Italian Vegetable Pie

This week I chose a dinner which I love to make. This is a go-to recipe that comes out perfect and satisfying every time. I also love how versatile it is. You can substitute the vegetables to whatever is your liking.  Also, if you want, you can substitute ground beef, ground sausage, a combination of both, or ground turkey for the tofu. When I make it with meat, I use 1/2 pound ground beef and a 1/2 pound of ground hot Italian sausage. Brown and drain before adding to the vegetables.  Also, a nice add-in is a couple of handfuls of washed and chopped fresh spinach. Stir in after simmering and before assembling. Round out your dinner with a nice tossed salad and fresh bread.
Enjoy and Happy Cooking~


2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 (12.3-ounce) package firm tofu, drained and crumbled * 
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 (25.5-ounce) jar fat-free marinara sauce
6 cooked lasagna noodles, cut in half crosswise
Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* Substitution for tofu: 1 pound ground beef, 1 pound ground Italian sausage, 1 pound ground turkey, browned and drained


Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper, chopped onion, mushrooms, tofu, and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in tomato paste, Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper, and marinara sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes.

Arrange the noodles spoke like in the bottom of an 8-inch round baking dish or 9 inch deep dish pie plate coated with cooking spray. Spread 3 cups tomato mixture over noodles. Fold ends of noodles over tomato mixture, and top with the remaining tomato mixture and cheeses. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes.


Cream of Mushroom Soup

Ever want to have bowl of  rich cream of mushroom soup, but all you have time to make is the canned variety?  This is a great recipe when you are short are time, but trust me it won’t be short on flavor. You will never go to the store and pick up a can of soup again when you put this recipe in your repertoire!   Serve this with a simple salad and you have a wonderful satisfying meal on a wonderful Fall day!

PS This is great for Meatless Monday!

Enjoy and Happy cooking~



 1 pound fresh mushrooms

 1/4 cup margarine

 1 small onion, chopped fine 

 3 cloves garlic, chopped

 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

 4 cups vegetable broth

 1 cup  cream (I use half and half)

 salt and pepper to taste

 1 sprig fresh thyme leaves

 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives


Thinly slice the mushroom cap. Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan and cook the onion, garlic and chopped thyme, stirring, for 1 minute, or until the garlic is golden. Add the mushrooms and salt and white pepper. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the mushrooms  soften. Add flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

 Remove from the heat and add the stock, stirring continuously. Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 Whisk the cream into the soup, then reheat gently, stirring. Do not allow the soup to boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and garnish with the chopped chives and thyme.

Fire Roasted Tomato Sauce

I wanted to share with you a “go-to” recipe for Fire-Roasted Tomato Sauce. It is simple, fast and so much better than anything you can get in a jar. I promise this will be a recipe you use over and over and share with all your friends! On a scale from 1-10, it definitely is a 10!! If you don’t want that much spice, tone down the white pepper and hot sauce to your liking.
As always, I hope you enjoy and please send me your comments. I would love to hear and share your stories.
 Enjoy and Happy Cooking~

12 Each Roma or plum tomatoes, halved
2 Tsp Garlic salt
2 Tsp White pepper
2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
2 Tsp Crystal hot sauce
1 Tsp Chili powder
2 Tsp Smoky paprika
2 Tbsp Fresh basil, chopped
1 Tbsp Fresh oregano, chopped
1 Tbsp Fresh thyme, chopped

Pre-heat oven to 400° F.
1. Place halved tomatoes on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Season them with the garlic salt and white pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. If roasted in the pan on indirect heat on a charcoal grill double the cooking time.
2. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, add 8 of the tomatoes (16 halves) with the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Dice the remaining 4 (8 halves) tomatoes and fold into the sauce. Use the sauce for any preparation calling for Tomato Sauce. I loved mine with some penne pasta and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Some warm crusty Italian bread and a simple salad is a great way to round out great this meal.

Slow Cooker Beef and Tortellini Soup

Nothing says Autumn more than a bowl of  this fabulous soup my friend Debbie shared with me.  She is such a wonderful person and I feel privileged to know her. She is “old school” and believes no matter how busy your day, you should have a home cooked meal.  And if the family can all eat together;  Better yet!   This recipe is a great reason to “SLOW” down at the end of your busy day and reward yourself with a very satisfying dinner. I love to serve this with a big salad,  fresh-baked bread and some apple cake for dessert!

FYI…I have made this for my meat-free families and it’s just as good as a vegetarian soup. I added some white beans (cannellini) for the fiber. YUMMY!

Happy Fall!

Enjoy and Happy Cooking~


1# beef stew meat                                                                                  
1 Tablespoon steak seasoning
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons sugar
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
32 oz. beef broth
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
2 cups frozen cheese filled tortellini  or gnocchi
1 can green beans, drained

In a large skillet, brown stew meat in a little oil for 3-5 minutes add steak seasoning to meat while browning.
Place meat in slowcooker. Add onion, carrots, garlic, sugar, tomatoes, and beef broth in order listed.
Cover; cook on low setting for 8 hours.
Stir in basil, frozen tortellini and green beans. Increase heat to high.
Cover;cook for 20 to 30 minutes.

Note: I have also used gnocchi and just a good!!

Spiced Sugar Doughnuts

 I made these doughnuts recently and got rave reviews from my family and friends.  It’s a fun way to get everyone in the kitchen.  We enjoyed these with cups of Caribou Coffee and great conversation!
Enjoy and Happy Cooking ~
 3 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour plus more for the board
 3 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
 1 teaspoon salt
 1/4 teaspoon  ground cinnamon
 1/4 teaspoon  ground nutmeg
 3 large egg yolks
 2/3 cup  granulated sugar
 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 
 3/4 cup  milk  
 6 cups vegetable oil, for frying


1/2cup  superfine sugar blended with 1tablespoon  ground cinnamon


1/2 cup powdered sugar

In medium-size bowl, whisk together the 3-1/2 cups flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
In large bowl, lightly beat yolks on medium speed. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until pale and slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Mix in butter. Add flour mixture alternately with milk, stirring with wooden spoon until combined.
On well-floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll dough into 1/2-inch thickness. Let rest for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil to 365 F (a cube of bread will be browned and crisp after 1 minute) in a heavy-duty saucepan over medium-high heat.
Cut into doughnuts with 2-3/4-inch round cutter along with 3/4-inch round cutter for the centers. Gather scraps and re-roll if needed.
Coating:  Place cinnamon-sugar or powdered sugar in a small bowl.
Carefully slip the doughnuts and doughnut holes, 3 or 4 at a time, into the hot oil. Fry until golden, turning once, about 2 to 3 minutes total per batch. Drain doughnuts on paper towel, then transfer still-warm doughnuts to cinnamon-sugar, or powdered sugar and roll to cover completely. Serve warm.