Roasted Cremini Mushroom Linguini


Looking to satisfy a craving for an earthy, rustic dinner, I decided that the cremini mushrooms staring back at me from the bottom shelf on my refrigerator were what I’d start with. At the market this afternoon, I picked up a package of boneless chicken thighs to use for our pasta dish, but I felt the mushrooms are meaty enough, so put the thighs in the freezer to use next week. I also had a package of spinach I needed to use, as well as mini heirloom tomatoes that were reaching their peak.

I started by roasting my cremini mushrooms in a drizzle of olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and a tablespoon of refrigerated, roasted garlic. You can certainly use fresh garlic, which is what I normally use, but spotted this in the refrigerator and decided I’d use that.

I roasted my mushrooms in a preheated 425 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Mushrooms really shrink down, so this is all I had left of a 20 ounce package.

I boiled a package of linguini along with a few handfuls of fresh spinach leaves.

While the noodles were boiling, I made my sauce. I’m not a fan of heavy sauces, which is why I chose to make an olive oil and heirloom tomato based sauce. I started with a half cup of olive oil, about five shakes of red pepper flakes, and the rest of the garlic and juice from the roasted garlic jar. There was only a tablespoon left after I used what I did on the mushrooms (the jar was only a third full when I started my dinner tonight).

I then added about 8 ounces of mini heirloom tomatoes to the olive oil and garlic and let it cook for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes were starting to soften.


Once the noodles and spinach were cooked, I added them directly into the sauce – without draining them. I like to add the noodles using a pasta server or a spider, leaving the water in the pot – in case I need to loosen the sauce a bit. I did not need any extra water tonight, but I always do it like this … just in case.


Once I adde the pasta to the sauté pan, I added the mushrooms I had roasted – making sure to scrape any of the extra olive oil and garlic off the pan into the sauce. I didn’t want to lose any of that extra flavor!


I tossed everything together before placing it in serving bowls and topping with freshly grated parmesan cheese.


I really enjoyed the meatiness of the cremini mushrooms in this dish. I told Dennis I think this may be my new favorite pasta dinner – I’m so happy I had leftovers. My Dad always said “if it tastes good the first time, it tastes even better the second time around”.


1 pound dried linguini noodles, cooked

24 ounce package of cremini mushrooms, stems removed and tossed, caps cut in half.

1/2 cup olive oil plus a drizzle for mushrooms

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided

3 tablespoons roasted garlic, divided, plus liquid from the jar

3 handfuls fresh spinach

8 ounces mini heirloom tomatoes


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place cut mushrooms on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Add 2 tablespoons roasted, minced garlic. Roast for 30 minutes.
  3. Boil water for noodles. Cook noodles and spinach together.
  4. In large sauté pan, add olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon roasted, minced garlic and liquid left from jar of garlic.
  5. Add tomatoes to pan and sauté for 5-10 minutes, until tomatoes start to soften.
  6. Add cooked noodles and spinach to sauté pan, reserving some of the pasta water in case you need to loosen your sauce.
  7. Add roasted mushrooms, making sure to scrape the garlic from the pan to the noodles and toss together.
  8. Serve with grated parmesan.


Until next time, Kris


Tuscan Antipasto Bowtie Pasta


Last Monday, I hosted my annual book club Christmas Party. While I was putting things away after the festivities and was placing the lid back on the jar of Tuscan Antipasto I had as part of my cheese platter, I came to the conclusion that this would make an excellent sauce and topping for pasta. I placed the jar in the refrigerator with the intention of making that dish last week. Well, last week was super busy, probably the busiest I’ve had in the last 52 weeks … but, I loved every minute of it. I love the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. It’s a time for friends and family to be together and enjoy each other’s company … there’s nothing better.


I loved the way this jar looked when I found it at Trader Joe’s. I immediately knew it had to be part of my cheese platter and didn’t think further than that on what else I’d do with it. There are so many ways you could use this wonderful antipasto mix … over chicken, in pasta, by itself on a cheese platter with cheeses and Italian meats. All of it good, and good for you.

Below are a couple of pictures of how it looked on my cheese platter.


This jar contains a mixture of olives, artichokes, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes that are marinated in herbs – yum!



I poured this right over my hot, drained bowtie pasta and mixed it together.


The oil that the antipasto was packed in was all that was needed for this pasta sauce, I added no extra olive oil.


I added shards of parmesan and a pinch of crushed pepper flakes before serving.


This is about the easiest dinner you can make. It comes together in less than 20 minutes. It’s great for serving after a busy day as well as for serving to guests at a dinner party. It’s sure to impress! All you’d need to serve along with this dish is a nice, rustic, crusty loaf and a Caesar salad – your guests will surely love it, as will your family.

Note: Make sure to be careful of pits in the olives. I did have one olive that had a pit in it.


  • 1 jar Tuscan Antipasto
  • kosher salt for pasta water
  • 1 package bowtie pasta
  • shards of parmesan


  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
  2. Drain pasta and return to pot.
  3. Pour jar of antipasto over pasta and mix together.
  4. Top with parmesan.


Until next time, Kris


Chicken Sausage, Kale and Burrata Rigatoni


Dennis and I went out for dinner and to a movie on Friday night. We decided to try the restaurant at Nordstrom since it was directly across from the Arclight Theater, Dennis’ favorite. The Nordstrom at UTC Mall near our home was rebuilt and had their grand opening on October 12th. (My good friend, Marie, and I did head there on opening day … there was no way we were going to miss that!) Apparently, Nordstrom doesn’t remodel, they rebuild. This new Nordstrom is supposed to be designed after their flagship store and has a wonderful full-service restaurant and bar, called Bazille. We most definitely enjoyed our dinner there. I did tell Dennis I’d also like to try the restaurant at lunch to see how the menu differs. We do love the restaurant at the Nordstrom location at Fashion Valley as well, which is called Cafe Nordstrom. It is a more casual restaurant, but we love it just as well.

While Dennis and I were perusing the menu, he came across a menu item and said to me “This homemade chicken sausage and burrata pasta is right up your alley. It’s so you!” Immediately, I went to find this item on the menu and Dennis was right, that was definitely a dish I would love, so that’s what I ordered. (I guess after 30 years of marriage, he knows me pretty well.) After trying this dish, I knew I had to try to make something similar to share with all of you.

I baked two Italian chicken sausages in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. I turned them halfway through so they would be browned on both sides.


Once the sausages were cooked through, I cut them in diaganol slices and then in half, before adding them to my sauté pan.


Note: I did not use any oil in my non-stick sauté pan. For no other reason than, I just didn’t want to. Next, I poured a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes over the sausages and added Italian seasoning, kosher salt and red pepper flakes and mixed everything together.


I let the sausages cook together with the tomoatoes and seasonings while my pasta and kale cooked together in a large pot of boiling water.


I did not drain the noodles and kale once they were done. I used my spider and transferred them to my sauteé pan.



I tossed the pasta and kale together with the sausages and tomatoes before placing it in my serving bowls.


Once I put my pasta in the pasta bowls, I laid a serving of barrata cheese over each serving. One burrata ball has four servings, so I cut it into quarters.


Dennis is really looking forward to having this again tomorrow. I’ll be at book club, so it’s the perfect dinner for him to enjoy while I’m out. I also walked some over to my friend and neighbor, Laura’s, house. I thought her husband, Joe, would enjoy this pasta while she was at book club with me. As it turns out, pasta is one of Joe’s favorite things … same as me. I could eat pasta every day.


  • 2 Italian Chicken Sausages
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 28 ounce can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 1 10-ounce bag kale
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for pasta water
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 ball of burrata


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Bake sausages for 20 minutes, turning over half-way through.
  3. Cook noodles and kale together in large pot of boiling, salted water.
  4. Cut sausages on the diagonal and then cut each diagonal slice in half.
  5. Add sausages to sauté pan.
  6. Pour diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, kosher salt and red pepper flakes over sausages and cook on medium while pasta cooks.
  7. Add pasta and kale to sausages and tomatoes and toss together.
  8. Top each serving with burrata cheese.


Until next time, Kris


Turkey Bacon and Spinach Spaghetti with Apricot Wine Sauce


I’ve been away for a week, returning to San Diego late yesterday afternoon. Dennis and I went to Wisconsin to visit my Mom and my sister and her husband and my niece and nephew. We also went back home for a wedding on Dennis’ side of the family. Dennis’ cousin, Carol is one of my favorite people. I actually met Carol before I met Dennis – I worked for Carol’s dad, Uncle Randy. He was my first boss when I worked at the local grocery store in the town I grew up in. That store was called Rooney’s Supermarket and is where I met Dennis the summer after my junior year of high school. Carol’s beautiful daughter, Katie, was getting married and we were thrilled to be able to celebrate with her and her new husband, Josh.


Carol’s brother, Greg, has a daughter that got married in the beginning of summer. We couldn’t attend Melissa and Mitch’s wedding because it was the same week as our daughter graduated high school out here in California. We were thrilled to meet Mitch as well. Uncle Randy and Auntie Kathy have gained two wonderful grandson-in-laws in just a couple of months. I had the best time ever dancing with Mitch and Melissa and Melissa’s brother, Jake. Greg and his wife, Laurel, were on the dance floor all night. We started out dancing to “YMCA”.  I have great memories of dancing to “Sweet Caroline” with everyone! Carol has two other brothers, Mark and Matt. Mark was also on the dance floor for most of the night, he had a ball. I was finally able to meet Mark’s wife, Jen and their son, Preston. Matt’s wife was unable to attend the wedding, but I was able to meet his two wonderful sons.

Dennis’ Auntie Joyce and her son’s fiancé, Diane, were seated at our table for dinner. We had such a great time chatting and catching up and it was wonderful to meet Diane as well. She was wonderful to chat with and we really enjoyed hearing about her three children. Auntie Joyce shares a love of books with me … she was a librarian and worked at Barnes & Noble. We get along quite well! Those that know me, know how much I enjoy my three book clubs.

On Friday, my Mom and I went to breakfast with Dennis and then her and I did some shopping.


Dennis hung out with his cousin, Greg, and they had a great day catching up.


(Dennis on the left, Greg on the right. Greg is probably the most fun guy I know!)

On Thursday evening, my sister and I headed out to take a ride to Madison. My niece, Maggie, and nephew, JP, both attend college there. My sister and her husband, John, also went to Madison (that’s where they met). Dennis loves to hang out with John, they get along so well … we always have such great times together. I have a memory from 20 years ago where John and Dennis are sitting on the couch in our family room and they are singing “Low Rider” by War. It’s one of my favorite memories of the two of them.

Cher and I were heading to Madison to pick JP up and bring him home for a dentist appointment. We didn’t make it to Madison, however, because we ended up hitting a deer on the freeway. Cherie and I were having a great converstation, as we always do and really enjoying our ride, when out of nowhere, a deer appeared in front of us. Cher’s car is quite damaged, but is able to be fixed. After the state patrol came to check on us and help us out, we took a ride to the nearest gas station to assess the damage ourselves. We couldn’t get out on the freeway, so the first time we saw the car was under the light at the gas station. Boy, were we surprised! We each ended up buying a lottery ticket and said we’d split whatever winnings had. Turns out my ticket was a winner … we won $4! I’ll be sending Cher her $2.

On Friday evening, my Mom took the family to a restaurant she really enjoys called The Sawmill. We all had a wonderful time. Maggie and JP both came to town (by bus for JP since Cher and I didn’t make it all the way to Madison. Maggie drove down with her friends to attend a concert). We had a great evening catching up. I loved spending time with Maggie and JP.


On Monday, Dennis was able to visit with his aunt’s on his mom’s side of the family, as well as their husbands. I didn’t get a chance to visit with Auntie Gloria and Uncle Tom or Auntie Terry and Uncle Dick. I spent a wonderful day with my mom. We took a ride to a wonderful little town called Port Washington. There is a store that she loves there called Duluth Trading Company. My mom loves beautiful clothes and she really wanted to take a ride to get some things before the snow starts to fly. The ride we took was absolutely beautiful. We laughed the entire way and had a great conversation. I loved Monday, it was such a fabulous day! The fall colors were gorgeous!

Dennis had a fabulous day with his aunts and uncle as well. He really enjoyed visiting them each in their homes and catching up.

We look forward to our next visit to Wisconsin to see everyone!

We missed Kylie and Remington like crazy, and face-timed with them every night.

Last night I decided I wanted to make a pasta with bacon and spinach for dinner for tonight.  I wasn’t quite sure how I’d make the sauce, but as I walked into my pantry this afternoon, I realized I had two jars of low sugar apricot jam so decided to incorporate that into my sauce. I made a sauce of olive oil, butter, onion, garlic, white wine, chicken stock and the apricot jam – yum! I sautéd half a sweet onion that I cut into 1/8 rounds into olive oil and butter that I melted together. I let the onion caramelize a bit and then added 3 cloves of minced garlic.


I added 3/4 cup of moscato wine, a cup and a half of low sodium chicken stock, 3 tablespoons of apricot jam, and a quarter teaspoon of red pepper flakes and let it simmer over medium heat until my noodles and spinach were done. I wanted to have a bit of heat with the sweetness of the jam. I added my noodles and spinach to boiling, salted water and cooked them together.


Before I cooked the noodles or started the sauce, I placed 16 ouces of applewood smoked turkey bacon on a sheet pan and cooked it in a preheated 375 degree oven for 35 minutes.


I always buy my turkey bacon at Trader Joe’s.


I cut the bacon in half lengthwise and then in 1/2 inch pieces.

Once the noodles and spinach were cooked, I added them directly to the sauce pan and tossed them with my apricot wine sauce.

I rarely drain the noodles. I usually add them directly to the sauce, this way I can preserve pasta water to loosen up my sauce. I did add 3/4 cup of the pasta water to the sauce once I added the noodles.


I tossed the pasta with the sauce and then added the bacon that I cut up and tossed it all together.

I added a half cup of grated romano parmesan and then tossed everything again.


This was a hit with both Dennis and me. Dennis has already packed up some of the leftovers for his lunch tomorrow.


We served this pasta with a crusty ciabatta bread that I heated in the oven for about 10 minutes.



  • 16 ounces applewood smoked turkey bacon
  • 1 package spaghetti
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 1-1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons apricot jam (I used reduced sugar)
  • 1 package fresh spinach
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 sweet onion, sliced into 1/8 inch rounds
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup grated romano/parmesan blend


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cook bacon on sheet pan with a rack for 35 minutes.
  3. Boil water with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook pasta per package directions, adding spinach to the boiling water and cook together.
  5. Melt olive oil and butter together.
  6. Add onion and cook for 5-7 minutes until onion starts to caramelize.
  7. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
  8. Add wine to pan and scrape up any brown bits.
  9. Pour chicken stock into pan and add apricot jam. Add red pepper flakes and stir. Let cook over medium heat while the pasta and spinach boil.
  10. Add cooked pasta and spinach to sauce and toss, adding 3/4 cup of reserved pasta water.
  11. Add romano/parmesan cheese and toss again.


Until next time, Kris



Lemon Garlic Broccoli Tortellini


Before school started, Kylie made a list of the snacks and lunch items she’d want for the school year. I told her we’d be happy to buy her a meal card, even though she’d decided to live at home.  Most important to her was keeping a healthy diet, so she did a lot of research on “good for you” lunches that she could enjoy.  It turns out, with her schedule, she is able to eat lunch at home every day, which is awesome, because Kylie and I get to sit down to lunch together either after school (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) or before school (Tuesdays and Thursdays). Three days a week Kylie gets home between 1:00 and 1:30 and I wait for her so that we can enjoy lunch together and talk about her day. Days like today, she will eat before she goes and we can chat about what’s to come for the rest of her day. I consider myself so lucky that even though my daughter is in college, we still get to share our meals together.

One of the lunch ideas that came up, as she was doing her research on healthy lunches and snacks, was tortellini. I thought I’d get her lunch prepared today for her today while she was upstairs getting ready. In the refrigerator, I noticed I had a package of tortellini so I decided to make that for her. I also had uncooked broccoli left over from yesterday’s stuffed potato recipe. I decided I’d boil the broccoli together with the tortellini and while that was cooking, I’d make a little lemon, garlic, and olive oil sauce for the pasta.


I added a lot of broccoli to the tortellini. I wanted it to be a vegetable heavy lunch. For my sauce, I cooked two cloves of garlic in a quarter cup of olive oil. After about 45 seconds, I added the juice of one lemon and continued to let my sauce simmer for about 3 minutes. To the sauce I added my drained, cooked tortellini and broccoli, as well as fresh grated parmesan and red pepper flakes.


This dish was very fresh tasting with the broccoli and lemon … it could even be served cold the next day for lunch. Our lunch was prepared in next to no time at all!



  • 1 10 ounce package of refrigerated tortellini
  • 1-2 cups cooked broccoli (I used 2)
  • 2 tablespoons shredded parmesan
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/8 cup shredded parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Cook tortellini and broccoli in salted, boiling water.
  2. Heat olive oil in small saucepan, adding minced garlic. Cook for 45 seconds.
  3. Add juice of lemon and let simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add tortellini and broccoli to sauce.
  5. Sprinkle lemon zest and red pepper flakes over pasta and broccoli.
  6. Add shredded parmesan to pan and mix together.


Until next time, Kris




Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca


Determined to make a recipe out of my fabulous new Audrey Hepburn cookbook for dinner tonight, I chose her Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca. This cookbook is a wonderful book that her son, Luca Dotti wrote. If you are at all a fan of Audrey Hepburn, I highly recommend ordering this fantastic book. The stories that come with each recipe are really enjoyable to read. You feel like you get to know Audrey a little bit more through her family’s eyes and you get a bit of a sneak peak into her glamorous life and her everyday life.


I actually found my copy of this book at Home Goods, but I’ve looked on-line at Amazon and they also have it. I think my sister, Cherie, might enjoy it, so I was checking to make sure I could find it somewhere other than Home Goods (since I bought the only copy at my local Home Goods store).

Here is a glimpse of the story on her Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca.


The picture above shows Audrey with her husband and their son, outside his school in Rome. Isn’t this a great picture? All the pictures in this book are fabulous.

The following picture is the page after her recipe, which shows her handwritten note on the ingredients she needed for this recipe.

Finally, here is the recipe for Audrey’s wonderful Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca.


Following are some pictures of the sauce while I was cooking it.

I then added my cooked spaghetti directly to the pan and tossed it, adding a bit of grated parmesan before doing so.



This may actually be my new favorite pasta dish. I really enjoyed it! It would be a fabulous dinner for me to make when I’m hosting my Thursday night book club. There are several vegetarians in the group and I think they would love this dish as well.

This spaghetti was so quick to make. Audrey mentions that in the book (in her notes that her son added). It looked really special while I was putting it together, like something I’d definitely want to serve to guests, but took no time at all.

Following are the ingredients and directions for this dish, all in Audrey’s words.


2 anchovy fillets

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for finishing

Handful black olives, coarsely chopped

Handful green olives, coursely chopped

12 salted capers, rinsed and left whole

1 clove garlic, cut in half

Crushed red pepper flakes, or splash Tabasco to taste

1 14-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

1 pound spaghetti or linguini

6 basil leaves, shredded by hand


In a large sauté pan over high heat, melt the anchovies with the oil, then add the olives, the capers, the garlic, and the red pepper flakes. Briefly sauté for 1 minute. Add the canned tomatoes, crushing them with a wood spoon. Let the sauce cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it forms a dense puree (5-10 minutes, depending on the quality of your tomatoes). Turn off the heat leaving the sauce in the pan.

In a large pot, cook the pasta in abundant boiling, salted water. Drain the pasta when it is al dente; add the pasta to the pan with the sauce and toss, over a high heat, to incorporate. Remove the pan from the heat, drizzle on a bit of olive oil and the basil, and serve.


Until next time, Kris


Penne Alla Vodka


Today was Kylie’s first day of college. Dennis and I feel so lucky that she has decided to attend college in San Diego and to live at home. Kylie is attending Cal State University San Marcos (CSUSM). She really wanted to stay home and commute and we couldn’t be happier.


I was so excited to put out my new CSUSM garden flag yesterday so we’d be ready to start the new school year with Cougar school spirit and Cougar pride. We are so proud of Kylie. Dennis looked at me this morning and said “Can you believe our daughter is starting college?” It seems she was just in kindergarten and I wish she was. We are very happy for her new chapter, however. There is so much life to live and we hope she lives her life to the fullest and accomplishes everything she wants to, having much fun along the way.

I asked Kylie what she’d like for dinner on the first night of school. She didn’t take any time to answer when she replied with “Penne Alla Vodka!” Kylie is not a huge lover of pasta so anytime she requests pasta for dinner, I’m more than happy to oblige. I love pasta, and could eat noodles every day.

I started my sauce by melting a tablespoon each of butter and olive oil. While they were melting, I minced two large shallots and three cloves of garlic. I cooked the shallots for two minutes before adding the garlic. One I added the garlic, I poured a 28 ounce can of crushed (no salt added) plum tomatoes into my sauté pan. Once the tomatoes were in the pan, I added kosher salt, dried basil, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes.


I let the tomatoes simmer for about 10 minutes before adding 1/2 cup of vodka and 1 cup of heavy cream.


I let the vodka and cream simmer for 15 minutes before adding one cup of grated parmesan.

While the sauce was simmering with the vodka and cream, I cooked my penne pasta. One I added the grated parmesan and stirred everything together, I then incorporated the cooked noodles into the sauce, stirring them to mix together with the sauce.

I loved that this sauce was a bit chunky with the tomatoes and shallots, not too chunky, just right.

Here’s a picture of Kylie enjoying her Penne Alla Vodka. I’d say it was a hit, she loved it.



  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can (no salt added) plum crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated parmesan, plus more for serving


  1. Heat butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan.
  2. Add minced shallots to pan and cook for two minutes.
  3. Add minced garlic, cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Pour tomatoes into pan, also adding salt, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes.
  5. Stir together and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Add vodka and cream to tomato mixture and simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes.
  7. Cook pasta.
  8. Add grated parmesan to sauce and mix together.
  9. Add cook noodles to sauce and stir.
  10. Sprinkle with extra parmesan for serving.


My heart goes out to all those affected by Hurricane Harvey. We’ve been watching the news closely and everyone is in our thoughts and prayers. My brother-in-law, David, his wife, Donna and their three children live in Houston. Donna’s parents and brother also live in Houston. I’m happy to report they are safe and doing well. Please say a little prayer for our family and their friends who live in Houston.

Until next time, Kris