Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana

This is an Olive Garden copycat recipe. I made it tonight, and it was a success. (To accommodate Lizzie's allergies, I pulled out a couple servings before adding the cream. I just put a little almond milk in hers instead.) It's easy and really yummy:

  • 1 lb ground hot Italian sausage
  • 1 tbsp garlic minced
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 4 russet potato diced
  • 1 pinch salt to taste
  • 1 pinch black pepper to taste
  • 4 cup chicken broth (32 oz)
  • water see recipe instructions
  • 1 bunch kale stems removed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese shredded (for topping) - I left this out


  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown and crumble hot Italian sausage, about 5-8 minutes. Add onion and garlic and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until some of the onion begins to turn opaque (no need to cook onion completely at this point). Drain grease from skillet.
  2. In a 6 quart crock pot (or bigger), add cooked sausage & veggies plus the diced potato. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour chicken broth on top. There should be enough broth to cover the tops of the potatoes; if there isn't, add up to 2 cups water so potatoes are covered.
  3. Gently stir ingredients, cover crock pot, and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
  4. Remove lid from crock pot and add kale and heavy whipping cream, then stir to combine.
  5. Cover crock pot and cook on HIGH for another 30 minutes.
  6. Serve zuppa toscana immediately with shredded parmesan cheese as garnish.

Breakfast Casserole (a.k.a Christmas Morning Casserole)

This is Mom's recipe, that she got from Sister Killian:

  • 6 slices bread
  • 6 beaten eggs
  • 1lb pork sausage (browned & drained) or bacon
  • 1 1/2 C grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 C half and half or whole milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • butter

Remove crust from bread (optional). Spread butter on bread slices. Place bread side by side in buttered 13x9 pan. Sprinkle sausage or bacon over bread. Sprinkle with cheese. Combine eggs, milk, and salt. Mix well and pour over all. Let sit 15 minutes before baking or make the night before and put in fridge. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

May also add 4oz. can green chilies and/or ¼ c. green onions.

Strawberry Pie

I made this the other week. It's the first fruit pie I've ever made. (I usually prefer to buy my pies because I'm lazy.) ;) But this was surprisingly easy to make. Also, it is naturally vegan, as long as you leave off the whipped topping at the end. Woohoo!

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 tablespoons cold water (add 1 additional tablespoon as needed)
COMBINE flour and salt in medium bowl; cut in vegetable shortening with pastry blender or two knives until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle with water; blend until mixture holds together.

SHAPE dough into ball; place on lightly floured surface. Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Line pie plate with pastry. Turn edge under; crimp as desired.

BAKE in 9-inch glass pie plate at 475 degrees for about 10 minutes.

  • 6 cups fresh strawberries                                           
  • 1 cup sugar   
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 to 5 drops red food color, if desired
In a small bowl, crush enough strawberries to make 1 cup. In 2-quart saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch; stir in crushed strawberries and water. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. If desired, stir in food color. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Place remaining strawberries, whole or sliced, in cooled baked shell. Pour cooked strawberry mixture evenly over berries. Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours, before serving.

Top with whipped cream (optional).

Pistachio Salad

Liz can't have this because of her allergies, but I'm thinking of making it for Thanksgiving anyway, because it sounds good. :)
  • 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1/2 (10.5 ounce) package miniature marshmallows
  • 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 (3 ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix

In a large bowl, combine the pineapple and pistachio pudding mix. Fold in thawed whipped topping and marshmallows until well mixed. Refrigerate until chilled and serve.

Favorite Chicken Marinade

This marinade makes a delicious tasting chicken, and it is super easy. Literally the hardest part is just remembering to mix it the night before so that it has plenty of time to flavor the chicken. Then all you have to do is grill it. (I use a George Foreman, but you could use an outdoor BBQ grill or probably even bake it in the oven.)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 (10 ounce) bottle Worcestershire Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons italian seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper


  1. Put the amount of chicken that you want to grill in the bottom of a big bowl.
  2. In another bowl put all above ingredients in and whisk together.
  3. Then pour the prepared marinade over the chicken, and refrigerate overnight, or for 4-5 hours.

I like to serve it with a fruit and nut salad (spring mix lettuce, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, feta cheese or substitute, and balsamic vinegar dressing). But you can pair it with any side you like. Yum!

Scary Easy Pumpkin Cookies

My VT comp shared this recipe with me this week. I plan to make them with vegan chocolate chips so Liz can have them.

  • 15 oz can of pumpkin
  • Duncan Hines spice cake mix 
  • 12 oz bag of Chocolate Chips OR Craisins OR Nuts, etc.

Mix all the ingredients together. Drop on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees. (I'm not sure for how long, but I'm guessing 8 to 10 minutes.