Sloppy Joes (with homemade pasta fagioli soup)

Great leftover if you buy extra ground beef at the store when making other dishes such as cottage pie or tacos.  Don’t season the meat for the sloppy joes but divide the raw meat before cooking and save a pound of meat to make the next day for these sloppy joes!

Sloppy Joes can use the same base as the pasta fagioli soup, so reuse those chopped up veggies for two meals!

Sloppy Joes (from the book “A Year Full of Recipes”)


  • 1 lb ground beef (we used 85% but try grassfed or 90% lean)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped or minced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • leftover celery, zucchini, carrot, red pepper
  • 1 TBS yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 TBS packed brown sugar
  • pinch of chili pepper or paprika (sweet)
  • hamburger buns
  • salt and pepper to taste

(makes about 4-5 servings)

  1. Put the beef, onion, garlic, and green pepper and any other leftover chopped veggies into a nonstick skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently and breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon, for 8-10 minutes, until the beef is evenly browned and cooked through.  Drain fat.
  2. Stir in the mustard, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, and chili powder/paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes.
  3.  Divide the mixture among the burgers and serve.

Serve with 1-2 cups veggies such as green beans.  Can be served with soup or soup can be made as its own recipe.




Pesto Chicken

This is a quick week night recipe which incorporates veggies, a lean protein and pre-made sauce for a quick 20 minute meal.  Pesto sauce can be refrigerated for 7-10 days and used again the following week for another quick meal.


  • 1-2 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 jar pesto sauce
    • I have tried both basil pesto and a walnut pesto depending on ravioli
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into strips
  • 1/2 sweet onion, 1-2 carrots, 1 celery stock finely chopped
    • ***zucchini and mushrooms can also be added, chop into larger pieces so when you add to skillet they cook evenly with the above
  • 2 TBS pine nuts (optional)
  • Italian seasoning
  • Fresh pasta such as orecchiette or stuffed ravioli
    • Recommend 1/4 LB pasta per person

Heat a skillet over medium heat, add grapeseed or olive oil until pan shimmers.  Add salt and pepper to chicken breast, cook until the chicken is no longer pink (at least 5 minutes), remove from heat and set aside.

Add the vegetable mixture, cook for about 5-7 minutes or until softened, stirring frequently. (Recommend chopping veggies in advance to save time).  Add the pine nuts and italian seasoning, and add the chicken back to the skillet; turn burner to low, stir frequently while the water for the pasta boils.

Cook the pasta according to directions, fresh pasta is done once it has cooked for 3-4 minutes and rises to the top of pan and floats.

Drain the pasta and add 2-4 TBS pesto and 1 TBS olive oil.  Stir to coat the pasta and add vegetable and chicken mixture.  Serve warm.

You can also add an additional vegetable such as green beans or steamed/baked broccoli.

Chicken Cacciatore

This is the fourth recipe that will use any leftover chopped tomatoes from the stuffed peppers and leftover peppers and onions from previous weeks recipes. The white wine can also be re-used from the tuscan chicken stew, and if you bought a package of chicken thighs, use up any leftover thighs for a new recipe. Sometimes I divide the chicken package evenly between this and the tuscan stew to change up the flavors.  If you just want to make this recipe and have leftover, you can use most or all chicken package.


  • 6-10 chicken thighs (with skin is more greasy, try both)
  • 1 TBS paprika (I like the bright, sweet)
  • 1 two ounce slice prosciutto, about 1/4 inch thick)
    • **Can substitute bacon, but beaware this will be more greasy
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine such as pinot grigio or dry vermouth
  • 1 large can (28 ounces) chopped tomatoes (if not making all the chicken you can use less, make sure you have at least 14oz)

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and paprika. Add oil to a skillet, add chicken in batches, skin side down about 4-5 minutes each side on medium heat until golden brown. Skin should release easily when ready to flip.  I often use a spoon to flip the chicken. The chicken doesn’t have to be cooked all the way through as it will simmer later, but aim for golden brown and only flip once.

While chicken cooks, cut up the prosciutto (dice). Once the chicken is complete, remove to a separate plate and add prosciutto, peppers, onions to the pan to cook, about 3-4 minutes. Once the vegetables have softened, add the wine and work to release the brown bits. Then add tomatoes, let come to a boil and then add the chicken.  Reduce heat, cover, and cook (simmer) about 45 minutes until chicken is opague at the bone.

Remove the chicken from the pot and tint with foil to cool.  Keep the sauce in the pan and bring to a boil, cook 10 minutes longer stirring often until thickened.  Make sure sauce is not too hot and not burning at bottom of the pan. Serve warm with your choice (1 cup) pasta noodles and add additional vegetable choice.  I often add carrots to also cook with this dish.

Tuscan Chicken Stew

I adapted this recipe from a Braises and Stews cookbook but often I don’t have fresh sage leaves and instead buy whats on sale or use what dry ingredients I have in my cupboard.  The fresh sage leaves do provide a unique flavor I recommend trying as that is my favorite part of the dish.


  • 4-10 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2-3 bell peppers (red, orange or yellow)
  • 6-8 mushrooms
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup marsala, or dry sherry
    • **You can also subsitiute a dry white wine, but recommend trying the marsala wine at least once to see if you like the flavor.
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped sage leaves
  • **Can substitute sage leaves for whatever you have in the kitchen, but recommend trying it once to see if you like the flavor.

Cut the chicken into 2 inch pieces and cut the bell peppers into quarters and then thin strips removing seeds. Cut up mushrooms into small pieces, set all vegetables aside.

In a dutch oven (or skillet for chicken only), add enough olive oil to cover the pan.  To speed up the cooking, I added olive oil to a skillet and cooked the chicken separate until browned and no longer pink, and added the vegetables to the dutch oven (see below).

Once oil shimmers in dutch oven, add the onion and cook for 5-7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and peppers, be careful not to have heat up too high or garlic will burn. Cover the pot and cook, stirring every few minutes until peppers are soft.

Add chicken to the vegetables and pour in the marsala wine, let come to a boil, add salt to taste. Add the mushrooms, cover the pot, reduce to low and cook until vegetables are tender, 20-35 minutes.

Serve with egg noodles (up to 1 cup), and a side vegetable.

**This should make enough for leftovers the next night if you make enough chicken. I recommend buying the boneless thighs in a package, you usually get a discount versus buying behind the counter.

** Adapted from “Braises and Stews” cookbook

Stuffed Peppers

Second Recipe of the week, incorporates leftover taco meat as the lean protein for this dish.  Fresh meat can also be used but must be browned with onions prior to assembling this dish.


  • Instant Rice or Jasmine Rice
  • Leftover ground beef, 1/3 – 3/4 LB
  • 1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 jar tomato sauce, or chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • oregano or Italian seasoning
  • 3-4 stuffed peppers
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped carrots

Cook rice according to package instructions.  Combine ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, 3/4 of tomatoes or tomato sauce, pine nuts and seasoning in a bowl. Spoon mixture into peppers, and place in a dutch oven.  Add extra tomato sauce around the peppers, add the chopped carrots.

Cook at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour.

Easy Weeknight Tacos

If I am in a hurry, these quick tacos are great weeknight meal, and leftover meat can be saved for a quick entry the next day.



  •  1 – 1.5 lean meat, (grassfed, 90% lean)
  • McCormick Original Taco Seasoning Mix
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • La Banderita Fajita taco flour tortilla

Vegetables & fruit add ons for tacos

  • Add avocado, tomato, fresh corn
  • lime (juice, add at end for flavor)
  • Shredded Cheese
  • unsalted black beans

Cook the meat according to the McCormick taco seasoning, add the onions for extra flavor.  Add toppings in tortilla and serve warm.