Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Cheese Tortellini with Tomatoes and Mushrooms

Cheese Tortellini with Tomatoes and Mushrooms is a quick meal you can make anytime during the week. This is a meatless meal, but you can add sausage, if you prefer. Serve with a salad, rolls and a glass of your favorite beverage. You will be making extra sauce you can freeze and use at a later date. Serves 4 Total Time: 20 minutes 


19oz package of cheese tortellini, cooked according to the package instructions 


2 tablespoons olive oil 

1/2 red onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, smashed 

8-10 large brown mushrooms, sliced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 can tomato sauce 

1 large can tomatoes 

1 tablespoon each basil, parsley and Italian seasoning 

Salt and pepper, to taste 


In a large saucepan on med/high heat add the olive oil, when hot add the onions until softened then add the garlic and cook until fragrant about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until browned. Add in the tomato paste, tomato sauce and the tomatoes. If you are using whole tomatoes cut them in quarters using a knife. Stir and reduce heat to low let simmer for 10 minutes. 

In a large bowl add your cooked tortellini and then pour on enough sauce to cover (about half). Stir to combine. Taste to see if any seasoning is needed. Serve. Freeze remaining sauce. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

Instant Pot Pepper Soup with Italian Sausage

I went to Sam’s Club and bought some peppers, but it’s not just some, it’s...what are we going to do with all these peppers???  It’s my favorite time of year to make soups, especially in my Instant Pot. I love a good pepper soup made with Italian sausage, onions, rice and seasonings. All you need is a side salad and some Italian crusty bread....don’t forget the wine. Serves 4 Total Time 15 minutes + time to come to pressure. 


1 lb Italian sausage
1 teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder and Italian seasoning 
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional 
Salt and pepper, to taste 
3 bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 15oz can tomato sauce
5 cups vegetable or beef broth 
3/4 cup long grain white or jasmine rice 


Turn on your Instant Pot to sauté add the sausage and seasonings, salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until sausage has browned. Turn off sauté setting. Add in the broth and scrape any brown bits off the bottom (that’s the good stuff). Add in remaining ingredients, stir to combine. Cover, close steam valve and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before releasing steam. Open lid carefully. Serve immediately. 

Monday, September 14, 2020

Quick Spinach Ravioli Bake

Want to make something quick for dinner tonight? This Quick Spinach Ravioli Bake only takes 10 minutes in the oven. Just add a side salad and some crusty Italian bread for a delicious meal. Serves 6 Total Time: 30 minutes 


19 oz pkg of spinach ravioli 
1 26oz jar of chunky pasta sauce
1 6oz bag of baby spinach 
1 tablespoon dried basil + dash or two to garnish 
8 oz shredded mozzarella 
Salt and pepper, to taste 


Cook ravioli according to package instructions. My package suggested 5 minutes if frozen or 4 minutes if refrigerated. Drain and add to a 9x13-inch oven proof dish. 

In a saucepan add the pasta sauce, basil and spinach. Cook on medium heat until spinach wilts. Pour over ravioli. Top with cheese and bake for 10 minutes in a preheated 400F oven, or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese has melted. Garnish with a dash or two of dried basil. Salt and pepper, to taste. 

Notes: I didn’t have chunky pasta sauce so I add 4 tomatoes, I removed the skins and chopped them into bite size pieces. I cooked them with the pasta sauce, basil and spinach.  To remove the skin easily you slice an X on the top and bottom of the tomato, boil them for 5 minutes, then place them in an ice bath. You should see the skins crack while boiling. When cooled the skins should just slide right off. 

Monday, July 27, 2020

Bacon Spinach Tortellini Bake

This Bacon Spinach Tortellini Bake is easy to make with only 6 ingredients, unless you want to make homemade Alfredo sauce. I’ve provided a link below for the Alfredo recipe. It’s very simple just a white roux and Parmesan cheese minus all the extra ingredients you find in a jar. Serves 6 Total Time: 70 minutes 


1 jar (15 oz) Alfredo pasta sauce 
1/3 cup water 
1 package (19 oz) frozen cheese-filled tortellini 
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped cooked bacon  
1 bag (5 oz) baby spinach, coarsely chopped 
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 oz) 


1 Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom and sides of 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish generously with cooking spray. In medium bowl, mix Alfredo sauce and water. Arrange half of the frozen tortellini in single layer in baking dish; top with 1/4 cup of the bacon, half of the spinach, half of the Alfredo sauce mixture and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers. Top with remaining 2 tablespoons bacon. Spray one side foil with cooking spray and cover baking dish, sprayed side down. Bake 40 minutes. Remove foil; bake 10 to 15 minutes longer or until bubbly around edges and hot in center.

Make your own Alfredo sauce here

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Italian Pasta Salad

Here is another cold pasta salad for those hot nights when you don’t want to cook over a stove or even a grill. This would also be great for a cookout, pot luck or a family gathering. Serves 8 Total Time: 30 minutes 


Kosher salt 
1 pound penne pasta, cooked according to package instructions 
1/3 cup mayonnaise 
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar 
1 16-ounce jar giardiniera, drained and chopped 
5 ounces provolone cheese, diced (1 cup) or real mozzarella 
5 ounces salami, diced (1 cup) 
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil 
Freshly ground pepper 


Mix the mayonnaise, olive oil and red wine vinegar in a large bowl. Add the cooked penne pasta and toss well. Add the giardiniera, provolone, salami, parsley and basil; toss well and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy! 

Friday, July 10, 2020

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Too hot to cook a big meal? I made this Mediterranean Pasta Salad it was just enough for a hot muggy summer night. You can also serve this as a side or add a protein if you like, try pepperoni, salami (I did) or chicken and make it a meal. Serves 4-6 Total Time: 20 minutes 


3- Cucumbers medium size, cut into bite size pieces 
1-Pint Grape Tomatoes, halved  or 2-3 medium tomatoes, sliced
1- Can sliced Black Olives 
1/2 jar of roasted red peppers, sliced
16-oz box of tri-colored rotini, cooked
1- Container Feta Cheese 
1/2- Red Onion, diced 
2- Tbsp Olive Oil 
2- Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar 
1- tsp Dried Oregano 


In a large serving bowl add the cucumber, tomatoes, onion, roasted red peppers, black olives, cooked pasta and any protein, if using. In a small bowl combine your olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and oregano. Pour dressing over veggies and  toss until everything is coated. Sprinkle the top with feta. Chill 1/2 hour before serving. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Rigatoni with Summer Bolognese

Per Food Network, “Summer pasta dishes don’t have to all be mayonnaise drenched side dishes. Case in point: Rigatoni with Summer Bolognese. Making the most of sweet summer tomatoes, this homemade Bolognese highlights the beauty of fresh Farmer’s Market produce in a classic way. Great fresh or leftover, this dish will become a summer staple in your household.” Serves 4 Total Time: 40 minutes


Kosher salt
10 ounces rigatoni (about 3 cups)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely diced
2 small carrots, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups multicolored cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh basil, torn
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs for al dente, about 12 minutes. Reserve 3/4 cup cooking water, then drain. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the ground beef, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper and cook, breaking up the meat, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook until evenly combined, 1 minute. Add the wine and simmer until almost completely dry, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water, the tomatoes and half the basil. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the tomatoes start to burst and the mixture is saucy, 4 to 7 minutes. Add the cheese to the sauce, then add the rigatoni; season with salt and pepper and toss, adding more cooking water as needed to loosen. Divide among bowls and top with the remaining basil and more parmesan.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Grilled Chicken with Marsala Risotto

This chicken marsala recipe from BH&G looks like it came from a fancy Italian restaurant, but surprise: this jazzed-up risotto recipe is actually super-doable to recreate in your own kitchen. Serves 4 Total Time: 50 minutes 


2 cups thinly sliced fresh cremini mushrooms
1/2 of a large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup uncooked Arborio rice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup dry Marsala
2 1/2-3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon snipped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
2 teaspoons snipped fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
14 – 16 ounces chicken breast tenderloins
Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 cup finely shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)
 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach leaves


In a large saucepan cook mushrooms and onion in hot oil over medium heat about 10 minutes or until tender and light brown, stirring occasionally. Add rice and 1 clove of the garlic. Cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes or until rice begins to brown. Remove from heat. Carefully add Marsala; return to heat. Cook and stir until Marsala is absorbed.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan bring broth to boiling; reduce heat and simmer. Slowly add 1/2 cup of the broth to rice mixture, stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir over medium heat until broth is absorbed. Add the remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until broth is absorbed. (This should take 15 to 20 minutes)

In a small bowl combine thyme, rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and the salt. Rub the remaining 2 cloves garlic over chicken; sprinkle with thyme mixture. Lightly coat both sides of chicken with cooking spray.

Heat your grill or a grill pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink (170°F), turning once. If chicken browns too quickly, reduce heat to medium. Add cheese and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper to rice mixture, stirring until cheese is melted. Stir in spinach. Spoon rice mixture onto serving plates. Top with chicken...yummy!

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Italian Hot Bake

First time I made this Italian Hot Bake, I made it exactly as written. The next time I made some changes, because I thought it needed more flavor. I used mild Italian sausage instead of ground beef, added some chopped pepperoni and sliced black olives. I did not put this in the oven. After browning the sausage and onion and green pepper I added the spices and tomato sauce. Simmered for about 20 minutes; covered. Added the pepperoni and olives, stirred. About 10 minutes before serving, I added the cooked bow ties. It was more to my liking. This is a keeper. What would you change? Serves 4 Total Time: 70 minutes


1-1/2 cups uncooked multigrain bow tie pasta (about 4 ounces)
1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms, divided
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided


Preheat oven to 350°. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente; drain. Meanwhile, in a large skillet coated with cooking spray, cook and crumble beef with 1/2 cup mushrooms, onion and green pepper over medium-high heat until no longer pink, 5-7 minutes. Stir in seasonings and tomato sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 15 minutes. Place pasta in an 8-in. square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with meat sauce and remaining mushrooms. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese. Bake, covered, 35 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Bake until heated through and cheese is melted, 5-10 minutes.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Italian Chop Salad

This Italian Chop Salad is great for lunch or a light dinner. Serves 2 Total Time: 15 minutes 


4 cups chopped romaine, iceberg or Bibb (Boston) lettuce 
1/2 cup peeled English cucumber, cubed (no cucumber, use celery, green pepper or radishes)
1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes or quartered Campari tomatoes 
1/4 cup sliced red onion 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste 
1/2 roasted red pepper, in water, chopped 
1 ounce genoa salami, sliced 
6 tablespoons shredded part-skim mozzarella 


Toss the lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion with oil and vinegar, season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with roasted red pepper, salami and mozzarella. Also good with olives, hard boiled eggs or pepperoncini

Pasta Pizza Bake

What’s not to love when you join pizza and pasta. Make it a meatless meal and skip the pepperoni. Substitute any pizza topping to make this Pasta Pizza Bake your own. Serves 4 Total Time: 35 minutes 


8 oz of cooked pasta, try angle hair or penne
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided 
2 cups brown mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup green pepper 
1/2 cup pepperoni slices
1/4 cup onion, chopped 
1/4 cup black olives, sliced 
1 15oz can pizza sauce 
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella 
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning 


Preheat oven to 400F. Cook your pasta according to package instructions, drain and set aside. 

In a oven proof skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat then add the mushrooms, onions and peppers; sauté until tender. Remove and keep warm. Add remaining oil to skillet and increase heat to med/high. Add in the pasta and cook 5-7 minutes to form a crust. Turn pasta crust onto a plate and reduce heat to medium add pasta back in the skillet (with the undercooked on the bottom of the skillet), top with pepperoni, black olives, sautéed vegetables and sauce. Sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese and Italian seasoning. Bake until the cheese melts, about 10 minutes. 

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Caprese Chicken

I love a Caprese salad of tomatoes, basil and cheese, so why not try a chicken caprese? You can grill this dish, but my family agrees it’s juicier straight from the oven. Serves 4-6 Total Time: 30 minutes


3-4 Large Chicken Breasts (or 5-6 thinly sliced chicken breasts)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3/4 teaspoon Dried Basil
3/4 teaspoon Dried Oregano
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Pepper
1 1/2 cups Fresh Tomatoes such as Campari or Grape, halved or quartered
1/3 cup Red Onion diced
3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 1/2 cups Grated Mozzarella Cheese or 4 - 8 Slices Fresh Mozzarella
Garnish optional: Fresh Italian Parsley or Basil diced


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken breast in a baking dish or cast-iron skillet. Sprinkle with olive oil, basil, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Place halved tomatoes and diced onion all around chicken. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Bake for 18-24 minutes, depending on the thickness of chicken breast. After chicken is cooked through and reaches an internal temperature of 160F-165F, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Set oven to broil and place baking pan or skillet on the top rack. Broil for about 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with fresh basil or Italian parsley. Serve by drizzling balsamic sauce and tomatoes all over chicken.

Due to the size of these chicken breasts it took 40 minutes to reach the internal temperature of 165F. Very good and very easy to make. This recipe is a keeper! 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Instant Pot Ziti with Italian Chicken Sausage

So, I had to look up Italian chicken sausage and it’s actually available in stores, like Target. Have you used it before? My girls love ziti and it works with all the flavors in this recipe. Quick and easy to make any day of the week. Serves 6 Total Time: 28 minutes


12 ounces fully cooked Italian chicken sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 red and/or yellow sweet peppers, coarsely chopped
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, crushed
8 ounces dried ziti or bow-tie pasta
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup shredded provolone or mozzarella cheese (4 oz)


In a 6-qt. Instant Pot combine the first 7 ingredients (through Italian seasoning). Sauté, uncovered, 5 minutes to brown sausage. (Personally I’d brown the sausage then add in the remaining 6 ingredients) Stir in pasta. Lock lid in place and make sure steam valve is closed. Set on high pressure for 8 minutes. Let sit 15 minutes to release pressure naturally. Release any remaining pressure. Carefully open lid. Gently stir in basil. Top with cheese. Cover and let stand 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Italian Pappardelle with Sausage and Peppers

This Italian Pappardelle with Sausage and Peppers is drenched in a flavorful, wine-infused sauce, bits of spicy Italian sausage, plus sweet bell peppers, onions, oven-roasted tomatoes and basil, it’s not only scrumptious, but quick and easy to prepare as well! Serves 4 Total Time: 45 minutes

Only have canned diced tomatoes, no problem. I’ve added a how to oven-roast tomatoes at the bottom of this recipe. You’ll need an extra hour and a half. 


8 ounces pappardelle noodles, uncooked 

Olive oil 
1 lb ground Italian sausage 
1 large onion, quartered and sliced thinly 
1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper 
1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced 
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced 
1 orange bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced 
4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press 
1/2 cup white white 
1 (28 ounce) can oven-roasted tomatoes, with juice 
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped 
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, julienned, divided 


Prepare the pappardelle noodles according to instructions on package; then, drain the noodles very well, and keep them warm while you prepare the sauce. 

Place your Dutch Oven over medium-high heat, and add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil; once the oil is hot, add the ground Italian sausage and cook until browned, remove with a slotted spoon and place into a small bowl to set aside. 

Next, add the sliced onion into the pan with the sausage drippings, and allow it to caramelize and become golden for roughly 5 minutes or so, stirring to keep it from burning (add a touch more olive oil, if necessary); once the onion starts to become golden, add the salt, Italian seasoning and cracked black pepper, and stir to combine. Add in the sliced bell peppers, and allow those to saute with the onion for about 2 minutes until slightly tender and golden; next, add in the garlic, and once it becomes aromatic, add in the white wine and allow it to reduce for a few moments, until almost completely reduced. 

Add in the oven-roasted tomatoes with their juice*, and return the browned Italian sausage back into the Dutch Oven and gently fold the mixture to combine; allow it to gently simmer for about 3 to 4 minutes to blend the flavors, then turn the heat off. 

To finish the sauce, drizzle in about 2-3 good tablespoons of the olive oil to create a silky, rich flavor, and stir in the chopped parsley and about half of the julienned basil. Add the cooked pappardelle noodles directly into the sauce, and using tongs, gently toss and combine the noodles with the sauce and all of the ingredients in it; check the seasoning to see if you need to add any additional salt or pepper. To serve, add equal portions of the noodles to bowls, and garnish with a sprinkle of the remaining julienned basil (you can even top with shaved parmesan, if desired). 

Oven-roasted Tomatoes:
You can use a can of whole tomatoes or diced tomatoes. Drain juice in a bowl and save for recipe above*. If whole, cut them lengthwise and then spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. You can add garlic cloves, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, anchovies and red pepper flakes to create your own flavor. Roast in the oven at 350F, without stirring, until caramelized, about 1 hour and 25 minutes. 

When done mash the whole tomatoes. If you’ve made more than required for the above recipe you can make pasta sauce or purée them add a splash of water or vegetable broth and make a flavorful tomato soup. 

Sunday, April 26, 2020

How to Make a Cauliflower Baked Lasagna

This Cauliflower Baked Lasagna is another meatless meal that is healthier then the original recipe. It looks good, but let me know if you think it tastes good. 
Serves 4 Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes 


8 cups cauliflower florets (from 1 head cauliflower; about 2 1/2 pounds) 
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for coating the lasagna noodles 
Kosher salt, to taste 
One 28-ounce can no-salt added whole plum tomatoes 5 cloves garlic, 4 sliced and 1 chopped 
1 large red bell pepper, diced 
2 tablespoons tomato paste 
1 cup fresh basil leaves 
8 ounces lasagna noodles (about 10 noodles)  
1 cup part-skim ricotta 
1 large egg 
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella 
1/4 cup grated Parmesan 
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped 


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the cauliflower in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread the florets in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast, tossing once, until tender and golden brown in spots, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool slightly. 

Put the tomatoes in a medium bowl and use your hands to crush them or maybe with a potato masher. For those that grimiest when reading “use your hands”. Rinse the can with 1 1/2 cups water and add it to the bowl of tomatoes. Set aside.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil with 4 cloves sliced garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small Dutch oven over medium heat until the garlic begins to sizzle and becomes aromatic, about 2 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate, about 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes with their juice and 4 large leaves of basil. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 40 minutes. You should have about 3 3/4 cups of sauce. 

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the lasagna noodles one at a time into the pot. Cook according to the package directions until al dente. Drain the noodles in a colander. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons oil to the noodles, tossing to coat to prevent them from sticking, and drape over the side of a large bowl. 

Combine the ricotta, egg, 1 1/2 cups of the roasted cauliflower and 1 chopped clove garlic in a food processor and pulse until evenly pureed. Tear the remaining basil into small pieces, add to the food processor and pulse 3 to 4 more times to chop the basil finely, but not puree. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. 

Assemble the lasagna: Spread a thin layer of sauce (around 1/4 cup) on the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Lay 4 of the noodles on the bottom, without overlapping, cutting to fit, if necessary. Spread with half of the cauliflower-ricotta mixture, followed by half of the roasted cauliflower, one-third of the tomato sauce, one-third of the mozzarella and one-third of the Parmesan. Loosely fit 3 more noodles on top of the cheese without overlapping. Spread with the remaining cauliflower-ricotta mixture, followed by the remaining roasted cauliflower, one-third more of the tomato sauce, one-third more of the mozzarella and one-third more of the Parmesan. Top with the remaining 4 lasagna noodles, cutting just to fit. Then add the remaining tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake until bubbly and hot, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and cook until the cheese begins to brown, about 10 minutes more. Allow to rest for 10 minutes so the lasagna will cut more easily. Garnish with the parsley.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Tuscan Garlic Shrimp with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

 I forgot to say this Tuscan Garlic Shrimp with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes recipe is made in a heavy cream sauce. 


The first reason is there is no added sugar in heavy cream. It is just that, cream. There is sugar in both milk and half and half. 13 grams per cup of milk.

Heavy cream is also thicker, so if you were to use milk or half and half you would need to add a thickener such as cornstarch or flour. This way people with gluten issues can make this dish too. Serves 4 Total Time: under 30 minutes


2 Tablespoons Butter 
1 lb Shrimp, shelled and deveined 
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil 
1/2 Cup Onion, diced 
6 Cloves Garlic, minced 
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs 
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped 
1/2 Cup Chicken Broth (or white wine) 
5 oz Jarred Sun Dried Tomatoes in oil, drained and roughly chopped 
1 Roasted Red Pepper (from jar) cut in strips 
1 3/4 cups Heavy Cream 
2/3 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese 
3 Cups Organic Baby Spinach, roughly chopped 


In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt the butter and add the shrimp. Let the shrimp cook for 2 minutes until they get a little golden color and then flip. Cook another 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add the oil to the pan and add the onion. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes to soften. Season liberally with salt and pepper to help the onion sweat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the Italian spices and parsley. Turn up the heat and add the broth (or wine) scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Allow the broth to reduce a little. Add the sundried tomatoes and roasted red pepper. Cook for another minute or two while stirring. Reduce the heat. Add the heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Stir to combine and let the cheese melt. Do not boil. Add the spinach, stir to combine and continue to simmer until the spinach wilts. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary. Add the shrimp back into the pan. Serve immediately over your favorite pasta. 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Instant Pot Italian Sausage Tortellini

Super easy Instant Pot Italian Sausage Tortellini recipe, it’s what’s for dinner at my house tonight. Just add your favorite side dish and some Italian bread to mop up the tasty creamy tomato sauce. Serves 6


1 pound ground Italian sausage (I used mild)
1 yellow onion, diced
1 cup beef broth or water
1 (19 oz) package frozen cheese tortellini (*see below if you used dried tortellini)
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup half & half
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Dash of dried basil to garnish 


Turn your Instant Pot to the saute setting. When the display says HOT add in the sausage. Break it up with a wooden spoon . Add in the diced onion. Once the sausage is browned and the onion is soft add in the beef broth (or water) and deglaze the pot. Pour the frozen tortellini evenly over the top. Dump the tomatoes evenly over the top of the tortellini. Don’t stir.

Cover the pot and secure the lid. Make sure valve is set to sealing. Set the manual/pressure cook button to zero minutes (just push the minus (-) button until it gets to zero). When the time is up let the pot sit for 5 minutes and then move the valve to venting. Remove the lid carefully. Stir in the half and half. Scoop onto plates or bowls and sprinkle each individual serving with some shredded mozzarella cheese and a dash of dried basil. 
 *If you did use dried tortellini, you would need to increase the liquid amount. For every 8 ounces of pasta you’ll need 1 3/4 cups of water/broth. You’ll need to increase the pressure cook time also. I would think about 5 minutes will do. Or you can cook your pasta separately according to package instructions and mix it in at the end with the half & half. 


I used dry tortellini added 2 cups of water instead of just one and I cooked it 5 minutes.


Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Pesto Pasta Green Beans and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Want to have a light meatless meal? You could also serve this as a side dish. This Pesto Pasta with Green Beans and Sun-dried Tomatoes is sure to be a hit with your family! Serves 4 TOTAL TIME 25 minutes


8 ounces medium shell pasta
1 pound green beans, trimmed
1/4 cup basil pesto {more or less to taste}
1/3 cup julienned sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained and chopped
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh chopped basil for garnish


In a large pot boil water for the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package. Set aside. Bring another large pot of water to a boil with a steamer insert. Once the water boils steam the green beans until they are almost tender and a bright green color.

Heat a dry large skillet over medium-low heat and toast almonds, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Remove and set aside. In a large mixing bowl combine the pasta, green beans, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the toasted almonds over the pasta and serve warm. Garnish with freshly chopped basil.

NOTES: Any small or medium pasta works great. Try elbow or orchiette! For extra protein try adding white beans or chickpeas. Or add bacon crumbles. I have used different cheese in this including mozzarella and a blend of freshly grated Italian cheeses. You can use different vegetables instead of green beans, try asparagus or zucchini. You can easily leave the almonds off of this dish or try pine nuts and walnuts instead.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Italian-Style Veal Chops

This recipe is a traditional Italian-style Veal Chop dish that can be made in your Instant Pot or stovetop. Serve these tender chops over a bed of butter noodles (pictured), along with a side salad. Serves 4 Total Time: under 1 hour.

The main ‘trick’ to this otherwise easy dish is to ensure tenderness. Veal chops are typically cut from the top round. You can find them pre-sliced in the better supermarkets or butchers, but they are rarely made correctly here in the US. They should be cut across the grain but are almost always cut with the grain, which means the muscle fibers remain intact and the meat tends to curl and toughen as it cooks.

What to do? Well, if you are on good terms with your butcher (assuming that you have a butcher, a professional that is sadly quickly disappearing) you can ask him to give you properly made veal chops. Otherwise, it becomes essential to pound the meat very well. The pounding will partially break up the fibers and tenderize the meat. And make sure that you trim off any silverskin or other connective tissue attached to the meat.


4 veal chops (1.5 lbs)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 of a 10 oz can tomato purée
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon lemon
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves and sliced lemon wedges, to garnish


Rinse and pat dry chops then season with salt and pepper, to taste. Melt butter in a medium skillet and brown chops on both sides until lightly browned. In a small bowl combine the remaining ingredients, except the garnish and pour over chops. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium, let simmer until chops are tender and sauce has reduced and thickened, about 35 minutes. Test for doneness*, do not overcook meat. Taste rest to see if additional seasoning is necessary. Place chops over a bed of butter noodles and garnish with basil leaves and lemon wedges.

Instant Pot:

Rinse and pat dry chops, season with salt and pepper, to taste. Melt butter in Instant Pot on sauté setting. Brown chops on both sides. In a small bowl combine all remaining ingredients except garnish, then pour over chops. Close lid and make sure steam vent is closed. Switch from sauté to high pressure and set for 15 minutes. Use a 10 minute natural release method, then open vent to release any steam left. Carefully open lid. Check for doneness*. Taste to adjust seasonings. Place chops over a bed of butter noodles and garnish with basil leaves and lemon wedges.

* The USDA recommends cooking whole muscle veal cuts like veal steaks, roasts and chops to 145 degrees F (medium rare), 160 degrees F (medium), or 170 degrees F (well done). We always prefer meat on the rare side, so 145 degrees F is what we aim for when cooking veal.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Italian Inspired Fish Provencal

When you think of Provence you don’t think of Italy, you think of France. A place that is in the southeastern part of France that boarders Italy and the Mediterranean Sea. Life seems good there as the summer weather is superb, the wine is good and the pasta is delicious. But was it always?

The Greeks were the first to inhabit southern France as well as southern Italy, but when the Roman Empire was at its peak they dominated the Greeks and not only took back their land in Italy, they also took sections of Provence all the way to the easternmost towns of Rémy, Orange and Arles. We all know that the Romans dominated the entire Mediterranean basin, but they did incorporate a lot of Greek culture, replicated their architecture and enjoyed their food.

With all this mingling of distinct cultures you can see why different ingredients are combined to create delicious recipes that Provence is known for. This Fish Provencal is simple, easy and tasty. You can add other ingredients like shrimp, capers, olives and clams, if you like. Serves 4 Total Time: 30 minutes.


1 1/2 lbs cod, sea bass or haddock fillets, pat dry and cut into bite size uniform pieces.
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 stalk celery, sliced thinly
2 green onions, sliced thinly
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
1/2-2/3 cup dry white wine
Fresh dill for garnish


In a skillet melt 1 tablespoon butter on medium heat then add the onions and garlic until soft, not browned. Add the remaining butter and sauté the celery and green onions, until soft. In a pan with a lid layer the vegetables and fish, season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle on the herbs de Provence and top with the tomato slices. Pour wine over entire mixture, bring to a soft boil then cover. Reduce heat to med/low and simmer for 12-14 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Garnish with fresh dill. Serve immediately.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Giada’s Pork Chops alla Pizzaiola

Carne pizzaiola or carne alla pizzaiola, sometimes referred to just as pizzaiola, is a dish derived from the Neapolitan tradition that features meat cooked with tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and white wine long enough to tenderize the meat. Most recipes also include tomato paste, oregano and basil.

Giada De Laurentiis version of Pork Chops alla Pizzaiola includes onions, parsley, a pinch of dried red pepper flakes and the French herb; herbs de Provence along with olive oil and tomatoes. I’m thinking of adding in some mushrooms (what do you think?). Her recipe is for two, just add an additional pork chop per person, if you need more servings.


2 tablespoons olive oil 
2 (1-inch thick) bone-in pork loin center-cut chops (about 12 ounces each) 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
1 small onion, thinly sliced 
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, in juice 
6oz pkg sliced brown mushrooms (optional)
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence 
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or more or less to taste (I’m a baby spice girl, so less or none for me) 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves 


Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle the pork chops with salt and pepper. Add the pork chops to the skillet and cook until they are brown and an instant-read meat thermometer inserted horizontally into the pork registers 160 degrees F, about 3 minutes pe. Transfer the pork chops to a plate and tent with foil to keep them warm. 

Add the onion to the same skillet and saute over medium heat until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, herbes de Provence, mushrooms (if using) and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend and the juices thicken slightly, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and more red pepper flakes. (No 🥵)

Return the pork chops and any accumulated juices from the plate to the skillet and turn the pork chops to coat with the sauce. Place 1 pork chop on each plate. Spoon the sauce over the pork chops. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Skillet Italian Sausage and Potatoes

Fry up a skillet of goodness with Italian sausage, potatoes and red bell peppers. Everything is cooked in this one pan with only a 10 minute prep work and an easy clean-up.


1 1/2 lbs small baby Klondike potatoes, quartered
1 yellow onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 pkg Italian sausage
4 tablespoons olive oil or ghee
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 teaspoon sriracha (optional)
Chopped parsley, garnish
Grated Parmesan, garnish


In a large cast-iron skillet heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. When shimmering add the Klondike potatoes and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sauté until golden and fork tender, about 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a plate and set aside. (You can boil the potatoes 8 minutes reducing the cooking time in the skillet to 6-8 minutes ensuring a golden crust on the potatoes).

In the same skillet with the remaining tablespoon olive oil brown the Italian sausage for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, red bell pepper, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, to taste. Cook 2-3 minutes, until vegetables softened. Deglaze with the stock and stir in the sriracha, if using. Coat the vegetables and sausage with the stock. Add the potatoes back into the skillet and stir to mix everything together to reheat potatoes. Top with freshly chopped parsley and grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.