Tuesday, August 14, 2012

(Better Than) Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana

I got hooked on this soup when my sister-in-law made it a few years ago- lots of flavor, and I think she added extra potatoes, bacon, sausage, and kale- SO good!! Then, I went to Olive Garden and tried the soup this recipe is modeled after, and was disappointed! Theirs is very thin, with hardly any of the "good stuff" (the ingredients that my sister-in-law always added extra of). It was a very similar flavor, but OG's was nowhere close to the filling, satisfying soup I was used to. This recipe is awesome!

1 1/2 cups spicy sausage links (12 small) or 1 lb spicy sausage, browned
2 medium potatoes, cubed
3/4 c onions, diced
6 slices bacon
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 cups kale leaves, cut in small pieces
2 Tablespoons chicken base
1 quart water
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 300; place sausage links onto a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, or until done; cut in pieces (or skip this step if using browned sausage).
Placed onions and bacon in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until the onions are almost clear. Remove bacon and crumble. Add garlic to onions and cook an additional minute. Add chicken base, water, and potatoes, and simmer 15 minutes. Add crumbled bacon, sausage, kale, and cream. Simmer 4 minutes and serve.

{Kudos to Lake Stevens 1st Ward cookbook- D.M./my sister-in-law, Melissa!!}

Tuscan Soup

We've made this recipe a handful of times, and it always hits the spot- especially if it's cold outside! Definitely a comfort food, and it's easy to add other elements depending on what you have on hand. Last time we made it, we added 2 chicken breasts, cubed. Next time we plan on adding long grain wild rice, substituting fresh carrot for canned (I have a tendency to get distracted and cook the carrots too long, plus this simplifies things a bit), and maybe adding an extra can of broth, as the noodles soak up quite a bit of it.

1 small carrot, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cans (14.5 oz each) chicken broth
1 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 can (15 to 16 oz) white kidney or great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 2/3 cup uncooked small spiral pasta
3 cups thinly sliced escarole or spinach

1. In a 2-quart saucepan, saute carrots in oil. When the carrots are almost done, add onion and saute a bit longer. Add the broth, water, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil. Stir in beans and pasta; return to a boil.
2. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until pasta and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add escarole or spinach; heat through.

Yield: 4 servings

{Kudos to Taste of Home cookbook!}

Broccoli Salad with Bacon

My sister-in-law has made this numerous times for family get-togethers, and it is SO GOOD! There are never any leftovers, and you have to get to it quick!

2 lbs broccoli, chopped into small bites
1/2 lb bacon
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp vinegar

Fry bacon until crisp; drain and cool on paper towels, then crumble. Combine mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar, and toss with remaining ingredients.

{Kudos to Lake Stevens 1st Ward cookbook- M.M.!}

Monday, August 13, 2012

"Best Ever Chocolate Cake"

***Check out my new blog for better pics of this delicious cake! http://www.kayescupboard.com/best-ever-chocolate-cake/

My 3 yr old wanted to make a chocolate cake for her daddy yesterday, but I didn't have any cake mix or chocolate chips, so I was trying to find one that used cocoa powder, and was hopefully pretty good. I found this recipe, and honestly can't stop eating it!

You would think this was a pic of the finished cake, but it's not- this is just the batter!
My husband gave it a 8.5/10. My 3 yr old only ate the frosting. My 1 yr old at her piece and part of the 3 yr old's (can't let it go to waste!) Unless I find a better recipe, I'm using this in the future for sure, and I don't think I'll buy a boxed chocolate cake mix again! I especially like how light it turned out- I'd easily eat it without frosting!

3/4 cup butter (room temperature or just microwave for a bit)
3 eggs (set out 30 minutes ahead, or put in warm water for 15 minutes)
2 cups cake flour (or all-purpose)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups milk

1. Lightly grease bottoms of three 8x1 1/2-inch round cake pans or two 9x1 1/2-inch round cake pans or two 8x8x2-inch baking pans. Line bottoms of pans with waxed paper. Grease and lightly flour waxed paper and sides of pans. (I realized I didn't have any cake pans, so I (skipped the wax paper and) sprayed a 9x11 and made what my husband called "a man cake!") Set pans aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes or until well mixed. Scrape the sides of the bowl; continue beating on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition (about 1 minute total). Beat in vanilla.
4. Alternately add flour mixture and milk to beaten mixture, beating on low speed just until combined after each addition. Beat on medium to high speed for 20 seconds more. Spread evenly into the prepared pans.
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes for round cake pans, 35 to 40 minutes for 8-inch square pans or 9x11, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cook cake layers in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans. Peel off waxed paper. Cool completely on wire racks.

Yield: 12-16 servings.

{Kudos to Better Homes and Gardens- Our Best Recipes cookbook!}

Bread Machine Pizza Dough

I'm glad I forgot the pizza dough at Winco last week. I happened to be web-camming with my sister when I realized I hadn't bought the dough. I was very excited to make Spinach Chicken Stromboli, and had decided not to make the dough myself, after a couple of disastrous attempts. Fortunately, my sister had this great, easy recipe, and it turned out great (as did the Stromboli!).

1 7/16 cup water (that's 1 cup +1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp butter, cut in small pieces
1 3/4 Tbsp vinegar
3 3/8 cup bread flour (that's 3 cups + 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp dry milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast

Place ingredients in bread machine, according to manufacturer's directions. Select dough option. When done, knead dough on a floured surface for a bit. Split into 2 rolls and let the dough rise for 15 mins. Bake at 340 for 15-20 mins. 

{Kudos to my sister, Jamie!}