Friday, December 11, 2009

Sopa de Albondigas

So this poor site has laid dormant for such a long time, I figured I'd give it a kick in the pants and post my FAV-O-RITE recipe for Sopa de Albondigas.

This recipe came from a cheesy Mexican cookbook of my mother's (that included things like "Tamale Pie" and what-not) and is the only recipe in the entire cookbook that isn't completely lame.

I love this soup so much, and Phoebe enjoyed it too when I made it last week.

It's easy, delicious and cheap. "How bad could that be?"


1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced (I always use more)
2 T. cooking oil
4 cups water
2 10.5 oz. cans condensed beef broth (I usually use 1 beef, 1 chicken)
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 beaten egg
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (I also add 1/4 c. chopped mint)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed slightly with your fingers
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 lb. ground beef
1/4 cup long grain rice

**Note: I usually also add a healthy dash of cumin to the soup because cumin is awesome -- it's up to you!

In a large saucepan cook onion and garlic in hot oil until onion is tender, but not brown.

Stir in water, broth, and tomato paste. Bring to boiling; add potatoes and carrots. ((I usually add the tomato paste first and fry it in the pan for a little while to develop some more flavor))

Simmer for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile combine egg, cilantro, salt, oregano, and pepper. Add ground beef and uncooked rice; mix well.

Form mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Add, a few at a time, to the simmering soup.

Return soup to boiling; reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes or till meatballs and vegetables are done.

Serve with lemon wedges and fresh cilantro to garnish.

I also like to serve it with Mexican rice because I LOVE the way the rice sops up the delicious broth.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Microwave Lasagna

Yes, you read that right.

And this recipe is SO GOOD, too! My mom made it all the time (though truthfully I never have) ... I just had to post it so I can find it later :D

My aunt Elaine gave this recipe to my mom and I and she called it "One-Step Lasagna". My mom and I call it "microwave lasagna". Either way, you get the idea. The lasagna noodles used are the REGULAR ones -- not the "pre-cooked" ones, or whatever - you know the "no boil". This recipe uses just NORMAL lasagna noodles.


1 lb lean ground beef
2 jars (~ 30 oz) spaghetti sauce
3/4 - 1 cup hot water
1 package (7 oz) uncooked lasagna noodles, trimmed to fit 12x9 baking dish
1 container (15 oz) ricotta cheese (cottage cheese works just as well)
3 cups (12 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
parsley (fresh is best if you have it)

1. Crumble beef in 2 qt casserole, cover and cook on high 5 minutes, stirring halfway throughtime. Pour off fat. Add sauce and water, mix well.

2. Sspread 1/3 meat sauce in a 12x9 dish. Arrange 1/2 the uncooked noodles over sauce. Spread 1/2 the ricotta (or cottage) cheese. Top with 1/3 of the meat sauce. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella. Repeat layers, with remaining noodles, ricotta and meat sauce. Top w/ parmesan cheese.

3. Double wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Cook on high 15 minutes. Turn 1/2, cook on 50%, 12-15 minutes. Unwrap, and sprinkle w/ remaining mozzarella. Cook on high 2 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Brownie Bites with Mocha Frosting

Yesterday, I was heading over to a friend's house for his annual Bocce Ball tournament and BBQ. I never like to show up at a BBQ empty-handed, but I hadn't had time to run to the store to make the mango salsa I usually take. I was looking through the pantry, trying to think of something quick (so the baby would put up with me spending time in the kitchen, and not with him on the couch!) I remembered that my in-laws had left almost a full box of these brownie bites with us the last time they were in town, so I pulled them out of the freezer to thaw. Well, I couldn't just take brownie bites in a Ziploc bag with me to a party, so I decided to top them with mocha frosting. They were a hit! And I'm so glad I was only able to stay at the BBQ for only an hour, because I would have finished a whole plate myself. I'm sure of it.

If you can't find brownie bites, anything chocolate and cakey would do, I'm sure! If you want to get fancy, grate some chocolate over the top of the frosted brownie bites, or sprinkle them with some toasted, chopped hazelnuts or almonds for crunch.

Mocha Frosting
Makes enough to top 30 brownie bites

1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp good vanilla extract
1 T instant espresso powder
1 T water or milk (for dissolving the espresso powder)
1 T Kahlua or coffee liquor (optional)

1. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar, cocoa, butter and vanilla with an electric mixer. (Start slow, or you will end up with sugar and cocoa all over the place!)
2. Dissolove espresso powder in water or milk, and add to creamed mixture along with the Kahlua (if using). Continue to mix until the frosting is light and fluffy.
3. Scoop into a plastic bag, clip the corner, and pipe onto tops of brownie bites, or spread on with a knife.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Baby friendly banana pancakes

3 small bananas
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup of applesauce
1 cup of soymilk (milk, water, liquid of some sort)
2 eggs
2 cup oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 T flaxseeds (optional)

Blend ingridients in a blender until smooth. Heat up a griddle or skillet on medium-high heat. Spray generously with cooking oil. Drop 1/4 cup of batter onto the griddle or skillet until bubbles begin to form and then flip pancakes.

I modified this from a recipe in The King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Cookbook so that my kids could eat it! Husband approved

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Italian Beef Soup

As you guys may know I've been following a Jillian Michaels-approved diet and exercise plan lately (on her website free for 30 days) and this came up the other night for dinner.

And with a few tweaks (adding herbs and half an onion) oh my it's really good. Geoff even approved.

And it was easy. That's probably the best part. Jillian says this makes 4 servings to be served with a whole wheat roll (80 calories). I just cut a pita in half and then cut it open and toasted that -- 80 calories and it was HEAVENLY with the soup -- nice and crispy.

Anyway, here's the soup as I made it (but with her info about calories, etc. -- the onion adds a minimal amount of calories)

Italian Beef Soup

Prep Time: 15 mins Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 35 mins
Makes 4 Servings:
Per Serving: Calories: 328 , Total Fat: 10 g , Carbs: 28 g , Protein: 33 g , Cholesterol: 70 mg , Sodium: 1228 mg

1 pounds beef, lean ground
3 clove(s) garlic, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 - 3 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper, black
1/4 teaspoon salt
28 ounce(s) broth, beef (I used a 32 oz. box)
14 1/2 ounce(s) tomatoes, stewed, Italian-style
1 cup(s) carrot(s) (chopped)
1 can(s) beans, cannellini
1 medium zucchini (chopped)
2 cup(s) spinach, fresh

Saute the beef, garlic and onions until browned, breaking the beef up into 3/4" pieces (like mini meatballs). Add herbs, salt and pepper halfway through so the meat gets seasoned.

Drain the beef and wipe out the pan. Put beef back into pan, add broth, tomatoes and carrots, bring to a boil, reduce to low and simmer 10 minutes.

Add beans and zuchhini and boil for another 4 - 5 minutes.

Take off heat, add spinach and devour.

I added some fresh basil to each bowl. This soup is sooo delicious.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Whiskey Pork Chops

Like most of my recipes, this is another one that came from a quick look through the fridge and pantry. I will throw all modesty aside and say these are the best pork chops I have ever had. Although I've never tried it, I think the sauce would work great on chicken or turkey breast, too. My husband, Mike, usually requests that these are served with prosciutto wrapped asparagus and mashed potatoes, but I think buttered green beans are a great accompaniment, too. These cook quick, so prepare your sides while they are marinating. The first time I made these, I was living in an apartment with a tiny kitchen that had no vent hood, and plywood cabinets right above the stove - basically, I came pretty close to lighting the whole place on fire, so please be careful with this!

Whiskey Pork Chops

4-6 Thick Cut Pork Chops

Zest of 1 Orange
Juice of 1/2 Orange
1 Sprig of Rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
1-2 Sprigs of Tyhme, leaves removed and chopped
1/2 Shallot, minced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2-3 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh-Ground Black Pepper

1/2 Shallot, Minced
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/2 Cup Whiskey or Bourbon
Juice of 1/2 Orange
2-3 Cups Chicken Stock
1/4 Cup Dried Sweetened Cranberries (Craisins)
1 Sprig of Rosemary, Whole
1 Sprig of Thyme, Whole
1 T softened butter mixed with 1 T flour (make a paste)

  1. Heat oven to 500° (don't be scared!)
  2. Combine marinade ingredients in a zip-top bag and add pork chops. Seal bag and massage marinade into meat. Let sit for at least 1/2 hour.
  3. Heat a large skillet, and add 1-2 T canola oil. Brown pork chops on both sides, remove from pan and place in an oven-safe dish or on a sheet pan. Place pan in oven and cook until pork chops reach desired doneness (5-8 minutes for medium).
  4. Pour off any excess fat in pan. Cook shallots and garlic until fragrant, REMOVE PAN FROM BURNER and deglaze pan with whiskey. Re-light flame, and set to low. Replace pan on burner and allow alcohol to burn off. Make sure to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a whisk or wooden spoon.
  5. Add chicken stock, orange juice, cranberries, rosemary and thyme sprigs. Allow sauce to reduce by at least half.
  6. Remove herbs, and whisk in the butter/flour mixture to thicken the sauce. Serve over rested pork chops.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Macaroni Salad

My mom would probably kill me if she knew I was posting this, but I just made it this morning and it's so good I just can't help myself. I have to share. I prefer using the large olives and cutting them myself because then you get bigger slices of olives, but obviously you can just sub sliced if you're not motivated to slice a can of olives.

Like most mayonnaise-based "salads", this tastes best when it's left to sit in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight.

Macaroni Salad


1 16 oz. bag salad macaroni (sometimes called ditalini)
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 - 3 hard boiled eggs, chopped (I always use 3)
1 large can large olives, olives cut into thirds (or just use sliced)
1 bunch green onions, sliced (white and green parts used)
1/2 bunch radishes, chopped (or more or less to taste - I prefer more)
2 T. sweet pickle relish
2 T. dill pickle relish
1 1/2 - 2 cups mayonnaise
1/4 c. mustard
1/4 c. ranch dressing
Lawry's seasoned salt and pepper to taste


Cook macaroni per instructions, run cold water over, then combine with everything else, adding more mayo as needed.

Before serving, you may need to add more mayo as the pasta will absorb quite a bit.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Red Beans and Rice

I think Geoff would eat cajun food every day of his life if he had his way. I love it, too and it's so incredibly easy to make I feel like a wizard every time I whip up a jambalaya or gumbo and especially last night when I made Red Beans and Rice.

Pretty much every recipe for Cajun food involves the trinity of: 1 white onion, 2 green bell peppers and 3 stalks of celery. That's the beginning of gumbo, jambalaya, etoufee, etc. Adding tomatoes and/or okra is sometimes an option as well (I might add tomatoes next time I make these beans, but they certainly don't need it).

I had a ham bone in the freezer leftover from a ham I cooked about a month ago, but chicken stock would work fine OR you could just dice up some andouille sausage (MMMMM) and add that to the sauteeing veggies and then use plain water to cook the beans. It's your call.

Red Beans and Rice


1 ham bone, boiled in enough water to cover (at least 8 cups), for approximately 2 - 3 hours

1 16 oz. bag small red beans (or kidney beans if you can't find small red beans)
2 - 3 T. oil (or bacon grease if you have some handy)
1 white onion, chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
3 stalks of celery (with leaves), chopped
1 jalapeno, diced (*optional)
4 - 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 - 5 bay leaves
Few sprigs of fresh thyme
1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste


Sautee onion, bell peppers, celery and jalapeno (if using) for a few minutes over high heat until soft. Add garlic, bay leaves and thyme and saute a few minutes longer until onions get a little bit blackened.

Add 8 cups stock (or water), Worcestershire, beans and salt and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 2 - 3 hours until beans are nice and soft.

Add additional liquid if the beans look to "dry" -- they should be "saucey". When they're done, mash them a little with a potato masher (not all of them, just some).

If there's any meat left on the hambone, chop it up and serve on the side so everyone can put as much meat on top as they'd like.

Serve the beans on top of steamed, long-grain rice with chopped green onion, flat-leaf parsley and thyme to garnish as well as plenty of Louisiana style hot sauce (Trappey's, Red Rooster, etc.) to slather over the top. I also like extra Worcestershire on top.

You could make some cornbread to serve on the side ... or toasted and buttered French bread, which is what we did.

Like almost all bean recipes, this stuff is even better the next day.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Barley Casserole

This is a huge Johnson family favorite. Geoff isn't too keen on barley, but whatever -- it's more for me. I usually just eat this as a meal in itself with a salad.


2 T. butter
1 cup pearl barley
1 package sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup water
2 (10.5 oz.) cans Campbell's condensed onion soup

Preheat oven to 350.

Melt butter in skillet.  Add barley and mushrooms.  Cook over medium heat until barley is golden brown, stirring constantly.  Add onion soup and water.  Heat to boiling.  Pour into 1 1/2 quart casserole.  Cover and bake at 350 for 2 hours. 

DEVOUR (this is seriously the best thing ever -- I LOVE it and the best part? Your house will smell a-mazing while it bakes)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Chicken Penne Florentine

Mike rated this dinner an 8 tonight so I'm going to post it! (disclaimer: he would probably rate Raisin Bran for dinner a 6)

olive oil
3 cups of mushrooms
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 cups of chopped spinach
1 tsp oregano
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
16 oz cottage cheese
4 cups of cooked penne
2 cups of shredded chicken
1 cup of cheddar
1/2 cup parmesan
1/2 cup milk
10 oz can cream of chicken soup

1. Preheat oven to 425

2. Boil 8 oz of penne pasta (should come out to about 4 cups)

3. Meanwhile . . . saute 3 cups of mushrooms, 1 cup onion, and 1 cup of bell pepper in olive oil

4. Add 3 cups of chopped fresh spinach, tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper. Saute until spinach wilts.

5. Put a 16 oz container of cottage cheese in the food processor and puree until smooth.

6. Combine spinach mixture, cottage cheese, soup, milk, 3/4 cup cheddar, 1/4 cup parmesan, noodles and chicken.

7. Spread in a baking dish, top with parmesan and cheddar. Bake for 25 minutes or until top gets crusty.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cheese Danish

I thought I'd keep with the brunch theme and post one of my favorite Barefoot Contessa recipes. I love, love these danishes. Next time I make them I'm going to try making mini's by cutting the puff pastry in smaller pieces.

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream them together on low speed until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don't whip!

Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it's a 10 by 10-inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters with a sharp knife. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold 2 opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes.

Bake the pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.

Prior to baking, you can leave them prepped in the fridge overnight. They are best right out of the oven.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Zucchini Ricotta Frittata

Well, since Meghan kicked off the blog with egg recipes, I figure, why mess with a good thing? Plus, Zucchini Ricotta Frittata is just so fun to say! Really though, this is a recipe I put together when a family friend blessed me with a bunch of zucchini from her garden. I looked through my fridge for some inspiration, and this is what I came up with. Feel free to add whatever good things might be floating around your fridge: sun dried tomatoes, roasted red bell peppers... yum!

Zucchini Ricotta Frittata
  • 1/2 shallot, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 T. grated parm or asiago cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350°

Grate zucchini into a colander, and squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible.

In a large, oven-safe skillet, sauté shallot and garlic in olive oil, and add red pepper flakes. Add zucchini to pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender (don't make mush)

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, parm/asiago, and ricotta.

Reduce heat on stove top to medium low, and add egg mixture to zucchini and stir to combine.

Cook until eggs just begin to set up, while stirring constantly.

Transfer skillet to oven, and cook until eggs are puffy and slightly golden on top.

Slice into wedges, and serve.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mexican Brunch Casserole

I'm just going through recipes I have in my inbox that are already written out and I saw this one, which just happens to be another eggs recipe. But oh sweet lord it's so good.

We can't have Thanksgiving or Christmas breakfasts without it. And, again, this is another perfect vehicle for hot sauce.

Mexican Brunch Casserole

2 cans (4 oz each) mild chopped chiles, drained
2 cups chopped tomatoes (2-3 medium)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup Bisquick
1 cup milk
3 eggs
½ tsp. salt

Heat oven to 375.

Grease 8x8x2 baking dish.

Arrange chiles in single layer in baking dish.

Sprinkle with tomatoes and cheese.

Beat remaining ingredients by hand until smooth, pour over top.

Bake until knife inserted in center comes out clean, 30 - 35 minutes.

Spinach Quiche

This is an old family favorite that my mom has been making for YEARS and I now make it for Geoff and I. We love it. It's great hot or cold and is the PERFECT vehicle for hot sauce. Hope you like it!

Spinach Quiche

¾ cup chopped green bell pepper
¾ cup chopped onion
1 ½ cups sliced mushrooms
1 ½ cups chopped zucchini
1 ½ tsp. minced garlic
3 T. vegetable oil
5 eggs
1 lb. ricotta cheese
1 tsp. pepper
10 oz. spinach cooked and chopped (frozen box works GREAT)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Heat oven to 350.

Sautee green bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, zucchini and garlic in oil until crisp-tender. Cool.

Beat eggs with ricotta cheese, salt and pepper. Drain spinach thoroughly, squeezing as much moisture out as possible. Add to egg mixture along with sauteed vegetables and feta. Mix until well blended.

Pour mixture into a greased 10" springform pan and spread evenly. Bake for 1 hour, or until set in center.

Cool 10 minutes before cutting.