Zuppa Toscana – Tuscan Soup

My son the chef, Isaac, made this amazing soup while we were in Florida.

finished soup

It’s a much loved soup served at the Olive Garden and is infused with robust flavors and textures. Even 6 year old Clare and 7 year old Sophia slurped up every bite. Served with a hearty bread and some fruit it makes a perfect dinner on a chilly night. This is Isaac’s version and I hope you enjoy it.

start with two pans

Note: the soup uses a common technique of chopping three vegetables together, called a Mire Poix. In this case they were onion, carrot and celery.

Isaac in action

added mire poix

Oliver turns one – with Papa Ken

Nana Clare, Sophia, Kara and little Clare

Ingredients for a large batch of Zuppa Toscana Soup
2 pounds regular Italian pork sausage
1 pound bacon – sliced across into small pieces
4 stalks celery – diced
1 red onion – diced
2 large carrots – cut jullien into small pieces
80 oz chicken broth
4 large potatoes, washed, cut into chunks, but not peeled.
2 large stalks Kale, broken into small bunches.
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

In a large, heavy pot, brown the sausage with the carrots, onion and celery. Drain the fat.
In a separate pan, brown the bacon until crisp. Drain it.
Pour the broth into the sausage, vegetable mixture, or Mire Poix.
Add the potatoes and cook until nearly done, about 20 minutes.
Add the bacon and cream and bring temperature up.
Finally add kale and cook just until wilted.

Serve and wait for the compliments.

While we were in Florida, Oliver turned one, so I couldn’t resist a picture of him with his Papa Ken. After dinner the girls had a homework project so their mother, Kara, and I helped them sort a few pieces of it.

Creamy Chicken and Orzo in Cheese Sauce

My idea of comfort food is chicken and vegetables in a creamy cheesy sauce. Add rice or, in this case, the tiny pasta called Orzo and you have a one pan dinner that goes together in minutes and is tasty and soothing.

creamy chicken

A pesky ulcer is preventing me from eating too many spicy or acidic foods, so this was a good option. And with the cooler temps, it’s so great to have a warm meal each evening.

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
1 TBS oil
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup white wine
4 oz low fat cream cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tsp basil leaf
2 cups frozen peas
1 cup orzo pasta or white rice.

Notes: If you want to use brown rice, just cook it separately first and add it at the end.
To save time, just use a bag of frozen pre-chopped peppers and onions.

Heat the oil in a large pan.
Add the vegetables and cook until they are soft – about 8 minutes.
Remove the vegetables and add the chicken pieces to the hot pan.
Cook chicken until no longer pink inside.
Add the cheese soup, milk, wine and cream cheese and mix until blended.
Add the spices and the peas.
Add back the vegetables and simmer gently for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

If you want more spice, add red pepper flakes or chilli powder.
If you want more texture, add roasted pumpkin seeds, almonds or croutons.

This is a basic casserole that you can make in about 30 minutes in one skillet without turning on the oven.

Pulled Pork with Peach Barbeque Sauce – sugar free, GF

Quick, before the last peaches disappear for the winter, grab a few and make this wonderful pulled pork. There’s no sugar which is a plus because so many barbeque sauces are heavily flavored with the sweet stuff.
Make this in the slow cooker – or roast it slowly in your oven, and your house will smell incredible.

peach bbq pulled pork

This recipe has been adapted from Mrs. Regueiro’s Plate.
I love finding other food bloggers and I know you’ll enjoy perusing her site.

buy pork while prices are low

This is a great time to buy pork. The drought in the Midwest has caused many farmers to send their hogs to market and the prices are low. (“To market, to market to buy a fat pig. Home again, home again jiggety jig.” I do love to entertain myself.)
But we know that won’t be the case next year. They’re calling for big price increases for bacon and that already seems to be the case.

peaches are the star ingredient

For this recipe I used a pork butt roast, but you could also use a loin, which is leaner.

start sauce in a pan

• 1 Tablespoon olive oil
• 2 large onions, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed
• 2-3 peaches, pitted and chopped
• 15 oz can diced tomatoes – or 3-4 fresh tomatoes diced
• 6 oz tomato paste
• 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
• 1 Tablespoon honey
• 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 2-3 pounds pork shoulder, pork butt, or pork loin
• Whole grain hamburger buns, flatbreads, pitas or tortillas or serve plain.


Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the onions and cook until just starting to turn soft, about 3-5 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and peaches and sauté until just fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, honey and Worcestershire sauce.
Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
Blend until smooth, either with an immersion blender or by putting ingredients into a blender or food processor.
Place the pork in a large slow cooker. Pour the peach barbecue sauce over the top. Cover and cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or low for 8 to 10 hours, until the pork is cooked through and shreds easily with tongs or a fork.
Serve by itself or with hamburger buns or tortillas.

serve with whole grain bun

This would be a big hit after a long day of work. Make the sauce the night before and put this together in the morning before work. Serve with carrots and celery and your family will think you have found your inner genius!

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Chicken Sausages in Caramelized Onions

Chicken Sausages in Caramelized Onions is a recipe that can almost be done with no words.

quick and healthy dinner

My husband loves sausage, but I find most of them are too fatty for my taste.

chicken sausages

Then he found these sausages made of chicken, spinach and asiago cheese. They are fully cooked so they just need to be warmed up.
And they’re gluten free – for my friends with celiac.

cook chicken sausages in onions

Talk about a quick week night dinner!
I couldn’t wait to share them with you.
But why just warm them, when you can simmer them in onions, right?

such an easy dinner

Chop one onion.
Put 1 TBS olive oil and 1 TBS butter in a frying pan and heat up.
Add the onion and cook over a medium heat until onions have caramelized.
Add the sausages and heat slowly – about 5 – 10 minutes.

look at the spinach

While they’re heating, steam your favorite veggie.
You could serve these on a brat bun or if you need a starch, microwave a small potato.
But they are wonderful with a heaping spoonful of caramelized onions and not much else.

green veggies to round out the meal

Dinner is served!
Now you can do the happy dance.

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