This is one of those meals that’s both hearty and nutritious.  If you love to cook, as I do, you’ll enjoy making this for your family.  It’s definitely a full meal and will feed a lot of people.  Serve it with crusty bread and top it with a good amount of grated Parmesan-reggiano cheese!IMG_1894


  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 4 oz. diced pancetta
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. dry basil
  • 1 tsp. dry oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 2 cans 15 oz. each tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1 can 10 oz. Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies
  • 2 -32 oz. chicken broth
  • 1 (15 oz.) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz.) can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups ditalini pasta

Optional:  Parmesan reggiano graded cheese on top when serving, also crusty bread on the side.


Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat, crumble in ground beef and cook, stirring occasional until cooked through.  Drain fat from the beef then transfer to a plate and set aside.

Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil in the same pot.  Add Pancetta and saute for 2 minutes, add onions, carrots, and celery and saute until tender, around 6 minutes.  Add garlic and saute 1 minute longer.

Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, tomato paste, Rotel diced tomatoes, sugar, basil, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper.  Add set-aside cooked ground beef.

Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low, cover with lid and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally until veggies are soft, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare ditalini pasta according to directions on package, cooking to al dente.

Add cooked and drained pasta to soup* along with kidney beans and great northern beans.  Thin with water or broth if desired.

Allow to cook 1 minute longer.

Serve warm with grated Parmesan Reggiano on top and a side of crusty bread.

*If you do not plan on eating all of the soup right away, I recommend adding the pasta to individual servings.  The pasta gets soggy and absorbs too much broth if left in soup.

Serves 8-10




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This is my first attempt at cooking a pot roast in my new Instant Pot.  I chose to cook the roast with this recipe since it was so simple!  I have to say, it’s fall apart delicious and so simple to make!  Serve with mash potatoes and vegetable of your choice.


  • 3-4 lb. Chuck Roast
  • 1/2 C beef broth
  • 1/2 C Pepperoncini Juice
  • 1 envelope Ranch Dressing mix
  • 1 envelope Au Jus Gravy Mix
  • 1/4 C butter
  • 6-8 Pepperoncinis


Put your Instant Pot on Saute for 5 minutes to heat up.  Pour the broth and Pepperoncini juice in the pressure cooker. Add the roast.  Sprinkle the dressing mixes over the roast.  Then top with butter and pepperoncinis.  Cook on Pressure Cooking setting (manual) for 1 hour and 30 minutes (90 min.).  Put “warming” cycle to off.  After cooking time, use natural release for 15 minutes and then switch to quick release.

Serves 4 (Note: I like to poor all the cooked liquid in a bowl and let it settle.  Then I spoon out all the oil, leaving all the delicious gravy.  You can drizzle some of this gravy on the mash potatoes and over the meat when served)

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This is one of those cakes you make when you are having a dinner party!  It looks so impressive and it’s so delicious.  You can make it the day ahead and refrigerate it and it’s even better the next day!

  • 663373DF-3E29-4C46-8559-CB8FD8FD401D1 Package French vanilla or white cake mix (regular size, make according to package directions, usually calls for vegetable oil, water and eggs)


  • 1 carton (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 C confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 ounces semisweet miniature chocolate chips
  • Optional (1 T Malibu Coconut rum)

Whipped Cream Frosting:

  • 2 C reg. whipping cream (1 pt. is 2 cups)
  • 3 T confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1 C dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C whipping cream

Optional for Garnish

  • 1 bottle candied cherries
  • 1 C chopped walnuts or pecans
  • whole store-bought cannoli for the top


Prepare and bake the cake mix according to package directions, using two greased and floured 8 inch round baking pans.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon and extracts mix until well blended; stir in chocolate chips. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Beat the whipping cream on high speed in bowl with electric mixer until soft peaks form.  Beat in sugar and vanilla.  Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Make Ganache:  In a microwave safe bowl, add chocolate chips and whipping cream.  Microwave on HIGH for 1 min. and 10 seconds.  Whisk together until completely combined.  Set aside on counter to cool and make sure it cools completely before dripping on the cake. (Store any unused ganache in refrigerator.)

After cake is completely cooled, cut each cake in half down the middle with a large serrated knife.  Place first cake layer on a serving plate, spread with about 3/4 C of the ricotta filling, place another layer of cake, spread with about 3/4 C of the ricotta filling, place 3rd layer and spread the remaining filling. Top with last layer of cake.fullsizeoutput_aadf


Frost top and sides of cake with whipped cream frosting.  Spread nuts on top of cake.  Use a spoon, drip chocolate ganache around the edge of the cake and let it run down the sides.  Place candied cherries around the top of the cake.  Place the whole store-bought cannoli on top of the cake in the center.  Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.

Yield 12 servings

Note: I found this handy filled pastry bag, so easy to use and it helps keep the filling from coming out, just squeeze it around each layer of cake and put the filling inside of it!

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This is a easy, delicious meal that’s good enough for company!  I have to give credit to my friend, Frankie, who gave me the recipe.  It’s packed full of flavor and goes perfect with Jasmine rice.  You can make the sauce ahead, peel and devein your shrimp and refrigerate the shrimp until ready to use.  Leave the cooked sauce on the stove and at the last minute add the shrimp and cilantro.  It takes less than 2-4 minutes for the shrimp to cook (depending on the size), then serve your dish!  Delicious!!

  • 1 3/4 or 2 lbs. Large or Extra Large shrimp, shelled and deveined (Key West Pinks Preferred)
  • Olive oil-enough to cover pan (approx. 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and peppar to taste
  • 4-5 scallions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned and cut in half
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes, (14.5 oz), drained well
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/4 C cilantro, chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk (14 oz.)


Heat the red pepper flakes in the olive oil, add garlic, scallions, red peppers, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Saute until tender on med.-high heat for approx. 4 minutes.  Add lime juice, coconut milk, and petite diced tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  *Add shrimp and cilantro and cook until shrimp turn pink, approx. 2 to 4 minutes depending on the size of the shrimp.  Taste the sauce and add salt & pepper to your taste.  Serve over Jasmine rice.

*Note:  If making ahead, do not add the shrimp at this time.  Leave the shrimp in the refrigerator until ready to serve and add at the last minute along with the cilantro! Great for a dinner party!


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Here’s your EASY Memorial Day, Summer, no bake dessert that will surely please all palates and ages!  Light and fresh and chilled! You can even make it the day ahead!  Go ahead, permission to indulge!! (Note:  If you just want delicious Ambrosia Fruit Salad, stop the recipe as noted and do not buy the Angel Food Cake!)

Ingredients: (Serves 8-10)

  • 16 oz. frozen whipped cream, thawed (such as Cool Whip)
  • 2- 5.3 oz. vanilla flavor Greek yogurt
  • 23.5 oz. canned or jarred mandarin oranges, well drained (24 segments set aside for garnish)
  • 1 C crushed pineapple, well drained
  • 16 oz. jar maraschino cherries, well drained (14 held aside for garnish)
  • 2 C green seedless grapes, halved
  • 2 C shredded coconut
  • 2 C mini marshmallows
  • 1 C walnuts, chopped
  • 1 small can pineapple rings (for garnish-optional)
  • 1 prepared, store bought Angel Food Cake


Stir together whipped cream and Greek yogurt in a large bowl.

Add coconut and marshmallows and stir until completely combined.

Fold in oranges, pineapple, grapes, cherries, and walnuts (except the 14 cherries and 24 orange segments you separated).

(NOTE:  If you just want delicious Ambrosia Fruit Salad, you can stop here and refrigerate at least 4 hours for plain Ambrosia!)

Take the prepared Angel Food Cake out of the container and cut it up in large chunks.  Have your Trifle bowl ready!

Layer as follows:  one layer of Ambrosia, spread around, one layer of Angel Food Cake, then another layer of Ambrosia, another layer of cake, and top of last layer of Ambrosia.  (Each layer should be thick).

Smooth out the top and decorate with the cherries, mandarin orange slices and pineapple ring as shown in the picture.

Let sit covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator a minimum of 4 hours, but you could leave overnight!

(Note: you might have a little leftover cake and pineapple, just use at your discretion for another time!)


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