Sunday, February 25, 2024

Smoked Sausage and Potato Soup

 My family really enjoys smoked sausage, so when I saw this recipe for Smoked Sausage and Potato Soup on the How Sweet Eats blog this week, I knew I had to make it!

The recipe calls for Yukon Gold potatoes, but you could use regular old russet potatoes if you like. The Yukon Gold potatoes hold up better and retain their shape, making more of chunkier potato soup with a thinner broth. The russet potatoes will break down into the soup, creating a thicker soup, with not as many chunks of potato. Use what you like best or use what you have on hand!

I used the Yukon Gold potatoes that the recipe called for and my family loved the flavor and texture of the soup. They thought the sausage to potato ratio was right on point and especially liked dunking their crusty bread into the flavorful broth. They said the soup was hearty and satisfying and gave it bonus points for being a little different than your everyday soup.


Summer Sausage and Potato Soup

Adapted from How Sweet Eats

by Jessica Merchant

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 package smoked sausage, sliced into rounds

2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, cut into chunks

5 cups chicken stock

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

4 cups shredded kale or spinach

Note: Feel free to use russet potatoes if that's what you have on hand. The russet potatoes will break up and help to give you a thicker and creamier soup. The yukon gold potatoes will hold their shape and your end result will be a more brothier soup.

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and the garlic with a big pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onions soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the paprika and oregano.

Add in the sausage. Cook, stirring often until the sausage browns a bit on both sides, another 5 to 6 minutes.

Add in the potatoes and the stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer. Cover and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Whisk or shake together the cream and flour until combined. Pour the mixture into the soup and bring it to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often, until thickened.

Taste the soup and season with more salt and pepper if desired. Stir in the kale. Cook for 5 more minutes until the kale wilts a bit and serve! 

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Ina Garten's Broccoli and Bowties


I remember when Ina made this Broccoli and Bowties dish on her cooking show way back in the aughts. Gosh, that was a long time ago. Ina was about 20 years younger and so was I. 

I put this dish on my "to-make list" and then proceeded not to make it for about 20 years. Such is life! 

Back then my "to-make list" felt 20,000 pages, it was quite literally ever-ending. In fact, I used to have nightmares that someone was trying to kill me and in my dream I would be thinking, "wait, you can't kill me yet...I have too many recipes I want to cook first."

Now it's years later, I've shared over a thousand recipes on this blog, and I still feel that way. I still have a million recipes I'd like to make and there is just simply not enough time, especially lately.

I'm going on my 12th week of being quite sick and eating a limited diet. However, I do miss cooking and my husband is a pasta and broccoli lover, so I thought this was the perfect easy peasy dish for me to make him.

Ina likes her broccoli to be firm-tender in this dish, but my husband likes his broccoli a little softer. This is why if you've seen Ina's version her dish looks quite different than mine. My version looks green because the broccoli cooks longer, breaking up, and creating more of a sauce with the Parmesan, butter, oil, and garlic. My husband prefers my version of this dish because the broccoli seems to go further and becomes saucier and is just more broccolier! Look at me creating new words! Either way you make it, this dish is a winner and perfect for this time of year.

Broccoli and Bowties

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style

by Ina Garten

Serves 6-8

8 cups broccoli florets


1/2 pound farfalle (bowtie) pasta

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

zest of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup toasted pignoli (pine) nuts

freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Cook the broccoli for 3 minutes in a large pot of boiling salted water. Remove the broccoli from the water with a slotted spoon or sieve. Place in a large bowl and set aside.

In the same water, cook the bowtie pasta according to the package directions, about 12 minutes. Drain well and add to the broccoli.

Meanwhile, in a small saute pan, heat the butter and the oil and cook the garlic and lemon zest over medium-low heat for 1 minute. Off the heat, add 2 teaspoons salt, the pepper, and lemon juice and pour this over the broccoli and pasta. Toss well. Season to taste, sprinkle with the pignolis and cheese, if using and serve.

Ingredients You Love @ I Heart Cooking Clubs

Sunday, February 11, 2024

{Game Day Eats} Chicken and Bacon Ranch Puff Pastry Pizza

In my last post, detailing my favorite top ten recipes of the year, I shared that the puff pastry pizzas from Jessica Merchant's How Sweet Eats blog were our all-time favorite recipes of the year. I am crazy for the Zucchini, Lemon and Goat Cheese Puff Pastry Pizza, but my family loves the classic Pepperoni Puff Pastry Pizza, so I thought I'd try another classic flavor this time around: Chicken and Bacon Ranch Puff Pastry Pizza.

Look, the trickiest thing you have to do here is remember to thaw the puff pastry the day of or the night before making this. Topping the pizza is easy peasy! These puff pastry pizzas are mostly one pan dishes that are mess-free, quick, easy, and super delicious. 

I made this version for my husband to enjoy on Superbowl Sunday. The puff pastry is topped with ranch dressing with chives and dill, then shredded chicken, cheddar cheese, chopped bacon, and then more ranch, dill and scallions. My husband thought it was very good, perfect for game day, and that all the flavors were balanced. The puff pastry bakes up all high around the toppings and is so crispy and flaky. Give it a try!

Chicken and Bacon Ranch Puff Pastry Pizza

Adapted from Everyday Dinners

by Jessica Merchant

Serves 2-4

3 slices bacon, chopped

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

1/3 cup ranch dressing

1/2 teaspoon dried dill

1/2 teaspoon dried chives

2/3 cup cooked and shredded chicken

3/4 freshly grated Cheddar cheese

2 scallions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until it just begins to crisp. Do not cook all the way or it will burn in the oven! Scoop the bacon out with a slotted spoon and place it on a paper towel to remove excess grease.

Place the sheet of puff pastry on the prepared baking sheet. Spread 1/3 cup of the ranch dressing on the puff pastry, leaving a 1-inch border on the edges. Sprinkle the dried dill and chives along the edges. Scatter the chicken and cheese over the ranch dressing. Sprinkle the bacon on top.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and drizzle with the remaining ranch and sprinkle with the scallions and fresh dill. Puff pastry is best served shortly after making.

Game Day Eats @ I Heart Cooking Clubs


Sunday, February 4, 2024

My Top Ten Recipes of 2023

I made a lot of delicious food in 2023 and I didn't want to continue on without showcasing my Top Ten Favorite Recipes of 2023! The recipes below are in order of my top favorites, starting with my most favorite of all! If you click on the recipe title you will be directed back to the original post and recipe!

How Sweet Eats Pepperoni Puff Pastry Pizza I am obsessed with this puff pastry pizza! I highly encourage everyone to go over to the How Sweet Eats blog and search all the options for puff pastry pizza! This is a great way to get something quick and delicious on the dinner table during the week! All you need to do is set out the puff pastry the morning of, then come home and spread the pastry out, top it, and bake it in the oven. It is a crispy flaky delight and you can do pretty much any toppings you'd like. My family loved this pepperoni pizza option best, but I liked How Sweet Eats Zucchini, Lemon, and Goat Cheese Puff Pastry Pizza best of all because it's light and fresh and zingy. I ate it on repeat all summer long! Other puff pastry pizza options are Pesto Caprese, Pickle Lovers', and Bacon, Sage, and Pumpkin. Check them out if you need a quick delicious weeknight recipe that everyone will love!

Ina Garten's Spicy Pimento Cheese Dip  Look, there are three recipes I made on repeat in my kitchen and this recipe is one of them. Ina's Spicy Pimento Cheese Dip is THE ONLY DIP recipe you need. I made this so many times, in fact I made it anytime we went anywhere. It is insanely delicious. The first time I made this I made half a batch and I quickly learned never to do that again. We are whole batch people for this recipe. You eat it on crackers and celery and really anything else. You will be slathering it on everything from baked potatoes to burgers to grilled cheese to any sandwich, soft pretzels, even a breakfast sandwich. I took it to the 4th of July party and it was the first thing gone within a half hour. Make this and put it on everything. It is the perfect hint of spicy, without being too spicy and it just goes with everything. People go nuts over it!

Mark Bittman's Sichaun-Style Cucumber Salad The second thing I made on repeat all summer long was Mark Bittman's Sichaun-Style Cucumber Salad. My friend Linda kept growing the most delicious cucumbers and bringing them to me left and right. I made this refreshingly delicious and flavorful cucumber salad several times a week and ate the whole bowl myself. It was so zesty and zingy and just popped with flavor. I craved it on repeat and took it with me to every family gathering where it was a big hit! 

Donna Hay's Smoky Halloumi and Couscous Salad I must have ate this salad at least once a week all throughout the summer! I love halloumi cheese and having it on a salad gives you a good excuse to eat it and call it healthy. Coat the cheese in some herbs and fry it in a pan until it gets all squeaky and chewy. Serve that over pearl couscous that pops in the mouth with some fresh spinach and tomatoes and a smoky paprika's heaven!

Ina Garten's Hot Dogs In Puff Pastry  Poor Ina got a lot of flack on social media about adding a recipe for hot dogs in her cookbook. I'm not sure why because I think most people do love them and they're definitely family friendly. Plus, Ina has said over and over again that she loves to mix high end ingredients like puff pastry with low end ingredients like hot dogs. And listen, when Ina creates a recipe for hot dogs you make it because she is pretty much the Queen of recipes and let me tell you...this recipe is so good! Just buy enough to double the recipe because your family will inhale these. We especially loved these with a little sprinkle of the Everything But the Bagel seasoning on top and then we loved to dunk them in a mixture of mayo and mustard. You could even make these and cut them into minis for a party. They are so savory and juicy and delicious!

Half-Baked Harvest's Creamy Roasted Cherry Tomato Ricotta Pasta I had my eye on this pasta recipe for awhile and over the summer I grew the most delicious cherry tomatoes and I paired them with a fresh basket ricotta from the Murray's cheese department of my Kroger store. If you haven't tried the fresh basket ricotta then you should! The cherry tomatoes roast in the oven with herbs and garlic and then get mixed with the fresh ricotta, Parmesan, and butter before getting mixed into the pasta. It is so creamy and dreamy and flavorful. It was my favorite pasta dish of the year, a creamy garden fresh explosion of flavor.

Ina Garten's Blueberry Breakfast Ricotta CakeI've made a lot of cakes in my day, but none like Ina's Blueberry Breakfast Ricotta Cake. I can honestly declare it THE BEST CAKE I've ever made. It is utter perfection. In fact, I follow the Barefoot Contessa Fan Page on Facebook and this cake cycled on repeat on that page as person after person made it, shared it, and declared it amazing. The crumb is so tender and moist and ratio of blueberries to cake batter is just right. There is a hint of lemon and it is just oh so good served warm. If you find yourself in need of a cake for any reason just do yourself a favor and make this one.

Ruth Reichl's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies If you're a big oatmeal chocolate chip cookie fan, then Ruth Reichl's recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies is for you. Oatmeal chocolate chip is probably my all-time favorite cookie and I think this recipe is the best, hands down. Ruth calls for a lot of oatmeal, making these cookies thick and chewy and more substantial than a regular old oatmeal cookie. These babies are thick! You can use chocolate chips in this recipe, but I prefer chocolate chunks so I buy bars of Ghiradelli chocolate and cut them into big chunks. Give them a try!

Tessa Kiros' Milky Way Ice Cream Sundae This was my husband's favorite dessert of the year and I can see why. Not only is this dessert delicious, but it's so easy a kid could do it. All you need is three ingredients: milky war bars, cream, and vanilla cream. You simply cut up the milky way bars and throw them in a pan, add some cream and melt. The milky way bars melt down with the cream to create a thick fudge-like sauce that is delicious poured over vanilla ice cream. Buy some extra milky war bars to cut and garnish on top of the sundae and you have a big hit for the whole family!

Ina Garten's Baked Sweet Potato Fries with the Best Sweet Potato Fry Dipping Sauce I crave these thick wedges of sweet potato fries dunked in the creamiest sweet potato fry dipping sauce. In fact, I could eat them daily and never tire of them. Ina's sweet potato fries are cut into thick wedges and coated in olive oil, brown sugar, salt and pepper then baked in the oven. I like these better cooked in the air fryer, but either way works. What makes the fries so delicious is the sweet potato fry dipping sauce made from mayo, Sriracha, and smoked paprika. It is so savory, and creamy, and spicy, and addictive. I literally cannot stop eating them!








January Potluck @ I Heart Cooking Clubs

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