Recipe :: Pasta Soup

I don’t have a very good name for this soup, or exact measurements, but it was so good that I feel compelled to share.

I made this a few weeks ago in an attempt to use what I had on hand to make a delicious soup for dinner.  I think I succeeded and this soup will be added to the “make again” column.


  • 1/2 large {or 1 small} red onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1.5-2 chicken breast, cooked and diced/shredded
  • 1 can {14.5oz} cannellini beans
  • 1 can {28oz} whole peeled tomatoes {san marzano if you can find them}
  • ~8oz small pasta {i used orecchiette, but any other small pasta would work}
  • ~2C chicken broth
  • 2C+ water {add more than 2C for more broth in your soup}
  • 1C shredded pecorino romano
  • Splash of half & half {or milk, or cream}
  • 3tbsp butter
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1 glove garlic, minced or grated
  • dried basil
  • dried oregano
  • red pepper flakes

It sounds like a lot of ingredients, but it’s actually quite simple. Start off by heating up your pot with 1tbsp butter and the olive oil. While things are heating up, dice the red onion and celery.


Once the oil is ready, toss in the celery and red onion. Cook for a few minutes until they’re soft. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add a dash of red pepper flakes and stir.


Add the tomatoes, with their juices and break up the tomatoes with your spoon, spatula, or a potato masher. Bring to a simmer then add the chicken, chicken broth, a dash of basil, and a dash of oregano.

{I stopped taking pictures, sorry!}

Next add the pasta. If its going to be awhile before you eat, you should wait to add the pasta until you’re closer to eating time. Add water as needed to cover the pasta by a little bit. 2C should do it at this point, but add more like 3 or 4 cups of water if you’d like more broth.

Once the pasta is done, add a splash of half and half. Also add the rest of the butter and the cheese. Yum.

Stir until everything is melted. Add salt and pepper to taste, then serve!




Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day, all!

Matt & I will be celebrating with dinner at a local steak house. We’ll also be celebrating four years since Matt proposed!

I whipped up a quick Valentine’s treat Friday night and we’ve been enjoying these homemade peanut butter cups.


It’s an adaptation of a few recipes I found through Pinterest.


  • 3/4 C peanut butter
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 14oz melting chocolates


Mix the peanut butter, powered sugar, and vanilla extract until combined. Roll into small balls — they should fit in a mini muffin tin and be no taller than the top of the tin. Chill the peanut butter balls on a sheet pan {or mini muffin tin} in the freezer for at least 1 hour. Melt the chocolates either in a double boiler, heat proof bowl set over simmering water, or microwave.

Using a spoon, put some chocolate in the bottom of a mini muffin tin {with liners}. Use enough chocolate to get a good base. Place one peanut butter ball on top of the chocolate, then fill with chocolate so that the peanut butter ball is completely covered. Continue until all peanut butter balls are covered. Chill in the refrigerator overnight or until set.

And now for a visual essay in the life of a peanut butter cup.




Happy Valentine’s Day!

Recipe: Quick and Easy Queso

I made this queso on Super Bowl Sunday. We had some friends over to watch the game and then plan was to order pizza and wings {since we were painting all morning, then picking up the house all afternoon, there was zero time for home made pizza & wings}. I had meant to make this queso last week, but that meal never quite happened. But since I had everything on hand, I whipped it up about an hour before our friends came over {in case it was horrible I could just chuck it before anybody showed up}.

Thankfully, it was delicious. Dangerously delicious.

I adapted a recipe from Annie’s Eats, mainly because I was lazy and wanted to use canned goods. So I took stock of my pantry and went from there.

Unfortunately, I have no photo of the queso. It’s just too irresistible to take time away from eating it to snap a picture.

Quick and Easy Queso
Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Yield: about 2 cups
1 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
12 oz. white American cheese, shredded*
4 oz. Monterey jack cheese, shredded
¼-2/3 cup milk
14oz can rotel tomatoes with lime and cilantro, drained
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced
Dash of salt
Dash of cayenne

*the recipe calls for white American cheese. I couldn’t find this at my Kroger, so I got some white “Swiss” singles.

Heat the oil over medium low heat in a medium saucepan (1.5qt is plenty big). Add the cheese and 1/4C of the milk. Whisk or stir until smooth. Add milk to reach your desired thickness. Add the tomatoes and peppers. Don’t worry of the cheese seizes up. Things will smooth back out as it heats up. Add salt and cayenne to taste.


Meal Plan

Happy Monday, all! Hope you had a super fun weekend. We spent our weekend painting our bedroom! Details to come once we get all of the furniture and outlet covers back in place.

Last week was a total disaster in terms of a meal plan. I don’t think I actually cooked a single night last week. It was a mixture of ordering in, bringing home Chipotle, and eating out. So this week I’m hoping to actually cook some meals. Here’s what I’m thinking about:

  • sausage, peppers, & onions
  • burritos & queso
  • chicken cordon bleu & twice baked potatoes
  • pasta e fagioli

What’s on your menu this week?

Smokin’ Bagels

You may ask ::

Why, Leigh? Why would bagels be “smokin”?

The answer is simple. My KitchenAid mixer CAN’T HANDLE the bagel dough. Yep. Kneading bagel dough brought my mixer to it’s knees. After a few minutes, Matt asked me what was burning and a few minutes later smoke was rising from the back of the mixer.

Needless to say I finished the kneading job by hand. Which, by the way, is a TOTAL workout! I was about to break a sweat after only a few minutes.


I made the bagel dough on Sunday and boiled and baked them on Monday. I used Annie’s Eats recipe. Aside from the smoking issue, this dough was not difficult to make. It amazes me how *un*complicated a lot of bread recipes are. Especially with mixers to do the kneading for you, breads are not really a huge deal. And ohhhh how delicious.


I topped mine with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and coarse salt. I was going for an “everything” type bagel but had an impossible time finding a reasonable sized container of minced dehydrated onions. Everything I found was restaurant sized and I’m pretty positive that I don’t need an 8-inch tall container of minced dehydrated onions. Then I got a small container of minced dehydrated garlic — perfect! Except, not so perfect since it was a grinder and  was unsuccessful in removing the grinder top. So they’re not quite everything bagels.


But they are so delicious that maybe I can justify getting the HUGE container of minced onions for next time. Because oh yes. There definitely WILL be a next time.


Meal Plan :: Catching Up

I like seeing what other people are eating for dinner, so I’m going to continue to post {hopefully regularly} what we’re eating here at Kesler*Expressler.

Last week:

  • Homemade Pepperoni & Banana Pepper {only on Matt’s half} Pizza
  • Taco Night
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu {from Skinny Taste} & Twice Baked Potatoes {PW} {straight from the freezer to the oven, dinner in 45 minutes}

This Week:

  • Sausage, Peppers, & Onions with Wild Rice
  • Eggplant Parmesan {Skinny Taste}
  • Burrito Bowls :: Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken {Skinny Taste}
  • Pasta Bolognese {from the freezer}
  • Baked Rigatoni with Spinach

What’s cookin’ at your casa?