Category Archives: Cooking

Pinned: Party food!

I love cooking enough that it tends to be one of those things I definitely try to do when I have a little spare time. And that includes making food for my own birthday party because I took the day off!

Before anyone gets up in arms, Bobby offered to make the food, and I told him I wanted to make it. It was so nice just having the time to prep a few things while the baby was at day care.

Pizza crescent rollsThe first was this incredibly easy recipe for pizza crescent rolls from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

Pizza Crescent Rolls


Crescent rolls
String cheese


Roll out crescent rolls. Place 4-6 slices of pepperoni (slice if desired) on each. Top with half piece of string cheese, roll up and cook with directions from crescent roll packaging.

See? Super easy!

The second recipe, Beer Cheese Dip from Tidy Mom, was just as simple.

Beer Cheese Dip


Two 8-oz. pkgs Cream Cheese, softened
1/3 cup beer (I used Yuengling … use more if dip needs to be thinned some)
1 envelope Ranch Dressing Mix
2 cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese


Beat the first three ingredients until well blended. Stir in cheddar cheese by hand. Serve with Stacy’s Pita Chips.

The best part of this was that I got to feel the accomplishment of trying a couple of new recipes, but they were so quick and easy that I didn’t feel like I spent the whole day cooking. And both of these were a huge hit at my party!

In which I profess my undying love for kale

So I have a food problem.

I can’t eat spinach. You don’t want to know the details, but just trust me. It’s a no-go. And it’s a little sad, because I love the way it tastes. Plus it’s in approximately half the recipes in the world.

So I was delighted when I was introduced to kale. It’s a pretty decent substitute for spinach in a lot of recipes (more so the cooked ones than the ones that call for raw spinach). And it also holds its own in a lot of kale-centric recipes.

I found a huge bag of it on sale just after the new year, so we have been eating kale like nobody’s business. I wanted to share my favorite way to prepare it as a side and also a really great recipe I tried with it recently.

Sauteed kale with bacon (you know I love me some bacon)
Serves 2

Two large handfuls of kale
One garlic clove, minced
Two shallots, chopped (you can also substitute onion, but I prefer shallots)
Two slices of thick, center-cut bacon, cut into hunks
Cooking spray

Spray your saute pan with cooking spray as the pan heats. Cook bacon until near done, then add garlic. Once the bacon is approaching the crispy stage, add the shallots. Once those have gotten tender, add the kale. Cook to the desired consistency of the kale. I prefer mine wilted but still with a little texture to it.

The other recipe is one I adapted from The Pioneer Woman. It’s a take on zuppa toscana (Olive Garden, anyone).

Sausage, kale and potato soup

Sausage, potato and kale soup
Serves 4

2 bunches Kale, Picked Over, Cleaned, And Torn Into Bite Sized Pieces
8 small red potatoes, sliced thin
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 pound ground Italian Sausage
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (more To Taste)
2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 1/2 cups Whole Milk
1 cup Heavy Cream
Fresh Or Dried Oregano
Black Pepper To Taste

Boil potatoes until tender, then drain and set aside. Brown the Italian sausage in a large boiler or pot. Stir in the red pepper, oregano, broth, milk and heavy cream. Add the potatoes and then stir in the kale. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Serve topped with grated Parmesan.

Are you a kale fanatic, too? I’d love to hear some of your favorite recipes?

Pinned: Pasta e fagioli


Do you really need to know anything else?

I have a strong love for all-foods-Italian, so when I saw this recipe on Food52, I knew I wanted to make it.

And bacon, y’all.

This turned out delicioso. I’m not sure if that’s a real word, or if Rachel Ray made it up, but I’m appropriating it for my use in this post. Because I’m not sure there’s another word to describe the pasta e fagioli.

I totally just Googled this to find out that “fagioli” actually means “beans” in Italian, so the recipe is literally “pasta and beans.” I believe it’s traditionally a vegetarian dish, but Food52’s addition of bacon is quite welcome. Obvs.

Pasta e fagioli recipeHere’s the recipe, adapted from Food52’s. This serves 4.


6 slices bacon, chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

20 oz. chicken broth

1 16-oz. can cannelini beans, rinsed and drained

20 oz. whole tomatoes, drained and chopped

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 cup dittalini

1 tablespoon dried parsley

grated Parmesan
In a saucepan, saute bacon over medium heat, draining as needed, until crispy. Add onions and garlic and continue sauteeing until onions are soft and translucent. Add broth and simmer, covered, for five minutes. Mash 1/3 of the beans in a bowl, then add these, the remaining beans, the tomatoes and the basil to the soup mixture. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until pasta is at preferred tenderness (original recipes calls for al dente). Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Top with Parmesan and enjoy!

Recipe: Italian cream cupcakes with Nutella buttercream frosting

Those of you who cook regularly probably have absolute favorite things you’ve ever made, that you would totally make if someone asked you to make them something delicious from scratch.

This. is. it. for me.

Our home church group decided to have a Christmas dinner, and Melissa, our host, told us she was going with an Italian theme. Baking’s my favorite, so I volunteered us to bring a dessert. I gave several different desserts consideration (runners up were Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscotti and Italian Christmas Cookies; I also considered tiramisu and creme brulee cheesecake), but Bobby specifically asked for Italian cream cupcakes. How could I say no?

These were different from any other cupcake I’ve ever made. Two of the unique aspects are the use of buttermilk in the batter and the separation of eggs (and subsequent whipping of the egg whites) before adding them to the batter. Another fun thing I attempted this time was creating my own piping bag by cutting the tip off the corner of a plastic zippered bag. It wasn’t beautiful, but I think it was a good first effort!

Hope you enjoy these cupcakes as much as I did!

Italian Cream Cupcake with Nutella Buttercream FrostingItalian cream cupcakes with Nutella buttercream frosting
Adapted from

Ingredients for cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
*1 cup coconut, toasted


Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Whip the butter and sugar until combined and creamy. Add egg yolks one at a time while mixing (I used my stand mixer with the paddle attachment). Add vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add half the dry ingredients, mix; add the buttermilk and mix; add the other half of the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until they hold soft peaks. Fold into the batter along with the coconut*. Bake at 350 F for 20-24 minutes.

*The coconut is totally optional. I did half coconut and half without, using toasted coconut as a topping for the ones that had it and toffee bits as the topping for the ones sans coconut.

Italian cream cupcakes with Nutella buttercream frostingIngredients for frosting:

8-oz. package of cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 of a small tub of Nutella
Splash of heavy cream
1/3 to 1/2 lb. of powdered sugar


Whip butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add Nutella and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Add heavy cream and mix. Add powdered sugar and mix until frosting is smooth and creamy. Adjust the amount of sugar you add based on how sweet you want the frosting to be. Refrigerate frosting until you are ready to use it.

Once the cupcakes have had a chance to cool, frost them with the Nutella buttercream and garnish with toasted coconut or toffee bits.


Think you might give this recipe a shot? You can save it to Pinterest by clicking the button below!

Pinned: Red wine olive risotto

I’m a huge fan of cooking shows (particularly cooking reality shows like Top Chef and Next Iron Chef — I must admit, I was Team Falkner, but I’m fairly happy with Geoffrey Zakarian winning). If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching them, it’s that risotto is scary and impossible to get right.

So I’ve avoided it for a long time, but when I came across this recipe from We Are Not Martha, I decided to put on my big girl panties and give it a go.

Totally worth it.

I’ll admit, the rice I used and the way I prepped it was a little different, but I’d still consider it a risotto-style dish, at least. Totally delicious.

Red wine olive risottoRed wine olive risotto, adapted from We Are Not Martha

Servings: 4

1 cup long-grain rice
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup red wine (I used Rex Goliath Free-Range Red, so it was inexpensive but worked great. Five bucks at Target!)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, chopped
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped (I used kalamata olives with Mediterranean herbs, which I found at Target)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Cook rice in 2 cups water for 20 minutes, adding salt and olive oil to water. Once rice is prepped, saute garlic in a pan until slightly brown, then add the chicken broth and rice. Allow rice to absorb most of the broth, then add the wine and olives. Cook, stirring occasionally, until wine is absorbed, adding shallots for last several minutes of cooking. Salt and pepper to taste.

As WANM suggests, you can also add Parmesan and a little fresh parsley. We didn’t try this, but we plan to next time! I especially think the Parmesan would be good. I also enjoyed the leftover wine with the meal!


If you enjoyed this post, I’d love for you to follow my cooking boards on Pinterest! I have a board for general food, vegetarian options, desserts and party items.

Pinned: Tortellini and garden vegetable bake

Better Homes and Gardens Tortellini and Garden Vegetable BakeThis is probably one of the prettiest dishes I’ve ever made. At the very least, it’s the prettiest I’ve made in a while.

I saw the photo for it on Pinterest and immediately pinned it to my “Vegetarian” board. The original recipe actually calls for chicken, but it was really amazing without it — so amazing, in fact, that Bobby (who is a total carnivore, typically) said he thought it might have been better without the chicken.

Amazing. And he said it’s the best thing I’ve ever made. Better than the alfredo sauce.

So what does this amazing recipe entail? A whole bunch of veggies and some delicious pre-made tortellini! It’s actually a pretty easy dish, just a bit of prep work.

Vegetarian tortellini and garden vegetable bake (adapted from Better Homes & Gardens)


1 9-oz. package of Buitoni Three-cheese Tortellini
Olive oil
1 small carrot, cut into thin slices
1 cup sugar snap peas, halved crosswise
1 tbsp butter
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed and softened
1/2 cup quartered cherry or grape tomatoes

Prep all your veggies before you start cooking! I tried to do a lot of stuff simultaneously, and it nearly got me in trouble! If you are a better multi-tasker than me, it might be OK, but I recommend getting the prep work out of the way first! I think the hoity-toity culinary term for that is mise en place. That’s right, folks. I watch a lot of Food Network.

Put tortellini on to boil (the Buitoni takes around 10 minutes), adding salt and olive oil to the water. With 5 minutes left, add the carrots. With 1 minute left, add the sugar snap peas.

While you are doing this, heat the butter in a sauce pan and saute the mushrooms in it, about 5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set them aside.

Whisk together the chicken broth, flour, rosemary, basil, salt and pepper. I just sort of eyeballed it on the rosemary, basil, salt and pepper.

Using the same sauce pan you sauteed the mushrooms in, combine the broth mixture with the milk. Heat and stir until the sauce has thickened a bit and is bubbling. Add the cream cheese and stir until smooth. Remove from heat.

Spray a glass baking dish with cooking spray. Combine all your ingredients in the cooking dish and mix everything together until it’s all well-coated by the sauce. Cover and cook at 350 for about 20 minutes.

I loved how this turned out, and it wasn’t really difficult to make, especially since the pasta is premade and just has to be boiled for a few minutes. I also like that it’s fairly adaptable depending on what you like or have on-hand. The original recipe actually calls for oregano, but I didn’t have any, so I substituted basil and rosemary! I used more or less of particular called-for veggies depending on what I know Bobby and I prefer.

The end result almost has a pot-pie quality, except with cheese-stuffed pasta instead of potatoes and a crust. This is a dish I will definitely make again!

Do you have any favorite recipes you’ve made recently? I love trying new stuff, so please share!

Recipe: SITS Girls potato soup

No joke, this potato soup recipe scared me a little bit.

It claimed it was quick and easy, but it contains seven. freakin’. cups. of. milk. I’ve never made any potato soup with that much milk in it. Typically my potato soups are broth based with a little bit of milk or heavy cream.

But I am sincerely glad I didn’t let that little bit of nervousness keep me from cooking this soup. Because it really was pretty easy, and it was one of the quickest — and most delicious — potato soups I’ve ever made!

potato soupI made a few small changes to the recipe (partially to not end up with an outrageous number of servings for just me and Bobby). Here’s the original from The SITS Girls, and here is what I did:

1/3 cup butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup unbleached flour
3 1/2 cups 2% milk (I would have used whole milk if I had it)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 large baking potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350. Poke holes in potatoes with a fork. Roll in olive oil, then add salt to skin. Place directly on oven rack and bake for about an hour (add a few extra minutes for extra-large potatoes).

Allow potatoes to cool somewhat, then cut into cubes. You can choose to remove the skin or leave it on. I chose to leave it on because I like the way it tastes, and it added a little salt and a little texture to the finished product.

Melt butter in a large pot at medium heat. Add garlic and saute until it’s slightly brown. Add the flour and stir until the mixture is smooth. Reduce heat to low and slowly stir in the milk and cream. Turn heat up to high and stir constantly until mixture is simmering, then add potatoes, continuing to stir until it begins to simmer again.

Reduce heat, cover and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Add other ingredients, including salt and pepper, and stir until cheese is melted. Add extra cheese and bacon bits (we used fake bacon bits since we’re trying to go vegetarian for the time being) to the top of the soup once you have put it in bowls. You can also add some chopped green onions for a little crunch and extra flavor!

This was one of the creamiest potato soups I’ve ever had. Bobby even went so far as to say that it is the best he’s ever had. A definite winner, and so easy!


Have you checked out The Family Math on Facebook? I’m trying to get to 100 likes before New Year’s!


Vegetarian recipe: Black bean and corn alfredo pasta

Black bean and corn alfredo pastaEver since Bobby and I decided to go vegetarian for a few weeks (I first talked about that here), I’ve had to get a little more inventive with our meals. For me, not really being familiar with the ins and outs of a vegetarian diet, it’s a lot harder to build a meal around a vegetable than around a meat.

I’m sure that’s not the case for people who are full-time vegetarians, but it’s definitely a challenge for us to get into that mindset. So far the default seems to be black beans with either rice or pasta.

So this is a recipe that combines both of those. It happened that we already had a bag of dried black beans, so that played into the decision to use them, too. I should clarify that by vegetarian I mean no meat. We have been eating animal byproducts, like eggs or milk.

I’d been daydreaming about using this recipe for Olive Garden’s alfredo sauce that I found on Pinterest a while back. I had macaroni on-hand, so that’s what I  used for the pasta. I put the beans on to soak yesterday morning before I went to work, so they were ready to be cooked when I got home. I added salt and boiled them for probably about 30 minutes, then sauteed them in olive oil with a can of sweet corn kernel corn. I stirred in about 1/4 cup of cilantro at the end.

The beans were a bit al dente, which is how I like them, but Bobby opted for just the pasta and sauce and said he loved it.

I was a little hesitant about this combination of items, since the beans and corn are more Mexican or southwestern, and the sauce and pasta are Italian. But I ended up really liking how everything came together, enough that I will probably make this again. I think, for a non-vegetarian version, that I would add ham of some sort, or maybe prosciutto.

I’m obviously not a chef, but I definitely enjoyed the combo of flavors, and I think the dish was really successful overall!

Recipe: Southwestern-style vegetarian chili

So Bobby and I have been talking lately about wanting to eat a little healthier, and one of the ideas he had was to try going vegetarian for a week or two. I’ve sort of thought before that I could do it, and now’s really as good a time as any. Our plan is to get through this week and reevaluate; we’re hoping to make it to Christmas eating a primarily vegetarian menu. We may allow ourselves one night per week to have meat, since we already have some meat in the freezer.

One of our big challenges is what to cook, which makes sense, I guess. Tonight I decided to make up something based on what we had in the house by putting a spin on a recipe we’ve used before. The weather was perfect for chili, so I set out to make a veggie chili. And I really thought it turned out great, so I’m going to share my recipe! On the seasonings, I didn’t really measure while I was cooking it, so my estimations below may be a little off — season to taste!

Southwestern vegetarian chili

3 tbsp olive oil
One large can crushed tomatoes
One small can black beans, drained
One small can dark red kidney beans, drained
One small can corn, drained
One small can diced tomatoes with chilis and lime, drained
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1/2 packet taco seasoning
2 tsp cumin
2 handfuls (real scientific, I know) corn flour (Masa)
1 tbsp Slap Ya Mama seasoning (or a mixture of white pepper, red pepper and garlic powder)
Salt to taste
1 cup white rice, uncooked

It’s so easy! The white rice will take the longest (about 20 minutes for non-instant rice), so go ahead and put it on (2 cups of water, bring to a boil, add rice, reduce head and cover for 20 minutes). Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pot. Add the tomatoes, beans and corn. Mix in taco seasoning, cumin, corn flour, Slap Ya Mama seasoning and salt. Taste test to see what you think and add seasoning if it needs it! While this is simmering, heat the other tbsp of olive oil in a small frying pan and saute the onions. When they are ready, add them to the chili mixture. If the consistency is too soupy, add more corn flour to thicken it, tasting to ensure the chili doesn’t get too corny. Allow chili to simmer until rice is done. Serve the chili over the rice in bowls.

Hope you enjoy the recipe! It was definitely a great first venture into vegetarianism for us. Let me know how it turns out if you give it a try!

Pinned: Beer chili recipe review

If you follow my Top Pin Tuesday posts, you may recognize this beer chili recipe from last week. The weather has cooled down finally (I live in the South, so this actually seems a little early to me for the type of weather we’ve been having), and Bobby and I have been in a chili state of mind.

We also both really like beer, so from the moment I saw the beer chili recipe on Pinterest I knew we would be making it soon. This may be the shortest pinned-to-kitchen time yet.

Here’s what I liked about the recipe:

  • The instructions were fairly easy, and it made a huge pot. I think we’ve eaten at least six servings out of it and probably have two more left. Much better than making chili with a spice packet and scarfing most of it down on the first go-round.
  • I really like that it has both ground beef and ground sausage. It made for a nice flavor combo.
  • The smell in my kitchen when this stuff was on … OMG.
  • Bobby and I like beer, so the addition of beer to chili was just perfect. I also liked that it had corn flour in it because it was almost like having a built-in Fritos or cornbread flavor.

Things I didn’t like so much about the recipe:

  • It ended up having waaaaaaay too much liquid. It was more like soup than chili.
  • It’s definitely a lot more time-consuming than just using a spice packet to make chili. Definitely don’t make this if you are in a hurry or starving.

I did make a few modifications to the recipe. It was a little unclear about what type of red pepper to get, so I got a red bell pepper, and it tasted really good, but I think the recipe probably meant a spicy pepper. The bell pepper was good for us, though, because all the other seasoning made it spicy aplenty for us.

I couldn’t find ancho chile powder, so I subbed regular chili powder. I also used ground beef instead of ground sirloin because the store I was at didn’t have sirloin, and I was too rushed to go by anywhere else. The beer we used was Yuengling, and I think it fit the recipe well.

The main changes I will make for next time would be to actually get ground sirloin and to get a higher-quality ground sausage (I got the cheapo stuff). I would also drain the kidney beans before putting them in the pot and also have a small can of tomato paste on hand to help thicken it. Oh, and I would season the meat with salt and pepper while it’s cooking, even though the recipe didn’t call for it. Bobby and I agreed that this is totally worth making again.

Want to make some beer chili for yourself? You can check out the original recipe at A Spicy Perspective.

ETA: Now linked with Kludgy Mom‘s Fall Food Recipes!

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