Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lasagna Soup

This recipe is very good and very easy!  Everyone enjoyed it except for my husband, but he's hit or miss when it comes to things with a tomato base.  I served these with some warm tasty garlic bread sticks.  Enjoy!

I adapted this recipe from a farmgirl's dabbles.

Ingredients for the soup:

-2 tsp olive oil
-1 lb. Italian or breakfast sausage {I used breakfast sausage, its milder for my little ones}
-2 large onions, chopped
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-2 tsp dried oregano
-2 tsp dried basil
-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-6 oz. can tomato paste
-about 3 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped OR 28 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
-a couple of dashes liquid smoke, optional if not using fire roasted canned tomatoes
-2 bay leaves
-6 cups chicken stock {I used water and chicken bouillon}
-8 oz. dry pasta (1 cup)
-salt and pepper to taste

Cheesy Bottom:

-8 oz. ricotta
-1/2 cup grated Parmesan
-1/4 tsp salt
-pinch freshly ground pepper


1. Brown sausage in skillet, drain in colander and rinse off excess grease.  Return sausage to skillet, add olive oil, onion and garlic and cook over medium-low heat until fragrant and onion just starts to turn transparent.
2. Meanwhile to peel fresh tomatoes (skip this step if using canned tomatoes): fill a large pot about half way with water, bring to a boil.  Cut a shallow "X" in the bottom of all of your fresh tomatoes. Once the water is boiling, carefully drop tomatoes into the water for about 30 seconds; remove tomatoes from water, allow to cool a little, peel skin from tomatoes and roughly chop.
3. In crock-pot combine chicken broth, oregano, basil and crushed red pepper.
The yellow chunks are the chicken bouillon,
it dissolves better in hot water.
 4. Add peeled, chopped tomatoes to crock.
 5. Add bay leaves to crock.
 6. Add salt and pepper to crock.
 7. Mix well.
 8. Mix in meat mixture and tomato paste.  Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.
 9. While soup is cooking in a small bowl mix all 'Cheesy Bottom' ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
 10. About 20-30 minutes before serving pour dried pasta into soup and mix thoroughly. And stir occasionally to prevent pasta from sticking to each other.
11. To serve: Remove bay leaves and place a spoonful of the 'Cheesy Bottom' in the bottom of each of your serving bowls and top with the warm delicious soup.
12. Enjoy!

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lettuce Salad with Bacon and Almond Dressing

Alright, I know this salad looks okay, but believe me it is fantastic!  The flavor is wonderful with the combination of toasted almonds, bacon, garlic and fresh lettuce!  My husband and son love this... and well so do I!

Its quick and simple and you probably have most if not all of the ingredients in your house all the time.

Adapted from here.  

-1/2 cup sliced or chopped almonds
-1 1/2 oz. (about half of a 2.5 oz. bag) real bacon pieces OR 5 cooked slices of bacon crumbled
-1/4 cup sugar
-2 tbsp white vinegar
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-2 heads leaf lettuce

1. In a small skillet over medium-low heat combine the bacon pieces and almonds. Stir to heat through and toast almonds.
 2. While bacon and almonds are toasting up, in a small bowl whisk together the sugar, vinegar, salt, oil and garlic.
3. Once the almond/bacon mixture is toasted and heated through add directly to the vinegar and oil mixture. {The warmth of the bacon and almonds will help to infuse the dressing mixture with that awesome bacon flavor!}
4. Wash and coarsely chop lettuce. {I always use the organic hearts of romaine.}
 5. Place prepared lettuce into a salad serving bowl.
 6. Pour the bacon dressing over the lettuce and toss to coat thoroughly, just before serving.
7. Enjoy! Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, September 28, 2012

Herbed Dipping Oil

This is delicious and super easy to make!  Since the herb mixture will keep for up to 6 months, I mixed up some extra in a jar so I can make it even quicker when we decide it would be good with our meal.  {I also put the recipe on the jar so I can make more without having to look everywhere for the recipe.} 

I found the recipe in my Taste of Home Annual Recipes 2012.  And its a keeper!

We first tried it with Fantastic Foccacia Bread, my husband loved it!  

I think it would also be great drizzled over a soup or meat!  Yum!

Ingredients for 3 Batches:

-1 tbsp dried minced garlic
-1 tbsp dried crushed rosemary
-1 tbsp dried oregano
-2 tsp dried basil
-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp ground pepper

Additional Ingredients for Making 1 Batch:

-1 tbsp water
-1/2 cup olive oil


In an air tight container combine the first seven ingredients, store in a cool dry place for up to 6 months.

To Prepare Dipping Oil:  

1. In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine 4 tsp herb mixture with 1 tbsp water.
2. Microwave, uncovered on high for 15 seconds.
3. Drain, squeezing out extra water.
4. Transfer to small shallow dipping dish and stir in 1/2 cup olive oil.
5. Serve with good fresh bread.
6. Enjoy!

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Fantastic Foccacia Bread

This is a great recipe and oh so easy!  You could top it with whatever kind of toppings you like {I used olive oil, crushed rosemary and coarse sea salt}, you could add sun dried or thinly sliced tomatoes, sliced olives, thin sliced red onion, any fresh herbs, bacon or any cheese you love.

I found this recipe on AllRecipes here.  Its wonderful and I highly recommend it!  It does rise beautifully, has a great texture and flavor!

I served it with a pasta dish and with my Herbed Dipping Oil.

Ingredients for dough:

-1 tbsp honey (you could substitute sugar)
-2 cups warm water
-1 tbsp salt
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1/2 cup diced onion
-5 cups flour, more if needed
-1 tbsp yeast

For topping:

-3 tbsp olive oil
-2 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary (you could substitute dried, just make sure you rub it in your hands to let the flavor out)
-1/4 cup grated Parmesan (optional, I forgot to add the cheese and it was still great)
-coarse salt to taste


1. Layer the dough ingredients in the dough in bread-maker pan in the order listed.
2. Start bread-maker on the dough setting; check after about 5 minutes to see if you need to add more flour to get dough to a good not too sticky consistency.  Allow bread-maker to complete cycle.
3. Remove dough from bread-maker and turn out onto a lightly oiled surface or directly onto a prepared/oiled baking sheet {I used a pizza stone}.
4. Shape into large round and use your fingertips to add "dimples" into the surface of the dough.
5. Brush with 3 tbsp olive oil, (Parmesan if using), the rosemary and the coarse salt.
You can see the "dimples" where the olive oil is pooled.
6. Set aside and preheat oven to 415 degrees.
7. Once oven is preheated place loaf in oven and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.
8. Remove from oven and allow loaf to rest for about 5 minutes before cutting. 
9. Enjoy with Herbed Dipping Oil!  Yum!

Update-  To make Herbed Focaccia... {for this one I halved the recipe to make a smaller loaf}
Add: {double if making a full batch loaf}
-2 tsp dried basil
-2 tsp dried sage
-2 tsp dried oregano
-1/4 tsp pepper
To the dough ingredients when placing in the bread-maker.
Dough finished in bread-maker.
Dough pressed out and ready to rise.
Risen dough brushed with olive oil.
Sprinkle oil brushed focaccia with grated Parmesan and coarse salt and bake.

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

LOVE...Make Your Own Antibacterial Soft Scrub Cleanser

Alright, now I love being able to make my own cleaning products and using something that I don't have to worry about hiding from the kids or locking it up!

My mom has always used Soft Scrub and yes it works great, but you have to be careful not to get it on your clothes, rugs or towels during or after cleaning something because the bleach with leave permanent bleach marks on these items.

So, this past weekend my husband replaced the old faucet and re-piped the plumbing to our second bathroom tub/shower.  And after he was finished the old enameled tub looked terrible (granted it never has really looked great because I'm not sure the previous owners put much effort into keeping it clean), I thought I would never be able to get it clean again.  

And then I saw a post from OneGoodThing by Jillee to make your own Antibacterial Soft Scrub Cleanser.  {The recipe is also listed below.}  I thought why not use this opportunity to give it a try!  So I mixed up a double batch, thinking if it was just alright I would still use it in my kitchen sink and... I LOVE IT!

This is what the tub looked like when I went to clean it....
 And this is what it looked like when I was done....
There are still some rust marks that were there when we moved in.  But other than that, it is cleaner than when I scrubbed and scrubbed to get it clean with a commercial product when we moved in!  And the homemade scrub smelled great and I didn't feel like I was scrubbing for half an hour to accomplish 'clean'!  Yes!  Enjoy!

Combine for a single batch:

-3/4 cup baking soda
-1/4 cup castile soap {I used Dr. Bronners Eucalyptus  this can be found in a natural foods store or in the natural foods department of a large grocery store in the soap area, I have also ordered it from Amazon.}
-1 tbsp water
-10 to 15 drops tea tree oil {I used 15 drops; tea tree oil is the ingredient that makes this recipe antibacterial and can be found in the pharmacy department of any major store}
-1 tbsp vinegar {some people have been mentioning that the vinegar can cause the mixture to become kind of solid, so I think you could leave it out and substitute water here}

You can add more baking soda if you would like it to be more pasty in texture; I thought mine turned out a perfect consistency.  Enjoy!

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Last Canning Day for Summer Produce...

I really wish you could smell my house today!  I'm canning green ketchup and green tomato pasta sauce with the last of the tomatoes from our garden!

It really is bittersweet; its exciting canning these new recipes but at the same time its very sad to think that this is the very last produce to can this year.

I'll post the recipes later so if you too have lots of green tomatoes that aren't going to have a chance to turn red, you can brew up these recipes too!
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Awesome Split Pea & Ham Crockpot Soup

This is a fantastic recipe!  I love that this recipe tastes like great split pea soup and wasn't that thick pasty texture; its like a nice textured thicker soup.  I served these with Icebox Butterhorns.  Yum!  

I found the recipe here.  It is so delicious and would freeze well, but we didn't have any left over for long.


-16 oz. dried green split peas
-2 cups diced ham
-3 carrots, peeled and sliced
-1 small onion, chopped
-2 celery ribs with leaves, chopped 
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 bay leaf
-1/4 cup fresh parsley or 2 tsp dried
-1 tbsp seasoned salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1 1/2 quarts hot water


1. Rinse dried peas and remove any debris {check for any rocks or sticks that got through the processing}, place in bottom of crockpot.
 2. Add diced ham on top of peas.
 3. Add sliced carrots on top of ham.
 4. Add chopped onion on carrots.
 5. Add chopped celery {Make sure you include the leaves too!  There is a ton of flavor in the leaves!}.
 6. Add the minced garlic.
 7. Next, add the bay leaf, fresh parsley, seasoned salt and pepper.
8. Pour in the 1 1/2 quarts hot water.  DO NOT STIR!!!
9. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.  Once again: DO NOT STIR!
10. Stir when cooking time is completed and enjoy!
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Icebox Butterhorns

These are very good and easy to make; I found the recipe in the October/November 2012 Taste of Home magazine.  I served them with Awesome Split Pea & Ham Crockpot Soup.

FYI: you do need to start these a day in advance!

You could probably use a bread machine for this recipe too; just run ingredients on a dough setting, then resume process on step #5.

I froze half of them after baking; the recipe makes 24 rolls.

-2 pkg. (1/4 oz. each) active dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp. total)
-1/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
-2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)
-3/4 cup butter, melted
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 egg
-1 tsp salt
-6 1/2 cups flour

1. Dissolve yeast in warm water.
2. In a large bowl, combine milk, butter, sugar, egg, salt, yeast mixture and 3 cups of flour.
 3. Beat on medium speed until smooth.
 4. Do not knead; place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top.
 5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
 6. Remove from refrigerator.
7. Punch down dough and turn onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half.
8. Roll each half into a 12 inch circle.
 9. Cut into 12 wedges.  {I used a pizza cutter.}
 10. Roll up wedges from the wide ends.
 11. Place onto a greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart {point side down}.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for about 1 hour or until doubled.
 12. Once risen....
 Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15-20 mintues.
 13. Remove from oven, you could brush these with melted butter at this point (optional, I didn't).
14. Enjoy! Print Friendly and PDF
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