Italian Wedding Soup made with Chicken Meatballs

It is most definitely soup season again. the chill in the air makes it the most perfect time of year to start making soup for dinner again. even if you live in a warmer climate this is a most wonderful meal. Paired with a salad and some crusty bread you have a very heartwarming meal.

Italian Wedding Soup with Chicken Balls

This is one of my absolute favorite recipes. It is a soup , which is also a full meal. It is hearty and pretty healthy.  It is one of my staples from September through April. It freezes well and you can just take it out of the freezer the night before, and you’ll have a wonderful meal the next evening. When you defrost it you will probably want to add broth/water to it. add a little at a time till you get the consisitency you like. Enjoy:)

Ingredients: chicken meatballs

1 lb. ground chicken

1/2 lb chicken sausage, casings removed

3 slices whole wheat bread for bread crumbs ( I put into food proccesor with steel blade for crumbs) I remove crusts it should be app. 1 cup of bread crumbs

2 teaspoons minced garlic ( 2 – 3 cloves)

1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano ( fresh is best) but whatever you have will do

1/4 cup grated Parmesan ( again nothing beats fresh) but whatever you have will do here as well

3 tablespoons milk

1 extra large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Soup Ingredients:



2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small -medium yellow onion minced

1 cup diced carrots ( 3 )

1 cup diced celery (2 stalks)

10 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup dry white wine( use whatever you have open)

1 cup small pasta tubetini, ditalini, stars, etc.

5 ounces fresh spinach, washed and trimmed

*fresh dill ( I love the flavor) add at your own discretion about 1/4 cup minced fresh dill.


preheat the oven to 350 degrees  put parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

for the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage,bread crumbs, garlic, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, salt and pepper  all in a bowl and mix well with a fork.  I use a teaspoon, and make 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls and drop onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet. you should have about 30 to 40 small balls. bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. set them aside. (I made about 30 balls, they were a little larger this time out)

For the Soup:

 heat the olive oil over medium – low heat in a large heavy bottomed soup pot ( Le Creuset type pot) Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, about 10 minutes, don’t brown. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil, at this point I let soup cook a while to soften the vegetables, app. 1 hour. ( a low simmer) if you’re in a hurry you can probably do the whole soup in 1/2 hour , veggies will be soft enough to eat. if some of the liquid evaporates you can always add a little more broth.

chicken balls out of the ovenItalian Wedding Soup cooking

 Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook another 6 – 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the meatballs and simmer for another minute or so. taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for another minute or so, the spinach will just wilt. Ladle into soup bowls and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Chicken in One Pot with Garlic, Tomatoes and Potatoes

chicken nestled in the baking pan with vegetables
cut up potatoes, tomatoes, fresh thyme and pieces of smashed garlic.
finished product–crispy chicken with delicious veggies

You all know by now how very much I love one pot meals. I am talking about everything goes in one pan into the oven and cooks. Not slow cooked just regular meals in one pan!!!!! So simple to prepare , you’ll look like you really know what you’re doing and so delicious to eat. This one got a ringing endorsement from Joel and he’s as fussy as they come. This one should be perfect for whole family and should serve 4 . This is what I did. Last night I just used chicken thighs you can use whatever parts of chicken you prefer. Skin on Bone in is preferred here. 

*you’ll need a large baking dish, I used a ceramic one as shown. Pyrex works well here as well.


1 1/2 lbs.  Yukon gold potatoes ( I used about 4 for just the 2 of us ) peeled and cut into about 8 pieces each potato, you’ll want potatoes to be uniform in size so they all cook the same amount of time

6 cloves of garlic smashed ( take the whole garlic clove and whack it with the back of the knife and then remove skin)

1 pint cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes

2 Tablespoons olive oil

app. 12 sprigs of fresh thyme

app. 1 – 2 teaspoons of kosher salt for potatoes and chicken

app. 1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

*1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper–we love the heat but if you don’t just omit

1 whole chicken cut up in 8’s or 10’s , I ask butcher to remove the backbone and cut into 8’s or 10’s. App. 3-4 lbs. total


Preheat the oven with the oven rack in the middle to 425 degrees.

Spray the baking dish with a cooking spray (Pam) I mean you want the baking dish to clean up easy right?

Peel the potatoes and cut up into bite size pieces. Add to the sprayed baking dish . Smash and peel the garlic. Rinse the tomatoes and add as well along with the thyme.

Drizzle with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and app. 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper and the crushed red pepper. Toss it all together with your clean bare hands and spread into a single layer.

Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides of the chicken with app. 3/4 teaspoon  and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. I am pretty liberal with the salt here because I feel chicken can be rather bland. Use at your own discretion and what works best for you and your family. Place the chicken amongst the vegetables , see my pictures for how I did it. Roast until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are tender. App. 50-60 minutes.

*A little note on the chicken. I checked my chicken after 50 minutes and it was done so I removed to a plate and covered with aluminum foil to keep warm . I placed potatoes back in oven for another 10 mins. or so till they were done. Delicious! the tomatoes burst and were perfect served alongside the chicken and potatoes.

*to check doneness of chicken–a meat thermometer inserted into the breast at middle part should read 160 degrees.

Sweet and Spicy Butternut Squash

I had some Butternut Squash in the house and usually I just roast with some olive oil and salt and pepper. This time I added a bunch of spices a little Maple Syrup and some fresh Orange Juice. It was very yummy . I am writing this up for 2 lbs. of butternut squash , feel free to cut this recipe in 1/2 . Please use pure maple syrup for this one and a fresh orange for the juice. This recipe would also be wonderful on sweet potatoes!

We loved it and it was a wonderful new side dish and one I will repeat often.

Now that you can buy butternut squash pre-cut there’s no excuse not to make this wonderful healthy vegetable more often.



app. 2 lbs. butternut squash cut into 1 inch pieces ( pre-packaged is the way to go here)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons pure Maple Syrup–grade A is what I use

Juice of one fresh orange–app. 6 Tablespoons


Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

I sprayed a large baking sheet with Cooking Spray — you must or use parchment or aluminum foil for easier clean-up . Just a little note– I used Bakers Joy cooking spray I find sometimes it works best on this type of recipe. I absolutely love this cooking spray for baking so why not for sticky gooey recipes? Clean up was a snap. (just saying)

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix together . I let it sit for a while before I roast, I find the oil and spices meld together nicely so if you have the time I would recommend doing this for maybe 15 minutes or longer.

Pour onto baking sheet. Roast in the oven until butternut squash is tender about 45 minutes, halfway through I removed and tossed .

Remove from oven when browned up and smelling delicious. (app. 45 minutes)

Serve it up.

Sausage, Orzo and Cabbage Soup

This is one of those delicious easy to make super comforting soups. Of course I may have lost some of you with the Cabbage and if you hate it you hate it but if you’re willing to give it a shot this is a super cozy kind of soup which we can all use a little bit of these days. Made this for Joel and I and had 2 quarts left over for 2 more meals. Perfect dinner served with a nice green salad . I used pork sausage because that’s what I had in the house feel free to use chicken or turkey sausage whatever works best for you. I used a spicy italian pork sausage . I also used a frilly-edged Napa Cabbage . This cabbage is nice and soft and breaks down quickly . If using regular green cabbage you’ll have to cook a bit longer — probably another 15 minutes or so. Of course you can be flexible with your pasta , I used orzo but you can use any small pasta such as ditalini, mini elbows or mini farfalla .

Enjoy this most satisfying soup which is just perfect on a cold wintery day or night.

Stay safe folks.


2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 pound Italian sausage, mild or spicy remove casings

2 cloves garlic minced

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper, start with a pinch , plus add more to taste

1/4 cup Tomato Paste

1 large Napa or Savoy Cabbage, trimmed , quartered and thinly sliced

4 cups Chicken Stock

4 cups Water

1 cup Orzo

1 -2 Parmesan Rinds

*grated Parmesan for serving


Heat olive oil in a large heavy bottomed Dutch oven type of pot.( Le Creuset works well here) over medium heat.

Add sausage in a single layer and break up into smaller pieces, stirring occasionally until sausage is cooked through and no longer pink. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon, leaving the rendered fat in the pot.

Add the chopped onion and several big pinches of kosher salt and black pepper. Saute the onions for about 5 minutes then add the garlic and continue cooking for a few minutes. Lower the heat and add the tomato paste and continue to cook stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pot. Onions will start to caramelize in about 3 minutes.

Add the cabbage, chicken stock, water, orzo , Parmesan Rinds, and add another big pinch of kosher salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes. Continue stirring so pasta doesn’t stick to bottom of pan. Add sausage and continue to simmer for about 15 more minutes or until pasta and cabbage are tender.

Remove an discard rinds. I couldn’t find one of my rinds and it is no big deal. If you use larger ones they’re easier to find. You may find when you spoon out the soup!

Taste for Salt and Pepper

I then turned off heat and let soup sit on the stove till we were ready to eat dinner. I brought to a low simmer and served in bowls with grated Parmesan.

If you do freeze you’ll probably need to add some water/stock to it because it will thicken up considerably.

Homemade Applesauce– Sweet and Tart–Not Diet and Diet

photo (42) photo (40) photo (39) photo (38)I love apple season and what better use for all those apples but applesauce? It’s great by itself, with meat, poultry,  over ice cream , yogurt or pancakes,  in muffins, any time you feel like applesauce.  Easy shopping list, most ingredients you probably have in the house. If you’d like you can add a pinch of nutmeg or allspice. A little butter or maple syrup is also a good thought. I used a little bit of maple syrup ( maybe 1/4 cup) . Play around with flavors. Quick prep time , very easy to make, 3 lbs. will probably serve around 6 – 8 people. Cook Time is about 1/2 hour.

This is the obvious more fattening way to go, I also wrote up a more diet conscious recipe for those looking to cut calories and it’s on this page as well. It is obviously more tart than the sweet one, you can add a little sugar-free maple syrup if you’d like.

Your kitchen will smell glorious. Enjoy!

Pantry ingredients:

Lemon, Brown Sugar, Maple Syrup, Cinnamon, Allspice, Butter, Nutmeg.

Shopping List:

Apples, Apple Juice or Apple Cider


3 lbs. apples , peeled, cored and cut into 8 slices (any kind you have) I had Macintosh in the house and just used them

1/2 cup Apple Juice or Apple Cider

Juice of 1 Lemon, a small regular lemon is fine

1/4 cup Light Brown Sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon, more or less to taste

*1/4 cup of pure maple syrup, you can use sugar-free maple syrup

*1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

*1/2 teaspoon Allspice


Combine all ingredients in a large enough pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes, till apples break down. Now I like a chunky applesauce and it broke down so beautifully in 1/2 hour, I just mashed with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon.  If you’d like it smooth and not chunky puree it in food processor. It really broke down so beautifully a few mashes with a masher and it was perfect for a chunkier like consistency.

Store in the fridge.  Will keep for a week or two. Joel ate it all the next day so that was the end of that.


Diet Version of Homemade Applesauce:


12 medium apples, peeled cored and sliced (use whatever kind you have on hand)

2 sticks cinnamon if no cinnamon sticks , sprinkle ground cinnamon over apples.


Place apples and cinnamon in a large Pyrex type dish with a lid or cover with aluminum foil.

Bake covered at 350 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours

Allow to cool slightly and remove cinnamon sticks.

Crush apples with a potato masher until sauce is consistency that you like .

Serve with Latkes.


Classic Potato Pancakes –Latkes

Chanukah is December 10 this year and even though we won’t be celebrating with anyone we will still have Latkes because after all what’s Chanukah without them? Please stay safe folks and stay home hopefully next Chanukah we can resume celebrations as they should be.

This is a delicious fairly easy recipe for simple latkes. If you eat them hot they’re best but that’s tough to do sometimes. They really are most delicious hot off the frying pan. Serve with Applesauce or Sour Cream . Enjoy and Happy Chanukah from my kitchen to yours.

If you make ahead of time you can re-heat in the oven on a baking sheet.

This is what I do.

This recipe should serve 4


2 large Russet Potatoes — peeled and cut lengthwise into quarters

1 large Spanish Onion–peeled and cut into quarters

2 large eggs

1/2 cup all purpose flour

2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt

1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 Teaspoon baking powder

Vegetable Oil for frying


Using a food processor with a coarse grating disc, grate the potatoes and onion. Transfer the mixture to a clean dishtowel ( I prefer a thin one for this task) and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. This is key to a delicious latke.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the eggs, flour, salt, pepper, and baking powder and pepper and mix until the flour is absorbed.

In a medium heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat, pour in about 1/4 inch of the vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot use a heaping tablespoon to drop the batter into the hot pan, cooking in batches. Use a spatula to flatten and shape into round discs. When edges of the latkes start to brown and get crispy ( about 5 minutes) , transfer the latkes to a paper towel lined plate to drain . Repeat.

If you’re making double the recipe I would swap out the oil and wipe with paper towel and start with fresh oil. For one batch the oil was fine. Just control the heat on your stove.

Enjoy and Happy Chanukah.




Easy Skillet Lasagna

This was truly one of the most epic meals! The whole meal in under an hour.  While I love a real lasagna I didn’t want to put the whole thing together and deal with it. Once you have the ingredients the prep time is minimal and you aren’t using store bought sauce.  You will be making the sauce and it will all cook together in the pan .  This can be done a few different ways and I invite you to play around with the ingredients and spices to your own liking. All I can say is Wow!  Delicious! Perfect Sunday night dinner and I am planning on making this tonight again.   All in one pot is truly a great way to cook, no fuss, no muss and no having to deal with cooking lasagna noodles!!!!!! Yeah!

This can easily be made with ricotta cheese and spinach or any veggies you like. I would even try it with cut up eggplant!

*You’ll need a large oven proof skillet with lid

*perfect for freezing leftovers


1 to 1/2 Tablespoon Olive Oil–I used 1 1/2 you can start with 1 and add more to onions if you need it

1/2 lb. ground beef ( I used 80/20)

3 Italian sausage links, casings removed ( I used Hot Italian Sausage) use what you like , you can use turkey or chicken sausage as well

1 onion, diced

1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 8oz.can tomato sauce

*Italian seasonings , if you have Italian seasonings in a jar that’s great if not use a little dried oregano and dried basil. Italian Seasonings is available in the spice department of all food stores.

*1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

App. 1/4 tsp. Kosher Salt and more to taste

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

app. 10 lasagna noodles, broken into 1/4’s, if it breaks up differently don’t worry it’s a very loose recipe! 8 ounces Farfalle Pasta also works if you don’t feel like using the lasagna noodles. Un-cooked Noodles!!!!!

8 oz. mozzarella balls ( fresh) I used the small ones this time. Use whatever cheese you like but these worked out beautifully.  You can always use shredded mozzarella, or just cut a large ball of mozzarella into small pieces ( as much or as little as you’d like) if using shredded mozzarella, you’ll need about 1 cup

2 cups water

Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese for serving

*you can also use 1 cup Ricotta Cheese for a very cheesy version, I would use this if I was making it with spinach and going veggie.


Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook till translucent, add garlic towards the end of onion process. Add ground beef to the onions, stirring occasionally till browned. I removed with slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. I then cooked up the sausage making sure to crumble the sausage as it cooked.  I then removed sausage to bowl with meat , onions, and garlic and drained all excess fat from pan.

Pre-heat the oven to Broil.

Return meat to pan, add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, spices, add 1/4 tsp. kosher salt to taste, if you need more add it. Add in the meat mixture and stir, bring to a simmer and add in broken lasagna pieces and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until pasta is cooked through, about 13- 15 minutes for al dente. I stirred it gently a few times just to make certain that the noodles cooked through and didn’t stick together.

Remove from the heat . I placed my Mozzarella on top and placed in oven under broiler for about 5 mins. Check on it because you don’t want it to blacken. All ovens are different, in mine it needed about 6 minutes to just start browning without burning, but you don’t want to burn this up so set timer and keep an eye on it!

Remove from the oven and let it sit out for a few minutes. Plate it up and let everyone add their own parmesan cheese! Enjoy! you will.


Plated up and ready to eat


Finished Product


adding mozzarella before placing under broiler


placing un-cooked noodles into sauce

This would serve 4. It’s tough to double because you would need a super large pan.

This makes for an amazing leftover!

Vodka Sauce Recipe–Pasta a la Vodka

I have previously posted my recipe under Pasta and Vodka. This is a little different from that recipe but equally as delicious. My Grandson Brody loved the original but didn’t love the pieces of tomato in it. So this time out I gave it a spin in the food processor and got out all those little pieces of tomato that he didn’t like.

This is what I did last night and it was delicious.


1 box Penne or any other pasta you would like — I like rigatoni or penne or fusilli

3 cloves garlic — minced

*1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper–I love the heat but use at your own discretion

1/2 cup grated Parmesan –and more for serving

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

app. 3/4 to 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt for sauce–and some more to cook the pasta

1/3 cup Vodka–I use whatever I have in the house

1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes–I prefer the San Marzano ones so look for that

1/2 cup 1/2 and 1/2 or heavy cream–I used 1/2 and 1/2 this time — if you’d like it creamier you can add more cream, I used 1/2 cup and it was fine.

Fresh Basil leaves–about 1/4 cup


I use a large skillet pan. Add the olive oil and heat until shimmers then add the minced garlic and red pepper. Cook garlic and red pepper  and stir until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the vodka and cook down until it is nearly evaporated there will be a little liquid in the pan. Add the tomatoes– while they are cooking I use a masher or a wooden spoon to break up the whole tomatoes. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for at least 30 minutes.  I then let it completely cool down.   I get out the food processor and put it all in and add the fresh basil and then I puree until smooth. Return sauce to the pan and add the cream. You want it to be creamy , I used 1/2 cup and it was fine you can always add more if you’d like. Cook until warmed through and right before using stir in the parmesan cheese and then add the cooked pasta. Toss to combine in the large skillet.

Serve immediately with additional cheese on the table and you can add a little more fresh basil if you’d like.



Pantry Soup aka Pumpkin Bean Soup (can be vegetarian)

Colorado Winter '12 004Colorado Winter '12 006Colorado Winter '12 008 I love pumpkin as you already know by now. Since you can only really buy it from November through the Christmas Season I like to stock up for muffins, soups, etc.  I pulled out some cans of Black Beans, a can of Pinto Beans, and a can of Diced Tomatoes. This is the soup I made and it was pretty tasty. The spices I used are key, and you’ll have to check for Salt and Pepper towards the end . It wasn’t that difficult to make , I did use a lot of different ingredients but it was a good feeling to clean out the pantry at the same time! This is a warm wonderful soup, perfect for a cold winter day or evening. I did use a tablespoon of butter but you can easily substitute with all olive oil. I also love the way the Sherry Vinegar adds kick but if you don’t have it use Apple Cider Vinegar it’ll be just fine. There is no real right or wrong with this recipe, make it your way, use what you like and enjoy it!


2 15 oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1 15 oz. can Pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, or chef’s cut tomatoes

1 10 oz. can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies ( this is optional, I had it and threw it in) if you can find this product by Rotel buy it because it’s really great in tacos, chili, stews and soups.

1 15 oz. can of Corn ( I used low sodium)

*1 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter ( optional)

1 medium onion chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons kosher salt ( divided)

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

4 cups Beef Broth ( feel free to substitute Vegetable Broth)

1  15 oz. can Pumpkin Puree

2 Tablespoons Sherry Vinegar ( or Apple Cider Vinegar)


Pour 2 cans of the drained black beans into a food processor or blender, along with the can of tomatoes. Puree until smooth. Set aside.

Melt butter and olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and season with 1 teaspoon salt and some of the pepper. Cook and stir until the onions are softened and translucent. Stir in the bean puree, remaining can of beans, beef broth, pumpkin puree, and corn, tomatoes with green chilies, spices, and sherry vinegar. Mix until well blended,  I simmered for about an hour on a very low flame. Soup will thicken up nicely , if it is too thick you can add beef broth or water to thin out a bit.  Taste for Salt and Pepper, I added additional teaspoon of salt and pepper.

Michele’s White Chocolate Macadamia Jumbos

 Michele always makes these for her fabulous Christmas party and I always loved them and was lucky enough to get the recipe. They will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months , so you can make ahead of a holiday or better yet when you’re finished eating them put in a ziploc bag and freeze them. You can take them out one at a time and that’s the best!

They really are a wonderful cookie and good anytime of the year . I mean macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips????? say no more. 

They cooked up in 17 minutes at 325 degrees and were just beautiful. Thanks Michele for this wonderful recipe.  

Enjoy and Stay Safe this Thanksgiving and always.


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup butter or margarine ( 1 1 2/ sticks softened)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

3 Tblsp. corn syrup

2 tsps. vanilla extract

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 large eggs ( room temperature please)

12 oz. bag white chocolate chips

1 jar ( 6 1/2 oz) macadamia nuts chopped about 1 1/3 cups

1 1/2 cups dried tart cherries or cranberries, I actually used craisins


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, I placed flour, baking soda and salt  and mixed together. In bowl of kitchen aid mixer I placed softened butter, sugars, corn syrup , vanilla, butter and eggs, mixed at medium speed while adding the flour in. When it’s all combined scrape bowl with rubber spatula, and stir in white chocolate chips , nuts and cherries.

Drop by slightly rounded 1/4 cups, 3 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet, I used a Silpat and an ungreased cookie sheet. These cookies are large so be sure to space 3 inches apart. Transfer to a wire rack and cool. Can be frozen up to 3 months.

I baked for 17 minutes, check them after 15 depending on your oven.

These cookies are amazing. Enjoy!