One Pot American Beef Goulash

  • Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 15 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup dry elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. In a large, oven proof skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, sauté until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the paprika, Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper, sauté for an additional minute.
  3. Add the ground beef, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon or spatula, as it cooks. Cook for 7 minutes.
  4. Stir in the garlic, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes (including the liquid), and water. Bring to a simmer.
  5. Add the pasta to the goulash. Cover and transfer the skillet to the preheated oven. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until the pasta is tender and sauce thickened. Top with cheese and return to the oven, uncovered, until the cheese is melted.

Who’s Your Mama??

Dearest  Boo,  I know that you wish that Giada De Laurentiis was your Mama, but sadly no.  I have one of her cookbooks, but not her body.  Sorry, not your Mama.

Then maybe Lydia Bastianich might be your Mama, but, again, no.   I have her body, but not her cookbook.  Sadly, not your Mama.

How about Mario Batalia, but no.  We are almost batting .1000, as I have one of his cookbooks, his orange Crocs, and his body, but my brain process equally well between the right and the left hemisphere (one of the big differences between men and women).  So, thankfully, he’s not your Mama.

Or  how about Fabio Viviani, could he be your Mama??  Who cares??!!!  I would just love to have him in my kitchen cooking for us, listening to his fabulous Italian accent, and hearing all the stories about “Top Chef”.  He was so much fun for us to watch compete during his season.   I wonder if we would ever tire of Italian meals?  Again, who cares??  He would be amazing to watch.

And finally, we have one of your favorite books from childhood asking the question….

and we know that is not true………..or is your Mama……

Sorry, I was on my rhyming kick and wanted to find something to rhyme with llama…..Obama.  Get it??  Okay, I’ll stop.

You love anything “pasta”.  I feel pretty certain that if I were to smash up peas (your most dreaded vegetable) and shove them inside of a pasta shell or a manicotti you could and would eat a plateful.  And if I were to toss it with your favorite marinara sauce and a good helping of Parmesan cheese you would think that you were eating “ambrosia”.  This is not a problem for me, as I, too, am a big pasta fan.  I have been more mindful of the “dangers” of pasta, so I have made sure that I am buying whole wheat pasta.  By doing this I am easing my guilt just a bit.

When you were little if we gave you a plate of spaghetti plain, no sauce, no meat, just the noodles, you would very quietly and methodically eat each and every noodle.  You were focused on that pasta and no one had better try to take away your plate before you were finished.  It’s just about the same today, only you do want the sauce (tomato or cheese) and/or the meat.

The only other “food” that has had that same hypnotic effect on your are potatoes.  Again, pretty sure that I could cover anything with potatoes and you would clean your plate.  However, you have been known to “play” with your potatoes.  One time, you were about two, and we were in Omaha visiting with my family.  At that time the only other young person was your cousin, Patrick, but since he was five or six you were not that interesting to him as a playmate.   We adults were all laughing and talking and, much to your dismay, not talking to you.  At one point during the meal your Aunt Izzy burst out laughing and pointing in your direction.  Your precious little hands had smeared your mashed potatoes all over your adorable sweet face!  When I was able to stop laughing and tried to clean you up, you were not at all pleased with me.  You wanted me to stop messing up your “make-up”.  Gracious Child!  What must I have been putting on my face that you thought looked like mashed potatoes?  This explains your aversion to make-up to this date.

It is so true, and so scary, that our little ones are constantly watching and listening to us.  And most of the time we are not aware.  Another time that this was brought smack dab into my face was when you were about nine or ten.  We were in Omaha visiting with another couple for the day.  Your father and Steve were out playing golf and we girls were off on a day of shopping.  Steve’s wife and I were in the front visiting and chattering away, while you were very patiently sitting in the back.  Waiting, just waiting for us to come up for air and you could join in on the conversation.  When we did you jumped in with the words “my mother could have had an abortion and I would not be living today”.  Utter silence.  I mean, what else could we add?  Ever since you were a wee one I have always shared with you that you were adopted and any details that I knew about your birth parents.  Although I don’t remember talking to you about abortion, I must have.  Or you heard about it at school………..yes, that’s right.  You did hear it at school.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Twenty-ten years ago a stranger gave me the most precious gift for my first Mother’s Day.  She gave me you.  Every Mother’s Day I think of her and her sacrifice.  She gave me a treasure more precious than silver or gold.  I would like her to know that you have been the greatest blessing of my life and I will always love you with all my heart.  You are a gift that I can never repay.  Your birth mother choose the harder path and one that showed you how much she loved you.  I hope she finds comfort in knowing you are deeply loved and cherished.

On this Mother’s Day, as on every other day, I would like your birth mother to know that I understand  it was a terrible decision to have to make, but one I am eternally grateful she made.  I hope it’s some comfort to know that she made a mother of someone who otherwise would never have been one. And that choosing to give the gift of life is amazing and one of God’s blessings.  Thank you, and God bless you.

Now, I know that your “other Mother”, Giada, would gladly make this for you any night of the week.  And know that I do, too.   Joy Rising!

Pasta Ponza

Prep  Time: 20 minutes

Bake  Time: 30 minutes  at  375 degrees

Source: Giada De Laurentiis’ “Giada at Home”

Makes 8 servings

  • Unsalted butter for greasing
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) red cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) yellow cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked and broken into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup Italian-style seasoned dried bread crumbs
  • 1 pound ziti or other short tube-shaped pasta
  • 1 1/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves


  1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8-by-8-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.
  2. Combine the tomatoes, capers, olive oil, salt and pepper in the prepared baking dish. Toss to coat. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the tomato mixture. Drizzle the top with olive oil, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden. Cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water. Transfer the pasta into a large serving bowl. Spoon the tomato mixture onto the pasta. Add the cheese and toss well. If needed, thin out the sauce with a little pasta water and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley, bacon, and serve immediately.

Embrace Life

Dearest Boo, I saw this on “YouTube” and I just had to share it with you.  It reminded me of one of my favorite Bible verses:  Isaiah 11:5-6  “Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.  The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling  together; and a little child will lead them.”  The “sash around his waist” part reminds me of our seat belts and how they are a sash around our waists.  And the part about “a little child will lead them” reminded me that it was our children who lead the campaign to buckle up and wear our seat belts.  This video clearly brings home the fact that when you are in a car accident, and not wearing your seat belt, it is not just you that will be injured.  It will be every member of your family, they, too, will be hurting when you are hurting.  I love the image of the daughter wrapping her arms around her daddy, as if she were the seat belt.  And the wife wrapping her arms around his chest, as if she were his shoulder harness.  Beautiful and thought provoking.

I remember that when you were young people just did not wear seat belts.  For what ever reasons we just were not getting the message.  Then you started school and were “brain washed” in a good way about the importance of wearing seat belts.  You became the police dog who has been trained to attack and not let go.  Every time we got into the car if we were not wearing our seat belts you were this little “Seat Belt Nazi” who would insist that everyone buckle up or else!  Your voice took on the characteristics of Regan, in “The Exorcist” when the devil would take over her body.  I was fearful of you and did not want to see your head spin around if I did not buckle up – so I did.  And am I ever grateful for that powerful lesson.  In that case a little child did lead me to practice better safety.

To be honest, I thought that all children in your school were being “brain washed” in the same manner, but one incident brought that into focus for me.  We were selling our van and our good friends (Beth’s of “Beth’s Dip” fame) were considering buying it from us.  For some reason I had the two boys (ages about five and three at that time) and we needed to go on an errand.  We loaded up into the car and I saw that they were not putting on their seat belts.  I explained to them that they needed to buckle up, as the van would not not move until everyone had on their seat belts.  They buckled up and we took off.  About ten minutes into our drive I heard a seat beat come unbuckled, so I said that the seat belt needed to get buckled or the van would stop.  I did not hear a “buckle”, so I pulled to the side of the road and sat there until I heard that little “click”.

About a week later I heard the boys version of what happened.  It seems that the five year old came into his home crying his eyes out telling his mother that he did not want them to buy our van.  When I told him that the van “would not go” unless everyone’s seat belts were buckled I meant that I would not put the car into drive.   Bless his little heart – he understood it to be that the car itself would stop all by itself until all seat belts were buckled.  He did not want this “monster robot” van!  What a kill!  Their little brain logic just is not capable to make the leap that it is the driver controlling the car – not the car controlling itself.

Speaking about a little person’s brain logic, I still cannot get over the fact that when you were a munchkin you loved mac and cheese.  However, you did not like the homemade kind.  Oh no, the ONLY type you would eat was the Kraft Blue Box.  I could hardly believe it.  My little Foodie did not like the homemade kind with four cheeses.  Our backyard neighbor was an excellent cook and I so envied her skills.  One time we were sharing stories/recipes for mac and cheese.  I had to laugh.  She could not make mac and cheese, so she only made the Kraft Blue Box and her daughter hated it!  We laughed and said that we should plan mac and cheese on the same night and trade daughters for this one meal.  We never did, but it was an interesting thought.  I am so thrilled to know that as your body grew, so did your taste buds.  You now love home made mac and cheese.  This recipe is a bit lower in calories (385/per serving) and I was able to sneak in some veggies (both zucchini and asparagus), however calories from fat is artery clogging (82%).  Pretty sure that next time if I use fat free sour cream and milk it will be better.  Joy Rising!

Cream  Pasta  Sauce  With  Zucchini

Prep  Time:           20 minutes

Cook  Time:          30 minutes

Bake  Time:           15 minutes  at  400 degrees

Source:           #36419


  • 2  1/2 T butter
  • 1 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 c sour cream  (next time I will use fat free sour cream)
  • 1 c half-and-half  (next time I will use 1% milk)
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 whole zucchini, shredded
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 box spiral pasta
  • fresh shredded parmesan cheese, to taste
  • black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cut off woody ends of asparagus
  3. Place asparagus onto baking dish; sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Gently toss.
  4. Place asparagus into oven for about 20-25 minutes to roast.   Once roasted let sit in baking dish until needed.
  5. Place pot of water onto stove, add salt, place on high.
  6. Once pot boils add the pasta and cook to slightly less than al dente  (this will finish cooking in sauce).  Drain pasta.
  7. Peel and shred zucchini.
  8. Place zucchini onto kitchen towel; fold in sides and gently squeeze to remove excess water in zucchini.
  9. Place skillet on stove and melt the butter.
  10. Stir in flour; cook for one minute, stirring constantly.
  11. Add in sour cream, milk and lemon.
  12. Cook until heated through.
  13. Add in the zucchini and asparagus.  Cook just until bubbly.
  14. Add in the pasta.
  15. Add parmesan and black pepper to taste.

Serve with nice green salad.