Day 15_ Chop Suey Casserole

My mom made this growing up. I have no idea if this is even an accurate recipe. I just started making this in college and continue to.  This is as close to “Chinese” as I got until I was well past the age of 21.  It is something that my entire family loves.

It is easy. You can prepare it before you cook it and refrigerate for a day or two. Not to mention the leftovers are equally as yummy.



  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 2 cups minute rice
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2  onion- diced
  • 2 stalks celery- diced
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.   Grab a pan out of the cabinet and let’s get started.


Start by browning your ground beef and breaking it into small pieces over medium heat. I always cook ground beef in bulk and put in the fridge… I will make pasta tomorrow so one less step I have to do tomorrow.


Ask your sou chef to dice up some onion and celery.  Make sure you give him as little room as possible. Surround your entire prep area in Legos. That seems like a great idea.


Complement your sou chef on his handy work… Act like the Legos aren’t driving you nuts.


Heat 1 1/2 cups of water in the microwave until hot.  Pour 2 cups rice into the water and cover.  I do this in the casserole dish I am going to cook it in because its one less dish to wash. This allows for the cooking process of the rice to start cooking but not completely.  This is a complete cheater step. jan15_7

Sit the rice aside while you finish your ground beef mixture…


Add the onion and celery and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and cook on low heat until you take a bit of the crunch out of the onion and celery.  5 minutes or so.


Add the rest of your soy sauce… or add a little more. I may or may not sneak in an extra tablespoon or dash here and there I love soy sauce… and black pepper and garlic salt  add those too and mix together. Then add your cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, and ground beef mixture.  Stir well making sure you are coating everything.


Place the casserole into a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.  If you removed this from the refrigerator it will take more time like 1 hr-1 15 minutes.

Here comes the controversial step… My mom used to put crushed potato chips on top in the last 5-10 minutes of cooking. My husband does not like the chips. I love the chips. However in a marriage you have to compromise so I didn’t put them on today.


The casserole should be bubbly and warm, and slightly browned on the top. Yummo


This is truly easy and wonderful.  Enjoy




Jan 4 – Baked Chicken Thighs and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

One pan dinners are excellent. Very little clean-up, Throw it in the oven and forget it. This is the first of my lighter dishes for the year. Yes I did resist on the cheese and didn’t add any.



  • Chicken Thighs
  • Olive Oil
  • Seasoning Salt
  • Pepper
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1-2 Sweet Potatoes
  • 1/2 cup  onion
  • 3-4 Button Mushrooms (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees

Place a piece of aluminum foil onto a baking sheet. This is only for easier clean-up.  Lay your chicken thighs onto the baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle or brush olive oil onto the chicken and season.  I season generously with seasoning salt and pepper.  Chicken thighs are inexpensive, usually sold in packages of 6-8.  Don’t fear the bone-in chicken, the bone-in chicken is delicious with lots of flavor.  If you would like you can easily peel the skin off of these prior to cooking.


Place the chicken into the oven for 12 minutes to start the cooking process.  While this is cooking peel and cube your sweet potato and rough chop your onion and Mushrooms.   Place the sweet potato into a bowl and lightly sprinkle with olive oil and kosher salt. Toss till covered. After cooking for 12 minutes pull the baking sheet out of the oven and put the sweet potatoes/onions/ mushrooms onto the baking sheet around the chicken.


Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes till your chicken is done and your sweet potatoes are tender.


Enjoy your meal and allow for your husband to do the dishes. Love you John!

xoxo, Bryn



Jan 3- Italian Tortellini Soup

It is -12 degrees here today. The wind cuts through you like knives.  This year we have had only a dusting of snow, but the cold temperatures have been stronger than ever.  I was trying to find something warm and hearty and knew this would be the perfect dish. I had some Italian Sausage left over from the holiday festivities and nothing warms you up like spicy meat and pasta. I know I know it is the new year a healthy meal would be nice right? I added some spinach for those of you whom are health nuts. To make us both feel better.


Prep time: under 10 Minutes                                Cook Time: 30-35 Minutes


  • 1 lb Italian Sausage
  • 3/4 cup diced onion
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 9 oz package of cheese tortellini
  • 1 cup spinach

In a pot (or dutch oven because dutch ovens are amazing) start by browning your Italian sausage.  If you don’t have one of these handy pampered Chef Mix N’ Chops you should order one right now.  They make breaking up hamburger and sausage a breeze.  I cannot take credit for finding this. John brought this into our relationship.  I won on multiple levels.


While the sausage is browning.  Dice your onion and mince your garlic, put on some music and pour yourself a glass of wine.


Once your sausage is browned add your onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.  Stirring a couple of times to gain some of the excellent carmelization on the sausage and onion.


Next add your stewed tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, whole milk, and half and half.  Yes that is a lot of different liquids – honestly I just started dumping and it was delicious.  I have whole milk in my fridge because I have a 1-year-old, you can use 2% milk. With the heavier dairy products you get an extra creamy/silky texture and a boost of flavor.  Reduce your heat to low.


Add your spices – ground oregano, garlic salt, parsley flakes and simmer for 20 minutes. Italian sausage differs in spice, heat, and flavor so make sure you taste your dish and add salt and pepper to taste.  I added approximately 1 tsp of pepper but I like pepper.

Tip- you can combine all of the above mentioned ingredients into a crockpot (precooking your sausage of course). Setting it on low during the day and finish it off by adding the tortellini and spinach when you get home.  

I completely understand we are all busy. It is a great feeling when you leave the house in the morning WITH dinner planned.  I personally walk around with a chip on my shoulder all day . It is on these days that I feel like I have my shit together.  Then I come home and my house is a mess and I realize I am a real person and it was all a lie. 


Next add your cheese tortellini. Continue to cook on low for 5 minutes stirring regularly. Turn your burner off and add your spinach (stems removed I ripped it in half like a savage). I used about a cup you can add more if you would like… I am a newbee to the spinach world so babysteps my dear. Just be impressed that I added spinach and not cheese.

Get your bowls out and serve this beautiful soup.


Serve with a garnish of Parmesan cheese.  Welp… I tried there is the cheese. Every dish needs a touch of cheese.


What a completely delicious dish to enjoy.



Prep time: under 10 Minutes                                Cook Time: 30-35 Minutes


  • 1 lb Italian Sausage
  • 3/4 cup diced onion
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 1 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 9 oz package of cheese tortellini
  • 1 cup Spinach


  1. Brown your italian sausage in a dutch oven or pot
  2. Dice your onion
  3. Mince your garlic clove
  4. Once your italian sausage is browned add your onion and garlic to the pot and cook for 5 minutes
  5. Add your stewed tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, whole milk and half&half.
  6. Turn heat down to low
  7. Add ground oregano, parsley flakes, garlic salt and simmer for 20 minutes
  8. Add your tortellini and cook for 5 minutes till tender
  9. Turn off the heat and add spinach
  10. Serve with grated parmesean cheese


Jan 1- Ham and Potatoes

It is the first of the year, everyone is kicking themselves into a “healthy lifestyle” and I am pouring heavy cream, half and half, and cheese into a casserole dish.   Do I have the need to loose a couple extra pounds. Yes. Am I starting today… NO.   Today we will eat salty meats and carbs and delicious dairy products and love every minute of it.

I have made the Pioneer Woman’s Ham and Potatoes often. I always decrease the recipe to feed my family vs. her herd. Lets face it Brandt is sitting eating Hamburger and cheese while this casserole is in the oven. His food box is very very small. Another goal for 2017! To expand Brandt’s food box by bribery. Is there any other way?



  • 3/4 cup of onion
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 -1 1/2 cups cubed ham
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 5 medium potatoes
  • 1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (more if you are like me and addicted to cheese)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prep your items ingredients:

  • ice your onion
  • cube your ham (approximately 1/2 in cubes)
  • thinly slice your potatoes. (Slice your potatoes as thinly as possible. This is where I wish I had a mandolin but I don’t. I carefully use my brand new knives.  I used 5-6 medium potatoes. I wash them but I don’t peel them. It makes me feel healthier)

Now start cooking…

Put in 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter into a pan and melt over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted add 3/4 cup of diced onion.  I had some red onion already cut up (leftover from the holiday festivities) so I used that along with some white onion.  Use what you have. The world is your onion … It is a new year. Cook the onion in butter over medium heat for 3 minutes.


To the pan add cubed ham. I go heavy on the ham with 1 1/2 cups.  You can use whatever ham you would like.  Purchasing a ham steak works great for this meal, or using left overs from Christmas is exactly what I did. Ham steak and bone-in ham are my preferred. I used to refer to this as “good ham” growing up.


Like I said add the ham to the onion/butter mixture and cook for 5 minutes until the onions are translucent and the ham is warm and beautiful.


While that is cooking, grab your remaining butter and slather it around a 9×9 glass dish.  The better you do this the less scrubbing required by the person whom does the dishes. Unless you don’t like the person who is doing your dishes, if your kid is in trouble or something just skip this step just kidding- but seriously.


Keep stirring your ham/onion mixture and once the onions are translucent remove from heat. AKA push it to the back burner.

Now mix your half and half and heavy whipping cream together. Microwave this for a minute or two to remove the “chill”.  I don’t know why but PW told me to so I do as she says- always.   Remove from microwave and add flour and pepper. I eyeball it… you know “to taste”   You can add salt but your ham has some salt so don’t add to much.


Now you are ready to assemble put half of your potatoes into the dish followed by half of your onion/ham mixture.  Add 1/2 the cheese (put a good layer you will thank me) and poor half the dairy /flour mixture on.  Sprinkle a little pepper if you feel the need.  Repeat this a second time. Potatoes- ham/onions- cheese.


Use every bit of that butter that is in the pan with the onions/ham mixture.


Make sure you add a thick layer of cheese and poor the rest of your dairy mixture on top. Yummm


Sprinkle on salt and pepper if you would like.  I like pepper don’t judge me.


Cover with foil and place into a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes.  Remove the cover and cook for another 30 minutes. jan1_11

Dig into this deliciousness. Eat your heart out. After you have given up your new year diet of course!