Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana

Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana

crock-pot-zuppa-toscana-7-1
Photo Credit: Homemade Hooplah

More soup for the cold winter months!  This Olive Garden copycat soup is hearty and can stand on its own as a meal.  It has it all-meat, potatoes, kale… shhhhh… hang with me, kale haters!  I promise you’ll love it.  I adapted my recipe from the Crock Pot Zuppa Toscana recipe at Homemade Hooplah.  My version has cut quite a few corners.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1 tbsp garlic minced
  • 1 cup frozen diced onion
  • 1 package Ore Ida diced hashbrown potatoes
  • 2-4 russet potatoes, diced
  • 1 pinch salt to taste
  • 1 pinch black pepper to taste
  • 4 cup chicken broth (32 oz)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bunch kale stems removed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese (for topping)

Directions

  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown and crumble hot Italian sausage, about 5-8 minutes. Add onion and garlic and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until some of the onion begins to turn opaque (no need to cook onion completely at this point). Drain grease from skillet.
  2. In a 6 quart crock pot (or bigger), add cooked sausage & veggies plus the diced potato. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour chicken broth on top. There should be enough broth to cover the tops of the potatoes; if there isn’t, add up to 2 cups water so potatoes are covered.

  3. Gently stir ingredients, cover crock pot, and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
  4. Remove lid from crock pot and add kale and heavy whipping cream, then stir to combine.
  5. Cover crock pot and cook on HIGH for another 30 minutes.
  6. Serve zuppa toscana immediately with shredded parmesan cheese as garnish.

Simple enough!  I usually brown the sausage, onion, and garlic the night before to make for a dump and go meal in the morning.  It’s chilly outside-hibernate and enjoy!

Instant Pot Black Bean Soup

Instant Pot Black Bean Soup

img_6036Ignore my horrible photo… I promise this is a delicious recipe.  And yes… that is half of an avocado.  Don’t judge.  I was just so hungry by the time I was able to eat the dinner I prepared at 8:30 pm that I snapped the quickest photo I could.  Anyway, enough with the reasoning for my horribly unappetizing photo…

This black bean soup is both delicious and healthy.  I will warn you that it might not make a great main course, since it is basically, well… beans.  It’s enough for me, but most people might like something a little heavier to go with it.  Don’t let the “Instant Pot” title fool you-it is definitely anything but instant.  This recipe requires the pressure cooker to naturally release, which takes a little longer than a manual release would.  It took well over an hour and a half for the Instant Pot to come to pressure, cook on high, then naturally release, so be aware before you make this for the evening!  If you want to see the original recipe, check it out at A Pinch of Healthy.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, diced (save some time and use frozen chopped onion!)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (14.5 ounce)
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 pound dry black beans, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (I used a little less… tiny people in the house)
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder (again… a little less for us-tiny people)
  • 2 Tablespoons cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • Toppings: avocado, sour cream, lime, green onion, tortilla chips

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients (except toppings) to the Instant Pot, and place the lid on top, with the vent set to “sealing.”

  2. Cook the soup on manual high pressure for 40 minutes, and let the pressure naturally release.

  3. After the pot is depressurized, remove the lid, and carefully remove the bay leaves.  Soup will thicken after sitting.

  4. Serve with desired toppings.

     

Enjoy!

Healthy Crock Pot Spinach Artichoke Dip

Healthy Crock Pot Spinach Artichoke Dip

spinach dip
Photo Credit: Prevention

I love spinach artichoke dip, but somehow always have the mindset that it’s a recipe that would be far too complicated for me to even attempt.  That is, until I found this simple (and healthy!) recipe from Prevention.  The prep is easy, the ingredients are much healthier than most spinach artichoke dip recipes, and… it’s delicious!  Check out the original here!

Ingredients

  • 2 c shredded reduced-fat mozzarella
  • 1 container (8 oz) reduced-fat onion and chive cream cheese
  • ¼ c grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ large onion, chopped (or frozen chopped onion, thawed)
  • 1 bag (10 oz) frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 can (13.75 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp ground red pepper
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Baked tortilla chips, pita chips, carrots, or celery for serving

Directions

  1. Combine and stir together the mozzarella, cream cheese, Parmesan, onion, spinach, artichokes, garlic powder, and red pepper in a 3- to 5-quart slow cooker.
  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until heated through.
  4. Serve warm with tortilla chips or celery and carrot sticks.

So simple!  Pour ingredients, stir, let heat through, and chow down!

Cheesy Cheddar Broccoli Casserole

Cheesy Cheddar Broccoli Casserole

Cheesy-Cheddar-Broccoli-Casserole_EXPS_SDFM17_28900_C09_30_6b-696x696.jpgI’m mainly a green bean casserole person.  That’s pretty much the extent of my casserole tolerance, so I rarely venture out.  Well, I have ventured out.  Ok, not very far, but it’s still a tiny venture, so give me some credit!  This broccoli casserole has all the good stuff-french fried onions, cheese, and oh yeah… I guess there is some broccoli.  This recipe comes from Taste of Home.  Check out the original recipe here!

Ingredients

  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 can (6 ounces) french-fried onions, divided
  • 2 packages (16 ounces each) frozen broccoli florets, thawed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. In a large saucepan, combine soup, sour cream, 1 cup cheese and 1-1/4 cups onions; heat through over medium heat, stirring until blended, 4-5 minutes. Stir in broccoli. Transfer to a greased 2-qt. baking dish.
  2. Bake, uncovered, until bubbly, 25-30 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and onions. Bake until cheese is melted, 10-15 minutes.

Vegetables are much better when smothered in cheese, sour cream, and french fried onions.  Don’t you agree?

Bacon Ranch Cheeseball

Bacon Ranch Cheeseball

Bacon-Ranch-Cheese-Ball-10.jpgI’ve never made a cheeseball, so I figured it was about time I attempted one.  It seems to be a right of passage into momhood… or something like that.  So, here I am.  Cheeseballin’ it up!  This recipe has it all-bacon, ranch, and of course… cheese!  I found this recipe at Carlsbad Cravings.  Check out the original recipe here!  It’s easy, cheesy, and a crowd-pleaser.

Ingredients

  • 2 8 oz. bricks cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 (1 oz.) pkg Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Pepper Jack cheese
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons finely grated sharp cheddar cheesedivided
  • 6 slices bacon,cooked and diced divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions divided
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
Serve With
  • crackers, celery, carrots, etc.

Directions

Cheese Ball
  1. Add cream cheese, sour cream, ranch seasoning, garlic powder, pepper jack cheese, 1 CUP cheddar cheese, half of the bacon and 2 tablespoons green onions to a large bowl and mix until well combined.
  2. Drop mixture onto a large piece of plastic wrap, cover tightly, and shape into a ball. Chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours to firm up (up to 24 hours if serving the next day) before rolling in coating.
Coating
  1. Meanwhile, add remaining 2 tablespoon cheddar cheese, bacon and green onions to a medium bowl. Refrigerate.
  2. When ready to coat cheeseball, whisk in pecans until evenly combined.
Assemble
  1. Spread Coating in an even layer on cutting board/parchment lined counter. Remove cheese ball from refrigerator and roll in Coating mixture, pressing to adhere, until evenly coated. At this point you can refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. Serve with crackers, celery, carrots, etc.

There you go!  Easy AND delicious!

Slow Cooker Chili

Slow Cooker Chili

chili
Photo Credit: Betty Crocker

Most of my favorite recipes come from Betty Crocker, so naturally, I happen to love their recipe for slow cooker chili.  This chili has a very short ingredient list, but is very filling since it uses double the amount of ground beef as most chili recipes.  It’s hearty and delicious!  Check out their original recipe here!

 

 

Ingredients

  • 2 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
  • 1 cup frozen chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 can (28 oz) petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (16 oz) chili beans in sauce, undrained
  • 1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  1. In 12-inch skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain.
  2. In 4- to 5-quart slow cooker, mix beef mixture and remaining ingredients.
  3. Cover and cook on Low heat setting 6 to 8 hours.

I hope you enjoy this one during the winter months!

Slow Cooker Creamy Tomato, Basil, and Parmesan Soup

Slow Cooker Creamy Tomato, Basil, and Parmesan Soup

slow-cooker-tomato-basil-parmesan-soup-2
Photo Credit: Creme de la Crumb

More fall soup fun!  This is another easy slow cooker soup that pairs with nearly anything or can be served as an entrée.  It’s perfect for a crisp fall day.  This recipe comes from Creme de la Crumb-check out their original recipe here!

 

Ingredients

  • 2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 10-ounce can tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup frozen diced onion
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups shredded parmesan cheese

Roux

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream OR half & half

Directions

  1. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and next 7 ingredients (through broth) to a slow cooker/crockpot. Cover and cook for 2 hours on high or 4-8 hours on low (if you are home, give it a stir every now and then and scrape down the sides).
  2. About 30-40 minutes before serving, thoroughly blend all ingredients in slow cooker using an immersion blender.  Alternately, blend ingredients in blender or food processor and return to crock pot.
  3. Prepare the roux. Begin by melting the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.
  4. Add flour to melted butter and stir until flour clumps up. Slowly whisk in the heavy cream (or half & half) until mixture is thickened and smooth. Add roux and parmesan cheese to crockpot and stir to combine.
  5. Allow to cook another 20-30 minutes until cheese is completely melted. Give it a good stir before serving. Top with additional basil and parmesan cheese if desired.

There you have it-comfort food from scratch!  This is one of my favorite soup recipes because the soup is thick, has a rich flavor, but doesn’t make your stomach feel so heavy you’re miserable.  In the past I have served this soup in bread bowls (frozen Panera bread bowls are my go to-check to see if your local grocery store carries them here).  I have also paired this soup with paninis made on the George Foreman grill for an extra bit of crunch.  Any way you choose to serve this soup, it’s sure to be a hit!