Today was in the 50’s, a little windy, and a perfect day for a pot of soup! This is one of my favorites, because the flavors go so good together.

There’s something so comforting about a big pot of soup simmering on the stove on a cold day!

I have to admit, I’m all about modern conveniences ONLY if the quality is good, and If your lucky enough to have a Trader Joes in your neighborhood and haven’t tried their box stocks please do! They make life so much easier! I know you can also pick these up in any local store now, these boxed stocks are everywhere. I just like Trader Joes cause their prices are so good! Their pre-cooked lentils are fantastic too, already cooked, you just cut open the bag and pour them in. How easy is that!!! So you can whip up a great meal in no time, that tastes like its been simmering all day!!
Heres what you’ll need

1 carrot diced
2 stalks of celery diced
1 onion chopped
1 lb. of Italian sausage, hot or mild ( I used Turkey Italian sausage it works great!)
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 14.5oz. can of fire roasted tomato’s
1t. ground fennel
1t. oregano
S&P to taste along with some red pepper flakes
1 box or 2 cups of dry lentils ( I use more)
6 to 8 cups of chicken stock ( 2 boxes)
In a nice pot brown your sausage and drain, with the Turkey I didn’t have to. Then put some olive oil in the bottom and saute veggies and garlic. Open up the stock, pour that in, along with all the spices and lentils, stir it up, semi cover it and let it cook for about 1/2 hour. It will be longer if you are using dry lentils.
When it’s done I take an immersion blender to one side of the pot to thicken it up a little.
I usually double the recipe because it freezes good

Top it off with shaved Parm and a drizzle of olive oil!
Buon Appetito!!

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The change of weather put me in a baking mood, so I looked in my pantry and found some canned pumpkin, I knew right then and there that cupcakes were on the horizon! A while back I bought a Tall cupcake pan from Wilton, and I only used it once, WHY?? Because they are sinfully big!! I mean it’s like 2 1/2, cupcakes in one! So I don’t call them cupcakes, they are mini cakes, and they are meant to split with someone otherwise you will feel real guilty!!!

In an effort to try to make them a little more healthy (ha ha!) I altered the recipe a little. Actually, I think they taste even better!!

Keep in mind, you can put these in smaller pans and not use the substitutions I used.


*4 eggs

*2 cups of sugar ( I used Splenda)

*3/4 cup canola oil

* 1 can (15oz) pumpkin

* 2 cups of flour ( I used whole wheat pastry flour)

* 2 t. baking soda

* 1 t.salt

* 1 t. baking powder

* 2 Tbl. pumpkin pie spice

* 1 Tbl. cinnamon

Take the wet ingredient’s and combine in a mixing bowl, and beat till just mixed. Combine dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture and beat till all incorporated. Fill sprayed muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 350 18-22 minutes. My tall pans took about 30 min. Cool on rack.


This could be a regular cream cheese frosting, with butter and confectioners sugar, but in my effort to make them healthier I just took a container of Mascapone cold out of the frig in a bowl, put some Splenda in it, to sweeten it up, a couple of shots of real maple syrup, and cinnamon, all to taste. However sweet you want it!!

Finally, take a small knife and cut a small circle deep on the top… stuff the cream filling inside and all over the top, and put the little cut out back on top, and sprinkle with cinnamon!

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It hasn’t felt much like fall here because the weather has been so warm, with many days still in the 80’s. Until today!! Finally, fall has arrived! The temperatures are cooler, the trees are full of color, and the leaves are falling everywhere! So today is not a cooking post, because the whole day was spent outside enjoying this beautiful day!! Thank goodness for leftovers!! because that is whats for dinner tonight!!!
Here are a few pictures of Fall Chicago Style!
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