Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Zuppa Toscana

When my family visits, they like to visit Olive Garden for dinner. I am fine with their meals, but what I really love is their Zuppa Toscana soup. An internet search produced the original recipe, but it made nearly FIVE gallons at a time - just a bit more than my family eats at a typical meal. I adapted it and made a few slight changes to come up with the recipe that follows. Now you just need to pick up some soft rolls (from All Seasons!) to dip in your soup in place of breadsticks and you are all set for your very own OG experience without leaving home!

Zuppa Toscana

Yield: 2 1/2 qts (10 cups)

2-3 slices diced bacon
1/2 lb ground sausage
¼ - ½ tsp crushed red pepper (according to taste)
¼ lb yellow onion, grated (~1/2 onion)
2-3 minced cloves garlic
5 cups hot water
2 TB chicken soup base
1 1/4 lbs yellow potatoes, ¼” sliced (~2 large russets)
2 oz (1/8 lb) fresh kale, 3/4” cut (~ 1 cup, chopped) 
½ cup heavy cream (or milk)

1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp mustard powder

Cook bacon in microwave; save grease. Preheat pot to Med-High heat. Add sausage & red pepper. Cook until internal temp reaches 165 F, approximately 10 minutes. Break up large pieces. Remove from pot & drain well. Place bacon & onion in pot. Cook until onions are transparent, approximately 15 minutes. Add garlic puree, sauté 1 minute. Add water and chicken base. Stir with whisk until base is dissolved. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, approximately 15 minutes. Reduce heat to Med. Break up potatoes with masher. Add kale, sausage, and cream. Simmer 5 minutes.

*mustard greens also work in place of kale

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Squash Casserole

I must have been in a generous mood when I first tried this casserole, because it is a little more adventurous than I usually am. However, the entire family liked it - even the previously winter-squash-and-green-pepper-hating ME. It was simple to prepare and, surprisingly, the only complaint was that we wanted MORE. 

Squash Feta Casserole


2 cups winter squash, cut in half
2 eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 green onions, chopped
½ - 2/3 of a green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
2 strips bacon, chopped
cracked black pepper to taste
*optional* sliced tomato 


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a medium (9x9) casserole dish.
In microwave, heat squash for 9 minutes to soften. Remove from heat, and cube. In a medium bowl, blend the eggs and heavy cream. Mix in the squash, green onions, bell pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish. Top with feta cheese and sliced tomato, if desired. Season with pepper.  Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Country Chicken Noodle Soup

This recipe is my husband's comfort food. His mom made it growing up, so eating it means that all is right in the world. If you aren't a fan of deboning chicken (like me), just substitute boneless chicken breasts as mentioned in the recipe. It uses lots of fresh veggies and herbs, so you can feel good about feeding it to your family. Having grown up in a home where our soup usually came from a can, I can say that if you can plan ahead enough to make soup from scratch, the flavor is soooo much richer and more satisfying.

My husband's family always served this recipe with scones to soak up the broth, but we often grab some of the yummy Vosen's rolls from All Seasons when we have this planned.

Country Chicken Noodle Soup
2 onions chopped
2-3 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. basil (or 2 tsp. fresh, chopped basil)
¼ tsp. leaf thyme
3 TB dry parsley flakes (or 3/4 cup fresh, chopped parsley)
1 10 oz pkg frozen peas
1 2 ½ lb whole fryer
(or 1-2 lbs boneless chicken breasts)
4 cups water
1 cup noodles (egg noodles)

Place all ingredients in crock pot, except noodles, in order listed. Cover and cook on low 8 hours (high 4-6). One hour before serving, remove chicken and cool slightly. Remove meat from bones and return meat to pot. Add noodles and turn heat to high. Cover and cook 1 hour.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Gran's Spinach

This was my Granny's go-to recipe, the one that came with her to all the family gatherings. We all loved it, but as she got older, the horseradish got stronger, so we ate smaller and smaller portions. Maybe she did that on purpose so that she had more left over for later! Since we aren't horseradish fans at my house, we substitute garlic instead, and enjoy Gran's classic dish with a little less "kick."

Gran’s Spinach

6 slices bacon                                         
2 bunches spinach        
1 TB grated onion  
1/2 c sour cream
3 oz. cream cheese 
1-2 TB horseradish sauce OR minced garlic (for a more mild taste)
*optional* substitute fresh horseradish instead (Gran likes even more!)

 Preaheat oven to 350°.  Brown bacon & crumble.  Cook spinach and onion according to directions on box.  Drain.  Soften cream cheese.  Mix everything together & place into greased pan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes.