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 2 – Porkies

John requested my sister make these for our Christmas/ New Years celebration this weekend. I made them to take to our friends for the Iowa Hawkeyes in the outback bowl today.   After a discussion with friends we discovered several different names. We always called them Porkies.  Others called them Hanky Pankies, Funeral Meat, and  Toast trash I think was another name. Either way they are a yummy meal or snack to take to a gathering.



  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound sausage (of spice level of your desire)
  • 8-10 ounces Velveeta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • Rye bread


Preheat your oven to 375 degree.

Brown the sausage and ground beef and break up into pieces. Cube your Velveeta cheese into small pieces so it melts faster.  Once the meat is browned add your worcestershire sauce and oregano and stir well. Add the velveeta stirring to mix as it melts.

Once you have a smooth creamy mixture and the cheese is evenly blended in. Place on your rye bread.  You can use full slices like I do when I make it a meal, or you can use the small tea breads for appitisers. I have also been told people put these on garlic bread. yumm…

Place into a 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes till the cheese is bubbly and warm.

Love every minute of meaty cheesy goodness!

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!




Happy Holidays from the Jenssons

How is it December 22nd already?  Each year as I get older time goes just a touch faster.  I hesitate to tell Brandt anything until nearly the moment it will happen.  When we have made that mistake we spend the next series of days answering the same question in 15-20 minute intervals.  The Holdays are always a time for reflection. Last year at this time, I was snuggling my brand new baby girl, trying my best to keep up with my three-year-old son and not work while I was on maternity leave. I was completely done christmas shopping, everything was wrapped.  John was settling into a new job, took the official roll as the goalie in Brandt’s basement hockey games and becoming increasingly wrapped around Tessa Rae’s little finger.  Brandt was learning all the duties of being a big brother,  surprising us with all of the things he learned at “school”, and gaining independence with his “i can do it myself” attitude.   Tessa Rae was and still is perfect. 

This year we  settled into a family of four wonderfully.  We put more focus on small events throughout the year to enjoy family time. Trips to the Omaha Zoo, went to see the Iowa Wild Hockey team play, and road trips to see family. All these things seem simple but they are my favorite memories this past year.  Brandt still talks about the Omaha Zoo, just like I talk about our trips to watch m dad play baseball in Bloomington IL and John talks about his nights staying in the bunker house at his Uncles cabin.  They all have a couple things in common- laughter, smiles and time.  

That is what I hope for in 2017 as well.  For each of us to realize that time is so precious and moves so quickly.  I hope that you take time to spend with family, and friends.  To take a chance to build memories. To take photos so you can remember it. 
Cheers to 2017 and may time move a bit slower.

Bryn, John, Brandt (4) and Tessa Rae (1) 

I Made PW Cinnamon Rolls and Lived

img_3638 Have you ever looked at a recipe and closed it because you knew you were not to that level of life.   You didn’t know what half the ingredients were.  Didn’t have the time. I have done that a dozen times to the Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls.  (Recipe – PW Cinnamon Rolls) For one it makes enough to feed an army.  It takes a day to complete this task.

I pulled up my boot straps (this saying sounds good but I don’t really think it applies in this instance) and started the process.  You mix 3 things together…wait 45 minutes.  Mix 8 cups of flour in wait 45 minutes…  You pour on a ton of butter… a cup of sugar and an unidentified amount of cinnamon…

Destroy your countertop.   Wait another 30 minutes.

For What?

The most amazing Cinnamon Rolls Ever thats what.  They are delicious. Try them. Make sure you have a couple hours to spare. (and read the whole recipe.. coffee shit I don’t have coffee) Luckily you get breaks so it is actually not a horrible process with kids.  Plus you are making a  complete mess and I like to blame that on the children. Especially when John and I spent all morning cleaning.

Now I am going to go eat a one more cinnamon roll and crawl into bed.

Best. Night. Ever



I was a mom of one…

Last year at this time I was laying down in my bed. It was the last time I would go to sleep as a mom of one.  I remember it like it was yesterday.

 I woke up at 1 a.m. With contractions and I had them all night. I lay next to my husband and never woke him up. He woke up at 6 a.m. I told him we may have a baby that day, but pushed him to go to work. Everything – Everyone told me that the contractions needed to be consistent and mine weren’t.  They jumped around a lot. 

Funny how quickly things can change. Only a couple hours later we would be welcoming our baby girl into the world with tears of complete happiness.  

That’s the funny thing about firsts they happen once. They are special. And you remember them like they were yesterday. 

Xox, the jenssons 

Meal Monday- Italian Bread Pizzas

I often buy Italian Bread and use half and then have no idea what to do with the rest… it usually gets moldy and I end up throwing it away. Which pisses me off. I then give myself the “we wont buy french bread again” I last a couple weeks and then… I buy it for some meal we are having because I LOVE bread.  After another meal I was bound and determined to not let that happen this time.

The Bonus- this takes 20-30 minutes start to finish. 15 if you have your shit together. that isn’t me.  It is perfect for those moms and dads that need a quick easy meal for the weeknight, or a weekend when you don’t feel like cooking. This is perfect!



  • 1/2 loaf Italian Bread
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/4-1/3 cup Pizza Sauce (more if you like lots of sauce)
  • 1/2-1 cup Pizza Cheese (I don’t judge a person on how much cheese the put on)
  • Toppings of your choice (pepperoni, sausage, onion, green pepper, mushroom)
  • 1 tsp + Italian Sprinkling (as much as you like)


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.


Cut your Italian bread into a smaller section I used a  touch under a half of a loaf (approximately 4-5 inch section) and split that in half for John and I.

Mix up 3 tablespoons of softened butter with 1 tsp. Image result for pre minced garlicminced garlic.

I use the squeezable/jarred 
container that is already minced and always ready for me. Yes this is lazy but I am a working mom and have 2 kids… my time is limited and I don’t need to spend it mincing garlic – sooo lazy. ( if you don’t have minced garlic you can use 1 tsp garlic powder. ) Yes real chefs say this isn’t good enough… it looses flavor… so mince your own and know that you are better than me. kidding.

Spread the softened butter and garlic mixture on the sliced bread.  place on a baking sheet and put it in the oven for 370 degrees for 8 minutes.

While that is in the oven, cut your veggies. These can be personalized to whomever you are making them for.


After 8 minutes in the french bread from the oven. You will have a touch of golden brown on them.  Now you are ready to assemble your pizza.  Use your store-bought pizza sauce and slather it on them.  You can do this as thin or thick of a coat of sauce as you would like. I wont judge. Again… I am lazy and I use the squeezable pizza sauce to me Contadina brand is the best.

Add your meats of choice and then your cheese… once you have placed your cheese on add some more because why not.


Sprinkle on a bit of pizza seasoning or Italian seasoning for some extra flavor.

dsc_0694Next pile on your other toppings. Your veggies – I used extra onion for John and onion/mushroom for me… On top of that I added some shredded Parmesan because it was in my fridge and I needed to use it.


Place your italian pizza’s back into the oven for 10-15 minutes until the cheese a melty golden brown.


Then dig in!  These are perfect… easy and perfect for kids to help with. Make this a family party, get the kids involved. Make everyone happy tonight!