Living La Bella Vita

One of my New Years Resolutions this year was to live more wholeheartedly. I wasn’t really sure how to go about that so I decided to turn to the most wholehearted living place I could think of– Italy.

Living the good life, or la bella vita is a thing. In an essence it means to appreciate beauty, people, home, and flavors. As apart of my good life plan I am cooking two new Italian recipes a month.

Italian Soup Recipe

I started with soup because, you know, it’s winter in the midwest. And I stuck it in a bread bowl because I’d kind of forgotten about bread bowls. Seriously, you forgot about them too, right? They are still amazing by the way. Let’s bring the bread bowl back, people.


It’s a chickpea and pasta soup which at first I was like, “chickpea?” But that sturdy, cute bean should never be underestimated. If you’re a hearty broth, ham and beans fan then this vegetarian dish perfect for your cozy winter soul.

Pasta e Ceci from Jamie’s Italy

Serves 4


1 small onion, chopped

1 stick of celery, chopped

1 clove of garlic, chopped

tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

2 14-oz cans of chickpeas

3 1/2 oz small shell pasta

2 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

sea salt, pepper, and parsley to taste

teaspoon of dried basil and oregano combined

sprig of fresh rosemary and a handful of fresh basil


Cook pasta according to package instructions and set aside.

Add the chopped onion, celery, fresh rosemary, and garlic to a saucepan with the olive oil. Cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes with lid on to soften the vegetables. We aren’t looking to brown them so give them the occasional stir.

Drain the chickpeas and rinse them in cold water. When the veg is soft, add the chickpeas to the pan then pour in the stock. Cook on a low simmer for 30 minutes then remove half the beans with a slotted spoon and set them aside in a bowl.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender or food processor.

Add reserved chickpeas and pasta to the blended beans and season with salt, pepper, parsley and dried herbs. Simmer gently until chickpeas are tender. Add some boiling water if the soup is too thick—but if you want it hardy, go for it!

Sprinkle in torn fresh basil and add to soup bowls.



Perfect Fish & Chips


Fish & Chips is one of my favorite dishes. The last go around of battering and frying just was about perfect.  Now I have a philosophy when it comes to making this dinner:  1. always have a green salad with it to balance out all that fired-ness  2. only pick one item to make from scratch, I usually go for doing the fish myself and finding some yummy frozen chips to bake up.


Serves 4

4 med-large Tilapia fillets cut into 4 strips each

Flour 2 cups

1 pint of beer — I prefer a brown ale or stout

1 egg

1 TBSP chopped sage

1 Tsp pepper

1/2 Tsp chopped tyhme

1/4 cup vegetable oil


*First make your batter. In a medium size bowl whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour with sage, thyme and pepper. Beat egg into flour mixture, gradually add in beer till a thick batter forms, almost as thick as pancake batter.

*Dust Tilapia strips in remaining flour. Add Tilapia to beer bater coating heavily.  I often leave the strips in the batter till I need them.

*Heat oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. Once heated add in Tilapia from batter. The key to frying perfectly, don’t get your oil too hot, once heated lower temp to low-med-low and don’t over crowd the fish in the pan.

*Cook Tilapia till fish is heated thru and batter has become a golden brown color, roughly fry each piece for 10-15 minutes depending on size of fish.

*Serve with Malt Vinegar and tartar sauce!


A little sprinkle coated luck for 2018

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Make the New Year ripe with good fortunes that taste yummy too. Try these easy and delicious white chocolate dipped cookies!  Happy New Year!


RECIPE: White Chocolate Dipped Fortune Cookies

Makes 24 cookies

24 fortune cookes

4 squares white almond bark

2-4 different sprinkle colors of your choice


*layout wax paper onto the counter top. Place sprinkles into individual ups, this helps with dipping

*In a double boiler, melt almond bark.

*Dip end of fortune cookie into melted chocolate, then immediately dip into a bowl of sprinkles, place on wax paper to cool. Repeat with all fortune cookies!


1,2,3 of Pumpkin Beer Cheese Soup


This I’ll happily admit is my own take on fellow Hearty Eater, Steph’s Pumpkin Cheese Fondue which you can find on the blog. Me I like to go for more of a Beer Cheese Soup with this one. No need to through out those perfectly good pumpkins that have been decorating your porch!  Just turn them into some roasted goodness throughout the winter months.

For this soup I like to toast up pretzel bread to go with it and some apple slices too!

RECIPE: Pumpkin Beer Cheese Soup

Serves 6

1 3-5 lb Pumpkin

1 cup vegetable broth

1 cup heavy cream or whole milk

1 bottle of beer — pumpkin or any fall ale will work

2 cups sharp shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded gouda

1 1/2 cups goat cheese

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tsp nutmet

*Adjust oven racks to fit pumpkin with stem into oven.. trust me do this first. Preheat oven to 450.

*scope out the insides of the pumpkin…mainly get all the seeds doesn’t have to be super clean.  Place pumpkin on a foil lined baking sheet.

*add ALL ingredients into the pumpkin, place lid on top. Bake pumpkin for 60-90 minutes. Cheeses will melt and pumpkin will roast. Stir in the roasted pumpkin from the sides. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving!

My own personal British Pub…Turkey & Sweet Potato Shepard’s Pie

Always feels like when late fall early winter rolls around my menu planning takes on a bit more of a British Pub theme.  The fridge gets stocked full of brown ales and stout beers and The Chieftains are played on heavy rotation throughout the house. One of my favorite versatile go-to dishes for this is Shepard’s Pie. Here’s my latest take with Turkey and Sweet Potatoes.


RECIPE: Turkey & Sweet Potato Shepard’s Pie

2 cups shredded cooked turkey

2 cups mashed sweet potatoes (4 sweet potatoes…boiled and mashed)

1/4 cup milk

1 cup peas

1 cup carrots

1/2 cup onions

1/4 cup sharp shredded cheddar cheese

2 TBSP butter

1/2 cup vegetable broth

1 tsp thyme

salt and pepper to taste


*Preheat oven to 350, grease 12 inch pie plate.

*Boil Sweet Potatoes in water till tender. Drain water, slightly mash potatoes, add butter and milk, mash until creamy.

*In a skillet sauté onions, carrots in butter  and salt & pepper until tender over medium-high heat. Add in turkey, peas, and thyme with broth, bring to a simmer, simmer for 15- 20 minutes.

*Transfer turkey and vegetable mixture to pie plate. Spread mashed sweet potatoes evenly over top of turkey mixture.  Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top of sweet potatoes.

*Bake for 20 minutes till Cheese is melted. Enjoy with an extra stout Guinness!



Star Wars Food: Death Star Pizza

Just like the Empire I wanted a Death Star to call my own. Instead of making mine out of clones and space junk, I chose frozen pizza.

Star Wars Recipes

Rule the dinner galaxy with this easy Star Wars recipe! When it’s time for dinner and a movie the last thing this padawan wants is to make dish that’s super complicated. If you’ve never made your food match a feature film, it’s not a bunch of mumbo jumbo. The little extra step of a movie themed dinner adds so much fan to favorite flicks. Check out the end of this post for more Star Wars food ideas.

The Death Star Pizza is also a great Star Wars party food. Your little Rey’s and Kylo’s are gonna love it.

Star Wars Pizza:

To make the most powerful pizza in the universe you need three basic supplies.

Death Star Pizza Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen cheese pizza
  • A round cookie cutter or glass
  • 2 pieces of provolone cheese

Yep. It’s that easy.

Pizza Step By Step

1) Preheat oven per frozen pizza packaging.

2) Cut the center out of one of your slices of provolone cheese.

3) Place the piece of cheese with the whole in the center on top of the other slice of cheese and set aside. DO NOT PUT IT ON THE PIZZA! NOT YET! Patience, Luke.

4)  Bake your frozen pizza per directions.

5) When the timer goes off, remove your pizza from the oven and add your combined cheese slices to the upper right of the pizza.


6) Bake for 5 more minutes. By adding the slices at the end, your provolone cheese will keep its’ Death Star shape. Trust me.

Many pizzas were eaten to bring you this information.


Star Wars Food Ideas

If pizza’s not your thing, here are some other Star Wars Food ideas for your movie feast!

Rouge One: Jyn’s Macho Nachos

Jyn is a good soul and a fiesty fighter, so broil up some nachos and add a salad on top.


Empire Strikes Back:  Dagoboh Pasta

Yoda’s hideaway plant is a savory place. Add some smoked mozzarella, smoked tofu, sautéed button portabella mushrooms, and spinach to pasta for a hearty meal worthy of a Jedi Master.


Return of the Jedi: Jabba the Hutdogs

Just twist pigs in the blankets into Jabba shapes and bake! Add mustard and ketchup eyes for that slug stare.

And of course, Princess Leia Cupcakes


Find the recipe on this blog! 



I put some whiskey in my whiskey……


Yes taking some sips of spirits I believe is always a good thing to do while cooking.  So why not put some of your drink of choice into your recipe.  Thus was born this Spicy Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake with Whiskey Whipped Cream…..a little bit of whiskey to your whiskey, ya know.


Makers Mark Whipped Cream

makes 3 cups

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/4 sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp Makers Mark Bourbon


*combine all ingredients together, with electric mixer whip until stiff peaks form. to make this process go a little faster put your bowl and mixers into the freezer, chill and the whipping process will go much faster.

OMG its the holidays and family are arriving! Here’s a quick and easy lasagna to feed the masses!

Got family coming and going during the holiday season?  Here’s a quick and easy lasagna to help feed the masses.


RECIPE: Quick Meat Lasagna 

Serves 12

2 jars spaghetti sauce — I prefer Paul Newman’s Tomato Basil

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground pork

16 oz ricotta cheese

2 eggs

1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese

no boil

salt & pepper

oregano & basil

  1. mix together ground pork and ground beef, salt & pepper to taste, cook till all meat is done. stir in jars of sauce.
  2.  in a bowl mix together ricotta cheese, eggs, salt & pepper.
  3. coat a lasagna pan with spray pan.  place cup and a half of meat sauce on the bottom. layer lasagna noodles across length of pan.
  4. add cup and 1/2 of ricotta cheese mix on top of noodles, spreading evenly. Layer lasagna noodles on top of ricotta.
  5. repeat layers. last layer top with remaining meat sauce and cover with shredded Italian cheese blend. Sprinkle top with a mixture of dried oregano & basil seasoning.
  6. bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.  Allow to set 5-8 minutes before cutting.