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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Three-Cheese Stuffed Shells with Meaty Tomato Sauce

This recipe can most definitely be made ahead of time.  I made mine in the morning, covered, and refrigerated until dinner.  You can freeze too for a later date!


  • 8 ounces, weight jumbo pasta shells
  • 30 ounces, weight whole milk ricotta cheese (Get this from the deli, not the tub.  Fresh tastes better.)
  • 8 ounces grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1 whole egg
  • 12 leaves basil, chiffonade (I used about 8.)
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  •  salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 whole (28 oz. size) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 whole (15 oz. size) crushed tomatoes (I could only find 28 oz. so I bought two 28 oz. cans and discarded the extra.)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Cook pasta shells for half the cooking time (about 9-10 minutes); make sure not to overcook. Drain and rinse in cool water. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add Italian sausage and brown, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. Pour in red wine and let it cook for another minute or two. 
Pour in cans of crushed tomatoes (43 oz.) and stir. Add sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check for seasonings; can add crushed red peppers if you like a little heat.
In a separate bowl, mix ricotta, half the Parmesan, Romano, egg, salt and pepper, basil, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Stir until combined. 
To assemble, coat the bottom of a baking dish with sauce. Fill each partially-cooked shell with the cheese mixture. DO NOT OVERSTUFF!  Too much cheese can be too overwhelming!  Place face down on the sauce. Repeat with shells until cheese mixture is gone. Top shells with remaining sauce. Sprinkle on extra Parmesan. 
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
Serve with crusty French bread.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Homemade(ish) Chicken Pot Pie

This recipe is delicious and I loved it.  I loved it even more because I prepped some of the ingredients the night before so when it was time to make dinner, it was effortless.  I made a couple of adaptations to ease the original recipe and I will note what I did ahead of time to make this dinner prep super easy!


1 small Rotisserie chicken, about one pound of actual chicken once diced
1 stick of butter, divided
2 whole large carrots, peeled and diced small
2 celery stalks, diced small
1 cup diced cooked potatoes, diced small (leave the skin on for less work!)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced small
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
3 cups chicken broth, warmed
1-1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons Kosher salt, more or less to taste
1/2 teaspoons black pepper, more or less to taste
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2-3 boxes of Pillsbury pie crust, depending on how much crust you like hanging off!  (Next time, I'll get three.)
6 (10-ounce) Ramekins (You can also put in a large casserole dish and share crust.  Not my style, but it will work!)

Here's what I did the night before:
1. Dice the Rotisserie chicken into bite size pieces and refrigerate.  
2. Unroll the store-bought pie crust out, use a similar-sized bowl to ramekin {or set down ramekin on crust} and cut generously larger around it.  Trace and cut out 6 circles, using the scraps to make more if needed. Keep the dough circles in the fridge in a Ziploc (I put wax paper in between so they wouldn't stick) and keep cold.  
3.  Dice the carrots, onion, and celery.  The onion and celery can be stored together, but store carrots in separate storage bag.  They need to cook before the other two veggies.
4.  Measure out your frozen veggies (peas and corn) and store back in freezer.  
Here's what I did at dinner time:
5. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and grease six 10-ounce ramekins with butter or olive oil.  (Again, if you don't want to use ramekins, you can use a 9 x 13 dish.  If you don't have six ramekins, put some in ramekins and put the rest in a small casserole dish! I didn't have six ramekins that were all the same size, so I filled all different sizes.  Great next day for lunch!)
6. Dice some potatoes.  I used about 6-8 red potatoes (they're small) and kept the skin on.  Place them in a pot of cold water and boil until fork tender.  Drain.
7. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large Dutch oven.
8. While the potatoes cook, place diced carrots into Dutch oven and cook for 5 minutes. Add in the diced onion and celery and season with a teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent and the carrots are soft {but not too soft...they'll cook more in the oven!}.
9. Now add in the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter and let that melt. Once melted, add in the half cup of flour and stir often while it cooks for 2 minutes.
10.  Pour in 3 cups of hot chicken broth (you can heat this in microwave or on the stovetop) and the 1-1/2 cups of whole milk. Let that simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened, 5-8 minutes.
11. Next, add in the frozen peas, corn, cooked chicken, dried parsley, and chopped fresh thyme. Stir. Taste.  Season further with up to a teaspoon more of salt and a little more black pepper if desired.  
12. Place the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Evenly divide the diced cooked potatoes into each prepared ramekin.  DO THIS BEFORE ADDING THE CHICKEN POT PIE MIXTURE!
13. Spoon the pot pie filling evenly over the potatoes, filling the ramekins to the brim. Let them cool down a bit before placing the pie dough over top and crimping the edge to seal. With a sharp knife, make 2-3 slits for ventilation.
14. Slide the tray of pot pies into a preheated 375 degree oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden. (If desired, brush with an egg wash.  No biggie!)
15. Remove and let them cool for 10 minutes before serving. 
Omg, enjoy!
*Adapted from

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Easy Roasted Broccoli

  • 24 ounces broccoli florets* 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan 
  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray. 
  • Place broccoli florets in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Add olive oil and garlic; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Gently toss to combine. 
  • Place into oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until tender. 
  • Serve immediately, sprinkled with Parmesan and lemon juice.
*24 ounces broccoli florets is equal to about 5 cups.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Asian Quinoa Meatballs

perfect as an appetizer or a light dinner!
  • 1 pound ground turkey 
  • 3/4 cup cooked quinoa 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce 
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil 
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha, or more, to taste 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish 
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger 
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed 
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil 
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha, or more, to taste 
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9x13 baking dish or coat with nonstick spray. 
  • In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, quinoa, garlic, onions, egg, soy sauce, sesame oil, Sriracha, salt and pepper, to taste. Using a wooden spoon or clean hands, stir until well combined. Roll the mixture into 1 1/4-to-1 1/2-inch meatballs, forming about 18-20 meatballs. 
  • Place meatballs onto the prepared baking dish and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until all sides are browned and meatballs are cooked through. 
  • To make the sauce, whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, sugar, sesame oil, Sriracha, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over medium high heat. 
  • In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Stir into soy sauce mixture until thickened, about 2 minutes. 
  • Serve meatballs immediately with sauce, garnished with green onion and sesame seeds.  YUM!

  • *

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Roasted Potatoes

(*I doubled these measurements to feed four.)
2 large russet potatoes, peeled, rinsed, and diced into quarter cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 425.  Foil and lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  

2.  In a large bowl, toss together potatoes, oil, and seasoning.

3.  Pour potatoes onto the baking sheet in an even layer.

4.  Bake on the middle rack in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Flip the potatoes halfway through the cooking process. (When the potatoes were "done," I found that they were too soft for serving.  After 25 minutes, I turned the broiler on high and broiled for about 5-8 minutes until crispy.  Flip often.  Be sure to keep your eyes on them so they don't burn.)


Friday, April 10, 2015

Island Pork Tenderloin

This recipe feeds 6-8 so halve the recipe for a smaller crowd!

For spice rub:
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 pork tenderloins (2 ¼ - 2 ½ lbs. total) trimmed and evenly tied (Pork tenderloin tends to be "skinnier" at the tail end, so ask the butcher to tie the pork for more even cooking!)
2 tbsp. olive oil

For glaze:
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. finely chopped garlic
1 tbsp. Tabasco (I used Frank's.)


Stir the spice rub ingredients together in a small bowl and rub all over the pork.  Heat oil in ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over medium high heat.  Brown pork, turning occasionally, about 4-5 minutes total.  Remove from heat, but leave pork in skillet.

Stir together brown sugar, garlic, and Tabasco in a small bowl.  Pat the mixture on top of the pork.  Place skillet in the oven at 350.  Roast until thermometer inserted diagonally into the center of each tenderloin registers 140 degrees, about 20 minutes.  Let pork stand in skillet, loosely covered with foil for 10 minutes. 


Loaded Hasselback Potatoes

  • 4 russet potatoes 
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, thinly sliced 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • 4 slices bacon, diced (optional) 
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese 
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  • Using a sharp knife, make crosswise cuts in each potato, about 1/8-inch apart, stopping about 1/4 inch from the bottom. (While slicing, lay chopsticks on each side of the potato as a "stopper.") Add butter slices between cuts...every three or so is perfect; generously season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  • Transfer potatoes to a baking sheet. Place into oven and bake until the outsides are browned and crisp, about 1 hour. Top with cheese and bake until melted, an additional 5 minutes. 
  • While potatoes are baking, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. 
  • Serve potatoes immediately, topped with sour cream, bacon, and chives.
  • *