A new year calls for new recipes. I tried out these three recipes over the holiday season. Wow, they are keepers. They are simple, easy and flavorful. Best of all, they are quick to make when I’m in a rush. The candied bacon swirl puffs are perfect to take to a party. They were my New Year’s party treat for our annual get together. Don’t let the name Italian wedding soup scare you. It is so simple. I will actually make extra meatballs the next time to freeze. Just watch out for the salt. I suggest adding it if needed before you serve. I have discovered frozen chicken breasts as a quick and easy way to make new dishes. If you don’t have chicken, brown up hamburger to make the Mexican bean casserole.
What are new recipes you have added to your family cookbook? I would love to taste what others are cooking. Here’s to a new year filled with new adventures and tasty surprises.

Candied bacon swirl puffs
6 bacon strips
1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed
3/4 cup light brown sugar
Cook bacon until crisp. Remove to paper towel to drain. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry. Sprinkle half the bacon and half to brown sugar over the sheet. Roll up together like the handle bar mustache of the bass singer in a barbershop quartet. Roll long side jelly roll style from the left and the right meeting in the center. Repeat with remaining puff pastry sheet and other ingredients. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm enough to slice. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice dough like caramel rolls in 1/2 slices. Place on lined sheet 2 inches apart. Bake until golden crisp, 18-20 minutes. Cool in pan for 2 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool. Tip: Cook whole package of bacon in 350-degree oven until done. Place bacon on rimmed cookie sheet/jelly roll pan. No splatter. Wrap unused cooked bacon in paper towel and store in bag. Warm up in microwave.

Italian wedding soup from Women’s Day October 2022
Meatballs:
1 egg
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup Panko or bread crumbs
20 ounces mild Italian sausage
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
3 cloves garlic, grated
Soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 teaspoons freshly chopped thyme
8 cups chicken broth
1 cup small dry pasta (acina di pepe, pearl couscous, ready cut spaghetti)
5 ounces baby spinach
Chopped dill for serving
Make meatballs: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with tin foil. In a large bowl, whisk together egg, oregano, red pepper flakes, dash of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir in Panko. Mix in sausage, Parmesan and garlic. Form mixture into 1-inch meatballs (about 30). Place on foil-lined pan. Broil/bake until golden brown and cooked through, 6-8 minutes.
Make soup: Heat oil in Dutch oven on medium heat. Add carrots, celery and onion. Saute 6-8 minutes. Stir in thyme and cook 1 additional minute. Add broth and bring to boil. Add pasta and simmer until pasta cooks through, 6-10 minutes, depending upon type of pasta. Add meatballs, then fold in spinach to wilt. Serve topped with dill and Parmesan if desired.
 
Mexican chicken bean casserole
2 tablespoons oil
1 pound chicken breast cut into bite size pieces
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons taco seasonings (or chili powder, cumin, paprika and red pepper flakes, to taste)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup water
1 1/4 cup instant brown rice
1 cup shredded cheese
Chopped cilantro (optional)
Saute chicken in oil for 3 minutes. Add onion and taco seasonings. Cook 2 minutes. Stir in beans, tomatoes and water. Bring to boil. Add rice; stir in and cover. Reduce heat. Simmer 7-10 minutes until rice is tender. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Then, sprinkle rest of cheese on top to serve. Top with cilantro if desired.
As their four children pursue dairy careers off the family farm, Natalie and Mark are starting a new adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their farm north of Rice, Minnesota.