Elements of Food

Cheesy Veggie Tortellini Bake

I’m just going to go ahead and caveat that this is not exactly the healthiest of recipes…I mean, it is overflowing with yummy vegetables which is wonderful, but they are definitely hidden in a rich, cheesy carb party…but it’s definitely a party I want to attend. This dish is super family friendly. My toddler absolutely loved it! She could eat it with her fingers which is great… because in her awesome toddler world, we are boycotting forks. Anyways…I found this recipe on Pinterest of course, and the original recipe can be found here.

I used a few different veggies than the original recipe, but you can pretty much use whatever you have in your fridge, that’s what I love about it. I have written the ingredient list below with my modifications…but please visit the original recipe developer’s blog for step by step instructions! Enjoy!

  • 1 package (19 ounces) frozen cheese-filled tortellini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced zucchini
  • 1 cup trimmed sugar snap peas
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms
  • 2 cups of bell peppers (we love bell peppers…so we did more than the original recipe called for)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup of frozen corn
Creamy base:
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
Top it off:
  • 1/4 cup freshly-grated mozzarella cheese
  • 3-4 tablespoons freshly-grated Parmesan cheese

Veggie Tortellini Bake 2

Veggie tortellini BakeVeggie Tortellini Bake 3

Elements of Food, Fix & Freeze

Homemade Pasty

I can’t help it…but once August rolls around, I’m just about ready for Fall. By August, the flowers are starting to stop blooming, the nights get just a bit cooler, and I start seeing cute Fall clothes in the stores. Along with that, I start getting ready for delicious fall foods! One of my most favorite meals growing up were homemade pasties (pronounced past-ee). My grandmother is the original recipe holder, and we use the same recipe today. What exactly is a Pasty? It’s essentially a meat and vegetable handheld pie. Although I eat mine with a fork, the point was that you could have a satisfying meal wherever you went. My husband LOVES these…and what guy wouldn’t? It’s meat, potatoes, onion and carrots bundled together in an English pastry crust. The best part about these, is that the recipe makes 4 pasties, just enough for dinner and two frozen pasties for later! This is also a great Fix and Freeze recipe.

homemade pasties 3


English Pastry

  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt until well combined. With a fork, combine the flour mixture with the vegetable shortening and egg yolk.
  2. Add the hot water and lemon juice and mix until a soft dough forms.
  3. Chill for at least 2-3 hours



  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1.5 cups chopped russet potato
  • Butter


  1. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and onion together until cooked through.
  2. Add the carrots and potatoes to the ground beef and onion and mix to combine.
  3. You can fancy this recipe up if you like…adding fresh herbs such as thyme or rosemary, but our family recipe is basic, and I love it for that.
  4. Cut your pastry dough into 4 equal sections, and roll into balls.
  5. On a floured surface, roll out each ball into a 7-8 inch diameter circle.
  6. Place the ground beef filling, as much as you can fit on one side, into the pastry leaving an edge to seal the pasty.
  7. Add a couple small pats of butter on top of the filling and fold the other side of the dough over to create a half moon.
  8. Fold the edges up around the pasty to seal in the filling and use a fork to seal the edge. Pierce the top of each pasty four times with a fork to vent.
  9. Place the pasties on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hours at 350 degrees.
  10. After the hour of baking, pull out the pasties and place a dish towel over the top. Let the pasties steam for 15 minutes before serving.
  11. We like to put ketchup all over ours, but you can eat it plain as well.


homemade pasties

homemade pasties 2

Elements of Food, Elements of Home


“You know what I’m craving? A little perspective. That’s it. I’d like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?” Ratatouille

No, this is not an entire post about a cute little movie about a rat who becomes a renowned chef in Paris…although, it is absolutely one of my most favorite movies. Don’t be fooled by the fact it’s a cartoon, it’s amazing. This post is, however, about the actual dish, Ratatouille. I have played with the idea of making it over and over, but every time I look at the Julia Child recipe, I resort  to something much simpler. Well, little did I know my soon to be husband is quite the french cook…less than 3 months away from our wedding I  proclaimed that we need to eat healthy from now on, no excuses. Let’s just say this was the week after Easter and I was still feeling full. Let’s also just say cream sauces, potatoes, desserts and pounds of ham are not in my bridal diet. I wanted nothing more than a carrot stick for dinner that night. Well, my wonderful fiance walked in the door a half hour later with a bag full of fresh veggies from the co-op. I’ve never seen so many beautiful colors in one shopping bag, and he said, we’re having Ratatouille for dinner tonight. I looked shocked and amazed that he was willing to take on this incredibly detailed, time consuming recipe…but he had a plan to skip all the fussy steps and get down to the core of the dish, which is a bunch of fresh veggies, steamed and sauteed in olive oil, salt and pepper, placed on top of couscous. Delightful. It was so easy and quick, and one of the most beautiful dishes I had ever seen on my stove top. Not to mention…incredibly healthy. We enjoyed it so much we decided to make Ratatouille a weekly staple.


1 Eggplant, 3 Zucchinis, 2 Fresh Tomatoes, 1-2 Yellow Peppers, Onion, Fresh Garlic Cloves, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, Plain Cous Cous


Chop all of the veggies into chunks and place them in a cast iron braiser, i’m a snob for my Le Creuset Braiser…if you buy one of their pieces, it’s this one.  (or a frying pan you can cover) and turn the stove on medium heat. Stir all veggies with 1/4 cup of olive oil, salt and pepper. Let veggies steam for 10-12 minutes, then remove the cover and stir. Let veggies cook until tender. Prepare Cous Cous according to directiongs (this takes 5 minutes) and top Cous Cous with the Ratatouille.

There are so many variations of Ratatouille, some call for perfectly sliced and arranged veggies in a traditional oval french baking dish, some go from oven to stove, some take 30 minutes, some require 2 hours or more. Top it with fresh shredded cheese, or finish it with a dollop of creme fraiche, Some versions are pretty, some versions…not so much…but they all taste wonderful. You can eat it plain, on top of pasta or Cous Cous. You can also sop up the remaining veggie juice with a chunk of french bread. Enjoy whichever culinary route you choose!