Taco Bake


I’m back! It’s been almost 2 weeks but life has been hectic. Big news, the school board election took place Tuesday and Elisa won! Which was cause for celebration.  And now I am back to real life.  Let’s just say I am counting down the days until Thanksgiving.  In the meantime I decided I had to get myself back in the kitchen and to stop eating out.  Tonight I am making a Taco Bake in individual ramekins.  It can be hard to cook for just one or two and this recipe is perfect for just one with leftovers or you and a roommate/significant other.  Or you can double it and bake in a casserole dish for a larger family.

Taco Bake 

Serves 2; Prep time 15 min; Cook time 35 min












  • olive oil
  • 1/2 lb ground turkey
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of taco seasoning
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 poblano pepper, chopped
  • 1 vine ripe tomato, seeded & chopped
  • 4 4″ corn tortillas
  • shredded cheddar and monetary jack cheeses
  • 6 tablespoons black beans
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sour cream
  • tortilla chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat bottom of a medium pan with olive oil.  Combine turkey, cumin, paprika, chili powder, garlic and salt and pepper in pan and cook on medium heat until meat is browned.


Add in poblano pepper, tomato, onion and taco seasoning and cook until veggies are tender, about 5 minutes.  Spray 2 individual ramekins with olive oil.  Layer meat, tortilla, cheese, and black beans twice.  Top off with meat and sprinkle with cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes until bubbly.  Let sit 10 minutes and enjoy with sour cream.


Balsamic Pot Roast with Baby Gold Mashed Potatoes


Sundays.  Part of me loves Sundays (the couch) and another part of me dreads them.  Sunday is the day I devote to work: planning, grading, etc… Today I’m ahead of the game (besides the pile of grading that is continually staring at me).  I started off the day campaigning for my favorite school board candidate, Elisa Hoffeman and came back home where I set up the crockpot. I’ve  got the roast cooking as I type and I can tell you the apartment smells wonderful.  I am looking forward to a comforting meal tonight, along with leftover beef to make burrito bowls during the week!

Balsamic Pot Roast with Baby Gold Mashed Potatoes


Adapted from The Chic Table 

Serves 6-8; Prep time 10 minutes; Cook time 6-8 hours


  • 4-5 lbs of beef chuck roast
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • zest of 1/2 orange
  • bag of baby gold potatoes

Place roast and potatoes in crockpot.  Whisk together all remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.

IMG_2424Pour marinade over roast and potatoes in crockpot.

IMG_2425 Cook on low for 6-8 hours until roast is cooked all the way through and is fork tender.   After cooked removed potatoes and smash with a potato masher or electric hand mixer (depending on how you prefer your mashed potatoes) adding butter, cream and salt to taste.  Serve roast over mashed potatoes and enjoy!


Baked Rigatoni with Italian Sausage


After a week, I’m back! I had a busy weekend helping spread the word for a friend’s Cincinnati School Board campaign (Go Elisa Hoffeman!) and having my best friend from high school in town. For Sunday night dinner I whipped up a baked rigatoni with italian sausage. It was a perfect end to a great weekend.  This dish is also great as leftovers.  You can easily spoon into ramekins and pop into the oven to heat up after a hectic day at work!  With the week I am having I have eaten this the past 3 nights in a row and it is just as good every time!

Baked Rigatoni with Italian Sausage

Serves 6; Prep time 20 min; Cook time 15-20 min


  • 12oz of Rigatoni
  • 24oz jar of roasted garlic marinara
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/2 lb of ground italian sausage
  • 1 bunch of spinach
  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 cup parmesan plus additional for top of pasta, grated
  • 1 cup fresh mozzarella, shredded
  • a few shakes of crushed red pepper (depending on how spicy you like it!)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta according to packaging.  In the mean time while your noodles are boiling sauté garlic and onions in olive oil over medium heat until they begin to soften, about 4 minutes.  Add in ground italian sausage and salt and pepper to taste.  Break apart with a wooden spoon and cook until no longer pink.  Drain pasta.


Return pasta to the pot. Combine with italian sausage mixture, sauce, spinach, cheeses, and crushed red pepper.  Spoon into 6 individual ramekins or a 9×13 baking dish.  Sprinkle the tops with additional parmesan and bake for 15-20 or until cheese is melted. Serve with a caesar salad and a loaf of hot french bread.

Asparagus Risotto


With the weather getting cooler there’s nothing better than curling up with a big bowl of risotto on a fall night.  Although this recipe is well suited for spring (with asparagus in season), it can be adapted with any other ingredients that you like! Mushrooms, perhaps!  Just keep the base the same and add away to your heart’s desire.  I absolutely love risotto, but it is not a quick week night meal.  For those of you unfamiliar with risotto, it is just an italian rice called arborio and can be found in any grocery store. The slow stirring of the italian rice allows for the creamy, comforting texture.  Risotto is a meal in and of itself!  Pair with a crusty loaf of warm bread and a glass of wine and you have a beautiful meal.

Asparagus Risotto

*Adapted from skinnytaste

Serves 4 (generous portions); Active time in the kitchen 45 minutes


  • 4 1/2 cups of low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup shallots, chopped
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white white, such as chardonnay
  • 1 bunch of asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed, cut 2 inches on the bias
  • 2 tsp fresh lemons juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for serving
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest for garnish


In a large saucepan, heat broth over medium high heat.  Once it reaches boiling, reduce heat and simmer on low.  In a large heavy saucepan heat olive oil and add chopped shallots.  Sauté for about 3 minutes or until shallots are translucent.  Stir in rice and mix well to coat with oil.  Sauté for another 2-3 minutes until rice is translucent.  Pour in wine and stir slowly until absorbed.

Begin to add in your stock.  Add one ladle at a time.  Stir until absorbed before adding your next ladleful.  Stir slowly and consistently.  Continue this process until rice is creamy, tender, but slightly firm in the center.  Add asparagus along with the last ladle of broth.  Continue cooking and stirring for another 5 minutes.  It should take about 25-30 minutes from when you began.  (Note: you may not use all of your broth.)  If you are unsure, it’s OK to sample as you go along, especially if this is one of your first times making risotto! When all the liquid has been absorbed, remove from heat and add in the lemon juice, parsley, and parm.

Plate 1 cup sized portions and top with freshly ground black pepper, zest, and a sprinkling of parm.  Add a parsley leaf for an extra touch!