a view from the laundry pile…

…it's all about perspective.

Slow Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup

After feeling like “death warmed over” for about a week, because of being nailed by the nasty flu going around, I finally drug myself out of bed to make dinner. I would’ve been out of the game longer but I could tell that Fred, patient as he was catering to me all week, was reaching a breaking point when I heard him start mumbling under his breath and cussing at the laundry. Things no sock should ever be subject to… 

I’m not ashamed to admit that I like easy recipes, regardless of how I’m feeling, and I rate the likelihood of Fred getting it for dinner according to the ease of preparation. This one rates somewhere between a two and three due to the fact that I used mostly fresh ingredients (rather than canned or frozen) but it was well worth any time and effort.

DSCN2709Slow Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup

Ingredients

  • 5-6 Potatoes, peeled & diced
  •  1/2 medium Onion, peeled & diced
  • 1 large stalk Celery, washed & diced
  • 1 medium Carrot, peeled & diced
  • 1 can Vegetable Stock (you can use Chicken stock/broth if you prefer)
  • Water to cover vegetables, if needed
  • 1 Tbs. Bacon Bits — you can either add these to the potatoes while they’re cooking or to top with at the end, just before serving. I put them in with the potatoes.
  • 1/4 tsp (or more, to taste) Pepper
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Dill (optional)
  • 1 Tbs. cooking Sherry (or other white wine – optional)
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1-2 Tbs. Flour
  • 2 cups Cheddar Cheese, grated

Directions

  1. Put the potatoes, onion, celery, carrots, bacon bits, pepper, salt, & Dill in the slow cooker (crock pot). Pour vegetable broth plus any water, if needed, to cover the vegetables. 
  2. Cook on “high” setting until the vegetables are done (check after 4 hours – they should be fork-tender).
  3. Add the (optional) Sherry.
  4. In a large cup, mix the milk & flour until the flour is blended in (no longer lumpy). Pour into the slow cooker, stirring as you go.
  5. When it’s heated through, add the cheese, a little at a time, stirring after each addition until the cheese has melted.
  6. Turn off the crock pot and let it sit about 15 minutes before serving.
  7. Stir again before ladling into bowls.

I served this in bread bowls but, the next day, had some for lunch with cubed French bread in it. Just as good.

 

 

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Get up when?!

“You want to go out for an early morning light shoot?” Crystal asked. “Sure!” I happily replied…and then I realized that meant getting up before the sun came up…hmm.

The next morning the alarm went off, I groaned and wondered what I was thinking. Ack. Well, I knew I’d have fun with her and, hopefully, get a few good shots. So I pried open my little pig eyes, ramped up my enthusiasm, bundled up, and off I went into the darkness. It was worth it, I think…

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Soups on with Kale, Mushroom, & Barley!

The first sign of snow makes me want soup…and, even though it’s not sticking, I see flakes.

One of my very favorites is an adaptation from a friends recipe that I first tried about 25 years ago (yes, I was cooking at the age of 6…*cough*). In addition to being exceedingly easy, if you can believe it, it’s also healthy and comforting — at the same time!

kale soupKale, Mushroom, & Barley Soup (vegetarian)

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbs. Olive Oil
  • 1 small Onion, chopped
  • 1/2 lb. fresh Mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cans Vegetable Broth
  • 1 tsp. Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt (optional)
  • 4-6 drops Liquid Smoke (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Barley
  • 1 cup (or more) Kale, ripped into bite-sized pieces

Directions

  1. Heat the oil, over medium to high heat in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pan.
  2. Add the onion, mushrooms, and Thyme until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add the vegetable broth, salt, liquid smoke, and barley. Bring to a boil.
  4. Turn heat down, cover, and cook about 1 hour or until the barley is cooked tender.
  5. Add the kale, cover again, and cook about 10-15 minutes more.

* If you want to use meat, omit the liquid smoke and add 1 lb. lean boneless beef, that’s been cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Brown this with the onions and mushrooms and use beef broth instead of vegetable and double to 4 cups.  

* If you have no fresh kale, you can substitute with like amounts of frozen kale, along with chard, spinach, collards or other greens.

 

 

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Another great sunset!

It’s hard to complain about too much when you have this right out your back door. The sun was just setting this fine winters evening and I couldn’t help but grabbing my camera and taking a few shots before heading home for the night.

 

 

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(Mt. Rainier – not often seen from here with such clarity!).

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Stuffed Pepper Soup – Vegetarian Style

I love taking “regular” recipes and making vegetarian versions of them. It’s a fun challenge to see what I can come up with (Fred always let’s me know how close I’ve come to the “real thing.” Sometimes I do pretty well, sometimes not so much. But it’s always edible…well, except that one time…).

I saw a recipe for this and had to try it, even not being a “stuffed pepper” fan. But, I’m so glad I did and am really happy with how it came out (Fred, too!) – it’s delicious!

pepper soup blogStuffed Pepper Soup – Vegetarian Style

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbs. Olive Oil
  • 1 lb. Veggie Ground Beef Substitute
  • 1 14.5 oz. can small diced Tomatoes, plus liquid
  • 1/2 medium Onion, small diced
  • 1 14.5 oz can Vegetable Stock
  • 1 cup cooked Rice (your choice – I had white on hand)
  • 1/2 large chopped Red Sweet Pepper
  • 1 Tbs. Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Pepper
  • Dash of Garlic Powder
  • Dash of Tabasco or other hot sauce (optional)

Directions

  1. In a Dutch oven, or heavy pan, cook the ground beef substitute, onions, and pepper in the olive oil until the onions are soft.
  2. Add everything else and bring to a boil.
  3. Turn the heat down to simmer, cover, and cook 30-40 minutes or until the peppers are tender.

Of course, you could always use real ground beef and beef stock (or bouillon cubes) if you’re not into vegetarian cooking. It might be just as good… 😉

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Jack Frost came a nippin’ at our noses…

Jack Frost
by Gabriel Setoun

The door was shut, as doors should be,
Before you went to bed last night;
Yet Jack Frost has got in, you see,
And left your window silver white.

He must have waited till you slept;
And not a single word he spoke,
But pencilled o’er the panes and crept
Away again before you woke.

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And now you cannot see the hills
Nor fields that stretch beyond the lane;
But there are fairer things than these
His fingers traced on every pane.

Rocks and castles towering high;
Hills and dales, and streams and fields;
And knights in armor riding by,
With nodding plumes and shining shields.

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And here are little boats, and there
Big ships with sails spread to the breeze;
And yonder, palm trees waving fair
On islands set in silver seas,

And butterflies with gauzy wings;
And herds of cows and flocks of sheep;
And fruit and flowers and all the things
You see when you are sound asleep.

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For, creeping softly underneath
The door when all the lights are out,
Jack Frost takes every breath you breathe,
And knows the things you think about.

He paints them on the window-pane
In fairy lines with frozen steam;
And when you wake you see again
The lovely things you saw in dream.

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Presenting: The Most Fantabulous Original All-Bran Muffin Recipe!

You have to make somewhat of a “deal” out of this because, let’s face it, no matter what you call it, it’s a bran muffin. However, I’ve been making this recipe, and variations of it, for about 40 years now (yes, waaay back in dinosaur times before bran was even “in”), so that, in itself, might be something to celebrate, right? Yeah, ok. It’s still a bran muffin. But, in its defense, it’s pretty healthy, rather tasty, very versatile and must have something going for it if they’re still putting the recipe on the box after all these years…

All-Bran Muffinsbran muffin

Ingredients

  • 2 cups All-Bran Cereal
  • 1-1/4 cups Milk
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 cup Oil (vegetable works well but I have used Olive Oil)
  • 1/4 cups Flour
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 Tbs. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt

Directions

  1. Combine cereal and milk. Let stand 30 minutes.
  2. Add egg and oil, beat well.
  3. Add rest of ingredients. Beat just until combined.
  4. Put into muffin pans sprayed with “name brand non-stick cooking spray” (the last time I mentioned an actual product here I got pummelled with spam so use your imagination and whatever ‘pan greaser’ you have on hand).
  5. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Each muffin has about 170 calories (as made above), 3 grams of fiber, 6.5 grams of fat, and 10 grams of sugar. 

MY changes, over the years, have included;

  • To reduce the fat use applesauce instead of oil, using cup for cup.
  • Use egg whites instead of whole eggs to cut the cholesterol.
  • Use soy or rice milk instead of cows milk (I’ve not tried almond or coconut milk but they might be very good).
  • Use 1/4 cup sugar (instead of 1/2) and add dried fruit for extra sweetness.
  • Adding spices such as cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.
  • Only use 2 tsp. baking powder (instead of 1 Tbs.) because I just don’t like the taste of BP in my food and 2 tsp. works just fine.
  • Adding nuts and seeds to increase the nutritional value.

Today was another first on my list of “my changes.” I only had 1 cup of bran flakes (not even the cereal…just flakes that I’d used in another recipe) so I added 1 cup of “super nutty” granola (this is what I had on hand…) and they still turned out just as yummy. And slathering them in coconut butter didn’t hurt either…

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Happy New Year!

Uneventful as it was, it was still great welcoming in the New Year. If you’re like me, you feel a twinge of excitement at the thought of getting another start at something — I’m learning to appreciate this the older I get.

This morning I got up, took care of the dogs, and left Fred happily sleeping in a nice, warm bed and headed out with my camera. Not so unusual for me. However, this morning was the first day of 2013 and I wanted to make sure I got it off to a good start. I can’t think of a better way than sharing it with you all.

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Yep. Back down to the water (when you’re surrounded on 3 sides and really, really like it, this is what you get…). It’s not often you can see the mountains here. Normally, by the time the sun is up, there’s some fog or the clouds have rolled in.

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We’ve been having a bit of wild weather lately, including higher than normal tides that have brought in, and taken out, various debris. I had to laugh out loud when I saw this, though. Four seagulls contently floated by on a log, drifting down the sound without a care in the world…except eating, which is what they do best.

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I’m not one to make New Years resolutions, other than the usual “do better this year” type stuff but, if I ever decide to try it, I think I’ll choose to make an effort to get up earlier to go take photos more often…but I’m not making any promises.

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