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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.

Baked Pork Chops with Apples

Categories: Crockpot, Food, Uncategorized

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When you think of pork chops what is the first thing that comes to mind? Applesauce, right?
or if you are a child of the 70’s the Brady Bunch episode where Peter is imitating Humphrey Bogart and says, “Pork chops and applesauce. That’s swell.”

In fact every single time I make pork chops I have to say this. And every time my kids ask me why I am saying in a weird voice.

So when I found this recipe I thought it was perfect, apples and pork chops cooked together!

I really liked it.  My kid were kind of meh, whatever. They are such party poopers sometimes.
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Southwest Chicken and Bean Soup

Categories: Cooking, Crockpot, Food, Uncategorized

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You should make this.  Right now if possible. 

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Taco Soup

Categories: Cooking, Crockpot, Food, Uncategorized

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I have been neglecting my crockpot lately. I think I have just become tired of the same old recipes I make it in over and over again. 

But then I got this cookbook, Make It Fast, Cook It Slow in the mail from my friend Stephanie O’Dea.  And oh my goodness I have been reinspired to to use my crockpot. (I also broke down and finally bought an immersion blender)

In case you don’t know Stephanie, she was the blogger who decided to use her crockpot every day for an entire year and blog about the experience.  I absolutely love this cookbook.  Not only does Stephanie have the recipes she used during her year long project, she also tells you what she and her family thought of the various dishes.  Her daughter is Celiac, so all of the recipes are gluten free or have gluten free alternatives to the ingredients.

Last week I made the Taco Soup recipe.  It was so good that I hid the leftovers for myself to eat for lunch all week. 


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Crockpot Chicken with Cashews

Categories: Cooking, Crockpot

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This recipe was surprisingly delicious. Well, not to me. But to certain picky children who reside in my home, it was indeed surprising. 

It is now one of my favorite crockpot recipes and I plan on putting it into heavy rotation until my children beg for mercy.  We are now entering football season, which means many nights away from home, at the field practicing.  I will be embracing my crockpot once again, because after the neverending baseball season I do not think that I can eat anything from the snackbar for a long, long time.
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Shredded Beef Sandwiches

Categories: Cooking, Crockpot, Food, Uncategorized

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This recipe is a great way to feed a crowd or to feed your family on those nights when everyone is in and out of the house, eating dinner at different times. It is also a nice variation of the pulled pork recipe.

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Story of a Stew, or Soup, or Crock of Leftovers

Categories: Cooking, Crockpot, Food

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Once upon a time there was a woman who had no idea what to feed her family for dinner. What? Have you heard this story before? It was cold outside. Too cold and icy for the delicate flower to venture out anywhere. And so she set about to make dinner from stuff she already in the house. Yes! How novel! How truly pioneer like! So THAT is what a pantry is supposed to be used for!

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Harvest Beef Stew Recipe

Categories: Cooking, Crockpot, Food

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This week I turned to my dear friend Jody, who blogs at and baby makes six. Jody lives on the third coast and captures in photographs the beauty of the ocean, her gorgeous children, and her unabashed love for her husband. Her writing inspires you to appreciate the little things in life. I always leave her blog feeling like my soul has been nourished.

She gave me this fabulous harvest beef stew recipe. Oh my, I am making this stew this week. Bless her heart she thinks 70 degrees is cold. I am not sure whether I should laugh or cry at that.

*****

Living along the south Texas coast has its many perks. The weather is very mild, flip flops are the shoes of choice year round, and you will frequently find our 4 kids building sand castles in November…wearing bathing suits. And tans. Not kidding. I can say the same for most of December, some of January but February is our winter. Basically one month of very cold weather and then comes the month of March, where we get about 2 weeks of spring before summer hits hard.

Beach

This is heavenly if you are summer addicts like we are, but the one drawback is the fact that Fall just sort of skips over us. As much as we love the perpetual, endless summer, seeing the leaves change would be a welcome sight. Palm trees and Live Oak just don’t have what it takes. So we invent Fall. One way I do this is by leaving in our trailer and heading for the hills for some Autumn color and camping. The other is creating a Fall menu of sorts.

As the weather here cools a bit (today’s high will be 70, low 51…brrrrr) I find myself making lots of stews and hearty soups. The best one I have found, hands down, is a harvest stew that has some unusual seasonings for a stew….allspice and cloves. It sounds odd, but the flavors all come together to make a soup that just warms your soul and makes your house smell like the holidays. It also has sweet potatoes in it, which makes it a perfect stew to serve for the early part of Thanksgiving week, while you are busy planning your Thursday feast.

So, here you go!

HARVEST BEEF STEW

You will need:

2lbs of stew beef (I used 3lbs…I’m from Texas, what can I say)
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 1/2 cups water
2 1/4 cups chopped peeled sweet potatoes
2 cup chopped, peeled acorn squash
2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon allspice (I added 1/4 tsp, for extra flavor)
1/8 teaspoon cloves (again, I added 1/4 tsp, but if you like your flavors more subtle, stick to the recipe)
1 can (28oz) diced tomatoes, undrained

In a large stew pot, cook the beef, onion and garlic over medium heat. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. Drain well. Set aside.

Browned beef

Peel and cube your sweet potatoes and squash. Have you ever cut and peeled acorn squash? No? Well, it is a bit like trying to peel a coconut…..or a rock…. and you will curse me. You will need a very sturdy and sharp knife. I found, through trial and error, that the best way to peel one is to use a vegetable peeler to do the “humps” of the ribs like this:

Peeled squash

then slice it along the grooves like you would a cantaloupe. Use your muscles. After making the slices, continue peeling the squash with your veggie peeler, but try not to break yours like I did mine. Are you cursing me yet? Trust me, it is worth it. The taste of the acorn squash is fabulous.

Be sure and make the cubes large so they don’t get mushy as it simmers.

Cubed veggies

Now pour yourself a glass of wine (it’s 5 O’clock somewhere!) and after you rest a bit, return your beef to the stove and add the water, cubed potatoes and squash, beef bouillon and spices. Have adorable children practice using measuring spoons to measure out the spices. Don’t be surprised it you end up with a huge dusting of allspice on the floor.

Helper

Bring this yumminess to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Simmering stew

Add the tomatoes. Leave on low heat for 30-60 minutes. I tend to let it simmer on very low heat for 1 hour so that the veggies soak up a bit more of the tangy tomato flavor and the beef becomes really tender. You may need to add a bit more water, depending on how you like your stew.

Serve with warm French bread lathered with butter.

Harvest Beef Stew

And if you are in the south, dream of Fall.

Summer meal planning - five tips for making it easy

Categories: Cooking, Crockpot, Food, Lunches, Meal Planning, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized, side dishes, summer living

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Nataly emailed me last week asking if I had any no cook recipes in my repertoire and could I pretty please share them.

My first thought was, “Well, I can pour a mean bowl of cereal!” Because who among us doesn’t try to convince our children that it was THEIR idea to have a bowl of cereal for dinner every now and then.

But I got thinking about summer schedules and the heat and how most of us want to be out enjoying the weather, not tied to our hot stoves once we get home from work. So I thought I would offer up some tips to making summer cooking easier.
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A Year of Crockpot Cooking and a Peach Cobbler Recipe

Categories: Cooking, Crockpot, Food, Uncategorized

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This  past week at BlogHer I had the pleasure of meeting Stephanie who writes the blog, A Year of Crockpotting.  January of this year she made a resolution for the new year to use her crockpot every day for the entire year.  She recently was a guest on the Rachel Ray show talking about her blog.

One of my favorite things about her blog is that she does not hold herself out as a cooking expert. She is just a person who decided to stretch her cooking wings this year. To force herself to cook better meals for her family. (She also has a celiac daughter, so her recipes are gluten free. Don’t let that scare you, you can substitute in your glutinous products should you desire.) And since she is experimenting daily, she also writes about her failures, meals that did not taste good. Things that she will not make again…. Swiss Chard soup anyone?

Today she had a Blueberry Buckle recipe based on one of Oprah’s favorite things. Stephanie was able to adapt the recipe for crockpot cooking and bake individual sized ramekins inside her crockpot.

One of  her recent recipes, Crockpot Peach Compote with Brandy, reminded me of Delicious Peach Cobbler that I make sometimes.  Yes, Delicious is part of the name.  I love to make this for dessert, especially now that we are dealing with overlapping baseball and football seasons. We eat dinner really early, but then the kids are ready to eat something again before bed. This peach cobbler on top of some vanilla ice cream is a nice treat.

 

You will need:

1/3 cup buttermilk baking mix (I use a GF baking mix)
2/3 cup dry quick oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
4 cups sliced peaches (fresh is best, but you can use canned just not the kind in the syrup)
1/2 cup water

Grease your slow cooker. Really well. And then when you think you have it greased well enough, grease it some more.

Mix together all the dry ingredients, dump in crockpot.
Stir in the peaches and water, mix with the dry ingredients.
Cook on low for at least 5 hours.
Serve over vanilla ice cream.

So, go on over and check out Stephanie’s blog. I promise there is a recipe there for everyone.

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