Thursday, May 14, 2020

Chicken Tortellini Salad...

Chicken Tortellini Salad






Just in time for your next quarantine lunch, brunch, or dinner...Chicken Tortellini Salad.  This has been a family favorite for over 20 years.  My friend Nicole first served it to me back in Memphis for a play date lunch and I have been making it ever since.  I have changed it slightly over the years but the basics are the same.  Chicken, tortellini, sun dried tomatoes, feta, artichokes, spinach....


4 chicken breasts cooked and pulled apart ( boiled, grilled, insta pot whatever works)
20 oz package cheese tortellini cooked and drained (refrigerator section)
1-2 cans/jars of artichoke hearts chopped
1 cup julienne sun dried tomatoes in oil
6-8 oz spinach 
8 oz feta chopped or crumbled

2 cloves garlic chopped
1 tsp oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste (I am generous with salt and pepper)

Combine, cooked chicken, cooked tortellini, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, spinach, and feta in a large bowl.  I actually use a large pasta pot so I can mix everything well.  Whisk all of the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl except the olive oil.  Once combined add the oil and whisk until combined.  Add the dressing to the salad ingredients and mix until all the ingredients are coated.  I am generous with all of the salad ingredients, for example if you like feta, add more!  Refrigerate and enjoy.  

This salad can be served for lunch, brunch, or dinner.  It is great with crusty french bread, fruit, and a glass of white wine.

Hope you enjoy!


Friday, April 24, 2020

The Best Sausage Pepper Pasta...

Sausage Pepper Pasta is a FAVORITE at our house!  I have posted this before a very long time ago and thought you needed an update.  This recipe keeps getting better as I have changed it over the years as my cooking abilities have evoled.  The original recipe appeared in a William Sonoma Catalog over 25 years ago and the version I cook now is only slightly similar.  Kendall will turn 10 this week and this will be her meal of choice for her Birthday dinner!




5 red peppers
olive oil
1 large red onion chopped
2 pounds Italian Sausage casings removed
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 small can tomato paste
2 14oz cans diced tomatoes drained
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 boxes rigatoni
shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano

Keto Option: Cauliflower rice sauteed with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.


Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Cover a large cookie sheet with edges with foil.  Generously spread olive oil on all 5 peppers.  Roast for 40 minutes or until the peppers are blistered with some dark areas. Remove from oven and place peppers in a container with a lid to cool (I use a pyrex dish with a lid).  Once cool remove blistered skin, stems, and seeds.  Chop in strips and place them back in the dish with the reserved liquid.

I suggest prepping the remainder of the ingredients because this is a saute dish and it moves quickly.  I put the rosemary and garlic together and have the cans open and tomatoes drained.  The onion pieces should be large.  I remove the skin and cut the whole onion like a pizza, think of 8 eight slices of triangle pizza.  Have your water boiling and ready to go for your rigatoni (follow package directions).

In a large dutch oven heat 1 tablespoonful of olive oil.  Saute onions until tender and slightly translucent.  Remove from pan. Medium to low heat.

Add 1 tablespoonful of olive oil and saute sausage until cooked through and no longer pink. Medium to low heat. Add rosemary and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.  You can deglaze with red wine if you want..just a splash.  Add can of tomato paste and mix until distributed evenly.  Next add the diced tomatoes, onions, peppers and reserved juice.  Cook for 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally so it does not stick to the pan it should be bubbly but not boiling.  Salt and pepper to taste.  I am generous with the salt and pepper.

Once your pasta is cooked and drained I always add a generous scoop of sauce to keep the rigatoni from sticking together.  Top with a scoop of sauce and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

I like to serve this meal with a green salad and crusty bread.  As I said earlier you can use cauliflower rice in place of the pasta for a keto option.  I have also used sauteed zucchini in place of the rigationi.

We are a family of 7 and this recipe feeds all of us with left overs for lunch or a small dinner.

Enjoy...I hope this becomes a family favorite for your family!


Saturday, April 18, 2020

Laundry Room Remodel...

So what have you been doing with your extra time?  We have been cooking a lot and doing a few projects.  I should say I have been cooking and Russ has been doing projects for me.  Thank you Russ!

When we moved in 8 years ago my contractor put together a laundry room for us, it was really just a place to do laundry, no real plan.  As time went by I felt like we needed a little bit of an upgrade, nothing major, just an upgrade.  Well with this little bit of extra time Russ came to the rescue of the laundry room.  I helped too!

















You can see from the before and after a bit of paint and some elbow grease go along way.  New flooring, paint, shelving, and cabinets were added.   The flooring is a wood grain, floating, laminate from Menards and it was installed over our linoleum tile.  Russ did have to remove the base molding and replace it to keep the new flooring in place.

In addition we added shelving above the washer and dryer.  In a perfect world I would have built in the washer and dryer, however, all of the plumbing and electric was put in place at the higher height so we just added the shelving above for extra workspace.

Our old space had a spot to hang clothing as we did laundry but we had a lot of wasted space.  We purchased two cabinets and placed the laundry rod between the two.  I was able to move my cleaning supplies and laundry/ironing supplies to the upper cabinets freeing up space below for crafting and Callie.  Callie now has her own space behind the curtain...litter box, dry food, and water all behind the curtain!

My addition to the project, beside design and artwork, was painting the cabinets.  I used Rustoleum Satin in black.  I usually use Benjamin Moore paint for projects but the price was not worth it for this project.  All of the extras were shopped from my collection of tchotchkes I keep around just in case I need them.

There you have it a quick and reasonably priced redo of the room that gets the second most action in our house...the kitchen is first.  With the changes we made the room is cleaner, has better organization, and the girls and I now have the whole counter top area for crafting and projects.

Hope you have a great weekend!


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Ginger Apple Vodka Spritzer...

Ginger Apple Vodka Spritzer







I don't know about all of you, but, Happy Hour, may be starting a little earlier these days.  I was always a white wine drinker, however, when Russ started Keto a few years back I started drinking Vodka with him instead of my white wine and I have not looked back.  Our favorite Vodka is Tito's and the Kirkland brand is a close second.

We also drink A LOT of seltzer waters, with the boys home we are going through them like, well, water!   We do not do soda so the seltzer is a great way to have flavor with no calories, sodium, etc.  There is a new one on the market AHA and they have so many great flavors.  No surprise with the name of the post one of their flavors is Apple Ginger.

Here is a quick run down on how to make this refreshing cocktail.

granular sugar
AHA Apple Ginger Seltzer
honeycrisp apples

Mix your sugar/cinnamon in a 2/1 ratio in a shallow dish.  Wet the rim of your glass and dip in the sugar/cinnamon mixture and allow to dry.  Add your ice to the glass, followed by a shot of Tito's (or two) depending on size of glass, fill the remainder of the glass with Apple Ginger Seltzer, garnish with apples and mint.

Now you are ready for you Happy Hour...enjoy responsibly!



Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Myrtle Topiary and thoughts on the season...

Some of my favorite things are my Myrtle Topiaries...


....we have a few of them and they make it feel like Summer all year long in the sun room.  There is a small flower shop downtown Chicago on Wells St. that puts all different sizes in front of their shop when the weather is warm and I can't resist them.  Over the years we have learned that they do best with watering through every other day and plenty of sun.  Once the weather is warm we put them outside to soak up the SUN.  I am looking forward the the warmer weather and non-essential businesses opening again so we can enjoy our favorite activities again.

For now, I have to say we are all doing quite well.  I am most disappointed for Jake.  I am disappointed that he is missing his last semester at Iowa and walking for graduation, however, I love having him home before he leaves for officer training.  Truth be told I am enjoying having everyone home.  I am enjoying not running around all the time.  I am enjoying cleaning every morning.   I am enjoying all the cooking I am able to do.   I am enjoying have Russ around more.   I am enjoying catching up with friends.  I am enjoying my daily walks with the girls.   I am trying to make the most of this season and enjoy what has been given to us.  I am trying to remember that in every season there is an opportunity for happiness.  


Monday, March 30, 2020

Rustic Cranberry Walnut Bread...

Rustic Cranberry Walnut Bread








Well,  I have been waiting for the time to make Rustic Bread in my Le Creuset Dutch Oven and today was the day!  Last night after dinner I was looking for easy recipes to make bread in my dutch oven with ingredients I had in the house and I found one with minimal ingredients and it was super easy.  Our local grocery store sells cranberry walnut bread and it is one of my favorites and now I can make it with minimal ingredients and time....a win win for me and my family!

3 cups flour ( I use King Arthur)
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
1 and 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 and 1/2 cup luke warm water

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add the luke warm water and mix well.  Cover with plastic wrap ( I also added a towel on top).  Let proof 12-18 hours.  Turn dough onto parchment paper, it will be sticky.  Preheat oven and cast iron dutch oven to 450 degrees.  Once preheated drop your parchment and dough into the dutch oven (don't burn yourselve:).  Bake for 30 minutes covered, this gives your crust the chewy crunch.  Remove lid and bake for an additional 20 minutes.  Cool and enjoy!

My kids loved this bread.  We ate it toasted and I plan on serving it with goat cheese and honey for breakfast. You could even add sanding sugar to the top before you bake.

Thanks to A Mindfull Mom for the great recipe.  I plan on using this bread base to make Rustic Garlic Rosemary Bread later this week!

Hope your week is off to a great start!



Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Avocado Toast...

Avocado Toast







I have to say I was never a fan of the avocado toast....really kinda boring!  However, something changed when I have the most amazing breakfast in Kauai at The Kountry Kitchen.  Actually, Kountry Kitchen is the only restaurant we ate at twice while on vacation in Kauai.  The first time we ate there I had coconut french toast and fried rice, both amazing, I could eat their fried rice EVERY DAY! June ordered Kountry Kitchen avocado toast and it was HUGE and AMAZING and DELICIOUS, not boring and now I could eat avocado toast EVERY DAY.  So of course, on our second visit I ordered "the avocado toast" and fried rice.  YUM!

Fast forward to my neighbor and the bread she gave us in the previous post.  I thought it would be perfect for my version of the amazing avocado toast we had on vacation.  Although everything tastes better in paradise the kids and I loved our homemade version, also enjoyed on vacation...Coronacation that is!

yummy molasses bread from your neighbor or dark grain sweet bread
olive oil
fresh ground salt
fresh ground cracked pepper
fresh sliced avocado
arugula or micro greens

Slice bread thin and toast.  Pit and slice avocado.  Drizzle a light coat of olive oil on toasted bread and arrange sliced avocado.  Salt and pepper to taste....fresh ground makes all the difference!  Drizzle with another light coat of olive oil and add chopped arugula or micro greens.

There you have it!  I hope you enjoy the avocado toast as much as I did.  I am regretful that it took me so long to hop on the bandwagon.  Take a look at my IG feed to see our Kauai trip and now that I am blogging again I hope to share some of our trip and our favorite stops and experiences.



Sunday, March 22, 2020

Goat Cheese and Almond Butter Molasses Toast...

Goat Cheese and Almond Butter Molasses Toast


Well to say I am out of " Blogging" practice is an understatement.  I believe my last post was over 4 years ago!  One thing I regret is not keeping up with blogging.  I miss the photography, the community of people I have met through the years, chronicling our adventures as a family, but mostly the creative outlet blogging provided to me on a day to day basis.  So, as we all find ourselves in this interesting place in time, I thought I would get back at it.  If you are new here welcome and take a look around.  If you are an old friend I am glad you are back!

Because I love to cook and love to take photograph food it is only fitting my first post back is about food.  For those who follow me on Instagram at  "junemakessix" you saw this picture earlier today.  My sweet neighbor Peggy and her daughter made homemade molasses bread for us in her bread machine and it was delicious.  I decided to make two different breakfast breads for the kids yesterday and this was the first one (the second to follow soon).

yummy molasses bread from your neighbor or your favorite sweet bread
almond butter (I always have Kirkland's on hand)
La Clare Honey Goat Cheese
coarsely chopped salted almonds
fresh honey

Toast bread and cut into bite size triangles.  Spread goat cheese and almond butter on individuals toasts.  Drizzle honey and sprinkle with chopped almonds.

Thanks for stopping by....