Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana (dairy-free)


Spicy sausage, potatoes, greens and bacon in flavor-packed broth. This savory and satisfying soup is a fabulous way to sneak a little kale into your little one’s belly.

My sister in law’s mother has brought this soup to many family dinners.  It’s always my favorite.  After sipping a mug of Zuppa Toscana around a bonfire last fall (bliss!), I finally requested the recipe.

Once I made it myself, I realized how easy it is to make dairy-free.  It turns out, I actually prefer it dairy-free!  If you disagree, add a little coconut milk or cream just before serving.


How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

I cannot cook bacon in a skillet.  I don’t know why, but I can never get it to cook evenly.  I hate standing over the hot skillet and being hit by flying bacon grease.  Plus, it takes forever to cook a whole pound when you only have one skillet.

Several years back, I found the perfect solution.  Cook the bacon in the oven!  The oven does a much better job of cooking the bacon evenly and cooks a whole pound at the same time! No more standing over the hot skillet and dodging hot grease.

What I really like best about this method is that I can stick the bacon in the oven to cook while I finish the rest of the meal.  For instance, I can put the bacon in the oven while I fix protein packed pancakes, or I can put the bacon in the oven while I make dairy-free potato soup.  It saves me a lot of time! (more…)

Red Beans, Rice and Andouille Sausage

“This is one of the best meals you have ever made!” proclaimed my husband as the rest of  us were guzzling water with tears in our eyes.  To be fair, I am a complete wimp when it comes to spicy foods and apparently my kids are too.  We were able to finish our plates and I really could taste a complex variety of flavors that I really enjoyed.  If you like spicy foods, make this recipe as is.  If you are a wimp like me, use a milder sausage and leave out all that pepper.


Skillet Meal: Pizza Rice

This recipe was inspired by a pound of “Italian Pizza Sausage” made by a local farmer.  I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I was so excited to see locally and humanely raised pork that I couldn’t pass it up.  We have been addicted ever since.

We affectionately named this meal “Pizza Rice” after my non-allergic kids favorite carry out meal: sausage pizza.  Obviously, pizza is not allergy-friendly, so this is a great way to enjoy the flavor of sausage pizza without the allergens and additives.

Because I try to keep rice cooked in chicken stock in the freezer at all times, this meal comes together very quickly.   I cook a stock pot full of rice, let it cool, divide and toss in the freezer.  This way I am always ready for a quick stir-fry or Mexican dish.

“Pizza Rice” has been a great dish to take  to our church pot luck dinners.  It’s something everyone can enjoy as a side dish, and if there is nothing safe for Bella to eat, this will be satisfying and filling in itself.


Pizza Rice Skillet Meal


  • 1 small Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 1 small Red Pepper, chopped
  • 1 pound Bulk Italian Sausage
  • 3 cups Rice, cooked


  1. Cook onion, pepper and sausage in a large skillet until meat is done and onions are translucent.
  2. Stir in rice and cook until heated through.  Enjoy!

You may also enjoy Italian Sausage and Summer Squash Skillet and Beefy Zucchini Skillet.

This post is part of Real Food 101, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Ultimate Recipe Swap, Full Plate Thursday, Pennywise Platter Thursday and Allergy-Friendly Friday.

Italian Sausage and Summer Squash Skillet

Did I mention we eat a lot of squash in the summer?  Squash cooks so fast that it makes a wonderful, healthy lunch.  While squash alone can be pretty bland, this recipe is full of flavor.  Here’s how I fix my my favorite squash skillet.


  • Palm Shortening or oil of choice
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 1/2 Pound Italian Sausage Links, sliced
  • 9-12 Small Summer Squash, sliced
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Salt and Pepper


  1. Heat oil in skillet.  Cook onion and sausage until onion is clear and sausage is brown.
  2. Add squash and season liberally with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.  Cook until squash is tender.

You may also enjoy Summer Squash and Chicken Skillet and Nancy’s Green Beans and Sausage.

This recipe is part of Melt in Your Mouth Mondays, Tip Me Tuesday, Monday Mania, Made By You Monday, Make a Food”e” Friend, Mingle Monday, Hunk of Meat Monday, So Sweet Sunday, Sugar Free Sunday,  Seasonal Sunday,  Nifty Thrifty Sunday, A Themed Bakers Sunday, Cookbook Sunday, Sundae Scoop, The Sunday Showcase, Savory Sunday, Potluck Sunday, Simply Delish. {TITUS 2}SDAYS, Tuesdays at the Table, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Delicious Dishes, Tuesday Time Out Link Up, show me what ya got, Tasty Tuesdays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Tip Me Tuesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesdays, Works for Me Wednesday, Real Food Wednesdays, This Chick Cooks, Made it on Monday, Creative Juice, Foodie Wednesday, Healthy 2day Wednesdays, Thrilling Thursday, It’s a Keeper Thursdays, Strut Your Stuff, Frugal Food Thursday, Hookin Up with HoH, Real Food Weekly, Simple Lives Thursday, Recipe Swap Thursday, Pennywise Platter Thursday, Food Trip Friday, Friday Potluck, Foodie Friday,  Friday Favorites, Fresh Bites Friday, Show and Tell Friday, Allergy Friendly Friday, I’m Lovin It Fridays!, Fun with Food Friday, Fight Back Friday, Fat Camp Friday, Foodie Friday, Fresh, Clean and Pure Friday, GCC Recipe Swap, Food on Friday, Finer Things Friday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Friday Food Linky, Friday Flair, Weekend Wrap Up Party, Party Mindie Style, Show and Tell Saturday, The Lady Bloggers Tea Party

Honey Mustard Chicken/Pork Marinade


I love that this recipe uses ingredients I keep on hand. The meat doesn’t need to marinade very long, making it ideal for last minute company.  I haven’t tried this marinade on pork, but I’m sure it would be awesome!  Make sure you grill extra to top a salad for tomorrow’s lunch! This makes enough marinade for 1 pound of chicken breasts.



  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • 1/2 cup Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 tsp Salt


1. Blend ingredients.
2. Marinade meat for at least 30 minutes.
3. Grill or bake as usual.


I have mentioned before that I like to double or triple the recipe and freeze the marinade and chicken in gallon size baggies for later. When the chicken defrosts it marinades!



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Grilled Pantry Pork Chops Recipe

About a year ago, someone gave us a frozen pork loin that was as long as my 4 year old is tall!   I have seriously never seen anything like it.  I said “Thank you!”  and put it in the deep freeze.  And there it sat.  For a year.  With spring in the air, I decided that monster in my basement would make some delicious grilled boneless pork chops.   I defrosted and sliced the meat and divided it into gallon size baggies with marinades.


We grilled some that night but the others we put back in the freezer for later.  Don’t worry, it came straight from the butcher so it can be refrozen.  I love grilling out but I often forget to marinade the meat.  Having the meat already in the marinade and in the freezer is a wonderful solution.  When I defrost the meat it marinates!


Grilled Pantry Pork Chops Recipe


  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp tamari sauce (Soy-free recipes here and here)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar, rapadura or Sucanat
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 pork chops, about 1 1/4 inches thick each
1. Whisk together the ingredients and pour into a gallon size baggie.
2. Add the pork, seal the bag and mush it around.
3. Marinade for 20 minutes to overnight in the fridge.
4. Bring to room temperature.
5.  Grill on high heat for 3 minutes on each side.
6. Turn the grill down to medium and cook until the juices run clear.


This post is part of Melt in Your Mouth Mondays, Monday Mania, Mangia Monday, Make a Food”e” Friend, Weekend Gourmet Blog Carnival, Mouthwatering Monday, Tuesday Night Supper Club, $5 Dinner Challenge, Tip Me Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table, Delectable Tuesday, Hearth and Soul Hop, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Made From Scratch Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays, {TITUS 2}SDAYS, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays, Domestically Divine, Delicious Dishes, Whatcha Makin’ Wednesdays, What’s Cooking Wednesday, What’s on the Menu, Gluten Free Wednesdays, Real Food Wednesdays, What We’re Eating Wednesday, Made it on Monday, Strut Your Stuff, Frugal Food Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, It’s a Keeper Thursdays, Real Food Weekly, Tip Day Thursday, Thrilling Thursday, Recipe Swap Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Food Trip Friday, Friday Potluck, Foodie Friday, Friday Favorites, Show and Tell Friday, Fight Back Friday, Food on Friday, Fat Camp Friday, So Sweet Sunday, Nifty Thrifty Sunday, Seasonal Sunday, Sugar Free Sunday



Nancy’s Green Beans and Sausage


This is the dish I get asked to bring to dinners the most.  Any type of sausage and green beans will work but my favorites are Polish Sausage and Italian Green Beans.  This makes a big pot full!

Nancy’s Green Beans and Sausage


  • 1 pound Polish Sausage
  • 4 bags of frozen Italian Green Beans
  • 3 Tbsp dried Minced Onion
  • Garlic Powder
  • Salt and Pepper


1. Slice the sausage into bite sized pieces

2. In a large pot, brown sausage over medium high heat.  This is the most important step.  You want to have lots of brown stuff stuck to the bottom of the pan.  The sausage should be almost burnt.

3.  While the pan is very hot add 1/2 – 1 cup of cold water.  Scrape all the stuff off the bottom of the pan.  It will lift off easily in the water.

4.  Stir in the green beans.  Sprinkle in the seasonings and mix well.

5.  Cover and cook on medium low until beans are tender.

You may also enjoy Italian Sausage and Summer Squash Skillet and Skillet Meal: Pizza Rice.

This post it part of Real Food Wednesdays, Whatcha Makin’ Wednesdays, Gluten Free Wednesdays, Pennywise Platter Thursday, Full Plate Thursday and Real Food Weekly.