The Season for Soup

It is a well know fact that certain foods should be eaten at specific times throughout the year. Ok, so maybe it isn’t such a well known fact. My husband adimantly disagrees with this stance. It just seems wrong to eat a steaming bowl of soup or bubbling casserole in July. It almost feels like I am cheating on Fall.

Now I can finally say IT IS TIME! Even though it wasn’t on the menu for tonight Plus, it is such a simple recipe with staple ingredients that it was easy to whip up without having to run to the store. And, oh, was it SO GOOD! The recipe calls for chicken but I found it to be a great use of leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Cheesy Chicken & Rice Soup

Recipe from Iowa Girl Eats

Serves 6-8


1 Tablespoon butter

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/4 small onion, minced

1 carrot, chopped

1 rib celery, chopped

salt & pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 cooked chicken, shredded or chopped

6 cups chicken broth

2 cups skim milk, divided

1 bay leaf

1 cup long grain white rice

1/4 cup flour

8oz shredded cheese (I used a mix of smoked cheddar, sharp cheddar, and fresh grated parmesan)


Melt butter and oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery, season with salt and pepper, then saute for 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add garlic cloves then cook for 1 more minute, stirring constantly. Add chicken, season with more salt and pepper (if chicken is unseasoned) then stir to combine.

Add chicken broth, 1-3/4 cups milk, and bay leaf to the pot. Turn heat up to bring to a boil then add rice and stir to combine. Place a lid on top then turn heat down to medium-low and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender.

In a small bowl whisk together remaining 1/4 cup milk with flour. Stream into soup, stir to combine, then cook uncovered for 5 more minutes. Turn off heat and remove pot from burner then add cheese and stir until smooth. Let soup sit and thicken for 10 minutes then serve.


Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

Slow cookers are such a magical convenience when it comes to cooking. What other appliance can you randomly throw in five ingredients, leave for the day, and when you come home dinner is ready.  I have such wonderful memories of my mom’s crockpot as a frequent week night participant in the cooking process.  On the other hand, I hate my crockpot.  I can’t say that it doesn’t work, it just works a little too well. #thingsarenotmadeliketheyusedtobe  Six hours on ‘warm’ and my chili is a blackened blob caked to the bottom. That may be a bit of an exaggeration (but not too far off).  The ideal cooking time for my crockpot is about 4 hours on low, hardly a throw-it-in-and-leave-for-a-nine-hour-work-day type thing.  I have every intention of getting a new one, but that intention has been lingering for almost three years so its probably not going to happen anytime soon.  Now say, completely hypothetically, that you had a crockpot meal planned but then overslept and now need it ready in two hours.  This little quirk of my crockpot dearest is now completely useful.

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

Slow Cooker Salsa ChickenRecipe from Semi Homemade Mom


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (frozen is fine)
1 cup salsa
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 packet taco seasoning
1/2 cup sour cream
6 tortillas


Place chicken in the bottom of your slow cooker. Sprinkle taco seasoning on chicken. In a bowl, combine soup and salsa. Pour over chicken. Cook on high 4 hours. Shred chicken with two forks and stir in sour cream. Serve on tortillas or as desired.
After two hours on high lunch is served.  The chicken went from frozen to juicy perfection.  Great flavor and a snap to prepare. This is a perfect meal for a busy weeknight or lazy Sunday lunch.

Black Bean Taco Pizza

When I was growing up every Friday we had pizza and watched TGIF.  It was the one meal a week that we ate in front of the tv instead of at the table (well Friday nights and lunch any time the Broncos had an early game on Sunday).  So shortly after we got married I decided that we would establish theme nights.  So now Friday night is pizza night.  Typically “pizza” for us is a frozen disc of dough, sauce, cheese, and uneven pepperoni but, with the occasional stroke of cooking motivations (rare for a Friday night,we have meals such as this.  Black Bean Taco Pizza is a fresh break from the norm and still uses convenience foods for a quick fix.  The original recipe used a homemade crust but, it’s Friday, so refrigerated crust it was.  This recipe was a snap to put together with such fresh ingredients.  Cilantro always adds such great flavor.  Yum!

Black Bean Taco Pizza

Recipe from The Poineer Woman


1 regrigerated pizza crust
1 can (14 Ounce) Black Beans
1 teaspoon Taco Seasoning
4 whole Corn Tortillas, Sliced Into Thin Strips
½ cups Canola Oil, For Frying
1 cup Grated Sharp Cheddar
1 cup Grated Monterey Jack Cheese
1 head Green Leaf Lettuce, Sliced/shredded Thin
2 whole Ripe Tomatoes, Diced
½ cups Cilantro Leaves
¼ cups Sour Cream
3 Tablespoons Hot Sauce


Pour black beans into a saucepan. Add seasonings to taste and heat up beans over medium-low heat. Use a potato masher to mash the beans to desired texture. Continue cooking/heating beans over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until no longer runny (should be the texture of refried beans). Set aside.

In a small skillet, heat canola oil over medium heat. When hot enough to fry, drop in the tortilla strips in batches, frying quickly and removing from oil with a fork when crisp–about 30 to 45 seconds per batch. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside. (I typically burn these but they are still yummy)

Place oven rack in the bottom position in the oven. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Spread pizza dough on an oiled baking sheet. Spread layer of refried beans all over pizza crust. Sprinkle mixed grated cheeses over the top. Place pan in the oven (in the bottom half of the oven) and bake for 9 to 12 minutes. Watch it to make sure crust doesn’t burn.

Spanakopita Turkey Burgers

Burgers are by far one of my favorite foods.  There is just something so comforting and delicious about grilled meat patty and juicy toppings.  Recently I have been branching out from the normal beef variety. Turkey burgers are great for winter months since they are better cooked on the stove than on the grill.

Spanakopita Turkey Burgers

Recipe from Iowa Girl Eats


For the burgers

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 small red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper

1 box frozen spinach, thawed & squeezed dry of excess moisture

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 Tablespoon grill seasoning

4oz crumbled feta cheese

1 1/3 pounds 99% lean ground turkey breast

For the sauce

1 clove garlic

1/3 seedless cucumber, grated & squeezed dry of excess moisture

6oz plain Greek yogurt

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 lemon, juiced

salt and pepper

Additional ingredients needed

4 buns

Red onion, sliced

2 tomatoes, sliced

1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced in half


Heat oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Saute onion with salt & pepper until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add in garlic and saute for another minute, stirring constantly. Remove to a plate to cool.

Combine all ingredients for sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.

Combine cooked onions with spinach, oregano, grill seasoning, feta cheese, and turkey breast. Form into 4 patties and grill on high for 5 minutes a side, or until cooked through.

Top burgers with sauce, sliced onion, tomato and kalamata olives.

Overall they were pretty good.  I’m not a fan a frozen spinach since I never seem to get all the water out so I would opt for chopped fresh spinach and add it to the onions for the last minute of cooking.

Mini Cinnamon Rolls!

What do we want? Cinnamon Rolls! When do we want them? In approximately 8 minutes.

These were definitely a quick and easy snack.  Are they as good and fresh, homemade, oversized cinnamon rolls? No.  But they are a great fix for that sweet cinnamon craving without all the effort of home made.  Plus, they are mini.  Who doesn’t love mini bites!

Mini Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Icing

Makes 16 mini cinnamon rolls

Recipe from Iowa Girl Eats


1-8oz tube crescent roll dough
2 Tablespoons butter
brown sugar

For the maple icing:
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 Tablespoon skim milk
3/4 cup powdered sugar


Preheat oven according to crescent roll dough package directions. Layout half the dough (4 triangles) and pinch all the seams together. Flip over and pinch the seams on the back side together too.

Using a rolling pin, smooth the seams and roll the dough into a square about 1/4″ thick. Brush with half the butter, and sprinkle with as much cinnamon and brown sugar as you want. Roll into a log and cut into 8 pieces.

Place mini cinnamon rolls into a non-stick sprayed mini muffin tin. Repeat steps 1 and 2 with the other half of the crescent roll dough. Bake according to package directions.

Meanwhile whisk together maple syrup and milk in a bowl. Add in powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. Drizzle over warm cinnamon rolls.

Chicken Gyros

On the menu for tonight? Chicken Gyros.  This recipe is awesome.  So awesome, in fact, that this is the second week in a row that it’s presence is gracing our kitchen.  I never make the same meal two weeks in a row.  Its THAT good!  However, if you are not particularly fond of garlic this recipe may not be for you.  Or you could cut back on the amount of garlic you use.  Hmm, I don’t think I have ever put “cut back” and “garlic” in the same sentence.  Unless, maybe, there was a “do not” in front of it.

To maximize the taste of this recipe it is best to make the sauce and marinade the day before so the flavors can blend.  Plus, the little extra effort the day before makes the fact that you can now have a fabulous meal on the table in about 5 minutes absolutely priceless!  If you are one to plan ahead, this is great for those days when you have places to go and don’t want to sacrifice a good dinner.

The ingredients are pretty simple and used in both the tzatziki sauce and marinade, which helps with groceries (I hate buying a 2 cup container for 1 Tablespoon of an ingredient), plus there are a lot of pantry basics.

Chicken Gyros

Recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything


Tzatziki sauce:
Chicken Gyros1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used regular plain yogurt)
1 regular cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil

For the chicken:
2 teaspoons minced garlic
Juice of 1 lemon (2-3 Tablespoons)
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping Tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1 1/4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Pita bread
Fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced
Red onion, sliced thin


Shred the cucumber or chop in food processor. Wrap in a towel a squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Mix together the yogurt, shredded cucumber, garlic, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon juice. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

To prepare the chicken, combine the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Whisk together until mixed well. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Cook the chicken as desired, either in the skillet or with the broiler. Once the chicken is completely cooked through, transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut into strips. Heat pitas. Top with chicken, tzatziki sauce, diced tomatoes and sliced onions. Serve immediately.

Throw together a greek pasta salad with fettucini, olive oil, tomatoes, red onions, black olives and feta cheese and you are ready to serve.  Yum!

It’s beginning to…smell?…a lot like Christmas

Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year.  I love it all.  The sights. The sounds. The smells. Its all so magical.  Normally our house is congested with a cloud of cinnamon aerosol spray.  The cats run in fear when they see me reach for the can that is hidden behind a picture frame.  But not this year (except for the occasional spurt when I am afraid I might burn the house down).  This year its all about the citrus-y, berry-y, cinnamon-y scent of Holiday Stove  Top Potpourri from Make it Do (thank you Pinterest).  Just a few ingredients, quick prep, and you are on your way.

Holiday Stove Top Potpourri Mix

  • one whole orange or just the orange peel
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  • 1 Tbsp. whole cloves
  • 3 sticks of cinnamon or a small handful of small pieces of cinnamon
  • a bit of grated nutmeg if desired

Quarter the orange.  Put all the ingredients into a saucepan.  Fill pan with water.  Place on the stove on the smallest burner, on the lowest setting.  Refill water as needed, don’t allow the water to completely evaporate. I always refill the water when I turn it on.  One mix stays good for weeks. 

I sliced the oranges and halved some of the cranberries, hoping to get a stronger smell, and because it looks so pretty.  Into the pan it went.  A dash of ground cinnamon was added since I didn’t want to use all of my cinnamon sticks.

I would be lying if I said that I put it on the lowest stove setting.  I’m not the most patient when it comes to waiting for my house to smell delicious so I may or may not have brought it to a boil before turning it down.  The moral of the story: if you want it to last for weeks, don’t do what I did.  After about two days of abuse, my concoction looked like a crime scene.  But the house smelled so good that the sacrifice of beauty had to be made.

Warning: Continuous use of Holiday Stove Top Potpourri may mislead you into believing that your house naturally smells that wonderful without the assistance of a heating appliance resulting in the negligent act of leaving the stove on.  Just sayin’.