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Daddy’s Boy

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a baby/toddler update, and even longer since I shared a video.  I took this one recently and I love it so much that I just had to share. I think it’s my favorite video to date. Joshua has suddenly turned into a Daddy’s boy and calls for his Daddy all day while he’s gone at work. This particular day, Dennis went in very early to work and Joshua didn’t get his usual morning time with him.  When I put him to bed, he woke up crying every 15-30 minutes for two hours until I finally allowed him to stay up a bit longer and wrestle with his favorite person.  You can tell he missed him. This just fills my heart so much.  Oh, and don’t be frightened by Den’s appearance, he was utterly exhausted but he got to sleep 12 hours the next day and no longer has those awful sunken eyes.

Sausage Minestrone


I’ve been making the most amazing soups this winter.  My secret? I finally gave up following recipes! I never thought I could cook without a recipe, as I’ve never been what I think of as a “natural cook” – someone who can just keep adding things to a dish or pot until it tastes amazing. But I decided to give it a shot, and have surprised myself with the results.

Sadly, a lot of the delicious things I’ve made, I didn’t measure anything and didn’t take notes, so I can’t share recipes or even make them exactly the same way again.  But this one turned out so good that I immediately wrote down exactly how I made it so I could duplicate and share it.  I’ve made it twice in the past month – we love it so much! It’s also quite nutritious and low in fat, which is a big bonus in my book, as many of my favorite meals are huge calorie bombs. Not this one. Enjoy the flavor, guilt-free. :)

Sausage Minestrone

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Printable recipe with picture

1 (8 oz) package baby portabella (“bella”) mushrooms, sliced
1 (20 oz) package Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
8 chicken bouillon cubes*
8 cups water
1 (15-16 oz) can white cannellini beans
1 (15-16 oz) can dark red kidney beans
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes with basil, garlic & oregano, undrained
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large zucchini, cut in half & sliced
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 cups kale, hard stems removed and chopped into small pieces

Cook the mushrooms in olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until they are cooked down and soft and a darker color. Scrape into a stock pot. In the same skillet, brown the turkey sausage, breaking it up as it cooks to make crumbles. Once cooked, add to the pot. Add the remaining ingredients except for the kale, and bring to a boil over high head. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, 15-30 minutes.  Add kale and cook another five minutes.

*Veronica’s notes: you want the smaller size bouillon cubes, the ones that need only one cup water each for broth. If using the bigger ones that need two cups, use only 4 cubes. You can use 8 cups chicken broth instead, omitting the water from the recipe, and add salt to taste.  The second time I made this, I added in 3 stalks of celery and a pound of fresh green beans. Feel free to add what you like, and just add more seasoning to taste, if necessary.

Easy White Chicken Chili


Nana D brought us a batch of her White Chicken Chili last winter when we were sleep-deprived new parents, and let me tell you, not having to cook and eating this chili was a big slice of heaven.  It’s now one of my favorite winter meals, it’s just so ridiculously over-the-top delicious.  The big bonus is that it’s so easy to make – the only prepwork is opening cans and chopping an onion. Can’t beat that!

Easy White Chicken Chili

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3 (10 oz) cans chicken chunks
1 (15 1/2 oz.) can great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz.) can corn, drained
2 (4 oz.) cans chopped green chilies, undrained
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 C. whipping cream
1/4 C. Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
Cilantro for garnish (optional)

In large soup pot, combine all ingredients except sour cream, whipping cream and cheeses. Bring to a boil over medium high. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream, whipping cream and cheeses. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro, if desired.

Serves 6

*Veronica’s notes: I use bouillon cubes plus water for the broth, which adds a little more flavor. Donna’s recipe called for 2 teaspoons chili powder, which I omitted to keep the color white (hers has an orange hue), and the flavor didn’t suffer, but it’s really good with the chili powder too if you’d like to add it. If you like things spicy like we do, you can use all Pepper Jack cheese, and half an 8 oz block is plenty, so that you can have enough to make another batch, or a double batch. :)

Recipe source: Donna B.

I served this and the Curried Red Lentil Soup with Honey Beer Bread – so delish!

Happy Valentine’s Day!


I just couldn’t resist sharing this V-day card I made on PicMonkey just now. You may not be able to tell, but Joshua’s been very sick all week with a tummy bug and has lost a lot of weight. Today he’s starting to feel better and has his smile back. Best Valentine’s Day gift ever!

Curried Red Lentil Soup


Yes, this really is a soup recipe, despite the thick chili-like images accompanying my post. This is what happens on day two to the soup, which I couldn’t photograph when it was still soup-like, because I made it at night and when I take photos of soup at night, I end up with freaky purple beans…

This chili-looking soup is so delicious, and easy enough that you can make it with an infant vying for your attention. Which is what I did last June. And I photographed it on the concrete rather than the grass (I’m all about simple backgrounds), because I knew I was going to blog it during the winter, and didn’t want the green grass to alert you guys that I’ve turned into a hot soup in summer person.  But now I’ve gone and told you anyway. Secrets can be so hard to keep. ;)

I used to detest hot soup in the summer, but it seems my pregnancy changed that permanently for me. I also continue to enjoy mustard more than ketchup, which is way cray. I never understood mustard people, and now I’m one of them. No one warned me that having a baby might make me join the mustard people for good. I still don’t know how I feel about this.

Anyway, this is a really good soup. And easy. And you should make it.

Curried Red Lentil Soup

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1 cup red lentils, rinsed
2 (14 oz) cans (3 ½ cups) chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 (14.5 oz) can roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
½ cup plain yogurt
Salt and pepper, to taste

Microwave the lentils and 2 cups of broth about 8 minutes, until liquid is mostly absorbed.

Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes, until softened, stirring occasionally and adding salt and pepper as it cooks. Add the garlic, ginger and curry powder, and stir for 30 seconds.

Add the microwaved lentil mixture to the pot along with the rest of the broth and the tomatoes. Simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and re-season as needed.

Serve the individual portions with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of cilantro. Enjoy!

Recipe source: slightly adapted from Jenna’s Everything Blog

Some more Indian-ish faves…

Bean Curry – really so good! I don’t know why I never remember to make my black eyed peas this way on New Years day, it’s one of the most delish ways to enjoy them.

Dal Makhani with Baked Saffron Rice – another goodie I nabbed from Jenna’s blog.

Lighter Chicken Tikka Masala – can’t tell you how many times I’ve made this one. One of my all-time favorites!

Last-Minute Lasagna


This isn’t the greatest lasagna of all time, but it’s really good (quality does depend on the products you use), and it’s really FAST!  And that makes it a winner in my book. I served this to company (Nana Donna, AKA Momma Donna), and she said she had no idea it wasn’t real lasagna and she really enjoyed it a lot! So if you ever need a meal in a hurry, this one’s a great one to try.

Last-Minute Lasagna

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1 (24-26 oz) jar pasta sauce
2 (16 oz) containers frozen large, cheese or beef ravioli
1 (10 oz) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed dry
8 oz mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup (2 oz) grated Parmesan
Fresh basil or parsley for garnish, if desired

Heat oven to 350° F.  Coat a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray, spread 1/3 of sauce to cover the bottom of dish. Cover with half of the ravioli, half of the cheeses, all of spinach, 1/3 of the sauce. Repeat with another layer of ravioli (not all the ravioli may be needed), spread with remaining sauce and top with remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes. Uncover and bake until bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes more. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe source: Real Simple, as seen on Nutmeg Notebook

Other Italian favorites…

Lasagna & Garlic Bread – really good stuff! Possibly my favorite lasagna recipe.

shrimp-scallop-scampi-4-6-10Shrimp & Scallop Scampi with Linguini – a restaurant-worthy meal.

Really Great Spaghetti & Meatballs – this is the easiest way to make spaghetti and meatballs, and it’s just fantastic!

Pecan Praline Cake with Butter Sauce

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It’s been a while since I made this cake, but it was so incredibly good that I still remember the feel and taste of it in my mouth. You know a recipe is good when the end result leaves that kind of impression. Soft, warm, gooey, sweet, rich, nutty, crunchy, creamy, pillowy – basically, everything good. A whole lotta yum.  There is frosting mixed into the cake. And then it’s topped with even more goodness. Need I say more?

Pecan Praline Cake with Butter Sauce

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

Cake:
1 (15 oz) box Butter Pecan Cake Mix
1 (16 oz) tub Coconut Pecan Frosting
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Sauce:
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9×13 pan with oil and set aside.

Combine all cake ingredients except the pecans and beat together until well combined, a minute or two, then stir in the pecans.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Rest on a cooling rack while you make the sauce.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and stir in the sweetened condensed milk.  Continue to stir until heated through, then stir in the pecans.  Pour over the whole cake, or individual slices.

Recipe source: The Country Cook

More cake mix favorites:

Chocolate Italian Love Cake – perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Easy Italian Cream Cake – chock full of pecans, coconut, and maraschino cherries, topped with cream cheese frosting. To die for.

Cookies ‘n Cream Cake/Cupcakes. I didn’t like Oreos until this cake.

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