Zuppa Toscana Soup (from Olive Garden)

1 lb. spicy* Italian sausage – crumbled 
1/2 lb. smoked bacon – chopped
1 qt. water 
(2) 14.5 oz. cans (about 3 2/3 cups) chicken broth  
2 lg. russet potatoes – scrubbed clean, cubed 
2 garlic cloves – peeled, crushed 
1 med. onion – peeled, chopped 
2 cups chopped kale OR Swiss chard
1 cup heavy whipping cream
 salt and pepper – to taste

Place broth, water, garlic, potatoes, and onion in a pot.
Simmer over medium heat until potatoes are tender.
Brown sausage in a pan over medium to medium-high heat, breaking up into small pieces as it cooks.
Drain sausage and set to the side.
Brown bacon in a pan over medium-high heat. Be careful not to cook over crispy.
Drain bacon and set to the side.
Add sausage and bacon to the soup.
Simmer for 10 minutes.
Add kale and cream to pot.
Season with salt and pepper.
Simmer for 2 minutes.

*Can be substituted with mild Italian sausage for subtle flavor.


    Stamp of Approval Spaghetti Sauce

    I cut this recipe out of a Taste of Home magazine recently. It looked so good-- which to me is a good enough reason to cut everything out of magazines. I didn't have some of the ingredients like Worcestershire sauce or dried marjoram, but I figured that it would taste fine without. I halved this recipe also since I wasn't going to be serving 12. (I didn't half the seasonings though- gotta love flavor!)

    2 pounds ground beef
    3/4 pound bulk Italian sausage
    4 medium onions, finely chopped
    8 garlic cloves, minced
    2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained (I put these in the blender for 5 seconds before adding to the sauce)
    4 cans (6 ounces each) tomato paste
    1/2 cup water
    1/4 cup sugar
    1/4 cup minced fresh or dried parsley 
    2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil
    1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    4 bay leaves
    1 teaspoon rubbed sage
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon pepper
    Hot cooked spaghetti
    (1/4 cup of worcestershire sauce and 1/2 tsp of dried marjoram.)

    In a Dutch oven, cook the beef, sausage, onions over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Drain.
    Transfer to a 5-qt. slow cooker. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, water, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, oil and seasonings. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Discard bay leaves. Serve with spaghetti. Yield: 12 servings (3 quarts).


    Chick-fila (kind of) Chicken Salad

    I used leftover crockpot chicken from a couple nights before- turned out fabulous!
    2 cups of cooked chicken breast, chopped finely.
    1/3 cup of celery, finely diced
    1 hard boiled egg, minced
    1/4 tsp of salt
    1/4 tsp of pepper
    1/2 tsp of sugar
    1/3 cup of sweet pickle relish
    2/3-1 cup of mayo
    1/4 tsp of dill weed


    In medium mixing bowl, combine ingredients together. Refrigerate until serving. Slice croissants in half (horizontally) and then spread chicken salad between the croissants.

    *Chickfila's version has no dill weed. and they grill thick-cut bread slices to serve it on.


    first blog of the new year- first project done!

    Before the work started!

    Clean and ready!

    Furniture together!

    Shelves up and lighting in!