Tag Archives: soup

Chicken and rice soup, banana bars, and all that matters is family 

It seems lately that life has taken on a frantic pace that since becoming a mom I SWORE I would never allow for my family. It’s amazing how innocent new motherhood can be, but that’s a story for another day. Back then, looking at my sweet baby boy’s face, I said I would never allow myself to lose focus on what really matters. Togetherness, family, downtime, blocking the rest of the world out. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s important to teach my kids to let the world in and to be a big part of their community, but I want to make sure they always remember what really counts at the end of the day. For instance, I agreed this year to be the ptsa president for my son’s middle school. I am really enjoying it now that the ball is rolling (shhh don’t tell anyone) but I have to be very careful to not let it take over what I hold dear to me. My family, togetherness, you know the drill. My kids are more involved than they ever have been and that’s to be expected now that they are all getting older. So mostly the weekdays  belong to everyone else. Or it feels that way. It’s a crazy, frenetic pace that exhausts me by Thursday evening. It is hustle and bustle and go go go. And I don’t even have a job outside the home. So come Friday evening I am ready for DOWNTIME!!! The weekends belong to our family!!!  It looks like this…


My kids running around PLAYING without time limits.

 Big Daddy watering his garden while I drink wine on the back porch. No mention of homework, no uniform washing (well I still do that because Monday comes too fast and I am slightly neurotic about laundry but the point is I don’t have to wash uniforms if I don’t want to. There’s joy in that).

I get to sit down and do all of this I want…


Now that’s a relaxing Friday. I went to bed at 8:55 last night. It was that relaxing. Last week was absolutely crazy but the bad thing is that almost every since school started has been that way. I worry this is going to become our norm. After holding on to peace and family time for so long, I am not going to succumb to it. I am willing to let the weekdays be a little wild. But the weekends for the most part, belong to us. Cut to I have been up since 5, the guys are hunting (it’s youth hunt weekend) and the girls are sleeping in (God bless the weekend!). So I am in the process of taking back our weekend. That means making one of my favorite soup recipes and one of Big Daddy’s favorite childhood treats…Mrs. Sandra’s banana bars. I absolutely believe good ole comfort food is a vital part of keeping our weekends sacred. Well, I’m Cajun, I actually believe good food is a vital part of everything. Nonetheless, soup and a sweet (and lots of coffee) go a long way in making our weekends something special. A respit from all of the hustle and bustle of the week, an safe harbor in a sea of madness. No really.

So now for a little back story on these recipes I am sharing. This chicken and rice soup is a Pioneer Woman recipe. It is to die for. I think the first time I made it one of my kids was sick and I was overcome with a sense of motherly domesticity and found this recipe via Google. I always love PW’s recipes and this was a big hit! I am excited to share it with those of you who might not have found it yet. She does apologize in her post for using chicken bouillon cubes and yellow food coloring, so read her post if you want to get the full effect. http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/simple-hearty-chicken-rice-soup-itll-keep-ya-honest/     As for me, I offer no apologies for such transgressions.  None. The soup is fantastic and if bouillon cubes and food coloring are the worst of my offenses, then God bless. But trust me, they are not. If the guilt from my bouillon and food coloring use gets too heavy, I will just go confess to Father Mark and say some Hail Marys. This soup is abso-flipping-lutely mouthwatering and full of flavor. It’s one of our favorites. It makes your kitchen smell like heaven.

PW’s chicken and rice soup 

Stuff you need~

2 chicken breasts with bone in and skin on (the bone and fat are necessary to make the chicken stock…those two things make it extra fantastic!)

8 chicken boullion cubes

1/4 cup diced onion

1/4 cup diced green bell pepper

1/4 diced pimentos (from a jar)

1/4 cup chopped celery

1 cup cooked rice

6 tablespoons butter, divided

4 tablespoons flour

Few drops of Yellow food coloring

What to do with the stuff~

First of all, go one and get  your your rice cooking either on the stovetop or in the rice cooker. 

Wash your chicken breasts and cover them with about 2 quarts of water, give or take a little. Drop in those boullion cubes. 

 

Bring to a slow boil and then reduce heat and allow chicken to cook for about 20 minutes  or so. When cooked through, remove chicken from water and set aside. Keep the lovely  chicken stock that you made boiling those chicken breasts at a low slow simmer on the stove. 

Now dice up your veggies. Now we will make a little roux.  Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Whisk in the 4 tablespoons of flour and stir until thickened. Pour this into your barely simmering chicken stock.


Now melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. (I just wash the skillet I just used and use it again) Add your diced veggies to the melted butter.


Cook until tender and then add the chopped up chicken. Mmmmmm


Give it all a good stir and then add to the simmering stock that is quickly turning into a bonefied soup.

sooouuup

Now, you are in the homestretch. Almost there. Get ready. You are going to add the cooked rice to the soup.

Yes yes yes. Now you have oh so savory chicken and rice soup. Perfect if you have a sick person to nurse back to health (this plus essential oils can work wonders to heal a sick body). This soup is a wonderful dish to cook if your spirits are waning and you are taking respite from the world. Either way, you are golden. Now for the final touch…yep, the yellow food coloring. This is really not necessary but to preserve the authenticity of PW’s recipe, I follow her instructions.


Let this all simmer a bit longer, maybe 20 minutes to let it all blend and mingle. And then you have this…

so much love…

Now for the banana bars!!!

his reminder to me…since we had some bananas that were super ripe

Now these banana bars are the bomb. Big Daddy lived in Broussard/Youngsville for a long while when his daddy ran the co-op there. Of course his mama, Mrs. Dianne, was a. social butterfly and lovely lady, so she  made some good friends where ever they lived. In Broussard, Mrs. Sandra, Mrs. Linda, and Mrs. Peggy were her top gals. They all had kids (a bunch of boys mostly) and they hung out like a posse. Of course they are all fabulous cooks and swapped recipes. Mrs. Sandra made these banana bars that made Big Daddy swoon. I heard about them from the time we started dating until she finally gave me the recipe a few years later. Back then, I had no idea what a jelly roll pan was so I used a 9 x 13 inch pan. BD said they were a little thicker than he remembered but they were good anyway. So if you do not have a jelly roll pan, don’t fret!!! It’s the weekend and we don’t worry on the weekend! If you want to buy one, here is a link …Chicago Metallic Non-Stick True Jelly Roll Pan, 15 by 10-Inch https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003YKGRVO/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_SEqgwbY3FK75S. If you have Amazon prime,  2 days and you will be all set! I picked up one at Walmart and it worked great. The dimensions you are looking for in a true jelly roll pan are 10x 15 x 1.

I love that even though BD’s mom is no longer with us, I can still make one of his favorite childhood treats for him. That’s the power of good friend…they keep you alive in many ways. ❤️ That’s  also the power in recipes and passing them on.

Banana bars 

Stuff you need~

For the bars~

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 cup sour cream

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)

2 cups of flour

2 teaspoons vanilla extract *

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

*I do use vanilla extract but a new favorite of mine is vanilla bean paste, which you use exactly like extract. It tastes so pure and full of that vanilla perfection. I order it from amazon. I heart Amazon if you cannot tell. Just my two cents on a product that I love. 

for the Icing~

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

3-4 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

3 tablespoons (or more) milk for thinning the icing

For the bars:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease your jelly roll pan.

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your standing mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, sour cream and eggs. Blend in the bananas and vanilla. In a smaller bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add this to the other mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into your prepared jelly roll pan.


Now bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. And the kitchen smells like Christmas. No really…Christmas.

While that is baking, get your icing ready.

For the icing~

Melt butter in a large saucepan and let it brown just a bit. Just until it is a lovely light brown color. Not dark!! It takes a minute or 2. Stir in a cup of powdered sugar at a time. Add more as needed. I only  use about 3 cups. Now stir in Vanilla. Add your milk to make the icing the consistency you want. You want thicker than a glaze but thinner than a frosting.

a href=”https://cajunmamacookinblog.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/img_6973.jpg”> see that consistency (and powdered sugar lumps ?) [

Now once your bars are out of the oven, pour the luscious icing over the “cake” and ice it.


Then you get…


And everyone shouts hooray!!!!! Banana bars…my man’s favorite and they are gaining popularity!

a href=”https://cajunmamacookinblog.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/final-13.jpg”> my baby snacking on banana bars in the deer stand during a youth hunt. thank God for banana bars and weekends!!![

 E

a href=”https://cajunmamacookinblog.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/img_6928.jpg”> Mrs. Sandra giving BD a big mama bear hug at our wedding. so much love! [

Now we all just wait for another weekend to roll around! God save the weekend!! Hope everyone has a great week.

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Leftover Hambone soup and my mama is smart

So today we shall review how to make the most of a ham. We have discussed the beauty of buying a ham and making it last all week using it 4 different ways. If you buy said ham on sale and then freeze it until ready to use, that makes the whole scenario even more lovely. You know you are your mother’s child when you get excited over getting a deal on a ham, and then get jazzed up over being able to stretch it. I am learning as I approach the 40 that in lots of ways, being my mother’s daughter is a dang good thing. Looking at us you might not see many similarities. She is a teeny tiny French woman and I take after my daddy’s German side of the family. We both have dark hair and the same green eyes. My dad and 3 sisters all have the “Mayeux” blue eyes, but me and my mama have green. That’s pretty special now that I consider it. I am a sensitive soul like my mama too. She is a much nicer person than I am though and she giggles when I get riled up and tell someone off, but to tell the truth, I think I get that from her. I can recall several instances in childhood when she went off (justifiably so) on a grocery store checkout clerk or someone she felt acted inappropriately. Still she is much nicer than me on a daily basis. My mom is way more fun than me and always has been. She has that French “let the good times roll” attitude about her. I take life way too seriously a lot of the time. We both have a perverse sense of humor that makes us crack up laughing at inappropriate things…me and all my sisters have that about us though. So don’t let something unexpected happen in Mass because we would all be laughing inappropriately. So we are different, have had our differences, but we are alike in the ways that matter. I am seeing that more everyday and it makes me smile. I am so glad she passed on her secret of how to stretch a ham to get several meals from it. That’s an art and skill that I will pass on to my kids and today I will pass it on to you. Bernie aka BB would approve…right mama? Now she did it differently than me and that’s ok. I always did love ham week in our household. She would bake that ham as only she can, then Monday make crockpot red beans, then we would ham and egg mcmuffins at some point. Bern is a creative gal I tell you that.

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she plays the guitar like poppee (her daddy) and can cook a boot and make it taste good (as per big daddy)…BB has skills.

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my beautiful and talented mama

Now ok but onto this leftover hambone soup recipe. Again with the soup recipes right?! I know. I have issues. It is what it is. This soup is out of this world fantastic. It is a warm you to the bone soup that is perfect on a blustery windy day. It can cure what ails you. Or at least it sure does seem that way. Big Daddy came in the house last week and was starving after being out seeing customers until past his supper time. He walked in to the smell of this warm you to your bones and some cornbread and he was in. He went wild over this soup. He tolerates my soup psychosis usually but he does not go wild for most of them. This one he did. He was sad when it was gone. It really could not be easier to prep this soup and get it on the table. So read on and learn how you an make it too. Make the most out of that ham ya’ll!!

Leftover Hambone soup adapted from http://www.damndelicious.net

serves 6

Stuff you need~

1 leftover hambone
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup frozen corn
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 cups chopped leftover ham

what to do with the stuff

In a large stock pot, cover the hambone halfway with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer for at least an hour but I allowed mine to simmer longer. Remove from heat and discard hambone. You can also do this part the night before you plan to make this soup.

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Next, in a Dutch oven or large heavy bottom sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, garlic and potatoes. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes
And until onions are soft and translucent. Stir in ham stock (I started with about 2 cups and went from there), beans, corn, bay leaves, and thyme.

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Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste. Bring this to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer over medium low heat until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in chopped ham. Serve with cornbread and you got it going on mop tit (or ma petite for those of you who don’t know that story)!!!

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so delicious

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me, my beautiful mama and sister (and baby Jonah bear)

Crawfish Corn Crab Bisque and Everyone has an opinion…

So I am definitely going to give you a recipe that you are going to really love.  Or I hope you love.  You may hate it.  I really cannot be sure.  If I worried about if 100% of people who follow my blog would dig every recipe I posted, I would probably be frozen by worry and never post anything.  And this is how I will lead into something that has been on my mind this morning.  For no particular reason except we live in a world of over opinionated, vocal people.  It seems some days everyone is a critic.  Or wait, is that everyday?  And in our social media connected world, we are bombarded by how many likes for this posts, different groups swaying us to one side or the other.  Or the worst…people putting down entire groups of people.  To vaccinate our kids or not?  To breastfeed or not?  Pro life or not?  You know what I mean.I was going to just simply give you a lovely intro into corn crab bisque and then deliver the recipe.  I had another post all started.  But I decided, heck, everything else is controversial…I bet bisque can be too.  I love the word bisque.  I think it sounds pretty.  I like most words that are also words that describe colors.  I love color, so this makes sense.  And as I type this, I am betting when someone reads it they will think…that’s stupid.  Eye roll.  That’s ok.  I do it too.  I read people’s stuff and even when I really like them or appreciate what they are writing, a certain sentence annoys me.  But you know what?  I do not feel the need to tell them this.  I move along.  My opinion is important…to me.  Maybe to Big Daddy.  Some days.  I am pretty sure he is rolling his eyes inwardly much of the time I am yammering on about this or that.  Don’t get me started on my kids.  I think they hear dolphin squeaks when I say anything other than “candy, cake, bouncy house…” you get the picture.  See, someone once told me something. I found it highly crass at the time, but that was back when I was sure my opinion mattered all day, every day.  As a woman approaching her 40’s, I know now…it does not.  And that is fine.  Anyway, he said “opinions are like buttholes, everybody’s got one” (he actually said the other word but I know my audience and some of you all may not like that.  So fair enough) That is so true.  Everyone is a critic.  I am a VERY opinionated person.  Some of you who know me well already know this.  But if  you know me via Facebook or on my blog or on my Cajun Mama page…I hope you don’t see that.  Most of the time, I have strong feelings one or the other on most topics.  The difference is…I don’t share them most of the time.  I try not to.  My daddy taught me at a young age that you never speak of religion or money in mixed company.  That was back in the 80’s when those were the main hot topics.  Now hot topics range from abortion, home schooling, breastfeeding, vaccinations, vegan, working out every day, spanking, time out.  Every conversation is a virtual landmine of controversy these days.  I refuse to engage.  I know my feelings about these things, and sometimes I don’t.  I have many deep conversations with close friends about their viewpoints.  But since our whole lives are an open forum…Facebook, Twitter, and other forums I have not even tapped into yet…I choose to use caution.  I don’t have to share my unsolicited opinion on any topic.  I find it wise not to.  Of course unless asked.  Even then, I tread lightly.  I try really hard not to judge or point fingers because another thing I learned long ago when I was in my social work methods class was “when you have one finger pointed, you always 3 others pointed back”.  I have tried really hard to live my life focusing my energy and attention on the 3 pointed back at me.  Self awareness is key in this over opinionated world we live in.  I mean, when I scroll through my Facebook feed, and I see people judging other people’s GRAMMAR or making comments about bandwagon Saints fans…I roll my eyes.  I think those two things are the DUMBEST thing ever.  Do we not have anything else to worry about?  I DO NOT share my opinion or tell someone else that they are silly for even posting such nonsense.  Why?  Because I am wise enough to know, those same people probably think some of the stuff I post is nonsense.  Fair enough.  So you do your thing and I will do mine.  I am assuming when we get to the pearly gates, our opinions on most of  these topics will not be factored in.  Only how we treated one another.  So I focus on respecting your opinion.  I pray you will respect mine.

Ok…whew.  For those who like bisque, are interesting in trying bisque…I hope you are still with me.  Cajun Mama likes to talk so forgive me.  This recipe for Crawfish Corn Crab bisque is delightful.  That’s right.  DE-LIGHTFUL.  It can be a wonderful starter for a meal you are making, or it can stand alone with a salad and a warm loaf of French bread.  Ya’ll know I am a sucker for a versatile dish and this one fits that bill.  You can change it up as you choose.  You can omit crawfish tails and add shrimp.  You could just use crab meat.  Add more spice if you wish.  Make it your own.  What I love about this soup is how hearty and creamy this soup is.  It melts in your mouth like butter.  Big Daddy got this recipe from a gentleman who works for Tony Chachere’s and he brought it home from the hunting camp and said I needed to try it asap.  So I indulged him.  Oh my.  It was wow.  Just wow.  And at the time my tootie girl was about 4 and she loved it.  And my little bull in my china shop loved it.  2 out of 4 kiddos eating a dish is pretty good around here…so it is definitely something your kiddos may love.  I know there are many recipes for corn crab bisque or chowder going around.  This is by far the easiest and the best…in my opinion.  LOL!!!  Now, the only glitch is, this recipe calls for a product that can be hard to find.  I had to order a case from Amazon.  But I am going to give ya’ll an alternative and also show you what the product container looks like.  It is Tony Chachere’s Cream of Mushroom Mix.  I am sure it was developed by the Tony’s people to use to promote this product.  It is some good stuff and 1/2 cup mixed with milk can be used in a recipe that calls for cream of mushroom soup.  Definitely good stuff to have around if you can find it.

Crawfish, Corn and Crabmeat Bisque

Stuff you need:

4 Tablespoons butter (the real stuff whenever possible people)

1 large onion, diced fine

1-15 oz. can cream style corn

1 quart of half and half (that’s the tall one)

1 pound peeled deveined shrimp OR 1 lb. crawfish tails

1/2 pound (1- 8 ounce block) Swiss cheese, shredded

3 Tablespoons Tony Chachere’s Cream of Mushroom Mix

OR  about 1/2 can of cream of mushroom soup

1-10 3/4 ounce cream of potato soup

1 lb. lump crab meat

1 Tablespoon dried parsley

3 green onion tops, chopped

In a 3 quart pot, melt butter and add onion.  Saute until tender.  Whisk in Cream of mushroom mix to make a blond roux.  Ok, if you cannot find the mix, what I could do here is add in 3 Tablespoons of flour and continue on (later you will add in that half a can of cream of mushroom).  Add corn, soups (cream of potato if you have the mix, both a can of cream of potato and 1/2 can of cream of mushroom if you don’t), half and half, crab meat, shrimp and or crawfish.  Bring this to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.  Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat.  Stir in grated Swiss, parsley and green oninos.  Season to taste with Tony’s Seasoning or Mexi-Cajun Seasoning (I love that stuff in this with the Tony’s.  A little of this and that…yum!!)  Remove from heat and serve.  This yields about 12 servings…or 6 servings if you are serving some hungry Cajuns.  Bahahaha!!!  True Dat!

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My bowl of bliss…mmmmmmm

Slow Cooker French Onion Soup

Ya’ll know I love soups already right?  That is a well established Cajun Mama fact at this point.  Split pea and ham soup, vegetable beef soup…I LOVE SOUP!!!  Know what I love more?  Soup that cooks in the crock pot.  And french onion soup is probably my favorite of them all.  Outback Steakhouse had the best I had ever eaten, but it seems like last time I went they didn’t have it anymore.  Then darkness fell all around me.  Mostly I am kidding, but I do love me some french onion soup.  I have never attempted to make it before…until last night.  I came across a recipe on pinterest for a version made in the slow cooker and I just could not pass it up.  I am very glad I didn’t because it is simply AWESOME my friends!!!  So I will end the chit chat and just give up the goods.  AKA the recipe.  I know that is all ya’ll want anyway.  Right?

First, a few things about this recipe.  I halved it.  It made plenty for me and Big Daddy.  There is enough for at least 4 or 5 nice sized servings with the recipe cut in half.  Also, I need some individual crocks or oven safe soup bowls for the next time I make this.  I made do with what I had, but to get that beautiful brown baked in color on the top of the cheese you need to stick this in the oven before you serve it.  Just a suggestion.  So I will give you the recipe cut in half and you can double it if necessary.  Also I used my 4.5 quart crock pot for this.

Slow Cooker French Onion Soup (Adapted from http://www.getcrocked.com)

Ingredient List

3 sweet yellow onions or Vidalia onions if you can find them, thinly sliced

1/4 cup of red wine (I used what I had which was some sweet red and it was perfect)

1/2 stick of butter (or 1/4 cup)

1 Tablespoon flour

1/2 tsp. sugar

1/2 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

2 cans of beef broth

kosher salt and black pepper

1 cup of water

1 French baguette

4 slices Swiss cheese

Directions

Now…melt your butter in your slow cooker.  Just put your stick of butter in the slow cooker and turn it on high, put on the lid and let the butter melt.  This took about 20 minutes for me…I suppose you could just melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl and then pour it into the slow cooker.  Duh.  Lol!  I just thought about that.  Anyway, once the butter is melted,   whisk in the sugar and then stir in your thinly sliced onions and stir to coat the onion slices with the melted butter.  Now cover the slow cooker and let the onions cook for about 2-3 hours on low.  They are basically going to caramelize in the slow cooker and will be a beautiful golden brown when you are done.  Next, stir in the flour into the onion juices.  Then stir in the red wine, beef broth, water, Worcestershire, garlic, bay leaf, and salt and pepper.  Give it a stir and return lid.  Let this cook on HIGH for about an hour and then switch it to low for another hour.  Now, I just left it on low for about 2 more hours and it was all good.

Cut 4 1 inch thick  slices of bread from the baguette.*  Toast the bread on a baking stone or baking sheet at 325 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the bread slices are a nice toasted brown.

Ladle soup into 4 oven safe bowls.  Place a piece of toasted bread on top of the soup.  Next lay a slice of cheese on top of the bread.  Bake in 425 degree oven for 10 minutes or just until cheese is melted and bubbly.   You can put all of the soup bowls on a baking sheet and transfer them to and from the oven that way if that makes it easier.  Definitely keep an eye on them, you will know when they are ready.

I cut 8 slices because my baguette was really thin.  I couldn’t find anything thicker.  I used 2 slices of bread per soup bowl.

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French onion perfection…

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)

Copycat OG’s Zuppa Toscano soup

I am pretty sure I continue to make soup and post about soup because I love soup (I have already copped to my soup obsession, so I won’t bore you with that whole song and dance again) and I am trying to bring on Fall.  It has been so hot and so dry here I just about can’t stand it anymore and I know we are all ready for a change in atmosphere.  Low and behold, I made this zuppa toscana and it rained.  And it may not get out of the 80’s today, so…I am not saying this soup has magical powers…maybe the rain and no more 100 degree weather coming after I made it is a coincidence…maybe not.  One thing I am positive about is that this copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana recipe is amazing!! Image

  O.M.G.  Sweet Mother of pearl, this stuff is awesome.  i will be honest and say I have never order the zuppa toscana when I eat at the OG.  I have always been a minestrone girl.  And then a chicken gnocchi girl.  Oh the chicken gnocchi.  I could write a song about my love for chicken gnocchi.  That is a blog post for another time.  That WILL be a blog post for another time in the very near future.  But back to the fabulous zuppa toscana (come on say it with me…zuppa toscana…don’t you feel fancy?)  This soup is hearty, a little spicy and just so good.  Oh and let me add, it is so flipping easy to prepare.  I started it earlier in the day and then finished it after I picked the kids up from school before going to a PTA meeting.  It fit right in there.  My hubby loved it.  And he is not as fond of soups as I am, so that is saying a lot.  I hope you will give it a try and let me know what you think.  I will be having the leftovers for lunch today…I honestly cannot wait. 

Copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana (adapted from Mom on time out blog)

Ingredients:

1 lb. mild Italian sausage, the actual sausage removed from the casing

6 slices of bacon 

5 medium size russet potatoes or red potatoes (i used red because that is what I had and I really liked the color it added to the soup and they tasted wonderful)

2 cups of kale, chopped 

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 quart water

2 14 oz. cans of chicken broth (I used reduced sodium)

1/2 large onion, diced 

3 cloves of garlic, chopped or minced 

1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes*

kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

Ok…you can brown the italian sausage in a skillet like normal.  Trish (mom on time out blog) suggested you crumble the sausage (again…removed from its casing) on to a baking sheet and bake it at 300 degrees for 30 minutes.   I did this and let me tell you…that is the way to go.  After it is no longer pink, remove the sausage from the baking sheet with a spatula and drain on paper towels.  At the same time the sausage was baking, I placed my 6 slices of bacon on a rack in a baking pan and cooked it too. The bacon took longer than the sausage, probably 30 minutes longer.  Watch it carefully though.  I had no problems cooking either in the oven, but of course, you would want to keep an eye on it.  Again,  you can pan fry both if you feel more comfortable doing it that way.  

While that is cooking, dice your onion.  Then slice your potatoes.  Just make sure the slices are uniform.  1/8 ” to 1/4 ” is about right.  Again, you are looking for uniformity here so the potato slices cook evenly and mince your garlic.  Add your chicken broth and water to your soup pot or dutch oven.  Throw in your sliced potatoes, onion and garlic.  Cook on medium heat until the potatoes are fork tender.  Chop the kale by chopping into bite sized pieces.  Kale holds up to heat very well, much better than spinach I must say.  It is so good for you too!!  Super food and super yum!! Score!! Add the sausage, bacon, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. *Now I will tell you this, add the red pepper flakes sparingly.  My good friend Betsy turned me on to red pepper flakes a few years ago and I am definitely a fan, but they pack a punch so use sparingly.  I probably used 1 tsp. and that was plenty of heat for us.  

Simmer this on low for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The potatoes will start to fall about this time.  Turn the heat down to low and add in the kale and heavy cream.  Continue to let this simmer until heated through.  Then ladle that delicious stuff into soup bowls and if you are so inclined, grate a little fresh Parmesan on top and enjoy.