Shrimp Marinara Soup

Shrimp Marinara Soup

Soup in April?! This Shrimp Marinara Soup recipe was in Cooking Light’s May 2014 issue, so, yes, soup in April is totally acceptable!  Although this past weekend was GORGEOUS, today is supposed to be rainy and in the 50’s.  Perfect soup weather to me. I don’t cook with shrimp often, but I should.  Especially because my little guy loves shrimp so much. This meal was super quick and easy….I mean, 25 minutes or less easy!  And the kids loved it!  If you have kids that are not very adventurous eaters you many want to try this recipe out. It has pasta and marinara sauce, both ingredients that most kids are familiar with and like.  You can try cutting the shrimp up into smaller pieces, so they’re not so intimidating. Feta is pretty tangy, especially for those not familiar with the taste. However, my daughter, who is not a big cheese eater, enjoyed this soup even without the feta.

Shrimp Marinara Soup
Recipe slightly adapted from Cooking Light, May 2014

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups unsalted vegetable stock
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup uncooked orzo
2 cups lower-sodium marinara sauce
16 ounces large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 ounce, feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/4 cup)

1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, coating the pan. Add the oregano, pepper, and garlic and sauté for  30 seconds. Add the wine and cook 1 minute. Add the vegetable stock and 1/2 cup water to the pan; bringing to a boil. Stir in the orzo and cook approximately 6 minutes.  Stir in the marinara sauce and the shrimp, cooking approximately 4 minutes until shrimp are done. Spoon soup into bowls and top with approximately 1 Tbsp. crumbled feta.


Buttermilk Hush Puppies



A couple of weeks ago, we posted our recipe for “Blackened Catfish.”  To accompany the fish, the Weekend Chef made these Buttermilk Hush Puppies.  For those unfamiliar, hush puppies are deep-fried cornmeal batter, often associated with Southern food.  They remind me of the corn fritters that my mom made us growing up, but smaller, and with cornmeal instead of flour. The Weekend Chef prefers chunkier hush puppies, so he added some canned corn to the mix to add some texture. They came out of the fryer hot and crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

Buttermilk Hush Puppies
Recipe adapted from courtesy of Mama Smith

1 quart vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canned corn

1.  Heat the quart of oil in a deep fryer and preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

2. Whisk buttermilk, 1/4 cup vegetable oil and eggs in a medium sized bowl.

3. In a large bowl combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Fold the buttermilk mixture and canned corn into the cornmeal mixture until just combined.

4.  When deep fryer is ready, drop tablespoon sized balls of batter into the oil, frying approximately 3-5 minutes.   Then turn each ball and fry an additional 3-5 minutes until each ball is cooked evenly and golden brown.  Remove the hush puppies with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain.  Transfer the hush puppies to a baking pan and place in preheated oven to keep warm until ready to serve.


Southwestern Barley Chili

Southwestern Barley Chili

I was never a barley eater.  I had bad memories from back when I was a child being forced to sit at the dinner table and eat my bowl of chicken barley soup…..which I don’t think I ever did eat.  Since that time, I have never liked barley.  Recently, I discovered that I enjoy farro, which has a similar texture to barley and thought it was time to give the grain another try.  With all of the cold weather we have been having I’ve been trying to make lots of soups and chili and am always on the lookout for new and interesting recipes. This recipe inspired me to try barley again.  I figured the southwest flavors would appeal to the kids, while introducing them to barley for the first time.  I ended up discovering that although barley is still not my favorite grain, I can now eat and enjoy it!  Put some sour cream and cheese on anything and the kids will most likely eat it, including this!  This was a great chili variation and was a perfect dinner for a cold night.

Southwestern Barley Chili
Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Café, adapted from the back of the Quaker Medium Barley box


  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup medium barley (not quick cooking)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • dash cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 12 ounce bag frozen corn kernels
  • Optional Garnishes: shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, scallions, tortilla chips  (we used only shredded cheese and sour cream)


  1. In a large stock pot combine the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, barley, water, chili powder, cumin, dried oregano and cayenne. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat and add the chicken, stirring to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer the mixture for approximately 40 minutes.  Stir the chili occasionally to prevent sticking.  The barley should be tender and chewy and the chicken no longer pink.  After 40 minutes, add the beans and the corn, stirring to combine.  Simmer the chili for five more minutes, then serve with the garnishes of your choice.** Mel noted that the chili will thicken considerably upon cooling.  If reheating leftovers, you can add chicken broth or water as needed to achieve a desirable consistency.

Bruschetta Scones


We are pretty new to the world of scones.  When I think of scones I always think of a sweet breakfast pastry.  So I was intrigued by these savory scones.  These had a great combination of flavors that the adults enjoyed.  The kids did not enjoy these as much.  I think that there were too many ingredients in these that the kids didn’t like – and it was too difficult for them to pick out the things that they didn’t want to eat!   These were a great addition to have with soup and were a nice change from the usual muffins and bread that I normally make.

Bruschetta Scones
Recipe adapted from Very Culinary adapted from BHG


  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green olives, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Penzy’s Pasta Sprinkle

1. Preheat oven to 425 F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, olive oil, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and cheese.

3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and add the milk mixture; with your fingers or a fork, combine until moistened, being careful not to over mix.

4. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a 1-inch thick rectangle. With a sharp knife, cut the rectangle on the diagonal into 8 pieces. Place scones on prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until golden. Cool slightly before serving.


Italian Herb Muffins


Whenever I make soup for dinner I also try to make a muffin or a bread to go with it.  Soup just doesn’t seem filling enough as a meal by itself for me.   I love to make muffins because they’re so easy and leftovers can be eaten frozen and/or eaten for breakfast.  These are an easy to make, savory muffin.  As the Mr. noted, they have an almost biscuit-like consistency.  The kids were surprisingly not big fans of these muffins.  However, I think that these muffins made a nice side to have with our soup.

Italian Herb Muffins
Recipe slightly adapted from One Perfect Bite
Yield:  10-12 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. Penzey’s Pasta sprinkle
3 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease a 12 cup muffin tin (or you can use cupcake liners).

2. Combine flour through salt in a large bowl.  In another bowl combine the egg, milk and vegetable oil.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined.

3.  Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake in oven for 15-20 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Cool for 5 – 1o minutes in the pan and then take the muffins out and let them continue to cool on a wire rack.


Sharing at the Tasty Tuesday Recipe Link-Up.

Red Curry Turkey and Zucchini Meatloaf in a Coconut Milk Red Curry Sauce


Meatloaf just screams comfort food.  It is also a really versatile dish in that you can pretty much give it any flavor profile that you want.  Baking ground turkey made me a little hesitant, since it can dry out very easily.  However, the combination of ingredients in this recipe gives it enough moisture that the meatloaf stayed moist and there’s a sauce to add on top.  This meatloaf is packed full of flavor from the curry paste.  The kids ate this but didn’t love the sauce.  We served this with rice and veggies.

Red Curry Turkey and Zucchini Meatloaf in a Coconut Milk Red Curry Sauce
Recipe adapted from Closet Cooking


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 2 cups zucchini, shredded and squeezed to drain excess liquid
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • zest of one lime
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

For the sauce:

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 2 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons  sugar


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly spray baking sheet or loaf pan (if using) with cooking spray.

2. Combine ground turkey through the cilantro until mixed well.  Form into a meatloaf shape and place on baking sheet or put in loaf pan.  Bake for 45-50 minutes or until it reaches 160 degrees F. on a meat thermometer.

3.  While the meatloaf is baking, heat oil in a small pot over medium-high heat. Add the curry paste, heating for a minute or two.  Then add coconut milk through sugar stirring to combine.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes.

4.  Once meatloaf is done cooking, slice and serve topped with sauce.

Spicy Cider Beer Braised Chicken Enchilada Tacos with Sweet Chili Apple-Pomegranate Salsa


As I mentioned yesterday, our supper club’s January theme was alcohol.  I chose beer, thinking I would make some type of beer-braised chicken dish.  When I found this recipe I knew this was what I was going to be making.  Saturdays are busy with our morning farmer’s market trip, my son’s basketball game, and our weekly trip to the library.  Tieghan from Half Baked Harvest, where I found this recipe, gives directions on how to cook the chicken in the slow cooker.  So, of course, I went that route! The name’s a mouthful, but the dish is oh so flavorful!  It went really well with the black beans and whiskey glazed carrots that other supper club members had made.   Everyone enjoyed these tacos!  The flavors of the spicy chicken mixed with the sweet of the fruit salsa worked really well together.  This is not a dish that I’d think of making for the kids, based on the “spicy” and “sweet chili” in the title.  However, we had lots of leftover chicken and for lunch the next day both kids ate tacos without the salsa.

Spicy Beer Braised Chicken Enchilada Tacos with Sweet Chili Apple-Pomegranate Salsa
Recipe very slightly adapted from Half Baked Harvest


  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 2 chipotle chilies in adobo, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or more or less to taste
  • salt and peper
  • 1 (8 ounce) beer
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup enchilada sauce
  • 8 warmed flour or corn tortillas, for serving
  • sharp cheddar cheese and queso fresco for serving

For the Sweet Chili Apple-Pomegranate Salsa:

  • 2 apples, finely chopped (we used gala)
  • arils from one small pomegranate
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 2-4 tablespoons sweet thai chili sauce


1. Add chicken through enchilada sauce into crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or low 4-6 hours. Shred the chicken and return to the crockpot. If needed cook the chicken oh high for 30 minutes with the lid off to help thin the sauce.

2. Meanwhile, make the salsa. Add the chopped apple, pomegranate arils, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice and sweet thai chili sauce to a bowl. Toss well to combine, taste and adjust if needed. Cover and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

3. Once the chicken is done cooking, remove it from the pot and shred with two forks. Meanwhile reduce the sauce that is left in the pot down to about 3/4 of a cup. Add the shredded chicken back to the sauce in the pot and toss. Next add the enchilada sauce and continue to cook about 2 minutes or until warmed through. If the sauce gets too thick, add a splash of apple cider.

4. To serve, add the shredded chicken to a warmed taco shell. Top with cheddar, avocado and then the apple salsa. Sprinkle with queso fresco and chopped cilantro.


Ben’s Cognac Risotto


We belong to a Supper Club with two other couples.  Each month we rotate hosting duties and each of the six members cooks a dish that fits that particular month’s theme.  We end up eating six awesome dishes each time we meet!  January’s Supper Club meeting was at our house,  with the theme being “alcohol.”  Each person chose a different alcohol and had to make a dish using their booze of choice.  The Mr. chose cognac and made this risotto. Risotto is a particular favorite of ours that requires a bit of time and attention to make well.  The combination of flavors in this dish really complimented each other and tasted amazing.  Supper Club was a perfect opportunity to make this recipe since this is not a dish that the kids would enjoy.  They both really dislike mushrooms even though are exposed to them every time it’s in a meal at home. For us, though, the umami of the mushrooms brought an extra comforting dimension to the richness of the chewy rice and cheese. The flavor of the cognac wasn’t overpowering and was one that we usually wouldn’t think of adding. Alcohol isn’t on our regular ingredient list for food, but it should be. Also, we probably should have made more risotto. There was only one lonely serving in the fridge after everyone left. We would definitely make this again.

Ben’s Cognac Risotto
Recipe very slightly adapted from, courtesy of The Gambaro Family


  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 15 small Portobello mushrooms– cleaned, trimmed and quartered
  • 2/3 cups cognac
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 7 cups vegetable stock (we used Better Than Bouillon, which we featured recently in this “Friday Favorites” post)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 medium shallots, peeled and minced
  • 1 3/4 cups arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add cognac, bring to a boil, and reduce the liquid by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, add cream and simmer 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside. Bring the stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter with the oil in a deep, heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter and oil. Add simmering stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Wait until liquid is almost completely absorbed before adding more. This process will take about 20 minutes. The rice should be just cooked and slightly chewy.

Stir in the mushroom mixture and cheese. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper and serve garnished with parsley.


World Nutella Day: Nutella-Stuffed Baked French Toast Casserole



Today is World Nutella Day.  A day dedicated to the Italian sweetened hazelnut spread that we all love and enjoy.  It’s become a staple in our house where sometimes breakfast consists of a bagel with Nutella spread.  To celebrate this special day I am sharing Nutella-Stuffed Baked French Toast.  My kids LOVE breakfast food.  We were talking about giving things up for Lent and I reminded him that it has to be something that he really likes.  His response was breakfast!  No, I had to tell him, you can’t give up breakfast for Lent!  In the midst of our eating less meat, the kids have thus far been really great sports about it.  Even if I make a meal that they may not enjoy, they’ve been really great about eating some of it and giving it a try.  Each week I try to make a recipe that I know will be a definite hit with them.  I have lots of breakfast recipes bookmarked and know that breakfast for dinner will always be a win.  Well with this recipe, you mix French toast, already a big hit with the kids, with some Nutella?!!  To say they loved this would be an understatement.  A benefit of working at home is that I was able to prep this French toast in the morning and let it sit all day.  For busy families, you can prep this the night before and then bake in the oven the next day.  I call this a casserole since it’s cooked in a baking dish.  However, we cut pieces like those picture above to serve it.

Nutella-Stuffed Baked French Toast Casserole
Recipe adapted from the little kitchen

**Note:  You can pre-make this French toast the night before and bake in the oven the next day.


  • 6 teaspoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 14 slices white bread
  • approximately 1/2 cup nutella hazelnut chocolate spread
  • 6 large eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Original Bisquick™ mix


1.Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with baking spray and set aside.
2. Spread Nutella on 7 slices of white bread and cover each with the remaining slices, so you have 7 sandwiches.3.  In a large bowl, mix the eggs and milk together. Add vanilla  extract and continue mixing. Mix in Bisquick® mix and melted butter, using a whisk if necessary to break up any clumps. Add sandwiches to the baking dish, overlapping so they fit in the pan. Pour Bisquick mixture over the bread, making sure all of the bread is covered. Allow to soak for 15 minutes (or overnight in the refrigerator).
4.  Bake  in the oven for 45 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Tortellini Soup with Artichokes


Soup. It’s what’s for dinner.  Nothing beats soup on a cold day, and here in New York we’ve been experiencing lots of cold weather!  In honor of National Homemade Soup Day, we are sharing this recipe for Tortellini Soup with Artichokes.  To be honest, the kids did not enjoy this soup.  We think there were too many ingredients in it that they didn’t like.  We were happy enough with them eating the tortellini and the accompanying bread.  Since the adults enjoyed it a lot, we thought it was worth sharing!

Tortellini Soup with Artichokes
Recipe adapted from foodiecrush

6 cups vegetable broth
16 oz. package frozen tortellini
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
15 oz. can chick peas, rinsed and drained
15 oz. can artichoke hearts, chopped
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups baby spinach

1.  Pour broth into a Dutch oven or stock pot and bring to a boil.

2.  Add the tortellini and sun dried tomatoes, cooking until the tortellini float to the top, approximately 3-4 minutes.

3.  Reduce the heat to low and add the chick peas through red pepper flakes, cooking for 2-3 minutes.

4.  Add the spinach and cook until wilted.