Cooking Club: Spicy Sausage and Cabbage Soup

When I found out Trish was going to bring this to cooking club I was disappointed. I don't like sausage and cabbage at all. I was brave though and gave it a shot and loved it. There are so many flavors in the soup, I couldn't taste the cabbage and I could deal with the sausage. This makes a TON of soup. We froze well over half of it and have still been eating it almost every day since I made it. I served this with cornbread (I used Rookie Cookies amazing recipe... never again will I buy a box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix. This recipe was so easy and tasted delicious) and it was the perfect side.

Spicy Sausage and Cabbage Soup
Source: Trish

2 T. Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
3 BS chicken breast
1 pkg spicy smoked sausage or keilbasa (sliced)
1/2 large chopped onion
3 cups sliced carrots
1 full head cabbage (chopped in about 1 inch pieces)
2 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1 28 oz can tomato sauce
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/4 teas. red pepper flakes
2 T. Tony Chachere's original creole seasoning (I couldn't find that seasoning so I used this)
Cornstarch and water (optional)

Liberally salt and pepper raw chicken breast and fully cook in olive oil then shred or chop. In stock pot combine cooked chicken, sausage, onion, carrots, cabbage, chicken broth, water, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, pepper flakes and tony Chachere's. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer until carrots are tender. Trish recommends simmering for 4 - 5 hours, I simmered for 3 hours.

Notes From Trish:

"Also, so many people "don't like cabbage" but it will eventually cook down to a point where most people don't even realize it's in there.. If it needs more liquid add it, it's not a perfect science. I actually use 1/2 teas. red pepper flakes and 3 T. tony Chachere's because I like it more spicy and salty. Adjust the recipe according to your own tastes. You can serve it now "as is" if you like soup with a brothier texture. I prefer my soups to be a little heartier and thicker in consistency. So making sure the soup is at a boil I combine 3 T. cornstarch with just enough water to make it stirrable and smooth then stir it into the soup and boil gently for 5 minutes. Then I repeat this process until it's at my desired consistency."

Cooking Club: Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

I joined the Realie cooking club over the summer but have been so busy I never made it to a meeting. This month I was so excited for two reasons:

1) I actually got to go!
2) Soups!

I loved every single soup there... even the ones that had strange ingredients. I put on my big girl panties and sucked it and tried the strange things..... like sausage, cabbage, mushrooms, and rice. I've heard excellent things about Trish's Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice soup for the past couple years, but never made it. When I think of rice in a soup, I associate it with Campbell's Chicken with Rice Soup... Nasty! This however is definitely not Campbells. The soup is thick, creamy, flavorful, super simple to make, and amazing! It's the perfect soup for a chilly fall or winter day.

To see other soups that were at cooking club check out Julia's Blog and Nemmie's Blog Here and Here

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Source: Trish

4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 cooked, boneless chicken breast halves, shredded
1/2 yellow onion, chopped (I used white)
2 stalks of celery, chopped
3 cups carrots, chopped
1 (4.5 ounce) package quick cooking long grain and wild rice with seasoning packet
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
2 cups heavy cream (i used half and half in an attempt to make this a bit healthier and it was still super creamy)

In a large pot over medium heat, combine broth, water and chicken, onion, celery, and carrots. Bring just to boiling, then stir in rice, reserving seasoning packet. Cover and remove from heat. In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper and flour. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in contents of seasoning packet until mixture is bubbly.

Reduce heat to low, then stir in flour mixture by tablespoons, to form a roux. Whisk in cream, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth. Cook until thickened, 5 minutes. Stir cream mixture into broth and rice. Cook over medium heat until heated through, 10 to 15 minutes.

This makes a ton, so it's perfect to portion out and put it in the freezer for easy meals down the road.

Cookie Carnival: Ultimate Chewy and Soft Chocolate Chunk Cookies

It's Cookie Carnival time again!

This month the fabulous Kate chose The Ultimate Chewy and Soft Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I was happy to see a "normal" recipe that wouldn't take a lot of time to bake. I was skeptical these were really going to be the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie, you see my heart belongs to ATK's Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie.

2 weeks ago I decided to do something crazy.... I gave up sweets. I'm not one of those people that can have a little bit and my craving is satisfied, if I taste a little bit of something, I need more. I did this a few years ago during Lent and it really wasn't that bad. I let myself cheat on Sundays and usually by Sunday, I'm so used to not eating sweets I don't go overboard on what I do have.

So I whipped these up 2 Sundays ago and fell in love with the dough. It was SOOOO good, I was super excited to try the cookies. When I did try them, I was somewhat disappointed, they weren't nearly as good as I had hoped. The next morning I took my pictures and it was so hard not to pop these in my mouth - especially because baked goods always seem to taste better the next day. I was good though and stuck them in the freezer. So skip forward to last Sunday I had two of them during the day and realized that these are pretty damn good. I'm not sure if they'll take the place of my Thick and Chewys, but I will definitely make these again.

I didn't mess with the recipe much, but I did experiment with a second batch and made a thick blondie type thing. I made the dough and put it in an 8x8 baking dish and popped them in the oven. I started the oven out at 325 and then gradually increased it up to 375. They turned out very good, but I was worried about the center setting and I baked them a little longer than I should have. (I have no idea what my baking time way, I just kept checking them in the oven.)The bars would be amzing while still warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!

The Ultimate Chewy and Soft Chocolate Chunk Cookies (and Bars)
Source: In The Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley

1 cup unsalted butter at room temp
1 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsps. pure vanilla extract
3 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
16 oz. flavorful bitter or semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped ( I used 8oz bitter and 8oz semi)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or lightly butter them, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or a large bowl if mixing by hand, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

2. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together in a small bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, and mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks.

3. Using your hands, shape knobs of dough about the size of a large walnut and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Stagger the rows of cookies to ensure even baking. Bake 12-15 for smaller cookies, 14-17 for larger ones or until the tops are a light golden brown. If the cookies are neither firm nor dark when they are removed from the oven, they will cool chewy and soft. Cool the cookies on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. If somehow they don't get inhaled immediately, they may be stored airtight at room temperature for up to one week.


Conquering My Fears

When I asked Matt what he wanted for his birthday he told me cinnamon rolls. I cringed on the inside. Cinnamon Rolls?

That involves yeast. Yeast is complicated and scary.
That involves time. I don’t have a lot of time.
He loves his mom’s cinnamon rolls. I can’t compete with that.
Cinnamon Rolls? Yuck

But, being the stellar wife I am, I cowboyed up and accepted the challenge. I’ve had some packages of yeast in my cabinets for a few months, but have just been too intimidated to try and use them. I did a little research and decided I could handle it.

Next was the search for a cinnamon roll recipe. I would have loved to use the recipe I saw on all the Daring Bakers Blogs from Peter Reinhardt's The Bread Baker's Apprentice, but there is that whole time thing again. I just don’t have much. So I searched allrecipes and found Cinnamon Roll recipe that requires a bread machine. The bread machine does all the hard work – perfect!

Since his birthday was yesterday, I prepared these Sunday night and stuck them in the fridge. We got up at 5 Monday morning to work out and I took them out of the fridge and let them come to room temp before poppin them in the oven (almost 2 hours.) I topped them with a cream cheese frosting.

The results? Well, I don’t like cinnamon rolls, but Matt ate three of them so I take that as a good thing. I made a dozen and asked if he was going to take some to work. He told me he planned on eating them every day for breakast. He had two this morning. I think he likes them. This recipe got excellent reviews on allrecipes, a few people said this was a lighter cinnamon roll. I tried a small one and thought “meh, it’s a cinnamon roll”.

Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted From: Allrecipes
(I used cinnamon rolls II for the dough and clone of a cinnabon for the filling and frosting )

note: originally I didn't put that much frosting on them. The husband insisted I use all the frosting and drown the cinnamon rolls in that sticky, yummy goodness

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup white sugar
1 eggs

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened
This made way more filling than I needed. I put the cinnamon/sugar mixture in a container and will make another batch of cinnamon rolls with it soon

1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

In saucepan, heat 1 cup milk, water, and 1/4 cup butter until very warm (butter doesn't need to be completely melted).

Place milk mixture, salt, flour, yeast, sugar, and eggs in the pan of the bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select the Dough cycle. Press Start.

Once Dough cycle is complete, remove the dough from the bread machine. Punch down.

On a floured surface, roll dough into a large rectangle. Smear rectangle with the softened butter. Combine cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle over the rectangles.

Roll the dough up into a log starting at the long side. Cut the log into 12 slices. Place the rolls cut side down into two 9x13 inch greased baking pans. (I used two pans - I didn't want pull-apart rolls) Cover, and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled. (I covered the pans with saran wrap and stuck them in the fridge at this point. The next morning I set them out for about 2 hours before I baked them.

Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden. While rolls are baking beat together cream cheese, butter, confectioners sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Spread frosting on warm cinnamon rolls before serving.

There's the birthday boy! I even pulled out the Special Plate for him. Apparently I can't take clear pictures early in the morning.


It’s no secret that Matt and I are huge PB and Chocolate fans. I was on the lookout for a treat for his birthday when I spied this recipe on Simple, But Delicious. It meets both requirements for my blog: Simple and Tasty.

The pie doesn’t use very many ingredients and is packed full of that Chocolate and Peanut Butter combination we both love. It's very rich and very sweet. I’m never one to say a dessert is too sweet, but I couldn’t even finish my piece. Don't get me wrong, we both thought this was quite good. The name most definitely says it all…. Decadent Peanut Butter Pie

Decadent Peanut Butter Pie
Source: Simple, But Delicious
Originally from: Jif.com

1 prepared chocolate cookie pie crust
1 cup Creamy peanut butter
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
4 1/2 cups (12 oz) cool whip
1 (11.75 oz) jar hot fudge ice cream topping

2 T peanut butter
2 T hot fudge


In a medium bowl, beat together the peanut butter, cream cheese and sugar. Gently fold in 3 cups whipped topping. Spoon mixture into the pie shell. Using a spatula, smooth mixture to edges of pie.

Reserving 2 tablespoons of hot fudge, place remaining hot fudge into microwave safe bowl or glass measuring cup. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir. Spread hot fudge over pie to cover the peanut butter layer. Refrigerate until serving time. Just before serving, spread the remaining whipped topping (1 1/2 cups), over hot fudge layer, being careful not to mix the two layers.

Place the 2 Tbs. hot fudge in a small baggie and knead for a few seconds. Cut a tiny hole in the corner of the bag and drizzle over pie. Do the same with 2 Tbs. peanut butter going in the opposite direction of the hot fudge

Zucchini Cake

In my quest to find some ways to use up all my zucchini I came across this recipe on Pamela’s blog. After trying Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cookies this summer I just knew I would love it. The cake has a Caramel Frosting and (side thought: I wonder if people are reading this saying car-a-mel or car-muhl, I’m the latter ) Anywho, Pamela is right when she says the Caramel Frosting on this bad boy is S-uh-uh-WEET! I loved it!

The cake would be fine without, but it’s amazing with! As I was pouring the batter in the pan, it seemed to have the appearance of cookie dough rather than cake batter. I was pleasantly surprised when it came out of the oven in cake form. If you find yourself with an abundance of zucchini, you should definitely give this cake a shot. A warning though, it makes a ton. Luckily, (Lucky for my hips, not so much for my taste buds) I gave a bunch to Matt’s friends and my mom.

Caramel Frosted Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake
Source: Cookies With Boys

For the cake:
3/4 c. butter, softened
2 c packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
3 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips (I used a cup of regular sized)

Caramel Frosting
1/2 c butter
1 c brown sugar
1/4 c milk
1 1/2 c confectioner's sugar

Cream butter, brown sugar, vanilla and eggs in a bowl. Stir together flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir until combined. Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips.

Spread in greased 15 x 10 jelly roll pan. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

For the frosting, bring butter, brown sugar and milk to a boil in a saucepan. Boil for 3 minutes. Stir in confectioners sugar. Spread over cake.

Pamela's Notes: This is the type of frosting that hardens, so you shouldn't take your time in the spreading step. 13 x 9 works. Bake for approx. 35 minutes.

Breakfast Casserole

So many posts, so little time. School is kicking my butt right now, but I feel the need to blog. I can always cram tomorrow, right? This past weekend we celebrated the hubs birthday. We decided to have a small shindig at the last minute and honestly thought we’d have maybe 6 people over. We ended up with 18 and a few rugrats… not bad! My mom called me Friday night and asked if they could come up too. I said, of course – the more the merrier. Matt asked if we could make breakfast and then we decided a breakfast casserole would be the best bet. Prepare it the night before and pop it in the oven for an hour in the morning. This allows us to get another hour of sleep to cure any signs of a hangover (and believe me, there were signs).

I went to allrecipes to try and find an egg/ham/cheese/hashbrown casserole. I had it narrowed down to two and finally decided on one. I didn’t realize until right before I went to prepare it there were no eggs in this casserole. I need to start paying more attention.

The casserole ended up being pretty good. The fam all liked it. There is definitely nothing healthy about this recipe, but it sure hits the spot after a long night. This is definitely comfort food. The dish is very rich, totally could have done without the sour cream in it. I’m not sure I’d ever make it again. Next time I’ll make sure to find a recipe with eggs.

Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole
Adapted from: All Recipes
Serves: 12

1 (32 ounce) package frozen Potatoes O'Brien
16 ounces cooked, diced ham
1 can condensed cream of potato soup
1 can cream of cheddar soup
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
2 cups shredded cheese - I like Monterrey Jack
S & P to taste
Cheese for Topping - I used Cheddar Jack
Breadcrumbs/crushed cornflakes (I used chex cereal) for Topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix hash browns, ham, cream of potato soup, sour cream, and cheese.

Spread evenly into prepared dish. Bake 40 minutes. Sprinkle additional cheese and bread crumbs on top . Bake another 20 minutes, or until bubbly. Serve immediately


Award Time!

Pamela from Cookies with Boys has presented me with my first blogging award!

Thank You so much Pamela! There will always be a soft spot in my heart for you. ;) I love being part of the fun world of food blogging and connecting with so many people all over the world.

I'd like to pass the Kreativ Blogger Award on to:

Leslie of Blogsoup
Nemmie of Castsugar
Danielle of Runs with Spatulas
Leslie of Elite Entrees

Thanks again Pamela!


Harvesting the Crop

No, that is not a jalapeno you see. That my friends, is a green pepper. The one and only veggie Matt salvaged from our garden. He planted Tomatoes (stupid squirrels at them all), Carrots, and Green Peppers. This is all we got:

We decided to eat it right away. It was gross! It had a very bitter taste. We both looked at each other and ended up spitting it out.

Oh well, there is always next year.

Jules, if you're reading this, we need gardening lessons next year!

More Chocolate and Peanut Butter Goodness

When I first saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen I thought they were going to be similar to the Peanut Butter Rice Krispie treats my MIL makes. After I saw the fabulous pictures though I realized I was wrong. They looked intense.

Last night Matt fixed dinner so I decided to make us a dessert. I opened my google reader and he picked these out. I made a pretty big mistake in this recipe, but with the combo of chocolate and peanut butter, how can you go wrong?

I was making the peanut butter chocolate layer and I got a little on my hand, and I had to lick it off of course. I tasted it and thought it was odd it wasn't very sweet. All the sudden it hit me, I ran out to our recycling box and looked at the package of chocolate I used.... unsweetened. Dang. Oh well. I figured with the dark chocolate layer on top, the unsweetened chocolate wouldn't stand out too much.

I was right, this is still super chocolaty and sweet. This recipe is awesome! I will be making it again for sure. Next time though I'll use the correct chocolate and a little more Rice Krispies to have a thicker crispy crust.

Peanut Butter Crispy Bars
Source: Smitten Kitchen

For the crispy crust:
1 3/4 cups crisped rice cereal
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the milk chocolate peanut butter layer:
5 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup creamy peanut butter (I used 3/4 cup crunchy and 1/4 creamy)

For the chocolate icing:
3 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72 percent cocoa), coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) unsalted butter

Make the crispy crust: Lightly spray a paper towel with nonstick cooking spray and use it to rub the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan. Put the cereal in a large bowl and set aside.

Pour 1/4 cup water into a small saucepan. Gently add the sugar and corn syrup (do not let any sugar or syrup get on the sides of the pan) and use a small wooden spoon to stir the mixture until just combined. Put a candy thermometer in the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; cook until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage, 235 degrees F.
Remove from the heat, stir in the butter, and pour the mixture over the cereal. Working quickly, stir until the cereal is thoroughly coated, then pour it into the prepared pan. Using your hands, press the mixture into the bottom of the pan (do not press up the sides). Let the crust cool to room temperature while you make the next layer.

Make the milk chocolate peanut butter layer: In a large nonreactive metal bowl, stir together the chocolate and the peanut butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for about 30 seconds to cool slightly. (I was feeling lazy and just used the microwave) Pour the mixture over the cooled crust. Put the pan in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the top layer hardens.

Make the chocolate icing: In a large nonreactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. (Again, lazy and just used the microwave)

Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the chilled milk chocolate peanut butter layer and spread into an even layer. Put the pan into the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the topping hardens. I also decided to melt a little white chocolate to drizzle over the top.

Cut into 9 (or 16!) and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly, for up to 4 days.

Funny Story

Last week I asked Matt to run to the farmers market and pick up some fruits and veggies for while I was at work. When I got home, I was looking through the bags and saw one bag had 3 Zucchini in it and another had 2 Zucchini it. I made a comment about having a lot of Zucchini and he said, I didn't get that much Zucchini, I went to one stand and they had Zucchini 3 for $1 and another stand had Squash 2 for $1. I busted up laughing and explained to him that Zucchini is Squash. His reply "oh, so that's why they look alike." Men....

So now i have all this Zucchini I need to use up!

Zucchini Bread
Source: BHG New Cookbook
Prep: 20 min Bake: 50 min
Oven: 350 Makes: 1 loaf (16 servings)

1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 beaten egg
1 cup sugar
1 cup finely shredded, unpeeled zucchini
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted

1. Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of an 8x4x2 inch loaf pan. In a medium bowl combine, the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside

2. In another medium bowl combine egg, sugar, zucchini, and oil. Add zucchini mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in nuts. Spoon batter into a prepared pan.

3. Bake at 350 for 50 - 55 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing.