Category: recipes

Tortellini Soup Recipe

Last week I made the first pot of soup for the season and shared a photo on Instagram. I got a few requests for the recipe, so here you go!

Tortellini Soup

My favorite thing about the recipe is the base. It is a good, hearty beef broth base that you can add to or take away from and it’s still good. Below the original recipe are ways I have varied this recipe, and all ways are very good.

I can’t take credit for this soup, nor finding it. My friend Allison made it a few years ago and told me about it, and it’s since then become a cold-weather favorite. It should be known a lot of my favorite recipes come from her, so basically, if you see a recipe on Allison’s blog, chances are it’s a winner.

That said — here’s the recipe, originally found on the Culinary Couple.

Tortellini Soup Recipe

Tortellini Soup
  • 1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 cups beef broth
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped, or 1 can whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 8 oz. cheese tortellini
  • 1 package or 1 bag fresh spinach
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • Parmesan cheese
  1. In large pot, cook sausage ~5 minutes. Remove meat and set aside.
  2. Add onion and garlic. Saute.
  3. Add broth, water, wine, tomatoes, herbs, vegetables (except zucchini and spinach), and sausage. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered ~30 minutes.
  4. Add zucchini, spinach, and tortellini. Simmer ~25 minutes.
  5. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with Parmesan, and serve with crusty bread.

Some variations:

– Omit the sausage and replace cheese tortellini with sausage-stuffed tortellini
– Replace the zucchini with butternut squash in the winter
– Omit tortellini (for gluten free folks) and replace it with cooked quinoa

I’m sure there are many other possible variations and it would still be delicious. Enjoy!


Recipe: Key Lime Cream Pie with Meringue

My sister Carrie got me a pie dish for Christmas, and I’m pretty sure I’ve used it at least once a week so far this year. I have made apple pie, chess pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate silk pie, strawberry pie, tomato pie. I honestly didn’t know I was such a pie person until I had the pretty dish in my house. (In case you think I am obsessed with desserts, I also use it for making savory dishes like roasted chicken and quiche).

One of my favorites is this key lime pie recipe. I have actually made two key lime pies this season (don’t judge, we’ve had lots of dinner parties to attend), and this one is my favorite. It’s the meringue topping. Really creamy and light. The first time I made it I was thrilled that I could make something that tasted like it came from a French bakery. Yes – it’s that good.

Is this recipe easy? Yes. Is it something I can whip up quickly and effortlessly? No. That’s what people really want to know when they ask if a recipe is easy. Any recipe is “easy” if you can read and follow basic cooking instructions (well, except for this icing which is incredibly hard to master), but this one calls for a little more attention and time for chilling.

All I’m saying is if you are planning to make this pie for a party on Saturday night, the latest you can start on it is early Saturday morning. I made the mistake of making it too late and while it was tasty and still had raving reviews from my friends, the next time I made it I allowed for much more time to chill.

Key Lime Cream pie with Meringue Recipe

Key Lime Cream Pie with Meringue Recipe
Adapted from the Chicken and Egg cookbook


1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
(or just use a store-bought graham cracker crust)

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
6 egg yolks
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup lime juice

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup water
6 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
3/4 sugar


To make the crust:
(Omit this step if you are using a store-bought crust and follow the instructions on the packaging).) Preheat the oven to 350. Stir together the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and lime zest. Pour in the butter and stir until all of the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom and up the sides of a 9-ince pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes or until set and slightly deeper brown in color. Cool on a wire rack and leave the oven on.

To make the filling:
Beat the cream in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Whisk in the condensed milk and the lime zest until blended. Whisk in the lime juice. Gently fold in the whipped cream and pour the filling into the cooked pie crust. Bake pie for 15 minutes or until the filling it set. Leave the oven.

To make the meringue:
While the filling is baking, dissolve the cornstarch in the water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 30 seconds or until very thick, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and ocver to keep warm. Beat the egg whites and cream of tarter in a large bowl until the whites are frothy. Increase the speed and beat until soft peaks form. Slowly beat in the sugar. Next slowly add the warm cornstarch mixture, one spoonful at a time. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the egg whites are glossy and will hold a stiff peak. Remove the baked pie from the oven and immediately spoon the meringue topping over the hot filling.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the meringue is dry to the touch and lightly brown. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until cold before serving.

What’s your favorite pie?

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies


“You know what I love about cooking? I love that after a day when nothing is sure, and when I say “nothing” I mean nothing, you can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. It’s such a comfort.”

I love that quote from the movie Julie and Julia. I feel the same way when I bake. It is such a comfort that if you put butter and sugar and eggs and flour together, it will create something more delicious than you could ever imagine tasting each individual ingredients. It kind of reminds me of 1 Corinthians 12 and the body of Christ. Now who would have thought there would be a biblical lesson to baking? :)

Moving on, today I’d like to share my favorite cookie recipe. And I don’t take the word favorite lightly.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Recipe

It tastes like your basic chocolate chip cookie, except the oatmeal makes it a little more dense and not as sweet. I got this recipe from my first wedding shower, when guests were asked to bring their favorite, and I’ve lost count how many times I’ve made it. My recipe card lives in this sweet box the hostesses gave me:

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Recipe

I’m not endorsing cookies for breakfast, but if you happen to dip a cookie in your coffee, you may find the greatest combinations.


Recipe: Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 dozen
Note: If you like nuts, feel free to add 1 1/2 cups of crushed walnuts.
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoons milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 package (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream butter and sugars; add vanilla, milk and eggs.
  3. Mix flour, salt, baking power, and baking soda.
  4. Blend butter mixture with flour mixture and stir in oats and chocolate chips.
  5. Put rounded teaspoons of batter on cookie sheets and bake for 12 minutes.
What is your favorite cookie? Sugar? Peanut butter? Plain chocolate chip? I’d love to hear!

Recipe: Cucumber Salad

I’ve been in a cooking rut for about a month. I blame this diet. I can’t have bread, onions, garlic, pasta, soy, dairy, and specific fruits and vegetables. And something else I’m forgetting… oh yes, any type of condiment that you can think of. That leaves me most nights eating a simple piece of meat (normally chicken), a cooked potato (sans anything tasty), and a very boring raw salad.

Cucumber Salad | My Pretty Pennies

I decided I needed to mix it up and bring more flavor to my pallet, so I looked in my cookbooks and came across this cucumber salad recipe. I had forgotten about this beloved salad, but it’s one of our favorites. I normally make it in the summer, since it is nice and cold, but really it’s fine any time of the year.

I’ve tried to make other salads and slaws with a cucumber base, just to test if I could make it better, but each time J and I agree that this recipe is superior. So, I’m going to stop trying other cucumber salads altogether; this will be my tried and true go-to cucumber salad forever.

Cucumber Salad | My Pretty Pennies

It has garlic, sesame seeds and spring onions (all things that I can’t have), but I decided to live on the edge and hope for the best minus those secondary ingredients. And it turned out great! I used garlic powder instead of cloves and omitted the green onions and sesame seeds, and it tastes just fine. I made it twice in the last month and have been munching on it as a snack or side for lunch or dinner, and still am not tired of it.

Sidebar: I’m a big believer in writing in cookbooks. I always like to mark the date I first made the recipe and my initial thoughts right after. It’s so helpful later when you browse through your books! It looks like I made this dish for the first time 4/19/2011, just 10 days after we got married. That was about two days after we got back from our honeymoon! I have such fond memories of those days. :)

Cucumber Salad | My Pretty Pennies

Anyway, on to the recipe. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but I want to emphasize the first phase, when the cucumbers soak in the salt and sugar for 30 minutes. You really shouldn’t skip this step, as I tried it once and it wasn’t nearly as flavorful. Hope you enjoy!

Cucumber Salad Recipe | My Pretty Pennies
Recipe: Cucumber Salad

Recipe Type: Salad
Author: Adapted from Williams Sonoma Bride & Groom Cookbook
Serves: 8-10
  • 4 cucumbers
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • Scant 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 6 green spring onions
  1. Peel the cucumbers, leaving a few strips of peel if unwaxed. Cut them in half lengthwise, and scoop out any seeds with a spoon. Slice thinly crosswise.
  2. Combine the cucumbers, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Toss the sugar and salt evenly, and let stand for 30 minutes.
  3. Transfer the cucumbers to a colander and rinse and drain well, then squeeze out excess moisture with your hands. The cucumbers will have become soft and pliable but will still be bright green.
  4. In a serving bowl, stir together the vinegar, garlic, chili flakes and sesame seeds. Add the cucumbers and toss to coat. Thinly slice the green onions and sprinkle them over the top.
  5. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours. At this point, the salad can be refrigerated for up to 1 day before serving. Serve cold.


Iced Pumpkin Cookies

Ok, so I know it’s November and by now you’re so over pumpkin, but I can’t let the season end without sharing this little recipe with y’all. You know, just in case you have the hankering to bring a crowd-pleasing dessert to your Thanksgiving dinner or something.

I like these cookies for three reasons:
1) They’re pumpkin. (Need I go on?)
2) They are cake-like and aren’t super sweet. (But you can make them super sweet by generously drizzling as much icing as your heart desires).
3) They taste oh-so-good dipped in coffee. (Which means cookies are the new breakfast food group. You heard it here first.)

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

Adapted from

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1 can canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla to butter mixture and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet and flatten slightly with a spoon.
3. Bake for 17-20* minutes in the oven. Cook cokies, then drizzle glaze with fork.
4. To make the glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar, milk, melted butter and vanilla. Add milk as needed to achieve drizzling consistency.

*The original recipe said to take them out after 15 minutes, but I find that to be way too early. You may want to check them early, just in case my oven is wonky! 

Recipe: Penne Pasta with Italian Sausage and Spinach

I have a handful of tried-and-true recipes, but love to make at least three new things a month to increase my cooking repertoire and add to my collection of well-loved recipes. Here is the newest added to that list.

This recipe is from the Williams Sonoma Entertaining Cookbook. I’ve had the book forever but never made anything because it was a little too… Williams Sonoma. Expensive ingredients. Recipes that take hours to make. Photos with models who wear cuffed sleeves to a brunch in the Hamptons. Not really my style.

But I noticed the recipe as I was browsing my cookbooks looking to use some of the ingredients I had on hand. There are a lot of penne pasta recipes out there, and I’ve tried a lot of them. Most of the ones I’ve tried are fairly average. Tasty and a great weeknight meal, but nothing to write home about.

Well, write home about this recipe.

It was really good. J even said it tasted like something he’d order in a restaurant. It’s easy enough to make after work, fancy enough to serve when company is over, and simple enough to find most of the ingredients in your pantry.

Penne Pasta with Italian Sausage and Spinach


  • Coarse salt, to taste
  • 1 lb. penne
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lb. sweet Italian chicken sausage, casings removed (Original called for pork sausage)
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 6 oz. baby spinach leaves
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (Original called for 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped but I had diced tomatoes on hand)
  • 2 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (I added a little bit more for extra kick)
  • 1/2 cup crushed seasoned croutons
  • 1/2 cup shaved pecorino romano cheese, plus more for serving (I used fresh parmesan instead)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, warmed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta, stir well and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes, or according to the package instructions.

Meanwhile, in a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Crumble the sausage into the pan and sauté until lightly browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a warmed large bowl.

Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the garlic and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes to release its flavor. Pour in the red wine and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Transfer the garlic and the pan juices to the bowl with the sausage. Add the spinach, tomatoes, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes and croutons to the bowl and cover to keep warm.

Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Immediately transfer the pasta to the bowl with the other ingredients and toss, adding the 1/2 cup cheese, the cream and the reserved cooking water.

Season the pasta with salt and black pepper. Serve immediately, passing additional cheese at the table. Serves 6.

(photo credit)

Watermelon Cookies Recipe

Watermelon Cookies were a summer staple growing up. My mom found the recipe in Southern Living when we were in elementary school and each year my mom, sisters and I gathered in the kitchen to make watermelon-shaped cookies. The best part about this recipe is you can make it all from scratch or just go to the store and grab pre-made dough and icing and you’re time is cut in half (I usually end up taking the latter route).

This 4th of July I made them and a few people on Twitter and Instagram asked for the recipe. I have posted it on here a few years ago, but it’s certainly worth resurrecting again for any new readers. They’re easy, yummy and a crowd-pleaser that has people asking, “Do they really taste like watermelon?” :)

Sugar cookie dough
Red & green food coloring
Chocolate chips
White icing

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Mix sugar cookie dough together, or buy pre-made dough. Dye it red. Sprinkle flour down to avoid sticking and roll out the dough. Cut circles out and then split the circle into halves. Place on a cookie sheet and put three or four chocolate chips in the dough (for seeds!). Bake at 350-degrees for about 10 minutes. Take out to cool. Dye icing green and dip the rounded part of the cookie in the icing then place on plate to harden.