Home Happenings… Copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana (Sausage, Bacon, Potato and Kale Soup)

Copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana (Sausage, Bacon, Potato and Kale Soup)

You can’t go wrong ordering Olive Garden’s endless soup, salad, and breadsticks. I don’t know if you ever noticed but their salad plates come to the table ice cold and their dressing is absolutely delicious. Don’t get me started on their breadsticks either because I can easily take down two baskets by myself using them to sop up the Zuppa Toscana.

Zuppa Toscana is a creamy sausage and potato soup with hints of smoky bacon and laced with kale. This is total comfort food and always something I’m in the mood for, even when it’s 100 degrees here in Houston and thankfully my family agrees. It also tastes infinitely better than the restaurant’s version.

After browsing the grocery store condiment aisle my eye caught a bottle of Olive Gardens’ Italian Dressing and I ended up grabbing a bottle to recreate their salad. I just had to have the breadsticks and soup to go with it as well.

Making this at home is better on the budget and while you aren’t necessarily eating healthy it is healthier anytime you are in control of the ingredients and preparation.

I have put my own touch on this soup by using spicy Italian sausage and taking a shortcut by using frozen chopped kale when in a pinch. I absolutely recommend using fresh kale when you can but this particular night I had a bag of frozen in the freezer.

I also recommend making a double or triple batch because my family easily polished off a double batch for dinner and enough leftovers for a lunch the next day. I was totally bummed when I was still craving it for dinner the next night.

Copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana (Sausage, Bacon, Potato and Kale Soup)

Makes 6 Servings

Stars of the Show:

  • 2 packages ground spicy Italian sausage
  • 10 strips thick cut bacon, diced
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 large red potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • Italian seasoning, to taste
  • 1 cup heaving whipping cream
  • 1 bunch of kale, torn into bite size pieces
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • shredded parmesan cheese, if desired

And Action:

Cook the bacon in a dutch oven for a few minutes over medium-high heat until it starts to crisp then add the diced onion, stirring frequently for a couple of minutes. Add the sausage and brown it in the pot.

When the sausages and bacon are nicely browned and crispy add in the potatoes, chicken broth and water (add more water if needed to cover the potatoes). Add the garlic and Italian seasoning.

Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce to medium-low heat to simmer.

Cook for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Add kale, cream, salt and pepper and cook for a further 5-10 minutes or until the kale is soft and wilted. Top individual soup bowls with parmesan cheese if desired. Enjoy!



Home Happenings… Creamy Broccoli Pasta Salad

Pasta salads are the perfect Summer side dish for a BBQ or potluck, especially next to BBQ chicken. Yum!

This is a slightly healthier version than those pasta salads you find at your favorite salad bars. You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones that are carb heavy and never enough broccoli.

Creamy Broccoli Pasta Salad

Don’t let the words “creamy” or “pasta” in the recipe title detour you from making this Creamy Broccoli Pasta Salad because you are in control of the ingredients. You can bulk up the amount of veggies or use lowfat options for the sour cream, mayonnaise, and milk  like I did.

This pasta salad can be made ahead of time and holds up really well in the fridge so you can add this to your Sunday meal prepping.

Creamy Broccoli Pasta Salad

Makes 6 Servings

Stars of the Show:

  • 1 1/4 cup cooked rotini pasta, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise with olive oil
  • 1 tbsp 2% milk
  • 2 gloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup roasted broccoli
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil

And Action:

In a small bowl combine sour cream, cheese, mayonnaise, milk and garlic. Blend well.

In large bowl combine broccoli, tomatoes, carrot and basil.

Add cooked rotini and mix well.

Add sour cream mixture and toss gently to mix thoroughly.

Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until serving time. Enjoy!

Home Happenings… Ranch Pasta Salad

Ranch Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is synonymous to Summer in my household especially when we are grilling cheeseburgers after spending all afternoon in the pool. Being that I am a ranch dressing lover! I knew exactly which pasta salad I wanted to make… Ranch Pasta Salad.

When it comes to pasta salads I don’t enjoy it really creamy and prefer mine lightly coated. If you like yours more dressed than by all means double the amount of dressing you make. You can also add some bacon and/or black olives as well if you desire, next time I will.

I served this as a side dish with cheeseburgers and a generous helping of sweet strawberries for a quick and easy weeknight dinner.

This Ranch Pasta Salad will be sure to be a hit at your next BBQ, potluck, or family gathering, just be sure to double or triple the recipe for feeding a crowd.

Ranch Pasta Salad

Makes 6 Servings

Stars of the Show:

  • 3 cups cooked spiral pasta, any shape you desire
  • 1/4 cup fresh peas
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese cubes, quartered
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 2 tbsp dill pickle relish
  • 1/4 cup ranch dressing
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste

And Action:

In a large bowl combine the cooked pasta with the peas, celery, red onions, cheddar cheese and chopped eggs, toss to combine.

In a small bowl combine the relish, mayo, ranch dressing, mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix well then add to pasta mixture and toss to coat.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 or more hours to blend flavors. Enjoy!

Home Happenings… Spicy Sausage and Roasted Veggie Frittata

Frittatas are a great way to use up leftover veggies, proteins, cheeses, and herbs for an easy and inexpensive meal that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and feeds a family with minimal effort. If you don’t know what a frittata is it’s basically a baked omelette or a crustless quiche.

Spicy Sausage and Roasted Veggie Frittata

This Spicy Sausage and Roasted Veggie Frittata is an easy way to make sure my family is eating their vegetables and this frittata is packed with a variety of veggies. Trust me, the veggies are in there but I covered mine in cheese before putting into the oven to appease my guy and even though this frittata isn’t diet compliant for either or our Whole30 or Keto lifestyles we do merge the two on occasion and to be honest, the cheese is such a yummy treat for me.

Feel free to be as creative as you want with the protein and veggies in this recipe to customize it to your family’s liking. The next one I make will be a play on a Colorado omelette since my guy loves treating us to IHOP just so he can order this. Putting those ingredients into this frittata recipe will save us quite a bit of money and give plenty of leftovers for a couple of days.

I served our frittata with sliced roma tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil and more of that delicious Everything But The Bagel Seasoning sprinkled on top and my son enjoyed his with a slice of buttered toast as well. This made for an easy breakfast for dinner weeknight meal for the family.

Another creative way to use up the leftover frittata is by taking a glass and flipping it over to use as a “cookie cutter” to create rounds of the baked egg goodness to put between a toasted English muffin for an easy grab and go protein packed breakfast. You could also break up a slice of the frittata to use for a breakfast taco and top it with some avocado and salsa.

Spicy Sausage and Roasted Veggie Frittata

Makes 8 Servings

Stars of the Show:

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach, torn into pieces
  • 1 lb spicy sausage
  • 12 eggs, beaten with a splash of milk
  • 8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Everything But The Bagel Seasoning, to taste

And Action:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Toss the sweet potato, broccoli, onions, and red bell pepper in a deep baking dish with fat of choice. I used bacon fat but olive oil would work as well. Roast veggies until lightly browned and caramelized, about 30 minutes. Stir veggies about every 10 minutes until done.

While the veggies are roasting brown the sausage in a skillet and set aside.

Once the veggies are done roasting add the sausage and spinach and toss with the roasted veggies to mix well. Pour the eggs over the mixture and top of the cheddar cheese. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees and bake for 25 minutes. Turn the oven to broil and let the cheese get golden brown and bubbly for 3 minutes. Sprinkle generously with Everything But The Bagel Seasoning. Enjoy!

Home Happenings… Copycat Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme

My go to order at Taco Bell is their three Crunchy Taco Supremes with hot sauce. It’s an interesting story about how my love for them happened since growing up I despised crunchy tacos which makes zero sense because I love nachos. Hmmm…

When I was four months pregnant with Little Man I was out in the middle of nowhere Arizona with his dad when I was operating a pilot car service for the heavy haul company he worked for delivering the windmill generators across the United States. I don’t know where it came from or why but I just had to have!! Taco Bell but more specifically Crunchy Taco Supremes with hot sauce. It was a demanding craving and I could not explain it.

After his dad pulled out of the drive thru I made him stop in the parking lot and not go any further until I could devour my tacos. They were amazing and it was love at first bite. What really did it for me was the sour cream and hot sauce and ever since then my order remains consistent with those Crunchy Taco Supremes.

When the Crunchwrap Supreme came to their menu I knew I had to have it. The only problem was the crunchy tostada in the center wasn’t crunchy anymore when I got it home and the lettuce steamed too much from the wrapper. It wasn’t something I ever craved.

Copycat Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme

Lately I have been on a tight budget due to maternity leave and needing to cover three months worth of expenses so when Little Man suggested Taco Tuesday I knew I had to deliver but not the type of delivery he was used to. Instead of sitting in the long drive thru line and risk them messing up the order at Taco Bell I was going to do it myself. Because I am a fan of switching it up for dinner I decided to breakaway from our usual soft tacos and give making these Copycat Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supremes a try.

The recipe may seem intimidating but I promise you it is not at all. The meal comes together quickly and you get to control the amount of toppings and ingredients you put into it.

Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme

Makes 4 Servings

Stars of the Show:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 low sodium beef bouillon cube
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 5 10-inch flour tortillas (burrito size), one tortilla cut into quarters
  • 4 tostada shells, warmed
  • sour cream, to taste
  • tomato, to taste
  • shredded lettuce, to taste
  • queso dip, warmed, to taste
  • hot sauce, to taste

And Action:

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef with the onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, and chili powder.

Drain the pan of the grease.

Add the cornstarch and beef bouillon cube, stir to incorporate. Add the water to the meat and simmer uncovered, about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.

When ready to assemble lay out one flour tortilla and add 1/4 of the meat mixture to the center and drizzle the meat with the queso. Top the meat and cheese mixture with a tostada shell and top the tostada with sour cream.

Copycat Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme Folded Up

Add some tomatoes and shredded lettuce over the sour cream and drizzle hot sauce on top. Add the reserved quarter piece of the tortilla on top to conceal the toppings. Working around the center fold the edges of the flour tortilla up over and over the center continuing to fold until a hexagon-ish shape had been made.

Heat another medium skillet over medium heat and grease with some cooking spray. Fry the flour tortilla on each side until it gets a nice golden brown crust, 2 minutes per side. Before flipping spray the top of the tortilla so it gets golden brown too. While one is frying, make another wrap. Serve with avocado slices if desired. Enjoy!