 4-6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
    • 2 35-oz. cans Italian tomatoes (like San Marzano)
    • Crushed red pepper to taste
    • Salt to taste
    • Sugar to taste (I usually use about 2 TBSP, but it all depends on how sweet or sour your canned tomatoes are)
    • 2 c. freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (I use a fine microplane grater–if you use a larger shred, your amounts will need to be adjusted downward since with the fine grater there is a lot of air taking up the 2 c. space)
    • 1 lb. Campanelle pasta or pasta of your choice
    • 1 lb. pearl mozzarella
    • 1 c. shredded fresh basil leaves

    Directions:

    1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, put the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and blitz until you reach a desired texture (we prefer smooth with some chunkier pieces). Then add the tomatoes and crushed red pepper, if using, to the skillet.  Season with salt and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, to reduce until you get your desired consistency.  We like a thicker sauce, so I simmered for about 30-45 minutes. Taste and add sugar and salt as needed.  Add the Pecorino Romano cheese and stir to combine.  If you use finely grated the cheese the cheese will “melt” into the sauce quite easily.  Taste again adjust seasoning as necessary.
    3. Bring a pot of water to a boil; add salt; and cook pasta according to the box.
    4. When pasta is al dente, add the pasta to the skillet with the sauce, and toss to combine.  Add the fresh mozzarella and chopped basil.

    Serve with garlic bread, salad, and fruit and enjoy!

    Pasta Caprese:

    5star

  • Ramen Broccoli Salad

    DSC_0809

     

    This salad is so good, and a great side for a hot day.  Both Ethan and Ellie were skeptical at first, but then they tried it.  Ethan had 3 servings, and Ellie had 2 servings.  That never happens!  We had it just a few days ago and it’s already been requested for this week’s menu.  Definitely a hit!

    This is a great dish for a potluck or picnic because there’s no mayo to worry about.

    Version 1 Ingredients (Omit Seasoning Pack):

    • 1 12 oz. package of broccoli slaw mix (in produce section with packaged sugar snap peas, etc.)
    • 1 package of chicken or Oriental flavor Ramen Noodles, broken into small pieces
    • 1/4 c. grape seed oil (can use vegetable or canola oil)
    • Splash of sesame oil
    • 1/4 c. seasoned rice wine vinegar
    • 1/4 c. honey
    • 3 tsp. soy sauce
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 green onion, sliced (green only)

    Version 2 Ingredients (With Seasoning Pack):

    • 1 12 oz. package of broccoli slaw mix (in produce section with packaged sugar snap peas, etc.)
    • 1 package of chicken or Oriental flavor Ramen Noodles, broken into small pieces
    • Ramen seasoning package
    • 1/4 c. grape seed oil (can use vegetable or canola oil)
    • Splash of sesame oil
    • 1/4 c. seasoned rice wine vinegar
    • 1/4 c. white sugar
    • 1 green onion, sliced (green only)

    Directions:

    1. In a mixing bowl, mix together broccoli slaw and broken Ramen noodles.
    2. In a separate bowl, whisk together Ramen seasoning package, grape seed oil, sesame oil, vinegar, and sugar.
    3. Toss dressing mixture with the broccoli slaw until well coated.
    4. Top with sliced green onion and serve chilled.

    Ramen Broccoli Salad:

    5star

  • Ginger Scallion Noodles

    DSC_0760

    This side dish is so simple yet so good.  We seem to always have a batch in the fridge, whether for a dinner side or just to snack on.  Sometimes the simplest dishes are the best.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
    • garlic, minced
    • 3 inch piece of ginger, minced
    • 1/3 c. grape seed oil
    • 6 TBSP vinegar (we use 3 TBSP seasoned rice vinegar and 3 TBSP ancho vinegar from a local specialty shop)
    • 2 tsp. soy sauce
    • 2 6 oz. packages of Wel-Pac Chinese Chow Mein Stir-Fry Noodles (or any egg noodle or any noodle you like)

    Directions:

    1. Combine green onions through soy sauce in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Meanwhile, boil a pot of water, add salt and then add noodles and cook according to directions.
    3. Drain and rinse noodles with cold water and then add to mixing bowl.  Toss to combine.  Serve chilled.

    Ginger Scallion Noodles:

    5star

     

  • Overnight Baked Apple Oatmeal with Streusel

    DSC_0299

     

    We’ve tried a few baked oatmeal recipes, but this one is the keeper.  It’s like dessert, but it’s breakfast.  How can you go wrong with that?  It tastes a lot like apple crisp, but there’s all this oatmeal in it, so it’s good for you, right? ;)

    Steve loves crunch, so he asked me to double the topping next time. :)  The streusel topping below is the double recipe (but a single for the butter).

    Definitely a company worthy breakfast/brunch!

    Recipe adapted from A Farm Girl’s Dabbles.

    Ingredients:

    Oatmeal:

    • 2 T. unsalted butter, melted (I used Country Crock Light)
    • 3 c. skim milk
    • 1 c. unsweetened applesauce
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 c. brown sugar (if you like your oatmeal less sweet, then add 3/4 c. of brown sugar, or whatever you desire; we like sweet)
    • 1 heaping T. cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
    • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
    • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
    • 2 20 oz. cans of sugar free apple pie filling, apples chopped
    • 3 c. old fashioned oats
    • 1 c. steel cut oats

    Streusel Topping:

    • 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
    • 2/3 c. old fashioned oats
    • 2/3 c. brown sugar
    • 1 tsp. kosher salt
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon
    • 4 T. unsalted (real) butter, at room temperature, cut into pea size pieces, (do not melt)

    Directions:

    1. Spray a 10 x 10 (4 qt. or 10 x 13) baking dish with cooking spray (or larger pan if doubling the streusel topping).
    2. In a large bowl, whisk together butter, milk, applesauce, eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla. Chop the apples in the pie filling and stir in the apple pie filling; then add in the old fashioned oats and steel cut oats and combine. Transfer to prepared baking dish and spread oatmeal mixture evenly. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
    3. In a medium bowl, use a fork to stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder. Cut in the butter with the same fork until there are large pea-sized crumbs. If you prepare this the streusel topping the night before, cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight, just don’t add it to the oatmeal mixture until you are ready to bake it in the morning.
    4. Bake: Preheat oven to 375*.
    5. Take the plastic wrap off the baking dish and top it with the prepared streusel. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until oatmeal is thoroughly hot and the streusel is golden brown. If you’d like a crisper streusel, set the oven to broil and let it crisp up to your liking.

    Overnight Baked Apple Oatmeal with Streusel:
    5star

  • Courtney’s Frittata

    DSC_0267

     

    Our good friend Courtney gave me this recipe.  We had it a potluck breakfast/brunch.  It is beyond good.  Both kiddos loved it, so I knew I needed the recipe.

    I adapted the recipe by replacing the goat cheese with feta, because at least 2 of the 4 of us don’t like goat cheese, and I also replaced the eggs with egg beaters to “lighten” the dish up a bit.

    I made it for dinner and we got 2 dinners out of it, and the leftovers were just as good heated up as the dish was the first night.

    This dish is sooooo good that you can proudly serve it to company!

    Ingredients:

    • 1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained
    • Butter
    • 1 onion, thinly sliced
    • ½ bundle of asparagus, cut into bite size pieces
    • 1 c. cottage cheese, drained
    • 8 oz. goat cheese or 6 oz. crumbled feta (reduced fat)
    • 14 eggs or large carton of egg beaters
    • Cavender’s Greek seasoning

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350*.
    2. Thaw spinach and squeeze it out in paper towels to get all water out.
    3. Heat butter in a pan and caramelize the onion.
    4. Heat water to boil, add some salt, and blanch asparagus until just tender.
    5. Spray 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray and sprinkle with spinach through cheese; beat eggs with seasoning (or sprinkle with Cavender’s add the egg beaters and sprinkle with additional Cavender’s).  Pour into dish and swirl contents a little with a knife.
    6. Bake at 350* for about 30 minutes, or until just set.

    Courtney’s Frittata:
    5star

  • Easiest Apple Cake Ever

    DSC_0272

     

    This is the easiest apple cake ever!  It’s “healthy” too since the recipe uses a boxed angel food cake mix, and there’s no added fat.  It’s delicious, and everyone loved this treat.

    Top with fresh fruit, like strawberries, or strawberry coulis and add whipped cream.

    Note: when cake cools it does deflate a bit, but it’s just as tasty!

    Ingredients:

    • 1 box of angel food cake mix
    • 1 20 oz. can of apple pie filling (sugar free), cut apples if desired

    Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350*
    2. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.
    3. In a large bowl combine the angel food cake mix and the apple pie filling (if you want smaller pieces of apple, cut the apple pieces before mixing with the cake mix), and stir to combine.
    4. Poor batter into the prepared pan and cook for 30-35 minutes or until done (knife will come out clean).
    5. Top with fruit and whipped cream.

    Easiest Apple Cake Ever:
    5star

  • Chocolate (Zucchini) Cake with Chocolate Frosting

    DSC_0151

     

    Ssssshhhhhhhhh!  Don’t tell anyone that this chocolaty decadent dessert actually has zucchini in it!!!!!  If someone didn’t tell you there was zucchini in it, you would never ever know, and I’m not kidding.  The zucchini just melts into the cake, and you are left with an incredibly moist chocolaty treat!

    As far as desserts go, it’s on the “healthier” side.  My kiddos devoured it (and so did Steve and I)!

    Recipe adapted from Spend with Pennies.

    Ingredients:

    Chocolate Cake Ingredients:

    • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
    • 1 1/2 c. white sugar
    • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1 egg
    • 2 c. all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 tsp. baking soda
    • 2 1/2 c. grated zucchini (about 2 medium size)

    Chocolate Frosting Ingredients:

    • 1/3 c. milk
    • 1/3 c. butter
    • 1 1/2 c. white sugar
    • 1 c. mini chocolate chips (or preferred chocolate)

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350*.
    2. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.
    3. In a large bowl, combine oil, sugar, egg and vanilla.
    4. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder and baking soda.
    5. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and stir well. The mix will be quite dry… TRUST the recipe; then gently stir in the zucchini and spread the mixture into your prepared pan.
    6. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until cake is done.
    7. While cake is cooling, combine butter, milk and sugar in a small pan. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat. Allow mixture to boil vigorously for 30 seconds; then remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips. Immediately pour over warm cake. Let cool completely before cutting so the frosting has a chance to set.

    Chocolate (Zucchini) Cake with Chocolate Frosting:
    5star

  • Cinnamon Rolls with Frosting

    DSC_0263

     

    When I make cinnamon rolls, I usually make my grandmother’s recipe, which is more like a sticky bun/cinnamon roll.  This weekend I tried a new recipe…one with frosting.  It was a hit.  Everyone loved the frosting!  How could you not love a cinnamon roll with frosting?!?!?!

    I lightened the recipe up by using Country Crock Light spread in place of the butter for both the cinnamon rolls and frosting, and it worked very well.

    Recipe adapted from Temp-Tations.

    Ingredients:

    Dough:

    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 (1/4-oz.) packet active dry yeast
    • 1 cup milk, heated until warm
    • 5 TBSP butter or Country Crock Light, melted
    • 3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 c. Bisquick baking mix
    • 1/2 c. sugar
    • 3/4 tsp. salt

    Filling:

    • 5 TBSP butter or Country Crock Light, softened
    • 1 c. dark brown sugar
    • 1 TBSP ground cinnamon

    Frosting:

    • 3 TBSP butter or Country Crock Light, softened
    • 1 c. powdered sugar

    Directions:

    1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs until frothy. Whisk in yeast, milk, and melted butter and let sit for 10 minutes.
    2. Add the remaining Dough ingredients to the mixing bowl, and mix into a sticky dough. Transfer to a well-floured surface and knead, adding additional flour, just until no longer sticky. Return ball of dough to the mixing bowl, cover, and put in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.
    3. On a well-floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out dough, until it is a large, 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Spread the softened butter on the surface of the dough to start the filling. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle evenly over the buttered dough.  Roll the rolling pin over the brown sugar and cinnamon to press all of the filling into the dough (and it makes it easier to roll).
    4. Line two jelly roll sheets with parchment paper and spray the parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray.
    5. Grab the short side of the dough, and roll entire length of dough into a pinwheel, pressing firmly as you go. Slice rolled pinwheel into 1 1/4 inch thick rounds and evenly spread about 9 (3 rows of 3) onto the jelly roll sheet.  You may need to pinch the ends so the roll doesn’t unroll.  One sheet may have fewer rolls, but that’s ok. Cover and let rise in a warm place for another 30 minutes.
    6. Preheat oven to 400* and bake cinnamon rolls 18-22 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
    7. Combine melted butter and powdered sugar to create the frosting. If frosting is hard, microwave 10-15 seconds to soften. Spoon frosting over cinnamon rolls while still hot, and serve.
    8. The next day, microwave your rolls for 15-30 seconds, and it tastes like it’s right out of the oven.

    Cinnamon Rolls with Frosting:
    5star