Archive for October, 2012

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Dinner idea: Crockpot potato-sausage soup

Categories: Cooking, Crockpot

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When the weather gets cooler, I want to make soup. However, my problem is that I’ll get a vague idea of some soup I want, but I have no idea how to get there. (Hey, I’m more on the soup idea and consumption end rather than the pesky “make it” part in the middle…) Consequently, we’ve ended up with a few “almost” soups in the past, yet I keep trying.

The other day, we had some leftover Italian sausage, I decided I wanted to make soup with it, and I wanted something with cheese, too. I didn’t want to waste the sausage, so I looked up some recipes rather than performing my usual soup experimentation. I found bits and pieces of what I had in mind, and I ended up with this:

Crockpot potato-sausage soup

1.5 lb Italian sausage
5 baking potatoes, cubed
1/2 bag of frozen spinach
1/2 cup onion, chopped
Matchstick carrots (as much as you want, or as much you find sitting in the fridge)
1 - 14 oz can of chicken broth
1 - 12 oz can of evaporated milk
Shredded cheddar cheese (about 2 cups, I think, after everyone taste-tested it)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Cook sausage and onion in a skillet and drain.
2. Thaw the spinach and drain thoroughly.
3. Put the potatoes and carrots in bottom of crock pot. Then add the sausage, onion and spinach. 4. Pour the chicken broth over everything

5. Cook on low for 4-5 hrs.
6. At the end of the cooking, add the evaporated milk and cheese. Serve when the cheese is melted.

It was good! I think I’ll sautee the spinach first, next time as it seemed a little strong, but it wasn’t a show-stopper by any means.

I need some new ideas, what’s your favorite (fairly simple) soup to make? Tell us below in the comments.

5 ways to get ready for the holidays early

Categories: Uncategorized

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It’s that time of year, again. With less than 3 months to go, we’re hearing rumblings of the holidays and some stores even have Christmas decorations in stock, can you believe it? Even though we want the holidays to be a picture perfect time filled with family and friends, the reality is that it’s a busy time of year and there are lots of things that need to be taken care of before that can happen.

Though I’ve given up pretending I’m going to have everything done before Thanksgiving, each year I vow that I’m going to “start early” to get ready for Christmas, but each year I seem to be that person who’s racing the clock on Christmas Eve trying to finish up.

Despite my procrastinating, I do know what I need to do to prepare for Christmas and over the years I’ve learned that it really begins the prior year. Here are a few things I’m going to do to facilitate getting ready for Christmas early:

1. Pack the decorations properly at the end of the season - The best gift I give myself is well-packed Christmas decorations. When the holidays are over, it’s tempting to just toss things in a box to get them put away quickly, but it will just leave you with more to do next year. I try hard to discard unused decorations, make sure everything works and pack things carefully and logically.

2. Shop the after Christmas sales - More shopping is last thing I want to do when Christmas is over, but I find that if I make myself visit the sales, even with just a couple of things in mind, it’s well worth it the next year. Beginning the next season stocked with even just gift wrap, bags and bows helps a lot.

3. Shop early for known items - I know people who begin Christmas shopping in January. While that seems like a good idea, it would be hard for me because I don’t know what people will be asking for by the end of the year. However, I do know that there are gifts and other items I buy every year and while I admit I probably won’t do it in January, there are some things like batteries, stocking stuffers and gift cards that I can start gathering in August or September.

4. Set a goal date for decorating - Sometimes, we end up decorating late in the season because we say we’re going to get to it “sometime this weekend”, and before we know it 2 weekends have passed, and then we’re in a mad rush. I find that if we put it on the calendar, the house gets decorated and the tree gets put up in time for us to enjoy it.

5. Wrap presents as you go - This is the area I struggle with the most and I vow to change this year. I’ve seen 2:30 am on Christmas morning more time than I care to admit while wrestling with wrapping paper and tape. This year, I’m going to make myself wrap things as I buy them, especially since my chief wrapper is away at college.

Do you have a favorite hint for getting ready for the holidays early so you can enjoy time with family and friends?

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