supremely minestrone

I saw this recipe across a crowded room and it was love at first sight. We had finally made it across town to try out this new barbecue place. We were chowing down on some seriously delicious pulled pork sandwiches when Ina Garten caught my eye on the television. After trying to figure out why in the world they would be playing the Food Network at a restaurant, I found myself caught in that very trap– drooling over food on tv while subsequently stuffing my stomach full of another delicious food (because America!). I scribbled down the name of the recipe and ‘barefoot contessa’ so I could look the recipe up later. I think it was the allure of the giant pot, full to the brim with chunks of veggies. And the most brilliant and delicious little tip I learned while watching Ina work her magic—-I saw her RUB a garlic clove across the tops of the toasted french bread. The heck with garlic salt. It half grated, half melted itself into what I would soon learn is the most delicious main course topping for a hot soup on a cold day. You know, those cold cold, snowy Florida days.

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my first meatball


So somehow I have gone my whole cooking “life” without ever making a meatball. It has literally never even crossed my mind. Strange, huh? I’ve had loads of delicious bbq meatballs at parties on toothpicks and loved them and never thought to ask for the recipe. And if I ever wanted spaghetti and meatball(s) I’d call up the road for some take out with a big bowl of garlic knots (yum! and I put the ‘s’ in parentheses because that wonderful place does one BIG meatball….mmm…). So after 3 days of having a fever and eating ‘cup of noodle’ 3 meals a day (ironically while watching a marathon of Worst Cooks in America BTW…woops…) I decided it was the time to treat my sweet hubs and myself to some real food courtesy of my own personal chef  slow cooker.

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not your mama’s spaghetti


I saw this and knew we would love it. The idea of this recipe is simple and brilliant. It’s everything lovable in a simple Italian meal, all in one beautiful presentation. Pasta, sauce, cheese, and delicious garlic bread. One of our favorite recipes is also a crescent roll style braid, and I love the variability in these types of meals because they are easy to change up to fit different tastes or what you have on hand. This was easy and delicious, I made it without any meat to save some time, but some sausage or ground beef/turkey would add something extra as well.

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robust, a must!

Lasagna is quite a varying food. There is the frozen kind (“homemade”), the basic ricotta-and-marinara-from-a-jar lay up, the extreme homemade-noodles-sauce-and-expensive-cheeses, and then variations in between (see my white mushroom lasagna and then make it and die happy). This recipe is from the all hailed Pioneer Woman, and you can bet anything out of her kitchen is going to be good. This recipe is so unique in that it is one of the most hearty, robust, flavorful lasagnas I have ever tasted—the kind that makes you want to hide away on the couch with a bowl full and watch the snow come down (says the Floridian-ha!). It comes across as a complex recipe that I would never make on my own because its too much work. BUT the amazing thing is that this recipe uses every short cut and canned item it can, much to the dismay of many food snobs. But all the reviews speak loud—all the chefs were skeptical, even wagged a finger or two but admitted in the end that it is truly a spectacular lasagna. And THAT is my kind of lasagna (also it filled my 9×13 dangerously to the brim so it will feed a lot of people or last for quite a few meals).

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best lasagna

I stumbled upon this recipe in a rushed end of the work day ‘what are we going to eat for dinner tonight’ google search. I love mushrooms and the idea of lasagna reached out and hugged me. You know, the way warm carbs and cheese can do (don’t worry mom, there was a side of broccoli involved!). This is a true, made from scratch recipe that is surprisingly easy and impressive to boot. When we opened the oven the smell was ridiculous and even as I was eating it,  I  wanted to ask “who made this? it’s so good!” Its definitely not traditional lasagna, devoid of any ricotta cheese or marinara. But give it a chance, because I guarantee that this is the new lasagna for me and there’s no looking back.

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