cocktails, cooking, Entertaining, Family, food, Mr. KK, recipe, thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving…Told In Pictures

This post is always meant to be one you can “read” with mindless scrolling through photos to experience our Thanksgiving. For those keeping track at home, the day started at 6:30am and ended at 10pm when the last guest left. A full day of food, laughs and drinks.

This photo diary includes recipes from our Thanksgiving meal! So here we go!

Today started before the sun came up. This is me, Black Friday shopping and simultaneously planning out the day’s timeline while lying in bed.

If you look closely you can see the reflection of the phone in my glasses.

I shared this tip last year, but here it is again. Your 2 best friends on Thanksgiving Day are: chicken stock and your phone – the alarms on your phone that is. I plan my whole day out and set alarms to keep me honest.

Next, you should be sure to taste taste everything to see if it needs more salt, or more bourbon.

Crazy hair, no makeup and full-on prep mode. Taste-testing the punch at 10:39am.

Our first step in making Thanksgiving a little easier (besides my phone alarm trick) was to make a punch ahead of time so we could eliminate the need for Mr KK to make 1,000,000 drinks before he could get a sip of his own cocktail. This punch was a crowd pleaser! Highly recommend – here’s the recipe for Bourbon Rosemary punch.

Aren’t they beautiful?

When we prep for hosting, I’m usually in charge of the inside of the house – which includes watching the dogs and entertaining Little Mister – while Mr. KK handles the outside. Yesterday was a little over 50 degrees, so we were able to set up our patio heater and chairs on our new deck in case anyone wanted to get some fresh air.

Mr. KK in his signature party day move: blowing leaves.
Two minutes before everyone arrived…let’s hope this all goes well! (Little did I know the fried turkey fiasco that was to follow!)

No one wanted to enjoy the deck…but we found 5 minutes to take a breather out there.

Let’s talk turkey…and everything else!

We did 2 turkeys again this year: a full turkey in the fryer (house in still intact) and a turkey breast in the oven. Both turkeys came out amazingly juicy! My mother-in-law preps the turkeys, and my father-in-law drives the birds over the morning of Thanksgiving and enjoys a drink with Mr. KK (and me!). Our turkey breast had a garlic and herb marinade and the fryer turkey had a rub on it.

Everyone makes jokes about my mother-in-laws breasts (we are nothing if not inappropriate) as part of tradition.

Another punch for me!

Thanksgiving Menu 2022


Butternut Squash Soup Shooters with Creme Fresh. I used this recipe for the soup and it was delicious. The sage and ginger really added a depth of flavor.

Caramelized Onion and Gruyere Rugelach

Every Christmas I make cinnamon and sugar rugelach, but this is a savory take on one of my favorite cookies. I used this savory rugelach recipe, but substituted gruyere for the cheddar, and candied pecans for the candied walnuts, just to put my own spin on it.

Interestingly, I found the recipe in a magazine – yes, a paper magazine – and I didn’t even look it up. Well, if you click on the recipe link, you’ll see that this recipe only got 1.5 stars from 2 reviewers. From personal experience, this recipe got 5 stars across the board from our family! Perhaps it was the subtle changes I made (nuttier cheese vs boring cheddar). But I highly recommend. Plus, you make it with pre made pie dough so it’s super easy.

Getting ready to cut and roll the rugelach.
Here they are! The can brown quite a bit on the bottom when the sugar from the pecans oozes out, but that just adds flavor!

The last appetizer I made was the Spicy Whipped Feta from this blog post. Somehow, I didn’t get a pick of it, but it was also really good; I served it with baby naans.

Soup Course

Our cousin (cousin in law?) made a delicious, light soup. I’m going from memory, but it was a veal stock with chicken and mortadella meatballs, with escarole and ditallini. It was the perfect first course!

Main Meal

The turkeys were the real stars of the show, and TBH, I don’t even really love turkey. But I loved picking off the crispy skin and dark meat that fell off the fried turkey!

That is one nice looking breast (well, two actually).
Dueling carvers! And a very messy kitchen!

This is happiest Mr. KK looked after an hour of stress when the new turkey fryer pan set up DID NOT WORK and he put the turkey in the oil and it barely covered the turkey. This was after the oil wasn’t hot enough and we had to heat it for another half hour. This was all going on while we were serving up the soup course, so thankfully no one heard all the swearing going on in the front yard. But it all worked out and we ended up with one golden brown bird. The best part about the fried turkey is that a 16 pound bird cooks in about 45 minutes!

For sides, we had stuffing (made with sourdough, apples, pancetta and apricots), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dressing and Ina’s Cacio e Pepe Asparagus.

All assembled, it looked like this:

Little Mister was not a fan of any of the food we were serving (aren’t 8 year olds fun??) but he agreed to try some foods (which was a win). Here is his plate, which could easy be called “Deconstructed Thanksgiving” and be served in a Michelin Star restaurant for $50.

After he finished “eating” the plate looked the exact same except a small piece of turkey was gone (he gave turkey a “Maybe”), the tip of the asparagus was missing (10 minutes of chewing with a weird look on his face) and all of the sweet potatoes were gone (“this tastes like pumpkin pie filling”).


Pecan pie, pumpkin pie and cheesecake!

I am done fighting with WordPress and why it keeps adding this photo upside down. I have tried to fix this about 4 times. You get the idea.

I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving with loved ones!

8:04am…time to start changing this house into Christmas!

cooking, thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Prep, A Car Accident & My First Adult Bevy Since October

Well, today was a DAY!

It started at 6am when I was up crying in the kitchen chopping onions for various holiday dishes. Last night I made my checklist like a Boomer and was ready to go this morning. On today’s prep list: stuffing, soup, cranberry sauce, appetizer prep and cocktail juices.

Me, mentally preparing myself for the day before the sun comes up.
Allergic to apples, but I still put them in the stuffing!
Can I use every pan in the house? Challenge accepted.
The most important parts of the prep…cocktail prep!

After finished my Thanksgiving prep in what I thought was record time, I found myself with a day off from work and time to spare until I needed to be at the bus stop so I headed to TJ Maxx to make a return. And when I returned to my car, I found this:

A woman got out of her car when I approached mine. “Excuse me, miss?” she said. And she immediately gained points for not calling me ma’am. “I was leaving you a note. I hit your car.” And then the day went downhill.

So a cop came, we exchanged information, I got a police report that said I wasn’t in the car when this happened and then I was on my merry way back home.

Fast forward to 3pm, when it felt like an appropriate time to have my first adult beverage since October (since October, people!), so the 3 of us went to a brewery to have a beer. And man, did it taste GOOD. Mr. KK and I had beers, Little Mister looked like this:

Mr. Too Cool for School. This in a window into his teenage years, I’m sure.

Tomorrow, is my annual Thanksgiving post in pictures. Possibly with recipes. Definitely with cocktails.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve. If you’re out drinking with your high school friends, god love ya. If you’re home drinking after your kids to go to bed, I feel ya. Cheers!

cooking, food, recipe

Your Favorite Dip, Now a Dinner

I could eat an entire meal made of up appetizers. I love everything appetizers have to offer: small dishes, cute sauces, finger foods and you can eat them without putting down your cocktail.

I have a few app favorites – but my one achilles heel is a warm and bubbly spinach and artichoke dip.


The proper (read: best) way to enjoy spinach and artichoke dip is on crispy sea salt pita chips or toasted naan. If you put that in front of me at a party, I would never leave the table, I don’t care who showed up at the door.

But I can’t just make a casserole dish of spinach and artichoke dip and eat it for dinner. (Grown ups don’t do that, do they?). So instead, I looked for another way to enjoy the flavors of the dip that I love that would be an acceptable – and healthier? – option. And guess what? I found one! This vegetarian dinner (I’m looking at YOU, Meatless Monday!) is made with spaghetti squash instead of using crackers or breads as the dip vessel.

NOTE: despite what you might think from 2 spaghetti squash posts in one month, I am not being paid by the National Spaghetti Squash Council to bring awareness to the squash. It just so happens that the old spaghetti squash is not only tasty, it’s versatile!

Cheesy Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Basically, you can take your favorite spinach and artichoke dip, and at the end when everything is being mixed together, you add in the cooked spaghetti squash until blended. Then put the mixture back into the hollowed out squash shells and bake like you would a dip until everything is hot and melty.

Check out that delicious, toasty and melty spinach and artichoke stuffed squash!

First, cut the spaghetti squash in half the long way (BE CAREFUL!) and scoop out the seeds.

Then drizzle the squash insides with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place them face down on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake until soft. Let cool until you can handle them, and then scoop out all the string flesh into a bowl.

Meanwhile, make your favorite spinach and artichoke dip. I feel like everyone had a recipe for this dish that they love. I tend to mix and match. a few different recipes. This night, I cooked down the onions in oil and butter until they were soft, and then I mixed in the cream cheese and cheeses, then folded in fresh spinach and chopped artichoke hearts.

Next, add in the cooked spaghetti squash flesh. (Is there a better word for flesh? Because I’m starting to feel a little like Hannibal Lecter over here).

Once mixed, divide the mixture between the spaghetti squash shells and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until everything looks melted and slightly browned.

Enjoy the right from the shells with a nice side salad or veggie.

I hope you try this as a weeknight meal. I actually made this recipe on a Sunday, stuffed the shells, and then baked them 2 days later. It really saved me time of cooking and prep on a busy school night.

Just writing this blog post had made me hungry!

Christmas, cooking, thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving Week, B*tches!

Or, as I like to refer to it: 5 days until Christmas is unleashed!

This is the week when it starts to feel like the holiday season. I spent today in Christmas glory at an inspirational store near her house that was filled with all the decor and scents and greenery you could ever want. It was the kind of place that had decor for houses without children or dogs. So. Much. Glass.

Here are a few photos from how beautiful it was! I could have walked around all day!

I loved this sugar plum themed tree. There were about 10 different themed trees.
Everything was beautiful blown glass; basically stuff I can have in 10 years.
These were some gorgeous christmas tress. I love when places hang them from the tops so you can see what they will look like fully opened! When we go they are all wrapped up and we have to shake it loose and use our imaginations.

So the upcoming week looks like this:

Monday: This is a big week because…(drumroll)…tomorrow is WEIGH IN DAY for the end of the Fit 2 Feast challenge! FINALLY! Tomorrow morning at 6:45am I will find out if my hard work paid off and if I lost any pounds and any body fat. If the scale does not move, I may legit cry ugly tears at the kickboxing studio. If I find out I didn’t have any cocktails or french fries or ice cream or – and this is hard to believe – CHEESE – for three weeks for NOTHING, I will be mucho mad. Then off to a full day of work. Then helping sort pies for our PTA pie fundraiser.

Tuesday: It’s Colonial Day at school, so I’m helping out during my lunch hour. while they kids go from room to room to make different “old timey” crafts. All I know is Little Mister needs to bring in an orange (??) and I donated pipe cleaners and large popsicle sticks. Then Little Mister is double-booked for a hair cut and his first basketball practice. We really need that pre-holiday haircut, but I may have to move it to accommodate the first basketball practice.

Wednesday: Game On! I took the full day off to do all of my Thanksgiving cooking and prep. I’ll be making soup, stuffing, parts of appetizer recipes. I’ll be juicing grapefruits and lemons for cocktails. Then apron down and a manicure and dinner out for some non-challenge-worthy food (hopefully the night before Thanksgiving crowds aren’t too crazy!)

Thursday: Turkey Day! Wake up at the crack of dawn and set my 47 timers and prepare for the day! Every year on this day my blog post is a Thanksgiving in pictures…and this year will be no different!

Friday: Buh-bye gourds, hello garland! I hope to have all the fall stuff put away by 10am so I can start bringing up the Christmas bins. I plan to be decorating for at least 4-5 hours. I did concede and we will not be getting our tree this early. That will be the first weekend in December.

And you know who comes the weekend after Thanksgiving…

He’s coming baaaaack…..
cooking, food, recipe

Shrimp and Tomato “Pasta” Recipe

Happy Sunday! If you’re Italian, you may have a traditional Sunday dinner in your family where everyone gathers together to eat delicious pasta! There is nothing better than a hot bowl of pasta on chilly fall day. Since I’m still doing my kickboxing challenge, we’ll be having “fasta” (fake pasta) tonight. And the family will not be coming over because no one wants to eat an impasta (see what I did there?).

Actually, this dish is delicious – I made it last week and it was so good it’s having a repeat performance. It’s shrimp and tomatoes and garlic over spaghetti squash. If you’re not familiar with spaghetti squash, when you cook it you can can shred the flesh with a fork and it turns into these long strands that resemble – you guessed it – spaghetti.

I made this dish up, so there’s no formal recipe, but I’ll do my best to add some measurements and directions. Even Mr. KK liked it!

Shrimp and Tomato Spaghetti “Fasta”

Serves 2


1 small spaghetti squash
About 14-16 uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined (I like the 16-20 per pound or when I’m feeling fancy the 13-15 per pound)
1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved (red, yellow, whatever you like)
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
Chicken stock
Olive oil
Salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise (be careful!) and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle some olive oil inside both halves of the spaghetti squash and season with salt and pepper. Place the squash flesh side down on the baking sheet and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour, until a knife slides easily into the skin and the squash is fully cooked. Let cool.

While squash is cooling, place shrimp on a foil-lined baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer and set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the tomatoes and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Toss the tomatoes around the pan until they are coated in the oil. Sauté until the tomatoes skin starts to wrinkle up a bit, abound 6-8 mins. Add about 3/4 cup of chicken broth and reduce heat to low. Allow the tomatoes and garlic to simmer in the chicken broth until the tomatoes soften and the stock starts to reduce just a bit (you don’t want it to reduce too much, this will be your “sauce” for the dish).

Pop the pan with the shrimp in the 375-degree oven and cook for about 7-8 minutes, or until the shrimp is pink and cooked through.

When spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the flesh into long strands. Fill two bowls with spaghetti squash, then divide the tomato mixture into the two bowls and place the shrimp on top.

It’s surprisingly simple to make, and honestly really, great. The more garlic the better!

cooking, food, Ina

5 Recipes to try this winter

I don’t know about you, but I will often fall into a cooking rut, and I end up making the same things week after week for me and Mr. KK. Little Mister – who gets his own dinner each night and I can only blame myself for starting this habit – also eats the same thing week after week, but only because he literally only eats 5 dinner items.

I LOVE to cook. And when I’m not on a super-restrictive, no-fun diet, I love to eat. My instagram feed is filled with recipes, famous chefs cooking amazing foods and restaurants sharing the night’s specials. And while I am so inspired by this each day, we end up eating the same old salmon with a vegetable and side of rice. BORING.

I tend to find myself with more time to be in the kitchen cooking in the colder months. All year long I save recipes, with the hopes that one day they will see the light of day and make it onto our plates and into our stomachs.

I am challenging myself to make at least 5 new recipes this winter that made me salivate and I have saved.

Some are appetizers, some are main courses, and there’s even a dessert (lord help Mr. KK and my baking mishaps).

If I’m able to make one of these during November, I will post it!

1. Cacio e Pepe Broccolini with Crispy White Beans and Burrata

From Food and Wine

Photo from Food & Wine.

This recipe had me at burrata.

It combines broccolini (which is a house favorite), cannellini beans, fresno chili and burrata. What a great meal with some crusty bread and wine!

2. Whipped Feta with Spicy Honey

From the blog Serving Dumplings

Photo courtesy of

I never jumped on the TikTok feta craze, but I do appreciate the salty, soft cheese.

This recipe seems super simple, so it shouldn’t be difficult to pull this one off this winter. Hmm…perhaps a Thanksgiving appetizer?

The combo of the salty cheese and spicy honey is a home run in my book. And any appetizer you can make in the food processor gets extra points. I’d definitely go for the naan bread for dippers.

3. Clams Casino Dip with Herb Butter Baguettes

From the book, “Here’s To Us” by Elin Hildebrand.

As you know, Ina is my cooking guru girl crush. But when it comes to books, it’s Elin Hildebrand. Elin writes fiction books – mostly set on the island of Nantucket – that are the perfect beach read. Or, if you’re like me, they are the perfect read for when you don’t have anything to read and you want to travel to ACK vicariously through her characters. In fact, Nantucket IS a character in her novels, it is brought to life so vividly.

In one of her books, Here’s To Us, one of the characters is a chef, who was known for his Clams Casino Dip. Being from Connecticut, I am no stranger to Clams Casino as a concept, as it is my favorite pizza from one of the famous New Haven pizza joints for which Connecticut is known. To have that pizza in dip form is just luxurious.

Creamy cheese, clams and…bacon. I mean, come on!

4. Giada’s Pasta Alla Zozzona

From Giada DeLaurentis

Photo from Giadzy.

We eat with our eyes first, so it’s very likely that I fell in love with the cute shape of this pasta, which is called Nodi Marini. Seriously, how cute are they?

This pasta dish is a combination of Amatriciana and Carbonara, so spicy plus creamy. All in one dish? I’m in!

I’m sure this dish would be just as delicious with any shape pasta, however, why would you want to make it with any other kind? Nodi Marini means “sailor’s knots” and that’s exactly what they look like.

I imagine in true kk fashion I would add about 3 tons of grated cheese to the top of this pasta dish.

5. Ina Garten’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Recipe from Ina Garten

Photo from The Barefoot Contessa

You didn’t think I was going to have a recipe list and NOT include my gal pal, Ina, did you??

I am horrible at baking, so I feel things might be ok in the kitchen if I’m following one of her recipes. Also, this one is tagged “good for a beginner” so there’s the confidence I need.

Sour cream coffee cake reminds me of my childhood, and my grandmother, who would always make a coffee cake for Sunday dinners and holidays. I’m not a big dessert eater, but I am a sucker for cinnamon and sugar.

This one would be perfect for a Sunday brunch!

I can’t wait to get cooking…and eating!

cooking, Ina

Ina and I are #twinning

It it no secret on this blog that I have a severe girl crush on Ina Garten.

Who doesn’t?

My fandom goes back to her early days as the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network. That show was a staple for the Little Mister and I during his formative years. There was Ina on the big TV, in her denim button down, making chicken for Jeffrey and my Little Mister would point his chubby fingers at the screen say “Nine-a!”

I have made countless recipes from her cookbooks (some will appear later this month on this blog), and every one is delicious. I used to watch her all the time, so while my TV viewing time has reduced dramatically, I find other ways to get my Ina fix.

I’ve been driving a bit more to Boston, and now I listen to Ina on podcasts. She did a great interview with Willie Geist on his Sunday Sitdown, and made scrambled eggs for the interview queen Katie Couric. But perhaps the best podcast is Ina’s own, which is an audio version of her show on Discovery Plus, Be My Guest.

A little independent bookstore (remember those?) here in Connecticut was celebrating the release of Ina’s new cookbook, Go To Dinners, by offering a ticket to a zoom interview with Frank Bruni and Ina with the purchase of the book. Sign me up!

The Zoom was at 8pm. I popped in my Airpods and grabbed a glass of full-bodied Cabernet to enjoy while my girl crush shared what life was like for her during pandemic. It was during this time that she wrote this cookbook, inspired by “pantry cooking” and living and eating more simply.

And…there she was! In her barn kitchen, looking all Ina-like.

Ina shared quite a bit about what life was like during the pandemic for her and Jeffrey – who were suddenly spending every day together which they don’t normally do since he commutes to work. As she spoke, I realized that my idol and I have quite a bit in common.

Even though Ina couldn’t see or hear me, I know she felt my presence.

I learned new things about Ina on this interview (I didn’t think that was possible!) And here is how Ina and I are #twinning:

  • We both enjoy cooking for people we love
  • We both have big gardens
  • We both have never gotten COVID (to quote Ina, “And I don’t plan on getting it!”)
  • We both went a little mental preparing 3 meals a day during the pandemic and felt like the minute you cleaned up the lunch dishes it was time to start making dinner!
  • We both enjoy cocktails
  • We both appreciate a well-dressed table
  • We both like not only to cook, but to EAT 

The next day Ina’s book arrived in the mail. It’s beautiful!

I don’t want to rush through it, so I take my time. First, I do a overview flip through, noting recipes that I will flag later. Then, I go through it slowly, reading the recipes and anecdotes, putting stickies on the pages of the recipes that I know I’ll be making. I will definitely be trying the oven risotto (no stirring at the stove!) and I saw an appetizer or two that will be making their debut at Thanksgiving. And chicken and orzo. And cinnamon shortbread cookies. I could go on!

How amazing is that?

cooking, food, NaBloPoMo, recipe

It’s Comfort Food Season!

One of the best things about fall – besides dry and crisp weather for amazing hair days – is the comfort food. 

When the leaves start changing, so do my cravings. After six months of salad, I’m ready for warm comforting meals.

The 3 Best Soups and Chilis for Cold Weather

1. Chili

Photo from The Wholesome Dish

What constitutes a good chili can spark many debates: beans or no beans, thick or juicy, and – of course – spice level.

I have made many variations of chili over the years, many times never following a recipe and just adding what feels right to the pot. And guess what? No matter what you throw in, chili usually ends up tasting halfway decent.

Last year I came across this chili recipe. It is simple, doesn’t take all day to cook, and is really, really good.

I share with you: The Best Classic Chili Recipe, courtesy of The Wholesome Dish.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef (NOTE: I use a package of meatloaf mix here, a mix of beef, pork and veal and it adds another layer of meaty flavor)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1 (15 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 (16 oz.) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce


  • Add the olive oil to a large soup pot and place it over medium-high heat for two minutes. Add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the ground beef to the pot. Break it apart with a wooden spoon. Cook for 6-7 minutes, until the beef is browned, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the chili powder, cumin, sugar, tomato paste, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Stir until well combined.
  • Add the broth, diced tomatoes (with their juice), drained beans, and tomato sauce. Stir well.
  • Bring the liquid to a low boil. Then, reduce the heat (low to medium-low) to gently simmer the chili, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the pot from the heat. Let the chili rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Garnish with all of your favorite chili toppings! I tend to put out cheese, sliced fresh jalapenos, avocado and sour cream.

2. Meat Soup

With a sexy name like “meat soup”, how could you not want to try this recipe? This recipe is from Mr. KK’s family, and is a staple during the winter. This soup brings Mr. KK back to his childhood, sitting at his grandmothers kitchen table, and – later in life – at home with his parents on a Sunday afternoon. His grandmother used to make it on the stove, but it is just as delicious (and easier!) in the Instant Pot.

And, being a family recipe, there are ZERO measurements for anything! The best kind of recipes!


  • Carrots (I use about 4-5 good sized carrots, cut into discs or half moons uniform in size)
  • Onion (The original stovetop recipe used just one full onion peeled and added to the pot; I chop an onion for the Instant Pot recipe)
  • Celery (About 2-3 stalks, diced)
  • Beef shank (The meatier, the better. If it has a LOT of meat on it, you can just use one; if it has too little meat on it, use multiple)
  • Beef stock (I use unsalted, and you use enough to cover the ingredients; you could also use a mixture of beef stock and water if regular stock is too salty)
  • 1 small can tomato sauce (an actual measurement from the original recipe!)
  • “Any seasoning you may want” (I will add salt because I use unsalted stock; you can also use other dried seasonings, however, I tend to skip them and just go with gold old kosher salt)


  • Put carrots, onion, celery in the Instant Pot.
  • Put your beef shank(s) on top of the veggies.
  • Add about 6-8 cups of liquid: either the beef stock or beef stock/water combo to cover the veggies and meat.
  • Add the can of tomato sauce.
  • Add your seasonings (just salt for me!).
  • Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes.
  • Manually release steamer.
  • When it’s safe, open the lid of the pot and remove the beef shanks (be careful, they may fall apart a little bit).
  • Shred the meat from the shanks into bite sized pieces and put back into the Instant Pot.

Now, you can absolutely eat this soup just like this. However, being Italian (and never truly full), we add a little pasta to our soup for make it more of a meal. The preferred pasta for this soup is: Acini de Pepe, which are small little pearls of pasta. You can find it as most grocery stores or Italian food stores.

If you are using pasta, cook the pasta separately from the soup according to the package. When cooked, add the desired amount of pasta to a shallow bowl and ladle the meat soup over it.

I then add a TON of grated parmesan cheese on top, which brings a more salty and nutty flavor to the soup.

3. Ina Garten’s Italian White Beans and Escarole

Image from The Food Network

Oh, Ina, how I love you. My girl crush is REAL.

My grandmother used to make escarole and beans (or, as we Italians pronounce it: sche-daul and beans). In her version, she put cut up pepperoni, which added a nice kick.

Ina’s version is meat free but full of flavor (likely from the 2 tons of cheese you put in). NOTE: this recipe is Ina Garten’s…I am not taking credit!


  • 2 (15.5 ounce) cans white cannellini beans
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 large head escarole, leaves separated, trimmed, washed and spun dry
  • 1 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese


  • Drain the beans, rinse and drain again.
  • In large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat (I use my Le Creuset which works perfectly).
  • Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until garlic is fragrant but not browned (SO important).
  • Add the chicken stock, the drained beans, red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper.
  • Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
  • With a potato masher or large spoon, mash half of the beans in the pot and simmer uncovered another 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, stack escarole leaves on top of each other and cut them crosswise into 3-inch-wide strips.
  • Add the greens to the pot, cover, and steam the greens over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender, stirring the greens into the beans about halfway through.
  • Off the heat, stir in the pecorino and parmesan cheeses, taste for seasonings and serve warm.

I can’t tell you how creamy, garlicky and delicious this dish is. It would go well with some crusty Italian bread for sure.

Happy warm and comfy eating!

Christmas, cooking, Decorating, Elf on the Shelf, Entertaining, NaBloPoMo, thanksgiving

Why Am I So Behind This Year?

Yesterday, a family member asked me what they could bring to Thanksgiving. My first thought was like, ‘I’m not even thinking about Thanksgiving yet,’ and then my second thought was, ‘Wait…Thanksgiving is next week?’

Next week!

Last year at this time, the house was already decorated for Christmas, but last year was “Because, COVID” so pretty much anything was acceptable. This year, Mr. KK has given me the firm “not until after Thanksgiving” rule for Christmas decorating. So I patiently wait until Black Friday to change over our house…

Do I feel so behind this year because last year I was so ahead of the game? Did not leaving the house and having zero social life mean that I was able to kick start the holiday season? I feel like I had more gifts bought, more meals planned, more holly jolly going on.

Next weekend our little elf on a shelf arrives, his annual journey down from the North Pole, the weekend after Thanksgiving, with a box filled with goodies to kick off the holiday season: Christmas jammies, a new Christmas book, and a Christmas ornament. And, of course, the start of Elf Shenanigans for the season.

And don’t get me started on holiday shopping. I have about 3 gifts purchased, and zero ideas for everyone else.

It’s not only the feeling of being behind on the holidays, it’s the feeling of being behind on life in general. Was I always trying to juggle this much? Did I always feel this overwhelmed? Was preparing dinner every night this much of a dreaded task? (Likely, yes.) When did we start wearing all of these clothes that needed washing? How are we dirtying so many dishes? Why is the countertop constantly covered in piles of mail and ‘stuff’? And why can I never find the time to clean up/put away/wash anything?

If I was waking up early to overthink my life before, it’s in overdrive now. Mentally making lists for gifts, recipe planning for holidays, thinking through an email to send for work, remembering to send in Little Mister’s library book on Tuesdays, and his homework on Fridays.

It’s apparently time to start thinking about Thanksgiving, a mere week away; appetizers, side dishes, desserts…holiday cocktail! And right after turkey day, turn around and do it all again for Christmas…and including a mischievous elf, a man in a big red suit, and FINALLY…Christmas music.

cooking, food, recipe

Ode to the Potato

Potatoes are one of the most perfect foods on the planet.

They are so versatile: you can bake them, roast them, hasselback them, mash them, french fry them, hash brown them, and even turn the into pasta. Very few foods an claim this amazingness.

As much as I love potatoes, I don’t eat the as often as I would like. This short, pear-shaped body would likely morph into a pineapple if I got the fries instead of salad every time.

But everyone once and I while, I treat myself (and, indirectly, Mr. KK). Last night was one of those nights. I busted out the big guns and made Gorgonzola Twice Baked Potatoes.

Gorgonzola Twice Baked Potatoes Recipe


2 Russet baking potatoes
Crumbled gorgonzola cheese (exact amount depends on your taste; I tend to use maybe 1/2 a cup or a little more)
2-3TBSP of sour cream
Salt and Pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Wash and completely dry potatoes. Place them on a baking sheet and piece them with a knife (about 5 good pierces per potato)
  3. Bake the potatoes in the oven until they are crispy on the outside and a paring knife glides in easily, about an hour
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool until you can handle them (reduce oven temp to 400 degrees)
  5. Hold the warm potato in your palm, and using a knife, slide off a little oval flap of potato. This will be the opening you will use to scoop out the potato. I usually do one that’s about a few inched long and an inch or two wide. It should just be across the length of the top of the potato (see photo below)
  6. Scoop out potato from both potatoes into a bowl. Mash with a potato masher to remove any lumps.
  7. Add cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper. Mix slowly. Add milk as needed to loosen the mixture just a bit – it should still have a very thick consistency and hold together.
  8. Put the stuffing back into the potato shells, place stuffed potatoes back on the baking sheet.*
  9. Warm and slightly brown the tops of the potatoes in the over for about 10 minutes (or as long as you need to get the filling hot and the cheese a little melty).

*At this stage, you can wrap the potatoes in foil and refrigerate for a day and then bake the next day in the oven at 350 until the are hot, then increase to 400 to brown the tops a bit.

Steps 4 and 5: the hollowed out potatoes. Just slide a small flap of the top so the potato holds its shape when it’s empty.
Scooped out potato and gorgonzola cheese.
Add sour cream, salt and pepper. After mixing start to add a little bit of milk to moisten the mixture just a little bit!
Refill your potatoes and brown them in the oven!

Are these good for you? Not likely. Are they delicious? YOU BET.

These are probably one of my favorite ways to enjoy a potato. Though roasted baby potatoes with oil, garlic and rosemary are a close second. And the french fries from our favorite beer bar. Oh, and gnocchi. Who am I kidding? I like ALL potatoes. Except scalloped potatoes, which I feel are that second cousin of the potato that no one wants to invite to family reunions.

Speaking of adoring potatoes, my child doesn’t like mashed potatoes. Let me repeat that: my child does not like mashed potatoes. I’m not quite sure how this relationship is going to turn out, to be honest.