{Recipe} Easiest-Ever Crock Pot Potato Soup

Easiest Ever Crock Pot Potato Soup

I know. There are a million recipes for potato soup out there. But you know what? This is a recipe I have been making for years and years. I can’t remember if I started making it while in college, or just after I had graduated, but either way it’s a long time.

My friend Kelly (of the Easter Nest recipe) and I have long been Crock Pot afficianados (way before it was a cool thing again). And I consider this to be our soup. With just a few ingredients, the recipe is easy to throw together, forgiving, and (most important), super-yummy!

Easiest Ever Crock Pot Potato Soup

Easiest-Ever Crock Pot Potato Soup
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Ingredients
  1. 6 cups of peeled, chopped potatoes
  2. 3 cups water
  3. 1/2 cup chopped onion
  4. 3 bouillon cubes
  5. 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  6. 3-4 slices American cheese
  7. 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  8. 1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
Instructions
  1. Combine potatoes, onions, water, bouillon cubes, and pepper in a 3-4 qt. slow cooker. Cover. Cook on LOW for 9-11 hours or HIGH for 4-4.5 hours.
  2. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup (or remove and carefully puree in a blender). If you prefer a chunky soup, use a masher.
  3. Add cheeses and evaporated milk to the soup. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on LOW for 1 hour more or HIGH for 30 minutes more.
  4. Serve with additional cheese, sour cream, chives, and/or bacon bits
Notes
  1. Substitute cream or half-and-half for the evaporated milk if you don't have it on hand.
  2. This recipe can easily be made vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of water and chicken bouillion.
  3. If you have homemade chicken broth, by all means use it. This happens to be a "throw together" me for me, and bouillon cubes are a pantry staple (whereas I don't always have homemade broth).
Pure Sugar http://puresugar.net/

5 Delicious Meatless Meals for Lent

lenten meals

I’m not ashamed to admit that I am an unabashed carnivore. I love meat. There. I said it. I love my veggies, too, but I have a hard time making them the star of the show. However, every year I see Lent as a challenge to ramp it up. I’m hoping to have a lot more meatless meals to share with you over the next few weeks, but in the meantime, here are a few of my favorites. If you’re stuck for a dinner idea tonight, any one of these is perfect. Just pair it with a salad and BAM! (as Emeril might say)… dinner is served.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

butternut squash soup

Tomato and Squash Tart with Gorgonzola

summer vegetable tart

Indian Potatoes and Peas

Indian Potatoes & Peas

Creamy Indian-Spiced Lentils

indian-spiced lentils (dal)

Spicy Black Bean Soup

spicy black bean soup

5 Easy Last-Minute Thanksgiving Dishes

5 Easy Last-Minute Thanksgiving Dishes | puresugar.net

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and if you’re still agonizing over the menu, don’t fret! I’m sharing 5 easy recipes — 3 for side dishes and 2 for desserts. I’m actually making up the sweet potatoes today and bringing them to my in-laws’ house tomorrow!

Maple Baked Sweet Potatoes
maplebakedsweetpotatoes

Green Beans with Lemon
greenbeanswithlemon

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
sprouts

Peanut Butter Pie
peanut butter pie

Flourless Chocolate Torte
flourless chocolate torte

 

From our house to yours… Happy Thanksgiving!

Chilly Sunday

week

Hello, hello! Hope you all have been enjoying the weekend. As usual, it’s been pretty busy around here. It’s easy to gripe and say I’d rather be at home (which is true), but at the same time I’m thankful for a part-time job that I love, friends to see, and activities to keep everyone happy.

Friday night was our Cub Scout pack meeting and we held a rain gutter regatta. For those who don’t know what that is, the boys build boats (similar to Pinewood Derby cars) and then by blowing throw a straw, they sail them down the channels of an inflatable rain gutter. This was the first year we used the inflatable “gutters.” In previous years we used actual rain gutters, which were bulky and messy.

Rain gutter Regatta

Rain gutter Regatta

The boys all had a great time! We just raced for fun. Then I suggested that the parents race their kids’ boats. At first there were a couple moans and groans but you could tell everyone secretly wanted to do it,  ha ha! It was great!

Yesterday I worked at the library in the morning and then we went to a friend’s birthday party in the afternoon. I did a little shopping at Michael’s and Sam’s but let me tell you — I am not exactly digging the “holiday spirit” out there, especially this early in the season. Everyone is impatient and rushing and angry. Kind of the opposite of what this time of year is supposed to be about, isn’t it? We did what we had to do and came home. Between people’s attitudes and crazy traffic, I had really had it.

Today was much different. I helped set up the parish center for tomorrow’s very special preschool Thanksgiving feast. I made a quick run to Stop & Shop (again, it was crazy but at least being by myself it was easier to handle). And that was about it. It was freezing out there today, so I was happy to come home and make a big pot of chicken and rice soup. I also decided to bake a pie since I have so many apples in my refrigerator for some reason.

Now I’m just getting dinner ready: the soup, some oven fries, and sandwiches. Easy! Though I’m mostly looking forward to a slice of pie for dessert 😉

applepie

This week should actually be pretty relaxing. I’m not cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year — I just need to make the sweet potatoes and cole slaw — so I can relax a bit. The kids have a nice break for the holiday. And yes… I am very much looking forward to putting our Christmas tree up at the end of the week!

What are you all doing for Thanksgiving this year? Staying home? Travelling? It is my favorite holiday, and I just can’t wait!

 

{Recipe} Turkey Divan Casserole

Turkey Divan Casserole | puresugar.net

With the kids all in school, we are back to a crazy schedule that includes a bunch of activities. We have Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, CCD, afterschool electives… and that’s just for beginners. Add in my part-time job at the library, trying to keep up with my blog, and family commitments and you have a full calendar! But a full schedule is no excuse for not cooking. You just need to plan ahead!

Here are my top 5 ways to save time in the kitchen on weekdays.

  1. Menu plan. I make a home-cooked meal for my family six nights a week, and being organized is key. I’ve been menu planning since our pre-kid days. I look at what I have in my pantry and freezer, check my grocery store’s sale flyer, and go from there. 
  2. Be your own sous chef. Prep as much as you can ahead of time. Have an open burner on the stove? Fill a pot with water and cook rice, pasta, or quinoa for the week. Roast a pan of vegetables or boil them so you can reheat or quickly add them to dishes. Earlier this year I read An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler, and this simple tip stuck with me and has made a huge difference in the way I cook.
  3. Cook once, eat twice. Making a meatloaf? Buy enough ingredients to make two and freeze one. I also always try to keep the following pre-cooked items in my freezer: taco meat, browned ground beef, and shredded chicken. Within 20 minutes I can pull together a quick pot of soup or chili.
  4. Save the culinary experiments. We all love trying out new recipes, but save the multi-step gourmet dishes for weekends or days when you have extra time.
  5. Keep a file of quick-fix family favorites. Whether it’s juicy burgers, a fresh pasta dish, or a comforting casserole, it’s a relief knowing that you can throw together a home-cooked meal that everyone will love.

Turkey Divan Casserole

Turkey Divan Casserole is something I’ve been making for over 10 years. I occasionally change up the recipe depending upon what I have in my fridge (oh, that could be #6 – Be flexible). Don’t have rice? Use stuffing or egg noodles. Don’t have turkey? Use chicken. That’s the beauty of a casserole. It lends itself to whatever’s leftover. Country Crock Original Spread is delicious in this recipe. It contains 0 g trans fat per serving, no partially hydrogenated oils, and no cholesterol. Additionaly, it has 70% less fat than butter and 30% fewer calories than butter per serving.

Turkey Divan Casserole
Transform boring leftovers into delicious comfort food with this #QuickFixCasserole.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 c. cooked rice
  2. 3 c. cooked, diced turkey
  3. 2 c. broccoli (leftover or blanched)
  4. 3 Tbsp. Country Crock Original Spread
  5. 3 Tbsp. flour
  6. 1/8 tsp. poultry seasoning
  7. pinch nutmeg
  8. 1 c. half & half
  9. 2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
For topping
  1. 1 Tbsp. Country Crock
  2. 2 Tbsp. breadcrumbs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 2-quart casserole dish, layer the cooked rice, the turkey, and the broccoli.
  2. Melt 3 Tbsp. of Country Crock in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour, poultry seasoning, and nutmeg. Slowly add the half & half, whisking continuously. Continue to stir until no lumps remain. Remove from heat and add cheese. Stir until melted. Pour over top of casserole.
  3. Melt 1 Tbsp. of Country Crock and stir in the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over top of dish.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with a crisp salad.
Notes
  1. This recipe can be prepped ahead of time. Let it come to room temperature before baking.
Pure Sugar http://puresugar.net/
Turkey Divan Casserole

You know it’s good when the kids just about clean the dish! (And yes, I did finish off the last few bites.) For more #QuickFixCasseroles, be sure to check out Country Crock on Pinterest. (And try not to drool all over your keyboard!)

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

{Recipe} Indian Potatoes & Peas

Indian Potatoes & Peas

Last night I made a pot of chicken curry and while I had out all my spices and ingredients, I decided to make a batch of Indian Potatoes & Peas while I was at it. This originally started out as a filling for samosas, but because I have a fear of deep-frying, it has become a simple side dish that is even better the next day. I have also frozen small containers of this recipe with some quinoa in there, too, and it tasted fine! I know sometimes potatoes don’t freeze the greatest, but the texture didn’t seem to change too much.

 

Indian Potatoes & Peas
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Ingredients
  1. 4 med. potatoes, peeled and quartered
  2. 1-2 Tbsp. coconut oil or ghee
  3. 1 med. onion, diced
  4. 1 cup frozen green peas
  5. 1-inch chunk of ginger, peeled and shredded
  6. 1 jalapeno pepper, diced (remove the seeds if you want less heat)
  7. 1/2 c. water
  8. 1 tsp. salt (potatoes absorb salt, so you may need to add more)
  9. 1 Tbsp. curry powder
  10. 1/2 tsp. coriander
  11. 3/4 tsp. cumin
  12. 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  13. juice from 1/2 a lemon
Instructions
  1. Boil the potatoes in well-salted water until tender. Drain, and set aside to cool.
  2. Melt coconut oil or ghee (or fat of your choosing) in a deep skillet or large pot. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add the jalapeno, peas, ginger, and a little of the water (a splash at a time, just so the vegetables don't stick). Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the peas begin to thaw.
  3. Break the cooled potatoes into small chunks and add to mixture (I just do this right over the pan). Add the rest of the water and the salt, curry powder, coriander, cumin, and chili powder. Squeeze the lemon juice over everything and give it a good stir.
  4. Cook for an additional 10 minutes. Stir again before serving
Notes
  1. This is a highly nontechnical recipe. Use more or less water. Add more onion. Make it milder. Make it spicier. It's very forgiving, and very delicious.
Pure Sugar http://puresugar.net/
If you have some mint chutney around, it will really complement this dish! But it’s just as good plain.

{Recipe} Skillet Sour Cherry Cobbler

Skillet Sour Cherry Cobbler | www.puresuresugar.net

Sometimes I just feel so blessed to live where we live! Sure, once in a while I get homesick and think about moving back to Massachusetts, or feel like exploring a completely new area of the country. But by and large, my adopted home of the Hudson Valley suits me very well. One of the things I like best is all the pick-your-own farms. A favorite is Fraleigh’s Rose Hill Farm just a few minutes away in Red Hook. Yesterday we took advantage of some free time to head over and pick a real summertime treat: sour cherries.

Sour Cherries | www.puresugar.net

Contrary to the name, I don’t find sour cherries to really be all that sour. But certainly they are not as cloying as the sweet cherries. They are also infinitely easier to pit, which makes them my preferred cherry for baking, jam, canning, and so forth. The kids were begging me to bake a cherry pie, but I didn’t have all the ingredients for the crust so we went with a cobbler instead.

I was very excited to use my Lodge cast iron skillet for something besides steak!

Skillet Sour Cherry Cobbler | www.puresuresugar.net

Skillet Sour Cherry Cobbler
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Filling
  1. 4 cups pitted sour cherries
  2. 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  3. 1/2 cup sugar
  4. 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  5. 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Biscuits
  1. 1 cup unbleached flour
  2. 1 tsp. baking powder
  3. 1/2 tsp. salt
  4. 2 Tbsp. sugar
  5. 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  6. 6 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into pieces
  7. 1/4 c. boiling water
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine cherries, cornstarch, 2/3 cup sugar, lemon juice and vanilla in a bowl. Set aside and let everything come together.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a second bowl, adding the butter pieces last. Using a pastry tool or a fork, cut in the butter until the mixture becomes crumbly In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients, cutting in the butter until crumbly. Carefully add the boiling water, a little bit at a time, and stir until the mixture forms a soft dough.
  3. Add the cherry mixture to a cold cast iron skillet and gently bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and drop spoonfuls of the biscuit mixture on top of the cherries. If desired, sprinkle extra sugar on top of the biscuits. Bake for 45 minutes until the biscuits turn golden.
Notes
  1. * You can probably use regular old AP flour -- I just prefer the unbleached flour and that's what I had.
  2. * You are probably supposed to use unsalted butter for this. I didn't have it and used regular butter. Tasted a-okay to me!
Pure Sugar http://puresugar.net/
 All three kids oohed and ahhed as I took this delicious dish out of the oven. And Mean Mommy made everyone wait until supper was finished (and vegetables had all been eaten) before anyone could have a taste. But it was worth it!  Everyone savored this yummy dessert. It might have been better if I’d had whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, but I didn’t hear any complaints so I’m not sure anyone even noticed.

Skillet Sour Cherry Cobbler | www.puresuresugar.net