Week 26 – Italian Orzo Soup + One Bag, Three Meals!

Well this was my first full week back at work since before Christmas (before you get jealous…recall my misery this past September/October and think of my upcoming misery).  Nothing too eventful, we won’t be in full-on busy season in my group for another month so that’s good.  Friday night was our holiday party for work.  This year they split it up between the three lines of service (tax, audit, consulting) and each had their own.  For reasons unknown to me, tax had their party after Christmas.  But whatever, it was a good time.  A bit smaller than what I’ve been use to in Chicago and then the big one this office has last year, but we had fun!  And then our Saturday was so good.  We did a much needed apartment cleaning, worked out, hung out with James for the SU game (I don’t want to talk about the game.  We just aren’t good this year and my expectations are now so so so low.), and then Matt and I caught up on some TV shows and had our own family game night.  I’m not ready to give my weekends back to tax season…


Our recipes!  First, we made a soup last Sunday.  It was perfect, we had all of the ingredients at home and winter Sundays are made for soup making in my opinion.  The rest of the recipes go back to my cookbook from Christmas that I’m obsessed with.  One of the chapters is “One Bag, Three Meals.” This is huge for me.  One of my goals has been for us to spend less on groceries.  All of the new recipes have resulted in the need for a larger grocery budget.  It’s been fine because we rarely go out since we’re always cooking (and DC has less options for affordable/reasonably priced restaurants with actual good food, we we’re better off cooking, way cheaper and tastier).  Basically I’ve been trying to plan meals better and pick meals with ingredients that go together. Anyway, all of the meals were delicious!  There was an asian dish, a pasta dish, and pizza!  For the pizza we didn’t exactly follow the recipe so I’ll just leave the recipe below. Scroll all the way to the bottom for the grocery list too. And I forgot to take a picture of the pasta dish, which Matt gets 100% credit for, he made it while I was at a last minute happy hour for work.  But it was delicious and will definitely get made again so I’ll add a pic later.

Also!  Check out the new page I added – Our Favorites So Far.  I went through and pulled some of our absolute favorite recipes from the blog so far, with a little blurb about why we thought it was great.  If you just started following and are looking for where to start, start there!

Italian Orzo Soup

Makes: 8+ Servings


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 4 cups loosely-packed spinach, roughly chopped
  • salt and black pepper


  1. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 4 minutes, until soft.
  2. Add carrots, celery and garlic and saute for an additional 3 minutes.
  3. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, orzo (pasta)*, thyme, oregano, rosemary and stir to combine. Bring soup to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente.
  4. Stir in the spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes until it is bright green and wilted. Season with salt and black pepper to taste (if needed) and top with some fresh grated parm, if desired. Serve warm.

*Optional:  Cook pasta separately and add right before eating.  If saving leftovers the orzo absorbs almost all of the broth.



Skillet Penne with Sausage, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Spinach

Makes: 4 Servings


  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin onlive oil
  • 1 lb hot or sweet Italian sausage, casings (if any) removed
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 8 oz (2 ½ cups, half a box) penne
  • ½ cups oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and chopped fine
  • 6 oz baby spinach
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt & Pepper


  1. Heat 1 ½ tsp oil in a 12 in nonstick skillet. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink.
  2. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Stir in brth, water, tomatoes, and ½ tsp salt. Bring to vigorous simmer and cook, stirring often, until pasta is tender and sauce has thickened, about 15-18 minutes.
  4. Stir in spinach, 1 handful at a time, and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes.
  5. Season with S&P to taste, serve, and top with grated parm.

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

Makes: 4 Servings


  • ¼ cup Hoisin Sauce
  • ½ cup water, divided
  • 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp Fresh Grated Ginger
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 ½ pounds flank steak, trimmed and sliced thin across the grain
  • 1 pound Broccoli Florets
  • 2 Carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch long, thin matchsticks
  • ½ Red Onion, sliced thin
  • Optional: Sesame Seeds for Topping, Rice, sliced green onions


  1. Heat 1 ½ tsp oil in a 12 in nonstick skillet.
  2. While the oil heats, whisk Hoisin, ¼ cup water, and soy sauce together in a bowl, set aside. Combine 1 tsp oil, ginger, garlic, and pepper flakes in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Once oil is heated and just smoking (it is important that the pan be very hot!), add half the beef. , breaking up any clumps, and cook without stirring for 1 minute.  Stir beef and continue to cook until browned around the edges.  Transfer to a separate bowl and repeat with another 1 ½ tsp oil and remaining beef, transfer to bowl.
  4. Heat remaining 2 tsp oil in the now empty skillet. Add broccoli, carrots, and onions and cook for 30 seconds.  Add remaining ¼ cup water, cover skillet and lower heat to medium.  Steam veggies until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.
  5. Push veggies to the side of the skillet. Addginger mixture to the center of the skillet nd cook until fragrant, 15-30 seconds.  Stir mixture into veggies.
  6. Return beef, with any accumulated juices, to skillet and toss to combine. Whisk sauce to  recombine and add to skillet, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and evenly distributed.
  7. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and/or sliced green onions and enjoy!

Optional: Serve over rice.


Skillet PIzza


  • 3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, plus 1/4 cup packing oil
  • 1/2 cup warm tap water
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 oz broccoli florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 lb package store-bought pizza dough
  • 8 oz mozzarella, shredded (2 cups)
  • 2 oz parmesan cheese (1 cup)


  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees
  2. in a blender or food processor, blend tomatoes, 2 Tbsp tomato packing oil, 1/4 cup water, 1/3 the garlic, and the salt until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  3. Combine broccoli, onion, remaining 1/4 cup water, and remaining garlic in a large bowl, cover, and microwave until broccoli is tender, about 2 minutes.  Drain well.
  4. Divide dough in half.  Press and roll 1 piece of dough into an 11 inch round on a lightly floured counter.
  5. Grease 12-inch oven safe skillet with 1 Tbsp tomato packing oil, then lay dough in the skillet and reshape as needed.  Spread half of tomato mixture on the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border.  Sprinkle pizza with 1/2 the mozz, vegetable mixture, and parm.
  6. Set skillet over high heat and cook until edge of the crust has set and bottom is spotty brown, about 3 minutes.
  7. Transfer Skillet to oven and bake until edges are brown and cheese is melted, about 7-10 minutes.
  8. Carefully remove skillet from oven and transfer pizza to wire rack to cool.
  9. Wipe out skillet using paper towels and let cool slightly, then repeat the process (beginning at step 5).

3 Meals, 1 Bag:

The Bag:

  • 1 1/2 lbs flank steak
  • 1 lb Italian Sausage, either Hot or Sweet (we used Hot)
  • 8 oz mozzarella
  • 1 1/2 lbs broccoli florets
  • 2 Carrots
  • 6 oz baby spinach
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 knob fresh ginger
  • 1 (1 lb) package store bought pizza dough
  • 1 1/4 cups oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds (Optional)
  • 2 Green Onions (Optional)

Check the Pantry:

  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Rice
  • Garlic (10 cloves)
  • Penne
  • Chicken Broth (2 cans)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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