Homemade Tomato Soup

Soup season really is the best!

There’s just something wonderful about coming in from the cold, dark world to find warm, comfort food simmering in the crock pot… It fills me with warm, fuzzy thoughts every time!

Want to know another perk to these awesome soups? It cuts down the grocery bill! Most homemade soups are really cheap and easy to make. And that’s definitely  true of this Homemade Tomato Soup. I spend $1.36 when I make it! But more on that later. 🙂

I found “Garden Fresh Tomato Soup” on Allrecipes.com, and eating canned tomato soup will never be the same. I’ve tweaked the recipe a little – added an extra tablespoon of butter and flour (each) for a little more thickening, and a dash of Roasted Herb and Garlic seasoning for a little extra zest. But on the whole, this recipe was pure deliciousness right from the start!

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Here’s why Homemade Tomato Soup is one of my favorites…

  1. I get to eat grilled cheese sandwiches with it! And I love grilled cheese sandwiches!
  2. We got showered with garden-fresh tomatoes this year (Thanks, Mom!), and I’m having a blast using them up. I juiced most of them, and stored them in the freezer, 4 cups per freezer bag. That makes meal prep for this recipe incredibly easy!
  3. Once the tomato juice is thawed, I can have this meal ready in 30 minutes, with only 5 minutes of prep time, assuming Little Buddy is cooperative… This soup also works great in the crockpot if you need to get supper on the table fast!
  4. This meal serves six bowls for $4.16 if I buy the tomatoes canned, and only $1.36 if I have frozen tomatoes from Mom on hand!

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Note: You can find the original recipe here!

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (OR 4 cans diced tomatoes, $0.70 ea. @ Dollar General)
  • 1 Tablespoon minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried cloves
  • 2 cans chicken broth ($0.49 ea. @ Dollar General)
  • 6 Tablespoon butter (Stock up when it’s on sale for $1.99/lb!)
  • 3 Tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • Roasted Herb and Garlic Seasoning

Total Cost:  $4.16

Instructions:

(These instructions assume that you’re working with garden fresh tomatoes; if not, you can skip to step 3. 🙂 )

  1. Rinse your garden fresh tomatoes, remove the stems, and blend  the tomatoes in a food processor until lightly chunky or smooth. I find it works well to cut the tomatoes into quarters before I process them.
  2. If freezing, pour 4 cups of tomato juice into gallon sized freezer bags and lay them flat in the freezer. Make sure you allow your tomatoes time to thaw before making your soup though – seems like I always forget that!
  3. To make your soup, combine the tomatoes, broth, minced onion, and cloves in a stock pot, and gently boil for 20 minutes; then reduce heat to Medium or Medium Low.
  4. In a small sauce pan, melt butter and mix in flour with a whisk to make a roux. Stir constantly until the mixture appears medium brown. (Don’t worry, that’s just a fancy word for the thickening agent in sauces and soups! 🙂 )
  5. Gradually whisk small amounts of the tomato mixture into the roux to prevent lumps from forming in the soup; then mix the roux in with the rest of the tomato mixture.
  6. Season the soup with salt, sugar, and the roasted herb and garlic blend, to taste.
  7. Let your soup simmer for about 10 minutes. That’s just enough time to make your grilled cheese sandwiches and set the table! 🙂

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Enjoy!

I hope you love this soup as much as I do! Give it a try this weekend, and let me know what you think of it!

Blessings,

         ~ Erin


Pin it for later!

Tomato Soup pin

Tomato Soup pin


Looking for more budget-friendly meals? Try These!

14 Easy Meal Solutions

     14 Meals in 20 Minutes or Less (for when you’re in a pinch)

My heart goes out to parents and teachers at this time of year. It seems like everyone goes from 10 mph to 100 mph in the space of a week! I’m not at that season of life yet, but as a teacher’s daughter and an elementary education graduate, I know a little of what goes on at the beginning of the school year. And it’s crazy!

So this post is in honor of Meet-the-Teacher Days and Back-to-School Nights. Life is busy, and there are some days we need all the breaks we can get. 🙂

     Disclaimer:

I had to laugh when I researched 20-minute meals online. I found recipes for orecchiette (which is apparently a pasta 😉 ), broiled snapper, and ratatouille on some of the lists. The recipes that I’m including below aren’t going to be fancy or gourmet. They’re going to be practical, real-life, and hopefully, helpful. Here we go!

 

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     Tip #1 – Keep It Simple

There is a myth out there that a good wife makes really nice meals all the time. That the spaghetti is garden fresh and the garlic bread is always homemade.

Here’s the newsflash – that’s not true! Simple meals are just as yummy and filling as gourmet dinners. And shortcuts are definitely allowed. Your husband will not mind if the garlic bread isn’t homemade!

Below are a few simple recipes that you can pull out in a pinch. They’re some of my favorites!

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Bean & Cheese Burritos

 

  • Bean & Cheese Burritos – This recipe is delicious and easy on the budget! Heat refried beans, chili beans, cheese, and diced tomatoes in a sauce pan, and serve with taco fixings for an easy burrito night! (From LittleYellowHouseAdventures.com – Link)
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Quesadillas
  • Quesadillas – We like Mexican food. Especially when you can have it on the table in 15 minutes. 🙂 Heat your taco meat and fixings in a soft shell on your pancake griddle, and supper’s ready before you know it! (From LittleYellowHouseAdventures.com – Link)
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Homemade Pancakes
  • Pancakes – I love breakfast for supper, and pancakes are an easy go-to served with peanut butter and syrup! (From LittleYellowHouseAdventures.com – Link)
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French Toast
  • French Toast – This might be my favorite food of all time. So it had to make the list. 🙂 And would you like to know the easy secret that makes French toast taste sublime? Check out the link and find out! (From CountryRecipeBook.com – Link)

 

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     Tip #2 – Make Use of Traditions

I never have to wonder what I’m going to make for supper on Wednesday nights. Pizza is assumed to the point that people in our family are disappointed if we miss a Wednesday. How awesome is that?!? This little trick saves me lots of time, and our family loves it. I also try to have eggs once a week, just because they are cheap, easy, and versatile. Here are a couple family favorites for you to try!

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Eggs are easy!
  • Scrambled Eggs – Scrambling eggs is easy, but there is an art form to making a perfect batch. This mommy blogger lays all the secrets out there – you’re going to want to pin that post! (From MyMommyStyle.com – Link)

 

  • Cloud Eggs – Not all of my Pinterest finds are successes, but these passed the test. (Whew! 🙂 ) Cloud eggs are as easy as whipping the egg white until it’s stiff and then baking the yolk on top. Serve on toast! (From JustATaste.com – Link)

 

  • Omelets – This one is my husband’s specialty from his bachelor days. 🙂 It’s a great option for when you’re hungry for something quick and easy, and they’re personal size, so fix up yours however you like it! (From TheSpruce.com – Link)

 

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     Tip #3 – Get Creative

There are lots of ways to make everyday recipes easy and fun. Check out the ideas that these bloggers have come up with!

Pin - Bean and Cheese Burritos
Bean & Cheese Burritos
  • Bean and Cheese Burritos – Try substituting refried beans for ground beef in your Mexican dishes – it’s faster and cheaper! Our family loves the variety that we get from Bean and Cheese burritos. (From LittleYellowHouseAdventures.com – Link)
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Garlic Parmesan Panini
  • Panini Sandwiches – Everyone knows sandwiches are easy, but did you know they can be exciting too? It’s true! Break out some creativity and try something a little out of the box… (From Lilluna.com – Link)

Sheet-Pan-Nachos

  • Nachos – Another Mexican dish because we loved this one so much… Spread your taco meat, fixings, and lots of cheese on top of tortilla chips and bake for an unbelievable easy solution to supper. (From GracefulLittleHoneyBee.com – Link)

 

Tip #4 – Soups for Supper

Bear Creek soup mixes are a fantastic option if you’re in a pinch! Someone in our church gave us a few mixes last year, introducing me to one of the most delicious time-savers yet. Our family has tried five of the fifteen Bear Creek soups, and we love them. Just boil your water, add the mix, and simmer for 15 minutes or so. Then you’re ready to serve a soup that really does taste homemade.

Interested in more info about this awesome soup mix? Here’s a link – Bear Creek Soup Mix – to see their selection. I haven’t tried all of their varieties, but we’ve loved the ones we have! 🙂

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     Tip #5 – Use Leftovers!

I’ll be the first to admit it – I love leftovers! I make big meals on purpose, knowing it will knock out two more meals later in the week. My favorite is tacos – it’s not uncommon to get three or four meals out of one batch between Doritos casseroles, nachos, and quesadillas. The recipes below take longer than twenty minutes to make… but the leftovers take less than 10 minutes to warm up! 🙂

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  • Tacos – The secret to a big batch of tacos is the rice and beans! I make three cups of rice and add one can of chili beans for every pound of ground beef, and the leftovers knock out half of my meals for the rest of the week! (From LittleYellowHouseAdventures.com – Link)
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Spaghetti
  • Spaghetti – Another family favorite! My trick here is to add a half cup or more of cottage cheese to the spaghetti sauce to stretch it a little farther. Then I cook double the noodles that we’ll need, and we’ve got leftovers guaranteed! (From LittleYellowHouseAdventures.com – Link)

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  • Cheesy Taco Pasta – This is a Mexican spin on spaghetti that our family enjoyed. Once again, lots of noodles with extra cheese and salsa for lots of leftovers! (From LittleYellowHouseAdventures.com – Link)
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Fondly known as “Egg Soup”
  • Creamed Eggs on Toast – I know, this one sounds a little out there, but trust me, it’s delicious, and it works great for leftovers! (From LittleYellowHouseAdventures.com – Link)

Stay tuned for more!! I’ll keep you posted as I find more easy recipes. Feel free to give suggestions in the comments section below! 🙂 In the meantime, check out my post on Ten Steps for Saving $ with a Menu Plan too. That simple strategy has saved me a lot of hassle on busy nights!

Blessings!   ~ Erin

~ P.S. FREEBIE ALERT!!! ~

Did you know I send out weekly emails with more resources from our Little Yellow House? My emails include easy access to my latest posts, extra tidbits from the ins and outs of our lives here, and Biblical encouragement for the task that God has given us as women, wives, and mothers today. Plus, if you sign up now, you’ll get a fun freebie! Click here to SUBSCRIBE!

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Three Amazing Ways to Make Garlic Toast

Three Unbelievable Ways to Make Delicious Garlic Toast

So I’ve given you fair warning – we have homemade French bread in the house! And that means that I’m having a blast with great new recipes that I get to share with you. Today I’m highlighting three easy ways to make unbelievably delicious garlic toast!

Garlic toast is a staple in any kitchen. Honestly, any kind of bread is a keeper in our house, but garlic toast is definitely toward the top of the list! It’s a yummy side for a hotdish (that’s casserole for non-Minnesotans…;) ) or pasta, and it’s as easy as buttering your bread and throwing on a few toppings.

You need these recipes up your sleeve!

Below are three basic recipes for garlic toast – basic, cheesy, and Mexican. Make sure you grab an index card and jot these down, and don’t miss the smart kitchen tips at the bottom. 🙂

 

Basic Garlic Toast

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This delicious recipe is for the garlic toast that Mom raised us on. It’s ultra-easy and super practical. Simple enough for quick family dinners and yummy enough for company. Here’s the directions!

  1. Preheat the oven to 400oF. While the oven is preheating, determine the amount of garlic toast you need and butter both sides of the appropriate number of bread slices.
  2. Place the buttered bread on a cookie sheet and sprinkle the slices with garlic salt.
  3. Place cookie sheet in the oven, and set the oven to Broil. (It probably won’t be finished preheating, but that’s okay.)
  4. Set a timer for 2 minutes, check the toast, set the timer for 1 minute, and check again. Repeat until the toast is done.
  5. Enjoy your delicious garlic toast, and hats off to Mom for finding such an easy recipe that always tastes amazing! 🙂

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Cheesy Garlic Toast

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I use this recipe for meals that we share with company, mostly because it’s an easy way to go the extra mile and make them feel special. 🙂 I love the cheesy goodness and the hint of basil, and while it takes a few more moments than the basic garlic toast, it’s definitely worth the time. This recipe is a spin-off of one that I found at www.sugarapron.com. Here’s the link! You can also find a more detailed version of this recipe in one of my earlier posts – here. 🙂

  1. Preheat the oven to 400oF. While the oven is preheating, determine the amount of garlic toast you need and butter both sides of the appropriate number of bread slices.
  2. Place the buttered bread on a cookie sheet and spread with the desired amount of mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Then sprinkle with bread with a little of dried basil and garlic powder, to taste.
  3. Place cookie sheet in the oven, and set the oven to Broil.
  4. Set a timer for 2 minutes, check the toast, set the timer for 1 minute, and check again. Repeat until the toast is done.
  5. Enjoy! 🙂

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Mexican Garlic Bread

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This recipe is in honor of the many taco hotdishes I’ve found on Pinterest lately! Once again, it’s super easy, and it’s also an easy way to add a little fun and variety to supper tonight.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400oF. While the oven is preheating, determine the amount of garlic toast you need and butter both sides of the appropriate number of bread slices.
  2. Place the buttered bread on a cookie sheet and spread with the desired amount of taco cheese. (Cheddar cheese also works in a pinch!) Spread a spoonful of salsa onto each bread slice, and sprinkle lightly with taco cheese again.
  3. Place cookie sheet in the oven, and set the oven to Broil.
  4. Set a timer for 2 minutes, check the toast, set the timer for 1 minute, and check again. Repeat until the toast is done.
  5. Enjoy! 🙂

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Smart Kitchen Tips:

  • These recipes aren’t limited to French bread slices. You can use whatever bread you have on hand, and it will be delicious!
  • Preheat the oven while you butter the bread and put on the fixings, but set the oven to broil once the bread goes in the oven. The toast is done much faster that way, and you end up with the nice browned look on top!
  • Always use a timer when you set the oven to broil. Speaking from experience here! 🙂

I hope you find these recipes helpful… Happy Cooking!

~ Erin

Pin - Garlic Toast

French Toast Casserole

~ Post Updated August 7, 2017 ~

My husband always makes a point to thank me for a meal and say “good dinner” as we eat. (Even if it’s a burnt offering. He is so good to me that way!) But there are some times when he’ll be three bites into supper, and he’ll say “Mmm, this is really good!” That’s when I know we’ve got a keeper. 🙂

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This breakfast casserole is one of those recipes! It’s downright delectable, and it’s easy to make – as simple as tearing up the bread slices and pouring on the eggs and milk. The fruit, cream cheese, and cinnamon sugar are an added luxury!

And here’s a smart kitchen tip to file away: Use the ends of your bread loaves for this recipe. I don’t prefer to eat those pieces in sandwiches, so they go moldy in my cupboard if I’m not careful. Stockpile the slices in the freezer instead of throwing them away, and you’ll have enough for a breakfast casserole within a month!

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Update: I’ve done a bit of experimenting on this recipe, and I’ve discovered a new version that my family loves! My previous version (here’s the link!) featured chunks of cream cheese and frozen raspberries. Our new favorite melts the cream cheese and blends it in with the fruit. It takes a little more work, but the result is amazing!

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Ingredients

  • 8 bread slices, cubed
  • 1/2 (4 oz.) package cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 3 packets of stevia
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/2 cup fruit of choice (It’s amazing with strawberries!)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350oF.
  2. Spread the bread cubes in a 9”x9” greased pan.
  3. Melt the cream cheese, and stir in the milk, stevia, and vanilla. Test taste and alter to make it how you like it!
  4. Stir raspberries into the cream cheese mixture and pour evenly over the bread crumbs.
  5. Beat the eggs and milk together and pour into the pan. Gently stir the bread/cream cheese/egg mixture to bring some bread pieces to the top.
  6. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together, and sprinkle the mixture evenly over the casserole for and extra shot of sweetness.
  7. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes; then remove the foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Then enjoy with pancake syrup or refrigerate for a quick breakfast later!
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Voila! Breakfast for Supper!

The original version has some nice contrast in taste with the cream cheese and raspberries dotted in, but this new version has the bonus of blending the cream cheesy flavor throughout. See what you like best! 🙂

 

Pin - French Toast Casserole

Looking for more breakfast ideas? Try these!

Homemade Pancakes

Banana Bread

Pick-Your-Fruit Muffins!

Strawberry Smoothies

 

Cheesy Taco Pasta

Cheesy Taco Pasta

I’ve got a quick shout out to a fellow blogger today! Sabrina is blogger at Dinner then Dessert, and I found her recipe for cheesy taco pasta on Pinterest. I couldn’t wait to try it. Think easy like Hamburger Helper, except better because it’s homemade!

I won’t include the directions here – I’d rather have you visit Sabrina’s blog for that. (Here’s the link!) But I would like to give this recipe another pitch in different way.

I have a passion for finding meals that are both delicious and economical for my family. Budget-friendly doesn’t have to mean beans and rice seven nights a week. Not hardly! And this recipe illustrates my point perfectly.

Here’s a break-down of my expenses for Cheesy Taco Pasta…

Cheesy Taco Pasta
Ingredients Cost Source
1 pound ground beef $1.99 Aldi’s
1 pound noodles $0.75 Fareway (discount cart!)
Homemade Taco Seasoning Negligible cost… the kitchen cupboard
3/4 cup water Negligible cost… 😉 the kitchen sink
1 cup salsa $0.50 Aldi’s (Jar of 3 cups cost $1.49)
1, 1/3 cup cheddar cheese $0.50 Aldi’s (Bag of 4 cups cost $1.50)

Total Cost:                                                           $3.75

Now here’s the best part – this recipe fed my little family three meals! That’s three meals for $3.75! I love that kind of number!! That’s a better cost and quality than any fast food I can think of, and the recipe is just about as easy as browning the ground beef and boiling the noodles. Our family liked it as a fun spin on the typical taco, and it would work great as a crockpot recipe as well.

I love trying out these fun new recipes! I hope you get curious enough to try this one sometime – it’s a keeper at our house!

That’s it for today… Check back in on Friday for my next post! 🙂

Blessings!

~ Erin

Pin - Cheesy Taco Pasta

Did you know all of my posts are also on Pinterest? Click here to check them out!

Boston Cream Cupcakes

Hello everybody! Happy Monday!

I’m so excited to post the recipe that I’ve been working on for the last week or so – Boston Cream Cupcakes. They are amazing! I made them for Little Buddy’s birthday last Saturday, and he loved it. Picture cake crumbs and pudding and chocolate everywhere. 🙂

I owe my idea to another blogger friend of mine, Kim at www.thebakingchocolatess.com. Her Easy Boston Cream Poke Cake caught my eye and my imagination as I was brainstorming Little Buddy’s birthday treat. I never dreamed a Boston Cream spin-off could be so easy – just cake mix, pudding, and chocolate frosting. So you’ll understand if I’ve been playing in the kitchen this week!

There was a little experimentation involved… I wasn’t sure how cake mix would do in cupcake form, and I needed to know how much pudding and frosting I’d need. I learned some things along the way. Like you don’t pour runny pudding on cupcakes. It’ll just run off. And you don’t want to boil your chocolate frosting before you put it on. That’ll just run off too…

I really liked Kim’s idea of the poke cake, but with the rest of the pudding and frosting combo being a bit complicated, runny, etc., I thought it would be easier to skip that feature. When one more batch of cupcakes came out of the oven and I tried it, it was official. Definitely better with the poke!

So here’s my spin-off on Boston Cream. I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

 

What You’ll Need…

1 box of yellow cake mix

1 box of instant vanilla pudding

1 jar of chocolate frosting

Miscellaneous ingredients for the cake mix and pudding – I needed 1 cup water, ½ cup vegetable oil, and 3 eggs for the cake, and 2 cups milk for the pudding.

 

What to Do…

  1. Make the cake mix into cupcakes according to the instructions provided on the box and bake.

Note: My normal-sized muffin pan worked well for our birthday cupcakes, but I liked my mini-muffin pan cupcakes for serving as a church snack after Wednesday night Bible study. People are less intimidated by smaller treats, and more likely to have one or two… or three…

  1. After you take the cupcakes out of the oven, use the handle of a kitchen utensil to poke 2-3 holes in each cupcake while they’re still hot. I liked using a large handle – then there’s more pudding in the cupcake. 🙂
  2. Mix the pudding and (carefully!) pour the liquid pudding into the cupcake holes to the brim.
  3. Refrigerate the cupcakes and the extra pudding for about one hour. At least until the extra pudding is solidified.
  4. Once the pudding is set, take the cupcakes out of the fridge and spread about one tablespoon of pudding onto each cupcake as one would a frosting.
  5. Warm the chocolate frosting in the microwave. The tricky part with this is you want the frosting to be soft enough to spread but not soft enough to run. I warmed the chocolate in 5 second increments to make sure it was right.
  6. Spoon about one teaspoon of chocolate frosting onto each cupcake. Spread it carefully with the back of a spoon – try not to swirl with the pudding!
  7. Replace in the refrigerator. Once the chocolate is set, they’re ready to eat! Store the cupcakes in the fridge when you’re not eating them. 🙂

That’s it! Let me know what you think of them, and let me know if you come up with any other spin-offs!

This Meal Cost My Family $1.50!

Eating in is so much cheaper than eating out. Just saying. 🙂

I love finding recipes that are cheap, easy, and delicious, and this one hits the mark. These Beans and Cheese Burritos were featured on Missy Rakes’ blog, Graceful Little Honey Bee, and they’re a keeper at our house. I won’t include the directions for these burritos here – I’d rather you go to Missy’s blog for those – but I will include the ingredients that I used so you can see how easy this recipe is in the kitchen and on the budget!

I used just four ingredients for this recipe, and all of them are super cheap at Aldi’s. Here they are!

1 (15.5 ounce) can of refried beans:   $0.75

1 (15.5 ounce) can of chili beans:   $0.55

1½ cups of cheddar cheese:   $1.00

(2 pound bags of cheese cost $3.00)

1 (10 ounce) can of diced tomatoes and chili peppers:   $0.45

I love seeing prices like that! My total cost for this beans and cheese mix was $2.75. The mix turned out a little more than a quart and a half of filling for the burritos.

Now, my family is not going to eat all of this mix in one sitting. This is more like 3 or 4 meals worth of food once I remake it into leftovers. So what’s the price for just this meal?

Well, here’s the math. Let’s say we eat 1/3 cup of the beans and cheese in one burrito. That’s $0.15. Add in $0.09 for an Aldi’s tortilla, and $0.10 for taco toppings (sorry – that’s a guess-timate 🙂 ). My total price for this serving: $0.34. So a couple burritos for my husband, a couple burritos for me, a little bowlful for our little person… Between the three of us, our meal cost $1.50!

I love finding meals like this. It’s delicious, it’s healthy, it’s easy, and it’s cheap! A big thank you to Missy Rakes for her recipe. I hope you’ll try it out – it is worth it!

What are your favorite penny-pinching recipes? I would love to hear about them!

~ Erin

 

 

Gourmet Cookies

Just to let you know, these cookies are amazing. Probably not very healthy, but still amazing.

I needed to make a quick batch of cookies this morning, and I wanted to try something new. I took a quick look at Pinterest and it wasn’t very long before I had what I was looking for…

Averie Sunshine is a fellow blogger at www.averiecooks.com, and she created a softbatch chocolate chip cookie by substituting some of the butter for cream cheese.  You can check her idea out here. I saw her cookies and I had to try it!

I used my recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies so I’d have some reference for comparison, and the result really was delectable. (Isn’t that a great word?) These cookies are super soft, a little thicker than the original cookie, and they’re really yummy. I love that I can taste a hint of the cream cheese in the cookie!

So here’s my recipe for Gourmet Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. I hope you try it and let me know what you think!

 

Gourmet Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

What You’ll Need…

¼ cup butter

¼ cup cream cheese

½ cup white sugar

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup peanut butter

1 egg

½ teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ Tablespoon vinegar

¾ cup flour (plus 1/3 cup flour)

1/3 cup chocolate chips (or more to taste!)

Note: Sorry for the weird measurement for the flour. I substituted 1/3 cup flour for 1 cup oatmeal, as I’m out of the latter.

 

What To Do…

  1. Preheat the oven for 350oF.
  2. Using a mixer, cream together the butter, cream cheese, brown sugar, white sugar, and peanut butter.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla.
  4. Mix together the soda and vinegar (WILL BUBBLE!). Add to the cookie dough.
  5. Blend in the flour with the mixer; then stir the chocolate chips in by hand.
  6. Drop tablespoon-sized scoops of cookie dough on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake for 10-15 minutes. (I found 12-13 minutes worked best with my oven.)

Enjoy!

 

Have any other favorite tweaks to old recipes? I’d love to hear about them!

~ Erin

 

 

My Rhubarb Challenge

Rhubarb Challenge

It’s officially rhubarb season at our house! Our plant out back is huge, and I’m determined to make the most of it this year. I did okay last year, but I know I could have done better. So now it’s my own personal challenge – to make the best use of that plant as I can this year. I love all things rhubarb, and I don’t want any of it to go to waste!

Now, as much as I’d love to put all of my rhubarb into breads and bars and pies, I honestly don’t have time to do that much baking, especially with our little person underfoot. I’ll make rhubarb desserts as I can, but to be completely honest, a lot of this year’s produce is going straight into the freezer. Freezing rhubarb is super easy, and it works great for making rhubarb recipes later.

So here are a couple tips for rhubarb that I’ve learned this year, and a couple suggestions for how to use up your rhubarb in the kitchen. I hope you find them helpful, and I’ll keep you posted on how my rhubarb challenge goes! 🙂

 

Helpful Tips:

1. Rhubarb is like any other plant – it likes sun, but not too much sun. Our plant likes the Iowa weather; it has a sunny little corner in our backyard, and it grows all by itself. I’ve heard that rhubarb plants like the shade better in warmer states though, so you might want to look into that if your plant isn’t doing as well as you’d hoped.

2. Is it poisonous? Yes and no. The leaves can be poisonous, the stalks are not. Break the leaves off as soon as you harvest the stalks and toss them into the compost. Make sure you keep little people away from them too – we don’t want to have any accidents!

3. Freezing rhubarb is as easy as 1, 2, 3 – wash, chop, freeze! Make sure you wash the stalks well after you harvest them. Remember you’re going to be eating these eventually. 🙂 Use a serrated knife and a cutting board to chop them to the size you want. (I like my really small, but I know others prefer 1 inch segments.) Lay the chopped rhubarb on a cookie sheet and put it in the freezer for a few hours. Once the pieces are frozen solid, put them all in a gallon sized freezer bag, and voila! You’re done!

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4. Using frozen rhubarb in recipes is simple – just measure out how much you need for the recipe, put the rhubarb in a bowl, and thaw it in the microwave. This will produce some extra juice, so you’ll want to strain the extra off. Don’t squeeze the juice from the rhubarb pieces though – that’s important for your recipe! 🙂

 

Delicious Rhubarb Recipes:

Streusal Rhubarb Bread (Taste of Home)

Rhubarb Cake (Karis’ Kitchen)

Strawberry Rhubarb Cream Cheese Bars (Beki Cook’s Cake Blog)

Rhubarb Muffins (Little Yellow House Adventures)

Freezer Jam – Come back soon for my recipe! This is on my to-do list!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie – not because I’ve tried it, but because I’ve always thought this has to be the most delicious thing ever!

 

Any other tips for dealing with rhubarb? Any favorite recipes to share? I’d love to hear about them!

~ Erin

Chicken Pot Pie – Made Easy!

Chicken Pot Pie Made Easy

We had a lot of pot pies growing up, and now that I’m married and cooking in my own kitchen, it’s easy to see why. It really is an easy way to use up leftovers, and it tastes delicious. My husband names this dish as one of his top favorite foods, and I’m not going to argue with that!

There’s really two ways to make this recipe. Mom always made it from scratch, and if I’ve got the right ingredients and the time, I love getting to make the recipe this way. But with a 10-month-old little boy underfoot, I don’t always have that kind of time. So here’s my version of chicken pot pie, made easy. I hope you enjoy!

 

Chicken Pot Pie

What You’ll Need…

2 pie crusts, store bought

2 cans of cream of chicken soup

2 cups frozen vegetables

1 cup cubed chicken

1 Tablespoon minced onion

Salt and pepper to taste

Note: You can use canned veggies too, but I like the taste of frozen better. 🙂

 

What To Do…

  1. Thaw your pie crusts! Seems like I always forget this part. The store-bought pie crusts will not unroll well if they are not set out early and thawed beforehand. Microwaving them has never worked for me!
  2. Preheat your oven to 350oF, and get out your 9 1/2 in pie tin!
  3. Open your cream of chicken soups and heat over medium or medium high heat. Add your frozen veggies, cubed chicken, salt, and pepper at this time too.
  4. Let your pie filling heat until bubbling, then reduce heat to low. Let the filling simmer on low until you are ready to put it in the pie.
  5. Unroll one pie crust and place it in your pie pan. Be careful – it might be store-bought, but that doesn’t mean it’s tear proof!
  6. Pour your hot filling mixture into the pie pan.
  7. Unroll your second pie crust and place it on top of your pie. There is usually some extra crust hanging over the edge of the pie pan at this point – I like to tuck this extra crust in between the bottom crust and the pie pan itself. Then flute (make that pretty pinching design) the edge to seal the filling inside.
  8. Make sure you take a knife and cut little slits in the top of your pie crust. Mom always said that helps the pie breath as it cooks. 🙂
  9. Bake the pie in the oven for about 50 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the top is golden brown and you can hear the filling bubbling.
  10. Serve and enjoy!

Make sure you come back – I’ll post Chicken Pot Pie From Scratch next time!

~ Erin

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