Crockpot Olive Garden Style Pasta Fagioli

Oh. My. Gosh. This tasted EXACTLY like Olive Garden's Pasta Fagioli soup and it rocked my entire world. Yes, even during the summer in 110 degree temps! I loved it THAT much. Not only that, it's easy... SUPER easy. The only disclaimer is that you *must* use a 6 quart crockpot or cut the recipe in half because it makes a lot. I had to borrow a neighbor's crockpot because mine wasn't big enough. So, there's that!

What you need:
1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes (and juice)
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can white (great northern) beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups beef broth
1 jar (16.5 oz) spaghetti sauce
2 tsp oregano
1 tbsp tabasco
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup dry pasta (I used ditalini; added at the END of cooking time)


1. Brown meat and drain; set aside to cool.
2. Cut up carrots, onion and celery. Add to empty crockpot. Drain and rinse the beans and add to crockpot. Add the whole cans of tomatoes and pasta sauce. Add the beef broth. Add the salt, pepper, oregano and tabasco. Finally, stir in the meat.
3. Cover and cook on either low for 8 hours or high for 4. When the vegetables are tender (about the last half hour of cooking time), add the dry noodles.
4. Once the noodles are tender, serve with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

*Original recipe found here

Szechwan Chicken & Peanuts

We got this recipe from my mother-in-law a few years back and forgot about it until recently! With my husband traveling a lot with the military, I rarely make anything he wants or craves because he's rarely here. But with him having a week off, he wanted to eat this badly so we pulled it out and I just had to share it! It takes a little time and effort, but it's worth it. So tasty!

What you need:
1 lb uncooked chicken, cubed
2 tbsp cooking sherry or sake
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp parsley (or a big sprinkle of dried)
3-4 cloves minced garlic
6 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp tabasco
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tbsp sliced green onions (scallions)
1 tbsp minced gingerroot
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
2 quarts water
7 oz egg noodles
1/2 pound spinach leaves, rinsed and stemmed


1. Blend wine, cornstarch and salt. Cover chicken with mixture and refrigerate for one hour.
2. Stir peanut butter, soy, sugar, 2 tbsp water, parsley, garlic, 1 tbsp of oil and tabasco sauce. Cover and set aside.
3. Heat 3 tbsp of oil in skillet until very hot. Add chicken and red pepper flakes. Stir fry 1-2 minutes or until no longer pink; set aside.
4. Add 2 tbsp more oil to pan. Heat onion and gingerroot for 15 seconds. Return chicken to skillet and cook until light brown.
5. Add peanuts and 2 tbsp peanut butter mixture or until chicken is covered in sauce.
6. Cook noodles according to package directions. During last 30 seconds or so, add spinach until limp; drain.
7. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and enjoy!

Easy Eggless Chocolate Cake!

Sorry for the crappy quality picture... I realized I hadn't taken a good one as I was about to eat one of the last pieces of this tasty cake, so my husband took one with his phone! I found this gem while searching for a cake recipe that would take both minimal time and minimal ingredients. I had eggs on hand, but not enough for every other cake recipe I'd looked at. Then I saw this and thought I'd give it a try which was a double bonus because one of my kids is allergic to eggs! I'm a big fan and I'd recommend it to anyone who needed a sweet fix! I doubled the cocoa powder and added cinnamon on a whim and I think it turned out magnificently!

What you need (cake):
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup white sugar
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional... but so tasty)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease 8x8 cake pan.
2. Sift the dry ingredients together; make a well in the middle and add all the wet ingredients and then beat all together until smooth.
3. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick in the middle and it comes out clean.

Frosting ingredients:
1/2 of a 1lb. box of powdered sugar
4 tablespoons (or half a stick) of butter, melted
1/8 cup of milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients and beat until smooth. Add more powdered sugar if you feel it needs to be thicker and frost cake accordingly! ENJOY!

*Found and changed slightly from here