Chicago–It’s Freezer Time

It takes roughly the same time to shovel as it does to simmer a pot of beans on the stove: about an hour and a half.

Today’s Recipe: Oven Baked Pasta

Renata’s Oven Baked Pasta

Okay, Chicagoland, if you haven’t shoveled it today, then tomorrow it will be an ice block.  Today’s recipe is for snow success!

You know the Chicago code: 

1) If you can shovel, do it. Remember to bend at the knees!

2) If you can’t shovel, ask your neighbor. 

3) If you have a snowblower, make the rounds in your neighborhood. (If you’re my neighbor, I did my best.  Come and get me if you need me, or make a comment here and I will come to you!)

4) Salt is your friend. It only takes a light sprinkle on matted snow to save a life. 

5) Campbell’s Tomato Soup still works wonders on the human spirit. 

6) Soak your beans for 6 hours, throw them in the slow cooker or on the stove while you shovel.  When you come in from shoveling, your house will smell amazing. How can a humble bean smell so good and cost just a few pennies?

7) Leave your postal carrier a love note. They are real people, and this is Chicago! We are the friendliest people in the world, remember? 

8) Remember to drink an extra 4-8 glasses of water today if you have shoveled.  See how your shoveling clothes are drenched with sweat? That moisture needs replenishing.  

9) I ate pasta every single night of my life growing up until I left for college. If you need an easy recipe, browse my site, comment here,  or email me with your ingredients and I will help you get your pasta to the plate!

10) Out of fresh food? No problem! Put a cup of dry rice, cup of dry lentils, and 6 cups of water or stock on to boil.  When it’s soft, add a handful of frozen veggies and shake your favorite seasonings in the pot, and cook until all piping hot. You have plant-based-supper-soup. I love to add 2 T of curry to mine, and cayenne pepper!

If you have a good frozen-Chicago-recipe you would like to share with your neighbors, this is the place to do it. What’s your go-to-dish after shoveling your drive?

Today’s quote:

It’s great to be alive…

-by Chicago’s own WXRT DJ Lin Brehmer (via Frank Zappa and The Mothers album)

Thanks be to…

My husband Peter, for making such a sharp edge with the snow blower, you could file your skates on it.

Snow Success!



  1. Do you have any recipes using lentils in a pasta sauce?

    • Hi Sophie! That’s a great question. I love using dark brown french lentils as a substitute for ground beef. The texture is very similar to ground meat, and if you use ground fennel and garlic, you’ll get a fantastic “sausage” taste and feel. Saute 5-7 cloves chopped garlic and a tsp of ground fennel seeds in a little olive oil. (You can grind the fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle, or pop them in a coffee grinder.) Add cooked french lentils, lightly steamed cauliflower heads, and toss through with salt and pepper. Pour mixture over bowtie pasta. If you want to kick up the nutritional power, use whole wheat pasta. This also tastes great with a little nutritional yeast tossed through. Tons of protein, tons of fiber, tons of Italian flavor!

  2. Susan Smentek

    I love the helpful tip! Walked into Caputos on Sunday and told a Laurel that the “lentils are calling us”.


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