Sausage-Spinach Orzo


I love this dish because it is super-fast, very easy, stretches your meat, and has lots of good green vegetables.  Also it’s really delicious!



  • 6 ounces orzo (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage (casings removed if using links)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream or butter

Cook the orzo in a pot of boiling water.


Brown the sausage in a pan, breaking it into chunks.


Once it’s browned, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.


Add the drained orzo to the pan with the sausage.



Add the spinach one handful at a time, stirring after each addition.  It will seem like too much but it cooks down a ton!



After the spinach has cooked down, add the cream or butter and stir to combine.  If using butter, stir until the butter melts.



Add the parmesan cheese and stir.



Serve topped with additional parmesan cheese, if desired.


Posted in Learn to Cook, Vegetable of the Week | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Sausage-Spinach Orzo

Shopping Strategy: What Small Families Can Buy at Costco

For my birthday last year, my parents gave us a Costco membership.  As a family of just two, I wasn’t sure we would get much benefit from it, but we’ve already renewed the membership because of a few things we’ve found that we really love to buy.

Here are what we consider to be Costco wins and are regular purchases for us:

  • Cheese: cheddar, extra-sharp cheddar, and Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Butter: regular and Kerrygold
  • Milk
  • Eggs (organic ones come in a 24-pack)
  • Frozen fish: wild hake and salmon
  • Snacks: pretzel thins, organic tortilla chips, pita chips, and kettle chips
  • Olive oil
  • Almonds and other nuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Bacon
  • Ground beef and turkey (before the side of beef came)
  • Fresh ravioli or tortellini
  • Berries: fresh when in season and frozen the rest of the year
  • Green beans
  • Yeast
  • Rice
  • Spring mix or baby spinach
  • Bagels
  • Avocados

The biggest one for me is cheese — I’m pretty sure we come close to making up our membership just in cheese savings.  I’ve bought some other produce there, like onions, bell peppers, and Brussels sprouts, but not super-regularly, since we have to have something in the meal plan multiple times for it to work out correctly.  The yeast package is so enormous you will never buy more until it expires, but it costs the same (less, maybe?) as the teeny jar at the grocery store so it is definitely worth your time.

Not everything at Costco is cheaper than the grocery store, so knowing your prices will definitely help you save the most money possible. Chicken seems like the worst offender to me, but whole chickens are still a good price.

Sometimes the prices are cheaper than the grocery store but you get an outrageous amount that you could never use before the food went bad. If it’s a huge package but cheaper than the smaller package at the grocery store (not per ounce, in total — and yes, that happens sometimes at Costco), then consider if you can freeze part of it or just give some of it away to a friend. Even with giving some away, you can still save money.

They also have discounted gift cards for sale. If you go regularly to any of the places they have for sale (or or planning a large purchase soon), they can be a good deal so it’s worth a look.  They also sell stamps and movie tickets.

Outside the kitchen, we’ve also bought a blender, socks, eyeglasses (four pairs), detergent, paper products, and OxyClean at Costco.  The eyeglasses in particular are so much cheaper than anywhere else.  Getting a Costco membership as a small family can definitely be worthwhile!

Posted in Kapow Maraschino | Comments Off on Shopping Strategy: What Small Families Can Buy at Costco

Chest Freezer Organization

We just bought a new chest freezer at Costco in preparation for the side of beef that will arrive later this fall.  (Yes, this is our awesome basement with a red floor. It’s an old house and the basement is where it shows the most.)


I am really excited to pack it full but wanted to be sure all the food was accessible, not just the top layer.  Since it’s fairly deep, that’s a real problem.

We opted to buy some smaller bins that stack even when empty to fill the main part of the freezer.  That way if I want something all the way at the bottom, I just have to take out the few baskets on top instead of removing every small package of meat.  The medium ones worked out just right to fit two across and four deep.

The freezer came with a basket that I’m using above the compressor area, so there’s only a small space between the bottom of the basket and that shelf.  Since it was basically impossible to find a basket for such a narrow space, I’ve decided to keep my large packages of meat there, like the bags of shrimp or fish that I buy at Costco.

Just a side tip: we also opted to tape the special freezer defrosting tool directly to the freezer so we’ll always know where it is. Good thinking, Gavin!

photo (1)

Posted in Beef, Kapow Maraschino | Tagged , | Comments Off on Chest Freezer Organization

Coming Soon: A Side of Beef!

We’re finally biting the bullet and buying a side of beef! This is something I’ve dreamed of doing basically since college and now that we’re in our own house, this was the right time.  I’m going to sell a little of it (about 20 pounds) to my parents, but the rest is all ours.

Why did we decide to do this?

  • I want to try new cuts of beef (and consequently new recipes and maybe even techniques).  This includes growing in appreciation for the traditionally less-desirable cuts.
  • I want to shift more of our food budget to buying grassfed (and local) meat and this is a much more affordable way to do so than buying individual cuts. I think it’s important to do this to support local farmers and also for our health.
  • We’re the kind of people who love paying for things in a lump sum. I know that’s pretty unique, but I think it’s easier to budget this way.  I lowered my grocery budget for the next year and I’ll shop the freezer instead of the store.

There are a few things you have to decide before making this purchase.  Mainly, where are you going to buy from? It will help you choose a farm if you can prioritize your wants.  Here are some of the things we considered when choosing a farm:

  • Is it important to you if the beef is grass-finished?
  • How local do you want to purchase your meat?
  • Are you able to pick it up or have it delivered?
  • How will the meat be packaged?
  • How much does it cost? What is the pricing structure?

I looked at a few places (it should come as no surprise to anyone that I put them all in a spreadsheet to compare) but ultimately wound up picking a farm that made the process extremely easy.  Their beef is 100% grassfed and they’re located about 2 hours from St. Louis.  I had a choice of having my meat vacuum-wrapped or shrink-wrapped (I chose to pay extra for vacuum-wrapping so it will last longer) and will have it delivered to a drop-off location in St. Louis.  Their pricing was a flat rate instead of paying a deposit, butcher fee, the hanging weight, etc. I appreciated how simple the process was, including payment via Paypal.

They also had a worksheet on their website for me to fill out specifying the cuts I wanted.  I was able to go through it and choose what we wanted. I erred on the side of more roasts, since I figured those could be cut into stew meat or ground at home if I decided I wanted to something else with them, but not vice versa. I even got to pick the thickness of each kind of steak!


We’ll be picking up the meat at the end of October.  Until then, we’re trying to eat the last few pounds of beef I had frozen and have purchased a chest freezer. I can’t wait for pick-up day!

Posted in Beef | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Coming Soon: A Side of Beef!