Crock Pot Cheesy Potato Soup

Crockpot Cheesy Potato Soup 1Finally! The weather is cooling down enough to break out my trusty crock pot and make the first batch of fall soup. Actually, you can make this soup any time you want as potatoes are available year round. I generally like soup during the colder months, but my dad can eat soup year round. Whatever floats your boat, right?

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4-6 russet potatoes, diced into small cubes (2 pounds)
  • 1/2 large white or yellow onion, diced (1 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced (1 cup)
  • 1/8 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • bacon pieces for garnish (optional)
  • sliced green onions for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Use cooking spray to coat your crock pot bowl or use a slow cooker liner bag.
  2. Mix potatoes, onions, celery, poultry seasoning, chicken stock and water in your crock pot bowl.
  3. Cover, cook on high heat setting for 3 to 4 hours.
  4. After 3 to 4 hours, mix flour and milk in a small bowl and add to potato mixture in crock pot until mixture thickens.
  5. Stir in shredded cheese until melted.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Garnish with bacon bits and green onions.

Crockpot Cheesy Potato Soup

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Cherry Chocolate Chip Cupcakes 2.0

Cherry Chocolate Chip CupcakesWhile I was coming up with this recipe. I was getting a déjà vu feeling. Then I realized, I have made a similar cupcake recipe to this. Gosh, I must be getting forgetful. My Valentine’s Day cupcakes used similar cherry and chocolate flavors. Check out that recipe here: Cherry Chocolate Chip Cupcakes. So I am calling these my Cherry Chocolate Chip Cupcakes 2.0 version. You can use a boxed white cake mix if you like. But this recipe is very simple, and you can have the bragging rights that you made these from scratch. This recipe makes 18-24 cupcakes.

CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 jar (10 ounce) maraschino cherries, drained and chopped, 1 tablespoon liquid reserved; 18-24 cherries reserved for garnish
  • 1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus one tablespoon reserved for chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 2 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks

TOPPING AND GARNISH INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 containers Betty Crocker Whipped vanilla frosting
  • 1 tablespoon maraschino cherry liquid you reserved
  • 1 teaspoon cherry or almond extract
  • maraschino cherries to garnish
  • sugar sprinkles (optional but they make it more fun, don’t they?)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 18 regular size baking cups in baking tins. Set aside.
  2. Finely chop cherries. Place chopped cherries in paper towel-lined bowl to drain while preparing batter.
  3. In a small bowl or container, add 1 tablespoon flour to 1 cup miniature chocolate chips and mix/shake well. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.
  6. Add 2 teaspoons almond extract to 1/4 cup whole milk.
  7. Beginning and ending with flour mixture, alternately add flour mixture and milk mixture to butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Fold in chopped cherries and miniature chocolate chips. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full.
  8. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched in center. Remove from muffin cups to cooling rack. Cool completely, about an hour.
  9. To make Topping, spoon frosting into bowl with 1 tablespoon cherry liquid. Add 1 teaspoon cherry or almond extract; beat 2 minutes with electric mixer on medium speed. If desired, transfer topping to decorating bag fitted with large star tip; pipe topping onto cupcakes in large swirls. Or, spread topping on cupcakes with off-set spatula. Garnish each cupcake with sugar sprinkles and a maraschino cherry.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Cupcakes batch

Game Day or Any Day Chili

Chili platedIt’s that time of year again. Football season. (I wanted to say Fall, but it’s in the mid 80’s around here and I’m still wearing shorts.) What better way to feed a hungry crowd gathered at your house than with a big pot of flavorful chili. You can omit the ground beef and go meatless, and you won’t miss a thing. Added bonus, only one pot to clean.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (Yes, dark chocolate chips. Trust me.)
  • 1 15 ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup water

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS:

  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheese
  • Diced green onions

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook ground beef over medium high heat. When browned, add onions, celery and corn. Stir and cook for an additional 3 minutes until onions have softened.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix well. When chili comes to a boil, lower heat to low. Let simmer for an hour.
  3. Top with sour cream, shredded cheese and diced green onion and serve.Chili pot

Roasted Chicken Breast

Roasted ChickenI’m going to share with you my “go to” chicken recipe. Dress it up with fancy side dishes, and you have a great meal to serve guests. Dress it with simple sides, and you have a great everyday dinner. And whether you are cooking just for yourself or a large dinner party, there is very little to measure. All the magic is done by your oven. Don’t believe me? Just try this. (This recipe can also be used with skinless, boneless breast as well. Just adjust your baking time to 40-45 minutes.)

INGREDIENTS:

  • Bone in, skin on chicken breasts (quantity depends on your needs)
  • Sea Salt or Kosher salt
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Italian seasoning blend
  • Paprika
  • Lemon juice (squeeze 1/4 lemon wedge per breast)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (2 tablespoons per breast)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cover baking pan with foil for easy clean up. Generously season backside (bone side) of breast with salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning blend, paprika and lemon juice. Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil to cover. Then turn over skin side up and repeat seasoning and olive oil drizzle. Roasted Chicken 2

Bake your chicken breasts for 50-60 minutes. Internal temperature should be 165 degrees when done. Let rest for 2-3 minutes before serving.Roasted Chicken 3

Serve with your favorite sides whether fancy or not. Enjoy!Roasted Chicken

Chinese Style Stuffed Bell Peppers

Chinese Stuffed PeppersEver since he was a baby, my son has been a picky eater. The only way I could get him to eat any type of meatloaf is if I formed the meatloaf into meatballs or stuffed it into vegetables. And it all had to be covered in some kind of sauce or gravy. Yet, he would eat most vegetables, but not any kind of meatloaf! Don’t get me started! Thus, this recipe was born.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 3 stalks green onions, finely diced; plus 1 stalk regularly diced for garnish
  • 3 ounces of shiitake mushrooms, finely diced
  • 1 can (8 ounce) water chestnuts, finely diced
  • 1 egg
  • 5 teaspoons cornstarch, divided 2 teaspoons for meat; 3 teaspoons for gravy
  • 1/8 teaspoon minced ginger or ginger powder
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic or garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar divided, 1/2 tablespoon for meat; 1/2 tablespoon for gravy
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine (optional)
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons black bean and garlic sauce, divided 1/2 tablespoon for meat; 3 tablespoons for gravy (can be found in most International Aisles at local grocery store)
  • 2 large bell peppers (your choice of colors)
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup cold waterChinese Stuffed Peppers 1

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, place ground pork, green onions, mushrooms, water chestnuts, egg, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, ginger, garlic, 1/2 tablespoon of sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, cooking wine, and 1/2 tablespoon black bean sauce. Mix well. Set aside. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.Chinese Stuffed Peppers 2

Cut bell peppers in half and discard seeds and white membrane. In a large pot of boiling water, blanch bell peppers for 5 minutes. Remove bell pepper halves from boiling water and place in casserole dish.Chinese Stuffed Peppers 3

Stuff bell pepper halves with meat mixture. Be sure to pat down, so peppers are well stuffed.Chinese Stuffed Peppers 4

Add chicken stock to a small pot. Turn heat to medium high. While waiting for chicken stock to boil, make a slurry in a small cup or bowl with 3 teaspoons cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water, mix well. When stock comes to a boil, add 3 tablespoons black bean garlic sauce and 1/2 tablespoon sugar and stir. Then add slurry of cornstarch and water. Stir until gravy has thickened to consistency of syrup. Turn off heat.Chinese Stuffed Peppers 5

Pour gravy (saving 1/4 cup for garnish) over stuffed bell peppers and into casserole dish. Cover casserole dish with foil and bake in oven for 45 minutes. Carefully remove foil when done. Garnish tops of bell peppers with green onions and reserved gravy.Chinese Stuffed Peppers

Serve with rice to complete your meal.Chinese Stuffed Peppers Plated