Monday, November 30, 2009

Pasta e Fagioli

I love this soup for so many reasons. I feel like I sound like a broken record, but it's cheap to make and so easy it's stupid. My favorite thing about this soup is that it tastes JUST like the Pasta e Fagioli from the Olive Garden, which I love way too much. It's savory, a little spicy and so comforting. This recipe makes 4 quarts of soup so you can easily freeze this for another day! I think it tastes even better when all the flavors have time to get acquainted. I got the recipe from a message board a few years ago when I was on this diet called First Place. So, it's healthy too!

My notes: This calls for ground beef but you could certainly use ground turkey...sometimes I prefer the turkey against the beef. Please, oh please, drain the beans. After making this so many times I'm not sure I can ever use the gunk (what is that liquid anyway?) that the beans are packed in. It grosses me out. Drain and rinse please-and-thank-you. For the spaghetti sauce, I usually use Hunts Traditional sauce. It doesn't come in 32oz cans, so I use one whole one plus about half of another. I usually use ditalini pasta, like the Olive Garden does, instead of shell pasta. I also use dried parsley. You must serve this with crusty bread...there will be so much goodness at the bottom of your bowl that you'll want to sop up. TRUST ME! :)

Pasta e Fagioli

Serves: 12

1/2 cup water, divided
1 lb. extra lean ground beef
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, slivered
1 cup celery, diced
2 14.4 ounce diced canned tomatoes
1 cup canned red kidney beans, drained
1 cup canned white kidney beans, drained
5 1/2 cups beef stock
2 teaspoons leaf oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
32 ounces spaghetti sauce, no sugar added
4 ounces dry shell pasta

Preparation: Saute beef in 1/4 cup water in a large 8-quart pot until beef starts to brown. Drain. Add 1/4 cup water onions, carrots, celery and tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse beans and add to pot. Also add beef stock, oregano, pepper, Tabasco, spaghetti sauce, and noodles. Add chopped parsley. Simmer until celery and carrots are tender, about 45 minutes. Makes about 5 quarts of soup! Make at least one day before serving for best flavor. Freezes wonderfully. Serving size 1 1/2 cups.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

HoBo Special

This is an old family recipe that I love to make when I a) have no money or b) have no time. You could make this meal for less than $5 and in about 10-15 minutes! It's not gourmet by any means but it's not supposed to be. I mean, it's called "HoBo Special" for a reason! It's one of those feel-good, comforting meals. My Great-Grandma made this during the Great Depression, so it's time-tested and approved!

My notes: I almost always make this meal a little differently than the time before but I will give you the classic recipe. You can swap out ground beef for ground turkey if you'd like. It would save some calories and some $$. You can also substitute whole wheat pasta for regular pasta, but that will up the price. I don't measure the garlic powder...put in a good amount and then keep tasting. You don't want it too garlicky but you want flavor. I usually put in a few shakes of Tabasco or even some red pepper flakes for a little heat. The hubby likes it hot! You can serve this with a small salad and garlic bread.

HoBo Special

1 lb ground beef
3/4 lb elbow macaroni
2 14oz cans of Campbell's Tomato Soup
Lots of garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Start by boiling some water in a small pot. Pour in the elbow macaroni until it's al dente. Meanwhile, brown the ground beef/turkey and drain out any excess fat. While still on the heat, pour in the 2 cans of tomato soup and stir to combine. Add in the garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Add the macaroni and stir to combine. Top with parmesan cheese if desired.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Picante Roast Beef Sandwiches

This is one of those meals where you don't need to know anything about cooking to make this. It's foolproof, I promise. It's also cheap to make, has less than 10 ingredients, isn't bad for you and will be done in less than 30 minutes. That all adds up to a great weeknight meal, don't you think?

My notes: I do everything the recipe says but add cilantro. I just wish I could go to the grocery store and only get like 2-3 sprigs of cilantro instead of a whole bunch. I just don't need or want that much cilantro and I hate wasting the money. So, add it if you want but you won't necessarily miss the flavor if you don't add it. Enjoy!

Picante Roast Beef Sandwiches (from

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced onions
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces sliced roast beef, sliced into strips
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (4-ounce) can minced green chiles
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Salt and ground black pepper
4 sandwich rolls, sliced in 1/2

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute 3 minutes, until soft. Add roast beef slices and saute 3 to 5 minutes, until browned on all sides, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes, jalapenos, lime juice, and cumin and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes, to heat through and reduce slightly.
Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Spoon onto sliced rolls with plenty of sauce and serve.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! No recipes for a few days while I enjoy time with my family! Enjoy!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chicken Souvlaki

Mmmm Greek food. This dish always makes me think of this little hole-in-the-wall restaurant near our home called "My Big Fat Greek Restaurant". I love the name and their food is phenomenol. Everything is light blue and white and their servers and employees are actually Greek. Their souvlaki is delicious and when I found this recipe, I had to try it. It's close enough to the real thing for me! And a LOT cheaper!

My notes: I've made this dish twice and haven't made the yogurt (tzatziki) sauce. I think I'm just scared of cucumbers. I really hate them. I'll try it next time. Promise! I also don't like olives so I omit those. Enjoy!

Chicken Souvlaki (from

4 pieces flat bread or pitas
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup crumbled Feta
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 small cucumber, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

Heat oven to 200° F. Wrap the bread in foil and place in oven.
In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, Feta, and olives.
In a large bowl, combine the oregano, thyme, pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the vinegar, and the lemon juice. Slowly add 4 tablespoons of the oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly until incorporated.
Pour 2 1/2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette over the tomato mixture, toss, and set aside. Add the chicken to the remaining vinaigrette, toss, and set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer the chicken but not the liquid to the skillet and heat, turning occasionally, until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the yogurt, cucumber, dill, and the remaining vinegar. Spread the bread with some of the yogurt sauce and top with the chicken. Add the tomato salad and fold.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sweet and Sour Pork

Something you will learn about me very soon is that I love Asian cuisine...well, most of it, anyway. I don't do sushi but I like most everything else. There's just something about the combination of the sweet peppers and sour pineapple that make this dish so tasty. It's sauteed, not fried (so you actually taste the meat, not the breading!) and, amazingly enough, it'll be ready in 30 minutes! I'm making this tomorrow night for dinner!

My notes: I don't use scallions because they come in a bunch at the grocery store, I never use them all and inevitably throw them away and feel bad later. The rice is fine without them, but do what you want! Also, I don't use fresh pineapple, again, because it's a waste for us. I usually buy canned pineapple tidbits and add a little of the juice to the sauce for extra flavor. If you don't want to use pork, chicken, shrimp or beef would be equally delicious!

Sweet and Sour Pork (from

2 cups water
1 cup white or brown rice
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 tablespoon hot sauce
Juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce or Tamari (dark soy sauce)
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 can tomato sauce (8 ounces)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 package pork tenderloins, trimmed of silver skin and cut into 1-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
2 green bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 slices fresh pineapple, drained and cut into 1-inch pieces
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring the water to a boil in a medium size pot with a lid. Add the rice and give it a stir, then put the lid on and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the rice until tender, about 18 minutes. Once it’s ready, fluff it with a fork and stir in the scallions.When the rice is about halfway done, place a large skillet over high heat with two turns of the pan of oil, about 2 tablespoons. While the pan is heating up, grab a small bowl and combine the hot sauce, lime juice, honey, Tamari, vinegar, tomato sauce and cornstarch, stirring to dissolve the cornstarch. Set the sauce aside.When the skillet is searing hot, add in the pork and cook the meat until caramelized, 3-4 minutes. Add in the garlic, ginger, peppers and onions, and stir fry the meat and veggies for 2 minutes more. Add in the pineapple and reserved sauce and stir everything together. Bring the sauce to a boil and allow it to cook for 1 minute to thicken up.Season everything with some ground black pepper and serve the sweet 'n sour pork over the scallion rice.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Welcome to For the Love of Food! I'm Jenn. I love to eat and cook, but mostly eat! I'm a wife and mother. Most of my recipes are for families who want to make amazing meals designed to impress but not stress you out. Some are my own, some are from cookbooks, family members and friends. All are delicious! Enjoy!