Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup

This has been a favorite of mine for awhile now. I don’t know why I haven’t posted it until now, it’s a mystery.

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup, warm up with a bowl today!

2 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. Italian sausage
3 cups chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 cups chicken stock
8 oz. fusilli pasta
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Cheese Yum
8 oz. ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of fresh ground pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until it is shimmering.

Add the Italian sausage, break it up into small pieces, brown for around 5 minutes.

Add the chopped onions, cook until they are softened but not browned, this will take about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute.

Add the tomato paste and stir it in until it is incorporated fully. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

Add the diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine everything together. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

In a separate pan, cook the pasta until al dente. Do not over cook.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheese yum. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.

Right before serving, stir in the chopped basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To serve, spoon the pasta into individual bowls. Place a dollop of the cheese yum in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top then ladle the hot soup over the cheese yum.

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How to Cook Rice

How I Cook Rice

Note, I use basmati rice when the dish doesn’t need sticky rice. I prefer the texture. These directions are good to use with most any white rice.

In a saucepan, bring water to a boil.

Stir in rice.

Cover, reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat, fluff with fork. Let set for 5 minutes then serve.

Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon salt per cup of rice.

Measure out and add a 1/4 cup of soy or Worcestershire sauce.

Use chicken broth in place of the water. I nearly always do this for fried rice. Make sure you make your rice for fried rice at least a day ahead of time.

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Chicken Vegetable & Barley Soup

This is a very hearty soup. It’s great any time but oh so good on a chilly winter day.

I put this soup together on a chilly January afternoon. I joke about chilly, it was 49 degrees that day.

Vegetable Oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into smaller than bite sized pieces
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup flour
8 cups chicken broth (I use Better Than Bullion)
1 bell pepper, any color, diced
1 cup chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery
Red Pepper Flakes
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Liquid Smoke
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 cup pearl barley (note, you can substitute rice here if you wish)
1 bag Kroger® Vegetable Soup Mix – frozen
1 bag Kroger® Vegetable Gumbo Blend Soup Mix – frozen
1 can Kroger® Cut Extra Green Green Beans
1 can Kroger® Petite Diced Peeled Tomatoes – No Salt Added
1 can Kroger® Sweet Whole Kernel Golden Corn

Place a large stock pot over medium heat, pour vegetable oil into the pot, enough to cover the bottom.

Toss the chicken pieces into the pot, and stir fry until the chicken is cooked. Salt and pepper.

Add the onion and garlic to the pot, and let them cook until soft. You can optionally let them brown a bit.

Reduce the heat and add the flour, stirring until the mixture thickens.

Immediately add the broth. Increase the heat until the mixture comes to a rolling boild.

Add the spices: I don’t measure spices, I just throw whatever feels right in. If you are uncomfortable with this method, try 1 teaspoon of each and add teaspoons until you get the flavor you want.
Red Pepper Flakes, Rosemary, Thyme, Paprika, Parsley, Oregano, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, and Cumin.

Add the Worcestershire sauce, Liquid Smoke, and Tabasco sauce.

Make sure everything is mixed together well before adding the other vegetables.

Add the bell pepper.

Add the chopped carrots.

Add the chopped celery.

Add the cop of barley.

Let this mixture come to a rolling boil. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for at least an hour.

Check the soup to see if the barley is fully cooked.

Chicken Vegetable Barley Soup

A view of the pot of Chicken Vegetable Barley Soup simmering. (click to view full size)

If it is, add both bags of frozen vegetables.

Add the 3 cans of vegetables.

Let everything simmer for approximately 30 minutes.

Serve garnished with fresh cilantro or chives and crackers or a crusty bread.

Chicken Vegetable Barley Soup

A finished bowl of Chicken Vegetable Barley Soup.(click to view full size)

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No summer meal is complete without a bowl of coleslaw. Some tips to make your coleslaw beat any store bought coleslaw, hands down.

Shred the Cabbage at Home
This point cannot be stressed enough. Pre-shredded cabbage from the grocery store turns limp faster than freshly shredded cabbage it simply pales to fresh in taste. Shredding cabbage is easy, just thinly slice it and it will turn into crunchy, delicious shreds. For the carrots, use a box grater.

Add Vinegar
Mayo dressing is the classic when it comes to coleslaw. Mayo based dressing can sometimes be too heavy or sweet and fatty. Adding some vinegar along with some Dijon mustard will lighten up the dressing. Don’t be afraid to try different vinegars like apple cider, red wine, white wine, or champagne vinegar work well too. If you want some spice, toss a teaspoon or two of your Tabasco sauce in.

Wait To Mix It All Together
Hold your shredded veggies and dressing separate in the refrigerator until serving time. Your vegetables will be fresh and crunchy, not limp and sauce laden.

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons celery seed
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 large head green cabbage, thinly sliced
3 large carrots, grated

Whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar, and celery seed.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add cabbage and carrots and mix to thoroughly combine.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Macaroni Salad

Macaroni salad, this is a must have dish every summer. I can’t imagine summer without it!

This is a tried and true version, I always hope for leftovers the next day. You should consider making a double batch.

Macaroni salad is a great dish to out ahead of time. To keep the macaroni from absorbing all of the dressing, don’t toss everything together until about an hour or so before. The drier your pasta is, the less it will absorb so make sure your macaroni is drained well first.

If you want to cook the macaroni more than an hour serving, toss with a little olive oil after draining. If it starts sticking together, run it under warm water to break it up.

Any type of short pasta works great macaroni salad. Penne and fusilli are among the favorites, I just use up the type of pasta I have on hand to keep it simple.

Macaroni salad works well with most any vegetable you want to add. Try adding broccoli, pimento peppers, tuna, hard boiled eggs, and bacon.

Macaroni salad goes great with any grilled food. Try serving it along a burger or grilled pork chops.



For the pasta salad
3/4 pound elbow pasta, cooked
2 stalks celery, chopped thinly
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup black olives, sliced
1 medium carrot, shredded
Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

For the dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine elbows, celery, bell pepper, olives, and carrots.

Dressing: In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper and stir until combined.

Pour dressing over pasta mixture and toss. Garnish with parsley before serving.

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Shredded Mexican Chicken

This is an easy to make, great tasting main dish that can be used as a key ingredient in most any Mexican style dish that calls for meat.

2 pounds chicken breasts
olive oil
1/2 cup medium salsa
3-4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 4 ounce can mild diced green chilies
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper
1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke

Rub chicken breasts liberally with olive oil and place in the bottom of your slow cooker.

Cover the chicken with the salsa as much as possible.

Sprinkle the brown sugar over everything, keeping it as even as possible.

Add the diced chilies to the slow cooker.

Add the tomatoes, spreading them evenly across the chicken.

Measure the remaining dry ingredients into a small bowl. Once mixed, sprinkle the spice mixture over all the chicken.

Drizzle the Liquid Smoke over the mixture.

Cover and cook on high for 2-4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours or until chicken is tender enough to shred.

Remove chicken to a cutting board, and let rest 5 minutes before shredding (there will be liquid remaining). Return shredded chicken and let cook on low for an additional 20 minutes to absorb some of the liquid/juices.

Shredded Mexican Chicken

Shredded Mexican Chicken

Serve as taco meat, for nachos, burritos, enchiladas, etc..

(I shredded the chicken with 2 forks in the Crockpot itself, much easier than messing around taking it out only to put back in.)

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Pork Rub

I use this on all sorts of pork cuts; ribs, tenderloin, chops, you name it. This works well on nearly anything.

2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Store in an airtight container. Pack on the dry rub onto your next rack of ribs.

Note, for a really great pulled pork, cover your pork shoulder in yellow mustard, then use this rub all over. Let it set in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours, then roast as normal.

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Chicken Chile Verde

A low-carb green chili recipe that fits into most any diet. It’s gluten free, grain free, dairy free, and delicious!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1 pound tomatillos
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 pounds boneless chicken (breasts, thighs, or both)
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Possible garnishes: cilantro, avocado, lime

Peel and wash the tomatillos so they are not sticky. Remove the stems as well. Then cut the tomatillos into quarters. Peel and chop the remaining vegetables.

Put a large 6-quart stock pot over medium heat. Add the oil, onions, garlic, and chopped peppers. Sauté for 5-8 minutes.

Add the cut the tomatillos. Then add the whole raw chicken pieces to the pot. Add all spices and seasonings. Add the broth. Stir and push the chicken pieces to the bottom of the pot.

Simmer the chili for 25-30 minutes, until the largest piece of chicken is cooked through. Use tongs to move the chicken pieces to a cutting board.

Remove the bay leaf. Then use an immersion blender to puree the vegetables and broth base. It doesn’t have to be totally smooth, but the chunks of tomatillos should be blended in.

Shred the chicken. Then stir the chicken back into the chili.

Taste, then salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the chopped cilantro. Serve warm as-is, or with lime wedges and sliced avocado.

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Seasoned Salt

Similar if not identical to Lawry’s Seasoned Salt.

2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons white sugar
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch

Whisk salt, sugar, paprika, turmeric, onion powder, garlic powder, and cornstarch together in a bowl.

Use as your taste dictates.

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Slow Cooker Hot Cocoa

The slow cooker is your secret weapon for the easiest, richest hot cocoa for a crowd.

1 1/2 semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
6 cups whole milk
Mini marshmallows, for garnish

Combine all ingredients except marshmallows in a slow cooker. Stir to combine.

Cook until everything is melted, stirring occasionally, 2 hours on Low.

10 minutes before serving, add marshmallows and let them melt a bit. Garnish with more mini marshmallows, if desired.

Note, if you are serving this at a party, I encourage you to double up the recipe. It’s that good!

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