Pasta Fagioli

One of my friends gave me a copy of this recipe a long time ago and I finally tried it.  I don’t think I’ve actually tried this at Olive Garden and I couldn’t now, but it was a nice and easy soup that warmed us up on cold days.  You have the option of using canned or dried beans.  I couldn’t find navy beans in a can and I have two crockpots, so I used dried beans.   I hope you take time to enjoy this recipe!



3/4 c. dry kidney beans (or 1 can, drained)

3/4 c. dry navy beans (or 1 can, drained)

2 lbs ground beef, cooked- leave out beef if you want it to be vegetarian

1 onion, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

4 stalks celery, chopped

2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained

32 oz beef broth (I used a carton of HEB Beef Broth but you could also use Swansons)- use vegetable broth if vegetarian

3 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp pepper

5 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp Tabasco sauce (optional)

1 jar spaghetti sauce (I used a 24-oz can of Del Monte Traditional)

8-12 oz pasta (I used HEB gluten free)



If making beans from scratch, soak overnight and then drain and cover with water again in a crockpot.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until soft.  You may add them to the soup whenever they are soft enough.   Pre-cook the ground beef.  Add all ingredients to the crockpot except for the pasta.  Stir well, cover, and cook on low for 7-8 hours.  The original recipe says you can add pasta straight to the crockpot 30 minutes before you want to serve it, but I was nervous the gluten free pasta wouldn’t cook well that way.  Instead, I cooked it separately as per the package directions and then added it to the soup right before serving.

Note: I had two crockpots going at once- one for the beans and one for the soup.  When the beans were cooked, I added them to the soup.  If you only have one crockpot, you could cook the beans overnight and then use the same crockpot to do the soup during the day.

Original recipe:


Basil Parsley Pesto

I bought parsley for something but I only needed part of it.  I went on a search for a recipe that could use it up as well as some of the excess basil in my garden, and this is what I found.



1 c. fresh basil

1/4 c. fresh parsley

1/3 c. pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted (sunflower seeds or pinenuts work too)

1/4 c. nutritional yeast

5 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2/3 c. olive oil (I used extra virgin since this recipe doesn’t get cooked)



Lightly toast pumpkin seeds.  Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend until everything is pureed.  Serve over penne pasta (this is HEB brand gluten free) with baked chicken and diced tomatoes. You can omit the chicken if you want it to be vegetarian :-).  This could also be used in most other recipes that call for pesto.  Be creative and let me know if you find an interesting use for it!


Inspired by:

Cheeseless Meaty Pizza

Sometimes I just skip the cheese altogether.  No alternatives, no substitutions, nothing.  And you know what?  It still tastes great.  Granted, a little bit of the pizza-ness leaves when you don’t include cheese, but it was more like really hearty bruschetta.  Or, it was like a pizza without the cheese…  Feel free to toss some cheese or some cheese alternative on top of your pizza if you want.  The crust is what this post is mostly about, and a little bit about the toppings.  As always, you can mix and match toppings as your needs require.

This was my first time to make this crust.  It was super simple and I was even able to follow the directions for freezing and use some of it later.  Here is the link for Pamela’s Crust recipe.  It uses Pamela’s Bread Mix.  I followed the directions exactly except I did not include the optional cheese.

As for the toppings, first I spread on 1 T. of oil.  This acts as a barrier and keeps your crust from getting soggy.  Next, I sprinkled on some fresh basil from my garden (put this under greasy things or wait until the end to add it.)  After that, I spread on my Pizza Hut Sauce Copycat recipe.  After pre-cooking some Jimmy Dean Sausage (regular) and some bacon, I spread it over the pizza along with some Hormel Pepperoni slices.  We had golden tomatoes in our garden, so I included some of those too, cut in half.  I baked it for another 10 minutes as the recipe says and then I enjoyed!

Note: if you don’t have cheese on your pizza, you may want to have a fork and/or napkin nearby.  Toppings tend to jump off quite rudely :-).

To sum up, here are the ingredients you need:

  • 3-1/2 cups Pamela’s Gluten-Free Bread Mix
  • 2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast or 1 yeast packet 7g (enclosed in 19 oz mix)
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1-1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 tsp Italian herbs
  • Pizza Hut Sauce Copycat recipe (see ingredients below)
  • Jimmy Dean sausage (optional)- could replace it with ground beef if needed
  • Hormel Pepperoni (optional)- could replace with turkey pepperoni or omit
  • Bacon (optional)- could replace with turkey bacon or omit
  • Fresh Basil (optional)
  • Cherry tomatoes (optional)

Pizza Hut Sauce Copycat ingredients:

  • 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce (I used Hunt’s)
  • 1/4 tsp of each: basil, salt, marjoram, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, fennel, black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp lemon or lime juice

Happy pizza eating!

Beef and Vegetable Red Curry

I make this curry quite frequently, but this time it was extra good.  I followed the directions on the back of the Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste jar with a lot of changes (does that count as following them?) and I used up all the leftover vegetables in my fridge. It was the best one I’ve made so far!  I think the main difference was the fish sauce.  Once upon a time I bought a big bottle of the cheap stuff but it just smelled weird so I never used it.  Then I bought a bottle of the Thai Kitchen fish sauce and used it a few times but I think I left it at my old house when I moved.  The next several times I made this recipe, I didn’t have the fish sauce and then I finally broke down and bought a bottle the next time I went to the store.  It made all the difference!  My recommendation is not to skip it!  Also, I recommend storing it in the fridge :-).



1- 13 oz. can coconut milk

1/2 jar of Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste (or more if you want it hotter)

1 T. brown sugar

2-3 zucchini, sliced into half coins

1 onion, diced

1 large tomato, diced

1 small head of broccoli, chopped

1 pound ground beef, cooked- omit for vegetarian

1-2 T. Thai Kitchen Fish Sauce (I used 2 T. and I recommend this brand.  It’s gluten free and the taste is right.)- omit for vegetarian and replace with salt

extra coconut milk from a carton if you need more liquid or just another can of coconut milk (I usually end up adding a cup or two if I have lots of vegetables.)

optional: splash of lime juice

Cooked rice for serving.



Heat coconut milk in a large pan.  Add curry paste and brown sugar and stir, allowing to heat for 1-2 minutes.  Add in vegetables and allow to cook for about 5 minutes.  At this point I usually add in some extra coconut milk to make sure there’s enough to make a sauce.  Add in cooked ground beef and allow to simmer for another 5-10 minutes until vegetables are cooked to desired softness.  Pour in fish sauce and lime juice to taste.  Add extra salt if desired, but the fish sauce is salty.  Serve over rice.

Note:  The beauty of curry is you can put most vegetables in it.  Good options are: potatoes, green beans, carrots, celery, broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, onions, tomatoes, mixed frozen Asian veggies, etc.


Original recipe can be found on the back of the Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste jar.


Bean Soup

We had people over the other night to help us pass out candy on Halloween.  I decided last minute that I wanted to serve food to our guests, but I didn’t really have time to cook or to go to the grocery store.  I started looking through our pantry wandering if there was anything I could whip up and I re-discovered a package of mixed beans that I hadn’t used yet.  This is a great soup for serving to a large crowd.  It’s also easy to keep the ingredients on hand in your pantry as a backup. Turns out I was having so much fun with our company that I forgot to take a picture….sorry.  You’ll just have to imagine it for now :-).



3/4 bag of Hurst’s HamBeens brand 15 bean soup*

Juice of 1/2 a lime

1/2 tsp chili powder

1-2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1- 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 packet ham seasoning (included in Hurst’s Hambeen’s soup mix and it’s gluten free!)- leave out to make it vegetarian.  I’m not sure it actually has ham in it…

Cooked rice for serving



Soak beans overnight (rinse and then cover with at least 1 extra inch of water- they will swell.  Leave in the fridge overnight.  Drain water in the morning.)

Put beans in a crockpot and cover the beans with at least 1 extra inch of water.  Cook on low all day (maybe 6-7 hours).  After beans are soft, you may scoop off some of the water from the top of the beans so your soup won’t be as watery.  I just take out water until I can see the beans poking through the water.  Add all the other ingredients and allow to cook for 30 min-1 hour or more.  Serve over cooked rice.


*Texas friends- this is available at HEB.  Really, any bean soup mix would work.  If you can’t find a bag of mixed beans, you could make your own and you could mix and match the beans it contains.  This bag includes the following beans: northern, pinto, large lima, yelloweye (what in the world is that?), garbanzo, baby lima, green split pea, kidney, cranberry bean, small white, pink bean, small red bean, yellow split pea, lentil, navy, white kidney, black bean.

Swedish Meatballs

I have never had the meatballs at IKEA, but these are supposed to be fashioned after those.  If you can eat gluten and dairy and such, you may want to just want to head to IKEA and get some.  However, if you have been longing for them and you can’t eat them for some reason, here’s the recipe for you!




2 T. olive oil, divided

1 onion, diced

1 pound ground beef

1 pound ground pork- or another pound of ground beef if you can’t eat pork

1/2 c. Rice Chex crumbs (I blend them in the food processor)

2 eggs (I used the equivalent of 2 eggs using Ener-G egg replacer)

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp and 1/8 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper



1/4 c. butter (I used SmartBalance)

1/3 c. Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking Flour

2 1/2 T. arrowroot powder

4 c. beef broth

3/4 c. sour cream (I used Tofutti as a non-dairy substitute)

Salt and pepper to taste

2 T. fresh chopped parsley




Prepare Ener-G eggs.  Crush Rice Chex.  Put 1 T. olive oil in a pan and cook the onion until it’s soft.  Combine all meatball ingredients together  (meats, onions, Rice Chex, Ener-G eggs, allspice, nutmeg, salt and pepper) and stir well (I used my hands.)  Form into 1 1/2 inch balls.

Heat 1 T. olive oil in pan.  Add meatballs and cook in batches until outsides of all are brown- maybe 4-5 minutes.  Set meatballs aside.


In a skillet, melt the butter and add in the flour and arrowroot, stirring constantly.  Add in beef broth and continue cooking while still stirring, about 1-2 minutes.  Add sour cream and stir well.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Put meatballs in the gravy and allow to cook for another 10 minutes until meatballs are thoroughly done, stirring constantly.  Add in chopped parsley and serve.


Original recipe:


Picadillo Cubano (Cuban Ground Beef and Olives)

This is a dish that grew on me.  The first time I tasted it, it was strange since I hadn’t had much experience with green olives.  And pairing it with raisins?  It sounded weird.  And it was, a little bit.  But, after I got over my initial reaction, I found I was looking forward to eating leftovers.  By the time we ate the last serving, we were sad that it was gone.  All that to say, this may be out of your comfort zone, but if you’re looking for a new taste, go ahead and give it a try and let me know what you think!



1/4 c. olive oil

2 pounds ground beef

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp oregano

1 bay leaf

1 large onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

5 garlic cloves, minced

salt and pepper to taste

1- 8 oz. can tomato sauce

1 T. tomato paste

1 c. white wine

1/2 c. Spanish olives, cut in slices

1/3 c. raisins

Cooked white rice, for serving



Cook the ground beef and drain off the fat (unless you’re using grass fed- then don’t waste anything!).  Add the olive oil and heat.  Stir in the cumin, oregano, bay leaf, onion, green pepper, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.  Add tomato sauce and paste, white wine, olives and raisins.  Cook for another 30 minutes to allow the wine to cook off and to allow the flavors to combine.  I think I didn’t let it cook for the full 30 minutes the first time and maybe that’s part of the reason that the leftovers tasted better.  Serve over rice and don’t eat the bay leaf!


Original recipe:


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