Cauliflower Chicken Soup


Cool fall days are the perfect time to enjoy some soup. My cauliflower chicken soup is so delicious that you will be surprised at how easy (and fast!) it is to make.

I like to keep quarts of homemade chicken stock in my freezer to use as soup starters but when I run out I will grab some ready-made stock like Swanson's low-sodium chicken stock or Rachael Ray's chicken stock. From start to finish (using already made chicken stock) you can get this soup ready in 30 minutes.

Here's what you need:

2 cloves of fresh garlic
1/2 medium or 1 small yellow onion
2 tablespoons fresh parley (chopped)
4 carrots
4 stalks of celery, leaves included
1 medium head of cauliflower
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil

Chop the garlic and onion finely.

Slowly saute the garlic and onion in the olive oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot.

While this is slowly softening chop your vegetables.

Start with the carrots and slice the peeled carrots into uniform 1" pieces. Add these to the pot and next wash and then chop the cauliflower. Use mostly just the florets and a small amount of the stems. Add the cauliflower to the pot as you chop it.

Once the cauliflower has been added, chop the washed celery- including the leaves and add to the pot.

Add the freshly chopped parsley, stock and water. Stir together and add paprika, black pepper and salt.

Bring this to a boil and then turn the flame down to a simmer.

Cook for about 20 to 25 minutes until vegetables are tender. You can add about a cup of cooked pasta (elbows or other small shaped pasta) before serving but this soup is perfect without added pasta.

This is so simple but so delicious!

Hearty Breakfast in One Pan!


Weekends are perfect for this hearty one-pan breakfast/brunch dish. I made this dish using just one frying pan which did take a bit longer but in the end, I only had one frying pan to wash which made the extra time worth it.

With the ingredients I used it could easily feed 4 people generously but halfway through making this I decided to put half the ingredients away and adjusted the eggs to make this two generous servings. The potatoes and bacon I had already cooked I put into a container to save time for another day's quick breakfast.

Here's my recipe- (this is for 4 or more servings)


3 medium to large red potatoes - washed clean but skins left ON!


Cube those potatoes and then put them into a large frying pan or wok with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Start cooking them over a medium flame.


Once they start to get browned, add some chopped onion.


I used yellow onions because that is what I had at home but red onions would be nice also.

Just spread them over the potatoes and continue to cook.


Potatoes NEED salt and I am in love with this kosher salt. I sprinkled about 1/2 teaspoon over the potatoes and onions and added 1 teaspoon of paprika and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. The potatoes take about 25 minutes to cook and when they are done they will look like this.


I removed them from the frying pan and put into a serving dish and stuck them out of the way in my oven. ( mostly so I don't munch on them while I finish the rest of this recipe)

Using the same frying pan next up is the bacon.

To make the process faster, first I chop a 12 ounce package of bacon and then add it to the pan and start cooking.


Unless I need the slices whole I always chop the bacon first. It seems to cook easier that way.


Once you have reached the ideal crispiness, remove the bacon to a plate that has been lined with paper towels in order to absorb any excess fat. Since you are going to use the same pan, pour the bacon grease into an empty can.

Mix the bacon with the potato/onion mixture.

Next melt about 1 tablespoon of butter in your frying pan.


This is when I decided that making this full recipe was too much so I took half of the potato/bacon mixture and put it in a container for another time. I then cracked 4 eggs.

I beat them until they were light and fluffy.


I poured the eggs into the frying pan and as they were scrambling I added the potato/bacon mixture.

Right before they were done I sprinkled shredded cheddar cheese on top. (about 1/4 cup but you can use more or less according to your tastes)


Serve immediately and enjoy.

The leftover potatoes and bacon stored well in the refrigerator. I did use them a few days later for a quick start to dinner. This recipe might be a great weekend breakfast but it is also makes a good dinner.



Soup is Good Food



"Soup is Good Food" is my first cookbook that was recently published. It contains many easy-to-make soup recipes that will make you never want to open a can of soup again.

Soup is the ultimate comfort food and making it yourself is easy even for the novice cook. Included in this book are two recipes for Hungarian Goulash and my family's Potato Pancake recipe. Potato pancakes along with a bowl of homemade soup makes a perfect meal.

Budget-conscious families can really stretch their food dollar by making any of the soups in this cookbook.

It is available now for sale on Amazon.

Check it out and please leave a review or e-mail me with comments.

Thanks for taking a look!

Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage


Growing up Hungarian at every family function there would be a pot of stuffed cabbage. So when we decided to throw a surprise birthday party for my mom's 80th, the husband reminded me that of course, someone would need to make stuffed cabbage.

We were planning on 50 people (only about 40 showed) and it came down to me and my sister to fulfill the obligatory stuffed cabbage request. Mind you, my husband doesn't even LIKE stuffed cabbage.

Of course we were having other food besides stuffed cabbage (thanks to my brother and Italian sister-in-law I knew there would be plenty of food!) but the task of making stuffed cabbage for a crowd when I have a full-time job was almost overwhelming.

I channeled my late Aunt Elsie who taught me how to cook for a crowd and hoped for the best.

Making stuffed cabbage for your family is a task but not as overwhelming as making enough for 50 people. It took me several hours just to boil the cabbage.

My house stunk and I almost ran out of pots to store the boiled cabbage in.

Before I get into the recipe for making stuffed cabbage, let me give you some tips.

The most tedious part of making stuffed cabbage has got to be the boiling (softening) of the cabbage leaves. Here's a few tips on how to make it easier.

When choosing your cabbage don't buy small heads. Small heads of cabbage mean smaller leaves and unless you want to make teeny tiny stuffed cabbages I suggest buying a larger head. Now my mother says she looks for a cabbage that is light but I disagree with that theory.

When you are getting ready to boil your cabbage, get the largest pot you have in your kitchen and let the water come to a strong, rolling boil before you put the cabbage in. You need to keep the water hot while you boil the cabbage or else it will take so much longer.

Prepare the head of cabbage by cutting out the core. Use a paring knife and after cutting the core, cut even deeper into the cabbage. This will allow for the individual leaves to come off easier as they soften.

You are not cooking the cabbage but softening the leaves so that they are easier to roll but not soft enough that they will fall apart.

Once the water is boiling, carefully put the cabbage head into the water. I recommend only doing one head at a time. It's hard to keep track of two even if your pot is big enough.

As the cabbage leaves soften they will start to pull away from the head. I use a pair of tongs to gently separate the leaf and then grabbing it by the thickest part I remove it to a bowl.

As the cabbage is boiling you can use your tongs to push into the core which will help the leaves separate from the head. Continue this until you have reduced the cabbage to a small head and then remove it to a bowl.

It takes about 40 minutes to successfully soften the cabbage as long as the water stays hot the whole time.

Boiling the cabbage takes your full attention and this is about the only time when I cook that I cannot multi-task.

Once the cabbage is all softened allow it to cool in a bowl while you make the filling.

My rule of thumb for rice to meat to cabbage ratio is generally 1 cup of rice to 1 lb. of meat to 1 medium to large head of cabbage. This can fluctuate so just in case you run out of cabbage you can fill a hollowed green pepper with meat/rice mixture or roll the meat/rice mixture into meatballs which you can place alongside the cabbages in your pot. Too much cabbage leftover can be chopped and used on bottom and top of rolled cabbages.

When we made our stuffed cabbage for the party we actually did 1 cup of rice to 1 1/2 lbs. of meat and found that worked well also.

Okay, after the job of boiling cabbage is done you can get down to the making of the filling. Some people prefer using all ground pork. I am not a fan and I use half ground beef and half ground pork. You can use any combination but all beef is not really preferred unless of course you absolutely dislike pork.

Stuffed cabbage is simple. It is seasoned with Hungarian paprika, salt, pepper, fresh garlic and onion. Use white rice, not brown as brown rice has a nutty flavor which can overpower the taste. Believe me, I don't like white rice at all but stuffed cabbage needs it.

My grandmother always cooked the chopped onion in shortening just to soften it. I had to purchase shortening for this project as we only have extra virgin olive oil and organic coconut oil in my house. That wasn't going to cut it!

So to make stuffed cabbage for your family you will need the following:

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 large head of cabbage or two medium
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 to 4 tablespoon shortening
1 1/2 cup white rice (uncooked and NOT minute rice)
tomato sauce (16 oz mixed with 1 cup water)

Chop your onion finely and add it to a frying pan with the shortening. Add the chopped garlic and cook until softened.

In a large mixing bowl gently mix together the meats. Sprinkle the rice over the top and sprinkle the seasonings around. Pour the onion/garlic/shortening over the top.

Gently but thoroughly mix it together making sure it is well blended but do not overmix.

To roll a stuffed cabbage first use your paring knife to cut off any thick vein on the leaf. This will make it easier to roll the cabbage.

Place a leaf on your cutting board or plate and put about 2 tablespoons mixture in the center towards the bottom of the leaf (where you have cut off the vein). Roll the edge over the meat once, tuck one side over and continue to roll until you reach the end of the leaf. Tuck the open side of the leaf into the roll. Don't make it too tight but don't allow it to be too loose either. The meat/rice mixture will expand some but not that much.

Continue this until all your meat/rice is used.


If you have leftover cabbage you can chop it to place on the bottom of your pot or pan. Some people like to use sauerkraut on the bottom and top and also slice kielbasa and layer that with the rolled cabbages.

On top of the chopped cabbage start lining up your rolled cabbages. Try to put the larger rolls and ones rolled with thicker leaves towards the bottom. Do not pack the cabbages in too tightly but allow for some growing room.

After each layer of cabbages sprinkle with paprika, salt and pepper.

Once all cabbages are in your pot slowly pour the tomato sauce in but only enough to cover the top layer. We aren't making soup here!

Lid the pot and put it up to cook.

This should be cooked over a small to medium flame and will take about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Occasionally shake your pot to keep the cabbages from sticking. Use a good non stick pot for this. If your cabbages are sticking it is either because your heat is too high or your pot is bad.

Cooking 94 stuffed cabbages was the challenge for me because I did not have a pot big enough for it. I decided to try and cook them in the oven. You can successfully bake the stuffed cabbages but allow for a longer cooking time. You will need to preheat your oven to 375 and then expect them to bake for about 3 hours. Check them after about 1 1/2 hours by cutting a larger one in half to peek at how cooked the rice appears. Baking them will soak up the tomato sauce so keep some sauce reserved to add about half way into cooking.

Another option is crock-pot cooking your stuffed cabbage. I did wind up finishing cooking half of my stuffed cabbage by filling two 7 quart crock pots. You cannot fit as many in a 7 quart crock pot as I had hoped. They seem to need more room for cooking in a crock pot in order to make sure they all get fully cooked. It can be cooked on low for 5 to 6 hours and then checked or on high for about 4 hours before you check them.

Stuffed cabbage freezes well and that makes for a quick home-cooked meal on a busy night. I am going to make a batch using my crock pot because it is a much easier way to cook it without worries of it sticking to the pot.


Stuffed cabbage is a delicious comfort food and even if you are not a fan of the cabbage, peel it off and enjoy the filling.

If you decide to make the effort to make this, do remember that it often tastes better the next day and like I said it does freeze well. You can re-heat it in the microwave, oven or stovetop by adding a small can of tomato sauce to it and just heating it through.

It is a tradition in many families that is passed down from generation to generation. Enjoy!

Even Better with Bacon

Homemade au gratin potatoes are delicious but add bacon and they are even more tasty! I made these to bring to my mom's on Christmas knowing they would be a perfect compliment to the ham and fried chicken that she was making. As I suspected my potatoes were a hit! The husband was disappointed when I didn't bring the leftovers home- as I tried to explain to him since we left before late-comers got to eat it would've been rude to leave with food we brought!

So here I am a few days later duplicating (in a smaller amount) the au gratin potatoes with bacon.



An early morning grocery run to pick up bacon (on sale for $3.49- and it is no longer a full pound by the way) two blocks of cheese- one sharp and one extra sharp cheddar, Russet potatoes were on sale too- just .99 for a 5 lb bag!

First things first (the most dreaded part for me) is to peel some potatoes.



Peel them and wash them well. If you were using a new potato or red potato you could just scrub them well and not peel them. Then I slice the potatoes thinly and spread them in a pan that I sprayed with cooking spray.



I love to cook from scratch and yes it can be time-consuming but I have my little tricks that help make the most of my time without adding unnecessary steps. Some recipes I have heard of call for blanching the potatoes but there is no need to do that if they are cut thinly.

Next I chop the raw bacon and put it in a fry pan to crisp up. Chopping it before cooking is easier and it seems to cook a bit faster too.

While the bacon is cooking I start my cheese sauce by making a white sauce. I took 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (cheese has enough salt so why add more?) and melted it and then stirred in 2 tablespoons of flour.

Stir as you add in the milk. I added 2 1/4 cups. ( If using more potatoes you would just increase the milk, flour and cheese of course)

I opened both packages of cheese (8 oz. each) and instead of shredding, I lazily crumbled them in the white sauce which was cooking under a low flame.

The bacon cooked as I occasionally stirred the sauce as the cheese melted in. By the time my sauce was smooth the bacon was done. I drained the bacon and sprinkled it over the top of the potatoes in the pan.



I preheated the oven to 350 degrees.

Then I took the pot of cheese sauce and poured it over the top of the potatoes and bacon.



Next I simply took my tongs and lifted the potatoes and bacon making sure I got the sauce mixed throughout.

That's it- the potatoes au gratin with bacon is ready for the oven. I covered the pan, put it into the oven and set my timer for 1 hour.

After the hour was up I removed the lid and I will allow it to finish baking uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes.



Above is the finished product (5 lbs of potatoes) I made for Christmas after the first round of eating. They were perfect! Today's batch is about half as much as I made the other day but I am sure it will be gone just as quickly. You can even prepare these the day before, refrigerate and then bake fresh for dinner. They do reheat well in the microwave or if you prefer reheat in the oven.

Yum! You can also add chopped red onion to them before baking but they don't really need it. As you can see I used no added salt or even pepper. I prefer to pepper them to taste when serving.

Easy Red Baron Like Pizza

I have a kid who loves Red Baron brand pizza. I don't like prepared foods. I will admit that the taste of Red Baron is pretty good for a frozen pizza but often after eating it I experience stomach issues. I am seriously sensitive to chemicals and additives.

Wanting my kid to eat healthier I make my own pizza and recently I made a practically homemade version which reminded us both of Red Baron.
Here is how I did it. Yes, I used a prepared pizza shell (time didn't allow for freshly made dough) but overall it is healthier than frozen.

ingredients:

1 thin crust pizza shell
organic tomato sauce (amount in steps)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella and provolone mix cheese


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Spread tomato sauce by tablespoonfuls to create a thin layer of sauce. For a large thin crust I used approximately 4 to 5 tablespoons. If you like a saucier pizza use more but too much sauce makes the cheese slide off.

Sprinkle the cheddar cheese evenly around the shell.

Top with the mozzarella and provolone.

Bake for about 15 minutes until cheese is bubbly all over.

Allow to set for about 3 minutes and then slice and enjoy.

If you prefer a sauce with spice add 1 teaspoon of Italian seasonings to the sauce before you spread it. This pizza gets its flavor from the unique combination of the cheeses and it really does mimic the taste of Red Baron's thin crust pizza without all the preservatives and other stuff you cannot pronounce.

Makes for a quick and easy meal.

Try it and let me know what you think.

Healthier Eating One Meal at a Time


note: the chocolate covered strawberries were made for my daughter's birthday and are not my idea of daily healthy eating but they were made homemade so they are not terrible!
Healthier eating habits can be learned- one meal at a time. It's a matter of making the right choice.

It isn't always easy to make the right choice. We can always find some kind of excuse why we do not have time or maybe we give into an emotional need for some kind of comfort food that really isn't healthy. Once you have made up your mind that you really need to focus on a better you making healthier choices will be easier.

One meal at a time!

For me the commitment is due to finally seeing how worn out I look. Even though I routinely walk at least 1 mile (often more) daily, my body is flabby and I have too many figure flaws to mention. I also just don't feel well.

Stress is a lot of it but also what I am putting into my body has a lot to do with it. I am determined to change it up and to do that I have to commit to healthier eating always.

For now there is no talk of "cheat" days. I need to see progress before I allow that. It seems to me I have had enough "cheat" days and that is what brings me to where I am.

After my morning coffee (the only cup I will have today and probably will be cutting it out permanently) I made a smoothie with 1 1/2 cups of fresh pineapple and 1 cup of fresh strawberries. I only added about 1/4 cup spring water and blended it together in the magic bullet. It was delicious and helped me get my morning chores done.

For lunch I chopped up two large Romaine leaves and 1 sliced hard-boiled egg and rolled it up in a whole grain tortilla. It was very filling.

Mid-afternoon I started to crave something bad and thankfully there was nothing bad to be found in my kitchen. Instead I took a pint of blueberries, two bananas and some spring water and made a pitcher of smoothies. One for now and the rest for another day. It did thicken a lot so the leftover will be a base with some more fruit and water.

Dinner will be leftover spinach and tomato pasta sauce with a Romaine salad. If I get hungry for a snack tonight I have some fresh watermelon already cubed and ready for snacking.

My rule is to have smaller portions of foods that aren't so good (like pasta) and eat more of closer-to-nature foods like fresh vegetables and fruits. I know there are hidden sugars in fruits and I am being careful about the calories/sugars from those.

For now I am happy to make it through a day without eating foods with ingredients I cannot pronounce. Along with exercise I figure I should notice some results in a few weeks which will help me keep along this journey to a new me.

Pinterest Popular Recipe- Loaded Smashed Potatoes


Pinterest sometimes makes us feel like failures. People share these recipes that look easy and you go to make them and have a Pinterest fail. Not so with this one. I have to admit that I only saw a picture on someone's feed and did not read the recipe. So, the following is my take on a smashed loaded potato. I made these mid-day and found it filling enough to be a meal in itself without anything else. I imagine it would be great for company along with a steak (if you like that kind of meal)

Here's how I made Smashed & Loaded Potatoes

First I took 5 large potatoes and boiled them in a large pot of water. I cooked them until they were fork-tender.

I placed them into a pan that I put 2 tablespoons of olive oil into.

Next I used a potato masher to "smash" the potatoes. Here's where you can easily "fail". Aim for the center of the potato and gently but firmly push down. It will squish all over and not look like the perfect smooshed potato on some Pinterest feeds.



Next I started to add my toppings. First I sprinkled some chopped red onions.


Next I took some cooked bacon (about 9 or 10 microwaved slices) and crumbled it over the potatoes.


Then I drizzled some more olive oil over top and finished it off with shredded cheddar cheese.

I put this into a pre-heated 375 degree oven until the cheese melted - about 20 minutes.


It was delicious with a little bit of butter and freshly ground black pepper. Next time I would experiment with skipping the bacon and instead adding some chopped broccoli and maybe a homemade cheese sauce? Have you tried this smashed & loaded type potato? What were your results?

Easy Chicken Enchiladas

In the mood for Mexican but don't feel like making it all from scratch?


I'm a die-hard, make-it-from-scratch kind of gal but there are some days when you want a nice meal and you are willing to cut a few corners. Here is my short-cut, easy to make Chicken enchiladas.

Keeping a well-stocked kitchen is essential. I have tons of spices at home that I could have thrown together my own seasoning for the chicken but I knew I would be sharing this recipe so I chose to make it easier.

This recipe will make a hearty two servings or add plenty of side dishes and you can get four servings out of it. (we will most likely have leftovers)

Start out with 2 boneless chicken breasts. Perdue was on sale and let me just say that buying quality shows when you open the package. There was very little chicken "gunk" to remove.

I diced the chicken pretty small and added it to a pot with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.


Then I slowly allowed the chicken to cook, stirring occasionally until the pink was gone.

Here comes the simple part. Instead of playing with my own combinations of cumin, chili powder, cayenne and garlic I opened 1 package of Old El Paso LOW SODIUM taco seasoning. It was on sale for just 99 cents so I figured- why not? Normally I don't use pre-packaged anything but I wanted to make it simple.

I added it to the chicken along with about 1/4 cup of water and let it simmer.

Meanwhile I cooked a box of Goya Mexican rice. Again, another rarity for me but hey, there was no time to steam brown rice and chop vegetables, etc.

I allowed the chicken to cook for about 25 minutes and then I shut it off.

I took two small flour tortillas and put some home-shredded extra sharp cheddar on the center of a tortilla, loaded it with half the chicken, topped it with a bit more cheese and folded it over.

Then I took a deep-dish pie plate and prepared my sauce.

I had some plain tomato sauce leftover in the refrigerator. I added 1/4 cup of water to it (there was only about 3/4 cup) and added some spice. 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder.

I simply stirred it together and poured half of it into the bottom of the pie pan.

Then I placed the chicken tortillas into the pan.

I "sealed" the top with 3 pieces of cheddar.

Then I poured over the remaining sauce.



I would normally bake this in the oven for about 20 minutes (a pre-heated 350 degree oven) but it is way too hot today to turn the oven on.

Instead I will microwave it just to heat and melt the cheese.

I'm serving this with some buttered corn and rice. A nice chopped salad would go great as well but no lettuce in the house today.

As I suspected, the finished product is a lot! It made two hearty enchiladas but with the side of rice and corn, we split one in half and were very satisfied.

Creamy Chicken Primavera Made with Greek Yogurt


I've been hearing an awful lot about substituting Greek yogurt for cream in recipes and I have been dying to give it a try. I whipped up a batch of delicious Chicken primavera using Greek yogurt in place of milk/cream and let me tell you, I am sold on this substitution!

Here is how I made this. This recipe makes a good amount which I am putting into individual-serve containers for quick dinners.

First I took about 4 cloves of garlic that I chopped roughly and sauteed slowly in about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. (the orange is from the fresh carrots I had chopped on the same cutting board)


I then added 1 chicken breast that I chopped into small pieces.

Allow it to cook until it is no longer pink.


Meanwhile I steamed a bag of broccoli florets and also almost 2 cups of fresh, diagonally cut carrots.

I melted 1 tablespoon of butter and stirred in 1 teaspoon cornstarch into the frying pan with the chicken and garlic.

Then I dumped in the vegetables.


I stirred that together and then added a small container of non-fat plain Greek Yogurt, 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup of warm water. (you could use Chicken broth or vegetable broth- I had neither on hand)


I allowed this to simmer slowly and it thickened as it cooked.

I added about 8 ounces of cooked rotini (along with a small amount of the pasta water)

I gave it about 10 minutes to cook and then I turned the heat off and served it!


This was delicious and even better- plenty of leftovers that I put in containers for a quick dinner or lunch!