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Main Dishes


Shrimp, Tomatoes, and Orzo with Basil


(Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookbook, “One Pot Meals”)

Hello, my beautiful Friends!   I have really missed you!   

I am so excited to get back to blogging after this long hiatus I have been on.  I thought it would be simple to blog while my family lived in our tiny little apartment for the past 6 months, but boy was I wrong.  We were falling on top of each other all the time and adding blogging to that situation was a NO GO!  We just recently started liking each other again.  LOL!

I kept telling myself that one day I would be able to look back on this temporary decision and be happy I made it.  Honestly, I second guessed myself ALLLLLL THEEEEE  TIME!


I can finally say that the day came when I could finally say that the decision did actually pay off.  We couldn’t afford to build our home while still living in the home we had.  So, we sold first, then did a 6 month lease while it was built.

That is behind us now since we recently moved in.  (Everybody take a deep breath with me and exhale slowly now…………AHHHHHHHHHHH! )

Ok, enough jibber jabber!

In honor of the interesting Summer I had, I want to share a recipe that represents everything Summer to me!  Shrimp, basil, and tomatoes!

This recipe is both yummy AND light!




Recipe:  Shrimp, Tomatoes, and Orzo with Basil

•  3 Cups halved Grape Tomatoes, Halved

•  6 Garlic Cloves, Minced

•  2 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

•  3/4 lb. Orzo

•  3  1/4 Cups Low-Sodium Chicken Broth

•  1  1/2 lbs. Large Shrimp, Peeled and Deveined

•  1 Cup Fresh Basil Leaves, Chopped


•  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Position rack in the top position.

•  In a large ovenproof skillet with a tight-fitting lid, heat 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat.

•  Add garlic and cook until just beginning to brown, 1 minute.  Increase heat to high and add tomatoes;  season with salt and     pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 minutes.

•  Add orzo and broth, and bring to a simmer.

•  Cover and bake until liquid is mostly absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes.

•  Toss shrimp with remaining teaspoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Remove skillet from oven, and place shimp on top of orzo.

•  Heat broiler.  Broil until shrimp are opaque throughout, 4 minutes.

•  Sprinkle with basil and serve.



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Chicken Lasagna with Spinach


So, lately for some reason, I have had great “ideas” that haven’t been good realities.  (*Remember….. the chocolate cakes with ganache?   LAWRD  !!!! )

Well, I had to save those like I had to save this lasagna tonight.  *Just keepin it real over here!*

Well, tonight’s dinner started out with the intent on being Chicken Lasagna Roll Ups.  Then, it was dinner making time and I realized that I only had “oven ready” lasagna noodles.  I had bought them before because they are magnificent!  No boil, just layer those puppies in with the lasagna and you are good to go.  I’m talkin STRAIGHT FROM THE BOX, PEOPLE!


Well, I had never tried to actually boil them and because you need to boil the actual lasagna noodles in order to make them pliable enough to make the rolls, I was in deep doggy doo doo!  *SIDE BAR:  Anybody know whether or not you can actually boil these things?  I only had enough for the actual lasagna with none to spare, so I was terrified to take that chance.  Help a girl out, if ya know!

Instead, I decided to make my own version of Chicken Lasagna and prayed it turned out ok.



And now, because of my “almost possible maybe I might have had another EPIC FAIL”, I get to share that recipe with you!  The people I love so much!  🙂

So, my loves, here you go:


RECIPE:  Chicken Lasagna  with Spinach

*TIP:  I prepared this meal earlier in the day and just put it in the oven when I was ready!



•  1 medium size onion, chopped
•  1 (24 oz.) can tomato sauce
•  1 (14.5 oz.) can fire roasted tomatoes (* I used no salt added)
•  2 tbsp. italian seasoning
•  2 cloves garlic (minced)
•  1 tbsp. sugar
•  salt/pepper


•  1 (15 oz.) container part-skim ricotta cheese

•  1 1/2 cups reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

•  1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided

•  1/2 teaspoon salt

•  1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

•  1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

•  10 oz. fresh spinach

•  12 lasagna (OVEN READY) noodles, you may need more depending on how big noodles are.  Make sure you make a layer each time.

•  2 cups shredded white meat chicken (*I used rotisserie)


•  To prepare sauce:  Add first six ingredients to a medium size sauce pan.  Season with the salt and pepper and bring to a slight boil on medium high heat.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

•  Meanwhile, to prepare filling:  Combine ricotta, 3/4 cup of mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and oregano in a bowl.  Mix until well incorporated and set aside.

•  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

•  In a 13 x9 in. pan, spread about 1 – 1  1/2 cup of sauce on bottom of pan.  (just enough to really coat the bottom of pan).  Then, top sauce with enough lasagna noodles to make a layer.   *This could take 3-5 noodles depending on your noodles. I ended up using 5 on each layer.

•  Top noodles with half of spinach.

•  Crumble/Spread half of ricotta cheese mix over spinach.

•  Spread half of shredded chicken on top of mixture.

•  Repeat layers once more.  *You may need to press down on layers as you go in case lasagna gets too full.

•  End with one last layer of lasagna noodles on top.

•  Spread remaining sauce over top of noodles.

•  Sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup of shredded mozzarella and 1/4 cup grated parmesan.

•  Cover with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with non stick cooking spray (to prevent foil from sticking to lasagna).

•  Bake, covered with the foil for 50 minutes.

•  Remove foil, and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until cheese is golden brown.

•  Remove lasagna from oven and allow to cool and set for 5-10 minutes.


XOXO, Esther 

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Pumpkin Soup


Oh my word, y’all!  Have you ever wondered what to do with Pumpkin?  Other than the usual celebrity,  Pumpkin Pie, my mind can sometimes go blank when it comes to that question.

Well,  no more!

I have the answer!…………..  Drumroll please…………


If you haven’t tried Pumpkin Soup, you simply haven’t lived!


This recipe has a savory, slightly sweet taste to it that you simply cannot pass up!

I paired dinner rolls with it and the kids devoured it.  The cute design on top was done using a small snack size ziplock bag filled with Greek Yogurt.

Get this!  Pumpkin has all of these surprising health benefits:

1).  It is good for your eyes.

2). It is good for your heart.

3). Aids in weightloss.

4). Helps protect against cancer.

5). Helps protect your skin.

6). Boosts your immune system AND your mood.

7). Can help you recharge after a hard workout.


Did I mention this recipe is VERY figure friendly?  Not only good for your health, but good for your waistline too!

That alone is worth trying this recipe out!


I certainly hope you do!


– Esther

Recipe:  Pumpkin Soup

Serves 6-8             Prep Time:  10 minutes                   Total Time:  30 minutes
•  2 Tbsp. olive oil
•  4-4 1/2 cups canned pumpkin, ( I had some left over canned mason jars, I used three of them)
•  2 small onions, chopped
•  4 cups vegetable stock
•  3 cloves garlic, minced
•  2 cups low fat milk
•  4 Tbsp honey
•  2 Tbsp dried sage
•  salt and pepper to taste
•  Blender
•  Heat 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil on medium heat in a large pot and add onions and garlic.  Saute’ until translucent ( 3-4 minutes).
•  Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
•  Remove from heat and working in small batches, add liquid mixture to a blender and blend until smooth.  *Make sure not to fill blender more than half     way to avoid over flow and cover with a small towel for extra measure.
•  After all liquid mixture has been blended and smooth, return to pan and heat through for 5-10 minutes.
•  Serve with dinner rolls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream or greek yogurt.


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Cajun Stew

Cajun Stew

(Recipe:  Courtesy of Martha Stewart’s “One Pot” Recipe Book)

I’m soooooooo happy to share this post with y’all!  I found the “Holy Grail” of fast Gumbo recipes!

Not too long ago, I made Gumbo for the first time ever.  It was FANTASTIC! ……………..  It also took me 4 1/2 hours to make!

Now don’t get me wrong.  Gumbo…….. “authentic” gumbo just can’t be duplicated completely in only 50 minutes.   But it can definitely come in at a close 2nd!

I bought Martha Stewart’s new cookbook the other day and couldn’t wait to start trying out the recipes!

I did what I usually do when I get a new cookbook………………..

I attacked it!


……………With Post It Notes!  😉

I fully recommend this book and depending on what recipes you choose to fix, only because certain cuts of meat are more expensive than others, it can be really reasonable to cook these recipes.


Most of them only have 7 to 10 ingredients and considering that most of those ingredients include staples like oil, salt/pepper and spices………  I don’t thing that is a lot.  It surprised me because most of her stuff seems to take forever and involves a ton of steps and ingredients, but not this book!

Considering that everyone is pressed for time and wants good, wholesome, quick meals for their families and themselves, I think this recipe book is a WINNER!


This recipe only took 50 minutes to make, which half of that time was really just contributed to simmering so I definitely wasn’t standing at the stove that entire time.

My kids loved it.  The girls went back for 2nds and even 3rds.  My littlest only ate his sausage and shrimp, but he is also going through his “picky faze”, and the hubster near about made himself sick on how many extra servings he got.  Even with all that eating, we still had leftovers for lunch the next day.

I decided to serve the Stew over Cheese Grits and OH BOY!  So good!

Recipe:  Cajun Stew


– 2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil

– 2 Tbsp. All-Purpose Flour

– 1 Red Onion, thinly sliced (*I used pre-chopped red onion from the produce department b/c red onion is not nice to my poor eyes)

– 2 Garlic Cloves, minced

– 2 Celery Stalks, coarsely chopped

– Red or Green Bell Pepper, coarsely chopped (*I used red)

– 1/4 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper

– Coarse Salt

– 1 Can (28oz.) Diced Tomatoes

– 1   1/2 Cups Water

– 3/4  lb. Andouille or Kielbasa Sausage, sliced into 1/2 in. thick rounds (*I used Kielbasa)

– 2 Cups Frozen Sliced Okra (from a 12 oz package), thawed

– 1/2 lb. Shrimp, peeled and deveined  (*I used a whole lb. because my family wouldn’t have forgiven me for only using 1/2!!!!!  LOL!)



– Heat a large skillet (*I used my large cast iron) over medium heat.  Add oil and flour; cook, whisking constantly, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes.

– Add onion, garlic, celery, and bell pepper; cook until crisp-tender, about 7 minutes.  Add cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

– Stir in tomatoes (with their liquid), the water, and sausage.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, partially covered, until slightly thickened, about 25 minutes.

– Add okra and simmer 3 minutes.  Add shrimp and cook until opaque, 3 to 4 minutes more.

– Season with salt.

– Serve either over white rice or cheese grits, like I did.


*And here is just one more pic to make your mouth water…………………


I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family and I did!

Can’t wait to try some of the rest and share the best ones with y’all!

Enjoy your Tuesday, friends!



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