The other night, we had a dorm event centered around soup. That is my kind of event! I love soup passionately, and have shared many soups here across the years.
I started to ask my husband which soup he wanted me to bring, then amended my statement to, “Do you want me to make lasagna soup?”
He shook his head vigorously. This is probably his favorite soup that I make, and it’s a great crowd-pleaser for events. It’s hearty and satisfying and really much easier to make than a lasagna. With just a touch of cheese, you get the same lasagna feeling, too, without being weighed down with tons of carbs and dairy products.
Make some soup to survive these last weeks of winter. You won’t be sad to have a bowl of this on your table. And if you need more carbs, it’s a great dipping vessel for crusty bread.
You just can’t go wrong with bacon, cheese, and mayonnaise, right? But when these ingredients come together with some fresh ones, it makes magic.
I have made these tasty appetizers a few times … even though I don’t eat them. I guarantee they’re good, though, because every time I make them there is a buzz of “WHO brought these?” around the room. I am pretty sure I had no fewer than eight women ask me for the recipe at a small Christmas party last week.
So make this your signature appetizer! I won’t tell anyone that they’re really not that hard to make. And you’ll be famous among your family and friends.
2 packages Campari tomatoes (or substitute cherry or grape, but Camparis are SUPER sweet)
1 lb. bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled … or 4.5 ounces real bacon bits
2/3 c. mayonnaise
3 green onions, white and light green parts, chopped finely
3 T grated Parmesan cheese
2 T fresh chopped parsley or 2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
The hardest part of this recipe is prepping the tomatoes. Take the tiniest slice off the bottom of the tomatoes if you want them to sit flat on a plate. You don’t want to cut hardly anything off, just make it a little flat. If you are going to rest them on lettuce leaves or kale (my favorite presentation, although it’s a little retro), this isn’t as important.
Take a small slice off the stem end of the tomatoes and then scoop out pulp and seeds with a teaspoon. Set upside-down on paper towels to drain.
Cook your bacon. But really, I won’t blame you if you use one of these instead. I did. Otherwise I eat too much bacon before it makes it in the bowl.
In a small bowl, mix together cooled, crumbled bacon (or bits), mayonnaise, green onion, cheese, and parsley.
Flip tomatoes back right-side-up and sprinkle very lightly with salt. Spoon filling into tomatoes. Refrigerate for several hours before serving to let flavors meld.
I failed to get a picture of the finished product, so here is the Taste of Home photo. The Campari tomatoes are much bigger than the cherries, so you’ll want to do less “mounding” of the filling until you’re sure you have enough to go around.
One of my favorite items on the Olive Garden menu was Sausage and Peppers Rustica. I am pretty sure they don’t have it anymore, but it’s a simple idea. Pretty much you saute sausage, peppers, and onions, and then mix that in with pasta in tomato sauce. It’s almost like fajitas meets Italian.
I really like the Sweet and Spicy Chicken Sausage Spaghetti recipe I created, but it is REALLY spicy. I don’t love spicy so much, and I am almost afraid to give it to Libbie–although she seems more tolerant of spicy things than I am!
This is a combination of that recipe and the Olive Garden classic, and I think it turned out wonderfully. Serve with a simple green salad and shave some Parmesan over the top of the pasta.
10 oz. diced tomatoes with green chiles, such as Ro-Tel (mild)
1 clove garlic
1 T sugar
1 package apple chicken sausage, such as Aidells
1 large bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese, shaved (optional)
Boil pasta according to package directions in salted water. Drain and set aside when done.
In a medium saucepan, bring tomatoes (with juices) to a boil. Grate the garlic clove into the tomatoes. Add sugar. Reduce to medium heat and let simmer while you cook the sausage and peppers.
Slice sausage on the bias into bite-size pieces.
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add peppers, onions, and sausage. Saute until everything is happy and brown. (After all, brown food tastes good. At least that’s what Chef Anne always says.) Season with salt and pepper.
Remove tomato sauce from heat. Using an immersion blender, blend somewhat, leaving some chunks of tomato. Pour into sausage/pepper pan and toss well. Add pasta and combine.
Serve with Parmesan shavings on top, if desired.
Variation: Transfer to a baking dish and top with slices of fresh mozzarella. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 until cheese is brown and bubbly.
I posted one of our favorite dinners, Ziti with Italian Sausage, about a year and a half ago. But there were no pictures and it was basically a copied-from-AllRecipes recipe. No fun! And not me at all.
So the other night I was making the ziti and decided I needed to share its yummyness with you in pictures. Sadly, my pictures didn’t turn out that great. But here they are, anyway, to give you an idea of the process and the results.
14.5 oz. canned diced tomatoes (Italian-flavored with garlic are great here)
15 oz. tomato sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder (omit if using tomatoes with garlic)
1 tsp. dried oregano
3/4 tsp. salt
12-16 oz. dry pasta (preferably ziti or penne rigate)
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese (the real stuff, if you can!)
Brown sausage with celery and onions, breaking up the sausage into small pieces. Drain off fat. Set aside.
In a saucepan, combine tomatoes (drained), tomato sauce, garlic powder, oregano, and salt. Bring to a simmer; reduce to low.
Boil pasta until very al dente – it will continue cooking when baked. Preheat oven to 350F. Drain pasta when done.
In a deep dish, layer pasta, sausage mix, mozzarella, and sauce. Repeat layers once. (I just used the pot I boiled the pasta in, because that makes one fewer dish I have to wash!) Top with grated Parmesan.
Cook at 350F for 35-45 minutes or until brown and bubbly.
For a variation, you could stir 4 ounces of cream cheese into your tomato sauce. It would make it a lovely tomato-cream sauce instead. If you’re in a pinch, you could also use jarred pasta sauce in place of the “semi-homemade” one here.
I always thought ribollita had to be made with stale bread. Wikipedia tells me that is not so. It’s simply a “next-day” kind of soup, made with leftovers. That makes sense, as this recipe I was given is pretty much vegetable odds and ends. It was sent to me as “ribollita,” but I’m dubbing it Farmer’s Market Soup. Just to be different.
This is a delicious and simple soup, chock full of vegetables. Right now is the perfect time for finding zucchini and carrots at the farmer’s market; you might also be able to search out some ripe tomatoes to puree slightly to replace the crushed tomatoes from a can.
After hearing Jo-Lynne talk all the time about her love for Ina and reading somewhere that most of the Barefoot Contessa recipes are whole foods, I knew it was about time I tried an Ina Garten creation.
I’d snagged a copy of Barefoot Contessa at Home from Paperbackswap (after being on the wait list for about three years!) a few months ago. But with the hubbub of moving, I had yet to try a recipe.
I like lentils but I have had issues knowing how to prepare them. The one time I tried to make them like I had them in Brazil, my final product really fell flat.
These stewed lentils, though, did not disappoint. Aromatic, deeply flavored, and singing with thyme, I could eat them every week! We ate them as a side with a little bit of leftover London Broil, but they would be a fine main meal as well.
28 oz. diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted with garlic, and omitted garlic above) (.40)
1 c. green lentils (.39)
2 c. homemade chicken stock
2 tsp. mild curry powder
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves (.24)
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 T white or red wine vinegar
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onions and carrots and cook for 8-10 minutes, until the onions start to brown, stirring occasionally. Add garlic (if using) and cook for 1 more minute.
Rinse and pick over the lentils to make sure there are no stones in the package.
Add tomatoes, lentils, chicken broth, curry powder, thyme, salt, and pepper to the pan. Raise the heat to bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer covered for 40-50 minutes, until lentils are tender.
Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 more minutes. Stir in vinegar and season to taste.
slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten
Total Cost: $1.87 + trace amounts for items I always have on hand
Leftover London Broil: $2.67 (about 1/3 of the beef I bought) Grand Total: $4.54 for a whole lot of deliciousness, and plenty of leftover lentils for lunches!
As a bonus, Libbie LOVED them! For a girl who only a week ago would eat just bread, cheese, bananas, and applesauce, that’s definitely saying something!