Creamy Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

Hi, how was your weekend?

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Did you go out for Valentine’s day? Or as I like to lovingly call it, amateurs night. No offense, truly. I’m all for a romantic date night out, but Valentine’s day is NOT the time for it. The wait times at restaurants are ridiculous and talk about screw ups coming out of the kitchen. I prefer to grab a movie, make a great dinner or get some take out, and cuddle up on the couch with my love.

However, my husband and I went out to run some errands on Saturday afternoon and we decided to grab a bite to eat before we went home. We seriously didn’t think about it being Valentine’s day weekend AT ALL. We walked into the first restaurant and we were told the wait would be an hour, uhhh forget it. This would be the point that we started to realize that it was amateurs night. We called another restaurant and that one had a 2 hour wait! Seriously, who was out there waiting for 2 freaking hours!? Thankfully our favorite sushi spot only had a 15 minute wait. I guess I wasn’t worried about going out to eat on Saturday, because I figured most people would want to celebrate on the actual holiday. Oh how very wrong I was!

So, lets talk about soup.

Tomato Basil Soup

Now that the temperature has dropped to below frigid and going outside requires 50 million layers of clothing, this is the perfect time to warm yourself up with a steaming bowl of soup.

And I can’t think of a better soup to do it with than a creamy tomato soup that is swimming with chunks of sausage and noodles!

The creamy tomato basil Parmesan part makes the soup feel sophisticated and classy, but then we throw in some Italian sausage and noodles and it’s comfort food at it’s finest, as well as a balanced meal. I mean, we’re practically hitting all the food groups here…basil counts as a vegetable right? Oh, and if you dump all the noodles into the soup they will suck the liquid up and the next day it will be more like a pasta, so you kind of get a two for one meal deal here! Just an idea for leftovers.


Creamy Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, ground
  • 2 tsp. Olive oil
  • 1 White onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. Butter
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 C Flour
  • 5 C Chicken stock
  • 2  14.5 oz. Cans fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. Oregano
  • 2 tsp. Sugar
  • 8 Fresh basil leaves, diced
  • 16 oz. Heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 C Parmesan cheese
  • 16 oz. Shell noodles, cooked


  1. In a large dutch oven or pot heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook, stirring frequently to break up into small chunks. Cook until sausage is browned and cooked through. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Add butter to pot and melt, add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Sprinkle onion mixture with flour and stir well. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add tomatoes, bay leaves, oregano, sugar, and salt. Place a lid on the pot and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  4. Remove bay leaves and add heavy cream, basil, and Parmesan. Use a stick blender to smooth out the soup, you can also use a food processor, or just leave it as is if the chunks don’t bother you.
  5. Add sausage to the soup and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  6. Spoon noodles into individual bowls and ladle soup over top. Garnish with additional Parmesan and basil.

Brown Butter Brown Sugar Cookies

I’m so excited to share this recipe with you today!

Brown Butter Brown Sugar Cookies


First of all, it’s Friday. Yay for that!

Second, this is my new favorite cookie recipe. I mean, brown butter, hello, what’s not to love?

I’m pretty sure I have already told you all how boring and old lady-ish I am when it comes to cookies, because I love oatmeal raisin. And of course when I’m not busy being a geriatric 90 year old, the 5 year in me wants the thick sugar cookie with fluffy icing in the bakery window. Annnnd that’s about as far as my love for cookies goes, from one end of the spectrum to the other. I’m just a weirdo like that.

However, I got a craving for cookies a few weeks ago, of course I didn’t have anything in particular in mind. But I kept thinking about some kind of brown sugar cookie. So I got to work in the kitchen and came up with these amazing cookies. I ate so many the first night I made them that I got a stomachache, sorry not sorry!

Did I mention the brown butter?

Because these cookies are made with brown butter!

Make them…just don’t eat 6 in a row, they’re rich. I don’t know what came over me that night. Oh wait, yes I do, brown butter!

Brown Sugar Cookies with Brown Butter


Brown Butter Brown Sugar Cookies

  • 1  1/2 Sticks butter
  • 1  1/4 C Brown sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 C Flour
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla bean paste


  1. Preheat oven to 375º.
  2. Melt butter in a pot over medium heat. Gently swirl the butter and watch it closely, once it begins to brown pull it off the heat and let it cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir together flour, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Add the egg and vanilla bean paste and beat just until incorporated. Slowly mix in dry ingredients and stir well.
  5. Use a tablespoon measure to scoop out rounded balls of dough and set them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Rigatoni with Chorizo and Manchego

What’s up with this weird weather?

I don’t really mind the snow, but I prefer to get it over with all at once. And this 50 degree weather in Ohio makes me think that we’re going to get slammed with some freak snowstorm in May.

We’re going to pay for the drunken nights that mother nature has been having lately!


Rigatoni with Chorizo and Manchego

We have been on a chorizo and spicy Italian sausage kick in my house lately. We made burgers with chorizo the other night and we had some kind of sloppy Joe-esque type of sandwich using spicy Italian sausage a couple of weeks ago, which will make its way to the blog as soon as I get the meat to sauce ratio down pat. But then I made this pasta and oh man is it good. It has minimal ingredients, so everything really shines through in this dish. The wine, the onion, the meat, the cheese, this is a man pleasing dish for sure. My husband gave it a thumbs up and asked if we had more the next day.

Most grocery stores sell fresh chorizo, but if you can’t find it, you can substitute spicy Italian sausage.


Rigatoni with Chorizo and Manchego

  • 1 lb. Rigatoni
  • 3 Tbsp. Olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb. Chorizo, removed from casings
  • 1 C Sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 C Pinot Grigio wine
  • Kosher salt
  • 1  28 oz. Can diced San Marzano tomatoes with juices
  • 1  1/4 C Manchego cheese, grated
  • Parmesan cheese


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and cook chorizo, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up the meat, until browned. Push chorizo to one side of the pan and add onion, season with a dash of salt, cook for about 2 minutes, until onions soften. Add wine, scrape up any brown bites from the bottom of the pan. Cook for 1 minute, or until reduced by half. Add tomatoes and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add more salt if needed.
  3. Add the cooked pasta and stir to coat. Remove from heat and add cheese and remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Toss well. Serve with a heavy sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese

Have you ever thought about the concept of mac and cheese? Like, who actually thought it would be a good idea to melt some cheese and throw it on some cooked noodles? I mean, I’m glad they did, because mac and cheese is definitely one of my all time faves. But when you think about cheese and noodles, for some reason they just don’t seem to fit. Maybe it’s because when I think about them separately I think of orange cheese of some type.

Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese

Okay, I’m done now.

Anyway, this mac and cheese is amazing. Amazingly easy, amazingly cheesy, I’m half way to realizing my dreams of becoming a rapper. Yeah, no. I know.

This mac and cheese is amazing because you get to throw all of your ingredients into the crockpot and a few hours later you have the creamiest, richest mac and cheese ever! The last time I made this I took it to work for a luncheon and one of my coworkers came to ask me for the recipe, at which point she told me that she hates mac and cheese, but she had already eaten 3 bowls of mine and was considering a fourth! Success! I love bringing people to the dark side, especially when carbs are involved! I was glad I had made a triple batch that day, multiple coworkers came to tell me that they were on their second or third bowls.

This stuff is killer. Seriously, plan on breaking out your jeggings or leggings for the day after, nothing else is going to fit!

Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese

Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese

  • 8 oz. Sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 8 oz. Extra sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 7 oz. Gouda, shredded
  • 8 oz. Velveeta, cut into chunks
  • 4 Eggs, beaten
  • 3 C Whole milk
  • 2  12 oz. Cans evaporated milk
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 16 oz. Elbow noodles, cooked
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • Pepper to taste


  1. Spray a crockpot with nonstick cooking spray. Mix all ingredients together and stir well.
  2. Turn on the crockpot and cook on low for 4 hours.
  3. Turn off crockpot, stir well, and serve.

Malted Milk Pretzel Crunch

Where did the year go? Are you ready to say goodbye to 2015?

Who has parties to go to tomorrow and the day after?

Well, I have just the thing for you to take along. Make sure you bake a double batch, this stuff goes fast and everyone is going to beg you for the recipe!

Malted Milk Pretzel Crunch

I love malted milk. A good old fashioned malt beats a milkshake in my book.

There is an iconic grocery store in my area that is closing down for good at the end of this week and they’re selling everything in the store at 50% off. So I made a trip to see what they had left, and there on the bare shelves were large 2 lb. cans of malted milk. People, you don’t know what you’re missing!

I have lovingly dubbed this pretzel snack “pretzel crack rocks”, because I literally can’t stop eating it. It’s bad. But so good! This is like the holy grail of salty and sweet.

You can find malted milk in some grocery stores, in the baking aisle. If your grocery store doesn’t carry it, Amazon does! And if you’re wondering what you can do with the extra malted milk powder? Well that’s easy! Add it to milkshakes, sundaes, cookies, cakes, etc. You could also just make a lot of this stuff and call it a day. In fact, I honestly contemplated going out and buying another 2 lb. tub of malted milk after this stuff came out of the oven. No, I’m not kidding.

Malted Pretzel Crunch


Malted Milk Pretzel Crunch

  • 1/2 Of a 16 oz. bag of pretzels
  • 1/2 C Brown sugar
  • 1/4 C Granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C Malted milk powder
  • 16 Tbsp. Butter, Melted
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt


  1. Preheat oven to 300º.
  2. Pour pretzels into a bowl and break them up with your hands. Go for rough pieces, not teeny tiny, just broken up.
  3. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, malted milk powder, and salt. Stir everything together. Add melted butter and toss to coat well.
  4. Pour pretzel mixture on a silpat or a parchment lined pan and spread out evenly.
  5. Bake for 20-22 minutes. Allow to cool and break into clusters. Store in an airtight container.

“Refried” Black Beans

Refried Black Beans

Normally I hate Mondays, but today marks the start of a holiday week. I only work 2 days this week and then I’ll be busy stuffing my face with the most glorious food ever!


So, I’m always in need of really good, quick recipes in the days leading up to a holiday.

I’m planning out desserts and side dishes.

Maybe thinking about a charcuterie board.

Definitely thinking about cocktails!

I don’t have time to slave away in the kitchen like I normally do. But I still want a good meal.

Don’t we all?

Mexican is usually my go to.

Actually, Mexican is my go to for everything.

I whipped up these fake refried beans the other day for lunch and they hit the spot. They’re fake because we’re going to use canned beans. But they were the perfect filling for a quesadilla and I found myself just sitting in my kitchen and mindlessly eating them right out of the bowl before I left for work.

Ugh. So good!

Pretty sure these beans and that quesadilla will be happening again today.

Refried Black Beans Accidentallydomesticated


“Refried” Black Beans

  • 2 Tbsp. Oil
  • 3/4 C White Onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • Dash chipotle chile powder
  • 1 Garlic clove, diced
  • 1 Can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 C water
  • Bacon fat/grease (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. Cilantro


  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a medium sized skillet. Add onion, cumin, chili powder, salt, chile powder and cook until onion is tender. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Reduce heat to medium.
  2. Add beans and water. Use a potato masher to mash beans to the consistency that you want. This is also the time to add the bacon fat if you want it. I added about 1/2 Tbsp.
  3. Serve beans with cilantro.

Coconut Shrimp with Coconut Pineapple Dipping Sauce

It’s November.

It’s cold.

And i’m over here making a tropical summer dish.

Coconut Shrimp

I do this every year. All summer long I can’t wait to crank up my oven and make winter comfort food. And during the cold winter months, I send my husband outside to the grill to make steaks and burgers.


I’m doing it wrong!

Although, this recipe does require you to use the oven for about 25-30 minutes, so technically this can be counted as a fall meal. Plus, for all you die hard summer fans, this will bring summer memories flooding back. And for you shrimp lovers? These are just plain delicious. It’s a win-win-win.

My husband is not a shrimp lover. I think he’s nuts, but then I also figure it just means more shrimp for me and I’m more than okay with that. However, he actually ate a fairly large portion of these and said they were really good and that he would eat them again.

Oh, and the sauce? It’s like dipping your shrimp in a big pina colada.

Yeah, enough said.

Coconut Shrimp Accidentally Domesticated

Coconut Shrimp with Coconut Pineapple Dipping Sauce

  • 1/2 C Flour
  • 1/2 C Panko
  • 1/2 C Sweetened coconut
  • 3 Egg whites
  • 1 Tbsp. Coco Real Cream of Coconut
  • 34 Extra large shrimp, peeled


  1. Preheat oven to 375º.
  2. set up 3 shallow dishes, such as pie plates. In one, place flour. In second, egg whites and Coco Real. In third, Panko and coconut.
  3. Working one by one, dip shrimp in flour, then egg mixture, then panko mix, coating both sides well. Place on greased baking sheet and spray with cooking spray.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping half way through baking time. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.


  • 1 C Sour cream
  • 1 C Coco Real Cream of Coconut
  • 1 Tbsp. Lemon juice
  • 1/2 C Crushed pineapple
  1. Mix well.

Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage and Parsley Walnut Pesto

Where did the month go?

Orecchiette with Parsley Walnut Pesto and Sausage

Seriously, Halloween is just a few days away. My house is all decorated, inside and out, but I’m not ready! I’m not ready for this month to be over yet!

Please tell me, what are you going to be for Halloween? What are your kids going to be? I love seeing people dressed up in their costumes!

On to this pasta, this is the perfect weeknight fall meal. It’s comforting, hearty, and it comes together in less than 30 minutes, perfect in my book!

Orecchiette with Parsley Walnut Pesto

If you haven’t made my Parsley Walnut Pesto, now is the time. If you like pesto, you’re going to love this one. It has a peppery bite that is perfect for the fall and winter months, it’s a little heavier in flavor than traditional basil pesto.


Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage and Parsley Walnut Pesto

  • 1 Package sweet Italian chicken sausage, diced
  • 1/4 C Sweet onion, diced
  • 2 tsp. Olive oil
  • 1/2 C Heavy cream
  • Parsley Walnut Pesto
  • 1 Package orecchiette


  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saute pan. Add onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add sausage and cook 2 minutes longer. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and add parsley walnut pesto. Stir in heavy cream and stir frequently until completely combined.
  4. Add pasta and sausage/onion mixture to sauce and toss well. Serve immediately with Parmesan.

Cilantro Shrimp Skewers

I know it’s October, but we have been having some gorgeous weather!

Cilantro Marinated Shrimp

So don’t put your grills away just yet!

Grilling season is definitely coming to an end…unless you’re like my husband and I and insist upon grilling steak in the dead of winter. But the nice grilling weather is quickly coming to an end. At this point you need something worthwhile to grill. Not just plain old burgers, you really want to get the most out of your grill and make something killer, am I right?

Well, I’ve got just the thing!

Cilantro marinated shrimp. This recipe is so good, I have made it 4 times in the last couple of weeks. You can marinate your shrimp for 4 hours or you can marinate it for an hour when you’re pressed for time. Either way, it will be fantastic.

Cilantro Shrimp Skewers


Cilantro Marinated Shrimp Skewers

  • 2 Tbsp. Light soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. Rice wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. Lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. Lime zest
  • 1 Tbsp. Sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp. Vegetable oil
  • 1  1/2 Tbsp. Brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground coriander
  • 1/2 C Chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 lb. Shrimp


  1. Combine soy sauce, lime juice, lime zest, and rice wine vinegar in a nonreactive mixing bowl. Whisk in oils. Add coriander, brown sugar, and cilantro. Whisk well to completely combine.
  2. Add shrimp to a large zip top bag and pour marinade over shrimp. Allow to marinate for at least 1 hour, but up to 4.
  3. Thread shrimp on to skewers and cook on a grill over medium heat, brushing with leftover marinade.

DIY Himalayan Chews

Before you look at these pictures and freak out, they’re dog treats. Definitely not for you to eat…although you could if you were really desperate. Or just plain weird.

DIY Himalayan Chews

I’m not judging.

So, have you ever seen or heard of Himalayan chews?

They’re made from yaks milk somewhere in Nepal. The chews are super hard and they last longer than traditional chews. The only downside is the price. I buy them here and there, but buying 4 in the appropriate sizes for my dogs costs about $60. Himalayan chews are basically a firm cheese that is sliced and then smoked until dry. So I figured it couldn’t be that hard to replicate, well, if you forget the whole yak in the mountains of Nepal part.

Himalayan Chews

My dogs loved these chews and I intend to make them again very soon. Because I have 3 large dogs, I think I’ll make a double batch in the future and try to get bigger/thicker slices for them. The chews worked really well for my small dog, but they didn’t last very long with the big guys. So, if you have small dogs that are 25 pounds or less, these will work well. If you have big dogs I suggest doubling the recipe and cutting thick chunks that are long enough for them to chew on.

Remember, these are meant to be chewed and not swallowed whole. If you have a dog that tends to inhale things without chewing, I don’t suggest these or any hard chew.

Chiirpi Cheese

Here is my cheese after being hung and then weighed down in the fridge overnight.


DIY Himalayan Chews

  • 1 Gallon skim milk
  • 3 tsp. Liquid smoke
  • 9 Tbsp. Lemon juice
  • Cheese cloth


  1. Line a colander with cheesecloth and set aside.
  2. Bring milk to a rolling boil over medium heat, stirring often. Be careful not to scald the milk.
  3. Once boiling, add lemon juice and liquid smoke. As you stir you should start to see the milk curdling.
  4. Pour milk mixture into colander lined with cheesecloth. The liquid will drain away and you will be left with a pile of cheese curds. Drain well. Pull up the sides of the cheesecloth and squeeze the ball of cheese. Tie the cheesecloth tightly and hang the cheese. I was able to hang my cheese from my kitchen faucet, but in the past I have set a long wooden spoon over a deep pot and tied the ball of cheese to the spoon and set it over the middle of the pot. Allow the cheese to hang for 1-2 hours.
  5. Pull your cheese down, but leave it in it’s cheesecloth cocoon. Place your cheese on a plate and weigh it down with something heavy. I filled a gallon jug with water and set it on top of the cheese. Leave overnight in the refrigerator.
  6. Pull cheesecloth off of cheese. Slice the cheese into thick slices and place in a dehydrator. Dehydrate until completely dry. Mine took about 24 hours to dry out.