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Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup & Pasta Salad With Better Bakery

12:41 PM


*sponsored post, all opinions and views expressed are entirely my own*

The new year has kicked off to a fabulous start. While the weather here in the South is a bit unusual for this time of year, the unseasonably warm weather still is not enough to break our winter eating habits. We have been filling our bellies with lots of warm soups and stews and chili is of course a staple for this time of year.




Whenever I make a soup or stew, I always have to serve some sort of bread. Usually, we go for hearty crusty breads that make it easy to sop up the last bit of broth from our bowls. Sometimes we do sandwiches. I mean, seriously, nothing quite beats the soup and sandwich combo and who needs to dine out when you can get a deli experience at home. With four kids, making things at home and giving my kids a restaurant like experience is way easier on my pocketbook.



On Fridays growing up, my mom dubbed it Fun Food Friday. That was the day of the week when she brought the restaurant to us. She made chili dogs, homemade pizzas, whatever we could get at the fast food joint, she made for us at home. I love that I get to give my kids the same thing I got when I was their age. My mom even has these cute little baskets lined with wax paper and she goes from kid to kid, saying, "Can I take your order?"

So on this slightly warm day, with just a hint of a cool breeze, we went deli style. I made a huge pot of Wild Rice and Mushroom soup and I decided to give the melts by Better Bakery a try.



At the end of dinner, all bowls were empty and there were nothing but crumbs left where the Chicken & Bacon Club melt once lay. The melts are a pretty nice size. I cut them in half for my younger kids and it was very filling for them. Of course, my teens wanted a whole one and my 14 year old son scarfed his down like he was breathing. The bread was nice and crunchy on the outside and soft inside with the cheese oozing out. Seriously. Dude. It was so good. It was so good, I called my mom and told her about it.





I am a stickler for details so, yeah, the packaging was really neat. 



For the soup, I kept it simple and hearty. I added a bit of heavy cream to the chicken broth to give it just a hint of creaminess. Pair that with some freshly grated Parmesan, it was so good.  Paired with the Better Bakery Chicken and Bacon Club melt, the soup was immediately inhaled by the kids. We loved dipping the pretzel crust into our soup.

This soup is something you can easily make in the crock pot. I cooked my rice separately because I really don't care for swollen overcooked rice. But of course, you can cook it along with your veggies.

Wild Rice, Mushroom Soup with Parmesan
You will need:
1 1/2 cup uncooked wild rice blend
4 cups of chicken broth
1 cup water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup of grated Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
1-2 stalks of celery (diced)
1-2 carrots peeled and diced
5-8 mushrooms sliced
1 tablespoon diced onion

Add all of your ingredients except the rice to a large pot and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for an hour or until carrots are tender.

Cook rice separately and then add to soup before serving. 

Serve with a bit of grated Parmesan on top. 





 We did the oven option for heating our melts. It gave them a really nice crunchy crust with a warm melty inside.


For a quick, simple and delicious lunch, why not try my super easy recipe for Pasta Salad and pair it with the Better Bakery Cheese & Pepperoni Pizza melt. I mean, who does not like pizza and what better way to serve it than with a little pasta on the side?




My kids and I are always having pizza in some variation. We make our own or embellish a store bought one.  These are certainly less messy than making our own and we still make it dinnertime or lunch time by adding a nice simple pasta salad.




I try to avoid a lot of chips and fries at our dinner table, and love giving my kids a healthy option that is not only --good for them--but good for them. This is a super easy and quick side dish that can be made ahead of time and placed in the fridge. There are many variations to this type of salad. I have an aunt who makes a delicious one using shrimp and chicken. Simply wow. This is also perfect for warm summer months.

Creamy Pasta Salad
You will need:
2-3 cups cooked pasta
1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan
1/2 cup Italian Dressing
1/2 cup Ranch Dressing
Blackberries
Cubed sharp cheddar cheese
Cucumber (sliced)
Watermelon (cubed)

Mix everything together in a large mixing bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. Best served chilled.





If you would like to give these delicious Better Bakery melts a try, click here to enjoy a coupon for $1.50 off. You can use this link to find a store near you that sells them. Here they can be found at our local Kroger. Check out the frozen food section at a grocer near you to find these treats and other flavors/varieties they have.





Pizza Casserole.....

11:18 PM



I am busy filling up my recipe binder with handwritten recipes to have for my children and when I started copying this one, I got so hungry. I realized we have not had this in a while. I reminded myself to definitely make it for them next week. We love pasta here and of course, with tweens and teens, spaghetti is always a winner.

Am I the only one who puts hot sauce in her spaghetti?  I don't put it in the main batch, but on my plate, I douse the bad boy with hot goodness. I like spicy spaghetti. How good would it be with some chipotles in it?!

To make this dinner (and perfect dish for a potluck), you will need:
Spaghetti Noodles (or your favorite pasta noodle)
Spaghetti or pizza sauce (two  jars)
Olives
Pepperoni (chopped and sliced)
1 pound of ground beef
italian seasoning
salt/pepper
4 tbsp of minced garlic
fresh parsley
2 cups shredded cheese of your choice
2 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Brown your ground beef and season with salt, pepper, italian seasoning and minced garlic.  Drain grease.

Cook your noodles until tender. I always use the refrigerator test. I throw a noodle at the fridge and if it sticks, they are done. Drain and pour 2 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil on them, stir to prevent them from sticking together.


In large mixing bowl, add your noodles, then ground beef and chopped pepperoni, sauce chopped parsley and 2 tbsp of minced garlic, add about 1 tsp of salt and mix well. If it appears too dry, add more sauce.




Fill your casserole dish  with the spaghetti mixture and top with cheese, pepperoni slices and olives. You can also make it a supreme pizza casserole by adding chopped onions, sliced bell peppers, mushrooms, ham, bacon...seriously, the possibilities are endless!

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes and serve hot. It is so good!




cold

2 Soups That Warm The Soul

10:46 PM

So this weekend I had a shoot out of town. I stayed in a super fabulous hotel with two of my children and my best friend.

Life was good.  The party went great. The hotel stay was great and my kids had a great time.

The only downside?

Traveling 3 hours back home in a car with no heat. Yes.

That was my life.

No heat.

While my teeth chattered and I reminded myself that many before heated cars, traveled way further with no heat, I got to thinking of the most warming foods.

And here you have it...while I suffered riding with my toes slowly turning to icicles and bundling coats on my little ones in the back seat, here are two recipes I think would more than warm the soul and your toes.



Brunswick Stew


From what I can gather of this, it is usually and typically made from any leftover meats and veggies you have from the week. I first heard of this when it was regularly on the menu in the winter months at the end of the week at the gas station down from my house. (Yep, gas stations in the south, have bonefide cooks and stuffs in their kitchens...aint no half stepping here!)




My mom's family is from Texas. While they are not Mexican or of any other descent that I know of, they are very well versed in Mexican foods. I remember one Christmas spent with my late uncle, boiling a hog head and grinding it for tamales. It was epic. I never did taste those hog head tamales and nor did I ever taste his menudo.

When one of my cousins posted a bowl of homemade menudo, I was interested. I took to youtube and discovered that there was a canned Menudo that got rave reviews. While I still have to get over the texture of the tripe, this soup was so dang good! And I only had it from the can! I can only imagine what the real deal tastes like.

No matter what recipe you use, these are ideas to expand upon. Let me know what you think or if you have a recipe that will knock my socks off.

cake

Keylime Shortcakes...

11:49 PM


As I get ready to post some amazing recipes for January, enjoy this refreshing dessert!

Easy, quick and only takes a few minutes, check out this simple yet deliciously tart and sweet dessert over at Living Locurto. Just in time for spring!

beef

Beef Tips and Gravy

7:05 PM



Working on some exciting new recipes and content!  Until then, here is a super delicious must make meal perfect for cold months!

Here in the South, at least in Mississippi, there is not a place you can go to for a quick lunch that does not offer 'beef tips and gravy'.  Usually served with rice, sometimes it is sided with mashed potatoes. It is one of those dishes that working men love because hey, it's meat and potatoes and it is very filling.

It is a simple meal...no frou-frou ingredients...just meat, gravy and some onions/bell peppers. Season it just right, and this simple, traditional meal is so good.

My family loves it, but then again, we love mostly anything that comes paired with gravy. We are gravy addicts....at least I am and being that mama is, the kids happen to be too.

This meal is perfect after a long day's work or on a cool night.  I served mine with honey roasted carrots with bacon, but any green side will do just fine or a nice simple side salad.



You will need

Beef stew meat ( I used a large family pack for my family of 5)
1/2 large onion (sliced)
1/2 green bell pepper (sliced)
3 tbsp Worchestershire Sauce
1 tbsp pepper
3 tsp salt

(you can add more salt and pepper to taste. I like my food nicely seasoned, so sometimes I use a bit more. Don't be afraid to taste and add more if you need to)

In large pot of water, bring meat to a boil. Add in a tablespoon of salt to the boiling water and meat. reduce to medium heat and cook for about 40 minutes to an hour. This helps tenderize the meat.

Drain water and place meat in a skillet with onions and peppers. Add in your Worchestershire sauce  and seasoning. Stir well. Cook on medium heat until peppers and onions are softened.

Brown Gravy
1/4 cup unsalted butter or vegetable oil
1/4 cup flour
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups water
4 teaspoons beef bouillon cubes (crushed)

In skillet, add in your butter or oil, cook on high heat. Once it starts to heat up, immediately add your flour, sprinkling around the entire skillet.  Stir quickly and consistently. The flour will start to brown.  Add in your water (still stirring so it does not burn)  and once it starts to bubble, reduce heat to low.  Add in your crushed bouillon cubes and stir until dissolved. Add in your salt and pepper, stir again until smooth and turn off heat.

Pour your gravy over your beef and stir. Serve hot.

*You can also add in sliced onion before you add the flour...cook them for a minute or so in the hot oil and then follow the rest of the steps. 

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