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


Farfalle with Bacon, Toasted Corn, and Tomatoes

Pasta with toasted corn, tomatoes and bacon

I seriously can’t believe it’s September 1st today.  Where did the summer go!?  I am already looking forward to cozy sweaters and warm cups of coffee.  But, I am not really ready to move on to pumpkin and Halloween like the stores are insisting upon.  My daughter started her first day of first grade today, and my son started his first day of his last year of pre-school.  OMG!  They are are growing up way too quickly.  But, I must say, I secretly did a little mental dance in my head after my daughter got on the bus.  Isn’t that horrible?  Maybe a little selfish, but I always look forward to the times I get just with baby.  The house is actually quiet for more than 30 seconds when it’s just her and I at home…

Our tomatoes are just now turning ripe.  I must say, I am pretty excited.  I was so afraid, that after the deer snipped a lot of the tips, that the tomatoes weren’t going to produce.  Alas, they look pretty happy still!  Now that I have several different kinds of vegetables ripe in the garden, I am trying to take advantage of them to their fullest.  That means, lots of vegetable dishes.  Especially since I seem to have monstrous zucchini every time I go out the garden. I am serious.  I swear they magically grow between the morning and the evening, because I go out there usually twice a day.

Moving on.

Pasta with toasted corn, tomatoes and bacon

This pasta dish is the perfect way to enjoy fresh, in season vegetables.  Pasta and vegetables are my favorite combination.  Oh, and cheese!  That is very important.  So is bacon.  I mean really, you can’t go wrong with chopped bacon with pasta.  Chop up some fresh herbs, and you have yourself a quick and easy meal.  But definitely not lacking in flavor.  I can’t wait to make this again.

Farfalle with Bacon, Toasted Corn, and Tomatoes

Yield: about 6 servings

  • 8 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 5 ears corn, husked and kernels cut from cobs
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 pound farfalle
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil


Cook the bacon in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.  Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat, discard the rest.  Add the corn to the skillet with the reserved fat, as well as 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Stir well and cook until spotty brown, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and cook until slightly softened, 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot.  Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt.  Cook until al dente.  Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot.  Add the bacon, corn mixture, grated Parmesan, and basil.  Toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and add reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency.  Serve immediately with extra grated Parmesan.

Source: Adapted from Pasta Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen

Massaged Kale Caesar Salad

massaged kale caesar salad

Do you ever find a recipe that you just absolutely fall in love with?  So much in love that you feel the need to make every.single.week?  Because, if you don’t have it, you find yourself dreaming of it and craving it.  Or maybe I am weird and only do that.

Well, this was one of those meals.  Who the heck would have thought it would be a salad?  Not me!  I’m a sweet lover all the way.  But, this salad knocked my socks off.  (Speaking of which, I wish it were warm enough to wear flip flops again!)  Funny, because this salad is so simple.  I mean really.  All you do is massage the salad for a few minutes with your fingers, then you throw in some homemade croutons (that is a must, they are SO much better than store bought), the mix in some homemade caesar dressing and parmesan cheese. You have yourself a salad!

massaged kale caesar salad

My husband has been requesting this weekly, which is very unusual for him.  Even my daughter chows down on this.  Massaging the kale seems to magically break down the bitter taste, leaving it with wonderful flavor.  And kale is a superfood!  This makes a fabulous light lunch, or a wonderful side.  Go make it today and be happy.  Seriously.

Massaged Kale Caesar Salad

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely minced or crushed
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 oz. Parmesan cheese, finely grated

For the salad

  • 1 bunch curly kale, about 8-12 oz
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • croutons
  • grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a large glass measuring cup or jar.  Whisk or shake until completely combined. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.  Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Rinse and towel dry the kale leaves.  Remove and discard the ribs from the leaves, and tear the curly green portions into bite size pieces.  Add the kale to a large salad bowl with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and toss briefly.  Massage the kale leaves for a few minutes until the leaves have become shiny and a deeper green color, about 2-3 minutes.  Add croutons to the salad as desired.  Drizzle about half of the dressing over the salad and toss lightly to coat.  Taste and add additional dressing as necessary, a little bit at a time.  Top with additional grated Parmesan and serve.

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

Fusilli Caesar Salad


With all these crazy snow storms we have been having lately, I have been trying to stay prepared in case we lose power. With several feet of snow on the ground, high winds, and slippery roads, I am surprised that we haven’t lost it yet! (Knock on wood.) There was one big storm that they predicated to be huge and to be prepared for major power outages. (You know how they like to get excited about storms.) So, I spent the day before the storm running around, doing everything that required power. Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, cooking, drawing off water, you name it! I made a big pot of soup that could be put on the stove to warm up if there wasn’t power. I also prepared this pasta salad to have ready in the fridge, if needed.


Well, we never lost power. It may have flickered a few times, but nothing came of it. I am not disappointed though! It’s nice to lose power for a little time, but not for days. I like running water and refrigeration too much! I was more pleased about having lots of fresh, powdery snow to play in!


Even though we didn’t lose power, we still got to enjoy this pasta salad. Caesar salad with pasta? Brilliant! This was a fabulous, light dinner. And it made an excellent lunch the next day. This would be a great dish to serve at a cookout (wait, what are those again?) in the summer. Or to mix up your typical caesar salad. Either way, you’ll love it!


Fusilli Caesar Salad

Yield: About 7-10 servings

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

For the salad

  • 1 pound fusilli or rotini pasta, cooked to al dente then cooled
  • 2 romaine hearts, chopped (I used a romaine mix because that is all the store had at the time, and it was just fine!)
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese


For the dressing, pulse the garlic in a food processor until minced. Add the buttermilk, lemon juice, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper and blend until smooth. With the motor running, add the oil until incorporated. Add the parmesan cheese and pulse until mostly smooth. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

In a large bowl, toss the cooked and cooled pasta and the romaine together until combined. Pour the dressing over the salad, add the Parmesan and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Source: Dressing adapted from America’s Test Kitchen, Healthy Family Cookbook, salad from Taste and Tell

Pasta with Garlicky Tuscan Chicken

Pasta with Garlicky Tuscan Chicken

It’s amazing how my love of pasta has grown and developed over the years. As a kid, I only really liked pasta with butter and a large serving of parmesan cheese. And nothing else, thank you very much.

Now that I am an adult, I have come to appreciate the amazing things you can do with pasta. One of my favorite combinations is pasta with chicken. Chicken being my favorite choice of meat, that really comes to no surprise.

Pasta with Garlicky Tuscan Chicken

This summer I purchased a cookbook that is all pasta recipes. I couldn’t wait to read through it and see what goodies were in there. I have made several recipes from it, and so far, they all have been excellent. This one particularly stands out. I have made it twice already! The garlic really shines through in a lovely light sauce. The chicken is tender and flavorful. I decided to swap out the arugula for spinach because I am really not a fan of it. My husband, who occasionally has a blind eye for left overs, came home for lunch the following day and finished off the dish! It is super tasty, really easy, and loved by all in my family. This recipe makes it an easy and great way to vamp up a pasta dinner that could otherwise be boring.


Pasta with Garlicky Tuscan Chicken

Yield: About 4-6 servings

  • 3 (6-8 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil or grapeseed oil, divided
  • 12 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 lb. penne
  • 5 oz. baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 oz. (3/4 cup) grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice


Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Place 1/2 cup flour in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken through the flour, shaking off any excess. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, just until smoking. Carefully lay the chicken in the skillet and cook until well browned, about 6-8 minutes. Flip the chicken over and reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook until the chicken registers 160ºF with an instant-read thermometer. Transfer to a plate and tent with tin foil.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the now empty skillet, along with the garlic and shallots. Cook over medium-low heat until softened and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes and remaining 1 tablespoon of flour and cook for 30 seconds. Whisk in the wine and broth. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Cook at a simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened and measures 2 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Stir in 2 cups of the garlic sauce, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and spinach. Stir until the spinach is wilted. Add reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, thinly slice the chicken on the bias. Divide the pasta between individual serving bowls. Lay the chicken over the top and drizzle remaining 1/2 cup sauce over each bowl. Serve with extra Parmesan cheese.


Source: Adapted from The Pasta Revolution

Kale and Sunflower Seed Pesto

Kale and Sunflower Seed Pesto

We were receiving a fair amount of kale in our CSA, so I had to quickly find all sorts of recipes to use it up with. Considering the fact that we have never had kale before this summer, I think I managed pretty well! I recently ordered a charge of new cookbooks (I felt like indulging in something for myself for once- even though cookbooks benefit all of us!), and this cookbook was included. I mean really, a whole cookbook dedicated to pasta recipes? That’s a no brainer! We are all pasta fanatics in my family. My daughter especially. Pestos have sort of been my thing this year, so when I saw this recipe, I knew that I had to try it out.

I was not disappointed. In fact, it was a huge hit. My daughter couldn’t wait to have leftovers the next day for lunch. I couldn’t either! The sometimes bitter kale taste is covered by the basil and sunflower seeds, and of course the parmesan cheese. It’s a sneaky way to get kids to eat a super food too. Little do they know how good it is for you…

Kale and Sunflower Seed Pesto

Yield: 4-6 servings

  • 2 cups packed chopped kale leaves
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds, toasted
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound pasta


In the bowl of a food processor, place the kale, basil, Parmesan cheese, sunflower seeds, garlic, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Pulse until finely ground, 20-30 pulses, scraping down the sides as needed. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube. Purée until completely incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 3/4 cup pasta water before draining pasta. Return the pasta to the pot.

Stir several tablespoons of the reserved pasta water into the pesto to loosen it up, then stir the pesto into the pasta. Add more pasta water if necessary to reach desired consistency. Serve warm with extra parmesan cheese.

Source: Adapted from Pasta Revolution, by America’s Test Kitchen