Lasagna Soup

Lasagna soup

Our weather has been flip-flopping between warm and chilly.  For a while there, the days and nights were really beginning to feel like proper fall.  I even had to break out the down comforters for the beds, because I was getting cold at night.  The air was smelling so crisp and clear.  Sigh… I love Fall.

But, now, we are back to late summer temperatures again.  Muggy, and somewhat warm.  Thank you New England!  Be as it may, I still am craving soups.  I thought that a great way to kick-off soup season would be with this killer looking lasagna soup.  I mean really.  Tomatoes, noodles, hamburger and cheese?  You can’t go wrong!

Lasagna soup

My husband thoroughly dislikes ricotta cheese, so I opted not to put in the cheesy mixture.  Instead, I did a mixture of cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan cheese, served along side a hunk of crusty bread.  It was fabulous.  The kids loved it, we loved it.  It was a great, hearty dish for a chilly evening.  I look forward to making this again this winter.

Lasagna Soup

Yield: 8-10 servings

For the soup

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 lbs. hamburger
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons. dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cup chicken stock
  • 8 oz.  fusilli pasta
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Cheese topping
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese


Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add hamburger, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 8 minutes.  Stir in onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes.  Then, stir in the garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes.  Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir until hamburger is coated.  Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns slightly brown.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente.  Stir in the fresh basil, salt and pepper to taste.  Remove the bay leaves, and serve in individual bowls, and top with a sprinkling of each cheese.

Source: Adapted from 300 Sensational Soups, via A Farmgirl’s Dabbles


Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's Pie

I know that by now, most people are in spring-like weather and looking towards grilling and lighter meals.  We are experiencing warmer temperatures, but it’s hard to enjoy when there is still two feet of snow on the ground.  And this weekend is barely above freezing.  So, for one last sort of hurrah, I decided to make shepherd’s pie.  This is a favorite of ours.  Although, in the beginning, the combination always sounded weird to me.  I mean really, hamburger and mashed potatoes?  That is, until I tried Kyra’s recipe.  I was instantly converted.

Shepherd's Pie

This dish is hearty, filling and a totally manly-meat dish.  What am I talking about, my daughter and I totally devour this.  I am usually not a big ketchup fan (really, who am I!?), but I find that it adds a lot of flavor to the hamburger.  The mashed potatoes are creamy, buttery good-ness.  I mean really, you just can’t go wrong with this meal.

Shepherd’s Pie

For the potatoes

  • 3 lbs. red potatoes, scrubbed
  • 4 Tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • about a 1/4 cup milk
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic powder
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

For the vegetables

  • 1/4 cup olive or grapeseed oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf

For the hamburger

  • 2 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/4 cups ketchup


To make the mashed potatoes, slice thinly and place in a large pot.  Cover the potatoes with water by 2 inches.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Lower the heat and simmer gently until tender when poked with a fork.  Drain completely and place back into the pot.  Mash with a potato masher until mostly smooth.  Fold in the melted butter, salt, pepper, garlic powder and milk until incorporated and creamy, adding more milk if necessary.  Add more salt and pepper to taste.  Cover the pot and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF, and grease a 9×13 inch pan.  Set aside.

While the potatoes are cooking, cook the vegetables.  In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering.  Stir in the onion, carrots, celery, salt, paprika, pepper, basil and bay leaf.  Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.  Remove the vegetables to a bowl.  Using the same saucepan, cook the hamburger.

Over medium heat, stir the ground beef, salt, cayenne pepper and ground pepper until the meat is lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste and red wine.  Cook until almost all of the liquid is evaporated, another 10-15 minutes.  Then stir in the Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf and ketchup.  Turn the heat down to low and cook the meat until a nice glaze has formed, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To assemble the pie, remove the bay leaf from the hamburger and discard, then spread over the bottom of the prepared pan.  Then, remove the bay leaf from the vegetable mixture and discard.  Spoon the vegetables evenly over the hamburger.  Spoon dollops of the mashed potatoes over the vegetable mixture.  Then, spread with a rubber spatula until the whole pan is covered evenly.  Sprinkle the 1/2 teaspoon paprika and parmesan cheese evenly over the top.

Place in the preheated oven, uncovered, and bake for 15 minutes.  Lower the temperature to 325ºF, and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the mashed potatoes are golden.  Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Source: lightly adapted from Cooking in the Moment, by Kyra Alex

Beef and Barley Stew

Beef and Barley Stew

As soon as the colder weather hits, I am all about the comfort food. Soup and bread are my go to’s. I usually have soup on the menu at least once a week. I love to make a big ol’ pot that makes enough for left overs. Soup almost always gets better the next day, so it works our perfectly. There is nothing like coming in from the cold outdoors to a nice big bowl of hot soup. With bread to dip, of course.

When we pre-order our meat in the Spring from a local organic farm, I always make sure to order plenty of stew meat so I can make the beloved braised beef, and this soup. They are major favorites in our household!

This soup is hearty, filling and delicious. The stew meat becomes irresistible melt-in-your-mouth tasting. Then there is a delicious mixture of fresh vegetables, and the healthy addition of barley. The perfect soup in my book! This is great to make an extra large batch to feed a crowd, or to throw in your freezer for those nights you don’t feel like cooking.

Beef and Barley Stew

  • 2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil, or vegetable oil
  • 1 pound stew meat, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2-3 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ground pepper to taste
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes


Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the stew meat and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the onions and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are just beginning to caramelize, adding more oil if needed. Stir in the garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in everything except the tomatoes. Stir well, making sure to scrape up any burnt pieces on the bottom. Increase the heat and bring the soup to a boil. Then, turn the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. If the soup becomes too thick, add more water.

Taste the soup after 2 hours, adjust seasonings as needed. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer for another hour. Remove the bay leaf and dish into individual bowls. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley, if desired.

Source: Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Bowtie Lasagna

Bowtie Lasagna

Soooo, my husband has this weird thing about cheese. He doesn’t really like it. I’m talking about no cheese and crackers, no lasagna (ricotta cheese is a big no no), and easy on the added cheese to any dish. And there is no hiding it either. I’ve tried.

And then here I am.

I love cheese. A little brie for a snack? Absolutely. More parmesan cheese with that dish? Load her up! The cheesier the better. Unless it’s that really stinky cheese. Like my dad likes. Ick.

Now, after saying all that, I still cook with a lot of cheese. My husband has learned to cope. Or maybe not say anything. Anyway, he at least puts up it.

This dish is cheesy, but not over-the-top cheesy. And since my husband will NOT eat ricotta cheese (that’s why I never, ever make lasagna), sour cream instead of ricotta was perfect! This is an easy, quick meal. Especially if you don’t want to put in all the effort (or don’t have the time), to make a full fledged lasagna, this is a perfect alternative. The pasta/meat lovers in your family will be very happy.

Bowtie Lasagna

  • 1 pound hamburger or sausage
  • 5 cups bowtie noodles
  • 3 cups spaghetti sauce of your choosing
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon italian seasoning, or more to taste
  • 1/2-3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4-1/2 cup sour cream


Heat a medium size skillet over medium-high heat. Add the hamburger and cook until no longer pink and cooked through, making sure to break up any large chunks.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Stir in the bow-ties and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and put back into the pot. Toss with the olive oil. Stir in the spaghetti sauce. Then fold in the cooked hamburger, salt,pepper, garlic powder, italian seasoning, mozzarella cheese and sour cream. Turn the heat to low and let cook for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Add more seasonings to taste.

Serve warm.

Source: Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Chorizo Burgers with Slaw

Chorizo Burgers with Slaw

Rumor has it that it’s going to be another hard winter- ugh. So, we are trying to squeeze in as many grilling days as possible before summer is really over. Also with winter on its way (I am not trying to rush things here!), we have our orders of organic beef and pork coming in from a local farm. Therefore, we need to finish up the meat we have still in the freezer. (Which is still quite a bit.)

I thought a great way to use up some beef and sausage was to combine them! I like to add some spices to cover the slight gamey taste of the organic meat. And slaw on top of the burgers? Yes please! The flavor combinations were just fantastic. These burgers made a great dinner to celebrate a beautiful summer evening.

Chorizo Burgers with Slaw

Yield: 5-6 burgers

For the burgers

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. chorizo sausages, casings removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

For the slaw

  • 4 cups chopped cabbage
  • 4 Tablespoons mayo
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

To serve


To prepare the slaw, place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until fully incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To prepare the burgers, place the chorizo and beef in a large bowl. In a small bowl, stir together the salt, pepper, cumin and garlic powder. Sprinkle over the meat and mix with your hands until the the spices are evenly distributed and the meat is mixed together. Form the mixture into desired size patties.

Oil the grill grates so the burgers won’t stick.  Grill the burgers until completely cooked through. To serve, place burgers on toasted buns, and top with about 1/4 cup of the prepared slaw on each burger. Enjoy!

Island Bakes Original

Simple, Perfect Enchiladas


Don’t run away from looking at the picture of these enchiladas! I know they aren’t exactly breathtaking, but don’t judge a book by its cover. These are amazing! I absolutely love them. Something about the corn tortillas wrapped around the delicious hamburger filling…. sigh.


Just talking (writing?) about them makes me want to run into the kitchen and make them immediately. The Pioneer Woman knows how to cook her some beef! We always have more frozen hamburger from Old Ackley Farm than I know what to do with! This is a perfect way to use up some. This is a great dish to make for a crowd. It will feed many hungry mouths and make everyone happy at the same time!


Simple, Perfect Enchiladas

Yield: 8 servings

For the sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon grapeseed, canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 (28 oz.) can enchilada or Mexican red sauce
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley

For the meat

  • 1 pound ground hamburger
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 (4 oz.) cans diced green chilies
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Remaining ingredients

  • 10-14 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 3 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • parsley


In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the oil and flour. Whisk together and allow to bubble for 1 minute. Pour in the enchilada sauce, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and let simmer while preparing the other ingredients.

While the sauce is simmering, brown the hamburger with the onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain any fat, then add the green chilies and salt. Stir to combine. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a 9×13 baking dish, spread 1/2 cup of the sauce over the bottom.

Place the tortillas on a plate and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave for about 30 seconds, or until soft and pliable. Dip each tortilla into the sauce. Set the tortillas on a cookie sheet (less clean up later!). Spoon the hamburger mixture and green onions into the center of each tortilla. Top the mixture with a generous amount of cheese. Gently roll up the tortilla and place seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, but saving enough cheese to top the tortillas with.

Stir the parsley into the sauce and pour the remaining sauce in the pan over the top of the tortillas. Evenly sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese over the top of the tortillas.

Bake, uncovered for 20-25 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly. Sprinkle extra chopped parsley over the top for garnish. Serve alongside rice or beans. (Or both!)


Source: Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks, by Ree Drummond


All-American Chili


Having another potential big snow storm on the way this week, and cold temperatures again, have gotten me into soup mode again. (Um, I thought it was Spring!?) Comfort food is important to me in the winter, and chili fits the ticket perfectly. This particular chili is wonderfully hearty and filling. I love to serve classic cornbread on the side. This is a pretty popular dish in my family. As long as I don’t make it too spicy, my kids will eat it. I love how in this recipe the hamburger doesn’t get completely lost amongst the beans. One pound of hamburger is made into little balls and added a little later into the chili so it doesn’t break down during the cooking process. I love it! It’s like mini meatballs. This chili is even better the next day (as most soups are). This is a great dish to have simmering on the stove while playing out in the snow!

All-American Chili

  • 1 Tablespoon canola or grapeseed oil
  • 2 onions, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or less if you are spice sensitive)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or less if you are spice sensitive)
  • 2 pounds lean ground hamburger
  • 2 15 oz. cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • salt and pepper


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, oregano, and cayenne pepper, and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add 1 pound of the hamburger. Increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, breaking up the meat, until no longer pink and just beginning to brown.

Stir in the beans, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes and broth. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chili has begun to thicken, about 1 hour.

Break off teaspoon-sized balls from the remaining 1 pound of hamburger. Stir them into the chili. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the hamburger is tender and the chili is slightly thickened, about 40 minutes longer.  (If the chili begins to stick to the bottom of the pot, stir in 1/2 cup of water.) Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve (if desired) with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream.

Source: Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook