Roasted Vegetable Stuffed Potato

I don’t know about you guys but to me there is nothing I love about leftover vegetables.  In fact, just last night for dinner we had leftover roast chicken with its original sides of roasted potatoes and brussels sprouts…and a side of mac and cheeseSomething needed to make up for the fact that I was eating day-old brussels sprouts.

So that’s where these twice baked roasted veggie stuffed potatoes come in.  I made one for myself for lunch a few weeks ago after Josie posted her recipe and I couldn’t have been more satisfied with the result.  I did actually use up some leftover roasted brussels sprouts and carrots and I also roasted some butternut squash (homegrown!!) while the potatoes (I make a bunch at a time) were baking.

But feel free to switch up the veggies and use up whatever you may have…like whatever you’ve got in the fridge come this Friday.  I’m quite sure leftover broccoli and cheese casserole would have quite the reinvented life in these potatoes.  And if don’t have smoked or aged gouda or Gruyere but you do have a block of sharp cheddar or Swiss or havarti or…whatever… left from your cheese board on Thanksgiving (or rumbling around in the bottom of your cheese drawer), use what you’d like.  It’s an adaptable recipe and however you go about it, I’m sure you’ll love it!


Looking for other Thanksgiving leftover makeover ideas?
Turkey Cranchiladas
Turkey Noodle Soup
Roast Chicken (or Turkey) Soft Tacos with Cilantro Cream
Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Pizza
Chicken (or Turkey) and Biscuits Pot Pie


Skillet Eggplant Lasagna

How do you cook 4 vegetarian dinners per week and have none of them ever include tofu?  This skillet eggplant lasagna is one of my answers, my friends.  Last fall we made the decision to eat less meat for a variety of reasons (health, cost, carbon footprint) and to my surprise when I took a critical look at our menus from the past few weeks recently, I realized that more than half of our dinners have been vegetarian each week.  And I think what shocks me the most is that Kyle is no longer asking where the meat is in his meals!

We’ve been eating lots of quinoa and incorporating more beans as protein substitutes and boosting our vegetable intake by eating meals centered on portobello mushrooms and eggplant.  So it hasn’t been a diet of salads and I couldn’t be happier.  This recipe is one that I adapted to a veggie version by simply swapping out the ground beef, a traditional ingredient in lasagna, for eggplant.  Since eggplant can be a tricky vegetable to work with due to its high water content, I took the method from this eggplant pasta recipe (which we also loved) and used it for this recipe.  It added a little extra to the overall cooking time but the method works great since sauteing cubed raw eggplant can take forever and oftentimes results in a mushy mass.

And while I wouldn’t categorize this a healthy vegetarian recipe (what lasagna recipe is healthy?), plain and simple, it’s awesome.  Using broken-up noodles gives you the chance forgo all the laying that happens with a traditional lasagna and you’re using just one pot and few dishes so clean-up isn’t a disaster.  The fact that it’s loaded with mozzarella, ricotta, and Parmesan cheeses certainly doesn’t hurt either.  It’s a warm and hearty meal for the chilly and rainy fall days we’ve been having recently but I can certainly see this meal happening throughout the winter as well.

Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup

Is it me or is it almost impossible to imagine eating a grilled cheese sandwich without a bowl of tomato soup?  It’s like eating a peanut butter and jelly (strawberry) sandwich on white bread without a glass of chocolate milk on the side.  The failure to complete the meal without the other half just doesn’t make sense to me.  And frankly, it makes me a little sad as well.  How many times have you said, “Man, a bowl of tomato soup would go great with this grilled cheese.”?

This creamless creamy tomato soup solves the soup-less grilled cheese issue in about 20 minutes.  Sure, it takes a little longer to cook than popping open a can but you’ll be thrilled with the results.  What makes the soup thick and creamy without the addition of cream, or any milk product for that matter, is a few slices of bread.  You’ll drop them in the cooking soup then pureé the whole mixture until it is silky smooth, the way a great tomato soup should be.  Paired with a grown-up grilled cheese on a chilly fall day…is there nothing more comforting?

Sweet Corn Cakes with Tomato-Avocado Relish

We’re having a blast in the kitchen this summer, thanks to having such great luck in the garden so far.  Our beefsteak tomato plants really surprised us in actually producing edible fruit as opposed to the rotted, blighted tomatoes we were expecting after the first couple that ripened went bad.  So with these beefsteaks and the insane amount of cherry tomatoes we’ve picked so far, at least 75% of our meals over the last few weeks have included something from our garden.

And that goes for these corn cakes too.  The tomato-avocado relish isn’t just a condiment here – it’s really part of a wholly fabulous (and quick!) meal.  Inside of 30 minutes, we had these fresh sweet corn cakes topped with the refreshing relish on the table – my kind of meal for a weeknight!  The corn toasts and sweetens even further when cooked making the light and fluffy cakes virtually irresistible.  It’s kind of like the awesomeness that grilled corn is but there is frying involved (who’s complaining?). Then they’re piled high with the type of topping that’s good enough to eat with tortilla chips or as a Tex-Mex bruschetta on crunchy bread.  In other words, this is an all-around winner of a meal and if I can get my hands on some more of that local sweet corn, we’ll be having it again soon!

Sweet Corn Cakes with Tomato-Avocado Relish

Yield: 10-12 corn cakes

To keep the finished corn cakes from getting cold while cooking the others, keep them on a wire rack in a 250° F oven. These corn cakes can almost be made a little ahead of time as an appetizer for company - just keep them warm in the oven and serve with the cold tomato-avocado relish. If you're making this dish in the winter, you can use frozen corn - just thaw it in a colander first.


    For the tomato-avocado relish:
  • 1 large tomato, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 scallion or a small handful of chives, minced
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted and diced
  • For the corn cakes:
  • 3 large ears of corn, shucked, and the corn cut off (this should yield about 3 cups of corn)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • Canola or vegetable oil, for frying
  • For serving:
  • Ranch dressing (optional but strongly suggested)


  1. To make the relish: Mix all of the ingredients except the avocado together in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 2 days. Just before serving, stir in the avocado.
  2. To make the corn cakes: Place the corn kernels in a large bowl. Place 2 cups of the corn kernels in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times, until the corn is slightly pureed but still chunky. Scrape the mixture into the bowl with the remaining corn kernels. Add the flour, cornmeal, onion, cilantro, baking powder, and baking soda to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to mix well. Add the eggs, buttermilk, and butter, and stir with a fork just to combine - the batter will be lumpy and that's fine.
  3. Place a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add just enough oil to barely cover the bottom of the pan and heat until sizzling hot. Scoop the batter into the skillet about a 1/3 cup (for main course corn cakes) or a heaping tablespoon (for appetizer-size) at a time, cooking the cakes in batches so that they are not touching while they cook. Fry 3-4 minutes per side (or 1-2 minutes per side for the smaller cakes), until golden brown. These cakes will cook a little like pancakes do so you'll know the insides are cooked through when the top of the cake is slightly firm (not hard or crisp) when gently pressed with your finger. Transfer the cooked cakes to a wire rack and keep them warm in the oven (see note above); repeat with the remaining batter. Serve hot topped with the relish and drizzled with ranch dressing, if desired.


Margherita Pizza


Sometimes deciding on what to make with the overwhelming number of tomatoes that we have is the easiest thing in the world.  And by overwhelming, I mean: so many tomatoes that they are practically yanking the tomato cages out of the ground as the plants lean with the weight of the tomatoes.  So we plucked a few San Marzanos, diced and hand-crushed them and then made a pizza.  A simple homemade pizza of crushed tomatoes as the “sauce”, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil.  Dinner seriously does not get any better than this one!  Who’s with me when I say that I’m going to desperately miss summer vegetables when they are gone?

Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries

As expected, our zucchini yield in our garden wasn’t as spectacular as it probably should have been this summer.  I don’t know what it is, but we just don’t have a green thumb when it comes to growing zucchini.  The first year we planted it, we got zero zucchini.  How depressing.  This year, our three seedling plants grew fabulously, flowered like it was there job (it was), and so far we’ve only gotten two zucchini (two more will be ready this week though).  From three plants, I don’t consider that to be a success.

But nonetheless, one of the zucchini we picked got chopped up and made into these baked zucchini fries.  And to be able to eat what we grew and picked from our own yard made for such a satisfying dinner – all of the dread of a low yield just melts away.  These fries are freaking awesome!  A quick run through a basic flour-egg-panko combination then into the oven for 20 or so minutes is all that separates you from zucchini heaven.

Because the fries aren’t actually fried, I feel like you are actually able to taste the zucchini and not just the grease (there is none of here anyway), which is certainly the goal with such fresh ingredients.  They come out of the oven crispy on the outside and tender and not mushy on the inside…and not at all watery, which I was slightly worried about since zucchini is such a watery vegetable.  While the zucchini fries were baking, I whipped up a batch of our favorite ranch dressing in the blender to dip them into – this should be a requirement when making these fries.  I have a few other recipes planned for the rest of the zucchini that we pick but it’s certainly going to take a heckavalot of restraint not to make these fries again this summer!

Tomato Cobbler

tomato cobbler

It’s August and local tomatoes here in CT are everywhere, including our backyard.  As I mentioned yesterday, we’ll likely be overrun with cherries by the end of the week, and the first heirloom we cut into last night was summer tomato perfection.  My parents attempted to grow tomatoes a few times when I was a kid but the freaking squirrels usually got the best of them so it was either up to my mom’s friends to drop a few by every couple of weeks in ever-hazy August or my mom would hit up some local farm stands.  And by local, I mean the little old Italian lady around the corner selling the vegetables she grew on her available 1/16 acre of property.  But those homegrown tomatoes…man, I could eat them like an apple and to this day, it’s the first thing I think of when August comes to mind.

tomato cobbler

So this tomato cobbler…admittedly, I was a little skeptical about this one.  Cobbler biscuits over roasted tomatoes?  Really?  But you must trust me here.  This is one fine summer meal.  In fact, it’s pretty darn spectacular (except for having to use the oven and all but really…totally worth it, people).  You’ll caramelize some onions, throw in the freshest cherry tomatoes that you can find, and whip up a super quick Gruyère-thyme biscuit batter that you’ll dollop on top of the tomatoes and onions.  The only tough part about this meal is waiting for it to bake.  But the end result is truly magical: slow-roasted tomatoes that juice out into a thick and almost-sweet sauce with deeply flavored caramelized onions and fluffy savory biscuits that soak up the sauce and add a little nuttiness to whole meal.  I urge you to try to find some local cherry tomatoes if you’re not already growing them because this tomato cobbler really is what summer eating is about!

Tomato Cobbler

Yield: 6 servings


    For the tomato filling:
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, stemmed and minced
  • 3 lbs cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red-pepper flakes
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • For the biscuit topping:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, stemmed and minced
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese (2 1/4 ounces), plus 2 tablespoons, for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream


  1. To make the filling: Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the onions and cook until caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. Stir in the garlic and thyme, and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Set the mixture aside to cool for 10 minutes. While the onions cool, preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the onion mixture with the tomatoes, flour, and red-pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and about 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  3. To make the biscuit topping: Whisk the flour, baking powder, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt together in a bowl until well-combined. Gently toss in the butter pieces and coat them with the flour mixture. Rub the butter in with your fingers (use your thumbs and first two fingers) until the mixture becomes a little crumbly and the butter forms small clumps - you'll need to use a little pressure to get the cold butter to break up so don't be afraid to "get dirty". Stir in the cheese then pour in the cream. Stir the cheese and cream in with a fork to combine just until a dough forms and no flour remains - the dough should be wet and sticky.
  4. Transfer the tomato mixture to a 2-quart baking dish or 9x13 inch baking dish. Using a large ice cream scoop or a 1/4 cup measuring cup drop clumps of biscuit dough (about 1/2 cup each) over the top of the tomatoes on the outside edge of the dish, leaving the center open. Sprinkle the tops of the biscuits with the remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese. Bake until the tomatoes are bubbling in the center and biscuits are golden brown, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer the dish to a wire rack. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.


source: adapted from Martha Stewart Living July 2011, via Pink Parsley

White Bean Ragout with Parmesan Toast

The nights when unexpected dinners turn out to be fantastic ones are such truly satisfying nights.  Take this white bean ragout, for example.  It looked great in print on the pages of Bon Appétit but the ingredients were so basic that I couldn’t help but be a little skeptical of the results.  And perhaps, it was the use of such basic ingredients the really made this meal so special.  Or maybe it was the fact that it was so completely simple to make.

The food processor does all the hard work of chopping and then you’ll simmer down the onions and red bell peppers in what may seem like a ton of olive oil (it isn’t) for half an hour.  And after adding garlic and tomato paste, you’ll just have made soffritto, only one of the most versatile bases for Italian dishes you can make.

The whole dish put together was homey, comforting, and hearty – all reasons why I love white beans so much.  We ate the ragout served atop the Parmesan toast (I used the sesame semolina bread that we love), in our hands, like a perfectly rustic bruschetta…and then we ate the leftover ragout the next night over whole wheat spaghetti where I thinned out the mixture a little with some vegetable broth to give it more of a sauce consistency.  This may be a warm and humble vegetarian meal but you won’t be sorry to make it any time of the year.

Light Meals for Hot Nights

I don’t know about you guys but I hate cooking when it’s 90+ degrees.  And I realize that if I lived in Texas, I’d have serious issues but let’s face it, somebody has to get dinner on the table.  So when it’s hotter than heck outside, it might as well be an easy meal even if the A/C is blasting all summer long (like in our wussie house)  Here a few of our favorites:

[Photos listed Left to Right, Top to Bottom]

  1. Watermelon Feta Mixed Greens Salad
  2. Greek Grilled Chicken
  3. Tabbouleh
  4. Grilled Spice-Rubbed Shrimp Nicoise Salad
  5. Chipotle & Honey Glazed Grilled Chicken
  6. Apple Pecan Chicken Salad
  7. Greek Panzanella
  8. Bruschetta with Sweet Red Peppers and Gorgonzola
  9. Spicy Bean Burritos
Quinoa Salad with Roasted Tomatoes, Broccoli, and Feta

This quinoa salad with roasted tomatoes, broccoli, and feta is light and healthy meal that can be served either warm or cold and would make a great addition to any party menu.

There are only a few nights during the year that I have the house to myself.  Very rarely Kyle will work an overnight shift or he’ll have some side work to do but I can always count on his continuing ed classes each year to give me the house to myself.  I don’t know what it is about having the house to myself in the evening especially since I spend almost every Saturday alone while he works but there’s something I love about having the freedom to cook what I want, when I want, without having to think about anyone else but myself.

And that’s how this quinoa salad happened.  I wasn’t 100% sure what Kyle would think of quinoa, never having eaten it before, so I made it for myself with plenty of leftovers in case he was hungry and adventurous when he got home that night last week.  As it turns out, I should have more faith in that man because he loved it as much as I did.  I let the oven do most of the work, roasting the tomatoes and broccoli as the quinoa simmered away, and threw in some feta and lemon juice as it all came together.  I really need to make it a point to roast tomatoes more often because they’re just plain awesome, especially when paired with feta.  This salad is light and healthy and it can be served either warm or cold (I prefer it warm).  I can see us making this quite a bit this summer and perhaps toting it along with us to various bbqs as an alternative to the heavier traditional salads usually served.

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Tomatoes, Broccoli, and Feta

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, stems removed
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 small head broccoli (about 1 ½ cups), flowers only cut small
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. On a foil-lined baking sheet, toss the tomatoes with the thyme, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the honey. Roast for 40 minutes then add the broccoli to the baking sheet and drizzle the remaining olive oil, tossing to combine with the tomatoes. Roast for an additional 20 minutes.
  2. In a 2-quart saucepan, bring the quinoa, vegetable broth, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper to a boil; reduce to a simmer, stir once, and cook, covered, for 15 minutes until the water has absorbed. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and cool until the vegetables have finished roasting.
  3. Stir the vegetables, feta, and lemon juice into the quinoa. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm, cool, or at room temperature.


source: adapted from Dinner: A Love Story

The Ultimate Veggie Burger

The Ultimate Veggie Burger

Sometime around 1999, I tried a veggie burger for the first time.  It was frozen, from the grocery store, and not as horrific as my little brother proclaimed it was.  Actually, I kind of liked it but then proceeded not to eat another one ever again.  And for no specific reason, just that beef [or chicken or turkey] burgers made more sense to me.  Flash forward to 2012 where about 50% of our meals each week are vegetarian.  This time, I have specific reasons: increasing the number of [oftentimes] lower caloric and nutrient-rich veggie-packed meals we eat, lowering our carbon footprint, saving a few bucks on meat that seems to be ever-so expensive these days, and do I even have to mention pink slime?  (Whole Foods in Danbury, CT, please hurry up and get built!!!)


For at least a year now, I’ve been wanting to make veggie burgers at home and I’m so, so glad I finally did because I totally fell in love with them.  Earthy and deeply, almost roasted flavored from sautéed vegetables and mushrooms, these burgers are a meal by themselves.  Primarily held together by a mixture of lentils, black beans, bulger, and panko breadcrumbs, the texture is decent – definitely not cardboard-esque like those which hail from the freezer section but more like that of a crab cake: light, soft, and a little messy (though not messy to cook, just a little messy to eat).  Grilled or pan-fried, served atop some homemade buns with your choice of toppings and a little garlic aioli, and you’ve got yourself a hearty and completely satisfying meatless burger.  The only downfall to this recipe is that it isn’t a quick one.  I felt like I used every pan and bowl in my kitchen that night last week and from start to finish, these burgers took me about an hour to make.  The good thing is that the recipe yields 12 large burgers (there’s no harm in even making them a little smaller) and you can freeze the uncooked remaining veggie burger patties.  For this I’m ecstatic because now I’ve got an instant and fabulous dinner ready for when we’re ready to fire up our new grill!

Greek Salad


To me, there’s nothing like a fresh salad for lunch or dinner following a heavy meal the night before and this Greek salad is the perfect example of this.  And considering my love for feta cheese and recently discovered addiction to kalamata olives, you can imagine how much I adore this salad.  You’ll made a knock-out and crazy simple homemade dressing that includes red wine vinegar, fresh oregano (grow your own this summer!), and fresh garlic to marinate the red onions and cucumbers in order to reduce the bite and boost flavor, respectively.  And in just a few minutes time, you’ll be able to throw this salad together and have a light and healthy meal on the table.  I know I’m not alone when I say this: the quicker and tastier the meal, the better.  Win win!

Greek Salad


    For the vinaigrette:
  • 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ tsp lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp minced fresh oregano leaves
  • ½ tsp table salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 medium clove garlic, pressed through garlic press or minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • For the salad:
  • ½ medium red onion, sliced thin (about ¾ cup)
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices (about 2 cups)
  • 2 hearts romaine lettuce, washed, dried thoroughly, and torn into 1 ½-inch-pieces (about 8 cups)
  • 2 large vine-ripened tomatoes (10 ounces total), each tomato cored, seeded, and cut into 12 wedges
  • 6 oz (about 1 cup) jarred roasted red bell pepper, cut into ½- by 2-inch strips
  • 20 large pitted kalamata olives, quartered lengthwise
  • 5 oz (about 1 cup) feta cheese, crumbled


  1. Whisk vinaigrette ingredients in large bowl until combined. Add onion and cucumber and toss; let stand to blend flavors, about 20 minutes.
  2. Add romaine, tomatoes, and peppers to bowl with onions and cucumbers; toss to coat with dressing. Transfer salad to wide, shallow serving bowl or platter; sprinkle olives and feta over salad. Alternatively, you can dress each salad individually, thereby allowing each person to determine how much dressing they want on their salad. Serve immediately.


source: adapted from The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook

Panera Stove Top Mac and Cheese


Have you had Panera’s Signature Mac and Cheese yet?  It’s insanely amazing!  Velvety, creamy, cheesy, and worthy of only a spoon since it’s the closest utensil to a shovel. 😉   And here is the recipe for you!  I know I lamented back in the fall about this being the very best mac and cheese recipe out there but until today, I’ve still yet to post a quick stove top mac and cheese recipe.  I’ve tried a couple different stove top recipes in the past year but none of them really had the “wow” factor I was looking for.  But this one…oh this version is different.

What I felt about other versions not tasting like they were cooked enough is not an issue with this version, even though the salt, dijon mustard, and hot sauce (oh yes!) aren’t added until right before the pasta is stirred into the sauce.  All of the unique flavors blend so beautifully and result in an unforgettable white cheese sauce that nestles itself into the shells and wraps itself around the spoon.  Kyle and I both love the slight hint of dijon that peaks out of the cheese sauce mostly because it reminds us of the mac and cheese recipes our moms made for us as kids but you can always decrease the dijon a little – don’t cut it completely though because the sauce really does need it.  This recipe has made it to our menu twice in the past two weeks and I used skim milk both times with great success (and a lot less guilt) but use whatever milk or cream you have on hand.  So the big question for you is…is this on your menu yet??

*Recipe Change Note* – After having made this recipe a few times since posting it, I have decreased the amount of flour and increased the time needed to cook the flour.  Cooking the flour in the butter a little longer will reduce the “floury” taste and will help to thin out the sauce a little.

Panera’s Stove Top Mac & Cheese

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


  • 16 oz pipette pasta or other small pasta shapes
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half
  • 4 oz white American cheese, chopped or torn into pieces
  • 8 oz extra sharp white Vermont cheddar, shredded
  • 2 tsp - 1 tbsp Dijon mustard (adjust according to your tastes)
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp hot sauce (like Frank's)


  1. In a large stockpot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.
  2. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a 4-quart sauce pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and has started to bubble, whisk in the flour; cook for 1 1/2 minutes whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook milk mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 8 minutes.
  3. Remove sauce pan from the heat and by the handful, stir in the cheeses allowing all of the cheese to melt into the sauce before adding more. Stir in the mustard, salt, and hot sauce. Return the sauce pan to the heat and stir in the pasta. Be sure to stir up the sauce from the bottom of the sauce pan and thoroughly coat all of the pasta with sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat until heated through. Serve hot in bowls with spoons.


source: Panera Bread

Disclaimer Note: This is not a sponsored post.  I simply adore this recipe – no compensation has been received for writing this post.

Spinach Lasagna

Spinach Lasagna

There’s something intrinsic about lasagna that makes it such a wonderful winter meal.  It’s more than likely that oodles of cheesiness has something to do with how a great lasagna can warm the soul on cold winter nights, very much like how soup has the same effect, but I think that the right recipe can do so much more.  The right recipe creates memories.  It evokes memories of crowded Sunday dinners at the grandparents’, of a hearty meal after a day of sledding or ice skating, of a full buffet table at a christening or anniversary party.  This spinach lasagna recipe is that type of recipe.


Made with a creamy béchamel sauce, three types of cheese, fresh spinach, and no-boil noodles that you’ll soften with hot water before using, this lasagna is a big hit around here.  It’s a fun recipe to make with a helper since there are a few steps, but the effort is well-worth the end result.  Layer after layer goes in the baking dish and after 20 minutes of baking and a few minutes under the broiler to brown-up the cheesy top layer, you’ve got truly the best spinach lasagna ever.  We’ve made this recipe a handful of times in the past year and always get the same reaction from whomever we serve it to: more please!  This is definitely a recipe we keep in our book of favorites and don’t hesitate to serve time and time again.

Restaurant Style Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Restaurant Style Spinach and Artichoke Dip

If there’s one recipe that I’ve been meaning to share with you guys over the past 3 years, it’s this one.   And for the most part, it’s because as many bloggers know, the problem with blogging certain recipes is that sometimes the dish needs to be served hot, before there’s any time to snap a few photos.  Take into account the time needed to adjust camera settings, fiddle with the light source, ensure all props are in place (none of these things are ever right even after test shots are taken when the food is still cooking), and essentially the dish starts getting cold by the time the photos are finished…every one of us is all too familiar with eating luke warm dinners.  But this doesn’t fly when you’ve got a room full of hungry people eying the steaming and bubbly spinach and artichoke dip that’s just emerged from the oven – we all know that.


So in honor of the Northeast dominated Super Bowl next weekend, I decided to make the sacrifice (ha!) to remake this dip and blog about it for you because you NEED this dip at your party.  Now, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve actually watched the Superbowl (for the record, I just don’t get football), but I’m definitely all about understanding the snacks that go with it.  This old-standby dip is kicked up a few notches with a secret ingredient: alfredo sauce.  I almost couldn’t believe it the first time my friend Andrea brought this to a party and revealed her secret but it’s true!  The alfredo sauce adds to the creaminess of the dip without having to use mayonnaise and with few other ingredients and minimal effort, I can assure you that this dip will be gone in less time than a Super Bowl commercial break.

Need more Super Bowl snack ideas?  Check out the sidebar for a bunch of winning snack ideas!