Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chunky Potato Soup

Potato soup is an easy go-to recipe for cold winter nights, or a lazy Sunday lounging in your PJs. It is also convenient when I have forgotten to thaw out some meat for dinner, because I usually have the ingredients on hand in the kitchen. This recipe calls for bacon, but recently I have been making it without bacon and the results are just as delicious. I substitute a 1/2 stick of butter for the bacon and then the soup can be suitable for vegetarians as well. Also, if you want to "fancy it up", feel free to add whatever toppings you like, such as cheese, green onion, crispy bacon, etc. I like it "Plain Jane". I can't believe I just said that I like anything "Plain Jane", y'all know I'm all about "fancy-ing things up". But the flavors in this simple dish are rich and delicious on their own. Enjoy!!

Chunky Potato Soup
Makes 6 (1-cup) Servings
6 slices of bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 (13&3/4 oz) can chicken broth
1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, cubed
1 cup milk
4 cups peeled potatoes, cubed
Cook bacon in 5-quart pot on medium heat until crisp, stirring frequently. Drain bacon, reserving 2 T drippings in pot. Set bacon aside. Add onion to drippings in pot; cook and stir for approximately 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in broth, milk and cream cheese; stir on LOW heat until cream cheese is melted. Add potatoes, cook on medium low heat 20 to 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Spaghetti Casserole

While visiting my sister-in-law, Jenny Detwiler, for the Thanksgiving holiday, she mentioned this dish and I knew I had to try it. Mostly because Little Chief is CRAZY for spaghetti. It is his all-time favorite dish and he never, ever, tires of it. Unfortunately, I do. I like adventurous cooking, challenging my palette and trying dishes with a gourmet flair. He likes noodles and sauce. Really? Every single time I have asked him what he would like for dinner he has said spaghetti, even if we just had it last night! So I saw this recipe as an opportunity to incorporate both his love of spaghetti and my hankering for something new and exciting.

Little Chief was at first not pleased to see his beloved spaghetti in a casserole dish. That got him suspicious right off the bat! He said "Moooooooom", I noted a little panic in his voice, "what is wrong with this spaghetti?" I used my ninja mom skills and remained zen, nonchalant, preoccupied with cleaning up the kitchen. I replied that this was a new spaghetti recipe, spaghetti casserole. He said "the word casserole makes me shudder". (How did this kid get so dramatic?) But all's well that ends well. After much protesting, complaining and whining he finally took a bite and actually liked it. The hubby and I really liked it.

This makes a 9x13 pan, but my sis-in-law said she often makes it for friends that have just had babies and makes two 8x8's, one for her family and one for giving away. I really like that idea. Or you could eat one and freeze the other depending on the size of your family. I took her basic recipe and added a few different elements and this is what I came up with.

8 ounces spaghetti
8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces cream cheese (cut in cubes)
1 lb ground beef, cooked and drained (seasoned to taste with dry oregano, dry basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper)
30 ounce jarred spaghetti sauce (I used Prego Garden Chunky)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
Cook spaghetti noodles according to package directions and drain, but do not rinse.
Return spaghetti to warm pot and add cream cheese.
Blend cream cheese until melted with spaghetti, then add sour cream and Parmesan cheese and blend until incorporated.
Put spaghetti mixture into greased pan (or pans)
Layer half of the mozzarella, then seasoned beef, then a little more mozzarella
Spread spaghetti sauce across and top with remaining mozzarella.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes.
Let stand for 5 or 10 minutes.