Turkey Chili Casserole: A Superbowl Fav!

This recipe was the easiest thing I have ever made and the perfect combination of salty and sweet!  Lance and I have been frequenting Trader Joe’s lately, and we sampled some Turkey Chili Casserole and had to make it.

  1. Four cans Trader Joe’s Turkey Chili (or about 8 cups of chili of any variety).
  2. 12 oz Mexican Blend shredded cheese
  3. Trader Joe’s Cornbread Mix (or any cornbread mix)

For the cornbread mix I needed:

  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Pour 8 cups of chili into the bottom of a 9×11 pan. In a large mixing bowl, put all the ingredients together for the cornbread mix, then pour it on top of the chili.  Sprinkle the entire package of cheese on top of the cornbread mixture.  Put in the oven at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until it appears golden-brown.


Cheater Cheater, Cheese Sauce!

This week Michael made it to the grocery store on his own while I was away for a pleasant girls weekend in Philadelphia.  I am so grateful for the favor.  This way we did not have to make mystery meals through out the week with whatever it may have been left around in our pantry.

He came home with a cauliflower- and for some reason this is a thing I generally avoid when shopping.   I think its just because I just haven’t mastered making it taste good- unless of course its covered in cheese!  I was also feeling a heavy case of the Mondays… so roasting a vegetable seemed ruthless after a long tired day.   Starting the week with cheese and no workout on the books felt a little like a personal sabotage.

While trying to plan the evening menu I was reminded of a delicious cauliflower soup recipe Ive made in the past, and how there is NO added dairy.  Then my mind tripped over seeing a whole30 IGer who obsesses over cauliflower ‘Alfredo sauce.’

So, I very lazily put together this VERY delicious, easy peasy, and NOT SO bad for you cheese or Alfredo sauce.


Ingredients :

  • 1 Large Cauliflower
  • 1/4-1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt/ Pepper

Thats it!

My cauliflower was scary in size.   I used about a 1/4 for the sauce, and a 1/4 to steam.

  1. Boil your cauliflower for the sauce- about 30 minutes.  It should be fall apart tender.
  2. Blend your cauliflower ( I used the nutribullet), with remaining ingredients and about a 3/4 cups cooking water from boil.

Pro Tip : more cheese, more yum.  less cheese, less guilt.  Its truly a win-win situation!

That is ladies and gents!

It seriously taste ALL cheesy.  The consistency of a cauliflower matches exactly that of blended cream.  The nuttiness caries along with the nutty parm cheese.  I can’t believe how yummy this mostly veggie blend can taste.

I plan to guise many a veggie sides with this:  zoodles (zucchini noodles), roasted broccoli, the list is easy enough to make long- because what doesn’t taste good with guilt free cheese sauce!?




Fast Easy Dinner!

I am not the cook in this household.  Leave it up to my husband to make everything from Korean chicken drumsticks to fresh home-made tomato sauce.  I’m normally the one who is at a loss for meal ideas on the two days a week that I have to prep and make meals.  We always joke that I only make casseroles or something similar, I’m not big into cooking.  This week was no different but I did decide to mix it up with baked chicken fajitas (seriously so easy) and the recipe below.  I adapted this meal by cooking it in the dutch oven for 45 mins since I forgot it called for 4 hours in the slow cooker…fail.  Either way it was pretty good and made for a few substantial lunches for us for the remainder of the week.  I got the meal from recepiemothers.com!  Bon Appetite!


 1 Slow cooker (in this case I used a dutch oven)
– 1 package of chicken broth (32 oz) (I didn’t use all 32 oz about 3/4)
– 1 package of your favorite tortellini (20 oz, we used three cheese)
– 1 lb spicy italian sausage (buy this loose it’s much easier)
– 2 Cans Diced Tomatoes (seasoned with basil, garlic & oregano)
– 8 oz. Cream Cheese (try low fat).
– Grated Parmesan Cheese for toppings

1. Take your cream cheese out of the fridge, and let it sit while you quickly brown your meat.

2. Add the sausage and tortellini to your Crock Pot. Pour the tomatoes, liquid and all, and broth over the top. Add your cream cheese to the Pot in chunks.

3. Give your Crock Pot a good stir to get everything evenly distributed, making sure the liquids are adequately covering the tortellini. 

photo credit: recipe mother.com

photo credit: recipe mother.com

Easy, cheap, healthy, AND versatile meal prep!? Finally!

Meal prep is a time consuming and necessary bother.  It takes a few hours that could otherwise finally be that rest you swore you were going to get on a Sunday afternoon.  The benefits make it a non-negotiable for me… I save money and calories by not indulging on convenient breakfast and lunch sammis, and I save time through out the week when my meals are all ready to simply be portioned and dropped into my adorable polka dot lunch pail.

I generally carve out 3 or so hours in a week.  Often Sunday afternoon or Monday evening.  Things that are ‘healthy’ are a challenge because either they require extreme amounts of prep (read: peeling, chopping, sautéing, etc) OR you have the concern of it turning rather quickly (i.e.-produce for a salad).  The best compromise we have found is : egg bakes full of proteins and veggies for breakfast and soups for lunch.

Well, I’m nearing our second year of those exact same meals every. Single. week.  Every week it’s the same breakfast or the same soup for five days straight.  Although we do our best to change the soup from week to week- it never fails – by Friday I just can’t force myself to bring the spoon to my mouth one more time.  Sometimes I just skip lunch to avoid the soup for the fifth time!

I realize this is ridiculous and thought hard on a meal prep that I could tweek from day to day.  It dawned on me- pulled chicken!

Easier than any soup : I threw a few herbs and aromatics in a pot with 3 full chicken breasts and poached for ten minutes! Done.


One tablespoon of butter

3 smashed garlic cloves

one quarters onion

two branches of basil leaves

a few celery hearts with leaves

one lemon

whole peppercorns

two bay leaves

four or five pieces of corriander!

After I pulled this chicken out I continued to cook down the liquid to make a vegetable flavored stock, awaiting within a mason

jar for my next crazy concoction!


Let the chicken cool- and then the fun part! Pull it with fingers or forks.  That’s it!

This week I plan to have BBQ chicken, a salad topped with chicken, some brown rice and chicken tossed in teriyaki sauce, the options are endless… And all so DIFFERENT !!


It took ten minutes, it cost around $6.00 bucks, and it offers a variety of options for the week!

The moral of the story : Sometimes if you don’t make things so complicated you’ll find things then won’t be so complicated ! 😏😉

Sopranos Sausage Beans & Greens Soup


I’m half Italian.  My dad is one of those guys from Eastern Pennsylvania who walks the walk and talks the talk….you know.  The “cool as a gabagool” type.  There are a few things that make me feel almost as Italian as him.  One is watching the Soprano’s and feeling almost certain that I have met someone in the Mafia.  The second is making Beans and Greens.

So, I made a soup that’s sure to satisfy the entire family: wether you’re serving 2 or 6; this is the recipe for you.

soup in pot


1 bunch of kale

7-9 cloves of garlic

1 1/2 lbs of sausage (sweet or hot ground)

2 cans of cannelloni beans

1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes

2 medium potatoes (peeled unless using red)

7-9 bullion cubes

7-9 cups of water (same amount of bullion cubes)

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

sour cream

In a dutch oven or big pot, cook the sausage through.  While the sausage is cooking, chop potatoes into bite sized pieces.  Toss them into the pot when the Sausage is done cooking.  Add minced garlic cloves, bullion cubes and water and turn heat up to high to bring to boil.  While you’re waiting for it to boil, remove kale from stem and tear into bite-sized pieces and wash thoroughly.  Add Kale and red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and let simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.  Rinse the beans in a strainer and add to pot along with parmesan cheese.  Stir and serve.

soup final

If you want to add a little creaminess without the calories or heaviness of cream, add a dollop of sour cream to your serving and stir.  Yum!

Quick and Easy Peach Cobbler

 I certainly have a sweet tooth- and luckily so does my man.  Generally I want something terrible- chocolate covered chocolate topped with peanut butter and an extra side of peanut butter!  He on the other hand loves traditional desserts -pies and ice creams.  His favorite is an apple dumpling (read: NOT quick, Not easy.)

This week we happened to have a few summer peaches on hand.  So after dinner, when there is not chocolate on hand (because the only way is total avoidance)- I scurried through the kitchen to find some way to tolerate the slightly soft peaches before they had the chance to turn entirely AND to  satisfy my need for a late night post dinner snack!

A close second to a dumpling- is a cobbler.  I once picked up the most adorable mini ceramic loaf pans with dreams of making individual zucchini breads, or personal turkey meatloaves.  Neither nor ever came to fruition- but today they got to see the light of day (or a hot oven)!

Most of these things are usually setting around the average kitchen :

Preheat Oven @ 450 degrees.

  • 1 peach (we had a half each)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • pinch 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 (plus) tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon flour (2 full if no flax)

Slice your peaches thin- you wont bake them long and you dont want them to be cold in the centers!



First mix the dry ingredients, then press the cold butter into the dry mixer until it is all wet and begins to clump. Leave no dry product!



Top your peaches!



Bake until you are happy with the color on top (this was about 12 minutes for my oven).



I go without milk -but Mikey, he likes it!


8 Kitchen Gadgets I can NOT live without!

Cooking is by far one of my favorite hobbies.  My mother started me young.  She told me I once said, “When I grow up I want to be a chef, an author, and an artist … so I think I will just write and illustrate my own cookbooks!”  Actually I think it was more like “I can make a cook book and draw the pictures in it too.”

I think a lot of people can relate to the satisfaction one finds while cooking.  It combines so many senses and for me has become a source of meditation.  Whether you love to create a new recipe,  a new flavor, or a beautiful presentation – no one can deny the thrill of compliments on a plate well done.

No matter what degree your love for cooking may be – the reality is  this is a hobby that takes a LOT of time.   I am often in search of any possible short cut – but without sacrificing the results!

All of these gold mine finds were purchased off of Amazon.  For products we found we needed on our own : Our criteria was simple:  Prime Eligible and the cheapest of the 4-5 Star customer rating.  If we fell in love with a product but were not happy with the price we would refer to an Amazon price checking and price history tracking site called camelcamelcamel.com .

Another large influence was from watching the show America’s Test Kitchen.   Those who are prime eligible – you must watch!  This show is brilliant!  They spend days testing recipes and products and share the most successful outcomes in at home chef language with scientific support for why it works.  I have found a new love for eggs because they have taught us out to perfect them.  I have found the best chefs knife and Green kitchen cleaners- and with out the professional chef price point!  Check out all of their professionally tested equipment reviews here! I will notate the America’s Test Kitchen products with a * – so that way you don’t ONLY have to take my word for it 😉

Here are 8 kitchen gadgets I have found over the past year that have saved the day on several occasions!

1. Salad Spinner :


I went with the Prepworks from Progressive International SALL-6 Salad Spinner with Handle.  This little guy holds 2.5 quarts – I might wish I splurged on a 5 quart barrel for how often I use it- but either way, it is worth every penny of the $14.95 we paid!  We eat salad daily, and it is just not enjoyable when your lettuce is weighted down with excess water.  Or when your dressing falls to the bottom of the bowl in a wet and muddled puddle!  There is no other efficient way to do it – and for under $20.00 we have used this 4 our of 7 days a week since we bought it.  Note; not dishwasher safe :/  Our bowls are slightly morphed (but still usable!) after a few too many hot water baths.

2. Garlic Press :

garlic Press

WHY, WHY did I EVER bother mincing tiny itty bitty pieces of garlic leaving my hands to reek of the offensive garlic odor for days after the meal?  Garlic Press = Problem solved.  YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO PEEL IT!  Hellloooo … just get it: Prepworks from Progressive International GIGP-93 Aluminum Garlic Press with Non-Stick Coating for $9.19 on Amazon.com

3. Oil Mister *

Oil Mister

I did not even know this was a thing?  Thank you A.T.K.!  Why buy cooking spray when you have olive oil already?  Well because when you pour it in the pan – it is too heavy a layer.  Now this is refillable (aka REUSABLE), add your preferred oil, and you get a thin and even layer.  You will save tons of money in the long run with this $10.53 Norpro Stainless Sprayer Mister .  Bonus – this is dishwasher safe.  You could even use this to infuse oils as the picture shows!

4. Thermometer


It is actually scary that we let ourselves play with the temperature of our meats with faulty and dated meat thermometers.  Did I think that flicking the dial of my water logged thermometer would give me a MORE accurate read or less accurate but more hurried?  Stupid, this is my health we are talking about.  After watching A.T.K. – we started our search, but we were not ready to commit to their $100 suggestion.  In the end we fell for the $24.99 Lavatools Thermowand.  Reads in just seconds.  Plus- it comes in the ultra cute Mint color.

5. Knife Sharpener *


Everyone should know the power of a sharp knife.  It is hard to find a reasonably priced and worth while knife ( I would like to say we did, and I will tell you about it shortly).  BUT if you have a set that you are happy with, and simply need to touch the blade periodically you can do so with the $8.85 AccuSharp 001 Knife Sharpener.  Bonus: this duals as a TOOL sharpener as well.

6. Mandolin Slicer


We eat salad ALL the time.  Or at least some form of vegetable with most of our meals.  Michael is willing to down a bowl – no joke – of JUST greens.  I on the other hand am a women; so I make things complex and have a picky palate – duh 😉  I like to add tomatoes, a cucumbers, carrots, cheese, radishes, and whatever other fresh vegetable I can to my salads.  HAND chopping all of that?  Forget it, takes too long.  Finally we gave in and bought this OXO Good Grips Complete Grate and Slicer Set for around $29.00.  I love doing my veggies on the quick, thin, and consistent straight blade, my carrots on the course grater, and cheeses on the fine grater.   Bonus Julienne Blade if you are feeling fancy.  It all conveniently slides into the container with measuring marks.   I LOVE THIS THING SO MUCH!

7. 8″ Chef Knife *


I never knew what a relief a sharp knife is.  I once had a roommate who was a professional chef – he had it all when it came to the kitchen.  Using his knife was like a special treat.  How it would just glide through anything was remarkable.  I literally did not know their were knives this great out there.  It made me enjoy cooking more- I was not struggling to make a cut or a dice.  Even after moving on, I still was not ready for the splurge of a chef knife.  But after being convinced by America’s Test Kitchen, and watching after CamelCamelCamel – we have finally met the love our kitchen lives.  Now going for only $33.00 you can get the perfect priced perfect chef knife: Victorinox Fibrox 8″ Chefs Knife.  You will not be sorry if you make this purchase TODAY. How can you not trust the makers of the original Swiss Army knife!

8. Nutribullet


Anyone who knows me knows my obsession!  I LOVE YOU NUTRIBULLET!  When my roommate moved out to his own little flat, it was only weeks before I had to have my own nutribullet.  This thing is just amazing.  The blade cuts and crushes ice flawlessly.  The smoothies I make in this machine are perfect and complete in seconds.  Not to mention the motion of the blade is emulsifying … which means I can cream soups in this beast as well.  The pack also comes with a milling blade – I can make seeds into powders and nuts into butters.  If you don’t LOVE eating greens – this is a great way to sneak them into your diet with out even tasting them!  Check out my post on how smoothies have helped me get through the days!  It is all thanks to my nutribullet.  This one is by far the splurge on the list – but watch the price tracker sites and you might find a price that you are more than pleased with.  I got mine for around $75.00.

Okay my fellow kitchen Diva’s and Duder’s  – I want to hear about what gadgets make for a better cooking experience?  Share the wealth !


‘Tis the Season for Soup !

Soup is easily on my top ten favorite foods list.  It is warm (and I am never warm enough), it is nostalgic ( it reminds me of moms, home cooking, and sick days), and it can be relatively healthy (when you want it to be).

Mike is exceptionally skilled at making soups.  We love to spend Sunday’s preparing meals for the week and soup is often our go-to lunch.  This helps us to keep an eye on our budget and our waistline.  We make a variety of soups ENTIRELY from scratch, including our own stock (this helps us keep it low sodium).   Generally we steer clear from cream based soups.  We primarily make chicken& rice, beef veg, or ham&bean.

This year we signed up for a weekly local crop share that forced me to ‘cook outside of the lines!’  When I received a few bunches of leeks the only thing that came to mind was potato&leek soup.  I avoided looking up the recipe for sometime- assuming it was full of milk, butter, or cream.   All the potato& leek soups I have ever had were so velvety, I believed there is no way it could be made without!  Eventually the thought of waste encouraged my research.  I found a recipe that yielded just a half cup of milk and – Voila!  My new favorite soup.

GAME CHANGER:  The recipe I originally read called for chicken broth.   I already had some smoked turkey broth on reserve.  This added a luscious bacony flavor that makes this soup taste like a total cheat.   You can use any broth you choose based on diet or availability.   I must say though, the real reason I rave about this soup is because of the smokey flavor.  To make your own smoked turkey broth you will want to venture out to a local butcher or meat deli.  I picked up a pack of smoked turkey ‘parts’ (usually spine) for $2.00.  At home I boil them for a few hours.  After I remove all meat parts from the bone (for the most favorite of dog treats), I store the homemade broth or stock in my fridge or freezer.  Not only are the parts cheap, I have created dog treats, cooking broth, AND using the bones for stock adds nutrients while avoiding the preservatives that a bouillon will add.  $2.00 win!



• 1 bunch leeks (4 to 5)
• 1/2 large white onion, chopped
• 2 cubed russet potatoes (I like to keep the peels on:that’s where the nutrients are kept! oh and it saves lots of time.)
• 1 tbsp flour
• 1 tbsp butter
• 4 cups homemade smoked turkey broth!  (or any low-sodium broth you can get your hands on)
• 1/2 cup whole milk (go all out with fat content here, it makes the difference for texture and you are using such a small amount)
• pinch of sea salt and loads of fresh cracked pepper


Cube potatoes to a 1/2 inch.  Slice leeks up to the dark green stem.  (Note; Leeks have layers and they hold on to dirt- make sure to give them a very good wash after slicing).  Chop onions to 1/4 inch.   I use a mandoline for the leeks and ninja blender for my onions to speed up my food prep.  Use what you have.

Leeks prep

slice, wash, dice !

Create a roux.  This is my roux tip:  while the butter is melting in the bottom of your pot on medium heat quickly whisk 1 tbsp of milk and 1 tbsp of flour in a separate bowl.  Then using a wooden spoon add your flour mixture to the melted butter and stir.  This helps keep the flour from ceasing up and becoming a dough.  Roux makes your soup thick in the end and gives a smooth salty flavor from butter. 

Leeks roux

Tip: add milk to flour before mixing with melted butter


Now add stock/broth, leeks, onion, and potatoes to your roux at medium/high.  Once it reaches a boil you want to cover the pot and move the temperature to low.  Allow the soup to simmer for 25 minutes.  Once you are able to easily pierce the potato with a fork, your cooking process is complete.

Pull the soup and blend.  If you have an immersion blender this is a bonus.  I do not, so I used a nutribullet!  I added milk, salt, and LOTS of fresh ground pepper to taste as I was blending.

Leeks spoon

Enjoy a warm, creamy, guilt free bowl of rich and smokey Potato&Leek Soup.


Do you have a must-try soup recipe we can add to our lunch menu?