The BEST Potato Soup Recipe

Soup makes me so unbelievably happy, especially as it’s getting colder. That’s not saying that I won’t put on a pot of soup in the middle of 100-degree Texas weather, because I totally will. But, as the chill slowly begins to take over the air, I swear it tastes even better.

While I love a variety of soups, my absolute favorite is potato soup. I firmly believe this goes back to high school, when I could actually buy food I would eat at school. In order to get a bowl of this coveted potato soup, you had to get to the cafeteria early. However, you really had no control over this, and if your last class before lunch was at the other end of the school, you were pretty much out of luck.

This made the ability to grab a bowl of it ever so sweet and the perfect lunch day. I would top it off with peanut butter Tastykakes and an iced tea (ahh teenage metabolism…). Quite honestly, I still love all of these things- I just don’t indulge in all three at the same time!

I do, however, enjoy the best bowls of potato soup. I need a firm mix of smooth and chunky, a little bit pureed and a little bit left alone. Add in some carrots, celery, and parsley, a dash of cream and soup heaven my friends. Stemming from my never-enough high school days, I tend to make a huge pot  and have leftovers the next day, but I’m not sure you can ever have too much soup.

The BEST Fall Potato Soup Recipe

bestpotatosoup

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2-3 whole carrots, skinned and sliced
  • 1-2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5-6 Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 5 cups Vegetable Broth
  • 3 cups Water
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4-1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Salt, pepper & thyme to taste
  • Chopped parsley

Directions

  1. Melt butter over medium heat; add carrots, celery & onions. Saute for about 4 minutes and add garlic; cook for another two minutes and add potatoes. Season with a LOT of salt and some ground black pepper and thyme.
  2. Add in broth and water and bring to a boil (note- you could use all vegetable broth but it has a stronger flavor than a chicken broth, so I like to dilute it with water). Cook for about 15, until potatoes are tender.
  3. Whisk together flour (or cornstarch if you want a bit more thickness) and water- add to the soup and let it cook for 5-7 minutes, until the soup starts to thicken.
  4. Remove about 1/3-1/2 of the soup and use an immersion blender (or food processor, blender, etc.) to puree the soup. Add it back to the soup and combine. Add in heavy cream to taste.
  5. Season soup with salt & pepper, and top with chopped parsley.

Can I even say how much I’m craving a bowl of this right now? Mmm, delicious. Feel free to add to it as needed- my husband likes some bacon on top, and others add cheese, but I’m a purist.

It all goes back to high school…

 

 

Easy & Delicious Mini Chicken Pot Pies

People, trying to cook for a household is not always easy. Everyone has different tastes, different appetites… different tantrums. While my 7 year old son is escaping the picky stages and is starting to eat as if it’s his last meal each and every time (seriously, where do boys put it all??), my 4 year old daughter is not always a fan, and I have a baby to feed as well.

Whew.

However, every so often there are some meals that fit perfectly across the board. As everyone knows, sometimes you just need a gimmick. For my picky daughter? A mini “Lily-size” chicken pot pie was just the trick. My oldest loves it, and the baby can eat it too. (Bonus? This recipe can be frozen and reheated at a later time too. Genius.)

Easy and Delicious Mini Chicken Pot Pies

minipotpies

Ingredients

Filling

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onions
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups shredded chicken
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 1/2-3 cups of chicken stock (or broth)
  • heavy cream
  • salt, pepper, basil & thyme, to taste

For the “crust”

  • 1/2 cup Bisquick
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat butter in a pot over medium to medium-high heat; when it begins to melt add olive oil. Heat until foaming.
  3. Toss in onions, celery & carrots; cook until softened about 7 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add in chicken and sprinkle flour until spread over all ingredients in the pan; mix well until everything is coated. Stir in stock or broth and simmer until it starts to thicken, about 5-7 minutes.
  5. If you want a creamier filling (which my family loves), add in heavy cream to taste (typically a little less than 1/4 cup); season to taste.
  6. To make the crust, combine Bisquick, milk & eggs in a bowl.
  7. Spoon 1 tablespoon of mix into greased muffin pan.
  8. Pour about 1/4 cup of filling mixture into each muffin cup. Top with another tablespoon of baking mixture.
  9. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.

A secret cheating way to do this

Now, if you’re really in a rush and don’t want to spend the 15 minutes of prep time on the filling, you can make this even faster. You can grab a can or two of chicken pot pie soup and use that for your filling. The taste is not nearly as amazing as the homemade version, but sometimes life gets busy!

 

Porch Swing Recipes: Creamy Shallot Mushroom Pasta

I just love pasta. Probably a little too much, especially considering I have some post-baby pounds to be contending with. (I can use the new baby excuse for at least the first two years, right?). There’s just something about a steaming plate of comforting carbs that can take the worries of the day away, leaving you full and absolutely content.

Another huge bonus to pasta dishes? My kids will eat pretty much any pasta dish on the planet. This means that there is a beautiful lack of complaining about what’s for dinner. I like to have this dish with a salad, but since the kids aren’t always on board with that, any green veggie will do. You can add parmesan cheese to this recipe at the end, a dash of lemon juice if you want a bit more of a kick, and use any type of pasta you want. I just happen to be obsessed with angel hair.

creamyshallotmushroompasta

Creamy Shallot Mushroom Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 box Angel Hair pasta
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 shallots, sliced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup – 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt & pepper
  • fresh chopped parsley
  • parmesan cheese, if desired

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to directions; drain.
  2. In  a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat; add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook mushrooms for 4-5 minutes, until slightly softened (they will shrink down a fair bit).
  4. Add shallots and garlic to the pan and cook until shallots are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of white wine and bring to a boil; add broth and simmer about 10-12 minutes, or until most (but not all) of the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Turn down heat and stir in cream. Start with 3/4 cup and add more to desired thickness.
  7. Let simmer several minutes, until sauce thickens; season with salt & pepper to taste.
  8. Serve over pasta and top with parsley. Optional: top with parmesan cheese if desired.

What are some of your easy, always-a-hit meals? 

 

Front Porch Recipes: Risotto

After having Brady 8 months ago- wow. 8 MONTHS ago. Eesh.- cooking was a bit of a hassle in the beginning. Make aheads, crockpot and freezer meals were pretty much a necessity as there’s not always a ton of predictability in a baby’s schedule. Add in a move, a wedding, and everything else that goes along with life with three kids including a baby and cooking got shoved waaaaay back into the corner.

Except, as it turns out, I actually like to cook. I like to create meals my family will enjoy and try out different things. I also like a little bit of solitude it can give me; even though the kids are running around and the baby’s bouncing away in the exersaucer, they mostly get that mommy’s busy. So, I’ve been trying to get back into the swing of things- even in the heat of summer.

One of the first things I chose to tackle was risotto. I LOVE risotto. I order it as frequently as possible when dining out but it’s always something I was just too scared to try to make myself. You hear how intimidating it is to make and you know what?

It’s not. Not even a tiny bit.

The secret to risotto is really just to pay attention. You can’t throw it in the pot and run away. But, if you have a bit of patience (and a glass of wine handy), the heavenly deliciousness that is risotto can be yours in three easy steps.

Three tips to perfect risotto

1. Gather & prep your ingredients (and this is important y’all- you want everything prepped and ready!).

2. Keep a pot of broth warmed- but not boiling- within reach.

3. Slow and steady – patiently monitor your risotto as it cooks until it’s just right.

See? Not so scary. Here’s the recipe I used for my parmesan risotto, as adapted from the 1200 recipes I browsed first.

photo (21)

Creamy Dreamy Risotto Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6-8 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3-4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups of arborio rice
  • 1 1/4 cups dry white wine (I like sauvignon blanc. A lot. But that’s just me.)
  • 1-2 cups parmesan (or parmesan blend) cheese
  • 1-2 cups heavy cream
  • chopped parsley, for garnish

Instructions

  • Pour broth into a large pot. Heat to almost boiling, then lower to keep it warmed while cooking. Do NOT keep at a boil.
  • Heat oil in skillet; when hot, add in butter until foaming. (I first read about this combination for sautéing up your onions and garlic from a holiday issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine years ago in regards to a roast. It’s not the healthiest option, but oh my goodness, the FLAVOR!)
  • Add onions; cook until translucent and then add garlic.
  • Stir in rice. Coat evenly with sautéed onions and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add in wine; cook until the liquid is absorbed by the rice.
  • Now. For the labor-intensive part of it all. You will slowly stir in about 1/2 cup of broth at a time.
  • Stir until the liquid is absorbed. Then, do it again. And again. And again.
  • And again. Until the rice is tender (should not have a hard bite).
  • The fun part! Stir in the cream and the cheese. Important: this will vary dramatically between people’s preferences. So, start with about half of each and add in as desired for the right consistency for you.
  • Top with parsley, season with salt & pepper to taste.
  • Serve, and prepare to be stuffed.

I eat this plain or with veggies, but my family likes to have some meat. So, cook up some italian sausage for a quick protein or saute up some shrimp or lobster meat to add in. Delicious and customizable. Yum. 

 

Chicken Stuffing Bake

Once upon a time, cooking was a leisurely task I could attend to when the mood struck. Which, often times, it did not. Now, however, there is no leisurely about ANYTHING, especially since adding a baby to the mix!

Since he was born in October, I have been on a mission for quick and easy dinners to feed my family that are still enjoyable for everyone. Between my husband, my seven year old, and four year old, that can be quite the task- especially with a three month old who gives me a limited time frame!

Luckily, I have had some success. One of my family’s favorites is this super-simple chicken and stuffing bake, perfect for chilly nights. Bonus? It gets thrown in the oven with minimal effort, leaving my hands free to snuggle the baby. Love.It.

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What are some of your favorite go-to recipes?

Family Time in the Kitchen with Chef Boyardee’s Little Chef’s Project!

As we get ready to welcome a new addition to our family (as in, at any given moment), I have been really working on appreciating the moments I have with my kids. At 6 and 3, trying to get them both to cooperate on doing ANYTHING can be a challenge- especially the more exhausted I have become! One of my favorite ways to grab some family time is by getting my kids in the kitchen with me.

So, we were beyond excited to participate in the Chef Boyardee Little Chef’s Project! We participated in the Family Time section of the book- and Lily chopping some onions on the first page of Chapter 4! In an effort to combine family time and the kids helping with busy schedules, one of our favorite meals to make together actually becomes several meals. We love to prepare Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce. Not only does it simmer all day leaving our afternoons and evenings free for practices and events, a crockpot full feeds my family of four two dinners and a lunch! Easy to freeze and use again, it’s an efficient time-saver that we all enjoy. In the book, there are also some great tips and recipes, so be sure and check out the book for some great inspiration. A little bit about the project:

Chef Boyardee is proud to partner with real moms from the blogging community, TheMotherhood.com to create “The Little Chefs Project,” the first crowd-sourced cooking with kids e-book. With real stories written by real women, the free, downloadable book is composed of six chapters of tips, tricks and recipes from teachable moments in the kitchen, to ways to get little Chefs involved.

How fun is that? Even better, Chef Boyardee is supplying a fabulous giveaway to one lucky reader! To encourage family time in your own kitchen, you’ll get this fantastic prize pack:

The Prize Pack Includes: 

  • Kids’ kitchen measure and prep kit
  • Kids’ recipe box
  • Scrapbook album
  • 2 Chef Boyardee chef hats
  • Chef Boyardee adult apron
  • Chef Boyardee child apron
  • Chef Boyardee pizza kit
  • Time capsule
  • 2 coupons for free Chef Boyardee Beefaroni
  • 5 Chef Boyardee recipe cards

Ready to enter? Check out the rafflecopter widget below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I am participating in the Chef Boyardee Little Chefs program in conjunction with The Motherhood and I’ve been compensated for my participation. All thoughts, opinions, and fun times cooking with my kids are my own :)

Quick go-to meals

With two kids, school activities, soccer practice, running a business from home, and a baby trying to make an appearance at any point in time, meal time can get insane. Trying to get everyone fed, happy and out the door on time is pretty much a challenge on a daily basis. Lately, we have been focusing on collecting quick & easy recipes. Here are four of my go-tos:

Brown gravy meatballs

  • 10 oz jar of brown gravy
  • onion soup mix
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 bag of frozen meatballs

Crockpot for 5 hours or so and you’re good to go.

Chicken Tacos

  • 3-4 chicken breasts
  • jar of salsa
  • chopped onion & green pepper
  • packet of taco seasoning

Crockpot for 6-8 hours, shred and serve with taco fixings!

Kielbasa (or sausage)

  • kielbasa
  • 1 bottle beer
  • 1 cup of brown sugar (adjust for how sweet you want it)

Crockpot 5-6 hours and serve. (Thanks Shell for this one!)

Shrimp Scampi

  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1 cup of wine

Saute shrimp in 1 stick of butter (can make this healthier if you want, but we splurge here) and 4 cloves of minced garlic for 5 minutes. Add cup of wine (or chicken broth) and some seasoning (we like to use lemon pepper).  Simmer for about 5 minutes and serve over angel hair pasta (3-4 minutes to make) with parmesan cheese sprinkled over top (we omit because kids don’t like it on here).

What are some of your quick and easy go-to recipes?

Delicious, Must-Make Beer & Cheddar Soup Recipe

I love soup, especially in the winter. Granted, it does not tend to get all the cold here in Georgia, but Atlanta has been seeing an endless amount of rain this winter. Whether it’s cold or not, one of my favorite soups has always been a good beer and cheddar soup. Thanks to my magazine addiction subscriptions, I have come across some great inspiration this winter. Here’s my adaption of beer and cheddar soup.

How to make delicious Beer & Cheddar Soup

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If, like my husband, you happen to like jalapenos and bacon, along with smoked cheese, you can find the original inspiration recipe here.

Make this soup and enjoy. If it’s too thick or you want to make ahead of time, thin out with some additional broth. I am in love with this soup. So, so good. Enjoy :)

Staying organized with a menu plan

If there is one thing I have realized lately, it’s that when a routine gets thrown off it can mess up my entire week. Last week, I didn’t menu plan, didn’t make it to the grocery store for a full shop (lots of quick stops for “just a couple things”), and basically didn’t maintain my stride for the entire week. The extra trips to the store were not only a pain, they added up to way more than I usually spend too!

This week, I’m determined to stay organized. With trick-or-treat happening tonight and a busy week ahead, I’m only going to the store ONCE. I swear.

Monday:  Grabbing something to go. Too much to do!

Tuesday: Skillet Pork Chops with Potatoes and Onion

Wednesday: Panera-style Broccoli cheddar soup with biscuits

Thursday: Saucy Chicken Thighs served with mashed potatoes.

Friday: Nacho Macaroni

What’s your go-to recipe for a busy week? I need ideas!

 

Menu Planning a Cool Week Ahead

The fall weather has been sinking in here slowly in Georgia, but there have definitely been some cooler days. That always encourages me to try more soup recipes (like this week’s Tomato Soup from the Food Network) and use my crock pot more. Nothing quite beats the convenience of having dinner simmering all day and ready to go just as the kids are hitting that peak cranky zone. Check out this week’s menu plan and be sure to visit orgjunkie.com for hundreds more with Menu Plan Monday.

Creamy bacon ranch chicken pasta

Herbed Slow-cooker pork chops served with long-grain wild rice and veggies

Homemade tomato soup with biscuits

Oven pot roast (adding golden mushroom soup to that) with potatoes, carrots, and pearl onions

Crock pot chicken tacos

What’s your favorite thing to eat on a cool day?