Cacio e Pepe with Poached Egg

Cacio e Pepe with Poached Egg

Cacio e Pepe topped with an unctuous poached egg is absolutely divine and can be whipped together in about 20 minutes.

Want to learn more about how I’ve crossed two traditional pastas together to create this beauty? Click here and read my latest post and recipe for our friends at Safest Choice® Eggs.

You absolutely won’t regret it!

Ultimate Stuffed Shells to Ring in the Holidays

Ultimate Stuffed Shells

Here we go….let the Holiday celebrations begin!

Thanksgiving….Friendsgiving….Hannukah….Christmas…Kwanzaa…Winter Solstice…Festivus!

Don’t get me wrong, I adore them all. I’m a holiday-lovin’ gal. Heck, I’ve had my Christmas tree up for over two weeks now but with all of these festivities, there’s a lot of cooking that’s required.

And as much as I’m down for long hours of cooking and baking, I also strongly believe in dishes that I can make ahead that can still carry the spirit and yumminess (is that a word?) of the special occasion.

Ultimate Stuffed Shells

These Ultimate Stuffed Shells really fit that bill. Not only are they bright and colorful but they are just down right comfort food—something like grandma would make. Well, not my grandmas…they were old school Vietnamese and would have stuffed tofu than pasta. But someone’s grandma would have made them and it’s like getting a big ol’ hug when you take a bite.

Why do I call these “ultimate” stuffed shells? Because they’ve got all of my favs in them–spicy Italian sausage, mushrooms, spinach, and tons of different cheeses. They’re pretty easy to make and are always a fan favorite when they show up on a spread.

And with that….Bring on the stretchy pants–I’m ready for some Holiday Eats!

ps. And since this is the time for giving, check out these adorable personalized cutting boards from our friends at Red Envelope. Perfect for any loved ones who enjoy a delicious Foodventure.

Cutting Board


Ultimate Stuffed Shells
Serves approximately 6


2 tablespoons olive oil
½ pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
½ cup diced shallots
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup minced baby portabello mushrooms
8 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese + 2 tablespoons, divided
4 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
½ cup fresh basil chiffonade (more for garnish)
kosher salt
black pepper
20 ounces marina sauce
20-24 jumbo pasta shells, boiled to just shy of al dente
4 ounces shredded mozzarella

Heat a large skillet with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the sausage and use a wooden spoon to crumble up the meat while it’s browning. Once browned, remove the sausage to a plate that has been lined with paper towels to drain.

In the same skillet, cook the shallots over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until tender but not browned. Add in the garlic, pepper flakes, thyme, oregano and mushrooms. Continue cooking for a few minutes until the mushrooms become tender. Add the spinach, parsley, nutmeg and continue to cook for an additional minute until combined. Transfer to a large bowl and cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Once the mixture has cooled, fold in the ¼ parmesan cheese, ricotta, beaten egg and basil until just combined. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Pour approximately 2/3 of the marina sauce into a baking dish. Spread the sauce evenly to coat the bottom. Fill each of the shells with heaping spoonfuls of the cooled mixture and place them in the dish on top of the layer of marina. Continue until all of the shells have been filled and are placed snugly amongst each other in the baking dish.

Spoon the remaining marina sauce over the shells and then the remaining parmesan and mozzarella cheese.  Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet (in case anything bubbles over during baking time). Bake the shells for 25 minutes and then remove the foil and continue baking for 10 minutes until the cheese bubbles and slightly browns.

Remove the dish from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Prior to serving, garnish with additional basil chiffonade and enjoy!

Italian Sausage & Mushroom Skillet Lasagna + Nambé GIVEAWAY

Italian Sausage & Skillet Lasagna

When I was living in LA for grad school, my roommates and I would often find time between classes and work to make dinner together. They were modest meals that came out of our tiny kitchen and on our grad student budgets– but they were always fun and memorable. Especially because we barely had any cookware or pans!

Italian Sausage & Skillet Lasagna

One pot meals were a necessity and boy did we come up with some doozies! A million different types of fried rice, stroganoffs, breakfast scrambles, stir-frys, and one of my tried and true favorites—skillet lasagnas.

Italian Sausage & Skillet Lasagna

Skillet lasagnas were perfect! Not only were they delish and filling but you literally only needed a pan and one stove top burner to make it.

Italian Sausage & Skillet Lasagna

No ovens, no baking dishes and no extra pots needed to boil the noodles ahead of time. Just the thing when you’re short on time—and cookware.

Italian Sausage & Skillet Lasagna

So when I got my little hands on this gorgeous sauté pan from our friends at Nambé, nostalgia kicked in and I had to give it a roll.

Italian Sausage & Skillet Lasagna

Nambé’s new cookware line is FANTABULOUS! Sturdy, heats evenly, easy to clean and is just so pretty. Since they’re so snazzy, you can move them directly from the stove to the dining table! Cookware to Serveware? Where were you when I was in grad school?!

Italian Sausage & Skillet Lasagna

And since you are the sunshine of my day, YOU will have the chance to win a set of four (4) of their new CookServ Sauté Pans (8, 10, 12 and 14 inches) courtesy of the awesome team at Nambé! Check out these beauties:


Nambé has partnered with several different blogs for this joint giveaway of these stunning pans that are retailed at 650 buckaroos. Want to know how to win?

It’s Easy-Peasy!

Simply click on the following link to enter the Nambe Giveaway powered by Rafflecopter

Italian Sausage & Skillet Lasagna

ps. Whether you have only one pan in your pantry or a dozen, you’ll really want to make this Italian Sausage & Mushroom Skillet Lasagna. Sooooooo yummmyyy!

pps. Don’t forget to enter this rad giveaway and BEST-O-LUCK!!!


Italian Sausage & Mushroom Skillet Lasagna
Serves 6


3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound spicy Italian sausage
2 cups sliced crimini mushroom
1 cup diced white onions
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoon tomato paste
3 16-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes
10 ounces dried lasagna noodles (about 2/3 of a regular sized box)
1½ cups chicken or vegetable stock
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
kosher salt and black pepper
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
½ cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

In a large skillet that has a lid; heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat. Removed the casing from the sausage and add to the skillet. Using a wooden spoon, break up the sausage and cook until lightly brown. Add in the mushrooms and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes until the mushrooms have softened. Remove the sausage and mushrooms to a clean plate.

Add an additional tablespoon of oil to the skillet and cook the onions until softened and translucent. Add the garlic, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute before adding in the tomato paste. Allow the mixture to cook for an additional minute to allow the items to become aromatic. Transfer the sausage and mushrooms back to the skillet and stir to combine.

Using a blender or immersion blender, puree the tomatoes with its juices until smooth.

Break the lasagna noodles into 1-2 inch pieces and layer on top of the ingredients in the skillet. Pour the pureed tomatoes and chicken stock over the noodles. Allow the liquids to come to a slight boil. Cover and simmer the lasagna for 20-25 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Continue cooking until the noodles become al dente.

Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper and lay pieces of mozzarella over the top. Garnish with basil leaves and serve warm.

**If you would like a bit of crunch, turn on your oven broiler after placing the mozzarella cheese and place the skillet about 4 inches away from it. Allow to brown for about 30-45 seconds but be sure to keep an eye on it to avoid burning the lasagna.

Homemade and Hand Rolled Tagliatelle

Fresh Tagliatelle

When my sibs and I brainstormed our menu for October’s Sunday Family Dinner, we thought it would be delicious to create a meal that was hearty and celebrated the flavors of Fall. But when the day finally arrived, instead of chilly weather we were greeted with a sunny, 85 degree afternoon. That’s Southern California for you…….

We put together a simple antipasti platter of delicious cheeses, cold cuts, olives and bread to munch on while we were prepared dinner. And for dessert, my sis, N, made fruit tarts with pears and apples.

Anti Pasti

My sis, T, was in charge of the main course– slow braised Osso Bucco. Due to the hours of slow cooking, the shanks broke down into rich, meaty goodness with a wonderfully, savory sauce. Once plated, we topped the Osso Bucco with spoonfuls of gremolata—a condiment made from tons of chopped garlic, lemon zest and Italian parsley. The gremolata brought brightness to the dish and also helped cut some of the richness.

To serve with the Osso Bucco, I was inspired to try my hand at homemade, hand rolled/cut pasta. Why hand rolled instead of employing a hand crank or KitchenAid attachment? Simple…I don’t own either. (Hint! Hint!)

Osso Bucco with Fresh Tagliatelle

I used Mario Batali’s recipe for the dough and have one recommendation–beat the eggs first before pouring them into the “well” of flour. It may not be traditional but it’ll reduce any potential “leaks” that may occur. Trust me, you should have heard the shrieks coming out of me when the walls of my “well” started oozing eggs. I was a mess for a hot second! And I have to admit, I was working up a sweat from all the rolling that was going down—those Italian grandmas must be buffer than they look!

In the end, I think the Tagliatelle turned out well and was worth the effort. I do wish I could have gotten it a little thinner but I guess I’ll need to work out my biceps a little more in preparation for next time.

Happy Friday Friends!


This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Mumm Napa Brut Rose
Appetizers: Antipasta
Entrees: Osso Bucco over Fresh Tagliatelle and Gremolata
Dessert: Apple and Pear Tart


Recipe from Mario Batali via Joy the Baker

Creamy Pesto Rigatoni

Creamy Pesto Rigatoni

This past weekend I caught up with some friends over dinner. And before we knew it, we launched into an extensive and detailed conversation on how we believe that Pesto goes with practically anything.

Sandwiches, appetizers, crackers, pastas……….

P had even threatened to top the panna cotta I made for dessert with it but his wife quickly intervened. Okay…that may have been a bit much but I see where he was going with it.

Creamy Pesto Rigatoni



I typically go on a major pesto binge when herbs are abundant at my local farmers market. It’s so easy to change things up with various herbs and whatever types of nuts you have on hand. And the awesome thing is— Pesto freezes beautifully! Just drizzle some olive oil on top before sealing the container and your fresh pesto can keep in the freezer for months! A quick and easy way to flavor dishes with yummy herbaceous notes.



Creamy Pesto Rigatoni



This little number is a delicious and satisfying quick meal. PERFECT for any weeknight as you can pull it together in under 30 minutes! Easy Peasy!

And for an added spin, toss the pesto pasta with a cup of shredded cheese (of your choice) and spread into a casserole dish. Top with panko bread crumbs, more parmesan cheese and drizzle olive oil on top. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees and you’ve got a hearty and tummy warming alternative dish!

Oh Pesto….I love you.


Creamy Pesto Rigatoni
Serves 6


1 Pound Chicken Breast, skinless and boneless
1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
1 Cup Pesto
1 Cup Grape Tomatoes, halved
1/4 Teaspoon Red Chili Flake
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Olive Oil
1 Pound Rigatoni Pasta

Slice chicken breast into strips and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Fill a large pot of water and bring it to a boil. Heavily salt the water and cook pasta according to directions.

In a heavy bottom pan, add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and brown the chicken. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the pan. Add an additional tablespoon of oil and cook garlic over medium heat for 1-2 minutes before tossing in the tomatoes and red chili flakes. Cook for about 2 minutes and stir in pesto. Heat the pesto and then stir in the heavy cream. Once incorporated, toss in the pasta, chicken, parmesan cheese and coat well. Check for seasonings and adjust with salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm.

Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli

I’m kind of in love.

With this soup, that is.

It’s warming and fulfilling with tons of veggies, beans, sausage, and pasta. I also threw in some beautiful Swiss Chard at the end for some added texture and flavor— but any type of dark, leafy green could do the trick. Extra veggies never hurt a gal, right?

Depending on how you like the consistency of your soup, you can either add or limit the amount of chicken broth. I personally like mine on the soupier side so I can dunk some crusty bread in.

But one thing is for certain. No matter how you prefer it, this Pasta e Fagioli is the ultimate comfort food.


Pasta e Fagioli
Serves 6-8


2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Pound Spicy Italian Sausage, casings removed
1 Cup White Onion, diced
1 Cup Celery, diced
1 Cup Carrots, diced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
1 28-Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes
1 15-Ounce Can Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
6 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth, or more depending on desired consistency
3-4 Sprigs Fresh Thyme Leaves
2 Dried Bay Leaves
¾- 1 Cup Macaroni Noodles, or other short pasta
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
3 Cups Swiss Chard, cleaned and roughly chopped
Kosher Salt and Pepper

In a large dutch oven or stock pot, heat olive oil over medium. Add sausage and use a wooden spoon to crumble up the meat. Continue browning until the sausage is barely pink. Add the onions, celery, and carrots to the pot and sauté until the vegetables have softened. Add in the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Pour in the tomatoes with its juices and Cannellini beans. Add chicken stock, thyme and bay leaves. Partially cover and bring the pot to a boil. Remove the lid and stir in the pasta. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until pasta is al dente—about 10-12 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves and thyme stems. Stir in the cheese and Swiss Chard. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Orecchiette Bolognese

Orecchiette Bolognese

Weekends are for slowly cooked meals.

Meals that emit utterly delicious aromas throughout your home for hours that once it’s finally finished cooking, you can barely wait to tear into it. And when you take that first bite, you just know that it was totally worth the wait.

This Bolognese fits that bill perfectly. Utterly rich, savory, and meaty.

I like serving this with Orecchiette because it’s the type of pasta that can hold up to such a hearty sauce and envelopes the meaty goodness. Yup…I said “meaty goodness” but you can use whichever type of pasta that tickles your fancy.

And although this Bolognese does take some time to make, it freezes beautifully. So make a double batch and store the extra in your freezer for a tummy warming, weekday dinner.

Now excuse me as I lick my computer screen :)


Orecchiette Bolognese
Serves 6-8


1 Pound Ground Beef
½ Pound Ground Veal
1 Cup White Onion, finely minced
1 Cup Celery, finely minced
1 Cup Carrots, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
½ Teaspoon Dried Red Chili Flakes (or less depending on your heat preference)
2 Dried Bay Leaves
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
2 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
1 Cup Milk or Cream
1 Cup Dry Red Wine
1 28-Ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
1 Pound Orecchiette Pasta, cooked al dente
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons Fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
2-3 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese

Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot. Add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Saute until softened but not browned. Add chili flakes and sauté for an additional minute. Add beef, veal, and ½ teaspoon of kosher salt. Use a wooden spoon to crumble the meat and break into small pieces.  Once the meat is no longer pink, add thyme and bay leaves. Add tomato paste and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Add the milk and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering until all the milk has evaporated and only clear juices remain—about 10 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering until all the wine has evaporated—about 10 minutes.

Add tomatoes with its juices and bring to a boil, then place the heat at the lowest setting. Continue on this very low simmer for 2 – 2 ½ hours, stirring every 20 minutes until you get a rich, thick meaty sauce. Check for seasonings and add kosher salt and pepper accordingly.

Toss the cooked Orecchiette in the Bolognese sauce and serve topped with Parmesan cheese. Garnish with Italian parsley and Enjoy!