Friday, December 3, 2010

Sausage and Bean Ragout

    This soup competes with any soup Olive Garden could put in front of you.  It is AMAZING.  And so easy. I love soups!  I especially love how colorful this one is, and it's chalked full of meat so your husband will love it too! 

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound hot Italian pork sausage, casing removed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 1/2 cups Chicken Broth 
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans italian style diced tomatoes
  • 1 (16 ounce) can white kidney beans (cannellini), drained
  • 1/2 cup uncooked elbow pasta
  • 1 (6 ounce) package fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup grated Romano cheese (or grated parmesan) 


  1. Heat beef, sausage and onion and cook until meats are browned, stirring to separate meat. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.
  2. Add broth, basil (I didn't have fresh basil, so I used dried.  Add it to taste but use at least 1/2 tsp), tomatoes and beans. Heat to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pasta and cook until pasta is done.
  3. Add spinach and cook just until spinach is wilted, stirring occasionally (the spinach should wilt almost immediately so don't leave it.  Stir it in and it should be wilted within a minute). Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Serve with additional cheese.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mexican Ceviche

     When I lived in Ecuador ceviche was a very traditional dish that the Ecuadorians were always promoting.  In Ecuador it is mainly shrimp, onion, and lots of tomato and tomato sauce.  Not being a huge tomato fan, I think I only found 1 ceviche that I actually liked.  Well, thankfully the caribbean and Mexican coast also serve ceviche as a native dish and there's a little bit more to it.  I tried this Mexican version and LOVED it!  It's very light, so be prepared to eat about 5 tostadas and don't feel bad about it! It's is such a healthy meal!  I couldn't think of anything that would go well as a side dish, so I filled up on the main dish and just kept going back for more! Here's the recipe: 


  • 11 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2-3/4 limes, juiced (I used the bottled stuff)
  • 3 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 3/8 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3/4 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 3 serrano peppers, seeded and minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cilantro, chopped
  • 1 avocado, diced
  •  tostada shells
  • hot pepper sauce (optional)

  1. Place shrimp in a mixing bowl. Squeeze lime juice over shrimp until they are completely covered, about 3 limes. Stir in the tomatoes, onion, cucumber, serrano peppers, avocado, cilantro, and salt and pepper. Cover, and refrigerate 1 hour.
  2. When ready to serve, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Serve on top of tostada shells with a splash of hot sauce, if desired.

       [I let mine marinate for about 7 hours... the longer the better.  Stir every couple of hours in order to keep the flavors even.  Since avocados are touchy, I added them about an hour before dinner so they would be fresh.  Also, I learned in Ecuador that if you let cilantro soak in water, it releases the flavor.  So, I always soak mine or at least rinse it off before chopping.  ] 

Enjoy this fresh treat!  This would also be great as an appetizer, so serve it at your next party! 

Sweet Potatoes to Live for

I never really liked sweet potatoes.  I can remember each year at Thanksgiving my mom poured out the can of sweet potatoes, topped it with corn syrup and marshmallow cream and baked them.  I was never a fan.  But then, I tried SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE.  My life was changed.  I discovered I LOVE sweet potatoes, just not canned sweet potatoes (I share this relationship with spinach as well).  Anyway, this Thanksgiving I was in charge of the sweet potatoes.  I found a recipe that I adjusted and made my own and it was a HUGE hit.  When my brother took his first bite he couldn't stop raving for 10 minutes. So, try this recipe out.  Jackson made me pinkie promise to never ever try another sweet potato recipe again and to make this every single year.  And any time in between! 

When I made this, I used 8 sweet potatoes (some were humongous and some were small)... I estimated that it came to be about 12 c. mashed.  The huge pan of sweet potatoes was gone within 2 days and only 7 people were eating them.  So, make more than you think you'll need! This is for half the batch that I made. 


  • 6 cups sweet potato, cubed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tbl butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup and 1 teaspoon butter, softened
  • 1 cup chopped pecans


  1. Wrap sweet potatoes in tinfoil.  Bake at 325 F for 1 hr.  Let the potatoes cool a bit and then take the skins off, they should slide right off. 
  2. Mash the sweet potatoes in a large bowl (or use your kitchen aid, which is always rather convenient). 
  3. Add the white sugar, eggs, salt, butter, milk and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Transfer to a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  4. In medium bowl, mix the brown sugar and flour. Cut in the butter until the mixture is coarse. Stir in the pecans. Sprinkle the mixture over the sweet potato mixture.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven 30 minutes, or until the topping is lightly brown.

Costa Vida Salad Recreated

     Currently, only one Costa Vida restaurant exists in all of Texas.  Sadly, it is located a 3 1/2 hour drive north of where I live.  Since moving away from the western states, I have sorely missed Costa Vida salads.  Unable to fight the craving any longer, I recreated it at home.  This is the fast version, you could also do your research and make it a little bit more legit.  But, I didn't have time for that and I needed my Costa Vida fix immediately! I simply thought back to my BYU days and put myself back in the Costa Vida line, watching them pile the layers into my tinfoil bowl and gathered the necessary ingredients from my kitchen.  Here's what you need: 

Tortillas (store bought or home made - mine were store bought but homemade would make it taste much more like the restaurant)
Rice ( Costa Vida uses "cilantro lime rice", but I had left over Spanish rice to use up, so I just used that )
1 can black beans
Chili Powder
Chicken,Beef, or Pork
Salad greens
Tomato or pico de gallo 
Parmesan Cheese
Tortilla strips

1.  Place your tortilla on your plate.  Scoop your choice of rice onto the tortilla.  (To make spanish rice quickly, just boil some rice and then add in salsa to taste).  
2. Drain the black beans and then empty into a bowl.  Sprinkle with chili powder, mix.  Add black beans on top of the rice.  
3. Next add your choice of meat.  I really love the sweet pork salad but didn't have time to make that so I simply boiled some chicken, shredded it, and mixed in some peach pineapple salsa to give it a sweet taste. 
4.  Pile on the salad greens. 
5.  Scoop chopped tomatoes or pico de gallo on top of the salad greens. 
6.  Add guacamole. 
7.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. 
8.  If you have tortilla strips add those too, I didn't have them. 
9.  Add the ranch.  Or whatever salad dressing you choose. 

Voila!  You have a Costa Vida salad to satisfy your craving and it only took 20 minutes! 

Chicken Broccoli Supper

     I love casseroles and one dish meals.  I love them even more when I don't have to pre-cook anything! This dish turned out to be pure comfort food for me, no stress, fast, and delicious.  I could have eaten the entire casserole dish by myself.  Here's the recipe: 

  • 1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  1. In a large bowl, combine the chicken (uncooked!), broccoli, macaroni and cheese. Whisk the soup, broth, garlic powder and pepper; stir into chicken mixture. Transfer to a greased 1-1/2-qt. baking dish. BAke, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. 
  2. Stir; [If you are a cheese lover like me, then throw some more cheddar cheese on top for the last 25 minutes of baking, after you stir it] bake 25-30 minutes longer or until chicken juices run clear and macaroni is tender. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.