Thursday, September 27, 2012

Zuppa Toscana (ala Olive Garden)

If you are looking for an awesome "knock-off" version of Olive Garden's "Zuppa Toscana", look no further!  This is by far the best recipe I have found.  The original recipe is from Anderson Organics (where I get my local CSA Share from), and I have tweaked it very little.  Be sure to check out their site for more awesome recipes!

Here is what you will need:

I got the beautiful "Red Russian Kale" pictured above from their farm as well.  So good!  My boys got nuts whenever I pull some kale chips out of the oven.  Embrace the kale people.  Here is a great chart of the health benefits of kale...

Start by cooking the sausage, onion, celery, and a couple pinches of red pepper flakes...

When it is cooked through, remove to a paper towel lined plate...

Next, cook up your bacon...

Remove the bacon also to the paper towel lined plate with the sausage mixture...

Cook your garlic for about 20 seconds or so...

Add the broth, water, and chicken base...

This is good stuff!  This is probably the secret ingredient.  They also make an organic version...

Next cook your potatoes...

When the potatoes are tender, add back in the sausage mixture, bacon, and kale and cook for about 4 minutes.  Finally add the cream and heat through...


Serve and enjoy!

Zuppa Toscana

1/2 Package of either Bob Evans or Jimmy Dean Italian or Regular Sausage
1-2 Stalks of Celery
3/4 Cup Onions, diced
1-2 Pinches of Red Pepper Flakes
6 Slices of Bacon, diced
3 Medium Potatoes, peeled and cubed into bite size pieces
2-3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
2 Cups Kale Leaves, hard stems removed, cut in half, then sliced
2 Tbs. Chicken Base
1 Can of Chicken Broth
1 Quart (4 Cups) of Water
1/3 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream

Cook sausage, onion, and celery in a large Dutch oven over medium to medium high heat until cooked through.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate.  Cook bacon in Dutch oven and also remove to the paper towel lined plate.  Add garlic and cook for about 20 seconds, until lightly browned.  Add broth, chicken base, water and potatoes.  Cook until potatoes are tender. Add sausage mixture, bacon, and kale and simmer for 4 more minutes until kale is tender.  Add cream, and heat through.

If you want to go for the whole Olive Garden experience, you could make a salad with this dressing, and these bread sticks from Our Best Bites.  I always top their bread sticks with lots of melted butter, the powdery Parmesan cheese from a can, and garlic salt with parsley flakes.  Yum!

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Linguine with Clam Sauce

Woah.  Posting another recipe in under a week!  A record for me.  This is one of those "retro recipes" I like to call them, that my parents picked up early in their marriage.  It is so quick, so easy to make, and both satisfying and good.  Of course that is if you are a seafood person. :)  This really is super yummy...I would recommend giving it a try!

Here is what you will need.  Not pictured is the flat leaf parsley, which is an optional garnish.  I also ended up halving the recipe (which is very easy to do), since it was just my Mother and I, and my two munchins.  Recipe below is the full recipe.

Make your sauce...

Add your cooked linguine...


Linguine with Clam Sauce

1/2 Cup Butter (1 stick)
2 Cups Chicken Broth
2-3 Tbs. of Flour
1/2 Cup Dry Vermouth
3 or 4 (Large) Cloves of Garlic, minced
2 (6.5 or 7.5 ounce) Cans of Minced Clams with Juice, undrained
1 Lb. of Linguine, cooked according to package directions
Freshly Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley, optional garnish

In a large saucepan or deep skillet, melt butter and stir in flour with a whisk.  (I did this over medium to medium high heat.)  Add chicken broth and cook, stirring until mixture thickens.  Add clams (with their juices), and garlic.  Simmer the sauce for 15 to 20 minutes.  Meanwhile cook the linguine.  Drain the linguine and add to the sauce.  Stir to combine.  Serve with freshly chopped flat leaf parsley if desired.

Bon Appetit!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Best Popcorn

"She's actually blogging about popcorn??" you say.  YES.  It is that good.  Please, take a step away from the horrible (and extremely bad for you) micorwave popcorn.  This is super easy to make, and way delicious.  It is popped with coconut oil, which makes it so yummy, and actually very good for you at the same time.  There are many health benefits to cooking with coconut oil, and this is a good way to get a little into your diet.  Now, my Aunt has sent me some incredible "black jewel" popcorn from Southern Indiana, but when I run out of it, I look for a non-GMO, and organic if possible popcorn.  I found this mixture in the picture below at a local grocery store.

Here is all that you need:  Popcorn (preferably non-GMO and organic if you can find it), coconut oil, butter, and sea salt.

Glob a heaping tablespoon of coconut oil into your pan.

With the heat on high, add a generous 1/3 cup of the corn kernels...

Give the pan a shake to make sure the oil and kernels are evenly distributed, then cover and shake the pan frequently til all the kernels are done popping...

Dump the popcorn into a clean paper bag.  (I always ask for an extra bag at the grocery store.)

Drizzle 1 tablespoon of melted butter over the popcorn...

Sprinkle in 2 to 3 good shakes of ground sea salt...

Fold over your bag, give it a good shaking, and enjoy!  Mmmm....


1 (heaping) Tbs. of coconut oil
1/3 (generous) Cup of popcorn kernels
1 Tbs. melted butter
2-3 Shakes of ground sea salt

Place coconut oil in a pan large enough to pop kernels.  Turn heat onto high and add the corn kernels.  Give the pan a good shake to distribute oil and kernels.  Place lid on pan and shake frequently til the kernels are done popping. (Normally when there is more than 5 seconds between pops it is should be able to tell, just don't burn it!).  Dump popcorn into a clean paper bag.  Drizzle the butter over the corn, and give it a couple shakes of sea salt.  Fold the bag over, and give it a good shaking as well. 

Enjoy with your favorite movie or as a snack!

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Mini "Back to School" Photo Shoot

My friend Melody of Melody Ann Photography, held mini sessions a couple Saturday's ago to take "Back to School" pics for kids.  She did an AWESOME job.  Love how they turned out.  In fact, my next Pinterest project will be to blow up the black and white one of the boys in the wagon together, and modge podge it on a black board to hang in their room.  Will post pics of that project when complete!

My two cuties...  (Matthew 4 1/2, Jacob 21 Months)

Here is the B&W I plan to blow up for the project...