Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Beef Minestrone Soup

My house smelled so good this afternoon.  As I've mentioned before, I love a big pot of soup.  This minestrone soup which is full of veggies, protein and fiber will warm you up on a cold day. It can be made ahead because the flavor actually improves over time.  It is the best kind of recipe, very versatile.  I have left out the beef and the pasta and used the base of the soup as a meal starter.  You can add whatever veggies you like, such as red pepper, green pepper, or cabbage.  I sometimes add fresh spinach during the last 3 minutes of cooking until wilted for another nutritious boost.  For a different flavor, swap out the beef for Italian Sausage.  There really are so many options. Hope you enjoy!
Beef Minestrone Soup
1  pound ground beef
2  large carrots, peeled and chopped
2  celery ribs, chopped
1  onion, chopped
4  cloves garlic, minced
1  medium zucchini, cut into 1/2" dice
6  cups reduced sodium chicken broth
2  cans cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
2  cans fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1  tablespoon tomato paste
2  bay leaves
1  tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1/4  teaspoon pepper
Pinch of hot pepper flakes
1  cup Ditalini Pasta, or other small pasta

Fresh Italian Parsley
Parmesan Cheese 

In a large Dutch Oven cook beef, carrots, celery and onion over medium heat until meat it is no longer pink.  Drain.  Add the diced zucchini and minced garlic, cook for 2 minutes.  

Add broth, beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaves, Italian Seasoning, pepper, red pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer covered for about 30 minutes.  Uncover and add pasta.  Simmer uncovered until pasta is al dente, about 6-8 minutes.  

Ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh Italian Parsley and Parmesan Cheese.

Cooks Note:  This soup freezes really well.  Cook it up to the point before you add the pasta.  I ladle into ziplock bags and freeze flat in the freezer.  When your ready to use, just thaw and heat soup to a simmer and add your pasta. Cook until pasta is al dente.  



Monday, November 28, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

Thanksgiving has passed and we are now in the mad dash towards Christmas.  We hope you had a nice holiday celebrating with friends or family.  After cooking several turkeys, hams, holiday side dishes, as well as pies and cheesecakes, for clients and our own families we were ready for a quiet weekend after Thanksgiving.  We are now gearing up for round two!  In the several days leading up to Thanksgiving we didn't have time to post much on the blog.  We have a lot of ideas and recipes and hopefully we will be able to get these to you during this Christmas season.  

Today I'm going to post my recipe for Chicken Pot Pie.  I had hoped to get it posted a couple of days ago because it is a great recipe to help use up leftover turkey in place of the chicken.  I made it using puff pastry that you can purchase in the freezer section of the grocery store.  It is also great topped with biscuits if you don't want to mess with rolling out the puff pastry.

Chicken Pot Pie

3  cups chicken broth, divided
2  russet potatoes-peeled and diced into ½ inch pieces (about 2 cups)
4  tablespoons butter
1  onion, chopped
¼ cup celery, finely chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms, optional (I LOVE them, my family not so much! )
½  teaspoon dried thyme
½  teaspoon dried tarragon
1  teaspoon salt
1  teaspoon pepper
1  teaspoon minced garlic
¼  cup flour
2 ½  cups chicken broth (reserved from boiling the potatoes)
½  cup heavy cream
2  tablespoons dry white wine

5 to 6 cups cooked chicken, shredded
12 ounce bag frozen peas and carrots, thawed
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
Egg wash (1 beaten egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water)

Bring chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan.  Add the diced potatoes and cook for 5 minutes until they begin to soften.  Drain and reserve the chicken broth for your cream sauce.

Melt the 4 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion, mushrooms (if using), thyme, tarragon, salt & pepper.  If using mushrooms sauté  for about 8-10 minutes until the mushrooms have released their liquid and the vegetables are soft, if not sauté the onion and spices for about 5 minutes until onion is soft.  Add the garlic and continue to sauté until fragrant.  Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes to blend.  Gradually add 2 ½ cups of reserved broth and bring the mixture to a boil.  Add the cream and white wine and simmer for a few more minutes until thick and bubbly.  If your sauce is too thick you can add a little more of your reserved broth or some milk to thin it out.

Add the potatoes, peas & carrots and cook about 5 minute until heated thru.  Stir in your cooked chicken and remove from the heat, pour into a 9 X 13 inch casserole dish and let cool for a few minutes.

Meanwhile on a lightly floured surface roll the sheet of puff pastry to an 11 X 15 inch rectangle.  Carefully place the pastry on the dish and roll the edges under and seal edges with a fork.  Brush top with egg wash.  Cut a few slits in the top of the pie to allow steam to escape.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 25-30 minutes until pastry is golden.  Serve immediately.



Linked to the following great parties:
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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lasagna Soup

Happy Sunday friends!  As I'm sure a lot of you do, my family usually enjoys a "family" day on Sunday. Of course as I am writing this Dan is gone for the day at the Chief's game with some friends, but he will be back this evening. Dan's work schedule takes him out of town for most of the week, but he is usually home on the weekends and on Monday for Boy Scouts.  Also, my almost 16 year old Ashton is gone hanging out with friends.  However, as a general rule we are all usually together on Sunday, and it is one of my favorite days of the week.  
Since we normally eat a big meal after church, Sunday evenings we usually make popcorn.  I made a batch of this soup today that I have been wanting to try and think it turnout out delicious.  One of my favorite soups has always been tomato.  Cold winter evenings with tomato soup and grilled cheese for dinner is one of my favorites.  This is a kicked up tomato soup.  The original recipe is from Paula Deen, I just changed a couple of minor things.  Her recipe uses all ground beef and I used 1/2 sweet Italian Sausage.  I also left out the extra salt, I think the broth is usually salty enough.  She serves this soup with crostini that sound good, but we just had the soup.  I make a wonderfully cheesy Fondue bread that I think would be really good with this.  I'll have to share the recipe sometime.  If you don't have lasagna noodles any pasta would work.  I think that campanelle shaped pasta would be great as well.  It has a ruffled edge kind of like a flower.

Lasagna Soup

  • 1 pound ground chuck (used 1/2 Sweet Italian Sausage)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped (I didn't use this much, because of the kids)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 (32-ounce) box chicken broth
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I omitted)
  • 2 cups broken lasagna noodles
  • 1 (5-ounce) package grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (we used Italian Blend)
  • Garlic Crostini, recipe follows

Garlic Crostini:

  • 1 thin French baguette
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves smashed garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a large Dutch oven, combine ground chuck, onion, bell pepper and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until beef is browned and crumbles. Drain well.
Stir in thyme, brown sugar, broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add noodles, and simmer until noodles are tender. Stir in Parmesan Cheese.
Preheat broiler. Ladle soup into 8 to 10 ovenproof bowls. Evenly sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Broil soups, 6-inches from heat, 3 to 4 minutes, until cheese is browned and bubbly. Add a garlic crostini slice on top. Serve immediately.

For the garlic crostini:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut bread into 1/4-inch round slices. Place on baking sheet and brush each slice with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper; place in oven and bake until golden and crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Rub each side with smashed garlic cloves.



Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cheeseburger Soup

My family has really been enjoying the cooler fall weather, which makes me think of soup.  As I've told you before, my husband Dan does not consider soup a meal, but he has been at work all week so I made a pot of this soup at the beginning of the week.  The kids and I love this recipe that has been around forever.  I'm not even sure where my original recipe came from.  Of course I've tweaked it a little to my family's taste.  I've seen versions of it in Southern Living, Taste of Home and various community cookbooks.  I'm sure you've had it before, but if you haven't, you need to make a pot.  It is great for a crowd and very kid friendly.

Cheeseburger Soup
1/2  pound ground beef
3/4  cup onion, chopped
3/4  cup celery, chopped
3/4  cup carrots, chopped
1  tablespoon minced garlic
1  teaspoon dried basil
1  teaspoon dried parsley
3  cups chicken broth
4  cups potatoes, cubed
3  tablespoons butter
1/4  cup flour
1  1/2  cups milk
2  cups (8 ounces) shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/4  cup sour cream
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Cook ground beef in a Dutch Oven over medium high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes until meat is beginning to brown.  Add the onion, celery and carrots. Continue cooking until beef is done and your vegetables are tender.  Add minced garlic and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant.  

Stir in dried basil & parsley.  Add the chicken broth and cubed potatoes and bring the pot to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 to 12 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

In a small sauce pan melt butter over medium heat and whisk in flour to make a roux.  Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until bubbly, whisking constantly. Slowly whisk in milk and stir until smooth. 

Gradually add the milk mixture to your soup stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 6 to 8 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and add cheese, stir until melted.  Stir in sour cream and season with salt & pepper to taste.

Some ideas for garnish: extra shredded cheese, sour cream, diced tomato, green onion, cooked & crumbled bacon.  Also, really good with a splash or two of Frank's Hot Sauce.



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Oatmeal Honey Bread

Kim and I have been working together for almost 2 years.  And, we keep finding little things that we both like or dislike.  One of the first things we found that we both enjoyed were cookbooks.  I think both of us come by it naturally . . . meaning our Mother’s both like cookbooks.  I know my Mother has never counted the number of cookbooks in her collection and I know I never want to be knowledgeable with the number in mine!!!  The number of cookbooks in my possession is not a number which needs to roll off my tongue – like, how many children do you have?  What year did you graduate from KU? You get the picture.

This past Sunday my Mom brought me a stack of gently used cookbooks.  I was about ready to put them on my bookshelves when I decided to look through a couple of them.  They are from the 1980’s.  I think it is so much fun to look at older cookbooks and see how the trends have changed.  I always look at the bread section, the soup section and the entrée section before the others.  Well, I only made it through one of the books and have already made several things.  I am so excited.  I will be sharing most of the recipes I have tried in the weeks to come.  But, with it turning colder and the soup pot always on at our house these days, I had to share this recipe with you.

It is a substitute for cornbread.  And, let me tell you, my family loved it and it is sooooo easy!!!  I made it a second time and made muffins with the same recipe.

Put on a pot of soup and be adventurous and try the following recipe.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.


2 cups flour
2 cups quick-cooking oats
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup honey
½ cup brown sugar
2 cups milk
2 eggs
½ cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 pan. Combine the flour, oats, baking powder, salt, honey, milk, egg and butter in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Spread in greased pan.  Bake for 17 – 22 minutes or until lightly browned and toothpick pocked in center comes out clean. 



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Creamy Pepper Jack Chicken Dip

As I'm sure you can tell, we love a good dip around here. Here's another dip for your next gameday tailgate or holiday get together.  I combined parts of some of my favorites and think it turned out delicious! 

Creamy Pepper Jack Chicken Dip
4  chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2  (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2  cup milk
1/2  cup mayonnaise (can use light)
1  red bell pepper, finely chopped
3  tablespoons jalapeno pepper, minced (optional, leave out if you don't want too much "heat")
2  tablespoons lemon juice
2  tablespoons Frank's Hot Sauce
2  teaspoons garlic powder
1  1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4  teaspoon pepper
1  (8-ounce) package shredded pepper-jack cheese

Combine softened cream cheese with the mayo and milk.  Mix in the shredded chicken, red pepper, jalapeno pepper (if using), lemon juice, Frank's hot sauce, garlic powder, salt & pepper.  Mix well and then add in shredded pepper-jack cheese.  Place in a pyrex and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 - 35 minutes until hot and bubbly.



I shared this dip on the The Country Cook4 Little FergusonsBaking Bad and Meet Penny on their Foodie Friday Link Up Party!  Check it out for other great recipes!

Six Sisters' Stuff Strut Your Stuff Saturday
Gooseberry Patch Goodies for Game Day
Addicted to Recipes Scrumptious Sunday Link Party
An Alli Event Throwback Thursday