Archive for the ‘Italian food’ Category


Italian Wedding Soup with Grilled Cheese and Bacon on Sourdough

I made Italian Wedding Soup a couple months ago for a church lunch, and it turned out to be so good that we decided to have this for our Christmas dinner on Wednesday. From the online research I did, IWS seems to be an empty-the-cupboard soup with only four common ingredients – chicken stock, meatballs, leafy greens, and Parm cheese.

So here is my version of IWS this time around:


  • 7-8 Cups homemade stock* (about half of it was a vegetable stock and the other half was chicken stock. The first batch a few months ago was made with turkey stock and it was outstanding.)
  • 1 medium onion, medium dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced on bias
  • 1 bag of frozen meatballs. One of these days I’ll make my own, but the store-bought stuff is fine (especially the Italian meatballs) and a lot quicker. I usually cut these at least in half so the kids don’t wrestle with them while they are swimming in broth.
  • 1 Cup orzo
  • 1/2 bag frozen spinach (probably about 8 oz-the rest of the bag is back in the freezer and I don’t want to get up and look at it to see the exact size. sorry)


  1. Soften the onions in a splash of olive oil, then add garlic. Deglaze with some white wine.
  2. Add frozen meatballs and stock. Simmer at least till meatballs are heated (duh). You can let this simmer for several hours without any problems.
  3. About 15 minutes before dinner, add the orzo and turn heat to medium. After 8 minutes add the spinach and wait a few minutes till spinach is warmed through (duh).
  4. Add salt to taste.
  5. I forgot the Parm Cheese this time. Add this at the end. If you have a rind from the real cheese you can add this to the soup as it simmers. With our budget we use the green can stuff.

I like my soups really thick. A lot of IWS’s are more brothy. Needless to say, you can adjust things as you would like.

*if you have an extra freezer get in the habit of making your own stock. It is ridiculously easy to make, you can control the ingredients (ie. salt), and the store-bought stuff is ridiculously expensive.


Read Full Post »

Jill has a passion for Macaroni Grill’s Penne Rustica, and I recently made this version for our church’s Christmas banquet. It met with Jill’s seal of approval which is enough for me.

Penne Rustica lite
Ingredients :
1/2 box of penne pasta (this works well with whole wheat pasta)

1 piece chicken breast – sliced thinly

small scallops (the original recipe calls for small shrimp…which is redundant. I like the scallops much better.)

2 slices of bacon – chopped roughly

(optional)2 pcs of roasted red peppers – diced

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

a handful of grated Italian blend cheese

1/4 of paprika

chopped parsley (garnish)

Cream Sauce
1 tsp butter

2 minced garlic cloves

1/4 cup Marsala wine (you can replace this with chicken stock)

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp chopped rosemary

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp salt

2 cups low fat half & half (you can use heavy cream, but it is plenty rich with just half and half)


1. Cook pasta according to the instructions on the box and set aside.

2. In a large pan saute garlic and butter until lightly brown. Add Marsala wine, mustard, salt, rosemary, cayenne pepper and half and half. Cook until the sauce reduce to half.

3. In a different pan heat up some olive oil. Saute ham, chicken until chicken is half cook. Add in shrimp and stir fry for a minute.

4. Add in sauce, cooked pasta, peppers, Parmesan cheese, and paprika and mix thoroughly. Spread in baking dish. Sprinkle the top with some Italian blend cheese, Parmesan cheese and paprika.

5. Bake 425 degree F oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with some chopped parsley and serve warm.

Tip: Be certain to reserve a good bit of the pasta water to thin out the cream sauce after baking. The starchy water does a great job of making a stodgy sauce creamier without making it thin and watery.

Read Full Post »