{Tuscan Sausage and White Bean Soup}

Wonder soup with amazing flavor. You can adjust this how you like, and make it more of a vegetarian style minestrone soup and it would still be great!

Ingredients: 

1 pound mild Italian sausage
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 (14.5-ounce each) cans diced tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can Great Northern or Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups uncooked shell pasta
9 ounces spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions:

In a large pot, cook the sausage over medium heat (remove the sausage from the casings, if needed) until browned, 3-4 minutes, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. If your sausage is really lean, you may need to use a teaspoon or so of oil so it doesn’t stick to the pan.

Add the carrots, onion, and garlic, and continue to cook, stirring often, until the sausage is cooked through, 5-10 minutes. At this point, if there is excess grease, drain it before proceeding.

Add the broth, tomatoes, beans, basil, salt and pepper.

Bring the soup to a boil. Add the shell pasta, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the pasta is tender, stirring occasionally to make sure the pasta isn’t sticking.

Stir in the spinach and simmer for another minute until the spinach is wilted. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

 

 

Recipe adapted slightly from: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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{Homemade Spaghetti Sauce}


We love this sauce around here! The flavor is perfect, and it makes enough to save some and freeze or refrigerate for another recipe later in the week. 

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups onion, chopped and divided

5 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 pounds lean ground beef 

1 red bell pepper, seeded, cored and chopped

1 can (12-ounces) tomato paste

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

3 teaspoons dried oregano

3 teaspoons dried basil

1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 cans (14-ounces each) Italian-style diced tomatoes or regular diced tomatoes

2 cans (28-ounces each) crushed tomatoes

1 1/2 cups beef broth

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Directions:

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 cup of the chopped onions, and sauté until translucent and slightly browned, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, and cook, stirring constantly for a minute or so.

Add beef, and cook, breaking into small pieces, until it is no longer pink, 6-7 minutes. Drain excess grease.

In a blender or food processor, blend remaining 1 cup onion and the red pepper until smooth. Pour the mixture into the pot with the beef and onions.

Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, oregano, basil and thyme, and cook for 1 minute, stirring until combined.

Add diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, beef broth, and sugar. Stir until combined before adding the bay leaves.

Bring the sauce to a boil, and then reduce to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and let the sauce rest for 10-15 minutes (for the flavor to absorb) before serving.

Adapted from: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

{Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Calzone}

This was my very first Calzone making experience. I was pretty proud of myself. We really enjoyed these babies. I did have to had some salt to the sauce because it totally needed it. But once I got that adjusted it was really yummy flavor. The dough was really the best part I would say. Enjoy!

for the dough:
 1 cup warm water
 1 tsp honey
 1 package dry active yeast
 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
 1 tsp salt
for the filling:
1 tsp olive oil
 1 head garlic
 2 Tbs. butter
 2 Tbs. flour
 1 cup milk
 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
 3 cups shredded chicken
 2 Tbs. lemon zest
 coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup water with the honey and dry yeast. Let sit about 3 minutes until the yeast starts to bubble.
In a bigger bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the oil, the yeast mixture and the remaining 3/4 cup water. Mix to combine and knead the dough until it’s soft and elastic, about 5 minutes.
Place the dough ball in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for an hour.
After an hour, divide the dough into 4 balls. You can throw the leftover two in the freezer if you want, or keep going for 4 calzones. (just increase the filling) Place them into 4 smaller, oiled bowls and let rise another 15 minutes.
Roll out each dough ball until it’s 10-12 inches in diameter, like a pizza. You’re ready for the filling!
While the dough is rising, preheat oven to 425.
Lop the stem end of the garlic off, exposing the cloves. Place inside a small square of aluminum foil, drizzle with oil, fold up and roast 35 minutes.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Once the foam subsides, whisk in the flour. Continue to whisk about 2 minutes, until it starts to brown. Whisk in the milk and keep whisking until it thickens and gets creamy. Toss in a pinch of salt and pepper. Transfer to a small food processor, add the roasted garlic cloves, and blitz until combined.
Adjust the oven to 375.
Spoon some of the creamy sauce along the bottom of each crust. Top with shredded chicken and broccoli florets. Spoon more of the sauce (I’d say about 5 Tbs. total in each calzone, or more if you want!) over the chicken and broccoli. Sprinkle with the lemon zest.
Roll over the dough, creating a calzone. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush each one with a light egg wash or extra-virgin olive oil.
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown

Recipe Source: Bev Cooks

{Lasagna}

How do you take a decent picture of lasagna? Despite the picture, this is really really good. My husband does not like the traditional lasagna because he doesn’t like ricotta cheese. So I make mine with cottage cheese, and I even like it better.



INGREDIENTS:
Red Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
4 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced 
1/2 large onion, diced 
2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tsp dried oregano 
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

9 lasagna noodles, boiled for half the time on the box (about 4 minutes)

1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound italian sausage 
12 oz cottage cheese
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded
DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking pan with cooking spray or with a napkin dipped lightly in olive oil and set aside.
In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and sausage over medium-high heat, breaking the meat apart into pieces with a wooden spoon. When meat is cooked through, drain the grease and set aside.
In a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and one tablespoon butter. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. When oil/butter is hot, add the garlic, stirring constantly. When the garlic is lightly browned, but NOT burned, add the onion. Continue cooking on medium-high heat until the onions are soft and browned and the fluid has mostly cooked out. Then add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Then add the diced tomatoes, oregano and basil, salt and pepper. Stir. Cover and let the sauce sauce simmer for 30 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Right before using the red sauce in the lasagna, stir in the reserved ground meat.
While the red sauce simmers, if using lasagna noodles that need to be boiled, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and boil the noodles for half the time suggested on the box. Once the noodles are cooked, drain, but do not rinse. Add a dab of olive oil to keep them from sticking together. 
To begin layering the lasagna, keep in mind that you’ll have three layers of noodles as well as three layers of the sauces and cheese – so plan on splitting all the sauce and cheese piles into thirds so you don’t run out at the end! On the bottom of your lightly greased baking pan, layer three pre-boiled noodles or four no-boil noodles, slightly overlapping the no-boil noodles. Layer the red sauce, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, cottage cheese,  spreading all to the edges and top with another layer of noodles. Again, layer the red sauce, cottage cheese, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and top with the final layer of noodles. Layer the sauces and cheeses again.
Cover the lasagna with a greased layer of aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and let the lasagna sit for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

{Cinnamon Pancetta Carbonara}

I love Carbonara, and have made other recipes before. This one is my new favorite with the added subtle cinnamon flavor. It goes perfect with this dish. If you are a fan of fettuccine alfredo, you will love this

  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 4 slices pancetta, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 box fettuccine noodles
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Saute the bacon and pancetta in a heavy large frying pan over medium heat until almost crisp, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the bacon and pancetta and saute until the bacon is crisp and golden, about 2 minutes longer. Cool. Whisk in the cream, cheese, and yolks to blend.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the fettuccine and cook until it is just tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Drain. Add the fettuccine to the cream mixture and toss over medium-low heat until the sauce coats the pasta thickly, about 5 minutes (do not boil). Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta to a large wide serving bowl. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

Recipe Source: Giada De Laurentiis

{Garlic and Herb Bread}

By far the best I’ve had!

1 stick of softened butter
6 garlic cloves
1 Tbs grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Bread of choice ( I like specialty breads, that have a hard crust but a soft center)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Oil inside of a food processor, add butter, garlic, cheese and herbs. Pulse until well combined. Spread the butter mixture onto each slice of bread. Bake for about 7 minutes.

Adapted from: Giada De Laurentiis

{Zuppa Toscana}

I have seen this recipe a lot. For some reason I have never really thought of making it. I have never gotten this soup at Olive Garden, maybe that’s why. I recently went to a baby shower where this soup was served and I tried it and was in love! It has so much great flavor. My hubby loves it too, so I finally made it with Olive Garden Breadsticks. New fave at our house.

1 lb. Italian sausage
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white wine to deglaze the pan
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
2 russett potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
2 cups fresh kale, chopped
3 cups chicken broth
2.5 cups water
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper

Place a large stockpot  on the stove over medium heat.  Crumble the sausage into the pan and cook until well browned.  Remove the cooked sausage from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl; set aside.  Add the chopped onion to the pan and sauté until tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan and cook for a minute more, just until fragrant.  Add the wine to the pot and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits.  Add the potatoes, kale, chicken broth and water to the pot.   Return the sausage to the pot.  Increase the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer on medium-low.  Cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender and cooked through.  Stir in the heavy cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Recipe Source: Annies Eats

{Italian Cream Soda}

This has become our new addiction. They are so good! My sister in law was just visiting us for Christmas and gave us the idea to make them. I love ordering these at restaurants, but they are usually not cheap. I’m so happy I can make these at home anytime I want now 🙂

8 oz club soda
3 Tbs flavored syrup (I use Torani brand in the coffee section of the grocery store)
2 Tbs half and half
Whipped cream (optional)
Ice

Put the desired amount of ice in the class and fill with club soda. Add in the flavored syrup and half and half and stir. Top with whipped cream if you like.

{Italian Baked Chicken and Pasta}

This has become one of those go to recipes, because it’s really easy and I usually have all the ingredients on hand. Also, I have a 3 year old who has gotten picky on me, but she ate an entire bowl and asked for more! Just for that reason, I will be making this again and again. It’s that yummy!

  • 1 1/2 cups small pasta (I used large elbow pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cubed chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup diced onion 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees 
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta and put into a large mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8  baking dish. In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Adapted from Everyday Italian (Giada De Laurentis)