Sunday was a nasty, rainy, windy day here. It always seems to  be raining or really cold on my days off lately. We couldn’t get out and do much so I decided to try out this new recipe for dinner. I didn’t want the day to be a total loss and what better thing to do when the weather is too bad to go out but cook! This was the perfect dinner for a rainy day in. It’s a super easy dish and very hearty!


Steak Tips with Peppered Mushroom Gravy

  • 2  cups  uncooked egg noodles
  • Cooking spray
  • 1  pound  top sirloin steak, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • 2  tablespoons  finely chopped shallots
  • 1  (8-ounce) package presliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1  teaspoon  minced garlic
  • 1  tablespoon  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2  cups  fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
  • 1/2  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 3  fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1  teaspoon  fresh thyme leaves (optional)
  • 1. Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

    2. While noodles cook, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add steak; sauté 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan; cover.

    3. Melt butter in pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Stir in soy sauce. Sprinkle flour over mushroom mixture; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add broth, stirring constantly. Add pepper, salt, and thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until thickened. Return beef to pan; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Discard thyme sprigs. Garnish with thyme leaves, if desired.

    Source: Cooking Light



    It’s that time again, time to use up what I’ve got in the pantry and fridge. I always end with lots of leftover half boxes and bags of things in the cabinet, or things that I’ve bought and just forgot about. The result of this is having crammed cabinets. So I’m trying to use up some of those things in our meals this week. I’ve had a box containing exactly six lasagna noodles in the cabinet for a few months now.  It was leftover from when I made a lasagna sometime ago. Now you can’t make a real lasagna with only six noodles so I decided to make lasagna rolls. When trying to think of what to roll inside them, I automatically assumed I would make a ricotta filling and then remembered I had half a bag of baby spinach in the veggie drawer of the refrigerator. So I decided to chop that up and mix it in. I had never made a bechamel sauce, but knew it wasn’t difficult so I decided to do that instead of a marinara sauce. It turned out amazing! My husband and I both enjoyed this dinner. It was a bit time consuming because there are a few steps involved but definitely something I would make again.

    Spinach Lasagna Rolls with Bechamel Sauce

    For the lasagna rolls:

    6 lasagna noodles
    1 15 oz container part skim ricotta
    1 egg
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1/2 cup chopped baby spinach
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp black pepper

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Begin by boiling the lasagna noodles whole, in salted water for 8-10 minutes. They should then be pliable but not quite done. Remove them from the water and lay on a lightly oiled baking sheet to prevent sticking. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl and then spread 2-3 Tbsp of the mixture onto each lasagna noodle and roll. Place in a greased baking dish with the open end of the noodle down.

    For the bechamel sauce:

    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 2 tablespoons flour
    • 1 1/4 cups milk, heated
    • Salt
    • Freshly ground pepper

    Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don’t let it brown — about 2 minutes. Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat. To cool this sauce for later use, cover it with wax paper or pour a film of milk over it to prevent a skin from forming.

    Source for bechamel sauce: Epicurious

    Pour the bechamel sauce over the lasagna rolls. Top with shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheeses if desired. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and baking for 30-35 minutes. Top with chopped parsley if desired.


    I am always in search of new pasta recipes. My husband, the carb king, just loves pasta and would probably eat it every other day if I cooked it that often. Since he loves it so much, I do try to make some sort of pasta a few times a month and I love it when I find a recipe that’s somewhat healthy. When I saw this one in the March issue of Cooking Light I thought it would fit the bill. It was really quick to make and super delicious! I will definitely be saving this one to make again.

    Sausage and Roasted Pepper Pasta

    • 4  medium bell peppers (about 1 1/2 pounds) I used red and green peppers.
    • 8  ounces  uncooked penne pasta
    • 12  ounces  hot turkey Italian sausage
    • 2  tablespoons  tomato paste
    • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
    • 1/4  cup  (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

    *I added 1/2 an onion, finely chopped and cooked it with the sausage.

    1. Preheat broiler.

    2. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 10 minutes or until thoroughly blackened. Place bell peppers in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel; discard skins. Chop and set aside.

    3. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid; keep warm.

    4. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove casings from sausage. Add sausage to pan, and cook 8 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add bell peppers to pan. Move sausage mixture to outside edges of pan, leaving an open space in center. Add tomato paste to open space in pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir tomato paste into sausage mixture. Stir in pasta and reserved cooking liquid; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in black pepper and salt. Sprinkle with cheese.

    11.5g (sat 3.7g,mono 4.4g,poly 1.3g)

    Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

    April 28, 2009


    Why oh why have I never made fresh spaghetti  sauce? I mean, it’s something everyone should at least know how to make right? It’s not like it’s complicated or requires any expert know how. The thing that I think has always intimidated me about homemade tomato sauce are the expectations. Even when you say “homemade spaghetti sauce”, it brings to mind great Italian cooks and secret family recipes. And I guess I’ve just always been afraid that if I were to try my hand at it, the results would be a total failure and I’d go right back to my jar of sauce.

    That’s why when I first saw this recipe on Chelle’s blog quite a while ago, I was just too afraid to try it. But I’ve heard great reviews about  it and have seen it on a few other blogs so I figured what the heck. I know she is Italian so it must be good! I made a pot today while I was off work and just a few minutes after it started simmering, my mouth was watering. I had planned on just making the sauce today and using it later this week to make spaghetti, but when I smelled it I decided to move spaghetti up on the dinner list for the week. And am I glad I did! This recipe is really fantastic. I had to make a few changes based on what I had in the pantry but overall it’s the same basic concept. I wasn’t in the mood for meatballs so I just added cooked ground beef to the sauce and made a meat sauce instead. Either way, it’s a great sauce recipe that I’ll be using again in the future.

    Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

    adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

    2 Tablespoons olive oil
    1 large sweet onion, chopped
    4 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 28-oz. can tomato puree (I pureed one can diced tomatoes because I didn’t have any puree)
    1 28-oz. can tomato sauce (I used one can diced tomatoes because I like chunks of tomato in my sauce)
    2.5 teaspoons dried parsley (I used 3 tsp fresh parsley)
    1/2 teaspoon dried basil (I used 2 tsp fresh basil)
    Water from rinsing extra sauce and puree from inside of cans
    2 teaspoons salt
    2 Tablespoons sugar

    *I added 1 tsp fresh chopped oregano.

    1. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium-low heat until onion is tender.

    2. Add tomato sauce, tomato puree, parsley, basil, water, salt, and sugar. (and oregano)

    3. Stir and lower heat to a slow simmer. This best if it’s left to simmer for at least 2 hours.


    I’m still around and still pregnant, 7 months to be exact. And even though the baby is still a couple months from arriving, I’m already imagining how my life is going to change, especially when it comes to cooking and baking. My husband asks me every night “so what are you baking tonight?”, to which my response is just a blank stare. He’s used to me baking at least once a week if not more, so I think my lack of baking has been sort of a shock to him. I barely have the energy to make it through work every day and think up something for dinner that isn’t frozen pizza, let alone pull out all the ingredients to bake something. Don’t get me wrong, I want to bake but my body wants me to lie on the couch and eat some store bought ice cream for dessert. And needless to say from the sad state of my blog lately, the ice cream usually wins out over baking.

    I have managed this week to cook dinner a couple of times though including this dish. I saw it in the March edition of Cooking Light and earmarked it because A. It looked easy and B. it looked tasty…but mostly A. I already had everything to make it so it was very fast and easy for a weeknight dinner. I toasted up some bread and threw together a salad, because I still feel the need to have some sort of veggie, and voila, dinner! I must say it was pretty good for such an easy meal.

    Lemon Pepper Shrimp Scampi

    • 1  cup  uncooked orzo (obviously I subbed spaghetti)
    • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley
    • 1/2  teaspoon  salt, divided
    • 7  teaspoons  unsalted butter, divided
    • 1 1/2  pounds  peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp
    • 2  teaspoons  bottled minced garlic (I used fresh)
    • 2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
    • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper

    1. Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Place orzo in a medium bowl. Stir in parsley and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cover and keep warm.

    2. While orzo cooks, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle shrimp with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add half of shrimp to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until almost done. Transfer shrimp to a plate. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in pan. Add remaining shrimp to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until almost done. Transfer to plate.

    3. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in pan. Add garlic to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in shrimp, juice, and pepper; cook 1 minute or until shrimp are done.

    Nutritional Information

    10.4g (sat 4.8g,mono 2.2g,poly 1.4g)

    David Bonom, Cooking Light, MARCH 2009


    Here’s proof again that weeknight meals don’t have to be difficult. As soon as I saw this in the October issue of Cooking Light, I added it to my weeknight menu. Not only is it quick (took me maybe 20-25 min) but it is so good, too. The other plus is that I have leftovers for lunch. I just love it when a meal comes together so quickly and actually serves as two meals!

    Pasta with Prosciutto and Spinach


    1 (9-ounce) package fresh cheese tortellini (such as DiGiorno)
    1 tablespoon pine nuts (I omitted)
    1 teaspoon olive oil
    6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
    1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
    1/4 cup (1 ounce) preshredded Parmesan cheese
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    2 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced


    1. Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. Transfer pasta to a large bowl.

    2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add nuts to pan; cook 1 1/2 minutes or until toasted, stirring occasionally. Add nuts to bowl.

    3. Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add spinach to pan; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts, stirring constantly. Add spinach mixture, cheese, and remaining ingredients to bowl; toss well.


    4 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

    Nutritional Information

    CALORIES 292(28% from fat); FAT 9.2g (sat 3.2g,mono 2.3g,poly 1.1g); IRON 1.8mg; CHOLESTEROL 32mg; CALCIUM 103mg; CARBOHYDRATE 38.8g; SODIUM 618mg; PROTEIN 14.6g; FIBER 3.8g

    Alyson Haynes, writePublicationAppearance();Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2008

    Pasta Fagioli

    August 19, 2008

    I know I know! It’s only August and already I’m making soup. I do this every year. I start getting the itch for cooler weather around August/September and I always start making Fall-ish foods way too early. I do it every year so get used to it! I guess it’s my way of willing the Fall to come sooner. If only it really worked. Fall doesn’t show its face around here until well into October or November. hmph

    I saw this recipe on Chelle’s blog a while back and pasta fagioli being one of my favorite soups, I put it on my list to try. Now I knew I’d be the only one eating this (remember my husband? the bean hater?) so I figured I’d make the whole recipe and freeze half for later. And it certainly didn’t disappoint. I just had a big bowl for lunch and it was great! In fact, I think I ate too much. I’m absolutely about to pop. I guess that’s a good sign though. If you like pasta fagioli, give this a shot. You won’t be sorry!

    Pasta Fagioli
    (Adapted from Tricia’s Kitchen)

    2 tablespoons butter, divided
    1 package sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
    ½ large (or 1 medium) onion, finely chopped
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    4 carrots, thinly sliced
    4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
    28 oz. can diced tomatoes
    1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
    1 can white cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
    64 oz. beef broth
    28 oz. can tomato sauce
    2 teaspoons dried parsley (I used 1 Tbsp fresh parsley)
    1/2 teaspoon dried basil (I used 1 tsp fresh basil)
    1 teaspoon salt
    4 oz. small dry pasta (I used elbow macaroni because that’s what I had)

    1. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large stockpot over medium high heat, and brown the sausage, crumbling it as it cooks. Once brown, remove sausage from pot with a slotted spoon and discard any grease that remains in the pot.

    2. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in the same pot, and add the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery, and saute over medium heat until vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add sausage back to the pot, add the can of diced tomatoes (do not drain), stir briefly, and simmer for 10 minutes.

    3. Stir in the beans, and add the beef broth and tomato sauce. Add in all of the seasonings, stir well, turn the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil. Once it boils, turn down to low heat, cover, and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

    4. Add the dry pasta and continue to simmer on low for another 30 minutes. Serve with your favorite bread or crackers.

    Chicken Parmesan Pasta

    August 14, 2008

    This is one of those dishes that isn’t fancy and it’s not pretty. But when you eat it you just think “comfort food”. It’s also one of my husband’s favorite kind of meals. Pasta with cheese and sauce. What can I say, it’s the simple things for him. A local place here makes a dish similar to this that my husband always orders when we go there, so I decided I would make up my own rendition. It’s very simple but very good and one of the few foods which he will actually eat the leftovers.

    Chicken Parmesan Pasta

    For the chicken:

    2 chicken breasts, pounded thin
    1 cup italian style bread crumbs
    1 cup grated parmesan cheese
    2 eggs, beaten
    salt and pepper

    For the pasta:

    8 oz penne
    24 oz jar of marinara sauce
    1 cup chopped baby spinach (You can omit this if you like. I add this to most pasta dishes because it’s a good way to get my picky husband to eat a vegetable.)
    1 cup shredded mozzarella

    Preheat oven to 375. Set up three shallow bowls; one with the parmesan cheese, one with the eggs, and one with the bread crumbs. Salt and pepper both sides of your chicken breasts. Dip one chicken breast in the parmesan and pat to coat it with the cheese. Then dip it in the egg and then the bread crumbs. Be sure to coat it well. Do this for the other remaining chicken breast and place them in a baking dish. Bake for 20-25 min until chicken is no longer pink. Broil on each side 2 min for a crispier crust. Remove from the oven and let sit about 10 minutes. Cut into 1″ cubes.

    While the chicken is cooking, you can prepare the pasta. Boil water for the pasta and cook until al dente and then drain. In a large pot, combine the jar of sauce, chicken that has been cut into cubes, penne, and spinach. Stir to coat the pasta with the sauce. Add mozzarella cheese and stir. Let heat through about 5-10 minutes.

    Whoa, the name of this recipe is a mouthful, but I couldn’t think of of any other way to describe it other than, well, what it is. I was first inspired to make this when I saw this recipe on Elly’s blog. The idea sort of rolled around in my head for a while because I wasn’t exactly sure how I wanted to make it. I had seen someone on Food Network make a sauce using crushed grape tomatoes and I was toying with the idea of incorporating that into this dish. So, I’ve had it on my menu for a couple weeks, but it sort of kept being pushed further and further down the list. Tonight I finally decided to bite the bullet and make it.

    It’s always a little scary for me when I go into the kitchen to make up a recipe as I go. It’s scary for my husband too because of the mounds of dishes I create for him to wash while figuring out my recipe for a dish. I always end up running around like a chicken thinking of things I want to add to the recipe. Sometimes it works out for me and other times it turns into a mini disaster. Luckily, this turned out very good! My husband really enjoyed it and he’s always a bit leary of things I just concoct out of my head. Now let’s see if I remember what all I put in. : P

    Baked Shrimp with Feta and Tomato Basil Orzo

    14-16 medium shrimp (give or take, cleaned and deveined-I used frozen uncooked)

    1/4-1/2 cup chicken broth

    1 large clove garlic, minced (Use 2 if they are small)

    2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped (or 2 tsp dried basil)

    1 cup grape tomatoes, washed

    2 Tbsp olive oil

    1/2 cup orzo, uncooked

    1/2 tsp each salt and pepper (or to taste)

    crumbled feta cheese

    Preheat oven to 400. While the oven is preheating, boil water for the orzo and cook until just al dente. Set aside. In a skillet over medium heat, add 2 Tbsp olive oil, enough to barely cover the bottom of the pan. Add the minced garlic and grape tomatoes. Stir the tomatoes around to coat in the olive oil. Let cook about 2 minutes and add about 1/4 cup chicken broth. Let cook another 3 minutes. Press one of the tomatoes with a fork to see if it pops. Continuing mashing all the tomatoes to make a sauce. Add salt, pepper, and chopped basil and stir. Add additional chicken broth if the tomato sauce looks to thick/dry. Stir in the uncooked shrimp and let cook about 1 minute. Stir in the orzo. Pour into a baking dish or into individual serving dishes. Top with feta, as much as you like, and bake for about 10 minutes or until feta begins to soften and shrimp are pink.

    Makes about 3 servings.

    I also made some baked creamed spinach to go along side our main dish. I’ll spare you the pictures because creamed spinach just doesn’t photograph well. But it was really good. I promise! I’ve had this recipe saved for a while and I’m not sure who or where I got it from. If you happen to know, please let me know! Thanks.


    (with my alterations)

    1/2 cup heavy cream (or sub. half and half)

    2 tablespoons butter

    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I omitted)

    1 clove minced garlic

    black pepper and salt to taste

    1 pound fresh spinach

    *1/4 cup grated parmesan

    *1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs


    In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix heavy cream, butter, garlic,
    nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil, then reduce
    heat to simmer. In a separate bowl combine parmesan and bread crumbs.

    Coarsely chop spinach in a food processor (I just used a knife), and gradually stir into the heavy
    cream mixture. Sautee on medium-high heat and return to boiling, then remove
    from heat. Pour into ramekins or a baking dish. Top with parmesan and bread crumbs mixture. Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes or until bubbly.

    Shrimp Carbonara

    May 31, 2008

    Do you ever see a recipe and instantly know you have to try it? That was the case with this one. I was sitting at home one lazy Sunday afternoon watching the Food Network and saw Giada make this on her show. I’ve never had any sort of carbonara, but I instantly knew I wanted to try this dish. It just looked so flavorful. Plus it was the perfect excuse to use some of the fresh basil I just planted. This dish tasted amazing! I changed it up a bit by adding the shrimp and omitting the fried egg on top but still the basil aioli was awesome and full of flavor! Another point for Giada on this one!

    Giada’s Carbonara (with my alterations)

    1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed, rubber band left on
    1 pound linguini (I used spaghetti)
    1 cup Basil Aioli, recipe follows
    1 cup shaved pecorino (I used parmesan)
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    4 tablespoons butter
    4 to 6 large eggs (I omitted these)
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    *14-16 medium shrimp, tails removed, thawed if frozen

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus and cook for 3 minutes. Transfer the asparagus to a bowl of ice water and let sit until cool, about 5 minutes. Remove from the water, remove the rubber band, and cut into 1-inch pieces.Meanwhile, add the pasta to the large pot of salted water used to cook the asparagus and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl. Add the Basil Aioli, cut asparagus, shaved cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and place on a long, rectangular serving dish. Saute the shrimp in a skillet with a couple Tbsp olive oil until done. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Add these to the dish with the pasta.

    I skipped the next step and used shrimp instead of fried eggs in the dish.

    Place the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggs and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fry the eggs to your liking. Place the eggs on top of the pasta and serve immediately.

    Basil Aioli:
    1 clove garlic, minced
    2 large egg yolks*
    2 teaspoons mustard
    1 teaspoon lemon juice
    1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/8 teaspoon cayenne
    1/2 cup vegetable oil (I only used 1/4 cup. I felt it had enough oil)
    1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oilYield: 1 cup
    Prep Time: 5 minutes

    Combine the garlic, egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, basil, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a food processor and run the machine to mix. With the machine running slowly drizzle in the vegetable and olive oil. Basil Aioli can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

    Food Network Kitchens suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs due to the slight risk of Salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly-refrigerated, clean, grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.

    Source of original recipe: Food Network