cherry tomato tortellini soup

Homemade soup is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods.  Soup is easy to make and can be easily frozen for other meals in the future.  I made this soup in early November when the colder weather was just beginning to come to Michigan.  Today, the snow is on the ground and it is so easy to be able to just bring out a meal from the freezer to warm up and enjoy by the fireplace.

Serve this soup with either a side salad or some crusty bread for a delicious meal.  Enjoy!

Gather and prepare these ingredients for assembling the soup:  2 tablespoons olive oil, one large container of cherry tomatoes, minced garlic to taste, salt and pepper to taste, 4-6 cups chicken stock, frozen cheese tortellini, dried basil and parsley, 3 green onions, shredded white cheese.

In a large deep pot, heat the olive oil and add the tomatoes.  Add the garlic and salt and pepper.  Cook until the tomatoes are soft, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and continue to cook to heat until it boils. Add the tortellini and cook to directions on the bag.  I did not use the whole bag, but adjusted to the amount of stock.

Serve in large cups or bowls, topped with shredded white cheese.  So tasty and delicious!

spinach and cheese appetizer

Holiday season is here and most hostesses like to have a few easy appetizers to serve to guests, as they are waiting for the holiday meal. This is one of those easy recipes that have been around for a long time, but I have never featured on my blog.

I am not sure if this is healthy, based on the use of a refrigerated crescent roll dough, however; I tried the reduced fat version of the dough, and the results were just as tasty.  Here are the easy directions, with the option of using a variety of shredded cheese flavors.

Open a tube of crescent dough and place on waxed paper, stretching to both close the seams and elongate to a 12 inch rectangle.  Top the dough with thawed and drained frozen spinach and about 3/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste or if desired.  Roll into a log from the more narrow end of the roll.

Slice into eight wheels.  Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven on a parchment lined pan or a silpat mat for 15 to 20 minutes until browned.

Serve hot.


Tomato Gruyere frittata

Crispy omelets or frittatas are some of the easiest meals to prepare.  The key to a great frittata is an oven proof pan, preferably one that is non-stick or well protected with oil for easy serving.


This is a great recipe that was inspired by Cooking Light magazine, July 2015.  I changed up the eggs, cheese and onions, and did not happen to have any fresh thyme, but used dried thyme instead.  Here are the simple directions to make an excellent meal served with some salad greens.

Combine 2 tablespoons half and half, with 2 teaspoons dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper, and 3 eggs, plus the equivalent in egg beaters in a small bowl.  Whisk until well incorporated.

Preheat a 10 inch skillet over medium heat with 2 teaspoons olive oil to coat the pan.  Add egg mixture to the pan. Cook until the eggs are almost set, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the stove top, and sprinkle the top with 1/4 cup of shredded Gruyère cheese and then about 1 cup of halved cherry tomatoes.  Add another 1/4 cup of shredded cheese over the tomatoes.

Broil in the oven for approximately 4 minutes until browned and the eggs are fully cooked.  Garnish with additional thyme or parsley if desired.

This is the perfect recipe to serve on Meatless Mondays.  Any selection of herbs, cheeses, or vegetables can be substituted to your family’s taste profile.



shrimp creole

I was recently inspired by Cook’s Country magazine to try another shrimp dish.  Having never attempted a shrimp creole, I though it might be fun to experiment with some spice combinations recommended for a homemade creole seasoning.

This recipe comes with a seasoning mix that did not seem too spicy for our taste, and that was absolutely correct.  If you prefer super-spicy creole dishes, I would increase the amounts of this seasoning recipe.  Otherwise, you will enjoy just the perfect blend of seasoning that will make this dish seem like you are a gourmet chef, without an over the top hot mixture of spices.

Blend this recipe first and have the seasoning ready for the rest of the steps in preparation.

Combine these ingredients in a small bowl:  2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/4 teaspoon dried basil, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

Next, heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet or electric skillet.  Add 2 tablespoons flour and cook until light brown.  Then, add 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped green pepper, 3 chopped celery stalks, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Cook until all the vegetables are softened and mixed well with the flour about 6 minutes.  Next, stir in the creole seasoning.  Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of white wine. Cook another 5 minutes.  Add 1 can (14 ounce) of crushed tomatoes with 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, and 1 teaspoon sugar.  Bring up to a boil. Simmer while preparing rice for serving.

For the final step, add up to 2 pounds of uncooked large shelled and cleaned shrimp.  I used less of 26-30 per pound size.  Continue to cook until the shrimp are pink. This will take about 6-8 minutes.  Serve with a dash of parsley flakes or sprinkle with chopped green onions as a garnish.

The recipe also suggests adding 2 tablespoons lemon juice at the end after the shrimp are cooked.  I chose not to do that step.  Perhaps that would brighten the taste, but I liked the taste of the creole mixture, so chose not to add the juice.

This is a delicious recipe and one that I will prepare again for our family.


A very Mickey Halloween

A week ago we traveled to Disney’s Epcot to experience the Food and Wine Festival which is celebrated each year for several weeks during the Fall.  We had a wonderful time experiencing the countries around the World, as well as many terrific restaurants throughout the various parks.  We did make reservations in advance, because it was a busy time of year for adults. We did see many younger children, but nothing like when taking a trip to Disney during the summer months.

I wanted to share some of the desserts that are featured during the Fall that are especially Disney.  Almost at every turn, there is a bakery with seasonal Mickey treats.  I have been to Orlando 8 times for visits over the years, and three times to Disneyland.

However, I have never been during the Fall season.  The bakeries are filled with caramel apples, Rice Krispie treats, marshmallow treats, and beautifully decorated Fall sugar cookies.  Yum.  Here are some photos to enjoy and inspire for your next year’s Fall baking.

mummy cupcakes

For a couple of years I have seen photos of different mummy cupcake designs either on the Internet or in food magazines.  I decided to try them out this year for a quick sweet treat.

I used a box cake mix to make some carrot cake cupcakes.  I made only 12, and used the other half of the mix to prepare and bake a single layer cake.  I usually do that to freeze ahead for another occasion.

I used some white chocolate melted over a double boiler to ice the cupcakes for a base coat.  I allowed them to dry for about and hour, and then frosted with a #48 tip and pastry bag filled with white buttercream icing.

I use a simple recipe of 5 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, mixed with 1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar, 1/2 tablespoon orange extract, and 1 or more tablespoons of half and half.  I start with a small amount of the half and half and then just add a drop or two to get the right consistency of the icing.

Pipe the icing on in stripes like a mummy wrap.  I do refrigerate these cupcakes after placing them into cupcake wrappers for serving.  I do not bake my cupcakes in the wrapper, but place them into the wrappers just for the presentation.  I found the candy eyes at a local craft’s store.  The eyes can be purchased online as well in different sizes.

Fun to make, and fun to eat for Halloween.  Here is another way to keep Halloween alive in your home if you choose to celebrate.

sweet and salty pretzels

We had a rainy Halloween night here in Michigan.  So, we had fewer than expected Trick or Treaters, which was a bit sad.  Just like so many things from years ago, I feel that this American tradition is going to be extinct soon.

However, in the past few weeks, I have still managed to keep the fun of Halloween alive in our home.  After my husband commented that he loved chocolate dipped pretzels one day in the Sanders store near Ann Arbor, I decided to make some of my own.

By simply using some white chocolate melted over a double boiler, I dipped the ends of pretzels, and decorated with some holiday decors.  I could have done the whole bag, even though it is a bit time-consuming dipping one by one.  I used waxed paper and allowed them to dry.  The pretzels dried within an hour and I was able to bag them for a couple of friends as well.

This was very fun and I would recommend for any holiday.  I have made some other pretzel snacks in the past, and they always seem to be well-liked by everyone.

Ours were quickly gobbled up, so be sure to make a big batch, because they are quite delicious.