French onion soup meets stuffed manicotti! It would have been stuffed shells but they were MIA at the grocery store. These were fun! I caramelized onions, added french onion soup mix to the ricotta filling, and topped it with an onion sauce with optional mushrooms. I’m the mushroom fan, and the rest of the family had without.
French Onion Manicotti (or stuffed shells) Ingredients (for ~5 servings) 1 onion 2 tablespoons butter 1 package manicotti (or jumbo shells) 16 oz ricotta cheese 1 packet of french onion soup mix 1 pint of mushrooms 1 cup veggie broth or golden mushroom soup 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce 1/2 cup milk or half and half 1 cup shredded mozzarella
Directions: Slice the onion and cook in a large skillet over medium-low heat with olive oil and butter, stir often and reduce heat once the onions are translucent. Cook for ~30 minutes until caramelized, soft, and brown. Boil a large pot of salted water for the pasta. Cook until al dente and drain. Mix half the onion soup mix into the ricotta.
Slice the mushrooms. Cook in a hot pan with olive oil and butter – not stirring, let them brown on one side and flip once. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees and spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. Warm veggie broth, worcestershire sauce, and remaining onion soup mix over low heat. Cook for ~10 minutes to cook the soup mix. Then and add in the milk/cream and cook for another 5 minutes. Spoon the ricotta into a zip-top bag (tip: put around a tall drinking glass with one bottom corner pointed down). Then snip the bottom corner and pipe into each end of the manicotti to fill. Place into the baking dish. Top with caramelized onions and mushrooms.
Spoon 1/2 to 1 cup of sauce over the top. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake for 40 minutes until warmed through and the cheese melts. Enjoy!
I liked this one! I wouldn’t make it alllll the time, but it had good flavor and was fun for variety. I rarely make manicotti but they’re so good and piping in from a bag was great – I’d be pulling my hair out if spooning it in!
If mushrooms/onions aren’t your thing: Make with pesto & sausage (here)! Make like chicken parm (here)! Make with butternut squash & alfredo (here)! Make with spinach & cheese (here)!
Happy 2022! We started the new year with this fun breakfast after getting to sleep in and it was great – a bit decadent from the bacon and the maple aoli but a bit smartly balanced from the sweet potato and egg.
Both the bacon and sweet potato can be made ahead – or cooked a few ways. That would even turn it into a speedy weekday breakfast too!
Sweet Potato & Bacon Hash Ingredients: (for 2) 1 sweet potato 4 strips of bacon 2 tablespoons mayo 2-3 teaspoons maple syrup 2-4 eggs
Directions: Peal and chop the sweet potato into bite-sized pieces. Then cook (bake ~20 minutes or airfry ~10 minutes or pan fry ~ 10 minutes & bonus points if cooking them in the bacon fat!) Fry the bacon – ~20 minutes in the oven or chop into small pieces and pan fry for ~7 minutes. Mix together the mayo and syrup together. Start with some of the syrup and add more to taste.
Mix together the sweet potatoes and chopped bacon and divide onto plates. Drizzle half of the aoli on top. Cook the eggs sunny-side or over easy with salt and pepper. Put the eggs on top and drizzle remaining maple aoli on top. Enjoy!
I loved this. The runny yolk is the best. The aoli could swap the maple with hot sauce instead! Add some onions and peppers. Add some garlic. Add in some black beans. Go for what you like! A shred of cheese would be delicious too.
Our bacon was leftover from NYE sliders. Sometimes I make it in the oven or anytime it is crumbled means pan frying in little pieces would be easy too. This would be ideal as breakfast-for-dinner too!
December is such a blur. It was a fun month but busy and a bit emotionally heavy and uneasy- a lot at work, too many Covid cases in the world, plans too TBD for me, and I really enjoy this season but also like to look forward too.
Pizza Beans were a bit of a re-do and we love it for a quick dinner with lots of options. The leftovers are great, though it is also an ideal way to use up little bits of leftovers.
Last but not least, I made a lasagna with Sausage & Pesto Lasagna was so so good and a nice change from a tomato-sauce lasagna.
Before we get into 2022, NYE is sliders & frappes – our tradition for 7 years running!
The Little Girl: She forgot about what Santa does – for a while she was planning to ask Santa to bring “a cookie with green on it”. She asked for a puzzle and really enjoyed the holidays. She was thrilled to get 2 babies (a Bitty Baby named Winnie and a Cabbage Patch Kid) and she loved a package of undies and lots of bath toys.
The Big Guy: He was torn what to ask Santa for – he ended up asking for Pokemon cards and now has a whole bunch. He looooves some Beyblades and legos. The cookie season brings him lots of joy. He’s been not interested in cheese – weird.
Goals: Year of nail polish! I got a neutral pink (this one – it is nicely solid and not streaky like an essie one I had.) More international food inspiration: hmmm. I’m not sure I did. More soups/salads: We had broccoli & cheddar soup. Seems like chowder or chili are in order. More apps: We had an app party for Christmas Eve, a candy cane caprese salad – a smear of pesto plus the tomato/mozz. More fun drinks: nope, but maybe NYE? Updating photos: Pizza Beans! An update from Tomato, Basil, Polenta Bean Bowls What I’m reading: I read The Night Watchmen and wasn’t into it. Then, I read We Are Not Like Them and loooooved it – one of the best of I read this year. A cute NYE one was This Time Next Year. What I’m watching: All the Christmas movies! Our must-sees are Christmas with the Kranks, Christmas Vacation, and Home Alone. What I’m listening to: still loving the American Girls podcast.
So addicting! Muddy Buddies are fool-proof and great to make quickly – and to be ready to gift! Sweet chex-mix with 2 flavors is the best. I made mint & chocolate for Saint Patrick’s Day and I made raspberry white chocolate muddy buddies for Valentine’s Day.
Read through before making – I have you make one kind, then the other since the chocolate shouldn’t cool/harden before you’re ready to mix it all up. These are delightfully wintry – not holiday-ish so make whenever!
Hot Chocolate Muddy Buddies: Ingredients: 1 cup white chocolate chips 6 cups rice chex cereal (that’s 2/3 of a box) 2/3 cup hot chocolate mix 1 cup chocolate chips 2/3 cup powdered sugar 1/2 cup mini dehydrated marshmallows
Directions: Melt white chocolate chips – stirring every 20-seconds in the microwave for ~1 minute OR over a double boiler. Then gently stir into half the chex, carefully to not break the cereal. Then transfer into a zip-top bag and pour in the hot chocolate mix.
Shake shake shake to cover evenly. Then pour onto wax paper and spread out evenly to “dry” (hot tip: place on baking sheets to be able to move them.) Let it sit for ~30 minutes – an hour.
Melt the chocolate chips – stirring every 20-seconds in the microwave for ~1 minute OR over a double boiler. Then gently stir into half the chex, carefully to not break the cereal. Then transfer into a zip-top bag (use the same one!) and pour in the powdered sugar. Shake shake shake to cover evenly. Then pour onto wax paper and spread out evenly to “dry” (hot tip: place on baking sheets to be able to move them. Sound familiar?) Sprinkle the dehydrated marshmallows so some will stick to the chex clusters. Let it sit for ~30 minutes – an hour.
The dehydrated marshmallows are so so fun and a big bag was half the price than the little tub by ice cream toppings or by hot chocolate in the stores. I’ll totally put on top of ice cream, on yogurt, add to trail mix, drop into hot chocolate, and into hot chocolate bombs and I definitely want to try in ebilskiver pancakes!
I make a lot of lasagnas with my volunteerism with Lasagna Love – a nonprofit matching a lasagna chef volunteer with those who need a meal in the community. I make them a traditional one but went wild for my … Continue reading →
December neeeeds easy dinner ideas, right? Pizza beans are such a hit here – we get the flavors of pizza in a warm and comforting dish. This busy time of year seems ideal for dinners that are easy and minimal cooking required. There are lots of ways to customize these which helps be a crowd pleaser – or to use random leftovers with some pantry basics!
White beans and tomato sauce are the base with all the toppings you love! They’d also be a great option for a pizza spread for a gluten-free or custom dietary options.
Directions: Cook the beans, tomato sauce, garlic, and oregano over low heat for ~10 minutes until fully warmed through.
Serve and top while hot.
Top with shredded cheese, pepperoni, and any other toppings. Enjoy!
Toppings we love: crumbled sausage, chicken, roasted peppers, sauteed onions, chopped arugula, fresh mozzarella, dollop of pesto or alfredo, or whatever you like!
I love this. It is a great use for small amounts of cheese and tiny bits of any topping. It reheats well if packing for lunch or eating separately though beans aren’t always the best when frozen. The beans are filling and provide lots of fiber and iron. The kids love it – probably because it has familiar flavors and easy to chew.
Grab your beans and give it a Mexican twist with some roasted tomatoes, salsa, queso, roasted corn, etc – give it a Mediterranean twist with warmed beans mixed with caesar dressing, chicken, spinach, feta, etc. Add to your beans with ricotta and mini meatballs and call it a lasagna bowl! Bean bowls are fun – they just don’t have the same ring as some other names.
Meatless meatballs don’t get everyone psyched, but these were so flavorful and filling. Also, if forming into meatballs isn’t your thing, they can easily be patties or pan fried all chopped up to be taco/burrito filling or for faux-Bolognese sauce!
Mushroom & Bean Meatballs Ingredients: 1/2 white onion, chopped small 1 pint (~2-3 cups) baby portabella mushrooms 2 tablespoons butter 1 can (15.5 oz) white beans (black beans would be good too & make them darker in color like any other meatball) 2 tablespoons garlic, minced 2/3 cup quick cooking oats 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon salt & pepper (I used a salt & garlic powder mix) 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (or sub a teaspoon balsamic vinegar) 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated 2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs 1 egg (optional)
Directions: Sauté the onions over medium heat until soft and translucent then remove from the heat and sauté the mushrooms in butter in that same pan – about 5 minutes over medium high heat.
While the mushrooms cook (let them sit to caramelize before gently stirring), drain the white beans (and reserve some of the liquid). Add the beans, garlic, and a little liquid to a food processor blending until smooth. Chop the mushrooms. In a large bowl, mix together the bean puree, mushrooms, oats, onions, dried herbs, and worcestershire sauce. Mix well.
Add in panko and egg (use the egg if forming into balls to better keep them together). Refrigerate 15+ minutes before forming into balls. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes & flip and bake for another 15 minutes. Or, air fry for ~15 minutes. They’re a bit soft to pan fry- mine didn’t stay together so I don’t recommend it! Air frying worked well as meatballs and as veggie burgers!
These were good and super filling – the beans add some nice heft to keep you full and the mushrooms make them juicy. I made some into meatballs and served with sauce and garlic bread and froze a as patties to have as veggie burgers. They are soft so I cooked fully and cooled before freezing. I’m not sure if the meatballs would hold together if cooked in sauce for a long time.
When the pan-fried ones fell apart too much, I drained them all and broke them up further to be like a meat sauce!
Mushrooms aren’t everyone’s fav in my family so these will mostly be for me (I also don’t eat beef so I’d have these and everyone else could have beef meatballs).
I love November – Thanksgiving is one of my favorites. I make fun-but-easy breakfast (cinnamon rolls from a tube & bacon!), and we watch the Thanksgiving Day parade in pjs, and I love the early-dinner and the food. The day has a casual mood and we all just mill about together. It is great. I do not do Christmas things until Black Friday, so it is fun for me to usher out one holiday to welcome in the next.
This month I made Caesar Broccoli which is so so good and I hope it is on your future menu – it is perfect alongside any entrée. Make with ham! Grilled Chicken! Sausages! Pasta! You name it. The kids loved it once and didn’t care either way the next time, so give it a whirl!
If you’re planning your leftovers, whip up some Thanksgiving Nachos! In all honesty, I used roasted chicken when making these before Thanksgiving and can whole heartedly encourage either way!
My blog turned 11! I set a few new goals and awarded my own superlatives.
The Little Girl: She’s becoming more self-sufficient all the time. I love seeing her grow up and it is funny to see old videos of her as a tiny toddler now that she’s such a kid. Decisions are based on whatever her brother has or is doing and she loves him so so much. I promised next year when she’s 4, we’ll go see the Nutcracker – then days later she asked about seeing the cracker show. 😉 She’s been pretty into hummus lately and has been eating quite well lately – knock on wood.
The Big Guy: He finished his soccer season. It was fun and also endearing to see them improve (go the right direction/pay attention). I don’t mind a practice night and a game day off our schedules. He got his first vax dose! Hallelujah! He’s super into trading Pokemon cards on the bus and at school. This kid loves canned cranberry sauce more than anyone I’ve ever met. I had to ensure there was plenty for others at Thanksgiving. He normally eats some of everything so we’ll see what he’s into this year. For breakfasts he has been obsessed with hard boiled eggs.
Goals: Year of nail polish! I got a deep redish one (this one – the bottle looks more purpley than it comes out to be) More international food inspiration: does Diwali lunch at work count? More soups/salads: I made a super quick tomato soup for dinner one night More apps:Thanksgiving Nachos! More fun drinks:Apple Cider & Vanilla Tea Hot Cocktail Updating photos on some old posts: not yet, stay tuned! What I’m reading: I read The Last Story of Mina Lee which was a mix of true-crime versus mother/daughter relations versus immigration story. It was pretty good. Bookclub read Midnight Library. I liked the fantastical element of between life & death and the themes of regret or what-if was pretty good. I didn’t love it like the masses did, but pretty good. What I’m watching: We finished the Impeachment: An American Crime series. We were fascinated and it was fantastic. I loooove a deep dive into something that happened in my lifetime that I do not have the full story on. Next up will be Christmas movies! What I’m listening to: loving the American Girls podcast to look at the literary merits or deficits of the books, and The Dropout because Elizabeth Holmes is mind boggling.
Fall in a cup! This hot cocktail came out of my love for fall hot drinks so I mixed vanilla tea and apple cider and spiked it. It was delightful!
Apple Cider & Vanilla Tea Hot Cocktail Ingredients: (for 2) 1 cup cider 1 cup vanilla tea (or a tiny bit of vanilla extract into black tea) 1-2 shots vanilla vodka ~4 tablespoons whipped cream sprinkle of cinnamon sugar
Directions: Brew the tea and warm the cider.
Mix one part tea (1/2 cup) with one part cider (1/2 cup) and half the vodka and stir. Sweeten to taste – I left my tea unsweetened but normally sweeten when drinking it by itself! Top with whipped cream and a cinnamon sugar sprinkle. Enjoy!
I loved this! It wasn’t so so sweet since I hadn’t sweetened the tea but could see it being good either way. Rim the glasses with cinnamon sugar and skip the whipped cream if you wish!
This one seems great with brunch since it is light, and would be great at Thanksgiving! These would work well as a big batch, like in a pitcher and guests could spike it (or not). Serve them for day-drinks or tailgating!
Plan now – these Thanksgiving inspired nachos are perfect for leftovers, or if you’re not the host and want to whip up something with Thanksgiving vibes leading up to the holiday!
Thanksgiving Nachos Ingredients: (serves ~4 as a meal, or ~6 as an app) 1 package waffle fries 2/3 cup jellied cranberry sauce 2 tablespoons sour cream 2 tablespoons mayo 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese ~1 cup turkey (I used roasted chicken as it was before Thanksgiving) ~1 cup turkey gravy 6 sage leaves, chopped
Directions: Preheat the oven to 400-degrees (or as waffle fry package directs). Bake the fries (or air fry, but like nachos, there will be toppings and continue to cook). Blend together cranberry sauce, sour cream, and mayo. This can be prepped in advance and refrigerated.
Chop or tear the turkey into bite-size pieces and warm. Mix or warm the gravy. When the fries are cooked, top half with the cheese, half the chicken, and a drizzle of gravy. Then place the remaining fries on top with remaining cheese, and another gravy drizzle. Return to the oven for ~3-5 minutes to melt the cheese.
Remove from the oven and top with sage and a drizzle of cranberry sauce. Enjoy and serve remaining cranberry sauce and gravy on the side.
We had it for dinner with some green beans on the side. It was so fun! The 1st grader ate it all – and took care of the remaining cranberry sauce. The pre-schooler ate the cranberry aoli-sauce by the spoonful and only took a few bites of the rest.
I loved the bites with everything together! They are kind of a fork-nacho but these would be fun with sweet potato fries too! They could be party friendly as mini “stacks” and maybe a toothpick to hold together to serve a portion. The subtle cranberry was really good and would be great on a sandwich or wrap for leftovers or on a turkey burger!
Add this to your leftovers – or make this if you’re not having a turkey dinner!