Crock-Pot Creamy Cheesy Potato Soup

Well the crock pot frenzy continues over here in Cajun Mama’s kitchen.  Fall is in the air, the windows are open, breeze is flowing in, I have a sinus headache and the circle of life in the South continues.  I am hoping that you read my post from yesterday about it being crockpot week on cajun mama.  If not, just scroll on down and read that post.  Now, I don’t have a picture of this already prepared as it is currently in the process of cooking, so I apologize.  On the flip side, I am ahead of the game which is a good feeling!  Also, this is my first time to try this recipe but really…how bad can it be?  No, it is not the ultimate potato soup.  I found quite a few potato soup recipes that I would have rather tried but this one definitely caught my eye and the reviews were great.  The difference between this one and the others is that this one is made in the slow cooker and requires almost no prep work.  This week is about convenience and saving time.  This one qualifies.  I hope we all just love it and it becomes a keeper.  Only time will tell or approximately 6 hours on low.  Ha ha!!!  As a side note~today has been what I call a shady Tuesday.  You think Tuesday would be great because Monday has the rep for being “the bad day”.  Shady Tuesdays are like that.  Bad Tuesdays.  Tuesdays are given far too much credit as far as I am concerned.  One thing that has given me a little smile and sense of comfort as I clean bright yellow laffy taffy out of the carpet is that I have something yummy (I hope) in the slow cooker.  One less thing to worry about.  Now I will get the rolls rising and I will be smiling big time. (um…no not from scratch?  don’t ya’ll know me at ALL?  I mean that frozen dough.  Defrost and then rise.) Take that Tuesday!!!

Crock-Pot Creamy Cheesy Potato Soup ( slightly adapted from Sprinkle Joy blog)

1 bag  of Ore-Ida southern style diced potatoes (hasbrowns)

32 oz. (one box) of chicken broth (reduced sodium is what I use)

1 can of cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup of onion, chopped

1/4 tsp. group black peper

1 8 oz package of cream cheese (1/3 less fat kind or the regular because they melt better than fat free)

optional toppings:  crumbled bacon, shredded cheddar, sour cream, green onions

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This is at the beginning of the cooking process!

Very Uncomplicated Directions:

Dump all of the ingredients except for the cream cheese into your slow cooker.  Crock Pot.  What have you.  Give it a good stir and then put the lid on.  Let it cook for 6-7 hours.  Add the cream cheese and stir.  Put lid back on and let it cook for another hour or until cream cheese is melted and then stir to combine.  Now, I have a crock pot with a timer function.  I set it for 6 hours and let it go.  This is wonderful feature because you don’t have to worry about getting home to shut it off on time.  A great idea for my friends with jobs outside of the home!!  Check the seasoning if you desire and add salt and pepper to your liking.  Ladle soup into bowls and then add optional toppings if you want them.  Enjoy!!!  And relish in the fact that you are so AWESOME that you are able to prepare supper while you are not even in the kitchen.  That is multi-tasking at its very finest.  I am woman (or man)!  Hear me ROAR!!!

Of course once my family and I try this soup, I will come back and add some additional comments depending on how we like it and what may need a little tweaking.  Thanks for reading.  Drop me some comments if you want.  I would love to hear from ya’ll!!!!

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Heaven in a bowl ya’ll!  mmmmmmmm (that is my final verdict. mmmmm)

Kicking off Crockpot Week!

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My trusty red Crock Pot!! 

Is it even PC to say Crockpot anymore?  Do I have to use “slow cooker” now?  It is really just not the same.  Kind of like when you ask someone if they want a Coke…you don’t mean an actual Coke…you mean soda…but who says soda?  Not me.  Not most of the people I know.  So when I say crockpot I mean your slow cooker.  Brand is not the issue.  Just so we are clear.  Ha ha ha!!  Anyway, enough of my crockpot rant.  Let’s talk business.  Here lately I have been conversing with my sister and a few friends here and there.  The words “so busy”, “eating out too much” and “need to plan better” keep coming up.  I hear you.  Planning out meals is a crucial component to staying out of the drive thru line and knowing what is going on in the kitchen.  Having a game plan is necessary.  Today I am hoping to help you with that.  Now, I am giving you options here.  Of course, adjust what you make according to your families likes or dislikes.  I of course prefer to make healthy meals and “whole” foods.  But ya’ll, we have to figure out what is most important here.  I tried to find some middle ground.  I am hearing more than anything that many of ya’ll want to have dinner ready when you walk through the door and you want to eat out less.  So that was my goal here.  Also, I have had a few friends wanting some tailgate friendly fare.  “Fall-ish foods” is another term a friend used.  I think most things good in  a slow cooker meet that criteria.  So today I am giving you the dishes that I plan to prepare.  Also an ingredient list.  I am not sure how to make this easier for you to print or follow on the go.  Bare with me as I try to figure out how this plays out technologically.  I am pretty good at some of it, but I am thinking I am going to need some help in the making it printer friendly department.  So for now, I suggest a screen shot.  I will try to break it down meal by meal so that way you can pick and choose what you get at the store.  Of course, I try to always have some overlap so that I am not buying all different ingredients.  I am sure ya’ll have some of the items needed but will assume nothing and lay it all out for you.  I will get a recipe up tonight if I can.  If not tomorrow.  But for now, let’s get started.

This week I will be blogging recipes for:

Crock pot creamy potato soup

slow cooker chicken potpie stew

crockpot beef stroganoff

crockpot pork chops

chicken tettrazini (yes, not a crock pot recipe, but I like it and want to try it so…)

And for  an added bonus I am going to get some Starbucks Caramel Apple Cider going in the crockpot.  How bad can it be?  I thought some of you might enjoy that.  MMMM. I think I might need to buy another crock pot…

Ok…grocery list (everyone’s favorite part right? Ugh)

PW’s Spinach Artichoke Pasta

Now I told ya’ll that I love Pioneer Woman’s recipes.  They are scrumptious (her word) and realistic and please a crowd.  With my crew over here, we are a crowd so that is definitely important.  This recipe makes a big ole skillet full and will please your crowd (or a few hungry Cajuns as they say ha ha!!).  This is a meatless dish but you can totally add some roasted shrimp or some grilled chicken if you want to make it a full meal.  Then it becomes a one pot wonder and who doesn’t love that?  I think next time I make this I will add the shrimp and I will substitute the spinach with kale.  It is so creamy and so dreamy and just mmmm…mmmm…can’t talk because my mouth is full GOOD!  Now that Fall is here, this is a great dish to make for friends who come over to watch the game or for a girls’ night in.

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Spinach Artichoke Pasta (Adapted from the Pioneer Woman) 

Makes about 10 servings 

Ingredients

12 oz. penne pasta, cooked al dente

6 Tablespoons butter, divided

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 cans artichoke hearts, drained and halved (they do carry them already halved if you want to get those)

2 bags of baby spinach (I used one of those plastic containers of baby spinach they have in the store now and that was plenty)

3 T. flour

3 cups whole milk

1/4 t. cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

4 ounces cream cheese (optional…but yeah…its good)

1 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated

1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth (less or more, depending on you )

1/2 seasoned panko breadcrumbs

crushed red pepper, according to taste

Instructions

Melt 2 T. of butter in a large skillet.  Over medium heat, add minced garlic and give it a good stir.  Now it is time to simply wilt your spinach.  It will seem like way too much but I promise, it cooks down quickly.  Stir it around until it is wilted or about a minute…then remove from the skillet and then set aside.

Add 2 T. butter to the same skillet and raise the heat to high.  Toss in those artichoke hearts and stir around until they get a little color to them, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Remove the artichokes from the skillet and set them aside.

Reduce the heat to low.  A the last 2 T. of butter to the skillet.  When it is melted, whisk the flour into the butter.  Gradually pour in milk and whisk it in.  Let this cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until it starts to thicken.  Take care to stir frequently and not let the mixture scorch.  Add the cheeses, salt and pepper, and cayenne pepper.  Stir frequently to melt the cheeses and if it is overly thick, stir in a little chicken broth.

Add artichokes and cooked pasta, tossing gently to combine.  Gently fold in the spinach.  Sprinkle the top with those pretty red pepper flakes (use sparingly…those babies pack some heat!), plenty of Panko breadcrumbs, and an extra sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.  Now, stop eating it out of the skillet.  Its good right?  Now, dish it up and sit down and enjoy this bowl full of pasta perfection.